Tag Archives: biographies

Charles Henry Ritchey – Prairie Farmer

The following biography was written by James Eben Ritchey, Charles Henry Ritchey’s son, and given to his children to hand down through the family.  My husband, Ritchey Brown, is very proud of his plains states heritage.  We were fortunate to visit Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska in 2002.  Charles Henry Ritchey is my Ritchey’s great-grandfather.

Charles Henry Ritchey – Prairie Farmer

Tall, auburn-haired Charles Henry Ritchey 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 14 April 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 the three small children – William McKee, James Sylvester and Charles Henry.

Charles Henry Ritchey and Lucinda A. Jewell were married 4 February 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 (two miles west and one mile south).  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.

Ritchey standing behind the gravestone of his great-grandparents.  Thomas W. Jewell, born April 3, 1815, died August 19, 1895.  Zillah Jewell, born March 18, 1823, died September 5, 1907.  Geneva Cemetery, Fillmore County, Nebraska.

Since many settlers were coming to Fillmore County, it was difficult to keep a place.  Another move, about two years 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 12 January 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 8 February 1891).  Maude lived to be nine years of age and passed away with diphtheria.  While very small, Edith died of whooping cough in 1890.  The deaths of those small children were so hard for the family to bear.  The three little ones are buried in Geneva Cemetery.

Children of C. H. & L. Ritchey – Edith, Arthur and Maude.

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 which had a windmill and a brick house (located one-half mile south and one-half mile west).

In 1894 and 1895 there was a severe drout 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 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 25 October 1912.

Geneva Cemetery

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 of 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.

Charles H. Ritchey, 1848-1912.  Lucinda Ritchey, 1849-1933.

Samuel Haycraft of Hardin County Kentucky

I share with you today a short biography of Samuel Haycraft, a very early citizen of Hardin County, who wrote a history of the county in 1869, which was published by the Woman’s Club of Elizabethtown in 1921.  Mr. Haycraft sounds like someone I would love to meet!  He evidently loved history, lived through a big part of the early history of his county, and thankfully wrote it down for later generations!

On May 7, 1866, he wrote a letter to the editors of The Courier-Journal newspaper.  He speaks of the two political parties in the United States at this time – ‘the Radical Abolition party, led by Sumner, Stevens and those of like ilk;’ and ‘that stripe of the Democratic party that met in Louisville on the 1st of May.’  He then gets to the heart of the matter of standing for saving the Union –

‘Now, if that statement be true, then I belong to no party, for I solemnly repudiate both, and set them down as one discordant party with two wings tending to the same end.  The first wing moving heaven, earth and the lower regions to break up the Union and destroy the Constitution, and the second so lately at it that I am afraid to trust them yet, but have some hope that they may yet wheel into ranks.

‘But I do claim to belong to a class of men, Old-line Whigs and Democrats, who, without regard for party names, stood, and still stand, for the Union; and who are determined to stand at the back of that firm and brave patriot, Andrew Johnson, in support of his reconstruction policy, and in the policy shown in two vetoes and his speech following the fist veto, and who wanted the Union speedily restored and our venerated Constitution preserved.  I contend that it is unworthy of the name of an American citizen to stand higgling about a name when our very foundation is sliding from under us.’

Before the war, in March of 1861, we find Mr. Haycraft as an experienced fruit-grower in Hardin County, giving information and advice on the growth of Northern apples.  Has anyone heard of these?  The Northern Spy, Rambo, Lady Apple, Rhode Island Greening, Summer Scarlet Pearmain, Early Strawberry – to name a few.

Thirty years previous, on the 25th of November, 1831, at a ‘meeting of a number of the citizens of Hardin County, Kentucky, friendly to the American System, and to Henry Clay, was convened at the courthouse in Elizabethtown.’  John L. Helm, Esq., was chair and Samuel Haycraft, secretary.

And It was Samuel Haycraft, an old family friend of Abraham Lincoln, that proposed he return to Kentucky for a campaign swing during the presidential race of 1860.  Lincoln, however, felt that it was unlikely to sway any of the Democratic voters to his ticket.

Samuel Haycraft

In the Samuel Haycraft was born August 14, 1795, in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, in a double, round-log cabin.  His father was Samuel Haycraft, a Revolutionary soldier, and a man of great public and private worth, who settled in Kentucky early in the latter quarter of the eighteenth century.  His mother was Margaret VanMeter, daughter of Jacob VanMeter, and belonged to one of the old and honorable pioneer families of the State.  The subject of this sketch, one of the most remarkable men who ever lived in Elizabethtown, spent nearly seven years of his boyhood in the country schools, the last two chiefly in studying the Latin language.  He was a careful, discriminating, and extensive reader and few men of the country were so thoroughly and universally well informed.  His long public career commenced when he was fourteen years of age.  At that time, in October 1809, he began to write in the office of the County and Circuit Clerk, Major Ben Helm.  The duties of this position he performed, with little variation, until 1816, when he received the appointment of Clerk of both Circuit and County Courts of Hardin County, and held this clerkship, uninterruptedly, until 1857.  He said of himself, ‘That, from the time he entered this office, he was attentive to business, and never neglected it; but, in leisure moments was fond of gay and lively company, particularly of dancing parties, but hardly ever descended to low company or rowdyism, but was a wild, wicked sinner.’  On retiring from this office, in 1851, the court and bar adopted, and placed on record, resolutions in every way flattering to him in his official capacity, as well as social and private relations of life.

He, then, began the practice of law at the Elizabethtown bar; but after four years of legal practice, was again called by the people to fill the vacant clerkship of the Circuit Court, caused by the death of the incumbent.  In 1857 he was elected to represent the people in the State Senate and held this position for four years.  He was, therefore, a member of the Legislature during the most important and critical period of the State’s history.  His record made in that body was most honorable to himself, and, in light of the present, is stamped by a wisdom, foresight, and fearless devotion to just and true principles, of which any man might well be proud.  He was instrumental in enacting some measures beneficial to the general good; and it was through his efforts, mainly, that the Legislation was induced to appropriate even the meager sum it did for the erection of a monument to Daniel Boone.  And, in that body, he was one of the most determined and staunch supporters of the Union.  He was then sixty-seven years of age, and, had lived with his father through the greater part of the life-time of the nation, and now stood in the Senate, gray with time and honor, one of the noblest Romans of them all, every ready to say, “The Union must and shall be preserved.”  But neither in that august body nor among his friends and neighbors at home, was he ever obnoxious in his opinions; on the contrary, however, conciliatory generous and discriminating, claiming only to himself his private opinions, and deeply sympathizing with the troubles of his neighbors and the misfortunes of the times.

He was again elected Clerk of the Circuit Court and retired in 1868, at the age of seventy-three, after an unparalleled service of sixty-five years.

He said of himself that, “On the first Saturday in April 1832, my wife and I were baptized by Elder Warren Cash, who also married us; and, in answer to my mother’s prayers, she lied to see all her children in the church, and to hear her youngest son preach the Gospel.”  For over forty years he was a member of the Baptist Church, a teacher in the Sabbath-schools and observed family prayers twice a day.  For several years he was a Trustee of Georgetown College, to which he made some bequests.  Of himself, he says: “I have occupied the same seat in church for over forty years, and never sit back in the scorner’s place.  On the 29th of October 1818, I was married to Sarah Brown Helm, a daughter of Judge John Helm, of Breckinridge County.  I regard the transaction as the most fortunate move of my life, temporally speaking.”  They had four children: Edgar H., DeSoto, Iowa; Sarah M., wife of S. McMurtry, Hardin County; Louisa Ann, wife of William Dix, Breckinridge County; and Margaret J., wife of C. D. Poston, once Representative in Congress of Arizona.  Mr. Haycraft was a fine public speaker and one of the most interesting conversationalists.  His disposition to joke was inveterate and a vein of humor seemed to underlie the most serious moments in his life.  He was a man of fin address, most genial temperament, courteous manner and splendid personal appearance; and few men of his age showed such high preservation of all the noble elements of manhood.  He stood as a monument of the effects of correct principles and practices of life, both physically and mentally.  Ye he modestly said: “My life has been rather quiet and monotonous, and does not afford much matter for history, especially of an extraordinary character.”

His wife died August 14th, 1878.  They had been married 60 years, lacking two months.  To her he repeatedly paid tribute throughout his career, and she was as much of a character in the town as he was.  A gentle, generous, pious woman of the old generation she was “Aunt Sallie” to the whole community.  Many of us still remember her agreeable peculiarity of always having on hand “sweet cakes” for distribution to the children who came to her house.  She and her husband lived in the fine square colonial brick house that stood on the northeast corner of Main and Poplar Streets, the first brick house erected in Elizabethtown.  It was a house of character, and it was a loss to the town when it was destroyed by fire about 1882.

He followed his wife to the grave in his 84th year on December 22nd, 1878, four months after her death.

How Reliable Are Old Biographies?

Some say that many family biographies are unreliable, such as those written for the Kentucky – A History of the State volumes – or any biographical works.  I believe any biography gives you a starting place.  It’s up to you to go to the original records and check the facts!  This biography was chosen since Ritchey and I visited Vanceburg Cemetery in Lewis County – we have photos of several of the gravestones for some named below.  Footnotes are given for the original sources, although the numbering system is a little different with WordPress!

Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, Battle & Kniffin, 1888

Lewis County

Henry C. Bruce was born in Lewis County, Kentucky, January 16, 1824[1], and is a son of Alexander Bruce, a native of Garrard County, Kentucky, was born September 5, 1796.  He was educated at Transylvania College, Lexington, Kentucky, studied law in his native county, and began the practice of his profession in Vanceburg in 1819.  In the latter year he married Miss Amanda Bragg, daughter of Thomas Bragg, of Lewis County.  Alexander Bruce was a Whig in politics and was a leading lawyer of the Vanceburg bar.  In 1825 he was elected to the Lower House of the State Legislature, when the political issue was upon the Old and New Court.  Mr. Bruce was an advocate of the Old Court party.  He was the father of seven children, all of whom are living.  He died in Vanceburg in 1851[2], being at that time the first candidate for county judge under the new constitution.  His wife survived him about one year[3].

Alexander Bruce died April 18, 1851, aged 53 years, 7 months and 13 days.  Vanceburg Cemetery, Lewis County, Kentucky.

Amanda M. Bruce died May 20, 1852, aged 49 years, 2 months and 6 days.

John Bruce, grandfather of Henry C., was a native of Virginia and was one of the pioneers of Garrard County, Kentucky.  He was a son of one of the Refugee Highlander soldiers who escaped after the Battle of Culloden Moor in 1745 and took passage for America.  He was also a Revolutionary soldier[4].  Thomas Bragg, the maternal grandfather of our subject, was a native of Fauquier County, Virginia, and located in Vanceburg, Kentucky, about 1800.  He also was a soldier of the Revolution and died in 1820, his wife surviving him until 1863, when she died at the advanced age of ninety-nine[5].

Lucy Blakemore, born in Frederick County, Virginia, April 8, 1764, married Thomas Bragg, September 20, 1781, and died in Lewis County, Kentucky, November 1, 1862, aged 98 years, 6 months and 23 days.

Henry C. Bruce passed his early life in steamboating[6] on the Ohio River.  In 1850 he married Mary Conner[7], daughter of Major William Conner, of Greenup County, Kentucky.  In 1870 he engaged in the mercantile business with his present partner, Mr. Rugles.  He is the father of seven children, viz: Sidney, Mary, Thomas, Samuel, William, John and Elsie[8].  His wife died in 1867, and in 1871 he married Miss Cassandra Caines[9], of Lewis County, a daughter of Charles Caines.  He had six children by his first wife and one by the latter.  In 1881 Mr. Bruce was nominated by acclamation for Senator and was elected the following August.  After the expiration of his term he again resumed his business pursuits.   He is an energetic business man, and is the owner of large city and farming property.


[1] According to the 1850 Lewis County Census Henry Clay Bruce, 26, and his new wife, Mary, 20, are living with his grandmother, Lucy Blakemore Bragg, 86.  Henry is listed as a boatman.  His mother, Amanda Bruce, also lives in the household, along with son Thomas J. Bruce, 28, and his wife, Mary, 20.

[2] Gravestone in Vanceburg Cemetery reads ‘Alexander Bruce died April 18, 1851, aged 53 years, 7 months and 13 days.’

[3] Gravestone in Vanceburg Cemetery reads ‘Amanda M. Bruce died May 20, 1852, aged 49 years, 2 months and 6 days.’

[4] Andrew Davis Bruce Sons of the American Revolution application from May 21, 1956.  Also, buried in the Bruce Cemetery in Garrard County – John Bruce, Revolutionary Soldier, born April 30, 1748, died April 13, 1827.  Elizabeth Clay Bruce, wife of John, born January 13, 1755, no death date.

[5] Gravestone in Vanceburg Cemetery reads ‘Lucy Blakemore, born in Frederick County, Virginia, April 8, 1764, married Thomas Bragg, September 20, 1781, and died in Lewis County, Kentucky, November 1, 1862, aged 98 years, 6 months and 23 days.’

[6] See footnote 1.

[7] Death certificate of Samuel Ellis Bruce, who died January 7, 1938, gives father as Henry Clay Bruce, and mother, Mary Conner.

[8] Children are listed in the 1870 and 1880 Lewis County census.

[9] Death Certificate of Elsa B. Kline, who died December 26, 1959, gives father as Henry C. Bruce, and mother Cassandra D. Caines.

Thomas Corwin Anderson Biography

Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, Battle & Kniffin, 1888

Montgomery County

Thomas Corwin Anderson, one of the most noted short-horn cattle breeders of the United States, was born August 24, 1845, in Montgomery County, Kentucky, at ‘Side View’ farm, where he now lives, on the turnpike between Paris and Mt. Sterling, and which is one of the most beautiful tracts of land in the Blue Grass region.  He is the only child of John Jay and Margaret (Mitchell) Anderson, both of pioneer families of Kentucky.  His grandfathers were Captains in the War of 1812, and his great-grandfather Anderson a conspicuous officer in the war of the Revolution.  Between fourteen and fifteen years of age the subject of our sketch enlisted in the Federal army, where, by his youthful acts of bravery, quick intelligence, and manly deportment, he soon won the admiration and esteem of officers and men.  He attracted the attention of General Nelson, who suggested that he should receive a military education.  This meeting the approval of his family, he was recommended to the U.S. Naval Academy, and received the appointment through Colonel William H. Wadsworth, Representative in Congress from his district.  he remained at the academy some three years, but, preferring an independent life on a farm to that on the ocean wave, he gave it up, and finished his education at Yale College.  October 12, 1870, he was married to Miss Annie English, of Louisville, Kentucky, daughter of Colonel Sam S. English, a prominent lawyer of that city.  He has two children, handsome, intelligent boys:  English and Jay; the fifth generation who have occupied this farm.  From early childhood Mr. Anderson has been a sufferer from weak lungs, yet he is a man of great energy and nerve.  He is thoroughly informed in regard to his business, and having a library well supplied with herd books, Short-horn histories, etc., no one is better posted in knowledge of pedigrees.  He is very fond of reading, and is a man of varied information.  He is pleasing in manner, exceedingly hospitable, and has many friends.  Mr. Anderson owns the largest individual herd of Short-horn cattle in the United States.

Charles H. Higdon Biography

Charles Higdon, November 11, 1835 – September 26, 1918.  Sara A. Higdon, February 9, 1950 – December 5, 1918.  St. Lawrence Catholic Cemetery, Daviess County, Kentucky.

from Kentucky – A History of the State, Perrin, Battle & Knifflin, 1883

Daviess County – Knottsville Precinct

Charles H. Higdon, farmer and stock-raiser, was born in this precinct November 11, 1835, and was a son of B. Henson and Henrietta (Milton) Higdon, both natives of Maryland.  He was reared on a farm, and received his education in the common schools of this county.  he was married in 1870 to Sarah A., daughter of John R. Duncan.  Eight children have been born to them, six now living – Charles I., Mary M., Francis K., Elmer L., Henson and an infant son.  Mr. Higdon owns 135 acres of well-improved land.  He and family are members of the Catholic Church.

Theodore Jennings Biography

from Kentucky – A History of the State; Perrin, Battle and Kniffin, 1888

Jefferson County

Theodore Jennings was born in Greencastle, Indiana, June 7, 1850, and is a son of Theodore C. Jennings, a miller, and an early settler of Indiana, who emigrated from Kentucky.  His mother was a daughter of Joel and Mary Yager, natives of Jefferson County, Kentucky.  The subject of this sketch was educated principally in the State University at Bloomington, Indiana.  In 1872 he engaged in a general merchandise business at Utica, Indiana, and in 1876 engaged in the drug business, which he followed until April, 1881, when he sold out and removed to Jeffersonville, and took charge of Lewman and Bros. drug business until 1884, when he came to Louisville, and engaged in the same business with F. Bender, on Shelby and Jefferson streets.  Having read medicine for ten years, he began attending a course of lectures in 1885, at the Louisville Medical College, graduating in 1887, and at once commenced practicing.  His office is at 909 East Jefferson Street, Louisville.  Dr. Jennings was married, in 1872, to Miss Maggie Summers, niece of James and Margaret Hobson, of Utica, Indiana, by whom he has three children: Anna, James and Maggie.  His wife died May 25, 1880.  He was next married, October 11, 1884, to Miss Maud Fogle, a daughter of Ebenezer Fogle, of Marion County.  By this second marriage he has one daughter, Nellie M. Jennings.

James C. Miller Biography

from History of Daviess County, Kentucky, Inter-State Publishing Company, 1883

Masonville Precinct

James C. Miller resides on the same farm in Masonville Precinct where his father settled in 1824, and where he was born August 26, 1830.  His father, Fleming Miller, was born in Henrico County, Virginia, November 1, 1791.  He followed teaming until the outbreaking of the War of 1812, when he enlisted in Captain De Val’s company.  After the war, he returned to Virginia and married Elizabeth Ally, and they came to Shelby County, Kentucky, where they had a family of four children, one living – Pleasant J., a tobacco merchant of Owensboro.  The mother died in Shelby County, and Mr. Miller then married Rosa Boswell, and then moved to Daviess County in 1824; soon after his arrival here she died.  He then married Sallie Crawford in 1829, a native of Shelby County, Kentucky.  He died June 28, 1860, and his wife died December 23, 1844.  James C., subject of this sketch, was the oldest of their eight children.  He was married to Amy S. Miller, January 23, 1852.  She was born in Ohio County, Kentucky, and was a daughter of James and A. (Anderson) Miller.  After his marriage, he settled on the old homestead with his father one year; then moved on a farm in Ohio County, Kentucky.  His wife died July 22, 1854, leaving one daughter – Sallie C., born February 27, 1853, now the wife of Dr. J. C. Sutton, residing in Hardinsburg, Breckinridge County, Kentucky.  After his wife died, he returned to Daviess County with his father.  He married Frances Y. Haynes, February 12, 1856.  She was native of Ohio County, Kentucky, born December 20, 1832, and was a daughter of Josiah and Frances Y. (Howard) Haynes.  After his marriage Mr. Miller settled on his farm in Ohio County and remained until 1870, when he returned to Daviess County and settled on a farm, two miles east of Whitesville, in Boston Precinct, where they remained until December 1878, when he purchased the old farmstead farm in Masonville Precinct, where he and family still reside.  Mr. and Mrs. Miller have had seven children, six living – Emma N., born March 14, 1857; Josiah H., born April 12, 1860; Henry C., born June 26, 1862; Fannie R., born July 12, 1866; Mary E., born January 27, 1869, and Amy B., born Jun 11, 1872, all residing with their parents except the eldest son, Josiah H., who is teaching school in Western Kentucky Normal School at South Carrollton.  Mr. and Mrs. James C. Miller are members of the Baptist church at Bethabara, as are all their children.  Mr. Miller is a member of Hodges Lodge, A. F. & A. M., at Whitesville.  He was Justice of the Peace in Ohio County four years; was appointed in Daviess County in 1880, to fill out an unexpired term, and elected in 1882 for whole term.  He was appointed Deputy Sheriff of Daviess County in 1875, and held that office three years.  He has held various other local offices of trust in his precinct.  Mr. Miller owns a fine farm of 165 acres where he resides, 125 under cultivation.  In politics, he is a Democrat.  He is of Irish and German descent.  Mrs. Miller’s family was English and Welsh decent.