Is Johannes Whiteknaught of New Jersey the Father of Henry Whiteneck?
There is much speculation and tradition,
and a little fact, surrounding the parentage
of Henry Whitenah. As for the facts, in a
letter dated 11 November 1782 (see Letter of Johannes Whiteknaught to his Son,
Henry), we learn the following about Henry's father:
- His name is Johannes Whiteknaught
- He lived apart from his son, but close enough
that a letter took less than one month
- His wife (Henry's mother) was also alive
- He had at least three sons and two daughters
- He was fairly advanced in age
- He was a religious person
- He was a farmer
- He could read and write English
These facts offer the only first-hand information
we have regarding Henry's parents. Moving
to secondary sources, the Biography of Margaret A. Van Meter (Henry's grand daughter) gives us the following
information which may or may not be reliable
regarding Henry, and which might give us
clues into his parentage:
- Henry is said to have been a pioneer of New
Jersey. It is possible, therefore, that
father also lived at some time in New Jersey.
- Henry lived to be 92 years old
Finally, the least reliable source of information
we have is family tradition, which may or
may not help in identifying Henry's parents.
Family tradition says that:
- Henry's father was named Johannes Whiteknaught.
However, more than one source admits there
might be one or two generations between this
Johannes and Henry(1).
- Johannes Whiteknaught was born in Bommel,
Holland in 1696 and settled in New Jersey
- Johannes married a Van Meter(3).
Based on this information, it is likely that
Henry's father is one Johannes Witeknaght
(Whitenack) who lived in the Sowerland Mountains
of Somerset County, New Jersey between 1728
and 1793. From documents and other sources,
we know the following about Johannes of New
- He was admitted to membership in the North
Branch of the Raritan Reformed Church in
Somerset County in 1728
- He was on the tax records of Franklin in
Somerset County in 1735 and owned 100 acres
- He was elected as an Elder in the church
on 25 Sep 1751, and contributed towards building
the Neshains Church in 1761
- His wife was named Neeltge, who, it is said,
came from Holland
- In 1753 he owned land in the Sourland Mountain
- Johannes lists the following as his children
in 1779: Cornelius, Andric, Hendrick, Abraham,
Johannes (deceased), Jannetye, Neeltye, Margaret,
- Johannes' son Hendrick was christened (baptized)
8 Feb 1743
- Johannes' wife was still living in 1779 when
his will was written
- Johannes died after 1783 (when his will was
amended). Some sources say his will was proved
in 1783, others in 1793.
Again, tradition, speculation, and secondary
sources give us the following possible facts
- Some link Johannes Witeknaght to a John George
Weidknecht born about 1699 in Adelshofen,
- Johannes' sons who stayed in New Jersey later
changed the name to Whitenack. Some Whitenack
family tradition states that Johannes came
to America from Bommel Holland in 1736
A quick perusal of the facts and traditions
surrounding both Henry and Johannes Whitenack
show a fairly good match. If Johannes Whitenack
is indeed Henry's father, and if some of
the tradition surrounding both is correct,
we can see the following similarities:
- If Neeltge Whiteknaught was originally a
Van Meter, that might explain how Henry
to migrate from New Jersey to Virginia.
that time, the Van Meter family had moved
to New Jersey. It's possible that when
felt alienated at home, he left to visit
his cousins, the Van Meters, in Virginia.
While there, he met the Burns' who had
intermarried with the Van Meters.
- Henry had children named Eleanor (also called
Nellie, possibly Neeltge), Margaret (although
his wife's name was Margaret), and Sarah.
One son, John G., might possibly be named
for John George (assuming that Johannes is
the John George Weidknecht in Adelshofen).
- Johannes' son John was deceased in 1779.
Most likely, this son is the John Whiteneck
who died in Maryland in 1774. His son John
is likely the grandson that Johannes mentions
in his will. In addition, John, son of John,
is likely the same John Whitenack from Maryland
who sold land to Henry and Margaret in 1787.
- In 1787, Henry had money to purchase land
in Berkeley County. Quite possibly, he obtained
this money from the sale of his share of
the inheritance from Johannes Witeknaght
(although no land sale records in New Jersey
have been located).
Despite these intriging possibilities, there
is still one missing piece of evidence that
definitively links Henry and Johannes together.
In addition, there are the following items
which might suggest that Johannes Witeknaght
of New Jersey might not be Henry's father:
- Henry is said to have lived to the age of
92. If this is true, he would have been
about 1728, not around 1743 as was Johannes'
son Hendrick. Here are some possibilities
for this discrepancy:
- Margaret (Henry's grand daughter) might have
incorrectly remembered Henry's age at
death. Perhaps this recollection of an
grandfather really applied to her great
Johannes Whitenack. If Johannes was born
about 1699, and his will proved in 1793,
he would have been around 92 years old.
perhaps he was born in 1696 (as Whitnah
states) and died around 1783.
- Henry Whitenack might have been born earlier
than 1743, but only christened in 1743
it's unlikely that there is a 15 year
- Henry was related to Johannes, but not as
his son. Perhaps Henry is the son of
Johannes who is father to both Henry
- Family tradition consistently places the
arrival of the Whitnah ancestors in America
around 1736. Johannes Witeknaght of New Jersey
was in America by 1728 (and possibly as early as 1710).
- There is a Henry Weidknecht from Pennsylvania enlisted in the Revolutionary War July 9, 1776. This branch of the Weidknecht family has not yet been identified, so it is somewhat possible that this Henry could be our Henry. This Henry was killed, missing, or wounded after the battle of Fort Washington on 16 November 1776.
- Johannes made his mark on his will, he did
not sign his name. Either the recorder incorrectly
indicated how he signed his will, or he could
not write. Or he could but simply did not
sign the will with his name. Or perhaps his
wife wrote the letter to his son Henry.
See the following documents for possible
additional information about Johannes' parentage:
- Correspondence with Scott Whitnah. Scott
copied down a descendant chart from a Bible
and indicated one or two generations between
Johannes and Henry. I have not seen the original
source for his notes.
- See Roberta Whitnah Family Notes. Similar information has been passed between
other family members.
- See Will of Johannes Witeknaght.