George G. Ring
b.31 Jan 1776 Rhinebeck (town), Dutchess, New York, United States
d.1 Nov 1829 Pleasant Valley, Dutchess, New York, United States
m. Bef 1775
Facts and Events
George G. Ring (1776 - 1829) was a New York City grocer at the turn of the nineteenth century. He disappeared in 1805, leaving no verifiable trace of his whereabouts until his death in 1829. George is commonly called George Ring, Jr., or George Ring in English-languages sources from his lifetime and afterwards. Early records from his hometown follow a local naming convention that used a middle initial to identify the father, i.e., George G. Ring (son of George) to distinguish him from George J. Ring (son of Johannes).
Early Years, 1776-1797
George was born at Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, New York, 31 January 1776, the first of ten children in the family of George Ring and Anna Maria Eckert. He probably grew up at his grandfather's farm near the intersection of Route 308 and New York 9G east of Rhinebeck Flats (see Christopher's Farm). When George was about eleven years old, his grandfather Christopher passed away and George's father inherited the farm. From that time onward, the elder George ran the farm, as well as a tannery on the nearby Landsman Kill. On Sundays the family attended St. Peter the Apostle Lutheran Church, where George himself had been baptized and his parents had been members since 1785. George sponsored the baptism of Lewis Elshefer at St. Peter's on 9 August 1795.
Marriage and Family, 1798-1805
George moved to Manhattan in 1798, boarding at 34 Barley Street (now Duane Street). George's neighbors on Barley Street included Moses Ely and Rebecah Cook of Livingston, Essex County, Jersey. George married their fifteen-year-old daughter Elizabeth Ely at Christ Lutheran Church of Franklin Street on December 2, 1798. About the time of this marriage, Moses and Rebecca Ely returned to the Ely family farm in Livingston, leaving George and Elizabeth Ring behind as boarders in their city house at 37 Barley Street.
Over the next four years, Elizabeth gave birth to two sons, but there was trouble in the marriage. In an account based on an interview with Elizabeth in the 1840s, a biographer of Elizabeth's second husband called George "an intemperate, profligate fellow." This biographer was hardly an unbiased source, but there may have been some basis to this judgment. If George truly was an "intemperate" man, his work offered many opportunities to imbibe, since groceries often specialized in liquor, much like taverns and grogshops. About 1804, George became a cartman. The Ely family had good connections in that trade, but George soon had financial troubles. Newspaper notices at the end of 1805 call upon creditors to appear before the Recorder of the City of New York to make claims upon the estate of "George Ring, junior..., an insolvent debtor." According to the biographer's account, George G. Ring abandoned his family about this time and disappeared, having no further contact with his wife.
Separation and Divorce, 1805-1819
Sometime after 1805, Elizabeth moved to Livingston, Essex County, New Jersey. Newspapers place her in that vicinity in 1810, at Centinel Village in 1814, and at Livingston in 1815. During this period, Elizabeth attended the Northfield Baptist Church and became friends with its pastor, the Rev. John Watson. In 1818 Elizabeth agreed to marry the Rev. Watson. According to Watson's biographer, Elizabeth believed George Ring had "left the country" and had "received intelligence, in some of the western papers, of the death of a man answering to his name and character." When friends learned the couple intended to marry, they urged Elizabeth to get a divorce, fearing it was unwise to remarry without proof of her husband's death. Elizabeth appealed to the New Jersey General Assembly and an act of divorce was granted 15 February 1819. Providing no grounds, the act simply says “the marriage contract between George Ring, formerly of the state of New-York, and Elizabeth his wife, of the county of Essex” is dissolved, and they “are hereby declared to be set free from their matrimonial contract, as fully as if they had never been joined in matrimony.”
Lost Years and Death, 1805-1829
Details about George G. Ring after 1805 remain elusive. The Ely Ancestry claims he "died at the South." Although George did not die in the South, this reference may provide a clue to where George went after he left the family. George's brother David A. Ring moved to Charleston, South Carolina between 1805 and 1807. George may have been a member of David's household in the 1810 census, but if George did live at Charleston, he never became established enough to appear in city directories and other local publications.
The will of George Ring makes it clear that his son George G. Ring was still alienated from the family at the time of his father's death in 1818, but it is ambiguous on the question of whether the family had contact with him after 1805. Dated 28 March 1818, the will includes the following statement: "having heretofore done considerable for my eldest son, George G., I give him ten Dollars, being with what he has already received his share of all my estate." The will goes on to grant a substantial share of the estate to the two sons of George G. Ring and Elizabeth Ely, suggesting the boys may have been living under the care and protection of their grandfather at Rhinebeck.
George G. Ring eventually returned to Dutchess County, but it is not clear if he did so at an early date or sometime immediately prior to his death in 1829. Dutchess County probate records indicate that George was living at Pleasant Valley when he died on 1 November 1829. One month later, on 1 December 1829, his eldest son, "Moses Ring of Rhinebeck," was granted authority to administer the estate of "George Ring, late of said town of Pleasant Valley," who "lately died intestate, having whilst living and at the time of his death, Goods, Chattels or Credits within this state." In the original document, the home of George Ring was first written as "Rhinebeck," then crossed-out and replaced with "Pleasant Valley." George is buried in the family plot at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. Peter the Apostle (the Stone Church).