Saturday, April 16, 2011

Rohrer - Surname Saturday

Anna Rohrer Niehaus in 1899
My Rohrer family comes from Ellwangen, Germany and eventually settled in Mercer County, Ohio. It has been one of the more difficult lines to research due to the many variations on spellings of the names.

In 2004, I ordered the Social Security application for my great-grandmother Anna Niehaus Creeden. Her mother's maiden name was listed as Rohrer which was the first I'd heard of this surname in my family. I attempted to do some online searches, but didn't turn up too much. The picture to the left was in my father's collection and was labeled Grandma Niehaus, 1899. Anna Rohrer married Henry Niehaus on January 25, 1881 and they were married until his death in 1923.

In 2005, a Niehaus cousin Marj B. found a funeral card for Anna Rohrer. The card states that she was born in Philadelphia, PA on July 13, 1851 and died in Celina, Ohio on Oct. 28, 1938 at the age of 87 years, 3 months and 15 days. I ordered Anna's death certificate which confirmed these dates and added her parents names: Walburger Fisher and John Rohrer, both from Germany. Anna's death certificate had been listed under Anna Niehans, so yet another name variation.

Even using various spelling variations, I wasn't having any luck locating the Rohrers in the census records, so tried searching for Walburger or Wallburger with no last name.  Finally, some success, but again, different names!

1860 census, Saint Marys, Auglaize, Ohio

Name                Age
William Gisler     62
Walburga Gisler  42
Albert Gisler       13
William Gisler       9
Anna Gisler        10
Henry Gisler        8
John Gisler          4

Walburga's birthplace is shown as Wuerttemberg, Germany. All of the children have that with dittos, except for the youngest (John) which says Ohio. The last names were all just written as dittos too. Walburga had remarried to William Gisler and possibly had more children.

1870 census, Saint Marys, Auglaize, Ohio
Name                 Age
Wallburger Rees 53
Albert Rees        22
Anna Rees         19
William Rees      18
Henry Rees        17
John Gisler         14

This time, it shows Wallburger and Albert's birthplace as Prussia, Anna's as Pennsylvania and the others as Ohio. The last names are just dittos again except for John Gisler. William Gisler died in the 1860's, so it looks like Walburga is using the Rohrer name again.

Marj located birth records for the children of Anna and Henry Niehaus that spelled Anna's maiden name as Rear. With that clue, I was able to find Anna and Albert in the 1880 census, but the name was listed in the index as Bear! The 1880 census for Jefferson Township of Mercer County, Ohio lists Anna Rear, age 24 living with her brother Albert. Anna is listed as being born in PA and her parents were born in Baden, Germany. By now, we were pretty sure that we had the correct Anna and that she had a brother Albert. We wanted to know more about Albert's origins in Germany.

Family Search's IGI records has this listing for an Albert Roehrer:

Birth: 02 DEC 1847      
Christening: 05 DEC 1847 Sankt Vitus Katholisch, Ellwangen, Jagstkreis, Wuerttemberg

His parents were listed as Albert Roehrer and Waldburg Fischer. The next question was whether or not this Albert Roehrer was the same one we saw in other records as John Rohrer. Everything else here seemed to fit and if it was the right Albert, this gave us a church and birthplace. There is also a marriage record listed for Waldburg Fischer and Albert Roehner on 19 OCT 1846  at Sankt Vitus Katholisch, Ellwangen, Jagstkreis, Wuerttemberg.

Another possible record is from a passenger list:
Ship: "Zurich"
Date: Arrived New York 3 May 1849
On board: Albert Roher aged 39 born about 1810
Wallburga Roher aged 20 born abt 1829
Albert Roher (9 months old) born abt 1848

Marj made a trip to Germany and stopped in Ellwangen to research records at the St. Vitus Church. She was able to confirm that Albert John was the correct Rohrer and the father of Anna's brother Albert. This has really been a joint research effort and required both online and on site resources. Thanks to Marj for all the information she has provided!


  1. I have so much imformation on the family. I am a Rhorer also. Start with Prince Archbishop Otto Von Rohr of Halvesberg. He is the first recorded in history. Happy hunting. Tiffany Rhorer

    1. Thanks Tiffany! I'll take a look at the Von Rohr history.