Tag Archives: genealogy

Fish, part 4 (revised)

The fourth decade of my life could easily summarize in one word, successIMG_0361 My career at the plastics factory sprouted wings soared.  From my humble beginnings as a plastic materials handler, I graduated to operating injection-molding machines, and  changing the heavy steel molds that shaped melted plastic pellets into parts.  This was just the beginning. Within a few years I found myself supervising workers on a packaging line.

Within a couple of years, our company was awarded a contract to assemble disposable, one-time use cameras.  When the economics of reusing these cameras became favorable, our company was asked to start recycling them also.  Our involvement in this business grew to tens of millions of cameras each year. Our company’s success meant more supervisors were needed and managers to oversee the supervisors. Up the corporate ladder I rose.

Too busy to have anything to do with fish now, all my energy was being poured into my career, and finding ways to take it to new heights. Success fueled my competitive fire and I found new avenues of my life to express it.  Competitive sports such as softball, golf, volleyball, and bowling offered just that.  Academics also proved to fuel the fire. I pursued of a Master of Science in Leadership from my alma mater RWC.  The resulting crowning achievement was an appearance in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.  God was with me then but His voice was becoming increasingly harder to hear.  Success trumpeted loudly in my ears, blasting a beautiful melody.  I began to believe that what I had accomplished had less to do with God’s blessings on my life and more to do with my own abilities.

What free time I did have I spent trying to stay abreast of our sons’ ever-changing interests. As teenagers, they were more interested in how fast a boat could travel than experiencing the patience of fishing. Their interests included manning a space shuttle and traveling to other worlds on the starship, Enterprise.  So when we went for a cottage retreat on a lake, fishing was the lowest priority.  Instead, they experienced the thrill of being pulled in a tube behind a speeding boat and chasing after the model rockets launched into the sky’s great expanse. Computers and video gaming were becoming the rage and they fell in love with this sort of technology hook, line and sinker. 

My father never gave up on fishing, however, he continued to fish. His patience and steadfastness were richly rewarded whenever he reeled in a trophy-sized fish.

“Perhaps the most unusual object added to the room was a 40-pound stuffed and mounted Salmon caught by Dad while fishing on Lake Ontario years earlier. It was hung on the wall…and was the first thing he saw when he woke up every morning. It was a trophy that represented the patience, persistence and faithfulness that epitomized my father.” Bill Roushey from the book Junior’s Hope


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I distinctly remember two things of spiritual significance happening during this decade of my life. First, a sick feeling that rose up within me when I realized that unbridled success apart from a close relationship with God rang hollow. In the midst of all my success I can remember at one point wondering, “Is this all life has to offer?” (Ecclesiastes 3:9-14).  As a result, I began a period of connecting deeper with God, exploring a call to ministry and listening quietly for periods of time while I prayed. These periods of listening to hear from God led to the second event.

Abraham Lincoln

The sick feeling that I carried around in my being was replaced by an unexplained hunger, a.k.a. the second event.  For some reason I felt I needed to reconnect with my father and deepen my relationship with him.  The feeling grew in intensity and became so strong it compelled me to act on it.  Weeks went by and the feeling never left me.

Dad’s upbringing was grounded in genuine faith in God but due to the rules placed on its members by his (our) denomination of faith it was expressed outwardly as a list of do’s and dont’s, or legalism.  In grade school I was looked at like a child from another planet when I handed my physical education teacher a note from my parents explaining that dancing was against our religious convictions.  I , too, loved God but I rejected that religious legalism as a college student, punctuating my rejection with a fun rebellion.  Somehow rejecting legalism had led to rejecting my father.   I never felt close to him after that.  When the hunger inside me didn’t subside, I prayed for God to show me some vehicle I could use to reconnect with my father.  That vehicle turned out to be researching our family genealogy (see my post Beginning’s).

I rarely fished with my father or father-in-law during this time.  I was too busy wandering in the wasteland of my presumption.  The great fish caught in this decade of my life were not mine. These fish belonged to the faithful who fished with patience and steadfastness, and they were richly rewarded.  In my mind these fish stood as a reminder of how God honored the faithfulness of those who drew near to Him and did not take their faith for granted. (Proverbs 3:1-7)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6

Dad’s 40-pound trophy salmon stands as a tribute to his efforts.  For the rest of my days, whenever I gaze upon at that fish I will associate it with my father, a faithful man of God. The end of this decade brought me closer to my father than I ever had  been.

But a huge dark cloud appeared on the tranquil horizon.  One that struck fear in my heart…

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Do you have a skeleton in your closet?

This is the second genealogy article I wrote.  Written one year after the first one,  I submitted it to the same writing contest and received my second award in as many years.  It is funny how God works sometimes.  Had I not received recognition for writing the articles, Junior’s Hope would probably never have been written.  The God I serve knows how to inspire and motivate me.  Reading this story again makes me want to write a couple more articles on Peter’s family.  Could another book could be in my future?  I have stripped the footnotes and references from the article to make it a easier read.  Enjoy.

Heinrich’s Skeleton in the Rauschenberger Closet

IMG_0387My grandfather, Reverend Harry E. Roushey, died a number of years ago. When I think of him, I remember a wise and elderly man with a balding head, a wreath of white hair, and a weathered appearance. Grandpa’s ever-present smile, unwavering devotion to his heavenly Savior, and prayerful decision-making defined his life. What my reflections don’t take into account is that Grandpa was once a boy who passed into manhood only after years of missteps and trials. Yes, even Grandpa made mistakes!

The mistakes we make range from petty, to serious. The more serious ones are often hidden in ancestral closets to hopefully be forgotten. As genealogists, we may stumble on a “skeleton in the closet” during the course of our research. While the skeleton may be a source of embarrassment to some family members, it can be an opportunity to gain an understanding of a dramatic event or fill a void in our ancestry. I found one such skeleton in my Rauschenberger lineage. The grievous mistake committed by my ancestor, Heinrich Rauschenberger, would not be considered criminal by today’s standards but the event carried disastrous consequences for him. I would even go so far as to say that the course of our family history, including our surname, which seemed to have been altered by the incident and the events that followed.

I stumbled onto the trail of Heinrich while searching for convincing proof that the Roushey surname was once Rauschenberger. I had found a vital piece of information that linked my 4th great-grandfather, Peter B. Roushey, to the Rauschenberger surname in an article on Moravian Cemetery records of Hope, New Jersey. Peter Benignus Rauschenberger and Peter B. Roushey shared identical birth dates and were both born in the same area of Sussex County, New Jersey. Since I didn’t have a document stating that Peter Roushey was born Peter Rauschenberger, I sought additional evidence. The same article mentioned that Peter had six brothers, so I set out to find information on any one of them to strengthen my case.

The Internet proved to be a good source of information about the Moravian faith, including where I could find genealogical information such as birth, death, and marriage records. I learned that the Moravian Archives building in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, was the central repository for early Moravian records. My first few trips to the Moravian Archives were frustrating, because the records were written in the old German script. To overcome the language barrier, I began to systematically search for my ancestors in the church record books until I found a name I recognized with a date. I then went to the corresponding church diary and searched a number of pages before and after the date given to see if there was additional information written about the person.

Each trip to Bethlehem resulted in pages of mysterious German text requiring translation. Faced with the financial nightmare of having stacks of pages needing translation, I learned the value of networking with others. I was directed by one of my historical society contacts to a German translation website. Members of the group are able to have one image (one page of old German text) translated at a time via the Internet free of charge.

On one of my trips to Bethlehem, I returned home with a number of church diary pages with Heinrich Rauschenberger’s name on them. As each page was translated, a story began to unfold. Heinrich was the third of seven male children born to Frederick and Anna (Boeckel) Rauschenberger. He was born on December 29, 1776, in the Moravian town of Hope, then Sussex County, New Jersey. His mother no doubt welcomed his birth with joy because his unnamed brother born the previous year was stillborn. Young Heinrich was likely raised in typical Moravian fashion, living with his parents as a small child and attending school and worship services daily in the church-owned town. When he was old enough, he would have been admitted to the Moravian Little Boys Choir.

Moravians organized their parishioners into groups called choirs, by age, sex, and marital status. Each choir lived, ate, worked, and worshiped together apart from the other choirs. As children in Moravian settlements aged, they passed from the Little Boys or Girls Choir to the Older Boys or Girls Choir where they were given the opportunity to learn a trade of the church elders choosing. Unlike his other brothers who were taken by their father to other Moravian settlements to learn an assigned trade, Heinrich remained in Hope and became a blacksmith.

The more I researched my Rauschenberger ancestry, the more I saw how much the Moravian Church influenced my family history. Three generations of Rauschenbergers lived in Moravian

Hope map Church-owned towns, typically closed to non-members back in the 1700s. Heinrich’s grandparents immigrated to the American Colonies; Johann Friedrich emigrated from Germany and Maria Barbara Goetschi from Switzerland. They were founding members of the Emmaus, Pennsylvania settlement where they served from about 1747 until their deaths in the 1780s. Heinrich’s parents, Frederick and Anna, both joined Moravian churches as children and later became founding members of the Hope, New Jersey settlement, serving there until the late 1790’s when Frederick died. Virtually all of Heinrich’s aunts, uncles, cousins, and brothers were involved in one Moravian settlement or another. They chose to live as Moravians, acquiring no land or homes to pass on to future generations. On January 27, 1791, Heinrich was accepted into the Moravian congregation of Hope.

Six years later in November of 1797, Heinrich, now in his 20s was faced with the death of his father. It seems likely that his father would have asked him to look after his mother, Anna, and younger brother, Peter, before he died. Heinrich must have been burdened by the responsibilities he carried during that long winter following his father’s death. Would there be someone in his future to take away his loneliness?

Even though the Moravian Church frowned upon fraternizing between choir groups, somehow Heinrich managed to find a love interest during this time. Catharine Digeon, of the Single Sisters Choir in Hope, captured his heart. There is no mention of when this relationship began or how it was kindled. I wonder if it was the secret or forbidden nature of the romance that fanned its flames. In my mind I envision a relationship between two young people, stealing glances, passing notes and perhaps arranging secret rendezvous, all at the risk of being caught.

Though I have not been able to determine Catharine’s ancestry, she was born November 29, 1775 in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, according to Moravian records. I was able to learn that she lived with the Kampman’s family in Hope, and cared for their children. I later learned were Prior to coming to Hope, Catharine was part of the Moravian congregation in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She was accepted into the Hope congregation as a Single Sister on May 4, 1794.

In a sudden turn of events on January 22, 1798, Catharine and Heinrich’s world was overrun
with trouble and embarrassment, when their romance proved too difficult to remain secret. Catharine revealed to someone in the community that she had secretly promised herself in marriage to Heinrich, and because of their sworn covenant to each other (which presumably they refused to renounce) they were both expelled from the fellowship of the Moravian brethren. Being expelled from the church meant they were also required to leave Hope, because the Moravian Church owned the town and everything in it. Heinrich and Catharine had no home, land, or business to sell to raise money to take with them. They had to leave Hope immediately in the dead of winter.

Banishment seemed like an awfully harsh punishment for two young people whose crime was to secretly express their love for each other. Today, we might jump to the conclusion that they were caught in some compromising situation, but there appears to be no indication of this in the church records. I turned to books on Moravian culture of that time period to try to gain a better understanding of why they were expelled.

Each Moravian settlement had a set of rules that were established to help govern its parishioners. Members of the church settlement were asked to sign their names to the document stating that they had read the rules and agreed to live by them. One of the rules addressed the matter of marriage and required that members first seek permission from the church elders before any ideas or plans were made known to the general congregation. I am of the impression that from the Moravian point of view, any marriage should be in the best interests of the church, the community, and all the people involved. Often young widows or widowers were paired with emerging men and women who had demonstrated the ability to sustain themselves and were interested in starting a family. If there were any uncertainties about a potential marriage from the elders or other parties involved, the matter would be subjected to a Moravian decision-making tool referred to as “the lot.”

“The lot” followed the Biblical practice used by the Apostles in the Bible in which a matter was presented in prayer, followed by drawing a response from a hat. “Yes” or “No” responses were written on small slips of paper and placed in the hat. There were also blank slips of paper added. A “blank” response meant a delay and the matter required more time and prayer before a decision could be Bank_Of_Hope_in_Hope,_NJmade. A “no” response was final, meaning the couple couldn’t seek permission again, even at a later date. We will likely never know why Heinrich and Catharine chose to keep their relationship a secret, but perhaps it had something to do with “the lot.”

The humiliation and embarrassment of the young couple’s expulsion was met with immediate support from Heinrich’s mother, the Anna. The Hope Moravian Church Diary records that four people were lost to the fellowship, including the widow Anna Rauschenberger and her ten-year-old son, Peter. It appears that Anna chose to stand by her son in his hour of need rather than continuing on in the Moravian settlement. Six days after they were expelled from Hope, Heinrich (Henry Roushebre) and Catharine (Katy Disyoung) were married in a neighboring town by the Justice of the Peace. Immediately obvious to me was how Heinrich’s surname was recorded in the Sussex

County, New Jersey records now that he was outside the German Moravian influence of Hope.

I was surprised to learn that the Hope Moravian Church Diary continued to comment on the Rauschenbergers even after they were cut off from the church. I was able to learn that in the first year after his expulsion, Heinrich was renting a blacksmith shop about 12 miles from Hope in the town of Knowlton, New Jersey. By the end of 1798, Catharine was pregnant with the couple’s child. Anna found companionship with a former Moravian and family friend, widower Richard Whitesell, marrying him on April 3, 1799. Young Peter, my 4th great-grandfather, at age eleven, no doubt had found a new hero in his big brother Heinrich.

On June 8, 1799, about a year and a half after the Moravians expelled Heinrich and Catharine, Pastor Reincke of the Hope Moravian Church rode out to see the Rauschenberger family when he discovered that Heinrich would appreciate a visit. “Heinrich was especially pleased by the Biblical passage that was read to him, which concerned the joy of the Savior who had found a lost sheep. He declared that he was resigned to the will of the Savior, and that as an unworthy sinner, he hoped Christ would not despise him” (translated from the old German script). The pastor also noted that Heinrich had, for a considerable period of time, labored hard to the point of exhaustion at his blacksmith enterprise.

Just when it seemed that this embarrassing incident would finally have a happy ending, tragedy struck the Rauschenberger family. A translated passage taken from the Hope Moravian Church Diary reads, “In the morning (June 29, 1799) was the burial of the remains of Heinrich Rauschenberger, who was brought down on the 8th to his mother and the following day passed away unexpectedly after he had shortly before asked those surrounding him to pray for him.” His death occurred a month before his child was born. Heinrich Rauschenberger (II), son of Heinrich and Catharine, was baptized shortly thereafter by Pastor Reincke, though Catharine and baby Heinrich were not members of the church.

Heinrich’s expulsion from the Moravian Church grew to a pinnacle of importance because of the dramatic events that followed it. I wonder if Heinrich’s mother or his wife harbored bitterness towards the Moravians, which they once served and loved so dearly. Many years after Heinrich’s death, Anna briefly rejoined the Moravian Church in Schoeneck, Pennsylvania, prior to her second husband’s death in 1819. I suspect that she did this to honor her husband’s wish to die a member of the Moravian faith. There is no mention of Anna in the Moravian Church records following the death of her second husband, Richard Whitesell. In addition, I have yet to find any more information on Catharine Digeon Rauschenberger (a.k.a. Katy Roushebre) or her son Heinrich (II).

The once dominant presence of the Rauschenberger family in Moravian churches throughout the northeast evaporated quickly during the early 1800s. I do not know how big a role Heinrich’s expulsion and subsequent death played in the exodus of Rauschenbergers from the Moravian Church. Of six Rauschenberger brothers, which included Peter and Henry, only Jacob Rauschenberger remained in the Moravian Church his entire life.

My personal interest in these events is tied to how they affected my 4th great-grandfather, Peter Benignus Rauschenberger (a.k.a. Peter B. Roushey). Just two days after Heinrich’s burial, eleven-year-old Peter was taken to the Moravian town of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where the Moravians admitted him on probation for six months. His mother thought perhaps this was the best place for Peter, having witnessed the death of his father and his brother in a span of less than two years. Peter remained in Nazareth for about three years, just long enough to learn the tailoring trade from the Moravians before leaving on his own accord without an explanation. He returned to the Knowlton, New Jersey, area where his mother and stepfather were living, as evidenced by his marriage to Rebecka Wolfe in 1809. Peter’s marriage record bears the surname Roushberry, which in later documents would become simply Roushey. I can’t help but wonder if Peter chose the surname Roushberry as a tribute to his brother Heinrich.

After spending a couple of years researching my Roushey heritage, the question that gnawed at me the most was why my ancestors permitted our Rauschenberger ancestry to be forgotten. Peter B. Roushey, our patriarch, was born a Rauschenberger, yet the information about his lineage was not passed down through the generations.

Additionally, in a biography written about his son, William Carr Roushey, which speaks of his father’s birthplace yet never mentions his Rauschenberger ancestry. Having uncovered Heinrich’s skeleton in the closet, I now wonder if Peter was determined to wash away the events of his childhood by changing his name.

My grandfather, Reverend Harry Roushey, never knew of our Rauschenberger connection because it wasn’t discovered until after his death. Being a man of deep religious faith, I am certain that Grandpa would not have been embarrassed by Heinrich’s expulsion from the Moravian Church. He would have been overjoyed to learn that our family’s rich Christian heritage extended back many generations. After all, who doesn’t make mistakes? I would not have the definitive proof I sought of my Rauschenberger heritage without discovering Heinrich’s skeleton in the Rauschenberger closet, and for that I am grateful.

Fish, part 4

It was the fourth decade of my life and I could easily summarize it with one word – success. IMG_0361 My career at the plastics factory grew wings and began to soar.  From my humble beginnings as a plastic materials handler, I graduated to operating injection-molding machines, and later to changing the heavy steel molds that shaped liquid plastic into objects.  This was just the beginning. Within a few years I was supervising a dozen workers on a packaging line.

A couple of years later our company was awarded a contract to assemble the internal components of disposable cameras, also called throw aways.  When the economics of recycling these cameras became favorable we were asked to start recycling them.  Our involvement in this business grew into tens of millions of  product each year. Our company’s success meant more supervisors were needed and managers to oversee the supervisors. Up the corporate ladder I rose.

I was too busy to have much to do with fish now. All my energy was being poured into my career and taking it to new heights. Success fueled my competitive fire and I found new avenues of my life in which to express it.  I challenged myself in sports such as softball, golf, volleyball, and yes even bowling.  In academics I pursued of a Master of Science in Leadership from my alma mater RWC, which included an appearance in Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities and for all practical purposes was my crowning achievement.  God was with me then but His voice was becoming increasingly harder to hear.  Success was as noisy as a loud trumpet playing a beautiful melody.  I began to believe that what I had accomplished had less to do with God’s blessings on my life and more to do with my own abilities.

What free time I did have I spent trying to stay abreast of our sons’ ever-changing interests. When they became teenagers they were more interested in the speed of a boat than the patience of fishing. Their dreams included manning a space shuttle and traveling to other worlds on a starship named Enterprise.  Our vacations were spent visiting the thrill rides at amusement parks and taking them to places we thought would expose their minds to the many possibilities life offered.  When we did visit one of Patty or my parents’ cottages, fishing was the lowest priority.  Instead, we encouraged them to experience the thrill of being pulled in a tube behind a speeding boat and chase after the model rockets they launched into the great expanse of the sky. Computers and video gaming were becoming the rage then and they fell in love with technology hook, line and sinker. 

My father never gave up on fishing, he continued to fish with my youngest brother and many other fishing buddies. His patience and steadfastness were richly rewarded each time he reeled in a trophy-sized fish.

“Perhaps the most unusual object added to the room was a 40-pound stuffed and mounted Salmon caught by Dad while fishing on Lake Ontario years earlier. It was hung on the wall…and was the first thing he saw when he woke up every morning. It was a trophy that represented the patience, persistence and faithfulness that epitomized my father.” Bill Roushey from the book Junior’s Hope
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I distinctly remember two things of a spiritual nature happening during this decade of my life. First, a sick feeling that rose up within me when I realized that unbridled success apart from a close relationship with God rang hollow. In the midst of all my success I can remember at one point wondering, “Is this all life has to offer?” (Ecclesiastes 3:9-14).  As a result, I began a period of connecting deeper with God, exploring a call to ministry and listening quietly for periods of time while I prayed. These periods of listening to hear from God led to the second event.

Abraham Lincoln

The sick feeling that I carried around in my being was replaced by an unexplained hunger, a.k.a. the second event.  For some reason I felt I needed to reconnect with my father and deepen my relationship with him.  The feeling grew in intensity and became so strong it compelled me to act on it.  Weeks went by and the feeling never left me.

Dad’s upbringing was grounded in genuine faith in God but due to the rules placed on its members by his (our) denomination of faith it was expressed outwardly as a list of do’s and dont’s.  In grade school I was looked at like a child from another planet when I handed my physical eduction teacher a note from my parents explaining that dancing was against our religious convictions.  I , too, loved God but I rejected that religious legalism as a college student, punctuating my rejection with a fun rebellion.  Somehow in my mind when I rejected legalism I rejected my father.   I never felt close to him after that.  When the hunger that continued to grow inside me didn’t subside, I prayed for God to show me some vehicle I could use to reconnect with my father.  That vehicle turned out to be researching our family genealogy (see my post Beginning’s).

I rarely fished with my father or father-in-law during this time.  I was too busy wandering in the wasteland of my presumption.  The great fish caught in this decade of my life were not my own. These fish belonged to the faithful who fished with patience and steadfastness and they were richly rewarded.  In my mind these fish stood as a reminder of how God honored the faithfulness of those who drew near to Him and did not take their faith for granted. (Proverbs 3:1-7)

Dad’s 40-pound trophy salmon stands as a tribute to his efforts.  For the rest of my days, whenever I gaze upon at that fish I will associate it with my father being a faithful man of God. The end of this decade brought me closer to my father than I ever had  been.

But a huge dark cloud appeared on the tranquil horizon.  One that struck fear in my heart…

Beginnings…of my writing (and my family tree)

IMG_0423I have been on vacation this week so I was unable to put together a new piece.  Instead of offering you more “fish,” I thought I share with you the first piece I ever wrote (outside of required school assignments).  I entered this story in an international genealogy writing competition and came away with 2nd place, which included a small a cash prize.  I tested my “luck” again the following year with another genealogy piece and was awarded 3rd place.  After two awards in two attempts I had to consider the possibility that I had some writing talent.  My article included many citations, which I removed to make it easier to read.

“The Search for Grandpa Peter”

My adventure began almost two years ago at a summer family gathering. After everyone had eaten, a handful of us settled into lawn chairs for a chat. At some point during the conversation the subject of genealogy came up. For years I had avoided becoming involved with genealogy, mainly because I already had enough hobbies. I listened, however,  as my father and my brother-in-law, Paul, discussed the “brick wall” that stymied everyone researching our family history for decades. The unanswerable question was, “where did our ancestor Peter B. Roushey come from?”

As I listened to the conversation, something stirred inside me and I found myself wanting to get involved. I had just finished graduate school and there was a part of me that was looking for another challenge. This could be it I thought. What could be more challenging than to discover something that was believed to be unknowable?  Just like that I was hooked.

The next day I jumped in with both feet. I had no experience as a genealogist so I decided that I would use my grad school research training. One of my courses in college was called The Integrative Project, and in it we learned a multiple step approach to solving significant problems.  I shortened the process to four steps and adapted it to work for my needs. My first step was to create a research statement using the information that was already known about Peter. I was taught that the reason for doing this was to keep the research scope narrow and maintain focus on the objective. The second step was conducting the actual research.   My research would include researching Peter and his environment (the people around him, period history, culture, geography, etc.). The third step involved producing a theory based on the results of my research. The final step was proving my theory. If proof were not available, then at least I would have a strong theory. Likewise, if the proof I sought refuted with my theory, I would return to step two (research) and continue from there.

I photocopied the information my father had acquired on Peter B. It didn’t seem like much, but it would prove to be valuable data in the months to come when I attempted to prove my theory. The information included a biography written about William Carr Roushey, the son of Peter B., copied from the book, The History of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.  The other resource my father had was the unpublished genealogy notes compiled by his uncle, the late Reverend Herbert Roushey.  Uncle Herbert had spent his retirement years collecting information from cemetery caretakers, government agencies, and family members. He had documented our family tree back to Peter B. Roushey, but due to our brick wall he could get no further.

The William Carr Roushey biography yielded several important pieces of information. William C. was born in Hope, Warren County, NJ.  His parents, Peter B. and Rebecca Wolfe, were born in Warren County, NJ.  Additionally, Peter was a tailor by trade who removed to Luzerne County, PA in approximately 1816.

Uncle Herbert’s notes mentioned a family story about Peter that was handed down over the years. Tradition told of two brothers who came from Germany and settled in New Jersey. One of the brothers was said to be Peter B. Roushey and the other unnamed brother migrated west and was never heard from again.  As I worked through the exercise of reviewing the known information on Peter, it was obvious to me what my problem statement was. Who were the parents of Peter B. Roushey, tailor, born in Warren County, New Jersey?

I was convinced that my success or failure would depend on how much information I could gather on Peter and his surrounding environment. By trial and error I developed a systematic approach to gathering information. I used the Internet to locate people, places or groups that I could network with or visit. I also used keyword Internet searches to look for anything I could find on Peter B. As a practice I tried to validate any information I took directly off the Internet. This approach enabled me to join genealogy groups, find historical societies and libraries, correspond with newly discovered cousins, and locate other unique resources.

One of my greatest finds was locating the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, genealogy group referred to as The Courthouse Gang.  I credit this friendly, tireless group of volunteers with helping me locate Peter’s tombstone. They were also able to help me locate resources in Warren County, New Jersey.  The “gang” represented a wide cross section of experience in the field of genealogy and I have learned a lot from them. One of the joys of being a part of this group is being able to assist someone else looking for their ancestors.

Peter B. Roushey’s tombstone established a birth date of September 1, 1787, placing his parents in the Revolutionary War period. This discovery, coupled with the family story suggesting our German origin, seemed to be pointing to the possibility that Peter’s father was a Hessian soldier. This conclusion placed me on the same path taken by the other Roushey researchers, and led directly to our family’s brick wall. Maybe they had missed something. Could my use of the Internet permit me to succeed where the others before me had failed?

I returned to the Internet to search for resources or authorities on Hessian soldiers. I knew that there were thousands of Hessian soldiers who remained in America after the Revolutionary War. I had to narrow the list of possibilities if I was going to be successful. Family tradition held that Peter’s father was also named Peter, however I was not able to determine where the story originated. My research led me to a book written by John H. Merz, which I purchased. The book, along with the author’s assistance, helped me narrow my research to Peter Ruechert and Johann Peter Rosenberg.  However, neither of the two soldiers appeared to have set foot in New Jersey after the Revolutionary War, and neither of them had a son named Peter.

It looked unlikely at this point that our family originated from a Hessian soldier. Somewhat discouraged, I set my Hessian soldier information aside. There was still quite a bit of certainty about our German heritage so I turned back to The Courthouse Gang for more ideas. Someone in the group recommended the Wyoming County Historical Society in Tunkhannock, PA as a great place to conduct research with very helpful staffers. I still felt like a novice around other researchers and the causal atmosphere I was likely to encounter in Tunkhannock appealed to me.

By this time my wife and I were enjoying my new hobby together, and our road trips down the turnpike to Pennsylvania were becoming more commonplace. On our second trip to the Wyoming County Historical Society I made a discovery that I will remember for the rest of my life. The discovery was even more special because on this particular trip my Mom and Dad were with us.

That day, with four of us researching, we were able to consume the historical society’s resources at a healthy clip. The plan was to photocopy anything that looked like it might be useful with the intention of studying the materials sometime later. I had located the section of materials on New Jersey and was leafing though a binder of genealogy articles. One of them was an article on the Hope, New Jersey, Moravian Cemetery records.  I was on my way to the copy machine, scanning through the cemetery records, when I stopped dead in my tracks. This was no simple listing of tombstones. There was information given about the family of the each person who died. To my astonishment, while gazing at the R’s, I noticed there was a Peter born September 1, 1787, listed as one of the sons of the deceased Frederick Rauschenberger.

Rauschenberger???   I was not sure of what I had found. Euphoria and skepticism immediately IMG_0425began to battle in my mind. Had I made the amazing discovery I had set out to find?

After telling practically everyone I knew about our adventure in Tunkhannock, I realized I had better get to work and find the proof to back up my claims. My official theory was that Peter B. Roushey was born Peter Rauschenberger, son of Fredrick and Anna, and that at some point he elected to change his name. The facts already known about Peter B. Roushey would need to agree or compliment those I hoped to find on Peter Rauschenberger. I had now begun the last step in my research process, proving my theory that the two Peters were the same person.

The second most important word in the article I had found on the Hope, cemetery records turned out to be the word “Moravian”.  Over the next several months I learned all I could about the Moravians. They were Protestants who came from Germany as missionaries to minister to the Native Americans.  The Moravians lived in closed settlements (congregations) here in America, speaking and writing in German.

Once I knew that I was looking for the Rauschenberger surname in a Moravian setting, I was able to uncover a wealth of information. I learned that Peter Rauschenberger was born in Hope, New Jersey, and that his middle name at birth was Benignus, a German word meaning blessed.16 Peter learned the tailor’s trade between the ages of 13 and 15, while he was a member of the Moravian congregation in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.  I was a little concerned that Peter’s father was named Frederick, and not Peter as our family had originally thought. However, I was able to find a reference listing him as Peter Frederick Rauschenberger in his father-in-law’s will abstract.

I discovered that Peter had a rough childhood. At age ten his father died, and at age eleven his older brother Heinrich suddenly became ill and died.  Two days after his brother’s funeral Peter showed up in Nazareth, PA and asked the Moravian elders if he could live there, which they permitted.   That same year Peter’s brother Jacob petitioned the Northampton County Orphan’s Court to have a guardian appointed for Peter, as he was without a father, and the court appointed Joseph Schweisshaupt.  At age 15 Peter’s involvement with the Moravians came to an abrupt end. He left without giving a reason, setting off into the night on his own.  Due to the above mentioned childhood events, I now had reason to speculate why our surname was changed from Rauschenberger to Roushey.

I was told that the only way to prove with almost certainty that the two Peters were the same person was to find a will record, death certificate, obituary, or cemetery record that mentioned both names in the same document. Since I wasn’t able to find any of those records in my research, I decided to keep adding to the circumstantial evidence I already had. If I could link one or two of Peter Rauschenberger’s brothers to the Roushey surname, then that would make the evidence overwhelming. I found references to a Henry Roushebre and Michael Roushy while searching for information on Peter. Was it possible that Henry and Michael were also Rauschenbergers?

I had previously located Michael Roushy of Southport, New York, on Joyce M. Tice’s website.  Returning to the Internet I searched for a place near Southport where I could find more information on Michael. The Steele Library in Elmira, New York, turned up in one of my searches. While at that library, I learned the name of the town historian, Sylvia Smith.  I contacted her by email, and she was able to give me vital information on Michael Roushy. From her notes on the Roushy family she stated that Michael was thought to have come from Germany.  Sylvia reported that Michael’s date of birth was August 7, 1781,  which matched the exact birth date I had for Michael Rauschenberger.28 Her last comment gave me chills when I read it. A great granddaughter of Michael stated that the Roushey name was originally Roushenberger, or something similar, but it was changed because it was too German.

I believed at this point that I had all the proof I needed to claim my Rauschenberger heritage, but I felt compelled to try to bring Henry Roushebre into my newfound family. I visited the Moravian Archives building in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to gather information on Heinrich Rauschenberger, hoping it would lead me to Henry Roushebre. At the Archives building, I encountered a problem – all of the Moravian records there were written in the old German script. Through the network of contacts I had established, I was directed to the “Transcribe” users group website that offered old German translation.

The Hope, New Jersey, Moravian Church diary stated that Heinrich Rauschenberger and Catharine Digeon were expelled on 22 January 1798, for secretly pledging themselves to each other in marriage without first bringing the matter to the church elders (a Moravian requirement).  According to the book, Sussex County, New Jersey, Marriages, by Howard E. Case, the two married 6 days later.  The marriage record indicated that Henry Roushebre (of Oxford) and Caty Disyoung were married on 28 January 1798.  This was a significant find for me because it dated an alteration of the Rauschenberger surname and linked it to a variation of the Roushey surname. In fact, Peter B. Roushey’s marriage to Rebecca Wolfe (26 April 1809) was captured in the same book three entries later spelled Roushberry.

The Heinrich Rauschenberger (Roushebre) story did not end there, however. Even though the Roushebre family was expelled from the Moravian town of Hope, they were still able to have their son baptized by the Moravian Church. Tragically Henry (Heinrich) never saw the birth of his son, because he died suddenly one month before his child was born. The baptism entry on 11 August 1799 identifies their son in the following statement, “Heinrich, (the) little son of the deceased Heinrich Rauschenberger, (black)smith, and his left behind widow Catharina, nee Digeon, residing not far from here in Knowlton Township”.   At this point I considered the evidence overwhelming, and knew that our brick wall had fallen.   The collapsing brick wall revealed three new generations of Rauschenbergers that I added to our family tree.

My plunge into genealogy began with a promise to my father to find the parents of Peter B. Roushey, and turned out to be an intensely gratifying experience. My research strategy proved to be a good road map, however it was my use of the Internet and the ability to network with other resources that made the difference. I owe a debt of gratitude to my network of friends, cousins, and some people I have never met, for without their help I would still be searching. It should be noted that I experienced numerous disappointments and dead ends along the way, all of which seem trivial now that I have removed the brick wall.

It seems, however, that I have encountered another brick wall in my search for “grandpa” Peter’s ancestors. I cannot locate the great grandparents of Peter B. Rauschenberger in Germany. Maybe I need to get rid of some of my other hobbies, so that I can devote more time to genealogy research!