20. Nicholas Hafner

It has been recorded that Nicholas Hafner was born in Anson County, North Carolina about 1756 to parents Johann Dietrich (Diedter, Deter, Peter) Hafner (Havner, Hevener) and Elizabeth Farmer. He was reared on a farm located on what is now known as Rock Dam Creek in Lincoln County, NC. It appears he was the fourth of six sons who were known to be living at the time of their father’s death.

Nicholas is one of our ancestors who was born before the time of census records, but fortunately he lived through a time in our history where many other records were created. If you look at the year Nicholas was born, you can see that he was just entering adulthood in 1776 when the Revolutionary War began. It is with pride that I can write that Nicholas joined the Patriot Militia and was an active participant during the War; most notably at the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill in Lincoln County. The battle took place on 20 June 1780 with the men of the local patriot militia attacking a force made up primarily of another group of locals who remained loyal (Loyalists) to the British government. The battle was fought on the grounds of the existing Lincolnton High School. The battle was ultimately considered a victory for the Patriots, and since most of the participants were locals, there are actually cases of relatives fighting against relatives. We have records that show Nicholas applied for what was known as a “Land Grant Bounty” (Pension) for service in the War, and then after his death, there are extensive records that show his wife Christiana applied for a Patriot’s widow pension (pension file #W3994). So what does this mean for us today: To all of my female relatives on the McGinnis-Heafner side; Congratulations!, you have the basis for applying to become a member of the “Daughters of the American Revolution” (DAR). Nicholas’s (listed as Nicholas Heviner) Revolutionary War Service veteran confirmation number with the DAR is #943702. [Note: while Nicholas is the first RWP to be profiled, I have found several other ancestors in our heritage who are also patriots and will be profiled later.]

The “War” ended in 1783, and other than his “War” records, it appears that there are no other records on our ancestor Nicholas until 1785 when a land deed was recorded in Lincoln County. The deed is recorded in NC Deed Book 3: #335, dated 14 October 1785, and shows Nicholas purchased 300 acres on the north side of Indian Creek. In 1785, Nicholas would have been almost thirty years old, and he was buying land and creating a homestead for himself; but at this point he is still a bachelor. That changes in 1789 when we find that a marriage bond has been signed in Lincoln County by Nicholas on 9 July for his intent to marry Christiana Shytle (the clerk writes it as “Shitle”).

The first U.S. Census is taken in 1790, and while that census and each one of the subsequent censuses until the 1850 census only list the head-of-household by name, we find our Nicholas and his new family on his land in Lincoln County listed under “Nich (or Nick) Havner”. The census simply shows that the family consisted of one male and two females, which would indicate that there had been a recent birth of their first child, a daughter.

The 1800 Lincoln County census lists the family under head “Nicholas Hoffner”, showing that the family now consisted of 2 males and 3 females. Lorena Shell Eaker found an Emanuel Lutheran Church (Lincolnton, NC) record that shows in a birth registry, a birth of a John Martin, son of Nicholas Havner, on 28 December 1798. It would appear John Martin is the the second male that shows up in this census; along with another daughter.

The 1810 census becomes much more complicated with an apparent explosion of new children. The census listed under “Nicholas Havener” shows there are now four new males under the age of 10, and two new females under the age of 15; the whole family now numbered 11. I have been unable to find the family listed in the 1820 census; it’s very possible that the census-taker simply missed their house, or was lazy in his efforts to make sure he visited everyone. It is also noted in the previously mentioned church record that there was another son born about 1815 named Jacob that would have shown up in this missing 1820 census.

The 1830 census lists the family of Nicholas Havner (Harner) containing 5 males and 4 females for a total of nine. It shows one male below the age of 5, and a total of three males below the age of 15; so there would be an addition of three males since the 1810 census, with one of them being the Jacob listed above. There is only one new female less than the age of 20, which means only one living female had been added to the family since the 1810 census. The net loss to the family since the 1810 census would have been two individuals, which would not have been unexpected since at least four of the children would have been over the age of 20 at that time.

At the time of the 1830 census, Nicholas would have been about 74 years old. Although it had taken over forty years, on 7 June 1832, the U.S. Congress passed a “Revolutionary Claim Act” which compensated veterans of the War for their service. Nicholas filed his claim in November of that year, and was approved in March 1833 for a $30.00 annual pension. In September 1833, Nicholas received a payment of $75.00 for current and past payments.

The Nicholas Havner (name indexed as Nicholes Heoner in Ancestry) family was still in Lincoln County for the 1840 census. The family included three males and three females; no one under the age of 10, so no new additions since the 1830 census, but apparently three had moved on. The census listed a male over the age of 90, but Nicholas would have been about 84 years of age. Of the other males listed in 1830, the male listed as less than 5 was still there, now listed as less than 14, and one of the males listed in 1830 as between 10-14, was still with the family, now listed as between 20-29. The female that showed up in the 1830 census as between the age of 20-29 was the only female to not transition to the 1840 census with the rest of the family.

When Christiana filed for her widows’ pension in 1847, we find in the documentation that Nicholas had died July 31st of that year. He would have been about 91 years old. Christiana applied for her pension just one month after Nicholas’s death; it was approved and she was awarded payments beginning in 1848. She apparently had to continue reapplying to remain as a widowed pensioner, and the last documentation that we have shows that Christiana was still living as of March 1855. Her exact date of death is not known, and where both she and Nicholas are buried has not been recorded; although there is supposedly an old “Heafner” cemetery somewhere in Lincoln County where they might have been laid to rest.

I recently searched for and found an 1850 census record documenting a “Christina Havner”, 80 years old, as head-of-household; and living with her was an Elizabeth Havner, age 60, who could very well be her eldest daughter who was born in 1790. This daughter appears to have never married, for she appears as part of the family continually from 1790 to 1850; derived by ages given on all the census records. It is the only clue that has given me any indication of the given name of any of the Nicholas and Christiana daughters.