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Robert Rietz, Page 722
ROBERT RIETZ, Superintendent of the finishing department of the Mattoon Manufacturing Company, is a native of the Chair City, born June 18, 1860. Until fifteen years of age, he spent his time chiefly in the school-room, but at that time commenced to learn carriage, wagon and house painting with Paul Weigand, working three and a-half-years. His father, Rudolph Rietz, who was born in Palteen, Pomerania, Germany, March 14, 1826, was a cabinetmaker by trade. About 1854 he crossed the Atlantic, and located at Memphis, Tenn. In 1858 he married, in Napoleon, Ark., Miss Wilhelmine Wurfel, a native of Treptow, Pomerania, Germany, born January 28, 1840. When sixteen years of age, she came to this country, locating at Sheboygan, and, with an uncle, later went South, where her marriage occurred, as already given. In 1860, Mr. Rietz came to Sheboygan, and started a spoke factory, which he carried on until it burned in 1871. Having thus lost the accumulations of many years of toil, he became greatly discouraged, and never again tried to establish himself in business of any kind. His death occurred on the 2d of June, 1887. He was a Democrat in politics, a member of the Masonic Order, and a man well respected for his honesty and uprightness. Mrs. Rietz still makes her home in Sheboygan. Her parents, Frederick and Caroline (Lemke) Wurfel, were early settlers of this county, where her father died. Her mother spent her last days in Beemer, Neb.
Unto Rudolph and Wilhelmine Rietz were born nine children: Robert (whose name heads this sketch), Millie, August, Meta, William, Rudolph, Edward, Tonie and Minnie.
Having completed his trade, Robert Rietz was employed two years in the finishing department of the Phoenix Chair Company, and subsequently he worked a few months in Chicago for the Pullman Car Company. In 1881 he began in the finishing department, where he is still employed, and two years later was made Superintendent of that department. He has the oversight of about one hundred and fifty men.
Mr. Rietz was married, January 10, 1887, to Miss Katie Bahler, a native of Baden, Germany. With her parents she came to the United States when young. In religious faith, she adheres to that of the German Reformed Church.
Mr. Rietz affiliates with the Odd Fellows' fraternity, with the Patriarchal Circle, and with two Aid Societies. He takes no active part in politics, but in exercising his franchise selects those he deems the best men.
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