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In Cincinnati, OH & Covington, KY

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. It is located next to Müllheim, which is in the center of a region known as Markgräflerland.  It is named after the Margraves of Baden, who ruled the area from the 12th Century until the formation of Baden in 1806.  It is nestled between the Black Forest to the east and the Rhine River and Alsace to the west. It is the warmest area in Germany and is known for its vineyards. Since it adjoins France and Switzerland, this area in Germany is known as the tri-country area. The nearest major cities, each about 20 miles away, are; Freiberg (Germany) to the north, Mullhouse (France) to the west and Basel (Switzerland) to the south. (Refer to the map.) Since this area in Germany lies so close to France, and was also part of this other country at times, the people in this area often speak both French and German. They also have a unique German dialect referred to as Alemannic. Apparently, William Riedlin spoke both languages and the noted dialect when he lived in Germany.

William's christened name was Carl Wilhelm Rüdlin (pronounced Reed-lin). His ancestors had been living in the region since the 16th Century. He left Germany out of the port of Bremen on the SS Baltimore in June, 1870, possibly with his brother August. This was only about a month before the Franco - Prussian War. The likliehood of this conflict may have influenced him to leave his homeland. Ship records indicated his name as "Rietlin", but when he arrived in Baltimore on July 2, 1870, has last name was anglicized and his full name became William Riedlin.  This experience of immigrants of having their names changed in the process of coming to America was relatively common. It was necessary when names in foreign languages used letters or marks, e.g. umlauts, which did not exist in English. When William arrived in Cincinnati, he had just just $1.15 in savings and lived with his mother for a while, who came to America a couple years earlier. His mother had seven brothers. All had emigrated to America earlier and some may have left during the Revolutions of 1848. There were over 30,000 of these German "Forty-Eighters" as the were known, who arrived in Cincinnati at this time. All of the brothers fought in the Civil War for the Union Army; four survived.  August eventually settled in Cincinnati and became a baker. (A photo of William from the mid-1870's is shown.) 

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, as shown. 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 it was passed on among 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. (Below is their wedding photo.) She was born in Riesenberg, West Prussia; today it is known as Prabuty in the Pomerania region of Poland. Her father was Samuel Hoffman  and her mother was  Maria Huelsen Hoffman. Emma had emigrated to America with her parents in 1872 and settled in Cincinnati.

Interestingly, it wasn't until a year after William left Baden and a couple years before Emma and her family left West Prussia that the principalities where they were from became part of a unified Germany. Even though they were from opposite parts of Germany, and would have had significantly different dialects, evidently this did not create difficulties in their attraction for one another. A month after the couple was married, William's mother (Anna Maria) passed away. A year later, in 1878, William became the proprietor of Tivoli Hall. It was 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 have 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).


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 (aka Luciel or 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. Even though William was achieving success in business with the Bavarian Brewery from the mid-1880s to the mid-1890s, and political success by serving tree terms as a City Alderman between 1887 and 1895, the Riedlin family suffered the loss of two infant boys and a teenage daughter during this decade.  Entering the late 1890s, the families 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.