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Ritter family papers


Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Jacob Ehrenzeller, Sr., James Hansell Ritter’s great-great grandfather, was born in Switzerland in 1725 but eventually settled in Philadelphia as a tavern owner. Through three marriages, he fathered many children. In 1773, he signed papers indenturing his son Jacob Ehrenzeller, Jr., at age 16, as a medical apprentice at the College of Philadelphia, later named the University of Pennsylvania. Today, the University of Pennsylvania honors the memory of its first resident, Jacob Ehrenzeller, Jr., with an annual Ehrenzeller Award given to an outstanding former Pennsylvania Hospital resident.

James Hansell Ritter and his brother Bradford Ritter, Jr. were both businessmen, much in the tradition of their grandfather, Jacob Ritter, Jr., who was a leading merchant in Philadelphia during the early 19th century. Bradford Ritter, Jr. was a druggist. James Hansell Ritter was the first president of the Chelten Trust Company of Germantown and president of both the Biddle Hardware Company and the Hardware Dealers’ Association. An active member of the Germantown Cricket Club, Mr. James Hansell Ritter also served as a vestryman at Christ Protestant Episcopal Church in Germantown.

Upon donation, the Ritter Family Papers was a collection of loosely organized diaries, journals, autobiographies, memorandum books, scrapbooks, legal papers, photographs and negatives, genealogical notes, and miscellaneous items housed in three boxes. These materials, dated from 1773 to 1962, have been reorganized into five series. Series 1 is a compilation of letters and papers found scattered throughout the collection; these materials are labeled Genealogical Records. In a diary (1884-86) owned by Mary Ritter (Mrs. Edmund Franklin Garret), there was a list of death dates of family members. In a diary (1911) by James Hansell Ritter were found copies of obituaries. Several letters (1903-05) between William Trautwine and James Hansell Ritter, one containing a copied page from a family Bible, indicated an interest in their shared family history. One envelope marked “Ritter Relatives 1700-1800" contained ephemera concerning the “old Ritter family Bible," and biographical material on Jacob Ritter, Jr., the Hansells, Ehrenzellers, and Garretts. A notebook recording items of interest from the Library at Vienna on Ritter lineage was a Christmas present (1872) from James Darraugh Ritter to Bradford Ritter. One note by Francis R. Stoddard, Jr. states: “Through his father, a son of Jacob Ritter, Jr., and Susannah Bradford, Mr. [James Hansell] Ritter was descended from William Bradford, who came to Pennsylvania in 1682. As his wife was descended from William Bradford, second Governor of Plymouth Colony, the blood of both Bradford families was united in their children.” While the genealogical material in this collection clearly traces Mary LeBaron Stoddard Ritter’s line to William Bradford (1589/90-1657), her 6th great-grandfather, there is insufficient documentation to tracing the Ritter line directly to William Bradford or one of his children. Finally, a seven-generation printout from the Wood-Vollmar Family Database Legacy Program (2004) showing the descendants of Johan David Ritter (c. 1680-1717) helped to consolidate the pieces into a whole.

Series 2, Photographs and Negatives, contains nine folders and a small box (Box 6). Most photographs are labeled so people named in the collection can be viewed. Some of the persons found include Colonel Thomas Bradford, Jacob Ritter, Sr., Jacob Ritter, Jr., James Hansell Ritter, Mary LeBaron Stoddard Ritter, Bradford Ritter, Sr., Bradford Ritter, Jr., Mrs. Bradford Ritter, Henry Stoddard Ritter, Henrietta Hansell French, Charles MacManus, Catherine DeHuff, Susan Ritter Trautwine, and Margaret Ritter. Finally, there are photographs of the exterior and interior of the Clayton French Home at 105 W. Chelten Avenue, Philadelphia. One group picture taken outside the home dated 1 July 1890 identifies Clayton French and Margaret H. Ritter French; but unfortunately, the rest of the group numbering about 50-60 persons is not identified (Box 5, Folder 1).

Series 3 contains the journals, autobiographies, notebooks, legal papers and miscellaneous items belonging to ancestors and relatives of James Hansell Ritter. A small journal belonging to Jacob Ehrenzeller, Sr. (1725-1798) records memorable events. Included are items of genealogical interest that may not have been included in the Ritter Family Tree (Box 1, Folder 12). The first part of this pocket journal has about 60 numbered pages; the second half is mostly blank. Jacob Ritter, Jr. was a Philadelphia merchant (1784-1840) who wrote his autobiography. The original, handwritten in fading ink, is readable and in fair condition (Box 1, Folder 14). There is a typed transcription of this autobiography (Box 1, Folder 17), a 114-page handwritten copy in a notebook (Box 2, Folder 1), and correspondence regarding this autobiography coupled with a small, handwritten booklet entitled “Adventures By Sea: Being excerpts from the Autobiography of Jacob Ritter, Jr. in 1804, 1805, and 1806” (Box 2, Folder 2).

James Hansell Ritter’s father, Bradford Ritter, Sr. (1828-1878) was a Philadelphia druggist. He kept a handwritten journal beginning in July 1845. The book opens with a hand-drawn sketch of a home drawn by his “deceased sister” and the title page labels the journal as “private.” Despite some missing pages, the book is readable and in good condition. At the end there is a page devoted to “Those Departed” and some morning and evening prayers (Box 2, Folder 3). There are four legal documents (1850, 1866) connected to Bradford Ritter, Sr. (Box 2, Folders 5-8) housed with this series. James Hansell Ritter’s sister, Mary Ritter (1865-1934; aka Mrs. Edmund Franklin Garret) kept a small journal from 1884-1886. This handwritten copybook is legible and full of newspaper clippings and photographs. This book may also contain some genealogical information not noted in the Ritter Family Tree (Box 2, Folder 9). James Hansell Ritter also had an aunt named Mary Ritter; he was the executor of her will dated 16 October 1885 (Box 2, Folder 11). A music book and Sunday-school certificate belonging to James Hansell Ritter’s brother Bradford Ritter, Jr. (Box 2, Folders 12-13) complete Series 3.

James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912) and his wife, Mary LeBaron Stoddard Ritter (1867-1949) are the focus of Series 4 which comprises at least one-half of the collection. Like his grandfather, Jacob Ritter, Jr., James H. Ritter wrote an autobiography which is dated 1908. Amidst this collection of loose papers was a separate note about the death of his mother (Margaret Hansell) dated 31 July 1907 (Box 2, Folder 15). A scrapbook belonging to James H. Ritter has been re-housed in folders. The pages removed from the first half of the scrapbook have been preserved in a fragile condition (Box 2, Folder 20); the second half was blank. A diary begun at age 17 notes: “I have commenced this diary with the hope that I may know myself better.” There are handwritten entries from 19 April 1876 until 22 October 1876 (Box 3, Folder 1). A travel diary records James H. Ritter’s trip to England, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France from 21 November 1888 to 5 January 1889 (Box 3, Folder 2). A small journal dated 5 November 1892 to 29 December 1892 records another European voyage during which he met and courted his future wife, Mary LeBaron Stoddard Ritter (Box 3, Folder 4). In 1910 and 1911, James H. Ritter kept yearly journals (Box 3, Folders 8-9). These, together with lecture notes on Job entitled “History of Our Times” (Box 3, Folder 5), complete the writings of James H. Ritter found with the collection.

The second part of Series 4 comprises materials once belonging to Mary LeBaron Stoddard Ritter. A Birthday Book dated 11 May 1883 is fragile but contains birthdays of family and friends from the Plymouth, Massachusetts and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania areas. This book may contain genealogical information not included in the Ritter Family Tree (Box 4, Folder 1). A handwritten travel diary records Mary LeBaron Stoddard’s “grand tour” of Europe from 3 November 1892 to 22 May 1893. During this voyage she met and courted her future husband, James Hansell Ritter (Box 4, Folder 2). Another travel journal housed in a 1906 Memoranda Book recounts Mary Ritter’s trip to California from 30 December 1925 to 21 September 1926 (Box 4, Folder 3).

Series 5 is a collection of miscellaneous materials. There are original sketches done by Margaret Humphries Hansell of the Joseph H. Kreider Miller home in North Annville, Pennsylvania (Box 4, Folder 4); copies of sketches of a Boarding School for Young Gentlemen at Nazareth Hall, a Young Ladies’ Seminary at Bethlehem, and some Moravian properties – all in Pennsylvania (Box 4, Folder 7). Two detailed, hand-drawn maps show areas bordering the Delaware River, but exact locations and dates are not given (Flat File 1).

Gift of H. Hansell Ritter II and Stacy B. C. Wood, 2004.

Accession number 2004.117.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Susan Kearney.
Finding Aid Date
; 2015.
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Collection Inventory

Descendants of Johan David Ritter: Genealogical Printout, 2004.
Box 1 Folder 1
John Cresson Trautwine: Family Record – Original, undated.
Box 1 Folder 2
Ritter Genealogical Notes from Library at Vienna: James Darraugh Ritter to Bradford Ritter, 25 December 1872, undated.
Box 1 Folder 3
Genealogical Correspondence and Notes including Family Bible Transcriptions, undated.
Box 1 Folder 4
Letter from John C. Trautwine, Jr. to James H. Ritter, regarding copies of six family portraits, 8 April 1907.
Box 1 Folder 5
Application for Membership to the Pennsylvania Society of the Colonial Dames of America: Original and Copy by Mary LeBaron Stoddard Ritter, descendant of William Bradford, Plymouth Colony, 3 November 1919.
Box 1 Folder 6

Reproduction of a Portrait of Colonel Thomas Bradford (Philadelphia Printers), 4 May 1745-7 May 1838, 2 copies, undated.
Box 1 Folder 7
Ritter Family Photos and Reproduced Portraits,1800-1995, undated.
Box 1 Folder 8
Ritter Family Photos: Negatives and Slides, undated.
Box 1 Folder 9
Ritter Family Photos: Four cased photographs, undated.
Box 6
Hansell/Ehrenzeller/MacManus/Dehuff family photographs and negatives, undated.
Box 1 Folder 10-11
Group Photos: Clayton French Home, 105 W. Chelten Avenue, July 1890, July 1890.
Box 5 Folder 1
Photo of Clayton French Residence, 105 W. Chelten Avenue, Germantown, Philadelphia, PA, undated, undated.
Box 5 Folder 2

Advertisement from “The Magazine Antiques”: Exhibit showing copy of a Portrait of Jacob Ritter, Sr. from 1818, 1962.
Box 5 Folder 3
Memorandum Book: Jacob Ebrenzeller (1725-1798): Small Extract of events “to preserve in His Memory,”, 12 July 1773.
Box 1 Folder 12
Sheet Removed from Memorandum Book: Jacob Ehrenzeller (1725-1798), undated.
Box 1 Folder 13
Jacob Ritter, Jr.: Autobiography (1784-1840) – Original, circa 1840.
Box 1 Folder 14
Letter Removed from Autobiography of Jacob Ritter, Jr. (1784-1840) – Original, circa 1840.
Box 1 Folder 15
Receipt Removed from the Autobiography of Jacob Ritter, Jr. (1784-1840),Original, June 7, 1962.
Box 1 Folder 16
Jacob Ritter, Jr., Autobiography (1784-1840) – Typed Copy.
Box 1 Folder 17
Jacob Ritter, Jr., Autobiography (1784-1840) – Extract.
Box 2 Folder 1
Jacob Ritter, Jr., Autobiography (1784-1840) – Correspondence and Extract.
Box 2 Folder 2
Bradford Ritter journal, July 1845-1 July 1871.
Box 2 Folder 3
Articles removed from Bradford Ritter’s journal, undated.
Box 2 Folder 4
Bradford Ritter (1828-1878) to Jacob B. Ritter, Trustee of Eliza Ritter Trautwine mortgage, 13 May 1850.
Box 2 Folder 5
James D. Ritter (1824-1879) to Bradford Ritter (1828-1878) Deed, 15 June 1850.
Box 2 Folder 6
Bradford Ritter (1828-1878) to James D. Ritter declaration of trust, 2 July 1850.
Box 2 Folder 7
Bradford Ritter (1828-1878) revocation of trust, April 1866.
Box 2 Folder 8
Mary Ritter (Mrs. Edmund Franklin Garret) diary, 1884-1886.
Box 2 Folder 9
Photos removed from the diary of Mary Ritter, undated.
Box 2 Folder 10
Will of Mary Ritter (1808-1884): Recorded by James H. Ritter (1859-1912), Executor, 16 October 1885.
Box 2 Folder 11
Bradford Ritter, Jr., Music Book, undated.
Box 2 Folder 12
Bradford Ritter, Jr., Sabbath School Certificate, 1 December 1869.
Box 2 Folder 13

James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912): Biographical Notes, undated.
Box 2 Folder 14
James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912): Autobiography with Inserts, January 23, 1908.
Box 2 Folder 15
Leather Folder with Portraits of Alexander Hamilton and Robert Morris: Property of James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912), undated.
Box 2 Folder 16
School Material Removed from Leather Folder housing Portraits of Hamilton and Morris: Property of James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912), 1869, 1871, 1873, 1906, undated.
Box 2 Folder 17
Articles Written by James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912). Removed from Leather Folder housing Portraits of Hamilton and Morris: September 1895, November 1903, February 1907, February 1908.
Box 2 Folder 18
Correspondence and Notes Removed from Leather Folder housing Portraits of Hamilton and Morris: James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912), 1807, 1893, 1906, undated.
Box 2 Folder 19
James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912): Scrapbook, circa 1890-1910.
Box 2 Folder 20
James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912): Articles Removed from Scrapbook, 1885, circa 1890-1910.
Box 2 Folder 11
James Hansell Ritter diary, 19 April 1876-22 October 1876.
Box 3 Folder 1
James Hansell Ritter Diary: European Trip to England, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France, 21 November 1888- 5 January 1889.
Box 3 Folder 2
Articles Removed from the diary of James Hansell Ritter, undated.
Box 3 Folder 3
James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912) diary, 5 November 1892-29 December 1892.
Box 3 Folder 4
“History of Our Own Times”: Lecture on Job by James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912) – Original, undated.
Box 3 Folder 5
Germantown Independent Gazette: Front Page Story on James H. Ritter and Chelten Trust Company, 11 May 1906.
Box 3 Folder 6
James Hansell Ritter diaries, 1910-1911.
Box 3 Folder 7-8
Note Removed from Diary of James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912), 1911.
Box 3 Folder 9
Obituary Clippings on James Hansell Ritter (1859-1912), 1912.
Box 3 Folder 10
Mary LeBaron Stoddard (Mrs. James Hansell Ritter): The Whittier Birthday Book.
Box 4 Folder 1
Mary LeBaron Stoddard (Mrs. James Hansell Ritter) diary, 3 November 1892-22 May 1893.
Box 4 Folder 2
Mary LeBaron Stoddard Ritter Diary: Trip to California (Housed in a 1906 Memoranda Book), 30 December 1925-21 September 1926.
Box 4 Folder 3

Joseph H. Kreider Miller’s House, North Annville, Pennsylvania – Three Sketches by Margaret Humphries Hansell (1834-1905), undated.
Box 4 Folder 4
Miscellaneous letter, 17 October 1860.
Box 4 Folder 5
Copies of Sketches: Reinoehl and Meily Mill, Lebanon, Pennsylvania; and Clear Spring Mills, Residence of Joseph H. Kreider, North Annville, Pennsylvania – Housed in 1908 calendar, undated.
Box 4 Folder 6
Sketch Cards: Boarding School for Young Gentlemen at Nazareth Hall, Pennsylvania; Young Ladies Seminary at Bethleham, Pennsylvania; Moravian Properties in Pennsylvania, undated.
Box 4 Folder 7
Miscellaneous, undated.
Box 4 Folder 8
Henry S. Ritter: Manila Folder from Northeast Manual Training School, undated.
Box 5 Folder 4
Two Hand-drawn maps of areas boarding the Delaware River, undated.
Oversize Flat file 1

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