RITTS, ELIAS. How far a man is made by his environments is perhaps an unsolved. problem; but there is no doubt
a strong character is greatly influenced, developed or modified by the outside world with which he comes in contact.
Had the subject of this memoir remained with his father and learned the trade of jeweler, in the respectableold
county of Berks, he would probably have grown gray repairing his neighbors' watches.. But he was destined to occupy
Elias Ritts was born in Berks county, Pa., on the 5th day of November, 1822. The family moved to Lehigh county
in 1830, and in 1836, while Elias was still a boy, came to Richiand township, Venango county (now Clarion). Here
he grew to manhood among the Vensels, Shoups, Neelys, and other pioneers of that new settlement. His proximity
to the Allegheny and Clarion rivers seemed to have determined his vocations in life. At an early period in his
history he became familiar with the upper waters of the Clarion, and with a limited education, but full of energy,
engaged in the trade of that river, building flat boats and freighting metal to the Pittsburgh market as early
as 1840. By care and skill Mr. Ritts became a successful carrier of freight, and a heavy dealer on the river and
in Pittsburgh for many years. He carried all the metal made by Judge Keating's furnace, and had a still larger
contract of freighting metal for Lyon, Shorb & Co., for a number of years. He also freighted a large amount
of metal for Plumer & Crary from Buchanan and Jefferson furnaces. Few of his boats were wrecked or sunk, and
by him no man lost a ton of metal, though the business was by no means free from risk. While thus engaged he became
extensively acquainted along the river, and accumulated considerable property.
In March, 1849, he married Elizabeth Vensel, by whom he had four children; all but the youngest are still living.
His wife dying in 1863, he married his second wife in 1866, by whom he has had five children, all living. His active
out door life and extended business relations gave him a strong constitution, and has made him prominent as a leading
property owner and business man of the county. He retained nothing that he brought with him from Berks county but
his politics and religion. He was never a noisy politican or an office seeker, but has quietly voted the Democratic
ticket ever since he became of age. In early life he connected with the German Reformed Church, and has ever since
been one of its liberal supporters, and an officer therein.
Mr. Ritts is tall and slender, with a well knit form, a pleasant face, social habits, and a kind disposition. In
1880 he bought a third interest in the Blake lumber lands for $50,000, and sold it in 1884 for about $85,000. He
still holds considerable real estate in Richland and Beaver townships, also in other parts of the county, besides
personal property of value.
In the early days of the oil excitement near the mouth of the Clarion River, he became an oil operator and producer,
a business he has made pay handsomely. Since selling his lumber lands he has to some extent retired from active
work on the river, to rest on an ample competency secured by a life of industry. At the age of sixtyf ive he is
still living where he started his business life, one of the respected patriarchs of St. Petersburg, with his family
around him. He is still enjoying excellent health, with erect frame, and his chances are fairly good for several
years more to live and quietly look back over a long and well spent life.
Also see John V. Ritts
History of Clarion County, Pennsylvania
With Illustrations and Biographical Sketches
of some of its prominent pioneers.
EDITED BY: A. J. Davis
D. Mason & Co., Publishers
Clairion County Pennsylvania Biographies
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