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Some Paternal Ancestors of Edwin Brown (“Big Doc”) KUGLER Sr


The name Rittenhouse is prominent in Philadelphia. Rittenhouse Square is an important landmark in Center-City Philly. The Square was named for David Rittenhouse, an astronomer, inventor, and the first head of the United States Mint. David was not your ancestor, but you and he share some forebears. You are descended from a William Benjamin Rittenhouse, Jr, who was David’s second cousin. They had a common great grandfather, William Rittenhouse, or Wilhelm Rettinghausen, of “Germany” and the Netherlands, who set up the first mill for the manufacture of paper in British North America.

Like those of Johannes Kugler, William’s descendants have dispersed widely in the New World. One author, writing in 1935, states:

"It has been estimated that there are probably no fewer than 50,000 descendants of Wilhelm Rittinghausen, the immigrant ancestor of the Rittenhouse family in America, to be found today in the State of Pennsylvania alone. And far-flung is the family elsewhere throughout the nation and in Canada."1

The surname comes in German—Rettinghausen, Dutch—Rüddinghuysen, and English—Rittenhouse—forms. The name seems to describe a house among the reeds; perhaps the first ancestor who needed a surname lived in such a place.

A book published in 18932 asserts that the Rittenhouses are descended from the royal Hapsburg dynasties, rulers of Austria and Spain, but this notion has been rather thoroughly debunked3. So, sadly, Rittenhouse descendants can no longer justify claiming that they also descend from Emperor Maximilian II of Austria.

The origins of the Rettinghausen lineage have, however, not been determined. There are today in Germany Rettinghaus, Rettinghausen, Rittinghaus, and Rittinghausen families whose ancestry has been traced in church records back to the early 1700s. Other records go back to the 1500s. These records indicate that many Rettinghaus (or other variants) families originated in the Mülheim-an-der Ruhr vicinity of today’s Westphalia. One researcher4 has discovered a large Rettinghaus clan who seemingly originated at Speldorf, a small town west of Mülheim. Part of this family went west to Duisburg, on the Rhine. Some may have, instead, moved the short distance east to Broich, a small place just across the Ruhr from Mülheim. A 1600 map shows a Rettinghaus Strasse (Street) in Angermund, south of Duisburg and about eight miles from Mülheim.

However, an 85-year-old nephew of Wilhelm Rettinghausen, who was interviewed in the Netherlands in 1778

"stated that his paternal ancestors were early and long seated at Arnheim, a fortified city on the Rhine, in the Dutch province of Guelderland; where they were understood to have conducted manufactories of paper for some generations".5

This would seem to be in conflict with the idea that the Rettinghausens arose around Speldorf in the Principality of Broich. Perhaps the papermakers of Arnhem were really maternal ancestors.

Mülheim area in “Germany”

Part of an old map6 of the Ruhr Valley, showing Mülheim-an-der Ruhr; Broich, where Wilhelm Rettinghausen was born and learned the papermaking trade; and Speldorf, where the Rettinghaus family may have originated.

Both of Big Doc’s paternal great-grandmothers were Rittenhouses. His grandfather George W Kugler’s mother was Eliza Rittenhouse, and the mother of George’s wife, Maria Jane Bennett, was Margaret Rittenhouse. Eliza and Margaret were second cousins, once removed, each descended from a son of William B Rittinghousen Sr (1696–1767). Moreover, Floyd Hamilton ("Ham") Fish is a descendant of yet another son (Peter) of William B Rittinghousen Sr!


Eliza RITTENHOUSE (1802–1880)

Jonathan RITTENHOUSE (1770–1846)

Benjamin William RITTENHOUSE (1746–1821)

William Benjamin RITTENHOUSE Jr (1725–1799)


Margaret (“Peggah”) RITTENHOUSE (1804–1872)

Joseph S RITTENHOUSE (c1766–1821)

Lott RITTENHOUSE (c1737–1813)

Rittenhouse Houses


William Benjamin RITTINGHOUSEN Sr (1696–1767)

Gerhard (“Garrett”) RÜDDINGHUYSEN (1674–1742)

Wilhelm RETTINGHAUSEN (1644–1708)

The Ruhr

Papermaking the Old Way

Descendants of Wilhelm RETTINGHAUSEN

Historic RittenhouseTown

Claus RETTINGHAUSEN (b c1615)

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Descent chart of both of George W Kugler”s grandmothers.


1 Rowland (1935), p 33.

2 Cassel (1893).

3 Rowland (1935); Kephart (1938); Rubincam (1959); Haacke (1982); Love (ws).

4 Dr Mark Haacke.

5 Rowland (1935), p 28, 34, citing Barton (1813).

6 This Ruhr map (c1820) is a detail from a historical map of the Essen area from Wikimedia Commons.

Background pattern from Absolute Background Textures .