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Our Rich History: A personal history of the Ritchie family of Ludlow and Cincinnati

By Pat Stavovy and Thomas Hern
Special to NKyTribune

Casper Ritchie, Jr. built a large home in Ludlow at the corner of Elm and Locust Streets and moved there in 1860. The family called it the big house. Our grandmother Elizabeth was born there, as well as her brother Walter S. and sister Louise. The Ritchie family members continued to live there, and it was replaced by a supermarket in 1958.

Casper Jr. became a member of the 1st Baptist Church. A dedicated member, he became a Sunday school superintendent.

Ritchie house, Elm and Locust Streets, Ludlow.
From the postcard collection of the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

The Ritchies had migrated from Scotland to Switzerland sometime well before 1800. Because of the Jacobite rebellion, there was repression in Scotland by the English. The Jacobites (Jacob is Latin for James; James II was the last Stuart king) were those who supported the claim of the Stuarts of Scotland to the throne of England. The English were afraid of the re-establishment of the Roman Catholic Church by the Stuarts; but many others, including Presbyterians, also supported the Stuart cause. The troubles started after the English Civil War (1642-49). James II escaped to France in 1688, and William and Mary took the throne. Charles Edward Stuart, the young pretender (claimant) to the throne who was living in France — also known in legend as Bonnie Prince Charlie — sailed to Scotland in 1745 and led an army of mostly highlanders in which the Jacobite army was severely defeated by the English.

Casper Ritchie Sr. was christened in 1800 at Wipkingen, a district of Zurich, Switzerland. About 1825 he married an orphan girl named Elizabeth Wasser, born in 1796. They had two children born in Zurich, Switzerland: in 1827 Casper Ritchie Jr., followed by Jacques in 1829.

In May 1834 the Ritchie family traveled to Le Havre, France and boarded a ship for America. It arrived in New Orleans. Armmin Tenner wrote in his book Cincinnati Now and Then, (pages 492-494), that the Ritchie family had originally intended to settle in St. Louis, but the climate disagreed with them and about a year later the family settled in Cincinnati on Mt. Adams.

Casper Sr. was a calico printer for 22 years in Switzerland. He became a machinist (1840-1866) in Cincinnati.

Daniel Edgar Ritchie (a descendant of Casper Ritchie) writes in The Encyclopedia of Northern Kentucky, edited by Paul A. Tenkotte, and James C. Claypool (page 761) that because he was unable to find work during the bank crisis [of 1837] and economic hardship of the early 1840’s, he returned with his family to Switzerland in 1842.

On their return to Cincinnati in 1847, the Ritchie family identified with the Germans of Cincinnati and grew alarmed at the growth of the anti-immigrant Order of the Star-Spangled Banner, or Know- Nothings. After the Know-Nothing riots of 1855, Casper Ritchie Jr., a son of Casper Ritchie Sr. resolved to leave Cincinnati. He already owned property in Ludlow, which he considered a place of “Arcadian simplicity” and began building a home there in 1858. During the Civil War, Ritchie Jr served in a Home Guard unit to protect the area from Confederate attack and prevent the sale of contraband.

Casper Jr. established a dry goods store in Cincinnati in 1851 on Lower Market, part of Pearl St., and his brother Jacques joined him in 1853. Their store would now be beneath I-71 at the ball park.

Both sons married Moore sisters in 1853. Casper Ritchie Jr. married Elizabeth Moore, born 1830 in Glasgow, Scotland. Jacques married Mary Moore, born 1832 in Montreal, Canada.

After returning to Glasgow, their father Hugh Moore immigrated to Montreal, Canada in 1831. It was a seven-week voyage in a sailing vessel. In 1834, Hugh left Montreal for New York City. During the dead of winter, they traveled Lake Champlain and the Hudson River by sleigh. He arrived in New York City on February 5, 1835 to start up his hat business on Hudson St.

Hugh Moore brought his family to Cincinnati in 1840 and they too lived on Mt Adams. He was also a Scot whose family had escaped religious persecution of Presbyterians in about 1700, living in Ballyskeagh in County Down, near Belfast, northern Ireland. Their mother, Catherine Moffet, came from Paisley, Scotland. He was in the hat business.

Jacques Ritchie was one of the originators of the first German Sängerfest ever held in America, the event taking place in Cincinnati in 1849. In 1873 this would be followed by the now famous May Festival, a more sober event. Sängerfest Hall was soon replaced by Music Hall on the same site. He was also appointed Swiss Consul. The family moved to Hyde Park.

The Ritchies are buried in two locations – Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati and Highland Cemetery in Ft. Mitchell.

Thanksgiving, 1901, at the Ritchie house in Ludlow. Casper Ritchie Jr. at back end of table; at the right is Glenna Jolly Ritchie (wife of Casper Jacques Ritchie), Luly, Edgar (age 9), Andrew (age 10), Lillie (at end of table opposite of her father), Casper Jacques, Ruth (age 12), Casper Moore Ritchie (age 13), and Arnold.

A grandson, Lt. Edgar Barrick Ritchie, served as an Ammunition Supply Officer with the
U.S. Army’s 355th Infantry Regiment during the First World War. He was killed in combat at Beney, France. The American Legion Post 25 in Ludlow was named in his honor. His mother, Glenna Jolly Ritchie, was a Gold Star mother and part of the Ladies’ Auxiliary of the American Legion Post.

This article is based on our family history book: The Ritchie and Moore Families of Cincinnati and Ludlow (2015). Copies are in the Cincinnati, Kenton County, and Cincinnati History libraries. This work is based in part on books by our great grandfather, Walter T. Ritchie. His books are in the Cincinnati History library.

The Kenton County library has a large collection of 19th century Ritchie family photos saved by Paul Bogart of Columbus. (See article by David Schroeder in Bulletin of the Kenton County Historical Society, March-April, 2003.)

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  1. ruth bamberger says:

    As a Ludlow resident, I appreciated learning more about the Ritchie family. Their home and environs on Elm St. were gems in the Ludlow community. Unfortunate that their home was razed in an era when historic preservation wasn’t high on the city’s priority list. Now we have an active Historic Society in Ludlow working to preserve the rich architectural character of the community.

    • Bill (at that time, "Billy") Boys says:

      I, too, was sorry to hear that lovely home had been torn down to make way for, of all things, a little Kroger store, and now it’s a Dollar General or something. I lived there for a year in 1948 – 1949. I was 10 years old at the time.

  2. DAVID GILB says:

    I would like to know more about the Hugh Moore Family on Mt Adams.

  3. Bill (at that time, "Billy") Boys says:

    I was a 10-year-old boy living in that house from Christmastime 1948 to sometime in 1949. We were renting it from the owner, a chiropractor, I believe, whose name I did not know. I wonder if he may have been a Ritchie descendant?
    How delighted I was to find that beautiful image of the postcard that once existed, and I thank you for the striking story of why Casper Ritchie, Jr., left Cincinnati and built that house. (The anti-immigrant “Know-Nothings” who resort to violence seem to have an eerie echo in today’s news cycle. I suppose we’ll survive them again.)
    Part of your story and the postcard image are going into my homemade amateur journal of memoirs about “My Old Home Places.” Thank you so much.

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