John W. RIEN

ABOUT 1832 -

Father: ---- RIEN
Mother: Sarah NICKEL

Family 1 : Ann R. BROWN

  1.  Mary T. RIEN, b. ABOUT 1855
  2. +Sarah Cordelia RIEN
  3.  John M. RIEN, b. 6 Jun 1859; d. 3 Nov 1894
  4.  William RIEN, b. 4 May 1863; d. 18 Oct 1864
  5.  John F. RIEN, b. 7 Mar 1865; d. 23 Feb 1866
  6.  Annie C. RIEN, b. 15 Jan 1867; d. 25 Apr 1867

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|--John W. RIEN 
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Listed in the 1860 Census for Sonoma County, Bodega Township, Smith's Ranch Post office, as J. W. Rein, age 28, bp. Pennsylvania, farmer, with $500 in real estate and $1500 in personal property. Enumerated along with his wife, Ann R (a. 28, bp. PA), 5 year old daughter, Mary T (bp. MO), a 3 year old daughter, Sarah E (bp. MO), and a 1 year old son Jas M (bp. CA).


Additional information for this branch of the family is from Sharon Ford (email, 11 July 2004):

As for John W. Rien, I do not have a birth day and month, but on the 1850 census for Dade Co., MO, he was age 18, so that would indicate he was born ca 1832...

I have some descrepancies regarding his death date, which is going to need further research. The Bloomfield Cemetery information that is posted on shows that he died 9 Sep 1875 at 41 years, 6 mos, 12 dys, which would put his birth year ca 1834. At one time I was able to access a website that had information from old newspapers and I found an entry for John W. Rien listed in newspaper abstracts for the Russian River Flag, Healdsburg, Ca 18 Sep 1873.... it stated that he died at Ocean View House Sep 9, 1873 at age 41 yrs, 6 mos, 12 dys, which would be consistent with the information from census sources. There is another Bloomfield Cemetery listed online through and John W. Rien does not appear on this list, so the plaque containing the information disappeared between the time the 2 separate surveys were done.



Photo taken June 2004

In the short history for Valley Ford included in the Illustrated Atlas of Sonoma County California, (Reynolds & Proctor, Santa Rosa, Cal.: 1897), p. 50, a J. N. Rien is mentioned as errecting the first hotel for Valley Ford. This is incorrectly listed and should be J. W. Rien instead.

A Rien family descendant and researcher, Sharon Ford, visited the Valley Ford Hotel in June of 2004. She talked at some length to the present owners, the Duffy family, who had just sold the hotel and was in the process of moving out. It was John W. Rien who built the hotel and called it the Cliff House. From Sharon Ford (email 18 June 2004):

The owner told us some very interesting things about the hotel and about the area...

...the hotel is not, and never was, on the same water system as the rest of Valley Ford. It has its own well and septic tank. Supposedly, this dates way back, and probably to the days when the Rien's owned the hotel. However, she did say that the hotel is not in it's original location and had been moved a little way down the street [either late 1800s or early 1900s] by moving it by rolling it on logs, so later owners apparently did not want to become part of the town water system either. Until the 1990s, the hotel sat right on top of the ground. When the Duffys bought it, some town/county ordinances required that they raise the hotel off the ground. There was one part that I really didn't understand. At one time the stage line and railroad stopped at the hotel, but the hotel owner had to board up the stage & railroad entrance.

The current owner said that supposedly the hotel was not a hotel when the Riens owned it, but on your website... the reference from Historical and Descriptive Sketch of Sonoma County... indicates differently. It reads: "J. N. Rien built the Valley Ford hotel in 1864." His name was actually John W. Rien, and the notice that appeared in the paper when he died in 1874 says that he died at "Ocean House".

We were told that the Estero Americano reached as far in as Valley Ford and was much, much larger than the current trickle that kayakers now use. The 1906 earthquake closed off the the mouth of the Estero, according to the current hotel owner.

The original building was apparently only 4 rooms, but had been added on sometime, either before, or after the 1930s. She had 2-3 photographs that showed the hotel before the Duffys bought it. There had been some additions over the years, but the Duffys removed the additions that extended out the back. The part of the addition that included 2 or 3 rooms upstairs, and a dining downstairs, was left intact. I didn't quite understand but somehow the additions/changes over the years since 1864 made the building something [of] a building within a building. According to the current owner, because enough of original hotel is intact, the Valley Ford Hotel is considered a historical place and I thought that she said that it was on the National Register, but it may be a state register. I want to check this out. She told us that it took the Duffys 10 yrs to restore the hotel, and it nearly killed Mr. Duffy. From the old pictures you could see what a terrible shape the hotel was in when they purchased it, but they really did a nice job restoring it.

The original bar, a fallen redwood tree that had been split in half, was still there, but the original backbar had been replaced. The banister was the original. Certainly the most interesting thing we were told is that the hotel has a resident ghost/spirit.

The owner of the hotel was told about the spirit, from people in the community, shortly after she purchased it. He has been seen by not only the owners, but also guests. She said that the spirit is not malicious, but is a prankster. She said that the spirit is male, between 16 to 19 years of age. The story is that he is the son of one of the owners, and believed to be the son of JW & AR Rien, because he was from a family that had numerous children. The Riens had 9 children. Anyway, this child disappeared and was never found. The Estero was still in existence behind the hotel, and it is believed that he drowned in the Estero. Supposedly, the Estero was searched, but they never found him. I don't know how far back the newspapers go for this area, but I want to follow up on this.

Anyway, according to the owner, she and her husband were in the hotel one evening in one of the downstairs rooms and they could hear someone running up and down the stairs. At the time a couple was staying there and they had a small daughter. The owner's husband remarked about the child on the stairs, and she told him that they were not in the hotel at the time. She also said that doors would open and close for no reason.



Photo taken 30 June 2004


Large obelisk --

North face:


Mar. 30 1832

July 11 1900


Two small "toe" stones are presently (as of July 2004) leaning against this south face:

A. R. R. and J. M. R.


East face:
screws -- appears to be something missing (assumed to contain burial information for John W. Rien) that was attached there is an inscription below the screws:

Amiable and beloved husband farewell

thy years were few but thy virtues were

many they are recorded not on this

perishing stone but in the book of Life

and in the heart of thy afflicted friend.




West face:


Jun. 6, 1859.

Nov. 3, 1894.



The south face of this stone is blank.





Small obelisk --

North face:



Oct. 18,


Aged 1 yr,

5 m's, 28 dy's.


East face:



Feb. 23.



11 m's. 16d's.

a two line inscription on the base that is nearly unreadable.




West face:

Children of

J.W. & A.R.



South face:



Apr. 25.



3'm's. 10'd's.

a two line inscription on the base that is nearly unreadable.






Photo by Larry Wendt, August 2001   Photo by Larry Wendt, June 2004


 Photo by Larry Wendt, 27 June 2004


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This page created on 02/05/01 16:08.Updated 08/10/04 21:44.