Saturday, March 19, 2016

Sepia Saturday: Tracing Steiner and Rinehart Roots Geographically

Hubby's 3d great-grandparents were probably the journey-takers who left Europe for what was then either the American colonies or the brand-new United States of America.

On the Steiner side, these were almost certainly the parents of Jacob S. Steiner, who was born just before or after 1802 in Pennsylvania and died between 1850 and 1860 in Crawford county, Ohio. Hubby's "Old Gentleman" granddaddy left notes about these ancestors, as shown above.

On the Rinehart side, the journey-takers were likely the parents of Joseph W. Rinehart, who was born in 1806 in Pennsylvania and died in 1888 in Nevada, Ohio.

So part of my quest is to reconcile family stories about where the Steiner and Rinehart families were originally from. The way hubby's father heard it, these ancestors were from Switzerland, but others in the family wondered whether Germany was the original homeland.

For context, I turned to the Family Tree Historical Maps Book--Europe, which shows maps and historical milestones from the 1700s to after WWII.

In 1736, Germany and Switzerland had different borders than they do today. Only by 1815 did Switzerland's borders settle into their current location. So it's very possible that the journey-taker ancestors left from an area in Germany during the late 1700s and by the time they told their story to descendants, that region had become part of Switzerland. Or vice versa!

To complicate the situation, the Family Search wiki warns that civil registration records for pre-1800 Switzerland are generally unavailable because they weren't required by law. Similarly, German civil registration records weren't required prior to 1792. And remember, these ancestors probably arrived in America around the time of the Revolution, give or take a decade, even before the first US census.

Bottom line: My best hope for tracing hubby's Steiner and Rhinehart roots is by finding these ancestors in Pennsylvania records (not an easy task, since I need given names and a town) and then looking for any clues there (field trip!).

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