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By Carmen Ensinger
The Greene County Historical Society recently received a book on the history of the Reif family dating back to the day they first landed in America. The book was written by Clarence Reif, and donated to the Historical society by Clara Reif Halliday, both are the great-great grandchildren of Joseph and Anna Reif.
“This is a wonderful addition to our library of family histories,” Historical Society Vice President Larry Gillingham said. “References like these will be invaluable for the generations that come.”
The book, “Reif Family – Stories and Information about Joseph and Anna Reif’s Family” relates the story of Joseph and Anna who came to America from Leimgruben, Austria. They sailed on the ship Herzogin Von Brabant from Bremen, Germany, arriving at the Port of New York on July 28, 1864 after 43 days at sea, which included sailing through icebergs in the northern Atlantic Ocean.
Of all of the places they could have settled, the Reif’s chose Carrollton as their final destination. Family members still live in Carrollton to this day. Descendants of Joseph and Anna have also scattered across the entire United States from Wisconsin to Florida and from Massachusetts to California.
This book contains stories from many of the 42 fifth generation descendants who have shared information about their ancestors, including the eight that served during the Revolutionary War, one of which even fought for the British.
“The book was well received by our family members,” Clara Halliday said. “Harold Reif, of California said that until now, he had had no pictures of his grandparents. Cousin Betsy Davison, of Virginia, who is a historian and author of books on early American furniture, said she’d seen many family history books, but none that contain the stories and family history like this book.”
Many of the Reif descendants were surprised that their cousin, Barbara Bertoli had done the cover illustration for the Lord of the Flies and illustrated many of the Avon romance novel covers of the 60’s and 70’s.
Bertols was also a renowned painter of garden paintings and an early crusader for women with her “Paperdoll” art. Tom Walsman, of Utah, was so impressed with the book he asked for a copy that he could give to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City where he and his wife, Janet, have volunteered many hours.
There are many familiar local names in the indexed 398 page book which contains more than 350 photos.
While Clarence Reif is listed as the author of the book, his sister, Clara Halliday deserves much credit as well.
“I spent much of my life gathering information and writing about Joseph and Anna and their descendants,” she said. “My work filled binders and an abundance of names, dates and stories of the Reif family. My dream was to someday publish this information in a family history book.”
Clarence Reif took all of this data, along with additional information and photos from distant cousins and surprised Clara at Christmas with a hardbound book containing her genealogical work.
Clara’s work in book form will assure all the Reif family stories and photos will be here for future generations.
Clarence Reif is a retired Air Force officer who lives with his wife in Godfrey. They enjoy their children and grandchildren, history and outdoor activities.
Clara Reif Halliday is a retired nurse executive who lives in Brighton. She enjoys her family, genealogy, reading, sewing and contact with many of the cousins. Clarence and Clara are the great, great grandchildren of Joseph and Anna Reif. Cousin Brenda Ranger is also a great, great grandchild.