Never backing down from a graphic challenge, I more than met my match this time! In this search for roots, I embarked on answering a family riddle. Recovering from one of the hardest visual tasks in my career, I shake my head at the genealogical complexities.
Fortunately I learned to chart with less complex family branches, only to learn that the conventional tree formation design confuses. Best to throw out preconceptions of structure and start all over. The mysterious clue that I wished to unravel was that my grandmother’s two grandmothers were Rinn cousins. Going back in time, I discovered that I am descended from four branches of the Rinn family, due in large part to the Thirty Years’ War.
To unlock the mystery, I researched the surname “Rinn,” working backwards to the earliest records. Compiling 400 years of data, I edited it down just to the direct line ancestors who’s marriages contributed to ancestor loss. Continually simplifying, even these origins, which I show here, are complex. The Illustrated Glossary of Genealogical Terms (see the Album release) that I authored comes in handy! The “Rinn Beginning” chart demonstrates the reality interlinking relationships in past centuries.
The earliest record of the name Rinn is from 1470 in Giessen, where members demonstrated variations like Rinner, Rhin, Rinne, Renner, and Rynner. Hans Rhinne was a “host of the wine.” Then, the more independent-minded Seip Rinn moved to the smaller community of nearby Heuchelheim around 1570. Most likely, he was motivated by financial considerations, as it seems the family in Giessen was quite large. They were also Protestants, a minority religion. And, Heuchelheim might have been rather isolated, for there is little mixture with the surrounding region, other than Geissen which may have been the major market place for their farm products.
Seip, his son Ludwig, and his grandsons Johann and Caspar, prospered in Heuchelheim. Each owned land and grew their farming operations. When the Thirty Years War broke out in 1618, the Rinns were flourishing. Johann and Caspar each had two sons that married women from old Heuchelheim families and had young children when violence met them. The records show that around 1640, many of the men and almost all of the elders perished. Post-war devastation reports were made by survivors and are public record. Where most families only had one surviving male member, the Rinns had five. They agreed at that time to standardize the family to the spelling Rinn. If they were not one of the prominent Heuchelheim families before the war, they certainly were after, and remain so to this day.
This chart demonstrates the beginning of the story that results in an intricate lattice structure. The two arrows indicate that descendants marry cousins and add more complexity later. More of this chart is currently in the works.
Hopefully my designs begin to make the complex understandable. Perhaps I am even expressing what was too complex for the ancestors themselves to describe! My grandmother threw up her hands after the general declaration of “cousins.” But like a good detective, I am following the bread crumbs of evidence.
Liane Sebastian wears an editor’s hat, designer’s coat, and artist’s shoes.