This is the history of our family...the history of those relatives who came to the United States from Europe in the 19th century and who settled primarily in the southeastern part of Indiana. Some notes seem appropriate.
First, my interest to research our family history began in 1978 with the awareness of how little I knew about my own Reifel roots. Up until that time, my Aunt Dorothy (Generation 5) had been accumulating the facts, dates, and other history on our family during her entire life. She has always been interested in our family history. I have had total access to all the information she gathered, without which I could not have written this Reifel family history. Thanks to you, Aunt Dorothy! She and my mother have proofread this whole family sketch for accuracy.
Through Aunt Dorothy I contacted Mrs. Betty Burks of Slidell, Louisiana, who is also interested in our genealogical roots. Her grandmother was Bertha Reifel (Generation 4). Her gathered information helped me to see how her family (through the children of Georg Jakob Reifel) and mine (also through the children of Georg Jakob Reifel) are related.
I am also especially indebted to Mary Alice Fisher Reifel of Anderson, Indiana, who has done work on our family history and who contributed her information to this composite work.
I also owe a debt of gratitude to my mother, Elizabeth Reifel Niehaus, Kate Pepper (with a remarkable memory of names and how they were related), Carol Volkening, Judi Reifel, Congressman Ben Reifel, Dean Doenges, Mary Lee Passalacqua, Leonard Passalacqua, Neil Hyde, Mary Ann McFall, Gene Mohr, George W. Reifel, Sr., and many others for their help and encouragement.
Second, I have researched our Reifel roots through US Census records and boat passage lists in both Washington and Chicago. In 1979 and 1980 I spent some time at the National Archives in Washington and the General Services Administration Records Center in Chicago. Unfortunately, actual immigration and naturalization records were not available at either center for these early ancestors.
From the German Lutheran Church Record Book of Peppertown, Indiana, I learned that Georg Jakob Reifel immigrated in 1855 from Hördt, Germany. Accordingly, I have tried to locate his name on the boat passage lists of that year which are on microfilm at the National Archives in Washington DC. I had no success in this endeavor. It is through the research of my Aunt Dorothy that I have seen copies of most (hopefully all) of the important church records from the German Lutheran Church in Peppertown. I have also visited several of the important cemeteries for dates and information there included -- the old and new cemeteries at the church in Peppertown, Maple Grove Cemetery in Brookville, Indiana, and the Connersville Cemetery and Mausoleum.
Third, I have included a letter from Herr Roland Paul, an archivist in Germany, stating his conclusion that our Reifel family roots do go back to the small German town of Hördt near the French border. A second page sent by the same archivist lists our earliest relatives as they are presently on file in Germany.
Fourth, I do wish to apologize in advance to all whom it may concern for any inaccuracies or any incompleteness in regard to their individual families. I have tried to be accurate and complete as possible on all the branches of the family. My primary interest, however, was the direct Reifel line through which I am related to our earliest known German and German-American ancestors. Hopefully my research will inspire others to make this Reifel family sketch even more accurate.
Permission to use this manuscript was generously granted by
the Author & Editor, Fr. Charles W. Niehaus, May 19, 2001.