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By Joseph Wallace, M. A.
of the Springfield Bar
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, IL

Ancestor of Patty Gaddis

GEORGE RITTER - George Ritter, who is conducting a general florist business at No. 204 West Jefferson street, has been a resident of Springfield since the 25th of August, 1862. When a young man of eighteen years he arrived here to locate permanently and become a factor in the city's commercial interests. Mr. Ritter was born in Hesse-Darmstadt, Germany, April 28, 1843, and came of poor, but respectable parents. He is a son of John and Dora Ritter, who in the year 1867 crossed the Atlantic to the new world and for three years resided in Springfield, the father occupying the position of janitor in one of the public school buildings for that period. He then returned with his wife to his native land and both died there after reaching an advanced age, Mr. Ritter passing away at the age of seventy-nine, his wife when seventy-eight years of age. He had followed huckstering for several years and through the careful management of his business affairs had g ained a comfortable competence. In the family were three children: Henry, who resided in Springfield from 1861 until 1869 and then went to the west, where he followed the butchering business, being connected with that trade, throughout his entire life. He died in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1898, at the age of fifty-nine years, leaving one daughter, Mrs. Nettie Tuttle, who is a resident of Omaha. George is the second of the family. Nettie, who was born in 1846, came with her parents to this country and also returned with them to the fatherland. She is now the wife of Bernhart Dietrich, and resides in the town in which our subject's birth occurred.

Mr. Ritter attended the public schools of his native land until fourteen years of age and afterward pursued a special course in mathematics. In his youth he worked for his father for some time and afterward served a year's apprenticeship at the barber's trade, following which he came to America. For a year he resided in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and then spent six months in Philadelphia, after which he returned to Lancaster and joined a German regiment for service in the Civil war under the command of Colonel Hanbright, but was never called to the front, being stationed with his company in Lancaster.

As above stated, he arrived in Springfield on the 25th of August, 1862, and after engaging in the barbering business in the employ of others for six months, he opened a shop of his own, which be conducted for thirty years. During that time he was associated with different partners, including George B. Ritter, Jacob Ritter, and William Hone, the last named now deceased. He was also located in different business portions of the city and is today the oldest representative of the business now living in Springfield. He gained a high reputation for excellent work in his chosen field of industry and his patronage was extensive, so that year by year he was enabled to save something from his income, acquiring thereby a comfortable competence. In 1892 he sold his shop and accepted a responsible position in the bottling department of the brewery owned by Reisch Brothers, and in 1897 he left that place in order to take charge of his greenhouse business, which he had established in 1892, and which was conducted for five years by his daughter Annie until the business grew beyond her control and Mr. Ritter then took charge. This enterprise claimed his attention for about six years and as the result of his capable management and untiring energy he has met with success in his undertakings.

In Springfield, in 1865, was celebrated the marriage of George Ritter and Miss Elizabeth Hose, who was born in St. Louis, in May, 1849, and was living in Springfield with her parents at the time she gave her hand in marriage to Mr. Ritter. They became the parents of six children , all of whom reached years of maturity, namely: Dora. the wife of John Richard, of Omaha, Nebraska; John, who died in Phoenix, Arizona, leaving one child, Oscar; Fred, of Rome, Texas, who is married and has four children; Ernest, who has been a member of the United States Army since 1899 and now with the Seventh United States Cavalry is located in Georgia; Annie, at home, and Bernhardt a pharmacist of Litchfield, Illinois. All of the children were reared and educated in Springfield and the two eldest sons are barbers by trade, while Ernest learned the tailor's trade.

In 1874 Mr. Ritter purchased a lot and erected thereon his present home. Since locating in Springfield, more than forty years ago, he has continuously been a resident of the same ward and has been quite prominent in local polities. He was elected on the Democratic ticket to fill a vacancy of the board of aldermen and the following year was re-elected. In 1890 he was chosen by popular ballot to the office of collector of Capital township and for six years he served as supervisor of that township. Retiring from office on the expiration of that period he was after a short time re-elected collector. He served on various committees while supervisor, acting as chairman of the mines and mining committee. Other times has public office been offered to him, but he has declined to serve, preferring to give his attention to his business affairs. He has, however, been judge of elections for several years, and is a stalwart advocate of the cause of Democracy, although not deeply aggressive. He and his family are members of the German Lutheran church and he belongs to Teutonia Lodge, I. 0. 0. F., and the encampment, having passed all of the chairs in the order and represented the local lodge in the grand lodge. He is a charter member of the camp of Modern Woodmen of America, also of the Fraternal Christian Light and the Fraternal Army. There has been nothing sensational in his career; every step has been thoughtfully and carefully made and every advance has been at the cost of hard and self-denying labor. He stands today a strong man, strong in the conscience of well spent years, strong to plan and to perform and strong in his credit and good name.

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