Erwin Thompson’s great grandfather Nicholas Riehl immigrated to the United States from the Alsace Lorrain region in early 1800. Nicholas was a Naturalist, specializing in ornithology and botany. He settled in Carondelette, Missouri where he started a floral and horticultural nursery.

Nicholas had five children, one of whom was a son, Emile (known most of his life only by his initials, E.A.)

Family legend has it that Mr. Riehl was working as a steamboat pilot when he discovered and fell in love with the bluffs along the Mississippi near Alton. He bought 140 acres of land a mile above Clifton Terrace and established the Riehl family homestead, Evergreen Heights.

E.A Riehl cleared the land and cultivated marketable crops to support his family. Mr. Riehl’s avid interest in horticulture led to developing new enhanced varieties of fruits and vegetables.

He perfected a process of grafting nut trees that revolutionized the science of grafting. Mr. Riehl was recognized as one of eight most important horticulturalists in the country.His work is well-known at the Department of Agriculture in Washington and leading agricultural universities in America.

E.A. Riehl married Mathilde Roesch in 1866 and they had nine children: Frank, Edwin, Helen, Julia, Emma, Alice, Amelia (Mim), Anna, and Walter.

Anna married J. Arthur Thompson and they had five children, including a son Erwin Arthur Thompson.