Descendants of
John CANOTE and his wife Rosanna (nee HUNSE)

Compiled by Paul Zebe
With the generous assistance of many other Canote descendants

Questions Seeking Answers
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List of Descendants


The Canote family of the U.S. was founded by John Canote and his wife Rosanna (nee Hunse). With the exception of the Canote family of California, all Canotes living in the U.S. today are known to be descendants of this couple. The descent of the Canote family of California is somewhat unclear (see #4 under "Questions Seeking Answers" below), although it is fairly certain that the founders of that family took their surname from descendants of John and Rosanna.

John and Rosanna are first found living in Maryland in the 1770s and 1780s, probably in that part of the state that became Washington County. During the early 1790s, they moved to Augusta County, Virginia. Family financial problems in the late 1790s appear to have forced them to sell their land and move on to Madison County, Kentucky. John died sometime after the Census of 1820, probably in Madison County. It is unknown when or where Rosanna died, although she is known to have been living in Madison County in 1805 and she may have still been alive and residing in that county in 1820.

John and Rosanna are believed to have had four children who lived to adulthood: Jacob (I), John Jr., Elizabeth and Rosannah. Jacob (I), John Jr., and Rosannah married in Augusta County, Virginia, and Elizabeth married in Madison County, Kentucky. The families of Rosannah and Elizabeth eventually ended up in Indiana, which is where both women died (Rosannah in Floyd County and Elizabeth in Lawrence County). The families of Jacob (I) and John Jr. ended up in Missouri, where John Jr. is known and Jacob is presumed to have died (John Jr. in Boone County and Jacob (I) probably in Howard County).

Notable descendants of John and Rosanna include Sam Bass, a minor Wild West outlaw (he was a descendant of John and Rosanna through their daughter Elizabeth), and Belle Starr, another minor Wild West figure (she is believed to be a descendant of John and Rosanna through their daughter Rosannah).

I would be very interested in hearing from anyone else researching this family.

Questions Seeking Answers

1. Where were John Canote and his wife Rosanna born?

Indirect evidence places John Canote and his wife Rosanna in Maryland in the 1770s and 1780s (two of their daughters are said by descendants to have been born there). John and Rosanna appear to have resided at the time in that part of the state that became Washington County. Were they born in that general area, or did they move there from somewhere else?

Also residing in Washington County during at least part of the time that John and Rosanna were there were Johann Heinrich ("Henry") Knodt (1720-1782) and Jacob Knode (1751-1828). Both of these men were Germans and their surnames, as pronounced by Germans, would have sounded quite similar to the way "Canote" is pronounced (many of their descendants today use the surname Kanode). Were they relatives of John? No connection has ever been established between Henry and Jacob, although both were known to have been blacksmiths (Henry by trade and Jacob by training). Henry Knodt arrived in Philadelphia in 1753. It is said that those on his ship came from the Biedenkopf area of Hesse. Several of his fellow passengers, by the way, are known to have had strong ties with the German Reformed Church. Jacob, reportedly the son of a man named George Knode, is said to have arrived from Germany in 1773 or earlier. Because Henry, Jacob, and George are fairly common names among the descendants of John and Rosanna, it is suspected that John was in some way related to Henry and Jacob. It should be recognized that this is currently pure speculation.

In an attempt to determine if Henry, Jacob, and John are indeed related, the church books for the parish of Biedenkopf were searched. No information could be found on any of the three men. Subsequently, a number of Knodt/Knode/Knoth in the old district of Biedenkopf in Hesse (the district being somewhat larger in former times than it is today) were contacted in the hope that they would know something about the men. Those contacts were not fruitful. Recently, the Knodische Nachrichten, a German genealogical newsletter focussing on the Knodt/Knode/Knoth family, was contacted about the three. It is hoped that this contact will produce some information about them.

2. Who were the parents of Dianah Sanders, wife of Jacob Canote (II)?

The prime candidates for the parents of Dianah appear to be Joel Sanders and his wife, Sally Moon. At the time of the 1860 Census, Dianah Canote (nee Sanders), as a single parent, and her children were known to be neighbors of at least one and maybe two of Joel and Sally's sons. Comparing 1876 land ownership maps for Chariton County, Missouri, with the names appearing on the 1860 Census returns for that county, it appears quite possible that Dianah and children were living on land owned by one of those sons.

3. What happened to Louis Canote, son of Jacob Canote (II) and his wife Dianah Sanders?

At the time of the 1860 Census, Louis Canote, age 6, was the second youngest child in the household of Dianah Canote (nee Sanders). He last appears in the public record in the 1880 Census as "Louis Kanote", reported age 22, in the household of Dr. T.P Perkinson of Charition County, Missouri, as one of his "sons". What happened to him? One of Dr. Perkinson's daughters is known to have gone to Brazil as Protestant missionary. She is known to have lived in Brazil for many years, and she may have, in fact, died there. Did he accompany her?

4. Who was the Canote husband of Mrs. Sarah Canote?

In 1873, Mrs. Sarah Canote married Samuel C. Steel in Howard County, Missouri. Mrs. Canote, through her youngest son Frank Canote, was the "mother" of the Canote family of California (actually, it is unclear whether Frank, born in 1871, was the son of Samuel and a previous wife or Sarah and her Canote husband, but early in his life he was generally known as Frank Steel and only later came to be called Frank Canote). In 1860, Sarah, age 13, was living in the household of her mother Mary Maddox, which also included a woodcutter named John Canote. Based on his reported age and birthplace, the John Canote in that household was probably the eldest son of Jacob Canote (II) and his wife Dianah Sanders. His story, however, is well known, and he was never married to Sarah Maddox. If he wasn't her Canote husband, who was? All known Canote males in her general age bracket either died too early to have fathered her three children, William (c.1866-?), Robert (c.1868-1909), and Frank (1871-1961), or were alive when she married Samuel Steel.

5. What happened to Henry Kinote and his wife?

The only son of John Canote, Jr. was Henry Kinote (records referring to him generally use this spelling for his surname, rather than Canote). Henry, an avid land speculator, was one of the founders of the town of Santa Fe, Missouri. Sometime in the 1840s, after the death of his father, he dropped from sight. What happened to him? Nothing is currently known for certain. He may have died, of course. Alternatively, he may have moved on to seek his fortune elsewhere. There are some indications that he may have moved to Wisconsin. Also, there are claims that his wife died in Florida. While those claims don't mention him, he may have died there, as well.

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PKZ's Home Page


Sheeks Roots! (A list of the descendants of George Sheeks and his wife Elizabeth Canote, a daugther of John and Rosanna Canote, along with a wonderful photo of their house, now preserved at Spring Mill State Park in Mitchell, Indiana)

Peter Shirley (Includes a list of descendants of Christian Shirley and his wife Roseanna Canote, a daughter of John and Rosanna Canote, along with a transcript of Christian's will)

The Ancestors of Berry Towles Canote (The Canote and Towles ancestors of my cousin Berry Canote)

Created 8 February 2001 Sierra On-Line

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Copyright © 2001-2009 Paul K. Zebe
Last Revised 5 September 2009