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Upon one of the finest farms of Doniphan county William J. Ritenour is carrying on agricultural pursuits. He is now the owner of four hundred and eighty acres of rich land under a high state of cultivation and improved with all the accessories and conveniences of the model farm. There are substantial buildings upon the place, which indicate the thrift and careful supervision of the owner, while the richly cultivated fields give promise of abundant harvests. Although Mr. Ritenour is now numbered among the well-to-do citizens of the county, he was at one time a poor boy, and had no special advantages of education. His unremitting diligence, guided by practical good sense, has been the foundation on which he has builded his present prosperity.

Mr. Ritenour was born in Shenandoah county, Virginia, December 17, 1830, and is a representative of one of the old families of that state, his grandfather having removed to the Old Dominion from Maryland in early manhood. John Ritenour, the father of our subject, was also born in Shenandoah county, and served his country in the war of 1812. His time was devoted to the occupation of farming. He traced his ancestry back to German stock, and in the Fatherland the name was originally Ridenour, but in colonial days representatives of the name came to the new world and the change in orthography was eventually made to the present form. John Ritenour married Mary Goladay, and their children were: Eliza, who married Washington Weach, and after his death became the wife of Andrew Ross, and died in Virginia; Elias died in that state; Jonathan died in the Old Dominion; William J. is the next of the family; Isaac died in Virginia; J. H., and Milton resides in that state.

William J. Ritenour was reared to manhood on his father's farm, and in the district schools received the bare rudiments of an education, becoming familiar with elementary branches, -- reading, writing and arithmetic. On attaining his majority he began learning the blacksmith's trade under the direction of his brother Isaac, serving a three-years apprenticeship, and later he worked as a journeyman for a time. Believing that the West offered better opportunities to those who were ambitious to seek advancement, he left his home and in the fall of 1856 started for Kansas. The party with which he traveled took passage on a vessel at Wheeling, West Virginia, and followed the water course to St. Joseph, Missouri. On the nineteenth of November of that year Mr. Ritenour arrived in Doniphan county, locating first at Iowa Point. There he established a smithy and conducted business until a short time prior to the civil war, when he turned his attention to agricultural pursuits. He began farming on a small scale, but steadily he increased his landed possessions as his financial resources were augmented, and today within the boundaries of his farm are comprised four hundred and eighty acres of rich and productive land.

During the civil war Mr. Ritenour was a member of the state militia, ready to respond at any time to the call for aid from the government. He has been identified with the progress of modern times and is a public-spirited citizen, who gives his co-operation to many movements for the public good. His political support is given the Republican party, but he has never sought or desired political preferment.

On the 17th of December, 1858, he was married in Holt county, Missouri, to Sarah A., a daughter of Jacob Heastan, one of the pioneers of Kansas. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Ritenour are: Ellen, the wife of George Corbet; Annie, the wife of Edward Lancaster; William, Minerva, Etta, the wife of Jerry Kimmel, and Lottie. The family is well known in this section of Doniphan county, and their friends in the community are many. The business career of our subject has been a successful one, and his prosperity is well merited, being reward of his earnest effort.