A tall memorial topped with an angel stands in Oak Grove Cemetery in Paducah, McCracken County, in remembrance of the Rieke family. Five members of the William H. Rieke family are buried there.
William H. Rieke was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1838, coming to the United States with his parents when he was about six years old. Monima Smedley was born in Kentucky in 1848. They married October 18, 1866, at the Presbyterian Church in Paducah, McCracken County. In the 1860 census Monima, 11, lived with her father, William Smedley, 54. Her mother must have died before this date. A stepmother lived with the family, Josephine Walters, who married William Smedley two years earlier in Jefferson County. Missouri, 18, and William, 14, as well as Josephine’s son, Henry Walters, 12, lived in the household.
In 1870 William Rieke was 31, operating a dry goods store. Monima (a lovely, but different name) was listed as Jemima, 22. Two sons, Frank H., 2, and Willie H., 1, lived with their parents. Ten years later Monima’s name was spelled correctly! And three more children were added to the family – Lily, 9; Carrie, 6; and Clara, 5/12. Frank H. Rieke, 44, named as boarder, was a merchant, William’s brother.
A list of William Henry and Monima’s children:
- Frank Henry Rieke, July 2, 1867-March 4, 1937, married Marjorie Machen.
- William Henry Rieke, November 20, 1868-March 8, 1943, never married.
- Lily Monima Rieke, July 21, 1870-August 19, 1948, first married James Rhey Boyd, second, Edmund Clark.
- Carrie L. Rieke, 1874-1916, married James Cooper.
- Clara R. Rieke, December 22, 1879-April 30, 1939, married first Emmett J. Burnett, second, Roy L. Culley.
Monima Smedley Rieke died April 23, 1886, at the young age of 38. William must have been devastated. I believe the beautiful angel at the top of the monument is specifically for her. Notice that her name is first on the stone. The lettering for William’s name is slightly different, and newer, added after his death in 1910.
In the 1910 census we find William, 71. With him live his son, W. H., 41; daughter Clara Burnett, 30, and her son William, 12; Linn Boyd, 17, a grandson (son of daughter Lily). Next door lives son Frank, 42, with wife Marjorie, 28, and children Jack, 3, and Rob 10/12.
William Henry Rieke died December 29, 1910. He was missed not only by his family, but by the entire community.
The Paducah Sun Democrat, McCracken County, Kentucky
Thursday, December 29, 1910
Mr. W. H. Rieke’s Busy Career Is Closed in Death
Prominent and Successful Merchant, Long in Business in This City
He Was a Native of Hanover, Germany
Funeral Plans Incomplete
William Henry Rieke, 72 years old, one of Paducah’s ablest and most successful business men, died at 11 o’clock this morning at his home, 1710 Kentucky Avenue, of pneumonia. He had been ill since last Thursday and for the past few days his condition had been extremely grave.
Mr. Rieke was identified with the leading business interests here and possessed rare business ability and insight. He was popular and was active, although he had gone into retirement from his business life. His death was a general shock in the city, where he was widely known and respected.
Mr. Rieke was a native of Hanover, Germany, and was born in 1838. When he was about six years old his parents, Phillip H. and Clara W. Rieke, immigrated to the United States, settling first in Cincinnati, Ohio, where they made a temporary residence, and then removed to Louisville. There Mr. Rieke was reared and educated and began the mercantile business in which he was very successful.
During the winter of 1861 he came to Paducah and established a wholesale dry goods house with his brothers, Messers. Frank and Charles Rieke. At the death of Mr. Charles Rieke, he and Mr. Frank Rieke established a retail dry goods store at 322-324 Broadway. They continued in business together and a short time after his brother’s death Mr. Rieke closed his store.
A short time afterwards he and his son, Mr. Frank Rieke, established an ice plant on South Third Street and later consolidated with the Paducah Ice Company. Mr. Rieke had been practically retired since starting the ice business, which is managed by Mr. Frank Rieke.
His parents died in Louisville. In 1866 he was married, in this city, to Miss Monima Smedley, whose death occurred 26 years ago. Surviving him are three daughters and two sons: Mrs. Edmund Clark, of Iowa; Mrs. James Cooper, of Hopkinsville; Mrs. Roy L. Culley, Paducah; and Messrs. Frank Henry Rieke and William Rieke, both of this city. He also leaves one sister, Mrs. Emma Cherry, 534 Harrison Street.
He was an exemplary member of the First Presbyterian Church and a member of the Knights Templars and Knights of Honor lodges.
The body will lie at the residence tomorrow and the funeral may be held either Saturday or Sunday. Arrangements have not been completed.
Three of the children of William and Monima are buried in the plot with their parents.
Categories: Family Stories