For 150 years after 1700, the Ecker family was one of the largest in Unterreichenbach, Germany (Württemberg). After the mid-1800s, the family name begins to disappear from the church records. No one with the name Ecker lives there today. Where did they all go? Some insight cam be gleaned from the church records themselves.

Infant and childhood mortality was staggering. At times more than half of a given family's children did not survive until adulthood.

The designation and (paying) occupation of miller appears to have been handed down to a single, son, usually (but not always) the oldest son.  Other sons would be millers have had to consider establishing themselves elsewhere. Some Ecker sons adopted other occupations such as baker or raftsmen.  Ecker men married women from other villages, and it is clear that some Ecker women moved away to marry.  And of course, some emigrated to foreign lands, including America.  It is these latter we will discuss further here.  Let us examine some of the evidence.  A summary list of Eckers and related families who came to America is presented here.


Evidence from Passenger Lists:

I only have one passenger list available to me at present.  It is the one containing the name of my GG-Grandfather Abraham William Eker who arrives in New York on or about July 8 (?3), 1854.  As discussed elsewhere, he is accompanied by another 14 year old, Margaret Eker.  I have not yet found a matching candidate within the family, nor have I any idea what happened to this young woman.  I do not see her in the census reports of Newark in which I traced the other Eckers.  Indeed, I have not found evidence of any other Eckers in Newark in the mid- to late 1800s who were not descendants of the 5 children of Jakob Ecker and Juliana Rosina Fischer. 

I am still sorting through all the Ecker Families of Unterreichenbach of which I am not directly descended.  I can only find a single Ecker girl who would have been 14 years old in 1854.  Her name is Rosina Catharina.  She was born in the right year and was even confirmed the same day as Abraham Wilhelm, but there is a notation in family register #44 of Gottlieb Friedrich and Rosina Catharina of an illegitimate child of their daughter Rosina Catharina that if accurate, likely rules her out as Abraham Wilhelm's travelling companion.  The teenagers are accompanied by Elisabeth Bohnenberger, probably a relative by marriage.

Evidence from the Württemberg Immigration Index:

This collection of official files from Germany available on contain the names of 68 people who emigrated from Unterreichenbach between 1853 and 1879.  Six of these were Eckers. (There were no Ekers.)  All but the last came to North America.  Our Abraham Wilhelm  appears on this list with confirming birth and emigration years. Assuming his brothers and sister came before him, we might not expect to see him on this list.

The first to emigrate on this list is a Wilhelm Ecker of unknown age who emigrates in 1853.  The closest match I can make within the Ecker family of Unterreichenbach is a Georg Wilhelm Ecker born 10 Jan 1821.  He was the son of Jakob Heinrich and Rosina and would have been 32 at emigration.  Church records confirm that he emigrated to America.  I have no knowledge of what happened to him.

A Phillip Ecker born 4 June 1822 applies to emigrate in 1856.  The best match in our database is Philipp Frederich, the son of (Young) Johannes and Gottliebin.  He is the Uncle of Abraham Wilhelm Ecker. His church records do not show a date of death, and there are notes seeming to indicate that he left for somewhere, but I cannot make out the text.

A Gottlieb Ecker born in 1847 emigrates in 1867 at the age of what would have been 20.  There is a potential candidate as a son of Gottlieb Friedrich and Eva Catharina in Unterreichenbach. He would be the brother of the 14 year-old Rosina Katharina mentioned above.  I have no knowledge of what happened to him.

There is a Christian Ecker who emirates in 1858.  This cannot be Abraham Wilhelm's brother who was already married and having children in America in 1856.   Lastly, in 1879 a Georg Wilhelm Ecker born in 1852 emigrates to Switzerland.  I have no further knowledge and cannot identify potential candidates for these two men at this time.

The population of Unterreichenbach in 1818 was 302. For such a small village, 68 emigrants seems like a lot even counted over a number of years.   I understand from the description of the Württemberg Index on that not all emigrants registered officially, and that some emigrants may have sent back information about the change in their citizenship later.  It appears that the original records from which the index was extracted are available through the Church of the Latter-day Saints.  I, or someone else could take a look, although we are warned that these records can be difficult to interpret even for experts.

Evidence from Church Books:

I have still not extracted all the information from the available church records.  In addition, these records from Unterreichenbach were among the first such German language records I looked at.  I have gotten better since then and will need to revisit what I have already done.  It is clear that for some individuals, a specific notation was made in the family registers, including the destination of America or North America.  These church records are not consistent either in form or completeness with respect to emigration status.  For example, there is no notation that my Abraham Wilhelm or his siblings emigrated at all.  One additional clue available to us it that such individuals who left town may well have a confirmation date, but no date of death nor notation of marriage.  Recognizing that this list is incomplete, and erring on the side of accuracy, the following are Eckers for whom there is historical  evidence from Church records that they immigrated to America with links to the specific record.

Sons of Johann Heinrich Ecker and Anna Maria. (Family Register #40)

Frederick Ecker, born 1804 and emigrated 1844 to America.
Georg Wilhelm Ecker, born 1821 and emigrated in 1853 to America.

Sons of Jung Johannes Ecker and Gottliebin.  (Family Register #39)

Wilhelm Abraham, born 20 Apr 1816, and emigrated 1854. (Also in Index)
Philipp Frederich, born 4 Jun 1822, and emigrated 1856.  (Also in Index)

(Note that the four men above would have been older than the Eckers of Newark when they came to America.  These were close relatives of the Newark Eckers.  I will not be surprised to find some of them having settled in the area of Albany, New York where my Abraham Wilhelm and his brother Frederick spent several years after the Civil War.)

Many Eckers left Unterreichenbach for other German villages and towns.  I have no way of knowing how many made the bigger jump to another country.