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RITCHIE, JAMES WADSWORTH

RITCHIE, JAMES WADSWORTH (1861–1924). James Wadsworth (Jack) Ritchie, JA Ranch heir, the son of Montgomery and Cornelia (Wadsworth) Ritchie, was born in 1861 at Geneseo, New York. After his father's death in 1864, his mother took James and his older brother to Paris, where the brother died a few years later. James spent the remainder of his youth and received his formal education in France and England, where he was given the nickname Jacque. In 1887, when his twice-widowed mother (see ADAIR, CORNELIA WADSWORTH) divided the JA Ranch holdings with Charles Goodnight, Ritchie arrived at the ranch to learn the cattle business from his stepfather's old partner. Goodnight, who continued to manage John G. Adair's properties for a time, took him on as a cowhand and eventually elevated him to foreman of the JA's Tule Division. Ritchie adapted quickly to the Panhandle environment and lived in a dugout at the original Tule campsite. However, he was demoted in January 1888 for gambling, which was strictly against the rules Goodnight had established. Not desiring to have her aristocratic son continue in such a lowly occupation, Cornelia Adair soon afterward persuaded him to stay briefly in New York, where Ritchie handled the purchase of JA horses for that city's police department. Nevertheless, Ritchie made several subsequent visits to the ranch and was instrumental in obtaining the services of Richard Walsh as manager of the JA.

An avid sportsman, Ritchie often enjoyed fox hunting on the Adair estate in England. He was first married to Emily Tooker, a New York native who died only a few years later. In 1899 Ritchie enlisted for service in the Boer War and, although an American citizen, rose to the rank of major in the British Cavalry. His ability to manage men and horses in the field, skills he had learned at the JA Ranch, won him promotions and praise from his superiors during that conflict. In 1907 Ritchie married an Englishwoman, Daisy Muriel Hoare, and settled in a house he had built in Ashwell, England. There the couple raised three children. Although Ritchie had planned someday to move back to the United States, his failing health plus the outbreak of World War I in 1914 kept the family in England. He was a semi-invalid during his last years. Ritchie died in 1924 and was buried in England.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Cornelia Adair, My Diary: August 30 to November 5, 1874 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1965). Armstrong County Historical Association, A Collection of Memories: A History of Armstrong County, 1876–1965 (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1965). J. Evetts Haley, Charles Goodnight (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949). Dorothy Abbott McCoy, Texas Ranchmen (Austin: Eakin Press, 1987). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876–1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).

H. Allen Anderson

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

H. Allen Anderson, "RITCHIE, JAMES WADSWORTH," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fri50), accessed December 20, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.