Hege is a family name which spread widely through South Germany after members of the family settled there after the Thirty Years' War. The earliest traces lead to the Swiss canton of Aargau, where the name occurred frequently among the Swiss Brethren. At the end of the 16th century there were still some members of the family among the Swiss Brethren. They later emigrated when the government tried to compel them to join the state church. Among these was Ulrich Hege of Leerau.
The emigrants seem to have settled first in Alsace, but definite facts about the family are not known before the Peace of Westphalia. Members of the family appeared later in the Palatinate. The earliest information comes from Dühren in the Sinsheim district, where Rudolf Hege settled when he left Switzerland about 1656. On March 2, 1661, he took part in an evening service of Mennonites in Steinsfurt, near Hasselbach, and was therefore questioned by the authorities. In the government records he was not otherwise mentioned. In the church book begun at Mutterstadt in the Palatinate in 1676, the family name was entered for the first time in 1697 to note of the birth of Christian Hegi, the son of the surgeon Jakob Hegi (d. ca. 1733) and his wife Katharina. The spelling Hegi indicates Swiss origin; it was not changed to Hege until 1753. It is not clear, however, whether these Hegis were Mennonites. The family is not mentioned in the government lists for Mutterstadt, which generally listed all the Mennonites in the Palatinate. In the family list of 1724 the Mennonite Hans Kaegy is named as a renter.
Information concerning the spread of the Mennonites in the Palatinate was always given in the inventories of the government. The government monitored the Mennonite population to ensure that Mennonites did not exceed the set number of 200 families. The official lists are still preserved in the Generallandesarchiv of Baden at Karlsruhe. The first mention of the name Hege appears in these lists in 1716. At that time Daniel Hege was living in Branchweilerhof near Neustadt. He is also named in the registers of 1724, 1738, and 1743 as part renter of a farm. He died in 1748 and was survived by a daughter, who married Melchior Fellmann, and by seven sons: Christian, Johannes, Daniel, Heinrich, Samuel, Jakob, and Ulrich. Some of their descendants were living in the Rheinpfalz, in Branchweilerhof and members in the churches of Deutschhof and Kohlhof well into the 20th century. In the government lists of the Kurpfalz, only the oldest, Christian, and the youngest, Ulrich, are named. Christian Hege was hereditary lessee of the Branchweilerhof and is named as such in the family lists of the government in 1752, 1759, and 1769. He represented the Mennonites from the left side of the Rhine at the Immelhäuserhof conference of 14 October 1782. The conference was called by Abraham Zeisset, the elder of the Hasselbach congregation, to settle a dispute.
In the government list of 1769 the name Hege is entered for the first time in Mutterstadt. At that time Ulrich Hege, probably the youngest brother of the Christian Hege at the Branchweilerhof, lived in Mutterstadt. Ulrich was born about 1735 at Branchweilerhof, and in about 1762 he leased a farm in Mutterstadt. About 1770 he moved to Eppelheim near Heidelberg, where he died about 1783 at the age of 47 years. He is the ancestor of the family line that settled in Baden, Württemberg, and Bavaria. His oldest son, Daniel Hege (b. 1765) leased an estate in Schwetzingen and in 1811 in Mauer near Meckesheim. He was deacon of the Meckesheim congregation. In 1822 he took over the leased estate of Oberbiegelhof near Neckarbischofsheim, which was farmed by his family for nearly 100 years. He died in 1728 at the age of 73 years.
Of his sons, Ulrich Hege, born 7 April 1808 at Schwetzingen, was one of the leading elders of the Mennonites of Baden. He was ordained preacher in 1838 and elder in 1843. He was aware of the weaknesses of his congregation and worked successfully with the elders Christian Schmutz and Heinrich Landes for a spiritual revival. Although he had no theological education, he was an outstanding preacher. His sermons were simple, but powerful. He spoke with a thorough knowledge of Scripture, deep feeling, and a penetrating understanding. He put great emphasis on the personal attitude of the individual to God and to Christ. He was, therefore, less concerned with increasing the membership than with harmonizing personal life with the Word of God. He would not baptize an applicant if he noticed in the baptismal instruction that a serious intention to live a new life was lacking. Two letters have been preserved which he wrote with his fellow elders in July 1862 to David Sherrick and Elias Eby of Canada. These letters were published in a booklet by Elder David Sherrick in Preston in 1863. Ulrich Hege died on 8 November 1872. Four daughters and seven sons survived him. After his death most of his sons continued in the spirit of their father as elders of South German churches. Five of these were:
(1) Christian Hege (15 August 1840-18 April 1907) who was renter in Breitenau near Willsbach (Württemberg). He was preacher of the Lobenbach church (which later merged with the church at Heilbronn) after 19 October 1890, and elder after 28 January 1894. Christian was the author of the book, Einst und Jetzt oder Vergangenheit und Gegenwart unserer Mennoniten-Gemeinden (Reihen, 1890). From 1904 until 1907 he was the representative of the Weinsberg district in the Landtag of Württemberg.
(2) Jakob Hege (18 September 1844-9 May 1926) was first renter of the large Lautenbach farm near Neckarsulm, then renter in Hettstadterhof near Würzburg. He immigrated to Wisner, Nebraska in 1893, went to Aberdeen, Idaho, and died in Paso Robles, Cal. He became preacher on 9 August 1874 and elder on 23 May 1880 of the Lobenbach church. From 1880 until 1892 he served the Giebelstadt church. After he immigrated to North America, he served the congregations at Aberdeen and Paso Robles. In 1897 he published Christliche Gemeindezucht.
(3) Johannes Hege (5 April 1847-20 February 1911) rented in turn the Oberbiegelhof, Buchenhof near Römhild (Thuringia), and Liebenstein near Lauffen am Neckar. On 16 July 1876, he was ordained as preacher of the Hasselbach church, and later as elder. From 1886 to 1898 he served the congregation of Bildhausen-Trappstadt, and after 1898 the Heilbronn congregation.
(4) Philipp Hege (15 April 1848-1 May 1908) rented the Oberbiegelhof. He was ordained preacher on 22 June 1873 and elder on 23 October 1887 for the Hasselbach congregation.
(5) Daniel Hege (6 September 1836-5 May 1900) rented successively a farm in Neuhaus near Grombach (Baden), Bonfeld near Heilbronn, and Hettstadterhof near Würzburg. In 1880 he moved to Munich and from there directed the emigration of Mennonites from Baden to southern Bavaria, and helped to bring about a union between them and the Mennonites who were already living there, having emigrated from the Palatinate early in the 19th century. This union resulted in the organization of the church in Munich in 1892.
In addition, three sons-in-law of Ulrich Hege served as elders in the churches: (1) Daniel Bähr (1834-1905) was chosen preacher 11 June 1871, and elder 14 June 1874, of the Rappenau (Baden) congregation. After 1897 he served the Munich and Eichstock congregations. (2) Abraham Schmutz (1849-1924) was made preacher 15 April 1883, and elder 28 January 1894, of the Ittlingen congregation (now Sinsheim). (3) Daniel Lichti (1849-1928) was made preacher of the Giebelstadt-Rottenbauer church (now Würzburg) 18 January 1880, and later elder of the Donauwörth church.
Christian Hege (1768-1838), the second son of Ulrich Hege of the branch in Baden, settled in Bockschaft near Kirchardt. His son Ulrich Hege in Reihen (13 January 1812-13 June 1896) was elder of the Ittlingen congregation, as well as the founder, and for many years the editor, of the Gemeindeblatt der Mennoniten. In the name of the Aeltestenrat he published the new edition of the Leitfaden in 1876. One of his sons, Jakob Hege (December 1848-26 August 1911), was a traveling evangelist of the Mennonites of Baden, Württemberg, and Bavaria from 1876 on. Jakob also renewed connections with the Mennonites of Switzerland, and beginning in 1883 he promoted the spiritual life of the churches there by arranging and often conducting regular Bible conferences. In the churches of Baden he occupied a leading position after the death of the older elders. He officiated at most of the baptisms, marriages, and funerals in the Baden churches. After the death of his father in 1896 he was put in charge of the Gemeindeblatt. His brother Philipp Hege (7 November 1857-7 March 1923) was elder of the Heilbronn church, and during the trying war years he edited the Gemeindeblatt with skill and understanding. At the same time he was very active in the field of home missions (Jugendpflege) and in caring for the Mennonite refugees from Russia.
Some members of the Hege family were part of the mass emigration of Mennonites from the Palatinate to North America in the early 18th century. The first emigrant was Hans Hege from the region of Zweibrücken, who sought a new home in Lancaster County, Pa. with his brother-in-law, Hans Lehmann. They arrived in Philadelphia on Sept. 27, 1727 on the ship, "James Goodwill." The Genealogical Register of the Male and Female Descendants of Hans Hege states that the Hege family there is of Swiss origin. Several descendants of Hans Hege were preachers in Mennonite Church (MC) congregations, among them W.W. Hege of Marion, Pa.
On 28 August 1750, Nicolas Hegi landed on the shores of North America. Today the anglicized form of the name occurs frequently as Hegy or Hagey. The (MC) Hagey Mennonite Church (now Preston Mennonite Church of Cambridge, Ont.), was named after two Hagey brothers: Jacob, who was deacon from 1832 until 1893, and Joseph, who was bishop from 1851 until 1876. Both brothers came with their parents in 1822 from Montgomery County, Pa., to the Preston (Cambridge) neighborhood. In 1956 the Hagey family was still prominent in the congregation.
One of the outstanding early leaders of the General Conference Mennonite Church in the United States was Daniel Hege of Klein-Karlbach near Grünstadt in the Palatinate, who emigrated to Summerfield, Ill., where he served as preacher from 1859, then as traveling evangelist for the conference until his untimely death in 1862.
Heiz, J. Die Täufer in Aargau. Aarau, 1902.
Smith, C. Henry. The Mennonite Immigration to Pennsylvania. Norristown, 1929: 213.
Hege, Christian. Chronik der Familie Hege, Heft I. Frankfurt am Main, 1937.
Hagey, K. A. and W.A. Hagey. The Hagey Families in America. Bristol, Tenn.-Va., 1951.
Mennonitisches Lexikon, "Hege."
Müller, Ernst. Geschichte der Bernischen Täufer. Frauenfeld, 1895: 213.
Bender, H. S. Two Centuries of American Mennonite Literature: a Bibliography of Mennonitica Americana 1727-1928. Goshen, IN, 1929: 29.
Gemeindeblatt der Mennoniten (1872): 86; (1896): 74; (1900): 47; (1905): 62; (1907): 40; (1909): 44; (1911): 26; (1925): 4; (1926): 78; (1928): 84.
Christlicher Gemeinde-Kalender (later called Mennonitischer Gemeinde-Kalender) (1909): 47-54; (1913): 47-59.
Mennonitischer Blätter (1905): 68, 76.
The Genealogical Register of the Male and Female Descendants of Hans Hege. Chambersburg, 1859.
Cite This Article
Hege, Christian. "Hege (Hegi, Hegy, Hagey) family." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1956. Web. 24 Oct 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Hege_(Hegi,_Hegy,_Hagey)_family&oldid=100214.
Hege, Christian. (1956). Hege (Hegi, Hegy, Hagey) family. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 October 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Hege_(Hegi,_Hegy,_Hagey)_family&oldid=100214.
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