Friday, November 7, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Week 3: Esther Loretta Rittgers

Esther Loretta Rittgers was born May 28, 1844, likely in Marion Township, Hocking, Ohio, the 12th child and 5th daughter of Jacob "Jake" Rittgers and Esther/Hester Patterson.

She first appears as "Easter Rittcher" in the 1850 Census, age 6, living with her parents and siblings in Marion, Hocking, Ohio.  It is unclear to me why she (and her mother) are listed as Easter instead of Esther?  Was it pronounced like the holiday?  The neighbors were other Rittgers relations and farmers of largely German stock.
[Year: 1850; Census Place: Marion, Hocking, Ohio; Roll: M432_695; Page: 428A; Image: 136]

About 1852, when Esther was about 8, the family moved to Polk County, Iowa.

Although she is not listed directly in this 1854 Jefferson Township, Polk, Iowa census, I am assuming Esther (then about 10) is one of the 3 females who live in J B Rittgers' home.  Daniel Rittgers (her uncle) is nearby, and John Nosler (her future father-in-law is on the other side of the page).
[1854 Iowa Census in Jefferson, Polk, Iowa. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses]

Esther is listed as age 11 in the 1856 Jefferson Township, Polk, Iowa census.  Because she is not yet 12 I suspect this census was taken before May 18, 1856, when she turned 12.  Her mother Esther/Hester had died in January, and her father had not yet married his second wife, Anna Catherine Schleigh.  There are various relations and Noslers in the area.
[1856 Iowa Census in Jefferson, Polk, Iowa. Iowa, State Census Collection, 1836-1925 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2007. Original data: Microfilm of Iowa State Censuses]

I can not find Esther (or her brother Perry C Rittgers for that matter) on the 1860 Federal Census.  She was 16 that year, and it may be that she wanted to live away from home as her father had remarried by this time and was starting a new family with his second wife (this is speculation on my part, though).  Esther's brothers John and Israel were living in Paskenta, Tehama, California, and I doubt that she would have traveled to California at that age.  Since her brother Perry is next seen in Paskenta county I think he may have been on the move to California during the 1860 Census.  Most of her other siblings were in the Polk County, Iowa area.  Her sister Margaret Mantz was in Union, Boone, Iowa.  Brother Eli Rittgers was in Grove, Morris, Kansas Territory.

Esther is mentioned numerous times in the diary of James Milo Nosler (her future brother-in-law), and some notable examples are nicely summed up in user Rorajoyce's entry on Esther Rittgers.  From those tidbits I've been able to guess that she became involved with William Nosler (1840-1914) at least as early as October 1863, when she was 19.  James and William served together for the Union during the Civil War, and would come back occasionally to Polk County, Iowa to visit family.

On January 10, 1864, James Milo Nosler noted that he took a sleigh ride with Esther and her first cousin Malinda "Linnie" Rittgers (daughter of Esther's uncle Daniel Rittgers).  While away in the Army, James wrote on February 15, 1864, that he would "Send Valentines to Misses Sallie and Ella Snyder and Linnie (Malinda) and Esther Rittgers [Sallie Snyder was his future wife]."  While back in Polk County, Iowa on furlough on April 30, 1864, James mentioned that "Tonight William goes to see Esther Rittgers."  On May 4, 1864, James wrote that he went to Mrs. Rittgers (I'm assuming Esther's stepmother, Anna Catherine (Schleigh) Rittgers).  "There is quite a number of youngsters there. Wm., Esther, Sallie, and I take a walk.....We talk until 11 o'clock and finally Sallie and I agree to get maried tomorrow. Wm and Esther - Sunday."  According to Rorajoyce:
The next day they went into Des Moines and, after a recital of the day, they [James Nosler and Sarah Snyder] were married at 8 o'clock at the Des Moines House by Mr. Barbee of the M.E. Church. On the 8th of May Will tries to get a minister, but can't so they can't get married. 9 May They all go into Winterset [Madison County, Iowa], where Will and Esther are married. They arrive back in Des Moines on the 10th and Will and Esther stay at the Des Moines House.
Esther was (almost) 20 when she got married.

Esther was 22 when her first son, Alva Asbury Nosler, was born (8 Jan 1867), likely in Polk County (possibly Dallas County), Iowa.

A mere 13 months later Esther's second child, Oscar Lawrence Nosler, was born (27 Feb 1868), in Iowa.  Esther was 23.

Her third child, Sarah Anna Nosler, was born in Iowa on 27 Oct 1869.  Esther was 25.

Esther appears in the June 20, 1870 Federal Census with her husband William (who was working as a teacher) and their three children.  Esther was 26.
[Year: 1870; Census Place: Dallas, Dallas, Iowa; Roll: M593_385; Page: 549A; Image: 368; Family History Library Film: 545884]
When Esther was about 27 (about 1871) they went by covered wagon to Coos County, Oregon.  According to the Bureau of Land Management records, William bought 167.5 acres of land in Riverton, Coos, Oregon on March 20, 1875 (BLM Accession Nr: ORRAA 038102).

Her son, Samuel M. Nosler, was born 19 Aug 1872 in Riverton, Coos, Oregon (she was 28).  Mary Charlotte Nosler was born in Coquille, Coos, Oregon on 13 Nov 1874 (Esther was 30).  Israel "Iz" Rittgers Nosler was born 10 Sep 1876 in Oregon (not sure where), when Esther was 32.

Husband William Nosler represented Coos County in the Oregon State Legislature in 1878 (when Esther was about 34).

According to Rorajoyce, Esther and William had a son John Charles Nosler (16 Jun 1878 - 12 Apr 1879), although I don't know where the source of that information is.  This must have been a terrible blow for them.  Esther was almost 35 when he died.  I think they were in Mendocino, Sonoma, California at that point, as that is where William was registered to vote (California State Library, California History Section; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4 - 2A; CSL Roll Number: 132; FHL Roll Number: 978587).

Esther (now almost 36) had her next child, Alberta "Birdie" Evaline Noser (6 Feb 1880) in Healdsburg, Sonoma, California.  I was lucky enough to find a newspaper announcement for this:
Daily Alta California, Volume 32, Number 10897, 14 February 1880
Page 4 Advertisements Column 1 [ADVERTISEMENT]
Nosler search on
Nosler--In Healdsburg, February 6, to the wife of Rev. W. H. Nosler, a son.
[Note:  it was actually a girl, Alberta "Birdie" Evaline Nosler, lol]
They must have been going through a lot of hardships at that point.  William is listed as a carpenter who had been unemployed for about 6 months.
[Year: 1880; Census Place: Healdsburg, Sonoma, California; Roll: 84; Family History Film: 1254084; Page: 190C; Enumeration District: 128; Image: 0382]
Esther gave birth to her next child, Minnie Etta Nosler (10 Jan 1883), my great grandmother, in Healdsburg.  She was 39.

At some point after this Esther and her family moved to San Diego, California, as she had her last child, Eugene "Gene" Elmer Nosler there on Oct 12, 1886.  Esther was 42.

A year later, William Nosler ran for councilman in San Diego's 3rd ward, on the Workingmen's Ticket [Date: Saturday, November 5, 1887 Paper: Daily San Diegan (San Diego, CA) Page: 11.Source:].  I don't see any evidence that he won, and tragically, Esther died on November 14, 1887, in San Diego, nine days after this election.  She died at the age of 43.  She left a husband and 9 surviving children to mourn her.

This was a pretty sobering write up for me.  I am the same age as she was when she died.  She seems to have had a hard life, giving birth every 1-2 years, and caring for many babies and children while moving around a lot.  I do not know what caused her death, but I wonder if it was sheer exhaustion?

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