The earliest documented reference I have for a Weidknecht ancestor comes in a population list from 1570 from the town of Adelshofen, Germany. Everett Harold Whiteneck states:
In 1570 three Weydknecht's were living in the Castle Neipperg. During the war of 1618-1648 all the people in Adelshofen were pushed out of the area or killed, except two Weydknecht families. France claimed all of the land west of the Rhine. These Weydknecht families were spared because Lord Neipperg was married to the second wife of Napoleon, the Emporer of France. She was Marie Louise de Habsbough, daughter of the Emporer of Austria.1
Prior to 1570, Michel Weidknecht claims evidence of the family from Hilsbach, Germany (a town less than 3 miles from Adelshofen) in 15502, with earlier evidence tracing the family back to Salzburg, Austria as early as 1400.3
From this area in Germany, the family split into two (or more) branches, with one moving to Colmar, France by 16164, and another remaining in Adelshofen. Additional records show Weidknechts living in Regensburg as early as 16635, and in Strasbourg6 (possibly related to the Weidknechts from Colmar). Documented descendants of the Weidknecht families from Adelshofen, Germany are in America. Weidknecht descendants in France trace their lineage back to the town of Hilsbach. Presumably, both branches have a common ancestor.
Weidknechts in Adelshofen
In Adelshofen, the next documented reference for the Weidknecht's 7 comes from the Evangelical Church records recording the birth of Barbara Weidknecht, daughter of Hans and Catharina Weidknecht in 1655.8 These earliest church records show two Weidknecht families, Hans and Catarina Weidknecht, and Martin and Barbara Weidknecht.9 My assumption is that both are descended from the Weidknecht family listed in 1570. Hans died in 1670 at the age of 50, while Martin died in 1671 at the age of 70.10 From this it is likely that there were at least two generations of Weidknechts in Adelshofen prior to Martin and Hans.11
The death record for Martin Weidknecht in 1671 identifies him as having been Schultheiß (schultheize).12 The Schultheiß was the sherriff or mayor, responsible for, among other things, collecting taxes. By the late 1600's (and possibly earlier), the office was typically shared by two men, and rotated every two years. One requirement for the position was the ability to read and write, so we can assume that Martin was somewhat educated. Han's sons Lorrentz and Hans Dietrich, as well as Martin's son, Andreas, also held this position at one time.13 Andreas' occupation was attorney14 and possibly judge (keeper of the court)15.
Andreas is not the only Weidknecht attorney from that time period. Other attorneys bearing the Weidknecht name are found in Regensburg from 1663 to 174216, and in Strasbourg.17 While we do not know the relationship between these Weidknecht's and the Weidknecht's from Adelshofen, it does appear that they had the means and the opportunity for education and advancement.
The area of Adelshofen was ruled by the Goler family from the early 1300's, with rule passing to the von Neippergs starting in 143418. A member of the von Neipperg family, Ludwig von Neipperg, made his home and died in Adelshofen in 1570. Because the Weidknecht family was one of only two families from 1570 to still be living in the area 80 years later, and because the family was educated, served as Schultheiß, and had the means to become attorneys, I assume that the family was involved to some degree with the maintenance of the von Neipperg estate.
For more information on the descendants of the Weidknecht's of Adelshofen, see:
Martin Weidknecht and Barbara
Hans Weidknecht and Catharina
In 1709 Andreas Weidknecht migrated from Adelshofen to America. He was followed in 1732 by a cousin, Martin. Surnames that identify Weidknecht descendants in America are generally as follows:
Weidknecht's in France
All of the information I have on the Weidknecht family in France comes from the research of Michel Weidknecht posted by Cheryl Higgins (See Families of Michael Weydknecht). I will likely be able to verify much of this information from the church records from Colmar.
A few families from France migrated to America. Most with the name of Weidknecht in America are descendants of this branch of the family.