As is the case with many of my early North Carolina families, there is a lack of documentation connecting various generations. So I have set out to try and connect them with as much documentation as possible. Where the documentation is non-existent, I will be seeking out a suitable amount of circumstantial evidence, enough at least to convince myself if not others.
One such troubling family is my Ribelin family of Rowan County, North Carolina. I recently found a deed which appears to show 6 of the 7 heirs of my ancestor Peter Ribelin, and that got me to looking into the documentation tying Peter to his father. Unfortunately, there isn't any. Peter's father is believed to be Martin Ribelin, who died and left a will in Rowan County in 1793. Martin's will does not name a son, Peter. He names children Martin, Jacob, Anna, Elizabeth, Sarah, Susanna, and Rachel.
As it turns out, however, it appears that Martin likely had multiple children who were not named as heirs in his will. This may have been for a number of reasons. The most likely of which is that he gave each child their portion of his estate when they came of age, married, or else moved away. This has happened many times in many other families. There is a solid amount of evidence indicating that Martin had a daughter named Katharine who married an Adam Kern,and Martin did act as the bondsman for the marriage of a William Ribelin in 1779 in Rowan County. These facts appear to indicate that he had at least two children who were not named in his will, so why could Peter not be a third?
The fact is, Martin Ribelin was basically the only known Ribelin progenitor in North Carolina, and perhaps in all of the United States. It is shown that he came to America on the ship Duke of Wirtemberg and received at the Philadelphia Court House on 20 Oct 1752. His name was listed as "Hans Martin Raible". He also came with a brother, Johannis Reiblen. What became of this brother is unknown, but no descendants of his have been identified, so it is fair to name Martin Ribelin the sole progenitor of the name Ribelin in America. His name and the names of his descendants were spelled a number of different ways in early records, including Ribline, Ribley, Raiblin, Reblin, Riblin, Ribling, and more. They seem to have all eventually settled with Ribelin.
The argument for attaching Katharine, wife of Adam Kern, to Martin Riblin is presented in The Kern Family of Rowan County, NC, Nicholas, KY, Indiana, Iowa (Mary Margaret Kern, 1968). The argument for attaching William, as previously mentioned, primarily hinges on the facts that Martin acted as William's bondsman when he married, and the fact that Martin was pretty much the only Ribelin around. (More information on William Ribelin can be found here: http://www.reocities.com/dkiker_liddell/KIKER_PAGE/Keicher_Sisters.htm). There is no documentation like William's marriage record for attaching Peter to Martin, so virtually the only argument here is that Martin was the only man around who could have been Peter's father.
Jacob Ribelin is named in Martin's will. Peter's grandson Jesse Ribelin, son of Isaac, named one of his sons Jacob Asa Ribelin. Asa Ribelin was a well-known teacher in Rowan County, and was a son of Jacob Ribelin. Jacob Ribelin was also supposedly a gunsmith, a trade which was shared by Isaac Ribelin and his son Jesse. These bits of loose circumstantial evidence are not much for connecting Peter to Martin, but unfortunately that's about all that can be done.
DNA evidence has not confirmed much as of yet. My grand uncle Ronnie Moose's DNA sample came back with "Very Low" confidence matches to four descendants of Katherine Ribelin who married Adam Kern. But they did yield a "Moderate" confidence match to a descendant of Rosannah Ribelin, daughter of William Ribelin for whom Martin was the bondsman for his marriage. This is encouraging, but not definitive. Matches to more descendants of the Ribelins can help confirm Peter's lineage eventually.
It should be noted that Martin Ribelin's wife's name is not known; most have it as "Anna", but not identified a source for this name. Similarly, Peter's first wife's name (or wives' names) is not known. He remarried to a Nancy Johnson on 27 Oct 1814, but it does not appear they had any children together, as they have no young children in their household in 1820.
I have found little written on the children of Peter Ribelin, so I wanted to share this deed which names 6 of his 7 heirs.
This was taken from "Abstracts of Deed Books 30-34 of Rowan County, North Carolina 1828-1840", compiled by the Genealogical Society of Rowan County.
On 28 Oct 1830 [in Rowan County], Isaac Ribelin, John Linn/Lynn and wife Catherine, Henry Barger [Note: Should be Barrier] and wife Elizabeth, William Cox and wife Rachel, and David McMackin and wife Susanna sold their portions of Peter Ribelin's estate to their apparent brother, Samuel Ribelin.
Each were entitled to 1/7 part of the property. This means that there was a 7th child in this family who has not yet been identified. This 7th was most likely a son, as Samuel and Isaac make two, but Peter's 1810 Census shows two sons under ten and one son 10-15. The marriages for Isaac, Samuel, Elizabeth, Rachel, and Susanna can be found with various spellings of Ribelin. I could not find the marriage of Catherine to John Linn/Lynn. I could only find Susanna still living in 1850, when she is enumerated in Rowan County.
Any researchers wishing to exchange information on the Ribelins can feel free to contact me.