Friday, November 10, 2017

There Were Three Brothers . . .

You may have thought I was kidding when I mentioned the reason why I'm struggling to specifically identify this Simon Rinehart of Perry County, Ohio, as father of Sarah Rinehart Gordon, my mother-in-law's second great grandmother. As you will see, I'm not.

It is only conjecture at this point, of course, that the Simon Rinehart who died in Perry County was one and the same as the Simon Rinehart who paid taxes in Bracken County, Kentucky, and who might have hailed from Greene County, Pennsylvania. At least, the part about his origin in Greene County may have some validity, if only because Simon's daughter had to meet up with her future husband at some point. Sarah's beau, as it turns out, was part of the extensive Gordon family from Greene County.

Along with the Gordons, the Rineharts also maintained a presence in that same county, thus adding yet another reason for why I need to get my Simons right. There were, over time, several Simon Rineharts in the vicinity—along with several Rineharts named Thomas and John. There may have been good reason for this duplication of names: with three supposed progenitors bearing those same given names, not to mention the propensity to name children of the next generation after their revered ancestors, there were eventually a lot of Simon, Thomas and John Rineharts living in Greene County, Pennsylvania.

The explanation may have been captured in Samuel P. Bates' 1888 History of Greene County, Pennsylvania. In a chapter on the history of that county's Franklin Township, stuck right in the midst of the narrative, the author inserts a quote of four paragraph's length. There was no explanation for the source of the quote, though it was clearly set apart from the rest of the chapter by the encapsulating quote marks.

Still, the proverbial phrasing at the start of the entry makes me wonder not only about its source, but its veracity. There is something about those "three brothers" legends that prompts me to hold them suspect.

At any rate, the tale provides an explanation for the ensuing multitudes of Simons, Thomases and Johns in the Rinehart pedigree. See for yourself whether this entry is once-upon-a-time worthy:
Three brothers, Simon, Thomas and John Rinehart, Germans, fresh from the Rhine Valley of Faderland, occupied the Coal Lick Run region, and held it by priority of right.
As it turned out, both John and Simon were subsequently killed in clashes with the native population in the sparsely-populated (and disputed) borderlands of early Pennsylvania. Though the narrative provides no time frame, it does reveal a glimpse of how many subsequent generations bore those names of John and Simon Rinehart in honor of those young parents who had lost their lives.

My task now is to set aside any legend-building and see if I can reconstruct the family line to explain what place, if any, our Simon may have held in the bigger picture.

Above: Excerpt from the 1880 book, History of Greene County, Pennsylvania, providing an account of three Rinehart brothers who may—or may not—have been part of an earlier generation of the Rinehart family which included the Simon Rinehart who died in Perry County, Ohio. Image courtesy Internet Archive.


  1. My Sampsons in Virginia have a 3-brothers legend too.

    1. There are quite a few of those stories out there, as it turns out. That's why I tend to think of them as "once upon a time" stories.

  2. Replies
    1. It was quite the story, wasn't it, Far Side?!

    2. Simon is my 5x great grandfather. I have done quite a bit of research on the family-so hard to keep straight!


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