Georg Gabriel Riedesel was born September 20, 1809 in Wunderthausen. For whatever reasons, he was known as “Ludwig” in Germany and Louis/Lewis in America. His next-older brother was just “Gabriel” so would have had claim on that Rufname (most-often one’s middle name).
His father was a Ludwig Riedesel and his mother was born Maria Gertraud Dreisbach, both of Wunderthausen. The younger “Ludwig” was the seventh of eight children. The senior Ludwig was the tenant of the house known as Ludwigs
On August 24, 1834 he married for the first time to an Elisabeth Amalia Knoche. They had seven children before she died on January 26, 1851 in Wunderthausen. On February 6, 1853 he married for a second time to another Elisabeth Amalia Knoche, also of Wunderthausen. This marriage produced four known children. Some time before 1840 he had established a new house on the western edge of the village. This sort of thing just wasn’t permitted in feudal days but the Prussian state which now ruled this part of Germany was more liberal. The house came to be known as Großeludwigs (roughly, “Big Louis'”; perhaps he was a large man). It is unlikely that Ludwig ever acquired much arable land but he was able to support a large family.
Starting in 1854, three of his sons from the first marriage made their way to Wheatland, Iowa, where they joined a small colony of Wunderthäuser (another had gone even earlier). Ludwig decided to follow. He came to America with his second wife and three children on the ship Argonaut out of Bremen which arrived at New York on November 9, 1867. He advertised the sale of his property in the local newspaper (see images below).
In 1870 they were farming in the Kaw Township of Jackson, County Missouri; numerous earlier emigrants from Wunderthausen–notably many Knoches–also lived in Jackson County. Son Philip was ten but there is no sign in the Census of daughter Dina. His wife’s name is listed as Elizabeth [the family is called “Retazer” which is not that far from the German sound of our name]. By 1880 she is a widow and living with Philip [called John P.] in Wyandotte County, Kansas. We do not know when she died nor where either is buried.
Detailed Ancestry Report
The ancestry of his two wives (both named Elisabeth Amalia Knoche) may be found in the genealogy reports for Ludwig’s sons Louis D. Riedesel of the first marriage or Philip J. Riedesel of the second marriage.
This PDF file includes local newspaper ads (with English translations) that Ludwig published to sell his property before coming to America.