Monday, August 5, 2019

The Ancestors of Johannes Kennel (Johann Jacob Kendel) of the Münsterhof in Dreisen, Fourth Great Grandfather of Thomas J. Kennel

Elliot B. Kennel
PO Box 341343
Beavercreek OH 45434
(you may also contact me via

Background—What was known circa 1985

This article describes the author’s efforts to identify the probable ancestors of Johannes Kennel (born 1719--?), hitherto the earliest known ancestor known to Kennel family tradition.  He is the German-born grandfather of the earliest immigrant, also named Johannes Kennel, whose descendants are mainly from Tazewell County Illinois and Butler County Ohio and include the present author.  Family trees and historical records supplemented by DNA corroboration, to show that Johannes Kennel is probably a direct descendent of the Von Känel family of Reichenbach bei Frutigen (now Reichenbach im Kanderthal), Bern, Switzerland.   This branch of the family was Anabaptist (forerunners of Amish and Mennonites), and was forced to leave Bern because of religious strife in Europe, which sadly seems to have been the norm, regardless of what religion was involved. 
            Kennel family tradition was documented by several genealogists, including my grandfather, Elmer Mosiman Kennel who passed in 1985. He knew that Johannes Kennel and son Jacob Kennel immigrated to American from the Münsterhof estate in Rheinland Pfalz in 1830, where the Kennels had farmed for generations.  Prior to that, our German-born ancestors included Peter Kennel (1745-1819) and Elizabeth Muller (1747- 1803).  Prior to Peter was Johannes Kennel (1717-?) and Anna Steiner (1720-?).  Elmer knew his German-born grandfather Jacob, who lived until Elmer was fifteen years old, and thus he was only to trace back three generations.  As will be shown later, the dates for Johannes Kennel usually found on are incorrect (he probably died prior to 1804). 
This eldest ancestor “Johannes Kennel” is associated with a historical figure who signed his name as “Hans Kendel” in 1764, on a lease agreement in which he and three others agreed to farm the Münsterhof estate, near the town of Dreisen, Donnersbergkreis, Rheinland Pfalz in what is now Germany.  This signature is reproduced for us by Guth, page 49. Prior to that, in 1750, the same name appears in a lease agreement for land in Durlach, a few day’s journey away.   See also Gerlach, page 126, and Staker Vol 2, p. 186.  Hans, of course, is a variant of Johannes.   
Kennel and Kendel are both variants of the last name Von Känel.  Last names were allowed to vary in those days and in that region.  Today, we tend to think of the spelling as being rigidly fixed, but for whatever reason that was not true hundreds of years ago..
The digital age, as well as diligent work by genealogists, establishes a paper trail consisting of church baptismal records, marriage records and death records.  Our Anabaptist ancestors often—though not always--cooperated with the established church authorities to record births, marriages and deaths, though in some cases Anabaptist events may have gone unrecorded).  In particular very painstaking reconstruction of the family tree has been undertaken by modern genealogists. I have found the tree constructed by Renato Folli of Switzerland to be particularly useful.  He has been gracious enough to help guide my research in internet communications.  He is intimately familiar with church documents in both Switzerland and Rheinland Pfalz, and has personally examined many of them.. 
Based on existing trees, We can reliably match our Johannes Kennel = Hans Kendel = Johann Jacob Kendel who was born at Dreisen in 1719, about two years later than estimated by my grandfather. The father of Johann Jacob Kandel  The paper trail goes all the way back to the 1500s or even earlier, and it is known that Anton Von Känel was born in Reichenbach bei Frutigen in 1640, and moved to the Dreisen area by the time of the birth of his son Johann Jacob in 1686.  His son with the same name is the Johann Jacob Kennel born in 1719.

The Kendel Branch in Kisker Batschka

One branch of the Kendel family left the Munsterhof roughly around 1800, but instead of travelling to America, they traveled east to Kisker Batschka in what was the Hungarian Empire, and which is now part of Serbia.  The Kendel family has a reliable paper trail all the way to Johann Jacob Von Känel born 1686,  and earlier in Reichenbach, Switzerland.
Moreover, one of the present-day Kendels, a Johann Kendel of Vienna, Austria, has a paper trail all the way to the Münsterhof.  This suggests that the person signing his name “Hans Kendel” is part of this family.  Indeed several birth records and marriage records contain the “d” which was appears in church records as early as 1717.  Tables 2 and 3 show the probable paths leading to a common ancestor.
If further evidence were needed that the Kendel/Kennel families are the same as the Von Känels,  the church record for the 1716 birth of Johann Christoff Kendel, brother of Hans Kendel, even has the “Von” inserted as an apparent afterthought, indicating that the names are more or less interchangeable.  We can be reasonably confident that Von Känel, Kennel and Kendel from the same family.  Nothing is ever 100% certain in genealogy, but this is as close as it gets. 

From 1716, the Church records Johann Jacob (“Von” inserted) Kendel and wife Anna Magdalena were parents of baptized Johann Christoff.  The record is from Rockenhausen, 21 km from the Münsterhof.   He is the direct ancestor of present-day Johann Kendel of Vienna, and the brother of Johann Jacob Kennel = Hans Kendel = Johannes Kennel.

Figure 1.  Church record of baptism of Johann Christoff Von Kendel in 1716, son of  Johann Jakob Von Kendel (1786) and Anna Magdalena.  He is the direct ancestor of Johann Kendel of Vienna.  Note the ”Von” inserted.

Table 1.   The family tree of Johann Kendel of Austria goes through the Münsterhof back to the Reichenbach.

Johann Kendel Patrilineal Tree

Anton von Känel

6 Sept 1640
Reichenbach, Bern,  Switzerland

Barbara Sieber
1 Dec 1644
Reichenbach, Bern, Switzerland

Johann Jakob Kendel
22 Jan 1745
Anna Magdalena

Johann Christian Kendel
21 June 1716

8 Jul 1782

Maria Barbara Zimmerman


George Heinrich Kendel
22 Sep 1749

Kisker-Batschka, Hungary
Katharina Bolander

Georg Kendel
Waldhambach, Rheinland-Pfalz
4 Apr 1851
Margarethe Seckler
6 Apr 1792
Vrbas, Werbass, Serbia


Christian Heinrich Kendel
5 Jan 1813
Kisker Batschka, Hungary
8 July 1887
Altker-Batschka, Hungary
Frederike Berleth
22 Dec 1821
Altker-Batschka, Hungary
16 Jun 1905
Alter-Bataschka, Hungary

Johann Kendel
22 Mar 1860
Altker-Batschka, Hungary
20 Oct 1927
Altker-Batschka, Serbia
Margarethe Herth
6 Nov 1872
Kisker-Batschka, Austria-Hungary
25 May 1945
Titolager-Jarek, Yugoslavia

Johann Kendel
31 May 1913
Altker-Batschka, Yugoslavia
21 Feb 1983
Vienna, Austria
Elisabetha Schafer
24 May 1916
Altker-Batschka, Yugoslavia
8 Jan 1997
Vienna, Austria

Johann Kendel
Vienna, Austria

Marieanne Schalko
16 Jan 1948
Josefsthall-Litschau, Austria
30 Jan 2002
Vienna, Austria

Table 2.  The Patrilineal Family Tree of Elliot Kennel, showing Common Ancestry with Johann Kendel of Austria (Kennel = Kendel = Von Känel).   

Elliot Kennel Patrilineal Tree

Anton von
6 Sept 1640
Reichenbach, Bern,  Switzerland

Barbara Sieber
1 Dec 1644
Reichenbach, Bern, Switzerland

Johann Jakob Kendel
22 Jan 1745
Elisabetha Catharina

Johann Jakob “Hans” Kendel
9 Apr 1719
Alsenbrück, Donnersbergkreis, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Münsterhof, Donnersbergkreis, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
Anna Margaretha


Johann Peter Kennel
19 Jul 1745
Münsterhof, Donnersbergkreis, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Münsterhof, Donnersbergkreis, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
Elisabetha Catharina Muller
8 Nov 1747
Wolfstein, Kusel, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
8 Jan 1803
Münsterhof, Donnersbergkreis, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany

Johannes Kennel
11 Mar 1781
Alsenbrück-Langmeil, Rheinland-Pfalz, Germany
27 Aug 1831
Collinsville, Butler, Ohio, USA
Magdalena Katharina Nafziger
25 May 1791
Darmstadt, Hessen, Germany
14 Feb 1873
Morton, Tazewell, Illinois

Jacob Kennel
27 Sep 1821
Kirchheimbolanden, Donnersbergkreis, Rheinland-Pfalz
22 Mar 1909
Morton, Tazewell, Illinois, USA
Katharina Garber
8 April 1833
Monroe County Ohio, USA
24 Jun 1911
Morton, Tazewell, Illinois

Thomas J Kennel
8 Mar 1869
Morton, Tazewell, Illinois, USA
29 Dec 194261
Middletown, Butler, Ohio, USA
Lavina Mosiman
25 June 1870
Trenton, Butler, Ohio, USA
27 May 1947
Butler, Ohio, USA

Elmer Mosiman Ksennel
10 Oct 1893
Morton, Tazewell, Illinois, USA
8 Jan 1985
Lakeland, Polk, Florida, USA
Blanche Augsburger
3 Jan 1900
Beaverdam, Allen, Ohio, USA
17 Apr 1995
Fallbrook, San Diego, California, USA

Byron E. Kennel
Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, USA

Sook Cha Lee
25 March 1925
Seoul, Korea
26 May 2016
Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, USA

Elliot Kennel
East Cleveland, Cuyahoga, Ohio, USA

Daphne Susela Permalu



As of August 2019, our oldest known ancestor is Hans Von Känel from Reichenbach bei Frutigen, Switzerland, born in 1520, according to the family tree of Renato Folli, and assuming that he agrees with the association of our Johannes Kennel with his “Johann Jakob Kennel” born April 9, 1719. 

Letter identifying Heirs of Maria Fischer Kennel:  The Children of Johannes Kennel

            Amazingly, the existence of Johannes Kennel of the Münsterhof estate is attested to in a legal document relating to inheritances after the death of his sister, Maria Kennel Fischer, who had no children of her own.  Maria’s husband Ulrich Fischer is the same Ulrich Fischer who co-signed the Katherinenthalerhof lease with Johann Jacob Kendel.  That is, Maria has a brother referred to as “Johannes Kennel” and her husband was co-signer of a lease with “Hans Kendel.”    Hence there is little doubt that we have the correct family, rather than a cousin or others with the same names. 
A legal letter was composed in Dreisen to identify the heirs, a transcription of which is available on among other places.  This carefully composed legal document is the strongest possible identification that could be hoped for.  It includes the identification of Johannes as a farmer at the Münsterhof estate near Dreisen, Rheinland-Pfalz in what is now Germany, with the offspring listed in Table 1.  The letter further asserts that all  children were born at the Münsterhof. Staker had raised the possibility that the Johann Jacob Kendel family might have been originally from Durlach.  However, in view of the letter it is absolutely clear that the Kennel/Kendels resided at the Münsterhof prior to signing the lease at the Katharinenthalerhof in 1750, and also resided at the Münsterhof for decades thereafter. 

Table 3.  Children of Johannes Kennel of the Münsterhof estate, identified in a court letter after the death of Maria Kennel Fischer. 
Peter Kennel, married to Elisabeth Muller
Rudolf Kennel
Maria Kennel, married to Johannes Schwarzentrauber.
Barbara Kennel, married to Johannes Grehbiel (Krehbiel)
Anna Kennel married to Johannes Schenck
Veronica Kennel, single.
Elisabetha Kennel, married to Jacob Jotter.
Jacobina Kennel, married to Daniel Muller. 
Maria Kennel, the deceased emigrant to America, married Ulrich Fischer

Peter Kennel, of course, is the same Peter Kennel who is the father of immigrant Johannes Kennel.

Anna Steiner and the Durlach Connection

            Family tradition (i.e., my grandfather, plus Mennonite records in Lancaster and the work of Staker, Guth and Gerlach  state that the wife of Johann Jacob was Anna Steiner.  My grandfather’s family tree states that Anna died in 1751, age 31.   However, for whatever reason, Mennonite records in Lancaster Pa, and most of the family trees, show her living to a ripe old age, passing in 1802, and Johann Jacob living even longer, remarrying and lasting till 1806.  Neither scenarios are likely to be true.  In fact, it is likely that Anna died even earlier than my grandfather estimate. 
            To review the evidence, first, there is a birth record for Anna Margretha Steiner in 1720, as seen below.

Anna Margaretha Steiner
Gender:           Female
Birth Date:      6 Jan 1720
Baptism Date: 6 Jan 1720
Baptism Place:            Evangelisch, Berghausen Durlach, Karlsruhe, Baden
Father: Jacob Steiner
Mother:           Eva Rosina
FHL Film Number:     1238223
Figure 2.   Baptismal record for Anna Margaretha Steiner, from Durlach.

Wedding records shows Johann Jacob Kendel married “Anna Margretha” on 31 Jul 1740 presumably the same Anna Margaretha Steiner. (See Figure 3). 

Figure 3.  Church record of the marriage of Johann Jacob Kendel and Ana Margretha 31 Jul 1740.  The bride’s family name is not given. 
Ninth months later, a daughter is born, Anna Charlotta Kendel, the daughter of Johann Jacob and Anna Margaretha Kendel. 

Figure 4.  Anna Charlotta Kendel was born to Johan Jacob Kendel and Ana Margretha, ssome nine months after their marriage,  30 April 1741.

Name   Anna Charlotta Kendel
Gender weiblich
Event Type      Taufe
Baptism Date  30 Apr 1741
Baptism Place Winnweiler, Bayern, Deutschland
Father  Johann Jacob Kendel
Mother Anna Margretha Kendel
Parish as it Appears    Winnweiler
City or District            Winnweiler
Page number   52;53
Author Evangelische Kirche Winnweiler (BA. Rockenhausen)
Film Number   193234
Figure 5. Transcription and translatin of the material in Figure 4.  Anna Charlotta would grow up and marry a man named Schenck, listed on the Dreisen letter regarding Heirs of Maria Kennel Fischer. 

However, when Johann Peter Känell was baptized 24 Jul 1745 in Alsenbruck-Langmeil, his mother’s name was given as Elisabetha Catharina.

Germany, Select Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898
Johann Peter Känell  Baptism Date24 Jul 1745
Baptism Place Alsenbrück-Langmeil, Bayern, Germany
Father:  Johann Jacob Känell
Mother:  Elisabetha Catharina
FHL Film Number193749
Household Members
Elisabetha Catharina
Johann Jacob Känell
Johann Peter Känell

Therefore, Anna probably died prior to 1745 and is not in the direct line of my family. 
            As for the fate of Johann Jacob Kennel, his children signed the legal document prepared in Dreisen in 1804 (see below), establishing that they were the heirs of Maria Kennel Fischer, who died in 1804 and had no children of her own. Johann Jacob Kennel was a not a signee of the document, only his children, which suggests that he had passed before 1804.  The date is not known.
            Some references claim that Johannes Kennel remarried to Magdalena Altemus; however, the present author has not found the source documents of this claim.
            A minor enigma is the great distance between Dreisen and Durlach.  How did Johann Jakob Kendel from the Münsterhof, Dreisen, end up marrying Anna Steiner from Durlach? The Anabaptist habit of contracting to farm for nobility informs us that Johann Jacob Kendel was definitely associated with both Durlach and Dreisen. He was born in the Dreisen area, married and had children in Dreisen, contracted to farm in Durlach in 1750, was mentioned in church documents in Durlach in 1754, but returned to Dreisen by 1764 to farm the Münsterhof. 

Origin of the Kennel Name

The most likely origin of the family name Von Känel is that they were involved in irrigation, bringing water from the Jura mountains to farmlands at lower elevations. The family crest shows a fleur-de-lis on the right and a half-pipe on the left.  “Kennel,” canal and channel all have the same root and denote a narrowl enclosed volume, which could be applied to a body of water or to a confined cage for keeping animals.  If we had been French speakers, we could have been named “Chanel” like the perfume creator, but no, our ancestors were German speakers and hence we are stuck with the much less sexy “Kennel.” 
According to an internet source (, the Von Känel family name is mentioned in 1321:
Baron Johannes von Thurm of Gastelen was Lord of Frutigen in the early fourteenth century. The document indicates that the Baron decided to give the Augustinian Monastery of Interlaken a piece of land near Scharnachtal (next to the town of Reichenbach and a few miles south of Aeschi). In addition, it states that “Peter and Chunradus von dem Kenel and their heirs forever have the right to live on a portion of this property (a farm known as the Kene), as long as they pay a rent of thirty shillings per year” (a practice that was known as the Right of Hereditary Tenancy). The ”Von” prefix is an honorific title, probably given by some petty noble in appreciation for building the canals.  It does not designate royalty but does imply some government-sanctioned official level of recognition.   But when the Anabaptists left Switzerland as a result of government-sponsored persecution, there would be little or no need to carry the title, other than for tradition’s sake. 

Figure 6.  Variants of the Von Känel family crest.  The half-pipe is an important clue that the family name derives from the family’s involvement in building irrigation waterways to bring water from the Jura mountains to the farmlands below.  The date on the crest is 1324 (original picture is low-resolution). 

There are many variants of the Von Känel name.  Some that persist to the present day, and which are traceble to Bern, Switzerland include Von Kaenel, Von Kennel, Kennel, Kendel, Von Kennon, Von Konnon, Voncannon and Fincannon. 

List of Cities Inhabited by Relatives of the Von Känel family

            In order to help the reader and others interested in Kennel genealogy to differentiate between the many small towns in Germany, the following list is provided, along with the distance in kilometers from Dreisen.

Table 4.  A Partial List of Towns of Interest to Kennel Genealogy.
Distance in kilometers from Dreisen
Steinbach am Donnersberg
Alsenborn, Rheinland Pfalz

Arthur, Switzerland??

My grandfather Elmer Mosiman Kennel made the curious claim that “it is generally conceded that the Kennels originated in the town of Arthur, Switzerland.”  He also verbally told me in about 1976 when I took a European trip to study art, that the family home town was on the south of Lake Lucerne (this led me to a wild goose chase when I was twenty years old, when I actually traveled via Eurail in search of these mythical relatives, but that is a story for another place and time). 
            Elmer’s grandson definitely does not concede this point, and in fact there is no such town as Arthur, Switzerland.  He was probably thinking of the town of Arth, which is inhabited by many persons with the Kenel last name, often with only one “n” instead of two. Arth is located on the south side of Lake Zug, not Lake Lucerne.   I have made contact with some of these individuals and find that the Kenel family tree goes back  to at  least 1620 in the town of Arth.   
It is an open issue whether the Arth Kenels are related to the Von Känels. However, in my case, DNA matches from have provided no connection to Arth, but extensive connections to Bern.  Neither are the Arth Kenels known to be connected to the Anabaptist movement as far as I am aware.  
If there is a connection between the Von Känel family of the Reichenbach and the Kenel family of Arth, the common ancestor must have been from the very distant past, say more than 500 years ago.

Alternate  Johannes Kennels

            The habit of Bernese Anabaptists of naming children after their father and grandfather often leads to several persons having similar or identical names, making it difficult to trace the family line.  To help keep track of persons with similar names, the list below shows individuals that are not direct ancestors, but whose records and information were considered and ultimately rejected. Most of them are cousins.  Particularly curious is the similarity of names between the Dreisen area Kennels and the Spesbach Kennels, because these two groups are probably not closely related.  The Spesbach line is descended from Von Kanels from Aeschi, rathter than Reichenbach bei Frutigan The family tree compiled by Renato Folli is particularly recommended as a useful site to identify Kennel relatives. 

 Table 5.  Alternate, Probably Not in the Direct Family Line.
Johann Jacob Kennel
10 Feb 1789
Adam Mast
Elizabeth Margreth Mast
Joahnn Paul Kennel
10 Apr 1719
Johann Paul Kennel
Hans William Kennel
Johann Jacob Kändel
25 Mar 1731
Johann Jakob, Anna Magdalena
Johann Jacob Kendell
6 Feb 1759
Maria Elisabetha Nielssin
Johann Valentin Kandel


21 Oct 1715
Zweibrücken, Bayern

Johann Christoph Kendel
Born abt 1710, died 7 July 1782

Johann Wilhelm Kandel
Born Baptised
25 June 1724, 29 Jun 1724
Hochspeyer (Kaiserslautern)

Johann Peter Kennel
Born abt 1716
Death 1 Jul 1795
Burial 3 Jul 1795
Einöllen u Spesbach

Johann Peter Kennel

Anna Margretha (wife)
Maria Catharina (child)
Johann Peter Kennel

Annar Margretha (wife)
Johannes Kennel (child)
Johann Peter Kennel
13 Jan 1750
Father:  Georg Henrich Kennel, spouse:  Anna Margretha Krick
Johann Peter Kennel
24 Nov 1755
Father:  Johann Peter Kennel
Mother:  Anna Margretha
Johannes Joachim Kinnel
Sept 1, 1717
Father: Jakob Kinnel
Mother:  Anna Barbara Schlipgen



Joseph Peter Amish Mennonites in Tazewell County, Illinois Including Woodford County, especially Volume 2, of a 4-volume set. 

Horst Gerlach, My Kingdom is not of This World—300 Years of the Amish, 1683-1983,
ISBN/Barcode: 9781601263872, Masthof Press, 2013.

Hermann Guth, Amish Mennonites in Germany: Their Congregations, the Estates Where They Lived, Their Families,Masthof Press, Morgantown PA, September 1, 1995  

Mennonite Records in Lancaster Pennsylvania

Notes from Elmer Mosiman Kennel

Donald D. Erwin, The Foncannon Family,