top of page

A Small World Story

Updated: Apr 4, 2021

One day at work I came across a fellow employee whose last name looked very familiar. It was "Ritenour." We worked in the same division, so I saw it very frequently, but I never thought of following up or reaching out to her.

Then one day (pre-Covid) , after moving to a new location, I turned around and saw that she was sitting at a desk directly behind mine. The opportunity thus presented, I began to engage her in conversation, eventually getting around to asking about her family. Could she be a long-lost cousin? I knew that members of that family tree had headed south, settling in the Shenandoah Valley. In researching other members of the family tree in that area (which I will mention in at least one future post), I knew that their last name had undergone spelling changes. So, when she gave me some information about her grandfather, I set off to research and explore a possible connection.

It did not take me long to trace back to our common grandparents, Johannes "Hans" Reitenauer, Sr. and Maria Catharina Lehnhardt Reitenauer. Her 7x great grandfather, Johann George Adam Reitenauer, was my 5x great grandfather, Johannes Reitenauer's older brother. They were both born in Tieffenbach, Lutzelstein, Bas-Rhein, France and accompanied their parents in siblings on the ship Lydia to America.

However, while Johannes would remain in Pennsylvania, his brother would head south to Maryland. He would settle and die there, but his older brother would head south to Conococheague, Washington County, Maryland, just west of present-day Hagerstown, Maryland. His sons would spread out. Some relocating to Ohio and some further down the Shenandoah Valley.

George Adam, now spelling the last name Ridenour, would move to an area known as Powell's Fort Valley. On 22 September 1735, James Wood surveyed a 6,460 acre tract located in Powell's Fort. This tract was a part of the 100,000 acre patent from the Govenor and Council of the Colony of Virginia that was issued to Jost Hite, Robert MacKay, William Duff, and Robert Green. A young George Washington would surveyed the Fort Valley for Lord Fairfax in 1748 or 1749. Other early settlers would marry into the Ridenour family, such as the Clems, the McInturffs, the Golladys and the Munchs.

Daniel Jacob Ridenour (1806-1882)

John Adam Ridenour would marry Magdalena Munch on 8 Mar 1802 in Shenandoah County and have 12 children. The second oldest son, Daniel Jacob Ridenour, married Frances Elizabeth Clem 10 Feb 1831 and have 10 children.

Their children all appear to have adopted the spelling "Ritenour" spelling of the surname.

Their son, David Jackson Ritenour, enlisted as a Private in Co. B (the Toms Brook Guard), 33rd Virginia Regiment, Stonewall Brigade, named after General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson. David was wounded twice in the hips at the Second Battle of Bull Run and once in the head at Chancellorsville. He would be captured in Winchester, Virginia in June 1863 and held as a prisoner of war at Fort Delaware until 11 March 1865 when he took the oath of allegiance. He would carry the bullets that inflicted the wounds throughout the remainder of his life, dying in January 1925 at the age of 81.

Thus, a conversation with a co-worker led to the research and discovery of a cousin in my midst. It also helped to jumpstart my focus and information gathering about family members who settled in the Shenandoah Valley, an area with which I have become very familiar. As always, more to come on these relatives!


bottom of page