This section covers the families of Carl Martin Kneisley and Jeane Elaine Kneisley, son and daughter of Frank Leroy Kneisley and Naomi Margarete Martin. Their ancestors are shown in the family tree below. An index of all persons included in this section can be found here.
Carl was born in 1916 in Dayton, Ohio. When he was five, his family moved to the city of Fairfield in Jefferson County, Alabama. Carl grew up in Fairfield and graduated from Fairfield High School. He entered Auburn University and studied Industrial Engineering, then returned to Fairfield. He went to work for the Tennessee Coal and Iron steel mills, roofing workers' houses (some of those tin roofs were still in place after 50+ years) and became a draftsman at TCI.
Carl was raised in the Presbyterian Church and was a dedicated church member all his life (he spent many years as the Sunday School Superintendent at Fairfield Presbyterian Church). At a Presbyterian camp, he met a member of another Birmingham-area church, Louise Heath Brown (see "The Brown Family" section of this website). They married in 1938 and moved into a home near the steel mills, but when Carl's father died in 1941, he and Louise moved back in with Carl's mother to help support her and Jeane.
In the 1940's, Carl took a job with Chicago Bridge and Iron Company in Birmingham. He started out as a draftsman and worked his way up to be a Mechanical Engineer. When he retired in the 1980's, he was CBI's Head of Quality Assurance.
Carl and Louise Kneisley (c 1940)
Carl and Louise raised four children. One followed his father's lead and became a Mechanical Engineer. Two others spent their careers in education (one has a doctorate in education).
Carl and Louise spent their retirement years working for the church and caring for Carl's mother. Carl died in 1994. Louise followed him fourteen years later. They are buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham.
Carl's sister Jeane Elaine Kneisley was born in Fairfield in November, 1923. She grew up in the Fairfield neighborhoods and graduated from the city schools. In the early 1940's, she met William Calvin "Bill" Cox (see "The Cox Family" section of this website) and they married in 1943, just before he left for World War II. During the war, she worked as a secretary in a local engineering firm that was supporting the wartime aircraft development. In her spare time, she kept a scrapbook of Bill's messages and photos from Europe and kept track of his movements on a hand-drawn map.
Jeane Elaine Kneisley (c 1930's)
Bill returned from the war in 1945 and the couple was at last able to settle down as a family. They moved to Auburn, Alabama while Bill finished his Electrical Engineering degree at the university there, then returned to Fairfield where Bill took a job with Tennessee Coal and Iron. In 1952, they bought a little house of their own near Ensley, Alabama, where they lived for the rest of their lives together. The same year they had their only child, a son.
Jeane was an educator by nature and probably would have done well as a school teacher. Form his earliest days, Jeane worked with her son to teach him to read and do arithmetic. (His first-grade teachers thought he was exceptional because he was able to pick up reading so much more quickly than the other kids, not knowing that Jeane had been teaching him for years).
Jeane also had strong creative abilities. Her childhood scrapbooks were full of photos that she took of the neighborhood and her friends. During the war, she made funny gifts to amuse Bill, like a phony medal for "Extraordinary Tea-Drinking" when he complained about the lack of coffee in England. She invented a game for teaching fractions to children (she submitted it to a major toy company which quickly rejected it, then soon released what appeared to be exactly the same game). She was an avid sewer and she made countless clothes and needlework items. In her later years, she developed an interest in gardening and spent long hours working in the small greenhouse that Bill built for her. She died in 1979 at the early age of 57 and is buried with Bill in Cullman, Alabama.
Carl and Jeane's ancestors almost all come from Ohio. What I know about them is summarized in the chart below
Ancestors of Jeane and Carl Kneisley
Below are short histories of some of the people in the Kneisley family tree. Clicking on a Blue name in the histories or a name in any chart will take you to that person's Individual Info Page where you will find more information about the person. To return to this page, click the Kneisley tab at the top of any page (or use your browser's Back button). For help with moving around in the web site, click the Help tab at the top of any page.
There are several ideas about the national origin of the Kneisleys. Most probably, Carl and Jeane's ancestors came from Switzerland or Southern Germany; both areas have familiy names that have been Americanized as "Kneisley" (for example, the German "Knaus" and "Kneisel" and the Swiss "Knusli"). As with many Germanic family names, there are multiple English spellings of the name we write as "Kneisley". These include "Knisley", "Nisley", Knisely", and others. Based on what I have seen, "Knisley" is probably the most common rendering, but Carl and Jeane spelled their name "Kneisley" so I use that for everyone in the family.
It's reasonably well established that John David Kneisley was the ancestor of Jeane and Carl Kneisley. Beyond that basic fact, though, it's difficult to tell truth from legend. Much of the information we have about John David was recorded years after the event making its accuracy uncertain. To further complicate matters, there were two men named John David Kneisley with close birthdates and their records have been confused over the years. As far as I've been able to determine, our John David was born in the 1760's or '70's in Virginia, possibly in Woodstock in Shenandoah County. Some say that he was the son of Susannah Nye and Jacob Kneisley, a soldier in Washington's Revolutionary War Army.
Southern Ohio (~1818-Present)
I know nothing of John David's life until 1804, when he married Mary Rhoads in Shenandoah County. Soon after that, John and Mary moved to Southern Ohio, which was then still a wilderness area. John cleared land and started a farm there. He appears to have served in the Ohio Militia during The War of 1812.
From 1820 to 1840, John David and Mary lived in Highland County. They were living in Pike County by 1850 (this may actually have been a realignment of county boundaries, rather than a move). They had at least 12 children. Mary died in 1854 and John followed in 1860. A chart showing what I know of John David's descendants is shown in this chart: Descendants of John David and Mary Kneisley.
Jacob Kneisley was the son of John David and Mary Rhoads Kneisley. He was born about 1809, probably just after the family had moved to Ohio. In 1829, he married Elizabeth Shupe and they settled down to farm life in Ross County, Ohio where they raised their nine children. In the 1860's, they moved to Pike County, Ohio, where Jacob died in 1872. Mary is said to have died there in 1873.
Jacob and Elizabeth Shupe Kneisley's son Reuben Kneisley was born about 1831 in Ross County, Ohio. He spent his life as a farmer. It is said that when he was a young man, he lost an arm in an accident with a threshing machine and was known after that as "One-Arm Rube" to distinguish him from other Reubens in the family. In 1858, Reuben was married to Sarah Frances Bramley, daughter of William Joseph Bramley and Elizabeth Winchell of Washington County, Pennsylvania. They had six children, the oldest of whom was Carl and Jeane's ancestor William Bramley Kneisley. Reuben and Sarah lived in Ross County their entire lives. Reuben died there in 1897 and Sarah died 13 years later.
William B. Kneisley's children (c 1895)
William B. Kneisley, the oldest child of Reuben and Sarah Bramley Kneisley, was born in 1858 in Ross County, Ohio. In 1886, he married Susan Florence Kendall, daughter of Peyton Kendall and Elizabeth or Catherine Newman (see "The Wickershams"). Early in their marriage, they moved to Springfield in Clark County, Ohio, where William worked as a carpenter. William died in 1900 when their four children were still young and their two boys, Russell and Frank, were placed in the Odd Fellows (IOOF) home in Springfield. Florence remarried in 1904 and lived until 1940.
Naomi Martin Kneisley
Frank Leroy Kneisley, born 1893 in Ross County, Ohio, was the youngest child of William B. and Florence Kendall Kneisley. William B. died when Frank was seven years old, and Frank and his brother were placed in the IOOF home in Springfield, Ohio. It is said that Frank hated living in the home and ran away several times before he was released at age of 16 to live with his mother and her second husband in Dayton, Ohio. Frank took up a trade as a metal-worker. It seems that he impressed his bosses, because by the age of 21, he had moved into what sounds like a higher position of "timekeeper". By 1915, he was working as a clerk for the Barney and Smith Rail Car Company in Dayton.
Frank L. Kneisley
About the same time, Frank met Naomi Margarete Martin, a Dayton girl who was the daughter of George Martin and Elizabeth Schuler(see "The Martin Family" section of this website). They were married in 1915 and the next year, had a son, Carl. In 1923, the family moved to the city of Fairfield in Jefferson County, Alabama. Fairfield was a model city developed by the steel industry in Birmingham. The idea behind it was to develop a city where steel workers could live in a quality area with good churches, schools, and pleasant homes. Family tradition has it that the reason Frank moved the family to Fairfield was that his boss at Barney and Smith accepted a position at The Tennessee Coal and Iron plant (TCI) there, and he offered Frank a job with opportunities to move up the ladder. Frank accepted the offer and became Chief Estimator at TCI in 1923. The same year, Frank and Naomi had a daughter, Jeane Elaine, who was born shortly after they moved to Fairfield.
By 1940, Frank's title was shown as "Assistant Superintendent of Shops" and the future must have seemed bright. But on March 23, 1941, the family went out to celebrate Frank's birthday and Frank stopped to help a man change a tire when he was struck and killed by another driver. Naomi lived on alone for almost 50 more years, becoming the perfect grandmother for her grandchildren and living to meet many of her great-grandchildren. She died in 1988 and was buried in Birmingham with Frank.
Before they came to America, Carl and Jeane's Wickersham ancestors probably lived in England. Some researchers trace the Wickershams back to a family who was on the same ship as William Penn when he made his second voyage to America (this is not as big a deal as it might sound, since the Wickershams and Penn probably just happened to be on the same boat and may not have known each other).
The earliest Wickersham ancestor I have been able to find is James L. Wickersham, born about 1815 in Highland County, Ohio. It is widely believed that James was the son of Isaac Wickersham and his wife Susan, Quakers from Virginia. I think this is probably true, but I haven't been able to substantiate the idea.
In 1836, James married Susannah Jones. Susannah, born about 1815 in Ohio, was probably the daughter of Wells Jones and Margaret Maxwell from Virginia. James and Susannah married in Highland County and at various times lived in neighboring Pike and Ross Counties. James farmed, and at one point, worked in woolen manufacturing, a Wickersham family business. What I know about James and Susannah's descendants is shown in this chart: Descendants of James and Susannah Wickersham
Carl and Jeane's ancestor Margaret Wickersham was the oldest of James and Susannah Wickersham's three daughters. She was born about 1840 in Ohio, probably in Highland or Pike County. At the age of 19, she married Peyton Kendall, son of Jacob Kendall and Elizabeth or Catherine Newman. Peyton and Margaret had at least seven children, the third of whom was Susan Florence Kendall (see "The Kneisleys"). Peyton held several types of occupations during his life, including farming, working as a carder in the woolen factories, and working as a carpenter. In 1884, he fell while working on a house and suffered an injury that, according to his obituary, affected him until he died in 1914. Margaret is said to have died in 1891, but I have not been able to verify that.
Friedrich Martin and his wife Philipena Haubach immigrated to the U.S. on the ship "Johann Lange" in October, 1856. They both were born around 1822 in Nassau, a small region in what is now the western part of Germany. After arriving in New York, they moved to the town of Galion, in Crawford County, Ohio where Friedrich worked as a blacksmith. They had at least six children. Sometime in the 1880's or '90's, Friedrich and Philipena moved to Dayton, where Philipena died in 1897 and Friedrich died in 1908. A chart showing what I know of their descendants is shown here: Descendants of Freidrich and Philipena Martin.
"The Johann Lange" - painting by Fritz Muller
Freidrich and Philipena's son George Charles Martin was born in 1862 in the town of Galion in Crawford County, Ohio. He spent his early years working with his father to learn the blacksmith trade and he eventually became a blacksmith for one of the railroads in Galion.
In 1884, George married Elizabeth Schuler. Elizabeth was the daughter of Jacob Schuler and Margaret Sickmiller who immigrated from Baden, a region in what is now Southwest Germany. Jacob, born about 1822, immigrated sometime before 1850 and settled in Galion, Ohio where he worked as a shoemaker. Margaret, who was born about 1828, also was in Galion by 1850 and was living with her parents, George and Catherine Sickmiller. Jacob and Margaret married on December 1, 1850.
Elizabeth Schuler as a child
George and Elizabeth had two children who grew to maturity, the youngest of whom was Naomi Martin. Elizabeth died in the first decade of the 20th Century. About 1914, George and the children moved to Dayton, Ohio, where George took a job with the Duriron foundry company. George was still working as a blacksmith in Dayton at the age of 68. He died there in 1935.