Welcome to the new and improved Eighner Family History
pages. These pages are about the descendants and antecedents (so far as
they can be discovered) of John Eighner who
married Nancy McBride. You almost certainly belong to this family if you
spell your name Eighner and live in Illinois or know your ancestors who bear
this name came from Illinois.
These pages are a result of an inquiry sent to me (Laurence Vail "Lars" Eighner) by Steven Arthur Eighner. Neither one of us knows
much about the Eighner family or the Eighner surname, and we would both be
glad to hear from people who know more.
I began these researches from the top down, which is to say from
John and people I believe may be his siblings and parents. Unfortunately,
I entered myself first in the database because I need to do some testing
with records for a person I knew something about. Before long I had gone so
far that it was all but impossible to change the internal key numbers, which
really are meaningless but hold the whole thing together. I mean to trace
the descendants of John (and possibly his brothers) downward. This means in
general I tried (but need help) tracing descendants of women who were born
with the Eighner name, but I have not tried to trace the ancestry of women
who have married into the Eighner family with some notable exceptions such
as the KEENE sisters.
This page is in a hermetically sealed part of my web site. There are no
links back to my home page (which some people may think contains items not
suitable for children). Adults should be able to figure out how to get to
my home page if they are interested.
If you have corrections or additions to the information here, please contact me. I am also very
interested in getting copies (scans) of old photographs or documents
pertinent to the family history. I cannot publish photographs of living
persons without their permission or the permission of their parents if they
are minors. So if it you, send them from a valid email address so I can
verify that I have your permission. You can also send links to photos or
documents, or contact me on Facebook to give me permission. I am working
on a legends sections, so you can tell me stories you have heard, even
if they cannot be verified as absolutely true.
This was the subject of Steven's original query which resulted in my
composing these pages. All we have so far are legends and guesses. We are
happy to have your legends and guesses too, and we would be even happier to
have verifiable facts about the Eighner name and our relationship to
European Eighners and relatives, who we suspect exist, who use other
spellings of the name.
This name has many spelling variations including, to name a few, Eighnor,
Agnor, Agner, Aigner, Aighner, Ighner, Igender, Agender, Aegender. There
are also many transcriptions which seem to be simple mistakes (such as
Eighmie, which occurs in one of my family's census records, but is the real
name of another family). Finally, there are some similar names, such as
Eichner, which result in names being exchanged temporarily or permanently
through various kinds of mistakes. Some of the Eighner variations are not
to be considered mistakes, made by illiterate people or careless
bureaucrats, but are merely translations in the local dialect (as for
example, sometimes Smith is merely a translation of Schmidt). There are
also names which are spelled the same as some Eighner variants but which
have no known connection at all, such as the Scottish name Agner. Although
it is very unlikely that someone hearing another name pronounced AG-ner
would write it as 'Eighner,' 'Eighner' may be a mistranscription or a
misspelling of a few other names; that is, the same clerk who transcribes
'Eighner' as 'Eichner' might well transcribe 'Eichner' as 'Eighner.'
This site is about the surname when it is spelled Eighner, although in a
few cases some groups with similar spellings are discussed.
The name is pronounced AG-ner by many who bear it. I pronounced it
EYE-ner in my brief flirtation with fame because that seemed easier on
The most recurring legend of the meaning of the name, supported by some
scholarship, is that it means "freeholder," or in other words a farmer or
peasant who works land that he owns without paying rent or tribute and that
he may have the right to transfer. If this is correct, then the name may
have been adopted independently by a number of different families that were
not related, as for example, "Smith" might have be adopted by a village
smith who was not related to smiths in other villages who also took the name
People who came to America with the name Eighner or its equivalents came
from places that are now France, Germany, Switzerland, and northern Italy.
These places have belonged to many different states, many of which no longer
exist in any form. While the languages they spoke are usually identified on
forms as French or German, it should be recognized that these categories
included a wide variety of local dialects which tend to blend into one
another without much regard to national borders.
Some people who are named Eighner are descended from one or more families
who immigrated to Pennsylvania from Switzerland. That group used many
different spellings of which Eighner is just one. It is not clear that we
are related to them in any way.
Some African-Americans bear the name Eighner in this spelling and a
variety of variants. Most of these come from a family in the Carolinas who
got their name from a slave trader who does not appear to be related to us.
Although that family now has European ancestors, the slave trader was not
Both the Swiss and African-American Eighners tend to pronounce the name
in three syllables, with a middle syllable being gi or gen. Some of the
variant spellings these families use reflect this pronunciation.
It took me a couple of tries to get a genealogical system running,
so there are some pages that have been discontinued because they
are not as good as what replaced them, they have become obsolete owing to
advances in my information or internet technologies. Some pages have been
deprecated because they contained bad information or new versions have not
yet been incorporated into the new system. The pages now contain an
explanation of their status and a few contain some of the old information
that needs to be reworked. This is a list of links to
the discontinued or deprecated pages.