Bessie Reiter Family History

The following is a transcription of a history of the Reiter and Hadlock families written by Bessie A. Reiter sometime after the death of her husband Walter Sorenson in 1952. She would have been in her seventies at the time this was written. This transcription follows the original typescript as exactly as possible. No corrections of spelling or grammar are made.


_R_E_I_T_E_R_&_H_A_D_L_O_C_K_ F_A_M_I_L_I_E_S_


Bessie A. Reiter Sorenson

The following story of the Reiter and Hadlock families was written by Bessie A. Sorenson, granddaughter of Joseph Reiter and Zillah Ann White Reiter and daughter of Francis R. Reiter and Elizabeth E., Hadlock Reiter.


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.

Soon the railroad entended westward and having known in advance it would pass that place, business men began to build stores and saloons and even a bank and hotel. My father (Francis R. Reiter), being a carpenter, soon had plenty of work. He built the first houses and later both the churches and the school house. He built a house for himself, and we lived in it until we moved to the farm in 1891.

I do not know what happened to my Uncle Charles but I think he went south with my Uncle George when the latter sold his farm to my Grandfather Hadlock and moved to what was then Indian territory. Years later Charles came back and farmed one year in Hamilton Co. He went away and we never heard from him again.

The one I remember best is Aunt Ollie, as we always called her; at the time she was married I was about six years old, and we were taken with our parents to the wedding. The groom in this case was E. Rogers whom everyone called Duke. He was a very nice person, too. I always loved him for his wonderful sense of humor and his kindly pleasant manner. It seemed that a friend of his had told him when he was elected justice of peace in his precinct that any time Duke decided to get married he would perform the ceremony free. This manís name was Frank Jennison. He was a farmer living about seven miles from Phillips. So on a Sunday, Duke and my Aunt Ollie decided to go out to the farm and let old Frank live up to his promise. So a livery rig was hired, and we drove out to the farm. The idea was a complete surprise to the Jennison family. Mrs. Jennison was a notoriously poor house keeper, and on this day, she was slopping around in an old mother hubbard dress and her feet were bare. When she learned the purpose of the visit she began dashing about throwing things into corners and trying to clear a place for the wedding party to stand and all the time wearing and yelling in the most comical way. It was funny even to so small a child as I and one of my most vivid memories.

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.


At the time Willard Hadlock was born his parents lived in the western end of what is now known as the state of New York. It is very probable that he was the first native born child of this family. There is no record of other children, and we have only the stories told to us by our grandfather, when we were very young, on which to build our story.

This period of time was a very long time ago, and the second was with Great Britain, which was known as the War of 1812, had been over only a few years. The Indians along the border were not too friendly, and so the Hadlock family decided to go further west. They traveled in covered wagons using oxen for teams. There were no roads and, in many places, not even trails. Usually several families traveled together for company and protection. Grandfather was eight years old when they made this journey, and to him, it was adventure at its highest.

They traveled as far west as what is now the state of Illinois, and settled near the place that is now known as the city of Warrensburg, and here the boy grew up. The Indians here were peaceful and were the only playmates Grandfather had. He would often tell stories of the good times he had with them, and how he often ate with them, the meal consisting of boiled dog and biscuits. He said they ate only yellow dogs. If Grandfather had any brothers or sisters, he never told us about them nor did he ever mention the death of his parents, and we were too young at that time to think of anything but the exciting stories he so often told.

When he was twenty three years old, Grandfather married an Indian girl of fifteen. Her name was Hannah Waggoner. One of his best stories was that of carrying her off on horse back and thus stealing her from his Indian friends. After they were married he used to sleep in front of the cabin door so the Indians could not come and steal her back again. I have an idea there was no ill feeling in the affair, only a sort of friendly rivalry. Grandfather never seemed to have any ill feeling toward his red brothers, as he often called them.

There were eleven children in this family; two girls died in infancy, one son died at the age of twenty-one. The remaining children grew up, all married and raised families except one, Willard, Jr., who remained a bachelor until his death. The country kept filling up with more and more settlers, and they began to have schools of a sort. Children at last began to learn to read and write. Their school houses were rather lacking in the necessary things, but they made long benches of split logs, and the desk, that had to do for all of them, was also a split log although somewhat wider than the benches. In addition to the lack of facilities at school, the children had to walk three miles to school. Winters in that area are severe, and there is lots of snow. When the snow melted, the trails were muddy and almost impassable. But the children went to school and learned to read, write and cipher. Now we call it arithmetic. These three things were about all that could be taught in those long ago times. Books, such as we now have, were still unwritten, and history, such as they knew was passed on by the simple process of telling whatever you learned from the travelers you contacted.

Sometime during these hectic years, Grandfather became converted. He believed he was called to preach. I do not know how preachers were educated in those days, but I do know that Grandfather was ordained. Preachers, in those days were assigned to a church; they were known as circuit riders and traveled a certain route which they covered in a specified length of time, carrying on whatever christian duties and activities they found awaiting them on the road. Among those duties, the circuit rider had to baptize children and to perform marriage ceremonies. Marriage licenses were unheard of then, and the only records of such weddings were found in a family bible which was one of the first things a young couple acquired. Here they recorded their wedding date, and registered the births of their children.

I believe that Grandfather was a farmer, and that he carried on as such and rode his circuit as a preacher during the times between planting and harvest. The family, all grown and married, began to look for a new frontier. They moved west into what is now Nebraska and settled in Hamilton Co. I do not know how many of them came at first, but by January, 1884, all of the Hadlocks were in Nebraska. The older daughters had married and moved to Kansas, which was also on the frontier at that time. My father and mother, who was the youngest of the Hadlock daughters moved to Nebraska in January, 1884. Soon the Hadlock boys, having heard of good land to be had in Colorado, decided to go there, and acquired the land on which they spent the remainder of their lives. Willard, Jr., remained with his parents because his father, who was now sixty eight and suffering from rheumatism so that he was no longer able to work, needed his help. However, the drier climate of Nebraska soon helped Grandfather to regain his health to the ex- tent that he was able to carry on his christian activities. He often officiated at the funerals of many of the early settlers. He always grieved over the loss of the children, and I remember one very bad time when there was an epidemic of that dread disease diptheria. In one week Grandfather held funeral services for three little girls in one family. He felt it so much because they were all the children the parents had.

My father was a carpenter, and he and mother lived in a house next door to the home of my grandparents, after they left their farm. Willard Jr. then went west and settled on a tree claim in Keith Co., Nebraska. There he spent the remainder of his life. My parents bought a farm and built a little house beside theirs for my grandparents. We moved to this farm in March, 1891, and here my grandmother died at the age of seventy-one. Grandfather died in 1899, aged eighty-three.

The years of my grandfatherís life covered the administrations of James Madison, who was the 4th president, to Wm. McKinley, the 25th president. The most memorable events in history, which occurred during these years, was the discovery of gold in California and the Civil War.

Willard and Hannah Hadlock are buried in the cemetary near the town of Phillips, Nebraska. Here also lies Willard Jr. and my parents, Francis R. and Elizabeth E. Reiter.

Married Aug. 16, 1839
ZILLAH A WHITE 1830-1900
Married June 7, 1851

Wm Henry 1852-1883
Riley M 1853-1871
Geo. W 1854-
FRANCIS R 1856-1940
Fanny Bell 1861-
Elizabeth E 1862-1863
OLIVE E 1865-1948
Chas D 1867-


W. H. Harrison 1841-
Geo W. 1843-1866
Lamandia 1846-
Lemuel H. 1848-
Willard Jr. 1855-
Maria H. 1857-
ELIZABETH E. 1860-1941
U.S. Grant 1864-
Anna 1866-1866

EBEN ROGERS 1859-1919
OLIVE E. REITER 1865-1948
Married June 10, 1887
Married Dec. 12, 1880

Florence Ann 1892-
Married to John W. Beber
Sept., 1927
Wm. Rogers Beber
Oct. 26, 1931

ORABELLE Feb. 2, 1882
BESSIE A. Sept 13, 1883
DELPHA B. Jan. 23, 1886
Geo. W. Lacy 1843-
Mary Parker 1843-
Married Sept 12,1865

Didrick Sorenson 1859-1949
Maren Anderson 1861-1932
Married Jan. 1, 1886

John Marquis 1803
Sarah Marquis 1797


Parents of Ida May 1865- WALTER I. 1886-1952 Sarah Leah Marquis Adda Almy 1867- Lillian M. 1888-1888 Elizabeth Wilson 1791 Norma R. 1869 Harry D. 1890-1913 Mother of Wm. E. 1871 Roy P. 1892-1947 Sarah Wilson Elizabeth J. 1873- Arthur E 1894- William Rook 1816 HARVEY A. 1876-1949 Chas E. 1897-1937 Sarah Wilson 1819 Geo. Daton 1878- Elmer R. 1899- Thomas Rook 1836- Henry G. 1883- Frank E. 1903- Sarah Leah Marquis 1837 Doyle O. 1905 Marriage date not given

FAMILY Jas. M. 1859-1883 Oliver B. 1862-1863 Sarah E.(Lib)1864- Esther O. 1866 John C. 1869- Wm. H. 1872- Samuel A. 1874- Ella F. 1877-1926 FRANCIS M. 1881-1933

HARVEY A.LACY 1876-1949 WALTER I.SORENSON 1886-1952 FRANCIS M.ROOK1881-1933 ORABELLE REITER 1882- BESSIE A.REITER 1883- DELPHA B.REITER 1886- Married Apr. 8, 1899 Married June 9, 1907 Married March 8, 1903

FAMILY FAMILY FAMILY Allan Clare 12-1-1899 Beulah Frances 5-13-1908 Vernon L. -1904 Delmar Frank 8-9-1901 Willard Paul 4-17-1912 Earl J. -1908 Rolf Thure 7-5-1903 Marien E. 2-27-1914 A. Wayne -1911 Ethna Adell 7-8-1905 Harry Edgar 3-11-1919 Floyd R. -1914 Harry 5-9-1907 Eldon L. -1920 Geo. Hershel 7-4-1914


Last Updated 14 March, 2004