THE KNAPPENBERGER NAME
AND KNAPPENBERGER SPELLING VARIATIONS

 

 

GERMAN NAMING CUSTOMS

You may notice the use of the same first names for children in a family grouping.  This happened for two reasons.  First, that the re-use of a name may occur after the first child with the name has died.  Second, even when there is no death, the same first name was given to multiple children because they were not called by that name.  It was their middle names that were the names by which they were called.

 

 

THE KNAPPENBERGER NAME

The German family name Knappenberger is classified as being of occupational origin.  The surname Knappenberger is a transposed variant of the surname Bergknappe which is composed of the German "berg" meaning "mountain" and the Middle High German "knappe" denoting "a young man, assistant or apprentice".  Thus, the surname Knappenberger identifies the initial bearer of the surname as one who was an assistant or apprentice working perhaps in a mine.  Interestingly, the oral tradition in the Knappenberger family of current day Germany is that the Knappenbergers originated in Sweden and then came down into Germany.  The word "berg" in Swedish also means mountain.  Oral tradition among the American Knappenbergers states that the earliest ancestors were shield bearers to a knight from which came their name.  The majority of the Knappenberger family has maintained the original spelling; however, some variations of the name have occurred over the years.

 

 

KNUPPENBURG / KNUPPENBERG FAMILY

Adam Knuppenburg (1794-1870) was the son of Philip Adam (1742-1823) and grandson of J. Erhard (immigrant). Adam was listed as living in Luzerne County (which later became Wyoming County, PA) in the 1840 census.  At that time in the census, the name was spelled Knappenberger.  Adam's Family Bible shows the last name spelled as KNUPPENBURGER but Adam's family eventually shortened it to Knuppenburg.  This family spread across the country from Pennsylvania to New York to Michigan to North Dakota and Washington.  Some family members have also spelled the name as KNUPPENBERG.

 

 

KNEPPENBERGER FAMILY

Adam Kneppenberger with his wife Catherine Meyer, daughter of Leonard Mayer/Meyer and Anna Maria Bader (born 10 February 1727/1728), is listed in "Colonial Men and Times" by Lillie DuPuy Van Culin Harper (Philadelphia/1916).   Catherine Mayer is mentioned in her father's will of 1810 in Northampton County, PA.   This Adam is John Adam Knappenberger who moved his family to New York in 1808 and shortened the name to Knappenberg.   In addition, a Daniel Kneppenberger is listed in the 1850 census for Washington Township, Lehigh County, PA.

 

Also a Herman Rudolph Kneppenberger family is listed in the 1850 census for Somerset County, PA.  Herman Rudolph is listed as age 52 and born in Germany together with his wife Mary Elizabeth, age 51, and their children Meana, age 17; William, age 15; Eliza, age 11; and Mary, age 6.  Eliza (Elizabeth) later married J.C. Martens in 1858 when she was 19 and died 21 April 1875.  No connection has been made with this family since Herman Rudolph was born in Germany according to the census.

 

In addition, it seems that some records in Berks County, PA list Harvey J. Knappenberger's (born 1869) last name as Kneppenberger -  when his first wife, Gertrude Bickel Knappenberger, died on 6 May 1904, and his marriage record for his second wife, Sallie, in 1906.  Both spell his last name as Kneppenberger.  However, his children's last names were spelled and remain spelled as Knappenberger.  This was probably a misreading of handwriting.

 

As of the twenty first century, there were no listings for a KNEPPENBERGER family in the telephone directories in the United States.   Therefore, no family members officially changed their spelling to Kneppenberger.  It was just a misreading or misspelling at various times in various records.

 

 

KNAPPENBERG FAMILY of Livingston County, New York

John Adam Knappenberg (1769-1830), son of Johan Henrich "Henry" (1744-1818) and grandson of J. Michael (immigrant), moved his family to Sparta, Livingston County, New York prior to 1810.  John Adam married Mary Katherine Moyer (1771-1852) and had 10 children.  John Adam was the one who changed the spelling of the name and this family has maintained the spelling of Knappenberg (no "er").

 

 

KNAPPENBERG (isolated incidents)

Herbert Clinton Knappenberg (1888-1962) of Seneca County, Ohio dropped the final "er" in the spelling of his last name.  This is an isolated incident and, because Herbert had five daughters, there was no one to continue the spelling.  Herbert's linage is as follows:  Johan Erhard (1704-1776), Philip Frederick (1738-1829), Jonathan (1787-1850), Abraham (1823-1884), Gustavus H. (1853-1920).

 

Fred L. Knappenberg (February 1861- prior to 1930) of Colorado dropped the final "er" in the spelling of his last name.  It seems that his son, Fred L. Knappenberg of Santa Barbara, California (1904-1932) also dropped the "er".  But since the younger Fred had only a daughter, Corlyss Mae, it seems that this spelling ended with this generation.

 

 

KNAPPENBURGER FAMILY of Scioto County, Ohio

Jacob Knappenberger (1814-1898) was the son of John (1774-1863), grandson of Conrad (1748-1818), and great grandson of J. Michael (immigrant).  After moving from Pennsylvania to Ohio and West Virginia, Jacob's family seemingly changed the spelling - this was not a formal change but "burger" was used by him on a number of official documents (including Civil War records and census data).   One of Jacob's sons, Solomon Holt (1859-1946), maintained the spelling of "burger".  Likewise, Solomon Holt's two sons, Lester Thurman (1883-1979) and Ernest Glintworth (1889-1961) also continued the spelling of "burger".  The Knappenburgers of today are descendants of Lester and Ernest who maintained the Knappenburger spelling.

 

 

KNAPENBERGER FAMILY of Cattaraugus County, New York

Jesse Knapenberger (1852-1927) of Clarion County, Pennsylvania seems to have been the one to drop the one "p".  Jesse was the youngest son of Daniel Knappenberger (1799-1882) who moved his family from Westmoreland County to Clarion County in the 1820s.  Daniel was a son of John Knappenberger and grandson of Conrad Knappenberger and great grandson of J. Michael Knappenberger (immigrant).  This family has maintained the spelling with one "p" and is located primarily in northwestern Pennsylvania and southwestern New York state.

 

 

KNAPENBERGER (isolated incident)

Earl Bright Knapenberger (1908-1981) of Albert (1887-1910) of Henry Clay (1846-1932) of John (1809-1885) of J Philip (1783-1867) of Conrad (1748-1818) of Johan Michael (immigrant) spelled his last name with one "p" - according to his social security application.  Earl Bright is a one person anomaly.  He was raised by his maternal grandparents, Charles and Sarah Bettis, in Westmoreland County, PA and, therefore, probably had little to no contact with the Knappenberger Family of Armstrong County, PA.  He moved to North Carolina, married twice, and had a daughter - thus the single "p" spelling begins and ends with him.

 

 

KNAPP FAMILY of Trumbull County, Ohio

From Dorothy Worman's book written in 1990, we learn of a family in Ohio that shortened their name to Knapp.  She provided a quote from the Macungie Progress newspaper of 21 September 1905 as follows, "Frank Knapp, of Warren, Ohio, is visiting relatives hereabouts.  He is the son of William Knappenberger who owned the farm west of town, now in the possession of Jacob and Charles Neumoyer.  Mr. Knappenberger moved to Ohio many years ago.  His name was curtailed to Knapp and there his son Frank was born."  This William is the son of Jonathan Knappenberger (1801-1884) and grandson of Johan Philip Knappenberger (1776-1851).   In the 1880 census, the family name is listed as Knapp.  However, the 1920 and 1930 census lists the family name as Knappenberger.   But Frank Knapp(enberger)'s wife, Flora's name was listed as Flora W. Knapp on her death certificate in 1960.  But since Frank and Flora had no children, the changing of the name ended with their deaths.

 

 

KNAPP FAMILY of Missouri /Illinois/Indiana

Eli Ransom Knappenberger and Mary Rosella Knappenberger were the children of Jonathan Knappenberger (1827-1866) of Tuscarawas County, Ohio and grandchildren of J. Philip Knappenberger (1783-1867).  Jonathan died at a young age leaving a widow, Lavina [maiden name Swartz].  Lavina moved to Missouri where she married Thomas Cavanaugh.  In the 1880 census for St. Joseph, Buchanan County, Missouri, these two Knappenberger children appear - but their last names have been shortened to Knapp.  Mary Rosella Knapp married Charles Fenguay.  E. R. Knapp's name was documented in various ways during his lifetime: Elias R. Knappenberger, Eli R. Knappenberger, Ezra R. Knapp, Eli R. Knapp, Edward Ransom Knapp, Edward R. Knapp, and Ransom Knapp.  The name he used when he married Georgia Streeter in 1907 as well as the name under which he was buried in 1932 was Edward Ransom Knapp.  He had no children.

 

 

OTHER KNAPP FAMILIES

The Knapp family of the United States is a separate family.   However, there is a belief that George William Knapp of Dauphin County, PA may in fact be George Knappenberger born 14 January 1816 in Lehigh County, PA.  George was a son of Henry Knappenberger, Jr. (1781-1833).  George Knapp married Sophia KOONS/KUHNS and had three children.

 

 

KNOPPENBERGER / KNOPENBERGER of Medina County, Ohio

The family of Peter Knappenberger (1819-1884), son of Jonathan (1787-1850), grandson of Philip Frederick (1738-1829), and great grandson of immigrant Johan Erhard (1704-1776), spelled their last name as Knoppenberger or Knopenberger.  Peter had one daughter and one son.  The son, John Knoppenberger, had two sons of his own: Harvey Clarence Knopenberger who had no children and Floyd Knoppenberger died in infancy.

 

 

KNOPENBERGER of Penn Forest Township, Carbon County, PA

The Penn Forest Township, Carbon County, PA Knappenberger family spelled their last name as "Knopenberger" at the beginning of the 1900s.  The Drake's Creek School in 1913 listed ten Knopenberger children in that school with Emma Snyder as their teacher.  These children were Alice, Mamie, Laura, Verna, Violet, Arthur, Chester, Clinton, Kervin and Kenneth.  Thanks to Gene Knappenberger for sharing a copy of the booklet from this school.

 

 

MISSPELLINGS

The name has been misspelled over the years in various records including census records.  When doing research, consider all the ways you have seen it misspelled including no "K" or even Kanppenberger or Knabbenburger, Knoppenberger, Knutemburg, Knaffenberger, etc.  When checking the social security death index and 1910 census on the internet, you will need to drop the final "r" because it only recognizes 12 letters.

 

 

KLINGENSMITH

There is a Klingensmith family of Jeannette, Pennsylvania that is actually a branch of the Knappenberger family!  James Harvey Knappenberger, Jr. was adopted by his great aunt, Cordillia Allshouse Klingensmith and her husband Harvey David Klingensmith of Jeannette, Westmoreland County, PA.  Cordillia was the sister of Emma Allshouse Knappenberger who was James' grandmother.  Cordillia and Harvey Klingensmith were childless and, upon the death of James' father in 1925, they adopted him and changed his last name to Klingensmith.  James Harvey Klingensmith (born James Harvey Knappenberger, Jr.) was born 29 August 1920 in Phoenix, Arizona and married Edna "Jane" Thompson.  His true ancestry and that of his descendents is as follows: Johan Michael immigrant (1709-1751), Conrad (1748-1818), John (1774-1863), Henry (1798-1854), Moses (1826-1898), Henry J. (1861-1918), James Harvey Knappenberger, Sr. (1884-1925).