The Migration of Geography and Names by Bob Reinsel


The changing geography of the colony of Pennsylvania during the 1700's makes the identification of people and places difficult. Counties were created and subdivided and this complicates the identification of persons tied to land records or to census records.

Prior to 1755, there were only four counties in Pennsylvania: Bucks, Chester, Lancaster and Philadelphia. In 1755, the number of counties was increased to eight with the addition of Cumberland, Berks, Northampton, and York. In 1780, Bedford, Northumberland and Westmoreland brought the total to eleven. In 1785, Dauphin, Franklin, Fayette, Montgomery and Washington increased the number to 16. In 1790, Allegheny and Huntington appeared. Butler and others were created in 1810. Lebanon County appeared in 1813. Clarion County was not created until 1840, well after the Aarons had settled at Crates. These changes in county boundaries at times makes it appear that people had moved when only the legal description of their geographic location had changed.


A major complication of doing research on the family tree is that names are spelled differently at various times. Often, those whose name was being spelled could not write their own name or did not know how it should be spelled. People recording names wrote what they thought they heard and did not check to see if the name was recorded correctly. Sometimes the name may have been spelled correctly, but bad penmanship made it difficult to read. At times those who recorded the name did not speak the same language or did not write English or German or Latin in the same way.

At Goshenhoppen a priest that spoke Flemish or French or perhaps a dialect of German would translate German and Irish names into Latin for the official record. Later this record was translated to English for publication. A similar procedure occurred at Latrobe or Greensberg. William became Gilimus, James became Jacob, and Dennis was translated into Dionysius. Seifert through many variations turned into Cyphert. Gret, became Cred or Crete and then Crate. Aron or Aren or perhaps even Arents became Aaron. Eck turned into Egg. Grunewald became Greenawalt or Greenwood. Reinsel evolved into Reinsel, Ransel, Rensel, and Ransil. However the spellings Reinsel and Ransel have been found in Germany in the 1600's.

15 Sep 1999  "Fred Bevenour" <>
 I just thought I would update the "Migration of Geography and Names" by Bob

York County was created from Lancaster County on August 19, 1749.  They are currently
celebrating their 250th 'birthday'.

Adams County was created from York County in 1800.  They will be celebrating
their 200 'birthday' in the upcoming year.

Just thought I would pass this information on to you.

Fred Bevenour