Carl J. Rittenger

Pages 291-293 - Carl J. Rittenger is making an excellent record of constructive activity as one of the progressive young business men of his native state of Michigan, and has the distinction of being, in the city of Grand Rapids, the manager of the White & Friant Lumber Company, one of oldest and most important concerns of this kind in the state. The Grand Rapids offices of this company are at 915-17 Michigan Trust building. Thomas Friant was one of the pioneer founders of this extensive business. He resides most of the year in California though still a resident of Grand Rapids. The other original principal, T. Stewart White, died in the fall of 1915. The company controls large and valuable tracts of timber land and has other extensive interests on the western coast. The company gained pioneer precedence among eastern concerns making investment in sugar-pine timber lands in California, where it owns a tract of 25,000 acres that is conceded to be the finest area of standing timber in the country. Of such general and historic interest is the following record, published in 1900, in an edition entitled "Lumbermen of Michigan," that it is worthy of reproduction: "Few names have been more familiar to the lumbermen of the northwest for seventy years than that of the White & Friant Lumber Company. In 1869 T. Stewart White and Thomas Friant formed a partnership under the name of White & Friant, and the concern has since been a power in the lumber world. In its origin the partnership was designed to take charge, as contractors, of the rafting of logs that were by this time being needed by the mills at Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Grand Rapids, and for twenty years the firm boomed, sorted and delivered, at the various mills on the river, all the logs that each winterís work in the woods had provided. In 1877 White, Friant & Company was formed, for general lumber business. In 1885 they incorporated under the name of The White & Friant Lumber Company. It has been, and still is, recognized as one of the most extensive, energetic and progressive among the many large operators in the West. Captain Thomas W. White, the father of T. Stewart White, came to Michigan in the early thirties, and few of the older settlers and pioneers of the state proved themselves more useful as citizens or were held in higher esteem. As a Whig, he was elected to the state legislature in 1844, and was influential in securing a grant of public land for the erection of the first bridge that spanned the Grand river, that at Bridge street, Grand Rapids. Thomas Friant, Sr., father of Thomas Friant Jr., came to Michigan in 1837 (the year that marked the admission of the state to the Union), and he and others slowly threaded their way through swamps and over Indian trails till they reached the Grand river, at a point where now stands Portland, Ionia county. There they built a raft and then floated down the river to the Baptist mission. On what is now the site of the city of Grand Rapids, Mr. Friant decided to stop his wanderings and to settle in what appeared to him a most desirable location. He was deeply impressed with the extent and character of the vast pine forest through which he and his companions had floated. He immediately began clearing the timber that covered the present site of the city. In 1848 he built a saw mill on Rouge river, seven miles up from Grand Rapids, and he continued in the lumber business until his death, in 1887. Of course his son, Thomas Friant, Jr., reared in these surroundings, became interested in lumber, and in the passing years he became one of the most prominent and influential representatives of he lumber industry in Michigan." Carl J. Rittenger was born at Lowell, Kent county, Michigan, May 2, 1894, and there also was born his father, John H. Rittenger, Jr., whose father, John H., Sr., was numbered among the early settlers of this county. John H. Rittenger, Sr., came with his family from Ohio to Kent county and the government land that he here obtained, reclaimed and developed still remains in the possession of his descendants, the old homestead farm being now occupied by Ray W. Rittenger, a brother of him whose name introduces this sketch. Mary (Jury) Rittenger, wife of John H. Rittenger, Jr., was born in England. Carl J. Rittenger continued his studies in the Lowell public schools until he profited by the advantages of the high school, and thereafter he completed a course in the McLachlan Business University in the city of Grand Rapids. Thereafter he was for some time associated with the White & Friant Lumber Company, and in 1916 he entered civil service work in Washington, D.C. In the world war he was for twenty-seven months in overseas service, at the general headquarters of the American Expeditionary Forces, and in this service he won promotion to the grade of first lieutenant. After receiving his honorable discharge he soon returned to Grand Rapids, in the spring of 1920, but within a short time thereafter he took a position in the cost-accounting department of the Ford tractor plant of Dearborn, Michigan. He there remained only a brief period, and in May, 1920, he was assigned charge of the Grand Rapids office of the White & Friant Lumber Company, where he has since continued his efficient service as manager. Mr. Rittenger is a Republican, is a member of the York Rite of the Masonic fraternity, his local affiliations are with Malta Lodge, A. F. & A. M.; Columbia Chapter, R.A.M.; Tyre Council, R. & S. M., and Lalakoum Grotto of Grand Rapids. June 8, 1920 Mr. Rittenger wedded Miss Amber OíMeara, daughter of Forrest J. OíMeara, of Grand Rapids, and the one child of this union is a winsome daughter, Margaret Jean.

Transcriber:  Ann Ed
Created: 22 October 2003