Below is an updated guide to Rector history connected with the group who grew up around the Hilltop in Columbus, Ohio in the middle of the twentieth century. We will expand this as we learn more.
Tom Rector traveled to Rectortown, VA after a business meeting near DC, and alerted the family to its historic connections. Brian Rector did some early research in the New York Public Library in 1996, then followed up with a visit to Rectortown as well, taking pictures of signs and gravestones. Eric Rector visited Siegen, North Rhine Westphalia, Germany in 2019. He visited Orange, VA in 2021 and 2022, gleaning Rector records about our ancestor’s arrival in the New World in 1714 along the way. He also visited the Fauquier County courthouse to explore public records attached to these early ancestors who share our name, and drove through the village known as Rectortown.
Some of our Rector ancestors in the New World owned slaves in the New World that they passed down from father to son (and wife) before this was outlawed in the US in 1863. You can read more about the research looking into this element of our history here. At the same time, our direct line were early settlers into Ohio shortly after it became a state in 1803 (though possibly before that!), and our ancestor Marcus Clay Rector, Sr. fought in the Civil War for an Ohio regiment on the Union side. (There are also MANY records of Rectors who fought on the Confederate side of that conflict, naturally…truly “brother against brother” in our family’s case.) Our recent ancestor Frank Rector fought in World War II stationed in the Pacific region where he was introduced to another “branch” of our family, something he describes, along with several other family stories, here.
Before the arrival in the New World, Johannes Jacob Richter’s ancestry can be traced back as far as 1550, largely through the city and surrounding towns of Siegen, but the research shown here has our earliest known ancestor coming ‘from the country near Miessen’, from the city of Freiburg, near present day Dresden.
Additional posts concerned with our ancestors can be found in the “History” category group on this blog site.
Tree trunk; This Branch:
Marcus Clay Rector, Jr. (1875 – 1949) – Elizabeth “Libby” Hodgson (1882 – 1972)
- Mildred – Clinton
- – Hollis Shelton
- Margaret [died in accident at age 1 1/2]
- Alva – Iona
- Eva – Robert
- Robert Jr.
- Marjorie – Russell
- Herb – Ruth
- Wendell Forrest – Martha Herron
- John Marcus – Carol Ann Hale
- Eric – Alison
- Brian – Nataliya
- Wendell – Carol Ann Kaczmarczyk
- Thomas – Lynn
- Matthew – Andrea
- Matthew – Andrea
- – Kelly
- Maria Katerina (Masha)
- Amy Hope – Gary
- John Marcus – Carol Ann Hale
- Jane – George
- Frank Hodgson – Wilda
- Terrill – Jeffrey Glasgow
- Cinda Jo – Bill Lilly
- Tom Lilly Gavagan
- – Russ Gavagan
- Ruth – Richard Lamkin
- – David Wright
- Sam Marcus- Elaine Chambers, Brenda Picard
- Marla Beth – Carl Naisant
- Terrill – Jeffrey Glasgow
(provided largely in “Rector Records” by Larry King, published 1986):
MARCUS CLAY, Jr., 1875 – 1949 m Elizabeth (Libby) Hodgson 1882 – 1972 (see above in “This Branch“); both born and raised in Big Plain, (Madison Co.) Ohio. They sang in the Methodist church choir together, moved to Lancaster, then to West Jefferson where their vehicle always had a license plate starting with “Z” after that.
MARCUS CLAY, Sr., born 1837 in Pickaway Co., OH – died 1897; m Frances van Keuren in 1861; children are John W. Rector (b1864), Clara M. Rector Alkire, Alva Colfax Rector (b1869), Myrtle Rector Brobsh, Marcus Clay Rector Jr. (b1875?), Maud Rector Edwards (b1875), Robert Spenser Rector (b1880), Roy Adolph Rector (b1885). In 1863, at the age of 24, married but with no children yet (or one on the way?), he was inducted into the Union Army.
JOHN RETENHOUR, 1813 – 1877; m; Araminta Marinda Wiggins 1833 in Ross Co., OH; children: Emeline Rector Knowles (b1834), Nathan Rector (b1836), Marcus Clay Rector (b1837), Lucy Irene Rector Fleming (b1839), Martha Elizabeth Rector Owens (b1842), Thomas Whiggins Rector (b1847), William Henry Rector (b1849), Lewisa Rector McKennon (b1861).
— m Sue McCoy 1864; children: Mary Catherine Rector Raymer (b1865), John Raymond Rector (b1870)
HENRY CLAY, Sr., born 1788 in Fauquier Co., VA – 1856; m; Elizabeth Siegle Hotsenpiller in 1812 in Pickaway Co., OH; children: John Retenhour Rector (b1813), Spenser Rector, Jr. (b1816), William Seigle Rector (b1818), Amos Davis Rector (b1821), Henry Clay Rector Jr. (b1833)
SPENCER, born in 1765 Fauquier Co., VA – died 1794 in Fauquier Co, VA; m; Mary Tiffin who was born in 1767 in Cumberland Co., England, she died in 1832 in Ross Co., OH after re-marrying; children with Spencer: Edward Terwillager Rector (b1786), Henry Clay Rector, Sr. (b1788), John Rector (b1791).
HENRY, born 1715-20 Germanna, VA – died in 1799; m (thought to be) Anne Spenser (b1729 – d1803) both buried near Rectortown, VA in Fauquier Co., VA; children: John Rector (b1742?), Jacob Rector (b1745?), Agnes Rector Glascock (b1734), Hannah Rector Glascock (b1750), Dianah Rector Faubion (b1745?), Nancy Ann Rector Hitt (b1760?), Moses R. Rector (b1761?), Elijah Rector (b1763) migrated from Fauquier Co., VA to OH sometime between 1806 and 1810; Spenser Rector (b1765), Winifred Rector Buchanan (b?) died 1809 in Belleville, IL.
JOHANNES “HANS” JACOB RICHTER (changed to JOHN JACOB RECTOR in America), 1674 – 1728-29 in Germanna, VA, m Elizabeth Fishbach/Fishback in 1711 in Trupbach (meaning “troop camp”, located across the river from the capital city of Siegen), in the principality of Nassau-Siegen in the Holy Roman Empire confederation; children: John Rector (b 1711 in Trupbach), Henry Rector (b1715-20 in Germanna, VA), Harmon Rector (b1718?), Jacob Rector (b1723?)
Siegen has a rich history in the mountains east of the Rhine river, likely stretching back to La Tène culture of the proto-Celtic Hallstatts in the Iron Age of Europe. It has been a mining and metalworking city from the beginning. The area was on the battle lines of the often violent Catholic/Protestant struggle in the years leading up to 1713 with the “established” religion of the city changing several times in the 16th and 17th centuries.
Iron ore deposits were discovered by the British around 1710 in what is now the northeast area of Orange Co., VA. Prior to this there was no iron ore mining, smelting, or production of iron products in the British Colonies. All iron was imported from Britain at great expense. Colonial lieutenant governor Alexander Spotswood recognized the value iron production would bring to the Colonies, and began soliciting for iron working migrants.
Spotswood engaged Swiss promoter Baron Von Gaffenried to recruit settlers from the principality of Nassau-Siegen area (east of Bonn) where iron products had been mined and processed for more than 2000 years.
Fourteen families left their homes in Europe in 1713, many from Siegen and surrounding towns, and gathered together in Maidstone, England (a manufacturing city just east of London, on the Thames estuary) where they were prepared to travel to the “New World.” Johannes Jacob and his wife Elizabeth were one of three families from Trupbach/Siegen. However, upon arrival in England they discovered that Von Gaffenried didn’t have enough money to fund the voyage and provisions for a settlement, probably due to his recently failed venture in North Carolina. These families then entered the workforce in England to raise the money themselves for the trip. It’s highly likely some of them were employed in papermaking which was a major industry in Maidstone at that time, where metallic wires were beginning to be used in making wove paper.
In April of 1714 they arrived near Williamsburg, VA, then made their way inland up the Rappahannock river to their settlement area near the iron ore finds. The area had been inhabited for thousands of years by various cultures of indigenous peoples. At the time of the settlement the Ontponea, a sub-group of the Siouan-speaking Manahoac tribe, lived in this Piedmont area. The settlers named their colony on the banks of the Rapidian River “Germanna” in honor of Queen Anne of England and the heritage of the colonists. The Virginia government supported this new settlement by building a road to connect them to the rest of settled Virginia, and by building a fort for protection. It’s also interesting to note that these initial settlers were ruled in Europe by various families that made up the House of Orange during the Holy Roman Empire era. The US Virginia county where these folks settled is now named Orange County which cannot be a coincidence, especially with their other noble shout-outs.
Around 1720 many of the original German immigrants moved north about 19 miles to settle on an 1805 acre tract along Licking Run between Warrenton and Midland in what is now Fauquier County. They named the new settlement “Germantown” which included an organized village with a post office and stage coach stop. The village eventually became known as Rectortown, which has since been designated a Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004.
According to Wikipedia: “Spotswood established a colony of German immigrants…partly for frontier defense but mainly to operate his newly developed ironworks. Germanna was the seat of Spotsylvania County from 1720 to 1732. Spotswood erected a palatial home there and, after the Germans moved away to Germantown, continued the ironworks with slave labor. ” And: “Many Germanna families played roles in important events in early American history such as the American Revolution and migration west to Kentucky and beyond.”
Other descendants of JJR built a tavern house in Germantown/Rectortown and named it “Maidstone” which is now a private home.
In 1973 Ruth Y. Rector wrote about a geneology tracing Johannes Jacob’s roots in Europe that’s currently (as of August 2022) posted on Rector.org where she writes:
The following information is furnished by the Memorial Foundation of Germanna Colonies in Virginia, Inc. This foundation was organized by the American descendants, chartered March 14, 1956 for the purpose of purchasing the original site of Germanna in what is now Orange County, Virginia, and to research the history of the families of the Germanna colony both in the U.S. and Germany. This was done before the great memorial celebration which was held in Virginia in 1964 to celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the settlement of the first German colony in Virginia with 42 persons, 13 heads of family, John Jacob Richter being one of the thirteen. The research on the family in Virginia was done, for the most part, by B.C. Holtzclaw, a descendant himself, and a professor at the University of Virginia at Richmond. The search was done in Siegen and nearby towns by Mr. Emil Flender of Unna, Westphalia, Germany. His findings follow:
Johannes “Hans” Jacob Richter, the 1714 immigrant, was christened in German Protestant Church the 19th Sunday after Trinity, 1674 with Hans Jacob Zimmerman acting as godfather. Married at Trupbach Jan 17, 1711 to Elizabeth, daughter of Philipp Fishenbach, had a son Johannes born there Dec. 1, 1711. He was admitted to the Guild of Steelsmiths and Toolmakers of the Freudenberg District as a toolmaker Jan. 7, 1712 and as “Hans Jacob Fishbach” sold his house at Trupbach in 1713 to his brother, Johannes Richter of Weidenau. More information is available on him. The house sale must have been in preparation for his leaving Germany. They first went to Maidstone, England and then in 1714 came to Virginia. They had four sons of record.
Christopher (“Christoffel,” “Stoffel”) Richter of Trupbach, born about 1645 and died at Trupbach sometime after the 1713 death of his wife. He married Anna Catharine, daughter of Herman Becker of Trupbach and his first wife Ottilia, (whom he married in 1637), according to records of a tax on a small wedding feast of two tables of guests.) Christopher Richter was a clockmaker, and is shown as a member of the Guild of Steelsmiths and Toolmakers of the Frudenberg District in 1698-99. After 1699 his name is crossed out, and the roll on Jan 2, 1705 shows in his stead Johannes Richter of Trupbach, admitted as a clockmaker. Christopher had eight children listed, the fifth one being Johannes Jacob Richter, the immigrant.
Johannes Richter of Siegen, born about 1605-1610 in Siegen, Germany. Married Anna – (?) about 1632-3. He lived in Siegen in 1638-9 and was admitted that year to the Guild of Hammersmiths and Smelters as a Reidtmeister (middleman). They had 11 children (all listed), the sixth one being Christophel Richter.
Jacob Richter of Siegen, born about 1575, who is named in 1609 as owner of a house in Doehrstrasse in Siegen. He is married twice, first wife’s name unknown, mother of two sons, one being Johannes Richter, ancestor of the American branch. Other son, Tillman, possibly a third son.
Hans Richter was the earliest ancestor (discovered) of the Virginia Rector family. He was probably born about the year 1550 in Saxony, and the Siegen city records show that he paid the fee for Siegen citizenship in 1585, being ‘from the country near Miessen”, from the city of Freiburg.
4 thoughts on “The Begats”
Never noticed this entry before. One possible error: I think Grandpa and Grandma Rector (Marcus Clay and Libby Hodgson) were from Big PLAIN, not Big Plane (that’s an Airbus).
I believe John Jacob arrived in 1711. Changed his name from Richter to Rector shortly after arriving from Siegen, Germany. Founded Rectortown on land acquired from Thos. Jefferson. Subsequently a dozen or so of his brothers came over and founded Germantown, VA (and likely additional lineages of Rectors — so perhaps all US Rectors are descended from the parents of those founding brothers). If I recall correctly, we are 12 generations down from the first brother (not sure if it’s John Jacob but that sounds close). That’s all from the book in the NYCPL (on microfilm only, 6th floor, if you go). Not sure either town exists anymore. I passed by Rectortown (or at least Rectortown Road) a while back while traveling from Athens to New England but the minute we got there a torrential rainstorm started and we decided to continue on our way.
I was in Rectortown, VA about 8 years ago. Still a post office, but not an incorporated town. Church with a cemetery behind. Met an old geezer who ran a fruit stand across from the cemetery and asked him about the Rector’s. Told me about “…old George. He was always a little bit crazy, and a few years ago just blew his head off with a shotgun outside his house…rat down yonder. What a fuckin’ mess…”
Told me there were still some of his “kin” around but they don’t like strangers. Showed me where the Rector gravestones were… Did some rubbings, but damned if I know where they are now.
There are lots of Freiburgs in Germany but not so many Miessens. Miessen is near Dresden and there is a Freiberg (note different spelling) nearby. That’s also Saxony, which Hamburg/Danish border is decidedly not.