Johannes Häner came from the Palatine region of southwestern Germany to the Province of New York in 1710, where he married his second wife and raised a family at East Camp, later known as Germantown, about 80 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River in (then) Albany, now Columbia County. The German and early New York background of our family is discussed at length later in this book. In the 1740s several of the grandsons migrated about 40 miles northward to Rensselaer County, NY where in about 1746 they were among the founders of Gilead Lutheran Church in Brunswick, NY, just east of Troy, NY. Regrettably, the first volume of the church records has been lost; records in the second volume begin in 1777.

When hostilities began with England a number of Johannes’ grandsons fought with the American side. A few of his grandsons went to Canada and enlisted in Butler’s Rangers or served in the engineers’ employ. Here these Hainer and Hoener men, as the name became spelled in Canada, later received land grants for their services, and most became citizens and settled in Canada, principally in Ontario. Later on when the U. S. government opened western lands for homesteading, some of them sold their Canadian properties and returned to the States, settling in Michigan, Iowa, and other localities. 

Soon the families in two counties of New York, separated by a considerable distance and busy with full, new lives lost contact with each other and failed to keep in touch. Those that went to Canada and the West were even more isolated. In time close ties were lost and knowledge of the early family faded away. Many years passed until finally in the fall of 1940 three Hayner women, from three different family lines, learned of each other and began to correspond. They found to their surprise that they were related, and that each lived in upper New York State and shared an interest in early history. They were Jennie Hayner (Mrs. Allen A. Hayner) of Center Brunswick, NY; Mabelle Hayner (Mrs. Rutherford McC. Hayner) of West Sand Lake, an area near Jennie Hayner; and Florence W. Hayner (Mrs. Clifford N. Hayner) of Rochester. Letters went back and forth and enthusiasm grew as they learned of early migrations, new settlements, land grants received for war services, early church records, names of great grandparents, even a common tradition of a remote female ancestor who lived to be 102.

Mrs. Jennie Hayner then learned of early records in the Troy, NY, Court House, and she and Mabelle Hayner went there to study these important papers. Other family members found records in the State Library at Albany, NY, and reported on early land transfers, deeds, wills, and records. It became apparent to everyone that all Hayners, everywhere, regardless of how they spelled their last name, were much interested in family history and willing to take time to study it and then to report their findings. 

The Hayner Family Association

The three correspondents were surprised both by the interest of so many different lines and the volume of information which arrived almost daily. They soon realized that no published history of this early Palatine family existed and that it was an important part of New York’s growth and development. They decided that it was time for a general reunion of the family.

In the summer of 1953 some 150 Hayner and Haner descendants gathered at Center Brunswick, NY in the historic Gilead Lutheran Church. This first family reunion was sponsored by Mr. and Mrs. Allen Hayner of Bald Mountain Road, Center Brunswick, who lived on the farm of his great grandfather, an early settler of the area. Others who helped make it possible were Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Hayner of Rochester, whose forebear Andrew Hayner, Jr. was born in Center Brunswick and moved in 1860 to Gasport, NY some sixty miles from Rochester, where he purchased a large farm. Later he built a cider mill and manufactured Champagne Cider from his large orchard of russet apples. Andrew Hayner’s farm passed to his grandson, Clifford N. Hayner of Rochester, who had much interest in the history of his family. A third member who helped organize this First Hayner Family Reunion was Mrs. Rutherford Hayner of West Sand Lake, a gifted historian who collected much early material; her husband was a well-known newspaper editor in Troy, NY.

The reunited family held a business meeting, elected officers, appointed the three women correspondents to be the Family Historians, and asked them to continue collecting and preserving all possible records toward the eventual publication of a family history. Members were urged to become active in research and report their findings to the secretary. The family voted to call itself THE HAYNER FAMILY ASSOCIATION and to continue holding yearly reunions in the Center Brunswick, NY, area. Currently, reunions are held in odd-numbered years, alternating between upstate New York and the midwest.

The publication of a small quarterly family bulletin called The Hayner Family News, sent to all members, many libraries and historical societies, began in March 1954. Florence Hayner was the devoted secretary of the Association and editor of the News for 35 years from 1954 until her well-earned retirement in 1989. It is a clearing house of information on rediscovered family lines, church and cemetery records, bible entries, and material from county histories, genealogies and various publications. A comprehensive Index to The Hayner Family News, 1954-1986, was published in 1987. Upon Florence’s retirement, the role of secretary passed to Diane Haner Anderson who served for 34 years from 1987 until her passing in 2021. As of 2022, the current secretary is Bonnie (Haner) Hahn.

Our first HISTORY OF THE HAYNER FAMILY was published in the spring of 1967 and sold by subscription to members and to libraries and historical societies country wide. It begins with our ancestor, Johannes Häner, who came to America in 1709-1710 from Germany where he was born in 1675. It contains nearly 2000 numbered Haner men and women, and their families, under some ten different spellings of the name, a section devoted to service of the family in the Revolution and in the Civil War, Families Not Yet Connected (Supplementary Lines), and an Index of Names. It contained all that was known of our Haner/Hayner family at that time. The 2nd edition was published in 1991, and the 3rd edition was published in 2001.