Monday, February 05, 2007
Gordo was asking where Rith comes from. Here is the general story, as best as I know it. There is that western bit of Germany the French and Germans are always fighting over, and in the mid-1700s our ancestors were serious protestants, Mennonites. French Catholics were rampaging across eastern France, and either killed protestants or drove them out. My relatives went 3 ways. Some to Switzerland, some to NY and Pennsylvania Dutch country, where a variation of the name, 'Rieth', lives on in some Mennonites who would be distant cousins of mine. Our own branch ran to the Austro-Hungarian empire, famously tolerant of religious groups, including Jews and protestants. Somewhere east of Vienna in Hungary my ancestors settled in a German community, and around the 1880s came to NY. My great-grandfather Alfred Rith was a vaudeville actor and met my great-grandmother Tete on the road in a touring show. He and his brother went to Europe in WWI and he saw his brother blown up, and came home with TB. He lived a few sickly years, and that was it.
There are very few Riths in Germany, the sign above is from a bicycle shop near Koblenz, I think. There are just a few of us in the US, except for as I say, the Mennonite Rieths. It is a not uncommon Cambodian name, and there are a couple dozen Riths in California now, including, darnitall, a Gary Rith born in 1995. And I had been the only one on earth!