52 Ancestors: William Dittman (1844-1918)

William Dittman (1844-1918)

Amy Johnson Crow used a weekly blog theme of “52 Ancestors” in her blog post Challenge: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. Although Amy decided to stop posting on this challenge, Randy Seaver has continued posting his ancestors on Geneamusings.com. I’ve decided to start posting my ancestors on a weekly basis. I’m going to use this as an opportunity to clean my data and sources.

I’ll begin with Generation 3, my great-grandfather, William Ditman.

William Dittman is #8 on my Ahnentafel chart and is my great-grandfather on my paternal side. Beginning this challenge with him is a challenge unto itself.  Two biographies were written about him, I have been unable to prove most of what is said in the biographies, given that the information contradicts itself.

William Dittman (1844-1918)
William Dittman (1844-1918)

Name: William Dittman
Sex: Male
Father: August Dittman (1816-1856)
Mother: Rose Forest (Before 1830-1864)


Birth: 26 Apr 1844 in Erie County, Pennsylvania, United States [8]
Military Service: 1862; C. 19th Regiment, U.S. Infantry, Regular Army [1]
Census: 14,15,16 Jun 1880 (age 30), Sawyer; Elbert, Elbert, Colorado, United States [3]
Census: 1 Jun 1885 (age 36), farmer; Mesa, Colorado, United States [4]
Census: 20 Jun 1900 (age 51), farmer; Mesa, Colorado, United States [5]
Death: 04 Oct 1918 (age 74), farmer; Debeque, Colorado, United States [8]

Marriages and Children

  1. Juliana Rinnert (1855-1933) [2]

Marriage: 23 Oct 1876 in Denver, Denver, Colorado, United States


Gertrude Ditman (1877-1944)
Edgar Park Ditman (1878-1969)
William Ditman (1882-1895)
Cora Ditman (1887-1906)
Raymond Lowel Dittman (1890-1975)
Leroy Lewis Dittman (1890-1973)
Earl Grant Ditman (1899-1983)


Different names used: William Ditman/Dittman.  Used 1 or two t’s throughout his life. No known middle name. Born in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Canada and Germany according to who presented the information in Census and biographies.

Different birthdates and years used 1844, 1849.

Physical Description

He was 6′ 4″ and a redhead, according to his son Earl Ditman. Both daughters Cora and Gertrude were redheads. Earl Ditman was a strawberry blond. In his photograph that I inherited, William is shown in a suit (with a Masonic pin), a full head of hair, and a large mustache.


1841 Born in Canada (Probably not accurate, given later birth information)

1844 Born in Michigan or Pennsylvania (Death Certificate says 1844, Penn by Julia Rinnert, his wife)

1849 Born in Erie County, Pennsylvania (Information in biographies)

1854 Immigration from Germany (One census record states he was born in Germany) Father immigrated in 1846. Since William was born in 1844, does this make it doubtful that he came over first then brought his family over?

1861 Arrived in Baltimore, Maryland (May not be him in record) 1855-1856 Family moved to Michigan shortly before his father, August Ditman, died in 1856, according to bio.

1862 Joined Rankin’s Lancers (The lancer regiment never saw action and was disbanded 20 Mar 1862.) Rankin’s Lancers was made up of Canadians and formed in Michigan. Interesting, since you were supposed to be 18 to join the Civil War, but he was only 15 when his mother died in 1864. Beginning to make sense that he was older, perhaps actually born in 1841 or 1844. If he joined in 1862 at 18, then he was born in 1844. Obit and gravestone say 1844.

1867 Returned to Michigan

1869 California working in sawmill

1870 In California

1880 Sawyer in Elbert, Colorado

1918 Died in De Beque, Mesa County, Colorado; It is likely that he actually died from complications from Spanish Flu. His obituary does not state this, but several stories on the same page reference those that died from Spanish Flu during the epidemic in 1918.


  1. Historical Data Systems, comp., U.S. Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2009.Original data – Data compiled by Historical Data Systems of Kingston, MA from the following list of works.Copyright 1997-2009Historical Data Systems, Inc. PO Box 35Duxbury, MA 02331.Ori), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com.
  2. Colorado Statewide Marriage Index, 1853-2006; FamilySearch.org, William Ditman and Mary Rinnert, 23 Oct 1876, Denver, Denver, Colorado, United States; citing no. B 65 P 192, State Archives, Denver; FHL microfilm 1,690,070. FamilySearch.org, http://www.familysearch.org.
  3. 1880 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Elbert, Colorado: Page 10, dwelling #103, family #112, William Ditman household; digital images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.Ancestry.com), citing Family History Library Microfilm: 1254090; Roll: T9_90; Enumeration District: 41;
  4. “Colorado State Census, 1885,”  indexed database and digital image, Ancestry.com  (http://www.Ancestry.com), Mesa, Colorado, page 9, Dwelling #183, Family #189, William Ditman household; citing National Archives and Records Administration. Schedules of the Colorado State Census, 1885. Washington, D.C.: Microfilm: M158, Roll: T158_6.
  5. 1900 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Mesa, Mesa, Colorado: Page 18, dwelling 365, family 368, William Ditman household;digital images, Ancestry.com, http://www.ancestry.com,; citing Family History Library Microfilm: 1240126; Roll: 126; Page: 18B; Enumeration District: 0072.
  6. 1910 United States Federal Census, Population Schedule, Mesa, Mesa, Colorado: Page 4A, , Ancestry.com, (http://www.Ancestry.com); citing Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (NARA microfilm publication T624, 1,178 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Record Group 29. National Archives, Washington, D.C.:  Roll: T624_122; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 0088; FHL microfilm: 1374135.
  7. General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934;database with images;accessed 23 October 2015), William Dittman, 1907-1933; citing NARA microfilm publication M850 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,634,632.., Widow’s Pension; United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards, United States Veterans Administration Pension Payment Cards 1907-1933; Civil War and Later Pension Files, Department of Veterans Affairs; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.
  8. Certificate of Vital Record, death certificate, Colorado (Denver, California., State of Colorado, Department of Public Health), William Ditman (certificate dated 27 Apr 1977) (6 Oct 1918). Born: 26 Apr 1844. Occupation: Farmer. Cause of death: Acute Bronchitis. Reported by Mrs William Ditman, DeBeque, Colorado.
  9. Find A Grave, Inc., Find A Grave, digital image (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 21 October 2014), photograph, “gravestone for William Dittman, Memorial No. 47376581, Records of the Mesa Cemetery (Mesa, Mesa, Colorado, United States);” photograph © Susan Tharp.


Thanksgiving – Samuel Maycock and Richard Pace


We remember the Thanksgiving depicted in the painting above. History teaches children that a great dinner of thanks was held at Plymouth Plantation in 1621. Did you know that this Thanksgiving was not actually the first?


Jamestown is the site of the first permanent English colony in America, and could be the site of the first Thanksgiving feast.

In 1609 at Jamestown, Virginia, a period they called “Starving Time”, they subsisted on starch from their shirt collars, shoe leather, and resorted to cannibalism. They held a feast of some kind, who knows with what provisions they had left, and waited for their relief ship. Only 60 of the original 214 settlers at Jamestown survived.

In 1612 at Jamestown, Virginia, a dinner was held after Governor Dale arrived with a ship full of women (girls) intended to become the wives of the lonely male settlers.

North of Jamestown, Virginia, at Berkley Plantation on 4 December 1620, local colonists began an annual autumn feast known as a day of thanksgiving to celebrate the day they first arrived in Virginia in 1619.

Jamestown Massacre 1622

Jamestown Massacre 1622
Jamestown Massacre 1622

The relationship between the colonists and the Powhatan deteriorated after second group of settlers arrived in 1610. A critical shortage of food contributed to the strife. The Anglo-Powhatan War lasted until Wahunsenacawh’s daughter Matoaka, we know her as Pocahontos, was captured. The chief accepted a treaty of peace in order to free his daughter. Pocahontas married a wealthy settler, John Rolfe in 1614. This union brought years of prosperity and wealth.

Tobacco was growing wild from a Spanish shipwreck, years earlier. Rolfe began to harvest tobacco. He and other settlers were expanding their plantings to land that belonged to the local tribes. In 1617, Pocahontas died, and her father died the following year. Her uncle, Opchanacanough, became the head of the Powhatan Confederacy and it all went down hill from there.

In 1622 nine settlers from the Berkley Hundred were killed in a massacre, by the Powhatan tribe, along with one third of the Virginia colony. Among the dead was one of my 10th great-grandfathers from my paternal grandmother’s line, Samuel Maycock (1594-1622).

Samuel Maycock was a Minister, brought to Jamestown, from England. He was given a land grant north of Jamestown on the James River, his plantation was named Maycock.

During the Indian Massacre of 1622, 31 plantations were destroyed and 341 men, women and children were killed. Among those that lost their plantations was John Rolfe, the widower of Pocahontas. It is unclear if he died because of the massacre or because of illness he suffered during that time. Those that were saved would thank another of my 10th great-grandfathers, Richard Pace (1583-1627).

Richard Pace was an early settler of Jamestown, Virginia. A Powhatan youth, living with Pace, Chanco, was instructed by his brother to kill Pace and his family during the 1622 planned attack on Jamestown. Instead, Chanco chose to warn Pace of the attack. Pace secured his family and then traveled the James River to warn the colonists.

The only survivor found on the Maycock plantation was Sarah Maycock, the infant daughter of Samuel Maycock. In about 1637, Sarah Maycock married George, the son of Richard Pace and his wife Isabella.

There is a historical marker on highway No 10, about 3-4 miles West of Shurry, erected in honor of Richard Pace and another in honor of the Indian Boy, Chanco, for saving the English colony from total destruction.

I find it fascinating that a single child, the sole survivor of her family, lived and I descended from her.  I’m only beginning to research the Maycock and Pace families, but it leaves me truly thankful to my ancestors and their descendants and their contribution to history.

The Tale of Three Williams in DeBeque, Mesa County, Colorado

A Tale of Three Williams in Debeque, Colorado

Update: We were unable to find the obituary for Willie Dittman, my great-uncle who passed away at the age of 13.

Things fall into your lap sometimes. I call that serendipity, the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way, is the actual dictionary definition. In the genealogy world, we like to think that our relatives, or someone else’s relatives are actually guiding us to find them. Tell my story, they seem to be saying.

You find a tidbit of information on a website or in a census and it strikes you over the head with a bang. This is Aunt Tilly! I finally found her! You find a record that isn’t related to who you are searching for and the name is familiar. You search back though your records and find out the person is one of your brick wall relatives.

When that happens, it feels like meeting a long lost relative at the mall, someone you haven’t seen for years and there they are, they’ve been waiting for you.

Occasionally, one of your searches finds someone that isn’t in your line and you get sucked into the story that they have to tell.

A couple of weeks ago, I searched an online repository for Colorado historical newspapers.  My search led me to Eagle Valley Library District. In turn, that led me to Mesa County Library and a phone call and a few days later, I had my three requested obituaries copies waiting for me in my email.

One was for my great-grandfather, William Dittman, who couldn’t figure out how to spell his last name over the years, with one T or two.  His obituary doesn’t give me new information, I already had his actual death certificate, but it was nice to find out that he was well thought of by his neighbors and constituents.  William was born in 1844 (that’s a guess on my part, he gives several different years of birth and four different locations for his birth through the years.) He was a county commissioner in Mesa, Colorado. He stood 6’ 4”, a redhead with a large mustache. He was missing three of his fingers on his right hand, due to a logging accident, according to my grandfather Earl Ditman. He frequently sent his sons with dynamite to fetch shale in the hills.  His instructions were to drill a hole in a rock, stick one stick of dynamite in, stuff in some gun powder and another stick of dynamite, then run like hell. The boys would pick up the shale, dump it into a wheelbarrow and get back in time for dinner. No wonder he lost his fingers. William died during the flu epidemic in 1918 in Mesa, Colorado.


The next was an obituary for his daughter, Cora Dittman.  Although her obituary doesn’t say it, I believe she passed from Cholera or Typhoid, both which were rampant during the time she died. The obituary only states that the 19 year old was suffering from stomach trouble and a complication of other diseases. She was placed in St. Mary’s hospital and it was thought that she would improve in the course of a few days. However, she grew worse and in the afternoon she sank rapidly. About half past two o’clock, the end came on 19 Apr 1906. Cora was buried in the DeBeque cemetery in De Beque, Mesa County Colorado. She was a lovely redhead and my grandfather was heartbroken his older sister was gone. Seventy years later, he would often remarked that a friend of mine with long red hair reminded him of his sister, Cora. Her brother, Raymond Dittman, named one of his daughters after Cora.


The third obituary puzzled me. I asked for the obituary for Willie Dittman, who died in 1893. What I received was an obituary for a Willie Enoch. Willie Enoch was apparently living at the residence of Mrs. William Dittman (Julia Rinnert), my great-grandmother. He died from a blood clot on the brain in 1894, after suffering an accident while working on a steam shovel near Pueblo, Colorado, four years earlier. He was so badly injured that he had to have his leg amputated. The operation to remove his leg was so badly botched, that he endured two more operations, finally resulting in his leg being removed to his hip. He bore his suffering heroically. During his residence at Salida, Colorado he was married to Anna of that place, whom he left behind. The young man also left his parents, Francis A. Enoch and Cynthia Story, of Glenwood Springs and three sisters. His parents subsequently moved to Mesa County, Colorado. His father died there in 1908 and his mother died there in 1925. They weren’t on my list of people to search in the community my great-grandparents lived in, but I’m happy to have met him and passed on his story.

I’m posting a photo of William Enoch and his obituary.


A special thank you to Joe Vigil, the Library Assistant at Mesa County Libraries. Joe is working on finding the obituary for Willie Dittman, my great-uncle who passed away at the age of 13.

The featured photo above is William Enoch (1866-1894), Odd Fellows hall, De Beque, Colorado (My great-grandfather was an Odd Felllow and I bet he attended meetings at this very hall) and my great-grandfather, William Dittman (1844-1918).


Saturday Genealogy Post – How Did Your Parents Meet?

RandySeaverGenealogyFun-SmRandy Seaver at Genea-Musings.com, a fellow San Diego based Genealogist, does a weekly post called Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. This week, Randy asked readers to post about how their parents met.

1) Do you know how, when, and where your parents met?  

2)  Please tell the family story in your own blog post, in a comment to this blog post, or in your own Facebook or Google+ post.

NOTE:  You can substitute your own story about meeting your spouse, or the story about your grandparents, etc.

My father, William Clark Ditman (1933-1997) grew up in Pasadena, California, the first of two children of Earl Grant Ditman (1899-1983) and Edith Helen Clark (1905-1986). My father served during the Korean conflict and returned from service to Pasadena in April of 1955, near Easter.  He was 22. His parents lived in Pasadena, California and across the street was a shy high school student, my mother, Beverly Joy Miller, who was 16 at the time.

My mother’s brother, Melvin Miller, befriended my father and the two of them shared an interest in cars. My father spent some time repairing and racing cars. His father, Earl, was a mechanic for the Pasadena Fire Department.

My mother says she spied on my father from across the street. At one point she says she used to go outside and water the plants so she could watch him. She apparently watered the plants so often that weeds grew, making her father angry.

On Easter vacation, my mother went to Crestline, California with some of her high school friends. The chaperone, one of the mother’s of another girl, said they could have a party. Mother doesn’t remember who suggested it, but Mel brought my father along to the party. Mom and Dad hung out and talked. They began dating in May of 1955. Apparently, her friend Cynthia V. was jealous, because she liked him as well. They started going steady, Dad gave my Mom a ring he used to wear and she wore it on a chain around her neck.

Shortly before Christmas, 1955, my Dad asked Mom, in his very direct fashion, “When in the hell are we going to get married?” She said yes and they picked out an engagement ring at a jewelry store owned by a friend’s father in Lamanda Park. Mom insisted that he ask my grandfather, Earl Miller (1903-1972) for her hand in marriage, and he did. They were engaged on Christmas Eve, 1955.

A man who lived next door to my grandparents, Earl Miller and Ruth Riordan (1911-1994), was named Leo. Leo worked for a jeweler and my grandfather picked out a mold for him to make their wedding bands. My father had large fingers, and they were unable to find a ring that would fit him. My mother still has both their rings and her engagement ring.

My mother turned 17 in February and she graduated from high school in June, 1956 on a Thursday and she went to work for Los Angeles County Bureau of Public Assistance in July, 1956. She started in Los Angeles, but was transferred to Pasadena since it was closer. She worked there until I was born in 1958. My father was working as a lineman for the telephone company. He went to school in Pasadena and later became a Fireman in Monterey Park.

In July of 1956, Ruth Riordan, my grandmother, and Delta Clark Hayes, my paternal great-aunt began the process of making Beverly’s wedding gown. They were both remarkable seamstresses. My maternal great-aunt, my grandmother’s sister-in-law, Nicki Campbell Riordan, had a sister, actually she had 12 of them, this sister owned a bridal shop in Pasadena on Los Robles. She made a veil for my mother as a wedding present. I wore the  same veil, remade with additional netting for my wedding in 1975.

William Ditman and Beverly Miller were married on 15 Sep 1956 at the 1st Baptist Church in Pasadena, California. They were married by the same minister that married my grandparents, Earl Miller and Ruth Riordan.

William Ditman and Beverly Miller

They spent their honeymoon in a house in Newport Beach, not far from the beach. They had a bit of extra excitement when one of the neighbors was caught being a peeping tom.

After their honeymoon, they moved into an apartment over a garage on North Greenhill in Pasadena. They moved to a house in Sierra Madre and eventually to a horse ranch in Chino in 1970. They were together for 41 years until my father passed away in 1997. I’m an only child, but they raised lots of horses, dogs, cats and birds along the way. I always say that all my brothers and sisters have four feet or wings. My mother moved from Chino in 2006 to be near me and my family and she lives on her five acre horse ranch with two retired thoroughbred horses, 10 cats and her dog, Monster.

Thank you Randy for getting my Mom to tell me a story that I’ve never asked her about before.