Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Never Try to Reinvent the Wheel

The beauty of those old online genealogical forums was that they became a gathering place for like minded researchers to puzzle over the same challenges. There, we could hash things out together and find out who had already tried an approach without gaining any answers. Eliminating those failed attempts before repeating them, we could collectively spend our time focusing on solving the problem through newer—or at least untried—approaches.

The best of those ideas lay, harvested, in my old file folder for Rinehart. After having that resource tucked away for nearly twenty years, it was time to stop spinning my wheels and review how others had already attempted to solve the problem—and failed—and avoid those paths, while checking out the ideas rendered on possible better approaches.

Although the collection of ideas I had stashed in that folder presented a mishmash of several researchers' notes, the review was worth it. Among other things, one man pointed out what he felt were some glaring errors about our Rineharts in those published histories of the late 1880s.

In a 1981 paper which the author, an Ohio man named Bruce Anderson, entitled "The Rineharts of Perry County, Ohio," the comparison was made between what was known about those Perry County Rineharts and the Rineharts back in Greene County, Pennsylvania. The author prefaced his observation with this explanation,
I was tracing my family tree and had come to a dead end on Thomas Rinehart. I noticed that there were only four Rineharts in Perry County in 1840 and none in 1830.

The conclusion the author came to was that those hard-to-find Perry County Rineharts were back in Greene County in 1830. Granted, the material Bruce Anderson was able to access at that time probably didn't afford him as many varied resources as the documents we can now find online, so he didn't provide a completely satisfying argument. But he did reintroduce one resource I had forgotten about: Howard L. Leckey's The Tenmile Country and Its Pioneer Families.

While it is true that Anderson compared several details similar in the families of both locations—Ohio and Pennsylvania—he still didn't point out exactly where he would have placed Simon on the Pennsylvania Rinehart pedigree. However, what notes he did provide helped me get inside another researcher's head and explore his insights into our common research problem.

In some ways, I do miss the camaraderie and exchange of ideas between researchers during that earlier phase of online research. Those emails we exchanged allowed us to bounce research ideas off each other. While I may not have any research partners for this current Rinehart quandary, just having that thick file folder in which I saved all those twenty year old comments may help me figure out how to resolve my research question on how my Ohio Rinehart family connected with the ones in Greene County, Pennsylvania. At least it will keep me from being tempted to try reinventing the research wheel on this problem. 


  1. Perhaps this is a reminder to never throw things away! ha

    1. Now, there's a scary thought, Colleen. Makes me stage a civil war right inside my own mind...


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