Vernon Howard Reigel1,2

ID# 229, (1912 - 1963)
FatherFrank William Reigel3,4,2 (23 Apr 1881 - 29 Jul 1952)
MotherEmma Sophia Gapsch3,4,2 (24 Apr 1891 - 31 Oct 1917)

Key Events:

Birth: 2 Feb 1912, La Center, Clark Co., Washington3,5,6
Marriage: 29 Dec 1940, Reno Methodist Parsonage, Reno, Nevada, Carmen Edith Glabe (14 Apr 1908 - 2 Nov 2005)7,8
Death: 23 Feb 1963, Hamilton City, Glenn Co., California9,10
Burial: 27 Feb 1963, IOOF Cemetery, Orland, Glenn Co., California4
ChartsDescendants of Edward and Sophie Gapsch
Descendants of Jakob and Anna Katharina Glebe
Descendants of Jacob K. and Christiana Ohl Riegel
AncestryThe Reigel Family
The Gapsch Family

Copyright Notice


     Vernon Howard Reigel was born on 2 Feb 1912 in La Center, Clark Co., Washington.3,5,6
Vernon at 8 mo. 5 days
Family Photo

     Vernon was raised on a farm three miles from the small town of La Center, Washington.11,12 His paternal grandparents lived on the adjacent farm, and his maternal grandparents lived half way to town.13
     His mother died on 31 Oct 1917, when Vernon was 5 years old.14,15 His father re-married 2 years later.16 The farm apparently could not support the family, and his father worked for extended periods in the logging camps then common in the state for extra income.17
     Vernon appeared on the 1920 Federal Census of La Center, Washington in the household of his father, Frank William Reigel, and stepmother, Vera Mattie Baird.18
     Vernon graduated from "Common Schools" in Jun 1926, after passing "a creditable examination in the subjects of the first eight years of the Common School Course" according to his graduation certificated. It shows his scores as 82 in reading, 92 in spelling, 70 in writing, 86 in arithmetic, 83 in grammar, 80 in geography, 90 in physiology (biology), 66 in U.S. history and civics, and 82 in agriculture.19
     He appeared on the 1930 Federal Census of La Center, Washington in the household of his father and stepmother.20

Leaving Home - the "Ugly Stepmother" Story --- Text Stolen from !! ---

     According to family lore, when Vernon was about 16 years old he and his brothers took some surplus cream to town and sold it to raise spending money. When they returned home, his stepmother, Vera, demanded the money to buy cigarettes. When Vernon refused, she demanded that Frank have Vernon move out of the home, otherwise she would leave. Vernon chose to leave, and did. He supposedly ended up living with his Uncle Ralph after that. Details, as always with such lore, seem elusive. Ralph was in southern Oregon by 1930, and in California by 1931. And Vernon appears in his father and Vera's home in the 1930 census. But Vernon's high school grades fell to mostly F's in his third year, 1928-29, before recovering to mostly B's in his fifth year. This suggests he may have indeed left home around age 17, despite the census record showing him there in 1930.21,22,23,24,25
     Vernon graduated from La Center High School, La Center, Washington, on 15 May 1931 part of a class of eleven students.26
Vernon Reigel High School Photo
courtesy Sharon Bryon, La Center High School

     Vernon worked for a while as a logger in Oregon, during the time that trees were felled using two-man crosscut saws.27 He moved to California about 1934, initially to Maxwell, Colusa Co. He probably worked in a number of places after that, including the fruit orchards where his Uncle Ralph and his sons worked.28,29,30
     He eventually he worked for Ernest Michael on a large dry land grain farm on the west side of the Sacramento Valley. The farm was near Germantown, which changed its name to Artios after an unpleasant experience with a troop train during World War I.27 On the farm he lived in a bunk house with the other young hands. It was there that he met Granville Wilson, establishing a close relationship with the Wilson family. He became known as "Swede" to his friends during this period. He was generally called by that name by them for the rest of his life, though both his family and those he met later knew him as "Vernon."31,32
     Vernon appeared on the 1940 Federal Census of Glenn Co., California, enumerated 26 Apr 1940, living with five other farm laborers, with his friend Granville Wilson listed as head of household. A cook and his son were also listed. Vernon reported that he has worked 60 hours the last week of March, and had worked 52 weeks the prior year, earning $700.33
     Shortly after that he left the Michael ranch to work at North Valley Tractor and Equipment, the International tractor dealer in Chico, as a mechanic. While there he met his future wife, the daughter of one of the three owners. By December they were married.34,35
     Vernon registered for the draft for World War II on 16 Oct 1940, while living at Artois, Glenn Co., California, reporting he was employed by Ernest Marion Michael, in Artois.36
     Vernon married Carmen Edith Glabe, daughter of William Frederick Glabe and Estella Pearl Watson, on 29 Dec 1940 at the Reno Methodist Parsonage, Reno, Nevada, pastor William Case officiating. Her father and stepmother in were there, and they were attended by her sister Jessie and his friend Norval Martin.7,8
     After their marriage they lived briefly in Willows, Glenn Co., where Vernon managed a branch of the Tractor Company.34,37,38 He applied for a Social Security Number 2 Jun 1941, while living at 114 Alpine St., Willows, California, where he was employed by North Valley Tractor & Equipment Company.2

Buying and Selling Homes --- Text Stolen from !! ---

Carmen and Vernon's first home in Chico
photo by Carmen Reigel

     Vernon and Carmen bought their first house, at 1017 Palm Ave., Chico, on 25 Jun 1941, with a $100 down payment. They purchased it at the urging of her father, William Glabe. They moved in shortly before their first son was born. Vernon started working at the Chico Army airbase as an airplane mechanic when they moved from Willows to Chico.39,40
     They sold that home after buying another home on Burnap Ave. on 12 Apr 1943. That property included five acres of land. Their second was born while they lived there. About this time, Vernon's good friend Granville Wilson and his girlfriend from Orland stayed overnight at Richardson Springs, and she stopped by to borrow Carmen's fur wrap for the occasion. He left for the Army shortly after that, where he was killed in action.41,42,40
     Vernon brought home lugs of peaches to can, and he helped can them while the baby was in his buggy. They grew hay on the land, and Carmen's father suffered his first heart attack after helping cut the hay. Their third son was born shortly before they sold that home.40
     They sold that property on 6 Apr 1945, and bought a house in town on 2 May 1945, a few blocks from her parents' home. The family lived there for several months before moving to the farm. Their toddler slept in a crib and the new baby in a basket. They had a garden in the backyard.43,44,40
     They sold the house in town less than two months later, on 21 May 1945, but apparently continued to live there briefly. They bought the 80-acre farm on Guynn Ave. (now called Tokay Ranch Rd.) in two transactions, on 7 Aug 1945 and 25 Sep 1945. Carmen recalled the deal was some sort of trade for the house in town, and involved one family moving out the back door while the other moved in the front of each house. Vernon borrowed money from his former employer, Ernest Michael, to finance the purchase of the farm.45,46,47,40

The "Sugar Beet King" --- Text Stolen from !! ---

Irrigating sugar beets about 1946
photo by Carmen Reigel

     Vernon was one of the first farmers in the area to level the land so it could be irrigated by running water down furrows, and raised sugar beets. The development during the war by the University of California at Davis of methods to separate the multiple seeds of the beet's natural seed cluster greatly reduced the manual effort of thinning newly planted crops. That effort, together with the development at the same time of the mechanical beet harvester, attempted at the University, but perfected by Blackwelder of Rio Vista, California, made that crop very successful following the war. Vernon adopted these technologies, and he was soon known locally as the "Sugar Beet King" because he had the largest acreage under contract to the local Holly Sugar plant. Leased land added to the home farm brought total row crop production to over 1000 acres for many years. The leased parcels at various times included major tracts near Hamilton City, to the west in Glenn County, and near Vina, to the north in Tehama County, as well as more nearby locations.48,49 (See map.)
     When plant diseases reduced the yields of sugar beets, he experimented with other crops. He was among the first in the area to raise dry beans, then feed corn, and finally tomatoes. Other ventures include raising alfalfa hay and cattle.48

Public Service --- Text Stolen from !! ---

Vernon Reigel, about 1952
photo by Carmen Reigel

     Vernon was elected a member board of Shasta Union School, the local rural school, about 1951. He was initially elected as a write-in candidate, and continued to serve there until he was elected to the board in Chico. He was President of the County School Boards Association by 1957, and a member of the agricultural advisory committees of both Chico State College and Chico High School. He was elected board of the Chico Unified School District 8 Apr 1957, where he served until his death.50,51,52
     Vernon and Carmen purchased the 30 acres on which they would build their new home on 1 May 1951. In 1953 they built there a large home, with a family room, office, and bedrooms for each of their four children.53
     Vernon was active in developing the local labor association, which arranged importation of labors from Mexico to hand-thin the young beet plants. He was active in the Farm Bureau, becoming first vice president.48,54 He was a founder of a cooperative formed to build a plant to clean and store beans until they were ready for market. Construction started in 1957, estimated to cost $250,000. The association responded to evolving needs of it's members, adding in the next ten years facilities for distribution of aqueous ammonia fertilizer, and a station for federal inspectors to sample and grade fresh tomatoes being shipped to market. It is now known as North Valley Ag Services, reflecting the sharp decline in bean production in the area and the resulting shift to other services.55,56,57
     Vernon died on 23 Feb 1963 in Hamilton City, Glenn Co., California, at age 51.9,10 He was buried on 27 Feb 1963 in IOOF Cemetery, Orland, Glenn Co., California.4

     Children with Carmen Edith Glabe:

The four children of Carmen and Vernon are all living.


  1. [S172] Vernon Howard Reigel, Certificate of Birth, shows name as Vernon Howard Reigel.
  2. [S2878] Vernon Howard Reigel, Application for Account.
  3. [S172] Vernon Howard Reigel, Certificate of Birth.
  4. [S188] Vernon Harold Reigel, Certificate of Death.
  5. [S2878] Vernon Howard Reigel, Application for Account,, shows date, town and state.
  6. [S133] F. W. Reigel household, 1920 U.S. Census, Clark Co., Washington, shows age 8 and state.
  7. [S1191] Vernon Reigel and Carmen Glabe, marriage certificate, shows date, parsonage, her father and stepmother as witnesses, and guests.
  8. [S1190] Former Peorian Wed in Nevada, undated clipping, shows city and state, and that her parents accompanied them, with Miss Jessie Ruth Glabe, her sister, and Norval Martin of Orland as attendants.
  9. [S188] Vernon Harold Reigel, Certificate of Death, shows date as "About 2-23-63", and address as 11 mi. N. E. of Orland, county and state.
  10. [S110] Personal knowledge of author, recalls being informed by Russell Caldwell, deputy sheriff of Glenn Co., who came to notify the family of Vernon's death, that the location was a barn on the ranch immediately north of Hamilton City.
  11. [S110] Personal knowledge of author, recalling stories heard in childhood from his father and occasional family visits to his grandfather's farm.
  12. [S225] Plotting the location (currently on NW 369th St. near NW 24th Ave.) on DeLorme Street Atlas USA and measuring from the center of the town of La Center yields just about 2 miles as the crow flies, and about 3 miles following modern streets and roads.
  13. [S884] Deeds and Mortgages Clark Co., Washington, 82:493-4, Bruce G. Hurt to Frank W. Reigel, deed, 9 Aug 1910, shows purchase of his father's farm, as SE¼ of NE¼ of Sec 28, twp 5 N range 1 E of Willamette Meridian; 18:78-9, David Hurt to B. F. Reigel, deed, 25 Mar1893, shows purchase of his paternal grandparents' farm as S½ of SW¼ of NW¼ of Sec 28, twp 5 N range 1 E of Willamette Meridian, or immediately west of his father's farm; and 52:417-9, Canadian and American Mortgage and Trust Co., Ltd. to Robert and Matilda Gapsch, agreement, 31 May 1902, shows purchase of his maternal grandparents' farm, as SW¼ of SW¼ of Sec. 27 and N½ of NW¼ of Sec. 34, twp 5 N range 1 E of Willamette Meridian, a short distance south and east of his father's farm.
  14. [S169] Emma S. Reigel, Certificate of Death.
  15. [S349] Erickson, "Family History - Maria Lovisa Henriksdotter", shows date.
  16. [S812] Frank W. Reigel and Vera M. Chaney, marriage record, Certificate of Marriage, shows date of marriage as 18 Oct 1919.
  17. [S148] Frank V. Rigle household, 1910 U.S. Census, Clark Co., Washington, shows occupation as logging teamster.
  18. [S133] F. W. Reigel household, 1920 U.S. Census, Clark Co., Washington.
  19. [S6296] Vernon Reigel, Certificate of Graduation.
  20. [S486] Frank W. Reigel household, 1930 U.S. Census, Clark Co., Washington.
  21. [S60] Interview, Judith Ann Reigel, 11 Oct 1998, 10 Oct 1998, recalling a story told by her Aunt Ruth, sister of Vernon's brother Kenneth, gave age about 16 and had the boys taking cream to sell and keeping the money. Vera demanded the money, and when they refused, threatened to leave unless Vernon did, so he did, and lived with his uncle Ralph.
  22. [S101] Interview, Ruth Riggs Reigel, 27 Mar 1999, said the boys kept making the cream thinner, interfering with making butter to sell for cigarettes. When she caught them she threatened to leave if Vernon did not, so he left. She believed he stayed in the area.
  23. [S1839] Ralph Reigel household, 1930 U.S. Census, Jackson Co., Oregon.
  24. [S170] Benjamin Franklin Riegel, Certificate of Death, shows Ralph as informant, with an address of Maxwell.
  25. [S1181] Vernon Reigel, High School Record, La Center High School, shows grades of 78, 77, 80, 79, 76, 82, and 81 his first year; C+,
    C, C+, C, D, D+, C, and C his second; D+, F, F, F, F, F, D, and C- in his third; D, B+, C, C, D+, D+, C, and D+ in his fourth, and B, B-, B, B, C+, C+, B in his fifth, with graduation 22 May 1931.
  26. [S1182] Vernon Reigel, High School Diploma, La Center High School, shows date, and lists eleven students in the class roll.
  27. [S110] Personal knowledge of author, from stories told him by his father.
  28. [S146] Ex-Washingtonian Farms Chico Soil, undated clipping, shows he first came to Maxwell for a visit, worked on farms in Washington and California's Central Valley before coming to Chico to live, and had been in California 20 years, farming his own acreage nine years.
  29. [S1183] Vernon Reigel, undated clipping, shows he moved to Maxwell in 1935, and to Chico in 1941.
  30. [S4665] Granville Wilson household, 1940 U.S. Census, Glenn Co., California, shows that he lived in rural Colusa Co., California in 1935.
  31. [S110] Personal knowledge of author, from stories told him by his father and seeing the bunk house when visiting the Michaels as a child.
  32. [S1192] Interview, George Wilson, 17 Mar 2007, said Vernon met Granville while they both worked at the Michael ranch.
  33. [S4665] Granville Wilson household, 1940 U.S. Census, Glenn Co., California.
  34. [S24] Interview, Carmen Glabe Reigel, 7 Oct 1998.
  35. [S1192] Interview, George Wilson, 17 Mar 2007, said Vernon left the Michael ranch to work for North Valley Tractor.
  36. [S7982] Vernon Howard Reigel, Selective Service Registration Card, World War II, First Registration.
  37. [S110] Personal knowledge of author, recalling stories heard from his parents while a child.
  38. [S1190] Former Peorian Wed in Nevada, undated clipping, shows they would live in Willows, and that he was the manager of the Willows branch of North Valley Tractor and Equiment Company.
  39. [S1188] Deeds, Butte Co., California, 272:421-2, George E. Mattie G. Pearl to Vernon H. and Carmen E. Reigel, 28 Jun 1941, shows date, property description.
  40. [S24] Interview, Carmen Glabe Reigel, 10 Oct 1998.
  41. [S1188] Deeds, Butte Co., California, 290:442, Vernon H. and Carmen E. Reigel to Joel Elmer and Georgie Loraine Cox, 19 Jul 1943, shows date of 16 Jul 1943, property description.
  42. [S1188] Deeds, Butte Co., California, 290:336, C. S. and Maud B. Stark to Vernon H. and Carmen E. Reigel, 14 Apr 1943, shows date, property description as easterly half of lot 33 of Hobart Subdivision. Subdivision map , shows lot 33 originally contained 10 ac.
  43. [S1188] Deeds, Butte Co., California, 363:89, Vernon H. and Carmen E. Reigel to Otto H. J. and Ella Schultz, 12 Apr 1945, shows date and property description.
  44. [S1188] Deeds, Butte Co., California, 363:225, George W. McNair to Vernon H. and Carmen E. Reigel, 18 May 1945, shows date, property description as lot 6 block 69 of Chico Vecino.
  45. [S1188] Deeds, Butte Co., California, 363:241, Vernon H. and Carmen E. Reigel to C. C. and Ruby A. Carpenter, 24 May 1945, shows date and property description.
  46. [S1188] Deeds, Butte Co., California, 363:493, Fred W. and Meatrice Ann Nelson to Vernon H. and Carmen E. Reigel, 10 Aug 1945, shows date, property description as lot 13 of Tokay Tract (9.64 ac. according to the subdivision map).
  47. [S1188] Deeds, Butte Co., California, 370:382, Howard H. and Jessie M Carpenter to Vernon H. and Carmen E. Reigel, 30 Nov 1945, shows date, property description as lots 9, 10, 11, and 12 of Tokay Tract (70.04 ac. according to the subdivision map), and the grantors were in Idaho.
  48. [S110] Personal knowledge of author.
  49. [S1189] "The Engineering of Abundance", pp 140-149 describes Prof. Bainer's work in development of single segment sugar beet seeds, and pp 136-139 and 156-165 describes effort to develop a sugar beet harvester at Davis, and Blackwelder Manufacturing's successful development of one.
  50. [S110] Personal knowledge of author, recalling stories heard in childhood about his father being initially elected at Shasta Union as a write-in candidate.
  51. [S1183] Vernon Reigel, undated clipping, shows he had served on the Shasta Union School Board of Trustees six years, and shows other board and association memberships.
  52. [S1185] Interview, Mary Anderson, 31 Oct 2006, citing District, records, gave date of election to the Chico board, and that he served until his death.
  53. [S1188] Deeds, Butte Co., California, 581:470, George M and Kathleen G. Conway to Vernon H. and Carmen E. Reigel, 3 May 1951, shows date, property description as lots 3, 6, and the west half of lots 2 and 7 of Tokay Tract (30 ac. according to the subdivision map).
  54. [S1183] Vernon Reigel, undated clipping, shows he was secretary of the Beet Growers Labor Association, Inc., and association with Farm Bureau.
  55. [S110] Personal knowledge of author, recalling conversations with his parents while the cooperative was being formed and numerous visits to the facility until leaving the area in 1963.
  56. [S1186] Chico Bean Growers, miscellaneous records, Membership Agreement of Vernon Reigel dated 22 Mar 1957; information solicitation from Daily Pacific Builder with attached clipping dated 25 June 1957 with notice of construction, including estimated cost.
  57. [S1187] Interview, Mark Pierce, Sep 2005, described the re-focus of the organization as the crops raised in the area shifted.