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Frank Albert Reiling (1862-1937)

REILING, SCHIRCK, GEHLING, SCHELLE, UNDERBERG, ROSONKE

Posted By: Richard Gehling (email)
Date: 6/27/2010 at 13:43:26

Frank Albert Reiling was born on 2 June 1862, the third son of Salomon and Mary Ann Reiling. At the time of his birth the Reiling family lived in the little village of Malvern in eastern Ohio, where his father worked as a miller. He was baptized as Frank Albert at St. Mary's Catholic Church in the nearby town of Magnolia, but like his two older brothers he would ever after be known not by his first name, but by his middle name, which in his case happened to be Albert.

Following the untimely death of both their parents in the mid to late 1860's, Albert and his two brothers were adopted by their maternal grandparents, Frank and Mary Ann Schirck, and welcomed into the family hotel in Mansfield, Ohio. But along with the Reiling grandchildren came the dream of moving to a new life in western Iowa, so in 1871 Frank and Mary Ann Schirck sold their Ohio hotel and bought land near the newly-founded town of Mt. Carmel in Kniest Township, Carroll County, Iowa.

Their three Reiling grandchildren - Valentine, Henry and Albert - attended the parish school in nearby Mt. Carmel. They were often obliged to make the trip barefoot, feeling the need to remove their shoes and socks to keep them from getting ruined in the muddy swamps. Late falls and winters were spent at their studies, springs and summers in helping their grandfather on the farm.

Their grandfather, Frank Schirch, died on 21 August 1881, ten years after moving his family to Iowa. He was buried in the nearby Mt. Carmel Cemetery under a tall, white tombstone. His wife, Mary Ann, followed him in death five years later. By then the two older Reiling grandchildren, Valentine and Henry, had already left home. Albert, the youngest, seems to have remained on the farm for five years after the death of his grandfather. He not only worked the soil and looked after the farm animals, but also helped care for his grandmother in her declining years.

Six months before his grandmother's death, Albert was married to 19-year-old Mary Teresa Wernimont, the oldest surviving daughter of Carroll County neighbors, John and Anna Catherine Wernimont. The marriage ceremony took place on 19 January 1886 at St. Barnard's Catholic Church in Breda, Iowa. The newlyweds seem to have settled in at the Schirck farm until the death of Albert's grandmother in June of 1886. They then rented a series of nearby farms, until at last - in 1899 - they were finally able to buy their own place four and one-half miles east of Breda, Iowa, along what was known as the Breda Road. There they reared a dozen children.

For much of their marriage, Albert and Teresa's life revolved around their many children. Clara, the eldest, was obliged to cut her elementary education short so that she might help care for her eleven younger siblings. All were expected to help in the daily chores as they grew older - the girls doing housework, tending the garden, collecting the eggs; the boys working the fields, feeding the livestock and milking the cows.

At age 19, Clara decided to return to school. She finished all eight grades at the Mt. Carmel grade school in just two years. She then attended the Teachers' Institute in the nearby town of Carroll. After passing her exams, she began an eight year career as a rural school teacher in various Carroll County grade schools. Ill health eventually forced her to return to the family farm, where she again helped with the housework and cooking as well as the care of her younger siblings. Her pay consisted of a $3.50 weekly wage and a clothing allotment.

By the time Clara returned home in 1917, the next three oldest Reiling children had already married: John to Mary Gehling, Caroline to Ed Underburg, Regina to Henry Gehling. And by then the boys next in line - Theodore, Wendy and John - had hired themselves out to relatives as live-in farmhands. Still at home were Frank and his younger brother, Gregory, as well as the baby of the family, Mary, who was just six years old. Twelve-year-old Anton, who seems to have been born with Down Syndrome, had just been placed in the St. Coletta Institute in Jefferson, WI. With the exception of one extended visit home two years later, he would remain there until his death in 1927.

On 31 January 1920, Clara - then 32 years of age - was married to a WWI veteran named Joseph Schelle. The wedding had been scheduled for four days earlier, January 27, but on that day her 17-year-old brother, Gregory, had died. He had been sick for ten days from what was later determined to be a ruptured appendix. The family offered all the wedding preparations for him. Even the flowers that Clara was to wear on her head at her wedding were placed on his coffin. The next morning there was a Requiem Mass for Gregory instead of a Nuptial Mass for Clara. Caroline and Ed Underburg came from Milford, Iowa, for the funeral of Gregory and for the delayed wedding of Clara. Then in February they moved to Springville, New York.

After their marriage, Clara and Joe Schelle settled down to a lifetime of farming in Carroll County, where they reared their own family of two sons and three daughters. Throughout much of the rest of her life, Clara continued to make entries in the family diary she had begun in 1905. She seems to have made it a true family project by encouraging her relatives to send her information about their own family doings, which she then faithfully entered into her diary. It was in the pages of this diary that she outlined the high points of her parents' (Albert and Mary Teresa's) life on their farm near Breda, Iowa:

"Albert Reiling made a trip to Crawford, Nebraska, in March 1906.

"Mr. and Mrs. (Mary Teresa Wernimon) Albert Reiling made a trip to Minnesota in May 1908 to inspect the Wernimont land property of Worthington. They also visited relatives at Remsen, Iowa.

"Mrs. Albert Reiling and daughter Caroline made a trip Aug. 1910. They stopped at La Crosse and Sparta, Wisconsin, and at Dubuque and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

"Mrs. Albert Reiling was Delegate to Roman Catholic Mutual Protective Convention at Fort Madison, Iowa, 1910.

"During May 1919, father Albert Reiling paid the last debt on the home farm with money from hogs at wartime prices. (Note: to celebrate the occasion, the name "Reiling" and the date "1919" was painted in bold letters on the front of the family barn. The words remained plainly visible until the latter years of the 20th century).

"Mr. & Mrs. Albert Reiling attended a Convention in Le Mars, Iowa, in fall, 1921.

"Albert Reiling attended Farmers Union convention Des Moines in 1924.

"Mrs. Albert Reiling and daughter Mary spent several weeks New York in summer 1926 visiting Ed Underberg family.

"Relatives of Reilings and Schircks celebrated 70 Birthday of Father Albert Reiling in Carroll Park, June, 1932.

"Schirck and Reiling families gathered in Carroll Park, 1934.

"Golden Wedding of Albert Reiling and wife Mary Wernimont was celebrated Jan 20, 1936. (date 19 Jan.)

"Last birthday of our Father Albert Reiling was celebrated by Reilings and Schircks at the Clara and doe Schelle home dune 2, 1936. Father was 74.

"Albert Reiling was in St. Anthony Hospital, Carroll, summer of 1936. Had serious operations for cancer. Died April 22, 1937. Reilings from Dakota and Collings from Remsen, Iowa, came for funeral. Snowstorm on day of funeral."

"Mrs. Mary Reiling alone in Sept. 1937, traveled to $pringville, N. York, to visit Caroline and family.

"Mother, Mrs, Mary Reiling, broke her hip Feb. 22, 1938. Was in St. Anthony's Hospital 4 months.

"On Aug 18, 1940 the children and grandchildren celebrated Mother Reiling's 74th birthday at her home (think we gave her a Rocking Chair)"

Firstborn Sons of the Gehling Family
 

Carroll Biographies maintained by Rich Lowe.
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