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

A Brief History Of has a long history as a niche genealogy site maintained by me.

1997: A site called Ben Noffsinger’s Genealogy web site was published at It contained information on Ben\’s genealogy that was generated from a gedcom.

1998: The domain was registered and the site moved.

1999: The site begins to offer more information of general interested by including information of the book “The History of the Nafzger Family in America”, including images of the complete book.

2002: The site adds more information on the Nafzger surname, including many issues of the Nafzger Heritage News.

2003: The site moves to a more dynamic environment that will make it possible to include many convenient features.

2020: Blog introduced. Facebook group.

May 2020 Site Updates

Let the modernization begin. I will be documenting changes in the site using blog posts so that if you are looking for some content you have seen in the past you’ll be able to find it (or understand why I removed it). This will be a living post for the month as I make changes, I’ll update it.

Here are the changes to the site for May 2020

  • Removed the ability to post to the Guestbook. Why? Because I’d like you to use the Facebook group instead. You’ll still be able to view the old posts.
  • Approved a slew of Guestbook posts. Some have been waiting quite a while, sorry.
  • Removed the old Guest Map. It relied on a third party site that is no longer functional. I have no archive or way to retrieve that old content.
  • Remove references to the AQ Collaboration Database. I never followed up on this and I apologize to any who purchased Ancestral Quest solely to collaborate. I hope you found the program useful none the less. My preferred way to collaborate is Family Search, but I do hope to provide some collaboration tools in the future to help us all find interesting links across our trees.
  • Added several links to the facebook group. This is a private group. Just click the link and request to join the group.
  • Added this blog and did some rudimentary styling. I expect to make this look more similar to the existing branding soon — I’ll do that for the FB group too.
  • Site search fixed – The old Atomz driven search no longer works, so I’ve put in a google search that will search, this blog, and the Nafzger Heritage News pdf files hosted on rootsweb.
  • Removed banner ads with affiliate links that no longer work.
  • Removed the Links page from the main menu. Many of these links don’t work and the page will simply be deprecated.
  • A new home page is under contruction. You can try it here.

Welcome to the Blog

This blog represents an effort to morph and modernize the content of What started as a quick hobby project while I was at college in 1997 because a meanfully way to access a few important resources for Nafzger researchers and those that were simply curious about our family name. The web site, like this blog, is the work of just one person. So lofty ideals I had for the site never materialized and the world has moved on. In order to allow me to quickly contribute content and reduce the burden of maintaining the legacy content, I will move most of the static content of the site here.

I hope that the new content is also useful. I also hope that the group on facebook provides a venue for us to connect with each other in a way that the old website never did. Here is to the future of Nafzger family history!


Ben Noffsinger