Wood and Laura Rittenhouse


Sources: History of Alexander, Union and Pulaski Counties, Illinois. Edited by William Henry Perrin, ©1883 Chicago: O. L. Baskin and Company, Historical Publisher, Cairo Precinct; pictures contributed by Robin Rittenhouse, great-grandson.

Wood Rittenhouse, merchant, Cairo, is a native of Hamilton County, Ohio and was born June 21, 1835. His father, Joseph Rittenhouse, was born in the same county in 1808 and in 1828 married Miss Sarah J. Ewing, who was born in 1812 in Hamilton County, Ohio. To these parents were born five sons--William E., John H., Wood, James A. and Joseph H. Their father died in 1842 and the mother was subsequently married to Thomas Lind. She is now living on the old Rittenhouse homestead in Ohio, though enfeebled by age. Wood Rittenhouse received a common school education in his native state to which he added a course in the Evansville Commercial College of Indiana. In 1858 he came to Cairo and for four or five years was employed in the capacity of salesman for B. S. Harrell and William White. At the death of Mr. White, Mr. Rittenhouse and C. Hanny, another clerk, became his successors and continued their business for a term of eight years, the last five of which time they occupied the building now used for the Alexander County Bank, which they erected in 1865. At the termination of this partnership, Mr. Rittenhouse, in 1870, began his present line of trade, that of flour and commission business, locating on the Ohio levee. In 1872 he associated with him in business his brother, Joseph H. Rittenhouse, which partnership still exists and is one of the standard firms of Cairo. Mr. Rittenhouse has been and now is President of the Chamber of Commerce. He has served the city for several years as a member of its Council and also of the Board of Education. He is a member of the Masonic order and a Republican in politics and morally and socially he exerts an extensive influence for good. He was married in Pulaski County December 31, 1863 to Miss Laura J. Arter, daughter of Dr. Daniel Arter. She was born in Pulaski County April 30, 1841. Their family consists of Isabella Maud, Wood Arter, Harry H., Fred M. and Robin C. (See Maud's biography elsewhere on this page under Maud Rittenhouse Mayne)
(Note: Robin Rittenhouse, a great-grandson of Wood contributed the following information: Wood Rittenhouse was actually born Stephen Wood Rittenhouse, but dropped his first name at a fairly early age. It may have been omitted because an uncle had the same name. Even his will omitted it. Wood Rittenhouse died on May 26, 1896, a victim of a tragic ferry boat accident. He and ten others lost their lives when the ferryboat, KATHERINE, heading to Wickliffe, KY, was capsized as a result of a sudden and severe windstorm. It is believed that his body was never recovered. Laura Arter Rittenhouse died in Chicago on July 11, 1911. (See obituary) For more information about the sinking of the KATHERINE, click here.)

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