by Theodore Roosevelt Rorrer and John Alexander Rorer

The surname ROHR or ROHRER is of German origin and is derived from the word Rohr, which means, literally, "reed, cane; tube, pipe", etc. It is suggested that the name was first taken by one to whom the nickname Rohricht, "reed-like", had been applied. Family historians are, "however, of the opinion that the word Rohr was used to designate the meadows bordering on the swamplands of southern Germany and thus the inhabitants of that vicinity. It is also stated that the Rohrs were later called Rohre and, still later, Rohrer. Certainly, in ancient German and early American records the name appears in the various spellings of Rohr, Rohre, Rohre, Rore, Rorer, Rhorer, Rhoer, Roer, Roar, Rhor, Rorau, Rohrau, Rohrer, Rorrer, Rohr, Rohrer, etc. Of the forms mentioned, the last two are those most frequently in evidence in America in modern times.

Among the most prominent of the families of the name were the Rohrs of Finland; the Rohrs of Mecklenburg, in the Rhine Province; the Rohrs or Rhoers of the Rhine Province, the Rohrs of Bale and Berne, Switzerland; the Rohrs of Bavaria, Carinthia, and Prussia; and the Rohrers of the German Palatinate. These lines were chiefly of the nobility of Continental Europe.

As early as the year 1292 record is found of one Berchthol dus de Rore; in 1314 record is found of one Caspar Rorau; in 1460 one Rorer (Christian name unknown) was living at Freiburg; and in 1481 Melchior von Rhor was living in Polish Wartenbergschen. The last was the progenitor of Albrecht von Rohr or Rhor, living in 1619, and of Daniel von Rohr or Rhor, who died not later than 1629.

Otto von Rohr, who was living in the year 1400 and was then Bishop of Havelberg, is said to have been the progenitor of families of the name in Saxony, Austria, Bavaria, Prussia, and the Rhine Province. The descendants of this Otto von Rohr included Julius Bernhard von Rohr, of Saxony; Caspar Friedrich von Rohr, Major General in the Prussian Army, who died in 1757; Heinrich Ludwig von Rohr, Lieutenant General in the Prussian Army, who died in 1792; Albrecht Ehrenreich von Rohr, Major General of the Prussian Army, who died in the year 1800; Otto Christian von Rohr, Major General of the Prussian Army, who died in 1839; and Wilhelm Eugen Ludwig Ferdinand von Rohr, General of Infantry, Prussian Army, who died in 1851.

Other members of the last-mentioned family, evidently descended from one Otto von Rohr --living in 1836, and also called "von Rohr-Wahlen-Jurgass" included Bodo August Carl Georg von Rohr, Lord of Holzhausen and Zernitz; Carl von Rohr, Lord of Wulkow; Friedrich von Rohr, Lord of Dannenwalde; and Otto von Rohr, Lord of Trieplatz and Tramnitz.

The Rohrers of Austria and the Rhine Province were established as early as the fifteenth century, if not before, at Wising, their estate being the Castle Rohra-Wising. However, the records of this line are not complete.

In the Prussian Rhine Province a family of the name of Rhoer, Rhor, or Roer was represented in the year 1783 by Caspar Anton von der Rhoer, who was the progenitor of Heinrich Cornelius Balthasar von der Rhoer, Lord of fenburg, in the same vicinity. One family of the name of Rohrer is said to have been early established at Strassburg, in Alsace, a province of France. Being of Huguenot or French Protestant belief, this family is said to have fled about the year 1725 into Switzerland. According to family historians, one of the family, a John Rohrer, became separated from his father and brothers and found his way alone to southern Germany, whence he came in 1728 to Philadelphia. This immigrant is believed to have been identical with that Johanne Roer, also recorded as Johannes Roar, and later as John Rorrer, who came in the ship Mortonhouse from the Palatinate in that year. He was a Mennonite and was married about the year 1735 to Elizabeth Snavely, of the same church. He had issue by this union at Lampeter, in Lancaster County, Pa., of eight children, John, Christian, Jacob, Isaac, Henry Abraham, David, and Magdalena.

Isaac Rohrer, son of the immigrant John, was born in 1743 and in 1774 married Elizabeth Groff. The children of this union were Elizabeth, Martin, John, Jacob, Maria, Henry, Isaac, and Abraham, some of whom were born after the removal of the family to Upper Leacock, Pa., in 1784.

Martin Rohrer, eldest son of Isaac and Elizabeth (nee Groff), had issued, by a wife named Anna or Nancy, of four children, Isaac, Abner, Mary, and Henry. The records of this line of the family are not, however, complete.

John Rohrer, second son of Isaac and Elizabeth (nee Groff), married Esther Wenger in 1801 and had issue by her of twelve children, Daniel, Benjamin, Maria, Esther, Isaac, John, Jacob, Martin, Michael, Elizabeth, Israel, and Anna. Of these, Daniel resided near East Petersburg, Pa., and was the father by his wife, Mary Kreider, of John, Jacob, Daniel (of Missouri), Benjamin, Abraham, Ana, Israel, Hattie, Isaac, Henry, and Mary; Benjamin left issue at Leacock, Pa., of Hattie, John L., Maria, Ann, Elizabeth, Michael, Jacob (whose descendants are numerous in Ohio, Colorado, Missouri, and Texas), and Sarah; Isaac left issue at Leacock of Barbara, Hettie, Gabriel, Maria, David, Wayne, Lemuel, and Emma; John also remained at Leacock, but his records are not in evidence; Jacob, a physician, removed to St. Louis, Mo., where he may have left issue, but his records are also incomplete; Martin made his home near Monterey, Pa., and was the father of Elam (settled in Kansas), Elizabeth, Mary, John S., Isaac, Catherine, Anna, Barbara, Susanna, and Frances; Michael removed to Canton, Ohio, and left issue there by two wives, Elizabeth Sherrick and Mary Wenqer, of eight children, Benjamin F., John, Sarah A., Edwin, Joseph, Martha, Fannie, and Daniel; I and Israel is said to have settled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and to have been the father of Susannah, Henry (of Pennsylvania), Elizabeth, John, Samuel, Martin, Jacob, Hettie, Israel (of Dayton, Va.), Anna, Mary, Amanda, Mattie, and Daniel (of Pennsylvania).

Jacob Rohrer, third son of Isaac and Elizabeth (nee Groff), resided near Conestoga Creek, Pa., and had issue there, by his wife Anna, of five children, Maria, Elizabeth, Abraham, Anna, and Jacob. Of the sons, Abraham had five children, Abraham, Henry, John, Benjamin, and Anna, all of Lancaster, Pa.; and Jacob was the father of Anna, Elizabeth, Adam, Mary, Abraham, Sue, Amanda, Jacob (some of whose sons settled in Canada and Montana), Aaron (one of whose sons removed to Illinois), Milton, and Emma.

Henry Rohrer, fourth son of Isaac and Elizabeth (nee Groff), removed to Hagerstown, Md., about 1810. He later settled near Martinsburg, in Berkeley County, W.Va., after a short stay in the Shenandoah Valley. He was the father of six children, Benoni, Esther, Elizabeth, Maria, Martin, and Daniel. Of these, Benoni removed to Michigan and then to Tif fin, Ohio, where he left at least two children, Silas and Manda; Martin resided near Wit— liamsport, Md., and was the father of at least one son, named Henry Rohrer; and Daniel resided in Berkeley County, W. Va., but his records are not complete.

Isaac Rohrer, fifth son of Isaac and Elizabeth (nee Groff), married a first cousin, Mary Rohrer, and resided at West Hempfield, Pa., until about 1824, when he removed to Canton, Ohio. His children were Nancy, Isaac, Elizabeth, Henry, Maria, Susan— nah, Frances, David, Leah, Jacob, and Sarah. Of the sons, Isaac had issue of nine children, Elizabeth, Simon (of Michigan), Anna, David, Martin (went West), Daniel, Isaac (of Michigan), John, and Emma; Henry was the father at Canton, Ohio, of Mary, Henrietta, Emma, Silas (settled in North Dakota), Albert (of North Dakota), Isaac (of Kansas City, Mo.), Jacob (of Kansas City, Mo.), John, David, Frances, Henry (progenitor of a family at Seattle, Wash.), William (of North Dakota), and Harriet; and David left issue in Ohio of at least one son, named David.

Abraham, the sixth and youngest son of Isaac and Elizabeth (nee Groff), a preacher of the Mennonite Church, married Margaret Beard in 1810 and in 1812 removed from Pennsylvania to Maryland, whence he again removed, in 1832, to Wadsworth, Ohio. The children of this union were Michael, Mary, Isaac, Elizabeth, Margaret, Sarah, Jacob, Amelia, Abraham, David, and Susan. Of the sons, Michael married Elizabeth Westifer and left issue near Wadsworth, Ohio, of Mary, Isaac, Martha, Margaret, Abraham, Elizabeth, William, Michael W., Susannah, and Benjamin; Isaac resided near Tif fin, in Seneca County, Ohio, and, later near Columbiana, in the same State, and had eight children, Margaret, Jacob (settled in Indiana), Abraham, David, Elizabeth, Henry, Isaac, and Susan; Jacob resided between Seville and Medina, Ohio, and was the father of Sarah, Barbara, Daniel (of Washington, Iowa), Abraham, Jacob, Elizabeth, Simon, Mahlon, and Delbert; Abraham was the father at Wadsworth of Susannah, Elizabeth, Margaret, Mary, and Samuel K.; and David also resided at Wadsworth, leaving issue there of two sons, Henry and Abraham.

A family of the name of Rohrer was early settled in Maryland, but may have been of Pennsylvania origin. Of this line were Jacob Rohrer or Rhorer, whose will was recorded in Frederick County in 1758; and John Rohrer, whose will was recorded in Baltimore County in 1767.

Others of the name who were early settled in Pennsylvania were Jacob Rohr, aged forty-four, who came to Philadelphia in the ship Brittania in 1731; Johan Jacob Rohr, who came in the ship Johnson from the Palatinate in 1732; Johannes Roohr or Rohr, aged twenty, who came in the Samuel to Philadelphia in 1737; Johannes and Johann Gottfried Rohrer, who came from the Palatinate in the ship Robert and Alice or Robert and Oliver to Philadelphia in 1738; Henry Rorer (also recorded as Heinrich Rohrer), who came in the Friendship from the Palatinate to Philadelphia in 1740; Ulrich Rohr, Fridrich or Friederick Rohrer, Samuel Rohrer, and Georg Rohrer, all of whom came in the ship Restauration, probably from the Palatinate, in 1747; Jacob Rohrer, who came in 1749 to Philadelphia in the ship Crown; Johannes and Jacob Rohr, who came from the Palatinate to Philadelphia in 1749 in the ship St. Andrew; Johannes Rohr, who came in the ship Royal Union in 1750; Johann Friederick von Rohr and Johan Andreas von Rohr, who came in the ship Phoenix to Philadelphia in 1750; Jacob Rorer, who came in the ship St. Andrew in 1750; Johannes Rohrer, who came in the ship Brotherhood in 1750 to Philadelphia; Christian Rohr, who came in the ship Two Brothers to Philadelphia in 1751; Hans Georg Rohrer, who came in the Phoenix to Philadelphia in 1752; Martin Rorr, who came in the ship Halifax in 1754; Joseph Roarer or Rohrer and Anthony Roarer or Rohr (recorded both ways), who came together in the ship Mary and Sarah in 1754; Georg Friederick Rohrer, who came in the ship Snow Squirrel to Philadelphia either in 1756 or in 1761; Jacob Rohrer, who came in the Crawford in 1770; Ludwig Rohrer, who came in the Pennsylvania Packet in 1771; and Weygandt or Wynant Rohr, who came in the Sally to Philadelphia in 1772.

Thomas Rorer, who was born in Philadelphia in 1796, may have been descended from one of the before-mentioned immigrants. He married Elizabeth Caster and had issue by her of six children, one of whom was Thomas Rorer (b. 1824), who settled in 1851 in Harrison County, Ky. By his wife, Frances McLean, the younger Thomas was the father of William, Elizabeth, Thomas, Annie, Charley, Francis, Johnny, and two other children, whose names are not available.

John Rohrer, whose ancestry is not certain, was the father by his wife, Elizabeth Meily, of at least one son, David (b. 1801), who made his home of Lebanon and Middleton, Pa. This son married Mary Parthemore before 1825 and had issue by her of Jacob Lafayette (died early), Jeremiah, Elizabeth, Absalom S. (died early), Jacob, and George F. Of these Jeremiah was married in 1853 to Mary A. Redsecker, who gave him eight children, George R., David, Jacob B., Maria Louise, Mary, Grant, Howard, and Daisy M.; while George F. left issue at Harrisburg, Pa., by his wife, Virginia Clyde, whom he married in 1858, of five children, Mary Josephine, Nora, Virginia Mary, J. Clyde, and Edgar. It is possible that this family was descended from the immigrant John who came over in 1728, but this has not been definitely ascertained.

Frederick Rohrer, who is said to have been born in France, was the progenitor of the family that founded Rohrersville, Washington County, Md. He came to America between the years 1754 and 1763 and in 1766 married a Miss Deemer, of York County, Pa. This couple removed soon afterward to Hagerstown, Md., and was the parents of Jonathan, Frederick, Samuel, Susan, Betsey, David, Daniel, Jeremiah, Sophia, John 0., and Maria.

Of the sons of the immigrant Frederick, Jonathan married Betsey Wyand, but his records are not complete; Frederick married Betsy Thomas and was the father of Captain Joshua W. Rohrer, of Washington County, Md., whose descendants are numerous; Samuel married Betsy Crampton, but the names of his progeny are not available; David married Sophia Deaner and had issue by her of Josiah C., Frederick D., and other children; Daniel married Ettie Bockens, but the names of his children are not in evidence; Jeremiah married Malinda Mullendore, but this records are also incomplete; and John 0. married a Miss Robinson, but is thought to have died without issue.

Certain family historians give the children of the above mentioned Frederick and Betsy (nee Thomas) as Samuel, George C., Leah H., Martin T., George C. married Sophia Deaner and left issue by her in Missouri; Martin T. married Margaret Eavey and left issue at Mt. Morris, Ill.; Daniel F. married Ellen Matthews and left issue at Carlisle, Pa.; and Joshua W. resided at various times in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri, and Maryland and was the father by his wife, Urilla Hoffman, whom he married in 1869, of a daughter named Ima I.

Of the sons of David and Sophia (nee Deaner), before mentioned, Josiah C. married Caroline Showman before 1848 and was the father by her of at least one son, Daniel A. Rohrer; while Frederick D. married Harriet E. Rohrer in 1840 and was the father by her of two children, Martha Ann and George William Clay Rohrer, of Oklahoma.

John Rohrer, who is said to have been of French descent, was living in Hagerstown, Md., in 1810. He was the father in that year of the reverend Joseph F. Rohrer, a minister of the German Baptist Brethren Church, who married Elizabeth G. Funk in 1837 and had issue by her of numerous daughters and sons named John H., Joseph F., and Aaron F.

John Rohrer, of Washington County, Md., was married in 1838 to Elizabeth Ridenour, who gave him ten children, Hiram (of Iowa), William H., David (died young), John, Silas (died young), Mary, Elizabeth, Savilla, Amelia, and Jacob.

Among the many other early records of the Rohrer family in Washington County, Md., are those of John Rohrer, who married Eva Bowers sometime before 1799 and was the father in that year of a son named Jacob, who was married in 1825 to Rosanna Kefauver and had issue by her of Mahlon (died in infancy), Mahala, Josiah, Henry W., Samuel, Ezra P., Barbara, Malinda C., Matilda, Lorenzo D., and Mary Ann; John Rohrer, of Hagerstown, before 1810, who was the father of the Reverend Joseph F. Rohrer, who married Elizabeth G. Funk in 1837 and had issue by her of Susannah, Elizabeth, Sarah, John H., Emma, Joseph F., Mary H., and Aaron F.; and John Rohrer, who was married before 1811 to Betsy Keplinger, who gave him seven children, Jacob, John, Joseph, Betsey, Harriet E., Abram, and one other child, who died young. Of the last-mentioned brothers, Joseph married Elizabeth Thomas before 1842 and was the father by her of Thomas, Harriet (married one Samuel Rohrer), Sarah, Henry Clay, Joseph F., John V., and Mary Catharine.

According to one family historian, Abram Rorer, the son of an immigrant from Switzerland named Rorer or Rohrer, removed about 1789 from Pennsylvania to Virginia and settled in Pittsylvania County. He married Mary Wright (according to some historians, a Miss Cook) and had issue by her of Rudolph, Charles, David, and Abram. Of these, David is said to have settled in Iowa, while Abram remained and left issue in Virginia.

John Rohrer (possibly a descendant of the before-mentioned Pennsylvania lines), who was living at Rapho, in Lancaster County, Pa., in the early nineteenth century, left issue there by his wife Susan of Maria, Jacob, John K. Christian K., Anna K., and David K., of whom the last died young.

Of the other sons of John and Susan, Jacob married Susan Baker, by whom he was the father of Amelia, Benjamin, Barbara, Anna, and Susan; John K. married Catharine (and later her sister Mary) Hiestand and was the father of Allan, Martha, Susan, John, Clinton, Christian, David, Frank, Harvey, Malinda, Phares, Paris, and Mabel; while Christian K. married Mary Greider and was the father by her of Emma, Minnie, Ellen, Harry, Emerson, Mary, and Christian.

A John R. Rohrer, of German ancestry, was living before 1827, probably in Pennsylvania. He had issue by his wife Susan of fourteen children, of whom the fifth was Mahlon Rohrer, who was married in 1847 to Mahala Lesueur. Five years later this couple removed to Ohio, and in 1869 they settled in Montgomery County, Mo. their children included Mary M., Susie, Laura, Katie, Charley, and others.

Another Missouri family traces its descent from Charles H. Rohrer, of German descent, who was born at Harrisburg, Pa., in 1858, the son of J. F. and S. E. (nee Spiece) Rohrer, natives of Pennsylvania. Charles H. resided chiefly at New Haven Mo.

Educators, literary men, and military officers, the Rohrers and Rohrs in America have been rominent in many professional fields of endeavor, they are best known, on the whole, for their ability to lead and direct others, their humanitarian interests, and their sound judgment. They are described by family historians as a family that has kept the faith of a religious belief through more than two hundred years in America"; and it is further said that "Their descendants during two centuries have developed a spirit of democracy and individualism, that has made them both aggressive and steadfast."

Among those of the name who served with the colonial forces during the American Revolution were John Rohr, of Pennsylvania; Henry, Jacob, John, and John Rohrer, Jr., of Pennsylvania; Christian, David, Frederick, Henry, Isaac, Jacob, and John Rorer, of Pennsylvania; Henry Rhorer, of Pennsylvania; Ensign Rohr or Rhor, of Pennsylvania; Christian Rhoar, of Pennsylvania; Martin Rohrer, of Maryland; and Henry and Jacob Rorer, of Maryland.

John Frederick, Henry, Jacob, David, Christian, Isaac, Abraham, Martin, Benjamin, Daniel, Michael, Israel, George, Thomas, Joseph, Samuel, and Charles are some of the masculine Christian names frequently recurrent in the annals of the family.

Of the bearers of the name who have been prominent in America in comparatively recent times, the following are considered representative:

Samuel Rohrer (nineteenth century), of Maryland and Kansas, teacher and surveyor.

Joshua W. Rohrer (b. 1836), of Maryland, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Missouri educator and Captain in the northern forces during the Civil War.

Daniel A. Rohrer (b. 1848), of Maryland, president of the board of County Commissioners for Washington County

Albert Lawrence Rohrer (b. 1856), of Ohio and New Jersey, Engineer.

Frederick Rohr (b. 1863), of Mexico, Businessman.

Virgil Eugene Rorer (b. 1867), of Pennsylvania, Clergyman.

Charles Rohr (b. 1869), of New Mexico, Businessman.

James Birch Rorer (latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries), American Plant Pathologist.

Sarah Tyson Rorer (latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries), of Pennsylvania, Teacher of Domestic Science, Editor, and Author.

Ira A. Rohrer (latter nineteenth and early twentieth centuries), of Idaho, Businessman.

Paul Gottlieb Rohwer (1872—1930), of California, Oil Operator.

Two of the coats of arms anciently borne by families of the name in Germany are described in heraldic terms as follows (Rietstap, Armorial General, 1934):

Arms. I (Rohrer) --"Azure, three rushes or, issuant from the sea proper, the shield chaperonne—ploye or, two estoiles sable."

Crest. -- "A man issuant, habited sable, banded or, girdle and doublings of the same, carrying a rush or."

Lambrequins. -- ."Dexter or and sable, sinister or and azure.

Arms. II (Rohr) -- "Parti-emanche (another partienclave) argent and gules."

Crest.-- "A wolf gules, arrete or sautant, holding a tier of eight roses gules, seeded and barbed vert."


Heintze-Cascorbi. Die Deutschen Familiennamen. 1925.

Kneschke. Deutsches Adels-Lexicon. Vol. 7. 1867.

Weiss and Getz. The Saga of A People; A History of Johanne Rohrer. 1939.

Strassburger-Hinke. Pennsylvania German Pioneers. Vol. 1. 1934.

Rupp. Immigrants in Pennsylvania, 1727-1776. 1876.

History of Southeast Missouri. 1888

J. N. Brubacher. The Brubacher Genealogy. 1884.

History of Franklin, Jefferson, Washington, Crawford, and Gasconade Counties, Missouri. 1888.

St. Charles, Montgomery, and Warren Counties, Missouri. 1885.

Perrin. History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison, and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky. 1882.

E. W. S. Parthemore. Genealogy of the Parthemore Family. 1885.

Williams. History of Washington County, Maryland. Vol. 2. 1906.

Nead. The Pennsylvania German in the Settlement of Maryland. 1914.

Tyler. Encyclopedia of Virginia Biography. Vol. 5. 1915.

Pennsylvania Muster Rolls. 1907.

Maryland Muster Rolls in the Revolution. 1900.

Who’s Who in America. 1936-1937.

Rietstap. Armorial General. 1934.