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The Knecht/Knight Family
Written and compiled by Margaret nee Knight Sypniewski

Austrian Flag Austrian Knight

Landsknecht drawing by Albrect Durer


The name Knecht is very common in Austria and Germany. The Knecht Name Meaning in German and Swiss German: It is an occupational name for a journeyman, from Middle High German kneht, Middle Low German Knecht ‘knight’s assistant’, ‘lad’, ‘servant’, ‘hired hand’, ‘apprentice’, ‘helper’.
*Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press.

The name Knecht means "servant," or "farm hand," and the colorful Landsknechte served both king and country as mercenaries. Many Knechts changed their name to the Anglicized "Knight" when they arrived in New York. Many Knechts were, in truth landowners and knights, as the name evolved away from the menial meaning.

Germany (233)
Switzerland (77)
Bavaria (35)
Baden (25)br> Württemberg (22)
France (16) *** from the New York Passengers List


The German Landsknechte meant literally "servants of the land," a misnomer in that they were originally poor farmers who later began to work for cash as mercenaries. The word was coined by Peter von Hagenbach, who commissioned them for service with Charles the Bold of Burgundy. The Swiss infantry was the reason why. In the 1470s these mercenaries fought for those who could pay. They fought in Germany, Spain, and England, where a brigade of Landsknechte helped crush the Robert Kett rising in 1549. Maximilian I (1483-1516) transformed the Landsknecht into a disciplined corp d'elite. Many German nobles fought with them. They were best known for their outrageous, multi-colored clothing. They fought hand-to-hand against the enemy with pike formations. Commoners also used a short sword called a Katzlaber ("cat-ripper"). The katzlaber was 28 inches long. Nobles used the two-handed sword called zwihander which was 66 inches long. The Landsknechte provided their own gear. Flamboyance was their point of pride - with huge plumed hats, slashed doublets, hose in vivid colors, ribbons, and colorful bows. The major weapon of the Landsknechte was the pike (made of ash) and approximately 18 feet in length. The steel head was 10 inches long and often a fox's brush or animal tail was tied to the top of the pike for its healing properties and protection in battle.

These mercenary armies more or less invented a new style of clothing with slashings. It was actually invented by the Swiss in 1476. The legend is that upon defeating Charles the Bold of Burgundy that they pillaged a wealth of velvets, silks, and other finery, which the victors used to patch their own clothing. The attaching of pieces of fabric to the back of tears received in battle became a German fad.

This was called quite simply "slashing." Fabric later was purposely slashed at regular intervals and was backed by the fine silks and velvets. Soon the nobility caught slashing fever and the next step was the cod piece which soon became inflated with padding.

Etching By Daniel Hopfer c. 1530.

Another color example is shown below. This is a painting of Duke Henry the Pious of Saxony (painted by Lucas Crananch in 1514).

Henry the Pious

Landsknecht blade ... Landsknecht pants ..... Photos of landknechts
Landsknecht Homepage


My great-grandfather, Friederike Knecht,
to whom this page is dedicated.

I found:

Friederike Knecht 21. Augsburg, Württemburg #54-1001.

    Other Knechts:

  1. Carl Knecht 24 Geislingen, Württemburg #54-0987 [brother of Friederike]
  2. Daniel Knecht 27 Rullen [now in Belgium] #48-0406

(from FTM, CD267 German and Swiss Settlers in America, 1700w-1800s, German Immigrants to NY from Bremen, 1847-54.Broderbund Software Inc).

In Ellis Island Records, I found the following Knechts:

George Knecht 28 Augsburg, Germany 1924
Josefa Knecht 29 Augsburg, Germany 1924
Margarete Knecht 3 Augsburg, Germany 1924

Fritz Knecht 28 Augsburg, Germany 1923
Josepha Knecht 28 Augsburg, Germany 1923

Alois Knecht 24 Geislingen, Germany 1924

Carl Knecht 17 Gomaringen, Germany 1923
Elise Knecht 23 Gomaringen, Germany 1923

Friederike Knecht emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1854/2 according to records so it is doubtful that these were his relatives, some 69 years later, but I have set them here for future reference.

Frederick Knecht changed his name to "Knight" when he entered New York in 1852 (census records have another date of emigration). He held land in Wurtemburg, Germany, and had to flee in difficult political times. The first record of Frederick is in New York, in the 1860 Census, with his wife Phoebe (nee Peterson) and his son (my great grandfather), Frederick George Knight, Jr. Thus begins my family tree:

Archduke Ferdinard I


All I known about the parents of Frederick Knight was that his father's name was Joseph Knecht of Austrian lineage, and his mother's name was Mary ?.


Frederick Knecht/Knight was born May 3, 1827/1833 (records differ) in Austria. He emigrated to New York in 1852. He died December 19, 1902 in Madison Township, Lenawee County, Michigan, and is buried in Brookside Cemetery in Tecumseh, Michigan. He married Phoebe Ann Peterson 1866 in New York. They are first shown in the 1860 New York Census in W. Auburn Township, Cayuga County. At this time, Frederick (spelled Fredrick on census) is 27 years old and is an engineer. His wife Phoebe (spelled Phebe on census) is 20 years old. Phoebe was born August 8, 1839 in New York(?) Phoebe died of Tuberculosis on November 18, 1868 in Tecumseh, Michigan and is buried in Brookside Cemetary in Tecumseh, Michigan. In the 1870 census Frederick is listed as age 40 and has his son, Frank Knight, age 2 living with him. Their property was valued at $600.00 and they are living in Raisin Township, Lenawee County, Michigan.

In the New York 1880 census, Frederick is re-married to a woman named Frances Peterson(?) his first wife's sister(?) She is 32 years old and was born in New York. Frederick is listed as a cooper, at this time. They are living in Tecumseh, Michigan.

By the 1900 census, Frederick is a boarder at a house in Adrian, Lenawee County, Michigan. He is listed as a widower and returned to his position as engineer. He died two years after this census, at age 75 years.

CLICK HERE for information about the Peterson Family


    The Children of Frederick Knight and Phoebe Peterson are:

  1. ***Frederick George Knight was born April 13, 1857 in Auburn Township, Seneca County, New York and died March 8, 1926(at age 69), in Raisin Township, Lenawee County, Michigan. Frederick owned blacksmith shops in Ypsilanti, Tecumseh, Adrian, and Northville, Michigan. Frederick married Harriet Assenia Bartholomew May 2, 1883, in Tecumseh, Michigan. See her ancestors on Bartholomew Family Pages.

    Harriet Assenia Bartholomew was born October 16, 1862 in Milan, Monroe County, Michigan and died April 22, 1957 (at age 94) in Tecumseh, Lenawee County, Michigan. Harriet's family moved to Tecumseh in 1883.

    I never met Great-grandfather Frederick, however, there were always reunions of the Knight Family members in Tecumseh, Michigan.

    When Frederick was 12 years old he was to be adopted out to the Henes family, but he ran away and worked as a waterboy for the circus. In a short time, he became a performer in the Barnum & Bailey Circus out of Chicago. He was a tumbler and a jumper. One of his acts was standing on the back of one or two horses and doing all sorts of tricks. When he fell and hurt his back he had to give up this lifestyle. By this time he was old enough to be on his own, and he returned to his father's home.

    In the 1880 census Frederick is boarding at the home of William McKinney in Tecumseh, Lenawee County, Michigan, and is listed as 28 years of age.

  2. Mary Ann Knight was born in 1862, and died April 15, 1881 of tuberculosis (at age 19). Mary is buried in Brookside Cemetary, Tecumseh, Michigan. Mary was adopted by the Baster family.

  3. Henrietta ("Etta") I. Knight was born August 10, 1865, in Seneca Falls, Seneca County, New York. After her mother died, Henrietta was adopted by Henry C. Conklin and his wife Sarah F. Carpenter. Mr Conklin was a County Clerk in Adrian, and a State Senator for two years. They lived at the corner of Pearl and Potawatomie in Tecumseh, Michigan. However, in the 1880 census she is shown as a servant in the home of Benjamin Baxter and his wife Adeline of Tecumseh Township, Lenawee County, Michigan. She was 19 years old in this census. Henrietta died December 2, 1938 (at age 73). She married Lyster Dewey on August 22, 1889, in Tecumseh, Michigan. Lyster worked as a teacher at the agricultural college in Lansing Michigan (Michigan State). In September 1890, they moved to Washington D.C. Lyster worked as an assistant botanist in the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  4. Franklin A. Knight was born February 25, 1867 in Michigan? and died December 9, 1887 (at age 20). There is a controversy about his death. His death certificate said "death by suicide," but the family stated it was more than likely "foul play." In the 1880 census, Frank is living with his father and his step-mother and is listed as age 14.

I think that Frederick George Knight was greatly affected by having to adopt his children out to his friends, but he had to travel in his career as engineer, and needed a safe place for his children, while he was away. No one wanted to watch four young children, and he had no family nearby. His mother and father were still in Germany. His brother and sister had their own families to feed. It seems that he adopted them out to people who could afford to care for his children and he contributed to their expenses, such as college. They always lived nearby in their younger years, in Tecumseh, so he could see that they were not abused. At family reunions all the family attended. His youngest and eldest sons keep close to their father. His eldest son, Frederick, had him living with his family from time to time. My great-aunt, Phoebe Knight told of him teaching her and Charles, her brother, German. She stated that her grandfather was a distinguished man who cared deeply for his children and grandchildren. The couples that cared for his daughters could not have children of their own, so they considered them precious.

I think he felt that they needed the stability of both a father and a mother, to grow up happy and sound. By the time he remarried the children were adults, and out on their own.

I do not know exactly when he remarried, but I do know that his wife Frances was ill. Frances was originally his housekeeper. She took morphine for her ailment, which included a lot of pain, and like so many at this time, developed an addiction to her drug. Both his martial partners had tragic endings. This, I am sure, troubled his mind since his first wife and daughter both died of tuberculosis, and his son, Franklin, died at the age of 20 in an accident. His death certificate said he hung himself, but the family never believed that. Franklin was working on a scaffold, in the church, doing frescos on the ceiling. Franklin was an artist of some talent. However, this talent was not to reach its maturity. My great aunt reported to me that Frank was always a happy person, not prone to melancholy.

It seems that "weakness of the lung" was carried into the genes by Phoebe Peterson. This gene also showed up in the Bartholomew family through Harriet Assenia Bartholomew, Frederick's daughter-in-law. Harriet had asthma. This gene carried through to a few of their decendents, including myself. Fortunately, there are ways to control this disease today. Harriet lived to almost her 95th birthday, and was a remarkable women.

From the tragic beginnings of Frederick George Knight, later generations had longevity and health. We think this came from his own genes, since he was healthy most of his life.

Most of the Knight/Knecht family is buried in Brookside Cemetery in Tecumseh, Michigan. Click Here for the family plots and their locations.


    The children of Frederick George Knight and Harriet Assenia Bartholomew were:

  1. Charles Franklin Knight was born December 10, 1885 in Tecumseh, Lenawee County, Michigan. He died February 26, 1943(age 58), in Northville, Wayne County, Michigan, and was buried in Rural Hill Cemetery (Section 9) in Northville, MI. He married Grace Lenore Dickerson on May 9, 1908. Grace was born on April 8, 1890 in Sumpter Township, Wayne County, Michigan. Grace died September 28, 1975 in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County, Michigan. She is buried, on Tuesday, September 30, 1975, next to her husband in Rural Hill Cemetary. For Grace's ancestors see the Dickerson Family pages.

  2. Phoebe Ann Knight was born on April 25, 1887 in Tecumseh, Lenawee County, Michigan. She married Floyd Bryan, son of Frank Bryan (b: May 1854 in Michigan), and Emma Mills (b. July 1858, in New York), the daughter of Timothy Mills (b. March 1831 in New York), and Luestra M. ? (b. May 1840 in New York). Floyd was born August 30, 1885 in Michigan and died in March 1969 (at age 84). Floyd had a sister named Florence Bryan who was born on July 1889 in Michigan. Phoebe died October 1978 in Britton, Lenawee County, Michigan.

    The Children of Henrietta I. Knight Conklin and Lyster H. Dewey were:

  1. Grace Marguerite Dewey was born December 1, 1891. Grace attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and graduated in 1915 as a teacher. She taught history and English in Washington area high schools. She belonged to the Alpha Chi Omega sorority. Grace married Dr. Carl Grover Frost, of Buffalo, New York, on October 7, 1916 (at age 24).

    Darl graduated with a degree in medicine from the University of Michigan as an Eyes, Ears, and Throat specialist. They were married in Washington D.C. Grace and Carl has two sons named: Robert Dewey Frost and Edward Lyster Frost.

  2. Mary Geneviere Dewey was born in April 12, 1896, on Easter Sunday, and died July 31, 1914 (at age 18) and was buried in the Rock Creek Cemetary,


    The Children of Charles F. Knight and Grace Lenore Dickerson were:

  1. Franklin Knight was born August 15, 1910 and died June 24,1983 (SS records). He married Mary McShane. Mary died October 2002. Both are buried in Flat Rock, Michigan.

  2. Russell Martin Knight was born August 9, 1914, in Northville, Wayne County, Michigan; and died June 27, 1995, in Detroit Receiving Hospital, Wayne County, Michigan. Russell is buried in Rural Hill Cemetery in Northville, Michigan (Section 38). Russell married Sheila Clark Malcolm [now deceased], daughter of William Clark Malcolm and Elspeth Lawson Wilson of Scotland. Sheila died in St. Mary's Hospital in October 21, 2007[1930 Census, Northville, Wayne County, MI. SS Records]

  3. Rose Knight was born April 20, 1917 and died in May 21,1973 (at age 57), in St. Mary's Hospital, Livonia, Wayne County, Michigan. Rose is buried next to her husband in Rural Hill Cemetery in Northville, Michigan. Rose married Norman Orr. Norman was born December 10, 1911 and died May 30, 1985 (at age 74), in Plymouth, Wayne County, Michigan. He is buried in Section 38 of Rural Hill Cemetery in Northville, Michigan.

  4. Ruth Knight was born February 3, 1922 (Social Security records)or 1924 (Family Bible) and died May 8, 1981 in Montclair, San Bernardino County, California. Ruth married Paul Hines of Plymouth, MI.

    The children of Phoebe Knight and Floyd Bryan were:

  1. Frederick Bryan.


    Children of Franklin Knight and Mary McShane:

  1. Rosemary Knight was born December 15, 1937. She married Henry Jones and had the following children:

    Michael Jones was born on July 8, 1955
    Tim Jones was born on March 28, 1957
    Stephanie Jones was born on September 28, 1961.

  2. Veronica Knight married Gary Pike. Gary was born June 1, 1942 and died April 16, 1988, in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona. Their children were:

    Franklin Clyde Pike was born on June 21, 1959. Franklin married (1) ... (2) Carrie Lou Pauline Woodall on Saturday, September 5, 1987, at the Unity Church of Phoenix. They live in Phoenix, Arizona and have a son named Buddy Woodall Pike.

    Children by his first wife are:

    Mark Allan Pike was born on December 2, 1963.
    Jeffrey Pike
    Teresa Pike.
    Michelle Diana Pike
    Gary Ray Pike

    Children of Russell Martin Knight:

  1. Russell Martin Knight, Jr. was born on January 15, 1943 and died shortly after his birth[, family Bible].

  2. Margaret Jean Knight was born June 19, 1944. She married Raymond Sypniewski on June 15, 1968, in Plymouth, Michigan. Raymond was born in McKeesport, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, on August 15, 1941. They have one son, Matthew Rhys Sypniewski

    Children of Rose Knight and Norman Orr:

  1. Richard Orr was born on December 25, 1939 and died November 26, 1998. His first marriage was annulled. His second wife was Connie Diane Waldecker. They had two sons: Mike Orr and Richard Orr II. Richard was buried in Our Lady of Hope.

  2. Kathleen Ruth Orr was born on August 4, 1941 and died July 9, 1982. She married Billy Joe Holton. Their children are:

    Norman Lee Holton was born June 22, 1961
    Robert Lee Holton was born February 7, 1963
    Cynthia Rose Holton was born October 8, 1975.

  3. Charles Norman Orr was born May 14, 1944 and died May 21, 1984 (at age 40). Charles is buried in Rural Hill Cemetery in the Veterans section (Block C). Charles was a Private in the U.S. Army in Vietnam. Charles married and divorced and had no issue.

    The Children of Ruth Knight and Paul Hines:

    John and Bonnie Hines

  1. John Hines was born October 24, 1949 and died in 1981 of complications of his polio that he acquired as a child.

  2. Bonnie Hines was born December 28, 1954. She is unmarried.

    Ancestry Connection


    St. Ulrich of Augsburg
    Christmas in Upper Bavaria (NEW)
    Bartholomew/Knight Family Photos


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