Our Story (comes to America)

In late June 1740, the Ebgerts, Kirbachs and Schiffers, along with other friends and neighbors from the Westerwald, all set sail from Rotterdam for America on the ship ‘Samuel & Elisabeth’. They arrived in Philadelphia on September 30, 1740. Upon embarkation, Fritz was the first to sign the passenger list, while the signatures of Wilhelm and Christ Kirbach appeared opposite to his.

Christ Koerbach settled in Germantown, just west of Philadelphia, while Wilhelm moved to York, then Lancaster County, PA. Both men had large families. Over time, their names morphed to Kerbaugh, Kerbeck and other variants.

It appears that Fritz moved to New Jersey. Burgert & Jones (1989) reported that one ‘Friedrich Apkert’ was named in a suit before the NJ Supreme Court in 1742. Despite, Lynn Conley’s Herculean effort to track down this record, no trace could be found in the Court’s files. Lynn hypothesized that this case, which was likely a dispute over money or land, must have been settled out of court. Hank Apgar (2000) noted that the countryside in the Westerwald around Puderbach is very similar to that of northern Hunterdon County, NJ. Fritz must have felt ‘at home’ in the sparsely settled rolling, forested hillside south of Cokesbury.

We can’t be sure whether Fritz and Eva Ebgert/Apkert were the parents of the other ‘first generation’ Apgars or not. However, once removed from their childhood circle of friends, it appears that they reverted to the old German naming custom of naming the oldest son after the father’s father and oldest girl after the father’s mother. This custom was carried on by German emigrants in America for nearly a century. The next two children of ‘the first generation of Apgars’ were Johannes Adam and Maria Sophia. These were apparently named after Fritz’s parents. The next two children, Catherine and Heinrich may have been named after Eva’s parents, although we haven’t been able to identify who her parents were in the old church book records.

As no appreciable gap exists between the birth dates of the ten ‘Apgar’ children bornin America—Johannes Adam (c. 1741), Maria Sophia (c. 1742), Catherine (c. 1743), Heinrich (1745), Jacob (1746), Peter (c. 1747), William (1752), Frederick (1753), Conrad (1755) and George (by 1760)—it is likely that they were all children of Fritz and Eva. Due to the close spacing of their estimated birth years, Sophia may have been a twin of either Adam or Catherine. Perhaps Eva was already pregnant with Adam when she and Fritz fled that chilly weather in Germany. The brief gap between Peter and William may have been due to Eva’s death and Fritz’ third marriage, it could be a time when another unrecorded daughter was born, a child was stillborn or didn’t survive to adulthood, or it could have a decent ‘breather’ for Eva.

At any rate, with this evidence, and no other evidence of contenders, it is reasonable to amend the family records and recognize Friedrich “Fritz” Ebgert as the patriarch of the Apgar Family in America. Anna Juliana Haag was the mother of Herbert and John Peter in Germany, while Anna Eva Schaefer was likely the mother of Adam, Sophia, Catherine, Heinrich, Jacob, Peter, William, Frederick (Jr), Conrad and George. Additional relevant material may lie waiting to be found, which may confirm or somewhat alter this story. However, it seems that, finally, answers to the questions, “Where did the Apgars come from?” and “Who was the patriarch of (all or at least most of) the Apgars in America?”, are known with certainty.