||Solomon K. Riblet
Solomon K. Riblet, merchant at Newaygo, was born in Elizabeth Township, Allegheny Co., Pa., Nov. 2, 1834, and is the son of Samuel and Deborah (Woods) Riblet. The earliest ancestor to whom the family traces its origin was a Huguenot, and descendant from a long line of French nobility, who, in consequence of his embracing the Protestant religion, suffered the extinction of his rank, the confiscation of his estates and expatriation, on penalty of being burned as a heretic. His trials differed in no sense or degree from the others of the devoted class, who sufferings, fortitude and pertinacious adherence to their faith placed them upon the pages of history in all the luster of their heretic struggles for principle, and left a seared stain on the escutcheon of France. Driven from his native land, he settled in Germany, where he married and reared a large family. Two of his sons, Christian and Bartholomew Riblet, emigrated to the United States and settled in Northampton Co., Pa., where John, son of Christian, and grandfather of Samuel Riblet, was born in the year 1758. John Riblet was still in his minority when the American Colonies revolted from the impositions of the British Crown; and, true to his ancestral blood and inherited sense of justice, he hastened to declare himself the champion of liberty and the foe of oppression. He threw himself, heart and soul, into the exigencies of the Revolution, and was commissioned First Lieutenant of a company belonging to a regiment of riflemen. Soon after he entered the service, his command was detailed as rear guard to cover the retreat of the Federal troops from Long Island, and after the final withdrawal were taken prisoners. The retreat was so hasty, and the British so close upon them, that they took to the woods, where they ambushed seven days in total destitution, being without food or comfort of any description, which made their capture inevitable. Lieutenant Riblet was placed in custody on board the man-of-war "Roebuck." AFter his release he married and settled near Hagerstown, Md. His son, Solomon, father of Samuel, was born there in August, 1782. John Riblet removed with his family in the year 1800 to Erie, Pa., and during the second war with England, adopted the grievance of his country, and was the chief officer of the body-guard of Commordore Perry during the struggle of 1812. Solomon, his son, was captain in a regiment of minute-men and served with distinction.
Samuel Riblet was born in Harbor Creek, Erie Co., Pa., Feb. 22, 1811. During his childhood his grandfather instructed him in the rudiments of a German education, and he received like training in English at the common schools. At the age of 17 years he attended the academy at Erie and pursued a course of study during the summers of the next three years, teaching winters to obtain necessary funds. Influenced by his parents' wishes, that he should become a physician, at the age of 20 he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. A. Beebe, of Erie; but he found it uncongenial, and obtained a situation as teacher near Pittsburgh, where he was occupied three years. He was married Nov. 19, 1833, to Deborah Woods, and soon afterward emigrated to Michigan and settled in Litchfield, Hillsdale County, where he purchased 160 acres of land, on which he has since resided. Michigan was in her Territorial days, and settlers from the overflowing East were crowding in, pioneer privations and hardships had then a character of uniqueness which made them all the more severe, and the allotment of Mr. and Mrs. Riblet, if recorded in its reality, unshaded by fancy and depicted in all its cost of strain to mind and body, would sound like exaggerations of fiction. The fall of 1835 is particularly remembered as one of peculiar embarrassment, and only the wise counsel and courageous resolution of his wife prevented Mr. Riblet from disposing of his property and abandoning the "West", as Michigan was then called. The five children born to them reached maturity and became heads of families. The venerable pair whose 46 years of wedded life were interrupted in 1879 by the death of the wife and mother, could boast of 22 grandchildren, and at present date the enumeration of great-grandchildren has begun. Mr. Riblet has always been an important factor in the affairs of his township, as well as in those of more extended scope. On the organization of the Northern Central (Michigan) Railroad Company, he was elected a director and served until the road was sold to the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Company. To the influence and exertions of Mr. Riblet, Litchfield is largely indebted for the construction and location of the road. His mother died in Litchfield, December 21, 1879.
Mr. Riblet of this sketch passed the first 17 years of his life on a farm, and in 1851 turned his attention to the details of the builder's trade, which he followed three years. He came to Newaygo in 1856 and was employed by Leonard & Woolley, druggists. Soon afterward he became manager of the mercantile establishment of S. W. Matevey, and three years later (in 1859) became its proprietor by purchase. He has since conducted his business continuously at the same stand. His stock is general, including dry goods, groceries, clothing, hats, caps, crockery etc.
Mr. Riblet was married in Newaygo, Sept. 10, 1859, to Jennie L., daughter of Pliny E. and Martha (Putnam) Day, a native of Morean, Saratoga Co., N.Y., born Nov. 10, 1837. Mr. and Mrs. Riblet have five children, born as follows: Grace, Oct. 11, 1866; Fred, April 19, 1870; Ruth, Dec. 13, 1872; Mattie, May 30, 1874; Lavinia L., Feb. 2, 1881.
Mr. Riblet has been intimately associated with the progress and development of Newaygo village and county, and has served in most of the official capacities incident to its municipal regulations. He is prominent in temperance work, and was a charter member of the Masonic Lodge at Newaygo, and also of Newaygo Lodge, Order of Good Templars.
Mr. Riblet is heir to the fixedness of principle, industry and frugality and the unrivaled powers of physical endurance of his progenitors. His judgment is always reliable, his foresight unerring and his integrity unimpeachable. He is valuable to Newaygo, not only in his stainless citizenship, but in his social relations and through his strongly sympathetic character. The needy always find in him a practical friend.
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