“Better Call Saul”, Rhea Seehorn, and the “Black Dutch”

Marmaduke Seahorn riding an ostrich

Marmaduke Seahorn riding an ostrich (don’t bother asking – I have no idea)


Finally got around to watching “Better Call Saul“.

Loved every minute of it.

When you do what I do, it’s impossible to watch credits without noticing surnames, and going “Ah! I know something about that person’s family history”.

The lead character Jimmy McGill is played by Bob Odenkirk, whose German and Irish background comes mostly from “late wave” German and Irish immigration during the 19th century.

The character Kim Wexler is played by Rhea Seehorn, also with German and Irish roots, with Bohemian Czech thrown in for good measure.

The Seehorn surname itself is German, and most people bearing the Seehorn family name have roots in America going back to an earlier wave of German immigration during the early 1700s.

Although Rhea Seehorn sports the quintessential blonde hair and blue eyes popularly associated with Germanic peoples, her own Seehorn ancestry peters-out of any reliable documentary record in early 1800s North Carolina, among a plethora of German families commonly associated with what are known as the “Black Dutch”.

Those who follow this blog and podcast will already know that “Black Dutch” was a term used in early colonial and frontier-era America by many people of German ancestry with complex ethnic backgrounds including German Sinti (Romani or “Gypsy”) people, German Jews, or Germans who had intermixed with darker ethnic groups of African or indigenous ancestry.

Ms. Seehorn’s direct ancestors include Grindstaffs, Shouns/Showns, Slemps, Stouts, and Snyders – all of these families can still be found today in Southern Appalachia, which has far more German heritage than most people imagine.

Celia Amanda Stout, ancestor of Rhea Seehorn

Celia Amanda Stout, ancestor of Rhea Seehorn


Here are just a few of these old families beginning with the letter “S”:

Seahorn (Seehorn, Zeehorn)
Seger/Seeger (Sieger)
Shafer/Shaver (Schäfer)
Shawver (Schauber)
Shell (Schell)
Shepherd (Schäfer)
Shown/Shoun (Schaun)
Sides (Seitz)
Siler (Seiler)
Slager (Schläger)
Slemp (Schlemp)
Sliger (Schleiger)
Slusher (Schlösser)
Smelser (Schmelzer)
Smith (Schmidt)
Snider/Snyder (Schneider)
Snodderly (Schnatterle)
Spear{s} (Speer)
Spraker (Sprecher)
Sprinkle (Sprenckel)
Stagner (Steigner?)
Stamper (perhaps from “Stempert”)
Stonecipher (Steinseifer)
Stout (Staudt?)
Stover (Stauffer)
Surface (Zerfass, Zerfuss)
Swadley (possibly “Schwadle” or Swiss German “Schwadli”)
Swearingen (Schweringen, sometimes from Dutch “van Sweeringen”)
Swisher (see “Switzer” and Irish Palatines)


#history #rheaseehorn #BetterCallSaul #blackdutch

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