Joseph Reiter

1828 - 1880

Joseph Reiter was born on 10 May 1828, probably in Pennsylvania.. The names of his parents and siblings, if any, are unknown. He died in 1880, somewhere in Illinois. The following biographical sketch was written by his granddaughter, Bessie Reiter Sorenson, in the early 1950s.

The origin of these families was somewhere in Pennsylvania which was settled by the Dutch in or about 1683. At the time the story of this branch of the Reiter family started, they had been citizens so long that they did not know when their first ancestors had arrived in this country. All the country was at this time in the process of being settled, and the people were trying to get an educational system of some sort started.

Joseph Reiter and Zillah Ann White were married June 7th, 1851. For the following story, I am indebted to Florence Rogers, who is a granddaughter of Joseph and Zillah Ann Reiter, the latter of whom lived with the Rogers family when Florence was a small girl. She loved to hear the stories her grandmother could tell of those pioneer days. This is the story quoting directly from Florenceís letter:

"When I was a small girl, I was always teasing Grandmother to tell me one of three stories. One about her wedding, the one about their house burning down or the one about the day Grandfather went to try to enlist in the Union Army, and how happy she was but didnít dare tell him so, because he was rejected.

This is the story of her wedding: She was married on a Sunday in June at a place called Dowís Grove in Southeastern Illinois, by a circuit rider preacher called Brother Washburn. Her dress was white challis with pink rosebuds, and she had a hoop and four petticoats. She also had a bonnet made of the same material and new shoes that hurt. The wedding was one of several which took place that day on account of there being a big camp meeting at Dowís Grove. There were also baptisms in the river, probably the Sangimun, that day and the great crowd of people sang gospel hymns all thru the wedding and baptismal ceremonies. After a big picnic supper they drove home to a cabin on Grandfatherís brother Jamesí clearing. That winter Grandmother taught school in this same cabin and in the spring had her first son; and as far as I was concerned, at probably six or seven years of age, the rest was just grown up talk, and I lost interest. But I always came back for the wedding story."

There were ten children born to this family. One boy and two girls dying in infancy, one son Riley Madison died at the age of seventeen. William Henry lost his life in a sawmill accident at the age of thirty-one. The Reiter family, like many others, began traveling west again. After the death of the father (Joseph Reiter) in 1880, the remaining members of the family moved to Nebraska.

During the years some of the family had moved about in the state, and Francis R., the fourth son, who was a carpenter by trade, arrived in that part of Illinois where the Hadlock family lived and met and married Elizabeth E. Hadlock, the youngest daughter of the Willard Hadlock family. In their westward travels the two families (Reiter and Hadlock) arrived about the same time in the vicinity of a small town now known as Phillips, Nebraska. At that time Aurora was the end of the line of the Burlington R.R.

I do not know when the first members of either family arrived in Nebraska nor how they came to settle in the same community, but they were all there when my parents arrived in January, 1884. I do not believe the two families had known each other before their arrival in Nebraska. I do know that my mother had never met any of my fatherís people before their marriage. At the time of Grandfather Joseph Reiterís death there were two daughters, Fanny Bell and Olive E. and a son Charles D. still living with their mother. Charles was then about thirteen years of age. I do not remember how or where they lived, but I know that my Aunt Fanny Bell had married Granville Gellers in 1884, and they had taken a homestead in Custer Co., Nebraska were they lived until his death. They had one daughter Lulu May.

During the last year of his life my father (Francis R. Reiter) often called to mind the way they lived in his childhood; how his mother spun and wove the cloth from which their clothing was made; how he and his brothers went hunting for squirrels and other game in the woods that surrounded the clearing in which they lived. They also gathered wild fruits in season, and after the first frosts, when the nuts were falling, they gathered a big supply for winter. Though they lived on the frontier, his was a happy childhood.

The years of Grandfather Joseph Reiterís life covered the administrations of John Quincey Adams thru that of Rutherford Hayse. Two of the greatest events in our nations history, The Discovery of gold in California (1849) and The Great Civil War (1860-65) took place during this time.

Since Grandfather died before the family came to Nebraska, he is buried somewhere in Illinois. Grandmother lies in the cemetery at Phillips, Nebr., where Duke and Ollie Rogers and their infant dauthter Lela are also buried.


Last Updated 5 April, 2005