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Gnanns in America
The first Gnann in America appears to have been Johann Georg Gnann, who, in 1744, married Anna Gress in Langenau near Ulm, Germany, and, in 1751, emigrated and settled at Ebenezer, Georgia. In 1752 Jacob Gnann also came to Georgia. Georg and Jacob, according to tradition and published genealogies, were brothers. However, recent research (2007) in the church books of Langenau and Ulm reveals an error in earlier research: Georg’s father was Andreas Gnann, a soldier, and Georg was born in Ulm where his father was stationed in the local garrison. Also, the recent research, while currently inconclusive, does not confirm that Georg and Jacob were brothers.
The surname Gnann is present in a number of U.S. states today, especially in Georgia and Florida. There are also Gnanns in California, Missouri, Pennsylvania, as well as other states.
Gnanns in Germany
There are many Gnanns today in the towns and villages north of Ulm, Germany. The surname has been traced back to the 1500s and beyond in the area, especially in Langenau, a small town located today in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg.
The Correct Immigrant Ancestor?
When Pearl Rahn Gnann published her monumental genealogy book, Georgia Salzburgers and Allied Families in 1956, she identified the family of Cletus Gnann (1819 – 1897) of Effingham County, GA, as being in the lineage of the immigrant Johann Georg Gnann, a potter, who arrived in Georgia, she said, in 1750. Alvin O. Gnann (1866 – 1972), a son of Cletus, disagreed. In 1957, he wrote that his family descends from Jacob Gnann, who he identified as the brother of Johann Georg. Jacob (abt 1729 - 1773), who married Margaret Depp, a widow, is the correct ancestor. He said that it is from this Jacob, and a son, also named Jacob, “that we trace our ancestry.” Which version is right? DNA testing might provide an answer!
Genealogical DNA testing could be of benefit to Gnann families because it offers an opportunity to answer questions, such as:
1. Are all of the Gnann families in America related? If so, how closely are they related?
2. Were Georg and Jacob, who arrived in Georgia in 1751 and 1752 indeed brothers?
3. Do all of the Gnann families in America originate in the region of Ulm, Germany?
Other benefits include identifying the family's migration in earlier times, confirmation of and identification of common ancestors, identifying possible surname variations, and the strengthening or weakening of paper trail research.