The origin of the family name Honkomp

The name „Honkomp“ probably originates in Old Low German and denoted a specific plot of land situated in the village of Steinfeld-Harpendorf, in northwestern Germany .
It had the size of approximately 41 hectare and was lying on a kind of higher ground which was the reason for the name: „Honkamp“ = ho(gen) Kamp (translat.: high field).

The earliest written proof of the name can be found in a document in 1535 which confirms the property of that plot to Hoenkamp. As it can be seen in old church books, later the name Hoenkamp changed to Honkamp, Honcomp and finally to Honkomp.

Mentioned in Steinfeld are following family members in line:

  • 1537 Grete Honkamp
  • 1545 Johan Honkamp
  • 1593 Johann Hoenkamp
  • 1619 Wernerus Honkomp, +01.04.1710 Steinfeld-Harpendorf

The following generations are determined by three main lines:

  • A) Johann (Joan) Honkomp, Owner, *1657, +08.02.1747, oo06.05.1697 A.M. Minckenberg,
    • Ownerline: the last owner Maria Dorothea Honkomp, married to Robke, emigrated 1879 to Putnam Ohio
  • B) Werneke Honkomp, Heuermann, *1671, +01.01.1716, oo26.04.1700 A.C. Vormann
    • Main line of today’s descendants in Germany and USA
  • C) Gerd Henrich Honcomp, Heuermann, *1673, +15.01.1765, oo02.05.1713 A. Willenbrink
    • Today’s descendants aren’t confessed collateral line to this one, only descendants in New York

Four emigration lines could be determined in USA.: Missouri/Texas, Iowa New York and two times Ohio.

Through further contacts in the Internet we are currently trying to find more descendants of members of the Honkomp family who immigrated to the U.S. or other countries.

Reasons for emigration in the 19th century

On the 10th of March, 1835 the „Oldenburgischen Blätter“ have following news: „13,050 passengers leave Bremerhaven on 155 sailing-boats, 64 of which are registrated in Bremen and 44 in America. 65 boats are heading for Baltimore, 41 for New York, 6 for New Orleans, 2 for Philadelphia and one boat, with 505 people on board, is going to Jamaica.“

Between 1832-1869 a large number of people from this region immigrated mainly for economical reasons.
The majority of them were dependent farmworkers (Heuerleute) who sold everything they had in order to get the money for the journey to America. There they hoped to earn a better living and gain some independence. In this time about 10.000 have emigrated of the 65.000 inhabitants from Oldenburger-Münsterland to America.
The teacher Franz-Joseph Stallo of Damme was one of the first emigrants.

The main economical factor in this region at that time was agriculture, which faced the problem of very poor ground, and secondly textile manufacturing, plus most of the dependent farmworkers had to have some kind of an additional income in order to make ends meet.
A significant source of income was the so-called „Hollandgängerei“ („to go to Holland“), since the Dutch always needed workforce for the fishing-industry.
In 1846 177 people from Lohne worked as fishermen in the Netherlands, sailing as far as America. The parish Steinfeld counted in 1855 195 fishermens. The teacher Joh. Heinrich Rabe founded 1817 a school for fishermens in Mühlen, located between Steinfeld and Lohne.

During the 19th century England became the most important industrial power in Europe. Especially the textile manufactories in Germany couldn’t compete with the much cheaper English products.
In addition to this, much of Germany practiced „the traditional partible form of inheritance“. This meant that the farm had to be divided equally among the children; with the overpopulation of the nineteenth century, the small farms became less and less viable.

Only at the end of the century immigration started to become less because the rest of Europe was industrialized and agriculture was improved through artificial fertilizer. The train became 1888/99 builtly in this region.
In Steinfeld the most important industries at this time were the cigar manufacturing, and in Lohne the cork production and the goose-quill production.


A statistics, done by the Halbertis Family Heritage, Inc, Bath/ Ohio in 1993 shows following numbers of households with the family name Honkomp:

  • Total of estimated households: – Germany 102, – USA 108
  • Total of households registered: – Germany 87, – USA 95
  • Total of estimated individuals: – Germany 277, – USA 313
  • Distribution to different states: – Germany 6, – USA 17
  • State where most Honkomps live: – Germany Lower Saxony, – USA Iowa

Werner Honkomp, Oldenburg (eMail:werner@honkomp.de)
Date: 18. Sep. 1996, Update: 3.March 2000