Tuesday, December 16, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks; Week 50; Johannes Ritter, Sr.

This prompt comes from Amy Johnson Crow at her blog, No Story Too Small. I began with my grandparents and am working my way back in time through the generations of my direct ancestors. Now I am writing about my 5x great grandparents.

This post is extracted from my book, The Mark FamilyStory; The Story of the Mark and Other Related Families: Brown, Dick, Gruissy,Heffelfinger, Keck, Ritter & Wolf.



Johannes Ritter, Sr.
17 February 1743 PA – 18 April 1816 PA
My 5x Great Grandfather



Johannes Ritter was the second child of Heinrich and Maria Ritter. He was baptized on 27 February 1743 at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Red Hill, Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.[1] Over the years, Johannes changed the county he lived in, moving further west from Montgomery County where he was born to Lancaster County where he lived during the American Revolutionary War. In 1777 he served in the 4th Battalion of the Lancaster County Militia. Then he went northwest to Northampton County where he was a farmer. Finally Johannes journeyed further west to Snyder County where he was an Inn Keeper. 
          Like many other Germans in Pennsylvania, Johannes was, primarily, a farmer.

The Pennsylvania Germans farmers were good farmers by practically all standards. They were descended through thirty generations of tillers of the soil.[2]
         
 In his book, The Ritter Family, Larry Knox shares many things he has unearthed about our Ritter ancestors. Larry is a fourth great-grandson of Johannes. He wrote,

In 1779, John joined the Lancaster County Militia, possibly because of the offer of a horse, land, more money or even a better uniform. He served with Captain John Rutherford’s Company in their march to Fort Bedford. The march to Fort Bedford gave John a chance to observe the land to the west of Northampton County and he must have taken a liking to it.[3]

For about twenty years, Johannes and Maria Elisabeth (Keck) Ritter raised their eleven children in Salisbury. Our first United States Census, taken in 1790, showed the family in Salisbury Township, Northampton County. At that time the family included one male, 16 years and upwards (Johannes), three males under 16 and four females.[4] That 1790 census counted 257 free white males, 16 years old and up, in Salisbury Township.[5]
The Ritters were members of the Jerusalem Lutheran and Reformed Church in Western Salisbury. Many family baptisms and marriages were celebrated there.[6] The church is older than the town. It was a log structure with a stone floor, hewn logs for pews and no stove. The log building was replaced by a frame building and in 1819 the present limestone building was built. The list of names appearing in the baptismal records prior to 1800 includes Ritter.[7]
Parts of Northampton County later became Lehigh County which can further complicate research into the family’s movements.
In 1795, Johannes scouted out the land in what later became West Beaver Township, Snyder County. Snyder County was the neighboring county to the west of Northampton County. He did not purchase land there until the next year.[8]

Many of the early pioneers from the eastern counties would go up into the mountains for a summer or two searching for available land. If they found land to their liking they would start improvements and when cold weather arrived they would go back to the eastern counties to hunt the owners to get a deed. The next year they would return with additional supplies…[9]

          The distance from their old home in Salisbury Township to their new home on the headwaters of Middle Creek in Beaver was at least 120 miles. Traveling this distance with their clothing, household goods, tools and food was no small accomplishment. The roads were nothing more than paths used by foot or horse. It wasn’t until 1811 that the Centre Turnpike was completed and wagon traffic could regularly travel along. Many early travelers followed the Tulpehocken Trail. This route never developed into a highway because it crossed three mountains. Another route available to the Ritters was the ‘Great Road from Sunbury to Reading’, opened in 1771 and traveled by many pioneers. Whatever route they traveled, the family had to stop about every ten miles. Along the way they needed to hunt or fish and gather wild fruits or berries to supplement any food they carried with them. Deer, bear, squirrel, rabbits, pheasants and turkeys were plentiful. They most likely carried with them: fishnets and fish hooks, a flint lock muzzle loader, an axe, saw, wedge for splitting boards, a chisel, hammer and adz for hewing logs, a cast iron pot, pan and kettle, enough flour and corn meal to last them until they could raise their own grain.[10]
Johannes Ritter, Sr. and Maria Elisabeth (Keck) Ritter were the first pioneer settlers in West Beaver Township.[11] They sold their farm in Salisbury and purchased two adjoining tracts of land, 644 acres, 142 perches of land in the area of Black Oak Ridge.
Larry Knox wrote,

As was the custom in those early days, John built his log house right over the spring. The uncertainty of Indian attacks forced the pioneers to build their house over a spring so they had a source of water if they were barricaded for an extended length of time. Also, the cold water made a great refrigerator.  John’s house was at the north end of his tract of land in a hollow. The foundation stones were still visible in 1972 near Quentin Dresse’s farmhouse.[12]

Johannes and Maria Elizabeth Ritter had to make almost everything their family needed.

This included the house, the furniture, the bed clothing, most of the hand tools, the shoes and clothing they wore and used. It was not until they could produce commodities that were marketable and roads opened up to get these to the eastern markets, could they begin to buy crafted goods and luxuries desired.[13]

Johannes Ritter, Sr. named his home Fallowfield. Larry Knox tells us that this house,

…was situated such that the Mahanoy Trail ran right across it and as the traffic through the valley increased, John must have seen the need to furnish lodging to travelers. His home was opened as an inn and undoubtedly many of the early settlers passing through the Middle Creek Valley spent the night in the safety and comfort of the Ritter home. The Mahanoy Trail was later used as a mail route traveled by stagecoaches and was named Stage Road.[14]

Becoming an inn keeper was not always intentional. Travelers did not have an easy time locating lodgings for a night. They knocked at cabin doors looking for shelter.

As the number and frequency of uninvited guests in wayside cabins grew, the involuntary host found himself becoming innkeeper, especially if he owned a fair-sized cabin or log or stone house. Then, as innkeeper, he acquired in turn a number of other offices. He was the one person who was always paid in cash for service and in consequence became a kind of frontier banker. Letters were left with him for other travelers expected to pass that way; so he became also a kind of postmaster. Travelers brought him the most recent newspapers and wayfarers handed out gossip picked up along the road, and by these means he became a kind of news agent.[15]

In 1802 John and Elizabeth deeded two acres of their land in West Beaver Township for a church to be built there, St. John’s Black Oak Ridge Church. A log church was built on this land. Later John and his wife were buried there.[16]
          Johannes Ritter, Sr. can be found in the 1810 United States Census, still in the town of Beaver. He is shown to be an inn keeper.[17]
          Maria Elisabeth (Keck) Ritter died 2 June 1813. Johannes died on 18 April 1816. Johannes and Maria Elizabeth are buried at St. John’s Black Oak Ridge Cemetery. St. John’s Church was built on land originally owned by Johannes and Elizabeth and sold in 1802.[18] Their tombstones are the oldest in the cemetery. Both stones record they had been married 45 years, had ten children, 5 sons and 5 daughters. The tombstones

…are of native slate or flagstone and are intricately inscribed in classic German on both sides of both stones.[19]




[1] International Genealogical Index at the Family History center. Christening of Johannes Ritter on 27 Feb 1743 in Pennsylvania.
[2] Aurand, A. Monroe. Early Life of the Pennsylvania Germans. Reprint. Forgotten Books, 1945.
[3] Knox, Larry. The Ritter Family . Privately Printed, 1999.
[4] 1790 United States Census, Salisbury Township, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. Ritter family.
[5] Schmehl, William L. F. Salisbury: Born the Year the Liberty Bell was Hung and Rung - 1753. 1976.
[6] Neimeyer, Stoudt, Rath, Reinhard, and Kemmerer. History of Jerusalem Lutheran and Reformed Church. Allentown, PA: H. Ray Haas & Company Publishers, 1911.
[7] Schmehl, William L. F. Salisbury: Born the Year the Liberty Bell was Hung and Rung - 1753. 1976.
[8] Wagner, Orren R. "John and Elisabeth Ritter, West Beaver Township Pioneers." Snyder County Historical Society. (1972): 1495 - 1514.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Wagner, Orren R. "John and Elisabeth Ritter, West Beaver Township Pioneers." Snyder County Historical Society. (1972): 1495 - 1514.
[12] Knox, Larry. The Ritter Family . Privately Printed, 1999.
[13] Wagner, Orren R. "John and Elisabeth Ritter, West Beaver Township Pioneers." Snyder County Historical Society. (1972): 1495 - 1514.
[14] Knox, Larry. The Ritter Family . Privately Printed, 1999.
[15] Wright, J. E., and Doris S. Corbett. Pioneer Life in Western Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1940.
[16] Wagner, Orren. "Log Churches and the Rev. John Conrad Walter, Pioneer Preacher and Circuit Rider." Snyder County Historical Society Bulletin. (1972): 47.
[17] 1810 United States Census, Beaver, Northampton County, Pennsylvania. John Ritter Senior family.
[18] Knox, Larry. The Ritter Family . Privately Printed, 1999.
[19] Wagner, Orren R. "John and Elisabeth Ritter, West Beaver Township Pioneers." Snyder County Historical Society. (1972): 1495 - 1509.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Gordonsville Cemetery VA; Civil War Soldiers


The Maplewood Memorial Association
Has erected this tablet
As a tribute of respect to
Some seven hundred Confederate soldiers
Mainly from North Carolina and Georgia
Who laid down their lives
For The cause they love and lost
Their names are perished
May their memory be imperishable!



In Gordonsville Cemetery there is a large stone monument to fallen Civil War soldiers. It sits at the edge of a peaceful green field where there’s a whispering wind in the trees. Could the whisper be voices of these 700 brave men who fell so far from home and lie in a spot unmarked by their names? Were their mothers and sisters ever able to stand at this resting spot; to leave a handful of flowers, shed a tear and say a prayer?



I recently posted about my visit to the Gordonsville Hospital in Virginia. It was the last stop for Martin Penn Brumfield, my 2nd great grand uncle, and many more soldiers during the Civil War. The hotel had become a hospital that treated thousands of soldiers.

After touring the museum and finding Martin’s name I spoke to the volunteer at the museum, asking where the soldiers were buried. She explained that they had, originally, been buried on the grounds but later were moved to the Maplewood Cemetery. She gave me directions to the cemetery which was close by and told me how to find the correct section on the cemetery. I parked my car and spent some quiet moments there. I looked out and tried to picture 700 men standing in the field, leaning on a rifle, sipping water from a canteen, feeling the wind on their faces. I wondered what they would tell me about their lives, their service and their deaths.

There are a few inscriptions with brief details. Those markers memorialize these soldiers:

William Nance, NC, 1819 – 1864
John W Tilley, NC, 1843 – 1863
William H Qualls, NC, 1836 – 1863
Barney Chael, NC, 1820 – 1863
Landon P Carter, VA
Alexander H Beddingfield, NC, 1840 – 1863
James Edmondson, NC, 1863
James William Wood, NC, 1832 – 1863
Matthew W Jackson, NC, 1829 – 1862
Stephen Hicks, NC, 1839 – 1863
Howell Hicks, NC, 1829 – 1862
Elkanah C Litton, NC, 1836 – 1862
Thomas H Lane, NC, 1832 – 1863
Jasper Emory, NC, 1834 – 1863

I have photos of each of these stones. If you find a family member here I will be glad to send you a photo with more details.


Related Post:





Tuesday, December 9, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks; Week 49; Richard Dillon; Cooper & Soldier

This prompt comes from Amy Johnson Crow at her blog, No Story Too Small. I began with my grandparents and am working my way back in time through the generations of my direct ancestors. Now I am writing about my 5x great grandparents.


Richard Dillon
7 October 1745 – 7 October 1833 MS
My 5x Great Grandfather

Richard Dillon was the son of James Theopilous & Mary Dillon. He was born in Norfolk, VA. [1],[2],[3],[4] "As a young child, Richard was taken by his parents … to Bertie County, N.C.”[5]  Richard was a boy in Bertie Co., NC in 1759 when he was apprenticed to Christopher Harrison as a cooper. The apprenticeship was to last until he turned twenty-one.[6] We know he was still in Bertie in May 1777 because he witnessed a will there.[7]

Richard served in North Carolina during the time of the Revolutionary War.[8] He was interviewed for his pension application.

He stated “that he was drafted under Captain John Faulk in Baxter County, North Carolina, marched from thence to Northwest River Bridge in the month of March, next to headquarters and placed under Colonel Bluntin Maginnis, but has no recollection of the names of any of the subaltern officers nor their places of residence, was also commanded by General Gregory Cloissiant himself, resided when drafted Edenton (can't read) Brater County, South Carolina, claimant entered the service in the year 1781 served in one battle under Gregory at the North West River Bridge and served one three months tour under him, received his discharge and returned home.  Afterwards in the summer of 1781 enlisted on Board of Privateer Greyhound commanded by Captain Samuel Butler and remained on Board until he was taken prisoner by Frigate Baloosa bearing 36 guns and commanded by Captain Kennedy a Scotsman, and has no particular recollection of the length of time he was a Prisoner of War but as well as he recollects nine months, and that paroled upon honor, can't recollect of any man living who can prove the services here referred to, has no documentary evidence at all, and herby relinquishes any claim whatsoever to a pension of annuity except the present, and declares that my name is not on the pension roll of any agency in the state.”[9]


There are several evidences of Richard in Bertie Co., NC. In August 1785 Richard & Ann Dillon sold land to Benj. Terlington.[10]  In February 1787 Fredk. James was bound to Richard Dillon as an apprentice to learn the trade of a cooper.[11] In November 1789 Richard & Ann sold land to Andrew Stanton.[12]

“Shortly before the taking of the 1790 census for North Carolina, Dillon and his family migrated southward to Barnwell County (District), SC, where he lived until 3/20/1897. Upon his departure for the west, or Amite Co., Miss., he left of his older sons in South Carolina – sons who possibly joined him in Mississippi at a later date. By 1810 Dillon was a resident of Amite County (listed in the 1810 census for that year). In that same year he obtained a land grant in Marion County in a portion of the county that later became Pike County. This was probably that land that became known as ‘Dillon’s Bridge.’”[13]

The 1816 Census of Pike Co., MS includes Richard Dillon along with his sons, Lawrence & Clarkson.[14]  The census shows him still in the county with sons Lawrence, Clarkston & Willis Dillon nearby.[15] The 1825 Tax List for Pike Co. includes Richard and his sons.[16]


1 Richard Dillon b: 7 Oct 1745 Norfolk, VA, d: 7 Oct 1833 MS
... + Anne Lawrence b: c 1762 Bertie, NC, m: c 1776, d: c 1830 MS

......2 Joanna Dillon b: 22 Aug 1778 Bertie, NC, d: Aft. 30 Apr 1821 Pike, MS
...... + Jeremiah Smith b: 23 Dec 1773 SC, m: 16 Dec 1798 SC, d: 1843 Pike, MS
.........3 Hollander Smith b: 08 Jul 1800 Pike, MS, d: Unknown
......... + Benjamin Morris Jr. b: c 1792 SC, d: c 1870
.........3 Martha P. Smith b: 25 Mar 1802 SC, d: 8 Aug 1861 Pike, MS
......... + Edwin Barksdale Alford b: 25 Nov 1792 NC, m: 20 Dec 1818 Pike, MS, d: 10 Mar 1878 Pike, MS
.........3 Eli Smith b: 21 Jan 1804 SC, d: 2 Aug 1838 Pike, MS
......... + Orpha Roberts
.........3 Jane Smith b: 9 Oct 1805, d: 1846
......... + Thomas Coulter Warner m: 25 Dec 1825
.........3 Edwin Smith b: 3 Jun 1807 Pike, MS, d: Unknown
.........3 Wyatt Smith b: 31 Aug 1809 LA, d: 16 Feb 1894 Pike, MS
......... + Euseba Fortenberry b: 3 Dec 1809 SC, d: 13 Oct 1878 MS
.........3 Eliza Smith b: 14 Feb 1811 Pike, MS, d: 06 Apr 1837
.........3 Calvin Smith b: 22 Sep 1812 Pike, MS, d: 22 Jan 1843 Pike, MS
......... + Sarah Brumfield b: 9 Apr 1824 Washington, LA, m: 1843, d: Unknown
.........3 Lidda Smith b: 06 Apr 1816 Pike, MS, d: Unknown
......... + Harris Harvey
.........3 Mehala Smith b: 15 Jul 1816 Pike, MS, d: Unknown
.........3 Milevey Smith b: 13 Apr 1818 Pike, MS, d: Unknown
......... + Don Harvey
.........3 Joanna Smith b: 05 Oct 1819 Pike, MS, d: Unknown
.........3 Jeremiah Smith b: 30 Apr 1821 Pike, MS, d: 31 May 1894 MS
......... + Pernecia Smith b: 26 Sep 1820, m: 15 Jul 1841, d: 04 Apr 1887
......2 Nancy Ann Dillon b: 26 Oct 1779 Bertie, NC, d: 28 May 1869 Pike, MS
...... + John Stallings d: 23 Sep 1851
.........3 James Stallings b: 21 May 1814, d: 23 Jun 1896
......2 Lawrence Dillon b: 21 Jun 1783 Bertie, NC, d: Unknown
...... + Martha Jackson
......2 Clarkston Dillon b: c 1785 Bertie, NC, d: Unknown
...... + Sarah Dillon b: SC
.........3 Richard Dillon b: c 1820 MS
.........3 James T. Dillon b: c 1823 MS
.........3 Adaline Dillon b: c 1829 MS
.........3 Mary Dillon b: Abt. 1831 MS
......2 Willis D. Dillon b: 31 Dec 1787 Bertie, NC, d: Unknown
...... + Mary Dillon b: 1783 SC
......2 Mary Dillon Morris b: 1793 NC, d: 4 Jul 1876 Hinds, MS
...... + Salathial Morris
......2 Theophilous Dillon b: 26 May 1796 NC, d: c. 1879 Washington, LA
...... + Peggy Pearson b: 1808, d: 05 Sep 1857
......2 Clara Dillon b: 1799 NC, d: Unknown
...... + George Smith Sr. b: 1775 SC, d: 1833
.........3 William Dorten Smith b: 14 Jan 1818 Pike, MS, d: 16 Nov 1906
......... + Lucreta Dykes b: 10 May 1825 LA, d: 14 Nov 1896 MS
......... + Lucretta Dykes
.........3 Nancy L. Smith b: 27 Mar 1830 Pike, MS, d: 22 Jun 1891 MS
......... + Densmore Winston Smith b: 21 Aug 1830 MS, d: 15 Jan 1894 MS
......2 Sarah Dillon b: 04 Feb 1804 SC, d: 12 Jun 1834
...... + Daniel Graves m: 18 Nov 1819


[1] Pedigree Chart for Roy Brown; 1700's to 1948; Compiled by Zelda Marie Alford Fortenberry.
[2] Conerly,  Luke Ward, Source Records from Pike County, Mississippi; 1798-1910; 1798-1910; South Carolina, Southern Historical Press, 1989.
[3] Creel, Bevin J. A Patriot's Legacy: The Family of Richard Dillon and Ann Lawrence From Bertie County, North Carolina To Southern Mississippi and Louisiana. Franklinton, Louisiana: Privately Printed, 2002.
[4] Pension Application for Richard Dillon, #2959; State of Mississippi, Pike County; Copy from National Archives Record Group #15A, R. 2959.
[5] Conerly,  Luke Ward, Source Records from Pike County, Mississippi; 1798-1910; 1798-1910; South Carolina, Southern Historical Press, 1989. Notes: Information on Alfords, Brumfields, Elzey and more. Pages 117-119. 
[6] Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1740 thru 1743; 1758 thru 1762. Book II. North Carolina: 1977. From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, NC.
[7] Almasy, Sandra L. Bertie County, North Carolina Wills 1761 - 1780. Joliet, Illinois: Kensington Glen Publishing, 1990, page 124. From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, North Carolina.
[8] Daughters of American Revolution; Richard Dillon; Ancestor #: A036157.
[9] Pension Application for Richard Dillon, #2959; State of Mississippi, Pike County; Copy from National Archives Record Group #15A, R. 2959.
[10] Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1781 thru 1787. Book V, Durham, North Carolina: 1982, page 81.  From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, NC.
[11] Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1781 thru 1787. Book V, Durham, North Carolina: 1982, page 126.  From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, NC.
[12] Haun, Weynette Parks. Bertie County North Carolina County Court Minutes 1788 thru 1792. Book VI, Durham, North Carolina, page 46.  From the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, NC.
[13] Conerly, Luke Ward, Source Records from Pike County, Mississippi; 1798-1910; 1798-1910; South Carolina, Southern Historical Press, 1989.
[14] Conerly, Luke Ward, Source Records from Pike County, Mississippi; 1798-1910; 1798-1910; South Carolina, Southern Historical Press, 1989.
[15] 1820 US census, MS, Pike, NARA Roll M33-58, page 110; ancenstry.com. Richd. Dillon family.
[16] Conerly, Luke Ward, Source Records from Pike County, Mississippi; 1798-1910; 1798-1910; South Carolina, Southern Historical Press, 1989.