Darius Mitteer Ratcliff, (Hamilton, New York, abt. 1912)
I will be posting on this blog the poetry and writings of my maternal grandfather, Rev. Darius Mitteer Ratcliff. I came across these writings in my mother’s personal effects after her death in 2007. The poetry was written by my grandfather and was included in letters written to my mother, Elizabeth Louise Ratcliff Downs, a.k.a. Betty Ratcliff Downs, during the 1940’s. His writing reflects his love of Christ and his love for his church.
My grandfather, Darius Mitteer Ratcliff, was born near Ferndale, Sullivan County, New York on October 20, 1886. He was the second child of Charles Benton and Louise Mitteer Ratcliff. When he was about a year old his family moved to a farm near Hurleyville, New York. He attended high school in the nearby village of Liberty graduating in 1905. During these high school years due to the influence of his mother, grandmother, and aunt, he grew in his relationship to Christ and decided that full time ministry was his life’s work. After his mother died he was told that after his birth his mother remarked that, “This one will be a minister.”
Darius Ratcliff prepared for the ministry by studying at Colgate University and Seminary in Hamilton, New York, graduating around 1912. He did some pastoral work in the areas of Plymouth and Lebanon, New York. He was married to Ethel Fulton of New York City, New York by the Baptist minister in Oneonta, New York on October 31, 1914. His first full time pastorate was in Scriba, New York where my mother was born on November 8, 1915. He was pastor of Scriba Baptist Church. He went on to pastor in the towns of Busti, Gowanda, and Addison, New York and then on to Harrison Valley, Pennsylvania. Around 1930 he accepted a call to pastor First Baptist Church, a.k.a. Naples Baptist Church, and the Bristol Springs Free Church in Naples, New York. He pastored both churches for about 27 years.
Darius Ratcliff was married to Ethel Lepine Fulton for 60 years. Ethel Ratcliff passed away in February, 1974. Darius Mitteer Ratcliff died April 29, 1987 at 100 years of age. Darius and Ethel Ratcliff are buried in Rose Ridge Cemetery, Naples, Ontario County, New York.
“Rev. Ratcliff is a consecrated, broadminded, and dedicated minister of the gospel”. Newspaper: “New Pastor at Addison, The Rev. D. M. Ratcliff of Gowanda Assumes Duties in Baptist Church” – The Evening Leader, page 10, Cornell, New York. Monday, March 26, 1923. (retrieved from www.ancestry.com)
“In paying tribute to the Rev. Ratcliff he (O. Roger Killian) said that many Naples people have been “recipients of his optimism” and he has “brought comfort in times of sorrow and hope in times of trouble.” Newspaper: “Naples Church Honors Pastor, Wife”- Rochester Democrat, Rochester, New York, December, 1954 (newspaper clipping, personal records of author)
Photo above – Source: Personal photo collection of B.J. Johanningmeier