Whisnants on the Move: Germany, Lancaster County PA and the Great Wagon Road

Henry VIII [no known relation–yet] coat of arms

Who among us has not received at least one “once-in-a-lifetime chance” to purchase (at a limited-time-only reduced price) a handsome family crest wall plaque, together with a gold-embossed, [insert your family name here] genealogy book in which your very own name is prominently in evidence?  Prone to vanity as we all are, and typically only a few generations out from third- or fourth-degree connections with royalty (mixed and frequently unsavory lot though they turn out to be), we are tempting targets in a perennially lucrative market.

Well, let’s see, then: Whisnant, I am informed after a 0.54 second, 1600+ hits search on Google, is of Anglo-Saxon origin (interest perks up), derived from Old English wis, meaning wise or learned person (yes, of course that increases the appeal). But a quick online definition check says wis is “a form derived from iwis, mistakenly interpreted as I wis I know, as if from Old English witan to know”).  And my trusty old print copy of the Oxford English Dictionary presents a history of the word too complicated to help much here.

In any case, if one asks (more humbly and judiciously) where the Whisnants came from (sorry, friends and relations, even though the earliest documentable reference turns up in the year 1242, we’ve got to walk this lonesome valley not only by ourselves but also crestless).  One also quickly learns (as I have noticed personally all my life), that “Whisnant” gets spelled pretty much however anyone is of a mind to, and pronounced in some ways one might not even have considered possible.

A few of some eighty spellings researchers have thus far encountered (not surprising, given that in German, initial w is pronounced as v, as in welt, initial v is pronounced as f, as in von, and terminal d as t, as in und): Fisinant, Visinand, Visinant, Whiissanhunt, Whisante, Whisenant, Whisenhant, Whisenhunt, Whisennand, Whisenun, Whisinand, Whisnand, Whisnant, Whisonant, Whistenant, Whistnant, Whysenhunt, Wiseant, Wissenandt, Wissenant. In a pinch, even Hunt has served.  So much for my etymologically-based Anglo Saxon forbears.

But since it is not my purpose to trace Asbury Whisnant’s or Sarah Ella Austin’s lineages back to the dawn of time or forward to the current generation in the familiar genealogical way, many of the spellings can be ignored.  “Visinand” and “Whisnant” (and several minor variations upon them) prove sufficiently productive.  And for Asbury Whisnant’s ancestors back through the relevant three or four generations, more than the necessary information is available through Raymond Whisnant’s excellent Whisnant Surname Center.

Click to visit site. Access and use generously authorized by Raymond C. Whisnant. For other uses, contact him directly by email (given on the site).

Click to visit site. Access and use generously authorized by Raymond C. Whisnant. For other uses, contact him directly by email (given on the site).

I intend only to establish (briefly and schematically) the family’s origins in Switzerland and Germany, to dope out why they left, to examine the few available details of their lives during the two or three decades they tarried in Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County, and then follow them (and streams of others) down the Great Wagon Road (around 1750, it seems) to piedmont (later western) North Carolina.

My grandmother Whisnant’s immediate Austin forbears (more difficult to check out, I’ve learned) were–so far as I now know–already in North Carolina when the Whisnants got there in the mid-eighteenth century.  So they will not appear until the next post, which focuses (necessarily synoptically) on both families in the North Carolina “down-mountain” counties in the nineteenth century.

The (Variously Spelled) Whisnants Before North Carolina

For a century and a half at least, the French-speaking (or so it appears from their children’s names) Visinands were born, married, did their work, raised their children and died in or near the Swiss village of Corsier[-sur-Vevey], in the Canton of Vaud, about a kilometer north of Lake Geneva, and later around Hassloch and Edenkoben, near the Rhine River in southern Germany’s wine-producing region.

If this were an Old Testament account, it would be time for the begats, but I don’t do begats.  So: Guillaume (born before 1570 in Maracon) moved to Corsier and started the line, so far as is yet known. His son Jean (b. before 1584), grandson Estienne (b. 1610), and great-grandson Francois (b. 1647) were all from Corsier.  But at some point Francois moved 300 or so kilometers down the Rhine to Hassloch, Germany  (south of Mannheim) where his son Philip Peter was born in 1684.  Philip Peter and his wife Helena baptized five of their six children there (1711-1722). I know nothing of their lives in Hassloch, where they lived for twenty years before emigrating to Philadelphia.  By 1711, Hassloch–in what much later came to be called the Rhineland Palatinate–was already more than a thousand years old, and had been predominantly Protestant for nearly two centuries.

Sometime during the summer of 1731, Philip Peter Visinand (then in his mid-forties), his thirty-six year old pregnant wife Helena, and (it appears) two of their four sons, Johann Peter (b. 1714) and Johann Adam (b. 1719) filed onto the Lowther (or Snow Lowther, indicating it was a “Snow-class” ship) in Rotterdam

"Snow" class ship. Wikipedia

“Snow” class ship. Wikipedia says that a snow-class ship carried square sails on both masts, but had a small trysail [or “snow” mast] immediately behind the mainmast.

with thirty-three other passengers. After stops in Whitehaven and Dover, where it picked up forty-five more passengers, the Lowther set sail for Philadelphia, where it docked in mid-October.  By then it had an additional passenger, Philip and Helena’s daughter Mary Magdalena, born at sea.

Hassloch to Rotterdam. Google Maps.

Hassloch to Rotterdam. Google Maps.

Why would they have chosen to embark upon so lengthy, expensive, and risky a voyage?  It was a 500+ kilometer, four- to six-week trip down the (probably) Neckar and then the Rhine rivers from the Hassloch-Edenkoben area to Rotterdam. From there nearly 5,000-miles and many more weeks at sea lay between them and Philadelphia.  The sometimes dangerously overloaded vessels were infested with vermin and rats, the rotten food was so bad that there was an on-board market for mice and rats, and hygiene was terrible.  Why, indeed, did they choose to go? That is a key question of this post.

As is usual with emigrants (whether refugees or not), both push and pull factors were involved.  To understand the former for Philip Peter and Helena Visinand, two terms turn out to be key: Huguenots and the Palatinate.  Being only vaguely familiar with either, I looked them up.  Hold on; this will be very quick, but the links will lead to more detail if you wish.

Huguenots

Following the lead of John Calvin in the 1530s, Huguenots formed the Protestant Reformed Church of France.  Within several decades, their numbers grew to two million.  They were strongly critical of Catholicism in all its aspects, and Catholics (outnumbering them by 8:1) both returned the criticism and raised the ante dramatically.

15620301Massacre_de_Vassy_1562_Hogenberg_end_of_16th_century

Massacre de Vassy in 1562, print by Hogenberg end of 16th century. Wikipedia.

From 1559 to 1561, Mary Queen of Scots helped haul French Huguenots before Catholic tribunals, which delivered them to torture and burning.  Between then and 1598, eight civil “wars of religion” focused repeated violence upon Huguenots, especially dramatically in the Massacre of Vassy in 1562, in which more than sixty Huguenots were burned to death in their barn-church.

A decade later (autumn of 1572) thousands of Huguenots (estimates range from 5,000 to 30,000) were slain in the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre in and around Paris.

Painting of St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of August 1572 by Huguenot painter Francois DuBois (b. ca. 1529). Wikipedia.

St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre of August 1572 as depicted by Huguenot painter Francois DuBois (1529-1584). Whether Dubois was present at the massacre is not known, but he lost a close relative in it. The painting was commissioned by a Lyon banker who had been present. Wikipedia.

This vicious persecution by Catholics caused Huguenots (eventually at least a half-million of them) to board ships they hoped would carry them to safety in EnglandWalesIrelandScotlandDenmarkSwedenSwitzerland, the Dutch Republic, and Cape Colony in South Africa, as well as several of the English colonies of North  America that were willing to accept them.  

Scores of ships, each carrying up to two hundred passengers, including dozens of Huguenots, began to leave as early as the 1550s, increased dramatically from 1687, spiked again after the brutal winter of 1709, and continued for many more decades. The eminently useful genealogy site The Olive Tree presents valuable descriptive data on some of these “Huguenot ships.”

The three-masted, 150-foot Voorschotten left Delftshaven, Holland on the last day of the year 1687, and others followed in rapid succession.  Designed for 150 passengers, it carried 192.  Among the twenty-two French Huguenots were Phillipe and Anne Fouche(r) and their three young children, a carpenter, and a wagon-builder. Three and a half months later the Voorschotten dropped anchor in Table Bay, South Africa.

Following several weeks behind it, the Oesterland carried twenty-four French Huguenots, including farmers, a doctor, and a carpenter.  The intrepid couple Isaac and Susanna Taillefert were traveling with six children (age one to fourteen).  Disaster struck the Berg China, out of Rotterdam, carrying some “orphan girls” and thirty-four Huguenots.  Of its 175 passengers, nineteen died at sea, and fifty more arrived ill.  Its predecessor De Scheide had been fortunate to make the trip without sickness or death.

By 1700, at least twelve Huguenot-bearing ships had departed for South Africa, but also in that year the Mary and Anne struck out from London to James City, Virginia carrying 167 adults and 38 children.  A month later, the Peter and Anthony followed.   The departure of these two ships signaled, it turned out, that a large part of the Huguenot out-migration stream would run not from France to South Africa, but from the German Palatinate through Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and London toward the British colonies in North America.  Why did this happen?

Huguenot Refugees from the German Palatinate (and Some by way of England)

Wherever they were (especially in the German Palatinate) in the 17th and 18th centuries, Huguenots were suffering and fleeing.  And as refugees generally do, they were looking for the quickest and best refuge they could find.  In the opening years of the 18th century, it looked for a short time like the North American British colonies might be a good bet.

Trying to locate and describe “the Palatinate” is like trying to hit a moving, continually reconfiguring, target.  For our purposes, one can think of it as a heavily Protestant area straddling the Rhine River, more or less in southwestern Germany.  In the 17th and 18th centuries, the area experienced repeated military invasion and prolonged political and religious turmoil and repression, the hardships of which fell heavily upon the lower classes.

Conditions became far worse during several brutal, famine-producing winters (most

Queen Anne. Michael Dahl, 1705. National Portrait Gallery NPG6187. Used by permission.

Queen Anne. Michael Dahl, 1705. National Portrait Gallery NPG6187. Used by permission.

dramatically that of 1709). “Birds froze in mid-air,” notes Wikipedia‘s synoptic article, and “casks of wine, livestock, whole vineyards were destroyed by the unremitting cold. With what little was left of their possessions, the refugees made their way on boats down the Rhine to Amsterdam [or Rotterdam],”  bound for England, where the government of Queen Anne was sensitive to their plight. Huguenots from the Palatinate responded in droves to the queen’s invitation.  During the summer of 1709, more than 13,000 came into London.

But the Queen’s altruism was tempered by British self-interest: the seemingly unstoppable flood of in-migration brought with it the financial burden of social support, social strain, disease and death.  Something had to be done.

After an early effort to send Huguenots to bolster the Protestant minority in Ireland failed, it occurred to policy makers that, channeled into the North American colonies, they could turn into a twofer: problems at home would decrease, and a new labor force could boost production of hemp and tar for the British navy while guarding against incursions by Indians and the French. In late 1712, government support for the refugees stopped, and the Palatines had to look (and go) elsewhere.

During the next few years, a thousand or so were sent to settle along the Hudson River, where German/Palatine place names are still prominent. By the 1730s, they had docked in Boston, Albany, Baltimore, and elsewhere.  And from about 1727 through the mid-1750s, scores of ships left Rotterdam for Philadelphia, their passenger lists made up almost exclusively of “poor Palatines.”

The Visinand/Whisnant Sojourn in William Penn’s Quaker Province

NENewYorkNJerseyPAmap1708Small_mapsofpa_s584

Map of New England, New York, New Jersey, and Pensilvania &c, by Herman Moll. John Oldmixon, The British Empire in North America (London, 1708). A Dutch edition appeared in 1721 and a German one in 1744. Click on map for a much larger version. Historical Maps of Pennsylvania.

The rush to Philadelphia from the Palatinate–of which the Visinand/Whisnant family was a part–was prompted by devout and determined Quaker William Penn (1644-1718), who arrived in New Castle in 1682 to take possession of vast lands given to him by King Charles II to settle a debt.

For years, Penn had roundly denounced Catholics as “the whore of Babylon” and Puritans as “hypocrites and revelers in God,” and pursued his longtime commitment to religious,

William Penn (1644-1718). Wikipedia

William Penn (1644-1718). Wikipedia

electoral, freedom, justice for Indians and immigrants.  The Quaker province of Pennsylvania was to be a “Holy Experiment” in virtue, equality, and fairness, with Philadelphia as its capital city.

Soon Penn began to sell land to immigrants, and beginning with the William & Sarah in mid-1727, shiploads of Palatinate Germans started to arrive. The Lowther was the seventeenth among them, and Philip Peter and Helena Visinand, their new baby, and two teenage sons disembarked.

In the 1730s, Philadelphia didn’t look a whole lot like the capital city of any “Holy Experiment.”  It had maybe 3000 inhabitants, and its unpaved streets were littered and dirty.  Even Philadelphia merchant/poet Joseph Breintnall, trying to put the best face on it in his “Plain Description of One Single Street in this City,” admitted that it was rather a mixed bag:

At Delaware’s broad Stream, the View begin,
Where jutting Wharfs, Food-freighted Boats take in.
. . . 
Wide opes the Street, with firm Brick Buildings high:
Step, gently rising, o’er the Pebbly Way,
And see the Shops their tempting Wares display;
. . .  Here, if Ails molest,
Plain surfac’d Flags, and smooth laid Bricks invite
Your tender Feet to Travel with Delight.
. . .
’Twixt, and beyond all those, . . . 
The forging Shops of sooty Smiths are set,
And Wheelwrights Frames—with vacant Lots to let:
A Neighbourhood of Smoke, and piercing Dins,
From Trades, from Prison-Grates and Publick Inns.

Rather overdone, it seems fair to say, but Philadelphia was already a major port, had a newspaper and a library (of which Breintnall was Secretary), and Benjamin Franklin had arrived a few years earlier to play a major role in its development.  But even the earliest of its historic “buildings fair” did not appear until several decades later.  Christ Church, established in 1695, was still in its original small wooden building; a grander edifice did not begin to rise for another thirty-two years.

Home on Cocalico Creek, Lancaster County

ReformedChurchinPA_EarlyHistofRefChurchinPA_InternetArchive

Log church building in Pennsylvania, ca. 1740. Daniel Miller, Early History of the Reformed Church in Pennsylvania (1906) by way of Internet Archive. This building has refinements not reported for the Muddy Creek building: a chimney and a bell at least, and possibly the glass-paned windows.

In any event, the Visinands did not tarry long in Philadelphia.  Instead they headed westward for about sixty miles, into heavily German Lancaster County.  Seeking their own kind, as new immigrants do, they became part of the recently formed Muddy [Moden] Creek Reformed congregation on the headwaters of Cocalico Creek.  The log building (apparently not erected until about 1736) had dirt floors, wooden benches for seating, and the only heat during the hours-long sermons came from an indoor firepit. But the congregation–dirt floor or no–afforded welcome cultural and theological support.

Muddy Creek was a new little church, without its own minister, but Philip Peter and Helena had their newborn daughter baptized there soon after they arrived in October. Although details are scant, it appears that the family was able to establish itself rather quickly and solidly on the Cocalico.  Philip Peter and Helena’s grandson Philip was born to their son John Adam (b. 1719) in 1736.   In 1737 Philip Peter managed to get a grant of land adjacent to Muddy Creek church, where he established a farm. 

Their shipboard-born daughter Mary Magdalena married a local German man, Christian Lutz, when she was only fifteen or sixteen (ca. 1746-47).  No details about their offspring, if any, have come to light, and many of the sandstone grave markers in the church cemetery have not survived. But the couple apparently chose to remain in the area near the many Lutzes, the descendents of whom were still scattered around the county a century and a half later.

Philip Peter died in 1744 and Helena in 1750; both were buried in the Muddy Creek cemetery. About 1758, Mary Magdalena’s husband bought the family land–signaling, perhaps, that the Cocalico/Muddy Creek Church phase of their life was drawing to a close.

East Cocalico Township, 1864. AncestorTracks. Cocalico Creek at lower L; Muddy Creek Reformed Church just SW of Swartzville; Lutz family land in evidence on SW slope of Adamstown Ridge and near SW township boundary.

East Cocalico Township, 1864.  [Click map for enlargeable view]  Cocalico Creek at lower L; Muddy Creek Reformed Church just SW of Swartzville; Lutz family land in evidence on SW slope of Adamstown Ridge and near SW township boundary. Ancestor Tracks.

 Down the Great Wagon Road

By the time the Visinands arrived in Lancaster County in 1731, population pressures in the Pennsylvania backcountry were already making land scarce.  Before another decade had passed, second- and third-generation German families were casting about for better opportunities.

The floods of immigrant Scots-Irish Presbyterians who were traveling down the Great Valley on the Great Wagon Road (as well as inland from the North Carolina coast) pointed the way to opportunities in the North Carolina backcountry, where new counties in the Piedmont were being established as immigrant population rose.

Probably sometime between their mother’s death in 1750 and the early 1760s, at least Mary Magdalena’s brother John [Johann] Adam (b. 1719) and his son Philip (b. 1736) joined the stream heading down the Great Wagon Road. Other members of the family may have gone as well, but trying to figure that out from the cascading number of Philips, Johns, and Adams in the genealogical record is beyond our scope and need at present.

In any case, if the experience of those of the Visinand/Whisnant family who took the Great Wagon Road south was not atypical, they would have made the trip in a Conestoga wagon,

Conestoga Wagon. From Marshman William Hazen, Hazen's Elementary History of the United States: A Story and a Lesson (1903) via Internet Archive Book Images

Conestoga Wagon. From Marshman William Hazen, Hazen’s Elementary History of the United States: A Story and a Lesson (1903) via Internet Archive Book Images

a locally-built conveyance, the construction of which provided work for numerous woodworkers, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, and turners.  John Adam Visinand, a blacksmith, may well have worked in the industry.  Such wagons appear to have been the dominant image evoked by “the Great Wagon Road.”

The Great Wagon Road, it turns out, was not the “Great” road implied by its name (some referred to it as the “great bad road”).  Instead it was–as a contemporary map showed–a related system of more or less parallel, more or less road-like tracks headed generally southwest from Market Street in Philadelphia, passing through North and South Carolina, and ending in Augusta GA.

1751 Fry-Jefferson map depicting 'The Great Waggon Road to Philadelphia'. See Wikipedia description of the Fry-Johnson mapping project here.

1751 Fry-Jefferson map depicting ‘The Great Waggon Road to Philadelphia’. Click here for description of the mapping project.

More specifically, from Philadelphia the road ran west toward Gettysburg, then south to Hagerstown MD and Winchester VA, then through the Shenandoah Valley to Roanoke before reaching the North Carolina border, where it entered through (later) Stokes County.  

Section of Great Wagon Road from Virginia line into piedmont North Carolina. NCpedia.

Section of Great Wagon Road from Virginia line with offshoots into piedmont North Carolina. Map by Mark Anderson Moore. North Carolina Department of Archives and History via NCpedia. Click map to see full version.

From the outset, traffic was a problem.  Lines of wagons filled with land seekers heading south met northbound lines of wagons filled with produce for faraway markets.  And both had to contend with drovers moving herds of animals (turkeys, hogs, mules, cattle) on foot.

So far as is known, the Visinand family left no record of their passage down the Great Wagon Road, but fortunately a group of twelve Moravian brothers set out at about the same time (October 1753) to build the first structure (the Single Brothers House) at Bethabara (now within Winston-Salem as Bethabara Historic District).

One of the brothers kept a detailed journal describing their six-week journey. Even at its best, the road was barely worthy of the name in many places: wagons had to be unloaded and reloaded to navigate gulleys, streams and rivers, and to climb or descend hills; small animals shot along the way supplemented a few provisions proffered by kindly Germans; a mill now and then supplied food for the horses; axles broke, and high water was dangerous; heavy rains wet everything, including firewood, through the wagons’ oil-treated canvas tops; and sections of road had to be cleared with axes and grubbing hoes to make them passable.

Despite the rigors of the trip, the Moravian brothers held a lovefeast when they reached their destination in mid-November, and one of them composed a hymn of celebration for the occasion:

We hold arrival Lovefeast here,
In Carolina land,
A company of Brethren true,
A little Pilgrim-Band . . . 

None of the genealogical or other available records of the Visinand travelers refer to anything musical, but it is conceivable that–devoutly Calvinist as they were–they and some of their Reformed Church fellow travelers marked their arrival with a good Calvinist hymn.

A New Life in the North Carolina Piedmont

If you have stayed with me along this by now rather extended blog post road, you deserve a break and a commendatory star, and are excused from composing and singing a “Now come all ye bloggers and listen to me . . . ”  to mark the occasion.  When next we see them (or a single line of them), the Whisnants will be settled in the down-mountain counties of western piedmont North Carolina.

 References:

Daniel W. Bly, excerpt from From the Rhine to the Shenandoah, Shenandoah Germanic Heritage Museum;  FindaGrave.com; Internet Archive Book Images; Daniel Miller, Early History of the Reformed Church in Pennsylvania” (1906)NCpedia; William T. Parsons, excerpt from Pennsylvania Germans: A Persistent Minority in Look Backward; “Passenger Lists” in The Olive Tree Genealogy; “Descriptions of Eighteenth-Century Philadelphia before the Revolution,” National Humanities Center;  William S. Powell, North Carolina Through Four Centuries ( 1989); Milton Ready, The Tar Heel State: A History of North Carolina; Raymond C. Whisnant, Whisnant Surname Center; USGenWeb Archives; Wikipedia.

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46 Responses to Whisnants on the Move: Germany, Lancaster County PA and the Great Wagon Road

  1. Richard B. Whisnant says:

    Thanks for this, David…what a treat to have you documenting this history. I look forward to the rest of the story.

    • David Whisnant says:

      Richard: Sorry to be late replying to you, and thanks so much for your comment. I have been working so steadily on the blog itself that I don’t often remember to check the comments. The blog is a treat to work on; many future posts are presently lined up in my head. Hope you have seen (or will soon) the one that went out in the past few hours. And I also hope that your own good work is going well. Best to you.

  2. Carol R Glayre says:

    DAVID:
    I have been researching this family for nearly 20 years. What you have posted about the family is correct. I have a written a documentary of the descendants of William J Whisenant who went to Fla. Thank you

    • David Whisnant says:

      Hi, Carol:
      I’m glad to hear of your work. Is it online somewhere? As you can tell from the blog, I am neither a genealogist nor (in the usual sense) a “family historian,” but the work of both those groups of people continues to be very useful to me. I love doing the blog; new posts will continue to appear for some time to come. You can follow me on Twitter if you like (@AshevilleJunction); I always post notices there when a new one comes out.

    • Carol R Glayre says:

      David:
      I just reread the blog and posting. It has been some time since we communicated. You asked for my email to find my privately published book.
      Hope this helps. Are you by any chance in Ashville, Ala.?

  3. Robin Whisnant Forester says:

    My family landed in Lincoln County NC, then, Rutherford Co. Would love to hear more.

    • Cynthia Fondren says:

      Hi Robin,

      You are not going to believe this, but you and I are 6th cousins! I have a tree at Ancestry.com (Fondren Family Tree) where I have been working hard researching and hopefully leaving a trail for future generations to travel. You never know who you might find on there…

      • Robin Whisnant Forester says:

        I believe it. Any Whisnant, no matter how they spell their name is our cousin. Who do we go back to that was a common ancester?
        I went on Google Earth and checked where the Whisnants lived in Switzerland. Very cool. I live in Cornelius, NC, Mecklenburg Co., just one county over from Lincoln Co. My father was born in Rutherford Co. Looks like my ancestors don’t like to move far away. My husband and I moved to Phoenix two years ago because of a job offer. I couldn’t wait to get back. We lasted 6 months. I was so glad to see trees and grass again.

        • Cynthia Fondren says:

          I recently thought about you and your family and looked it up on Raymond’s site. I then listed your line on my tree. (Raymond lists my grandparents, grandma was Mary Ethel Hutchins and her grandparents were Whisnants.) We have to travel all the way back to John Adam and Anna Barbara Eaker. Anyway, I think I’m related to everyone in Lincoln County!!! I see at least several grandfathers and several uncles on the Tryon Resolves as signers. I wonder if we are related any other way? I’m related to the Eakers, Carpenters, Willis, Mauney’s, Kiser’s, Huffstetler’s, Hambright’s, Kykendall’s, etc. I bet you are, too. I know what you mean about about the SW…I love it out there, but always glad to get back to the grass and trees.

          • David Whisnant says:

            Hi, Robin and Cynthia:

            Sorry to be so tardy in replying to you both. I stay so busy working on each new post (another one should come out this coming weekend) that I am not as attentive as I should be about replying to comments. Going to try to modify the WordPress settings so that I will get an email when one comes in. Hope that will improve my record! I think it is fair to predict at this point that I will not be doing much more on Rutherford County unless some new leads just pop up. I now have both of my Whisnant grandparents in Asheville, and will stay with them there for a while. Much more to do in the blog on that. I hope it interests you. There are by now about 14-15 posts out; maybe some more of those will be interesting. In any case, it should by now be clear to all that I am by no means a genealogist. I have had to do bits of that as a means toward what I am most interested in (social, cultural, political history, etc.), and I am frequently very grateful for what all the genealogists have done/are doing. David

          • Robin Whisnant Forester says:

            I am beginning to think we are all closer relatives than I thought.

          • Tisha says:

            Of the panoply of website I’ve pored over this has the most veriyatc.

        • Shawn Whisnant says:

          Robin, my grandfather and also my father were born in Rutherford, NC. I live in Virginia, but I’m in Japan for work through the remainder of the year.

          • Robin Whisnant Forester says:

            By far, most Whisnants live in NC. It is always good to hear from my cousins, no matter where they roam.

        • Shawn Whisnant says:

          Robin, my grandfather’s name was John Everett Whisnant. He was married to Betty McFarland. My name is Shawn Everett Whisnant and i have a twin sister Shannon. My grandfather, like most men at that time were sent to Europe in the army with WW2. Maybe you know my grandfather? I didn’t get to see him much because we were in Northern Virginia .

          • Robin Whisnant Forester says:

            My grandfather was Hubert E. Whisnant, from Rutherford Co, NC. His father was Abraham (Abe) Whisnant of Polkton, NC, Cleveland county. I have not had time to check for your grandfather, but everything is on the raymondwhisnant.com website, including a book and admendum which can be downloaded. I am busy fighting cancer right now. No one told me it was a full time job.

  4. Dustin Whistlehunt says:

    Thank you very much for this information. As my Surname is one of the slightly altered versions I have had issues connecting dots. This has really helped .

    • Robin Whisnant Forester says:

      When I was growing up, the kids at school would call me Whistlenut.

      • Cynthia Fondren says:

        LOL! I guess that was tough…well Lingerdinger wasn’t fun either!

        • Robin Whisnant Forester says:

          I would hate to see how they would mangle Lingerdinger.

          • Cynthia Fondren says:

            That was the mangles version from Lingerfeldt!!! LOL!

          • Robin Whisnant Forester says:

            I know some Lingerfeldts, they lived in York Co. SC. My best friend (Melonie Nienke) married one. They are divorced now. Had a son named Ashley. This was in the 70s.

          • Cynthia Fondren says:

            Robin, this is Cindy Fondren previously from Cornelius…I know you remember Ed and I!!! (and from York)

          • Robin Whisnant Forester says:

            I wondered if you were the Cindy Fondren that I knew. Who knew we were cousins?

          • Cynthia Fondren says:

            I didn’t, that’s for sure! I just recently found that out as I was working on that lineage. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before, either. I have taken up ancestry research as a hobby and loving it. Wish I would have done it long ago…

          • Robin Whisnant Forester says:

            I found the Raymond Whisnant geneology years ago. There it was, already done for me. Nice to know who I am. I ended up back where they all began in NC. I go to the Hall in Denver. My mother lives very near the intersection of 73 and 16. There is a Whisnant Street just off hwy 27. The historical society in Lincolnton wanted me to come by and tell them something about the Whisnants. Apparently, they were among the very first residents in Lincoln Co. I never got around to it.

          • Cynthia Fondren says:

            Tell your mother and sons hello…it’s been a long time since I saw all of you. You should take the historical society up on their offer even if it is a little late. I’m sure they would enjoy hearing all the history. I did a little research on the Fondren family and found out that Ed’s 7th ggrandfather was one of the early settlers of York, S.C. The historical society in York is in my old elementary school and they have all the old records on the Fondren’s. Ed never even knew that!!! He was from Memphis, Tn. and had never heard of York. There is a state marker that has his ancestor on it just south of York.

          • Robin Whisnant Forester says:

            Clay and David (12th generation in America) are 35 and 30, which is shocking to me. I have a beautiful 7 year old granddaughter, Alaina Grace (13th), who just had her first talk last night. She was fabulous of course.?

          • Cynthia Fondren says:

            Wow! I can’t believe it myself. So glad to hear you are all doing well. I know you must be so proud of your extended family. You had 2 great sons…we used to enjoy their company so much. Mine are taking care of me these days, thank goodness. I must have done too much skiing on Lake Norman…I have an inoperable shattered disk.

          • Robin Whisnant Forester says:

            David was in the hospital this morning for a disc replacement. They had to postpone his surgery because of complications. They will try again very soon. He has a beautiful wife who is fiercely protective of him and I love her for it. She is the daughter I always wanted and now I have 2 great daughters-in-law who both love my sons and a granddaughter who loves her Grammy. I have been through a lot, but I am blessed. Time for bed, it was great discovering a new cousin and an old friend on this blog.
            Good night.

    • David Whisnant says:

      Glad it has helped, Dustin. I have long since ceased to be surprised at any spelling of Whisnant. Somewhere I saw a list of about 80, but no doubt there are others. Maybe some of the links I have used, and the approaches I have taken, will be helpful to you.

  5. David Whisnant says:

    Glad it helped. I have seen 80+ spellings, but your is not one I had previously seen.

  6. cRg says:

    David:
    I just read your reply. My research was done and published privately for the family.
    If you can contact me, by your private email, as I do not twitter or face book, I will be glad to let you know where you can see the work. We are descendant of William J Whisenant who settled ST Clair. Still have descendants in the Ashville, Al area.

    • David Whisnant says:

      cRg: Same as Cynthia? I would be glad to contact you by email, but I don’t have (so far as I know) your email address.

  7. Cynthia Fondren says:

    Wonderful insight into the Whisnant family origins! I come from Whisnants that settled in the Lincoln County Area (N.C.). My grandmother grew up in the next county and I grew up several counties over. So there are still descendants going strong….

  8. Johnathan Whisenant says:

    This was extremely helpful! I didn’t realize how many variations there are nor how many share one of them.

  9. W. Harvey Whisnant says:

    WOW. Thank you so much Brother. I am at home recovering from back surgery. What a pleasure it has been to begin reading your blog. My great grandfather was John Oliver Whisnant(rifle maker) his son David Calvin Pinkney was my great. I have old pics of J O s family and have scanned them into Ancestory under my profile so if you or any of your readers have time, feel free. I will continue to read your Blog ,living in Shelby and visiting the v a hospital and loving Asheville again..Appreciate You! Harv

    • David Whisnant says:

      Harvey: Sorry to be so slow in answering your good comment. I have so many things going on, including always working on a new post, that keeping up with comments is difficult. My parents lived in Shelby for some years in the 70s (I think it was), but I never lived there. I did try to check on your ancestry.com listing, but when I put in just your name (all I had), I got 21k hits. If you could send me a few more bits of data (birth date, or whatever), maybe I could narrow it down. Or better, the URL for your ancestry page. BTW: if you have not yet subscribed to the blog, you can do so easily. Go to the top of any post and put you email address into the SUBSCRIBE box. You will get an email asking you to confirm the subscription. Accept that, and you’re on. Your email address will never be used for any purpose other than to maintain your subscription.

  10. strategy says:

    Excellent site you’ve got here.. It’s hard to find quality writing like yours nowadays.
    I really appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  11. Fred Whisnant says:

    great site

  12. thanks for the information our family history our relatives migrated from North Carolina to Texas. one of them was Nicholas Paul Whisenhant

  13. Robin Whisnant Forester says:

    I always wondered why the Whisnants moved here. I figured that it had something to do with religion, but your blog answered my questions and more. Thank you so much!

  14. Dr. Douglas Miracle says:

    Hello David,
    I am a descendant and researcher of the family of Friedrich Merckel, a citizen of Hassloch from his birth (about 1673) until he immigrated to Ulster Co NY in 1709/1710. Friedrich’s son Lorentz moved from NY to Northampton Co PA in 1737, then to Lincoln Co NC in 1767 with his son Frederick Miracle and in-laws Scholl (Shell in NC) and Keel/Kehl (Kale in NC). Both Lorentz Merckel and Nicholas Whisenhunt bought land tracts on Pinch Gut Creek from Jacob and Mary Eigner 1765-1767; additionally Nicholas Whisenhunt was a witness to Lorentz’s (Lorance Markle) contract.

    In my research over the last year, I have been trying the solidify the Merckel connection to the Peter and Abraham Huntsaker families who lived in Cocalico Twp, Lancaster Co PA, and were also members of the Muddy Creek Reformed Church along with the Whisenant (Visenand) and Feezer (Fieser/Fusser) families from Hassloch. I have a detailed map of Cocalico Twp showing the surveyed lands of Peter Wisenant, Wendel Feezer, Nicholas Feezer/Feizer, Philip Jacob Feizer in the area around the church. Coincidentally (or not) all of these families were devout Reformed (or related Moravian/Mennonite/Dunker) religion, lived in the Swiss Confederation at one time (probably at least during the 30 Year Wars), and moved to North Carolina in the 1760s.

    If you are interested in any of these records or have common records to share, reply to my email and provide your email address.

  15. Aubry G. Whisnant says:

    This is great to hear from so many relatives that I never knew. My Great Grandfather
    Was David D. Whisnant and his wife Julia Chitwood who left N.C. After the Civil War
    In Covered Wagon on their way to Oklahoma. They got as far as Arkansas where they stopped for my Grandfather David Pinkney Whisnant to be born. Julia said that was as far as she was going she was not going any farther. That was what turned out to be in their garden spot. This was on Dota Creek near NEWARK, Arkansas.

  16. Aubry G. Whisnant says:

    This is great to hear from so many relatives that I never knew. My Great Grand parents
    WAs David D. Whisnant and his wife Julia Chitwood who left N.C. After the Civil War
    In Covered Wagon on their way to Oklahoma. They got as far as Arkansas where they stopped for my Grandfather David Pinkney Whisnant to be born. Julia said that was as far as she was going she was not going any farther. That was what turned out to be in their garden spot. This was on Dota Creek near NEWARK, Arkansas.

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