We don’t know how my great, great, great grandfather Valentine Rinehart (1773-1868) spelled his last name. We don’t even know if he could read or write. Maybe he didn’t spell it at all.

In the 1820 census, 200 years ago, the census-taker spelled Valentine and his wife Elizabeth’s last name Rinhart. Notice the census recorded only the name of the head of household, then the number and relative ages of the others in the household.They had nine children. This census lists 11 in the household. There were no questions. No interest in citizenship. A census counts all people in the country, not citizens.

In the 1830 census, the census-taker spelled their last name Rhinehart (second line down, below). In 1830 Valentine was 57, a year younger than I am. Four of their nine children were still living in the household it appears. His son David’s baptismal record (May 28, 1807) from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Somerset County, Pennsylvania spells his last name Reinhardt.

Valentine’s gravestone spells his last name Reinhart.

Valentine’s son David appears in the 1840 census (bottom, below). The census-taker spelled David’s last name Rineheart. Family of five.

David named his son Valentine III, after his father and his uncle. My grandfather Howard (born 1901), the youngest of eleven children, is obviously not yet in the 1900 census. The census-taker spells his last name Rinehart. It’s interesting that Valentine says he’s a farmer, and he and his wife Christena indicate no schooling. He is 17 years older than his wife. A citizenship question is on the census, but there are no answers to the questions, in any of the pages I read. There are eleven in the household: nine children.