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William Rittenhouse


William Rittenhouse

William Rittenhouse (1644 – 18 February 1708) is notable for being the first person recorded as having made paper in North America.

Early life

He was born in Germany with the name Wilhelm Rittinghausen.[1] His name as "Willm Rittenhuysen" was on a petition for naturalization of residents of German Town, Pennsylvania dated 7 May 1691. William was a papermaking apprentice in Germany where he worked at a mill in Broich near the city of Mülheim an der Ruhr. Later he learned the Dutch ways of papermaking while living with his brother in the Netherlands before emigrating to the Pennsylvania Colony in 1688. Two years later he founded the first paper mill to be established in the colonies. This Rittenhouse Mill became the family business for the next century.


Around 1690 the Germantown, Pennsylvania, Mennonite congregation elected William Rittenhouse as its first preacher.

He died in Pennsylvania in 1708. His legacy continued to his descendant David Rittenhouse, who had the Rittenhouse name immortalized in Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Notes and references

  • "William Rittenhouse." Historic Germantown. Independence Hall Association. 12 Dec 2007 [2]
  • Bender, Harold S.; “The Founding of the Mennonite Church in America at Germantown, 1683-1708;” Mennonite Quarterly Review; Vol. 7; pp. 227-250.
  • White, Jean M. "The Descendants of Paulus and Gertrude Kusters of Kaldenkirchen, Germany and Germantown, Pennsylvania the first four generations"; The Caster Association of America; 1991
  • Erich Kuß: Rittinghaus. Europäische Wurzeln des ersten amerikanischen Papiermachers. München, 2012.

External links

  • William Rittenhouse in Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online

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