Conrad Ritter / Rutter:  Pennsylvania Pioneer

Introduction


 This website traces the origins and life of Conrad Ritter / Rutter, who settled in Leacock Township, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, around the year 1728. Conrad reportedly married twice, the second time to Jane or Margaret Douglas. His children were named Andrew, Elizabeth, Joseph, Peter and Conrad Jr. Conrad's will was written on April 19, 1734, and proved on Feb 8, 1737/8, in Lancaster Co., PA.


Conrad Ritter / Rutter was one of the pioneer settlers of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. At the time of his death in 1738, he and his sons owned 588 acres of land in Leacock Township, less than one mile northeast of the present-day town of Intercourse. While this area is now recognized as some of the richest farmland along the Eastern seaboard (and the home to a large Amish and Mennonite community), at the time of Conrad's arrival it was still thickly forested and only sparsely inhabited by a diverse community of adventurous German, Swiss, Dutch, English, Scotch, Welsh and Irish immigrants.

Not only did Conrad succeed in carving a plantation from the wilderness at a time when this area represented the frontier of colonial America, he helped bridge the gap between the English and German communities in early Lancaster. In doing so, he became the founding father of a thriving clan of descendants, which over the subsequent 275 years has spread across the United States and beyond.

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The 588-acre Rutter farm, superimposed on a modern map of Leacock Township, Lancaster County,PA. Waterways are represented as they appeared in the 1730's.  Click map for enlarged view.

Note: Conrad's surname appears in the colonial records as Rutter, Ritter, Ridder and Redder. Most early records written by German or Dutch authors employ the Ritter or Ridder variant of the name, while the Rutter variant appears in some records written by native English speakers. Our research indicates that Conrad was German, thus his birth name was most likely Ritter. It was only in later generations that some descendants adopted Rutter as their official surname. Be that as it may, most modern genealogy records and websites list him as Conrad Rutter. In order to maintain consistency and easy identification in internet searches, we have elected to use Conrad Rutter as the principal spelling on this website.

Note: While most of Europe had switched over to the Gregorian calendar by the 17th century, Great Britain and the English colonial authorities in America continued to use the Julian calendar until 1752. Under the Julian calendar, January and February were considered part of the prior year. Thus a written date of Jan 5, 1739, actually corresponds to Jan. 5, 1740, under the modern calendar we use today. To avoid confusion, this website notes such dates as Jan. 5, 1739/40, indicating that the written date was 1739, but that the actual date under the modern calendar was 1740.

Go to next section:  The Traditional History