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Rev Wilhelm Rittenhausen
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Birth: 1644, Germany
Death: Feb. 18, 1708
Philadelphia County
Pennsylvania, USA

Name: WILHELM RITTENHAUSEN , 1st Mennonite Minister in America.
Birth: 1644 in Westphalia, near Mulheim, Holland-in Broich, a small village then part of the County of Berg, near Muelheim or in Germany
Death: 18 FEB 1707/08 in Rittenhouse Town, Germantown, now Philadelphia, Pa

Text on monument: The Mennonites arrived in Germantown October 6, 1683. WILLIAM RITTENHOUSE was chosen their first minister in 1686. In 1689 he drew this Number 10 lot, and on it in 1691 he and his fellow members built the "Little Log Church". In 1702 he donated part of lot, and later the present church lot and burial ground. He was the first paper maker in America. Died in 1708 aged 64 years. Erected by the Pennsylvania Historical Commission and the Rittenhouse Memorial Committee.

Note below: the name on the ship's manifest was Wilhelm Rittershausen.

Occupation: Wilhelm owned and operated the paper mill which he built on a branch of the Wissahickon Creek; it was the first paper mill in America.
Religion: He was a Mennonite Minister.
Burial: the Mennonite Churchyard, Germantown, PA

Event: Immigrant 1688 Wilhelm came to New Amsterdam in New York in 1688; was in Germantown before 4 April 1689 when Lot Number 19, where now stands the famous little Mennonite Church was awarded to William and half-lots numbered 20 and 21 were granted to his son Nicholas.

Note:, Message Board, Rittenhouse
"Ship Manifest": Wilhelm Rittershausen 1688
Posted by: Marilyn Hooper (ID *****7926) Date: May 05, 2006 at 18:29:35
In Reply to: Ship Manifest: Wilhelm Rittershausen 1688 by judith frazier of 923

Dear Judith,
I recently joined the Rittenhouse Family Assoc. and in their newsletter of 2003, it was stated that he is thought to have traveled on the ship "Concord" to New York in 1688. But they are looking for confirmation on this statement. They say further that there was in 1760 a need for a schoolhouse in Germantown. It was completed in 1775 called the Concord school. Perhaps it was after the ship that the first German immigrants came to America. The ship Concord brought the main body of Mennonites to America in 1683. It was commanded by Capt. Jeffries, leaving Gravesend on July 24th 1683 with 13 Mennonite families of 33 persons. it reached Phila. Oct 6, 1683. This is from the Newsletter written by Paul Rittenhouse but we still cannot confirm this ship's name.. Let me know if you have found anymore about it. Marilyn Hooper email:

Wilhelm/William Rittenhausen/Rittenhouse (Rettinghouse/Ruddinghuysen/Rittinghausen/Rittenchuysen/Rittenghuysen)
was born 1644 Westphalia, near Mulheim, Holland.

The "Henckel Genealogical Bulletin" states that he was born 1644 in Broich, a small village then part of the County of Berg, near Muelheim. The "Concise Dictionary of American Biography,", Scribner's, NY, 1980 gives the place of birth as Mulheim-am-Ruhr, Rhenish Prussia; the "Encyclopedia Brittanica" and maps have "Mulheim-an-der Ruhr." Wilhelm was the son of Claus (Nicholas) Rittinghausen and Mary Hagerhoffe. He married, the first week in June 1665, at Loenen, near Apeldoorn, Holland, Geertruid "Gertrude" Kersten Pieters, a Dutch girl from Eerbeek, Netherlands. Wilhelm took the Oath of Citizenship in Amsterdam, Holland on 23 June 1678, and came to New Amsterdam in New York in 1688. They were in Germantown before 4 April 1689 when Lot Number 19, where now stands the famous little Mennonite Church on the northeast corner of Germantown Avenue and Herman Street, was awarded to William and half-lots numbered 20 and 21 were granted to his son Nicholas. His forefathers had long carried on the business of manufacturing paper at Arnheim (Arnhem, Netherlands?), and in 1690 he purchased 20 acres of land in Roxborough Twp., County of Philadelphia for the purpose of erecting a paper mill. The paper mill was built on a branch of the Wissahickon Creek, and was the first paper mill in America. William became the first Mennonite Minister in America in 1690. He died 18 Feb. 1708 in Germantown, PA and is buried in the Mennonite Churchyard. He was 64 years of age. It seems likely Gertrude was the mother of William's children, but we do not know if she came to America. They had at least three (3) children.

From: The "Internet" -- - 206 Lincoln Dr., Philadelphia, PA 19144. -- Village, History, Revolution, Industry -- "Rittenhouse Town:"

"Wilhelm Rittenhausen was one of the first Germans to settle in the New World, where he changed his name to William Rittenhouse. He was a talented paper maker who had apprenticed in Germany. In 1690, Rittenhouse and his son, Nicholas, built a mill to manufacture fine white paper. It was America's first paper mill, and the foundation of a new town.

"The ensuing years saw Rittenhouse Town grow up around the mill, eventually including more than 40 buildings. Other paper mills sprung up nearby along Wissahickon Creek to meet the growing demand for this valuable and hard to make product.

"The Rittenhouses and their town supported the American Revolution in a variety of ways, including providing paper for newspaper and pamphlets. Paper was also used to make cartridges and gun wadding. Townsfolk also spied on the British and directly fought in the War."

From: The "Internet" -- -- Craig Whitford, NCSA member #101-- America's First Papermill: "The Rittenhouse Mill:"

".....In 1690 on the banks of the Monoshone Creek near Germantown, Pennsylvania, outside Philadelphia, William Rittenhouse founded the first paper mill in the United States. Rittenhouse was born in Germany in 1644 near the city of Mulheim on the river Ruhr, his papermaking skills being mainly obtained in Holland.

"William Rittenhouse, along with his sons Nicholas (Claus) and Gerhard (Garrett), both papermakers as well, and his daughter Elizabeth settled in German Town in 1688. William was a Mennonite, the first minister of that church in Germantown, and the first Mennonite Bishop in America.

"In order to make the mill a success, Rittenhouse teamed up with the first printer in Pennsylvania, William Bradford and two other gentlemen. Bradford depended heavily on the mill for a supply of paper for his printing establishment. Before this time Bradford relied solely on paper imported from Europe. Bradford continued to rely on the Rittenhouse mill even after relocating his printing business to New York. In 1697 Bradford rented his part of the property on which the mill stood to the Rittenhouses upon the condition that the mill supply paper to Bradford for ten years....."

"In 1704 Bradford sold his interest in the mill to the Rittenhouses. It is interesting to note that Bradford had a monopoly on all of the pager produced at this mill from 1697-1707. The yearly output of the Rittenhouse mill amounted to 1200 reams of paper. Unfortunately this quantity was not sufficient to meet all of Bradford's needs, so he continued to import paper from Europe. The original mill, built in 1690, was entirely destroyed by a spring freshlet in 1701. The following year a new mill was constructed only later to be destroyed by fire. A third mill was built which stood until the late 1800's....."

"The first watermark used in Rittenhouse paper was the single word "Company," designating the original partnership. This watermark was used from about 1690, when the mill was first established, until 1704 when Rittenhouse became sole owner....."

"Today, in a community known as Rittenhouse Town, several houses which the Rittenhouse families lived, remain, as well as other houses which were built around the mill....."

From: The "Internet"--; "The Rettinghouse/Rittenhouse Family," by Jim Bridges:
"Due to reoccuring genealogical errors and for the benefit of all Rittenhouse researchers, I am posting the following on the web. This article was originally written by E. Mark Haacke, Ph.D., past president of the Rittenhouse Family Association. It appeared in 'Mennonite Family History," vol. 1, No. 2, 1982. Material brackets [ ] is information contained in footnotes in the original article. It provides some sound secondary source references regarding Cassel's genealogy."

" 'In 1976 an article about the Rittenhouse family appeared in the "Huguenot Trails." this review article contained information about the "noble" ancestors of Wilhelm Rittenhouse and was extracted from the work of Daniel K. Cassel ["A Genea-Biographical History of the Rittenhouse Family." the Rittenhouse memorial Association, 1893.]

" 'The suggestion that the Rittenhouses were related to the Hapsburg Royal Family or the Rittershausen family is completely erroneous. The evidence against this is well documented. The information on the nobility of the Rittenhouse family from Cassel's book should be completely disregarded.

" 'Although primary sources were available in 1893, they were not consulted. Several faulty conclusions ensued and, as a result, for eighty-five years or more, members of the Rittenhouse family have believed that they were related to the Hapsburg Royal House.

" 'The first attack against Cassel's claims were made by Dr. A. N. McGee over seventy years ago. [I have not seen these notes but they are referred to by Milton Rubincam in his article "Wilhelm Rittenhouse" written for the "Pennsylvania German Magazine," vol. 58, 1960.] In 1938, an article by Col. C. I. Kephurt entitled "the Rittenhouse Genealogy Debunked" was published ["National Genealogical Society Quarterly," 26:3, 1938.] In 1960, Milton Rubincam wrote an article about William Rittenhouse [cited above]. In this excellent expose of William Rittenhouse, he begins with a thorough review of the Rittenhouse name and the possible heritage of the Rittenhouse family in Europe.

" 'In 1977, I became interested in the Hapsburg connection after reading the article in the "Huguenot Trails." My interest lay in both the Rittenhouse and Cassel lines, and I had read the Cassel books. I, too, researched the early records, and found two references [Nicholas Rittershausen. "Genealogiae Imperatorum Regum, 1664. Available at the Rare book Library at the University of Michigan] [J. J. Fugger, "Spiegel der Ehren." Nurenberg, 1668. Available at the Rare Book Library of the University of Toronto.] which showed beyond a doubt that Maximillian II did not father any ancestor of the Rittenhouse family. Only later did I discover the above mentioned works [Kephart and Rubincam] which also exposed the mistake.' "

"It is a hard lesson to learn, for those of us who tend to believe such assertions, but we must insist upon checking primary sources whenever possible. The dissemination of false information will only lead our descendants astray and reek endless confusion upon them. We must remember that just because an article appears in print, that it does not mean it is true. Of couse, there comes a point when you do not wish to, nor have the time to, check every reference. However, if the premise of a book resets on a single major assumption, then the material must be well-documented and easy to verify upon independent investigation.

"I would like to close by stressing the fact that any work we do should be as accurate and well-documented as possible. the satisfaction that we receive from producing a believable, and what we know to be correct, family history is the main goal behind all our efforts."

WFT Vol. 8, Pedigree #3065:
"Wilhelm Rittinghousen was a Mennonite. Set up First Paper Mill in America, in 1690, on a Brook called Paper Mill Run in the present city limits of Philadelphia, in Fairmount Park, about 2 miles above the Junction of Wissahickon Creek with Schuylkill River. William was a friend of William Penn. He was also active in the organization of the First Mennonite Church in the New World in 1690 and was its First Pastor & in the latter part of 1707 several months before his death on February 18, 1708 was duly constituted the First Bishop of that Denomination. Wilhelm Rettinghausen (or Willem Ruddinghuysen as spelled in Dutch) & his wife with their three children, Nicholas, Elizabeth & Gerhard sailed from Amsterdam in 1688 for America & landed in New York. These notes taken from National Genealogical Society Quarterly 12/1938."

SOURCES; "Origin and History of the Rittenhouse Family" by Daniel K. Cassel, 1893; also "Wilhelm Rittenhouse" written by Milton Rubincam, FASG, for the "Pennsylvania German Magazine" vol. 58, 1960. Calvin Kephart, PhD, in National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. XXVI, Number 4 [Jim Bridges article on the Internet has 26:3, 1938], Dec. 1938; Henk Voorn of Leiden, The Netherlands in a speech delivered July 1982 for International Association of Paper Historians; the "Henckel Genealogical Bulletin." "Concise Dictionary of American Biography, Scribner's, NY, 1980. The Internet,, 206 Lincoln Dr., Philadelphia, PA 19144; "Village, History, Revolution, Industry, 'Rittenhouse Town' " ; "The Retinghouse/Rittenhouse Family", by Jim Bridges:; Craig Whitford,, "America's First Papermill: The Rittenhouse Mill." Family Tree Maker, World Family Trees, Vol. 8, Pedigrees #3063 and #3065, © 1997

Other Sources:
RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project, "Hunterdon Co, NJ, inhabitants 1700-1800," Frederic,
History of the Rittenhouse Family of Hunterdon County, compiled by Daniel Cassell, 1917; settled Germantown 1688. An Ancestral Chart and Handbook, by Olive Rowland, 1935, p. 33; became Amsterdam citizen, 23 Jun 1678; built first paper mill in America, abt 1690, Germantown - now Fairmount Park.

"William Rittenhouse
Paper maker and minister
William Rittenhouse was born in what is now Germany, near the Dutch border. His name was then Wilhelm Rittenhausen, later changed in America. He apprenticed in a paper mill in the German city of Mulheim-Ruhr-Broich. Later he moved to Holland to stay with his older brother. Here he learned the Dutch methods of fine paper making."

"William emmigrated to Pennsylvania in 1688 with his son Nicholas. In 1690 he started the first paper mill in America. It became the major paper manufacturing mill in America for over one hundred years and was carried on by later generations of Rittenhouses."

"William was one of the first German settlers in America, arriving five years after the first Germans arrived. He was a religious man and became the first minister at the Germantown Mennonite Meetinghouse. He held this position until his death in 1708"

Father: NICHOLAS GEORGE "CLAAS" RITTINGHAUSEN b: ABT 1615 in Mulheim, Westphalia, Germany; estimated date is from the Ahnentafel of Heath Vogel's web site
Mother: MARIA "MARY" HAGERHOFFE/Hagerhoff b: 1619 in Mulheim, Westphalia, Germany; date is from the Ahnentafel of Heath Vogel's web site

Married: GEERTRUID KERSTEN "GERTRUDE" PIETERS , immigrant b: ABT 1642 in Eerbeek, Gelderland, Holland (Netherlands?)
Married: JUN 1665 in the first week of June, at Loenen, near Apeldoorn, Gelderland, Holland

Rev. Nicholas "Klaus" Rettinghouse , Mennonite Minister b: 15 JUN 1666 in Holland
Elizabeth Rettinghouse b: BET 1670 AND 1672 in Geld, Arnhem, Netherlands (WFT Vol. 8, #3063, © 1997
GERHARD "GARRET" RETTINGHOUSE , immigrant b: ABT 1674 in Geld, Arnhem, Netherlands
Family links: 
  George Rittenhausen (1620 - 1678)
  Maria Hagerhoff Rittenhausen (1620 - 1648)
  Geertruid Kersten Pieters Rittenhausen (1646 - 1708)
  Nicholas Rittenhouse (1666 - 1734)*
  Elizabeth Rittenhouse Papen (1672 - 1728)*
  Gerhard Rittenhouse (1674 - 1741)*
*Calculated relationship
Germantown Mennonite Cemetery
Philadelphia County
Pennsylvania, USA
Created by: Zoe Tom
Record added: Sep 17, 2009
Find A Grave Memorial# 42063860
Rev Wilhelm Rittenhausen
Added by: Zoe Tom
Rev Wilhelm Rittenhausen
Added by: Brian Wolf
Rev Wilhelm Rittenhausen
Added by: Eugene Glenn Stackhouse
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10th Great-Grandfather
- Calling~All~Angels
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Mein 10th Urgroßvater.XX
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9x Great Grandfather
- James Mayfield
 Added: Jan. 15, 2016
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