Johann Dietrich Heifner

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Johann Dietrich Heifner

Also Known As: "Johann", "Heffner", "Hafner"
Birthdate: (64)
Birthplace: Heidelberg, Herzogtum Württemberg, Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation
Death: July 25, 1787 (64)
Howards Creek, Lincoln County, North Carolina, United States
Immediate Family:

Husband of Mary Elizabeth Heavner
Father of Abraham Heavner; Frederick Heavner; Christina Jane Houser; Elizabeth Heavner; Sarah Heavner and 4 others

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Johann Dietrich Heifner

The Heavner Family

Name Origin: German

The name Heavner is first found in Austria and southern Bavaria, Germany, where the family made a considerable contribution to the feudal society which became the backbone of early modern Europe. The name Heavner/Heffner is a German dialect word meaning "potter" and is still standard Pennsylvania German. [Reference: H. J. Young, Research, The Historical Society, York, Pennsylvania]

Spelling variations of the name include: Haffner, Hafner, Haafner, Hafener, Haffener, Heffner, Haefner, Hefner, and many more.


The Heavner family line merges with the Aderholt, Witherspoon and Setzer family lines.


Pioneer, Johann Dietrich Heffner, Emigrant from Palatinate in Germany, landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, October 20, 1744, on the ship, Phoenix, and made his oath of Allegiance this day. The Palatinate in Southwestern Germany was a province ruled over by a Prince having a certain royal prerogatives and called a "Court Palatinate." This Prince, as lord of his domain, exercised royal power, held imperial prestige, and reigned in surroundings of regal splendor. Lying just west of the Rhine, between Mainz and Karlsruhe, it is one of the choicest, richest, and most fertile realms in all Europe. It was then, and ever has been, the coveted pearl of great price in that undulating borderland between France and Germany. Old Heidelburg was the abode of proud Princes and Princes’ sons. Johann Dietrich Heffner’s arriving is authenticated in Volume I, Page 365, and Column II, Page 374, of the Pennsylvania German Pioneers, by Ralph Strassburger and William Hinke. It reads, "Phoenix, 1744, the Foreigners whose names are underwritten, imported in the Phoenix, William Wilson, Captain, from Rotterdam and last from Cowes, did this day take the foregoing Oaths to the Government."

The first of the Heffner name to settle in this section are thought to be two brothers, Dietrich and George. George settled in what is now Catawba County and Dietrich settled on Rock Dam Creek about four miles west of present day Lincolnton, NC. It is believed that Dietrich Heffner was born in the year 1723 in Germany. He was married to Elizabeth in the year 1742 when he was 19 years old. It is known by the court records that Dietrich had arrived here and had built his home prior to June 21, 1766. Elizabeth died after 1790. Dietrich did in 1787.

The name Heffner or Heavner is a German dialect word meaning potter and is still standard Pennsylvania German. Reference H.J. Young, Research, The Historical Society, York, Pennsylvania

Dietrich Heffner settled in present Lincoln County, North Carolina, by 1766, if not much earlier. On June 21, 1766, one "teeter Havener, Blacksmith," purchased three hundred acres of land on Fisher’s Creek from Daniel Warlick and his wife, Maria Barbara Warlick. The deed was registered in Mecklenburg County since Lincoln County was not formed until 1779. Fisher’s Creek, named for Nicholas Fisher, was changed to Howard’s Creek. The Pioneer Nicholas Fisher was scalped by the Indians in the eighteenth century. Dietrich Heffner had previously settled on the land for the description of the land includes "the said Teeter Heavners house." Perhaps Heffner had met Daniel Warlick in old Montgomery county, Pennsylvania, (then Philadelphia County) and Warlick had helped him get started near his mill. In the deed which was conveyed to Heffner it is said that he was a blacksmith and this would have been a valuable addition to the Warlick settlement on the Catawba frontier. (Mecklenburg County Deeds, Charlotte, NC, Deed Book 4, Page 66.). Dietrich Heffner no doubt settled in Lincoln County before 1766. The deed in 1766 from Daniel Warlick; a land grant on April 29, 1768 and the purchase of the land for the Schoolhouse Church on July 5, 1768 prove that he permanently settled in Lincoln County, NC by 1766. 1768 land grant is mentioned in deed on October 21, 1768 when he sold this land to Henry Helderbrand. (Mecklenburg County Deeds, Deed Book 4, Page 884 and the Deed for the SchoolHouse Church, Mecklenburg County Deeds, Deed Book 4, Page 437.) If the Revolutionary War pension statement of his son is correct, the family was in Lincoln County ten years earlier. Nicholas Hafner said he was born in Tryon County, NC in 1756. Since Tryon County was not formed until 1769 the place of birth must have been in Anson County from which Tryon County was formed. (Nicholas Hafner’s Pension Papers, National Archives, Washington, D.C.) Dietrich Heffner was definitely of German descent. He settled in the German settlement around Daniel Warlick’s Mill and the Schoolhouse Church which was known as the Warlick settlement. The land he bought from Daniel Warlick and the lands he owned when he died were along Howard’s Creek on the branch known as Rock Dam Creek where he built a mill and a dam. The creek to this day is called Rock Dam Creek.

Dietrich Heffner was probably of Lutheran Faith. Along with five other men who had settled in Lincoln County: Daniel Warlick, Frederick Wise, Urban Ashebranner, Peter Statler and Peter Summey purchased from Matthew Floyd on July 15, 1768, a fifty acre tract land on Lincoln County, then Mecklenburg County, for the use of a church meeting house, school house and other buildings for the promotion of religion and learning...including a school house there on built. On January 9, 1774, Nicholas Warlick, Frederick Wise, Urban Ashebranner, Peter Statler, Peter Summey and Teter Hafner conveyed this land to the two United Congregations of Lutheran and Calvinist (Reformed). The two congregations of this deed are the Daniel’s Lutheran and the Daniels Reformed Churches. They were known as the School House Church until 1830 when the name was changed to Daniel’s Church.

The only signature found of Dietrich Heffner is affixed to a pledge he made in 1787 which is self explanatory and reads as follows, "July 25, 1787, I do hereby promise to pay upon my honor that if there is a pulpit made in the meeting house in Lincolnton in one year from this date that I will pay the joiner five pounds when the work is completed." It was signed in German. This obligation was paid for by his administrators. It is thereby presumed that the pulpit was made. On the outside fold of the jacket or wrapper containing receipts supporting vouchers in the settlement of the estate of "Diedter Heffner" that Clerk of Court wrote "Dierk Hevener".

Dietrich Heffner probably died in April 1788 for at the April Session of the Lincoln County Court of Pleas and Quarter Session, Elizabeth Hafner who was his widow relinquished her right of administration of the estate of "Deter Hafner" deceased, to her sons, Jacob and Abraham Hafner. They had previously qualified as administrators of their fathers estate on January 8, 1788. Deter was alive on July 25, 1787 and was deceased on January 8, 1788. His family probably began the settlement if his estate in 1788. (Lincoln County Court Records, Lincolnton, NC, April 1788, Office of the Clerk of Court. "Settlement of the Estate of Tetrich Havener, Deceased, January 1794. Papers filed in the Clerk of Court’s Office, Lincolnton, NC).

Dietrich Heffner did not leave a will. It is known that he had six sons who are mentioned in two deeds at Lincolnton, NC. In a Deed, dated October 14, 1800 and in another Deed dated April 10, 1813, Jacob Hafner, Abraham Hafner, Martin Hafner, Nicholas Hafner, Fredrick Hafner, and Daniel Hafner are called the six sons of Deter Hafner, On October 14, 1800, the six sons made an arrangement whereby Jacob Hafner purchased 247 acres of his fatherland on Howard’s Creek from his five brothers. The important phrase in this deed describes the heirs of Dietrich Heffner: "the said Warlick conveyed to Deter Havener, deceased, he dying intestate and aforesaid land falling to his six sons, to wit: Jacob, Abraham, Martin, Nicholas, Frederick and Daniel Havener." (Deed Book 30, Page 160, Lincoln County). On April 10, 1813, Jacob Hafner sold a tract of land which belonged to his father to Lawson Henderson of Lincoln County. In this deed, it is recorded that Deter Hafner, deceased, left about 500 acres of land on Howard’s Creek, joining Anthony Horse, Adam Reep, and John Houser. He died without a will and this land by law descends to his six sons, viz.: Jacob, Abram, Martin, Nicholas, Frederick and Daniel Hafner." (Deed Book 26, Page 86.). There was on daughter since the 1790 Census Lists Elizabeth Heffner and an additional free white female.

The site of the first Heavner settlement is located near the Silas Hauss home. The Hauss home has burned but the chimney is still standing. His daughter, Mrs. Beulah Hauss Carpenter, owns the old Hauss homeplace. Across the Rock Dam Creek from the Hauss home is where Dietrerich Heffner first settled. Mr. Hauss stated to me that he had always been told by Mr. Dan Reep of the exact location. Near the home of Dietrich he built his mill on the creek. The entrance to the mill faced West. Large rocks still rests beside the mill race where the mill wheel., which was undershot, was supported. Portions of the rock dam are clearly seen on each side of the creek by the dam was torn down many years ago. The site of the first Heavner cemetery is across the creek and near tow tenant houses. In all probability, Dietrich and Elizabeth are buried there.

State of North Carolina

Notes for Johann Dietrich Hefner:

(He was a ) native of Heidleberg, Germany. Came to America in summer of 1744 at the age of 21 on the ship Phoenix from Rotterdam. "Deter" came to Bucks Montgomery Co., PA and stayed 10 years before moving to Howard's Creek, Lincoln (County), NC. He was naturalized 10/20/1744. [Brøderbund Software, Inc., World Family Tree Vol. 3, Ed. 1, (Release date: February 9, 1996), "CD-ROM," Pedigree #4636.]

21 Jan 1766 - Daniel Warlick sells to Teeter (Peter) Havenor 300 acres on Howard's Creek including Tetter Havenor's house (Mecklenburg Co., NC Deed Book 4:66-67).

15 Jul 1768 - Matthew Floyd conveyed to Nicholas Warlick, Frederick Wise, Urban Ashbanner, Peter Statler, Peter Summey and Peter Hafner, fifty acres for ten pounds sterling for the location of a building to house schoolhouse and church.

April 1769 - Tryon Co NC CP&QS - Teter Havenor of Tryon County sold to Derrick Ramsour, one Negro boy named Tonday, for £18 s18 d 10 on 03 Feb 1769. Teter Heavenor (LS), Witnesses: John Fondron, James Maxwell, Jacob Rinehart.

January 1772 - Tryon Co NC CP&QS - Ordered by the Court that Frederick Wise and Teter Havenor serve as overseers in the room of (in place of) Nicholas Welsh.

January 1773 - From the Crown Docket, Teter Havener is accused of assault by Albannas Ashabranar and Frederick Probpts; the court finds this to be a true bill, and a writ is ordered calling upon the Sheriff to take the accused into custody to stand against the charges. The case appears again on the docket in January 1773 and twice in April 1773.

April 1774 - Teter Hevener is charged with one count of assault; this is found to be a true bill. The charges are brought by Albanas Ashabraner and Frederick Probts. The Sheriff's return is that Hevener is not found; a second writ is issued because of the failure of the first writ.

July 1774 - Tryon Co NC CP&QS - A bill of sale from Stophal Walbert to Teter Havenor for "Sundry Goods & Chattles" dated 17 Jan 1773. Acknowledged in open court and ordered to be registered.

(cont) A bill of sale from Jesse Williamson to Teter Havenor for one gray horse eight years old branded thus IR and one mare aged fourteen years branded thus CC and 3 cows and calves. Dated 15 Jun 1774, proved by John Alexander an evidence thereto.

July 1774 - The King vs Teter Havener - the charge is two counts of assault; this is found to be a true bill. The charges are brought by Albanas Ashabraner and Frederick Probts. A jury is impannelled and sworn, and they find the defendant not guilty.

July 1777 - Tryon Co NC CP&QS - Ordered by the Court that Teter Havener and John Reynolds serve as Constables in Capt Carpenters district and that they swear before John Sloan Esq'r accordingly.

1788, April Court, Lincoln Co. - Elizabeth Hofner relinquishes her right to administer on the estate of "Peter" Hofner. Letters granted to Jacob and Abraham Hofner.

1792, April Court - Deter Hofner, dec'd, heirs in dispute over land.

14 Oct 1800 - Abraham, Martin, Nicholas, Frederick and Daniel Heavner to Jacob Heavner divides the land of Teter Heavner amongst "his six sons" (Lincoln Co., NC Deed Book 30:160).

Other Sources:

1. Lorena Shell Eaker, German Speaking People West of the Catawba River In North Carolina 1750 - 1800, (SCK Publications, 1994), 217.

2. Catawba Cousins Vol. 12 No. 3, (Catawba County Genealogical Society, December 1977), 21.

3. Brent H. Holcomb, Tryon County North Carolina Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions 1769-1779, (SCMAR, Columbia, SC, 1994)

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Johann Dietrich Heifner's Timeline

Heidelberg, Herzogtum Württemberg, Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation
Age 23
Lincoln County, North Carolina, United States
Age 31
Age 32
Age 33
Province of North Carolina
Age 35
Howards Creek, Lincoln County, North Carolina, United States
Age 42
Age 44
Heiliges Römisches Reich Deutscher Nation
November 5, 1779
Age 56
Lincoln County, North Carolina, United States