Sunday, February 11, 2018


According to our "Cramme/Cramer" cousin, one of our German "Cramme" cousins (Hans Heinrich Cramme) wrote "a book of genealogy research" on the Cramme family. As our cousin Jim writes, "Unfortunately it is written in German and my German vocabulary is limited to about 500 words or less. The book was a big help!"

Cousin Jim did provide Family Group Sheets on six generations of Cramer/Cramme ancestors. I do not have any source documentation for this information.  I am still hoping to acquire a copy of the book.

Nevertheless, below is the information included in the Family Group Sheets provided by Cousin Jim Stewart.

Rosina's parents were Friedrich and Katherina Elizabeth (Ackermann) Cramme.  Our Rosina was the oldest child of three, according to these Family Group Sheets and was born almost exactly nine months after her parents marriage. Notice that her first name is spelled differently, and we now have her middle name. Also, notice that her mother died when she was just six years old. There is no indication that her father remarried, but he would have had three very young children (6, 3 1/2, and nearly 1) and he would have only been 34 years old. It seems likely he remarried, or that their grandparents may have helped raise the children. Their family group sheet provides the following information:
Husband: Friedrich Cramme
                 Birth: 27 Sep 1806 in Haueda, Kassel, Germany
                 Death: 27 Mar 1877 in Haueda, Kassel, Germany
                 Marriage: 22 Apr 1834 in Haueda, Kassel, Germany

Wife:       Katherina Elizabeth Ackermann
                Birth: 25 Sep 1805 in Liebenau, Germany
                Death: 02 Apr 1841 in Haueda, Germany
                           Father:  Johann Heinrich Ackermann
                            Mother: Margarethe Blumenfeld

          Rosine Sophie Cramme
          Birth: 19 Jan 1835 in Haueda, Germany
          Marriage:  18 Oct 1857 in Pekin, IL to William Ritterhouse
                             [Second marriage to] Joseph Van Dorn

          John (Johannes) Cramme
          Birth: 30 Jul 1837 in Haueda, Germany
          Death: 30 Sep 1915 in Pekin, Tazewell Co., IL
          Marriage: 1865 in Pekin, IL to Anna Kleen

          Philipp August Cramme
          Birth: 20 Mar 1840 in Haueda, Germany

Rosina's father, Friedrich, was the youngest child of his parents, Johann George and Anna Maria (Scherf) Cramme. Friedrich's mother also died when he was young, although he was nearly a teenager. It also appears like he lost his father and oldest sister within a month of each other. His father was nearly 76 when he died and his sister 47. That must have been a tough time for him.  Here is the information from the Family Group Sheet for Friedrich's family.
Husband: Johann George Cramme
                  Birth: 25 Oct 1766 in Haueda, Germany
                  Death: 08 Sep 1842 in Haueda, Germany
                  Marriage: 29 Nov 1793 in Haueda, Germany

Wife:        Anna Maria Scherf
                 Birth: 05 Dec 1770 in Haueda, Germany
                 Death: 05 Jul 1819 in Haueda, Germany
                           Father: Johann Conrad Scherf
                           Mother: Marie Louise Bolte

          Anna Margaretha Cramme
          Birth: 07 May 1795 in Haueda, Germany
          Death: 09 Aug 1842 in Haueda, Germany

          Marie Henriette Cramme
          Birth: 15 Aug 1798 in Haueda, Germany
          Death: 22 Nov 1860 in Haueda, Germany

          Friedrich Cramme
          Birth: 27 Sep 1806 in Haueda, Germany
          Death: 27 Mar 1877 in Haueda, Germany

Rosina's paternal great-grandparents had a large family relative to her family and her father's family. They had seven children, four daughters and three sons, with her grandfather born right in the middle, the fourth oldest.  At least three of their children did not live past toddler age.
Husband: Georg Wilhelm Kramme
                  Birth: 1728
                  Death: 05 May 1820 in Haueda, Germany
                  Marriage: 12 Nov 1756 in Haueda, Germany

Wife:        Susanne Marie Ruddenklau
                  Birth: 1731 in Haueda, Germany
                  Death: 22 May 1797 in Haueda, Germany

         Margaretha Elisabeth Kramme
         Birth: 22 May 1758 in Haueda, Germany

         Anna Catharina Kramme
         Birth: 1760 in Haueda, Germany
         Death: 21 Mar 1763 in Haueda, Germany

         Philipp George Kramme
         Birth: 18 Jun 1763 in Haueda, Germany
         Death: 23 Aug 1764 in Haueda, Germany

         Johann George Cramme
         Birth: 25 Oct 1766 in Haueda, Germany
         Death: 08 Sep 1842 in Haueda, Germany
         Marriage: 29 Nov 1793 in Haueda, Germany

         Anna Margaretha Kramme
         Birth: 10 Jul 1770 in Haueda, Germany
         Death: 19 Jan 1826 in Haueda, Germany

         Anna Maria Kramme
         Birth: 10 Jul 1770 in Haueda, Germany
         Death: 21 May 1771 in Haueda, Germany

         Jost Henrich Kramme
         Birth: 19 Apr 1774 in Haueda, Germany

Rosina's paternal great-great-grandparents were born around the turn of the 18th century. We only know of one child, although it is highly likely more were born to Johann Henrich and Anna Elisabeth (Wolff) Kramme, especially since they were married in 1723 and Rosina's great-grandfather was born in 1728.
Husband: Johann Henrich Kramme
                  Birth: abt. 1700
                  Death: 24 Sep 1763 in Haueda, Germany
                  Marriage: 21 Jul 1723 in Haueda, Germany

Wife:        Anna Elisabeth Wolff
                  Birth: 08 Sep 1700
                  Death: 24 Jan 1772 in Haueda, Germany

         George Wilhelm Kramme
         Birth: 1728
         Death: 05 May 1820 in Haueda, Germany
         Marriage: 12 Nov 1756 in Haueda, Germany

The final generation we have any information on is Rosina's paternal great-great-great-grandparents'. The information is sketchy since we are going back into the mid-1600s and early 1700s. Wilhelm and Elisabeth (Bolton) Kramme had at least eight children. For most of them, birth dates, death dates and other facts are not known. The children were almost certainly all born in Haueda,, since Wilhelm and Elisabeth were married there, although it is not recorded in the Family Group Sheets.
Husband: Wilhelm Kramme
                  Birth: Not known
                  Death: Not known
                  Marriage: 17 Nov 1686 in Haueda, Germany

Wife:        Elisabeth Bolten
                  Birth: 1649
                  Death: Not known

        Johann Henrich Kramme
        Birth: Abt. 1700
        Death: 24 Sep 1763 in Haueda, Germany
        Marriage: 21 Jul 1723 in Haueda, Germany

        Anna Kramme
        Birth: Not known
        Death: Not known

        Friedrich Kramme
        Birth: Not known
        Death: Not known

        Johannes Kramme
        Birth: Not known
        Death: Not known

        Cunrad Kramme
        Birth: Not known
        Death: Not known

        Anna Margaretha Kramme
        Birth: Not known
        Death: Not known

        Johann Engelhard Kramme
        Birth: Not known
        Death: 19 Jan 1746 in Haueda, Germany

        Jost Christian Kramme
        Birth: 30 Jan 1707
        Death: Not known

Reading through these five generations of Cramme/Kramme families, it is impressive to note that Crammes lived in the tiny village of Haueda, Germany for at least two hundred years. According to these Family Group Sheets, there is documentation for Crammes there from, at least, 1686 to 1877. With roots that deep and a legacy like that in her hometown, it seems even more amazing that the young Rosina undertook the arduous and dangerous ordeal of immigrating to America. Was it the early loss of her mother, the smallness of her village, the lack of opportunities in  Germany, an adventurous spirit? We'll probably never know, but I probably won't stop wondering and looking for answers.

Sunday, January 21, 2018


For several years, I have been searching for an obituary for Rosina Kramer Ritterhouse VanDorn. I knew when and where she died, but had never been able to find an obituary. At first I was sure it would be in my Great-Aunt Edna's papers, but we never found it. Later, I thought maybe it would be posted in Find-a-Grave by some Ritterhouse relative, but so far no luck with that. Then, as added an obituary database, I thought it would surely appear. I tried many different variations to Rosina's name because I have found her name in documents, in census records, in print spelled a wide variety of ways, using a variety of first and last names. Every avenue I tried came to a dead (no pun intended) end.

Finally, while researching the last two posts, I finally located not one, but two obituaries for Rosina. Neither solves any mysteries, but they are interesting. Originally, when I first started searching for them, I hoped they would tell me where and when she immigrated. Luckily, AncestryDNA solved the "where" question, and I have pretty well narrowed down the "when".  Of course, the obituaries do raise more questions about Rosina.

I am uncertain when the original Colorado Springs obituary was printed since I haven't found access to the Colorado Springs newspaper archives yet. Of the two obituaries I've found so far, the earliest dated one was in the Marshall County News (from Marysville, Kansas) on Friday, February 20, 1931 (page 11).

There are not many details given, but even so, some of the "facts" conflict with information we already had. This obituary gives Rosina's death date as January 21st and her age at death as 97 years. According to her death certificate, she was 99 years, 9 months, and 23 days old when she died on January 31, 1931. We also learn that she lived in Blue Rapids for more than 20 years. In an earlier post, I stated that she lived in Blue Rapids with her son for 15 years, so I may need to revisit that information to determine which is correct. It also confirms that she was born in Germany, but of course, not where in Germany or when she immigrated.
The second obituary was printed March 19, 1931 in The Axtell (KS) Standard (page 8).
Rosina's gravestone in Evergreen Cemetery, Colorado Springs
The first thing you notice is the spelling of Rosina's name -- Rozena Vandorn. Next, is her age; as you can see, she aged two years between February and March. Most of the "facts" in this obituary are what ended up on Rosina's death certificate: born April 8, 1831, name spelled "Rozena", died at her
daughter Anna's home, born in Germany. Obviously, Anna was the informant for both the death certificate and the Colorado Springs obituary.

So, naturally, instead of solving problems, the obituaries only add to the questions. For example, when was Rosina born?  Listed below are the varying dates I have collected on Rosina's birth:

           1830 (from 1900 U.S. Census)
           1831 (from death certificate, gravestone and Colorado Springs obituary)
           1833 (from 1905 KS Census, 1910 U.S. Census, 1925 KS census and Marshall Co. obituary)
           1834 (from 1860 U.S. Census)
           1835 (from 1880 U.S. Census, 1920 U.S. Census and Cramme family information)
           1837 (from 1915 KS Census)

That means Rosina was somewhere between 101 and 94 when she died.

Another interesting thing in this obituary is the statement that Rosina "came to the United States as a child". In the 1920 U.S. Census, Rosina (or her son William) reported that she immigrated in 1852. My Great-Aunt Edna told me that Rosina immigrated to New York when she was 20 years old.  I have not found a ship record to document when she arrived.  In any case, I doubt that she was what I would call "a child" when she immigrated.

Even though there are still lots of questions about Rosina's birth, death and life, I love finding bits and pieces of information to try to fit together and learn more about our maternal Ritterhouse immigrant ancestor.


Saturday, January 13, 2018


Despite researching for about thirty years, I was never able to track my paternal great-great-grandmother, Rosina Kramer Ritterhouse VanDorn back to her native country of Germany, until my parents and I completed AncestryDNA kits. When our results were available, I eagerly began to search through our cousin matches. It was thrilling to come across a Kramer in Tazewell County, Illinois to whom my dad and I were cousins.  He turned out to be Rosina's brother.  And, through his great-grandson, Jim Stewart, became our gateway through the brick wall that was Rosina's origins and heritage.

Haueda, Germany
Johannes Cramme was born in Haueda, Germany, on July 30 1837, to Friedrich and Katherina
(Ackermann) Cramme.  His 2 1/2 year old sister, "Rosine Sophie" was waiting for him to arrive. About three years later, Johannes' world was altered when a baby brother, Philipp August, was born in March 1840. The Cramme family lived together in the small village in south central Germany. Then, around 1852, Rosina immigrated to the United States. (She was definitely in America by 1857.)  According to Rosina's grand-daughter, my Great Aunt Edna Ritterhouse, Rosina was 20 when she journeyed to New York City where she worked as a maid before continuing her journey west to Tazewell County, Illinois where she resided in 1857. Brother Johannes followed his sister to America ten to fifteen years later, apparently in 1865 or 1866. He, too, settled in Tazewell County, Illinois.

508 Charlotte St., Pekin, Illinois
Reportedly, Johannes, who became known as John Kramer, married Anna Kleen in 1865 or 1866 (as stated in his obituaries which disagree on the year).  With Anna, John raised two children, a son John, Jr. and a daughter, Emma. The Kramers were members of the local Lutheran Church.  He was employed as a cement worker by trade. At least from 1887 through 1903, he worked for Jansen & Zoeller, local mason contractors. For the last few years of
John Kramer gravestone
his life, he was employed by Jost & Schmidgall, who were also local mason contractors.  Anna and John lived in a 1024 sq. ft. home built in 1877, located at 508 Charlotte Street, Pekin, Illinois.  In fact, John, described as "an old resident of the city," died in this house on September 30, 1915, at the age of 78. "His death was sudden, following an illness of only a day."  He had lived in Pekin for 49 years. Not surprisingly, he was buried there, in Lakeside Cemetery.

It is interesting to speculate how close brother and sister were. For several years, they both lived in the same county in Illinois, thousands of miles from their homeland. John lived in the town of Pekin while Rosina lived on farms outside of town, but probably only five or ten miles away. Rosina's husband, John William Ritterhouse, died in June of 1876, about 10 years after her brother John moved to Tazewell County. She then remarried the next year and lost that husband a few years later. Around 1890, Rosina moved west to Kansas, apparently following some of her children, and leaving her brother behind. While Rosina continued to move westward during the remainder of her life, her brother remained in Pekin, Illinois until he died in 1915. My guess is they never saw each other again once she left Tazewell County.

Monday, January 1, 2018


Entrance of Haueda
Nestled in the middle of Germany is the small village of Haueda, home for many generations of our "Cramme" ancestors, documented back, at least, into the 1600s. Haueda is located in the state of Hessen-Nassau, in the Cassel district. The Kreis for Haueda (similar to our counties) is Hofgeismar.

Countryside around Haueda, Germany


Haueda is about 200 miles southwest of Berlin and about 150 miles north of Frankfurt. Wiesbaden, Hesse's capital, is also about 150 miles away. The nearest town of any size is Warburg which lies to Haueda's east about five miles and hosts a population of about 25,000 residents. Both Warburg and Haueda lie on the banks of the Diemel River, a tributary of the Weser River.

Haueda's Half-Timbered Houses

The village of Haueda is no longer an independent municipality, but instead is a frazione (or subdivision) of the town of Liebenau.

While there are no tourist accomodations or any significant employer in the village, Haueda still boasts some picturesque half-timbered houses and a limestone quarry which is one of the most important fossil sites in Northern Hesse, Germany.

For a historical map of Haueda, click the link below and then click on "Map":

Sunday, October 23, 2016


About ten years ago, I convinced my parents to swab their cheeks for the Family Tree DNA test.  I also persuaded my maternal uncle to provide his DNA.  Although I know there is a lot of helpful information available with the Family Tree DNA program, I could never seem to make use of it.  Frequently, I am notified that someone has matched one of the three profiles, but I have never been able to determine what the relationship is to my family.

So, when AncestryDNA became available, I again asked my mom and dad to provide a sample and I also participated.  When I first received my results, I feared I had discovered that I was not my parents' child because I had always thought I was primarily German.  My results, though, were:

  •           55%   Great Britain
  •           22%   Ireland
  •           11%   Scandinavia
  •           3%     Europe West (German, French, etc.)
  •           2%     European Jew
  •           2%     Iberian Peninsula
  •           1%     Italy/Greece
  •           1%     Europe East
  •           3%     Caucasus

Only 3% Europe West which included Germany, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Liechtenstein!  But, lo and behold, my father -- my Ritterhouse father -- whose grandfather was full-blooded German, was 49% IRISH and only 11% Europe West!

I was starting to doubt my grandmother's fidelity, but fortunately, there is another useful component to the AncestryDNA.  Matches are made to cousins who have also tested their DNA with AncestryDNA.  I have been able to find connections to many of my 200+ cousin matches. 

Rosena Kramer Ritterhouse Vandorn
So far, though, only one cousin has helped me break through a brick wall.  On the family tree of one of my cousin matches, I noticed a "Kramer" from Tazewell County, Illinois which was where Rosina had settled. Since the 1990s I have been trying to find the parents and the birth location in Germany of my great-great-grandmother Rosena Kramer Ritterhouse. This looked like my chance to find my answers!  AncestryDNA makes it easy to contact the owners of trees you are connected to.  Emailing my Kramer "cousin" was the first swing of the wrecking ball on my Rosina brick wall.  Cousin Jim responded with the following clue:  the name was originally "Cramme/Kramme" not "Cramer/Kramer"!
Cousin Jim explained that back in the late 1970s, in his quest to learn more about his paternal grandmother, Emma Kramer (who was born in Pekin, Tazewell County, Illinois) he located the obituary of her father, John (Johannes) Kramer who died in Pekin on September 30, 1915.  From the obituary he discovered that John was born in Haueda, Germany.

Hooked on genealogy and wanting to learn more, he was able to eventually visit Haueda several years ago.  They stayed in a Bed and Breakfast in Haueda for a couple of days.  It was actually the lady who owned the B & B who told him John's birth name was probably Johannes Cramme.  She then contacted a man in Wuppertal, Germany.  This man, whose name was Hans Heinrich Cramme, drove the 100 plus miles to Haueda that evening to visit his "long-lost cousin".  Hans spoke no English and they spoke very little German, but with the generous help of a local lady, they were able to communicate some.  Hans presented them with a book that contained all his research in the Cramme family.  The book, of course, is written in German, a language in which our cousin has a severely limited vocabulary.  Cousin Jim kept in contact with our German Cramme cousin Hans for some years, but believes he may no longer be alive since he has not responded for awhile.

Next post I will write more about the Cramme family and the German village of Haueda.

Monday, September 5, 2016


In the mid-nineteenth century, land was plentiful in newly opened territories in the expanding United States.  Entrepreneurs saw opportunities to recruit new land-buyers in troubled areas of Europe.  Germany was a rich mine of discontented or desperate souls ready to start new lives in a new land.

Wupper River
In 1848, a Barmen, Germany merchant described as "a man of influence in his native town" by one
source [How Wisconsin Came by Its Large German Population, 1892], Theodor Wettstein, began recruiting in the Wupper valley to take a ship of emigrants to America.  According to another source, since Wettstein was "a man of some prominence in that locality, having some important civil positions, many desired to go under his leadership." [The Icelanders on Washington Island, by Alfred Augustus Jackson, et al.]  Although many of the reports from the U.S. were generally looked upon with suspicion, a report written by a native of Elberfeld, Dr. Carl de Haas in 1848 from Wisconsin, was widely circulated in the Wupper valley and convinced many in the area that it would be worth the hardships and struggles to relocate to the U.S.

Barmen ca. 1848
A book published by Wettstein in Elberfeld in 1851 (Der Nordamerikanische Freistaat Wisconsin) gives us hints as to why our Rittershaus ancestor (Johann Wilhelm Rittershaus), may have joined his neighbors on the journey.  According to Wettstein, "for a long time streams of emigrants have been leaving Germany, but no trace of the agitation has reached the Wupper valley, though affairs are in a bad condition.  Manufacturing was the principal industry there, but it was losing ground owing to increased competition, which lowered wages and the price of wares.  The laborers and trading classes suffered most."  At least one of Johann Wilhelm Ritterhaus' fellow townsmen joined the emigrants due to the failure of the Forty-Eighters revolution.  Abraham Peter Olzendam was born in Barmen in 1821, as was our William Rittershaus.  In fact, Olzendam's mother was Johanna Rittershaus, so they were cousins of some sort.  According to a sketch in The Granite Monthly, a New Hampshire magazine [October 1881], Olzendam's "active mind found congenial study in political economy.  The demands of his countrymen for liberty were seconded by him, and with the enthusiasm of youth he entered heartily into the plans of his fellow patriots for the amelioration of his country.  Hopeless of accomplishing the herculean task of freeing his people, despairing of gaining at home that place among his fellows which his inborn ability warranted him in demanding, he quietly bade farewell to his fatherland, and embarked for America at the age of twenty-seven."

By early 1848, "about 300 persons in Elberfeld and Barmen had planned to emigrate.  They were mostly handicraftsmen and traders -- men of some means, who expected to enter farms in the West." [Jackson, The Icelanders on Washington Island]  Theodor Wettstein planned to take his whole family which included his wife, Lisette, and his seven children:  Theodor, 12; Otto, 10; Lina, 10; Hermann, 8; Pauline, 6; Adolph, 3; and Laura, 3 months (at the time of the passenger list).  Since Wettstein had four young sons whose futures caused him "much anxiety", he felt that the prospects for success were far better in the new world than in Germany.  According to one source, although Wettstein was "a prosperous merchant" in Barmen, he "failed in business in 1848" which caused him to emigrate to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. ["Otto Wettstein: Three Generations with Otto I, Otto II and Otto III," Blue Grass Blade (Lexington, KY) October 11, 1908]

Possible drawing of the George Washington steam ship
Wettstein recruited at least 156 of his "neighbors" -- 69 from Barmen, 31 from Elberfeld and 56 from other towns such as Lennep, Remscheid and Langenberg -- and "engaged passage at $40 a head" on the George Washington, sailing from Bremen in May of 1848. [Jackson, The Icelanders on Washington Island]  The group included shoemakers, joiners, tailors, carpenters, merchants, smiths, "gerbers" (tanners), farmers, "webers" (weavers), bakers, "apothekers"
(pharmacists), "farbers" (painters) and maids.  Most of the company was composed of families.  Ages ranged from a 66-year-old painter from Elberfeld to babies one and under. It appears that at least a couple of the one-year-olds died on the voyage to America. 

One of my (many) questions is how they travelled to Bremen from Barmen.  The 160-mile journey (which would take about 2 1/2 hours via the A1 autobahn today) would take at least 53 hours to walk.  Assuming walking at least 8 hours per day, it would be at least a week.  They may have been able to take advantage of rivers in the area on at least part of the journey, but there does not seem to be any convenient water route. 

New York City docks, showing berth for the George Washington
(At Dock 3, it reads:  Steam Ships Washington & Hermann
for Bremen & Southhampton)
What is known is that the 450 ton Bremen sailing ship George Washington, sailed from Bremen on May 2, 1848, under the command of Master Mathias Probst with 186 passengers.  After six weeks at sea, they docked at New York City.

From New York City, it is interesting to consider where they went and why.  For Wettstein, "he seems to have started with a preference for Wisconsin, and in New York his impressions were confirmed.  He came to Milwaukee, and though no definite statement is made regarding the matter, he implies that the majority accompanied him."  [Jackson, The Icelanders on Washington Island]  Reportedly, "in New York every hotelkeeper and railroad agent, every one who was approached for advice, directed men to Wisconsin."  [How Wisconsin Came by Its Large German Population, 1892]  Government land was available in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio, but was in shorter supply than the more northern states of Wisconsin and Minnesota.  According to the 1850 and 1860 U.S. Censuses, at least some of Wettstein's compatriots followed him to Wisconsin.  Our ancestor's cousin mentioned above, Abraham Olzendam went first to Massachusetts "in the neighborhood of Boston" where he stayed for ten years before moving north to Manchester, New Hampshire.  One family (the Dahlmanns) went first to Melrose, New York before settling in Philadelphia.  Another family (the Schilds) headed west to Benton County, Iowa.  Our William Rittershaus can be found working as a blacksmith in Blair County, Pennsylvania in 1850, but soon after settled in Tazewell County, Illinois, where he married, raised a family, and farmed the rest of his life.

Sunday, August 10, 2014


Lew Ritterhouse ca 1880 at about 13 years old
The sixth child, and fourth son, of John William and Rosina Rittershouse was born on September 4, 1867, while his parents were living and farming in Tazewell County, Illinois.  They named him John Lewis and called him Lew.  Lew grew up in Tazewell County with plenty of siblings to play with.  Older brother Charles was less than a year older, and younger sister Anna was less than two years younger.  Lew was only eight years old when his father died.  He soon had a step-father, but apparently for only less than 15 years, when he must have also lost this step-father to death.

Lewis relocated to northeast Kansas with his family around 1890.  He soon met the teenager Mary Elizabeth Cassell.  Early in 1892, on January 11th, Lew and Lizzie (who was only 17) married in Hiawatha (Brown County) Kansas.  Living and farming in Brown County, near Hamlin, the young couple began their family on August 3, 1894 with the birth of their son, Clarence.  Three years later, their first daughter, Ethel, was born on July 14, 1897.   And three years after that, their second daughter, Ruth was born on May 30, 1900.  Sometime prior to 1910, Lew and Lizzie apparently lost a child, probably in child birth (as the 1910 census records that out of four children born, three were living).

In 1894, Lewis' older brother George joined the hundreds of other land-hungry prospectors in one of the Oklahoma land rushes, securing a 160-acre farm in Woodward, Oklahoma.  Thirteen years later, Lewis decided to follow him, journeying over 400 miles, with his family, to Ellis County where he received title to 160 acres on May 13, 1907.  I think that Lewis was probably accompanied by his younger brother Fred who also settled on 160 acres near him in Otter Township in Ellis County. (On the 1910 census, Lewis is listed at dwelling number 22, while Fred is at dwelling number 29.)

The John Lewis Family about 1923 (from left to right): Thomas O'Hair, his wife Ruth holding son Otis, John Lewis Ritterhouse (sitting) holding onto Clarence O'Hair, Edna Ritterhouse (standing) with husband Clarence, John's wife Lizzie (sitting) holding onto Lloyd Emmet Andrews, Edward Andrews (standing) next to wife Ethel holding daughter Nellie

Lewis Ritterhouse with older brother William

It was not long before the children of Lizzie and Lew were grown and began marrying and starting their own families.  Both girls found their husbands on neighboring farms.  First was Ethel who (at 17) married Edward E. Andrews, son of O. C. and Nellie Andrews who farmed nearby, on November 16, 1914.  Three years later, also at the age of 17, Ruth married Thomas Edwin O'Hair, son of Floyd A. and Addie B. O'Hair, on Christmas Eve, 1917.  The sisters Ethel and Ruth shared the joys and agonies of their first pregnancies as both began their families in 1919.  Ruth produced Lew and Lizzie's first grandchild on April 2, 1919.  Her first child was a son they named Clarence Edwin.  Three months later, Ethel's first child, also a son, was born on July 29, 1919.  He was named (Lloyd) Emmet.  Ruth and her husband Tom welcomed their second child, another son, into their lives on December 15, 1921; they named him Otis.  The next year, Ethel and Ed had a second child, their first daughter, whom they named Nellie, after her paternal grandfather.

Ethel and Edward, with Clarence
peeking around the corner.

Older brother Clarence was the last to marry.  In 1922, he married an older woman, Edna J. Gilbert who was 28 to his 27 years of age.  Edna was the daughter of Jeddiah and Etta (Peterson) Gilbert and had been born in and grew up in Edgar County, Illinois.  I do not know how they would have met.  I do not think Clarence served in WWI (which might have given him an opportunity to meet a girl who lived 800 miles away).  According to his WWI draft registration card, he was supporting his parents at that time, and he applied for a farming exemption.  Clarence and Edna settled on Lew and Lizzie's farm (at least through 1935).  By 1940, they had moved up to Vermilion County, Illinois and were living with Edna's sister, Ellen and her husband, Allan Hachett, helping them farm their land. 

The "depressing" Dust Bowl years of the early Thirties were difficult ones for all of those living and working in the Oklahoma Panhandle.  Thousands of Okies gave up and headed west to California.  In the midst of these dusty times, Ruth birthed their third and final child.  A daughter they named Doris June was born June 3, 1932.  Eventually, Tom and Ruth O'Hair also left Oklahoma for California, but not until sometime in the 1940s.  They were still living in Ellis County, Oklahoma in 1940 where Tom was working as a ranch hand on the Parker Ranch and their son Otis was working for the Neimeier Oil Co., but by 1950, they had relocated to San Bernardino, California.

Oliver Lewis Andrews

Ethel and Edward remained in Oklahoma, farming near Lew and Lizzie.  On May 12, 1939, their third child was born.  They named their second son Oliver Lewis.  Sadly, Oliver's life was to be a short one as he died about 28 months later, on September 21, 1941.  They buried him in the nearby Bickford Cemetery. 

Lewis did not live to see his last grandchild's birth.  Farming the Oklahoma Panhandle was hard work.  For several years prior to his death, Lewis suffered from "cardiac dropsy" or congestive heart failure.  At 5:30 a.m. on June 21, 1934, he succumbed to a fatal heart attack.  Lew was nearing his 67th birthday.  In an age when traveling meant a slow, ponderous wagon ride, he had journeyed first from Illinois to Kansas and then from Kansas to western Oklahoma.  For 27 years he wrestled with the unfriendly elements of the Oklahoma panhandle to grow wheat and other crops to feed his family and beyond. He was laid to a well-earned rest in the Bickford Cemetery.

His wife Lizzie lived with various of her children throughout the ensuing years. In 1930, Lew and Lizzie were already living with Clarence and Edna.  Before 1940, they had moved to Illinois to find work.  So, Lizzie moved in with daughter Ruth and her family where she was living in 1940.  Around 1940, the O'Hairs moved out to California to find work.  Although I can't say for sure, I feel certain that Lizzie would have moved in with Ethel and her family at that time.  Lizzie outlived her husband by 12 years, dying just before Christmas, on December 21, 1946.  She too was buried in the Bickford Cemetery.

While the fertility of Lewis' farm may have ultimately failed, he left a legacy of children with the Ritterhouse genes in his wake.  At the time of his daughter Ruth's death in 2000, she left two of her three children (son Clarence had been killed in a car accident in Wichita, Kansas, in 1969), 10 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren and 30 great-great-grandchildren!