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Is it Philip Rutschly or Francis Ritchie?

THE CONTROVERSY in some sources have listed Philip Ritschy (Rutschly), born in Germany and came to America in 1727 and eventually settled in Rockingham County, Virginia as the father of Isaac Ritschy, our paternal lineage of the Ritchey family that settled in Virginia. New research may indicate that a Francis Richey is the direct paternal lineage of the Ritchey family of Bedford County, Pennsylvania. Francis Richey come to America in 1727 from Londonderry County, Ireland and settled with his family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

It is my personal opinion that Philip Rutschly of Germany is probably not of our paternal lineage as further research has indicated. As mentioned below, it is more likely that Francis Richey is our direct ancestor.

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For many years it appeared from known published materials, including genealogical services, that the father of Isaac Ritschy was already well established. Philip Rutschly was born in about 1697 and emigrated from Switzerland or Germany on the ship William & Sarah, landing at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in September 1727. He later migrated to Loudoun County, Virginia. His wife Anna Maria Schopf, born in 1702 emigrated along with her husband.

According to the ship list from the William & Sarah, 1727, Philadelphia, an immigrant by the name of Philip Rutschly did arrive. This passenger list has been published ("Pennsylvania German Pioneers, a Publication of the Original Lists of Arrivals in the Port of Philadelphia", Strassburger and Hinke, Genealogical Publishing Company Inc., Baltimore (1980) Vol. 1, pp 8-10). Not only is Philip Rutschly's name listed among the other Palatines arriving on the ship but his actual signature appears on the ship passenger record. This ship list revealed that he not only used the last name "Rutschly", but also used the last name "Rudisile, Rudisily, or Rudisili." It is possible that Philip made this spelling change to preserve the German language pronunciation of his last name. After landing, he settled in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

A search in Lancaster of land records and deeds under the name of Rutschly could not be found, nor deeds using a variety of name spellings. Instead multiple Lancaster County land transactions involving Philip Rudysilly do exist. The Lancaster County Historical Society referred to a published book, "The Rudisill Genealogy", well known in Lancaster County as well as the state of North Carolina, written by Edward L. Rudisill, a descendant of Philip Rutschly of Lancaster County, and whose family branch settled in North Carolina. This book was published in 1995 and appears well researched and well accepted. Another publication by the Genealogical Publishing Company, "Rhineland Emigrants", 1981 by Don Yoder also confirms the information on Philip Heinrich Rudisile.

Basically, these two publications describe Philip Heinrich Rudisile, whose family was originally from Switzerland, but who was born in 1697 in Michelfeld, Germanic Europe and died in 1755 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He was a clothes tailor by trade. He married Anna Maria Schopff in 1722 in Germanic Europe (as the country of Germany had not been formed yet), and she died there in 1725. After arriving in the colonies in 1727 as a widower, Philip married twice more in Lancaster County in about 1732 and 1734. He died in Lancaster County in 1755, and in his final Will left his property to his eldest son, Michael Rudysill. Philip is buried in a private cemetery near the present-day site of the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

It is now conclusive from these sources that Philip Rutschly/Rudisile is not the parent of or related to our ancestor, Isaac Ritschy (1737-1824) as so many resources had mentioned in the past. Although for the record, I am listing Philip in our family tree along with the correct paternal information for Isaac Ritschy and his siblings. Therefore, two sets of parents will appear for these individuals. This is so that this new information is incorporated and combined with what was previously thought of as settled. It shows that research is always on-going and when new research is presented that it is up to the individual to decide for themselves what opinion to take with the facts provided.


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Now that we have research that concludes that Philip Rutschly is not a direct ancestor to Isaac Ritschy, who is his father? Genealogical research has disclosed a number of indications that Isaac Ritschy's father may be traced to Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Issac's brother Francis Richey (1735-1805) married into the Diehl family in 1763 to Catherine Diehl and upon her death in 1783 married Catherine Smouse. Both Isaac and Francis lived near each other in the vicinity of the German/Swiss settlement of Lovettsville, Virginia. Samuel Diehl and his wife, Margaretha were Godparents to Francis's first son, Samuel as indicted in the records of the historic New Jerusalem Church, a German Reformed Chuch in Lovettsville, Virginia.

Two sources point to the father of Isaac and Francis. The "Descendants of 18th Century Morrison's Cove Settlers" (2005) suggests that Francis Richey lived in Germantown, a town northwest of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which is near the southern boundary of Bucks County. Also, in the publication, "Ritchey Reunion Register - 1924" by James D. Boor describes an annual Ritchey family reunion held in 1924. This reunion was held at the Francis Richey's farm in Snake Spring Valley, Bedford County, Pennsylvania. It was held annually from about 1900 until 1940 and was attended by the decendants of Francis Richey and his cousin Adam Richey (1758-1830).

The 1924 reunion was attended by over two hundred relatives and most set forth a register of their ancestral Ritchey lineage. The attendees traced their lines to Francis Ritchey or Adam Ritchey. Six family members of the Gates family from Braddock, Pennsylvania recorded the same lines starting with their mother, "Kate Ritchey Gates, Jacob E. Ritchey, Francis Ritchey, Francis Ritchey."

On page 16 of the Register from the James Boor publication the Gate family members list their maternal grandfather as Jacob E. Ritchey (1840-1905), who lived in Snake Spring Valley. However, they omitted from the lineage two persons, Michael Ritchey (1817-1894) and Jacob Ritchey (1774-1850), who are ancestors between Jacob E. Ritchey and Francis Richey. This implies that two successive generations of persons with Francis as their name. We can then assume that Francis Richey and Isaac Richey's father was also named Francis.

In another research report by Virginia Heine-Geldern, "Some Early Ritchies, Richeys, Ritcheys, of Bedford County," (1985) from the Pioneer Historical Library, Bedford, Pennsylvania describes a person named Francis Ritchie, an Ulsterman, who married a German woman of the Reformed faith and lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania before 1746, and that he and his family migrated to Loudoun County, Virginia. She further states that this Francis Ritchie had a son, also named Francis Ritchie, who married in 1763 in Loudoun County to a woman who died early and then remarried before 1778 to a woman named Catherine Smouse, daugther of John Smouse (Schmaus). She further states that the son, Francis Ritchie, and most of his sons migrated to Bedford County, Pennsylvania in about 1794, and settled on a farm in Snake Spring Valley where the son, Francis Ritchie, died in 1805.

Further research has indicated that Francis Richey (1710-1780) lived in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and was a small farmer who may have also owned a small store. He was involved in various court records as an overseer of roads, expanding existing roads north of present day Philadelphia in Warwick Township, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He lived on a parcel of land owned by a Dr. John Rodman from at least 1726 until around 1757. Although he previously applied for a warrent for five hundred acres in 1738 near the town of Easton, then in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, he never acquired legal title to this property, and the  property reverted back to the proprietors, Thomas Penn, son of William Penn, who was an English Quaker, founder of the province of Pennsylvania.

He seemed to disappear from records in 1757-1760 and has been assumed that he had died in Bucks County, Pennsylvania prior to his wife and family moving south to Frederick County, Maryland. His five children, Francis, Isaac, Henry, Margaretha and Anna Maria all surely spoke fluent German due to their mother; they eventually married German or Swiss spouses; generally lived in Germanic communities in Maryland, Virginia and eventually Bedford County, Pennsylvania.

Due to the report by Virginia Heine-Geldern it is assumed that Francis was born in Ulster about 1710, a nine-county province that comprised the northern part of Ireland. Although unsupported, the evidence points to Francis being from northern Ireland. A Will found from a William Richey of Chester County, Pennsylvania in 1777 points to a reference to his brother, Frances Richey of the parish of Tamlaght Finlagen and County of Londonderry, Kingdom of Ireland. Could this be the same Francis Richey who disappeared from the colonies in 1757-1760? Did Francis leave Bucks County to return to northern Ireland? No death or burial records could be found for him and could suggest a rupture in his family and his departure from America back to Ireland.

With this find of an Irish or Scotch-Irish ancestry, what could explain of the Germanic history? At least the first four generations in America saw the Richey family descendant marry a woman of Germanic or Swiss ancestry. With the passing of each generation, the newborn child's ancestry became more distinctly Germanic and less Scotch-Irish. All  of the families spoke the German language, and the Reformed Church gave the Scottish Richey name the Germanic spelling, Ritschi or Ritschy. Most, but not all, of this line, after about 1840, settled on a slightly Germanic modification of the Scottish name, Richey, so that it was spelled Ritchey or Ritchie, as it is to this day.

According to the "Supplement and Update to The Origins of the Judge..." (2017), by Glenn A. Ritchey, Jr., the emigration of Francis Richey, from County Londonderry, Ulster Province, northern Ireland, on December 10, 1727 onboard the ship Eagle's Wing with his brothers William (1706-1777) and Alexander Richey (1688/98-1749) and landed in New Castle Delaware. They traveled northwest overland and settled at Chestnut Level in southern Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He then lived with his family in Bucks County, Pennsylvania until he abandoned his wife, four sons and two daughters about the time he disappeared from records in America. He apparently sought refuge by returning with his brother to live thereafter in County Londonderry, northern Ireland.


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What are we to make of these discoveries? In my opinion Philip Rutschly is not our direct ancestor but it is not quite conclusive that Francis is either. There are only two records that indicate that Francis is part of our Ritchey lineage; the 1924 Registery for the Ritchey Reunion where six Gates family members recorded the same lines and a three-page report from Virginia Heine-Geldern. The 1777 Will of William Richey of Chester County, Pennsylvania mentions a brother named Frances Richey living in Ireland at the time of his death but is this the same Francis? No other records for Francis exist after 1760 in America but I'm not convinced that he returned to Ireland as this Will just provides circumstantial evidence.

In the supplement to "The Origins of the Judge Glenn A. Ritchey, Jr.", it is assumed that the name of Francis' wife is Agnes Gregg, an immigrant from Switzerland. There are no historical references to her name other then a 2001 correspondence with the author in which a family traces their lineage back to Philip Rutschly and Agness Gregg, who emigrated from Switzerland in 1727. This would be the same person who accompanied Samuel Diehl and his wife, Margaretha to eventually settle in Bedford County, Pennsylvania in 1782-1783. She appears to have been living with the Samuel Diehl family on their farm in Loudoun County, VA, since she arrived from Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

This assumption of Francis' wife's name and other assumptions made throughout both publications bring doubt about the Irish individuals referenced and connected to Francis Richey. Therefore, further ancestors for Francis in Ireland or Scotland have not been included.

What are we to take from this? Well, it's up to the individual to decide by either further research or an in-depth study of the publications mentioned. Francis is probably our direct ancestor but some of the information relating to his life may not be accurate. Genealogical records from 300 years ago are controversial as names change or are spelled incorrectly or informaton is just incorrect. Only further research will we be able to conclusively discover the truth.

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