Marriage License for Charles H. Ritchey and Lucinda A. Jewell

Note by Phyllis Brown:  This is one of the prettiest marriage licenses I’ve seen.  Not only is it decorative with a nice drawing of a bride and groom, but the handwriting is so perfect it looks like type.

Lucinda was married to William Comeford on August 9, 1867.  They had one child, Miranda Amanda Comeford.  When Miranda was a baby, William kept saying he was going to place her in a convent.  Lucinda would not hear to it.  This led to a bitter division between the couple – William drank and they separated.  Lucinda and baby Miranda went to live with her parents, Thomas and Zillah Jewell.  This is why the marriage certificate for Charles Henry and Lucinda Amanda lists her as a “Comeford” instead of a “Jewell”.

The terrible blizzard mentioned is known as the Children’s Blizzard.  By morning on Friday, January 13, 1888, more than one hundred children lay dead on the Dakota-Nebraska prairie.  Read David Laskin’s book of the same name – a fascinating read.

Charles Henry Ritchey and Lucinda Amanda Jewell are my Ritchey’s great-grandparents.   The following information was told by James Eben Ritchey, a great-uncle to my husband.


Tall, auburn-haired Charles Henry won the hand of beautiful Lucinda Amanda Jewell.  Others courted, but it was the six-foot tall, blue-eyed Charles Henry who “had a jewell to keep his house in order”.

Charles Henry, son of Charles Ritchey and Amanda McKee, was born at Rushville, Schuyler County, Illinois, on April 14, 1848.  When Charles Henry was only three years of age, he lost his mother after the birth of her fourth child, Jacob.  Six weeks later his father remarried.  The new step-mother, Martha, cared for three small children – William McKee, James Sylvester and Charles Henry.

Charles Henry Ritchey and Lucinda A. Jewell were married February 4, 1875, at Rushville, Illinois.  Three children were born at Rushville – Charles Thomas, Mary Emma and James Eben.  When James was but a babe, his parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles traveled by covered wagon to Corydon, Iowa.  While in Corydon, Elmer Cross was born.

When James was about four, the entire party journeyed westward to Fillmore County, Nebraska.  They brought a large herd of cattle with them.  Charles Henry’s father-in-law, Thomas W. Jewell, and his uncle, Enoch Jewell, had gone ahead to look for land.  The Jewells bought one hundred sixty acres of land near Strang, Nebraska).  On the Thomas Jewell farm there was a white, four room house.  On Charles and Lucinda’s farm there was a sod house.  They lived in the sod house about a year; then Charles Henry built an L-shaped house on the “Cobb” place about one-fourth mile from the “soddie”.

Since many settlers were coming to Fillmore County, it was difficult to keep a place.  Another move, about a year later, found them one and one-half miles east of the county “Poor Farm”.  Their home was on the south side of the road.  While living on the “Butler” place, the family experienced the severe blizzard of January 12, 1888.  The blizzard blew off the top of the barn.  Luckily the children were not in school the day of that awful blizzard.

In 1890, Charles Henry moved his family to Geneva, Nebraska.  Here Edith, Maude, Arthur and Frank were born.  Frank was born during a very bad blizzard on February 8, 1891.  Maude lived to be nine years of age and passed away with diphtheria.  While very small, Edith died of whooping cough.  Little Arthur, never well, also died of whooping cough in 1890.  The deaths of those small children were so hard for the family to bear.  The three little ones were buried in the Geneva Cemetery.

The older children, Charles, Mary, James and Elmer attended school at the “Ward School” in the west part of Geneva.  Charles Henry hauled bricks at the brickyard.  James herded cows for another farmer; in exchange for his work, James was allowed to pasture the Ritchey cattle on his employer’s farm.

The Ritchey’s next move was on Highway 81 (one mile east and one-half mile south of Geneva.)  Because there was no windmill on that place they moved in 1898 to a place that had a windmill and a brick house.

In 1894 and 1895 there was a severe drought further west.  Settlers in Perkins county had “starved out” and were returning east.  The destitute travelers “borrowed” the oats and corn of the Fillmore farmers in order to feed their horses and cattle.  The travelers also dug up the potatoes grown by Charles Henry and his family.  That fall Charles Henry and son Charles went to Missouri to shuck corn.  When they returned from Missouri they brought bushels of apples which were made into apple butter.

Charles Henry and Lucinda continued to farm on rented land near Geneva, but Charles Henry yearned to own a farm of his own.  After the four older children were married, Charles and Lucinda had a sale.  They moved to Custer County where they bought a farm in March 1909.  Charles Henry and his youngest son, Frank, continued to farm, but Charles Henry was not well.  Cancer of the stomach and liver claimed his life on October 25, 1912.

Today Charles Henry and Lucinda, Lucinda’s parents, Thomas W. and Zillah Jewell, and the three little ones lie in the tree shaded cemetery in Geneva, Nebraska.

All his life Charles Henry struggled with the elements while turning the prairie sod into farmland.  At his side was the Jewell he had courted and won – Lucinda.

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