When we could find no trace of the Knofts name, it wasn't hard to suspect that ancestry had made a transcription error. After a visit to the New Jersey State Archives, we were able to locate the original marriage records, recorded by John Cline, the Justice of the Peace:
Then we were able to locate the Bible belonging to Earnest Mann, which seemed almost too good to be true. But what did we find? A giant ink blot over Catherine's maiden name. No way! About the only thing that could be determined was that the maiden name seems relatively short based on the size of the ink blot, and the name appeared to start with a "C" and end with "ts".
So everywhere we have looked for the last many years, we check for Knofts, as well as any surnames starting with C and ending with "ts" of which Coats and Cruts were always our favorites, but for which we could never find any links. Then last fall, I visited Sussex County and met a man who is an expert on land deeds there, and he inspired me to do a study of all the Mann and Summer deeds we could find. One in particular really jumped out, that being a deed from John Summers granting 414 acres (his father George's estate) to Andreas Crutz Sr. Well, look at that! There is a name that meets our search criteria! And then it got better. In 1802, Mr. Crutz sold half that land to Abram Fangboner, the husband of Mary Knofts. Now we are getting really warm.
In the meantime, cousin J. had figured out that Dorothy Knofts Cutchler had also migrated to Michigan. What was significant about Dorothy is that she only had one child, a son named Andrew Cutchler. We felt just sure that this son might have been named for Dorothy's father, possibly Andreas Crutz. But still we had no links.
So we've been pouring over all our notes, and here is where I will give a giant plug for Evernote. Every scrap of related information we've unearthed in the last three years is there, and all I have to do is search for "Crutz" and all those notes pop up in date order. Isn't it a wonder to be doing genealogy in this day and age? In any case, I saw some old notes that suggested Northampton County, PA as a location where Andreas Crutz might have come from before Oxford, NJ. After visiting the area last fall, it's much more in my mind that PA. is very close to Oxford, just west and across the Delaware River. So I started searching Northampton records in the new ancestry database, Pennsylvania, Church and Town Records, 1708-1985, and what I found made my heart skip: a Confirmation for Dorothea, daughter of Andreas Krotz in 1786, and another for Catharina, daughter of same in 1790. Holy moly. Now we have a connection and the dates fit perfectly!
And now just for fun, let's look at that marriage record penned by John Cline again. After staring hard at old German script for the last several months, we start to recognize better what is there. The letter after the "K" is not an "N", it is an "R". The end of the word seems to clearly be "TS", but what is that preceding descender letter? We have thought all along it was an "F" partly because ancestry transcribed it that way, and partly because we have to agree that it looks that way. But it is not an "F". It is a "Z". In fact, the Germans had a special character to represent "TZ", which is why it appears that a "T" precedes the "Z". John Cline wrote the surname Krotzts, where he was using all the letters he could to represent the sound "TZ". He wrote it not once, but three times very neatly on the same page. We just couldn't read it. For three years!
And now that we examine the Lutheran church records in Northampton, we see in the very early days, the name was spelled GROTZ ("G" sounds like "K" in German) and later KROTZ. By the time Andreas moved to Oxford, he spelled it CRUTZ. And from the looks of the descendant names that remained in New Jersey through the mid-1800's, the name morphed once more into CRUTS and CRUTTS. And the name inscribed in the Mann Bible is almost certainly CRUTS as the Bible was purchased in 1832 and the names were inscribed after that time.
Of course we will continue the effort to hunt down more church records, but we suddenly feel that all the pieces are falling together. Our fourth great-grandmother, wife of first-generation-born-in-America Earnest Man, was named Catharina Cruts. She was the mother of 10 known children, 7 of whom would make the journey with her in her 60s to a new home in Michigan. And now Catharina is somebody we can really get to know, now that we are no longer distracted by the surname KNOFTS, which in fact, never existed. This is one brick wall that I'm not going to miss.