Andrew Jackson Ritter

Cochise County Treasurer 1885 -1888

Andrew Jackson "Andy" Ritter was born in Pennsylvania about 1849. He and Emile Carey had a son named Carson Carey Ritter born in Indiana on July 16, 1871. On the 1880 census, Carson was living with his grandmother Margarett Ritter in Indiana. Mr. Ritter served in the Union Army during the Civil War from July 24, 1861, to January 13, 1866. A.J. entered as a private and advanced to corporal with the Indiana Heavy Artillery Company A. He moved to Tombstone and established an undertaking business with partner W.H. Ream. Mr. Ritter was on duty at Ritter and Ream City Undertakers on October 26, 1881, to prepare the bodies of Billy Clanton, Tom and Frank McLaury after the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.

In addition to serving as a mortician, Andy was an architect–carpenter-contractor and in 1882, he was selected to oversee the construction of the first Cochise County Courthouse in Tombstone, built at a cost of nearly $50,000.  The fine two-story red brick Victorian structure designed by Frank Walker was laid out in the shape of a cross and housed the offices of Sheriff, Recorder, Treasurer and Board of Supervisors. The jail was at the rear under the courtroom. Ritter also was selected to oversee the construction of the Tombstone City Hall.

He took office as the elected County Treasurer in 1885, but was suspended January 5, 1888, by the Cochise County Board of Supervisors when $6,599.47 of county funds were questioned. Ritter claimed the amount was due him as percentage on collection of taxes. In 1881, Treasurers were paid one-half percent of the money received by them as full compensation for the performance of all duties. That changed in 1885 to $3,500 per year. He was indicted in 1889, charged with embezzlement, but the grand jury ordered that all charges “be quashed and defendant discharged.” His attorneys were Col. William Herrings and Ben Goodrich.

A.J. Ritter sold his business in 1889 and moved to Mammoth, Arizona, to pursue mining ventures. He also invented a fruit canning machine in 1895. Treasurer Ritter died in Mammoth, Pinal County, April 29, 1899, and is buried in Tucson in the Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.) section of Evergreen Cemetery. G.A.R. was a fraternal organization formed in 1866 with membership limited to honorably discharged Union veterans of the American Civil War. An obituary in the Tombstone Prospector April 29, 1899, states, “Mr. Ritter was a whole souled citizen and his good heartedness was a failing that cost him dearly during life’s experience.”

Photo courtesy Tombstone Courthouse