Title: Army 1st Lieutenant, Spanish-American War
Birthdate: November 28, 1877
Death Date: September 11, 1904
Plot Location: Section 200, Lot 195
William was the only son of Irish natives William and Mary Bayle Ritchie and grew up in Bristol, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. His father worked at D. Landreth Seed Company, which is still in business after more than 230 years. He was 17 and listed his civilian job as chemist when he joined the National Guard on June 24, 1895. He was part of Company G, Third Infantry, and was promoted to Corporal the next year.
The nation officially went to war with Spain in the spring of 1898 and William’s regiment, officially known as the Third Regiment, Infantry, Pennsylvania Volunteers, was officially federalized on July 22. They were stationed at Mount Gretna, Pennsylvania, Chickamauga, Georgia, Tampa. Florida, Fernandina, Florida., and Huntsville, Alabama before being mustered out in Philadelphia on October 22. It wasn’t much of a war, at least not for Corporal Ritchie. The records for his regiment list 1037 officers and men. Somehow there were 13 deaths, which must have been from illness or accident since they never left the country and saw any action.
He came back to the Guard on March 28, 1899 as a private, then became Corporal in July, 1900 and a Sergeant in October. Meanwhile, William’s father died on the 25th day of the new century, and William lived with his mother in Philadelphia at 807 South 16th Street. His next reenlistment was in April, 1902 with a promotion to 1st Lieutenant coming six months later.
William caught tuberculosis in 1904 and after just 26 years he lived his last day on September 11. His mother had a large and distinctive headstone placed over his grave next to the Soldiers’ Plot in Section 200.
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