Friday, February 9, 2024

2024 - Prompt - Earning a Living - Rexroad Family


Recksrodt, Rexroth, Rexroad Family of Blacksmiths 1620-1933

*Nancy Simmons

**Paul Simmons - father

***Walter Simmons - grandfather

****Andrew Simmons - great-grandfather

*****Aaron Simmons married to Phebe Rexroad - great-great-grandparents

******John Rexroad - 3x great-grandfather

*******Johann Georg Rexroad - 4x great-grandfather

********Johann Zachariah Rexroad – immigrant ancestor - 5th great-grandfather 

*********Johann Balthasar II Rexroth - 6th great-grandfather

**********Johann Balthasar I Rexroth - 7th great-grandfather

***********Wenzelslaus Recksrodt - 8th great-grandfather

************Johannes Recksrodt - 9th great-grandfather

Village Blacksmith - Library of Congress photo collection

The Rexroad family earned their living relying on the occupation of blacksmithing for at least seven generations. My great great-grandmother, Phoebe Rexroad, married Aaron Simmons in 1859. She was the daughter of John Rexroad and Phebe Arbogast. John Rexroad, his father, as well as several brothers were all skilled blacksmiths. As I researched the Rexroad family back into the 18th and 17th century, it came to light that many of the Rexroad family were employed as blacksmiths for over 200 years.


As early settlers in New England and Virginia were fighting with native Americans in the 1600s, my German ancestors were engaged in the Thirty-Years War 1618-1648 in Europe. This conflict started as a religious war called the Bohemian Rebellion. From 1620-1629 Catholic forces dominated the Protestant efforts and captured Bohemia. Bohemia lost 50% of their population with over 100,000 Protestants fleeing to neighboring regions. YES! Our German ancestors were refugees.

Wenzelslaus Recksrodt was born in Smirice, Hradec Kalove, Bohemia
German spelling of Smirice is Smirschitz

My 8th great grandfather, Wenzelslaus Recksrodt 1621-1705, was born in Smirschitz, Koniggrate, Bohemia. The Bohemian spelling of the surname was Recksrodt, the German spelling was Rexrodt, and the Anglican spelling was Rexroad. Records state Wenzelslaus Recksrodt was born in Smirshitz, Bohemia. The German name for this village is Smirshitz but the Bohemian spelling is Smirce. This village is located in the present-day Czech Republic.


Wenzelslaus’ father was Johannes Recksrodt born in 1590 in Wanfried, Cassel, Hessen in Germany and was a blacksmith and weaponsmith. He fought in the Battle of White Mountain near Prague on November 8, 1620. This battle marked the first major victory of the Roman Catholic Hapsburgs over the Protestant Union, an alliance among the Protestant states of Germany.

Battle of White Mountain - November 8, 1620
near Prague in Bohemia
Painting by Peter Snayers - Wikipedia

Shortly after the birth of Wenzelslaus’ son, Johann Balthasar in 1645, Wenzelslaus returned to Erbach, Odenwald, Hessen, in present day Germany, with a count in the Imperial Austrian Service. He served as a Hut-und Waffenschmied (German for ferrier and armor). A ferrier did many things that were necessary for horses. Their activities included making horseshoes and nails and caring for the welfare of the horses. An armor is one who repairs and replaces worn parts of firearms. If you needed someone to make a weapon, the blacksmith was the man to see. Blacksmiths were highly trained men who worked at their craft for their entire life. Johann Wenzelslaus died in Erbach on June 21, 1705.

Death document of Johann Wenzel Rexsrodt
Archion website: Erbach, Erbach, Beerdigungsregister 1600-1674, page 289, image 204

Translation: 1705 - On 21 June dies M. Wenzel Rexsrodt, citizen and master blacksmith here, was buried according to Christian custom on the 25th of the same month. Age 84 b. 1821

Hut-und Waffenschmied
Ferrier and Armorsmith

The Recksrodt family would branch out in the Odenwald, Hesse 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. According to his death record Wenzelslaus Rexerodt died June 21, 1705, at the age of 85 in Erbach.

Route from Smirschitz, Bohemia to Erbach im Odenwald
380 miles

Wenzelslaus' son, Johann Balthasar Rexrodt 1645-1694, had many children including seven sons. In 1669 two of his sons were named as a master blacksmith in the guild book. His son Johann Balthasar Rexrodt II, born in 1673-1734, attained status of Schmiedemeister (master smith).


Going to another generation, Johann Balthasar Rexrodt II's son, Johann Zachariah Rexroad, was born in 1725 in Erbach and immigrated in 1749 to Pennsylvania. There he married Anna Marie Vogelin 1751 at Stouchsburg, Lancaster County (later Berks County), Pennsylvania. According to Morton’s History of Pendleton County, Zachariah settled in Pendleton County in the early 1770s near Brandywine with a blacksmith shop where he made excellent bells. Zachariah died in Pendleton County, Virginia (now West Virginia) in 1799.


Zachariah had nine children and his second child, Johann George Rexroad, is my 4th great-grandfather. He was born about 1754 in Berks County, Pennsylvania and he married Elizabeth in 1791 in Pendleton County, West Virginia. Johann George Rexroad, as well as his son John Rexroad born about 1790, were also blacksmiths. This takes us to the next generation when my great-great grandmother Phebe Rexroad was born in 1833 in Pendleton County and she married Aaron Simmons in 1859 in Ritchie County, West Virginia.


For over 250 years from John Rexroad born in 1833 back six generations to Johannes Recksrodt born in 1590 we have seven generations of Rexroad men that earned their living by being blacksmiths.



Pedigree Chart 
 Johannes Recksrodt to his 10th great granddaughter, Nancy Simmons 


* Banse, Heidi, Vorfahren der Familie Banse,

* Eye, Walter, The History of the descendants of Zachariah Rexroad, of Pendleton County, VA. (WV)  

Moeck, Mary, Rexroad Book,, Books

* Rexroad, Wm. D., A Line of  Rexroad in America,, Books

* Rexroad, Wm. D., Johann Zacharias Rexroth: the Pioneer,, Books

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