HENRY D. RITTER was born August 6, 1819, son of Michael and Barbara E. (Schafer) Ritter. The former was born in 1795, being of German ancestry. By occupation he was a stone mason, and in 1812 he went to the German and French war and served as a soldier for nineteen or twenty years, and was an officer at the time of his death, at the age of fifty-one years. He was the son of Reinhart Ritter, who were natives of the same place. They were farmers. Subject's mother was born in Germany in 1796, and died when about sixty-five. Her parents lived to be very old people.
Henry was one of seven children, two of whom are living, and he is the eldest. He remained at home until he was twenty-five years old and worked as a clerk. He sailed in the Mentor for America from Bremen, Prussia, and arrived in New York after a voyage of six weeks. Here he remained for eighteen months, engaged in painting and the manufacture of parasols and umbrellas. From there he went to Virginia and followed the business of painting houses for three years, when he married and came to Ohio, settling in Fayette county, where he bought a house and four acres of land, and there lived until 1854, when he sold and came to Illinois in the fall, settling where he now lives. Here he bought 120 acres of land, which he improved, and in the same winter he added eighty acres to the farm. There was a log house on the land in which they lived until 1861, when he built his present house. He later bought 120 acres, and then eighty acres more, making in all 400 acres. He rents almost all of his land, and has practically retired from active business. Mr. Ritter has always been a Democrat, and has filled nearly every office in the county. He was School Trustee and Assessor for twenty years, Justice of the Peace for twelve years, Constable and Coroner four years, Sheriff two years, Commissioner two years, Supervisor eight years, and was chairman of the Board of Supervisors for a time, and he is considered one of the most prominent men in the county.
He was married April 24, 1848, by Rev. William N. Scott, near Petersburg, Hardy County, Virginia, to Miss Lucinda E. Hall, born in Virginia on the south side of Blue Ridge mountains, April 13, 1823. She was a daughter of James and Judy (Taylor) Hall. James Hall was a native of Virginia, and followed farming. When Mrs. Ritter was three years old the family moved to Rockingham county, Virginia, where they lived several years and then moved to Hardy county, and bought a farm, on which he erected a log house, where he lived a year or two, and then built a new and better hewn-log house in another neighborhood, about a mile from the first one. Here he spent the remainder of his life, dying at the advanced age of one hundred and two years, on his birthday. He was the father of eighteen children, seven boys by his first wife and eleven children by the second one, Judy Taylor. Seven of the latter are still living. One of the sons, Henry, by the latter marriage, was starved to death in one of the prisons of Richmond, Virginia, during the war of the Rebellion. Mrs. Judy Hall was a native of Virginia, and a daughter of George Taylor. She died in Hardy county, aged seventy years. Mrs. Ritter and her brother went to school in the old subscription schools where the parents paid according to the number of children sent; and Mr. Hall had so many children he could not afford to send more than two or three at a time. Mrs. Ritter remembers her first teacher, a Mr. Nick Hawk, who managed to keep school the entire year in a log house with benches of slabs, without backs. Their slates and pencils were pieces of soapstone and slate that they could find in the neighborhood of the school.
Mr. and Mrs. Ritter have had eleven children, nine yet living: Mary E., married Calvin Hill; Judy V. married Henry C. Hill, seven children, six yet living; Justina C. married Calvin S. Hill, eight living children; Calvin Z. married Viola Weatherby; George W. married Sylvina Weatherby, one child; Douglas J., at home with his father at work on the farm; Elisa Jane, married William H. McDaniel, five children; James H. S. married Mattie Shelton, four children; Franklin W. living at home; Martha O. and Martha Ann died when small.
Mr. Ritter is a member of A. F. & A. M. Lodge, No.108, at Versailles, and the Meredosia Chapter and Council, No. 56, and also of I. O. O. F., Irene Lodge, No. 72. of Versailles, and Encampment of I. O. O. F.
He follows general mixed farming and is a well educated man, being educated in Germany.
Biographical Review of Cass, Schuyler and Brown Counties, Illinois, Biographical Review Publishing Co., Chicago, 1892, pages 250-251.
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