Thursday, November 9, 2017

About That Son Jesse

Perhaps I sounded a bit too petulant when I groused about the 1852 will of Simon Rinehart, the man I hope was the third great grandfather of my mother-in-law. I certainly am grateful for all the kindly-offered help. Still, it's not that I don't know the name of Simon's wife; I've already found that in both a census record for Simon and his beloved, and in the death record for his supposed daughter, Sarah Rinehart Gordon.

The reason I wanted that beloved wife named in the will was that I believe in collecting evidence. And not just a little bit of evidence; I want a lot of proof. Especially when it comes to high-stress scenarios like reporting hard-to-remember details like mother's maiden name on the heels of a loved one's death. So, you see, I really wanted that will to gush on a wee bit more and say, "my beloved wife, Ann."

But let's set aside the issue of Ann and the will for a moment, and shift our attention to one other detail in that same document: the mention of an executor with not only the same surname as Simon's, but a descriptor, thankfully revealing the man's relationship to Simon. The will mentions the man as "my son, Jesse."

The reason I was particularly gratified to see that name mentioned in Simon's will was that I had, last week, noticed a strange entry just above Simon's in the 1840 census enumeration. The surname was the same as Simon's—Rinehart—but I couldn't quite make out what the first name was. At first, looking at it with twenty-first century eyes, I thought it looked like "Lebec," but what proud American father would name his child something like that?

Though the image wasn't very clear, I had to approach it with a nineteenth-century mindset. Remembering that, back in yet an earlier century than that, when writing the letter "s" twice, the first letter—at least to our modern thinking—would be rendered by a letter that looks like an "f." Checking that 1840 census image, I noticed there was a faint line descending from what I had originally thought was a "b." If that were the case, then the name, other than that first sloppy letter, could possibly be spelled e-s-s-e-c.

To guess at what that first letter might have been, I had to survey the rest of the page. Though there wasn't anything that looked exactly like that capital letter at the beginning of the mystery Rinehart's name, I thought the "J" in Jacob Ashbaugh's entry looked vaguely the same. At least the descending portion of the "J" didn't reach below the line. Checking another James and then a Joshua still further above on that page, it was obvious that this enumerator didn't have a standardized style of handwriting for rendering that letter "J."

If that then left me with a spelling that began J-e-s-s-e, it would make sense to conclude that this enumerator—whose handwriting already appeared to be facing some challenges—may have struggled with a blob in his ink delivery system, and that last "c" might actually have been a second "e."

At any rate, the name in the 1840 census appearing just above Simon Rinehart's would likely be that of the son he named, thirteen years later, as the executor to his will. Notice, too, how the name just above Jesse's turned out to be exactly the same as that of one of the Rinehart will's witnesses, Matthew Brown.

Though the 1840 census didn't specify which township in Perry County contained the two Rinehart households, both Simon and Jesse appeared in the 1850 census in Pike township, though not on contiguous properties. And, after both Simon and his wife Ann were gone, in the 1860 census, Jesse's household was enumerated right before the household which names the three Rinehart women who had appeared in the continuation page under Simon's household, back in 1850.

While it's gratifying to locate material actually linking these members of the Rinehart family, I'm still missing one more detail: any record or records which can demonstrate that this Simon Rinehart and his son, Jesse, are related to the focus of my search, my mother-in-law's second great grandmother, Sarah Rinehart Gordon. Because there wasn't any mention given in Simon's will of other children, we'll trace what we can find about this one identified son, Jesse, and see if later records provide any clues.

Above: As it turns out, the original copy of Simon Rinehart's will included that exact style of handwriting, in regard to the double "s" for Jesse's name, showing that at least in Perry County, Ohio, that style was still in current use at the time in which Simon drew up his will in 1853. Image courtesy, from "Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996," images, FamilySearch ( : 1 July 2014), Perry, Probate case files 1820-1885 no 1-299, image 1907 of 3089; county courthouses, Ohio.


  1. Sometimes those enumerators could hardly spell...and penmanship...well that is always a problem:)

    1. Just makes life a little more...ah..."interesting."


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