Ritz (Scott County)
Ritz is an unincorporated community located in southwestern Scott County. The town was named for the Ritz family who settled in the area. Ritz was officially established in 1914 between Heath Creek and Clear Fork Creek. The agriculture and timber industries have traditionally contributed to the economy and way of life in Ritz.
Prior to European exploration, the area surrounding Ritz was a wilderness. Several species of wildlife that no longer inhabit the area, such as elk and buffalo, were present throughout the region. Numerous archaeological sites and burial mounds are located along the banks of prominent waterways such as the Fourche La Fave River. Archaeological findings have provided evidence of early inhabitants dating to the Archaic, Woodland, and Mississippian periods. Further archaeological evidence has indicated that the people of the Caddo tribe later inhabited the area.
During the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, French hunters and tradesmen traveled west from the Arkansas Post, exploring portions of western Arkansas. These Frenchmen often traversed rivers and streams throughout the region. Several rivers that flow through Scott County were likely named by these French explorers, including the Petit Jean, Poteau, and Fourche La Fave. It is probable that the explorers traveled along the Fourche La Fave River or Clear Fork Creek near present-day Ritz.
Settlers began arriving in the area now known as Ritz during the 1870s. The area was settled throughout the early twentieth century.
Men called to fight in the Civil War served with both the Confederacy and Union. The women, children, and elderly were left to look after family homes and farms. Bushwhackers often stole crops and food from homes in the area.
After the Civil War, there was a large migration into western Scott County. The first cemetery to be established near Ritz was Johnson Cemetery in 1873. Slover Cemetery is an additional burial ground located a mile west of Ritz. It is unclear as to when Slover Cemetery was established, as there are only two marked graves in the cemetery among a bed of fieldstone graves. The cemetery was named for the Slover family who settled in the area and likely donated the land for the burial ground.
The school district located in Ritz was known as Robson. Robson (Number 65) was established in 1885 when citizens of school districts Shiloh (Number 18), New Hope (Number 24), and Blansett (Number 33) petitioned the county court to establish a new school district. Robson School District was also known as Pleasant Valley, Green Knob, and Poverty Holler.
It is unknown as to when the Ritz family arrived in the area. There is no census record until the 1900 Blansett Township Census. Albert Ritz is listed as a member of the O. P. Morton Post of Grand Army of the Republic. Albert was issued a land patent in 1899 and was listed as living with his wife, Eliza. Albert had one son, William, from a previous marriage. Albert Ritz died sometime between 1900 and 1910, leaving Eliza a widow. William H. Ritz was born in 1859 in Ohio and married his first wife, Susan, in 1885 in Stoddard County, Missouri. They divorced three years later. William married Arkansas resident Nancy E. Molder of Blansett (Scott County) in 1889. William and Nancy had two daughters: Inez born in 1890 and Maud born in 1892.
The Ritz Post Office was established in 1914, with William Ritz as the first postmaster. The post office was discontinued in 1937 and the mail sent to Polk County.
There is little to no infrastructure left in Ritz in the twenty-first century. Agriculture continues to be a prominent way of life in the Ritz area, mostly in the form of cattle and chicken farms. Timber is logged throughout the Ouachita National Forest in the surrounding area.
For additional information:
Cate, Michael. History of Scott County, Arkansas. Dallas, TX: Curtis Media Corporation, 1991.
Echoes: The Scott County Historical and Genealogical Society Quarterly. Waldron, AR: Scott County Historical and Genealogical Society (1986–).
Goodner, Charles. Scott County in Retrospect. Mansfield, AR: Frank Boyd, 1976.
Goodner, Norman. A History of Scott County, Arkansas. Siloam Springs, AR: Bar D Press, 1941.
McCutcheon, Henry Grady. History of Scott County, Arkansas. Little Rock: H. G. Pugh and Company, 1922.
Richardson Preservation Consulting
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