Norman Riegle was born on 4 October 1886 in Lykens Township, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, the son of Harrison Riegle (1840-1899) and Hannah [Rickert] Riegle (1847-1919). Norman’s parents were born and raised in the township in the community of Specktown. Harrison was a Civil War veteran who collected a pension. When he died in 1899, his widow then collected for herself and for Norman who had not then reached the age of 16. The widow benefits, along with the additional income received from an older sister Lizzie who worked as a midwife, allowed Hannah to purchase a small nearby farm which became the family homestead well into the 20th century. And, a family story is that the pension money also helped pay for Norman’s tuition at undertaking school.
Around 1913, Norman married Lydia Helt who was from a family of furniture dealers and undertakers in the Lykens Valley. It was she who convinced him to take up the business and profession.
The photograph above is of the graduating class of the undertaking school. The school name and location are unknown, but in an undated note to his mother, he related the following:
“Am OK at present and think I will pass the examination all right . Expect to come home on Saturday evening about 5 o’clock. I am sending a photo of the class, I also have a larger one it is 18 x 22 inches in size. School will close on Friday. From Norman. Notice a colored man at each end.”
Following graduation it is believed that Norman Riegle worked for a time in Lykens Borough at the firm of Reiff and Helt. Afterward, he moved to Robesonia, Berks County, Pennsylvania, where he opened his own establishment.
He died in Robesonia on 11 November 1942 of colon cancer.
Not much is known about the picture of the undertaking class. If any reader can identify the date and/or the school, the information would be greatly appreciated. Please add the information as a comment to this post.
Note: Norman Riegle was my great-grand uncle.