Salomon Frank Reiling (or Reyling) is thought to have been born in Ersingen, Baden, Germany, on 19 June 1828. He was the second youngest in the family of Joseph and Katherina Reiling, who - over a period of eleven years - parented six sons and a daughter named Florentina.
Salomon grew up surrounded by family and immersed in religion. Reilings had been living in the little hillside village of Ersingen as far back as the early 17th century. By then the town itself had been in existence for over 500 years, and throughout much of that period had belonged to the Frauenald Monastery. The dominant religion was Roman Catholicism. Christ the King Catholic Church towered over the town, continuing to serve the needs of its 19th century parishoners as it had for hundreds of years. Like their ancestors, all the citizens still observed each 7th of September as Gelubdetag or "vowing day," a traditional day of fasting, payer and Holy Communion to commemorate the terrible plague year of 1357.
Salomon's granddaughter, Clara Reiling, wrote in her family diary that Salomon "had many religious books and writings." One of these books has been preserved. It was originally written in German. In the English translation it is entitled: "Prayer Booklet for Salomon Reiling in Ersingen." This booklet was dated 1843, when Salomon was fifteen years old and still living in his parents' household. It was handmade. The pages were stitched into the book with thread, and the cover added later. Written in an exquisite German script were morning and evening prayers as well as prayers to be said while dressing, undressing and washing.
Little is known of Salomon's early life. It is thought that he was apprenticed to a miller, then served in the military as a young man. Three years after the death of his father, 24-year-old Salomon decided to leave the old country and sail to America. He arrived in New York City aboard the sailing ship De Witt Clinton in December of 1852. From there he journeyed west to Ohio, to hilly Brown Township in Carroll County, where his Uncle Lawrence Reiling owned a farm. Nearby was the village of Lodi (later called Malvern), which contained a newly-built Catholic Church - St. Francis Xavier - served by the Rev. H. Mankenheide. Salomon quickly became both a dedicated parishoner and a permanent member of the community.
As time went on, Salomon became acquainted with the Schirck family of nearby Harrison Township. He began courting the eldest daughter, Mary Ann, and on October 14 the two were married at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Lodi. Salomon's bride was only sixteen years old at the time of their marriage. She had been born in Pennsylvania on 2 February 1840, the second child of Francis Joseph Schirck and Mary Ann Monk. In the 1850 U.S. Census she was listed as living on a farm in Carroll County, Ohio, with her parents and six other brothers and sisters.
A year and a half after her marriage to Salomon, Mary Ann gave birth to their first son, Joseph Valentine. He was born on 14 February 1858 and baptized into the Catholic Church fourteen days later. Another son named William Henry was born on 13 July 1859 and baptized on 2 August in Lodi/Malvern. All four were listed in the 1860 Federal Census as living in Brown Township, in the County of Carroll, State of Ohio, with their post office at Malvern. Salomon's occupation was that of a miller; his personal estate was valued at $700, his real estate at $250.
A daughter named Mary Caroline was born to the Reilings the flollowing year, on 9 February 1861. She was baptized at Lodi/Malvern on 3 March, but died just one month and six days later. A third son named Frank Albert was born on 2 June 1862. He was baptized twenty days later in Magnolia, Ohio.
Three years after the death of Mary Caroline tragedy struck the Reiling family again, when Salomon himself died from an unknown sickness. Salomon's granddaughter, Clara Reiling, later told of the death in her family diary: "Salomon died in Ohio from sickness caused by doing an act of charity. During the Civil war, the body of a soldier had been sent home for burial. The coffin was opened and the body found in such bad condition that nobody wanted to close it. Salomon Reiling offered to do it and became sick and died 6 months later, leaving his children."
Salomon was buried in the Malvern Catholic Cemetery. A 1963 reading of his tombstone revealed the words: "Solomon Reiling 1864 age 35."
Tragedy struck for a third time a few years later. Salomon's widow, Mary Ann, died of unknown causes, leaving the three Reiling boys motherless as well as fatherless. Family members immediately stepped in to help out. One relative asked if he might adopt the second son, William Henry, then nearly ten years of age. But the maternal grandparents, Frank and Mary Ann Schirck argued against splitting up the three boys and proposed taking them into their own family.
By the time of the 1870 U.S. Census, the Shircks had moved to Mansfield, Ohio, where Frank at age 65 was the landlord of a hotel. His wife Mary Ann, aged 57, supervised the cleaning and cooking. Still at home was their oldest son Henry, a member of the legislature, as well as daughter Rosa Philomena (22) and youngest son Victor (19). Added to the family were Mary Ann's 91-year-old mother, Magdalena Monk, as well as the three Reiling grandchildren: Joseph (12), Henry (10), and Francis Albert (8). Also living at the hotel were two teenaged girls, who worked as in-house domestics, and thirteen boarders: a carpenter, a painter, a blacksmith, three laborers, and five stonemasons, one of whom had his wife and son with him.
The following year, the Schircks sold their hotel and moved to a farm they purchased near the newly-founded town of Mt. Carmel in Kniest Township, Carroll County, Iowa. There the three sons of Salomon and Mary Ann Reiling learned farming, went to school, and grew to manhood. Highlights of their later lives were chronicled by Clara Reiling in her family diary:
"Valentine Reiling was married at Newton, Iowa. Later he lived at Angus, Minnesota, where he died 1920.
"Henry Reiling married Mary Ann Daniel and lived around Carroll about 20 years. Then moved to Canistolia, South Dakota.
"Frank Albert Reiling married Mary Teresa Wernimont. Lived a year at Olerich place, then moved to Ortner farms near Mt. Carmel. In 1899 moved onto the place they bought 4 miles east of Breda. Here most of the family grew up and were married"