Introduction to the Casselmann Family History - Part II

Over the past two decades, a number of Casselman genealogists and historians have been busy, particularly in validating and assembling family genealogy (Clarence Cross, 1984; Lynne Cook and Clarence Cross, 1989; Daniel Casselman, 1998; Lynne (O'Brien) Cook, 2000). Presentations at the 1984 reunion and in 1987 provided evidence that most European and North American Casselmans originated around the old Central European fortress town of Cassel. In early naming it was probably associated with a person or a man from Cassel (Karl-Heinz Casselmann, 1987 and 1990). These names were likely originally assigned in the Middle Ages when surnames were coming into use, indicating a person from the town, a person who had come from somewhere. As a result of recent historical research by Karl-Heinz Casselmann (1990) and Karl Casselmann (1998 and 2000), the first known reference to the name Casselmann has been unearthed, appearing in 1367 in official documents associated with transfer payments in the town of Witzenhausen in the nearby Werra River Valley. Karl Casselmann (2000) extends the ancestry back to the Teutonic tribe of Chattans and people specifically associated with the ancient Teutonic Roman fortress town of Castellum, Chassala, and Cassella.

He believes that the origins of the name may even go back to a person who was manager of the king's court, responsible to the head count. In this capacity, the Casselmann was a free person responsible for all aspects of the court, especially when the king was present with his escorts. The managers of these kings' courts owned farms and accumulated considerable personal wealth and prestige. So, originally, Casselmann may have been the imperial representative and manager in the court in the town of Cassel. It wasn't long, however, till the name began to spread out and appear in various areas in the vicinity of Cassel in the early 15th century. They appear to have been a restless lot, subsequently better known from where they had been than from where they were located (Figure 1). They were a mann from Cassel. Their names were variously spelled: Casselmann, Caselmann, Cahselmann, Cassilmann, Kasselmann, Kaselmann (K) is Germanization of the name and is more recent). Andreas Casselmann was registered in Simmershausen near Cassel in 1418 (Karl-Heinz Casselmann, 1987).

In 1639 a Jost Casselmann living in the town of Grossalmerode, 22 kilometres east of Cassel, was mentioned in a list of men serving in the army of the aristocrat ruling in Cassel. By the end of the 17th century, Casselmans in Grossalmerode were so numerous that they were given nicknames (Karl-Heinz Casselmann 1987). This will be familiar to those who live in eastern Ontario, where Casselmans are even more numerous and nicknames have been widely used, such as Long John, Tall John, Big John, Short John, Little John.

Early Teutonic origins of Casselmann ancestors in the Chatten tribe are especially interesting. Karl Casselmann (2000) gives us some early insights into the origins of the very early ancestors, the Chattans, in Central Europe before and during Roman times. He paints an interesting picture of a people whom the Romans both feared and respected. Although there are a number of rather well-researched and traced genealogical lines of the family in Central Europe, they have not been completely linked. But at least we now have some hypotheses to test (Karl Casselmann, 1998, 2000 flow charts).

Given the power of modem genetics, the Casselmann family would be an interesting study in inter- relations and ancestral movement. Some day we may be asked to assist in this. If the Ice Man's ancestry can be revealed, the inter-relationships between the various Casselman lines in Europe and North America could easily be done. But be careful with your unique genetic heritage. Indeed, there are not many such large and diverse families that can trace their ancestry back so completely to the Middle Ages. Indeed, many North American and European Casselmans/Casselmanns can easily trace their ancestry back 12 to 14 generations. This is unique, given the amount of movement that has occurred during this time. In fact, the movements of the various lines of the family, especially the one that immigrated to North America, have a well-documented and colourful history, which could be the stuff that movies are made of.

We can't rule out, given some of the various spellings of the name (Figure 2), that some Casselmanns might be descended from a Hessian soldier who was mustered in mercenary regiments in Cassel and sold to Britain to fight in the Revolutionary War in North America. Their English would naturally have been poor, and if they stayed on after the war, they might simply have simply said the word Cassel, and by this have become known as a Cassel man yet have no authenticated Casselman ancestral lines.

One of the largest genealogical lines is associated with two Casselmann families, those of Hans Dietrich and Christian, that left Europe in the Palatine emigration of 1709. They left the town of Adelshofen in the spring prior to May 1709. Their emigration to the New World eventually spawned a population explosion for the family, which subsequently resulted in variant spellings of the name. This made the family name more common in some parts of North America than in its ancestral home in Central Europe. Henry Jones (198 5) located these immigrant families in the church book of Adelshofen (see Adelshofen section, these proceedings). This confirms the relationship of these two Casselmans and the fact that they were separated by one generation Christian the nephew and Hans Dietrich the uncle (John M. Casselman, 1987). The direct ancestors of Hans Dietrich were Johanne and Anna, both born in 1615. A search of the ledgers of the Knights of Neipperg, the feudal counts of Adelshofen, confirms that a Hans Casselmann was present in Adelshofen in 1605 (John M. Casselman, 1987). He was probably the ancestor of Johann Casselmann of 1615. This provides one more direct genealogical ancestor for the North American ancestral line and pushes the ancestral line for most North American Casselmans at least back to the early 1600s and possibly the late 1500s.

Johann and his wife Anna had nine children in addition to Hans Dietrich (see flow chart, John M. Casselman, 1987). These children had at least 28 children in total. So the Casselmann family of Adelshofen must have been fairly large in the mid- to late 1600s. It is astonishing that in the revised ledger of Count von Neipperg for the year 1733 the name Casselmann cannot be found. They appear to have vanished from the town. The early associations of the family with the town of Adelshofen and their neighbours are surprisingly well documented in the count's ledgers, which even indicate what specific fields were shared with various neighbours and detail donations of fowl that they were required to provide for feasts and religious holidays (John M. Casselman, 1987).

When the North American family, mainly descended from Hans Dietrich, visited Adelshofen in 1987 at the town's 700th anniversary (Eppingen 1987), they met the Seitz family with whom Casselmanns had shared fields from the late 1500s to the early 1700s. The Seitz and Casselmann families were often closely associated in this feudal record. The Seitz name was first mentioned in the church registry of Adelshofen in 1655 at the baptism of Margarethe Elisabeth Casselmann on April 12, 1655. The following godparents were listed: the baronial Emma Elisabeth von Neipperg and Margarethe and Franz Seitz. According to tradition, Franz Seitz had saved the Count of Neipperg's life during the Thirty Years N~ar, and as a reward, the Seitz family/ies were given the honour of the administration of the count's family for 200 years as well as to hold the title of Mayor of Adelshofen, As well, Hans Jacob Casselmann, a brother of Hans Dietrich (John M. Casselman, 1987), was mayor of Adelshofen for three terms from 1687 to 1696 (see Adelshofen section, these proceedings, for a list and archival documentation). The Casselmanns were also early innkeepers in the town of Adelshofen and had the right to brew spirits. When the Casselmans returned to their ancestral home of Adelshofen in 1987, they saw the home that originally housed the inn. They also met the Gomer family, whose ancestor, Johann Jakob Gomer, had married Anna Ursula Agnes Casselmann in 1707 and had five children.

When Hans Dietrich and Christian emigrated to North America, they sailed across the Atlantic on the Midfort during the winter of 1709/10. The voyage was difficult, lasting seven weeks, and Johann Dietrich and his wife Anna Elisabeth lost a 14-year-old daughter, Elisabeth Greta, on the trip. The younger family, Christian Casselmann and his wife Anna Maria Kathrina lost their only child, a two- year-old son (MacWethy, 198 1). The Palatine immigrants were interned in camps on the Hudson River. They were established in West Camp and were given the job of extracting tar and turpentine from the pineries on the Hudson for their passage to the New World, which was provided by Queen Anne.

The Palatine immigration has been extensively studied and in 1998 the Saugerties Historical Society commemorated their arrival with a Palatine monument that duly lists CASELMAN as a family name at West Camp (see West Camp section, these proceedings). Indeed, those who are familiar with the old United Empire Loyalist families of eastern Ontario will realize that these Palatine immigrants have been neighbours moving together for many generations. The names Merckel, Garlac, Helmer, and Schaffer are also listed in West Camp. The spelling of Caselman has remained relatively unchanged and is easily recognizable. There is reason to believe that it was originally spelled Casselmann but that scribes spelled it phonetically.

At the 700th anniversary celebrations at Adelshofen, there was another North American family descended from the Wiedknechts who had also returned to their ancestral home and were also descendants of Palatine emigrants. In fact, Dietrich Casselmann and Margretha Wiedknecht were documented sponsors for a child, Johann Dietrich, born at Livingston Manor on the Hudson in 1711 to Alberecht Dietrich and Elisabetha Marterstock (MacWethy 198 1). Descendants of these close neighbours and fellow emigrant refugees had met again 278 years later.

Living conditions for the Palatine refugees in the camps on the Hudson deteriorated through the second winter, 1711-1712, when many of the men were away reinforcing the Albany Garrison to protect against French and native raids from Canada. In the fall of 1712 the Palatines sent a delegation to Scoharie in the Mohawk Valley to negotiate with the natives for lands that could be settled. The list masters were kindly received by the natives, who acknowledged that they had previously granted land to Queen Ann for the Palatines to possess. The natives agreed that the Palatines could establish themselves on their land. The upland area of Stone Arabia, which was soon settled by the Casselmann families, was prospected at that time. The governor contested their plans, and when they started to settle the Schoharie Valley, they received orders not to goe upon the land" (Greene, 1907). Indeed, Governor Hunter endeavoured to persuade the natives to break the agreement they had made with the Palatines. But the Palatine immigrants continued to arrive, with about half the population of East and West Camps (600) migrating. To a great degree, this was precipitated when Governor Hunter was not able to provide for the settlers and conditions in the camps deteriorated and he granted them permission to work for local farmers. The Palatines understood that they were no longer expected to work at the camps and were required to shift for themselves.

The first Palatine immigrants, a bedraggled lot, arrived in the Mohawk Valley in the first part of January 1713. The natives who lived there took pity on them and helped them as best they could. They showed the settlers where and how to gather edible roots and herbs and where there was abundant game, helping them to supply themselves and survive the severely cold winter that followed. They began to clear the land and plant in the spring of 1713. They planted corn, beans, and squash, a staple of the natives.

Greene (1907) indicates that at that time, several families left the main group and journeyed over the CanaJoharie Trail to locate north of the river at Stone Arabia. From that time on, the Casselmann family name was commonly associated with Stone Arabia.

Their tenancy on the land was continuously questioned and in doubt. A petition of grievances was drawn up, and Conrad Weiser and a Casselmann and another unnamed person were delegated to lay the matter before King George (Edward R. Casselman, MS, in Daniel Casselman, 1998). They were rebellious times. Houses were levelled and threats levied. Beatings were comman because tand grants had not been properly settled. It wasn't until 1719-1720 that the Palatines resolved the title problems and purchased the disputed lands. Greene (1907) indicates that the Stone Arabia patent was granted in 1723, totalling 12,700 acres, divided into 28 equal sections and 51 lots. Lodovic Casselmann had one section, and Hans Dietrich Casselmann had two lots, 23 and 29. Garlacs and Dillenbacks were neighbours. Stone Arabia could be considered as the cradle of the infant Casselmann family in North America.

It wasn't long until unrest in the Mohawk Valley again broke out into open hostilities during the Revolutionary War (see Stone Arabia section, these proceedings). MacWethy (1981) indicates that in the war, one of the militia company's muster rolls of 1763 listed 85 privates, including four Caselmans-Peter, John, Severins, and William-with Peter captured near the end of July in Tyron County. Eight Casselmanns are listed in the King's Royal Regiment of New York (see Stone Arabia section, these proceedings), and John in Butler's Rangers. Casselmanns fought Casselmanns in the Battle of Oriskany in 1777 (see Stone Arabia section, these proceedings). This battle is alleged to have been the most vicious of the Revolutionary War, fought hand- to hand to both armies' exhaustion. The memorial commemorating the battle indicates that a John Casselman was killed. The Battle of Stone Arabia in 1780 is documented to have again pitted Casselmanns directly against each other. They are recorded as being in numerous raids and skirmishes. This was a temporary parting of the ways, with some Casselmanns becoming at the same time both rebels and patriots and others becoming Loyalists and rebels.

It is said that these German Palatines who settled the Mohawk and Scoharie valleys must have been a strong, determined, and hardy lot, physically, mentally, and emotionally. They came from an ancestral line that suffered through the ravages of the war between the Reformation of 1517 and Queen Anne's war of 1713. They endured a terrible and prolonged winter voyage across the North Atlantic in crowded conditions and squalor, with a quarter of them dying as a result of on-board conditions and another third dying shortly afterwards. They survived the work camps on the Hudson and the trek to the Mohawk Valley. So they fought bitterly for what they considered to be their rights in the Revolutionary War.

After the Revolutionary War, the Casselman Loyalists who immigrated to Canada flourished. The times were peaceful and land was plentiful. Because of their war service, they received relatively large land grants for themselves and their immediate descendants. Most of them were settled in the Royal Townships of eastern Ontario along the banks of the St. Lawrence. They had large families and were productive farmers. In Dundas County, Casselmans were first patentees on 16 lots in Williamsburg Township, 3 lots in Winchester Township, 2 in Matilda, and 2 in Mountain.

It is obvious that this is when the family started to proliferate and diversify into all walks of life, with many Casselmans moving back to the United States and on to California. This settlement explains why it is now considered that there could be 100,000 living in North America who can trace their ancestry directly back to these two Palatine immigrant families. Indeed, as many as 98% of North American Casselmans trace their ancestry to these two lines, by far the majority of validated searches relating directly to Hans Dietrich.

Time has created variant spellings of the name, with Casselman being the most common and Castleman being the least common in North America and Casselmann and Caselmann in Europe. Many examples from validated North American genealogical searches show that the fully anglicized spelling of the name has evolved from the more Central European German form. It appears that the double n was dropped when the men were enlisted in the Revolutionary War. The original ancestral form of the name for most North American Casselmans is probably Casselmann. The K version appears to be related to more recent Germanization. There are 25 known variant spellings of the Casselman name (Figure 2).

Casselmans have now spread throughout North America and other continents and countries of the world. The family has benefited from the fact that approximately every two or three generations it has been well documented either by migrations, enlistments, or now, in more peaceful times, reunions.

One of the most productive outcomes of the 1984 reunion was the establishment of the Casselman Ancestral Society, It is fully incorporated and has extensively published genealogy and history of the international Casselman family. Rest assured that if you keep your genealogy and Casselman history alive, someone in the future will be interested in it. In these times, the Casselman Ancestral Society and regular gatherings and reunions are needed so that our ancestry can be studied, validated, and preserved for posterial.

It's a big worldwide family, with its own official Casselman green colour and heraldry crest. It is especially diverse, with many variant spellings of the name (Figure 2). The Casselman family is truly an international group. It has no political or geographic boundaries. We live in political associations that have been in conflict with each other. On occasions we have taken sides against each other, most often by circumstance rather than desire. As a result, as good citizens we have met the political challenge, being forced, often unknowingly, to take sides against each other. We have been on both sides of the issues. In this way, family survival has been assured. We were originally identified as a person in or from Cassel, but we've obviously been on the move. We have marched and are now marching off together into the new millennium. If our diverse ways separate us in the short term, we will meet again, family, relatives, and friends. Auf Wiedersehn.

Presented by John M. Casselman, Bath, ON Canada


Casselman, Daniel. 1998. Casselman Castleman Text Book. Manuscript report.

Casselman, Edward R. MS. The first Casselmans to come to America. In Daniel Casselman, 1998.

Casselman, John M. 1987. The Casselman family of North America--~'A man from Cassel" by way of Adelshofen. Presented at the Casselman Treffen, Wiesbaden, West Germany. (Included in Proceedings of the International Casselman Reunion 2000, Genealogy and History: A Millennium Update.)

Casselman, John M., and Lois I. Casselman (editors). 1990. Proceedings of the International Casselman Reunion-1 984. Published by the Casselman Ancestral Society, printed by Printcraft, Picton, Ontario. 144 pages.

Casselmann, Karl. 1998. The history of Sooden-Allendorf and the Werra River Valley from 1230 to 173 1. Manuscript report. (Included in Proceedings of the international Casselman Reunion 2000, Genealogy and History: A Millennium Update.)

Casselmann, Karl. 2000. People in the region of Cassel for more than 2000 years, with proposed early Casselmann movements and lineage. (Included in Proceedings of the International Casselman Reunion 2000, Genealogy and History: A Millennium Update.)

Casselman, Karl-Heinz. 1987. Introduction to the Casselmann Family History. Presented at the Casselmann Family Treffen, Wiesbaden, West Germany. (Included in Proceedings of the International Casselman Reunion 2000, Genealogy and History: A Millennium Update.)

Casselman, Karl-Heinz. 1990. Casselmanns in Germany and in Europe, p. 30-33. In John and Lois Casselman, editors, Proceedings of the International Casselman Reunion-1984. Published by the Casselman Ancestral Society, printed by Printcraft, Picton, Ontario. 144 pages.

Cook, Lynne, and Clarence Cross. 1989. Descendants of John W. Casselman, 1989, by Lynne Cook and Clarence Cross. 151 pages, 9 pages pictures. Available from the Casselman Ancestral Society, Morrisburg, Ontario.

Cook, Lynne (O'Brien), 2000. Descendants of Thomas Casselman. 99 pages, indexed. Volume 3) of a set. Available from the Casselman Ancestral Society, Morrisburg, Ontario.

Cross, Clarence. 1984. The descendants of William and Adam Casselman. Compiled for the Casselman Reunion 1984 held in Morrisburg. 56 pages, indexed. Available from the Casselman Ancestral Society, Morrisburg, Ontario.

Cruikshank, Ernest A., and Gavin K. Watt. 1984. The King's Royal Regiment of New York. Published by Gavin K. Watt, Toronto, Ontario. Text originally published by the Ontario Historical Society, 193 1.

Eppingen, 1987. 700 Jahre Adelshofen 1287-1987. Eppinger stadtgeschichtliche. Ver6ffentlichungen, Band 1, herausgegebin von der Stadt Eppingen. 320 pages.

Greene, N. 1907. History of the Mohawk Valley.

Jones, Henry Z., Jr. 1985. The Palatine families of New York. A study of the German immigrants who arrived in colonial New York in 1719. Universal City, California. 2 volumes, 1298 pages.

MacWethy, Lou D. 198 1. The book of names, especially relating to the early Palatines and the first settlers in the Mohawk Valley, 198 1, compiled and arranged. Genealogical Publishing, Baltimore, Maryland.

Wagner mineral spring, Palatine Bridge, N.Y.Map of Casselman settlement areaMap of Casselmans' ancestral originCasselman Coat of Arms

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