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The history of the greater Carnley Family of America begins with the arrival of George Christopher Kinline (Keinlein) in Charleston, South Carolina in 1753. He embarked at the port of Rotterdam (Holland), which suggests he likely came from Germany. Although he identified himself originally as Kinline (or Guenlain as recording clerks phonetically spelled it in the records initially), he later used aliases.

Among them were Christian Kinla, Christopher Kindly, Christopher Kinland, Christopher Kanline, Christian Kanline and Christian Karline. He followed two basic patterns in the names he chose. One included names ending with the sound of l-i-n-e, l-i-n, or l-e-n, and others ending with the sound of l-a or l-y. A possible explanation for this is found in the "Dictionary of German Names", by Hans Bahlow, 2nd edition. It identifies Kielein and Kienle as unrounded forms of the name Kuhnle. Two dots over the letter "u" are called umlauts and give it the sound of the letter "i" in pronunciation. In English, Kienle sounds like Kinla or Kinly.

In 1773, his son Christopher Jr., later known as Christian Sr., began appearing in the records. He first appeared as Christian Kerline. Early variations of his name include Kernly, Kernellie, Kernelly, Kernlein and Kenline. Another son, John, began appearing in the 1780's. The names he used were the same as Christian's. These names and spellings were most common prior to 1800. Between that year and 1810, the names Carnley and Carnline appeared. The pronunciations probably remained the same as they had always been, but the spelling became decidedly more anglicized with "Carn" being substituted for "Kern". In 1810, Christian Sr., Christian Jr., Lewis, John and George appeared on the Orangeburg census under the name Carnly. About the same period, some of these individuals also appeared in other records as Carnlines. Although the spelling had changed, the two basic patterns continued to be names ending with the sound of either l-i-n-e or l-y.

In 1816, Christian Sr. and Christian Jr. appeared on the census of Clark County, Mississippi Territory, with the surname Canline. It sounded the same as Kanline, which it will be recalled, was an alias of George Christopher Kenline. Christian Sr., who was born about 1753, was George Christopher's first American born child. He reached adulthood during the time his father used that name, and later in life, may have mistakenly recollected it as the ancestral name. His intention may have been to reclaim it in a new place where the family name had not been corrupted as it had been in South Carolina. Due to his illiteracy however, he could not spell it for the recording clerks. The result was that after that part of Mississippi Territory became Monroe County, Alabama, and he bought land there in 1819, the clerks misspelled his name in the land records as Cantaline.

Lewis Sr. and John also bought land in Monroe County that year, but their name in the land records was Carnline. By 1830, Cantaline had caught on as evidenced by it's appearance on that year's census of Monroe County as the surname not only of Christian, but of Lewis Sr., John and others of the family as well. By 1840, most of the family had moved to Pike County, Alabama, and on that year's census called themselves Carnley. Pike County was trail's end for George and Lewis Sr.. They died there in 1843, and Lewis' will and probate records disclosed Carnline and Cantaline as aliases of Carnley.

With the passing of Lewis and others of his generation, the family evolved into the separate branches known today by these three surnames, still with the two basic patterns originated by George Christopher Kinline. Though now separate and disassociated, they are the pieces required in solving the puzzle that is the history of the Carnley family.

Article written by:
Sam Carnley - Bascom, Florida
October 8, 2006