Pages 413-415, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




THE RITTER BROTHERS.—In September 1882 two boys, Chris Ritter and John Ritter, came to Kansas from their home in Clark county, Illinois.

The town of Bronson had only been founded a short time and it was here these pioneer representatives of the Ritter family in Kansas, first located. They came from a family of farmers both having been born and raised on a farm in Illinois. Having no relatives in the West they located in Marmaton and Elsmore townships where for some years they made their home with the Welkers and Fords and other Clark county, Illinois, people who had located in Kansas. At that time the Rocklow school was without a teacher. A few days after his arrival in the State, Chris was employed as teacher for the winter term of school. Rocklow was then famous for one thing, that was its big bad boys.

John Ritter secured a position with William Davis and Sam Stout to help them run their threshing machine. At that time the millet was not threshed until during the winter for granaries and barns were unknown. Grain was kept stored in the stack until a market was found for it. In the following January while threshing millet on the farm of D. W. Voungs, in Spring Valley, John Ritter accidentally had his right hand torn off by


getting it caught in the side gear of an old horse power machine. He was then but a boy, six hundred miles from home and among strangers. Boys with less pluck and determination would have given up the battle in the West and returned to the parental roof, but not so with John Ritter.

During the next summer and even before his wounded arm had entirely healed he secured work on the farm and continued in that capacity for several years. In about 1890 he together with his brother Chris bought a livery stable in Bronson and he entered into that business which he followed very successfully for several years, afterwards buying a livery stable in Iola. He moved to that city and has been in the livery business ever since. In 1891 he married Delana Evans, a daughter of Jesse Evans, for years one of the leading men of Bronson.

Chris Ritter taught school in Rocklow and Stony Point, the adjoining district, for four years. He farmed during the summer season and in 1888 quit teaching and devoted himself entirely to farming and stock raising.

When the Alliance and kindred Farmer's organizations were organized in 1889 and 1890 he took an active part and was President of the first County Alliance of Allen county. During the summer of 1890 when the Farmer's Alliance movement began to take shape as a political organization, he together with "Doc" Aitken issued a call for a mass convention in Iola to organize the Peoples Party in this county. When the party was organized in the Second Congressional District he was the only delegate from Allen county to that convention which was held in Fort Scott. In September, 1890, Chris Ritter sold his farming outfit and stock and moved to Bronson to take up the study of law. He was elected Justice of the Peace in the election that fall and when the town of Bronson was incorporated as a city of the third class the following spring he was elected Police Judge. In September, 1891, he was admitted to the bar in the District Court of Bourbon county of which Hon. S. H. Allen, afterwards Justice of the Supreme Court, was then Judge. During the winter of 1891 he made a trip to Oklahoma to look up a better country to settle in but came back satisfied that Iola and Allen county were good enough. In April, 1892, he moved to Iola and opened up a law office. At that time the Farmer's Friend, the Populist newspaper, was in hard lines and the publishers, Wixon Brothers, had announced their intention to discontinue the paper. Mr. Ritter at once realized that the Peoples Party in Allen county needed the Farmer's Friend. He had some newspaper experience, having done considerable work on the local paper at Bronson while he lived there. Largely through his efforts others were interested in the Farmer's Friend and its publication continued with S. D. Bartlett as editor and himself associate editor.

Mr. Bartlett severed his connection with the paper later on and Mr. Ritter assumed charge of it. The Allen County Herald, a Democratic paper published in Iola at that time, was absorbed by him and consolidated with the Farmer's Friend. The business of a Populist lawyer and weekly newspaper of the same political faith seem to go well together and Mr. Ritter continued them for many years. In 1896 he was nominated by his party for


County Attorney and endorsed by the Democrats and elected. After his term expired he again took up his private practice and newspaper work and is still at it.

Among the young ladies who attended the Rocklow school during the time Mr. Ritter taught it was Miss Hattie Welker. In 1893 Mr. Ritter made a trip to Minnesota where Miss Welker was visiting relatives and they returned married, very much to the surprise of their friends and relatives here. They have two girls, Neva and Casandra. They live in a pleasant home at the corner of Broadway and South Elm, in Iola.

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