Reiter Family Photo

This page is dedicated
to Delpha Blanche Reiter

1886 - 1981

This is her family

The family of Francis Rudolph Reiter and Elizabeth Earnestine Hadlock, Hamilton County, Nebraska. From the left: Bessie and Delpha (Back) Elizabeth, Francis, and Ora (Front)

Their European Origins

  • 18th Century Germany

Their American Journey

Our Reiter Family Heritage

Great-Grandma Delphi's Reiters

Reiter Family Biographies

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.

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. 

-- From Bessie Reiter Sorenson family history typescript, circa 1952

Francis Rudoph Reiter

1856 - 1940

Pioneer Carpenter

Francis Reiter and Nels Dristy Photo
On left with partner Nels Dristy
Hamilton County Nebraska
circa 1880s


Last Updated 4 April, 2005