More early settlers:The Rink family


For the last few weeks, The Vagabond has been discussing some of the folks who settled in the area west and north of Attalla before the Cherokees were removed. This area was located from around Highways 77 and 431 all the way up to Sand Valley Road and over to Reece City.

Last week The Vagabond discussed the Keener family that lived around the Keener area.

This week The Vagabond is discussing another German immigrants settlers in Etowah County before the Cherokee were removed. In addition to the Keeners, there also were the Sitzs and Engles (Ingles) families. All of these families were also listed in the old Avery store ledger book in the Cherokee Nation of 1835.

The Rink Family

The Rink family member that settled in the Keener area was Jacob Rink. His family is well documented way back into the 1500s from Wickenrode, Kassel, Hessen, Germany.

His father, Johann Frantz Rincke, came to America as a Hessian soldier fighting America for the British. Frantz was born September 25, 1753, in Wickenrode, Kassel, Hessen, Germany and died July 25, 1810, in Lincoln, N.C.

Frantz fought with General Ralls, and when Ralls was killed, Frantz was captured. After being held prisoner for about three years, he was sent to Charleston, S.C., where he deserted from the war. Frantz ended up in Lincoln County, N.C.

Other Hessian soldiers had come to this area because of the large German population, so they blended in with everyone else and is the reason they knew and were friends with the Sitzs and the Engles (Ingles) as well as the Keeners, who also came from the same town.

The Hessians German auxiliaries were contracted for military service by the British government, which found it easier to borrow money to pay for their service than to recruit its own soldiers. The British used the Hessians in several conflicts, but they are most widely associated with combat operations in the American Revolutionary War.

About 30,000 German soldiers fought for the British during the American Revolutionary War. Nearly half were from the Hesse region of Germany of which Frantz Rinck lived.

American patriots made propaganda use of the fact that the soldiers were non-British and portrayed them as mercenaries. The patriots also offered the Hessians land bounties to desert and join the Americans. This is what Frantz wound up doing, and the British tried to hunt him down without success.

Frantz and Mary Margarete Killion had 11 children. John Peter Rinck was the only one that moved to Indiana. The other children mainly remained in North Carolina, with one moving to Tennessee, one to Alabama (Jacob Rink) and one to Georgia.  

Frantz’ house in Wickenrode, Germany, is still standing. Frantz was also a hunter and sold hides at the time David Crockett spent time in the area.

Jacob Rink

Jacob Rink was born in 1786 in Lincolnton, Lincoln, N.C., and died on Oct. 6, 1872, in Etowah County, Ala. He married Mary “Polly” Sitz on Dec. 25, 1813, in Lincolnton, Lincoln County, N.C. Polly was born in 1793, also in Lincolnton. She died on Oct. 15, 1872, in Etowah County, Ala. She and Jacob are buried at Bethany Baptist Church Cemetery in Reece City.

On Jacob’s stone, his name is written as Jacob Grancer Rink. Some people have thought that this was his middle name or that it meant “landowner” in German. Actually, the late Jerry Jones said that Grancer was the name that Jacob’s grandchildren gave their grandfather. On Polly’s grave, her name is written as Mary Sitz Granny Rink. The stones were added by the family in later years.

Jacob earlier had moved to Tennessee with two of his brothers, and it is said he came to Alabama about 1835 or earlier. There is a story that Jacob had a wagonload of explosives to open the mines located near his home in what became Crudup. His wife, Mary Polly Sitz, was the daughter of Andreas Sitz of North Carolina and Andreas Andrew Sitz, who also moved to Alabama with Jacob and Mary Polly.

Most of Jacob and Mary’s children and grandchildren are buried at the cemetery in Reece City.

Their children were Eliza Jane Rink (circa 1814-Feb. 1885); Andrew Jackson Rink (Aug. 30, 1816-Sept. 20, 1895); John F. Rink (May 29, 1819-July 8, 1899); Rhoda Clementine Rink (born Dec, 4, 1824); Mary Ann Rink (born July 8, 1821); and unknown infant Rink.

The Jacob Rinck/Rink, house was relocated in January of 1987 to the Pioneer Village at Noccalula Falls and was donated by Darlene Lacks Levens. The log home originally was located just off Old Crudup Road near Reece City. The home had been in the family for about 150 years.  

One of Jacob Rink’s daughters, Eliza Jane, married James Madison Maise. The couple had a daughter by the name of Polly Ann, who married a James Cooper. They moved to near Scottsboro and had a younger daughter named Dora and another child. 

The story goes that James Cooper robbed a train, came home, and killed his wife Polly Ann. The law was able to catch up with James later on, and in the process he was killed. 

Their daughter Dora survived, and as an orphan was adopted by two of the unmarried Rink sisters, Rhoda and Annie (Mary Ann). 

When Dora was older, she married Bill Arledge. Dora was the great-great grandmother of Darlene Levens who inherited the little log cabin.

That’s how the home came to belong into the Arledge family. Ownership of the home was passed down from generation to generation. 

Next week: the German Sitz family

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