Old German script. What is the wife's name in this 1837 baptismal ledger from Stark County, Ohio?



The partial image below is from an 1837 baptismal register of a church located in Paris Township, Stark County, Ohio. It is written in old German script. At least to our knowledge, these ledgers have never been translated/transcribed as a body of work.

One entry (the entry of interest) is highlighted. (See the full page HERE.) We have been able to interpret (translate/transcribe) all but one name in the entry of interest.

Maria, [born] 17 February 1837, [dau. of] Joseph Miller [and wife] ---XXXXXX---, [witnessed by] Peter Miller [and wife] Maria, [baptized] 22 April 1837, by P. Herbr.

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The wife's name has been hard to interpret/translate/transcribe. Here is a larger version of her name:

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Based on the work of others, the name is thought to begin with the letters Re- and to end with an -a. Although the graphic represents four missing letters (in the middle), we can't be sure of how many letters make up that part of the name.

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A few of the references I have worked with about German script are below.

Updated/Extended Information:

I descend of Peter Miller (ca1779-1845), whose second wife was Mary Stewart (ca1786-1855). They settled at Paris Township, Stark County, Ohio. Separately, Peter Miller was a member of the church at Paris, and he and Mary are both buried in the church cemetery. Their first born was a Joseph Miller (b. 1814).

Although we don't know of any other Peter and Mary Miller contemporaries of Paris, there were many Joseph Millers of the day about the township, county and state. Both of "Paris township," one Joseph Miller married at Stark County in 1835 to Rebecka Thoma. (The Thoma farm neighbored Peter Miller's Paris farm.) This Joseph and Rebecka's first child is generally given as William Miller (19 Jan 1839 - 22 Sept 1918).

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Rather early, a descendant of this Joseph and Rebecca/Rebecka in Ohio (Jack Stover) worked with the church ledgers. He came away with an interpretation for the wife's name in this entry as "R-e-g-i-n-a."

Jack consulted about the ledger with Dr. Daniel Jay Grimminger, Obl.O.S.B., Ph.D., author of Images of America: Paris and former Israel Lutheran church historian. Dr. Grimminger's insight assisted much with other parts of the entry, but he couldn't improve on the wife's name.

I wasn't able to interpret "R-e-g-i-n-a," or any obvious "whole" name from the record. (The members of Genealogy.SE are doing much better.)

Albeit probably biased by other logic applied to prove or disprove that Joseph Miller (m. Rebecca Thoma) was one and the same, Peter Miller's son Joseph, my humble attempt produced "R-e-[_]-e-c-k-a."

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Posted 2013-01-04T16:38:08.420

Reputation: 8 477

Could we first accept this is about interpreting writing, not genealogy or family history? Clearly, that could hardly matter to me. To you, it might well make the difference between getting any Answer, let alone an acceptable one.

It looks clear that the three-and-a-halfth character is "y" unless "g" is a translation… in which case why not take the Question to a language-specific site?

Before that the two-and-a-halfth character looks like "n".

How is it clear that the first scribble is a single character, not two?

How is it clear any part of that is "R" or "r"? – Robbie Goodwin – 2020-05-25T18:32:15.880

The 3rd letter appears to be "g" based on comparison to the word "August" in the last entry (dated 18 August 1834). – Rusty Erpenbeck – 2013-01-05T18:15:27.157

1I think the best option is to search for more examples of this name in the records. Did she have more children, or witness the baptisms of Peter Miller's children? – Rusty Erpenbeck – 2013-01-05T18:34:54.213

To the best of our knowledge, this couple doesn't appear further in the records of the day that were examined. Had the body of work been previously interpreted, I would be able to say with more confidence whether names like Regenta or Regella appeared somewhere. We reviewed pages of the day that contained a surname Miller. We found no other entries that would contribute to our understanding of this entry. – GeneJ – 2013-01-07T00:05:16.593

@RustyErpenbeck The "p" in Joseph follows an "e"; and that "p" also has a big of a "g" look to it. I'll see if I can find some more -ep- entries. – GeneJ – 2013-01-07T00:08:43.430



Looks like Regenta to me, but it's a very rare name. More likely it is Regetta and is misspelled as Regeta, or with some unknown character denoting a double "t". We know that the "t" is not supposed to be looped, but this guy's writing is loopy, and even I loop my T's sometimes.

Rusty Erpenbeck

Posted 2013-01-04T16:38:08.420

Reputation: 3 576

+1 your comment about a possible misspelling gave me the courage to post an extended comment about my own attempt to solve the provlem. I'm not sure if there is a methodology to approach the "best" misspelled option. – GeneJ – 2013-01-05T15:25:43.750

1Could also be a phonetic misspelling of Rijeka, a Croatian name for girls meaning River. – Rusty Erpenbeck – 2013-01-05T18:27:05.983


I think the 3rd letter is a "g".
4th letter an "e".
Last letter an "a".

I'd look for German female names that follow this sort of pattern...

The name "Regel" is a form of Rachel: http://www.baby-vornamen.de/Maedchen/R/Re/Regel/#Kommentare

Canadian Girl Scout

Posted 2013-01-04T16:38:08.420

Reputation: 4 627

These are GREAT alternatives. For a long time, we had been hung up on an interpretation as "R-e-g-i-n-a." I did not know about these possible Rachel variants. Good work. – GeneJ – 2013-01-05T15:27:06.997


Yes, the 'g' looks very much like the exemplar you included here: http://www.suetterlinschrift.de/Lese/Alphabet.htm

– Canadian Girl Scout – 2013-01-05T16:35:12.070

+1 yes, I can see the "g" too. I can reason that letter to be a "p" also. There are no given names "Repecka" indexed by Ancestry in the 1850 census, but there are three indexed in 1860, all Berks County Penn. (a) Repecka Eslinger, (b) Repecka Stoud and (c) Repecka Swoyer. – GeneJ – 2013-01-05T17:56:48.730


I read "Repeka" based on the following observations:

  • first letter a R similar to "Rahel" in the first column 5. entry from the bottom
  • e similar to other e letters
  • could be g but compare also "April" in the line above which also looks like "Agril"
  • again e, which could be also r, but e more likely
  • first I read d, but compare "Katharina" in the first column 3. entry from the bottom, there it is a upper case letter, but resembles the letter in the name
  • a, with missing top due to sloppy writing, compare with "Maria" at the witnesses


Posted 2013-01-04T16:38:08.420

Reputation: 1 067