Catherine Reiford/ Reifort was born in Ontario in 1867 to Christaford Reiford (1828-1883) and Margaret Beyers (1830-1899). She grew up in Galt with her siblings, Joseph (1850-), Elizabeth (1855-), George (1859-), and William (1865-). The first three of her siblings were born in Germany and immigrated with her parents to Canada. Catherine lived with her family until 1883 when her father passed away of dropsy which he had been suffering from for a year. At this point, some of the children and their mother, Margaret, went to live with their uncle and aunt, Frederick (1821-1896) and Elisabeth Beyers (1820-1907). Less than a year later, Catherine became pregnant, allegedly with her uncle’s baby. She entered the Poorhouse for the first time on July 23, 1884 and gave birth to her daughter, Catherine (inmate #1018), a month later on August 25, 1884. Below is Catharine Jr.’s birth certificate that says “illegitimate” just after her name and no name is written beside father of the child.
Only about a month and a half later was the baby taken from her mother and put on trial. At this point, it is unknown what happened to Catherine Jr. or where she was taken. Catherine was discharged from the House on August 31, 1892. A year prior, her mother, Margaret, was living with Frederick and Elizabeth Beyers in Waterloo. Margaret changed her last name back to her maiden name, Beyers. After Catherine left the House, she continued working there as a domestic, being paid $1.25/ week. Her name is also listed in the Berlin City Directory for her domestic work at the Poorhouse in 1893.
She returned to the House as an inmate (#1501) on February 4, 1896 with her uncle, Frederick Beyers (#1500), who is listed as being sick and destitute. He died of old age on March 25, 1896.
Catherine left a couple weeks prior to his death on March 2nd, at which point she made a deal with the Reeve of Waterloo Township, Noah Weber, and Aaron Biehn.
House of Industry & Refuge
Berlin Feby 29th 1896.
The Standing Committee met this day –
Present Messrs Erb, Cranston, Dr Clemens, McAuslan, Moore, Shantz P.E. & Walter, but not the Warden –
Mr Erb in the Chair:
Bills and Claims from No. 1386 to No. 1402 both inclusive were audited & allowed –
Ordered – That a Deed in Trust from Catharine Reiford to Noah Weber and Aaron Biehn as Trustees be prepared – of a small property in Bechtel’s Tract Township of Waterloo – to pay her the revenues derived therefrom until she becomes an Inmate of this House – in that case to be sold and proceeds paid in for the benefit of the House –
Two years later in 1898, she gave birth to her second daughter, Nancy. The father of the child is unknown. In 1903, Catherine returned to the Poorhouse for the last time (as inmate #1739), finalizing her agreement with Noah Weber and Aaron Biehn.
House of Refuge
Berlin March 3rd– 1903
- Moved by Dr. Ochs
– Sec. by Mr. Fischer –
That the $300 be hereby accepted by Messrs. Noah Weber & Aaron Biehn for Catherine Reinforth and that the Clerk have the necessary release prepared & signed by the Warden.
Nancy (inmate #1740) was discharged on March 28, 1903 and there are no further records for her. Catherine was listed as still living in the Poorhouse until 1949. There are no death records for her and it is unclear as to where she went or if she remained in the House after it transitioned to an Old People’s Home.
Catherine’s brother, William, married in 1887 to Elizabeth (b.Brinket; 1867-). They had one son together, Isaac (1888-).William abandoned his wife and son in 1896/1897 and Elizabeth sent Isaac (inmate #1546) to the Poorhouse on February 19, 1897 when he was nine years old. Elizabeth then went on to marry Joseph Snider on July 27, 1897 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Isaac was sent to an orphanage on June 1, 1897. Isaac was living with Antona Martin in 1901 in the Village of Conestogo. He was listed as being a lodger. By 1911, he is found on the census living with the Holle family, also in Conestogo. There are two other male lodgers living with him and all three are listed as carpenters, working 60 hour weeks.