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, Ancestry.com (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 (https://s1.sos.mo.gov/records/archivesdb/soldiers/ :accessed 24 Oct 2017) Record for Martin Ridenhour, Box 69, Roll s00783

Sarah Frances Ridenhour

Schwegler, Julius and Ridenhour, Sara

Julius and Sarah, Possibly Their Wedding Day

I know very little about my great-grandmother Sarah Frances Ridenhour other than information taken from her marriage and census records. She was born in Maries County, Missouri during the Civil War to Martin Ridenhour and Sarah Ann Rebecca (Mahon) Ridenhour on 12 September 1862, or possibly on 12 November 1861 as shown on her death certificate. She was the seventh of twelve children; six were boys and six were girls.

I am very fortunate to have a picture of Sarah and Julius Schwegler, the man she married on 28 November 1880 in Osage County, Missouri. A few observations from this picture tell me she is a pretty woman. She was as tall as Julius; the Schwegler men were short in stature. At best, she was 5’4 or 5’5 inches tall. Her dress most likely is traditional German or Swiss wedding attire.

Schwegler, Julius and Ridenhour, Francis - Missouri Marriage Records 1805-2002

Julius and Sarah Were Married by a Justice of the Peace

Sarah was the mother of six children born over the span of twenty-three years. Her first child, Oliver Martin, was born in 1881 when she was just eighteen years of age. This poor little boy died four years later in 1885. At that time her second child, Harley Defraney, was two years of age. Benjamin Franklin was born in 1886, followed by my grandfather Wright Harrison in 1892. Her only girl Ida, born in July 1901, only lived four months. Her last boy, Rainey Adam, was born in 1904.

Ridenhour, Sarah Frances, headstone

Rest in Peace Sarah

I’ve wondered what it would be like to live with six men and no daughters to help with the household chores. My mother once told me that her father and uncles were quiet men. They didn’t talk much and preferred to be alone. Hopefully, Sarah’s daughters-in-law provided some talk and interaction that women need.  

Unfortunately, my mother never knew her grandmother as Sarah died three years before my mother was born. Sarah suffered from chronic nephritis and valvular heart disease. She died at home on 17 August 1924 and was buried the next day in Bethel Cemetery in Paydown. Her headstone reads “Peaceful be thy Silent Slumber.” Sarah was sixty-two years of age.



Julius Schwegler (1859-1943) m. Sarah Frances Ridenhour (1862-1924)

Oliver Martin Schwegler (1881-1885)
Harley Defraney Schwegler (1883-1965)
Benjamin Franklin Schwegler (1886-1969)
Harrison Wright Schwegler (1892-1978)
Ida J. Schwegler (1901-1901)
Rainey Adam Schwegler (1904-1990)

Great-Grandfather Julius Schwegler

Imagine being four years old and traveling steerage on a ship from Switzerland via Southhampton, England, to New York City. The trip would have taken about six or seven weeks, a long time for someone so young. Julius Schwegler came with his father Joseph, his brother Francis Anton who was one year old, his step-mother Anna Schwegler, Peter Schwegler, and Catherine Graninger. They arrived on 20 Jul 1863. Julius Schwegler was my great-grandfather.  

Julius was born in Switzerland on 31 Jan 1859. Anna was not the mother of Julius. His mother had died and Joseph married Anna prior to their journey. Anna however was the mother of Francis.

Upon arrival to this country the immigrants went directly from New York to Centralia, Illinois. How they got there is anyone’s guess. It is possible that they took a train from New York to Chicago and from there traveled to Centralia via wagon. However they traveled it must have been long and arduous after having spent several weeks on a ship.

Schwegler Julius  Sarah (Ridenhour) Copy_edited-1

Julius and Sarah Ridenhour Schwegler

While in the Centralia area Anna gave birth to Joseph. Every indication is that she died sometime after his birth. By 1865 the motherless family was in Gasconade County, Missouri. On 22 Mar 1867, his father Joseph married Anna Fehner Kallewyne. Julius was eight years of age, Francis (also known as Frank) was five, and Joseph was almost three. Another brother Hann was born in 1867 and most likely died shortly after his birth. Benjamin, the last son of Joseph, was born in 1868.

 

A few years later, in 1870, Joseph died. It must have been very difficult for Julius to lose so many important members of his family by the age of eleven. Despite all of the upheaval in his life, Julius managed to attend school through the eighth grade.

After the death of Joseph, Anna, their step-mother, was appointed guardian and curator for the estate of Julius, Frank, and Joseph. Anna was cited by the judge of the probate court Jan 1874 for failing to settle the accounts of the estate of Julius. In March, Anna married Friederick Leimkuehler. A few months later, Friederick was appointed guardian and curator for the estate of the three boys. Anna’s failure to settle the accounts was most likely a matter of not filing the paperwork in a timely manner rather than an indication that she was not a good guardian.

 The 1876 census shows the family raising four mules, eight head of cattle, six sheep, and thirty-five hogs. And the farm produced five hundred bushels of wheat, three hundred bushels of corn, ten bushels of oats, fifteen pounds of wool and five tons of hay. Those older boys were busy.

Whether he got along his step-parents or not, Julius was no longer living with the family in 1880. He is shown in the census living with N. B. Jones and wife in Jefferson Township, Maries County, Missouri. He was twenty-one years of age. He would stay in Maries County for the rest of his life.

Schwegler Men, Left Harrison, Ben, Harley, and father Julius

The Schwegler Men. Left Wright, Ben, Harley, and their father Julius

 

Julius married Sarah Frances Ridenhour on 28 Nov 1880. This union lasted forty-four years and produced six children: Oliver, Harley, Benjamin, Harrison (my grandfather), Ida, and Rainey. Oliver and Ida died at an early age. The beautiful picture of them, most likely as newly-weds, shows them in their youth looking forward to a promising life together.

Following in the footsteps of his father, it must have been a proud day when Julius was admitted a citizen of the United States on 5 Nov 1881. Transcribed his naturalization record reads:

Julius Schwegler a native of Switzerland, who applies to be admitted a citizen of the United States, comes and proves to the satisfaction of the Court, by the testimony of Kasten Buschmann and Louis Hoffmann two credible witnesses, citizens of the United States, that he arrived in the United States a minor, under the age of eighteen years, that he has resided in the United States at least five years, including the years of his minority; and in the State of Missouri at least one year, immediately preceding this application during which time he has conducted himself as a man of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the same; and the said applicant declaring here in open Court, upon oath, that for three years last past it has been bonefide his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and he declaring also upon oath, that he will support the Constitution of the United States and that he doth also absolutely renounce and abjure forever all allegiance and fidelity to every foreign power, prince, state and sovereignty whatsoever, and particularly to the Republic of Switzerland of whom he is at present a subject, therefore, the said JULIUS SCHWEGLER is admitted a citizen of the United States.

Julius was a farmer in Maries County most of his life. And Sarah took care of the needs of the family. I don’t know much about my great-grandmother. She died of chronic nephritis with valvular heart disease as a secondary factor on 17 Aug 1924. Julius would go on to live another nineteen years.  

In 1940 Julius was living with his son Benjamin. During the last months of his life Julius lived with his son Harley and daughter-in-law Leona. He died on 21 Feb. 1943 at the age of eighty-four. A very religious man, he is buried in the Bethel Cemetery in Paydown, Missouri.

Thanks to my second cousin William Schwegler who provided me with many of the personal details about the life of our great-grandfather Julius including the fact that Anna was not his mother. Most of the details he told the family, despite the fact that he was somewhat senile, could be verified in records.