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The First Rickenbachers of Orangeburg, South Carolina

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This web page is the result of an ongoing effort to identify the first Rickenbachers in Orangeburg, and their relationships to each other. What appeared at first to be a simple task rapidly turned into a large project as major conflicts and contradictions were found in the existing data. My approach to solving these problems has been to attempt to find, or at least identify, a primary or secondary source for every data point. Although this search has not been completely successful to date, the information found has given me a much better understanding of the early Rickenbachers in Orangeburg.

The result of these efforts is what I believe to be an accurate portrayal of the first three generations of Rickenbachers in Orangeburg. The nine Rickenbachers in these three generations account for every Rickenbacher reference in Orangeburg that I have been able to find between the years of 1735 and 1790. I would be most interested in any evidence that proves or impliess the existence of any other Rickenbacher in these three generations.


No work in genealogy is done in a vacuum and this one is no exception. My thanks to Amelia Debusman, Estelle Evans and Beth Rickenbaker who freely shared their data and provided much ongoing positive feedback as the effort progressed. Special thanks to Harry Ulmer, for the data he has shared, for his insightful comments and for the many enjoyable discussions we have had. Also, special thanks to Joop Giesendanner, for his helpful comments and for his new transcriptions of the "Giessendanner Record". It was the latter that provided the key piece of evidence that removed one of the last unknowns and made it all fall into place.

The First Rickenbachers of Orangeburg, South Carolina

Generations 1 to 3

Generation 1

Indent1. Heinrich [aka Heini, Henry(1)] RICKENBACHER, Baptized: 23 Feb 1690 in Runenberg, Switzerland Died: Bef. 1740 in Orangeburg County, SC, Married: 08 Oct 1714 in Runenberg, Switzerland, Anna BURGI, Baptized: 29 Sep 1695 in Bubendorf, Switzerland Died: 31 Aug 1759 in Orangeburg County, SC.
IndentHeinrich and Anna had one child:

2. i. Heini bapt. 22 Feb 1722, d. 1780-81.

Heinrich and Anna auctioned their belongings for 328 pounds 5 shillings and 4 pence (about $55,000 today) on 24 Mar 1735 in Runenberg. They started down the Rhine in mid April in a party of 42 with the Gieglemanns (two families), the Salis, the Bitterlis, the Busers, and the Straumans (See Documents from the Swiss Archives). All took passage on the ship Samuel, leaving Rotterdam about 11 May 1735. After a stop in Cowes, they arrived in Charleston on 13 Jul 1735. They left Charleston on 24 Jul 1735 for Orangeburg.

Heinrich platted a grant of 350 acres and town lot #167 on 16 Oct 1735. Hillsboro Road runs approximately down the middle of the grant. The approximate present day bounds of the grant are the Edisto River to the SW, Rutledge Avenue to the SE, Wells Drive to the NE, and Mason Drive to the NW. The evidence suggests that Heinrich may have obtained his 350 acres by claiming one family member from each of the Gieglemann families and two family members from the Sali family. Perhaps he had paid the passage for them. What we do know is that the total of 1,200 acres granted to the four families correlates exactly with the 24 known members of these families.

Heinrich died in 1739 and Anna married Conrad Alder on 1 Jan 1740. She died 31 Aug 1759 and was buried on the Rickenbacher plantation, then owned by her son Heini.

Generation 2

Indent2. Heini [aka Heinrich, Henry(2)] RICKENBACHER, Baptized: 22 Feb 1722 in Runenburg, Switzerland, Died: 1780-81 in Orangeburg, SC, Married: abt. 1740 in Orangeburg County, SC, Anna TILL, Baptized: 12 April 1722 in Pratteln, Switzerland, Died: Aft. 28 Mar 1785.
IndentHeini and Anna had seven children:
Hans Heinrich, bapt. 7 Mar 1741, d. 1810-20
Nicholas, b. 1747?, d. 7 Jul 1812
Johannes, bapt. 19 Aug 1750, d. 1810-20
Elizabeth, b. 3 Jun 1753
Anne Catharina, b. 10 Aug 1756
Samuel, b. abt. 1760, d. aft. 1820.
Jacob, b. abt. 10 Dec 1763, d. 11 Feb 1841

There is primary evidence that Hans Heinrich, Johannes, Elizabeth and Anne Catharina are children of Heini and Anna. Unfortunately, we must rely on logic and secondary evidence for Nicholas, Samuel and Jacob.

For Nicholas, there is little choice. There is no evidence of any Richenbachers in Orangeburg at this time other than those numbered 1. through 9. above. Heini and Anna are the only viable candidates for his parents. Nicholas, the second son, was probably named after his maternal grandfather, Niclaus Till (he is the first Nicholas in this Rickenbacher line). It is likely that he was baptized by the Rev Giessendanner and that his is one of the missing records implied by Salley (p. 92): "The parts, preserved and translated, of those records kept up to the time when the younger Giessendanner went to England [Oct 1749] are very meagre and scattering, but those kept after his return [Mar 1750] are very complete."

The information for Samuel is really sparse though his existence seems certain. The fact that he was in the Orangeburgh Militia in 1781 indicates that he was born before 1765. Since these are all the Rickenbachers known to exist at this time, he is assumed to be a son of Heini and Anna and is assumed to fit in the obvious gap between Anne Catharina and Jacob. There is a slim probability that he was a son of Hans Heinrich.

For Jacob, we rely on Salley's quote (p. 67) from the writing of John Lucas: "The said Jacob Rickenbacker [the grandfather of Donald and John C. Rowe] was the son of the first Rickenbacker that came to this country from Germany [Swwitzerland]." Since Jacob was born over 20 years after the death of Heinrich, he must be the son of Heini.

Generation 3

Indent3. Hans Heinrich [aka John(1), Henry(3)] RICKENBACHER, Baptized: 7 Mar 1741 in Orangeburg, SC, Died: Bet. 1810-1820 in Orangeburg, SC.
IndentCensus records indicate that Hans Heinrich may have had as many as five children (3 sons, 2 daughters).

Not much is known about Hans Heinrich. He (rather than Johannes) was probably the John who provided supplies to the militia during the Revolutionary War, and it was probably he who was noted as the executor of Heini's estate on a Revolutionary War claim. He is one of the two John Rickenbackers who appear in the census records for 1790, 1800, and 1810. Those census records indicate that he was married and probably had three sons and two daughters.

(Thanks to Joop for giving us Hans Heinrich instead of Henry. That single piece of new data explained the two Johns in the 1790, 1800, and 1810 census and removed a major source of uncertainty.)

Indent4. Nicholas RICKENBACHER, Born: 1747? in Orangeburg, SC, Died: 7 Jul 1812 in Orangeburg, SC, Married: Mary HECKLE, Born: 08 Jan 1748, Died: 15 Nov 1822 in Orangeburg, SC.
IndentCensus records indicate that Nicholas and Mary may have had as many as eleven children (5-6 sons and 4-5 daughters). I know of two (and speculate on two more):
Henry, b. abt 1782, d. 27 JAN 1816
Nicholas, b. 13 Dec 1784, d. 17 Dec 1851
Jacob?, b. 1784-90?, d. 13 Nov 1814
Christeanna?, b. ?, d. 29 Oct 1805

Nicholas deeded 50 acres of land to "my son Henry" in 1806. I believe this is the same Henry whose death is recorded in the Family Bible of Samuel E. Rickenbacker and who appears in the census of 1810 with a wife and two daughters.

I speculate that Jacob and Christeana, whose deaths are listed in the same bible, are also children of Nicholas. I believe this is the same young Jacob who appears in the 1800 and 1810 censuses.

Some have speculated that a) Jacob was a brother of Heini, b) Christeana was his wife, and c) they were the parents of Nicholas. I can find no evidence to support any of these speculations.

Indent5. Johannes [aka John(2)] RICKENBACHER, Baptized: 19 Aug 1750 in Orangeburg, SC, Died: Bet. 1810-1820 in Orangeburg, SC, Married: Elizabeth ROWE, Born: ?, Died: ?.
IndentCensus records indicate that Johannes and Elizabeth may have had as many as four children (1 son, 3 daughters). We know of two:
Anne Elizabeth, b. abt 1791, d. 1820-21, m. Jacob Izlar, Jr.
Mary Elizabeth, b. abt 1804, d. 22 Oct 1884, m. Francis Baxter

Little more is known about Johannes. He (rather than Hans Heinrich) was probably the John who served with Capt. Rumph during the Revolutionary War. He is one of the two John Rickenbackers who appear in the census records for 1790, 1800, and 1810. Those census records indicate that his wife was probably born 1775 - 1785 and that they may have had one son and three daughters. The census records suggest that the son and one of the daughters may have died young.

Independent family sources (Izlar and Baxter) say that Johannes's wife was Elizabeth Rowe and that she was the mother of Ann (Izlar) and Mary (Baxter). Since Ann appears to be among the oldest of the children and Mary appears to be the youngest, it's likely that Elizabeth Rowe was Johannes's only wife.

Indent6. Elizabeth RICKENBACHER, Born: 3 Jun 1753, Baptized: 19 Aug 1753 in Orangeburg, SC, Died: Abt. 1798, Married: abt. 1779 in Orangeburg, SC, John MACK, Born: 1758 in Orangeburg, SC, Died: 1810 in Orangeburg, SC.
IndentWe know of two MACK children:
William, b. 1780, d. 1812, m. Catharine Sturkie
John, b. abt. 1790, d. 6 Nov 1873, m. (1) Nancy, (2) Susan

The information that Elizabeth married John Mack came from two different branches of the Mack family. I think it likely that this is correct and am searching for proof..

Indent7. Anne Catharina RICKENBACHER, Born: 10 Aug 1756, Baptized: 3 Oct 1756 in Orangeburg, SC.

Little more is known about Anne Catharina. Some sources say she (as Anne Catharina Baker) married John G. Varn. Others dispute.

Indent8. Samuel RICKENBACHER, Born: Ab. 1760, Died: Aft. 1820.

When I first found this Samuel, aged 45+ in the 1820 census, I thought he was a census taker's mistake. Since then I've found him in the 30 Nov 1781 pay abstract of Capt. Samuel Rowe's Company of the Orangeburgh Militia along with John Rikenbacker (presumably Johannes) and Jacob Rikenbacker. That is pretty solid proof of his existence. Since members of the militia were supposed to be at least 16 years old, he must have been born before 1765. I have tentatively placed him here in the fairly obvious gap between Anne Catharina and Jacob. There is a small probability that Samuel was the son of Hans Heinrich but I think it more likely that he was a son of Heini and Anna as shown here.

Indent9. Jacob RICKENBACHER, Born: Abt. 10 Dec 1763 in Orangeburg, SC, Died: 11 Feb 1841 in Orangeburg, SC, Married: abt. 1783 in Orangeburg, SC, Margaret C. ROWE, Born: Abt. 16 Oct 1769 in Orangeburg, SC, Died: 16 Jul 1811 in Orangeburg, SC.

Census records are consistent with Jacob having only five children. I am not convinced that Jacob married Margaret when she was 15 or younger. I suspect she was a second wife and they actually married abt. 1790.

Ann, b. 13 Dec 1784, d. 15 Apr 1829
John, b. abt. 1786, d. Feb 1870
Elizabeth, b. 1791, d. 1867
Samuel, b. abt. 1794, d. 14 Jul 1840
Margaret Caroline, b. 1799, d. 1841


  • A. S. Salley, Jr., The History of Orangeburg County, South Carolina, 1898
  • The Bubendorf records are from Evangelische-Reformierte Kirch Bubendorf (Basel), "Kirchenbuch, 1559-1911", FHL INTL Films #953112 and #128156.
  • The Runenberg and Zeglingen records are from Evangelische-Reformierte Kirch Kilchberg (Basel), "Kirchenbuch, 1559-1911", FHL INTL Film #953142.
  • The Pratteln records are from Evangelische-Reformierte Kirch Pratteln-Augst (Basel), "Kirchenbuch, 1625-1879", FHL INTL Film #953182.
  • The Orangeburg records are from Joop Giesendanner's new transcription of the "Giessendanner Record", and the links are to copies of originals on his web site.
  • The Rickenbacker Bible records are from the Family Bible of Samuel Elkin Rickenbacker. The links are to a transcription by J. E. Rickenbacker on this web site.
  • The 1820 Census data is from the Heritage Quest 1820 Census CD containing the images from the 1820 South Carolina Census mirofilm M33-118. Samiuel is on page 20.
  • The Orangeburgh Militia information comes from Murtie June Clark, Loyalists in the Southern Campaign of the Revolutionary War, Vol. 1, Clearfield Co.Reprint, 2003.

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