Surname, Origins, Variations, Arms, Locations, Genealogy


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A Guide for Your Family
 History Research

Origins of

the Surname

Variations of

the Surname

Armorial Bearings,

 Symbols and Mottoes

Locations of

the Surname

Internet Resources

Our Family History



Origins of the Surname

Origins of the Surname

An Introduction

to the Surname


of the Surname

History of

the Surname

More About


An Introduction to the Surname

An Introduction to the Surname

The practice of inherited family surnames began in England and France during the late part of the 11th century.   Surnames were first utilized in the Germanic region of central Europe during the second half of the 12th century.  The custom of taking on surnames began in the southern areas of Germany, and gradually spread northward during the Middle Ages.  It took about three hundred years for this tradition to apply to most families and become a constant part of one’s identity.        With the passing of generations and the movement of families from place to place many of the original identifying names were altered into some of the versions that we are familiar with today.  Over the centuries, most of our European ancestors accepted their surname as an unchangeable part of their lives.  Thus people rarely changed their surname.  Variations of most surnames were usually the result of an involuntary act such as when a government official wrote a name phonetically or made an error in transcription.  


Map of European Languages

Research into the record of this KNECHT family line indicates that the variations, meanings and history of this surname are most likely linked to that area of Europe where German, French, English, Scots, and/or Irish linguistic traditions are commonly found.   

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Sources and Meanings of the Surname

Source(s) and Meaning(s) of the Surname

Most modern Germanic and French family names are a means conveying lineage.  For the most part, German surnames were developed from four major sources: (1) Patronymic & Matronymic surnames most common in northern Germany are based on a parent’s first name, such as Niklas Albrecht (Niklas son of Albrecht);  (2) occupational surnames are last names based on the person’s job or trade for example Lukas Fischer (Lukas the Fisherman);  (3) descriptive surnames are based on a unique quality or physical feature of the individual like Karl Braun (Karl with brown hair); (4) geographical surnames are derived from the location of the homestead from which the first bearer and his family lived such as Leon Meer (Leon from by the sea), or derived from the state, region, or   village of the first bearer's origin for example Paul Cullen (Paul from Koeln/Cologne).

Most of the modern English, Irish, Scottish, and Welsh family names throughout Great Britain have originated as a result of the following circumstances: patronym or matronym, names based on the name of one's father, mother or ancestor, (Johnson, Wilson). Each is a means of conveying lineage; occupation (i.e., Carpenter, Cooper, Brewer, Mason); habitational (Middleton, Sidney, or Ireland) or topographical (i.e. Hill, Brook, Forrest, Dale); nicknames (i.e., Moody Freeholder, Wise, Armstrong); status (i.e. Freeman, Bond, Knight); and acquired ornamental names that were simply made up.

KNECHT is a German and Swiss German occupational name for a journeyman, from Middle High German kneht, Middle Low German knecht ‘knight’s assistant’, ‘lad’, ‘servant’, ‘hired hand’, ‘apprentice’, ‘helper’.  It can also refer to a servant of a sovereignty such as a mercenary foot soldier (see Landsknecht) or the classic farm servant (Bauernknecht); the female equivalent in old German is "Magd" (Maid).

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History of the Surname

History of the Surname

Most Germanic Surnames from Central Europe have their roots in the Germanic Middle Ages.  The process of forming family names in what is present day Germany began during Middle High German period in the history of the German language from the early 12th Century to the 16th century The nobility and wealthy land owners were the first to begin using surnames.  Merchants and townspeople then adopted the custom, as did the rural population.  This process took two or three centuries.  In most of the Germanic States of the Holy Roman Empire, the practice of using surnames was well established by the 1500s.

Surnames of the British Isles as we know them today were first assumed in Europe from the 11th to the 15th century. They were not in use in England or Scotland, before the Norman Conquest of 1066, and were first found in the Domesday Book of 1086. The employment in the use of a second name was a custom that was first introduced from the Normans who had adopted the custom just prior to this time.    Soon thereafter it became a mark of a generally higher socio-economic status and thus seen as disgraceful for a well-bred man to have only one name.  It was not until the middle of the 14th century that surnames became general practice among all people in the British Isles

The concept of French Surnames come from the Medieval French word 'surnom' translating as "above-or-over name," surnames or descriptive names trace their use back to 11th century France, when it first became necessary to add a second name to distinguish between individuals with the same given name. The custom of using surnames did not become common for several centuries, however.

     First found in Austria where they were anciently seated.  The family name emerged in the region lending their influence to the development from early tribal conflicts to a nation that would eventually become an integral part of the Holy Roman Empire. 

     Many persons with the Knecht surname or its close variants were granted armorial bearings between the16th and 19th centuries.  Some of those variant spellings include Knechtel, Knechtgen and Knechtges.  A few of the locations associated with Knecht are the Austrian Empire, Bern, Solingen, Bonn, Metzingen, Schwelm, Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis.  Knechtel is prominent in Marschendorf (Horní Maršov)Trautenau (Trutnov), Knechtges at ArftKrs. MayenVilich, and  Knechtgen in Holland.  The Knechtlin spelling has been found in the Canton of Appenzell, Switzerland as far back as the 17th century.

    This German surname appeared quite early into the former British colonies of North America, especially William Penn’s Province of Pennsylvania.   One reason for this was that after the prince of the Electorate of Hanover, in Germany also became king of England in 1715, German emigration to America was greatly encouraged.   Thus the German name does tend to be confused with the English versions due to the fact that name from both countries is often in the same spelling, which is perhaps not surprising as they share similar pre 7th century "Anglo-Saxon" roots.   This is true in the case of the Knecht surname after the family came to America  when immigration from both countries was at its height in the 18th and 19th centuries, after which it was transformed into Knight.  For example,  Frederick Knecht, of Württemburg, Germany, changed his name to "Knight" when he entered the United States at New York in 1852.  Many of these German immigrants, particularly those with easy English equivalents, were encouraged and in some case required to change to an English spelling.   Also many German surnames were re-spelled in America because of the close relationship between the English and German languages.     This was the case with many sea captains or their agents who, when making up the ships passenger lists, found it easier to use a more familiar English spelling.   Also after the start of World War One, Germans in the United States, in great numbers, Anglicized their names in an effort to remove all doubt as to their patriotism.   

Some Notable Persons, Places, or Things Having This Name

Some of the best known persons, places, or things bearing the KNECHT name, or its close variants are:  Émile Knecht (born 1923), Swiss rower;  Hans Knecht (1913–1996), Swiss road racing cyclist;  John Knecht (born 1947), American filmmaker;  Justin Heinrich Knecht (1752–1817), German composer;  Karl Kae Knecht (1883–1972), American artist;  Peter Knecht (born 1936), American attorney;  Reuben Knecht Bachman (1834–1911), American politician;  Robert Knecht (born 1926), British historian;  and William Knecht (1930–1996), American rower.  It may also refer to: Gebr. Knecht AG, a Swiss bus transportation company.

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More About Surname Meanings & Origins

More About Surname Meanings & Origins


Many German names have their roots in the Germanic Middle Ages. The process of forming family names began early in the 12th Century and extended through the 16th century. All social classes and demographic strata aided in the development of names. First Names (Rufnamen) identified specific persons. Over time the first name began to be applied to the bearer's whole family.  At first through verbal usage, family names (Familiennamen) were later fixed through writing.  Until the 17th century, first names played a more important role. The earliest family names derived from the first name of the first bearer (Patronym). Later names derived from the place of dwelling and location of the homestead.  If a person of family migrated from one place to another they were identified by the place they came from.  Of more recent origin are names derived from the vocation of profession of the first bearer. These names comprise the largest group and the most easily recognizable, for they tell what the first bearer did for a living.  Another group are names derived from a physical or other characteristic of the first bearer.  Finally, there are names that tell you the state or region a first bearer and his family came from; the age old division in tribes and regions (Low German, Middle German and Upper German) is often reflected in names.


Although the Domesday Book compiled by William the Conqueror required surnames, the use of them in the British Isles did not become fixed until the time period between 1250 and 1450.  The broad range of ethnic and linguistic roots for British surnames reflects the history of Britain as an oft-invaded land. These roots include, but are not limited to, Old English, Middle English, Old French, Old Norse, Irish, Gaelic, Celtic, Pictish, Welsh, Gaulish, Germanic, Latin, Greek and Hebrew.  Throughout the British Isles, there are basically five types of native surnames. Some surnames were derived from a man's occupation (Carpenter, Taylor, Brewer, Mason), a practice that was commonplace by the end of the 14th century.  Place names reflected a location of residence and were also commonly used (Hill, Brook, Forrest, Dale) as a basis for the surname, for reasons that can be easily understood.  Nicknames that stuck also became surnames.  About one-third of all surnames in the United Kingdom are patronymic in origin, and identified the first bearer of the name by his father (or grandfather in the case of some Irish names). When the coast of England was invaded by William The Conqueror in the year 1066, the Normans brought with them a store of French personal names, which soon, more or less, entirely replaced the traditional more varied Old English personal names, at least among the upper and middle classes. A century of so later, given names of the principal saints of the Christian church began to be used. It is from these two types of given name that the majority of the English patronymic surnames are derived and used to this day.  Acquired ornamental names were simply made up, and had no specific reflection on the first who bore the name. They simply sounded nice, or were made up as a means of identification, generally much later than most surnames were adopted.   Source:


Suffixes & Prefixes - While not in common use as in Italy or Sweden, some French surnames are formed by the addition of various prefixes and suffixes. A variety of French suffixes including -eau, -elet, -elin, -elle, and -elot, mean "little son of" and can be found attached to a given name to form a patronym. Prefixes of French surnames also have specific origins. The prefixes "de," "des," "du," and "le" each translate as "of" and may be found used in patronymic and geographical French surnames. Some French-Norman patronymic surnames will have the prefix "fritz," from the Old French for "son of" (Fitzgerald - son of Gerald). 

Alias Surnames or Dit Names - In some areas of France, a second surname may have been adopted in order to distinguish between different branches of the same family, especially when the families remained in the same town for generations. These alias surnames can often be found preceded by the word "dit." Sometimes an individual even adopted the dit name as the family name, and dropped the original surname. This practice was most common in France among soldiers and sailors.

Germanic Origins of French Names - As so many French surnames are derived from first names, it is important to know that many common French first names have Germanic origins, coming into fashion during German invasions into France. Therefore, having a name with Germanic origins does not necessarily mean that you have German ancestors!

Official Name Changes in France - Beginning in 1474, anyone who wished to change his name was required to get permission from the King. These official name changes can be found indexed in: Jérôme, archiviste. Dictionnaire des changements de noms de 1803 à 1956 (Dictionary of changed names from 1803 to 1956). Paris: Librairie Française, 1974.   Source: French Surname Meanings & Origins

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Variations of the Surname

Variations of
the Surname

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Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to unfold and expand often leading to an overwhelming number of variants.  As such one can encounter great variation in the spelling of surnames because in early times, spelling in general and thus the spelling of names was not yet standardized.  Later on spellings would change with the branching and movement of families. The complexity of researching records is compounded by the fact that in many cases an ancestors surname may have been misspelled.  This is especially true when searching census documents. 

Spelling variations of this family name include: Knecht, Knechtel, Knechtli, Knechtges, Knechte and many more, (as noted below). 

Spelling variations of this family name may be ascertained through the utilization of several systems developed over the years.  The most prominently known are Soundex, Metaphone, and the NameX systems.  Of the three we recommend NameX as the most accurate for family historians.

Click on the button to find the variants of this or any other surname by utilizing The Name Thesaurus a ground-breaking technology for finding Surname and Forename variants.

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This useful genealogy research tool has identified 385 million variants for 5,929,000 Surnames and 26 million variants for 1,246,000 Forenames, as well as gender identification for more than 220,000 Forenames.

NameX matched 85 spelling variations of the KNECHT surname. The top 20 are:

Metaphone is a phonetic algorithm, first published in 1990, for indexing words by their English pronunciation.  It fundamentally improves on the Soundex algorithm by using information about variations and inconsistencies in English spelling and pronunciation to produce a more accurate encoding. Later a new version of the algorithm named Double Metaphone was created to take into account spelling peculiarities of a number of other languages. In 2009 a third version, called Metaphone 3, achieves an accuracy of approximately 99% for English words, non-English words familiar to Americans, and first names and family names commonly found in the U.S.  The Metaphone Code for KNECHT is NXT.  There are 178 other surnames sharing this code.


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The Soundex System was developed in an effort to assist with identifying spelling variations for a given surname. Soundex is a method of indexing names in the 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920 US Census, and can aid genealogists in their research.  The Soundex Code for KNECHT is K532.  There are 3974 other surnames sharing this Code. 

If The Name Thesaurus doesn’t adequately address the name you are looking for check out the following link:

Top 10 Tips for Finding Alternative Surname Spellings & Variations

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Locations of the Surname

Locations of
the Surname

Locational Distribution of this Surname

Historical Distribution of this Surname


Locational Distribution of This Surname

Locational Distribution of This Surname

Knowing the geographical areas where the surname you are researching is clustered and distributed is an indispensable tool in deciding where to focus your research.  We believe that the “Public Profiler” website will open up to you a wide range of solutions which implement current research in spatial analysis.  This site provides an array of local spatial information tools useful to the genealogist. 

The information presented herein shows where the KNECHT surname is distributed within North America as well as in Europe the location of origin for this surname.      Statistics show that the country were this surname is the most highly clustered is Switzerland with approximately 647.87 persons per million of population.  The density of population in the within the United States is 26.08 persons per million of population.  The top region in the World where this surname is the most highly clustered is Zürich, Switzerland with 1608.81 persons per million, and Rutlingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany is the top city where this surname is found.

North America


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Click on the LINK to the right to see more information about the World distribution of a surname.  You can

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get greater detail for any of the following maps by clicking on the area, i.e state, county that you are interested in.

Looking for more information about the distribution of this surname in GERMANY?
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Looking for more information about the distribution of this surname in the UNITED KINGDOM?
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LINKS to more websites that compute distribution maps for any surname.

·        Database of Surnames in the Netherlands

·        Database of Surnames in Belgium

·        Names Distribution in France

·        Map of the surname: Austria

·        Distribution of Surnames in Spain

·        Map of the Surname: Switzerland

·        Distribution of Surnames in Italy

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Historical Distribution of this Surname

Historical Distribution of This Surname

The main value in historical surname distribution databases and maps is that they enable genealogists to pinpoint the predominant location of a surname. This can quickly narrow down your search for a BDM certificate.  Knowing where to look is half the battle to finding ancestry records; if you can narrow down the search field it can save you a lot of time and trouble.  The core of historical surname distribution is that most people stayed within a fairly close locale.  Concentrations of surnames are clearly visible on Surname Distribution Maps, and name distribution tables (along with an atlas) make it quite likely that the origin of that name is from the area of its highest concentration.

The following “historical locations” for the KNECHT surname and some of its close variant spellings have been primarily extracted from either Burke’s The general armory of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales, Rietstap’s Armorial General, the Wappenrolle Munich Herald or J. Siebmacher's Great and General Armorial.   These books were published in the mid-19th Century and revised thereafter.  The information therein is relevant to that period as well as earlier times as far back as 1500.   Most of the locations cited by Riestap, the Munich Herald and Siebmacher are on the continent of Europe such as Germany, France, Switzerland, etc.        






Austrian Empire, Bern, Solingen, Bonn, Metzingen, Schwelm, Ennepe-Ruhr-Kreis


Marschendorf (Horní Maršov)Trautenau (Trutnov)


ArftKrs. MayenVilich



(2) = the frequency with which this place occurs.

We recommend that you utilize our Tools for Finding Ancestral Locations.  If you have an elementary knowledge of heraldry you may wish to use this practice to trace your founding forefather.  For more information about this approach to seeking out your ancestral locations see our Using Heraldry as a Family History Research Tool.  

LINKS to various websites that compute surname distribution maps within an historical context.

·        Great Britain Family Names - 1881 Census

·        England and Wales: 1891 Census

·        Scotland: 1891 Census

·        Distribution of surnames in Ireland in 1890

·        Family Name Distribution in Germany: 1942

·        Nom de famille en France: 1891-1915; 1916-40; 1941-65; 1966-90

·        United States: 1920

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Armorial Bearings, Mottoes & Symbols

Armorial Bearings, Mottoes & Symbols


An Introduction to

 European Heraldry

Gallery of Images

Descriptions of the

Armorial Bearings

Heraldry as a Family

History Research Tool

Motto(es) Associated

 With This Surname


An Introduction To European Heraldry

An Introduction to European Heraldry

     The art of designing, displaying, describing, and recording arms is called heraldry. The use of coats of arms by countries, states, provinces, towns and villages is called civic heraldry.   A coat of arms, more properly called an armorial achievement, armorial bearings or often just arms for short.  A Coat of Arms is defined as a group of emblems and figures (heraldic bearings) usually arranged on and around a shield and serving as the special insignia of some person, family, or institution.  Except for a few cases, there is really no such thing as a standard "coat of arms" for a surname.    The rules and traditions regarding Coats of Arms vary from country to country. Therefore a Coat of Arms for an English family would differ from that of a German family even when the surname is the same. 

     The seeds of heraldic structure in personal identification can be detected in the account in a contemporary chronicle of Henry I of England, on the occasion of his knighting his son-in-law Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, in 1127. He placed to hang around his neck a shield painted with golden lions. The funerary enamel of Geoffrey (died 1151), dressed in blue and gold and bearing his blue shield emblazoned with gold lions, is the first recorded depiction of a coat of arms.

       By the middle of the 12th century, coats of arms were being inherited by the children of armigers (persons entitled to use a coat of arms) across Europe. Between 1135 and 1155, seals representing the generalized figure of the owner attest to the general adoption of heraldic devices in England, France, Germany, Spain, and Italy.  By the end of the century, heraldry appears as the sole device on seals.  In England, the practice of using marks of cadency arose to distinguish one son from another: the conventions became standardized in about 1500, and are traditionally supposed to have been devised by John Writhe.

     In the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance, heraldry became a highly developed discipline, regulated by professional officers of arms. As its use in jousting became obsolete, coats of arms remained popular for visually identifying a person in other ways – impressed in sealing wax on documents, carved on family tombs, and flown as a banner on country homes. The first work of heraldic jurisprudence, De Insigniis et Armis, was written in the 1350s by Bartolus de Saxoferrato, a professor of law at the University of Padua.

    In the Germanic areas of Central Europe heraldry spread to the German burgher class in the 13th century, and even some peasants used arms in the 14th century.  A German coat of arms is usually referred to by any of the following terms; Wappen, Familienwappen, Blasonierung, Heraldik, or Wappenschablonen.

     In the British Isles the College of Arms, (founded in 1483), is the Royal corporation of heralds who record proved pedigrees and grant armorial bearings.  In Scottish heraldry, the Lord Lyon King of Arms in the Act of 1672 is empowered to grant arms to "vertuous [virtuous] and well deserving persons."

     Although heraldry in France and the lowlands of Belguim and Holland had a considerable history, like England, existing from the eleventh century, such formality has largely died out in these locations. The role of the herald (héraut) in France declined in the seventeenth century.  Many of the terms in international heraldry come from French.

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Gallery of Images

Gallery of Images 

Our galleries contain full-sized images of Coats-of Arms that pertain to the surnames of our direct ancestral lineage.   As most surnames have many variant spellings we suggest that you also view the galleries of our other two sub-sites as they make have a surname that is similar or has a slightly different spelling that the one you are researching

Use this LINK to find images of many unique coat-of-arms in a wide


variety of surnames many of them not found anywhere else on the internet.

Descriptions of the Armorial Bearings

Descriptions of the Arms

Descriptions some Armorial Bearings Attributed to this Surname

Copyright @ 2013-14

The associated armorial bearings for this surname and close variant spellings are recorded in Burke’s General Armoire, Rietstap’s Armorial General or J. Siebmacher's Great and General Armorial.  The additional information, presented below, is offered with regard to the armorial bearings we’ve identified from the aforementioned sources. 

Crest - The word crest is often mistakenly applied to a coat of arms.  The crest was a later development arising from the love of pageantry.  Initially the crest consisted of charges painted onto a ridge on top of the helmet.

Wreath or Torse – The torse is a twist of cloth or wreath underneath and part of a crest. Always shown as six twists, the first tincture being the tincture of the field, the second the tincture of the metal, and so on.

Mantling – The mantling is a drapery tied to the helmet above the shield. It forms a backdrop for the shield.

Helm or Helmet - The helmet or helm is situated above the shield and bears the torse and crest. The style of helmet displayed varies according to rank and social status, and these styles developed over time, in step with the development of actual military helmets.

Shield or Arms - The basis of all coats of arms.  At their simplest, arms consist of a shield with a plain field on which appears a geometrical shape or object.  The items appearing on the shield are known as charges.

Motto - The motto was originally a war cry, but later mottoes often expressed some worthy sentiment. It may appear at the top or bottom of a family coat of arms.

COA elements (grey 10)

When reading the following descriptions of these armorial bearings you may come across a term that you would like to know more about. 

As such we recommend you utilize this LINK BUTTON to locate additional information within the classic resource book originally published by James Parker and Company in 1894.

In addition to an image of the selected Armorial Bearings, presented below, we have divided each into three specific areas of content.  They are:

About the Proprietor:  A coat-of-arms design is usually granted only to a single person not to an entire family or to a particular surname. Coats of arms are inheritable property, and they generally descend to male lineal descendents of the original arms grantee.  Therefore the descriptive narratives below generally refer to this person as the “proprietor”.   The information given within the category primarily focuses upon the name of the proprietor, when the armorial bearings were granted, and by whom, as well as where he was seated.    

Blazoning the Arms:  In heraldry a blazon is a formal description of the coat of arms, from which the reader can reconstruct an appropriate image.  Primarily our blazons will focus upon a description of the shield, crest and mantling, as well as a motto, if known.  We attempt to construct our blazons utilizing current-day  terminology for better comprehension.  

Interpreting the Arms:  Heraldry symbols such as the colors, lines and shapes found on coats-of-arms are generally referred to as charges.  Although there is some debate over whether or not the charges have any universal symbolism many persons do believe they may represent an idea or skill of the person who originally had the armorial bearings created.  If this assumption has any validity charges may provide clues to early family history of that person


Bishop of Devonshire

Bishop of Dorsetshire

Bishop of Warwickshire

Bishop of Worcestershire

Bishoppe of Somerset

Bisshopp of Sussex

Knecht of Austria

LINK to full-size image

About the Proprietor: References to these armorial bearings are found in both Rietstap’s Armorial General and J. Siebmacher's Great and General Armorial.  According to Siebmacher this coat-of-arms was granted, in 1650, to Knecht a Bürgerliche (commoner), of Austrian Empire.

Blazoning the Arms: The following is a translation of the description provided in Rietstap’s Armorial General. A blue shield charged with a golden lion holding in its sinister paw a wreath of red leaves and in the dexter paw a white scythe.  The Crest is of a man (issuant) dressed in black wearing a pointed cap of the same holding into a pike of the same. It is not known if any motto is associated with these arms.  Siebmacher also provides an ancient image of these armorial bearings.

Interpreting the Arms: Much of the symbolism in the coat-of-arms seems indicate that the proprietor was a man of the military.  The red wreath indicates military strength and triumph of the warrior.  Likewise the pike is a symbol for a military family and indicates prowess and fortitude in bearers of this charge.  The lion has always held a high place in heraldry as the emblem of deathless courage, and, hence, that of a valiant warrior. It is said to be a lively image of a good soldier, who must be ‘valiant in courage, strong of body, politic in council and a foe to fear’. The image of a sickle or a scythe, also sometimes termed a “sned”, expresses the hope of a fruitful harvest of things desired. 

Knecht of Berne

LINK to full-size image

About the Proprietor: These arms are described by Reitstap within his Armoral Général.  This source identifies the surname as Knecht and states that the proprietor was seated in Berne, Swirzerland

Blazoning the Arms:  The shield is blue and is charged with a gold cup covered topped by an antique crown of the same and having a white handle sinister.  The crest features a man issuant belted by a floating ribbon dressed natural holding a covered cup, as on the shield, in his dexter hand.  It is not known if any motto is associated with these arms.

Interpreting the Arms: One heraldic meaning of the cup is that it represents the Office of the king's butler. The crown represents Royal or seigniorial authority. When one considers the general meaning of the Knecht surname as a male "servant", it may be concluded that this Knecht or one of his ancestors was indeed a butler to a King.  

Knecht of Gsteigwiler

LINK to full-size image

About the Proprietor:  Information regarding these arms are found in the Collection of Arms at the Archives of the canton of Bern.  According to the record, these arms were granted, circa 1940, to a Knecht of GsteigwilerFamily history records indicate the presence of this surname at Gsteigwiler since at least the 16th century.

Blazoning the Arms:  The shield is angled per fesse. The top is black and is charged with what may be a spearhead of gold.  The base is gold with the same charge in black.  The crest design is not known nor is any motto that may be associated that may be associated with these arms.  The Berne State Archives provides an image of the shield.

Interpreting the Arms:  The spearhead is a deadly device of ancient origin, first made of iron and later of fine steel. It is said to represent dexterity and nimbleness of wit, a person able to penetrate and understand matters of the highest consequence.

Knecht von Runslingen

LINK to full-size image

About the Proprietor: This coat-of-arms are found in Grünenberg’s Wappenbuch.  This source identifies the surname as Knecht and states that the proprietor was seated at Runslingen (Runsslingen).  The location of Runslingen is not known.  There is a locale in the Swedish city of Gothenburg named Runslingan.  

Blazoning the Arms: The shield is white with three red pales. In chief is a black lion (passant).  The crest shows a white half-wing holding the three red pales.  It is not known if any motto is associated with these arms.  Grünenberg provides an ancient image of these armorial bearings.

Interpreting the Arms:   The lion’s position and title as the king of the beasts, makes it one of the most common heraldic symbols on the continent of Europe.  The lion has always held a high place in heraldry as the emblem of deathless courage, and, hence, that of a valiant warrior. It is said to be a lively image of a good soldier, who must be ‘valiant in courage, strong of body, politic in council and a foe to fear’.

Knechtgen of Holland

LINK to full-size image

About the Proprietor: These arms are described by Reitstap within his Armoral Général.  This source identifies the surname as Knechtlgen, states that the proprietor was seated in Holland.  The spelling of this surname is rare and does not appear in resources pertaining to surname distribution.

Blazoning the Arms: The purple shield is charged with a young boy holding a golden crown in the dexter (right) hand with his sinister (left) hand resting on his hip.  The crest design is not known nor is any motto that may be associated that may be associated with these arms.

Interpreting the Arms: Arms where the predominant color is purple is not common. Purple represents, “royal majesty, sovereignty, and justice.”  The crown is an emblem of victory, sovereignty, and empire. It is a visible sign of success, thus the term ‘crowning achievement’.  Crowns are sometimes a symbol of God, as he is considered by some to be the ‘King of all’.  Based upon the aforementioned it is probable the proprietor of these arms is a member of the nobility.


LINK to full-size image

About the Proprietor:  These arms are described by Reitstap within his Armoral Général. This source identifies the surname as Knechtlin but does not provide any other information about the proprietor nor where he was seated.  Research shows that this surname spelling is quite rare and found primarily in France and Italy. The primary locales are Liguria a coastal region of north-western Italy, and its contiguous neighbor Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in France.

Blazoning the Arms: The shield is blue and contains three golden stars each with six points.  They are arranged two in the chief and one in the base.  The crest design is not known nor is any motto that may be associated that may be associated with these arms.

Interpreting the Arms:  The prominent colors of the arms usually represent the positive qualities of the proprietor. Gold signifies “generosity and elevation of the mind,” while blue speaks of “truth and loyalty.”  The stars symbolize honor, achievement and hope.

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Heraldry as a Family History Research Tool

Using Heraldry as a Family History  Research Tool

Wondering whether you are descended of the nobility*?  Are you aware of an ancestor who held a prominent political position or had a title such as Sir, or Esquire?  If so you just might be descended from someone who was granted the privilege of having a coat-of-arms.   If you are of European descent, you are probably a descendant of Charlemagne.  Once you are able to prove your line of descent from him, you will then find thousands of links to other affluent commoners or nobility in your list of relatives.  It is rare indeed that the genealogy of a person of European descent, when traceable, doesn’t discover an ancestor with a coat-of-arms. 

*The nobility is a class of people who had special political and social status. Nobility is inherited or granted by the Crown as a reward to people who perform a heroic deed, achieve greatness in some endeavor, or hold a prominent government position.


    If you have an elementary knowledge of heraldry you may wish to use this practice to trace your founding forefather.  If you know the geographical place (country, county, city) where the family coat-of-arms was first identified, you may well search its history for the family name in question in order to find your direct ancestor.  Remember that most noble European family pedigrees have been thoroughly researched and published.   By putting together the family surname with the known location you may find a treasure trove of valuable information about your ancestors.  Upon pursing your research you should be aware of the possibility of variant spellings of the surname.  See Variations of the Surname for more information about variant spellings of the surname.


Many family historians who have not connected with a noble ancestor may just want to know what their family coat-of-arms looks like.  If this is the situation you must know that except for a few cases, there is really no such thing as a standard "coat of arms" for a surname.  A coat of arms is a design usually granted only to a single person not to an entire family or to a particular surname.  Coats of arms are inheritable property, and they generally descend to male lineal descendents of the original arms grantee.  As a result you are advised to seek out a coat-of-arms for the locale where your ancestor resided.

For example: we have an Arnold ancestor who is known to have emigrated to America from the town of Erlangen, in Bavaria, Germany.  Current research shows Erlangen is located in the area of Bavaria known as Middle Franconia.  Upon review of the historic locations for Arnold as noted in one source of armorial bearings we find places in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, The Netherlands and others.   One coat-of-arms is listed as belonging to an Arnold of Franconia, Bavaria.  As such we may conclude that this is the coat-of-arms having some relevance to our ancestor.  He may well be a blood relative of the aforementioned noble Arnold.   He or his ancestor may have been employed by or a serf of the noble Arnold family of that locale.  In some cases the name of the noble family becomes the name of the locale resulting in the ancestor appropriating it a as surname, see Sources and Meanings of the Surname to ascertain whether the surname you are interested in is a locational name.

Some Resources for Locating Nobility

·     Austria-Hungary - untitled nobility

·     Austrian nobility

·     Baltic nobility

·     Bavarian noble families

·     Belgium noble families

·     Croatian nobility

·     Dutch noble families

·     Dutch Noble Family Names, 1814 to Present

·     France – House of Bourbon

·     French nobility – present remaining families

·     Holy Roman Empire – German nobility

·     Holy Roman Empire - nobility (1)

·     Holy Roman Empire – nobility (2)

·     Holy Roman Empire - noble families

·     Hungarian noble families

·     Lithuanian nobility

·     Medieval European Nobility

·     Normandy nobility

·     Norway Aristocracy

·     Polish nobility coats of arms

·     Polish noble families – Barons

·     Polish noble families - Counts

·     Polish noble families - Marquess

·     Scottish nobility

·     Swedish noble families

·     Swiss nobility

If you are interested in the armorial bearings of a particular surname we strongly advise that you utilize the resources provided within this area of our web page.  If you have any questions or need any assistance with regard to using heraldry as a means to further or widen your family history research you are welcome to contact us, see About This Webpage.

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Mottoes of this Surname

Mottoes associated with this surname

Motto(es) Associated With This Surname

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A motto is a word or sentence usually written upon a scroll and generally placed below the shield, but sometimes, especially in Scotland, above the crest.    Many ancient mottoes were war-cries such as the Douglas motto of “Forward.”    Many mottoes refer to the name of the bearer, for example “cole regem” for Coleridge.   In general most mottoes convey a sentiment, hope, or determination, such as the Cotter motto “Dum spiro spero” where the meaning is “While I have breath I hope“.     Mottoes are often used by several successive generations, but may be changed at any time by the grantee. The languages most in use are Latin, French, and English.  Exceptions are seen in Scotland where they are often in the old Lowland dialect, and in Wales, often in the language of the principality.   


It is unusual to find a motto associated with the coat-of-arms of a noble of the European continent especially a German family.  This does not necessarily mean that the Germanic culture is devoid of mottos.  For example, the national motto of Germany is “Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit”, meaning Unity and Justice and Freedom.  The German word for motto is “Wahlspruch.”   Some of the more well known German mottoes are as follows: Alte Wunden bluten leicht – Old wounds readily bleed anew;    Blut und Eisen – Blood and iron;  Das beste is gut genug – The best is good enough;  Ein’ feste Burg is unser Gott – Our God is a strong tower of defense;  Ewigkeit – Eternity;  Für Gott und Iht – All for God and her;  Gott is überall – God is over all;  Gott mit uns – God is with us;  Ich dien – I serve;  Krieg – War;  Mehr Licht! – More light!;  Nichts zoviel – Nothing in excess;  Prosit! – Good luck!;    Vaterland – Fatherland;  Vertrau’ auf Gott – Put your trust in God;  Vorwärts! – Forward!;        Zu dienen – At your service.


French phrases adopted as mottos, have a certain air of chivalry and perhaps a distinctly feudal sense of duty and allegiance. French mottos are more indicative of the warrior culture of the Middle Ages. Some of these phrases, however, are translations of better known Latin mottos, such as Toujours fidèle for Semper fidelis. Some of these phrases are often found in Old French spelling.  Examples of some well known French mottoes are as follows: Aimez loyaulté - Love loyalty;  Boutez en avant - Push forward;  C’est la seule vertu qui donne la noblesse - Virtue alone confers nobility;  Droit à chacun - To each his right;  En Dieu est ma foy - In God is my faith;  Foy pour devoir - Faith for duty;  Garde la foy - Keep the faith;  Inébranlable - Not to be shaken;  J’ai bonne cause - I have good reason;  Loyauté sans tache - Loyalty without defect;  Maintien le droit - Support the right;  Ni dessus, ni dessous - Neither above nor below;  Oublier ne puis - I cannot forget;  Parle bien ou parle rien - Speak well or say nothing;  Rien sans Dieu - Nothing without God;  Suivez raison - Follow reason;  Tachez surpasser en vertue - Strive to surpass in virtue;  Un Dieu, un roy, un foy - One God, one king, one faith;  Veilliez et ne craignez pas - Watch and fear not.

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·             Our Surname Locator And Resources web page contains the following: (1) links that will take you to an updated listing of all surnames as posted in our three databases at the Rootsweb WorldConnect Project; (2) the Surname List Finder a tool that finds sound-alike matches for a given surname from among RootsWeb's thousands of surname lists; (3) the Soundex Converter that can be used to find the soundex code for a surname, plus other surnames/spellings sharing the same soundex code;  (4) Surname Message Boards the world's largest online genealogy community with over 17 Million posts on more than 161,000 boards; (5) Surname Mailing Lists of all surnames having mailing lists at RootsWeb, as well as topics that include (6) Surname Heraldry, and  (7) Mapping a Surname. 

·              Your genealogy research of this surname can be facilitated by use of Surname Web. This website links to the majority of the surname data on the web, as well as to individual family trees, origin and surname meaning if known, and many other related genealogy resources. 

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Family History

        I have traced my Knecht family line back to my third great-grandfather Frederick Knecht, Sr. born 1840 in Germany.  He immigrated to the United States in 1873 and settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  He eventual became a naturalized citizen of the United States.

     My second great-grandfather Frederick Knecht. Jr. was born 1859 in the area of Germany formerly known as Prussia.  In 1873, when he was 14 years old, he immigrated to the United States with his father and mother.   In 1880 his parents filed a Declaration of Intent to become a citizen of the United States.   By 1900 Frederick had become a naturalized United States citizen in Pennsylvania.

     My great-grandmother Elizabeth was Frederick’s eldest child.  She was born in Philadelphia during 1878.  Elizabeth married Frederick Pfeffer circa 1896.  Her life was short as she passed away at age 25 in 1903.               

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Additional information about the persons in our database  as   well  as   a   complete  listing   of

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Generation 1

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FREDERICK1 KNECHT SR. was born in Jan 1840 in Germany. He died between 1900-1910 in Philadelphia Co., Pennsylvania, USA (?). He married Mrs. Frederick Knecht, Sr. (Nee ?) Sr. about 1859 in Germany. She was born in Germany. She died about 1867 in Germany.


Frederick Knecht Sr. and Mrs. Frederick Knecht, Sr. (Nee ?) Sr. had the following child:


2.              i.     FREDERICK2 KNECHT JR. was born in Oct 1859 in Germany (Prussia). He died on 06 Mar 1901 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He married Elizabeth K. Mildenberg, daughter of Charles L. Mildenberg and Augusta Mildenberg (Nee?) on 06 Jan 1879 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She was born in Jan 1860 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She died on 24 Nov 1901 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Generation 2

FREDERICK2 KNECHT JR. (Frederick1 Sr.) was born in Oct 1859 in Germany (Prussia). He died on 06 Mar 1901 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He married Elizabeth K. Mildenberg, daughter of Charles L. Mildenberg and Augusta Mildenberg (Nee?) on 06 Jan 1879 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She was born in Jan 1860 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She died on 24 Nov 1901 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Frederick Knecht Jr. and Elizabeth K. Mildenberg had the following children:


3.              i.   ELIZABETH3 KNECHT was born on 02 Mar 1878 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She died on 25 Jul 1903 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She married Frederick Lewis Pfeffer, son of Frederick Pfeffer and Catherine Clement in 1896 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He was born on 26 Jul 1875 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He died on 02 Apr 1951 in Woodbury, Gloucester Co., New Jersey.


ii.      FLORENCE KNECHT was born in Oct 1880 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She married Walter Fulmer in 1901 in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA. He was born about 1875 in Pennsylvania, USA.


iii.     FREDERICK KNECHT III was born in Aug 1883 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He married Chrissie F. Horn, daughter of Fannie R. Horn (Nee ?) in 1905 in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA. She was born about 1887 in Pennsylvania, USA.


iv.  CAROLINE A. KNECHT was born in Dec 1889 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She married (1) HARRY STRUBE in 1910 in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA. She married (2) HAROLD T. BOTHWELL in 1915 in Pennsylvania, USA. He was born on 13 May 1894 in Newtown, Bucks Co., Pennsylvania. He died on 01 Jul 1971 in Tucson, Pima Co., Arizona.


v.      CHARLES E. KNECHT was born on 27 Mar 1891 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He died on 14 Mar 1892 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Generation 3

ELIZABETH3 KNECHT (Frederick2 Jr., Frederick1 Sr.) was born on 02 Mar 1878 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She died on 25 Jul 1903 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She married Frederick Lewis Pfeffer, son of Frederick Pfeffer and Catherine Clement in 1896 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He was born on 26 Jul 1875 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He died on 02 Apr 1951 in Woodbury, Gloucester Co., New Jersey.


Frederick Lewis Pfeffer and Elizabeth Knecht had the following children:


i.        LEWIS FREDERICK4 PFEFFER was born on 26 Sep 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He died on 30 Sep 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


ii.      FLORENCE ELIZABETH PFEFFER was born on 31 Mar 1899 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She died on 14 Jun 1980 in Mercer County, New Jersey. She married (1) SHERMAN RHOADES SILAR, son of George J. Silar and Ida Matilda Dellinger on 14 Jun 1923 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He was born on 26 Aug 1897 in Chanceford, York, Pennsylvania, USA. He died on 08 Feb 1969 in Willingboro, Burlington Co., New Jersey. She married (2) PAUL COUSART GOTTA, son of George Hughes Gotta and Florence Lamb Shinn about 1970 in Burlington County, New Jersey, USA. He was born on 28 Jan 1897 in Burlington, Burlington Co., New Jersey, USA. He died in Jun 1978 in Beverly, Burlington Co., New Jersey, USA.


iii.     IRENE PFEFFER was born on 12 Jun 1901 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. She died in Nov 1984 in Norristown, Montgomery Co., Pennsylvania. She married LESTER GRAHAM BENNER SR.. He was born on 12 Aug 1897 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He died in Jul 1956 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


iv.      CHARLES F. PFEFFER was born on 10 Jul 1903 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. He died on 15 Sep 1903 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Source Citations

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The WorldConnect Project continues to grow, as it now contains several hundred million records thus it offers researchers the single largest collection of family trees on the Internet.

Use this free genealogy site to help you get the best genealogy searches from Google™ by using your family tree, for your research. It will create a series of different searches using tips or "tricks"

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that will likely improve your results. The different searches will give you many different ways of using Google and the Internet to find ancestry information about this or any other Surname. 

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Source documents



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The documents contained within this “Source Documents Archives” have been located during our research of this family, and used as evidence to prove many of the facts contained within the database of this family’s record.   We have source documents related to the following persons within our database with this surname.

·         Caroline Knecht Bothwell (1920 Census)

·         Carrie Knecht- 1910 Census

·         Charles E. Knecht -1892 Death Cert. Abstract

·         Elizabeth Knecht Pfeffer - Death Cert. Abstract

·         Florence Knecht Fulmer (1910 Census)

·         Frederick Knecht - 1901 Death Cert. Abstract

·         Frederick Knecht Family (1900 Census)

·         Frederick Knecht, Sr - 1875 Philadelphia City Directory

·         Frederick Knecht,Sr., Jr. III (1900 Census)

This Link will take you to our

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archive of source documents.  

     Most of these documents can be considered as primary or secondary evidence.  Primary evidence is usually defined as the best available to prove the fact in question, usually in an original document or record.  Secondary evidence is in essence all that evidence which is inferior in its origin to primary evidence. That does not mean secondary evidence is always in error, but there is a greater chance of error.  Examples of this type of evidence would be a copy of an original record, or oral testimony of a record’s contents.  Published genealogies and family histories are also secondary evidence.

     Classifying evidence as either primary or secondary does not tell anything about its accuracy or ultimate value.  This is especially true of secondary evidence.  Thus it is always a good idea to ask the following questions: (1) How far removed from the original is it, (when it is a copy)?; (2) What was the reason for the creation of the source which contains this evidence?; and (3) Who was responsible for creating this secondary evidence and what interest did they have in its accuracy?

SOURCE: Greenwood, Val D., The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy, 2nd edition, Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, MD 21202, 1990, pgs. 62-63

You are welcome to download any of the documents contained within this archive that does not cite a copyright.  Should you encounter a problem obtaining a copy you may get in touch with us via the contact information found at the end of this web-page.

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Migration routes

Migrations of the
American Family

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       Tracing our own family’s paths of migration can prove crucial in identifying previous generations and eventually, figuring out where and how they arrived in the “New World” as well as where they eventually settled.  Knowing the network of trails American pioneers traveled can help you guess where to start looking.  The trail map(s) provided below may assist you in understanding the routes that our direct ancestors of this family may have taken to find new homes and opportunities in the vast area now encompassed by the United States.

      During the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries hundreds of thousands of Europeans made the perilous ocean voyage to America.  For many it was an escape from economic hardship and religious persecution.  For most it was an opportunity to start over, own their own land, and make a better future for their descendents.

Immigration records show a number of people bearing the name of KNECHT, or one of its variants, as arriving in North America between the 17th and 20th centuries.  Some of these immigrants were: Michael Knecht with his wife and four daughters migrated to America from London, England in 1709; Johan Jacob Knecht arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1729;    Georg Peter Knecht came to Philadelphia in 1732 as did Phillip Knecht in 1734; Gottfried Knecht, aged 48, arrived at Philadelphia in 1806; Nathaniel Knecht, aged 47, came to America and settled in Missouri in 1840; Augustin Knecht, who emigrated from Austria, arriving on the ship “Medway”, from Antwerp, in 1867and eventually settled in Kansas about 1875: Benno Knecht, age 31,  came to America in 1907 from Berlin, Germany;  Arnold Knecht, aged 34, of  Czertkow, Austria, came to America in 1910.   

American Migration(s) of the KNECHT Family


Use the following links to find more early immigrants with this surname:

$ Search Immigration Records; or Free Ship’s Passenger lists at

The Development of an Historical Migration Route

It is understood that in many if not all cases we do not know exactly what routes our ancestors took as they migrated throughout the United States.   As such certain assumptions have been utilized to re-create the migration path presented above.  With regard to 18th and 19th century land routes we assume that they travelled along few trails and roads that were in existence at the time.  Research shows that a great many of these old paths and trails are today designated as U.S. Highway Routes.  For example, a major east-west route of migration known as the National Road is now U.S. Route 40, and a primary north-south migration route of the 18th century followed the Great Indian War and Trading Path is now U.S. Route 11.  In some situations the re-created migration route may travel along state routes that connect or run through the seat of a county as that populated place is probably the oldest settlement in the area. The use of water as a migration route is also likely.  For example, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries many families travelled west on the Ohio River as they moved on the new lands in Missouri or the Old Northwest Territory.  As such when applicable water routes have been included as the possible migration route.   

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Ancestral locations



Researching the locations where our ancestors lived has provided us with valuable evidence needed to fill in the gaps in our family trees.  It has also led us to many interesting facts that enhance the overall picture of each family group.

Locations of Our Direct Ancestors

The names of states and counties on the following list were derived from the known places where the Direct Ancestors in the “Ancestral Lineage” (see above) were born, married, and / or died.










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Resources which enhance our knowledge of the places inhabited by our ancestors are almost as important as their names. The LINK to the right will take you to Maps, Gazetteers,   and  other  helpful   resources 

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that will assist in discovering Ancestral Locations.  These web sites comprise only a small portion of what is available for researchers interested in learning more about where their ancestors lived.

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Images gallery

Gallery of
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During our research we have collected images and photographs that are of general interest to a particular family.  Some of them are presented on this website because we believe they tend to provide the reader with additional information which may aid in the understanding of our ancestors past lives.  We have images related to the following persons within our database with this surname.

·        Elizabeth Knecht - portrait 1896

·        Elizabeth Knecht - wedding 1896

·        Elizabeth Knecht - with daughter Irene c.1902

·        Knecht visit (not of this family)

·        Mr. Knecht of Philadelphia (not of this family)

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About this webpage

About This Webpage



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