A Word About the Apgar Family Patriarch

There has been confusion for more than a century about the identity of the immigrant patriarch of the Apgar family in America. The first known published Apgar genealogy was printed in Early Germans of New Jersey (Chamberlain, Theodore F.,1895). That account named Johannes Adam Ebert, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1749, as the immigrant from whom all Apgars are descended. This same family genealogy was reprinted separately as a pamphlet entitled “Apgar Genealogy” during the 1930s.

During the early 1980s the Apgar Association was re-established. Several family members worked diligently for many years to recompile and update our family’s ancestry. They found that wills of several of apparent “first generation” Apgars (Herbert and John Peter), signed at the turn of the 19th century, indicated that they had been born by the mid-1730s. Assuming that an earlier arrival had been the father of our family, they found Johannes Peter Apgard was among the passengers on the galley Hope,which landed in Philadelphia in 1734. Other passengers on the same ship were prominent early settlers of Hunderdon County, NJ (including Neitzert, Albach, Hoffman, etc). The extensive series of family histories published by the Apgar Association during the 1980s were identified as Johannes Peter Apgard and his descendants.

However, during 2002 several family researchers found—independently from different sources simultaneously—documentation that the immigrant patriarch of the Apgar family was Friedrich "Fritz" Epgert. He arrived in Philadelphia on September 30, 1740 on the ship Robert & Elizabeth out of Rotterdam. Fritz was 32 years old at that time.

Fritz's signature is written clearly (and first) on the passenger list. From church records in Germany (of which I have obtained copies), Fritz was probably the son of Johannes Adam Epgert and his first wife, Anna Sophia, who lived in the same village of Dauffenbach and attended church in Puderbach (both in the German Westerwald). However, the record of that 1708 birth doesn't include the child's name! His mother must have died before Fritz was one year old, because his father had another child (Johannes Peter) baptised in 1710 with a different wife, named Veronica. (Perhaps Sophia died during childbirth, as she did not attend the infant's baptism.)

Subsequently, Fritz' name appeared in the Puderbach churchbook as a witness at weddings and a godfather. In 1731 he married Anna Julianna Haag and moved in with her at her widowed mother's home in Niederdreis. In 1731 they had a child who they baptised as Johannes Herbertus. That first child (apparently conceived out of wedlock) must have died, because the next year the same couple had another son baptised with the same name. We believe that this second Herbert, born in 1732 was Fritz's oldest (surviving) son. In 1735, Fritz and Julianna had another son, baptised Johannes Petrus (John Peter or Hans Peter).

In 1737 Julianna's mother died, but a little girl was born to Fritz and Julianna, who baptised her Anna Elisabetha (after Julianna's mother). The little girl died when she was only 3 months old, and two years later (in Feb 1739) Julianna died. That fall (Nov 1739) Fritz re-married. His bride was Anna Eva Schaefer. That winter was cold and spring was unusually cold and rainy. By the end of spring, the couple, with Herbert and Hans Peter left for America.

Soon after they landed in America, Eva gave birth to a son, or, perhaps twins. I feel that it's likely she had twins, a boy and a girl. They named the boy Johannes Adam and the girl (twin or later) Maria Sophia. (Remember, Fritz's parents' names were Adam and Sophia.)

In 1742, Friedrich Apkert was one of six men named as defendants in a NJ Supreme Court case. It was likely for occupying land that they didn't have title to. Names of the others included at least two whose names appeared on plots of land near Cokesbury, NJ. That's why I think the land at issue in 1742 was the same land that the "homestead" occupies today. The birthdates--known or inferred--for the other first generation Apgars (Catherine, Heinrich, Jacob, Peter, William, Frederick and Conrad) makes it quite possible (probable) that they were all children of Fritz and Eva.

An old family legend alleged said that “two brothers came to America”. This might refer to Herbert and Hans Peter Epgert, who both arrived as children, with their father and stepmother in 1740. Apgar researchers are unaware of any record that Johannes Peter Apgard was ever in NJ--or anywhere in America other than on the ship Hope at the port of Philadelphia in 1734.

Web Editor's Note:
In August 2011, as a result of diligent research, it was determined that there never was an immigrant named Johannes Peter Apgard on the ship Hope in 1734. In fact no Johannes Peter Epgert could have ever immigrated to America since such a man never existed. The signature that appears on the passenger list was that of Johannes Peter Amptget from the village of Amteroth (ala the Almersbach Churchbook). We believe that Strassbruger-Hinke erred in translating the name, which appeared in the local dialect as Amtgert.