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About Thomas Aaron & Elizabeth Reinsel Descendants
(Source: The Aarons of Crates PA compiled by Catherine and Paul Shannon)
    The names of the founding parents of our American clan of Aarons are found on one document: the
baptismal record of George Aaron, in Father Helbron's Greensburg Records (published by the Catholic
Historical Society of Philadelphia).  "1801 Aaron (Ahren) George, of Thomas and Elizabeth Aaron,
Born 9 September, baptized 1 November.  Sponsors: George Ruffner and Mary Brown."
    Family tradition supplies Elizabeth Aaron's maiden name - Elizabeth Reinsel - of Lebanon County, Pa.
   There are various stories passed down from generation to generation, as yet, there are no facts
to accurately tell us which is the true story.  Here are but a few accounts:

#1     Aaron Genealogist James McDonald wrote August 14, 1946, "Now a Father Wursch, who was at
Crates, told Tom Aaron he didn't spell the name right.  It should be Ahren, and said if he lived in
Germany he would be very proud of the name!  I am rather inclined to agree with him as I could find
no Aarons coming over on any boat, but I did find Ahren!  
Now here is the dope! This first Aaron, Thomas, ran away from his father and without permission of
the German Govt., came over here to get out of serving in the army.  He landed in Philadelphia
without money or friends and got a job with some surveyors who were surveying the wilds of Pa. at
that time.  This may account for the "pack on his back" that he carried?  He was the son of a
Bavarian Baron or landowner!?  Well he married a woman from Lebanon Co., Pa., an Elizabeth Reinsel,
and I am trying to find out if he was married in Lebanon Co. or Philadelphia or Germantown.
#2     Information about Aaron heritage as told by Gertrude Susanna Aaron Coyne, aged 88 years, at
San Antonio, Texas, June, 1961:     My great, great grandfather (Thomas Aaron) came to this country
with Prince Galitzen, who later studied in Baltimore and became a priest.  He was a Russian who
migrated to America for religious freedom, bringing with him families from Bavaria and France.  The
town of Galitzen, Pa. is named for him.  Thomas Aaron and his wife, Elizabeth, came from Bavaria to
#3     Father Thomas Middleton, an Augustinian historian, states a belief that the Germans who
settled Crates originated along the Rhine river.  A descendent of George Timothy Aaron and Ellen
Hanrahan tells that she grew up believing that the Aarons had a castle on the Rhine - The Castle of
There is an Ehrenberg Castle (Ruins) just outside of Ruette, Austria. The castle was built in 1290
and is over 700 years old.
#4     One myth concerning Thomas Aaron is that two brothers came to America.  Perhaps James Joseph
Arentz was the other brother.
#5     A belief exists, particularly strong among the mid-western and western relatives, that Thomas
Aaron was of Jewish origin and that he converted to Catholicism in America, perhaps at the time of
his marriage to Elizabeth.  At the time of the conversion, he changed his name from Solomon to
Thomas.  Don Aaron, of Leavenworth, Kansas, tells that his grandmother had a bible  which was shown
to him to prove that he, Don, had Jewish blood in him.  The only problem is that the Bible has
disappeared and cannot be used for proof.  It is possible that such a Bible could have been carried 
west by Thomas' son George, when he and his wife Margaret Ruffner Aaron, migrated to Kansas with
several of his children.  George and his wife returned, but the children stayed to make new homes
for themselves.
#6     James McDonald, of Boonton, N.J. says the name Aaron is Hebrew meaning "scholar", and that
our Aarons were originally Jews but converted to Christianity in 1546.
#7     Another tale told is that Thomas Aaron was the son of a German Baron, and that he came to
America at the age of 17 years, perhaps incognito, without the consent of his parents, or the German
government, to avoid military service.  Assuming that Thomas was about 20 years old when his son,
Joseph, was born in 1783, then Thomas was born about 1763.

Thomas and Elizabeth Aaron lived for a time in an area called Goshenhoppen, Berks County,
Pennsylvania (today Bally, PA).  They moved west in search for frontier land. Their search ended,
for a time, at a place in western Pennsylvania known as Redbank, later Aarondale, and still later
Crates.  The land was just opening up for settlement, and they and their friends and neighbors from
Westmoreland County came and formed a Catholic community.  The community centered around their
Church, St. Nicholas of Tolentino, and the cemetery.  Both were established on land donated and
deeded by Aarons and Crates.  Church records have proved to be the most fruitful source of
information about the Aarons and are the primary sources for the first four generation of this
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Getting Around
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