St Clair Cemetery, Mt Lebanon, Allegheny Co, PA

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

1921 Obituary Gushes on First Wife, Ignores Second

Reading older obituaries in the quest for more family information can be fun. Sometimes, you really wonder who wrote the obituary and what were their motives for what was said, or in some cases, not said.

Such is the case for a 1921 obituary I just received. The newly deceased, William Henry Swift RITCHIE, appears to have been murdered in his official position of Assistant Marshall in Kentucky.

The obituary I saw is not from West Point, Kentucky, where he was living, but rather, it was from the place of his birth in Washington County, Pennsylvania. I found the obituary odd, and maybe you will as well.

...March 31, 1921 McDonald PA Outlook
Canonsburg, March 21--Friends here were advised today of the
tragic death near West Point, Ky., a few days ago of W. H. S. RITCHIE,
formerly a prominent merchant of Canonsburg and well known to all persons
who resided in this community until he left here in 1883. According to word
received here Mr. RITCHIE, who was serving as deputy marshal of West Point,
was murdered while serving papers at a house outside that town.

Mr. RITCHIE was born in Canonsburg June 9, 1850. At the age of
ten years he entered his father's store. With the exception of the time he
attended school he worked in the store, and when he was 20 years of age the
principal management of the business was assumed by him. He became sole
proprietor in 1875. The building in Central avenue was built in 1877-78.

Mr. RITCHIE was twice married. His first wife was Sadie MILLER,
daughter of the late Thomas MILLER of Chartiers township and later of
Canonsburg and sister of the Rev. Dr. David REED of Oakmont, John C. MILLER,
of Chartiers township, and the late J. Martin MILLER, of Plum Run, and
Andrew S. MILLER, of Bellevue. Mr. RITCHIE's second wife survives, with a
son and daughter, who reside in West Point, Ky. He was also a cousin of
Miss Margaret LIINDSAY of McDonald.

Did you note the first wife and her family history? Did you note the scant mention of a living widow?

So, off I went on the net this morning to see if I could determine why the second wife was barely mentioned. With that said, let me share some of what I uncovered.

William Henry Swift RITCHIE's first wife, Sarah Jane Miller, was a native of Washington County, PA (oh, and a cousin of mine). She was born 1852 and died at age 40 in 1892. She bore William three children: Madeline (b. 1876. d. 1958), William C (b. 1879), and Theodore M (b. 1873).

After Sarah's untimely death, William remarried in 1894 to Leo (b. 1869 in Alabama). William and Leo had six children. I believe five of them survived to adulthood.

Mystery solved. The second wife had no ties to the local community of his and his first wife's birth, therefore, it appears not to have been important. His first wife's family were early pioneers in the area and, therefore, of much more local interest.

Now to the other mystery surrounding W. H. S. Ritchie that I have not uncovered yet. His father was Craig Ritchie. What I don't know is if they tie into my other Ritchie family in Allegheny County who migrated from Ireland by 1850. This Ritchie family is the James Ritchie family who also married a cousin of Sarah Jane Miller in 1861.

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