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Surname Origins:

A description about what is known about the origin of each surname is described here.
In some cases the name, itself, and the locale where it was found is the only data that is known.













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Anthony and Elizabeth Barnes are found living in Princess Anne County, Virginia in the late 1600's. In 1699 there is a court record wherein one Grace Sherwood filed a lawsuit against Elizabeth Barnes accusing her of slander because Elizabeth had accused her of being a witch. Although Virginia had much more sensible laws concerning the subject of witchcraft than they had in New England, Grace Sherwood lost this particular case.  Elizabeth was again involved with Grace Sherwood in 1706 when she was foreman of a grand jury investigating other allegations of witchcraft.

There is a record of a daughter, Elizabeth, being born to them about 1700. This daughter, Elizabeth, married George Chappell sometime in the early 1720's. Their son, John Chappell, was born in 1724. George Chappell is, as of this time, the earliest name in the Chappell line.

The Barnes surname can be found in colonial Virginia as early as 1608, but which of the various Barnes families are our actual ancestors has yet to be worked out. A more complete discussion of this can be found in Appendix V of the accompanying book.

The name Anthony appears to have been passed on through multiple generations, even into the middle of the 19th century. In England there is an Anthonye Barnes listed as one of the initial investors in the Virginia Company which financed the early Jamestown colony and so it is possible, but unproven, that he might be our ancestor. It is known that offspring of these investors were among the early settlers of Virginia.

Recently a baptismal record for an Anthony Barnes born in 1670 on the Carribean Island of Barbados was found. There were many English people there as indentured servants at that time, so he would be a viable candidate as an ancestor.


The Bickels can be traced back to the very early 1600's to the village of Massenbach in the German state of Baden-Wuertemberg. Our ancestor, Johannes Pauli Bickel, was born there in 1618, the same year that the Thirty Years War began. The church records in nearby Swaigern list his father's name as Jacob Büchel and state that he was a baker who came from the village of Massenbachausen. Johannes Pauli's wife was Anna Barbara Burchardt who was the daughter of Casper Burchardt of Ochsenbach. Both Massenbachausen and Swaigern are about two to three miles from Massenbach, and Ochsenbach is about twelve miles away. The Bickels were Lutheran and the Lutheran Church records in Massenbach go back to the year 1611. These records are in very good condition compared to those that I found for other family lines in Germany.

Our ancestors, Frederick Bickel and Dorothy Mueller Bickel, emigrated on the ship Jacob in 1749. [see pedigree chart] Frederick was the great grandson of the above mentioned Johannes Pauli Bickel. Dorothy’s brother, Michael Mueller, and his family as well as another sister and her husband, Conrad Lauffer, were on the same ship. All three of these families were found in the communion records of Trinity Lutheran Church in Lancaster, Pennsylvania within a month of the ship’s arrival in Philadelphia.

Frederick Bickel was a weaver by trade. Generally weavers had a low social and economic status, although this did vary somewhat depending upon the part of the country where they lived. This, of course, may have been one of the primary reasons for the emigration, although we really have no other information about this. At the time of the departure they had two very young children, our ancestor, Jacob, and his sister Elizabeth.

There were at least three other families from this quite large extended family who also came to America. Frederick’s first cousin once removed, Johann Christoph Bickel, was the first to leave when he emigrated in 1732 and settled just outside Philadelphia in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. Much later an Antoni Bickel came to Hocking County, Ohio in the late 1830’s and a James Bickel family came to Belmont County, Ohio in the 1840’s. There were other Bickel families in Pennsylvania prior to 1750, but they came from communities other than Massenbach and are probably not related.

Frederick’s son, Jacob, married Anna Katarina Braun (Catharine Brown) in 1766 and they initially settled in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, north of Harrisburg. They moved to Botetourt County, Virginia about 1790 where their youngest son, our ancestor Anthony, was born.


This is also a Massenbach family and the only occurance of the name is found in the marriage of Frederick Bickel’s grandmother, Barbara Boerner to Johann Andreas Bickel in 1683.

Braun (Brown):

The Browns also came from the Palatinate in Germany. The origin of the Braun (Brown) family is described in detail in Appendix V. The first American records found for Michael Brown (the name was Anglicized shortly after the immigration) are found in the records of Emanuel Lutheran Church in Brickerville, Pennsylvania when he married Anna Juliana Karger in 1746. Brickerville is about fifteen miles north of Lancaster. Around 1750 they settled in what is now western Lebanon County. He built a sawmill and a grist mill on Swatara Creek on property that he bought from Frederick Bickel. Michael's daughter, Catharine, and Frederick's son, Jacob, were married in 1766. Michael and Anna Juliana had nine other children and when Michael died in 1785 most of the children moved to southwestern Virginia. His tombstone is still standing in the Bindnagel Church Cemetery just north of Palmyra, Pennsylvania, and the inscription, written in German, lists his birth date as 1724.


In the Swaigern church records in Germany Casper Burchard from Ochsenbach is identified as the father of Anna Barbara, the wife of Johann Pauli Bickel. Swaigern is about two to three miles from Massenbach. Ochsenbach is about twelve miles away. Johann Pauli Bickel was born in 1618 and so Casper Burchard was almost certainly born before 1600.

Chappell: [see pedigree chart]

The Chappell name is thought to have a French origin. The word actually means chapel in French. The earliest Chappells migrated to England about the time of the 1066 invasion by William the Conquerer. There was another migration of some Chappells to England after the massacre of St. Bartholomew in 1572, but our ancestors were known to have been in England before that time and so most likely date back to the earlier migration. The Chappells were most likely the first of our ancestors to come to America. There was a Bennett Chappell in the 1585 colony settlement on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. He is thought to have returned to England when the 1587 colonists, who became known as the lost colonists, arrived. However, it is not known if he was a relative. There is an entry in the International Genealogical Index which lists a son, John born in 1600. Our Chappell line most likely descended from a John Chappell who settled in Denbeigh Parish, Warwick County (present day Newport News, Virginia) in 1635 and so there might be a possibility that he was the son of Bennett Chappell, but there is no solid evidence for this. This situation is discussed in more detail in Appendix V of the book.

After several generations of living in this area the family began to move further south around Norfolk and eventually into Perquimans County, North Carolina in the 1720s. It was at that time that we can track our earliest known documented ancestor. George Chappell purchased farm land in Princess Anne County, Virginia, (present day Virginia Beach) in 1722, but there is still no concrete evidence to link George Chappell to the rest of these "Tidewater" Chappells. George Chappell married Elizabeth Barnes about this time and their son, John was born in 1724. John is the father of my great-great-great grandfather, Stephen Chappell. Stephen Chappell was a Loyalist soldier during the Revolutionary War and was taken prisoner at the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina. After the war he married Julianna (surname unknown) and settled in Wythe County, Virginia. Julianna was of Pennsylvania Dutch extraction and was born in Pennsylvania about 1750 and lived to be at least ninety-nine years old. Their daughter, Dianah, married Anthony Bickel in Wythe County, Virginia in 1814. These are my great-great grandparents.


Jean Matthew’s maternal grandparents were Christopher and Ann Coates who were said to be Quakers from Newcastle in northern England. Her mother’s surname name is not known. There is no further information about this family.

Elvik (Elvick):

The 'c' was added to the name as an Anglicization. There is no 'c' in the Norwegian language except in foreign words. Elv, in Norwegian, refers to a stream. A vik in Norway refers to the land that surrounds indentations in the coastline (cove). Elvik is bisected by a stream that comes off the mountains and empties into the fjord. Vikings were the people who lived on these viks, and so Elvick is a Viking name. Elvik is a small shelf of land that is hemmed in by mountains and the Rommerheim fjord in the county of Vaksdal. It has just barely enough tillable land for two tiny farms. It was first inhabited in the 1300s, but between 1349 (the year of the Black Death) and 1601 it was uninhabited again.

Our family can be traced back eight generations to Olav Sjurson and Brita Oldsdatter who were living on Elvik in the early 1600's. [see pedigree chart (scroll down to second page)] Their descendants, however, intermarried with other families in the counties of Vaksdal and Modalen and our ancestors can be found scattered throughout this area. In 1849, Hans Otterstad from the Otterstad farm in Modalen married his second cousin, Marie Nilsdatter Elvik. They settled on the Elvik farm and Hans assumed the surname Elvik, the surname therefore coming from the maternal side. Their son, Nels Elvick, was my grandfather. Nels' older brother, Jakob, inherited the Otterstad farm in 1874 and he changed his surname back to Otterstad when he moved back to that farm. Nels continued to work on the Elvik farm and so kept the Elvik surname. He immigrated to Worth County, Iowa in 1879 and he settled in Nelson County, North Dakota about 1884. His name is recorded as Nels Hansen on the 1880 Worth County, Iowa census. He married Rosa Wise, daughter of Henry and Malinda Wise, in 1888. Their son Nelson, my father, was born in 1895.


The Huth name goes back to the late 1600s to a Hans Huth who lived in the German community of Eppingen, which is located on the main highway between Heilbron and Karlsruhe, and appears to be only about ten miles west from Massenbach. We are descended from his son, Johannes. Johannes married twice, and it was with his second wife, Anna Maria Sähm, that he immigrated to America on the William & Sarah in 1727. The William and Sarah was the first ship that was required to submit a passenger list. The name was spelled Hut on the passenger list. Later in land records in Pennsylvania it was spelled Hoot. They were part of a large group of immigrants organized and brought to America by the Rev. Georg Michael Weiss, a well known German Reformed Church minister. They settled in western Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia. Their baptismal and marriage records are found in the records of the New Goshenhoppen Reformed Church. One source reports that one or more of their family was killed by Indians. One of their daughters, Susanna, was born about 1727, and so might have been born at sea. Susanna married my 4th great grandfather, Erhard Weiss, about 1747.


The Jewell line has recently had the following information added. From what is known about the birth dates of her children it can be presumed that Sarah Jewell married George MacMillan before 1780. No marriage record has been found, but the MacMillan family was known to be living in southeastern York County, Pennsylvania at that time. Their farm land bordered the Mason Dixon Line. The 1790 census shows three Jewell or Jewel entries for Harford County, Maryland (which borders York County on the south), and one in Cecil County, which is just east of Harford and where the MacMillans first lived after arriving in America. There has been no information found about Jewell families in York County.

The Jewells from which we sprang then most likely were the families that were living in Harford County, Maryland, during this era. There was a John Jewell who came to Maryland from Cornwall in England as an indentured servant in 1679. Currently there is no further information to connect him to the Jewells who were living in Harford County in the mid 1700's. However, it is possible that a Mathias Jewell who is reported as being a taxable Baltimore County resident in 1692 could be an ancestor. He was living in North Gunpowder Hundred which is in the part of Baltimore County that became Harford County in 1773 and is in the general area where other Jewells can be found later.

There was a Robert Jewell who died intestate in 1777. His son, Robert Junior, was the executor of the estate and a William Grafton and a Matthew Jewell were listed as his closest relatives. Matthew Jewell is then most likely his brother and strengthens the possibility of a link to the above mentioned Mathias. His known children besides Robert Jr, are two minor children, Rachel and Margaret, who had guardians appointed for them because they were orphans. A complete rendering of the estate has not been found and so it is possible that there were other non minor children and therefore Sarah could have belonged to this family.

The 1790 Harford County census taken thirteen years after Robert Jewell’s death shows separate entries for Richard, William and George Jewell, and each of them appear to have fairly young families. In addition there is a marriage record for a Mary Jewell who married Wm. Chambers in 1768. It is then possible to speculate that the children in this family consisted of four sons, Robert Jr., William, George and Richard and four daughters, Mary, Sarah, Rachel, and Margaret. These children would have birth dates ranging from the late 1740's to about 1763. There is a record that William was age 13 and Richard was age 20 in 1776. Margaret and Rachel were minors in 1777 and Mary was married in 1768 which would probaby place her birth around or before 1750. Robert Jr. was an adult in 1777 and George already had a young family in 1790.

In an unrelated entry from Harford County’s Orphan Court the following information is presented: On November 10, 1770, William Grafton, Robert Jewel and Samuel Grafton acknowledged receipt of one cow and calf from William Verchworth “which their grandfather Samuel Howel pleased to leave in his last will and testament.” Witness: John Suduk, Samuel Howel, Aberiller Howel. There is obvious need for further research on this but my current supposition is that Samuel Howell had daughters who married a Grafton and Robert Jewell Sr., and that the recipients of the cow and calf were Robert Jewell Jr, and his two cousins.

Karger (Karcher):

In the German language the names Karcher and Karger are interchangeable. The only firm record of the Karger surname that associates it with our family is the marriage record of Anna Juliana Karger (Ann Karger) to Michael Braun in January of 1745/1746. (The change from the Gregorian calendar, when the new year was moved from March to January 1st took place in 1752. January to March dates before 1752 were therefore ambiguous as which year was actually meant, and so they are usually recorded this way.) This record is in the Emanuel Lutheran Church in Brickerville, Pennsylvania.

In 1733 the passenger record from the ship Pink Mary showed a David Karcher. Most of these ship's records listed only males ages sixteen or older, but this particular record did list children and there was an eight year old boy named David Korker and a fourteen year old girl named Anna Catharina Korker. Since there were no adults named Korker, this probably represents children of David Karcher. On the ship passenger lists, however, there is always the possibility that the lists were incomplete. The ship’s captains were assessed taxes based on the number of passengers they carried, and it was a common practice for them to cheat by eliminating some names from the list.

There was a David Karger who obtained a warrant on some Lancaster County, Pennsylvania land in 1737, but the land was ultimately patented by someone else. There was a David Karcher family living in Philadelphia in the late 1740's, but it isn't known if this was the same person or even if he might have been part of Juliana's family, possibly a father or brother. There was a Philip Karger who arrived in Pennsylvania on the Lydia in 1741 when he was 21 years old, and a Joh. Martin Karcher and a Michael Karcher who arrived on the Nancy and Friendship in 1738, so any of these men could have been a father or brother, but whether they were actually related to Juliana is not known.

The Karger name is traceable to the Palatinate area of Germany, but it is not known from which family there she is descended, and as with the Braun family the absence of birth records increases the likelihood that Anna Juliana was born in America and that the family may have immigrated before 1727 when ships passenger lists were required to be kept.

Langseth: [see pedigree chart]

The name derives from a community with several farms named Langset in the county of Vatne, which is about half way between the cities of Molde and Ålesund in Møre og Romsdal in Norway. Sivert Langseth was brought up here. His parents owned a small amount of land here and also farmed additional land for another owner. Sivert worked as a farmhand on a neighboring farm at a very young age. On the 1865 census at the age of thirteen he is listed as a farm worker on another Langset farm. His parents were actually originally from the neighboring county of Skodje and had both been in service at a farm named Indre Berg, and they moved to Langset close to the time Sivert was born. At this time, however, many Norwegians took the name of their home as their surname, and this is apparently what Sivert did, even though he moved to other areas several times after this. Because his parents moved here from another area, I think they are unlikely to have been related to others from Vatne with the Langseth or Langset surname. He married Elen Anna Lergrovik about 1880 in Molde, Norway. These are my maternal great-grandparents. Sivert became an assistant lighthouse keeper in Oddernaes, on Norway’s southern coast, in the 1890s, and in 1902 he became the head lighthouse keeper on the island of Ona which is about a two hour ferry ride off the central Norwegian coast. This is the lighthouse on the logo on the home page. Their daughter, Gudrun, emigrated to America and married Hans Ona in Nelson County, North Dakota in 1908.


Bolsøy is a rural farm area just east of the city of Molde in the Møre og Romsdal region of Norway. Lergrovik is the name of a farm in Bolsøy. This family dates back to a Peder Olsen, [see pedigree chart] born about 1763. Here the surname changed each generation and was simply the father’s first, or given name, with either son or datter added on. My great grandmother, Elen Anna Lergrovik was raised by her paternal grandparents, Sørn Pedersen and Berit Andersdatter, and she used the farm name as her surname. She married Severt Langseth in the early 1880’s. It was their daughter, Gudrun Langseth, who emigrated.


Historically the MacMillan surname dates back to the twelfth century to a grandson of Macbeth, named Airbertach. We have only been able to trace back to the last two generations that lived in Scotland. The immigrant, James MacMillan, was born to Francis and Martha MacMillan in 1727 in Dunragit, Scotland, a tiny coastal town in Galloway in the extreme southwestern part of the country. As a young man he moved to Ireland and bought a horse and cattle farm just outside Dublin. He married Jean Matthews, the daughter of a Dublin merchant of Scottish descent. They had four children. The family immigrated to America around 1763 and settled first in Cecil County, Maryland and then in the early 1770’s in York County, Pennsylvania. Our ancestor, George MacMillan, was the only son, and he was born in Ireland about 1755.

It is suspected, but not proven, that James MacMillan’s mother was from the Dalrymple-Hay family. This family had land ownership at Dunragit, and James was said to have had a claim to an inheritance that included land. He never returned to Scotland to claim it. There has been no record found for land ownership in that area in the MacMillan family. Much of the information about the MacMillans was obtained from letters and lore from the early family in America. The immigration of this family is discussed in much more detail in Chapter X.


Jean Matthews’s father was a Dublin, Ireland merchant who had come from Scotland. Her mother’s maiden name was Coates, and they were said to be Quakers from northern England. She married James MacMillan in Dublin. There were two Matthews families in the same township in York County, Pennsylvania as the MacMillans, and several more across the border in Maryland, but it is not known if they were related to Jean.


The Müllers also came from Massenbach in Germany. The passenger list on the Jacob in 1749 names Michael Müller as a passenger and states that his brothers-in-law, Frederick Bickel and Conrad Lauffer and their families, were also passengers. This means that Catharina Eva Dorothea (Dorothy Müller), who was married to Frederick Bickel, would have been his sister. Conrad Lauffer was probably married to another sister, although this is not specified. (Conrad Lauffer, still a young man, died suddenly of a gastro-intestinal ailment just a few years later in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.) The parents of Michael and Dorothea were Johan Michael Müller and his wife, Catharina Elisabetha. Müller was a common name in the Massenbach church records, but the ancestry has not been traced back further than this.


The name is taken from the name of the island. It is a very small island off the central Norwegian coast, and at one time had a population of over three hundred people, but now has only about eighty. The island has been inhabited since at least the early 1700s, and this family probably has lived there that long. Their occupation was fishing. Hans Ona’s parents were Jens Larsen Tusvik and Elen Anna Nilsdatter. (Norwegians didn’t necessarily take their parent’s surname.) The name Ona was taken by the three sons who emigrated, although Hans and his brother, Ludwig, first used the name Jensen in America before changing it to Ona. The other six children took either the name Jensen or Lien. Lien was the name of their house. I am not aware of any of our relatives in Norway who have the surname of Ona. Hans was born in 1883, and he immigrated to North Dakota in America in 1905. He was engaged to Gudrun Langseth before he left, and in 1908 he sent for her and they were married after she arrived in America. Their daughter Agnes, my mother, was born in North Dakota in 1909.


Otterstad is a farm that is located just off the Mo Fjord (Mofjorden in Norwegian) in the county of Modalen. It is subdivided into about eight smaller farms that are all called Otterstad. My great grandfather was named Hans Otterstad and he was born on the farm closest to the fjord. His ancestry is easily traced back many generations in the counties of Modalen and Vaksdal in Norway, which are about 30 miles or so inland from Bergen. The surnames changed whenever a person moved, so it isn’t possible to give a history of a given surname here. For instance Hans Otterstad’s father was named Jakob Amelid. Amelid was the next farm up the valley from Otterstad and Jakob was born there. When he married Marie Otterstad, he moved to Otterstad, and his surname changed, so the surname came from the maternal side. Hans married his second cousin, Marie Elvik, in 1849. They lived at the Elvik farm, and so he changed his name to Elvik. (Again the surname came from the maternal side.) Marie’s ancestry also is traced back in this area to the early 1700s. Their son, Nels, my grandfather, was born in 1860.

If the inheritance of surnames had proceeded down the male line as it does in our tradition here in America, our surname would have been Brorvik. Hans Olsson Brorvik took the name Leiro when he married Anna Johanesdatter Leiro in 1697. The surname then changed in each succeeding generation down to Nels Elvik, born in 1860. In each case the surname came from the maternal side.


Maria Ann Sähm was the second wife of Johannes Huth and she emigrated with her husband in 1727. She is the mother of our ancestress, Susannah Huth.


Frederick Bickel’s mother was Anna Maria Schmalzhaf, born in 1683. She married Johann Georg Bickel, Frederick’s father, in 1719. There are numerous Schmalzhafs in the Massenbach, Germany records, some as early as 1618, but so far Anna Maria’s family hasn’t been traced any further. There was at least one other member of the Schmalzhaf extended family who immigrated. In September 1772 there was an ad in a Philadelphia newspaper placed by a Georg Schmalzhaf requesting the whereabouts of Frederick Bickel who was married to Dorothea Mueller.

Schmidt (Smith):

Anna Maria Margaretha Schmidt (later known as Mary Smith) was married to Philip Weiss (Wise). The Schmidts came to America on the Hope in 1733. They came from the community of Ittlingen, which is only about ten miles or so north of Eppingen, where the Huths had lived. Anna Maria was the granddaughter of Henrich Schmidt and Anna Margaret Keimen. Their son, Johann Heinrich Schmidt was born in 1726, while the family was still in Germany. He is the father of Anna Maria. They were neighbors of the Huths in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and they may have lived close enough to each other in Germany to have also known each other there. Like the Huths, they were also members of the German Reformed congregation, New Goshenhoppen. Anna Maria's sister, Elizabeth, married Philip Wise's brother, Jacob, and her brother, Jacob, married Philip's sister, Elisabetha. So all told, three siblings from one family married three siblings from the other.


Sometime before 1900, Jens Tusvik moved from the commuinity of Tusvik on the coast a few miles southeast of the city of Ålesund to the island of Ona. There he married Ellen Anna Nilsdatter. Some of the children in this family took the surname Jensen, others took the surname Lien (supposedly after the name of their house), and the three sons who emigrated to American eventually took the surname of Ona.

Weiss (Wise):

The surname was originally Weiss. It was Anglicized by Philip Wise in the third generation in America. The earliest record of this family is found in the German Reformed Church records of Lustadt (Oberlustadt), Germany. Lustadt is in the Palatinate about twenty miles southwest of Mannheim, and is possibly one of the towns that the Elector in Mannheim saw burning during the French invasion of 1685. The church records only go back to 1708 here and so they might have been destroyed during the French invasion of 1707. The records between 1708 and 1720 are badly damaged and are mostly unreadable. Johann Georg and Anna Catharina Weiss had eight children baptized there between 1721 and 1736. They immigrated in 1738. Very likely the family was separated for the voyage across the Atlantic. Georg is recorded on the passenger list of the Davy. The Davy lost a total of 160 passengers and crew due to disease during the voyage. His oldest son, Christopher, is listed on the passenger list of the Friendship, which arrived in Philadelphia about one month before the Davy. Christopher was the only one old enough to be on the passenger list. (Only those males over age sixteen were listed). The Davy didn't carry any children. 1738 was a devastating year for the immigrants. An epidemic had been started in the holding camp outside Rotterdam, where the immigrants were waiting their turn to get on the ships and there was an increased mortality in the camps and on the ships that departed for America all during that year.

There are records in America for four of the Weiss children, Christopher, Erhard, Carl and Elizabeth. Two children who show up on the German records, Maria Magdalena and Catharina are not found and they are presumed to have died. Two other children died as infants in Germany. There is a possibility of at least one additional son. There is family lore that I received from two totally different sources of a son, George, who was born at sea. There have been probate records found for Johann Georg Weiss for the year 1745. His son, our ancestor Erhard, married Susanna Huth probably about 1747, and the baptisms of their children are found in the New Goshenhoppen Reformed Church records in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.

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