Hi Michelle. Did your father discover the national origin for your family of Rifes? Was it also German? I've studied a number of German-American families, including early German-American church records and immigration records, and found that names which fit the rule I described almost without fail came to be spelled as they were pronounced in English - Wiest (phonetically, Weest) became Weast (phonetically Weest); Seiler (phonetically Siler) became Siler; Reiff (phonetically Rife) became Rife. Of course, they all had various spellings during their "transformation," but most misspellings occurred because the person who was writing the name down wrote it as it sounded.
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