Aren’t we really “von Riedesel?”

Absolutely not. Of the various branches of Riedesel knights known since the 1200s, only one achieved the higher status of Baron or Freiherr for all its male members. This was the Riedesel zu Eisenbach. Holy Roman Emperor Leopold  I granted this dignity in 1680 to most of the adult men of the family (there was never a singular Baron). The diploma documenting this honor refers to them throughout as “Riedesel zu Eisenbach.” When a person or lineage was so promoted, they would normally be explicitly granted the “von.” But the Eisenbach line already had a name.

This family almost never used the “von” in their names; a few do today but that was not the historical practice. None of our commoner (peasant) ancestors stretching back to the 1500s would have been entitled to a “von.” General F. A. Riedesel of Revolutionary War fame is often referred to as “von Riedesel” in American historical literature but that is simply wrong too, per the German records.

By the mid-1800s, anyone could call themselves “von Riedesel” or “von Fledermaus” but that did not mean they were recognized as such by the hereditary nobility. And as noted in many places, we American Riedesels have no blood relationship to this family anyway.

See my further rant at: Why von is Not Correct.