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Sheboygan County, Wisconsin Genealogy & History
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William Reineking

Source: "Portrait and Biographical Record - Published 1894 by Excelsior Publishing Co., Chicago" Pages 256 - 258

William Reineking is one of the oldest living settlers of Herman Township, as well as one of the best-known and most highly esteemed citizens. His residence here covers a period of forty-six years, during which time he has seen the township transformed from a heavily wooded section into rich and well improved farms.

Mr. Reineking was born in Langenholzhausen, Lippe-Detmold, Germany, June 14, 1828, being a son of Frederick and Mary {Bilstein} Reineking, who were also natives of the same place. His father, who was a carpenter by trade, was a man of some prominence in his neighborhood. Having heard much of the advantages for acquiring wealth in the United States, he organized a company of thirteen families to emigrate to the United States, and on the 4th of May, 1847, this little band embarked aboard a vessel at Bremen for the New World. By common consent Frederick Reineking was made leader. They purposed to land at New York and come direct to Sheboygan County, but as the number of passengers aboard was so great each did not have the number of cubic feet of space on the vessel required by the United States Government, and knowing they would not be permitted to land, they changed their course, and after eight weeks, dropped anchor at Quebec, Canada. Continuing their course Westward, they in due time reached Sheboygan, which was then a mere village, having about as many wigwams as it had cabins of the white man. On the 25th of July, the thirteen families above spoken of reached what is now town of Herman. A more honest, industrious and religious colony has never settled within the borders of this county. Of those who came as head of families, only two survive: Caroline Reineking, the sister of our subject, now Mrs. Humke, of Franklin; and Frederica Marten, who is also a resident of Herman Township. Frederick Reineking at first purchased a quarter-section of land, to which he subsequently added another one hundred and sixty acres. The country was an unbroken forest; Indians and wild animals were numerous, and there were no roads save such as the Indians had made going from one point to another. Mr. Reineking, assisted by his sons, helped to cut out the roads, clear away the forests, and make Herman one of the best towns in the county.

Only five weeks after arriving in this county, Mr. Reineking was bereft of his wife, and he was left to make the rest of life's journey alone. In September, 1851, while at work in the field, he was killed by a falling tree. The loss to the community by the death of this worthy couple was a sad one; both were zealous members of the German Reformed Church, to the upbuilding of which they gave their time and substance. They left a family of five children, as follows: Mrs. Humke, spoken of above; Amelia, who died many years ago; Frederick, who owned the old homestead, and died October 9, 1881; Simon, who was also a farmer of Herman Township, and died April 7, 1893; and William, the subject of this record, who is the youngest. The last-named also has the initials R. J., though they are never used, he being universally known as William Reineking.

William Reineking received a fair education in his native tongue, and since coming to this country has acquired a sufficient knowledge of English to be able to transact all kinds of business. Until twenty-three years of age he gave his services to his father. After that, going to Manitowoc County, he worked for a time for his board, hunting in the mean time a place where he could get cash for his services, as in those days wages were generally paid in trade at a store. Having worked for about two years, he took in payment a yoke of oxen and an old wagon; and with this outfit returned and began farming on the place where he now lives. He at first had eighty acres, on which not a building had been erected or an improvement made. With Characteristic energy he undertook the task of making a farm. Since, he has added to his original tract, now owning one hundred and twenty-five acres of fertile land, of which about eighty have been cleared by him. The log cabin has been replaced with a comfortable farm residence, while good barns and other necessary buildings have been erected.

Mr. Reineking was married in Herman Township, January 18, 1852, to Miss Sophia Hacker, a native of Mecklenburg, Germany, who came to this country in 1850. Of this union seven children have been born, two of whom have died, Matilda, at the age of eighteen, and Carl, aged twenty-three years; Bertha married Rev. E. W. Henschen, a German Reformed minister of La Fayette, Ind.; William is a farmer of Clark County, Wis; Ida is the wife of Fred Stock, a farmer in the town of Herman, Thedore {sic}, and Otto, who is a carpenter by trade, are at home.

Mr. and Mrs. Reineking are members of the German Reformed Church, and in a quiet way have done their part in upbuilding and supporting the church, and also the Mission House, a college for the education of young men desiring to become teachers and ministers. A fuller account of this school will be found on another page.

Mr. Reineking helped to organize the Town Herman Fire Insurance Company, on the 9th of June, 1871, and on the 22nd of the same month was chosen Secretary, which position he had held continuously since. In politics, he is a Republican and in an early day served three terms as a member of the County Board of Supervisors. Mr. Reineking is one of the landmarks of Sheboygan County, and in the community where he had been known for so many years, he has borne such a reputation for honorable, upright dealing that his word would be taken as readily as his bond.


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