NEWTONIA — Jim Ridenour has been named the caretaker of the Ritchey Mansion in Newtonia, and will officially take over his duties on Aug. 1.

NEWTONIA — Jim Ridenour has been named the caretaker of the Ritchey Mansion in Newtonia, and will officially take over his duties on Aug. 1.
This historic mansion survived two Civil War battles, one in 1862 and one in 1864.
Ridenour, who has served on the board of directors of the Newtonia Battlefields Association for about six years, is a long-time Civil War reenactor. A dedicated student of the subject, Ridenour is well versed in the history of the Civil War and, especially, the events at the two battles in Newtonia. He has a massive collection of Civil War books and is a dedicated reader.
As a reenactor, Ridenour can portray either a Union or a Confederate soldier with ease. He has had supporting roles in several films. He also was a model for Doug Hall's Newtonia mural, noted for his bright red and white shirt in the painting. In addition, he served as a model for one of the group's Christmas ornaments.
He has had training as a cannoneer and often serves in that capacity in reenactments. He wrote the drill and safety rules for cannons for the Missouri Civil War Re-enactors Association.
A commercial videographer/producer for Cableone in Joplin, Ridenour will live in the mansion and be on duty evenings and weekends, greeting visitors, mowing the lawn and doing other mansion chores as needed.
Ridenour grew up in the Kansas City area and attended Kansas State University where he studied radio and television. His mother and sister remain in Kansas City.
"Even though I will not be living there for a while, I will start taking care of the property soon, and I'm eager to get to work," Ridenour said.
 Ridenour encourages everyone to come to Newtonia to re-live Civil War history in Newton County and Southwest Missouri. The mansion house is open to the public on special occasions and on requests from groups or individuals. School visits are welcome, as are tour for civic and social groups. Once he get settled in Newtonia, Ridenour plans to establish a basic communication link and have a telephone number and e-mail address for the mansion.