On our last posting, we revealed the second marriage of Catherine (Foy) REIF, to Samuel NEITZ in 1869. The pension detectives found the paperwork to prove this marriage, and no paperwork that Catherine had reported the marriage. That would have suspended her pension support from the government. She continued to receive support during this second marriage. Catharine's pension support ended June 6, 1875, upon her marriage to Simon Geeting, who passed away in 1905.
page 178-179/220 of the Reif Civil War Pension files
The Declaration for Widow's Pension, Act of September 8, 1916. Notice: this can be executed before a Notary Public, Justice of the Peace, or a Court of Record, or any officer duly qualified to administer oaths.
This form is typed, with a notation that the official is a Justice of the Peace. Catherine Geeting is now aged 73, still living in Forreston, Ogle County, Illinois. Furthermore, it repeats all of the facts regarding Ernst Reif and his service in the U.S. Army, Company H of the 34th Illinois Infantry. It confirms that she was married to Ernst (the second time, because the first could not be proven from 1861) on October 4, 1863, officiated by Rev. J.K. Bloom. Catherine Geeting has signed her name to this document. Also signing as witnesses to the document: Jacob F. SWANK and High S. STANLEY, both of Forreston, Illinois. Cyrus BILLIG has signed as the Justice of the Peace, dated October 14, 1916.
Page 180/220 The official record of the second marriage of Catherine
The affidavit from the county clerk of Ogle County, in the town of Oregon:
I, Robert F. Adams, clerk of the county court in and for said county, hereby certify that Samuel L. Neitz and Mrs. Catherine Rife (sp) were joined in Matrimony on the 20th day of May, 1869 by J. N. MOHR, Minister of the Gospel in the said county, as appears on the records in my office.
In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the official seal of said county, at Oregon, Illinois this the 24th day of February, 1917. signed Robert F. ADAMS, clerk of the county court, Lillie SHELLEY, Dep. Clerk
Page 181-186/220 The Divorce Decree: Catherine vs Samuel
handwritten document, dated January 31, 1873, State of Illinois, County of Ogle, Circuit Court
Catherine NEITZ appears with her attorney, Thomas J. HEWITT, with summons issued against Samuel L. Neitz. The county Sheriff has returned the summons to the court, without being able to find Samuel in this county, and inability to locate him elsewhere. Proof of the publication of this summons was shown to the court, and approved. It was considered that Samuel NEITZ has willfully deserted Catherine for over two years without just cause, since the ninth day of September, AD 1869. Catherine has received no word or support from Samuel during this time. It has been decreed that the bonds of matrimony between both parties are hereby dissolved. Both parties are at liberty to marry again in like manner as if they had never been married. Catherine was ordered to pay the costs and charges of the court of this suit. Signed by W. W. HEATON, Judge.
Clerk of the Circuit Court notes that he certified the foregoing decree is a true, full and perfect copy of the decree in the said case as appears in the records of his office, Record E Chancery, page 210
signed H.P. LASON, clerk. The gold seal of the county is affixed to this document
Page 187/220 General Affidavit, Henrietta Swank
Sister of Catherine, Henrietta Swank, age 63, appears in the matter of Catherine Geeting, formerly widow of Ernst C. Reif, deceased veteran. She testifies her statement to the Notary Public, William H. HETRICK, age 69, both being residents of the town of Forreston, Ogle County, Illinois. The statement reads that Catharine is will known to the Swanks, and know from personal knowledge that she has never married since the death of her late husband, Simon Geeting, and that they are of such close acquaintance with her, as that they would have known if she had re-married, and that at this date she is still unmarried. Both Henrietta Swank and William H. HETRICK sign the document. Notary Public, Joseph M Myers, certifies this document.
Page 188-191/220 Rejection of the Widow's Request
Rejection on the grounds of no title under the Act of March 3, 1901, Catherine was not proven to be the wife of the soldier during the period of his military service, even though cohabitation and the birth of a son, soon deceased, occurred prior to his return from service. Only the marriage decree of 1863 was recognized. signed by the legal examiner, R. L. FORD. This document goes further to say the claimant, Catherine Geeting, does not write.
Page 192-195/220 Index, Tally sheet for the claim of Catherine Geeting, remarried widow of Ernst Reif
The page mentions 19 records of proof of marriages, co-habitation, soldier's disability, dependency and general assessment of the case using the testimony of the listed persons who have been previously mentioned. Following are copies of claims submitted by Catherine, supposedly signed by Catherine (remember that the rejection notice stated that Catherine did not write)
So, dated Dec 13, 1905, Edward Haller, Notary Public, swears that Jacob F. PYFER and Minnie H. GEETING, both of Forreston, Illinois, witnessed Catherine Geeting sign her name to the documents, and that they have both known her for thirty years and twenty-five years, respectively. Signatures of both appear on this witness document. The signatures look eerily like that of the script used for the signature of Catherine Geeting, known to not be able to write.
Pages 196-203/220 Letters from Congress and the Pension Bureau, 1917
Apparently, someone (Mr. Edward HALLER???) had been inquiring about the status of Catherine's widow's claim for support. There are a series of letters written to Mrs. Catherine GEETING, from the Pension Commissioner, G.M. SALTAGABER,regarding her widow's claim. A February letter asks her to send some proof of her marriage to Knight (meaning NEITZ) and a death of him or divorce decree. Also, they ask her to send testimonies of persons having knowledge of her and her marriages. Haven't we been down this road previously?
Also, letters to and from the State Representative, John C. McKENZIE, House of Representatives, stating that this claim of Catherine's has been rejected because of her multiple marriages. They mention the Widow's claim filed in October of 1916, being the last one filed and rejected, along with all documentation attached.....the ones with Catherine's signature......and she could not write.????
There is a letter from acting commissioner, E.C. TIEMAN, to Rep. John McKENZIE, House of Representatives, Wash. DC, stating that the claim of Catherine's is now being considered! What? This letter is dated July 6, 1917. They previously said it had been rejected.
Pages 204-215/220 Repeated records of files previously in this claim packet
Pages 216-218/220 Folded forms filed for the support of the minor child of Ernst Reif
Ludwig FOY, father of Catherine, was named the legal guardian the child of Ernst REIF, Mary REIF. The support payments were given to Ludwig Foy, until the 16th birthday of Mary REIF.
Page 219/220 A letter to Representative Frank O. LOWDEN, June 1, 1907
From the office of the Acting Commissioner of the Pension Bureau, stating that Catherine's pension claim as a remarried, but now widow, dated 1906, filed by herself without representation had been rejected because it could not be proven that she was the lawful wife of Ernst REIF on the day of his enlistment into military service, as required by the provisions of the pension act. This, indeed was the last claim that Catherine, herself, had filed.
The claims submitted after this were inducted by Edward HALLER, himself, as was his practice until he was finally caught. He insisted that widows asked him to file for pensions, and if so awarded, they would give him part of the support payments.
Page 220/220 the ending cover of this lengthy soap opera.
Edward HALLER did not have a good future. In 1919, he was accused of having a cache of alcohol in the attic of his drug store in Forreston, Illinois. His store was raided and he was arrested. Federal officers took the 1200 whisky bottles stash. Apparently, Mr. HALLER had the alcohol shipped into the county under the label, "Malted Milk". The federal agents followed the purchase of the booze in Chicago, which had been shipped in barrels to Harper, Illinois. It was then transported by team and wagon to Forreston, Illinois under cover of night. The final delivery was made at midnight at Haller's Drugstore. He was prosecuted under the Illinois search and seizure act, and under the Federal war-time prohibition act. He claimed that he had no intention of breaking the laws, and had the right to store the wet goods for legitimate purposes.