The name “Riedesel” appeared for the first time in the 1200s associated with a family of the knightly class in what is now the German state of Hesse. Several branches were flourishing by the 1400s. Only a few Riedesels, however, had claim to the status of nobility by the year 1600.
The Riedesels of the world fall into three known groups:
- The most prominent, though few in number, are the Riedesel zu Eisenbach, an ancient lineage of lower nobility. They received the title of “Barons” (Freiherren) in 1680. General F. A. Riedesel was a member of this lineage. No Riedesel in North America has any blood relation to this family.
- The former counties (Grafschaften) of Wittgenstein in central Germany have been the home of the core population of commoner Riedesels since the 1500s and were the source of almost all Riedesels living in North America. Their genealogy since 1600 is well-documented. The 2000 U.S. Census counted 582 Riedesels in this country, virtually all of whom share these roots. There were 607 of us by 2010. A few families took the names of Rittase, Riddle or Radle. Almost all had roots in the villages of Wunderthausen (shown above) or Erndtebrück.
- A small number of commoner Riedesels also lived in western Pomerania (Vorpommern) in what is now northeastern Germany around the city of Stralsund. Their origins are less clear but the name was established there by the 1500s as well. A few of this group emigrated to the Chicago area and they sometimes used the spelling of ‘Rietesel.’ The Rietesel variation is almost extinct in Germany and there are no known Riedesels living around Pomerania.
For a summary overview of the Riedesel/Rietesel emigrants to North America, please visit this page.
Research into the nobility is a specialized field and this site makes no effort to document the history of the Riedesel zu Eisenbach or other lines of Riedesel knights who disappeared by the 1600s. Instead, our goal is to preserve and share the history of the Riedesel/Rietesel emigrants to America and their families.
Dr. Paul Riedesel maintains this site, and is a leading authority on the American Riedesels and the emigration from Wunderthausen to America. The information in this site is drawn from a wide range of German and American sources. No guarantee of perfection is made, but the information is as correct as possible.
Questions, corrections, comments and contributions of information are always welcome. Contact him at:
1501 Franklin Avenue SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414 (USA)