II. Details Regarding the Kosciusko Ritter Settlers.

David Ritter.

The first (so far found) documented evidence of a Ritter in Kosciusko County occurs on 28 Nov 1842 when David Ritter married Nancy Mock (Kosciusko Marriage Book 1, page 160). His 1850 census record would indicate that David was born in Pennsylvania in 1821-1822 (his age was 28). His tombstone gives his year of birth as 1821, but the Civil War Pension Application for his son John quotes a birth date of 12 Mar 1819. Neither David nor his wife Nancy could read or write according to census records, so the ages and birth years may be approximate.

Nancy Mock was apparently the daughter of Michael Mock, who in turn was a son of George, one of two Mock brothers who settled in Lawrence Township in Tuscarawas Co., OH in the early 1800's. A Michael Mock bought land in Kosciusko in Dec 1834 and in 1848 Michael Mock patented the east half of the SW quarter of section 8 in Tippecanoe Township. Assuming that the 1834 purchaser was the same Michael Mock (and not his uncle of the same name), then he was a fairly earlier settler of the area. However he is not listed in the 1840 Kosciusko census and may have delayed his actual migration to Kosciusko. David Ritter eventually became the owner of at least part of Michael Mock's land, which is located on the north shore of Tippecanoe Lake. It can be assumed that he or Nancy came into possession of the land when Michael died, although there is no will listed in the Kosciusko County probate records. Quite a bit of detail about the David Ritter family is provided in the pension applications that Nancy made on behalf of the son John, who died in the Civil War. At the time of the application in the 1880's, we learn that David had been paralyzed for many years, leaving Nancy to try to care for the farm by herself. The pension application also noted that David was of "little aid to family" even before he was paralyzed "on account of his excessive intemperance." Among those providing affidavits were three son-in-laws of Nancy and David: David Lewallen, Cornelius Willard and William Gerard, although none were identified as such. Haman Ritter, the son of Elias Ritter jr., also provided an affidavit.

David Ritter

Isaac Ritter.

Three years after David Ritter married Nancy Mock, Isaac Ritter married Nancy's sister Elizabeth Mock in Kosciusko County. Like David, Isaac was born in PA, and a likely possibility is that he was an older brother of David. The fact that two young Ritter men married in Kosciusko so close together might suggest that a Ritter family had moved into the area. However, both David and Isaac appear to have spent their lives on the land of their father-in-law Michael Mock, so we have no evidence from land records for the source of their natal families. Nor are there any census records of a likely Ritter natal family. I have had less communication with descendants of Isaac and Elizabeth and so far know far less about this family than about David and Nancy's family. The only information I have comes from Kosciusko and Marshall County records, and information about descendants who left the area is missing.

Catherine Ritter Hamman and Peter Hamman.

Peter Hamman's biographical sketch was written after his wife Catherine had died. Fortunately it states that she was from Stark County, Ohio when they married in Tuscarawas County in 1837, thus saving us from making needless speculations about how she might connect to the Tuscarawas County Ritters. The sketch also states that she was born in PA and this birthplace is confirmed by the census records. The 1850 through 1870 census records indicate that Catherine was born 1816-1817, but her tombstone gives a birth date of 30 Nov 1813.

The biographical sketch states that Peter came to Kosciusko County in the fall of 1842, settling in Washington Township (which is adjacent to Tippecanoe Township). This is about the same time that David Ritter married Nancy Mock. Peter soon moved to Tippecanoe Township, but by 1850 he had moved to Turkey Creek, where he eventually became a "Tunker" preacher. Peter's father Jacob Hamman did not come to Kosciusko until about 1848. Jacob Hamman's second wife (Peter Hamman's stepmother) was Elizabeth Mock, a first cousin of the above-mentioned Michael Mock. Thus the earliest Ritters in Kosciusko all had a Mock connection. At least some of the Mocks were also described as "Dunkards" in the history of Tuscarawas County, Ohio (1884).

Peter Hamman's oldest daughter Maria/Mariah later married Abraham Ritter, who had been her neighbor in Lawrence Township in Tuscarawas. But since Mariah had been only four when her father moved the family to Kosciusko, it is unlikely that Mariah and Abraham had been childhood sweethearts. Peter Hamman's son Abraham Hamman later married Rachel Ritter, a niece of Abraham (dau of Elijah Ritter). Peter's youngest son David joined my grandfather (his nephew) in a move to Wisconsin a few years after both Peter Hamman and Abraham Ritter had died, and the children of "Uncle Dave" grew up across the fields from where my father was raised. There were three or four other Ritter-Hamman marriages in Tuscarawas and Kosciusko, so for several generations there were strong associations between the Tuscarawas Ritters and Hammans.

Catherine Ritter Hamman

John Ritter.

John Ritter came to Tippecanoe Township by 1848, when he bought land through the Federal Land Office. Unlike the first three Ritters to arrive in Kosciusko, John's family can be established with relative certainty. He is one of two children under 5 in the household of John Ritter (senior) of Sandy Township, Tuscarawas County in the 1820 census. The History of Tuscarawas County notes that John Ritter senior was an early blacksmith who sold iron ladles to his neighbors. He purchased section 14 in Sandy in 1815 and had come from PA with three children, although we have no conclusive evidence of where the family had lived in PA before coming to Ohio. Three more children, including John junior, were born in OH. By 1830, John senior had died and John junior is apparently the 10-15 year old in the household of Barbara Ritter in Sandy. According to some descendants, Barbara's maiden name was Burget. John junior married Elizabeth "Hamon" in Tuscarawas in 1839 (in later records in Kosciusko her name is spelled "Hamman"). By 1840 John junior was living in Lawrence Township in Tuscarawas next to his older brother George (my ancestor). George had sold his interest in the Sandy land to the 2nd brother Abraham in 1829 and moved to Lawrence Township (where the Hammans and Mocks lived). Barbara and Abraham sold the Sandy land in 1832 and Abraham then bought land in Carroll County. The two youngest brothers, John and Jacob, are not mentioned in the Tuscarawas land records and may have shared land that was in George's name. Thus it seems likely that they had gone to join George in Lawrence by 1832 when the Sandy Township land was sold. Jacob Ritter married Sarah Hamman and a reasonable possibility would be that both Sarah and Elizabeth were sisters of Peter Hamman. The 1820 census shows that Jacob Hamman had at least four daughters with his first wife Mary Himes, none of whom have been identified with absolute certainty; but at least two were the right ages to have been Sarah and Elizabeth.

Elias Ritter Families.

There were two Elias Ritters, a father and a son. An Elias Ritter in a war of 1812 militia from Jenner township in Somerset County, Pennsyvania, was probably Elias Ritter senior. He was enumerated in the 1820 census in Jenner township and came to Stark County, OH between 1820 and 1830. He settled first in Sugar Creek Township (1830 census) and then in Bethlehem Township (by 1840). We know that Elias Ritter senior of southern Stark County must have been acquainted with the Hammans and Himes families of northern Tuscarawas County. Elias Ritter purchased goods at the estate sale of Peter Himes in 1830. Peter Himes was probably the father of Jacob Hamman's first wife Mary Himes (the mother of Peter Hamman and possible mother of Elizabeth Hamman and Sarah Hamman, who married John Ritter junior and Jacob Ritter respectively). Jacob Hamman shared a section of land with Peter Himes, provided security for his probate, and also bought goods at Peter Himes' estate sale. Thus Jacob Hamman would have come into contact with Elias Ritter at least at the estate sale, if not more frequently.

It seems unlikely that Elias Ritter senior ever moved to Kosciusko, although a Kuhn family history (A Kuhn Hunter's Guide, 1991) states that Elias Ritter senior is buried with his wife Christena in the North Webster Cemetery. However the Cemetery readings by Lester Binnie and the DAR only show her grave. The Kuhn family history only mentions the Elias Ritter family in passing (Elias' junior's son John B. married Susanna Blitz, who was a daughter of Polly Kuhn), so is proabably not authoritative. I have never found a census record for Elias Ritter senior or Christena in 1850, and Elias Ritter junior was still in Stark County, OH in that year. Three older Ritter children (Susan, Lovina and Sarah) are listed in the household of a William Ritter in Bethlehem Township, Stark Co. in 1850, and one possibility is that Elias senior had already died and his family scattered (with his widow missing from the census). The 1820-1840 census records for Elias senior show a large number of children, but only two are known with certainty: Elias junior and Caroline. It is still undetermined what happened to all of the other children, although the William, Susan, Lovina and Sarah mentioned above are very likely Elias senior's children. Unfortunately William died in 1853 and I do not know what happened to his widow. The Josiah Ritter buried next to Christena Grindle Ritter in the North Webster Cemetery is apparently William's son Josiah, who was age 2 in the 1850 Stark County census.

Census records of the children's birthplaces suggest that Elias junior moved to IN between 1852 and 1855. Elias Ritter had married Anna Rider in Stark in 1844 and had at least four children before moving to Kosciusko. Caroline Ritter married John Baker in Kosciusko in 1858, and in the 1860 census Christena was listed as living with Caroline and John. The Lovina Ritter who was in William Ritter's household in 1850 married Peter Stametz in Stark in 1854, but their daughter Nancy was born in IN in ca. 1855-1856, indicating that Lovina, at least, must have made the move soon after she was married. The application for a later marriage by Caroline Ritter Baker (to Daniel Stiffler) confirms that her parents were named Christena Grindle and Elias Ritter. The 1880 censuses also confirm that Elias senior was born in PA, or at least believed to have been by his children.

Another possible child of Elias Ritter senior and Christina Grindle is Rebecca Ritter who married Jacob Peterson in 1848 in Stark County, Ohio. They moved to Kosciusko after their marriage and before their first child Sarah was born. Sarah was born in Indiana three months before the 1850 census when the family was ennumerated in Van Buren Township. Sadly, Jacob died while in the Union Army, and Rebecca also died quite young (probably in 1875).

George Ritter Families.

George Ritter and his wife Catherine Shaffer were still in Lawrence Township, Tuscarawas County, Ohio in 1850, where he was listed as a "Dunkard Preacher" in the census. According to a history of Lake County, Indiana, George and his brother Abraham moved to that county in 1851, and land records confirm that George Ritter bought land in southern Lake County on 21 Jan 1851. In addition to George and Abraham, the youngest brother Jacob, and the oldest sister Sarah and husband Jacob Baughman, also made the move to Lake Co. Jacob Baughman's brother Samuel also joined the migration. Abraham Ritter and Samuel Baughman moved from Ashland County, OH; Jacob Baughman lived briefly in Porter County, IN; and George and Jacob Ritter came directly from Tuscarawas (although all five families had originated in Tuscarawas). They were accompanied by or later joined by at least five families of married children, including George's oldest daughter Louisa, who had married Adam Mock back in Lawrence Township in 1850. The Lake County history notes that George died within a few years, and by the time of the history (1884) none of his children were living there. The family story was that George caught a contagious disease while visiting an ill member of his congregation and died soon after. A letter of administration in possession of descendants suggests he died (intestate) in September of 1855, and Abraham Ritter put up a bond and was named executor of George's estate. Within a few years, seven of George's nine children settled in Kosciusko County, although the other four families of Tuscarawas Ritters and Baughmans remained in Lake, where many are buried in the West Creek Cemetery. The other two children of George were daughters who married in Lake and then went with their husbands to Iowa and Kansas.

George's son Elijah married Charlotte Denman in Whitley County in 1853, and may have been the first to leave Lake County. Whitley is adjacent to Kosciusko, but it is unknown when Elijah moved to Kosciusko. My great-grandfather Abraham married Peter Hamman's oldest daughter in Kosciusko in 1858 and either he or Elijah were likely the first of George Ritter's children to settle in Kosciusko. In the 1860 census Abraham was enumerated next to Peter Hamman in Turkey Creek Township, while Elijah was in Tippecanoe. A John A. Ritter and wife Sarah in Tippecanoe in that census in probably George's son John S. Ritter, who had married Sarah Jane Taylor in Lake Co. in 1852. The oldest son, Henry Ritter, was still in Lake Co. in 1860, as was the oldest daughter Louisa Ritter Mock. The sister Martha Ritter married Ezekiel D. French in Kosciusko in 1860. Another sister Delilah married William D. Wood in 1863. By 1863, Adam Mock had died in Mississippi in the Union Army and Louisa made her widow's pension application from Plain Township, Kosciusko County, where her brothers Abraham and John were witnesses to her affidavit. William Wood's biographical sketch refers to his wife as "of this county" suggesting that Delilah must have come to Kosciusko before 1863, when they married. In contrast, Ezekiel French's sketch refers to his wife as being "of Lake County" when they married in 1860. It is not certain when Henry came, but by the 1870 census Abraham, Elijah and Henry "Writter" were all listed in Plain Township. John had gone to Minnesota to homestead by then, but he returned in the 1880's shortly before he died. He must have kept in contact with his siblings, since after his wife died in Minnesota in the 1870's, his two youngest daughters came to live with their childless aunts Martha French and Louisa Richcreek in Plain Township, and his son Erwin came to live with his uncle Abraham Ritter in Plain. Louisa Ritter Mock had remarried in 1868 to James Richcreek. By 1900, most of George's Kosciusko descendants had moved to California or Wisconsin. Abraham Ritter's old log cabin was still standing on the shore of Little Lake Chapman in 1998, although it is in disrepair and since the site is for sale, may have been replaced by now. The lakeshore land where Elijah and Abraham Ritter once farmed is now a resort area covered with expensive summer homes, docks and satellite dishes ( PICTURES ).

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Copyright 2000, updated 2007, Philip Ritter, philr@stanford.edu