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ISRAEL S.N. RITCH
The family of Israel S.N. Ritch (1817-1858+) arrived at Biloxi, Mississippi in the late 1840s. Israel S.N. Ritch, a native of Atlanta, Georgia, and his wife, Priscilla Pebukst (1816-1905), of Norfolk, Virginia, settled here, probably coming from Alabama. They acquired their first land in the village of Biloxi, almost an acre, on Lameuse Street, in October 1848, from Arne Bernard, the son-in-law of Robert Delauney. Mr. Ritch paid $280 for the tract. For the next 124 years, a member of the Ritch family would reside on the original family homestead at 211 Lameuse Street. (HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, p. 118)
From Federal Census data, local journals, and funeral home records, it can be ascertained with a high degree of certitude that Mrs. Priscilla Ritch had been married previously, probably in North Carolina, to Thomas E. James. At Biloxi, in 1850, Israel S.N. Ritch made his livelihood as a carpenter, an occupation that he would pursue until his demise. In addition to their baby, Joseph Ritch (1849-1860+), there were three adolescents, all shown as Alabama natives, but probably born in North Carolina: Mary F. James (1838-1850+), Elizabeth C. James Miller Mohan (1838-1914), and Thomas James (1842-1860+), residing in the Ritch household. The family has real estate valued at $500. (Guice, 1972, p. 41)
The Property of Priscilla Ritch
In March 1851, Priscilla Ritch made an affidavit to the County Clerk declaring her separate property from her husbands.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 5, pp. 491-492) She listed the following real property:
By 1860, it appears that Israel Ritch has passed on. The widow, Priscilla Ritch, is head of the household and owns real estate valued at $300. She has given birth to James Monroe Ritch (1852-1919) at Biloxi, and Jacob M. Ritch (1858-1876), in Louisiana, probably New Orleans. Others living with Mrs. Ritch are Joseph Ritch (1849-1860+), Thomas (James) Ritch (1842-1860+), and Elizabeth James Miller (1838-1914).(Guice, 1981, p. 10)
Elizabeth James Miller had married Joseph Miller in June 1859, at Harrison County, Mississippi. (Guice, 1981 p. 10)
In 1870, Priscilla Ritch is keeping house and owns real estate valued at $400. Her sons, James Monroe Ritch and Jacob Ritch, are living with her. Also in the under the Ritch roof is the Black family of Kentucky born, Henry Lewis (1834-1870+), which includes: Kitty Lewis (1856-1870+), Nancy Lewis (1867-1870+), and Elizabeth Lewis (b. 1870).(Guice, 1981, p. 21)
In 1880, Priscilla Ritch is living in Biloxi with her son, James Monroe Ritch, who is a laborer.(Carvin, 1981, p. 42)
P. Ritch 12/1816, Va. Va. Va. Seventeen children-two alive Elizabeth C. Mohan March 1838, Alabama, Ga., Va. Seven children- 2 alive.
The Children of Israel Ritch and Priscilla Ritch
I. Joseph Ritch (1849-1860+)
Joseph Ritch was born at Biloxi, Mississippi. No further information.
II. James Monroe Ritch (1852-1919)
James Monroe Ritch was born at Biloxi, Mississippi on June 22, 1852. There is a high probability that he had an illegitimate child, James Rich (1879-1912) with Josephine Taltavull. (Bradford-O’Keefe Bk. 3, p. 227)
ames Monroe Ritch married Mary Ann Flanagan (1853-1934) at New Orleans on December 24, 1884. She was born October 23, 1853, at New Orleans, the daughter of two Irish immigrants, James Flanagan and ? Walsh. The Ritch family moved to Biloxi after the wedding.(The Daily Herald, June 25, 1934, p. 5 and Bradford-O’Keefe Bk. 21, p. 248)
The children of James Monroe Ritch and Mary Ann Flanagan were: John Martin Ritch (1886-1930), Thomas Enoch Joseph Ritch (1889-1947), Mary Alma Ritch (1890-1964), and Priscilla Ritch (1893-1972).
James Monroe Ritch was a member of the Biloxi Elks Lodge. Was buried in the Old Biloxi Cemetery under the auspices of the Methodist Church.(The Daily Herald, August 7, 1919, p. 4 and August 11, 1919, p. 4)
The Children of James Monroe Ritch and Mary Ann Flanagan Ritch
John Martin Rich (1886-1930)
Born at Biloxi, Mississippi on June 24, 1886.
Thomas Enoch Joseph Rich (1889-1947)
Enoch Ritch was born at Biloxi, Mississippi on March 11, 1889. Graduated from Biloxi High School and earned a scholarship to Washington and Lee University at Lexington, Virginia. Ritch served as a private in the U.S. Army with the 6th Division of the 53rd Infantry in WWI. He relocated to Michigan after WWI. He expired at Douglas, Michigan on August 14, 1947. Buried Ritch family plot Old Biloxi Cemetery.(The Daily Herald, August ?, 1947, p. 6)
Mary Alma Ritch (1890-1964)
Mary Alma Ritch was born September 29, 1890, at Biloxi, Mississippi. Attended a summer normal at Chicago in August 1919. In August 1950, she and her sister, Prisicilla, attended the reading institute at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville. Also the Peabody Demonstration School for workshops and classes. From Nashville, they visited Asheville North Carolina and South Carolina.(The Daily Herald, August 15, 1950, p. 9)
Mary Alma Ritch died on April 14, 1964.
The 1898 Back Bay (Main Street) School
GOOD LAND PLAT OF North Main Street of July 1893.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 29, pp. 340-341)
Located on the west side of Main Street between Bradford Street and Bayview Avenue. In August 1893, W.F. Gorenflo was adjudicated two parcels of land on Main Street by the Chancery Court of Harrison County, Mississippi. The future Back Bay school site was situated on the tract, which was described as: 550 feet north-south on the west side of Main Street and 76 feet east-west, bounded on the north and west by the Estate of F. Moran, on the south by Gaspard Didier, and on the west by Main Street. (HARCO, Ms. Minute Bk. 4, p. 529)
The land for the Back Bay school was donated by William F. Gorenflo (1844-1932). The building was erected with funds provided by William K.M. Dukate (1852-1916) and donated to the City on September 6, 1898. A school in this section of Biloxi was desperately needed and sincerely appreciated by the Back Bay residents.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, September 7, 1898, p. 4)
In early October 1898, Mrs. S. Booth was the first teacher assigned to the Back Bay school. The new furniture for the structure had not arrived and old seats were temporarily installed in school.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, October 2, 1898, p. 8) Attendance at the commencement of the school in October 1898, was forty-seven students.(The Biloxi Daily Herald, October 5, 1898, p. 8)
The City of Biloxi sold the Back Bay Ward school to Bishop R.O. Gerow, Bishop of the Natchez Diocese, for $250 in August 1929. In the deed the structure is described as “The Gorenflo School”. The sale included all fixtures, attachments, pluming, lighting, etc.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 182, pp. 510-511)
In September 1926, prior to the sale, the Roman Catholic Parish of St. John’s commenced utilizing the building for a parochial school. It was staffed by the Sisters of Mercy from their Reynoir Street convent. This marked the fourth Roman Catholic school in Biloxi, as the Sacred heart School and Academy, Our Mother of Sorrows, and St. Michael’s had opened previously. A fifth, St. Theresa’s, was to be built shortly.(The Daily Herald, August 28, 1926, p. 2)
Miss Alma Ritch began her teaching career in September 1910, at the Back Bay School. She was one of four new instructors in the Biloxi School System. Her salary was $40 per month. Miss Ritch taught first and second grade. At this time, Miss Winnie Gorenflo was the Principal. Miss Ethel Dismukes, the other instructor, taught art.(The Daily Herald, September 9, 1910, p. 4)
In September 1915, faculty consisted of Miss Katie Henley, principal, and Miss Alma Ritch, Ione Dulion, and Caroline Gilbert.(The Daily Herald, September 3, 1915, p. 1)
In September 1921, faculty consisted of Miss Alma Ritch, principal, Miss Priscilla Ritch, Miss Grace Hightower, Miss Ione Dulion, and Miss Veronica Lacaze.(The Daily Herald, September 12, 1921, p. 1)
The Gorenflo School
The approximate 6.5 acres that would become the site of the 1924 Gorenflo School on Lameuse Street was once the John Comstock Bradford (1855-1928) homestead. He acquired this parcel from his mother, Burrisa Jane Elder Bradford (1830-1917), for $200, in February 1898.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 37, p. 475)
In June 1923, J.C. Bradford conveyed his large Lameuse Street tract to the Trustees of the Biloxi City Schools, W.F. Gorenflo (1844-1932), W.J. Grant (1875-1932), Elbert L. Dukate, Susan Snell Tonsmeire (1879-1953), and Lille Bourdon Devitt (1884-1951), for $10,000.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 138, pp. 466-467)
Here in 1923-1924, a school building designed by architect Carl E. Matthes (1896-1972) was erected. Called Back Bay Elementary School. Its area of educational responsibility included: All north of the L&N Railroad from Caillavet to Lee Street, including the east side of Caillavet and the west side of Lee; north of Division bounded by Caillavet and Seal.
The First School Year
When classes commenced in early September 1924, the faculty consisted of Miss Alma Ritch, principal and 1st grade; Miss Evelyn McShane, 1st grade; Miss Pricilla Ritch, 2nd and 3rd grades; Miss Lizette Mackie, 3rd and 4th grades; Miss Irma L. Harvey (1898-1965), 4th and 5th grades; Miss Veronica LaCaze, English, geography, spelling, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades; Miss Inez Rich, arithmetic, history, writing, 6th , 7th, and 8th grades.(The Daily Herald, September 9, 1924, p. 3)
Faculty-Miss Alma Ritch, principal, 1st grade; Evelyn McShane, 1st and 2nd grade; Prisicilla Ritch, 2nd and 3rd grades; Lizette Mackie, 3rd and 4th grades; Veronica LaCaze, penmanship, spelling, physical education, and music for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades; Mrs. H.H. Roof, arithmetic, geography, hygiene, and civics for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades; Mary Will Dent, English and history for the 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.(The Daily Herald, August 31, 1925, p. 3)
Priscilla Ritch (1893-1972)
Priscilla Ritch was born April 9, 1893, at Biloxi, Mississippi.
In July 1912, she and Florence Holley attended the summer normal at Wiggins, Mississippi.(The Daily Herald, July 16, 1912, p. 8)
Attended a summer normal at Chicago in 1919. In August 1950, she and her sister, Prisicilla, attended the reading institute at George Peabody College for Teachers in Nashville. Also the Peabody Demonstration School for workshops and classes. From Nashville, they visited Asheville North Carolina and South Carolina.(The Daily Herald, August 15, 1950, p. 9)
Miss Priscilla Ritch died on October 18, 1972
Miss Ritch wrote her will on August 6, 1971. It was filed for probate on October 20, 1972 with Albert Mallard and W.J. Wadlington as co-executors.
In February 1974, Albert Mallard sold the Biloxi Development Commission-Urban Renewal Agency of the City of Biloxi, the Ritch homestead at 211 and 213 Lameuse Street, for $41,000. The lots had 60 feet on Lameuse Street and 170 feet westward.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 46, pp. 266-267) Another lot in the same area was vended by Mallard also to the Biloxi Development Commission.(HARCO, Ms. Land Deed Bk. 46, p. 268)
III. Jacob M. Ritch (1858-1876)
Jacob M. Ritch died in 1876. Buried in the Old Biloxi Cemetery. No further information.
Earnest A. Carvin, The Harrison County, Mississippi 1880 Census, (Mississippi Coast History & Genealogical Society: Biloxi, Mississippi-1981)
Julia C. Guice, et al, Harrison County, Mississippi Marriages (1841-1899), (City of Biloxi, Mississippi-19??).
Julia C. Guice et al, The Harrison County, Mississippi 1850 Census, (Mississippi Coast History & Genealogical Society: Biloxi, Mississippi-1972)
Julia C. Guice et al, The Harrison County, Mississippi 1870 Census, (Community Development Department of the City of Biloxi, Mississippi: 1981)
Julia C. Guice et al, The Harrison County, Mississippi 1860 Census, (Community Development Department of the City of Biloxi, Mississippi: 1982)
W.W.A. Smith, Biloxi City Directory, Volume I, 1905, (The Biloxi Daily Herald Printry: Biloxi, Mississippi-1905)
Chancery Court Records
The Harrison County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 615, “W.F. Gorenflo v. Gaspard Didier et al”, August 1893.
The Harrison County, Mississippi Chancery Court Cause No. 1934, “The Estate of Prisicilla Ritch”, 1905.
The Harrison County, Mississippi Chancery Court Will Book 3, “The Will of Priscilla Ritch”, February 1905, p. 68
The Harrison County, Mississippi 2nd Judicial District Chancery Court Cause No. 2753, “The Estate of Priscilla Ritch”, October 1972.
The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Biloxi’s Public School”, September 7, 1898.
The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Teachers Assigned”, October 2, 1898.
The Biloxi Daily Herald, “Public Schools”, October 5, 1898.
The Daily Herald, “Biloxi Schools Open September 12”, September 3, 1910.
The Daily Herald, “Biloxi Schools Will Open Monday”, September 9, 1910.
The Daily Herald, “Local News Paragraph of Interest”, July 16, 1912.
The Daily Herald, “James Ritch Dead”, December 23, 1912.
The Daily Herald, “Mrs. Mohan Drops Dead On Street”, November 17, 1914.
The Daily Herald, “List of Teachers for City Schools of Biloxi is Out”, September 3, 1915, p. 1.
The Daily Herald, “Antoine-Rich Marriage”, September 17, 1918.
The Daily Herald, “Biloxi Landmark Passes Away”, August 7, 1919.
The Daily Herald, “Ritch Buried”, August 11, 1919.
The Daily Herald, “Public School Assignments”, September 9, 1924.
The Daily Herald, “School Work Begins Again”, August 31, 1925.
The Daily Herald, “Biloxi Has New School”, August 28, 1926.
The Daily Herald, “Martin Ritch Buried”, August 15, 1930.
The Daily Herald, “Mrs. Mary Ann Ritch Dies”, June 25, 1934.
The Daily Herald, “Thomas E.J. Ritch Dies”, August , 1947.
The Daily Herald, "Misses Ritch return", August 15, 1950.
The Daily Herald, “Retired School Principal Is Taken By Death”, April 14, 1964.
The Daily Herald, “Miss Priscilla Ritch”, October 19, 1972.
The Pascagoula Democrat-Star, “Local Paragraphs” (Mohan), May 14, 1880.