With others,a direct male ancestor of the Hebb or Heeb family probably left Africa about 70,000 years ago, eventually ending up in central Asia. Between about 30,000 and 45,000 years ago, a direct male ancestor of the family would have arrived in Europe. By between about 3,000 to 5,000 years ago, a direct male ancestor of the family was probably living in southern Germany or the Swiss alps. Since surnames would not be adopted until relatively recent times, there was as yet no Hebb or Heeb family and many different European families would be descended in the direct male line from the same man living in southern Germany or the Swiss alps about 3,000 to 5,000 years ago.
Johann Adam Heeb was born August 14, 1737, in the village of Falkengesäß in a valley in the Odenwald area of what is now southwestern Germany, to Anna Margaretha and Johann Adam Heeb, son of Wendel Heeb of Mangelsbach. Adam senior died January 31, 1739, in an accident in Falkengesäß at the sawmill owned by him and his father-in-law Johann Adam Franck.
In the mid-eighteenth century, Germany consisted of dozens of sovereign states of varying sizes. Falkengesäß was in the sovereign County of Erbach under the rule of the Count of Erbach (Graf von Erbach). In the early part of the nineteenth century, Erbach became part of the Grand Duchy of Hesse (Großherzogtum Hessen). Today Falkengesäß is in the state of Hesse (Land Hessen). Though legally a community within the town of Beerfelden (Stadt Beerfelden), Falkengesäß is still a village distinct from neighbouring but quite separate Beerfelden. There is no mill there today.
On June 14, 1744, at the parish church in Heiligkreuzsteinach, Margaretha married widower Johann Adam Eisenhauer of nearby Odenwald village of Wilhelmsfeld and in 1751 they emigrated to the British North American colony of Nova Scotia with their daughter, her son and his sons. After travelling down the Rhine to Rotterdam, they boarded the Pearl for a voyage of nearly three months to Halifax. 32 of the 264 passengers died during the voyage.
On arriving in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the family lived across the Halifax Harbour in Dartmouth pending permanent settlement. Then in 1753 they were transported with other Foreign Protestant families to what was to become the town of Lunenburg, eventually settling just out of town on Second Peninsula.
In 1759, Adam married Anna Maria Schütz, daughter of Hans Georg and Barbara. They initially received a grant at and settled on an island near Lunenburg (just across the water from the Eisenhauer homestead on second Peninsula where Adam had lived with his mother and step-father) that became known as Hebbs Island (now Heckmans Island). The part of the island where they settled is still known as Hebbs Point.
Adam and Maria had twelve children, namely, Anna Maria, Anna Elisabeth, John George (baptized Johann Georg), Johann Adam, Anna Margaret (died in infancy), John Nicholas (baptized Johann Nicolaus), Anna Barbara, Anna Catharina, Anna Margaret, Hannah, John (baptized Johannes) and Magdalena. Of the eleven children surviving infancy, all but Hannah, who died as a very young woman, married and had children.
The family name Heeb changed in Nova Scotia to Heb and then Hebb. The pronounciation "hape" persisted into the twentieth century. Although Adam was often known as Adam Hebb, he wrote his name as Johann Adam Heb. His two older sons George and Adam used Heb, the younger two Hebb. By the next generation, Hebb was universal.
Adam later moved to inland Lunenburg County, building three mills with his sons George and Nicholas near present-day Bridgewater at what became known as Hebbs Mills (now Hebbville). Adam built the first house in what is now Bridgewater although the house was not the first house within the original town limits. Adam died in 1803 and is buried in the Cove Marsh cemetery at Dayspring on the eastern bank of the LaHave River.
George had seven sons who survived childhood as well as three daughters, all of whom married and had children. George gave each of his seven sons a farm in the Bridgewater area, two of which are still farmed by Hebbs (Indian Gardens Farm at Hebbville and Oak Hill Farm at Wileville). There is also another Hebb farm in Hebbville, farmed by a descendant of Nicholas.
The Hebb family has spread throughout Nova Scotia, elsewhere in Canada and into the United States. It should not be confused with either the English Hebb family that emigrated to the United States at different times in the seventeenth century (and perhaps also later in the nineteenth century to Canada) or the family of the late African-American musician Bobby Hebb of hit Sunny fame.