Philip Reefy was born near the village of Mt. Eden in Penn Township, Wayne County, Ohio on December 29th , 1843.
He was the son of Heinrich and Marie Gnagi Ryffe who emigrated from Switzerland in 1834 and ultimately settled in this predominantly Swiss community in Eastern Ohio.
Aside from a reference to being raised in a cold and inhospitable log cabin, there isn't much in the written record about his boyhood, education, or any of the events which so frequently determine the pattern of subsequent years. However, we do know that he lied about his age and enthusiastically enlisted in the 19th Ohio Volunteer Infantry Regiment very early in the Civil War. Further, it is a matter of record that he saved the Regimental Colors when the standard bearer was shot at the Battle of Stones River and the staff with the tattered remains of the colors stands in our front hall as tangible evidence of the esteem of his comrades.
The War ended in 1865 and, after a brief tour on the Mexican Border to encourage withdrawal of the French Troops, the 19th Ohio Regiment was deactivated and Philip Reefy was free to go home. Subsequently he elected to study medicine at the University of Cincinnati and this, in turn, encouraged further medical training abroad. Thus, in 1873 at age 3O, he went to Vienna.
The European trip was financed in part by a brother who was the publisher of the local newspaper in Elyria, Ohio and the letters which comprise this volume were sent home for publication, presumably as partial repayment. This whole effort on our part was initiated because the originals of these letters were lost long ago and the printed copies clipped from the newspaper are deteriorating rapidly and will also be lost ere long. Philip Reefy was my grandfather and now that I have grandchildren of my own, it seemed appropriate that I should try to preserve these letters so that the current children and those who come thereafter may share the thoughts and experiences of this rather remarkable ancestor.
To finish the story, although not covered by his letters, I should note that he returned to Elyria, opened an office and practiced medicine there for the rest of his life. In the normal course of events, he met and married Libby Mountain whose family had recently emigrated from Canada, and this union, in turn, resulted in the birth of a son, Karl, followed by a daughter, Bessie.
He built a fine home, loved fast horses, became the mayor of the village, and delighted in pulling his children from school on fine days so that they could ride with him as he nade his daily rounds of patlents in the country. He lived a full life indeed and died at the age of 70 in 1913.
Mayo E. Roe
P.D. Reefy - Alpine Botanist
This plant produces a flower so beautiful and rich in color as to rival the sweetest smiles of earth to heaven. Every Alpine region, so far as altitude is concerned, has its special flora, which are blended into each other by many species which are widely distributed, and greet the eye from the base of the mountain until beyond the snow limit.
The pine limit produces the greatest variety as well as the most luxuriant growth, but the zone between the pine and snow limits produces many of the most beautiful as well