RIEGLE, BENJAMIN, retired farmer, was born in Tulpehocken township, Berks county, Pa., March 24, 1805. His parents are George and Anna Mary (Lesher) Riegle. His paternal grandparents are John and Elizabeth (Zeller) Riegle, and his maternal grandparents John and Barbara Lesher. George Riegle, his father, died at the age of eighty-six years and eight months; his wife died aged about eighty-three. They had twelve children: Benjamin, Daniel, who died at the age of twenty-two, John, Jacob, Jonathan, David, George, Henry, Elias, Elizabeth, Mary, and Catherine.
Benjamin Riegle was carefully trained from earliest childhood at home, and his parents made willing contributions for the support of a school in the neighborhood in which he was a pupil. This was before the establishment of the admirable public school system, maintained by general taxation; these subscription schools were the only educational advantages within the reach of people of moderate means. The family removed to Northumberland county when Benjamin was nine years old. His education being limited, having attended school only a few months for two or three winters, he continued to attend subscription schools until he was nineteen. These schools were only kept open during the winter season, when farm work was not pressing; in the farming season all the girls and boys were industrious helpers in home and farm work.
Mr. and Mrs. Riegle thinking it well that a boy should know a trade, Benjamin was placed with Jacob Welker, of Millersburg, to learn that of cabinet making. At the end of two years Mr. Welker pronounced him a well trained mechanic, and he went to work as a journeyman. After following this occupation for one year, Mr. Riegle decided to return to farm work; so, after due consideration, he rented a farm in Upper Paxton township, from Jacob Landis, for three years. Within the first year of his lease he learned that he could buy a farm on easy terms, so he sublet the Landis farm to Jacob Lebo, and on April 1, 1828, bought his present homestead, then comprising one hundred and twenty-eight acres. He at once took possession and began the process of clearing, improving, enriching the soil and erecting needed structures, making substantial improvements of all kinds in due order, which have brought his farm into first-class condition, both for productiveness and for appearance, and made him a prosperous farmer. His first great improvement, and the one he deemed most important, was the large, substantial and convenient barn that he built in 1834. Finding that he could as easily and more economically manage a larger farm, Mr. Riegle bought fifty acres more of Christopher Yeager in 1838, and fifty of William Lenker five years later; all of which coming under the same skillful and judicious management, made the additions equal to the original farm in condition and value. The dwelling Mr. Riegle determined should be one that would adorn his farm and afford his family convenience and comfort; and in 1859 he built the beautiful and spacious residence which has since been his home.
As the children appear upon the threshold of active life Mr. Riegle takes care of their interests. In 1850 he bought of George Buffington a farm of one hundred and twenty-eight acres, which he greatly improved, and which, in 1865, he sold to his son Jonathan. In 1860 he bought of Simon Yeager a farm of one hundred and twenty-five acres of cleared land and thirty acres of timber, on which, in 1861, he built a large barn and made other improvements, and in 1866 sold it to his son-in-law, Jeremiah Landis. In the spring of the same year he sold one hundred acres, with buildings, to his son Benjamin. Mr. Riegle’s circumstances now made it necessary for him to be taxed with the burdens and responsibilities of active business, but his integrity and ability were so manifest in his career that organized industries and financial trusts and ventures desired his aid and support in their administration; for any enterprise to which Benjamin Riegle would give his name would win and hold public confidence. A number of such enterprises in the lower end of Lykens Valley have enjoyed his services and his endorsement. Mr. Riegle was for many years a stockholder in one of the Harrisburg banks, and was largely instrumental in the organization of the Lykens Valley Bank, now the First National Bank of Millersburg, in which for many years he was a director and one of the principal stockholders; he was also one of the principal organizers of the Lykens Bank.
Benjamin Riegle was first married, January 31, 1826, to Catherine Diebler, daughter of Daniel and Anna Mary (Fessel) Diebler. They had nine children, of whom seven are deceased. Mrs. Riegle died January 16, 1875, and was deeply mourned by those who knew her many virtues and her exemplary conduct in all relations of life. In the second marriage of Mr. Riegle he was united, June 6, 1875, to Mrs. Elizabeth Hummel, widow of John Hummel, who died October 6, 1865. Mrs. Riegle’s children, by her first marriage, are Henry, Jacob, Matthias, Christian, and Elizabeth, all deceased; Mary; John, who married Susan Bidding, and Amanda, wife of David Lenker.
Mr. Riegle’s character is no less marked and prominent through his domestic and social qualities than through those which secured to him the remarkable success of his business career. Multitudes share his hospitality and enjoy his society. He is bountiful in his charities, and a willing and liberal contributor to all measures for the promotion of the public welfare. His church membership is in the United Brethren church, and he is second to none in his support of its benevolent enterprises.
Pages 1074 & 1075
Transcribed by Judy Warner Bookwalter, for the Dauphin County,
Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project – http://maley.net/transcription