Weidknecht History by Dolores Weidknecht Young

The following are excerpts from a history of the Weidknecht/Whitenack family compiled by Dolores Weidknecht Young.(1)

Included below is some info I have compiled on the WEIDKNECHT/WHITENECK- including all spelling variations-family. As of 24 August 1982, I have been unable to locate any published genealogy for this surname. Perhaps, in years to come I will have enough info for this line to publish one, would appreciate anything from your WHITENECK line you would like included.


The first Weidknecht family to come to the US was that of Andreas Weitknecht, his wife Margretha, and three children, John, Fred, and Ann Elizabeth. In 1709, they came with the great emigratioin from the Palatine region of Germany. This family was from Adelshofen, district Sinsheim, Kraichgau, Baden, Germany. His father was also named Andreas, and was a magistrate and burgomaster in Adelshofen, he had the original surname spelling of Weidknecht, however, when his son Andreas came to the US he changed the spelling of the original surname to Weitknecht.

In 1790, the line of Cornelius Weitknecht, further changed the spelling to Whitenack. Cornelius was married to Mary Kise, he was a descendant of John Weitknecht of Somerset Co., New Jersey.

In the early 1700's Weidknecht's were living in Germany, both in Lambsheim and Sotern, Rhineland.

Johann Michael Weidknecht, a pastor, was living in Rothau, Alsace Lorraine, in the 1700's.

A Weydknecht family resided in Kussnacht, Zurich, Switzerland.

In 1660's, Johann Rudolph Waydknecht, an attorney, lived in Regensburg, and Joachim Gabriel Wydknecht, a student, was attending the University of Altdorf.

Another line, that of Martin Weitknecht, came to Pennsylvania in 1732 and may have been distantly related to the line of John, as Martin was also from the Palatine region of Germany.

The Weidknecht families who came to the US from France, have all been found to have retained the original Weidknecht spelling, although a variation on some French documents shows some of the signatures of the Weidknecht line, using the Weydknecht spelling while still living in Rothau, Vosges, France. Also in the early 1900's the government officials in France changed the spelling to Weidknnet for one family line, but another still retains the Weidknecht spelling.


The Family Thread - Fact and Fantasy(2)

A Wytkneckt is supposed to have married a Webber in Holland in 1630. They came to New Amsterdam in 1649.(3) We believe this couple to be the progenitors of all Whitenacks extant in the country today.

Various spellings of the name have appeared in old records. One version is associated with Johannes Weitknegt who was born in Somerset County, New Jersey. Records indicate he was "admitted to membership in the North Branch of the Raritan Reformed Church--- on confession of faith, during the pastorate of the Rev. Theodous Jacobus Freylinghuysen, in the year 1728."

Johannes married a Dutch compatriot whose name was Neeltge. We do not know if this was her given or surname. The year of marriage is not recorded but would be before 1750. Johannes filed a will in 1779 (and amended in 1783) listing the following children: Johannes, Cornelius, Peter, Andrew, Henrdricks, Abraham, Neeltge, Jannetge and Sarah. Our ancestor was Peter, who was baptised on January 1, 1750, at the Reformed Church at Six Mile Run, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

... [follows information on Peter Whitenack]...

Peter and family, along with other Dutch families moved to the "Holland Purchase" (presumably in upper New York State). Thomas remembered his father, Peter, telling of taking the cows along for the milk and letting the wagons motion churn the butter. The "Holland Purchase" proved to be very poor land, required very hard work with little to show for it. Peter started a still and sold whiskey to make ends meet.

It was apparently common for the settlers to converse in Dutch, for special note is made that Peter had a good command of English as well as Dutch and was considered well educated for his time.(4)

It was at about this period that the name was anglicized to Whitenack or Whitnack. The origin of the name is said to mean White Knight in the original Dutch and is associated with the house guards of the Hourse of Orange.(5) Another spelling was "Whitenought".

... [follows information on several Whitenack generations] ...

Some odds and ends from the material. Apparently the "Holland Purchase" was land set aside in upstate New York and settled by the Dutch from Somerset and Morris Counties, New Jersey. Apparently, as well, many of Peter Whitenack's kin remained behind. There is even a Whitenack Road near Bernardsville, N.J.

... [follows information on additional Whitenack families] ...

There is a record of one Henry F. Whitnack who served General Daniel Morgan during the revolution. Note the spelling. Henry migrated to "the Valley"(6) presumably with Peter and the others. It may be that Henry was the "Hendrick" of Johannes offspring. If so he was Peter's brother. In any event, Henry married Margaret Burns who bore Hannah, Eleanor, Ruth, John G., Sarah, Margaret, William, Joseph and Rebecca. Hannah married Samuel Roberts, John G to Mary A Carroll (or Carl), Sarah to Robert Campbell, Margaret to Joseph Van Metre, William to Sarah Mounts, Joseph to a cousin, one Ruth Southwood Burns was teh daughter of a Robert Burns. Rebecca married Nicolas Strayer (Margaret's Van Metre connection took the Whitenacks to Virginia(7) and later to Ohio.)

The above came from Emma Foote's(8) notes on the family history. Such knowledge of the Henry Whitnack family indicated the closeness of the clan. I suppose Henry dropped the "e" when the name was anglicized.

... [Whitenack information omitted] ...

The family has passed down the story of lost wealth and royal lineage. We won't attest to the veracity but it makes a good yarn.

Supposedly, an ancestor of both Elizabeth Johnson, Peter's first wife and Eleanor Covert, Thomas' third wife was one Anneka Jans. She was supposed to be the fourth daughter of the reigning King of the Netherlands (House of Orange). She is sometime referred to as Anneke Webber who married Jacques Fontine. If so the royal surname was Webber.

Anneka Jans is said to have been given a considerable stipend which was supposedly withdrawn when Anneka married one Reverend Bogardus. The Bogardus settled on land in what is now lower Dutchess County, New York. (When one drives the Taconic Parkway into Dutchess County you cross Bogardus Lane, supposedly the remaining vestige of the family connection.)

The British confiscated the farm upon assuming colonial possession of the New Amsterdam colony. The date was 1663. This would suggest that Anneka Webber who married Jacques Fontine in 1689 was a different Anneka.

Anneka Jans (according to Emma Foote) was the daughter of Wolfert Webber and granddaughter of one William of the House of Orange. (Just for calibration William III and Mary assumed the throne of England in 1689. He was born in 1650). There was a William I of the House of Orange who lived at time that made it possible for him to be Anneka's grandfather.

Supposedly the reighing monarch, whoever he was relented on having withdrawn the stipend and restored the bequest. Unfortunately, Anneka died before the bequest could be completed.

Anneka was also reputed to have willed a tract of land around lower Broadway which the family has never been able to track down. There was also a sum of money in the Bank of Holland (possibly the above bequest) which could not be verified.

In any event, the generation of Thomas Whitenack seriously believed their connections thru the Johnsons to one Anneka, royal princess to the throne of Holland.

... [Beardsley family information omitted] ...


  1. I make no guarantee as to the accuracy of information contained in this document. I post excerpts to show the range of possibilities for the origins of the Whitnah name. In addition, I have not attempted to reproduce the entire document. Where appropriate, I have left out family information that definitely does not relate to the Whitnah family.
  2. I'm unsure whether this section was written by Dolores Weidknecht Young or a Whitenack descendant. For example, the subsequent information was definitely written by a Whitenack. But Dolores' middle name is spelled Weidknecht. Perhaps the first page is from Dolores, and it has been combined with information from another author.
  3. Other records show that in 1630, Wolfert Webber married Anneka Wallin. This family came to America in 1649. Several generations later, Peter Whitenack married Elizabeth Johnson (ca. 1796). This is likely the source, distorted in the retelling, of the information quoted here. (See also later paragraphs in this documents)
  4. I have included this information to show that the Whitenack's spoke Dutch. Some trace the line back to Germany. Was it a Dutch-speaking area of Germany? Or are the two lines different? Nearly all family tradition (both of the Whitnah's and Whitenack's) state the family came from Holland, not Germany or France.
  5. There are three possible sources for this tradition: 1) it's true, 2) the Van Meter family were knights in Holland, and/or 3) the legend the states the Whitenack's were descended from the House of Orange was distorted. At any rate, there is no evidence to either prove or disprove this statement.
  6. It's unclear what "Valley" is refered to here. If Henry was the son of Johannes of New Jersey, and was born in 1743, the only migrating he did was to Martinsburg Virginia. However, his son Joseph (and son William Burns for a short time) did migrate from Virginia to Livingston County, New York. The valley mentioned here might mean the Holland Purchase land in New York, since much of the preceding history seems centered in New York.
  7. What Margaret/Van Metre connection is referred to here? Henry's wife, Margaret Burns, was the daughter of Joanna Van Meter. The Van Meters and the Burns' lived in Berkeley County, Virginia, where Henry eventually settled and lived his remaining years. Henry's daughter, Margaret, married a Van Meter and lived in Ohio county, Virginia. Henry's grand daughter, Margaret, also married a Van Meter and lived in Ohio County, Virginia. Another tradition says that Johannes Whiteknecht of New Jersey married a Van Meter. So quite possibly, Henry was visiting his uncles in Virginia where he met and married Margaret Burns (possibly a distant cousin?).
  8. Emma Foote is the daughter of Giles Foote and Eleanor Whitenack.