The Life of
George Henry Honig

George Henry Honig around 1902

One death notice on a web site gave his name as George Honig Honig. However, Alda's alumni information lists his middle name as Henry.

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The following information came from:
Indiana One Hundred And Fifty Years Of American Development, Vol. 3
By Charles Roll, A.M.
The Lewis Publishing Company, 1931

(This book is available at the University of Evansville, Willard Library, University of Southern Indiana, and Rockport Library.)

George H. Honig, noted American sculptor, a resident of Evansville, has in the course of his artistic career executed many commissions in plastic materials, bronze and stone, and some of the most noteworthy of these were in commemoration of the Lincoln family's residence in Spencer County, which is also the native county of Mr. Honig.

He was born at Rockport in that county August 3, 1874. The genealogy of the Honig family goes back to Johann Gottfried Hennich, a citizen of Torgau, Sachsen, seventy- five miles south of Berlin on the Elb River. His wife was Johanna Susanna. Their son, Johann Gottfried Honig, also a native of Torgau, married Eva Christine Leitz at Bretten, Baden, May 2, 1765. Their son Johann Jacob, born at Bretten March 26, 1766, and died there December 20, 1812, was a wachtmeister or county police chief, and later a tailor. He married May 14, 1799, Elisabetha Egetmayer, who was born November 21, 1771, and died November 13, 1836. Her brother was the chief character in a book by the German author, Hebel, under the title of The Tailor of Pensa. Jonas Honig, a son of Johann Jacob, was a cabinet maker at Bretten, where he was born March 20, 1800, and died January 28, 1848. He married, November 29, 1822, Christina Zengerle. She was born February 23, 1800, and died March 22, 1838. On April 18, 1839, he married Barbara Obhoff. There were five children by the first marriage and three by the second. The three of the first marriage who came to America were Jacob, who lived at New Orleans, entered the Confederate Army and was killed in battle during the war. A daughter, Magdalena, died at Danville, Virginia. Two of the children of the second marriage also came to America: Charles Anton, who died at Rockport; and Leopold, who died at Danville, Virginia.

Simon Honig, the fifth child of Jonas and Christina Honig, was born July 28, 1835, at Bretten, ten miles from Carlesruhe, and died at his home in Rockport, Indiana, October 22, 1929, at the age of ninety-five. He arrived at New York May 1, 1852, and his first work in this country was following his trade as a cabinet maker. After saving four hundred dollars he left New York City and in 1854 settled at Rockport, Indiana. He had a contracting business, later established a furniture and undertaking business. He organized and was a leader in the Building and Loan Association of Rockport. For many years he was affectionately known as "Uncle Simon."

Simon Honig married, September 20, 1857, at Rockport, Mary Killian, daughter of Vitus Killian, a merchant of Germany who dealt in laces, wines and other wares. Mary Killian was born at Sickingen, not far from Bretten, Germany. Her father after realizing a fortune of $10,000 from his business, sold out and placed the money in a flat wooden trunk. His wife understood the people of her own country and had faith in the steamboat officials, but when the family took passage on the flat boat which was to take them down the Ohio River to Evansville, she took charge of the treasure trunk, sat on it and never let it get out of her sight until it and her husband and children were safely landed. The Killian family located at Rockport in 1848 when Mary Killian was ten years of age.

Of the eleven children of Simon Honig and wife, three, William, Charles and Lena, died in infancy. The others were: Lucy, Mrs. Henry Kerstien, was born June 29, 1858; Vitus, born December 16, 1860, deceased; Albert, born February 20, 1863; the next two children were the sons who died in infancy, William, born October 15, 1866, and Charles, born March 4, 1867; Simon T., Jr., born August 15, 1869; Carrie, Mrs. Homer John, born April 4, 1872; George H.; Frank, born October 15, 1876; Rose, Mrs. Sid Anderson, born March 14, 1879; and Lena, born December 30, 1881.

A break from the article . . . .

William Honig  Charles Honig  Lena Honig

The above photos of William, Charles, and Lena's graves were taken in St. Bernard's Cemetery, Rockport, Indiana around 2000.


Mrs. Louise Honig Kerstiens  Frank Honig

The photo on the left was taken in October, 2005 at St. Bernard's Cemetery. It is the grave of Mrs. Louise (Lucy or Mary Louisa) Honig Kerstiens. At the time, five wild tom turkeys were walking through the cemetery. They flew west when the photo was taken.

The photo on the right is of Frank Honig and was taken at Sunset Hill Cemetery, Rockport, Indiana in October, 2005. His wife, Mary, was buried elsewhere.


Vitus Honig

The above photo was taken in 2003 at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Evansville, Indiana. Vitus and his wife Mary are buried in unmarked graves. Cemetery records show he died of progressive heart failure on March 15, 1907 at age 47, and was buried in a wood box. Mary died March 30, 1935 at age 76 of carcinoma of the lung and was also buried in a wood box. Death notice.

Honig Funeral home in 1900 Boultinghouse Funeral Home in 2005

The photo on the left is from The Rockport Democrat, November, 1900 as reported in The Rockport Democrat, Centennial Anniversary Edition, February 11, 1955. The article states: Vitus Honig, Funeral Director. A help in time of need. Don't forget that I am still in the undertaking business. Have a large assortment of caskets, robes and coffins to select from and my prices are the cheapest. All calls answered promptly. Office open day and night. Telephone 105. No extra charge for hearses, white or black. Call and be convinced for yourself. Same old stand on Main Street, Rockport.

The photo on the right is of the same building in 2005. It was taken shortly after Boultinghouse Funeral Home was purchased by Evan Thayer.

Now back to the article . . . .

Mr. George H. Honig was educated in the Rockport public schools, University of Indiana and the National Academy of New York.

(He graduated from Rockport High School in 1893 and was the valedictorian of the last class to graduate in three years. According to The Rockport Democrat, June 9, 1893, the course of study in the high school has been changed from a three to a four year, this placing the requirements for graduation on a plane with all thorough institutions of learning. The advancement will prevent any one from graduating at the close of the ensuing term; the class which should have finished in '94 graduating in '95. -Ed.)

In 1914 and in 1915 he received Suydam medals for superior work. In college he was a Sigma Chi. Among some of the notable works of Mr. Honig as a sculptor may be mentioned the bronze group in front of the Evansville Coliseum and the fountain on the public square at Shelbyville, to say nothing of many memorial tablets, honor rolls, service rolls, statuary and bas-reliefs for schools, lodges and churches. He was sculptor of the memorial tablet to Corp. James Bethel Gresham, of Evansville, "The first Gold Star in the Nation's Service Flag ;" of the honor roll of Princeton Lodge No. 634, B. P. O. E., at the Elks Home, Princeton; of the two bronze honor roll tablets in the Eagles lodges at Anderson and Richmond; the sculptured bronze memorial in the courthouse at Bloomington, Illinois; the memorial tablet to Jacob and Anna S. Babb, at Mattoon, Illinois; a memorial tablet in Trinity Church, Evansville, erected to Judson McGrew, lieutenant in the A. E. F., killed July 26, 1918; the memorial tablet at Paris, Illinois erected to. the .soldiers of the American Revolution buried in Edgar County. The Hiker, a bronze figure at Denver, Colorado, placed by the Volunteer Veterans of Foreign Wars, was made by Mr. Honig. His life-size bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln has won him national fame. Mr. Honig is designer and creator of the six Transylvania commemorative tablets in bas-relief for the Henderson, Kentucky courthouse depicting the pioneer history of Kentucky, Daniel Boone, and the Transylvania Company; "The Treaty of Watauga," "The First Representative Assembly of Kentucky," "Boone Starts to Explore Kentucky, "Offering to make Kentucky Fourteenth Colony," and "Laying off of Henderson Kentucky, 1797." Also the Wunderlich-John James Audubon sculptured Memorial Flag Pole, Evansville, Indiana.

George H. Honig near the bluff at Rockport along the Ohio River

The general public, no doubt, will be most interested in the markers he made to depict historical episodes in the life of the Lincoln family in Spencer County. These markers were erected under the auspices of the Lincoln Trail Club. The marker at New Hope is on the site of the Taylor Basye store, where the Lincolns did their trading. On the marker is a bronze tablet inscribed with the history of the store.

On the marker in front of the Grandview Library are several tablets. One depicts the story the flatboat Joe Craig, identical with the boat operated by Lincoln on his voyage to New Orleans. Another tablet carries data concerning the famous hunter and scout "Bill Smithers," one of the most noted characters in the early history of Grandview. A third tablet is known as the "Athletic Tablet," describing the accomplishments of two men of the Grandview section with whom Abe Lincoln used to vie in sports, one of whom was Ailliam Thurman, with whom Lincoln wrestled, and another, Jonathan Prosser, the champion broad jumper of the day. This brief account of the tablet is condensed from an extensive article that appeared in the Indianapolis Star, January 28, 1928, and which concludes with the following words: "Members of the Southwestern Historical Society declares that it is indeed fitting that George Honig should have been selected to design these markers since his grandparents were pioneer settlers of Spencer County territory, and Honig himself was born at Rockport." Served as treasurer of Southwestern Indiana Historical Society for eight years. Treasurer of Evansville Museum of Fine Arts. A member of the Historical Research and Reference Committee of the Indiana Lincoln Union.

Mr. Honig married at Chicago, June 12, 1917, Miss Alda McCoy, daughter of Dr. L. H. and Emmaline (Hatfield) McCoy.

The rest of this article deals with Alda McCoy Honig and can be found by clicking on About Alda - Life.

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Side Entrance to Honig's Studio

Rear Entrance to Honig's Studio

The above photos show George and Alda's studio above Payton's Dry Goods Store on the southwest corner of Fifth and Main Streets in Rockport. In 2005, the Rockport Pharmacy was on this location. The top photo shows the side entrance on Fifth Street. The bottom picture is the back entrance with George and Alda on the stairs. They were know as avid gardeners.

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An Elderly George and Alda

An elderly Alda and George in a photo from the Willard Library Honig Collection.

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November 11, 2005
Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management replied to a query regarding George Honig.

According to the Registrar's Office, George Honig only attended Indiana University for the 1893-1894 school year. His record was pretty empty, but in the 1894 yearbook it was found that he was enrolled as a "Special Student", which meant he did not take entrance exams and was only taking a few courses. He was, however, a member of Sigma Chi and there is a photo of him included in the yearbook.

The index of the student newspaper found 2 entries for him. The first, from 1894, just states that he was the newest addition to Sigma Chi. The second, dated 13 March 1923, has a picture of his sculpture "The Hiker" and a very brief blurb stating that it was considered one of the best sculptures of its time.

Sigma Chi photo from Indiana University archives showing George as a freshman in 1894. He is the fifth person in the second row.

Sigma Chi page from the 1894 Arbutus listing George's name as a freshman at Indiana University.

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