Setting the Record Straight: The Rupe Family’s Migration Trail Story

Family lore, oral or written, makes for interesting storytelling. Sometimes it contains a certain amount of truth. As the stories are passed on from one generation to the next, we lose track of who recounted which part of a story. And oftentimes, misconstrued facts are added to the story. This is the case in the story of the Henry RUPE family’s travels from Maryland to their final destination in Virginia.

Traveling on what was once the Baltimore and Memphis Turnpike, the Rupe caravan crossed the Potomac at Harper’s Ferry in 1796. The caravan included Henry, his wife Catherine, and their family of several sons and daughters… Henry and family journeyed through the Shenandoah Valley and into Rockbridge County, bound for the southwestern section of the state, then rather sparsely settled. When they reached Buffalo Creek, four miles north of Natural Bridge, a great flood overtook them and they were forced to remain for several days… They settled on Buffalo Creek and built a mill there… Early in the year 1800 they left Rockbridge Co. and wound up in Lunenburg Co., VA where they had at least one child before settling on Pelham’s Branch, near Little River, about eight miles southwest of Christiansburg, Montgomery Co., VA.

Note: Parts of the narrative have been omitted as they contain family lore that cannot be substantiated.1

This isn’t meant to expose previous researchers’ work as fallible but to question and verify the evidence.

Is the story that the RUPE family lived in Lunenburg County plausible?

The story of the RUPE family’s travels includes the claim that they were in Lunenburg County when Mary ROOP was born in about 1802. Afterward, they continued on to Montgomery County.

Did the family take a detour to Lunenburg County on their way from Buffalo Creek to Christiansburg? Geographically, it seems unlikely.

Where did the information come from?

Everette Llavon McGREW (1923-2008) gifted me a 169-page revised version (August 2000) of his original 78-page book My Mother Was A Rupe (1995) on 28 January 2002. I requested and received written permission on 28 February 2006 to quote with credit any portion of his book even though he mentions in the preface that he was not copyrighting his work.

How did the book come to be written?

Linda P. (Dickey) ROOP (1943-1994) and Everette L. McGREW had been working on their respective ROOP genealogies when they met in the early 1990s. They decided that with Everette’s help, Linda would write the book on the family. Everett sent copies of his work to her and in January 1993 Linda sent him a rough draft. He returned it to her with updates, corrections, and comments. Linda died of fast-growing cancer in September 1994 at 51, without publishing the book. Everette “attempted to take it from there” and published My Mother Was A Rupe in 1995.

When or where did the Lunenburg claim come from?

Everette wrote on the second page of the book, “The main facts that we know about Henry and his family came from a report that Redmond Ira Roop, a great-grandson of Henry’s, gave at a family reunion in Maryland in 1927.” He continued with the narrative [short version above] without indicating if it was a direct quote or if the report was being paraphrased.

The above story has been repeatedly shared online but…

Who was the storyteller?

I’ve gone back and forth trying to figure out who may have written the narrative. Which parts came from Redmond ROOP and which parts from Everette, Linda, or another storyteller?

Did Redmond ROOP attend a family reunion in 1927 and give a speech or report?

On 21 August 1927, a Roop family held its first reunion at Dunkard Meeting House, Meadow Branch, Carroll County, Maryland. The following day, the event was reported on in The Evening Sun (Hanover, PA). Redmond I. ROOP was not present.2

Did Redmond ROOP speak at a family reunion at any other time?

On 2 September 1928, the same Roop family held its second annual reunion. Once again the event was reported in The Evening Sun. This time the subtitle read: “Redmond Roop, Christianburg, Va., Gives Interesting Address At Meadow Branch Church Where Clan Meets” and further notes that Mr. ROOP had only learned of the reunion the month before.3 (Christiansburg was misspelled in the newspaper headline.)

In 1796 he moved his family to Virginia and settled on Buffalo Creek and established a mill and made his living there for several years when he later moved to Montgomery County where he purchased large tracts of land. 

Was the information Redmond ROOP gave at the reunion family lore or did he do actual research?

It’s been 95 years since Redmond Ira ROOP (1869-1947), a lawyer from Christiansburg, Virginia, gave his presentation at the family reunion in Carroll County, Maryland. Did he keep a written copy of his presentation? Did Linda or Everette obtain a copy?

Several claims by Redmond ROOP in the article are false.

“Henry Rupe, as it was first spelled, came from Germany in the early 17th century, having lived along the Rhine river, and landed in Baltimore.”

17th century? That should ring some warning bells! Henry’s parents came to America with three young sons from Oberhoffen (Northern Alsace, present-day France) and arrived in Philadelphia on 20 October 1752 on the ship “Duke of Wirtenburg” (Württemberg) that sailed from Rotterdam and Cowes under Captain Daniel Montpelier.4,5,6

“A son Oscar moved with his family to Missouri and later became a prominent judge.”

Redmond must have been mistaken about this. Henry RUPE and his wife did not have a son named Oscar. The furthest west that any of the sons went was (in order of distance) Pulaski County VA (John), Lee County VA (Jacob), Menifee County KY (William), and Wayne County IN (George).

Of more importance, the newspaper article of the 1828 Roop reunion gives no mention of the family’s stay in Lunenburg County. In all likelihood, Redmond was not the person who added that place to the travels of the RUPE family.

What do we know about the travels of the family?

On 23 April 1793 Henry RUPE of Baltimore County, Maryland, sold Rhineharts Folly in Pipe Creek Hundred to Jacob BOBLITZ. Henry’s wife Catherine relinquished her dower rights. The indenture was recorded on 14 May 1793.7

Henry RUPE and Catherine Barbara NOLL left Maryland in 1793 with five children and made at least one stop along the way in Rockbridge County before continuing on to their final destination.8

An error or omission in the 1793 land deed called for the necessity of the land deed to be recorded again in 1798. Henry ROOP of Rockbridge County left his mark on 19 May 1798 and the indenture was recorded in Baltimore County on 15 September 1798.9 This is proof of his residency.

On 13 January 1801, Henry ROOP was in Rockbridge County when he made the following oath concerning his sister-in-law Polly NULL (aka NOLL):10

Rockbridge County To Wit
This Day Came before me a Justice
of the Peace for said County Henry Roop and
made oath that Polly Null who is about
to be married to James Hart is of his own
knowledge above the age of Twenty one
years — Certified under my hand this 13th Jany
1801 Alex Sheilds

The family was in Montgomery County, Virginia by 1804 when Henry bought land and was first seen on the Personal Property Tax list of the county.11,12

Where did the claim of the family being in Lunenburg really come from?

Apparently, the information that Mary “Polly” ROOP was born in Lunenburg County was given by her oldest son Crockett ROOP in 1868 when he reported her death.

Recently, while searching for another record, I stumbled upon the  1868 register of deaths for Montgomery County. Polly ROOP died on 17 November 1868 in Montgomery County at the age of 66 years of heart disease. Her parents are correctly listed as H. & Catherine ROOP. Crockett ROOP was the informant.13

1868 Register of Deaths for Montgomery County, Virginia courtesy of

Where was Polly ROOP born? In the column for “Where born?” the first entry in the register is Montgomery. About a dozen entries follow with ” or ditto marks. In the entry for Washington PARISH, a new place was entered: Lunenburg Co. The next two entries are for ROOP individuals with Crocket ROOP as the informant. Ditto marks indicate the birth was in Lunenburg Co.

The first entry is for “Henrietta ROGERS,” age 28, daughter of “Saml & P. ROOP” (Samuel ROOP and Martha “Patsy” TOWNSLEY). This is Harriett L. F. ROOP, wife of William P. ROGERS. The parents match. The age is a match. The married name matches. The marriage record shows that Harriett was born in Montgomery County.14 Her father Samuel was a brother of Polly ROOP. Crockett was her first cousin and should have known that her name was Harriett and not Henrietta and that she was born in Montgomery.

Further, the entry following Polly’s is for “Zepha WILLIS” with the informant being Chris WILLIS. This is Zelpha DOBBINS who married Christopher WILLIS in 1827 in Montgomery.15 Zelpha was the daughter of Thomas DOBBINS and Mary RATLIFF, a couple who lived in Montgomery County at the time of her birth.

I believe the ditto marks are NOT meant to indicate Lunenburg is the place of birth for Harriett, Polly, and Zelpha. Crockett ROOP and Christopher WILLIS didn’t give incorrect information; the clerk took a shortcut and didn’t fill in Montgomery as the county of birth. See footnote.16

The person before Mary on the death register (her niece Harriet) and the person after Mary (Zelpha) were both born in Montgomery County. Is it safe to say Mary was also born in the same county and NOT in Lunenburg County?

Was Samuel ROOP born in 1801 or 1803 in Montgomery County?

As seen above, Mary ROOP was born in about 1802 per the age listed on her death record. Her brother Samuel ROOP was born in Montgomery County according to his death record.17 Was he younger or older than Mary?

This question is hard to answer. Per the age at death listed in the register, he would have been born about 1803. The year 1801 is found in a published book and on the memorial marker of Samuel’s parents.

Louise Roop Anderson Akers used the proceeds from her book The Family Rub, Rup, Rupe, Roop, Roope (2001) to buy a memorial marker for the spot believed to be the final resting place of Henry RUPE and his wife Catherine Barbara NOLL. Although it includes the names of all of their children only Henry, Catherine, their youngest son Joseph and some of his family were buried in the Henry & Catherine Rupe Family Cemetery outside of Riner, Virginia.

Louise gifted me a hardcover revised copy of her book. The year of birth for Samuel (1803) is crossed out and 9-4-1801 (Sep 4, 1801) was written in by hand by Louise. She made several corrections to his family group suggesting she may have received information from a family member. She likely used this information for the memorial marker that has Samuel’s year of birth as 1801.

The RUPE family went from Rockbridge to Montgomery

The Henry RUPE family didn’t take a detour to Lunenburg County after leaving Rockbridge County and coming to Montgomery County. They took the direct route others took before them, traveling the Great Valley Road.

Public domain, released by David Dilts, a Family History Research Wiki user.

The evidence of the trail they took was found in tax lists, land deeds, and a marriage record proving that Henry RUPE aka ROOP was in Rockbridge County from 1794 until 1801. He was then found in tax lists from 1804 until he died in Montgomery County proving his residence there from 1804 to 1845. In 1802 and 1803 Henry Rupe was not on the Montgomery County PPT lists.

The story passed down from one generation to the next was enhanced. An event gleaned from a death record was the only evidence that the family might have lived in Lunenburg. By scrutinizing the entire page of the death register and considering where the information came from, I believe an error in the death records of Mary ROOP and two other persons was unintentionally made by a clerk.

Can evidence other than the poorly documented births of Samuel and Mary be found to set the record straight and confirm the RUPE/ROOP family was in Montgomery County as early as 1802? What’re two years in the lives of our ancestors who lived over 200 years ago? Two years make a difference in debunking this family lore.

See more articles on the ROOP families here.

© 2023, copyright Cathy Meder-Dempsey. All rights reserved.

  1. Everette L. McGrew, My Mother Was A Rupe (1995, revised copy dated August 2000), p. 2. 
  2. The Evening Sun, (Hanover, Pennsylvania), A Publisher Extra Newspaper, “Roop Family Holds First Reunion,” Monday 22 Aug 1927, p. 6, col. 3-4. ( : accessed 22 October 2022). 
  3. Ibid., “Roop Family Has Its Annual Reunion, Redmond Roop, Christianburg, Va., Gives Interesting Address At Meadow Branch Church Where Clan Meets” Monday, September 3, 1928, p. 6, col. 4-5. ( : accessed 21 October 2022). 
  4. Strassburger, Ralph Beaver (compiler), and William John Hinke (editor), Pennsylvania German Pioneers, A Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia from 1727 to 1808, Volume I, 1727-1775, (, Pennsylvania German Society, Norristown, Pennsylvania, 1934, pages 497-499, List 190C, 20 Oct 1752, The Duke of Wirtenburg ( and 1 subsequent image : accessed 15 February 2016). 
  5. Annette Kunsel Burgert, Eighteenth Century Emigrants from the Northern Alsace to America  (Camden Press, Camden, Maine, 1992), pg. 413-414, entry #409 for Rubb, Joh. Jacob of Oberhoffen. 
  6. Dr. Friedrich Krebs, Eine Liste deutscher Auswanderer nach den amerikanischen Kolonien aus Zweibrücken in der Pfalz 1750-1771, citing Rubb, Jacob, von Oberhofen (Kr. Weißenburg, Els.) mit Weib und 3 Kindern 1752 
  7. MDLandRec.Net – A Digital Image Retrieval System for Land Records in Maryland, database with images, Maryland State Archives, Annapolis (online, Baltimore County Court (Land Records), WG LL, p 157-158 [2 images], MSA CE 66-86, 1793 land deed for 100 acres (Rheinharts Folly) Henry Rub to Jacob Boblits (accessed 5 March 2016). 
  8. Personal Property Tax lists of Rockbridge, Botetourt, and Montgomery counties were consulted. Henry was found in Rockbridge from 1794 to 1800. There is a possible entry for 1793 for Henry but the surname was spelled RUPERT. 
  9. MDLandRec.Net, Baltimore County Court (Land Records), WG 56, p 39-40 [2 images], MSA CE 66-106, 1798 land deed for 100 acres (Rheinharts Folly) Henry Rub to Jacob Boblits (accessed 5 March 2016). 
  10. “Marriage bonds and licenses, 1786-1902,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (, microfilm of original records at the Rockbridge County Courthouse in Lexington, Virginia, Film 2025346, DGS 7738870, Marriage bonds, 1797-1803, image 549 of 919, Oath of Henry Roop that Polly Null was above the age of 21 years. ( : accessed 20 October 2022). 
  11. “General index to deeds, 1773-1933; deeds, 1773-1868; wills, 1773-1797,” browse-only images, FamilySearch (, microfilm of original at the Montgomery County courthouse in Christiansburg, Virginia, Film 32610, DGS 7645568, Deeds Vols. D-E 1803-1815, image 109 of 693, Deed Book D, pg. 204, 17 Aug 1804 Abner Lester to Henry Rupe of Mtg co Va for 200 pounds for 326 ac on Pelham branch of Meadow Creek a branch of Little River and New River ( : accessed 20 October 2022). 
  12. Henry first shows up on the Montgomery PPT lists in 1804. The 1801-1803 gap indicates a possible stopover while traveling from Rockbridge to Montgomery. The only county between these two places was Botetourt where no listing for Henry was found. 
  13. “Registers of marriages, 1854-1902, births, 1853-1868, 1871, and deaths, 1853-1868, 1871, 1889,” database with images, FamilySearch (, microfilm of original records at the Montgomery County Courthouse in Christiansburg, Virginia, Film 32631, DGS 7724885, Register of deaths, 1853-1868, 1871, 1889 (two entries for 1912), image 355 of 360, Death Register 1868, entry 38, Polly Roop, 17 Nov 1868, heart disease, age 66, H & Catherine Roop, b. & d. Montgomery Co., informant Crocket Roop. ( : accessed 19 October 2022). 
  14. “Virginia, U.S., Marriage Registers, 1853-1935,” (index and images), Ancestry (, citing Virginia, Marriage Registers, 1853–1935 at the Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia., Montgomery County Marriage Register 1867, page 220, line 70, 27 Jun 1867 Wm P Rodgers and Harriett L. F. Roop, both born Montgomery, married by C. A. Miller (accessed 19 October 2022). “.” 
  15. “Register of marriages, Montgomery County, Virginia, 1777-1853,” (browse-only images), FamilySearch, citing microfilm of original records at the Virginia State Library in Richmond, Virginia, Film 32633, DGS 7579015, Index of marriage register, 1777-1853 — Register of marriages, 1777-1853, image 445 of 673, 24 Jul 1827, Christopher Willis and Zilpha Dobbins, Thomas Dobbins father and security ( : accessed 20 October 2022). 
  16. More information about how the death register was created is needed. It is in alphabetical order, not chronological, line numbers are not consecutive, and all entries are written in the same handwriting. This is an indication that the information was copied at a later date. In the original register, the clerk likely assigned a certain number of spaces for each letter of the alphabet. As some lines were not used, these numbers would be missing on the copied page. 
  17. “Death registers, 1853-1906 (Virginia)” browse-only images, FamilySearch (, Virginia Bureau of Vital Statistics, citing microfilm of the original records at the Virginia State Library at Richmond, Virginia., Film 2048578, DGS 4225402, Montgomery County, 1853-1896, image 133 of 698, Register of Deaths, np, 1858, line 14, Samuel Roope, May 26, inflammation of bowels, age 55, parents Henry & Catherine Roop, born Montgomery, consort and informant Martha Roop. ( : 10 October 2022). 

Author: Cathy Meder-Dempsey

When I’m not doing genealogy and blogging, I spend time riding my racing bike with my husband through the wonderful Luxembourg countryside.

8 thoughts on “Setting the Record Straight: The Rupe Family’s Migration Trail Story”

  1. Debunking family lore can certainly lead us down many rabbit holes and dead ends. I think you’ve found the source of the problem in this one. I am still struggling with the one I am dealing with of much more recent vintage. A cousin claims his mother’s family was related to a family of Hollywood fame, and so far I’ve found a connection by marriage, but the cousin insists that there was an actual blood connection. I’ve spent more hours on this than I care to think about! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve spent years trying to prove our family lore that we are blood related to Jack Dempsey, the boxer. There were actually two but the first was born a Kelley.
      I’m glad to hear you think I’ve found the source! Thank you, Amy.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cathy, Loved your post! It’s uncanny how and why that sometimes blog writers can have their posts sync up. I just finished writing my next post which basically deals with a family story and trying to uncover whatever I could in Cheryl’s family. I’ll be posting it later this week. Great read!! Brian

    Liked by 1 person

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