The following information was submitted by Kathy Bemisdarfer. Please contact her with any questions or comments.
From "My Rife Family Book" - permission granted to me by Admiral Dewey Rife, Jr. to include in my family files - he passed way June 1998. Title of his Book is "History of Rife and Riffe family." (Family name originally Reif from PA.)
The entry is:
Floyd Riffe was the son of Lewis and Margaret (Collins) Rife. These people came originally from PA then settled down through the Shendoah Valley, with lots of them ending up in Buchanan Co., VA. This is where the family mostly lived at before going west, or at least near there and the KY border. On the Buchanan Co., VA Gen Web page you can go to the military section, click on the link to the Buchanan County, Virginia Civil War Page, and see one of the relatives on the Conf list, Capt Gordon W. Rife - his name is spelled Riffe on this list with the picture, but should be Rife, I descend down from this Rife, who would have been a cousin to Floyd Riffe, who is described further below. [Editor's note, May 2013: The link to the Civil War page is no longer working but I found two other pages with information on Capt. Gordon W. Rife - a description of the 22nd VA Regiment, Co. B and a page that includes his photo.]
The following information is reprinted from Daily Chronicle, June 18, 1966 and 1976; and the Morton Journal, June 1975.
Floyd Riffe was born Feb 29, 1869 at North Springs, WV. His wife Armedia Blankenship was born Nov 16, 1855, at Allenwick, WV. the were married March 3, 1881. Floyd was ordained a Baptist minister in 1889. On Sept 19, 1893, they left Greenbriar, WV, with a group of over sixty people and arrived in Chehalis, WA. Sept 27, 1893. All of these people settled in Lewis Co., many of them in the area which was later named Riffe. These settlers arrived at the old Bodiford Homestead at 10PM Nov 6, 1893, where they moved into an old cabin near the river. The cabin had no windows or doors, and luckily there was no snow as yet. The next day Floyd went to look for land to buy and purchased 160 acres. This is where the community of "Riffe" was later situated. In early 1894 Floyd started splitting cedar boards, and he bought some 2 x4's at Mossyrock where a small sawmill had been constructed. From these materials he built a two story house for his family. He quickly started to clear some of the ground by burning the old large growth of fir trees, many of which were eight to nine feet in diameter. This was done by boring holes in the trees and stuffing them full of pitch; each tree requiring four or five days to burn enough to topple over. They were then cut into bolts six feet long and split into boards for construction. The rough sections were used to burn over and clear the ground for pasture and crop land.
The Riffe Post Office was established by Floyd Riffe on Sept 20, 1898. The Riffe Post Office was located on the banks of the Cowlitz River, which then became known as Rifee. Riffe was located nine miles east of Mossyrock and twenty three miles west of Vance (Randle). Riffe's first mail was a star route from Forest; this was transferred to Chehalis July 23, 1926. In 1960 the service was by Chehalis-Morton Star route. A Riffe star route served the Nesika and Green Mountain areas. Mrs. Maude Schwartz, daughter of Floyd Riffe, was carrier in 1960, having started as temportary carrier in 1920 with horse and buggy on the Riffe-morton Route.
The following article from the Daily Chronicle, dated June 18, 1966, and titled "The Valley was Gouged Out: Riffe Community Exists No More." No one lives in this community today...no one who once lived here. Riffe will disappear beneath the waters of Mossyrock Dam. The company clearing the land has several of its employees living temporarily in Riffe in caretaker status, but those people who for many years had made Riffe a community have moved. The final sales of property were conducted Saturday. Residents of the small town have watched over the months as timber was leveled, brush burned and the earth bulldozed. "I/ve lived there 40 years", said one man, and I never thought I would see this place gouged out like it has been." This man, like most, grudgingly accepts the inevitability of the dam. "I suppose this is progress," he said, and the only thing that makes me want to accept it is the hope that more people will be benefited by the dam than are being hurt by it."
Riffe itself in past weeks has become a junkyard. Some houses have been plowed into piles along with masses of roots and dirt. There are broken windows and abandoned auto frames, and creepers and weeds choke many yards. It makes me sick to have to move, said Walter Rose, who with his wife had lived in Riffe since their marriage. Its not just all the moving its leaving the place that gets me. Seems to me says Mrs. Rose, that the dam at least should have been named after Riffe.
The final move came Saturday. Whoever they may be, the last family will be packing the final load. Riffe is a place that once was.
POST SCRIPT, Dated March 15, 1976.
Instead of being named Riffe, the lake was named Davisson, after a Tacoma utilities director...a person whose name has no significance to Lewis County. People in central Lewis county were sick at heart at having the pioneer name and community not even perpetuated in naming the lake Riffe Lake. In February, 1975, the Lewis Co., Historical Society's Names Chairman, Marjorie Aldrick, wrote resolutions and petitions requesting the State Board of Geographic Names to rename the lake to Riffe Lake. These were endorsed by many Granges and other county groups and individuals. The Morton Journal's publisher, Jim Marvin, was also petitioning the Geographic Board to restore the Riffe name. With the able assistance of County Commissioner, Harold Cooper, the Riffe family and other interested people, the State Board on Geographic names were influenced to vote on March 12, 1976, to rename the lake as "Riffe Lake", thus restoring a pioneer name to the area, as it justly should be. This does not restore the homes, the birth place of many, the churches, and the cemeteries wiped out, but it does commemorate the community who existence is no more.