top of page
  • Jan Johnson & Jeff Hansen

Family groups at Ritchie Cemetery

Screenshot from Family Groups page

Screenshot composite from "Family Groups" interactive web page


This post introduces "Family Groups," a new interactive page on the website. Forty-seven family groups are identified, along with an overview discussion of their composition, size, and states of origin. As in other blog posts on this site, the first mention in the post of a person buried at Ritchie appears in red bold italic font. An “(r)” after a name indicates the person was subsequently reinterred at a different cemetery.

Family Groups

Many of the people interred at Ritchie Cemetery are related to one or more others who are also buried there. As of May 2021, forty-seven family group affiliations have been identified for 195 of the Ritchie Cemetery interments, or 65% of the 302 known burials. More individual affiliations may exist that haven't been uncovered yet, as may additional family groups.

The family groups and individuals in them are named in the accompanying “Family Groups” page, a new interactive addition to the website. The tables on the page can be filtered by group, by an individual's name, and by state of migration origin. To simplify presentation of the data, each individual is assigned to only one group, even if the person had an overlapping affiliation with another group. Connections to other groups are noted where they exist, however.

As shown in the table below, group size ranges from two to 11. Families with the most documented Ritchie burials are the Wallace/Patton and Williamson/Patterson groups, each with 11. Next come the Huggins, Oglesvie/Oglesby, and Royster families, with nine. Two families—Crier/Willis and Perry—have eight each.


Family Groups: Name, Number of Individuals, State of Origin

Of the 195 individuals in family groups, 11 were subsequently reinterred at a different cemetery, including: all four in the Saunders/Graham group; all three in the Ritchie group; the two Jordans; and, one each in the Royster and Williamson/Patterson groups.


The overwhelming percentage of groups are African American (42 of the 47, or 89%). Three groups are entirely White in their composition—Ritchie, Garrison, and Price.

Two groups, the Frost and Grant families, include interracial members. William Frost and his brother Tom were White, and both had children buried at the cemetery. William’s wife Ella was African American. The Grants were predominantly African American, but Archie and Anna Grant’s son Benjamin married a woman from Mexico, whose race was listed as White at the time of her death. She is buried at Ritchie (as is one of their children).

Migration Origins

Migration origin refers to the state in which the principal migrating member(s) of the family resided prior to the move to Kansas.

Thirty-nine of the 47 family groups include at least one migrating family member who is buried at Ritchie Cemetery. In the remaining eight groups, there are no original migrants at Ritchie, just their descendants. Of the latter, at least one of the people buried at the cemetery is a son or daughter of the original migrating family member(s).

Of the 195 individuals in the family groups, 101 of them migrated from the state of origin to Kansas. Another 76 were their Kansas-born descendants. The remaining 18 persons were either relatives by marriage who came from a state different from the primary one listed for the family group, or they were individuals for which we had insufficient information to make a determination.

As indicated in the map below, one state far outnumbers the other originating states for the family groups identified at Ritchie Cemetery. Twenty-nine, or 62%, of the 47 family groups originally came to Kansas from Tennessee. Missouri is a distant second, with five, followed by Kentucky and South Carolina, which each have three. Indiana and Alabama each account for two, while Arkansas, Iowa, and Louisiana have one.

Cropped from a 1933 plat of survey on file at the Shawnee County Surveyor's Office

Timing of the Migrant Arrivals

No attempt has been made to thoroughly analyze the timing of family group arrivals in the state, but some things are known.

Most of the African American families represented at Ritchie Cemetery originally came to Kansas during or shortly after the Exoduster migration—the first large-scale exodus of Blacks from the South after the Civil War.

Post-war conditions in the South remained onerous for Blacks, and intensified following the end of Reconstruction in 1877. Whites still wielded enormous economic leverage over the Black population, making it difficult for them to earn a living, much less prosper. Voter suppression and political intimidation, including acts of violence, became commonplace as the Whites who had ruled the antebellum South fought to regain positions of authority in local and state governance. Pursuit of economic and educational opportunity, unfettered exercise of political rights, personal safety, and fear of the future all became driving factors in the exodus.

The peak of the Exoduster migration occurred in 1879, when thousands of African Americans left Southern and Border states. The migrants’ primary destination was Kansas—in part because of its Free State history, and in part because of efforts throughout the 1870s by Benjamin Singleton, a leader in promoting Black migration to the state. For many Exodusters, Topeka was a stopover waypoint, because it was the headquarters of the Kansas Freedmen’s Relief Association. For many others, Topeka and the surrounding area became their permanent home.

Of the 34 Ritchie Cemetery families who moved to Kansas during and shortly after the peak of the Exoduster migration, 17 groups had members who settled in Kansas in time to be enumerated in the 1880 census. The other 17 were included in the 1885 state census.

While many of the Ritchie Cemetery family groups can be traced to the Exoduster period, they do not represent the complete picture.

Long before the Exodusters, the Shattios were the first of the family groups to move to the area. In the late 1840s, Ann Davis Shattio (mother of Elizabeth Holmes and mother-in-law of Scott Smith) arrived in what would become Shawnee County, probably accompanied by her daughter Elizabeth and son William. She had come to Kansas from Bates County, Missouri, a few years earlier, first working at the sutler’s store at Fort Scott. Ann was born free in Illinois, but had been abducted as a child and enslaved in Missouri, ultimately securing her freedom by a deed of manumission. It is not known when Ann Davis and her husband Clement Shattio first met, but they came separately to Shawnee County in the late 1840s and had married by about 1850. Clement, who was White, had roots in the St. Louis area.

Next came the Ritchies and Garrisons. Both families relocated to Shawnee County from Franklin, Indiana as Free State settlers during the territorial period. The Ritchies arrived in 1855 and the Garrisons, by 1859. The patriarch of the other all-White family group, Jacob M. Price, was the father of John Price, and grandfather of several Price and Frost children who are buried at Ritchie Cemetery. Jacob had roots in Pennsylvania, but came to Atchison from Page County, Iowa, in time to enlist in the 8th Kansas Infantry in 1861. He and his family subsequently moved to Leavenworth County, Jefferson County, and finally Shawnee County.

Other early arrivals in the state included those with Missouri roots. James Bentley, father of Nellie and Risey Bentley, migrated from there as a child with his family and is recorded as a Johnson County resident as early as 1865. William and Amy Wesley also came from Missouri, and were farming in Jefferson County by 1870. William Frost (father of Gertrude and Dorothy Frost), and his brother Tom (father of Infant, Clarence, and Tom Frost, Jr.), were from Missouri as well. The Frost family moved to Jefferson County from Macon County, Missouri, in the mid-1860s, while William and Tom were still young children. William’s wife, Ella Washington Frost, was a native Kansan, born in Jefferson County about 1868.

At the other end of the timeline, the three South Carolina families were the last of the groups to arrive. Their roots were in Abbeville County, and they migrated to the Topeka area around the turn of the century.

Because so many of the Ritchie Cemetery family groups were from Tennessee, a future post will take a closer look at the groups who moved to Shawnee County from that state.


1. Describing the scale, complexity, causes, and significance of the Exoduster migration cannot be adequately condensed into a few sentences. We hope to add a post in the future which elaborates on the Exodusters, and the conditions which prompted the migration—especially those existing in Middle Tennessee, the origin for many of the Ritchie Cemetery family groups.

2. Estimates vary for the number of Southern Blacks who migrated during the Great Exodus of 1879. The impact on the population of Shawnee County, however, can be inferred from federal and state census counts. The number of African Americans recorded for the county was: 729 in 1870; 1,060 in 1875; 5,356 in 1880; 7,222 in 1885; and, 6,112 in 1890. The even-year counts are from U.S. Census reports. The 1875 and 1885 counts are from filtered searches of state census records accessed through (The latter counts include "Black" and "Mulatto" racial categories used in enumeration.) We have not analyzed the reasons for the population decline between 1885 and 1890. However, one factor probably was the need to seek additional job opportunities. The influx of Black workers had created an oversupply of unskilled labor in Topeka which exceeded the demand by local employers.

3. For purposes of describing family group racial composition, the Shattio group is counted among the African American groups. However, the Shattios were an interracial couple, and we consider Ann Davis Shattio and her White husband Clement as potential burials at Ritchie Cemetery. Neither is recorded as being buried at any other local cemetery, their farmstead was located in close proximity to Ritchie Cemetery, and at least two family members are buried there.

The Shattio family will be the subject of several future posts. One family member, Scott Smith, has already been featured. Smith was the son-in-law of Ann and Clement Shattio.

4. Up to eight new family groups could be formed based on individuals we have identified as potential burials. The eight potential burials share the following characteristics: they have a close relative buried at Ritchie Cemetery who is not currently affiliated with a family group; they are known or thought to have died within the relevant time period; they are known to have resided in Shawnee County; they are not recorded as having been buried at any other local cemetery. The pairings include: Lewis Bailey and his wife Phoebe; Cornelius Delmar and his wife Adeline; Phyllis Eustace and her husband James; Harriet Fulton and her husband Harvey; James Russell and his father Frank; George Knight and his mother Lethia; Lucy Ambrose and her daughter Jennie; and, Louisa Pope and her son Andrew.

Source Notes

1. The major sources for migration origin information include: the Kansas state census, which recorded the state from which the resident migrated to Kansas; and the federal census, which provided enumeration district in the state of origin.

Marriage records (especially in Tennessee), obituaries and/or other newspaper articles also yielded useful information.

2. The state and federal census records, as well as Tennessee marriage records, were accessed through and are attached to the appropriate individuals in the Ritchie Cemetery Project family tree created as a research tool. As of May 2021, the tree setting is still private, but the intention is to make it publicly available in the near future. A blog post will be made when that occurs.



bottom of page