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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Henry Rebell

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 596-597 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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The story of Henry Rebell's rise to a position of business prominence and prosperity is one of dogged determination to succeed in the face of more than ordinary difficulties. Handicapped as a youth by lack of educational training and receiving little help from his family, he toiled slowly and laboriously up the ladder to success, literally pounding out his own destiny on the blacksmith's anvil. When opportunity to advance came to him, he was not slow to avail himself of the chance to better himself, utilizing all his past experience to improve his present and future, until today Mr. Rebell is the proprietor of one of the largest establishments of its kind in this part of the Mohawk Valley, known as Rebell's Garage. Born in New York city, April 22, 1859, he is the son of Adam and Katherine Rebell, Germans by birth, who emigrated to the United States with the thousands of their compatriots who sought the land of freedom directly after the unsuccessful Revolution of 1848. After forty-eight days on the high seas in a sailing vessel, the Rebells landed in New York city in 1849, and there made their home for a number of years. All during the Civil war period the father was engaged in the restaurant and hotel business. In 1869 the family moved to St. Johnsville and three years later came to Fort Plain, where the parents spent the remainder of their lives. For a time Adam Rebell plied his trade as a potter at Canajoharie. Unable to provide their son with the educational facilities available to those of more ample means, the Rebells apprenticed Henry to a blacksmith to learn the trade at a very early age. As he rather picturesquely expresses it, he was "kicked from door to door for eight dollars a month", enduring the rough treatment all too frequently accorded the apprentices of a generation or two ago, because he had no redress. Fortunately he possessed the physical hardihood to withstand such a life and in due time became the master of the blacksmith's trade himself. From the years of his early manhood until 1910 Mr. Rebell was engaged in the blacksmith business, enjoying merited prosperity and a generous patronage from the people of Fort Plain and the surrounding country, among whom he was favorably known for his excellent work. The time came, however, when the faithful horse gave way, in a large measure, before the honking motor car and with the rise of huge factories whose organization and production are marvels of modern industrial engineering given over to the manufacturing of automobiles, the "village smithy" has all but disappeared. Among those of his craft who were farsighted enough to forsake the old ways for the new, Mr. Rebell was a leader and in 1910 he engaged in the garage business. In less than fifteen years he has built up a well equipped garage, whose standards of service are everything that the most exacting motorist could desire.

On the 24th of April, 1889, Mr. Rebell was married to Miss Clara Lipe and they became the parents of one son: Herman, born in Fort Plain, March 30, 1891. Herman Rebell was reared and educated in this village, graduating from the local high school in the class of 1910. Since then he has been associated with his father in the garage business. In 1918 he entered the United States military service as a private in the army and was stationed in New Hampshire until he was discharged on December 5, 1918, shortly after the signing of the armistice. He is now a member of the Fort Plain Post of the American Legion and is also identified with the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks. The father is a Mason, his affiliations being with Fort Plain Lodge, No. 433, A. F. & A. M., while Mrs. Rebell is a member of the Eastern Star. She is likewise active in the work of the Daughters of the American Revolution and takes part in the activities of the Universalist Church, to which she and Mr. Rebell belong. Both father and son are loyal republicans and never fail to support their party at the polls on election day. Their position in the automotive industry in this part of the valley is an important one and to them belongs much credit for the rapid development it has experienced in a little more than a decade.

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