Telling my family's stories
Through some older relatives’ memories, I have formed a picture of what William Henry [Ritenour] and Martha [George] must have been like to be around.
[Wm. Henry and Martha became Dunkard Brethren sometime after getting to Illinois.] Martha was the most religious and never put a meal on the table without a very long grace before eating. Henry was very strict and was sure that all his children and grandchildren were headed straight for perdition. He tried, rather unsuccessfully to rule with an iron hand.
And, ever Sunday was the day to go to Grandpa Adam Ritenour’s [in Lanark]. They never knew on Sunday morning how many people would show up for dinner, but everyone always got fed.
Annie [Ritenour, b. Oct. 10, 1878, d. July 29, 1947], who kept house for her father after Martha died [Feb. 12, 1909], was always hard at work, either cooking, sewing, or cleaning. She and her brother [Benjamin b. Feb 1880, d. July 20, 1911 after falling on a pitchfork] (and any other grandchildren that happened to be around [Anna had several children from divorces and illegitimate births]) had to help pick the vegetables in the truck garden so that their grandfather could take them by wagon into Savanna (Illinois) and sell them to the hotels and restaurants [Most Ritenours were listed as ‘truck farmers’ in the 1910-1920 censuses].
Martha was a very quiet woman, hardly ever a word out of her unless to give directions about something or to say a prayer [considering her indian background, this may have been cultural]. When she was dying, she never complained, just got smaller and thinner and quieter. Despite his strictness and stern ways, Henry really loved Martha because he was so grieved when she died.
Oral history of Mary A. Falls [Wm. Henry > Andrew Jackson > Helen Mae], recorded by Jonathan Binkley
[Text in brackets is mine]