The State of Knowledge for Rudolph Nafzger

The state of knowledge for Rudolph Nafzger is fair. That is to say we have a pretty good sense of who Rudolph was after he came to the new world. Through the work of early family researchers we know that Rudolph arrived in 1749 on the Ship Pheonix in Philadelphia with his presumed brothers Peter and Mattias. This compelling story has ensured that all branches of the family that retained this knowledge or who have come to learn about it since, care about Rudolph. Glea Richer and Clair Nafzger in their publications cite several land records in establishing some of the activities of these early Nafzgers in Pennsylvania. They give us names of the children and often their spouses and descendants. They show Rudolph moving to Washington County, PA and apparently living out his life there. We have, for example, the 1790 and 1800 Census records. Clair calls out a second marriage for the widower Rudolph to the widow Susanna. Glea had read into the 1790 census that Rudolf was apparently deceased — but the 1800 census contradicts that. We have in many online trees parents of Rudolf as Mattias Nafzger and Veronica Rupp — but this information is most often published without sources. Some sources used and cited by Glea and Clair have not been published and many other sources certainly exist to corroborate what we believe. Besides that, there is apparent controversy. Family Search currently shows Susan Kerman is the orignal and only wife of Rudolph and mother of his children without providing any documentation. I’ve also never seen documentary evidence of Rudolf’s parents nor his birth place. This set of posts aims to do a few things: Firstly, I will lay out all the sources I’m aware of and stitch them together. Second, I will call out knowledge we have for which we have no documentation — this will be a general call to help find such documents. Lastly, I’d like to discuss the controversial elements in the light of the documents we have and hope this also serves as a call for help in documenting these facts.

Rather that go in chronological order, I’m going to approach this roughly in order of well known and less controversial to less known and disputed. Please DO comment in the comments when you disagree and/or have more information. Here are my initial topic ideas for follow on posts:

  • Immigration in 1749
  • Late life Residence in Washington County
  • The Children
  • Mother of the Children
  • The Wife Susanna
  • Early Residence in Lancaster County
  • Religion in America
  • The Motherland – Palatinate or Switzerland
  • Religion: Mennonite and/or Church of the Brethren
  • Who is Dorthy
  • The Parents
  • Summary of Sources
  • A call for sources

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  1. Thank you for the diligence in stitching the genealogy together. I have been researching this line for 5 years, been to the Mennonite Library in Lancaster Co. PA, the Historical Society Library of PA and online sites. My purpose being to find evidence that Rudolph was a Patriot, either by an Oath of Allegiance or payment of Supply Taxes. His son John is listed in the DAR records already, but my lineage is through Rudolph’s daughter Anna who married John Neuschwanger (Niswonder, Niswander, Nyswonger), who is an established Patriot. These two families, plus the Crooks’ were all in MD, circa 1760’s, moved to PA, then OH, with some ending up in Iowa, my home state. Finding more information on the Natzger’s is so appreciated!

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