The Riegel Family : A Sojourn From the Rhineland to Pennsylvania.Part I
My mother's maiden name was Riegel, a solid "Pennsylvania Deutsch" name that had origins in the
Palatinate Region of Germany, in the Rhineland. Some confuse the Pennsylvania Dutch with the Amish or Mennonites, but that is not the case.Their faith was based on the German Reformed, Calvinist in nature.
I was fortunate to find a wealth of information regarding the Riegels on Family Tree Maker.com and Ancestry.com. I was surprised to find that most of the information from FTM was obtained through the Mormon Church of Germany from their genealogical index. And what a treasure trove it is! I can actually trace my lineage back to 1332...Knight Riegeler in Wurttemburg Germany.His son was Christian Riegel, born 1390 in Zwickau, Saxony.Christian had two children, Joseph Riegel,b. abt.1420, and Johanna Riegel, b. abt1430, both at Zwickau, Saxony. There is a gap here that the researcher notes When Christoff Riegel appears, born abt 1552 in Chemnitz, Saxony.He is married to Christina Rebentisch,b. abt.1590. It is this union that produced Matheis Riegel, B.February 2,1607. He also has a brother and a sister, But it is Matheis whose descendants are my direct ancestors and the progenitor of a great many Riegels who now call Pennsylvania their home.
A little history is pertinent to understand what caused the exodus of many Germans from Rheinland-Pfalz area during the 1700's.During the Middle Ages, The Palatinate(as it was called)had been among the most powerful and influential of the German states.The Reformation flourished here, under very tolerant rulers.The country along the Rhine was known as the garden of Europe, and was the home of the University of Heidelberg, renowned as one the most influential and oldest seats of learning in Europe. And in this environment, The Riegel family flourished, being established and relatively wealthy. But the tides of fortune would shift dramatically with the advent of the Thirty Years'War. I'll write more about this in the next entry.