Susan Haynes (Gibson) Ritchie Obituary - East Boston Advocate - 14 February 1885

In Memoriam1

Mrs. Susan Haynes Ritchie.

A 19th Century Horse Drawn Carriage Hearse. Image from Carriage Musuem of America4

At ten minutes past eight o'clock on last Tuesday morning [10 February 1885], Mrs. Susan H. Ritchie, wife of Mr. Elliot Ritchie, and only daughter of the late Hon. Nehemiah and Lucy H. Gibson, passed peacefully away. The death of this estimable lady was a surprise even to those who were aware that she had for some time been under physicians' care; for, not withstanding the fact that she has been more of less indisposed a large portion of the time since her father's death, it is only within a few days that her illness has assumed a form alarming to her friends.

Mrs. Ritchie was for a long period under the professional care of Dr. Thorndike. Upon his death the disease to which she was a prey seemed to derive a new strength from the depression arising from the great loss she had sustained [when her father died in 1882]. Dr. Wheeler of Chelsea was called. His departure for the South necessitated the employment of other medical services and Mrs. Dr. Rollins was engaged. The latter bestowed all possible attention upon her patient but the fatal terminations was inevitable. Mrs. Ritchie was conscious until within a few hours of her death, and left explicit directions with her husband as to the details she wished observed respecting her burial, and such material affairs as asserted importance.

While hundreds have testified their esteem for the departed by attending the funeral services on yesterday and by messages and calls of condolence, we feel it a duty to voice through these columns the universal sorrow - especially felt among the poor - at the loss of the community has sustained in the death of this lady, remembered by everyone with the highest respect and cherished by many (more than will ever be know) for numerous acts of benevolence toward those who will bless her name having "prolonged their pleasures in extinguishing or solacing their pains."

Mrs. Ritchie's life was such as becomes a true Christian. She was high-minded, noble-spirited and interested in every movement directed to public benefit or private good. She never forgot the "rarity of charity," and, while striving to avoid any demonstration, was happy in bestowing of her abundance to the relief of those who sought her aid, or whose unuttered misery awakened her sympathy.

Mrs. Ritchie was particularly active in all matters pertaining to the Home Club. She was ever ready to perform any service, or contribute to the success of any enterprise, having for its object the social welfare of East Boston. We recall many circumstances illustrating the public-spiritedness and unselfish earnestness of the departed in matters which depended entirely upon the persistent exercise of just these qualities for their success.

Rare indeed are lives such as that just closed. Much will this community have reason to realize its bereavement, and often will we all be reminded of the absence of that gentle, quiet spirit which imparted so liberally of its measure of strength to that advancement of every department of general good.

Funeral services were held at the family residence, No. 95 Webster street, yesterday at 11 o'clock. The spacious house was filled with relatives and friends. Rev. Messrs. G.M. Bodge and R. Perry Bush conducted the religious services. Appropriate vocal music was rendered by a quartette composed of Miss Susie H. Munton, soprano Mrs. Lawrence Martin, contralto, Mr. Henry Pugh, tenor and MR. C.C. Roby, bass. The services were conducted as follows:



Rev. Mr. Bush

Quartette, "Go bury thy sorrow"
Scripture Reading, Rev. Mr. Bodge
Eulogy, Rev. Mr. Bush
Quartetette, "Shall we meet beyond the river?"
Prayer, Rev. Mr. Bodge
Quartette, "Sweet by-and-bye"
Benediction, Rev. M. Bodge

The floral tributes were of the most appropriate and beautiful character. Among them were the following pieces:

Basket - composed of roses, orchids and freesie, Crescent - roses, lilies of the valley, tulips and carnation pinks. A bar of violets bearing the word "Rest." Basket - containing roses, carnation pinks, forget-me-nots and daisies, inscribed "Auntie."

Pillow-carnations, camelias, Harrisii lilies, azelias, Mareschal-Neil roses. Inscribed "Wife." Flat tablet - niephetos roses, lilies of the valley, Mareschal-Neil roses, violets and a border of ferus. Above the tablet hung a white dove, and in the centre was a floral artist's pallet, bearing the word "Sister."

Wreath of calla lilies and ferns. Laurel wreath with lilies of the valley, pansies and ferns. "The Gates Ajar" in form about three feet high, composed of roses in variety; Harrisii lilies, camelias, pinks and heath, with a background of ferns. Wreath of Mareschal Niel roses, calla lilies and Aazlias.

The remains reposed in a black broadcloth casket, trimmed with black velvet, underneath which were roses, lilies, pansies and smilax loosely arranged.

Mrs. Ritchie's age was 39 years and 18 days, and her death was caused by anaemia.

The burial at Mount Auburn was of a private nature, the cortege leaving the house at 2 o'clock. Directly following the remains was Mrs. Ritchie's vacant carriage. The horse with trappings of black, was driven by her coachman. The funeral arrangements were in charge of Mr. Wm. E. Brown.

A 19th Century Horse Drawn Carriage Hearse. Image from Carriage Musuem of America

Plate No. 18. Hearse. Carriage Monthly June 1885 page 60.

Image from Carriage Museum of America

A Card2

Mr. Elliot Ritchie hereby acknowledges with a profound sense of gratitude the condolence and expressions of sympathy with him in his recent bereavement. The tributes of respect paid to the memory of Mrs. Ritchie indicated verbally and in the form of resolutions will long be cherished among his tenderest recollections; while the numerous and appropriate floral offerings of loved ones attest a regards which is peculiarly touching in this his hour of affliction.


At a meeting of the Directors of the Conference of Associated Charities of East Boston the following resolutions on the death of Mrs. Elliot Ritchie were adopted and ordered to be published in the East Boston Advocate.

Whereas, By the decease of Mrs. Susan Ritchie the Conference of Associated Charities of East Boston, have lost a highly esteemed and beloved worker and the directors of this Conference an honored officer,

Resolved, That we the directors extend to the family of Mrs. Ritchie our tender sympathy in this great sorrow; and,

Whereas, The poor have lost a judicious and sympathizing friend and an able adviser,

Resolved, That we recognize with gratitude the work for others Mrs. Ritchie has been able to carry forward; and,

Resolved, That we entreat an intelligent community to lift up the standard of care for the unfortunate, that has just been dropped, that the good seed of her beautiful life, falling here in East Boston, may spring up many fold to gladden and to bless.

East Boston, Feb. 12th. 1885


1East Boston Advocate - Saturday, 14 February 1885 - pg. 1.

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2East Boston Advocate - Saturday, 14 February 1885 - pg. 1.

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3East Boston Advocate - Saturday, 14 February 1885 - pg. 4.

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4 Plate No. 18. Hearse. Carriage Monthly June 1885 page 60. Image from Carriage Museum of America. Used with permission.



photoRitchieSusanAndGibsonNehemiahCharles.jpg (528893 bytes)  

Photo of Susan Haynes (Gibson) Ritchie and nephew Nehemiah Charles Gibson - son of Charles Earl and Loretta "Carrie" (Varney) Gibson. Probably taken around 1884 at 95 Webster Street, East Boston, Massachusetts.

gravestonesGibsonLot4530MountAuburnCemeteryCambridgeMassachusetts.jpg (424719 bytes) 


- Lot 4539 on Nightingale Path 

at Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge Massachusetts.

gravestoneRitchie(Gibson)SusanHaynes.jpg (480260 bytes) - Susan H. Ritchie inscription on main gravestone 


gravestoneRitchie(Gibson)SusanHayneOnGround.jpg (543403 bytes) - Susan H. Ritchie gravestone in ground near main gravestone