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.


Leave a Reply