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Christian Rathfon Family in Pleasant Garden from 1784 to 1827

Section of 1821 York & Adams Counties Map by D. Small & W. Wagner (York County Heritage Trust)

Just a few surnames are noted on maps during the early 1800s, then why do Radfang and Rodfang, as spelling variants for Rathfon, break the norm and repeatedly show up on the early 1801, 1816, 1821 and 1824 maps?  We’ll explore the family history of Christian Rathfon in an attempt to answer this question.


Earlier this week, following my talk on the Dosch Burial Grounds, several people asked for more details on several of the families noted in my talk.  This is the first in a series of posts to provide answers those questions.

To understand the Christian Rathfon family tree, one needs to understand where they lived and the history of their land.  At the age of 20-years-old Christian Rathfon purchased 105-prine-acres in York County along the Susquehanna River at the northern end of current day Long Level on July 24, 1784.  All except a few of those acres fall with Pleasant Garden.

How did Christian purchase two-thirds of the 150-acre Pleasant Garden parcel at such a young age?  It did not hurt that he was married to the daughter of John and the granddaughter of John Meyer.  John Meyer owned Maryland Land Warranted Pleasant Garden and ran the ferry at that location after Thomas Cresap was run out of town in 1736.

In addition to some surrounding acreage, John Meyer’s Estate included all of Pleasant Garden and a large part of Bond’s Manor; another Maryland Land Warrant just to the south.  The Estate sold the land in 6-lots.  Three of the lots were soon acquired by Jacob Dritt, which gave Jacob Dritt ownership of the lower one-third of Pleasant Garden and additional acreage, much within Bond’s Manor.

Christian Rathfon Family History

Christian M. Rathfon (b. 13 Apr 1764 – d. 21 Oct 1824) married Elizabeth Meyer (b. 7 Jun 1763 – d. 13 Nov 1827).  They had four children:

  • John Rathfon (b. 21 Feb 1786 – d. unknown)
  • Magdalena M. Rathfon (b. 3 Jun 1788 – d. 2 Sep 1808)
  • Jacob M. Rathfon (b. 23 Jan 1791 – d. 8 Oct 1824)
  • Catherine Rathfon (b. 24 Jun 1799 – d. 25 Apr 1881)

The son John Rathfon was born 21 Feb. 1786 [this information and additional family history corrections to this post come from Bible Records in the Ruby Files (#2912) at the York County Heritage Trust; supplied to YorksPast by Joe Brillhart 7 Nov 2012].

At a young age daughter Magdalena M. Rathfon married Michael Odstadt.  They had three children: Frederick, Jacob and Magdalena.  Magdalena M. (Rathfon) Odstadt died just about the time her daughter Magdalena was born; possibly as the result of childbirth.

The son Jacob M. Rathfon died two weeks before his father died.  Jacob left a wife Elizabeth (Kline) Rathfon and a son George W. Rathfon (b. 21 Jun 1819 – d. 12 Feb 1890).

The youngest daughter Catherine Rathfon married Henry Ruby on 14 Mar 1815.  Henry Ruby was son of John Ruby and the grandson of Casper Ruby.  They had six children: Henry, Levina, Catharine, George W., Salome and Delia S. Ruby.

The death of Elizabeth (Meyer) Rathfon in 1827 effectively ended the 43-year Rathfon hold on the northern part of Pleasant Garden.  Some of the land was sold and some passed to her son-in-law Henry Ruby.  I did not come across anything extraordinary in the family history, other than they operated a Sawmill; that might have been enough to warrant getting their name on all the maps.

1801 Susquehanna River Map by Henry Latrobe (LancasterHistory.org)

The surname is spelled Radfang on the 1801 Susquehanna River Map by Henry Latrobe, which shows the greatest detail for this family of all the early 1800s maps.  In 1801 what is now called Klines Run in Lower Windsor Township was then known as Radfang’s Creek.  Christian owned 105-acres in the area, virtually all was at one time in the northern part of Pleasant Gardens.  In 1801, Christian’s brother John is helping him operate a sawmill on Radfang’s Creek.  Henry Latrobe draws locations where the brothers lived and worked in nice detail.

1824 Lancaster County Map by Joshua Scott (LancasterHistory.org)


The surname is spelled Rodfang on the 1816 Map of York County that was done by Thomas Smith.  More detail was added to the 1816 map and Adams County was included for the 1821 Map by D. Small & W. Wagner; again the surname is spelled Rodfang, as seen in the map section displayed at the beginning of this post.

The surname is spelled Rathfon on the 1824 Lancaster County Map by Joshua Scott, which shows features just inside York County next to the county boundary.  Rathfon is the surname spelling on the families’ gravestones in the nearby Dosch Burial Grounds.

On Monday I’ll delve deeper into the map details shown on this post.  We’ll see what happens when one projects a 1821 map onto a 1953 map.

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