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An excerpt from archives copyright © 2000 - 2016

The history of the Knopf family dates back to the 12th century, when hereditary surnames first began to be used in Germany. The name Knopf comes from Bavaria, and is derived from the Old German word "Knopf," meaning "button"; thus, it is a name for a maker of buttons, usually of horn.


The surname Knopf was first found in Bavaria, where this family made important contributions toward the development of this district from ancient times. Ancient chronicles first mention the knight Johann Knop of Thuringia in 1368, Michel Knoepfle of Ravensburg in 1476, and Knoepfelman of Speyer in 1334.

Many cultural groups lived in the German states in medieval times. Each had its own dialect and traditions, and unique variations of popular names. Low German, which is similar to contemporary Dutch, was spoken in Westphalia. German names are characterized by additions such as regional suffixes and phrases that tell something about the origin or background of its original bearer. Further contributing to the variation in German names was the fact that there were no spelling rules in medieval times: scribes recorded names according to their sound. The recorded spelling variations of Knopf include Knopfler, Knopf, Knopfle, Knoepfel, Knoepfle, Knoepfli, Knoepfler, Knoff, Knof, Knofler, Knoffler, Knopfer, Knop, Knopler, Knauff, Knauffer, Knauffel and many more.


This web page shows only a small excerpt of our Knopf research. Another 182 words (13 lines of text) covering the years 1480, 1728, 1769, 1842, 1874, and 1895 are included under the topic Early Knopf History in all our PDF Extended History products.


Another 38 words (3 lines of text) are included under the topic Early Knopf Notables in all our PDF Extended History products.


European migration to North America began in the mid-17th century and continued unabated until the mid-20th. Many Bavarians made the long trip to escape poverty or persecution based on their religious beliefs. The chance for tenant farmers to own their own land was also a major drawing card. They settled all across the United States in Pennsylvania, Texas, New York, Illinois, and California. Many came to Canada also, settling in Ontario and the prairie provinces. Analysis of immigration records has shown some of the first Knopfs to arrive in North America, and among them were:

Knopf Settlers in United States in the 18th Century

  • Christian Knopf, who landed in America in 1778
  • Heinrich Knopf, who sailed to America in 1779
  • Heinrich Knopf, who arrived in America in 1779

Knopf Settlers in United States in the 19th Century

  • Felix Knopf, who settled in Mississippi in 1844
  • Felix Knopf, who landed in Mississippi in 1844
  • Peter and Marie Knopf, who immigrated to Texas in 1845
  • Frederick Knopf, who arrived in Texas in 1850-1906

Knopf Settlers in United States in the 20th Century

  • Friedrika Knopf, aged 32, landed in New York, NY in 1901
  • Gotthilf Knopf, aged 7, arrived in New York, NY in 1901
  • Gustav Knopf, aged 7, landed in America in 1901
  • Bertha Knopf, who arrived in New York, NY in 1901
  • Hulda Knopf, aged 3, landed in New York, NY in 1901

Knopf Settlers in Canada in the 19th Century

  • Anna, Johann and Friedrich Knopf, who sailed to Québec in 1893
  • Anna Knopf, aged 8, arrived in Quebec in 1893
  • Johann Knopf, who landed in Quebec in 1893


  • Philip Knopf (1847-1920), American Republican politician, Member of Illinois State Senate, 1887-94; Cook County Clerk, 1894-1902; U.S. Representative from Illinois 7th District, 1903-09
  • Mike Knopf, American Republican politician, Delegate to Republican National Convention from Iowa, 2008
  • Edwin L. Knopf, American Democrat politician, Candidate in primary for U.S. Representative from Michigan 7th District, 1968, 1972; Candidate for Michigan State House of Representatives 79th District, 1974
  • Adolph Knopf (1882-1966), American eologist from San Francisco
  • Philip Knopf (1847-1920), American politician, Member of the United States House of Representatives from Illinois
  • Kenyon Knopf, American economist
  • Alfred Knopf Jr. (1892-1984), well-known American publisher
  • Edwin H. Knopf (1899-1981), American film producer, director and screenwriter
  • Heinrich Knopf (1839-1875), German luthier


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  1. Bahlow, Hans. Deutschlands geographische Namenwelt Etymologisches Lexikon der Fluss- und Ortsnamen alteuropaischer Herkunft. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1985. Print.
  2. Steed, Henry Wickham . The Hapsburg Monarchy. London: Constable and Company, 1919. Print.
  3. Bolton, Charles Knowles. Bolton's American Armory. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1964. Print.
  4. Rolland, and H.V. Rolland. Illustrations to the Armorial general by J. B. Rietstap 6 volumes in 3. Baltimore: Heraldic Book Company, 1976. Print.
  5. Crozier, William Armstrong Edition. Crozier's General Armory A Registry of American Families Entitled to Coat Armor. New York: Fox, Duffield, 1904. Print.
  6. Schenk, Trudy. Wuerttemberg Emigration Index Volume I-VIII. Salt Lake City: Ancestry Inc., 1986. Print.
  7. Jones, George F. The Germans of Colonial Georgia 1733-1783 Revised edition. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing, 1986. Print. (ISBN 0806311614).
  8. Rietstap, Johannes Baptist. Armorial Général. Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co. Print.
  9. Fogleman, Aaron Spencer. Hopeful Journeys German Immigration, Settlement, and Political Culture in Colonial America 1717-1775. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1986. Print. (ISBN 978-0812215489).
  10. Göbel, Otto. Niederdeutsche Familiennamen der Gegenwart Wolfshagen-Schäbentz. Franz: Westphal, 1936. Print.
  11. ...

The Knopf Family Crest was acquired from the archives. The Knopf Family Crest was drawn according to heraldic standards based on published blazons. We generally include the oldest published family crest once associated with each surname.

This page was last modified on 6 October 2015 at 13:52.

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