This surname derives from German-speaking Swiss folks....Swiss church records as early as mid-1500s. Also many in what is now Germany and appears in the early 1700's inPennslvania There are many variant spellings of this surname: Knisely,Knisly, Nissly, Kneisly, Nessel, etc, etc. The Nestle of chocolate fame probably the same root name. Nearly 30 variations have been found in Pennsylvania records. Spelling is NOT a reliable way to sort families. Our family Bible lists my great-grandmother as "Nicely" and her father signed his name "Knisely"