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Civil War Letters of John Alexander Ritter, M.D.


Captain and Regimental Surgeon, 

49th Indiana Volunteers

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Gerald W. Ritter, Ph.D.


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Biography of John Alexander Ritter, M.D.

John A. Ritter was born in Jessamine County Kentucky on Jan. 3, 1819 to John and Agnes Butler Ritter. He was the youngest of three children. Dr. Ritter's father was native of Kentucky and his mother was a native of Virginia. His father died when he was very young. In 1839, Dr. Ritter moved to Orangeville, Indiana following his mother who had moved there a year earlier.

John A. Ritter homestead in Orangeville, IN

Picture courtesy of  Steve Osborn

Dr. Ritter received a medical degree from the University of Louisville in 1850. He was the first physician in Orangeville, Indiana.

On Oct. 28, 1845, he married Margaret Carter. Margaret was the daughter of Shadrach Blount Anderson Carter  and Margaret Carpenter both of Orleans, Indiana. 


Pictures courtesy of James L. Klemm

John A. and Margaret Ritter had nine children who lived to adulthood. The names of their children are contained in the following table with links to additional pictures and information about them.

Name Date of Birth Date of Death Spouse
Harriet F. May 25, 1848   Louis P. Brown
John A., M.D. Aug. 7, 1849 Oct. 19, 1939  Sallie E.
Thomas Butler, M.D. June 6, 1851 Oct. 15, 1922 Mattie Easley or Martha E.?
William V. Aug. 5, 1859 Oct. 31, 1953 Kittie E. Elrod
James Kegwin, M.D. May 28, 1864 Sept. 1, 1927 Sonora Cook
Henry Orlando, M.D. Apr. 5, 1866 Feb. 15, 1913  
Margaret E. B. June 14, 1868 June 9, 1958 George W. Taylor
Theophilus C., M.D. Sept. 4, 1846 Feb. 7, 1878  
Mary M. July 6, 1853 Aug. 23, 1874 William T. Hicks

Some of the above information was provided by James L. Klemm.

In addition to his extensive medical practice, Dr. Ritter was a businessman in the firm of Ritter & Carter and  owned about 1,000 acres of land. He was actively involved in politics as a Republican, was a trustee and steward of the Methodist Episcopal Church, was a member of the Odd Fellows fraternity, and was active in the County Medical Society. In 1846, Dr. Ritter was elected to the post of Justice of the Peace for Orange County, Indiana.

In November of 1860, Dr. Ritter enlisted as a volunteer private and was chosen as Captain of Company G of the 49th Indiana Volunteers during the organization of the company. He served as a company commander and regimental surgeon  in campaigns in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi from 1861-1863.

He resigned his commission in Sept. of 1863 due to ill health. Family history states that Dr. Ritter was instrumental in the arrest of Dr. William Bowles sometime around 1864.  Dr. Bowles, a prominent physician in Orange County Indiana, was a leader of the Knights of the Golden Circle which was sympathetic to the Southern cause.

Dr. Ritter died in 1891 in Orangeville, IN. Margaret was born on Jan. 8, 1826 and died on June 8, 1909.

Source:    History of Orange County, Indiana 1884


Picture courtesy of James L. Klemm

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