THE WILLIAM RIEDLIN FAMILY
In Cincinnati, OH & Covington, KY
WILLIAM RIEDLIN'S EARLY BACKGROUND

Like many who lived in Cincinnati in the late 1800s, William Riedlin had emigrated from Germany. He was born on November 20, 1850, in the province of Bäden, Germany and in the small village of Vögisheim, adjacent to Müllheim. His birth name may have been Carl Wilhelm, but by the time he left for America he was known as William Rüdlin (pronounced Ruedlin). He arrived with his brother August in Baltimore, MD, from Bremen, Germany on the SS Baltimore on July 2, 1870. It appears that when the brothers boarded the ship, the person assembling the passenger list, who was probably English or American, had difficulty understanding their surnames and anglicized them to “Riedlin.” This became William’s new American surname. This experience of immigrants of having their names changed in the process of coming to America was relatively common. It was also necessary when names in foreign languages used letters or marks, e.g. umlauts, which did not exist in English. When the Riedlin brothers arrived, they joined their mother, whom William lived with for a while. His mother had seven brothers - all had emigrated to America earlier and fought in the Civil War for the Union Army; four survived. William reportedly arrived in Cincinnati with just $1.15 in savings. His brother August eventually settled in Cincinnati and became a baker. (A photo of William from the mid-1870's is on the side.) 

William's father Georg was a blacksmith and died when William was only eight years old. William embellished on the trade of his father from John Auel at 701 Central Avenue, where he remained until 1872. Afterwards, William worked for the MacNeale and Urban Safe Factory for about five years. Their main factory was located in the City of Hamilton and during its peak it employed 600 workers who produced over 50 safes daily. William worked at a branch of this company in Cincinnati. While he was working there, he made a hammer in 1875, which is displayed on the left. One side of the hammer is engraved with his initials; the other side shows the date it was made. Those years at the safe company must have been meaningful for William, as he retained this item and passed it on to his family members.

In 1877, William opened a grocery store and saloon at Green and Elm Streets in Cincinnati. Later that year, on August 6, 1877, William married Emma Hoffman. (Their wedding photo is on the right.) She was born in West Prussia, today a part of the Pomerania region in Poland. Emma had emigrated to America with her parents in 1872 and settled in Cincinnati. A month after his marriage, William's mother (Anna Maria) passed away. A year after his marriage, in 1878, William became the proprietor of Tivoli Hall, a large saloon and beer garden at 469 Vine Street (presently 1313 Vine Street) in the Over The Rhine (OTR) district of Cincinnati. According to the 1880 Census, he and his family resided on one of the upper floors in the building next to it, at 467 Vine Street (now 1311 Vine Street).

 

The Riedlins had children shortly after their marriage, including Emma (named after her mother) in 1879 and William F. Riedlin, (Jr.) in 1881. In 1882, William learned of a partnership opportunity with a brewer in Covington, KY. This initial opportunity led to his investment in the Bavarian Brewery - a decision that would leave a major impact on his life and his family's. By the end of 1882, William left Cincinnati for a different life on the other side of the Ohio River with his wife and two small children, Emma (3) and William Jr. (1).

THE WILLIAM & EMMA RIEDLIN FAMILY 

William and Emma moved from Cincinnati to Covington, KY, to be closer to the Bavarian Brewery where William began working. Shortly after they arrived, they had another daughter, Mary Anna Marie (Mayme) Riedlin, in February, 1883. A couple of years later, the Riedlins had a son, Eddie, who died at only 5 months. In 1887, the couple's second son was born, Walter Ferdinand. William gave the middle name Ferdinand to both of his sons. This German name may have been inspired by William’s close friend, Ferdinand Ruh, who had also emigrated from Bäden to American, settling in Covington.

In 1890, the year after William acquired John Meyer's interest in the brewery and incorporated it as the Bavarian Brewing Co., the Riedlin’s last daughter, Lucia (Lucy), was born. The Riedlin's had one more child, Carl, born in 1892 and probably named after William's christened first name. However, Carl died the following year before he turned 2 years old. Tragically, the family lost their firstborn, Emma, a few years later in 1895 from typhoid fever at the young age of 16. A photo of her at about six years old is shown on the side. Even though William was achieving business success as he expanded the Bavarian Brewing Co. in 1889, and had scored a political accomplishments by being a City Alderman, between 1887 and 1895 the Riedlin family suffered the loss of two infant boys and a teenage daughter. As the family entered the late 1890s, it consisted of two sons (William, Jr. and Walter) and two daughters (Mayme and Lucy), along with his wife and her mother, Mary Hoffman Karweise. The family was religious and attended St. Paul Church in Covington, KY, a few blocks from their home.

William Riedlin was extremely active in community affairs, local politics, and social groups such as the Covington Turners. He was also an involved member of German-American organizations, civic groups, and a brewing association, in addition to other business interests. For more information, please see 4A. Community Involvement.

c. 1900. Stained glass Image of Emma Rieldin located on the right side the adjacent Riedlin Home photo. 

The Riedlin Home, 925 Main St., Covington, KY c. 1910. 

This house is separated from the carriage house in back by  a large back yard, which is now used for parking. 

In approximately 1899, the Riedlins decided to move from their home across from the brewery at 241 W. 12th Street (also known as Martin Luther King Blvd. today), to a much larger home at 925 (aka 917) Main Street. This property featured an expansive lot and a carriage house in the back. At the landing on the main stairway and on the north side of the house, the family installed a stained-glass window in remembrance of Emma. A picture of this window is above. It was quite visible and striking from the foyer, and thoughts of Emma must have stayed with the Riedlin family well after they moved into their new home. A picture of this home approximately a decade after it was occupied by the Riedlin family is shown above. The house, the stained-glass window for Emma and the carriage house all remain in place at the time of this writing.

THE RIEDLIN SONS

William Ferdinand Riedlin was referred to as William Riedlin, Jr., even though it seems that Ferdinand was not the same middle name as his father, William Riedlin, Sr.   William Jr. was born on July 7, 1881, and was the oldest child of William and Emma Riedlin.  His brother Walter Ferdinand was born in 1887 and his sister Emma died in 1895. As the oldest son and child after Emma's death, William, Jr. was the apparent Riedlin family member to take over the Bavarian Brewing Co.  He had exposure to the brewery at a very early age, as evident from a c. 1885 photo (see period 2. Meyer & Riedlin Years) when he was with his father at the age of about 4 years old. On November 3, 1903, William Jr. married Norma Louise Wittgenfeld. The couple lived at 306 W. Pike Street, very close to the brewery.  He became a Vice President of the brewery around 1906 when he was in his mid-twenties.  Tragically, only six years after they were married, Norma had complications following an operation for appendicitis and died on October 19, 1909. She passed away at the young age of 26 and William Jr. was a widower at the age of 29.

 

Several years after the death of William Jr.'s mother (Emma) in 1912, William Jr. was remarried to Lena Theresa Hoffman on June 19, 1918. The marriage lasted less than a year, as William Jr. died on March 6, 1919, in Covington, KY, at the age of 37. This was less than three weeks after the death of his father, William Sr. It's possible that the death of either the father and son, or both, could have been from the Spanish Flu.  This was a pandemic that caused 650,000 deaths in the U.S. in 1918 and 1919.  William Jr. had no children from his marriages.  Prohibition hadn't officially begun, and Wm. Riedlin Sr. and his two sons had all passed away, and in a span of just four years. 

 

Walter Ferdinand Riedlin attended the Ohio Military Institute (OMI), located on Hamilton Road in the College Hill area of Cincinnati, OH. In 1904, when he was 16 years old and alone at home, it was reported in the local paper that he was found tied up in the basement in an apparent burglary. However, there was some family speculation that the event may have been a failed kidnapping. At the age of 22, in 1909, Walter married Rosalia (Rose) Elizabeth Beierle in Dearborn, IN. Around that time, he became Superintendent of the Bavarian Bottling Department. Later that same year the couple had a daughter, Rosemary Norma. The following year, they had a son, William C. Riedlin, who unfortunately died a year later. In 1913, Walter and Rose had another son, Walter C. Riedlin. Just a couple of years later, when the Riedlin family was vacationing in Asheville, NC, Walter died on March 16, 1915. The death of Walter at the age of 27 came at an even younger age than that of his brother William Jr., who would pass away just four years later. After these events, Walter's wife Rose became a widow at the age of 25 with a 6-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. About a decade later, Rose died in 1926, leaving her 17-year-old daughter Rosemary to look after her 13-year-old brother. However, the late wife of William Jr., Lena, and/or Mayme, apparently provided Rosemary with some assistance in raising the children.

c. early 1890's. William Riedlin, Sr., is in the middle, and his sons Walter is on the left and William Jr. on the right.  

The above photo c. 1905, depicts the two Riedlin brothers; Walter is with his OMI uniform and Wm. Jr. is on the left. 

The photo on the left c. 1905, appears to have been taken at the same time as the photo above of William's two sons. William Sr. is in the center with Walter on his left and William. Jr. is on the right. By 1919, just before Prohibition began, Wm. Riedlin Sr. and both of his sons had all passed away - in a span of just four years.

THE RIEDLIN DAUGHTERS & GRANDCHILDREN

Mary Anna Marie Riedlin was born on February 12, 1883. Her family and friends called her Mayme (Mamie). She was a middle child: seven years older than her sister Lucia (Lucy) and four years older than Walter, but two years younger than William, Jr. At the age of 26, Mamye married Clarence Cobb in 1909. The following year the couple had a son, Clarence William Riedlin Cobb. In 1911 they had a daughter, Marion, who sadly died in 1912 - the same year as the matriarch of the Riedlin family, Emma. In 1915, the couple had a daughter, Martha Lucia Cobb. A decade later in 1925, Mayme became divorced from her husband and never remarried. Her son Clarence Cobb married Elenora Breadon and they had two sons, William Richard in 1929 and Clarence Riedlin, Jr., in 1932. Clarence divorced in 1936 and married Margaret Ruth White. Mayme's daughter Martha married LeRoy Sheldon Ferry in 1937 and had a daughter, Ann Lynn Ferry, in 1940. Ann married David Air White and had three children, Linda Ann White, Elizabeth Lynne White, and David Robert White.

Lucia Riedlin was the youngest daughter of the Riedlins, born on January 2, 1890. It appears she attended the School of the Brown County Ursuline's in St. Martin, OH. On September 30, 1914, she married William C. Schott (Will), the youngest son of the Johan Michael Schott family from Cincinnati. The marriage ceremony was held at the Riedlin home and the reception was held at the Bavarian Rathskeller in an event for 100 people. Lucy and Will had two sons. The oldest, William Riedlin Schott (Bill) was born in 1915, married Catherine Sue Lake in 1948, and had a son, William Patton Schott, in 1952. The youngest son, Louis Leuders Schott, married Virginia Erhardt in 1947 and had a son, Louis Ried Schott, in 1949.

The c. 1905 photo on the left below shows Emma Riedlin in the middle and her daughters Lucy on the left and Mayme on the right. The photo on the right was from 1916 and shows Mayme Riedlin Cobb on the left and Lucy Riedlin Schott on the far right. The children left to right are William (Billy) Riedlin Schott, Clarence William and Martha Cobb.

Emma Hoffman Karweise, the mother of Emma Riedlin, lived with the Riedlin family at their home on Main Street until she passed away in 1915, the same year as Walter. By then the Riedlin home was becoming rather empty - Mayme had moved out when she married in 1909; Lucy had left in 1914 after she was wed. When William Jr. and William Sr. both passed away in early 1919, there were no immediate members of the Riedlin family remaining to occupy the Main Street homestead. Therefore, it is believed that shortly after the Riedlin men passed away, the Riedlin home was sold. The property was reportedly converted to a funeral home in the 1920s, and was still being used for this purpose nearly a century later. The home and its carriage house (converted for office use) has operated as the Covington Chapel of the Middendorf-Bulloch Funeral Homes. (Coincidently, William Sr. and Middendorf were both officers and investors in a business together, the Prosper Gold Mining Co.)

THE PASSING OF WILLIAM RIEDLIN  & HIS SONS.

William passed away on February 19th, 1919, in Asheville, NC. He suffered from acute asthma and was visiting a resort in this town in an attempt to improve his condition when he died. Four years earlier, his son Walter also died in Asheville, NC - possibly at the same resort. About three weeks later, on March 6, 1919, William Riedlin died in Covington, KY. Therefore, in a period of only four years, all of the men in the Riedlin family had passed away.

 

William had arrived in Cincinnati in 1870 and spent almost 50 years of his life in the area. He established and worked at what became Bavarian Brewing Co. for 37 years. Further, the brewery was owned and operated by his descendants until 1966 for a total of about 83 years - over 45 years after his death and the death of his sons.

A trunk that was passed down to Lucia Riedlin, and believed to be from her father, William, Sr., is shown above. (The initial C. may be for Carl, his christened name.)

The Knights of Columbus issued a Resolutions Respect in tribute to William Riedlin shortly after his passing. An obituary and brief biography were prepared in calligraphy.

 

SOURCES:

Ancestry.com.

Wimberg, Robert J., Cincinnati Breweries, Ohio Book Store, Cincinnati, OH

Riedlin and Schott family items and information, including notations on photos by Lucia Riedlin.

The background page is the William Riedlin home from around 1899 until shortly after William's death in 1919.

Later, in either the 1920s ore 1930s, it became a funeral home for early a century.

 
The Historic and Former
 
 
Bavarian Brewery

 
In Covington, Kentucky