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SUBJECT:             Birth Father of Charles Reiter of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, born about Jan 1887 to Matilda Griffith

LIMITATIONS:    Maximum of 15 Hours of Online Research to include a written report

RESEARCH QUESTION:  Who was the birth father of Charles Reiter, born Jan 1887 in Pennsylvania, son of Matilda Griffith, living at 2000 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia Ward 19, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1900?[1]

BACKGROUND:  The client, Mary DiDonna requested research into the identity of her maternal grandfather.  The following was learned about the family from a 2015 interview with the client’s brother, Joseph M. Cantlin:

  • Their grandmother, Florence (Pierce) Reiter Kirk was married twice. 
  • Her first husband, Charles Reiter was the father of Florence’s children.
  • Florence Pierce and Charles Reiter, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had two children: Florence Reiter, named after her mother, and a son, Joseph Charles Reiter.
  • The client Mary and brother, Joseph had a Great Aunt Cora (last name unknown), who was related to Charles.
  • Charles died when his children were very young.[2] 

Following that interview, research led to Charles Reiter in the 1900 census in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with a half sister, Cora and their family.

1900 Census, Philadelphia Ward 19, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Abstract[3]

Source Evaluation:  The United States Population Census is enumerated every ten years to record specific information of each family member in the household. The accuracy of the information is only as good as the informant giving it.

All dwelling/family numbers for this and the previous page are crossed out with a different number written above. Other family members around the Griffith/Reiter Household on Germantown Avenue include the surnames, Raupka, Ritter, Leidy, Gallagher, Harmer, Hart and Hersh; none of which appear on the other documents used in this paper. The majority of those listed were born in Pennsylvania, with a few exceptions born in Austria, Hungary, Russia, Germany, New York and Connecticut. The neighborhood occupations were mixed to include but not limited to: Teamsters, Cigar Workers, Mill Laborers, Engineers, Electricians, Drivers, Special Officers and Carpenters. 

The information is of undetermined origin. George Griffith was the step father to the two males and was likely not there for the events of the births of Charles and Allen, neither was his father, George Sr. It was not indicated who provided the information.

Abstract:  Wm. [C or G]onzelman, gathered information for this page on 7 Jun 1900. Enumerators were required to ask that all information gathered pertain to 1 June 1900 for each census nationwide so there was no confusion if someone had moved between the start and finish of gathering the information, preventing a family from showing up in two locations.

All seven in the home were white. Charles was the only worker not employed all 12 months (only 6 months). all members spoke English and all but Cora and Florence could read and write.

NameRelation to HeadBirthAgeMarital StatusYears Married# of BornBirth PlaceFather’s BirthMother’s BirthOcc.
George GriffithHeadMar 186436M7 MDMDMDCigar Maker
Matilda GriffithWifeApr 186139M75 – 4 livingPAPAPA[blank]
George Griffith Sr.FatherMar 183565W  PAGERGERCutter Shirt
Cora GriffithDaughterApr 18946S  PAMDPA 
Florence GriffithDaughterApr 18964S  PAMDPA 
Allen ReiterStepsonOct 188316S  PAPAPACigar Shipper
Charles ReiterStepsonJan 188713S  PAPAPACigar Shipper Apprentice

Analysis: This record was the starting point for the research question. It places Charles in the home with his mother, Matilda, stepfather, step grandfather, and brother and half sisters. Charles was 13 at the time of the census and would have been about 6 when his mother married George, which would have been no later than 1 Jun 1893. If Cora was born Apr 1894, it’s more than likely Matilda was her mother. Charles’ birth father’s last name will most likely prove to be Reiter since that’s how his last name was listed here and his brother, Allen most likely shared the same father. Charles started working as a Cigar Shipper Apprentice at age 12 if he had worked 6 months in 1899. George Griffith and his father George Sr. show they were born in Maryland; however, there’s an inconsistency in reporting. George Jr. was shown as having been born in Maryland and it stated his parents were as well but George Sr. shows as having been born in Pennsylvania. It’s also suspicious that 5 of 7 of the births were listed as either March or April.

SUMMARY OF OVERALL FINDINGS: Charles Edward Reiter was the father of Charles Reiter Jr., son of Matilda (Hetrick) Griffith.  Charles Sr. lived in or near Quakertown or Trumbauersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania between 8 Dec 1883 and 14 Mar 1887. A birth year wasn’t found for him. He was Matilda’s first husband and the father of her son, Allen. In addition to finding Charles Jr.’s birth father, it has been concluded that his birth month of January was reported incorrectly in the 1900 census and should have shown Mar 1887.

Timeline Summary of Family Events

(All facts were gleaned from the sources in the last section of the report and are cited, abstracted or transcribed there.)

DateEvent
Approx. Apr 1861Charles Jr.’s mother was born.Matilda (Hetrick) Reiter Griffith, was the daughter of Irwin Hettrick [sp?] and Sally [nee unknown]. She was reportedly born in Ridge Valley, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
8 Dec 1883Charles Edward Reiter Sr., whose birth date and birth location are currently unknown, married Matilda at Christ’s Lutheran Church in Trumbauersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Matilda was 17 at the time of their marriage and eight or nine months pregnant with son, Allen.
23 Dec 1883Allen Reiter, Charles Jr.’s brother was born 15 days after his parents (Charles Sr. and Matilda) were married.
30 Mar 1884Allen was baptized when he was three months old, on 30 Mar 1884 at the same church where the couple had married.
14 Mar 1887Charles Jr. was born to parents Charles Edward Reiter and Matilda (Hetrick) Reiter.
3 Jul 1887Charles Jr. was the second son of the couple to be baptized at Christ Lutheran Church in Trumbauersville. He was three and a half months old. 
1892-1893In 1900 George and Matilda Griffith were reported as having been married for seven years. It is currently unknown if Matilda and Charles Sr. divorced or if he passed away prior to her second marriage to George Griffith of Maryland. Charles Jr. was about five or six when they married. 
1894-1896Charles Jr.’s half sisters, Cora and Florence Griffith were born in Pennsylvania. Based on the time of marriage for George and Matilda and reported number of birthed and living children for Matilda in the 1900 census, Cora and Florence were most likely Matilda (Hetrick) Reiter Griffith’s children.
1 June 1900Charles Jr. lived with his family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
28 Feb 1918Charles Jr. passed away while living at 2720 N. Warnock, Philadelphia, the same location his mother, who was the informant for his death, was living.

Conflict Resolution for the Birth Date of Charles Reiter, Son of Matilda Griffith

The birth months in the 1900 census conflicted with other records found for Charles. This needed to be clarified to prove he was the same Charles in all records. 

Charles Reiter’s birth from his baptismal record should be accurate, based on the likelihood that one of the parents gave the information and it was provided very close to the event. The date is comparative to the date on his death record. With matching dates from different sources, events and informants, it’s highly likely the 14 Mar 1887 date is accurate and Jan 1887 was the incorrect month given on the census. His baptism and death records show his mother’s name, linking them together with the 1900 census.

SourceCharles
1900 CensusJan 1887
Charles’ Baptisms14 Mar 1887
Charles’ Death Record14 Mar 1887

SUPPORTING SOURCES

Death Search for Charles Reiter[4]

A search was completed for death records for Charles Reiter born January 1887 in Pennsylvania whose mother was Matilda as seen in the 1900 census.  The search included those who passed away young, based on family folklore. The search yielded 7 people with the last name Reiter or similar, though, none were born in January 1887. Two had died young, none showed a marriage to a Florence Pierce as the client had mentioned and only one of those two had a mother named Matilda. The closest match was Charles Reiter, born 14 Mar 1887 who passed away 28 Feb 1918. He would have died shortly before turning thirty-one. It’s possible this was the Charles in question.

NameRecord TypeBirthDeathMother’s Name
Charles P Reiter  Pennsylvania Death Certificate3 Aug 1887 Montgomery County, Pennsylvania17 Jan 1956 Allentown, Lehigh, PennsylvaniaSara Pennypacker
Charles Pennypacker ReiterFind A Grave3 Sept 1887  17 Jan 1956 Allentown, Lehigh, PennsylvaniaSarah Ann Reiter
Charles ReiterPennsylvania Death Certificate14 Mar 1887 Pennsylvania28 Feb 1918 Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaMatilda Hettrick
Emil C. ReiterPennsylvania Death Certificate25 Sep 1887 Pennsylvania9 May 1967 Johnstown, Cambria, PennsylvaniaChristina Rasman
Harry C. ReiderPennsylvania Death Certificate20 Feb 1888 Pennsylvania21 Aug 1950 York, York, PennsylvaniaEnna Yenster
Charles Louis RighterPennsylvania Death Certificate17 Jul 1888 Philadelphia12 Jan 1937 Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaSarah Crumback
C. G. ReiterObituary20 Oct 1888 Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaAbt. 1955 Coos Bay[Not Listed]

Certificate of Death for Charles Reiter – Transcript[5]

Source Evaluation: There are no notable legibility issues with this record. This original source was viewed as a digital copy. The information about the location, death and diagnosis were primary information provided by the doctor and the personal information for Charles [Jr.] would have been given by Mrs. M. Griffith (most likely Matilda, his mother). This is further direct evidence of the name of Charles Reiter’s father’s name.

Transcription of Death Certificate for Charles Reiter:

“Place of Death: Philadelphia, Philadelphia Co., PARegistration Dist: 1 [stamped] 
Full Name: Charles ReiterDist No: 43 [check mark with a cross]
Residence No: 2720 N. Warnock,File No:                36600
Personal and Statistical Particulars: Male; White; Married               Registered No: 6196
Date of Birth: March 14, 1887                    Date of Death: February 28, 1918
[Attended]: January 15, 1918 to February 28, 1918Last alive on: February 28, 1918
Age: 30 years, 11 month, 14 daysDeath occurred: 6:45pm.
Occupation: ClerkCause: Tubercular Laryngitis [TB]
Birthplace: Pennsylvania[Diagnosis Code]: 28-35
Parents: Charles Reiter & Matilda HetrickDuration: [blank]
Birthplace of Parents: [both] Pennsylvania         Contributory: Tubercular (general)
Informant: Mrs. M. Griffiths, 2720 N. Warnock St.Doctor: A.B. Lichten[?], MD
Filed: 3/1/1918Address: 24[?]5 N. 7th
[Signed]: [Illegible but looks like U Laurence], Local Registrar[Signed]: 2/28/1918
Undertaker: Geo. W. Barred, Park & Lehigh Aves.Burial: Northwood Cemetery-March 5, 1918”

Analysis: Charles Reiter appears to have been living with his mother at the time of his death when the address for the informant is compared with his. His mother would have first-hand knowledge of the name of Charles’ father, Charles Reiter. Charles and both of his parents were born in Pennsylvania, matching the census. His mother’s married name was listed as Griffiths, further confirming this is the correct Charles as she was known to have married George Griffith. Charles [Jr.] died young of tuberculosis, a few days before he was 31, confirming family legend and was buried in Northwood Cemetery. In this record, Matilda’s maiden name is shown as Hetrick which could help locate her and her first husband to confirm the father’s name.

Obituary for Charles Reiter[6]

Transcription: This is an original source, viewed as a digital image. It was written at the time of his death and has information provided most likely from someone in the family since the address for their home was given for the funeral but should still be identified as undetermined information since the person was provided it was not identified. This provides indirect evidence to answer the research question but the evidence connects Charles’ other documents together.

“REITER. — Feb. 28.  CHARLES. husband of Florence Reiter (nee Pierce). Relatives and friends invited to funeral services. Tues.. 2 P. M.. residence of his parents. 2720 N. Warnock st. Int. Northwood Cem. Remains may be viewed Mon.. 8 to 10 P. M. Auto funerla. [sic]”

Analysis: This obituary agrees with the date of death found in Charles Reiter’s death record, 28 Feb 1918. He was the husband of Florence (nee Pierce). This evidence corresponds with the information given by the client and her family, that Florence (nee Pierce) was his wife. The funeral services were held at his parents’ house, 2720 N. Warnock St, which is the address shown for the informant, Mrs. M. Griffith and was also listed as Charles’ address on his death record. The burial location matches to what was reported on the death certificate.

Marriage of Matilda R. Hetrick to Chas. Edward Reiter – Transcript[7]

Source Evaluation: This record set from Christ Lutheran Church in Trumbauersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, when opened, shows two pages. The first image of this three volume microfilmed set is hand printed in block letters without a filmed image of a hardbound cover or binding.The dates range from 1770 to 1867 and cover baptisms, marriages and deaths imaged by date. The writing for the page referenced is legible cursive. In the column of names of parents, all entries are blank.  In the column for names of witnesses, out of 28 marriage entries, 18 are witnessed by Emma Reiter, Ida Reiter or Daniel Reiter.There are 3 other marriages with the last name Reiter on the two pages that are across from each other.  This is a digital copy of the church register, which appears to be the original. The information was likely recorded first-hand by the pastor or someone on site. It’s unclear if Daniel Reiter and Rev. D. H. Reiter were the same person or how or if the Reiter’s who were witnesses were related to Charles but this could lend more weight to the validity of the information. All entries are in order of occurrence. This is indirect evidence of the father’s name of Matilda (Hetrick) Griffith’s son, Charles. All couples on both pages were listed as having lived in Quakertown, with the exception of a few, who were listed as living with their parents.

Transcription – Left Side, 4th Marriage Entry: The top of the pages in the register for this record states, Record of Marriages during the Pastorate of Rev. D.H. Reiter.”

NamesDate MarriedResidenceParentsWitnesses
“Chas. Edward Reiter & Matilda R. HetrickDec. 8, ’83 [1883]Quakertown[This column is blank for all entries seen.]Daniel Reiter”

Analysis: This direct evidence confirms Matilda’s husband’s name of Chas. Edward Reiter. It’s unknown if she was married prior to this. Both parent’s names match to Charles’ death record and show a marriage approximately three years and three months prior to his birth.  

Baptisms of Allen and Charles Reiter – Transcript[8] [9]

Source Evaluation: The marriage for the above couple, Chas. Edward Reiter and Matilda Hetrick can be found in the same microfilmed three-part record set as the following baptisms for their children, in the register for Christ Lutheran Church, Trumbauersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The marriage was image 105 and the baptisms for the couple’s children, Allen and Charles were found on images 59 and 60, respectively. D. H. Reiter was the pastor for all 3 records.  All baptisms were recorded in order of date performed. This is a digital copy of an original, with primary information recorded at the time of the event by someone at the church. These baptismal records show direct evidence to answer the research question. Allen Reiter’s baptismal information was included to show connection to the census.

“Record of Births and Baptisms

NameDate BornDate BaptizedNames of Parents or Sponsors
AllenDec. 23, 1883Mar. 30, 1884Charles E. & Matilda Reiter
CharlesMarch 14, 1887July 3, 1887Chas. E. & Matilda Reiter”

Analysis: The final column header, “Names of Parents and Sponsors,” could indicate that the couple listed were the sponsors for the baptized, however, in this case, Allen and Charles have the same couple under this listing and because they are shown as Matilda’s children in the census, and Charles and Matilda were married, it’s safe to assume these are the parents, not sponsors. Note that when Allen was baptized, his father went by “Charles.” Note that these birth date differ from the 1900 census birth months for both Charles and Allen but the years for both are the same. Charles’ birth date is much more reliable in this record. In the 1900 census, Matilda was listed as having had five children with four living. A record for a third child for this couple was not found in this register. 

FURTHER RESEARCH QUESTIONS ABOUT THE REITER/GRIFFITH FAMILIES

The research question has been answered in this report. The following is a list of questions that may have come up in the report that can be contracted for future research on these families if so desired:

  • What was the birth date of Charles Edward Reiter who married Matilda Hetrick in Christ Church in Trumbauersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 8 Dec 1883?
  • Who were the parents of Charles Edward Reiter who married Matilda Hetrick (born about 1866), in Christ Church in Trumbauersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania in 8 Dec 1883?
  • Did Allen Reiter, who was born 23 Dec 1883 and baptized 30 Mar 1884 in Christ Church, Trumbauersville, Bucks County, Pennsylvania and was living with his mother, Matilda and step father, George Griffith in 1900 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania marry?
  • What life events can be found for Charles Reiter, born 14 Mar 1887 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania who also lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, son of Charles Edward Reiter and Matilda (Hetrick) Reiter Griffith?
  • Was Pastor D. H. Reiter who married Charles and Matilda and baptized Allen and Charles Jr. related in some way?
  • What is the identity and who was the father of Matilda’s fifth child who was mentioned and no longer alive in the 1900 census?
  • Who were the parents of Matilda Hetrick and did she have siblings?

Source Citations

[1] 1900 U.S. census, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia Ward 19, p. 118A (stamped), enumeration district 7, sheet 11, dwelling 224, family 245, George Griffith household; digital image, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 15 July 2021); citing NARA publication T623.

[2] Personal knowledge of Joseph M. Cantlin, Charles’ grandson, who knew his grandfather passed away when his mother was young; interview by Melissa J. Bell (Davenport, Florid) with her father, notes kept in personal file for the Reiter Family.

[3] 1900 U.S. census, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, pop. sch., p. 118A (stamped), dwell. 224, fam. 225, George Griffith, citing NARA film publication. T_623 roll 1460.

[4] “Birth, Marriage & Death,” database, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/categories/34/ : accessed 13 July 2021), for Charles Reiter (both exact, sounds like, similar and initials), born 1887 (+/- 1 year), born in Pennsylvania (exact), male.

[5] Pennsylvania Department of Health, Certificate of Death no. 36600, Charles Reiter, 28 Feb 1918, Philadelphia County; consulted through “Pennsylvania, U.S., Death Certificates, 1906-1967,” database with images, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/ : accessed 21 Jul 2021).

[6] “Reiter. – Feb 28. Charles,” obituary, The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), 03 Mar 1918, p. 57, col. 7; online database with images, Newspapers.com (https://www.newspapers.com/ : accessed 20 Jul 2021).

[7] Historical Society of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), microfilm images, “Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records,” reel 549, Trumbauersville, Christ Lutheran Church, entry 4, marriage for Chas. Edward Reiter and Matilda R. Hetrick, 8 Dec. 1883; accessed through database images, “Pennsylvania and New Jersey, U.S., Church and Town Records,”  Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 Jul 2021), image 105 of 123.

[8] Historical Society of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), “Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records,” baptism for Allen Reiter, image 59. 

[9] Historical Society of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia), “Historic Pennsylvania Church and Town Records,” baptism for Charles Reiter, image 60.