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Matamoras Minute: The Reinherr Family

Photo provided by Jim Moore The Reinherr bakery and hotel are shown in this early picture of Matamoras. One of the Manx cats is sitting on the small overhang beneath the middle window of the bakery.

Another prominent German family in Matamoras lived on the same block of Front Street as the Burgbacher family written about last week. That is the Reinherrs, another industrious German clan which added to the commercial life of early Matamoras.

Philip Reinherr came to America sometime in the 1860s. His wife was Marquerite. The couple had nine children. A son, Gus, became a pharmacist and kept the drug store on the first block of Main Street, upriver side, until the 1950s.

Philip was inclined to achieve success in the merchant’s life but established a hotel. The business was located on the lower corner of a block on Front Street junctioned at Merchant. His establishment was two storied and faced the river. The Reinherr house was next door. Also a two storied structure, its second floor served as their living quarters and the ground floor a bakery. There were huge brick ovens standing in the backyard with intense fires built underneath them so that large quantities of German style baked goods were produced.

The bakery was a popular early morning routine stop for Matamoras citizens who had a taste for such traditional items. And the fact that they were piping hot just added to their desirability. The cookies from the family reicipe proved to be particularly popular. Rich and full of flavor they were cut in various shapes with tin cookie cutters. And homemade candies were always available from dipped chocolate with a variety of flavored cream centers, breads and rolls were sold out in short order. And of course pies tempted all who stared through the windows.

From a description in the 1875 “Atlas of Washington County” comes amother insight into the bakery. The business was said to be a “City Bakery and Dealer in Confectioners’ Fancy goods, Oysters, Notions, etc.”

A rather quirky fame also belonged to the family. That was due to their pet cats. The cats all came from a single family with kittens for many “generations” kept by the Reinherrs. The cat, rather than walking, hopped about and had short tails or no tail at all. People of town thought them crossbred with some other creatures but likely they were Manx cats. Such cats have elongated hind legs and a rounded head, are often tailless, and originated on the Isle of Man which is near the United Kingdom.

The family is buried on a large lot in Matamoras Cemetery near the gazebo. A standing stone commands the center of the lot with multiple smaller ones for each individual.

John Miller is president of the Matamoras Area Historical Society. Membership dues are $15 per year single/couple. Life membership is $150. Contact the society at P.O. Box 1846, New Matamoras, Ohio 45767. Much of this column is built on the work of Matamoras’ historian, the late Diana McMahan.

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