Biography of John Rush Rittenhouse

John Rush Rittenhouse. Those acquainted with the substantial agricultural and stock raising activities of Champaign County scarcely need introduction to the name John Rush Rittenhouse. His fruitful and active years have been spent largely in northwestern Champaign County, and he is a native son of this section of Illinois.

Mr. Rittenhouse was born January 26, 1870. The Rittenhouse ancestry is traced back to the German fatherland. His parents had six children, three sons and three daughters, and he was the third in order of birth and the second in age among the four still living. Of the living children he is the only one a resident of Champaign County. The oldest, Addie, is the wife of Dudley Herriott, an agriculturist at St. John, Michigan. Levi, the younger brother of Mr. Rittenhouse, is successfully engaged in agriculture and stock raising at Fairfield, Iowa. He finished his education in the Danville Normal School, was a teacher one year, and on examination took the highest mark in the county. He married Miss Mary Betts. Kate, the youngest of the children, is the wife of Charles Herriott, a farmer at Fairfield, Iowa.

The parents of these children were Joseph Hill and Mary (Richards) Rittenhouse. The father was born at Roxabell, Ross County, Ohio, and spent his youth in that state, where he acquired a substantial education. He followed agriculture as his regular vocation until recent years, and he and his good wife are now living in comfortable retirement at Mahomet. He still owns 190 acres of the rich and fertile soil of Champaign County, and this farm is being successfully managed by his grandson, Tern Rittenhouse. Joseph Rittenhouse for several terms filled the office of township assessor, for years was a school director, and was a stanch upholder of education in every form. He came to Illinois in time to enlist in an Illinois regiment for service in the Civil War, and fought gallantly for the stars and stripes until mustered out and granted an honorable discharge. For years he has been a member of the Grand Army Post at Mahomet. His wife was born at Sidney, Ohio, and had a common school education. She was twelve years of age when she came to Illinois. Her father went to California in the days of ’49, making the trip overland by wagon, and died while in the Golden State, a victim of cholera. Mrs. Joseph Rittenhouse has given her life to her family and her home.

John E. Rittenhouse grew up on his father’s farm in Champaign County. He attended the common schools and acquired a practical education as a foundation for life’s serious responsibilities. At the age of twenty-one he took up ‘an independent career, renting land and also working out by the day. For many months he worked at wages of a dollar a day. As a wage earner and renter he made slow but sure progress for a period of thirteen years. His first purchase of land was ninety-two acres in Mahomet Township. He went heavily into debt for this, to the extent of $2,800, but by his industry and with the aid of his capable wife he was able to come out free and he then traded and sold and bought his next farm near Mahomet, consisting of ninety-three acres. This he soon afterward sold and then bought 120 acres included in his present homestead. He subsequently added another eighty acres, and has it all well developed as a first class model stock farm. Besides his possession in Champaign County Mr. Rittenhouse owns 107 acres in Tennessee and 100 acres in Lapeer County, Michigan. This land is in the midst of the sugar beet district. It is thirty-five miles from Detroit and thirty miles from Port Huron, Michigan, and in one of the best agricultural districts of the state.

Mr. Rittenhouse for a number of years has made a specialty of Shropshire sheep and Shire horses. His stock has won several silver cups, and he has exhibited at stock shows and fairs in Cleveland, Columbus, and Indianapolis and in the fairs of Kankakee and Champaign counties. One of his horses of special class was Mahomet Teddy, an animal for which he paid $2,000. Mr. Rittenhouse has also interested himself in various other lines of business. That he is one of the successful men of Champaign County needs no further proof than what has already been noted in a brief way.

On December 31, 1891, Mr. Rittenhouse married Miss Ida Elvada Stout. To their marriage were born a son and two daughters. The son and one daughter still live. Vern Ralph, the only son, has found a place and position among the successful young agriculturists of Champaign County. He was graduated with the class of 1915 and at the head of his class in the Mahomet High School. During his school career there was a period of five years in which he never missed a day from his school work and was never tardy. He is now the capable manager of his grandfather’s farm. He married Miss Ruth Miner. She is a member of the Baptist Church, while he is a Methodist. Ruth Marie, the only daughter, has finished the work of the common schools and is now in the second year of the high school at Mahomet. She has also taken instrumental music. She is quite active in the Pathfinders, a literary society maintained as one of the adjuncts of the Baptist Church.

Mrs. Rittenhouse was born in Champaign County June 21, 1870. She was the youngest of three children and the only one still living. Her father was born in Illinois, was an agriculturist, and made a success of life with only a common school education. For a number of years he lived in Illinois and afterward went to Nebraska and Iowa, and died at Marshalltown in the latter state in 1910. His death occurred at the Old Soldiers’ Home. He had fought with an Illinois regiment in the Civil War until honorably discharged, and was a very active member of the Grand Army of the Republic. His wife, also a native of Illinois, died when Mrs. Rittenhouse was an infant. Mrs. Rittenhouse grew up in the home of her aunt, Nancy Nelson. She attended the common schools, and in church matters is a member of the United Brethren Church at Oak Grove in Newcomb Township.

Mr. and Mrs. Rittenhouse have taken great pains to prepare and educate their children for useful and honorable careers. Mr. Rittenhouse with the interest of his own children in mind has done all he could to promote good schools and for eight years was a director of his home district. Politically he is a Republican and cast his first vote for William McKinley. The home of Mr. and Mrs. Rittenhouse in Newcomb Township is known as The Blue Ribbon Stock Farm. It lies four miles northwest of Mahomet, ten miles from Fisher and five miles from Mansfield. It is the center of profitable industry as well as a fine country home, is a source of pride to Mr. and Mrs. Rittenhouse and a valuable exposition of the art of agriculture and stock husbandry for the entire community.



Stewart, J. R. A Standard History of Champaign County Illinois. The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York. 1918.

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