Margaret Rittenhouse Martin Tennis

Margaret Rittenhouse Martin Tennis

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Margaret Rittenhouse was born in in Pennsylvania in 1782 and emigrated with her family to what would become Kenton County in the 1790s. The family settled on the west bank of the Licking River. Here she met Captain William Martin, son of John Martin. In 1797 the couple became arguably the first to be married within Kenton County lines. The Martins had their first son, Isaac Martin, one year later in 1798 when there were only two houses in what is now Covington. Isaac is also said to be the first white male born in Kenton County. Margaret and William went on to have many children, including at least nine boys. 

Margaret was a Methodist, but attended a Baptist Church until the organization of a class in Newport and eventual church in Covington. Margaret was one of the first settled Methodist Society in Covington, which was formed in 1827 and later became the Scott Street M.E Church. Her son, Hiram, taught at the Methodist Sabbath-school organized in 1831.

Margaret’s husband William died in 1828. By 1831 Margaret had remarried to John Tennis, himself a widower with children from his first wife Elizabeth Hayden. Captain John Tennis was born in Pennsylvania and moved with his family to Mason County, Kentucky in 1789. He and his wife Elizabeth came to Covington in 1818. John Tennis was also initiated into the Masonic institution in Covington Lodge is 1819. His wife died in 1830. Tennis was a Baptist, becoming a deacon in the Dry Creek Baptist Church. Margaret, however, remained with the Methodist Church even after their marriage in 1831. 

John Tennis died in 1867. Margaret followed a year later, dying of pneumonia in her son William’s house. Her will, written three years prior during an illness, left her small estate to her sons Isaac, William, Hiram, Freeman, and the last portion to be divided between granddaughters. The will left off with a note explaining that her “dutiful” son John did not receive a share because he was “well off and has no children.” 

Margaret is buried in Linden Grove Cemetery beside her first husband, Captain William Martin.

This biography was researched and created by Liv Dohn, Library Associate at the Kenton County Public Library.

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