Origin and meaning of the Name
The origin of our family name is Switzerland. The oldest known document bearing the family name is in the national archives at Lausanne, Switzerland. It is dated 1242 A.D., and was a written agreement between two people. In the agreement, "P son of Wion Visinant" is listed as a witness to the agreement.
I was told by the archivist in Lausanne that the name means "neighbor".
The name is still used today in Switzerland, but is currently spelled there as "Visinand". When the Visinand family arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1731, aboard the ship Snow Lowther, they signed the ship log as "Vissnant". Shortly thereafter the name was changed to Whisenhunt. Thus began the first of many family name changes by various family groups. We have found over 80 variations in the spelling of the name since 1731. Today, you'll find that most of the family members spell the name either as Whisnant, Whisenant, Whisenhunt, Whisnand, Whisonant, Whisenand, Whisante, or Visinand.
Some spelling variations of our family name
Our Whisnant ancestors have lived in the United States for over 250 years now. In that time, there have been many variations on the spelling of family name. I have listed the most common variations below. If you fail to find your ancestors under the surname you think they should be listed under, look under the other spellings. The name most commonly used is listed first, followed by the next most common, etc.
By the way, in Switzerland they pronounce "Visinand" with a silent "d" at the end of the name. To me it sound like they're saying "Visi-no", short "o". Here's a wave file of me trying to pronouncing the name the way they do in Switzerland. Try it on your computer if you have a sound card.