Sunday, November 30, 2014

Online Wreath Sponsorship Deadline Extended to Dec 3

I was interviewed this morning for an article on the Wreaths Across America event being held at the combined cemeteries of the 1st Presbyterian Church and United Methodist Church by Fred Aun from the new online news service servicing Roxbury, Tap Into Roxbury. As the headlline notes, the big news is you still have 3 days, including #givingTuesday to sponsor a wreath for our location by going to And if I haven't mentioned it before, sponsorships are tax deductible. 
Fred took a great shot of the cemetery covered in snow which I am fervently praying will melt prior to December 13th. Check out his article to find out more about the WAA event in Succasunna.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Over Here, Molly Pitcher

Molly Pitcher
(Stacy Roth of History on the Hoof)
Hear the tales of the legend of Molly Pitcher and the Battle of the Monmouth County as we celebrate NJ’s 350th birthday on November 15th at 10:15am. Late June, 1778, Monmouth, New Jersey in the midst of one of the fiercest artillery duels of the American Revolution, a woman was observed doing something unusual: helping to fire a cannon! Thus sprang the legend of Molly Pitcher. “Over Here, Molly Pitcher” is an interpretive storytelling presentation highlighting the lives of women who “belonged to the army” during the American Revolution. This Molly’s “memories” are gathered from primary accounts and carefully selected secondary sources describing both the activities of camp followers, as well as observations from campaigns and encampments. The event hosted by the Ferro-Monte Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution is at the Roxbury Township Free Public Library 103 Main St, Succasunna, NJ on November 15th at 10:15am. Open to the public the lively presentation is performed by Stacy Roth from History on the Hoof. This program is funded by the Horizons Speakers Bureau of the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information about the Horizons Speakers Bureau please visit

If you have an interest in learning about your family tree, we can help you; maybe we can even find a Patriot among your leaves. Prospective members are always welcome. For information, email: 

The National Society Daughters of the American Revolution was founded in 1890 to promote patriotism, preserve American history, and support better education for our nation's children. Its members are descended from the patriots who won American independence during the Revolutionary War. With more than 165,000 members in approximately 3,000 chapters worldwide, DAR is one of the world's largest and most active service organizations. To learn more about the work of today's DAR, visit

Thursday, November 6, 2014

First Families

"I believe the dead rely on us to tell their stories and that leave is up to you and me." ~ Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote

My 2nd great-grandfather has been inducted into the First Families of Blair County, Blair County in Pennsylvania was formed in 1846 from parts of Hunterdon and Bedford County. The county seat is Hollidaysburg, but the largest most recognized town is Altoona, originally home to the Pennsylvania Railroad. John saw the birth of that railway, the nation torn apart by civil war and the the introduction of automobiles making his saddlery business obsolete.
Blair County Townships Map

Below is my mini-biography submitted to the First Families of Blair County:
John L Ritts was born 30 Mar 1833 to Thomas and Catherine Lower Ritts in North Woodbury, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. The Thomas Ritts family which included son John and daughters, Catherine, Elizabeth, Martha, Mary and Lydia all resided in what became Blair County in 1846. John married Mary Shoenfelt in 1856 shortly after Taylor Township formed. John who followed in his father’s footsteps as a saddle and harness maker settled with his bride a few doors down from his parents in the new township. 

John and Mary had six children:
Catherine Jane (11 Sep 1857 - 28 Nov 1937) m. Peter Grove
Sarah Anne (27 Mar 1859 - 28 Apr 1943)
Albert S (27 Mar 1861 - 09 Jul 1951) m. Janet Butler
Harry Samuel (Apr 1863 - 04 Jul 1949) m. Elizabeth Hudson
Luria (1869 – bef 1880)
John Elmer (03 May 1871 – bef 1949) m. Rose Hardman

John served briefly in the Civil War as a Private. John and Mary were married for 48 years. While on the way to visit her sister, Susan Tipton, wife Mary was tragically killed as the trolley she was riding jumped the tracks plunging into the Juniata River. In a subsequent trial against Altoona and Logan Valley Railroad, John was awarded $1200. 

A lifelong resident of Blair County, John L Ritts passed away at age 78 of heart disease on 6 Jul 1911. He is buried in Antis Cemetery along with his son Harry’s family.

Monday, November 3, 2014

First Tuesday of November

Tomorrow is the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November, better known as Election Day. 

A uniform date for presidential elections was enacted by the Congress in 1845. Why was November chosen? In the 1840s the US was largely an agronomy society. By early November, harvesting would be completed and the winter snows would not have set in. Short distance transportation was accomplished by foot or hoof. It could easily take citizens a day to get to their polling location. Throw in astute political intuition that Sunday Sabbath was absolute, Monday would be needed by many to get to the polls, and Tuesday became the day to vote. So what is up with the first Tuesday after the first Monday thing? Well the Electoral College must convene the first Wednesday in December with the election held at most 34 days prior. Some bright soul figured out that if there is a November Monday before the first November Tuesday the math works.

This year some Senate seats and all of the House of Representatives seats are up for grabs. As are a host of State and local races around the country. Here in my corner of New Jersey we have County Freeholders and School Board races coming to a conclusion. What will that conclusion be? That is up to you and me. So exercise your civic duty and go vote!

PS. To anyone that votes at the Roxbury High School, we have treats and I Voted stickers!