Weisel (Von Weisel, Von Hochweisel, Von Hohenweisel) Genealogy

(Von Weisel, Von Hochweisel, Von Hohenweisel)

Compiled by
Colonel Calvin Ira Kephart

So far as I have been able to ascertain from medieval records, only three Weisel (or von Weisel) families existed in western Europe. One, of knightly origins, lived in southern Swabia, as shown in Wirtemborgisches Urkundenbuch, V, 54, year 1254, and XI, 514, year 1266. The tradition persists in this family that one of it's members who had served in Bohemian wars married a Jewish girl and left descendants of that faith, as verified by statements from later descendants in the United States living in Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Richmond, and Norfolk and perhaps other places as well as in Vienna and doubtless other places in Austria and elsewhere.

An ancient town named Weisel is situated near Caub, on the Rhine in Hessen-Nassau, 28 miles northwest of Wiesbaden. In the 12th century it was held by a man of unknown origin, but said to have been a Sternberg, who in 1190 was called Udo von Wiselo, who then was burgmann (castle-guard) at Sternberg. His superior lord was a Count von Bolanden, but at this death it went to Count von Sponheim, related to the Bolandens. Heinrich von Sponheim sold the vogtei-recht (prefecture) to Arnolf II von Sternberg. His death ended the senior line and his younger brother Udo took it over and founded the ritters (knights) von Sternberg; so that the surname von Weisel fell into disuse. See The Rhine by W.O. von Horn (W. Oertel).

The third Weisel family, from which immigrant George Michael Weisel, born c. 1692, descended, was indigenous to Upper Hessen and took it's name originally from the villiage of Weisel, now called Nieder-Weisel, situated on the railway between Butzbach and Friedberg, a short distance south of the former. It is in the main valley of the Wetterau, at an elevation of 689 feet. As said by Ernst H. Kneschke in his Neues allgemeines Adels-Lexiknon, the Upper Hessian family of this name belonged to the old Wetterauer nobility, but from which older family did it branch? That was the question. The answer required research in the 12th century records.

History shows that the possessions of the ancient Hagen, Arnsberg, and Nuring committal families coalesced in the Munzenberg family, apparently through Lovegarde, wife of Graf Cuno I von Munzenberg (c.1132 - 1211), who may have been a Nuring. Another dominant family of this Upper Hessian region was that of von Ziegenhain, and about 1205 Ulrich I, son of Cuno I, married Adelhaid, daughter of Graf Rudolf I von Ziegenhain and widow of Burkhart von Schwarzfelt, and left issue. Isengard, their eldest daughter, born c. 1205, about 1225 married Graf Philip IV von Bolanden and I von Falkenstein. Thus, these families were intermarried. The ancient counts of Nuring (including Einrich) descended from Count Berthold (Bardo), born c 898, of Wetterau, who may have married a daughter of Count Adelbert of Babenberg. Berthold was a son of Burkhart I (c. 870 - 908), count of Worms 897 - 906 and later duke of Thuringia. He was slain in warfare with the Hungarians. His wife, the mother of Berthold, was a daughter of Markgraf Berthold of Bavaria (Nordgau). Burkhart I descended through counts Walaho and Adalard from Eberhard ( c. 793 - 870), marquis of Friuli, Italy, and his wife Gisela (born 797), daughter of Emperor Louis I (the pious), son of Charlamagne.

References: Die hochste Zierd Teutschlandes und Vortrefflichkeit des Teutshen Adels ( Frankfurt a.M., 1777), by Johann Maximilian Humbracht; Nassauisches Urkunden, I, 108, year 1130, and other items; History of Nassau, by J.W.T. Schliephake; Archiv fur Hessisches Geschichte; Hessisohen Urkunden, by Ludwig Bauer; Urkundenbuch der Abtei Arnsberg, by Ludwig Bauer; Hessischer Chronik; and others; also encyolopedias.

In the 12th century, the fief of Weisel belonged to the counts of Ziegenhain. The meaning of the name is uncertain. One suggestion is that of "queen-bee", but other opinions point to the adjective "white" as applied to something, perhaps a stream or some other conspicuous aspect of it's site. Diligent search and analysis of genealogical charts and data pertaining to the Munzenberg, Ziegenhain, and related families clearly indicated that the first holder of this fief, one Rucker (Rudiger) von Weisel, born c. 1182, Nassauisches Urkenden, II, 592, was not a member of any of those families but must have been a nobleman of another family in the region, as the forenamed Rudiger did not occur in them. However, this name was found at that time in the nearby comital family on the north, the ancient Counts of Bielstein (later Bilstein) of easterly Kurhessen, whose name means "hatchet-stone".

According to Ernest H. Kneschke in his Neuse allgemeines Deutsches Adels-Laxikon, (1859), I, 421 - 422, the original castle of this Bilstein family stood on a high hill in a valley in the Vogalsberg Mountains in Kurhessen, near the Werra River, Which over- looked a large region. They are said to have been a powerful comital family, whose ancestor was Eberhard (c. 793 - 870), marquis of Friule, who married Gisola, daughter of Emperor Louis I (the Pious), who had been very generous to the churches at Fulda and Wurzberg. They also held estates in westerly Thuringia. A Count Wigger (Wichart) was first mentioned in 966. He had a brother named Count Sigo (Siegfried). Count Rucker IV, who held property in Thuringia and died in 1095, was among the followers of King Heinrich IV. He had a brother named Eberhard. His son Rucker V is named as Graf von Bilstein until 1148. apparently, several brothers in different families have been called counts simultaneously; perhaps that was the medieval custom, more or less. The family also held properties in Westphalia and a village named Bilstein lies toward Arnsberg. An early Count Rudiger (Rucker) is supposed to have married a Countess von Padburg.

Count Rucker V had sons named Giso (evidently an abbreviated name) and Eberhard. The former gave funds in 1153 to the monastery of Fulda for the restoration of an estate at Unterriede, near Bilstein, and the latter is mentioned as a witness in a document executed in 1158 at the monastery of Biedhausen in Henneberg territory. Giso's son Wigger (Wichart) is named in documents of 1182, 1189, 1200, and 1205. Another son named Wittekind is mentioned in 1200 and in 1218 was a follower of Archbishop Siegfried of Mainz at Fitzlar; he may have been slain in warfare. Kneschke, ibid. Herr Hans Joachim von Breckhusen, of marburg on the Lahn, reported that others named Erpo (Eberhard) II, Wittekind II, Otto I, and Burkhard I bore the title of Grafen von Bilstein from about 1200 to about 1268. Kneshke indicated the Bilstein as having been a mighty family, whose name in senior lines is said to have become extinct about 1593. Stamnbuch des Adels in Deutschland (Regensburg, 1860).

Count Giso's son Count Wigger (Wickhart), for reasons later indicated, was the father of a younger son, the first mentioned Rucker (Rudiger) von Weisel, born c. 1182, whose was the ancestor of our Weisel family and the first to bear this surname. He married Bertha, daughter of neighboring Count Rudolf II and Mechtild (von Nidda) von Ziegenhain, southwestward across the Fulda River, and promptly was granted the manor of Weisel held by the Ziegenhain family, whereupon he assumed that place-name, and became a vassal of his wife's family shortly in the person of Rudolf's son, Count Ludwig I von Ziegenhain. Nassau. Urkundenbuch, II, 592, year 1282. The latter was related to the Munzenberg family in some manner.

In addition to the works cited above, at least a dozen other publications on the history and genealogy of the counts of Bilstein have been reported, some without author stated and others by Steimen, Lenz, Landau, Bruchmann, Wenek, Seibert, Posse, and Killmer. Humbracht also reports the Weisel (Hochweisel, Hohenweisel) family, and the Munzenberg and Ziegenhain families likewise are well reported. The above Rudolf II von Ziegenhain (who died in 1189) was a son of Gottfried I (mentioned 1141 - 1158), graf von Wagebach and Ziegenhain and domvogt of Fulda and brother of Graf Gosmar III von Ziegenhain (died 1184). The first two Hohenweisel generations by Humbracht are unreliable; the first acceptable is the third, forename Herman, edelknecht of 1331.

In those troublous times, it was necessary for every lord to possess a strong castle perched on a high and well protected site as a fortress and refuge for himself and his family and his local employees and serfs in case of necessity. Accordingly, since the village of Weisel lay on a plain, Rucker von Weisel soon erected a castle on a nearby peak, known as Hausberg, and his seat became designed as Hefweisel; but later, in order to distinguish it more clearly from Weisel, it was called Hochweisel and that became the family surname (although one line later spelled it as Hoheweisel). It is 2.5 miles west of Niederweisle, 1594 feet high, commands a view of the lands on the east, and both sides of Hausberg are washed by tributaries of the Wetter River.

It may not be presumed that the town of Weisel ever was without a master of some status prior to the time that it was assigned to Rucker von Bilstein about 1204. For example, in a document attested in the court of the Pfalzgraf in 1073 a certain Herr Volmar de Wizela concluded an agreement with one Adelbert for landed estates situated at hausen and Fischbach, which he had acquired by purchase from the latter's demised sister. Nassau Documentary Record Book 1, 71. Volmar's antecedents cannot even be imagined nor is the ownership of the town at that time indicated in the records reported, as the forename Volmar has not been seen elsewhere. Humbracht shows a Johann von Hohenweisel in 1192 as the first name in the Weisel chart and the second as Arnold von Wisela in 1254. The former has not been found anywhere and is not acceptable because the castle has not been erected on Hausberg until a half century later and then was called hofweisel for another generation.

The known children of Rucker (Rudiger) and Bertha (von Ziegenhain) von Weisel are named below. His status was that of freiherr, baron, or dominus.

RUDOLF von Hofweisel, dominus, born c. 1209, mentioned in documents of 1251 and 1252 as a surety for Ritter Eberwin Kranich von Kransberg. Ibid., I, 354. Identifiable children: (Rudolf apparently died in 1277-78.)

RUDOLF II, born c. 1234, dominus of Hefweisel but soon called Hochweizel. He married Mechtild, sister of Marquard Scholm von Bommersheim, who in 1276 referred to Rudlof as his brother-in-law. Nassau Documentary Records, II, page 541, doc. 913, at Bergen, 1276, in which estates were exchanged. He also is named in other documents of 1281 and 1282, in the latter year as unterlehnsman (vassal) of Graf Ludwig II von Ziegenhain and as advocate at Heidersheim. Nassau Urkunden, II, 592. Identifiable children: (Note - The reference 'Nassau Documentary Records above in English, may be synonymous with that of Nassauisches Urkunden, also cited here.)

HERMAN I von Hochweisel, born c. 1256, named as edelknecht (knight) in 1331, contineued the senior line with this place-name. He married Hedwig____ and died in 1335, when his wife was named as a widow. Nassau. Urkundenbuch, page 161, doc. 130 and 1960. Known children:

ANSELM I von Hochweisel, called 'der Alte', born c. 1286, died about 1360; reported by both Humbracht and Die Hochate Zierdo Teutschlands....... table 282, and verified by the following data. Known children, but they may have been others. See Staatsarchiv darmstadt, abt. Urkunden Oberhessen, Schiffenberg, March 30, 1372.

Anselm II, born c. 1312; of whom below.

ANSELM II von Hochweisel, born c. 1312, called 'der Jung' in 1359. Married Konne _____. Amtmann (magistrate) at Butzbach through 1364. Hessisches Urkunden, 1, pages 656-7, doc. 984; document with seal (apparently first record of the family armorial insigne) of August 5, 1366, page 672, no. 1010; and again of February 6 1372, page 697, no 1053. This is the insigne described later here. In 1364, he is referred to as 'edelknecht', and in 1372 as 'junker' (nobleman). Known children:

HERMAN II von Hochweisel, born c. 1335; no further data than reported in J.H. Humbracht, Die hochste Zierde Teutschen Landes.... In Hessische Urkunden, 1, pages 238-9, doc. 241, on November 30, 1481, he is called 'der Junghe Oberste' (young colonel); on page 477, doc. 693, year 1382, he is called 'Herr'; and on pages 768-9, doc 1154, on December 1, 1384, he is called "Herr Herman...Ritter."

This, the senior, line is said by Humbracht to have become extinct with the death in 1559 of Marquard von Hoheweisel (a form of spelling used in the later centuries), burgmann (castle guard) at Friedberg, who had married Catherina von Walderdorf. For Ruker von Wizele (Bilstein name) and Heinrich Wyzelere, see Urkundenbuch der Klosters Arnburg, p. 474, doc 762, year 1350, and 481, 1351.

Now, we shall continue with our own lineage, that from the aforesaid Nikolaus:

NIKOLAUS von Hochweisel, born c. 1270; as a younger man, he adopted the form 'von Weisel' and became a citizen of Friedberg in 1308. Shown as of 1314 in Hessische Urkunden, 1, page 889, doc. 1317. Reported in Stamntafel des Geschlechts von Hochweisel as ratsherr (councilman) through 1312-1316, schultheiss (mayor) through 1323, schoffe (assistant judge) through 1332, and as a house owner in 1343. The name of his wife is not known, but there are indications that she may have been a daughter of Dominus Werner I (von Bolanden) von Munzenberg (c. 1240-c.1300), whose wife was Mechtild, daughter of Graf Gerhard III and Agnes von Dietz, of Nassau. The evidence, in fact, is quite persuasive. Werner had an elder brother Philip and both of these forenames were carried down this Weisel family at Friedberg. Following custom, they later dropped the 'von'. About Nikolaus, see Urkundenbuch des Klosters Arnsburg, by Bauer, page 280, doc. 409.

Numerous data pertaing to this von Weisel (and later simply Weisel) family of Friedberg are reported in such publications as Friedberger Urkundenbuch, by M. Foltz, Geschichte von Friedberg, by Philip Dieffenbach, Frankfurter urkundenbuch, by Boehmer-Lau, and others, including the Hessische Chronik, pages 23ff. One assertion by a German correspondent that this Weisel family did not descend from the von Weisel family in the same town cannot be taken seriously. It indicates a lack of imagination as to how younger sons of younger lines went to the towns and engaged in business and became the patricians famlies there. Ample proof of this procedure is profuse, even in various lines of descent in this genealogy. In Jacob Grimm's Weisthumer. III, pages 439 - 447, appears an item headed Bingenheimer Mark 1554 (1416) in which the name of Niklas Weissel is shown as schultheiss (mayor) of Nieder-Mockstadt, situated in southern Oberhessen, Kreis Budinton, just east of Friedberg. This fact demonstrates the continuance in the Weisel family of the forename Nikolaus, shown above, proving direct descent from Nikolaus von Hochweisel (born c. 1270) through the form von Weisel to the simpler Weisel form. This is a common mode of descent in the social scale to simple patrician statue as guild leaders and officers in the growing towns over Europe.

Nicholas von weisel had a son named Werner, who also was a city officer at Friedberg after his father. He must have been born around 1295 and served the city through the middle of the 14th century as councilman and in other capacities. The genealogy through the next two centuries apparently has not been compiled, according to an article by attorney Dr. Alexander Dietz, a descendant of Frankfurt a. M., to which city some members went. This article is entitled Die Friedberger Patrizierfamilie Weisel and appeared in the Hessische Chronik's Monatschrift fur Familien- und Ortsgeschichte in Hessen und Hessen-Nassau, VIII, January and February, 1919. Publisher: Verlag von Professor D. Dr. Wilhelm Diehl, in Friedberg, pages 23 - 28.

In 1328 a deceased Thilo Wyselin, former attache of the Frankfurter Liebfrauenstift is reported. Through 1367 a Henne Wysele of Friedberg gained citizenship at Frankfort. In 1368 a Heinrich Wyssel was a taxpayer in Friedberg. In 1409 a Barbara Wisselin of Friedberg was admonished by officers of King Ruprecht to pay 100 florins forth local tax on the patricians. Paul Weisel, Sr., was burgermeister of Friedberg through 1436 - 1441 and his son Paul, Jr., "the jungerer", occupied that office through 1444 - 1453 at least.

The compiled genealogy actually begins with Gerhard Weisel, Sr., born about 1475, who was burgermeister at Friedberg through 1540. He was succeeded by his son Gerhard Weisel, Jr., born about 1510, who served as burgermeister there through at least 1550 - 1565 and who died in 1567.

The following is a translation of a paragraph in the above article by Dr. Dietz:

In the 16th century, Gerhard Weisel, Jr., as burgermeister, rose to high honors by his intorduction of the Reformation in his home town. In 1560 he entered into a treaty with the Kurmainzische monastery Ruprechtsberg, near Bingen, under the terms of which it was to forfeit, for a yearly fee of 40 gulden, its patronage rights to the Friedberger town church and to accord it to the town. In this chruch there is an honorary enrollment of Hospitalmaster Konrad Weisel and his gifts from the Year 1635, when he died.

Dr Dietz continues that various descendants scattered from Friedberg and settled and became mayors, treasurers, and councilmen at other towns in Hanau, Munzenberg, Solms, and Kurpfalz (a part of the Palatinato) territories or became military officers. For example, Gerhard, Jr,'s son Adam Weisel (c. 1545 - 1618) and the latter's second son Gerhard (1584 - 1673) and their descendants served fully 100 years in such offices as mayor and treasurer at the nearby town of Dorheim, an amt (community) in Hanau. The earliest official families of Hessen and Rhineland are accounted their relatives.

Dr Deitz apparently descended from Dr. Jur. Johannes Weisel, baptized February 24, 1585, at Friedberg, who married Cassandra, daughter of Dr. Elias von Offenbach, on July 4, 1615. He was highly educated and in 1621 was awarded citizenship status at Frankfurt.a.M. His genealogy has been compiled and published by Dr. Dietz; but here we are more interested in our ancestral line, which descended from the foregoing Adam and Gerhard. Incidentally, the high origin and status of this Weisel family is indicated the marriage of this Dr. Weisel with a lady 'von Offenbach'.

This linage continues from the aforesaid Adam Weisel, born about 1545 and died April 26, 1618, the third son (after Konrad, hospitalmaster named before, and Johannes), as shown in the Hessischo Chronik in the before mentioned article by Dr. Alexander Dietz. He married in 1581 Ursula, daughter of Johannes Fild (Phildius, Fuld), pastor of the Evengelical church and principal arch-presbyter at Friedberg. Later he was appointed by the Count of Kanau-Minzenberg to be the first chief mayor and keeper of the wine cellar of the newly created community of Dorheim, near Friedberg. Children:

GERHARD WEISEL, born December or January, baptized January 28, 1584; died August 27, 1673, in his 90th year; evidently married late, c. 1617, Elizabeth___?, who died September 8, 1646. He succeeded his father in 1618 as chief mayor and "keller" (rentmeister - treasurer) at Dorheim. Children: JOHANN JACOB WEISEL, born and educated at Marburg and Giessen Univ's. Apparently as an educator, he went to Assmannshausen on the Rhine, in Nassau, where relatives already lived. After marriage, he must have settled at a hamlet named for him in Rheinland province, across the Rhine, about 9 kilometers southwest of Bad Kreuznach, c. 1665. No record yet has been found of the names of his wife and children, but the evidence indicates that the son next in this lineage was named Georg Michael. Worthy of the note is the fact that approximately 30 different men named Weisel attended institutions of higher learning at Marburg (the first Protestant university), Herborn, Giessen, and Strassburg (Alsaco) during the years from 1550 to 1784, apparently all of this stock. Next Generation here:

GEORG MICHAEL WEISEL (forename subject to verification) was born about 1667 in the aboved region. He apparently married a daughter of Friedrich _____? in the area c. 1690 and soon settled at a site in the Palatinate about 25 kilometers northwest of Kaiserslautern, where another hamlet was named for the family. At this time, the elector-palatine Count Philip William of Neuberg extended equal rights to both protestants and Roman Catholics, but under his son and successor, elector John William, the Protestants were deprived of various civil rights; whereupon this Weisel family moved southward through the Zweibrucken region to and settled in the vicinity of Gersdorf, in northern Alsace.


Georg Michael Weisel, born in the region of Worth, northern Alsaco (a Huguenet), about 1693, married Susanna Kufer (Kiefer, Keefer), believed to have descended from a Paris (France) Huguenot family named Tonnelier (having same meaning - cooper), of which a member fled from persecution to Zweibrucken, in the Palatinate. This couple and their children named below came to Philadelphia on the ship John and William on October 17 (now 28), 1732, took the Oath of Allegiance to William Penn's province, and settled in Bedminster township, Bucks County, Pa., where they developed a 281 acre plantation of 2 tracts of land surveyed for them on February 18, 1743, and became public spirited citizens. Michael also was a weaver. They were among the organizers of Tohicken Union Church. Michael died in July, 1770; the date of decease of his wife is not known. Children:

Jacob Weisel, born c 1724, died April 27, 1797; married Anna Margaret Beyer. Ensign in Capt. David Mellenger's Company, Bucks County Militia, and later 1st Lieutenant in 3rd Company, 3rd Battalion, Col. John Keller's Regiment, Bucks County militia, in the Revolution. Ref Penn. Archives, 5th Series, Vol. 5. Jacob acquired the plantation of his parents, later conveying a portion to his brother Michael, the youngest brother George settling in Richland township. Children: Daniel Weisel, born April 10, 1765, died May 19, 1825. Went with his brother Jacob to Williamsport, western Maryland, where they settled. There Daniel married Margaret, daughter of Henry and Eve Startzman, and established a general merchandise store. In his home, said to have been among the earliest built on the Potomac River, they are said to have entertained General Washington. His wife was born Sept. 16, 1773, and died July 28, 1817. Left Prominent descendants. Children:

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Message-ID: <53fe3cb9.35dc9d9f@aol.com>
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 1998 18:05:18 EDT
To: bonnie@psl.wisc.edu
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Subject: Re: John George Weisel, my gr. gr. grandfather
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Bonnie, I bought this Weisel paper at a used book sale, but I'm not sure where
(probably Lancaster, PA).  The exact source of the paper is not clear.  The
title page is an original sheet of typewriting paper with original typing,
presumably by Col. Kephart himself.  The remaining pages are some sort of copy
(mimeograph?--not sure what other copying technologies were available at that
time.  It's not a carbon copy or an original typed manuscript).

The title page page has four different notations on it.  I'm not sure how many
of these came through on the copy I sent Marty which then got recopied and
sent to you.  The most prominent is a box on right noting "Date Microfilmed
May 10, 1983"  I'm not sure who microfilmed it.  Just below this is a rather
faint stamp in blue ink noting "GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY of the church of Jesus
Christ of Latter Day Saints, 71394".  Thus, this paper was at one time in
possession of the Mormon's.  Don't know if the copy was made specifically for
them.  To the right of the title is a date stamp in the same color blue ink as
the Mormon stamp reading "Jan 15, 1965".  That might indicate the date the
Mormon's obtained it.  But that suggests to me that the 1983 microfilming was
done by someone else (some library?).  Finally, in the lower right corner is a
light pencil notation "P.B. 929.2 #1940".  This is clearly a library catalog
number.  Don't know whether the #1940 indicates the date when this was written
or if that's just a coincidence.  There's no other indication when this was
written (except it must have been before 1965).

That's really all I can tell you about the paper.  I haven't made serious
attempts to look for Kephart's notes, other than to confirm there's nothing in
the Bucks County Historical Society which would have been a logical place for
such notes (Kephart's mother was from Bucks County and he might even have been
born there).  I don't recall whether I checked the PA Historical Society in
Philadelphia.  I have never attempted to do research in the Washington DC area
and don't even know what repositories are there.  However, I presume the Natl
Genealogical Society has a repository there somewhere and that might be the
other logical location since Kephart was a one-time President of that

Yes, the scope of my research is limited to the George Michael branch in PA
and even then really only his daughter Maria Barbara who married Frederick
Solliday (I'm a double descendent of theirs) and his son Michael Weisel who
married Margaret Drach (I'm descended from a sister of Margaret Drach--Col.
Kephart is from this Michael line).  I'm just about to publish a 700-800 page
genealogy on the Solliday family.  However, this won't go into the Weisel
family much, except branches that have intermarried with later Solliday

Please keep in touch, particularly if you find anyone who knows where
Kephart's notes are.  I will do likewise.