The Ritter Letter
Complied and published by Jerry Ritter McDonald, New Albany, Ohio : Family Newsletter 5
March 31, 2001

In this edition of the RitterLetter:

  • Publishers Corner
  • Capt. John Ritter celebration in North Carolina
  • Ritter/Williamson Connection
  • Sailing on the Princess Augustus
  • Old Cemetries of Moore County, NC
  • A Story about Willie Walter and Flossie Elizabeth Ritter
  • Story about George Ritter b.1685
  • Story about the skills of Capt. John Ritter
  • Interview with J.C. (Jeremiah Coleman) Ritter
  • A second interview with J.C. (Jeremiah Coleman) Ritter
  • A Tribute to Clinard Hobson Ritter
  • Some questions from our readers
  • Some Ritter History
  • Milestones

    News from the Publisher

    Perhaps it comes as no surprise to most of you that this issue is very tardy. We have searched for good reasons to give for not getting out a fall issue as promised, but alas none could be found. We hoped for a good disaster to blame for the tardiness but that didn't happen either. So you will just have to settle for our appology.

    We wish to express our appreciation to those of you who have submitted articles for this letter. We appreciate your efforts, and please keep the material coming. It is very likely that these letters are being archived by many folks and will be kept for a long time to come. Even if you do not get acknowledged for your effort or get your question answered in the near future, surely something will come in due time.

    This issue should be one of the best yet. It is packed with submissions from our readers, many of whom are passionate in their search for information on their ancestors.

    We are pleased to announce that we now have in excess of 70 email addresses of people who have asked to be included on our mailing list. In some cases we get two new addresses during a week.

    Just a note. If you change your email, or ISP you should remember to notify us of the change. We have at least 15 people on our previous lists that we can not contact since they have made changes in their email and apparently forgot to notify us.

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    Ritter celebration in North Carolina

    Again this year Ritter family, and interested parties met at the Smyrna United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall to honor the memory of Capt. John Ritter (1816-1902). Eventhough the title would indicate that the celebration was mostly about Capt. John, folks again brought memoribilia, photos, and stories to the gathering to share.

    Eli and Carrie Ritter, Lotte S. Ritter and others were the driving force behind the gathering and we are sure that all appreciate their efforts to keep memories of this Ritter ancestor alive.

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    Ritter/Williamson Connection ??

    The following was submitted by Berta Brewer 10/15/2000 I was very excited to find someone who has researched the Williamson Family. I am grasping at straws, but here goes!

    My ancestor, Adam Brown Brewer was born in Randolph County, NC in 1824. He married Nancy A. Moffitt in Randolph Co in 1842. Nancy and children are listed in the Moore County 1850 Census. Adam is missing. It has been suggested that he went to California to search for gold. Connected to Nancy and Adam is a Molsey Ann Craven who married William Wyatt Williamson, son of Wyatt Williamson of Moore County. William Wyatt was killed in the Civil War and Adam went to Missouri and collected Molsey and her children and brought them to Stone County, Arkansas (then Izard County). The children were listed as living next door to Adam and Nancy in the 1880 Stone County Census Records and they were listed as nieces and nephews of Adam and Nancy. Do you have any clues as to how they are related? Also, Adam Moffitt, son of Stephen and Ruth Moffitt was in Stone County and purchased land from Adam and Nancy in the late 1800's. I can find no proof of parentage of either Adam or Nancy. Can someone help please?

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    Sailing on the Princess Augustus

    The following is a note from Janice W. who submitted this article (By the way the Princess Augustus was a three-masted, square-rigged ship - whatever that means!)

    Jerry - I noticed via the Internet that your ancestor (Ritter) was on the Princess Augustus.

    My ancestor David Lowenstein was also a passenger on this ship. I have discovered a written account of the trip by a Durs Thommen who was also aboard this ship. It will make a wonderfull addition to your family history. I printed off this account from the Internet over a year ago, filing it away, because I thought it would be a good example of what the trip to America entailed and I could use it when I wrote up my family's history. Little did I know that one year later, I would discover that my ancestor was actually aboard that very ship!! I still get goose bumps thinking about it!

    Here is the letter written by Durs including the source. I hope you enjoy it.

    (In German) "Sept 16, 1736. Pfalzer fammt ibren Familien, 330 an to Bahl, famen auf dem Shiffe Princess Augustus, Capitain Samuel Merchant, von Rotterdam uber Cowes".

    (In English) Princess Augustus Sept. 16, 1736.
    Palatines with their families, in all 330, imported in the ship Princess Augustus, Samuel Merchant, Master, from Rotterdam, last from Cowes. A Passenger on the Princes Augustus.

    An Account by Durs Thommen From June to September 1736
    Written in Philadelphia, October 20, 1736 "On The Power O?Pietism" by Leo
    Schelbert, PhD published in the "Historic Scaefferstown Record" vol 17, Issues
    No 3 & 4. [{a note from Janice} It appears to me that Durs is writing to a minister in Germany who must have been contemplating a trip to America)]

    My friendly greetings and service to you, my much beloved Reverent Mr. Candidate Annoni and your beloved wife Ester Annoni, born in Zwingerin.

    I cannot desist from writing to you and to tell you in a few words that I with my family - the loving faithful Father in Heaven be praised for that - have come into this land fresh and healthy. But at sea our two younger sons became sick with ship fever but, thank God, have regained their previous health. But I now know nothing further to write because we have come so late into this country and everything has already been harvested.

    As to the journey, we were detained for 5 weeks, have slept on the Rhine for 2 weeks and travelled from Rotterdam across the sea for 12 weeks and 4 days until Philadelphia, but only 8 weeks from land to land, and we did not have good wind save for 8 days, more contrary winds than side wind. And as we saw land a new pilot came to us and we thought all was well and won. All evening we got good wind from behind so that the ship moved vigorously. The new pilot, however made cast anchor because it was not far (from there) dangerous; in the morning when the anchor was lifted again and we had barely gone 30 feet the boat ran into a rock, and it crashed that one thought it would break in the middle. The anxious crying began, and one could see where there was faith or not. Then the captain had a warning shot fired and had a flag of distress hoisted, but we drove far out to the sea so that we saw no land anymore for days and even thought we would never see it again.

    As far as illness are concerned, the Mannheim skippers had two of the boats sidewise together; in the one besides ours 7 children died of small pox and a woman of spotted fever, and in our boat 19 people died until Rotterdam. Those people who have means and are interested in this land and need not go into debt, those I advise to stay where they are because the journey is onerous and very dangerous. Thus who wants to come to this land shall be well provided with butter and bacon, dried apple snips and plums, and flour, wine and brandy and dried bread, tea and sugar. And if young people come and cannot pay fare, there are enough people to redeem them from the boat, and they must serve them a certain time for it. There are people with whom I have talked myself who had brought not a penny into the land and had to serve for their fare, now (they) are very rich people. But I do not know to write much of the land because we came into it quite late and everything had already been harvested, and one should not rely much on the talk of other people, thus I am willing, if it were to please the Lord in Heaven, to send very accurate news in the future when I have investigated things my self.

    But I have not yet taken up the land, but I am also willing to wait until I know the land better or have approached trusted friends so that I may believe them. I could have already taken up, however, more than 3 to 400 acres that have been much planted, and there would remain in my hands quite a good portion of my imported wealth. What has already been cleared of that place, meadow and fields, is for 6 horses, 8 cows, 12 goats, 14 pigs. We are very sorry that at home we have not lived according to Christ's demand on occasion as we should have done.
    Durs Thommen formerly of Niederdorff your servant

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    Old Cemeteries of Moore County

    March 19, 2000
    The following submitted by Lotte Ritter,

    On March 18, 2000 Donna Ritter Riley and I drove up to Robbins to meet Eli & Carrie Ritter at Thurman Maness' house. The various spring-flowering trees were in full bloom, and it was a pleasant drive up to Moore County.

    Being a native German I can understand why those early Ritters and other German families settled in that part of the country. The rolling hills and meadows reminded me so much of my homeland, and the beauty of it almost made me breathless. In my mind's eye I could almost see tall, handsome Ritter men, guns over their shoulders, riding through the countryside tending to their livestock or hunting for their supper.

    Arriving at Thurman's house we all piled into Eli's car and started our journey with great anticipation.

    First Thurman guided us to the Old Scotch Graveyard. Anthony E. Parker in his guide book MOORE COUNTY CEMETERIES gives the following directions:

    "This cemetery is located in a grove of oaks South of county Highway #1261 approximately of
    a mile from the junction of Highway #1264."

    This property was known as the Peter Bethune Place, more recently, the Old Barrett Place (#38).

    The only German names we saw on tombstones were those of the Stutts family. Rassie Wicker, author of MISCELLANEOUS ANCIENT RECORDS OF MOORE COUNTY , claims that the Stutts family came with the Ritter family and other German settlers from Pennsylvania to upper Moore County (pg.334).

    Our next stop was Bethlehem Church Cemetery. Parker in MOORE COUNTY CEMETERIES gives the following

    "This cemetery is located on county road #1261 approximately 200 yards NW of where county road #1243 junctions (#79)."

    Of interest to us were the graves of Thomas W. Ritter and his wife, Julia Caddell. Thomas who served as Sheriff of Moore County from 1857 1860 was the son of John R. Ritter and wife Mary Kennedy. Thomas was born 1829 and died 1891. Julia was born 1845 and died 1910. She was the daughter of Presley and Hannah Caddell. We also found the grave of Dicy Jane Ritter, daughter of John R. Ritter and Mary Kennedy and wife of Nelson Hunsucker. Leroy Ritter (1875-1908), whose grave was nearby, may have been a son of Thomas and Julia.

    Our next stop was Cross Hill Cemetery in Carthage. Parker gives these directions:

    "This cemetery is located at the west town limits of Carthage on State Highway #27. Cross Hill is a town kept tax supported cemetery (#47)."

    This cemetery was very large and we were getting tired. Thurman decided to stay in the car to get a much deserved rest.

    The rest of us spread out and searched for Ritter tombstones. Thanks to Carrie it didn't take long to find the following graves:

    Mary C. Ritter (1920-1964)
    David A. Ritter (1917-1934
    Mamie S. Ritter (1893-1945)
    Joe T. Ritter (1880-1923)

    Joe was the son of Addison Ritter (1847-1938) and Catherine Maness and grandson of Eliza Ritter who was Capt. John's youngest sister. Joe was married to (1) Beulah Mae Stout and (2) Mamie Seawell. Mary and David must have been children of Joe and Mamie. Joe was murdered by a Negro at the age of 43. I am currently searching for an account of that tragedy.

    Margaret Corinna Ritter Cagle (1858-1935) and her husband John Ransom Cagle (1839-1922) are also buried at Cross Hill Cemetery. Margaret is the daughter of Elizabeth Ritter and granddaughter of William D. Ritter and wife Cathrin Melton.

    Next Eli drove to Friendship Baptist Church Cemetery. Parker writes in his Moore County Cemetery Guide:

    "This cemetery, established approximately in 1771, is located on county road #1637. At one time, this was a well-traveled road, but at present is a dead end. The cemetery is actually located in the church yard (#67)."

    Among the many graves were those of E. Q. and Mary D. Seawell. Eleazer Quimby Seawell was the son of Jesse Seawell and Nancy Ritter, the latter a daughter of old Jesse Ritter. Mary Seawell was the daughter of Rev. Eli Dickerson and Nancy Dowd.

    We were all getting tired, but since it was on our way we stopped at Pleasant Hill Methodist Church Cemetery. It is located across North Moore High School in Robbins. According to Thurman Maness, Pleasant Hill Church was built in 1860 on land donated to the church by Thomas and Mary Maness and John and Lydia Riddle.

    By 1906 the original church building was getting too small to hold a growing membership and a second wooden church was built. After 1951 a brick structure replaced the existing building. Part of the land was donated by Reuben Maness. Thurman Maness and his wife, Verda, donated land in 1964 to add an educational building to the church (Moore County Cemetery Guide, #104). Buried here were Asa McClellan Maness (Dec. 1, 1861 ----), son of Asa Maness and Mary Annie Ritter Maness. Mary Annie was a sister to Capt. John Ritter. Also buried here was Elizabeth Ritter (1822-1904), daughter of William Ritter and Cathrin Melton Ritter. Several of the John Henry Ritter and Nancy Cole family are also buried at Pleasant Hill.

    We all decided that we had roamed around enough. Thurman invited us back to his house for some refreshments and reminiscence of our experience that day.

    We, who are on the same quest, seem to find and help each other preserve some family history for our children and the generations to come. Even though we dredge many miles to discover what's left of the past, we never want to have a certain destination in mind because it would spoil our journey.

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    A Story about Willie Walter and Flossie Elizabeth Ritter

    The following submitted by Susan Queen October 30, 2000

    The story that has always captured my imagination is how Flossie Elizabeth Williamson and Willie Walter Ritter got together. Walter's mother (Ruthie Jane Florence Wallace Ritter) told my mother (Ruby Ritter Peurifoy) this story when my mother was a girl: Walter, who was around 19 at the time, had walked another girl home after church (or something). The girl did not have an especially good reputation, so Ruthie Jane voiced her disapproval to Walter. (He was her firstborn, and not just anybody was good enough for him.) Walter told her not to worry that he would not marry anyone until Flossie Williamson was old enough to marry. Walter had seen Flossie at the annual July 4th picnic(s) at the farm of Capt. John Ritter, Walter's grandfather, and had picked her out as his wife-to-be. He was seven years older than Flossie, so she was only 12 years old at the time. Six months after she turned 16, they were married (March 1907). He always said she was the only woman he ever loved.

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    A Story about George Ritter b.1685

    The following submitted by Glenn Ritter 10/30/00

    I've run into a dead end. Does anyone have any info on a George Ritter, born 1685, with a son, Frantz.

    George lived in Oley, PA. His son, Frantz, was born in 1710. There are unsubstantiated articles that claim this Ritter is related to Elias Ritter from the Frederick, MD, area. Elias came to America in 1650 with an expedition of Lord Baltimore. Some of Elias' family settled in Fayetteville, PA. Some of these Ritters later went to KY, and settled around the Monmoth Cave area. I, and others, have lots of info about George Ritter's family. But, nothing about his origin.

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    A story of the skills of Capt. John Ritter

    Submitted by W. Clinton Powers 10/30/00

    Cynthia America Ritter Powers, daughter of Captain John Ritter, was my grandmother. She had married Jack
    Powers. Their son, Charles Herbert Powers was my father.

    An early memory was being told that Captain John Ritter was a skilled craftsman. My grandmother had a beautiful hutch that her father made. I was told that each daughter received a similar piece of furniture when she was married. My grandmother's hutch is owned today by my cousin Edison Powers. I saw it again a couple of yeas ago and it was beautiful in restored condition.

    Another skill Captain John Ritter had was as a gun craftsman. Son's, I have heard, received a new gun from
    their father when they married and moved out of the home from their father. That always story always
    fascinated me, because I loved guns, and wanted to own one of the guns he had made. I remember that
    Jack Caviness, who married my grandmother's sister Exie Louise Ritter, had one of my great-grandfather's
    guns. I saw it once when I was very young. I remember the excellent craftsmanship. I was also told that he had the tools, also, which Captain John Ritter made and used in crafting guns.

    I often wondered where he acquired the skill for making guns. More recently I have learned that there was a gun making factory in Mechanics Hill (Now Robbins, NC) for many years. This makes me wonder if he at one time worked there and acquired the skills. It would have been not many miles from Captain Ritter's home.

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    Interview with J.C. (Jeremiah Coleman) Ritter

    Submitted by Vicci Flatt 10/31/00

    These 2 documents are on file with the Oklahoma Historical Society. They are called "The
    Indian Pioneer Papers". They are interviews that were done with some of the early Oklahoma (Indian Territory) settlers and does not necessarily mean they were Indian.

    Interview with J.C. (Jeremiah Coleman) Ritter Atwood, OK.
    Investigator: Nettie Cain
    January 25, 1938
    I was born in 1879, in Lee County, Mississippi, and was fifteen years old at the time I left that state with my parents. We lived twenty-five miles from a railroad. We came to Fort Smith, Arkansas, and settled three miles east of Sugar Loaf Mountain in 1888, near Cameron. This was in the Choctaw country and Green McCurtin was one of the Choctaw Indian leaders. At this time a white person would have to get a permit to lease Indian land, which would cost him about $15.00 a year for forty acres of land.

    A short time after we arrived in the Indian Territory, my father, Everett Bayless Ritter put in a store. We would go to Fort Worth after our stock of supplies, going across the Backbone Mountain. We had to pass a toll gate and had to pay 50 cents for a wagon and team for a round trip. The funds thus derived were used to keep the road worked and in shape to travel. Father would sometimes have a wagon bed full of eggs which he would pack in loose hay and haul them across the mountains and very few of them were ever broken.

    The Indians were very honest in all their business dealings. At this time there were no churches or schools, but soon a few of the white people decided to have a school for their children so employed a teacher to teach a subscription school; so much was charged few each student. Then they soon began to have church and Sunday School.

    The Indians had very few churches but they had a lot of dances and big ball games. In 1901 I bought my father's store and later moved to Calvin.

    In 1905 I moved my family to Calvin and in 1907 we moved to Atwood. I am still interested in the public welfare of Hughes County and still operate a store In Atwood.

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    A second interview with J.C. (Jeremiah Coleman) Ritter

    Submitted by Vicci Flatt 10/31/00

    J.C. (Coleman) Ritter, Atwood, OK Born March 2, 1873, Lee County, Mississippi
    Parents, Everett Bayless and Mary C. Ritter. White.

    My parents came to Oklahoma "about the first of November 1887." They came by rail from Amory, Mississippi, to Fort Smith, Arkansas, thence by wagon to Cameron, or rather to Kully Chaha, as that was before Cameron. I moved from what is now LeFlore County and came to Hughes County in 1904. Some of our most interesting episodes were when some settler refused to pay his permit and was ejected from the Territory.

    The family of Uncle Joe Tucker was very interesting at the time we came to the Territory. Uncle Joe is dead now and the boys are scattered. His daughter, Mrs. J.H. Adams, lives at Atwood. Mrs. Katie Hill (widow of Bud Hill) lives at Cameron and is also a daughter of Uncle Joe Tucker. Bud Hill was killed while serving as a deputy U.S. Marshall before statehood. Hill was a mighty fine man and I thought it would have been impossible to have killed a man that our community would have missed as much as he was, he was killed by a Mr. Simpson, whose boy he and Boley Grady were trying to arrest, near Jenson Arkansas. They were at a meeting just across the line from Jenson and the boy had been disturbing the meeting, so Hill and Boley Grady were asked to be there and arrest him, and Grady had gone under the arbor and had the boy down and he called for his father, who came to his rescue and killed Hill and Grady both. (Or rather killed Grady and Hill both, as he killed Mr. Grady first.)

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    A Tribute to Clinard Hobson Ritter

    Submitted by Lotte Ritter, 11/04/00

    Clinard Hobson Ritter
    Born: August 09, 1902
    Died: May 02, 2000
    Father: Jack Ritter born 1858 and died July 04, 1903
    Mother:Sarah Howard born May 15, 1863 and died October 26, 1903 (Source: Howard Family Bible, owned by Charles Howard, 719 Page St., Troy, NC 27371)

    Paternal Grandfather: (Capt.) John Ritter
    Paternal Grandmother: Sarah Annie Myrick
    Maternal Grandfather: John Howard
    Maternal Grandmother: Julia Ann Moffit

    Hattie Louise R. Welch
    Annie Florence R. Caviness
    Martha Emily R. Bray
    Herbert Ritter
    Eli Marvin Ritter
    William Curtis Ritter
    Dewey Lennie Ritter

    Spouse: Sarah Mildred Sullivan born June 03, 1905, died July 26, 1997

    Hobson was born in Robbins, Moore County, North Carolina. When Hobson was eleven months old, his father died of typhoid fever, and three months later his mother died of the same disease.

    Capt. John Ritter's daughter, Julia Ann and her husband, George Williamson, took Hobson in and raised him.

    On January 03, 1926 Hobson married Sarah Mildred Sullivan, daughter of Jesse Sullivan and Laura Ellen Pierce. Mildred's family lived in the Bethlehem area north of Carthage.

    Hobson and Mildred made their home on Linden Road in Pinehurst where they raised their two daughters, Jessie and Betty.

    Hobson worked for Peachland, Inc. and later in Lexie Smith's store on Linden Road. When Lexie Smith went bankrupt during the depression, Hobson bought fourteen acres and four houses from T. S. Fuller who owned property on Linden Road in Pinehurst. Hobson started to haul and sell wood and take care of yards around the area. In his spare time he policed Knollwood, dug graves, and buried people. Hobson always liked to stay busy.

    Late in the 1930s Hobson and his brother-in-law bought a chicken processing plant after having worked there for some time. They bought chickens, dressed them, and then sold them to A&P Stores, Colonial Stores, and other grocery stores all over North Carolina and adjoining states. Business was good, and after a few years Hobson built his own chicken houses to raise his own chickens.

    During WWII Hobson sold chickens to the government to be shipped overseas. Some years later when the price of chicken dropped, Hobson sold the business, renting out his buildings.

    In 1987 Mildred suffered a stroke, which made living in their big home difficult. In 1990 Hobson and Mildred moved to a condominium on Linden Road. After Mildred suffered another stroke, both she and Hobson moved to Siler City Mildred to a rest home and Hobson to the home of his daughter, Jessie. Every day he faithfully spend the afternoon with his wife at the rest home, up until the day she died on July 26, 1997.

    Hobson lived out his life in Siler City in his daughter's home with his family's love and care surrounding him. Before his death he often received visitors from relatives and friends from around Moore County. Hobson enjoyed telling stories he had heard about his grandfather, Capt. John Ritter.

    During their lifetime Hobson and Mildred loved and served the Lord. Hobson was a former Sunday School Superintendent and deacon of Beulah Hill Baptist Church and later a member and deacon of Deep Creek Baptist Church in Pinehurst.

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    Questions from our readers

    Who was Columbus Ritter?
    The following was submitted by Vicci Flatt 10/31/00

    I would like to know if anyone could tell me something about a Columbus Ritter. I am fairly certain he is related to my line as they were all in the same area at the same time, but have not been able to connect him to a specific family.

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    Some Ritter History

    Date: 5/18/01
    Submitted by Gerhard Ritter email:

    The Ritters are descendants of the German Knights of which there were too many. As only the first born male inherited the castle and the adjacent lands during the dark ages, the younger siblings migrated mostly to the eastern lands after the crusades and established Ritterguts, large tracts of farmlands. These Ritterguts (pronounced Rittergoots in plural and Rittergoot for singular) were particularly large and predominant in Silesia, East Prussia, and Pommerania. Lands east of the Oder-Neisse Line that were lost after WWII. Also, the longer names that included the landholdings, such as Walther Ritter von Kirchheim-Teck, etc. were shortened to Walther Ritter or Walther von Kirchheim or, simply, Walther Kirchheim for the younger siblings as they had no rights to the landholdings. As land became scarcer in Europe, many of the Ritters sought new lands in the New World.

    I was actually born in Germany, back in 1936. Our lands were confiscated by the Poles in 1945 when Roosevelt/Truman gave the eastern German territories to Stalin who then gave them to Poland as compensation for the Polish section of the Ukraine that he incorporated into the Soviet Union. Hence Poland's geography shifted westward in 1945 and former Central Germany (Berlin was the epicenter of Germany) became East Germany. Loosing our landholdings, I like so many other Ritters immigrated to the US in 1955.

    According to my family history, a brother and his family on my great-great grandfathers side immigrated to Texas and spread the Ritter name in that area.
    Well, enough history.

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    Clinard Hobson Ritter b.August 09, 1902 d.May 02, 2000
    Jessie Ritter Bradley d. March 23, 2001
    Fletcher Carroll Williamson d.March 16, 2001
    Jessie Ritter Bradly (daughter of Clinard Hobson Ritter) d.March, 2001
    Viola Hussey Ritter, age 92 d. Aug. 19, 2000
    Lessie Tillman Ritter, age 89 d.Aug. 20, 2000

    Editor's Note: Please keep us informed of births and deaths of Ritter family members

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    Please send any comments and suggestions to Family Newsletter #5