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Heinrich Ritter c1715 Germany – 1797 PA

Heinrich Ritter c1715 Germany – 1797 PA

Our Ritter family traveled from Germany to Rotterdam, Holland where four Ritter [spelled Reyter on the ship’s passenger list] brothers, Heindrich, Paul, Martin and Caspar, sailed on the ship ‘Pennsylvania Merchant’.

Heinrich Ritter was born c 1715 in Germany. In 1732 Heinrich and his three brothers came to USA, landing in Philadelphia.  He and his brothers landed in Philadelphia on 11 September 1732.  Accompanying them were Elizabeth, the wife of Paul Ritter; their sisters Anna and Barbara; and Paul, the son of Paul.

Heinrich Ritter secured 170 acres of land in Lower Milford Township in March 1737 and built a log house with a stone chimney there in 1739. The 1914 history reports this log house “stood until a few years ago. The cellar and part of the chimney can still be seen.” A log over the fireplace of Henry’s log home had 1739 carved into it.[1]This was presented to the Lehigh County Historical Society. However, in writing to the Society about the log, it was learned this memento of our family can no longer be located.

Heinrich Ritter was naturalized 11 September 1740. He and his wife, Maria Elizabeth (Tutt) Ritter  attended the Lutheran Church where Heinrich was an elder. The Ritters moved to Salisbury Township, where, in 1764, Heinrich owned 280 acres of land.[2]

During the French and Indian War, 1754 – 63, Salisbury and other area towns were asked to provide transportation for an army being sent to the Pittsburgh area. Northampton County was being asked, by the Provincial and British authorities for 30 wagons. Henry Ritter, Constable of Salisbury made a list of wagons, draft horses and pack horses in the town. The short list included his own name as the owner of three pack horses and Henry Keck with one wagon.[3]  I believe this Henry Ritter was our Heinrich Ritter as he would have been the only Ritter in our family of the right age to hold such a position.

“No roads existed in the Lehigh Valley before 1730.”[4]Between 1730 and 1740 one of the few main roads was an old Indian trail. Travel increased and a road was needed. In 1756 a petition was presented to the Northampton court to appoint a group of men to view and lay out a road. Due to counter petitions and other delays the road was not laid out until 1760. This road passed through the properties of several men, including Henry Ritter.

“Agriculture was the major occupation of the residents of Salisbury from the earliest days of settlement.”[1]Early settlers made almost everything they needed including furniture, tools and clothes. By 1758 Heinrich and Maria Elizabeth had eight children to help with all the chores related to everyday life on their farm. The family continued to grow. Daughter, Anna Margaretha (Ritter) Klein was baptized on 8 February 1761 by the Reverend Daniel Schumacher.[2]Maria Magdelena (Ritter) Hartman was baptized by the same reverend on 11 January 1767.[3]Reverend Schumacher baptized those in Berks, Lehigh and Northampton Counties. These ten children went on to expand our family line in Pennsylvania.

Three sons of Heinrich Ritter served in the Revolutionary War: Corporal Casper Ritter[4], Johannes Ritter[5], and Sergeant Martin Ritter[6]. Johannes served in the Lancaster County Militia. Casper and Martin were both in the Northampton County Militia.[7]

“The Western Salisbury Church is older than the township.”[1]Its official name was the Jerusalem Reformed and Lutheran Church. Later it was known as the Jerusalem Union Church of Western Salisbury. Initially services were held in barns and groves. In 1741 a log structure was built “with a stone covered floor and hewn logs for pews and no stove.”[2]Heinrich Ritter and family were members of the church. The earliest list of communicants there includes both Heinrich and his son, Martin Ritter.[3]The Ritter name appears in the baptismal records before 1800. One of the oldest tombstones is Martin Ritter (1749 – 1827), son of Heinrich Ritter. It is believed that Heinrich’s tombstone is also there but has long since become weathered and unreadable.

Looking closely at the church records reveals ancestors of another branch of our family. Henrich Keck and his children were also communicants and contributors. Heinrich Ritter and Henrich Keck were related by marriage. Their children, Johannes Ritter and Maria Elizabeth Keck were married on 29 April 1768. The Kecks and the Ritters were sponsors at the baptisms of each other’s children.[4]

Heinrich Ritter remained in Pennsylvania where he died in January 1797.[5]His grandson, Johannes Ritter, Jr. moved his family to Wayne County, Ohio.

[1]Schmehl, William L. F. Salisbury: Born the Year the Liberty Bell was Hung and Rung – 1753. 1976.

[2]Ibid.

[3]Neimeyer, Stoudt, Rath, Reinhard, and Kemmerer. History of Jerusalem Lutheran and Reformed Church. Allentown, PA: H. Ray Haas & Company Publishers, 1911.

[4]Ibid.

[5]Roberts, Charles Rhoads, John Stoudt, Thomas Krick, and William Dietrich. History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of its Families 1732 – 1914. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Lehigh Valley Publishing Company, 1914.

[1]Schmehl, William L. F. Salisbury: Born the Year the Liberty Bell was Hung and Rung – 1753. 1976.

[2]Collections of the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania: Baptisms by Rev. Daniel Schumacher: 1754 – 1774.  Microfilm # 0385062 Family History Center. Baptismal records of Anna Margaretha Ritter and Maria Magdelena Ritter.

[3]Ibid.

[4]Corporal Casper Ritter, Ancestor #A096300, National Society of the Daughters of the American RevolutionResearch Database.

[5]Knox, Larry. The Ritter Family.

[6]Sergeant Martin Ritter, Ancestor #A096359, National Society of the Daughters of the American RevolutionResearch Database.

[7]Laudenslager, David R. County of Lehigh, Allentown, PA Veterans Affairs Office, Veterans Grave Registration Record. Revolutionary War Veterans. 1. Pennsylvania: 1994. Ritters: Casper and Martin.

[1]Roberts, Charles Rhoads, John Stoudt, Thomas Krick, and William Dietrich. History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of its Families 1732 – 1914. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Lehigh Valley Publishing Company, 1914.

[2]Roberts, Charles Rhoads, John Stoudt, Thomas Krick, and William Dietrich. History of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of its Families 1732 – 1914. Allentown, Pennsylvania: Lehigh Valley Publishing Company, 1914.

[3]Schmehl, William L. F. Salisbury: Born the Year the Liberty Bell was Hung and Rung – 1753. 1976.

[4]Ibid.

….. 1 Heinrich Ritter b: Abt. 1715 in Germany, d: Jan 1797 in Salisbury Twp., Northampton, PA
….. + Maria Elizabeth Tutt b: Abt. 1723, m: Abt. 1740, d: Abt. 1787 in PA
……….. 2 Johannes Ritter Sr. b: 17 Feb 1743 in Milford, Bucks, PA d: 18 April
1816 in Decatur, Mifflin, PA
……….. + Maria Elisabeth Keck b: 15 April 1747 in Salisbury Twp., PA m: 29 April
1768, d: 02 June 1813 in Black Oak Ridge, Union, PA
……….. 2 Philip Ritter b: Abt. 1745 in Milford, Bucks, PA, d: 1826 in Hartley, Union, PA
……….. + Justina
……….. 2 Casper Ritter b: 1749 in Milford, Bucks, PA d: 1822
……….. + Hanna Ottilia Hertz m: 11 Jan 1774
……….. 2 Martin Ritter b: 10 Nov 1749 in Salisbury Twp., Bucks, PA, d: 02
Nov 1827 in Lehigh, PA
……….. + Anna Margaret Steininger b: 11 Jan 1752, m: 11 Jan 1774 PA, d: 4 Aug 1838
……….. 2 Heinrich Wilhelm Ritter b: 20 February 1751 in Salisbury, Lehigh, PA
……….. 2 Johannes Theobald Ritter b: 11 June 1753 in Salisbury, Lehigh, PA
……….. 2 Jacob Ritter b: Abt. 1755 in Salisbury, Lehigh, PA
……….. + Elisabeth Klein
……….. 2 Barbara Anna Ritter b: 1758 in Salisbury, Lehigh, PA, d: Abt. 1785
……….. + Hartman
……….. 2 Anna Margaretha Ritter b: January 1761 in Salisbury, Lehigh, PA
……….. + Bernhard Klein
……….. 2 Maria Magdelena Ritter b: 07 January 1767 in Salisbury, Lehigh, PA
……….. + Hartman

Selected Sources:

  • Roberts, Stroudt, Krick, and Deitrich, THE HISTORY OF LEHIGH COUNTY,PENSYLVANIA AND A GENEALOGICAL AND BIOGRAPHICAL RECORD OF IT’S FAMILIES; 1732-1914; Lehigh Valley Publishing Company, Ltd., Allentown, Pa., 1914, Vol. III; pp 1054-1063; Lehigh County Historical Society, Old Court House, P.O.Box 1548, Allentown, PA 18105.
  • 1790 U. S. Census, Salisbury, Northampton, Pennsylvania. M637 Henry Ritter and Henry Ritter Jr.
  • “The Daily Record” 11 October 1998. Ohio Newspaper ‘Welcome to the Promised Land’ by Bonnie Knox and Joan White.

Learn much more about this family in my book, ‘The Mark Family Story’.

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