Monday, February 17, 2020

There's Always Another Puzzle

It is indeed a joyful moment when a family history researcher can break through a brick wall to discover the preceding generation in a direct line. As you can image, I held a private celebration (translation: happy dance time) when I discovered the proof argument concerning that brick wall on my mother-in-law's Gordon line last week.

All is not smooth sailing for the Gordon genealogy, however. There are some sticking points in that extended family tree which keep bumping into another family named Rinehart. The Rineharts, like many others in that pioneer bunch of settlers who moved from Maryland to the western end of Pennsylvania and, finally, on to the state of Ohio, spent a good deal of time together in what was once the wild environment of the frontier of southwest Pennsylvania.

Those Rineharts, incidentally, found themselves at the center of a tragic episode in what was to become Greene County, Pennsylvania—but that is a story I'll save for a later day. Suffice it to say, for today, that I'm still puzzled about just how all these Rineharts were connected, if they were related to each other at all.

This week, let's take a look at one of the Rineharts who directly connected to my mother-in-law's Gordon line. That's the easy part to explain. After we settle those formalities, we can jump off to the wilds of the unknown part of this genealogy.

Last week, I talked about my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather, John Gordon. He, it turns out, was the son of the George Gordon who once owned the land that became half of Georgetown in what is now Washington, D.C. From John's first marriage came at least nine children, not the least of whom was my mother-in-law's third great-grandfather, William B. Gordon.

This William B. Gordon, like his father, was married more than once. But unlike his father, he left enough of a legacy for his many researching descendants to track the lines of both wives. That, as I mentioned earlier this month, was how my husband eventually became his own cousin: a descendant of one Gordon half-sibling married a descendant of another half-sibling.

In the case of today's discussion, our direct line ancestor was William B. Gordon's eldest son by his first wife, Mary Carroll. This son, born in 1794 just after the family had settled in Greene County, Pennsylvania, the couple named James.

Now, fast forward a respectable twenty-five years, and we find young James marrying a woman in Greene County by the name of Sarah Rinehart. Now, understand there is no problem with a Gordon marrying a Rinehart; in fact, there were others within the extended Gordon family in Greene County marrying members of the Rinehart family. It's just that this particular Rinehart, while born to a father whose name—Simon—might seem familiar to people of the time in Greene County, actually came from a Rinehart line which may not have been related to the rest of the Greene County bunch.

One confusing detail is that this Sarah Rinehart was not born in Pennsylvania like all the other Rineharts, but came from somewhere in Kentucky. When you realize that her birth was in 1795, you realize this must have been a very unsettled part of the continent at that point.

Another confusing detail involves the maiden name of her mother—was it Wise? Or Wiley? If you follow the paper trail for the children born to Sarah's parents, records can be found for each of those possibilities.

Blending that all together leaves us with a very tentative collection of clues. We'll see tomorrow, for instance, why Sarah Rinehart's father, Simon, is not likely to be the Simon Rinehart known by the folks in Greene County, Pennsylvania.

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