Morton L. (Morton Luther) Montgomery.

Historical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. online

. (page 187 of 227)
Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 187 of 227)
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obliged to leave his native land for some offense against
the pope, for which he was to be beheaded. All his
property was confiscated by the government. There was
an Indian camp in Berks county near the Schwartz-
wald church, and there he lived with the Indians. It
was said he married an Indian woman. At any rate,
the story goes that a woman who was with the Indians
was exchanged for another woman, and married a Rit-
ter. He and his wife were buried in a fence corner
on what is now the Charles Breneiser farm in Exeter,
formerly owned by the late Benjamin Ritter, who was
a son of Daniel Ritter.

At the rooms of the Berks County Historical Society
may be found the early tax receipts of the county, from
1754, in which year George Ritter paid £18, 4s., 6d., and
Ferdinand Ritter, £36, 9s., tax in Exeter; there are no
tax receipts for Ritters in that year from Oley.

(II) George Ritter, son of Ferdinand, was the next
in line of descent to Jacob R. Ritter, whose line on the
paternal side seems to come through (III) George, (IV)
Isaac and (V) David Ritter, his father. On the mater-
nal side his line fromi (II) Georgfe is through (III)
Francis, (IV) Jacob and (V) Susan Ritter. It is known
that his paternal and maternal grandfathers were first
cousins. (Ill) Francis Ritter and his descendants are
fully mentioned in the early part of this record.

(III) George Ritter, son of (II) George and grand-
son of (I) Ferdinand, was the great-grandfather of Mr.
Jacob R. Ritter. He was a farmer, lived a little more
than a mile below Schwartzwald church, and died in
Exeter when over ninety years of age. Among his chil-
dren were Christian and Isaac. This George Ritter was a
Revolutionary soldier, and his grandson, David Ritter (fa-
ther of Jacob R.) had the bayonet he used while in
the service.

(IV) Christian Ritter. who died in Reading in'l874, in
the ninty-sixth year of his age, was born in Oley town-
ship, Berks county, in 1779, a son of George Ritter.
Christian Ritter passed his early years on his father's farm.
One of the events of his boyhood was the visit of Pres-
ident Washington to Reading on his way to Carlisle dur-
ing the Whiskev Insurrection. In his own words he
told the story: "Early in the morning of Oct. 2, 1794, when
I was fourteen years old, I left Exeter for Reading with
a number of residents of Exeter and Oley, all on horse-
back, having heard that President Washington was in
town. We dismounted at the corner of Callowhill and
Thomas (now Fifth and Washington), where the Pres-
ident was stopping at a hotel while on the way to Car-



lisle. When he departed we followed on horseback across
the Schuylkill, and then we went along the King,'s high-
way and made the first stop at the house of Dr. Peter
Palm, at Sinking Spring, at 9 :30 in the morning. The
Doctor invited the entire party into his house and re-
freshed them with red-eye, and he gave a toast to the
President, who occupied a settee, which is still in the
Palm family. At 10 o'clock the President and his escort
pursued their way to Binckley's Inn, a few miles, west.
At 10 :30 they galloped on their steeds to what is now
known as Womelsdorf, reaching there at noon, and all
took dinner at Stouch's Inn. At 2 o'clock the Presi-
dent and his party left for Stitestown, now Lebanon,
while the Reading, Exeter and Oley people returned to
their homes."

At the age of twenty-two Christian Ritter left home
and learned the miller's trade, subsequently being em-
ployed in four different mills. After his marriage he
came to Reading, and began distilling oils from the flow-
er and vegetable kingdom, ether, wine, sweet spirits of
nitre, horse powder, etc. His knowledge of chemistry
he had gathered from books alone. He manufactured
a blood purifier which he sold in many counties of
the State, many doctors buying his medicines. He was
but a boy when the first newspaper was started in Read-
ing, the Reading Zeitung, by Johnson, Barton & Young-
man, Mr. Youngman having been a teacher of Mr. Rit-
ter in Exeter township. Mr. Ritter married Elizabeth
Getz, and they lived many years at No. 36 South Third
street. After her death he made his home with Charles
H. Palm, at No. 38 North Third street, and there he
died in his ninety-sixth year. In politics he was a stanch
Democrat, and in religion a Universalist. In 1799, he
came into possession of an old powder-horn bearing
the date "1734," which had belonged to one of the first
Ritters to come to America.

(IV) Isaac Ritter, son of George and brother of Chris-
tian, was the grandfather of Jacob R. Ritter, of Read-
ing. He died on his farm in Exeter in 1852, aged sixty-
eight years. The old house in which he lived, and which
stood on what is now the Samuel and Adam Kutz estate, in
Exeter, was razed by his son John in 1863, and before
its destruction his grandson, Jacob R. Ritter, took the
dimensions herewith given. It was a two-story struc-
ture, 30 by 50 feet, as it then stood. The first part built
was of logs, 30 by 30 feet, and the addition, which was of
stone, was built eighty or ninety years ago (1909). The
fire-place in the log part was 16 by 4 feet in clear. It
commenced in the basement, and the walls were 3 feet
thick at each end, and the back narrowed to 18 inches
in the second story, after which it tapered off up to the
roof, projecting 3 feet above the roof, about 3 1-3 feet
square. John Ritter said he hauled away over a hun-
dred loads of stone. In front of the house was a good
spring and a large pond, and, to one side, what is now
the Jacob R. Ritter meadow. The spring has long been
known as the Trout Spring from the numerous trout
found there. At that day there were three times as many
trout as at present, thanks to the care Isaac Ritter took
to oreservethem. He did not allow fishing unless some-
body was sick in the neighborhood, or as far as Reading,
when he would fetch trout for the sick without a cent
of oay. The fish were not sold. He tended to them him-
self. Whole bucketfuls of buttermilk, after the cream
was taken off, were thrown into the spring to feed them.
He did not care to get as rich as some of his Ritter
cousins..

When he was a younger man he had an apple-jack
distillery, which was razed about seventy years ago, and
the foundations of which are still to be seen near the
site of the old house. Some of his apple-jack was haul-
ed to Pittsburg. He also made his own wine. He was
also a great lover of bees. He went to the woods and
caught them in the straw beehives which he made him-
self. He had sometimes as many as twenty-five or
thirtv. Sometimes he raised them in the fall. When
Jacob R. Ritter was a bov Isaac Ritter called all his chil-
dren and grandchildren home to kill as many as ten or



BIOGRAPHICAL



659



twelve hives of bees, which were destroyed in the fqllow-
ing manner : A hole was made in the ground about six
inches deep, sulphur was pulverized, made hot and smear-
ed on small racks, which were laid in the hole; the sul-
phur was set on fire and the beehives set over it. In a
half hour the bees were all dead. The house was full
of peopld on this occasion, and they called it the bee
thrashing or bee slaughter. A big long table was set
with plenty on it, and each went home with his share of
honey.

The old Isaac Ritter barn, with its straw roof, also
razed in 1862, is another structure well remembered by
Jacob R. Ritter, who drove the horses to thrash wheat
there when he was ten years old. Isaac Ritter was an
old-line Whig in politics, in which he took much inter-
est, being a man particularly well informed on histor-
ical matters. He had a number of great histories df
the old countries. His wife was a born "EngllsHwoman,
by name Deter. Eight of his children lived to a ripe
age. His family was as follows : David, John, Joseph,
Jesty (rtt John Boyer), Harriet (m. William Boyer,
brother of her sister's husband), Elizabeth (m. Daniel
Hechler), Hannah (m. Moses Herbine), Apigalia (m.
David Masser) and Mary (m. Daniel Nine).

(V) David Ritter, eldest child of Isaac, born in 1809,
was killed in a runaway accident near the Black Bear
May 8, 1847. He was a man of mechanical ability and
thorough training, learned the millwright's trade, and
built mills and thrashing machines. He got up the first
corn-shelling device used in this section, and which help-
ed to . do away with the old method — laying a spade
on a trestle and sitting on it and peeling the corn off.
One of his corn-shelling contrivances is still preserved
by Amos Rife, of Exeter, below the "Black Bear Inn," for
a relic. Mr. Rife recently retired and sold his farm stock,
but he kept the corn-sheller. It could be operated by power
or hand, shelling two hundred bushels in a day by
power, fifty or sijtty by hand. David Ritter also built
horse-powers for thrashing-machines. It was claimed that
six horses equaled an eight-horse-power engine, but the
power was not so steady. i

David Ritter married Susan Ritter, his second cousin,
who was a daughter of Jacob Ritter, who was first cousin
to David Ritter's father, Isaac. Thus Mrs. David Ritter
was a niece of John Ritter. ' "the learned printer," who is
fully mentioned above. Nine of Jacob Ritter's children
lived to a ripe age: Francis, Israel, Amos, Jacob, Charles,
Susan (m. David Ritter) ; Mary (m. Jacob Schmucker) ;
Eliza (m. Benneville Klever) ; and Henriette (m. Jacob
Phillips.)

Mr. and Mrs. David Ritter had seven children : Jacob
R., now of Reading, is mentioned below; Annie R. mar-
ried William Drumheller, and lives at No. 1509 Lehigh
avenue, Philadelphia ; Elizabeth R. married Amos Esterly,
and is deceased ; Isaac R., a cabinet-maker, is now living at
No. 831 North Twentieth street, Philadelphia; Amelia R.
married Philip East, now of No. 223 Monroe street,
Brooklyn, N. Y. ; Mary R. is the widow of Obediah
Becker, and is living with her son-in-law, Howard Gregg,
at No. 819 West Cambria street, Philadelphia; David R.
enlisted for five years in the regular army in 1862, when
sixteen years old, and was last heard from in 1865, from
Lookout Mountain, Tennessee.

Mrs. Susan Ritter and one of her sisters, Jacob _R.
Ritter and one of his sisters, had coal black hair, which
fact was accounted for by the tradition of their emigrant
ancestor's marriage to an Indian woman, and Jacob R.
Ritter was called an Indian during his childhood. How-
ever, five of his brothers and sisters, and his other Ritter
uncles and aunts, had dark brown hair.

(VI) Jacob R. Ritter, one of the best-known cabmet-
makers in Berks county, was born at 8 a. m., Jan. 25,
1835, on the Breneiser farm in Exeter township, son of
David Ritter. His father dying when he was in his
thirteenth year, he lived with his uncle, John Ritter, his
father's brother, until he was sixteen and a half years old.
One Sunday his uncle, Jacob Schmucker (husband of his
mother's sister), came to visit them in Oley, and he sug-



gested to John Ritter tliat the boy ought to learn a trade,
as his father had been such an excellent mechanic. The
time being agreed upon, Mr. Schmucker secured him' a
place and bound him out for four years to Fred Hennin-
ger, of Reading, a first-class cabinet-maker. Thus it was
that he came to Reading when sixteen years old. The
first year he received his board and $35, the second his
board and $30, the third his board and $35, and the fourth
his board and $40. Upon the close of his apprenticeship
he worked as a journeyman six months, when he and
Charles Henninger bought out Charles Hahn, engaging in
business at No. 717 Penn street, in a two-story frame
structure which had been built by Hahn and formerly
rented to the Hantsches for their cigar manufacturing
business. The Hantsch brothers bought a property on Penn
street, between Sixth and Seventh, and then Mr. Ritfer
and Mr. Henninger rented from Hahn, who owned sixty
feet in Penn street, above Seventh (the Hawley estate
now owns No. 717 Penn street, 20x370). The latter's
father, a chairmaker, made chairs there for rnany years,
thirty or forty years, selling them on credit — for six
months, nine months, twelve months, or eighteen months,
as shown by his old books, which Mr. Ritter has seen.
The time was always written in the book, because at that
time it was the law in the State that anybody that did not
pay his debts had to go to jail. When Charles Hahn's
parents both died he owned considerable property. From
1856 to 1858 Mr. Ritter and Mr. Henninger continued in
partnership in the furniture and undertaking business at
No. 717, in 1858 dividing their interests, Mr. Ritter taking
all the furniture business and Mr. Henninger all the
undertaking. Then Mr. Ritter bought the property from
Hahn, 20 feet (No. 717) fronting on Penn street, 370
feet deep to Court street, enlarged the building in the rear
and built a brick shop fronting on Court street. In 1861
Mr. Ritter bought from Hahn 20 feet more. No. 719, and
erected the present four-story building with two store
rooms, renting one for a cigar store, and in the other con-
tinuing to carry on his cabinet business. The upper stories
were occupied with his furniture. In 1865 he built a cab-
inet-maker's planing-mill on the 40 feet in Court street,
spending $6,000 to put the machinery in. He ran it with
thirty men, whose wages were from $1.75 to $3 a day,
piece workers making from $2 to $4 a day. Ten of the
men were first-class cabinet-makers. On Penn street Mr.
Ritter had a furniture and carpet store, started in 1860,
and when he built for J. L. Moyer the four-story house
at No. 721 Penn street, he rented the upper floors for his
furniture and carpet stock. In 1868 he tore down the
frame building at No. 717 and erected a four-story
brick building there, and he then occupied all of No.
717 and the upper stories of Nos. 719-721. He also
constructed two hydraulic elevators of his own invention
and made other improvements to his' property. In 1870
he sold to Regar & Becker, grocers, the property at
No. 719 Penn, 20 feet by 150, back to the planing-mill,
and later the property at No. 717 to Sohl, Seidel & Co.,
dealers in furniture. He himself left the furniture bus-
iness in 1875. and for some time devoted his time to put-
ting into large stores and hotels hydraulic elevators.
He was also a builder of houses, built and owned half of
the Farmers' Market-house, 40 feet front, and half of
the Union House, 60 feet front, thus having a half interest
in 100 feet on Penn street, between Eighth and Ninth
streets.

About 1875 Mr. Ritter retired from the cabinet-making
business, since then devoting himself to job work. At
the time of the panic of 1873 in real estate and business,
when so many banks broke, his investments amounted to
$80,000, and he lost considerable.

Mr. Ritter has made his own casket, a remarkable piece
of work. The material is Canada oak, and it is 6 feet,
6 inches long, 26 inches wide, and 13 inches deep. On the
lid is a swinging mirror, enabling a person to see the
remains without going near the casket. Mr. Ritter has
a bronze medal awarded him at the United States Cen-
tennial Exposition in 1876, for a hydraulic hoisting ap-
paratus which he had on exhibition.



^60



HISTORY OF BERKS COUNTY, PENNSYLVANIA



Mr. Ritter is the vice-president of the Ritter Family
Reunion, in which he is very much interested. He is the
present owner of the powder-horn formerly belonging to
Christian Ritter (mentioned above), and which is now
inclosed in a box frame, and hung in the rooms of the
Berks County Historical Society. This came into the
possession of Christian Ritter in 1799, and he gave it to
Milton S. Palm, who on June 9, 1906, presented it to
Jacob R. Ritter. Mr. Ritter was a member of the com-
mittee on arrangements for the Ritter Family Reunion.
He is an interested member of the Berks County His-
torical Society, which is located at No, 519 Court street,
Reading. His memorandum books, which he has kept for
many years, contain not only many interesting items
concerning his own life, but also much of value and
interest about other persons, with whom he has come
in contact during his long and busy life. He has a yearly
pass admitting him to the press-room or building of the
Reading Eagle.

The historic. Ritter burial-ground, near the Schwartz-
wald church, in Exeter, owes its present excellent con-
dition principally to Mr. Ritter's efforts. Three years
ago, at one of the Ritter reunions, at Allentown, Mr.
Ritter made the claim that the first R itter s came to
Berks county, and in the course of conversation about
family matters and the pleasantries usually exchanged on
such occasions, one man present bantered him about
the condition of the old graveyard in Exet er, saying the
Ritters ought to be ashamed to have sucETa burial-ground
in Berks county. This aroused Mr. Ritter's interest to
such an extent that he went there in the spring and
had a photograph taken; it shows him standing between
the gravestones of his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Isaac
Ritter. He appointed George W. Billman treasurer, paid
him $10, and then went around among his relatives with
the photograph, soliciting subscriptions for the fixing up
and future care of the old cemetery, where the pioneers
of the Ritter family in Berks county are buried. Soon
he had $70 promised, ^nd before long the amount was
raised to $192, subscribed by forty-two people, every dol-
lar of which was paid to the treasurer. Samuel and
Adam Kutz, who now own the estate on which the cem-
etery is located, sent a check for $10, when the work was
commenced on it. John Kutz, of Reading, is the man-
ager of the estate. Mr. Ritter's aunt, Abigail Masser, in
1889 willed a fund of $50, to be invested at 5 per cent
interest, for the purpose of caring for and keeping in
repair the wall around this burial-ground, and through
Mr. Ritter's efforts this was turned over to Mr. Billman.

The old graveyard belonged to Mr. Ritter's ancestors gn
both sides, and is located a half mile below the Schwartz-
wald church, being on the line of the Boyertown Traction
Company, and two squares from Ritter's crossing, on that
line and Ritter's Crossing road. It is located seventy-five
feet back from the car line, and the road to the entrance
through the farm is recorded with a deed made to three
trustees — ^Daniel Ritter (son of Francis), Joseph Ritter
(brother of David), and William Boyer (husband of David
Ritter's sister) — or their successors forever (one dollar paid
in hand) by Elizabeth, wife of Jacob Ritter (Mr. Ritter's
maternal grandfather), and her sister, wife of Daniel Rit-
ter (both born Snyders), and John Ritter (son of Isaac)
and his wife. Mrs. Elizabeth Ritter was the promoter of
the deed. When Isaac Ritter (Mr. Ritter's paternal grand-
father) died in 1852, Daniel Ritter (eldest son of Francis
Ritter) and Joseph Ritter were not satisfied. There-
fore the deed was made as mentioned. It gave 20 perches
or 74 by 74 feet, and the road through the farm for the
cemetery. The place being nearly all occupied in 1853 they
secured more ground, 50 by 50 feet in dimensions, which
has been walled in. William Boyer has five children bur-
ied there ; all have gravestones. When the Schwartzwald
cemetery was started many who had been buried in the
old part of the Ritter cemetery were transferred to it.

When assured of proper support Mr. Ritter had work
on the cemetery commenced. He hired ten masons with
help and raised the whole wall, walling it up new, put
a cement coping on 20 by 4 inches in dimensions, and



had three men at work for three days cleaning up, taking
out roots and setting up the gravestones and markers.
His brother Isaac made an iron gate weighing over three
hundred pounds for his share, and it makes a very suitable
ornament for the wall. In short, the place is now a
source of pride to all the family. During the war of
1812-15 General Ross, the British general who was shot
near Baltimore in 1814, was buried in this old burial-
ground.

On Nov. 30, 1856, Mr. Jacob R. Ritter married Miss
Sophia D. Ruth, daughter of John and Sarah (Dick)
Ruth. She was born June 27, 1833, died Nov. 9, 1905, and
is buried at Sinking Spring. Two children were born of
this union: (1) Sarah Ellen, born Feb. 28, 1858, married
Charles Nein, an engineer on the Lebanon Valley railroad
since 1889, had a family of ten children, and died in 1903,
Mr. Nein dying in 1893; (2) Susan E., born May 23, 1859,
died when sixteen days old.

In politics Mr. Ritter is a Democrat, and he served in
the common council in 1869-70-71 from the Eighth ward.
Of late years he has voted independently, and cast his
ballot in support of Theodore Roosevelt. He is a mem-
ber of the First Reformed Church, and when the church
was rebuilt in 1875 he subscribed $500 toward the build-
ing fund. For many years he was a member of the Odd
Fellows and Masons.

At the time of the battle of Antietam Mr. Ritter was
serving a ninety days' enlistment in the Pennsylvania
militia, sworn in at Harrisburg. When Lee crossed the
Potomac he was with his command two and a half miles
above Hagerstown, Md. That night they lay behind a
stone fence, the line extending back to Virginia.

CAPT. EDWARD F. REED, a popular and pro
gressive citizen of Lyons, Pa., was born in Manheim,
Pa., near the Schuylkill county almshouse, Nov. 11,
1538, son of George W. Reed, and grandson of Dan-
iel Reed.

The Reed family was early known in Schuylkill
county. In 1771, when Pine Grove township, that
county, was established, Philip Rith (Reed) was a
taxable. He was a native of Berks county, however,
a member of the Tulpehocken family. In 1791 Jere-
miah Reed, Michael Reed (both married) and Thom-
as Reed (single) were taxables for Manheim township,
Schuylkill county. In 1802, Theodore Reed, John Reed,
John (Morris) Reed, Thomas Reed, Sr., and Isaac
Reed, were tax-payers in Norwegian township, and
John and Philip Reed in Mahantango township, that
county.

Christoph, George and Conrad Reed, brothers, were
born in Brunswick township, Schuylkill county. Of
these, Christoph passed all his life in his native
township, and there reared his four sons, Obediah,
George, Charles and Emanuel. George was for many
years engaged in the hotel business at Orwigsburg.
Conrad, born about 1788, died in his native township
about 1830. He was a farmer. His wife, Elizabeth
Neyer. bore him six children: (1) David, born near
Orwigsburg, Jan. 5, 1819. was a skilled blacksmith
for many years, retiring about a quarter of a cen-
tury ago. For nearly a decade he has lived in Read-
ing with his daughter, Mrs. Hunsicker, at No. 430
North Tenth street. He m. Lucy Ann Haflf, and
had nine children (seven still living), Emeline, Mary,

Harriet, Sarah, Louisa, Elizabeth, Katie,

and David Frank (of Summit Hill). (2) Cath-
arine m. John Graver, and went to Wisconsin. (3)
, Hannah m. a Mr. Adams, and settled in Wiscon-
sin. (4) Elizabeth m. Daniel Fegley. (5) Lewis settled
in Michigan. (6) Henry makes his homie in New Ring-
gold, Pennsylvania.



Daniel Reed, grandfather of Capt. Edward P.; resided
in Pottsville, where he was an early hotel keeper,
his hotel being located at the corner of Main and Ma-
hantango streets. He died at a ripe old age, and is



BIOGRAPHICAL



661



buried either at Pottsville or Orwigsburg. Among
others he had children: Jacob, who Uved at Pottsville;
Thomas; George W.; Hannah; and Daniel, who after
a long residence in Schuylkill county, moved to Mer-
cer county, and whose son, George W., was a member
of the General Assembly, 1875-76, and the latter's son,
William R, from the same county. 1893-94.

George W. Reed, son of Daniel and father of Capt.
Edward F., was 'born in Pottsville in 1805, and died
at Philadelphia March 4, 1890, aged eighty-five years.
He lived in his native county, and there married Cath-
arine Kline, of Rockland township, Berks county,
daughter of David Kline. They had thirteen children:
Thomas; Jacob; Susanna; Mary; Sarah; Edward F.;
Kate; Daniel, who was killed in the fight at White
House Landing in the Civil war; Lizzie; Malinda;
David; Reuben; and Amanda, all now deceased, except
Mary, Sarah and Edward F.

Capt. Edward F. Reed was brought up familiar
with the duties of a farmer, but at the age of seven-
teen he learned the cabinet making trade,/ and in
1862 he engaged in business for himself at Stony
Point, carrying on cabinet making and undertaking
there with great success for twelve years. In 1874-75
he gave up his business to devote himlself to his father-
in-law's farm. The next year he moved to Lyons, and
there erected his present residence. He resumed his



Online LibraryMorton L. (Morton Luther) MontgomeryHistorical and biographical annals of Berks County, Pennsylvania, embracing a concise history of the county and a genealogical and biographical record of representative families, comp. by Morton L. Montgomery .. → online text (page 187 of 227)