James Ritchey

Cumberland Presbyterian Minister

1804 - 1890

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Was received as a candidate for the ministry by Indiana Presbytery on the day after its organization. He was then near the close of his twenty-second year, having been born in Barren county, Kentucky, near Glasgow, June 18th, 1804. His parents moved to Davies county, Kentucky, in 1811, and eight years afterward settled in Dubois county, Indiana. While a boy many deep impressions concerning the subject of religion had been made upon his mind, and at a camp-meeting in Shiloh congregation, Dubois county, under the ministration of Rev. Alexander Chapman in September, 1823, he made a full surrender of himself to God. Soon he was impressed that it was his duty to preach the Gospel, and was influenced to a final decision by a discourse from Rev. Abner McDowell on the text,--"There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God."

At once the work of preparation was begun. He became a pupil first under Rev. James Smith at Washington, and afterwards under Rev. H. A. Hunter at Portersville.

His licensure occurred at Washington April 5th, 1827, and his ordination at New Salem church, Vanderburgh county, October 9th, 1830. During the intervening period he labored in the itinerancy, and for his first year's services received, besides a supply of homespun clothing furnished by the ladies, the sum of $6.56 1/4. Amid the changes that have been wrought since then we who are younger may imagine those to have been times of peculiar trial and hardship, and possibly they were; but in remembrance of his experience during that time, Father Ritchey says, "Those were palmy days." The whole of this long life has been given to the work of the ministry, except a brief period after his marriage in 18__, when the necessities of his family seemed to require the devotion of his time to manual labor.

At various periods he has preached to Evansville, Princeton and Petersburgh congregations, and to some of the churches of Wabash and Morgan Presbyteries. He superintended the construction of the first houses of worship occupied by Princeton and Petersburgh congregations, and it is worthy of remark that these were the first brick churches in the State of Indiana, and their erection created no small stir.

Removing to Lincoln, Illinois, in 1870, he served for at time with great success as financial agent of Lincoln University, but he is now a worthy member of Wabash Presbytery.
[Source: Darby, Rev. W. J. and Rev. J. E. Jenkins. Cumberland Presbyterianism in Southern Indiana: Being a History of
Indiana Presbytery and an Account of the Proceedings of its Fiftieth Anniversary Held at Princeton, Indiana, April 13-18, 1876, Together with Various Addresses and Communications, and a Sermon on the Doctrines of the Church. Published by the Presbytery
, 1876, pages 63-64]



The Rev. James Richey died at home in Martinsville, Ind., Saturday, February 15th. Another of our "pioneer preachers" has fallen. James Richey was born in Kentucky, June, 1804. Had he lived until next June he would have been eighty-six years old. In him was fulfilled the scripture, "Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in his season." His was as God designed old age to be--beautiful. A pure heart, a sweet disposition, a generous soul, walking among men in old age, mildly exemplifying what are the fruits of piety. Old age in his life was but "the closing of a symphony beautiful in its inception, rolling on grandly, terminating in a climax of sublimity."

His work, for the most part, has been in Indiana. He was a "circuit rider" before he was a pastor. He was licensed to preach in 1826. A preacher for sixty-three years. He had charge of Evansville, Princeton, Martinsville, Petersburg, Shiloh, New Winchester, and Bainbridge congregations, in Indiana, and of "Renick Church" near Lincoln, Ill. He organized the church at Evansville, and was its first pastor. He helped to locate Lincoln University, furnish its first faculty, and was for a time the successful financial agent for the institution. He built the first two church buildings of our denomination erected in Indiana. All these things remain as monuments to perpetuate his name. Better are they than monuments of marble or bronze.

He has been retired from active service several years, and has lived in Martinsville. For three years the writer has been his pastor. He has been a comfort to his pastor. The writer is reminded that he was pastor of this church at a time when there was much to discourage and more to endure. The seed he sowed has ripened, and, under more favorable circumstances, the writer is reaping where he has sown. Let us young men remember that it is through the hardships and endurances of our old men has come to us a "goodly heritage." So one soweth and another reapeth, but all shall rejoice together.

"For the harvest home we'll keep,
  And the summer of rest we'll share;
As he that sowed and I that reaped,
  Rejoice together there."

[Source: The Cumberland Presbyterian, May 22, 1890, page 2]

Photograph made on the Occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the Presbytery at Princeton, Indiana April 13, 1876.
The four men above were early members of Indiana Presbytery.
Left to Right: Rev. James A. Ritchey, Rev. Hiram A. Hunter, Rev. Benjamin Hall, Rev. Ephraim Hall

Ritchey Family Information

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Updated November 26, 2007