Hilfiker - Hilficker - Hilfiger
Hilfiker - Hilficker - Hilfiger
by John E. Hilficker
One of the questions which people ask me is how the three spellings of one name came about. The answer, I think, is because the name, Hilfiker, is the old Swiss name that originated back in the 1500's around the villages of Kölliken, Hilfikon, Boswil and even Safenwil. This is documented by the genealogical chart on this site. There is reference on the chart to a Jacob Hilfiker born 25 Mar 1643 who was the "Founder of the Safenwiler branch". The Jacob Hilficker who is the father of Rudolph, Heinrich, Johannes and Samuel came to the USA in 1817 according to his naturalization papers. Those  papers state that he was born in Safenwil, Switzerland on 9 Aug. 1782. He signed the petition Jacob Hilfiker. However, he was carried on the tax rolls in Montgomery County, PA as Jacob Hilficker.
You should remember that everyone from that area of Switzerland spoke German. It is very interesting that the German sound for "i" before "k" and "i" before "g" is the sound of "ick" as in "sick" or Hilficker. Undoubtedly, all of our ancestors spelled by sound in those days and there are many more variations of our name if you look at census tracts. There were very few schools that taught penmanship in those days and so we are at the mercy of poor handwriting as well as sound. My conclusions are:
Hilfiker is the original name of our Swiss family and originates from the area around Kölliken. There are over 400 current Hilfikers in the Swiss telephone directory. Good luck with any one who wishes to pursue a family relationship. There are also many Hilfikers who have made their homes here in the USA and most of them pronounce their name "Hilficker". You can check the message board for interesting contacts if you wish to pursue this further.
Hilficker is the name of Henry, John and Samuel's descendants and we will soon draw a close on the name since there does not seem to be any future male descendants at this time in our history.
Hilfiger is the different spelling that Rudolph assumed upon moving to central and northern part of PA around the 1860's and this name is carried on by many male descendants today, including Tommy. I hope this long analysis is helpful.
Submitted by John Edward Hilficker/Hilfiker

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