August 28 - September 4, 2008
Webpage by Paul Ridenour
I have always wanted my parents to go to DC and now the opportunity has arisen for them and myself to be together in DC for a wedding. My dad has a half-sister named Linda Ridenour Pfiffner. Linda and Pat Pfiffner's youngest son Jeff is getting married August 31st in DC, where he and his fiancé Erin Howe live.
My dad Robert Ridenour, my younger brother David, and I would drive to DC and pick my mom up at the airport on the 29th. We would drop mother off at the airport on September the 1st and we would drive home. I would take my dad and brother to the towns and homes and churches founded and graves of my 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th great grandparents, on the way home. I did not plan anything for the trip to DC other than we would be driving for two days.
Thursday August 28
We left my house at 5 AM. When I realized that we would be driving through Roanoke, VA, and that my dad and brother have not been to Monticello or Mt Vernon, then we decided to try and get to Roanoke the first day. That would give us a full day to go to Monticello and Mt. Vernon and still have plenty of time to pick mom up at Dulles Airport in Reston, VA. We drove almost 18 hours to get to Roanoke by 12:20 PM. My brother brought a Garmin nuvi205 GPS device and that really helped out a lot in finding gas stations and restaurants. Splitting the driving between three guys was easy. I tried to get my older brother Dale to come on this trip but he had to work.
Friday August 29
We were at Monticello fairly early in the morning. Thomas Jefferson is one of my favorites and I love his double letter writing pens and five book bookstand. Jefferson loved modern conveniences. If he were alive today, he'd had 5 laptops on that bookstand.
Mt. Vernon opened up a new visitor center in 2006 and it was nice. The place had completely changed since I was there in 2001. Dad liked Washington's house better than Jefferson's. I had forgotten the green and blue painted rooms. Very strange colors but kind of neat.
We had been talking politics during the day and dad and David wanted Mitt Romney to be the VP. I agreed but I still feel like many would not vote for a Mormon. I also told them about the "conservative good-looking governor from Alaska." They had not heard of her. Well, we were listening to Rush Limbaugh and Gov. Palin's speech and we were blown away!!! She'll be the next VP!
Mother's plane was about an hour late and that was okay with us because we did not have to rush out of Mt. Vernon and had plenty of time to check in our hotel in DC before going to the airport.
After we checked into the Chapel Hill Hotel, we went down to the room of Pat and Linda Pfiffner. Jeff and his brother James and family came over. They were all going out to eat while we were going to the airport. Jeff asked me if I had to go to the airport and I decided to stay with them and go eat. I figured David and his GPS would get him and dad to the airport easily enough.
We ate at a place called "The Front Page." I had the NY strip and buffalo wings as an appetizer. They were the best wings I have ever had!
David and I went to bed late and I was so tired, that I fell asleep with my clothes on. Dad did this one right. He got a suite for he and mom and one for David and me. Dad was paying for the trip, except for our food. We drove my mom's Equinox and it got pretty good gas mileage.
Brother David Ridenour and dad Robert Ridenour at Monticello, VA
Dad and David at Mt. Vernon, VA
"Ram On" - David at Mt. Vernon
Pfiffner / While Family in DC
DC from our Chapel Hill Hotel room - Statue of Major General George Britton McClellan
Saturday August 30
My 2nd great grandfather George T. Ridenour had a son named George Frances Ridenour who died in WWI in Germany and is buried at the Arlington National Cemetery. I did not know this until about two months ago. My wife Dottie also has an ancestor buried there named George Walter Paschal. He fought for the South in Texas and then defected to the North, where he eventually died in DC. We also did not know this until about two months ago.
At the Arlington National Cemetery, if you have a friend or relative buried there, you can get a pass to drive to the grave. You do not have to pay to park and you do not have to take a bus in. They also give you a map of where the grave is located. It is the only way to see the cemetery as far as I am concerned. We were the only car in the cemetery. Linda came along with us and I was surprised that our ancestor and Dottie's ancestor were buried so close to each other. They were in adjoining sections. This cemetery is something like 10,000 acres and over 300,000 graves. We saw Stonewall Jackson's and Audie Murphy's graves. We parked at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the changing of the guard had just begun. Only I had seen that before. David and Linda have been to the cemetery before but had not seen this. Afterwards, we went by Bobby Kennedy's and JFK's graves.
Arlington Cemetery took up most of the morning. We met Pat at lunch at a place called "Au Bon Pain." I had the Baja Turkey sandwich with jalapeño mayonnaise. It was very delicious. Pat and Linda had to get ready for the wedding rehearsal and dinner later tonight so they left. Dad, mom, David, and I took the subway to The Mall. We visited the National Archives, Museum of Natural History, Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Korean Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, and the Vietnam Wall. My parents handled the walking okay but the heat was getting to them and us. We were so far from the subway that we took a taxi back to the hotel. It was odd and neat for me to be walking down The Mall with my parents. The Museum of Natural History was way overcrowded but we did see the Hope Diamond and most of the animal skeletons. Mom wanted to see the diamond.
We walked to the rehearsal dinner which was across the street from the hotel. There were 75 people at the dinner. The Italian restaurant was called "Buca di Beppo." They served salad, bruchetta, pepperoni pizza, chicken paddington (?), spaghetti. manicotti, wine, tea, and soft drinks. This was a very expensive dinner and an unusual restaurant. Lots of pictures on the wall. They had a "Pope" room. We also had chocolate cake. I brought my camera and took around 250 pictures.
Exhausted, David and I still stayed up late watching a repeat of the disastrous Nobama interview at Rick Warren's church.
Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier - Arlington National Cemetery
George Francis Ridenour's grave [Section 18 Grave 3638], son of my 2nd great grandparents George T. Ridenour and Mary Ellen Bent Ridenour [killed in WW I] - Arlington National Cemetery
Dad, his sister Linda (Ridenour) Pfiffner, me, and David at George F. Ridenour's grave [photo by mom, Mary Alice Ridenour]
Me at George Walter Paschal's [Civil War] and wife Fanny Tilley's grave [Section 3 Grave 2192], Arlington National Cemetery, son of Dottie's 3rd great grandparents George Washington Paschal and Sarah Ridge Paschal
Soldier at Audie Murphy's grave - Arlington National Cemetery
John F. Kennedy and Jacqueline Kennedy's graves - The Eternal Flame - Arlington National Cemetery
Reflecting pool and Washington Monument
Mother Mary Alice Ridenour, David, and Dad at WW II Memorial
The Hope Diamond - Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian
Mom, David, Dad, and Linda at the rehearsal dinner, Buca di Beppo, DC
Brianne Howe, Erin Howe, and Jeff Pfiffner at the rehearsal dinner
Sunday August 31
My family and I ate breakfast at Starbucks. That was also odd and neat. My parents do not visit Starbucks and here we are all together.
Since the walking and heat was difficult yesterday, we decided that we would drive our car to the monuments. My parents did not walk up the steps to the Lincoln Memorial yesterday but we did that right after breakfast. They were impressed. We drove to the Jefferson Memorial and they were equally if not more impressed. I had forgotten about the bookstore/gift shop and museum underground. We wanted to visit the Library of Congress which houses a book I wrote about the George T. Ridenour Family of Texas back in 1990. The library was closed as it was a Sunday and it will be closed on Monday, Labor Day. We should have gone to the library yesterday but we just ran out of time. We drove by the Capitol and Supreme Court. I wanted to show my parents as much as I could with our limited time in DC. Also, the last time I was in DC was in 2001, and I did not have a digital camera yet. I wanted to take digital pictures of all of these places.
We drove to Georgetown and had lunch at "Sequoia." It was right on the Potomac, so a great place to eat. We mainly had hamburgers with the best cole slaw I have ever had.
We visited the Iwo Jima Monument and the National Cathedral, an Episcopal church. My mom is a Baptist preacher's kid but she works at the Episcopal Diocese of Dallas. I had forgotten that President Woodrow Wilson is buried in the cathedral. I did not realize that we would visit four ex-presidents' graves on this trip - Washington, Jefferson, Kennedy, and Wilson. Many foreign embassies are located near the cathedral.
The GPS device took us through some rich neighborhoods back to our hotel. That GPS has saved us so much time and of course, gas / money.
We left our hotel at 4:30 PM to drive to North Bethesda for the wedding. The outdoors wedding was at 5:30 PM. I took a few pictures. Jeff's brother James is an ordained Church of Christ minister and he started the wedding off with a scene / dialogue from "The Princess Bride." It was very funny. No one expected that.
The wedding and reception was at the Strathmore Mansion. The food at the reception was excellent. I cannot remember a time when I had so much good food. They served us salad with real bacon, orange chicken, potato salad, and asparagus.
We left the reception early as we needed to get my parents back to the hotel since mom was leaving early in the morning to go back to the airport. Since it was after 10 PM and although we were exhausted, David and I went back out to the memorials. I wanted David to see them at night, which he had never seen, plus I wanted digital pictures. We went back up to the Vietnam Wall, Lincoln Memorial, Korean Memorial, and Jefferson Memorial. It was a great time and fantastic seeing the lights. We got back around midnight and crashed.
First Vice-President John Adams' signature on Bill of Rights, National Archives
Treaty of Paris signed by Benjamin Franklin and John Adams, National Archives
I highly recommend renting/buying and watching the HBO mini-series "John Adams"
David, Mom, and Dad at Lincoln Memorial
Dad, Mom, me, and David at Vietnam Memorial [photo taken by a Texan]
David, Dad, and Mom at the Iwo Jima Memorial
Dad, Mom, and David at the Jefferson Memorial
Library of Congress - Jefferson Building
The Supreme Court
David at Helen Keller's tomb at the National Cathedral
President Woodrow Wilson's tomb - National Cathedral
The Wedding - Strathmore Mansion, North Bethesda, MD
The Wedding Reception - Strathmore Mansion
Jeff Pfiffner, Linda Pfiffner, Dad, and James Pfiffner at the wedding reception
Monday September 1
We got up early and had breakfast again at Starbucks. The girl behind the counter was having a difficult time getting our order correct. A guy in the line said something derogatory about us and I let it slide. Dad thinks the guy's main problem was that dad had a Dallas Cowboys cap on. We are in the heart of the dreaded Redskins. That is one Starbucks that I will never visit again.
We got mom to the airport around 8 AM. Our plans after the airport were to drive to Hagerstown, MD. But since it was only 8 AM, and since David wanted to take dad to Inner Harbor in Baltimore, and since we had not had the opportunity to visit the Air and Space Museum [AASM], we drove back to DC.
The AASM did not open until 10AM so we walked up to the Capitol and Library of Congress. We could have taken a tour of the Capitol but we did not have the time. We spent most of the morning at the AASM before we drove to Inner Harbor for lunch at 2 PM. It was hot and we walked a long way to a restaurant called "Phillips Seafood." David and his family had been there before and Dottie, her sister Adair, and I had also been there before. David and I had Bake Crab Stuffed Shrimp [$25] and calamari as an appetizer. It was delicious but not a whole lot of food.
We drove to Frederick, MD, to see the church where my 5th great grandfather Mathias Ridenour was first recorded as being in America . He was there for his nephew's baptism. The church was closed but we walked behind it and saw the cemetery and other buildings. We drove to Hagerstown, MD, but stopped first at Ridenour Rd, a few miles south of town.
In Hagerstown, we visited Zion Lutheran Church which is where town founder John Hager and his wife Elizabeth Kershner are buried. My 6th great grandfather Nicolaus Ridenour's second wife was Rosina Kershner, believed to be a sister of Elizabeth. Nicolaus with his 100 acres called "Ridenour's Pond" along with John Hager and others, founded the town. Then we visited the church that was founded by Mathias Ridenour called St. John Lutheran Church. It was closed of course. We do not know where Nicolaus and Mathias are buried as the cemetery at the church was moved to make room for the new building / parking lot back in the early 1800s. This caused a split in the church back then and half of the members left the church. They took all of the bodies and gravestones of around 200 people and dumped them into one mass grave at Rose Hill Cemetery. We went there next. There is no marker and just a small section of grass only. Mathias and Nicolaus could be buried there or they could still be buried under the church or buried on some of the land. We will never know for sure.
We checked into our Super 8 Motel and David and I ate at Pizza Hut.
David, Dad, and me at the Air and Space Museum - Smithsonian
Guess which one is me?
The US Capitol, DC
Inner Harbor - Baltimore, MD
David and Dad at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Frederick, MD, where my 5th great grandfather Mathias Ridenour was first recorded as being in America at the baptism of his brother Henry's son Mathias Ridenour [Source: Maryland German Church Records, Volume 3, Baptismal Records of The Monocacy Lutheran Congregation, and its successor, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Frederick, Frederick Co., MD., Baptisms 1742 - 1779, translated and edited by Frederick S. Weiser, page 11]
David and Dad at John Hager and wife Elizabeth Kershner's graves, Hagerstown, MD
The Bell Tower at St. John Lutheran Church, Hagerstown, MD, church founded by my 5th great grandfather Mathias Ridenour and others, and where all nine children and Mathias and Eve Ridenour were baptized
Tuesday September 2
After a good breakfast, we drove to John Hager's House and Museum but it was closed until 10 AM. We decided we did not have time to take the tour at 10. We drove back to the church founded by Mathias. The groundskeeper Jim Baker let us in the church and let us go up into the bell tower. He told us the bell tower was struck by lightening the day we landed on the moon. We saw the burnt wood up in the tower. We visited the Maryland Genealogy Room at the Washington County Public Library where another copy of my George T. Ridenour book is located.
We left Hagerstown to drive to Aurora ,WV, where my 3rd great grandfather David Ridenour Jr. was baptized at a Lutheran church. We missed our exit to West Virginia and had to make a u-turn in Pennsylvania. We drove to St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church and I had heard that it is open 24 hours a day. We went inside and saw the auditorium and the church charter and baptismal pitcher. We also drove behind the church to a cemetery. We found some Wiles buried there.
We had one more place to stop in Ohio before we needed to get as close as possible to Wabash, Indiana. To get to Ohio, and since this morning, we drove through Maryland, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and finally Ohio. The Ohio River was green/blue. The last time I saw it, it was muddy brown.
Near Steubenville, Ohio, in a town that used to be called Knox Township, now known as Osage or Toronto, we visited the church [Good Hope Lutheran Church] founded by my 4th great grandfather David Ridenour Sr. He, his wife, and three of their girls are buried there in the church cemetery, now called the Osage Cemetery.
We tried to make it to Wabash but it was getting very late and we stopped in Muncie, IN, about an hour away from Wabash. There is more to do in Wabash so I wanted most of Wednesday to see everything we needed to. Muncie is kind of a dump..
John and Elizabeth Hager's house - Hagerstown, MD
Inside the Hager House from a dirty outside window
Cumberland, MD, where my wife lived as a little girl
St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, Aurora, Preston County, West Virginia, where my 3rd great grandfather David Ridenour Jr. was baptized along with 3 of his 12 siblings
St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church
Baptismal pitcher, basin, and church charter at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, and the pitcher/basin may have been used at David Ridenour Jr.'s baptism
David with an Osage Cemetery kitty - Knox Township, Jefferson County, OH, cemetery where my 4th great grandparents are buried - David Ridenour Sr. and Margaret Wiles Ridenour
Wednesday September 3
We first visited the Lutheran Cemetery where my 3rd great grandparents are buried along with many of their children. Then we drove to Friend Cemetery where tons of our Ridenours are buried. We went out to David Ridenour's old 160-acre farm via Ridenour Rd [now County Road 420 S]. The Unger family owns the land now. We drove into downtown Wabash to visit the county museum. James M. Ridenour, who was once the head of the Parks Department under President George H. W. Bush, is on the board and lives in Wabash. James descends from Isaiah Ridenour, a brother to my 2nd great grandfather George T. Ridenour. I was hoping we could meet him but he was out of town. We bought signed copies of his book and a book that had a chapter on the Ridenour family. The museum had a "new" old Wabash county map that showed Ridenour Rd and land owned by Ridenours, Ungers, Shaumbaughs, and Stouffers.
We were finished with everything we needed to do in Wabash and it was time for our trip to come to an end. Since David and dad had never been to St. Louis, we decided to go home through St. Louis. We stayed in a dump motel in downtown St. Louis but it was cheap and we had our pistols.
David and Dad at my 3rd great grandparents' graves - David Ridenour Jr. and Sarah Shauver Ridenour, Lutheran Cemetery, Wabash, IN
Update 2009: Corey Rosier of Ben Wheeler, TX, and a descendant of David Ridenour Jr.'s daughter Susannah Ridenour and Jeremiah Roser, contacted me and he said the Lutheran church was located here, but has since been torn down. David was one of the founding members of the church which was called Mills Creek Martin Luther Congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, also known as St. Luther's.
Update 2009: Mills Creek Martin Luther Congregation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church
[Digital photo of a 25-year old Polaroid sent by Corey Rosier]
David and Dad at John Ridenour's and Emma A. Bent's grave - brother and sister of my 2nd great grandparents George T. Ridenour and wife Mary Ellen Bent Ridenour, Lutheran Cemetery, Wabash, IN
North at Ridenour Rd. (now CR 420 S) at David Ridenour Jr.'s one-time 160 acre farm - Wabash, IN
Update 2009: I received an email on 1/22/2009 from Samuel Unger, son of John Unger. Sam said that this is Ridenour Rd. but it is not David Ridenour Jr.'s land. David's land is actually about 1/2 mile west of the Lutheran Cemetery.
South of Ridenour Rd, now owned by the Unger Family, known by locals as "Ungerland" [Unger Land]
Wabash County map - Ridenour, Unger, Stouffer, and Shambaugh lands - Wabash, IN
Thursday September 4
We are now about 10 hours from home and it was raining for the first time. It was the rain from Hurricane Gustav. We went to the Jefferson arch but it was not open until 9 and it was 8 AM. We took the subway over the Mississippi River into Illinois and had breakfast at a casino. I lost $2 at the quarter machines. David had never been in a casino.
It was raining hard still and the walk to the arch was fairly far from the underground parking lot so dad decided not to go up the arch. I have been there a couple of times but David needed to see it. It costs $10 and there was no line. The eight elevators are basically a five by five foot box that holds five seats each. Could be claustrophobic for some people. The arch was swaying quite a bit because of the wind. I was asked to take a photo of three women and it was difficult keeping them in the camera viewfinder. It was well worth the $10 to sway back and forth.
I did not think that dad would want to do the free Budweiser Plant tour but he did since it was an inside tour. Well, it is not really an inside tour. We had to buy $5 Bud Light umbrellas because you do walk between seven buildings. David and dad loved the tour and learned a lot. Dad used to do the plumbing at a beer plant back in Texas in the old days. David had some of the free beer afterwards. I think that may have been his first beer. First beer and first casino, all in the same day!!! I had the new Bud Light Lime and it was pretty good. I don't drink beer but it does taste better than a Miller Chill.
We got home about 11:45 PM. A very nice trip with 4/5ths of my immediate family.
St. Louis, MO
David at the Budweiser plant - St. Louis
Budweiser plant - 1,950 12 oz. cans packaged per minute and 1,650 16 oz. cans per minute