Ancestor Bio – Dora Effie Jane Chism

Rittenberry Project
By Don Taylor

Today, I look at the Rittenberry family and the life of Dora Effie Jane Chism Rittenberry Johnson of Tennessee.

Rittenberry Project 2017 – Ancestor #5

List of Grandparents

  • Grandmother: Dora Effie Jane Chism [Rittenberry] [Johnson]
  • 1st Great-grandfather: John Wesley Chism

Dora Effie Jane Chism Rittenberry Johnson (1888-1946)


Discover you family history through historical newspapers at Newspapers.com
Dora Effie Jane Chism was one of the ten children of John Wesley and Charlotte (Clark) Chism. She was born 12 May 1888 in Putnam County, Tennessee and was the youngest of the three children of Charlotte living in 1900. Her older known living siblings were Amey and John Chism. The 1900 census reported that Charlotte had ten children only 3 of which were alive in 1900. The Chism surname is spelled in many different ways, Chism, Chisam, Chisem, and Chisholm in various documents. We also know that one of her sisters married an (unknown) Kinnaird and had two children, Kilmer and Clarence. She died before 1900, and her children are the grandchildren living with John Wesley and Charlotte in the 1900 Census.

In 1902, when Effie, as she came to be known, was only 14 years old, she married 20-year-old, William Dee Rittenberry. They had eight children. All of their children have since passed.

William Dee and Effie (Chism) Rittenberry’s Eight Children

Name [Married] Birth Death
Ethel Lee Rittenberry [Webb] 1904 1980
Evelyn Maybell Rittenberry [Stone] 1907 2001
Cecil Rose Rittenberry [Willoughby] 1909 1945
John D Rittenberry 1913 1979
T J Rittenberry 1917 1957
L B Rittenberry 1920 1976
William D Rittenberry, Jr. 1923 2005
Marguerite Lucile Rittenberry [Lindsey] 1925 2004

Through the years, the Rittenberry’s show up together in various locations in the area. In 1910 they were in Cookeville, Putnam County, in 1920 in Crawford, Overton County (about 30 miles away) and in 1930, back to Cookeville. Sometime in the 1920s, they lived in Algood, TN (about 5 miles from Cookeville).

On 9 August 1931, Effie was shot by her husband in the abdomen with a 32-caliber handgun. A newspaper article indicated that she was in critical condition and might die from the wound. Effie shot Dee as well in the chest, just missing his heart. Dee ran but was captured by the sheriff shortly after the double shooting. The Sherriff’s department said it was a domestic disturbance base upon jealousy. Both of them lived through

Photo of the marker of Effie Rittenberry Johnson
Marker – Effie Rittenberry Johnson (1889 – 1946) – Photo by imagal49 (#47223808) via Find-a-Grave

I have been unable to find the divorce record between Dee and Effie, but the gunfire exchange was probably reasonable grounds. I presume the divorce occurred sometime between August 1931 and March of 1940 because on 17 March 1940, Effie married Mike Johnson.

Dora Effie Jane Chism Rittenberry Johnson died on 14 June 1946 in Nashville, TN. She was buried in Shipley Cemetery in Cookeville, Putnam County, Tennessee

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Find Mike and Effie Johnson in the 1940 Census.

Sources