Businesses - 1903, 1910, 1914, 1919 Businesses - 1929, 1936, 1945
The lists linked above have been compiled primary from county and city directories. The sources of the 1877 and 1895 data were the Lehigh County directories from those years. Unfortunately, the listings only include the name of the male residents, and the 1877 shows very little occupational information.
The sources for the families and businesses are the Allentown city directories of 1903, 1910, 1914, 1919, which specified residents who lived in Rittersville, including anyone living in the household, and their occupation
In using the the 1929, 1936, and 1945 directories for determining businesses in the old Rittersville area, I based the compilation on the location of the business. In order to determine the residents in those years, I would have to use the same method, i.e., location. This is tedious work and I will probably do it at some point in time when I have nothing else to do.
In the listings of residents prior to annexation, you will see a lot of unfamiliar street names. That's because the street names changed both during the pre-annexation period from 1903 through 1919, as well as after annexation. The street names after annexation are the ones found today in the Rittersville and West Bethlehem areas.
I have tried to build a cross-reference of these old Rittersville street names to the names of the streets today, but there are some gaps. If you have any insight on this, I would appreciate any help. I need to do more research of city maps to complete this cross reference list. (see Street Cross Reference Guide)
Another problem that is particularly evident when using the 1919 directory, is that address numbers changed, as well, after annexation. For example, the Hanover Ave. addresses shown in the 1919 directory are roughly 400 numbers less than the address on Hanover Ave. today, give or take a few numbers. In addition, some address numbers changed a second time somewhere in the ensuing years between annexation to today. The location of the Rittersville Fire Company is a good example. In the 1919 directory, the address is listed as 1704 Hanover Ave. In 1929, the address is listed as 2032 Hanover, and it remained that way through at least 1945. However, today the address of the fire company location is 2034. Again, to firmly pin this down will require more research into maps and the City of Allentown records.
Finally there is the issue of the accuracy of the directories, themselves. Particularly in the early directories, there are many misspellings of surnames. My experience in working with the directories also indicates that the person compiling the info was not always diligent in getting everyone in a given community, especially when the community, like early Rittersville, was not the prime target of the directory, which most often focused on the major city, like Allentown.
However, given all these caveats, I believe the compilations give a fairly accurate relative census of who lived in Rittersville, and when they lived there. As I mention in the introduction, if you can offer any additional information that can make these databases more accurate, please let me know.
©2005 Robert M Reinbold Jr