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Home: Surnames: Reeb Family Genealogy Forum

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Name Changing
Posted by: John Reeb (ID *****7361) Date: September 28, 2005 at 07:09:13
  of 277

Like many other surnames of German origin the name of Reeb immigrants who came to the American colonies in the 1700s became corrupted due to the pronunciation of the name which is in German sounded witht the double e as an a and the final b to sound like p, thus those clerks and officials who did not understand the German language would write down what they heard rather than correctly write the name according to the German spelling of REEB. This resulted in the name becoming known as Rape and Reap among the early REEB Americans in North Carolina and then later beginning in the early 1800s in Butler County, PA. The descendants of Gustavus Reeb who evidently left his home in Northampton County, PA and went south to NC probably along with his brother Peter Reeb became known as REAP. Descendants of yet another brother of Gustavus and Peter, Michael Reeb, became Reph and sometimes Raph.

Fast speed to the 20th century and we who bore the name of Rape espiecially in the southern states began to experience certain difficulty due to the negative connotation of the RAPE spelling and in the early 1900s many individuals and also some entire branches of the Rape family began to change their name or alter the spelling to something which could either be written similar to Rape but with a more positive connotation such as Raye, Ray, Wrape, Rappe, Rapp and a few other names. However these changes were always made on either an individual or single branch of the family not the entire Rape family of descendants of Johan Peter Reeb.

I believe that anyone who is involved in any of the various means of communication such as the internet or the writing and publishing of materials which purport to contain the Reeb and Rape family history should be held to a standard of correctness about this subject. I have noticed that some seem to think that they should add any early records they come into contact with on the surname of Rapp and some of the other variations such as Raph etc. to their lists of Reeb or Rape family names. My objection is not with entering the names of individuals or branches of the family who changed their name from Rape to any of the other spellings but these lists should not include the names of Rapps, Rappes, Rayes, Raphs etc. who were not descendants of our Reeb family. Not only is it very incorrect to insinuate that these names are our names, simply because some of our family members changed the spelling of the name, but in some cases it can be infuriating to those who have borne the spellings of Rapp, Rappe etc. for centuries. Years ago one very able Rape researcher informed me about hearing from a family of Rapps who have a long history in the north eastern states. The member of that particular Rapp family made it very clear that there was no documentation to prove that our Rape ancestors were part of their Rapp family. I believe that common sense dictates that just because some person in contemporary times decides to change his/her name from Rape to Rapp, Rappe, Raye, or other similar names should also understand that while they are permitted to change their name to one which pleases their fancy their act does not cause all the people who bore their newly adopted name in centuries gone by part of their family. To refer to these names as our families or our names etc. is definatly incorrect and I believe misleading to persons just beginning their search for their Reeb/Rape ancestry. John V. Reeb

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