Edwin Rickenbach and Catherine Hoover moved to Hyde Park, Muhlenberg Township after they were married and lived there through the 1880s until Edwin’s untimely death in 1894. Their house was just a couple of miles south of his parents (James and Eliza) home at Rickenbach Station, just across the river. Ed and Kate (as they were known) had five children during that time. The young family spent April through November living and traveling on canal boats, and passed the winters in Hyde Park. They also must have spent a lot of time at Rickenbach Station, building and repairing boats at the drydock while the children were cared for by their grandmother Eliza.

Ed and Kates oldest child was William Howard Rickenbach (1880-?), named for Ed’s older brother. For a few short months in the wintertime, Howard attended school at the Rickenbach Schoolhouse, but he and his brothers and sister did not receive much schooling due to their nomadic life on the canal. Howard married Elnora Strausser in 1900 and they remained in Hyde Park while his widowed mother and younger brother and sister moved to Fleetwood (Ruscombmanor Township), 10 miles to the east. Howard was a machinist at Bernarts, which is essentially in or next to Hyde Park. Howard and Nora had four children: Verna, Stella Mae, Eddie, and Catherine. Stella Mae was apparently quite a character, remarrying Sam Scaramella five days following her divorce from George Lesher in 1943.

John Benjamin Rickenbach, Ed and Kate’s next child, was born in 1881 at Hyde Park. Like his older brother Howard he had very little schooling and grew up near his aunts, uncles, and grandparents when not on a canal boat. As a boy he no doubt spent a lot of time with his uncles Wilson and Curtin at the drydock, with his grandmother Eliza at their home along the canal, and perhaps helping his grandfather James grow watermelon. John was 13 years old when his father Edwin was struck by lightning and killed, just after he, his brothers and sister, and his mother disembarked from his father’s boat “Mars” near Port Richmond on the Delaware River. A few years after this, John very likely went to Jamesburg NJ, perhaps because of a work opportunity. There he met Mary Emma Gallagher, the daughter of a coachman whose parents were from Northern Ireland. John and Emma were married in 1903, and returned to Reading and lived in a row house near the Buttonwood Bridge when his son Howard Sr. was born (1906). Later they moved to 604A Penn Ave. in West Reading (this is an apartment across the street from the W. Reading movie theater). John worked at the Stunzi Knitting Mill, which is just a couple of blocks off of Penn Ave, just behind the W. Reading Borough Hall (it is still there, a large red brick building). He was a silk warper, which is a type of knitter. John later worked at the WPA (Works Power Authority) during the 1930s. He and Emma are buried at Laureldale cemetery, which is on the opposite corner of the intersection where Good Shepard (Hinnershitz) cemetery is.

The photograph above from 1930 shows (from left) Emma Gallagher Rickenbach, son Howard Rickenbach Sr., grandson Howard Jr., and John B. Rickenbach. John looks a lot like his grandmother Eliza Hinnershitz, also like his uncle Curtin. Howard Jr.’s recollection of his grandfather (John B.): "I visited my paternal grandparents many times and even lived with them for a week or two at a time. The place was West Reading PA and the time was the 30s and 40s. ....(describes grandmother Emma).....My grandfather (John) was another story. I never remember having a conversation with him. Our verbal exchanges were almost always monosyllabic. I never felt at ease with him. In contrast to his wife he was thin, wiry, no more than 130-140 lbs., short and taciturn. Even at that young age I could not imagine how they got along together. John never drove a car, his wife Emma drove him everywhere".

From granddaughter Diane R. Brown: "My recollections of my grandfather and grandmother Rickenbach are slim. By the time I was born, I think my Mother had a severe falling-out with them. I do know they came to our house on Pine Street a few times and that I visited them at two different apartments - one on Penn Avenue and one on 6th Street. But, when I was still very young, visits became taboo! My Dad had to visit his mother during work hours and a few times he would sneak me there with him - never was I to tell Mother. I remember going to my Grandfather's funeral and being made to kiss him in the coffin - don't know the year, but believe it was when I was four or five. After that point, I was instructed by Mother never to ride my bike near my Grandmother's apartment and never to go in - no matter what! What a terrible tragedy to have a grandmom in the same town and not to have contact. The same prohibition was in place for any contact with my cousin Russell (my Dad's brother Russell's son). Russell, the cousin, had three girls - one was two years older than me - and I was even told not to communicate with her at school in West Reading. Her name was Judy and she had two younger sisters - don't remember their names.”


Ed and Kate’s daughter Christiana Estella Rickenbach was born on 20 January 1883, named for Ed’s grandmother Christiana Rickenbach. Stella moved with her widowed mother to nearby Fleetwood (5 miles east of Tuckerton) after Ed’s death. There, Stella married Charles Adams, and lived in Fleetwood. Stella and Charles Adams are buried at Hinnershitz Church, next to her father's grave.

 

Edwin and Catherine's son Edwin Forrest Rickenbach was born in 1886. Howard Sr. (my grandfather) recalled that “Uncle Ed” was actually born on the canal boat “Rattler”. In his early 20s Ed was living with his brother John in West Reading around 1910, and the two brothers worked together at the Stunzi Knitting Mill. There Ed met Minnie Dieffenbach, who lived on nearby Franklin Street with her parents. They were married in 1914 and had two children Earl and Winfield. Ed and Minnie had a close relationship with John and Emma’s children through the years. According to Ed’s granddaughter Susan Gumpher, she refers to her father Earl (Edwin's son) saying that "..he did mention about land that was either sold or sheriffed due to back taxes owed, and times being hard that his parents (Edwin and Minnie) couldn't keep it. I am not sure how accurate that is though". Ed died in 1937, and Minnie passed much of her adult life at the Wernersville sanitorium, a victim of mental illness, before her death in 1964. Ed and Minnie are both buried at

Ed and Kate’s youngest son Roger was born in 1891. Roger died at age 4 in 1895, and is buried next to his father's grave at Hinnershitz Church.