HENRY JACOB THEODORE RIEFENBERG. The firm of Riefenberg & Son is one of the well known business establishments of Carlinville and the head of the firm, whose name introduces this sketch, is one of the representative men of the city. He was born in Brunswick, Germany, May 17, 1839, a son of John Riefenberg, who was a miller and ran an old-fashioned water mill there. The mother of our subject died when he was two and one-half years old. There were four children in the family, two sons and two daughters, Henry being the only one now living. The father married again and in 1847 emigrated to America with his wife and one daughter and two sons by his former marriage. He lived retired at St. Louis for eighteen years and then came to Carlinville, where he remained for nine years, at the close of which time he went to Chatsworth, Illinois. He died in 1889, at the age of eighty-three. The three children were: John, deceased; Dorothea, who married Joseph Wealing, of Quincy, Illinois, and is now deceased; and Henry J. T.
At the age of eight years Henry J. T. Riefenberg crossed the ocean with his parents to the new world. The trip was made in a sailing vessel and required ninety days. They landed at New Orleans and went aboard a steamboat for St. Louis. The boat was in bad condition and it was fourteen days before they reached the end of their journey. The son Henry attended the public schools and later learned the upholstering, paper-hanging and steamboat-furnishing business, also becoming proficient in making mattresses and household furniture of all kinds. IN 1865, at the age of twenty-six years, he came to Carlinville and engaged in the upholstering and paper-hanging business. Subsequently he went into partnership with George Schoenherr and John Junghans in the furniture and undertaking business, the title of the firm being Schoenherr, Junghans & Riefenberg. Mr. Riefenberg having purchased the interest of a Mr. Berry in the old firm. The business prospered for eight years, when the establishment was destroyed by fire, but the house was soon afterward rebuilt. In 1880 Mr. Riefenberg entered the furniture business on his own account at the location which he now occupies and by close attention to the wants of patrons has acquired an enviable reputation and has greatly prospered. He has now been at the head of the business which he established himself for thirty-one years and for forty-six years has been actively interested in the growth of Carlinville. He is ably assisted by his son, and each year gives new evidence of their prosperity.
In 1865 Mr. Riefenberg was married to Miss Anna Bogenpohl, and to this union four children were born. Wilhelmina married Herman Pfaff and they live in St. Louis, being the parents of three children, Ida, George and Herman. Theresa is living at home. Katharine assists her father in the store. She taught school for eight years, kept books for her father and also took part in the management of the business. She has unusual mechanical ability and is an adept in the use of tools. Anna, the youngest of the four children, is now living near Holiday, Missouri. Mrs. Ann Riefenberg died February 10, 1873, and Mr. Riefenberg was married in 1876 to Miss Dina Lentz. Three children were born to this union: Otto, who is identified with his father in business; Albert, who is employed by the James Curtis Casket Company of Chicago; and one who died in infancy. The mother of these children died in 1879 and Mr. Riefenberg was married to Mrs. Louisa Straub, the widow of Jacob Straub and a daughter of August and Catharine (Schlagenhauf) Schnarre. To this union four children were born: Caroline, who married Louis Blum and lives at Ottawa, Kansas; Emma, who is the wife of Arthur Aden, of Carlinville; Henry, who married Florence Schoper; and John, who died in infancy. Mrs. Louisa Riefenberg was born in Columbia, Illinois, March 11, 1855. Her father, August Schnarre, was born in Liebeken, province Westphalen, kingdom of Prussia, November 5, 1816, and the mother was born in Frielingshausen, Oberamt Marbach, Wurtemberg, January 20, 1832. The father came to America at the age of twenty-one years and the mother at the age of five. They wee married in this country and had twelve children, eight of whom are now living, Charles, August, Catharine, Louisa, Solomon, Henry, Anna and Lucy. The maternal grandfather of Mrs. Riefenberg was George Schlagenhauf and his wife was Katharina Lauderwasser.
Mr. and Mrs. Riefenberg belong to the German Lutheran church, with which they have been identified since infancy. During the Civil war he was a member of the Home Guards at St. Louis and drilled in the daytime, working out at night. Politically he has from the time of casting his first ballot supported the republican party. He is proud of the fact that he has voted twice for Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States. A capable and energetic business man and a patriotic and useful citizen, Mr. Riefenberg looks back on a long and active life and he sees no reason to regret selecting Carlinville as his permanent home, for here he found friends and fortune.