Rittersville Home

Where was Rittersville?

This sounds like a simple question, but it's not, especially since Rittersville was an unincorporated village.  Today, most people would say Rittersville extended from Irving St. on the west, to Club Ave. on the east.  Most people have that perception based upon the boundaries formed by Bethlehem's annexation of West Bethlehem in 1904, and Allentown's annexation of East Allentown as the 14th ward in 1911.  The 14th ward's eastern boundary was, in fact,  Irving St., but what most people do not realize is that West Bethlehem's western boundary following the 1904 annexation was only to 5th Ave.  Prior to any annexations, Rittersville's western boundary went past Irving St.  In the 19th century, many people considered Rittersville's eastern boundary to be somewhere around today's 8th Ave. in Bethlehem.

The whole thing really depended upon what village the residents thought they were part of.  If a resident picked up his mail at Rittersville, or attended church in Rittersville, or had his child attend school in Rittersville, he probably considered himself a Rittersville resident.

Rittersville's southern boundary was the Lehigh river, but the northern boundary was more vague.  Prior to any of the annexations, the northern boundary of Rittersville was considered to be almost into Schoenersville, along what is now Catasauqua Road in Bethlehem.  

This 1874 map is a good illustration of who was considered a Rittersville resident in 1877 and 1895, based upon two Lehigh County directories.  (1874 Map of Rittersville)

In the early 1900's, the 1909 map of Rittersville did not go as far north as the 1874 map, but it definitely included a big part of West Bethlehem on the east.  If you look at the city directory information from the early 1900's, you will see a lot of the residents of the Elliott Park section of West Bethlehem were considered to be Rittersville residents.  (1909 Map of Rittersville)

From a genealogical standpoint, this makes tracing families in Rittersville a little tricky.  You need to look at information about West Bethlehem, as well as information about Rittersville and East Allentown, in order not to miss anything.  This is especially true when viewing US census records.





2005 Robert M Reinbold Jr