John Ridenhour

John Ridenhour was born 31 October 1802 in the Upper Louisiana territory. The land, which was part of a Spanish land grant, was under control of the French who sold the land as part of the Louisiana Purchase to the United States government on 30 April 1803. The land where he was born lay on Ridenhour Creek near Boles, Franklin County, Missouri.

John was the last of seven children born to John Ridenhour and Christina (Zumwalt) Ridenhour. They lived on land that was wild, uncultivated, and teeming with animals. This was also the land of the Osage Indians, the Indians that killed his father on 3 April 1803. His mother had to petition the U.S. government to honor the land grant that her husband John had purchased from the Spanish.

John married Elizabeth Reed about 1824. She was born 30 November 1800 near Lexington, Fayette County, Kentucky to Edward Reed and Margaret (Close) Reed. The Reed’s moved to Missouri around 1810. During the next six years their three children, Reuben, Martin (our ancestor), and Amelia were born.

Ridenhour, John Deed

John Sold his Portion of Inherited Land to his Brother Bernard

On 5, March 1832, John sold his share of the land inherited from his mother to his brother Bernard. The land had the Missouri River as a boundary to the north, on the east and west were lands of the United States and the land to the south was owned by his brother Reuben. This was the land granted to his father by the Spanish government. He then moved the family to Gasconade County where they were enumerated in the 1840 Census. Living with them were their children Reuben, Martin, Amelia, Elizabeth, and Elvira. Adam, their son, was born after the 1840 Census was taken. Thomas Benton was born in 1842 and their last child, Christina, was born in 1846.

On 21 August 1841, John purchased 83.36 acres of land from John Hutten. The land, located in Osage County, was in the northwest quarter of the southeast quarter of section twenty and the southwest quarter of the northeast quarter of section twenty in township forty-one, range seven west.

1850 Ridenhour Census

1850 Census²

By 1850, the oldest of John and Elizabeth’s children were out of the home leaving Elvira, Adam, Thomas, and Margaret. Amelia, their daughter, most likely died before 1850. Living next to them was their son Reuben and daughter Elizabeth and her husband Samuel Hawkins.

At the time of his death, John owned two hundred acres of land. He sold the land purchased from John Hutten to his son Martin in February 1852 indicating that he was possibly ill and unable to use the land. John died six months later on 4 August 1852. He is buried in Backues Cemetery in Maries County, Missouri.

John died without a will. His son-in-law, Samuel Hawkins, was appointed the administrator of his estate. After his death, Reuben, Martin, and Alvira quit-claimed their undivided portion of land inherited from their father’s estate to Samuel. Reuben sold his land first for fifty dollars in 1853 followed by Martin and Alvira who received one hundred dollars each.

A year before the Civil War, Elizabeth was living with her daughter Margaret, aged fourteen. Margaret was listed as a farmer in the 1860 census. Three of her sons, Martin, Adam, and Thomas enlisted in the 34th Regiment of the Enrolled Missouri Militia. After their discharge in 1864, they enrolled in the 50th Regiment Infantry. Their discharge took place after a month of service on 27 April 1865, after the Civil War was over. The Civil War era must have been very stressful for Elizabeth, a widow, having to support a young daughter, and having three sons serving in the Missouri Militia.

My beautiful picture

John’s Headstone in Bachues Cemetery

Elizabeth was not found in the 1870 Census so little is known of her life between 1860 and 1870. She died 2 June 1872 in Belle. She is buried in Backues Cemetery in Maries County with her husband John.


Elizabeth’s Headstone in Bachues Cemetery










John Ridenhour (1802-1851) m. Elizabeth Reed (1800-1872)

Reuben Ridenhour (Abt. 1826-1877)
Martin Ridenhour (1827-1904)
Amelia Ridenhour (Abt 1830-Bef. 1850)
Elizabeth Ridenhour (Abt 1832-?)
Elvira Clara Ridenhour (1836-1914)
Adam Ridenhour (1840-1915)
Thomas Benton Ridenhour (1842-1927)
Margaret Christina Ridenhour (1846-1909)

¹Franklin, Missouri, Deed Records, B: 431-432, John Ridenhour to Bernard Ridenhour, 5 Mar 1832; Franklin County, Missouri Recorder of Deeds, Union.

²1850 U.S. census, Osage, Missouri, pop. sch., Jefferson, p. 422A, dwell. 123, fam. 123, Household of John Ridenhour.


Martin Ridenhour

When Martin Ridenhour was born his family had already been in Franklin County, Missouri for close to thirty years. He was born on 14 December 1827 to John S. Ridenhour and Elizabeth (Reed) Ridenhour. His grandfather, John Ridenhour, and his grandmother, Christina (Zumwalt) Ridenhour had arrived in the area as early as 1797. Martin never knew his grandfather as John was killed by the Osage Indians in 1803.
While Martin was a young boy the family settled for a while in Gasconade County and then moved to Osage County. That area eventually became Maries County. They resided their entire lives west of Belle, and close to the county line separating Maries from Osage County. The land was rich and well-watered.

Martin was one of eight children, four boys, and four girls. These children were born over a period of about twenty years. Martin was very close in age to his older brother Reuben. Three girls, Amelia, Elizabeth, and Elvira were born over the next nine years. Two boys, Adam and Thomas Benton followed and the baby of the family, Margaret Christina, was born in 1846.

Ridenhour, Martin, Marriage Record, (2)

Martin and Sarah’s Marriage Record

At the age of twenty, Martin left this large family and married Sarah Ann Mahon on 2 November 1848.¹ They lived not too far from Martin’s father and mother and his brother Reuben. Their first child John Shepherd was born on 14 December 1849. He was the first of twelve children who were born between 1849 and 1872. This family would know heart-ache. Four of their children died before they did. Their son William Alexander died in 1863 at the age of six. The next child to die was Martha Louise who died in 1882 at the age of twenty-seven. Thomas Huston died in 1899 at the age of thirty-one. The last child to die was David Jasper who died in 1901 at the age of thirty. All but William Alexander left spouses and children behind. It’s so sad that three of their grown children were struck down during the prime of their lives.

On 24 February 1852, Martin and Sarah purchase forty-one acres of land from his father John. It is possible John was sick at the time of the sale and was divesting his land for John died about a week later on 5 March 1852. John had amassed quite a bit of land during his lifetime. In March 1854, Martin quit-claimed his undivided portion of his father’s land to Samuel Hawkins, the husband of Martin’s sister Elizabeth.²

Ridenhour, Martin, Osage County, MO, Recorder of Deeds, Book E, P. 220 (2)

Martin Ridenhour Provided a Quit Claim Deed to Samuel Hawkins, his Brother-in-Law, for His Undivided Portion of Land in his Father’s Estate


During the summer of 1862, guerrilla forces were organizing and threatening the citizens and county governments through the state of Missouri. As a result on 22 July, the Missouri State Militia and United States military command began organizing a militia to put down robbery, plunder, and guerrilla warfare. Every able-bodied man was commanded to enroll in the nearest military post and report for duty. Each man was to bring his gun and horse if he had one.

Ridenhour, Martin, Civil War Records, Missouri Archives, Civil War-World War I Database (2)Thirty-four-year-old Martin enrolled in the 34th Enrolled Missouri Militia, Company F, on 22 August 1862 Shortly after their daughter Sarah was born.³ Martin’s younger brothers Adam and Thomas enlisted in the unit at the same time. Adam and Thomas were called into service on 28 September 1864 at Jake’s Prairie in Gasconade County. The purpose was to repel Price’s invasion of Missouri. Skirmishes took place on the Osage River on October 5-6, Jefferson City October 7, and on the Big Piney River on November 1, 1864. All three brothers were discharged on 10 November 1864. The record indicates that Martin served twenty-seven days of actual service. Adam and Thomas would enroll again, this time in the 50th Regiment Infantry Volunteers. They would serve from 20 February to 5 August 1865.

The Civil War was a time of disruption, not only to the every-day life of Missouri citizens but to their financial welfare. Many people lost loved ones and saw their wealth drain away; but not Martin. Between 1860 and 1870, according to the census records, the value of his estate increased considerably. Not only did he own six horses, a mule, and a pair of working oxen, but also four milk cows and twenty-five head of cattle, twenty-seven sheep, and thirty swine. Martin tilled the land which produced winter wheat, oats, Indian corn, Irish potatoes, and sweet potatoes. Sarah was responsible for the family garden, and butter and molasses production. All of this was accomplished with forty acres of land and forty acres of timber and the hard work of all family members.
This prosperity continued into the 1880s. Martin had increased his ownership of land to eighty tilled or fallow acres, eight acres of permanent pasture, one-hundred and twenty acres of forest, and thirty-one acres of old fields. With the part-time help of Andrew and Thomas, he continued to raise cows, sheep, and pigs. Education was important and all of the children attended school as soon as they were able.

Ridenhour, Martin, Headstone (2)

Martin Ridenhour’s Headstone

Records are sparse for the years between 1880 and 1900. By 1900 the children had left home. Martin was seventy-two and Sarah was sixty-six. They lived with their son Adam and his family. Four years later Martin left this earth on 6 December 1904 leaving a large family behind and a legacy of hard work. All of his children would prosper and have families of their own. Sarah lived another fourteen years with Adam and died at the age of eighty-four on 25 February 1918.

Martin and Sarah are buried in Pilot Knob Baptist Church Cemetery in Osage County along with ninety-six Ridenhour descendants. Today the Belle High School sits on the land where Martin and Sarah’s house once stood.

Martin Ridenhour (1827-1904) m. Sarah Ann Mahon (1833-1918)

John Shepherd Ridenhour (1849-1920)
Nancy Elizabeth Ridenhour (1851-1928)
Mary Jane Ridenhour (1852-1927)
Martha Louisa Ridenhour (1854-1882)
William Alexander Ridenhour (1857-1863)
Susan Margaret Christina Ridenhour (1859-1947)
Sarah Frances Ridenhour (1862-1924)
Andrew Jackson Ridenhour (1864-1945)
Virginia Harriett Ridenhour (1866-1945)
Thomas Huston Ridenhour (1868-1899)
David Jasper Ridenhour (1871-1901)
Adam Louis Ridenhour (1872-1937)

¹Osage, Missouri, marriage record, Marriage Book A, 1845-1861, Martin Ridenhour [Ridenhour]-Sarah Ann Mahon [Mahon], 1848; Osage County Recorder of Deeds, Lynn.

²Osage, Missouri, Deeds, E: 220-221 , Martin Ridenhour sold his undivided land portion from John S. Ridenhour estate, 16 March 1854; Osage County Recorder of Deeds, Linn.

³”Soldiers Records: War 1812-World War I,” database, Missouri Digital Heritage ( :accessed 24 Oct 2017) Record for Martin Ridenhour, Box 69, Roll s00783