back to articles

From the Ravenna Republican, December 17, 1920. We have added the pictures.


EIGHT PAGES – The Ravenna Republican - Published THREE TIMES A WEEK

ESTABLISHED 1830 RAVENNA OHIO. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17, 1920 - SINGLE COPIES 5c; $3.00 PER YEAR death

DEATH COMES TO H. W. RIDDLE

RAVENNA'S FOREMOST CITIZEN SUCCUMBS TO SHORT ILLNESS

Passes Away at 2:50 p.m., Thursday—Funeral at 2 O'clock Saturday at the Riddle Residence on Main Street.

H W RiddleHenry W. Riddle, founder of The Riddle Coach and Hearse Manufacture and the foremost citizen of Ravenna and of Portage county for sixty years, passed from this life at his home, No. 160 East Main Street, at 2:50 o'clock, Thursday afternoon, after an illness of 15 days, aged nearly eighty-three years. Funeral services will be held at the home, 160 E. Main Street, at 2 o'clock, Saturday afternoon. Rev. I. J. Swanson will officiate and Unity Lodge will assist in the services.

How much this community owes to Henry W. Riddle as promoter., builder, manufacturer and co-worker for the common weal, it is impossible to estimate. The instances of direct contribution and practical initiative need not be enumerated to his appreciative contemporaries, were it possible to chart them for public review. The story would be long and laudatory and it would be a grateful task to trace his work and influence, which stand out in clearer outline and clearer character against the background of his busy life now closed: a biography alone could compass this.

But his work will follow him through generations that shall inherit his record, the inspiration of his ambitions and the lessons of his splendid loyalty to home interests and home institutions. It will be an inheritance touching the best things of home and community life, for home was the place of first devotion and first happiness, from which he carried its spirit of good will and fellowship into the world about him. His works, so well done, are his best monuments on which are inscribed the enduring memorial of a life molded in industry, honorable ambitions and worthy aspirations crowned with the diadem of achievement and good conscience.

Mr. Riddle was eminently practical, with a sturdy constitution which enabled him to remain active in his pursuits to an unusual age. In the zenith of his ambitions he knew no fatigue save within the limitations of natural resting periods which in his case were short, but regular. For regularity was one of the prime laws of his well ordered life from which he seldom departed and never, unless compelled to do so. He had the sound virtue of constancy with complement of sound sense, sound conviction and a candid, outspoken mind. Verbal diplomacy had no part in the expression of his creed or of his conclusions and his opinions were never uncertain. He "struck from the shoulder," and his attitudes were frank and sincere.

He rejoiced in the battle of life, meeting adversities of earlier years with the spirit of the warrior and overcoming great and at times apparently insurmountable obstacles by sheer will and resolution. “Can't” apparently had no place in his vocabulary. Fire swept the Riddle plant in 1870 at a time when the resources of the establishment were at comparatively low ebb, but with the credit born of enterprise and square dealing, new buildings arose out of the ashes and the industry speedily took its place among the foremost of its kind in the country. It was during these heroic days that Mr. Riddle went onto the road for the establishment, introducing its vehicles into all markets where they more than held their own with the best makes in the country and in a short time outranked their best competitors. This was due to his practical knowledge of carriage making and his ability to present their points to the trade. The plant was destroyed by fire in June 1903, and again rebuilt to its present proportions.

As he bore the vicissitudes of fortune bravely, he enjoyed prosperity quietly, retaining the simpler home traits of inherited character which gave him genuine love of the simple life to which he adhered through all fortunes and which gave birth to kindly impulses translated into hospitality, neighborly relations and quiet benefactions. He had his own ways of extracting happiness from life, among which obedience to the law of service and sympathy had first place. But he was careful in his charities, believing that the preservation of self reliance amid the initiative of wholesome independence supersede all other considerations. This was a fundamental part of his creed and the basis of his estimate of individual worth.

Mr. Riddle lent himself to all movements for community progress, aligning himself with what seemed to him to be best for the promotion of better standards and better attainments. He was in close sympathy with moral, fraternal and religious betterment, allying himself with Church and Lodge to which he was a generous contributor in purse and the still more valuable elements of personal attendance and personal touch while active in social life. It was this that gave him the confidence and esteem of his fellow men and that will perpetuate his memory as a representative citizen of the old Western Reserve with which he was proud to be identified. Ravenna has lost a citizen of foremost prominence whose life has been intimately interwoven with its better fortunes and whose name will be an inspiration for progress in generations to come. With him darkness preceded the dawning and for him the sunshine of day has succeeded the darkness of the last shadow.

Henry Warner Riddle was born in Allegheny now a part of the city of Pittsburgh, Pa., on Beaver street, February 8, 1838, in a house built by his mother before her marriage in 1832.

He was a son of Hugh and Elizabeth Thornburgh Riddle, the former of whom came to America with his parents in 1805 from his native Ireland, county Monaghan, he being son of John H. and Mary Thornburg Riddle, both natives of Scotland and representatives of staunch old families of the land of "brown hills and shaggy wood." The immigrants first located in Philadelphia and soon afterward settled in Pittsburgh where Hugh Riddle was reared to manhood, and educated in the common schools. He followed the trade of his father before him, that of a stone mason and like him, became a successful contractor. John Riddle helped erect many buildings and other structures in old Pittsburgh, including the stone work of the Sixth street Bridge. He also did some of the work on the old State penitentiary in Allegheny. Hugh Riddle died at the age of seventy years and he and his wife held membership in the First Presbyterian Church. She was born in Clinton, nineteen miles from Pittsburgh, daughter of James Thornburg of Irish descent.

Henry W. Riddle was the third in a family of six children, four sons and two daughters, all of whom are deceased, with the exception of Susan, now Mrs. Pitman of Denver, Colorado, formerly of Ravenna. His mother died when he was very young and he was obliged to begin work at an early age, selling papers, doing errands and whatever a young boy can do. At one time he carried the mails on horseback from Pittsburgh to Bethany, W. Va., going out one day and returning the next. Later, he made a trip down the Ohio River as cabin boy. At the age of thirteen years he began an apprenticeship under John South of Allegheny to learn the trade of carriage wood working, with whom he remained for three years, becoming a specially skilled artisan in this line of work. "Some of my happiest days were at the bench," he often said.

For five years after the completion of his apprenticeship he was employed as a journeyman at his trade.

July 5th, 1856, he started to work his passage down the river to New Orleans, making short stops at Memphis, Vicksburg, Natchez and the Crescent City where he worked at his trade in carriage shops. On his return he was located for a time at St. Louis and Cincinnati, and eventually in Dayton, where he worked at his trade for some time.

He then went to Florence, Ky., where he worked in various shops, and later bought carriages in Pittsburgh which he sold about Florence, Covington and Cincinnati. When the Civil War broke he came north and in 1861 located in Ravenna where he and his brother-in-law, the late Chas. Merts, bought the carriage manufactory of the late N. D. Clark which was operated under the firm name of Merts and Riddle for thirty years when, in 1891, he purchased the interest of his partner and organized the Riddle Coach & Hearse Company now the Riddle Manufacturing Company. He was president of the Coach and Hearse Company until recent years and throughout the long period of business life in Ravenna, was enterprising and resourceful, expanding the name and prestige of the Riddle vehicles until the markets of the civilized world alone measured the area of their sales.

He was married to Miss Emily H. Robinson, daughter of the late George Robinson, of this city, prominent banker, in 1866.

In 1878 he built the house of their present abode on East Main Street in which he spent the remainder of his life. Four children were born to them all of whom are left with the widowed mother to cherish his memory: Bessie, now Mrs. F. M. Paltzgroff, Maxwell Riddle and Henry Warner Riddle, Jr., of Ravenna, and Aimee, now the wife of Judge C. M. Merrill of Glens Falls, N. Y. There are also seven grandchildren.

Henry Riddle 1 family
Standing to the left is Warner (Henry Riddle Jr.), then Aimee, Max, and Bessie. Seated are Henry and Emily.

Mr. Riddle was a member of the First Congregational Church of Ravenna, to which he gave liberal and loyal support. He was also a member of Unity Lodge No. 12, F. & A.M., to the principles and precepts of which he was deeply devoted, a member of Cresset Lodge No. 225. Knights of Pythias, and was a charter member of Ravenna Lodge No. 1076, B. P. 0. E.

He was a Democrat of life-long affiliations and while he never sought public office or public preference, he was liberal in his contributions to the success of the party principles, in which he believed and which he was eager to present and quick to defend. But he was by no means narrow, looking to men and principles rather than to party candidates as such.

Ravenna was the center of his interests and of his ambitions, its progress and welfare having first place in his busy life which was never so filled with other affairs that he did not have time to consider its needs and its problems. Whether it was a campaign for industrial growth, commercial expansion or other betterment; or whether it was a movement in behalf of larger civic, social or educational privileges, the promotion of a broader community spirit or a deeper tone of community life, his hand and his heart were willing contributors. "Uncle Henry," as he was familiarly known to his fellow citizens and to whom no form of salutation was more to his liking, had the true community spirit of which the numerous monuments about town are silent witness. Besides the buildings included in his factory group, he has erected eleven large business blocks and built a score or more of houses in different parts of the city, besides erecting several factory buildings and donating land for other enterprises. It has not been written that the contributions of any one citizen have equaled those of Mr. Riddle or have given the tone and dignity to the architecture of the town he loved so well.

He will be missed in all circles that will appreciate his purpose and that have caught the vision of his outlook.

----------apparently pasted in from another day's paper ----------

CLOSE FOR FUNERAL

As a slight expression of regard for a life of zealous work for the upbuilding of Ravenna by our departed fellow citizen, Henry W. Riddle Sr., it is requested that all places of business be closed during the funeral services, 2 to 3 o'clock, Saturday afternoon, December 18. Ravenna Chamber of Commerce.

W. J. Beckley, President. V. W. Filiatrault, Secy.

 

----------apparently pasted in from another day's paper ---------------------------------

 

H. W. RIDDLE AT REST

Funeral services for Henry W. Riddle were of simple but impressive character, conducted at the home, No. 160 East Main Street at 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon by Dr. I. J. Swanson of the First Congregational Church of Ravenna, followed by the Ritual of Unity Lodge No. 12, F. & A. M., in both of which he held membership. The body was laid to rest in Maple Grove.

gravestones

In a brief talk Dr. Swanson rendered fitting tribute to the personal and civic worth of Mr. Riddle and to his service to the community in which he has left so many visible testimonials; also touching on traits and personalities that gave peculiar value and individuality to his life, which, the speaker said, will remain an inspiration to others for generations to come.

Miss Lucille Weaver sang the selections, two in number, in voice of touching beauty and consolation.

The bearers included James Webb, George Whitlock, George Hartlerode, Albert Kemp, H. L. Smith, J. S. Beazell, Joseph Ely, and Lewis Barton, all of them employees of the Riddle establishment, whose service represents an aggregate of three hundred years.

One of the commendable traits that will perpetuate pleasing memories of Mr. Riddle, is that of the American commoner, of which he was a goal representative. He believed in the aristocracy of worth and honor which to him had no need of worldly wealth to adorn their escutcheon. This was what made him truly plebian in his recognition of real patrician qualities. He had no false standards. "A man's 'a man for 'a that," he often quoted, and he believed it.

Nothing was more indicative of the man and of his social creed, and it was more than recognition of a conventional formality that caused all business places to close during the hour of the service; it was a heart tribute in the name of the people whose friend he was. His fellow citizens were present from all walks and vocations to give him the last visible expression of their esteem, and surely no tribute could have been |more to his liking. Every citizen feels that he has lost a friend and he community, one of its pillars of progress.

------------------------------------- ----------------------------- ----------------------

—Among out of town attendants at the funeral services for the late H. W. Riddle Sr. were: Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Holcomb of Euclid Ave, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Riddle, Miss Kittle Sear of Cleveland; Mr. and Mrs. McCue of Akron, Judge and Mrs. C. M. Merrill of Glens Falls, N. Y.; C. L. Rood and wife of Columbus; Thomas L. Robinson of New York City; Sweeney Brothers, Akron.

articles