While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


H. Allen Anderson

RITCHIE, JAMES WADSWORTH (1861–1924). James Wadsworth (Jack) Ritchie, JA Ranch heir, the son of Montgomery and Cornelia (Wadsworth) Ritchie, was born in 1861 at Geneseo, New York. After his father's death in 1864, his mother took James and his older brother to Paris, where the brother died a few years later. James spent the remainder of his youth and received his formal education in France and England, where he was given the nickname Jacque. In 1887, when his twice-widowed mother (see ADAIR, CORNELIA WADSWORTH) divided the JA Ranch holdings with Charles Goodnight, Ritchie arrived at the ranch to learn the cattle business from his stepfather's old partner. Goodnight, who continued to manage John G. Adair's properties for a time, took him on as a cowhand and eventually elevated him to foreman of the JA's Tule Division. Ritchie adapted quickly to the Panhandle environment and lived in a dugout at the original Tule campsite. However, he was demoted in January 1888 for gambling, which was strictly against the rules Goodnight had established. Not desiring to have her aristocratic son continue in such a lowly occupation, Cornelia Adair soon afterward persuaded him to stay briefly in New York, where Ritchie handled the purchase of JA horses for that city's police department. Nevertheless, Ritchie made several subsequent visits to the ranch and was instrumental in obtaining the services of Richard Walsh as manager of the JA.

An avid sportsman, Ritchie often enjoyed fox hunting on the Adair estate in England. He was first married to Emily Tooker, a New York native who died only a few years later. In 1899 Ritchie enlisted for service in the Boer War and, although an American citizen, rose to the rank of major in the British Cavalry. His ability to manage men and horses in the field, skills he had learned at the JA Ranch, won him promotions and praise from his superiors during that conflict. In 1907 Ritchie married an Englishwoman, Daisy Muriel Hoare, and settled in a house he had built in Ashwell, England. There the couple raised three children. Although Ritchie had planned someday to move back to the United States, his failing health plus the outbreak of World War I in 1914 kept the family in England. He was a semi-invalid during his last years. Ritchie died in 1924 and was buried in England.

Cornelia Adair, My Diary: August 30 to November 5, 1874 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1965). Armstrong County Historical Association, A Collection of Memories: A History of Armstrong County, 1876–1965 (Hereford, Texas: Pioneer, 1965). J. Evetts Haley, Charles Goodnight (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1949). Dorothy Abbott McCoy, Texas Ranchmen (Austin: Eakin Press, 1987). Pauline D. and R. L. Robertson, Cowman's Country: Fifty Frontier Ranches in the Texas Panhandle, 1876–1887 (Amarillo: Paramount, 1981).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, H. Allen Anderson, "RITCHIE, JAMES WADSWORTH," accessed July 04, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fri50.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...