91st PA: William C Reiff, obituary [source: Carlsbad Current 11 April 1913]


W. C. Reiff, Old-Timer in Pecos Valley, Dies at His Residence Friday, April 4, 1913.


William Coffin Reiff, son of Beulah Ann Tice Reiff and John Boyer Reiff, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in the year 1845. He was one of a family of eleven children of whom only one brother, who resides in Kokomo, Indiana, survives him.

When Mr. Reiff was sixteen years old, he enlisted in the ninety-first Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry and served until the close of the war.

In the fall of 1865 he enlisted in the army of the Mighty One of Israel, was converted and united with the Baptist church, making a valiant soldier in this army as he had in the service of his country.

He graduated from Crittenden College and later took a four year course at the State Normal School at Millersburg, Pennsylvania. He was united in marriage to Sarah Ann Curl, September 15th, 1874, the ceremony taking place at Philadelphia. To this union was born three daughters: Martha, now the wife of H. C. Robb; Beulah May and Mary, now Mrs. Joseph McMillan. Two grandchildren also remain: William Preston Robb and Mary Helen McMillan, all of whom were present at the funeral Sunday.

They removed to Indiana, where they resided two years, returning to Pennsylvania where he was superintendent of schools for two years more.

In the spring of 1878 the family came to Marion County, Kansas, where Mr. Reiff again engaged in teaching until the year of 1887. At this time he was engaged in the real estate business, but his health continuing bad, he was ordered to the Pecos Valley, arriving in Carlsbad October 25, 1892.

For the first ten years his health improved steadily, and he was prominently identified with the school and social life of the community. With his family he resided a year in Hagerman, taking up a desert claim near that place. Afterwards he taught the first school in Miller station, which now is Artesia. He was forced by ill health to give up teaching but continued interested in all that pertains to schools, his daughters all being actively engaged in that profession at various times.

For the last five years Mr. Reiff had been unable to engage in any regular business, which was a grief to his active energetic disposition. His was a patient, unselfish character; charitable [in] word and deed, and in conversation with him, or even in his presence, one was impressed with his innate goodness and kind heart.

The funeral, which occured from the Baptist church, Sunday afternoon, at three o'clock, was largely attended, Rev. A. A. Davis, of the Presbyterian church, officiating and Rev. J. Rush Goodloe, Methodist minister, assisting. The casket, draped with a beautiful silk flag, and covered with floral tributes of friends, was borne from the hearse by the following brothers of the Knights of Pythias, of which order the deceased was a member for many years:

Robt. C. Hamblen, A. R. O'Quinn, Lucius Anderson, J. R. Linn, Elbert Smith and Robt. J. Toffelmire.

While the honorary pall bearers were the following old friends:

C. H. McLenathen A. N. Pratt, W. H. Woodweil, Wm. H. Mullane, W. G. Woerner and J. W. Lewis.

The pall bearers who were all Knights of Pythias members, the deceased having for years been a member of that order were: Robt. C. Hamblen, A. R. O'Quinn, Lucius Anderson, J. R. Linn, Elbert Smith and Robt. J. Toffelmire.

Hymns which he had loved in his life were sung at the church, the choir honor, preceding the funeral cortege and firing the military salute over the grave.

The interment was made in a spot selected by Mr. Reiff some time ago, next to the grave of Rev. S. R. Wood, who was a valued friend of the deceased.

The following tribute to Mr. Reiff was prepared and read at the services at the church by C. H. McLenathen which tells better than anything we can say the life of our friend and neighbor, Wm. C. Reiff.

William Coffin Reiff was born at Philadelphia in 1845.

On his sixteenth birthday, he enlisted in the Ninety-first Pennsylvania Volunteers and served four years or until the close of the Civil war.

In the fall of 1865, he was converted and joined the Baptist church of which organization he has been an active and consistent member for nearly half a century.

He graduated from the Crittenden Business College and from the Pennsylvania State Normal School.

He was preparing himself for Missionary work in Japan when his throat became affected, forcing him to change his life plan and to engage in other avocations. His work was principally along educational lines either superintendent or teacher.

In 1874 he was married to Miss Sara Ann Curl, who survives him.

In 1878 the family moved to Kansas and owing to continued ill health, came to the Pecos Valley in [sic] October 25th, 1892, where for a few years he was engaged in the real estate business. His strength was not equal to the strain and during the greater portion of his residence here he was too ill to work.

He died on April 4th, 1913.

Industrious, economical and thrifty he was unable to accumolate [sic] wealth. Mentally active, morally upright and intellectually acute, he was unable to accomplish great results. Why? A reason so common place and familiar that it is not appreciated. Poor health. From every material standpoint, his life was a failure, from every spiritual and ethical point of view--a blessed heritage.

We cannot understand the mystery of life. We cannot comprehend the mystery of death. The relation of this life to that which follows has been the theme of poets, philosophers and prophets since the morning stars sang together at creations [sic] dawn. No definite conclusions have been reached, not even a definite hypothesis established. We do not know why the wicked flourish like the green bay tree planted by the rivers of water while heavy burdens of sorrow are laid upon the shoulders of the virtuous and the devout. We are groping in the darkness, seeking the light. We realize that now we see as through a glass dimly, but that in the better land, illumined by the Sun of Righteousness, we shall see more clearly. What will it profit us to strike the sounding board of God's inscrutable Providences [sic] and listen to the echo of our own speculations? And yet we must ask, why?

Who are the real heroes of this world? Who are entitled to our admiration as possessing virtues worthy of our imitation? It is generally conceded that the great men who have led armies to victory, founded states and built empires, are the great heroes of the ages. Not so. Their hands have been reddened with the blood of their fellows. True heroism is not the spectacular display of courage in the lime light of public observation. It certainly requires strength and bravery to confront a sudden danger wherein one's life is imperiled either in self defense or in the protection or rescue of a fellow creature. For such acts of valor, medals and decorations are given. The Brittish [sic] soldier who saves the life of a comrade at the peril of his own wears on his breast the Victoria Cross--the highest attainable honor. There are many heroes not decorated and many unknown.

The man who for years bears the burden of an incurable malady with patience, and good cheer is a real hero. Those of you who are physically fit, strong of arm and robust of body do not realize the heavy load carried by your less fortunate brother, who is handicapped by physical weakness and bodily suffering. The coveted prizes of this life are won by the strong. They only who have suffered can appreciate the chagrin, disappointment, the utter despair felt by the intellectually competent as these prizes are snatched from their nerveless grasp. But it is, when with palsied arm or halting step, one hears his loved ones cry for bread and is impotent to answer the call, that the fangs of anguish are driven deep into his very soul. When time with leaden step dargs [sic] on from year to year and the grim conviction grows stronger and stronger that the supreme blessing of an ability to labor is never to be attained, then the real test comes. Then the victim sinks into snarling impotency or rises calm, serene and hopeful to the measure of true greatness. To bear this burden with patience, fortitude and good cheer is the index of high character.

Have any of you planned for years a certain life work and then just as you were to realize your ambition been robbed of the ability to do the work--like as the death angel snatches the blooming bride from the loving arms of the bride groom? No. Then you have not drank the wormwood and the gall.

You have not borne the supreme burden. You have not wrestled with the grim Giant Despair in the gloomy shades of Gethsemene. It is in this garden of Gethsemene that are developed the rarest flowers and fruitage of the chastened soul.

Our departed brother suffered much and was patient. He endured the supreme disappointment of blighted hopes and was cheerful. In bodily pain, he never complained and in anguish of soul he never murmured.

With faith and with unabated courage unshaken, he looked into the very blackest of all human tragedies and said: "Not my will, but Thine."

What a blessed heritage for those who are left behind is such a life and such a character. Treasure its memories and may your endeavors be strenghtened [sic] and your stricken hearts comforted.

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revised 13 Jun 02
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