A Short History of the RORRER Family of Patrick County, and beyond

Our current information on the Rorrer family indicates that Johannes Rohrer came to America from Switzerland on the ship Mortonhouse to the Port of Philadelphia in 1728. Our earliest known American born was John Rohrer born in 1735 in Lancaster County, PA, in the part that is now Lebanon city and is located in Lebanon County, PA.  Most of these early settlers came from their home to Amsterdam and then to the port in Deal, England, and then to America.  They were Anabaptists and had seceded from the Catholic Church, not paying their tithe, and were apparently being persecuted by the church.  William Penn, who had been granted all the land now known as Pennsylvania had gone to Europe and invited these people to come and settle in his Pennsylvania.

It is not known who paid for their passage but one story indicates that they were indentured to a shoemaker who paid their passage. John Rohrer is listed in a census as a shoemaker. John, along with his father-in-law, helped to found a church in Lebanon known as Tabor First Reformed Church of Christ, which still exists and is known as Tabor United Church . The records of all his children's birth and christenings are still available in the Lebanon Historical Society archives.

John and Barbara Weidman were married about 1757 and they had 8 children. They lived in Lebanon until 1788 and John, Barbara and two of  his sons, Abram RORER and David Alexander RORER,Sr. came with a group of Pennsylvanians to Pittsylvania County, Virginia, and settled there.  It seems that after the Revolutionary War the British were boycotting American farm products which produced a depression and this is perhaps why they left.  David, Sr. married Betsy Deboe and they had 4 children, three of whom remained in Pittsylvania County.

Most of the Patrick County Virginia Rorrer's descend from John's grandson, David Alexander Rorrer, Jr. David married Nancy Ann Brown in 1814 in Pittsylvania County and the first four of their 9 children were born there. They moved to Patrick County about 1828 and purchased land there in 1836. The other 5 children were born in Patrick County. John apparently was illiterate and somehow the spelling of the name became RORRER. Almost all people who spell their name this way are related. A few Patrick County people retained the RORER spelling as well as all the ones who stayed in Pittsylvania County, Virginia.

The Rorrer homestead and cemetery are still in the hands of a Rorrer descendant, Michael McKenzie.

One of David's sons, John Henry Rorrer, SR. had 4 sons who enlisted in the Confederate army on the same day in Charleston, West Virginia on June 6, 1861. The interesting part of the story is that two of his sons went to Kentucky after enlisting. They do not have a service record. One son, Abram Alexander Rorrer married Frances Dickerson and they had a son Alexander Abram ROAR. It seems that Abram was illiterate and the name was spelled ROAR on his marriage license. Abram died shortly thereafter of measles.  His son, Abram Alexander or Alex had 9 children so there are many descendants who spell their name ROAR in Kentucky and Ohio.

Another son, Michael John Rorrer, who married Elizabeth Jane Irick had a similar fate for when he married. His name was spelled ROER and there are a number of descendants who spell their name this way. They had 8 children.

Most of the  RORRER family still lives in Virginia, with West Virginia, Kentucky and Pennsylvania.  Of course they now live in most of the United States from Virginia to California and Hawaii.                                                                       -Thomas Wise Rorrer, Jr.-



In Memoriam

Herbert Lester Rorrer (1929 - 2011)

Herbert was our contact in Stuart, who made all the arrangements

for the Annual Rorrer reunion and was there bright and early to prepare

the community center come Sunday.  Herbert was the heart and soul of the Rorrer reunion and the inspiration for our attempt to explore our earliest ancestry and to publish the results.  He also contributed much of the information by calling, writing, or visiting anyone who shared his last name or whose ancestors did - He gathered stories about those individuals and many photographs are his work and are included in the Genealogy book on this website.  We will miss you, friend.