Sunday, November 12, 2017

Getting Back to the Paper Trail

If I couldn't figure out what family stories—even published ones—might have been thinking of when talking about those once-upon-a-time "three brothers" (or four), my best bet was not to try and crash the genealogy party, but insure that dull and dreary due diligence in locating some solid governmental records. So, in seeking what I could find about my puzzling Simon Rinehart of Pennsylvania—no, Kentucky, no, maybe back in Pennsylvania, no, now it's Ohio—was to see what else was stored in the records in Perry County, Ohio, the place of his death.

What I did know for sure—at least if I even had the right Simon Rinehart—was that, upon his death sometime in either 1852 or 1853, he appointed his son as executor of his will. That son's name, we've learned, is specifically Jesse Rinehart. (Thankfully, he rated much more of a mention than merely "my beloved son"—although the insertion of the words "my son" almost appeared to be an afterthought by his aging father.)

So what can be found about this Jesse Rinehart of Perry County, Ohio? Quite a bit from census records, thankfully, but there was another source I had forgotten to consult. There it was in my file folder from the 1990s, though, finally uncovered from its file-cabinet exile after all these years.

That source was one of those county history books which had been so prevalent in the late 1800s. We had already looked up the Rinehart family in the history book for Greene County, Pennsylvania, the place from which the family had emigrated earlier in that century. I'm not sure why it didn't occur to me to consult the same sort of resource for any mention of the family in the county where they eventually settled.

There it was, though, in the biographical sketches included in History of Fairfield and Perry Counties, the 1883 publication compiled by A. A. Graham: an entry regarding Jesse Rinehart. In that report—if the information provided there was correct—that Jesse was born November 26, 1806, in Greene County, Pennsylvania. We also receive confirmation that his father was, indeed, Simon Rinehart, although his mother's maiden name was listed as Ann Wise, a variation on the name Wiley we had seen in Jesse's sister Sarah's death certificate.

Of course, discrepancies like that tamper with my sense of security that I've finally accessed the confirming documentation I crave. Do I believe an Ohio governmental death record? Or prefer the biographical sketch memorializing a man who had passed away barely three years before a book's publication? I'd say the next step would be to locate Jesse's own death record first, then pursue any other records I can find on Jesse and his sister Sarah Rinehart Gordon, and records of any other siblings I can locate in the meantime.

Above: Excerpt from biographical sketch of Jesse Rinehart, found on page 523 of the Perry County surnames within the 1883 book, History of Fairfield and Perry Counties, Ohio, compiled by A. A. Graham and published by W. H. Beers and Company of Chicago.

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