KIMBLES OF GRANT COUNTY, WEST VIRGINIA AS GERMANS
Most Germans arriving in America before the
Revolution came to Philadelphia with intent to settled in Pennsylvania.
It was the most accepting of the colonies in regards to allowing them to
practice their own religion and transact in their own language.
The situation was different in Virginia. When the colonial governor of
Virginia advertised for Germans in Pennsylvania to move south into the
western part of Virginia it wasn’t for love of the German people.
English Virginians placed Germans on a level with the Scotch-Irish and
merely tolerated them. The primary purpose for encouraging settlement by
either ethnic group was to provide a buffer between the English and the
natives to the west. Virginia policy was that public transactions were
in English. Not just the words were in English--non-English names were
Anglicized. Settlements with German names were eventually renamed with
English names or at least an Anglicized version of the German name.
Earlier generations of German Virginians spelled their names one way
personally but were recorded with the English variation. Old histories
often referred to someone by their name and then their
"German" name or "French" name, etc. Most foreigners
eventually gave in to using the imposed surname spellings.
The surname Kimble, (Kimbill, Kimball, Kemble etc.) is the English
sister to the German Kimmel, (Kümmel, etc.). Their root meaning each
evolved from is the same ("royally bold", "brave and bold
warrior"...), so any Kimmel wanting to fit in with the
English-speaking American society is tempted to use the English
variation. And since records keepers tend to hear Kimmel as Kimble
naturally anyway (I have friends who call me Kimble today), in those
early days when most people couldn’t write, the names of many from the
German family would appear differently depending on who was recording
it. Even in Pennsylvania the same Kimmel individual could be Cimmel,
Kemble and Kimball depending on the record.
So if you want to know how the early Virginian Kimble family members
really spelled their name, you need to ignore the Virginian public
records (land, tax, military, ‘‘state’’ census) and look at what’s
1) Church records. When Carolus Lange of the Evangelical Reformed Church
of Frederick, Maryland went on tour serving communion to congregations
in the valleys of Virginia in 1767, he stopped at "Southfork."
There the communion recipients included Johannes Kimmel–and other
German surnames Stihl (Steel), Alth (Alt), Rieger (Regar), Stumf
(Stump), Moock (Moak) and Schuck (Shook). The North Mill Creek Lutheran
and Reformed Church membership in 1798 included John Kimmel.
2) ‘‘Federal’’ census records. The family is Kimbell in the
‘‘state’’ census records of the 1780s and even the 1820 ‘‘federal’’
census. But in later ‘‘federal’’ census records––which were
out of the state’s hands––we find Kimmels in 1830, 1840 and 1850.
After that it was Kimble in the 1860 and 1870 censuses, with only one
individual recorded as Kimmel in 1880. (What is surprising, though, is
that everyone is Kimmel again in 1900!)
3) Transition situations. When Grant County was established, it’s
first two Kimble birth records were recorded as Hannah Kimmel, daughter
of Nicodemus and Susanna Kimble, and as John Kimmel, son of William and
Frances Kimmel. Apparently the "English-only" understanding
was overlooked, but not for long. Except for that first month, all
Kimbles were recorded as Kimble.
4) Slip-ups. A couple of old marriage records: Samuel Kimmel to
Elizabeth Cox in 1825 and Priscilla Kimmell to William Self in 1858. The
1792 (possibly 1793) Hardy Co., VA property tax list gives Adam,
Lambert, John Senr. and John Junr.’s surnames as Kimmel.
In all of the records in America it’s extremely
rare that a Kimble or Kimball is accidentally written as Kimmel (at
least according to the two file cabinets of family documents I have). In
this family it keeps occurring in all sorts of records right up to the
1900 census. There’s every reason for a Kimmel to be recorded as
Kimble (acceptance into an English-speaking society) and no reason for a
true Kimble to be recorded as Kimmel. Any time I come across records
referring to a family as both Kimmel and Kimble I know I’ll find
Kimmel is the actual name.
We’re dealing with a German Kimmel family eventually evolving into a
Kimble family. It appears it wasn’t a sudden acceptance, but bit by
bit the old spelling was given up. I place the final acceptance at about
the time of the Civil War, but still, the old spelling popped up as late
as 1900. If you are looking for the family member who crossed the ocean
it will probably be a Kimmel leaving the port of Rotterdam for
Philadelphia sometime prior to 1767 when Johannes Kimmel appeared on
Carolus Lange’s communion list.
JOHN KIMBLE AS REVOLUTIONARY PATRIOT
For the DAR application, you had might as well use Kimble, because the
lineage is Kimble in public records back to John Kimble. Original family
name or nationality won’t matter here. Here are two pieces of
information you need.
1) Adam’s link to his father John. From the Hampshire County, West
Virginia courthouse at the clerk’s office is a deed in Volume 5, deed
#205. It is an indenture signed 3/6/1780 from Thomas Lord Fairfax to
John Kimble of Hampshire Parish and County which specifies John’s
heirs as Lambert, Michael and Adam, the longest liver of them to inherit
2) John’s entitlement as a Patriot in the Revolution. Order from the
Library of Virginia. Public Service Claims, Hampshire County Court
Booklet, Reel 3, pages 15 and 16 records the 1782 claim of John Kimble
for a gun that was "Lost in suppressing Tories." The record of
payment in 1783 for the service appears in Public Service Claims,
Commissioners Book III, Reel 5, page 120