Compiled by Michael Rexroad

If your name is Rexroad, you have an interesting Rexroad family history. For centuries, most people used only one name to identify themselves. As the population began increasing, the need for more identification also became increasingly apparent, especially in small towns, clans, and villages where perhaps 1/3 of the males were named James or some other popular name.

And so to distinguish one James from another, a second name was desired. The four main sources for these names were: 1) a man's occupation or trade, such as Cook, Tanner, or Hunter. 2) his father's name, Robertson, Jackson, or Davidson. 3) his locale, such as Jesus of "Nazareth," Thomas "Uphill," or William "Groves." 4) even his characteristics or looks might be used, i.e. James Legg, William Redman, or John Fox.

Sometimes extra identification was needed for certain groups. The fighting men of the Middle Ages were known to wear a metal suit of armor for protection. More than likely, this same suit of armor included a helmet that completely covered the head, making the warrior unrecognizable. To prevent a friend from attacking his ally during battle, it became very important for each knight to somehow identify himself. Many fighters accomplished this by painting colorful designs on their shields. These same designs were also sewn into cloth surcoats which were placed over a fighter's suit of armor, giving him his family crest or what is known as the "Coat of Arms." The Rexroth's (Rexroad's) wore theirs into battles in which they engaged.

To prevent duplication of the patterns, records were kept that granted the privilege of wearing a certain crest to a particular fighter and this right was extended down to his family. Many times these patterns were recorded in ancient record books.

The Rexroad Coat of Arms design can be found in documentation from the Siebmacher's "Wappenbuch." Ancient Heraldic artists developed their own unique language to describe a family's coat of arms. The following is the information recorded for the Rexroad coat of arms:

"In R.uber sich gegewarts gekerth bi auf die Knie (wachsend) ein konigliche geharnischte Mangsgestalt (rex), auf seinem Haubt ein Kon9ige. Cron in der lincken Handt einen g. Szepter, der rechten aber einen g. Stern haltend."

When translated the Arms description is: "Red--a king rising from the knees, royally dressed, crowned gold, in his left hand a gold scepter, in his right hand a gold star." Above the shield and helmet is the Crest which is described as

"Sechs abwechselnd g. #Strau Benfedern, von g. uberhoht." A translation of the crest description is: "Six ostrich feathers, alternately gold and black, surmounted by a gold star.


So where did the Rexroad family name come from? Let's begin at the beginning. From all of the records on hand, it would appear that the Rexroad family was involved in the weapons-armor making profession in Germany around 825 A.D. Although the family name was derived later, the position of Armorer was hereditary and the family would continue in the weapons-armor making profession until the mid-1400's.

The last two kings which this family respected and served were Otho I and Otho II. Both Otho's had red hair; both Otho's had a red beard. More than likely, they had a red complexion. Putting this all together, you have a red king. So striking was their overall redness, they were commonly known by the people as "the red kings" and have been since.

Otho I, the "Great," was emperor of Germany around the late 9th century. His Empire covered all of Germany and most of Italy. Otho I was married to Adelheid and she bore him a son named Otho II, surnamed Otho the Red. Otho the Red was only seventeen years old when his father died in 973 A.D. Adelheid was made regent of the Holy Roman Empire until Otho the Red took over the Empire at eighteen years of age. He then ruled until he was 28 years old. Otho the Red married Theophania and she bore him a son named Otho III.

Otto the Great was the first German Emperor to put foot soldiers on horseback, which required a large number of blacksmiths and armor smiths to maintain their needs. These blacksmiths and armor smiths were very loyal to their Emperor, especially Otto the Red. Otho the Red died in 984 A.D. when Otho III was only three years old, leaving the Empire to be ruled by Adelheid and her daughter-in-law, Theophania.

Adelheid became regent over Italy and Theophania was regent over Germany. Eight years later, Theophania died, leaving her elderly mother-in-law, Adelheid, ruler of the whole empire until Otho III took over at the age of sixteen. With Otho III reigning, the army of Germany began to deteriorate because it was of little interest to him. He married a Greek princess and spent the better part of his time in Greece where he became enamored with all things Greek. He returned briefly to Germany where he repudiated his German heritage and swished off to Greece with his nose up in the air, turning his back on the proud armor smiths.

This infuriated the cantankerous old arms-makers, who packed up and left Germany in a huff, moving to the area of Prague in Czechoslovakia and Bohemia. Upon arriving there they showed their loyalty to Otho II by taking the name, von Rexroth. "Rex" meaning king, "Roth" being an old German word for Red. This newly adopted name, von Rexroth, means "from the red king," not dweller at or near the kings crossroads as some outsiders claim it to mean.

The Rexroth (Rexroad) family had always been closely associated with the German military. From the time of Henry the Fowler, Holy Roman Emperor, the Rexroths were armor-makers to the kings of Germany--outfitting the soldiers and cavalries which periodically swept across Europe in pursuit of peace.

In those early times, armor-makers were the most essential of people. Even the simple village blacksmith enjoyed a high social standing, since it was he who made things work. Frequently, blacksmiths were guild members and also served as city officials, being prominent citizens of the communities in which they lived.

In the case of the Rexroths (Rexroads), they were members of the king's household and were officially recognized as nobility and could intermarry with the King's family if they chose. Different branches of the family received their family crests (coats of arms).

The outbreak of the 30 Year War caused the family to uproot and spread out towards Germany from Czechoslovakia and Bohemia. The Rexroth (Rexroad) family lineage first appeared in documents from Eschwege, Germany in 1449, as Rexrodt or Recksrodt. The Reckrodts were senators and advisors to the city and practiced the profession of smithing as citizens. Some of these Reckrodts had moved out to areas of Wahnfried, where they are listed as the Rexrodts from Eschwege. This is according to Recksrodt/Rexroth records in "Deutsches Geschlecterbuch, Vol. 94.

Our bloodline stems from this group of Recksrodts from Wahnfried near Kassel in Hesse on the Werna River. Von Franz Rexroth was born in the 1500's. He had a son Johann Recksrodt, born in the late 1500's, who was recruited by the cavalry in Solm, with whom he traveled to Bohemia and participated in the Battle of the White Mountain at west Prague on November 8, 1620. The Emperor Ferdinand II defeated the Winter King Elector Friedrich V of the Palatinate.

Johannes Reckrodt realized that his new-found employment with the horsemen of the cavalry wasn't what he wanted to do, so he left the cavalry and settled in Smirschitz, in the vicinity of Konigsgratz (Sadowa). It was here, in 1621, that his wife Maria Magdalena bore him a son Wenzelaus. Johannes taught his son the smith trade, making guns, cannons, and church bells. Johannes died in Smirschitz. The exact date is unknown at this time.

It was Wenzeslaus who became the founding father of the Rexroth bloodline in the Odenwald. He had left his birthplace of Smirschitz and moved to the Odenwald in the retinue of Colonel Count Erbach von Bohmen. There he lived in Erbach, working as a horse and weapon smith, with his wife, Veronika, and seven children. Wenzeslaus died on June 21, 1705, in Erbach, Germany. His first-born son was named Hans Barthel Recksrodt and was born in 1645, in Smirschitz, before the family moved to Erbach in the Odenwald. Our bloodline comes from him. Eventually the Recksrodt (Rexroad) family would branch out in the Odenwald area and develop what was then called iron hammers or forges. They eventually had a monopoly of the iron-making trade in the Odenwald area. The Recksrodts were to become a very famous family, and quite a bit was written about them and their dynasty.

Hans Barthel Recksrodt was married to Elisabeth Lauten Schlage on June 20, 1671. She bore him twelve children.. She was born in GULTERSBACH, GERMANY, and died September 17, 1721 in ERBACH, GERMANY. Hans Barthel Recksrodt died on April 26, 1694 in Erbach, Germany. The second child of the second marriage, being of our bloodline, was named Johann Baltbasar Rexerodt. He was born on June 11, 1673, in Erbach, Germany. Notice the change in the spelling of the last name. He married Johanna Lawisa Christina Kepler on June 19, 1710. She was born in ERBACH, GERMANY, and died December 11, 1726 in ERBACH, GERMANY. She bore him seven children. Johann Baltbasar Rexerodt died on August 16, 1734.

The youngest of the children and of our bloodline, was named Johannes Zacharias Rexerodt. He was born on February 22, 1724/25, in Erbach, the German Palatine and died 1799 in PENDLETON, W.VA. The Palatine is located along the Rhein River, near the Eastern part of France. Palatine is known for many things, among them the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, the invention of printing and the industrial production of iron and steel. In fact, the Palatine and its neighboring parts of Germany are responsible for a large part of Germany's reputation as cultural and scientific center of the world.

When Zacharias was one year old, his mother died. His father married Eva Katherina Kurtz on November 11, 1728, when Zacharias was only three years old. His father died when Zacharias reached the age of nine.

According to German record books, Johannes Zaharias Rexerodt (Rexroad) had a brother named Johanne Jacob Rexerodt, who had a son that was also named Johanne Zacharias Rexerodt, born on November 19, 1744. No other German records are available for either Zacharias. It is believed that both of them immigrated to America.

The ship Harte, carrying 388 immigrants from the Palitinate in Germany, arrived in Philadelphia on September 1, 1736. One hundred and fifty of these passengers were boys and girls. One of these boys was Johannes Zacharias. This would have made our Zacharias eleven years old at that time. Eventually, about 30,000 people came to America from that area between 1727 and 1777. Some of them were members of Zacharias' family, from whom he learned the family trade of smithing.

According to the "Pennsylvania German Pioneers Vol. 1," page 752, list 309C, at Robert Ritchie's store in Philadelphia, on September 27, 1773, a ship, named "Union (Andrew) Brism," had a passenger named Johann Zacharias Rexrodt (Rexroad). They only had a listing of males over sixteen years of age. I believe this to be our Zacharias' nephew, and he would have been about twenty nine years old when he arrived in America.

The IGI for Pennsylvania records page 16.184 shows a Johann Zacharias Rexrodt/Anna Margaret Weiss and also a Johann Zacharias Rexroth/Anna Marie Voegel. Page 16.185 shows a Johann Zacharias Rexrodt/Anna Margaret Weiss. Both Zacharias' lived in Berks County, Pennsylvania siring children with their respective wives. I believe our Zacharias was the Zacharias Rexroth/Anna Marie Voegel, as Rexroth was the name he signed on his will in 1790.

Records show for Zacharias and Anna Marie, an infant born 1753, died 1753, a Heinrich (Rexroad) born in 1756, a Sophia Catherine (Rexroad) born in 1759 and a Johan George (Rexroad) born in 1760. Anna Marie and Heinrich died in 1760.

In 1762, records say a Zachariah Rexrode, which is believed to be our "Zach," arrived in the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, possibly coming over the mountain trail from Pennsylvania when he was 37 years old. He has signed his name on documents in the 1760's as Zacharias Rexroth, but the English deed recorders insisted on spelling his name Rexrode, just as it sounded to them.

Rexroth? Rexrode? Well, what's in a name? Zacharias' nephew spelled his name Rexrodt when he arrived in Philadelphia in 1773, and even his descendants now spell it Rexroat. Whatever the variation of the name, the Rexroads, the Rexrodes, and the Rexroats are not just distantly related--they are of the same immediate family.

Zacharias made his way into Pendleton County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in the year 1774 when he was about 49 years old. Records show his wife's name as being Catherine with no maiden name or date of marriage given. Since he had two toddlers to tend to after his 1st wife died I'm inclined to think he remarried in Pa. before attempting to cross the mountains two years later. Zacharias and Catherine had raised the children and accomplished a great deal during their lifetime. They eventually settled in a log home in the Pendleton County area and the homestead is still standing and occupied today.

Due to the changes in boundaries, the area where the Rexroads lived was in Augusta, Rockingham, Pendleton, and then Highland Counties. The history of Pendleton County p. 492 reads Zacharis Rexroad Sr. was a blacksmith and first lived at the foot of the mountain west of the Swadley homestead. He made excellent bells, the sound of which could be heard for several miles. The children of Zacharias were infant Rexrode, Heinrich, Sophia Catherine, George, Zacharias Jr., Dorothy, John, Sophia, Margaret, Leonard, Henry, and Mary.

Infant Rexrode (Rexroad), no name listed, was born in 1753, died 1753.

Heinrich Rexrode (Rexroad) was born in 1756, died 1760.

Sophia Catherine Rexroade (Rexroad) was born Jan 6, 1759. She married Conrad Fleisher.

Johan George Rexrode (Rexroad) was born in 1760 in Pennsylvania and married a Margaret Heavener in 1791 in Pendleton County. He served as a soldier of Capt. Hull's company of Augusta County, Virginia in the Revolutionary War. George's death occurred in 1852 in his 92nd year.

Johann Zacharias Rexrode (Rexroad) Jr. was born in 1762. He married a Catherine Propst in 1781. He too served as a soldier in the Revolutionary War. Zach Jr. died in 1848 at 86 years of age.

Dorothy A. Rexrode (Rexroad) was born in 1763. She married George Keitz. Dorothy died in Dec, 1856.

John Rexrode (Rexroad) was born in 1766. He was too young to fight in the war, but he and his father donated five horses to the cause. Zach Jr. also donated another three head of horses. John married Margaret Hoover sometime before 1793 and died May 15, 1883, at the age of 86.

Sophia Rexrode (Rexroad) was born in 1769. She married (?) Ekert.

Margaret Rexrode (Rexroad) was born in 1770. She died in 1854.

Leonard Rexrode (Rexroad) was born in 1771. He married Elizabeth Caplinger in 1791. They had eight children: John--1792, Samuel--1794, Christian--1796, Margaret--1798, Leonard Jr.--1805, Daniel--1807, George--1809, and Sarah--1814. Leonard apparently cared for his parents, Zach and Catherine in their golden years. Leonard died in 1830.

Henry Rexrode (Rexroad) was born in 1778. He married Catherine E.(?) Children were Daniel, Ephraim, Solomon, Henry Jr., Elizabeth, Lucinda, and Mary.

Mary Rexrode (Rexroad) was born in 1782. she married John Grogg in 1796. Mary died in 1855. THIS IS OUR BLOODLINE

The eleventh child of Zachariah was born in 1771, and was named Leonard Rexrode. He is of our bloodline. Leonard married Elizabeth Caplinger in 1791. Leonard died in 1830. Leonard and Elizabeth had eight children. Their firstborn, being of our bloodline, was named John Rexroad.

John was born on June 30, 1792, and married Eleanor Rymer on February 4, 1813. They had nine children. One was named William Rexroad. He is of our bloodline. John and Eleanor moved from Highland county, Virginia, to make their home in Lewis County, Virginia, (now West Virginia), in 1844. This was when the surname was changed to Rexroad. John Rexroad was a farmer and died July 3, 1874.

William Rexroad was born on June 30, 1827, and married Mary Jane Curry, although the date of marriage is not known. They had seven children. William and Mary were both born near McDowell, Highland County, Virginia. They moved to Lewis County and then on to Braxon County. William fought with the Union Army and was a farmer. William died on February 28, 1914. A son born in 1868, was named Milton Rexroad and is of our bloodline.

Milton married Mary Lloyd and they had seven children. One son was named Osborne A. Rexroad and was born in 1894. He is of our bloodline.

Osborne married Nellie Ancell on about October 1917. They had eight children, including one from a previous marriage of Nellie. One son was named Samuel D. Rexroad and was born in 1931. He is of our bloodline. Osborne and Nellie moved from West Virginia to Southern Ohio after 1930. He worked at the steel mill in Portsmouth, Ohio. Osborne died in 1963.

Samuel Rexroad married Alma Jean Shope on September 21, 1952. They have four children. He served in the Air Force and worked in the construction trades. Samuel is now retired and living in Zephyr Hills, Fl with his wife. Their first born was named Michael Lee Rexroad. That's Me!

I was born on July 1, 1953, in Portsmouth, Ohio. I have two brothers and one sister, Gregory (Charleston SC), Kevin (Portsmouth Oh) and Cynthia. (Zephyr Hills Fl). I have a daughter named Melissa, who lives in Portsmouth and a son named Michael II, who is living in Portsmouth. I now live in Charleston, West Virginia, and my wife Carolyn and I, have the Wildflowers Unique Book and Gift Store.

Census records say that there are about 350 heads of households in the United States with the Rexroad name and about 1,120 people carrying the Rexroad name. The number of entries in the Rexroad Family Veterans Database is far fewer (fortunately) than those in other data bases. Maybe because the Rexroads were better at ducking bullets and arrows. Civil War medals belong to William Rexroad, Hezekiah Rexroad, George Rexroad, and Isaiah H. Rexroad. One Rexroad was captured and rescued in World War II. Two Rexroads died in Viet Nam. Ronald Rexroad USAF Ranklin IL was listed as POW/MIA.

The Rexroad name is the 16,385th most popular last name (surname) in the United States. The Rexroad name over the centuries has been spelled Rexroth, Reichtrodt, Rexrode, Rexrodte, Recksrodt, Rexroat, Rexrod, Rexroade and Reixroth,as well as many other variations. I think that over the centuries, the translation from German to English played some part in the various spellings. Also, the fact that some of the bearers of the name probably couldn't write or spell their names in German or English resulted in some of the variations.

This completes the Rexroad family records based on the information I have collected to date. None of this is set in stone. Typos in names, spelling, and dates are possible since several sources were used in creating this report. May you find this information delightful, educational, and informative. Note: I will no longer do any more research nor answer any inquiries as time will not allow me to do. Hope you understand.

                                                         Michael Lee Rexroad  (copyrighted 1996)   

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