Did Anna Margaretta Umstatt marry Gerhard Rittenhouse?


I have a massive file on this question, but the short answer seems to be NO. I will add specifics at a later date as to why it's probably not true. For now, I just want to say that we don't think a marriage between Han's Peter's daughter Anna Margaretta and Gerhard Rittenhouse ever took place because there is nothing to substantiate it. From what I've seen so far, the myth seems to have originated with Rittenhouse family researchers (see update below) and was later debunked by other Rittenhouse researchers.

A Margaretha Umbstett married a Wilhelm Rittenhaus on 28 February 1760. We have not yet figured out who this Margaretha was. However, it's possible that someone saw this record and jumped to a wrong conclusion. The marriage is mentioned in MARRIAGES AND DEATHS OF MONTGOMERY COUNTY PENNSYLVANIA 1685-1800 by Charlotte Meldrum, Willow Bend Books, Westminster, MD, 1999, under New Goshenhoppen Reformed Congregation - Marriages, on page 108. The introduction states that most of the abstracts were made from microfilm or photostat copies.

Other sources for this marriage include WFT CD 130 German Church Records (spelling Umstett) and Dotterer's "The Perkiomen Region Past and Present," under the heading of Record of the Goshenhoppen Reformed Church 1731-1761. Edited by Prof. Wm. J. Hinke. VI Marriages by George Michael Weiss 1747-1761. This on page 439 right hand column. 1760...... 230. Wilhelm Rittenhausen and Margaretha Umstett.

Another source is a 1937 article in Die Heimat, but it is not a primary document and constitutes no proof of the marriage.

I have seen no original documentation.

Update: Laura Fry/Della Ulmer's material "Umstead (Umstadt) Loux-Drissel-Pennebacker Genealogy" also shows this marriage of Anna Margaretta to Gerhard Rittinghausen (p 12). It shows they had two sons, William Rittenhouse born 1694, married Catherine Howell, and Peter born 1696, married Ann (Unknown). The notes: "Historian Calvin I Kephart states that William and Catherine moved to Hunterdon County, NJ, because he married "out of the faith" (Mennonite) and therefore did not have a share in his father's paper mill business. A later member of this family married a Hyde, who was the mother of Col. Kephart's father, and who came to live in Bucks Co, Penna. He states further that the children of Peter and Ann were named Gerhard and Margaret, apparently for their grandparents."

Kephart again. He's the one responsible for the "1300's Gross-Umstadt Baronial Family" myth debunked elsewhere on this site, which makes me skeptical of anything he "states." The marriage is later debunked by Rittenhouse researchers, but the fact that Kephart apparently had discovered himself to be a descendant of Gerhard Rittenhouse, if not in fact Anna Margaretta UM (who died in 1696, possibly in childbirth?), does suggest that there may be reason to investigate further.

UPDATE 9 December 2007: Among the papers of Dr David Faris was an original post card dated 17 Oct 1964, from Col. C.I. Kephart, USAR-Ret., to Miss Rosemary Robinson, then of Hawaii, later of Port Hueneme, California. On it Kephart states: "Gerhard Rittenhouse (1670-1743) married Anna Margaret Umstatt (c.1672-1696); their son William (1694-1767) married Catherine Howell and they went to Hunterdon County, N.J. His will was signed Rittinghausen." Elsewhere on the card, in parentheses, Kephart states, "From the Genealogical Helper," and "The Rittenhouse Genealogy has errors."

Among Dr Faris's papers was a letter to him from Milton Rubincam, F.A.S.G., F.N.G.S., F.G.S.P., C.G. I don't know exactly what all these letters stand for, but it sure looks like Rubincam was a serious and professional genealogist. Rubincam states: "Unfortunately, there is no documentation for Col. Kephart's statement that Anna Margaretta Umstadt married Garret Rittenhouse. This was an assumption on his part, based on the fact that Garret had a son Peter (whose name the Colonel thought might have been derived from Hans Peter Umstad) and also on the fact that Peter Rittenhouse (my ancestor) had a daughter Margaret. At one time the Colonel was equally positive that Garret had married Barbara, daughter of Peter Schumacher, but I think the late Edward W. Hocker, noted Germantown authority, neatly disposed of that theory. I have looked into the Umstad(t) family myself, and I think the Colonel might possibly have a point, but, regrettably, I could find no evidence." Rubincam adds that Kepart's papers had just, at that time, come into his temporary custody. That said, and assuming that he did actually go through them, had there been any evidence in them of the Rittenhouse/Umstatt marriage, I'm sure the Rittenhouse family would know of it.

Among Dr Faris's papers was a 1989 letter to him from a Mrs Griffith, who states that there was an unpublished manuscript of Kepharts, which she quotes: "Gerhard Rittinghausen (Rittenhouse), born doubtless at Broich in Mulheim-on-the-Ruhr in 1670, was a yeoman and miller on the land that he had acquired in Cresheim, one of the original German township settlements, later known as Mount Airy. Apparently in 1693, he married Anna Margaret, daughter of Hans Peter and Barbara Umstatt ..." Again, there is nothing to substantiate this.

In Dr Faris's papers, I saw a reference to "Umstead material" found in the book RITTENHOUSE FAMILY HISTORY by Daniel K. Cassel published in 1893. A copy of this book is held by the Conrad Grebel Library at the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario. I contacted Sam Steiner, Librarian and Archivist about it and he reports: "There is only one reference to an Olmstead/Umstead in the fairly limited index. It is to a Gideon Olmstead involved in an incident with Benedict Arnold." Gideon is a known OLMstead, not ours.

In a 1983 letter, Dr Faris writes: "The family Bibly of Hans Peter Umstadt is still in existence (at least a couple years ago when I went to the Pennypacker farm to look at it) and the third child Anna Margaretta is recorded as having died 10 Feb 1696 with no indication of marriage or children. At almost the same time Gerhard Rittenhouse had a second son born (named Peter). Gerhard apparently was widowed at that time (and presumably by his wife dying in or shortly after childbirth) and he never remarried. No one has found the name of his wife but she must have been the daughter of some neighbor in Germantown. There are very few possibilities and Anna Margaretta seems to be the only one. Col. Kephart made this identification several years ago but there seems to be no evidence except for the circumstances I described." In another letter, dated 1967, Faris states again that he had looked at the Bible and there was no marriage info for Anna Margaretta.

I've included the above because Hans Peter's Bible is now too fragile to be handled. This means that Dr Faris was one of the last persons to actually look through it for information. If Anna Margaretta's death was recorded, it follows that a marriage, had there been one, would also have been recorded.



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Last updated 9 Dec 2007