GENERAL JAMES B. RUPLE is descended from German ancestry, who emigrated from the Fatherland to this country at a very early date. Baltis Ruple, grandfather of James B., came from Morris county, N. J. to Washington county, where he died in 1795, the year following his arrival. His residence was in Philadelphia during the Revolutionary war. He had been twice married, his second wife being a Miss Anna McCollum, who bore him the following named five children: James, David, Elizabeth, Mary and Margaret; the children by his first marriage were Ruth, John and Samuel. Both families are now all deceased. The widowed mother subsequently married Maj. Charles Cracraft, who had been an Indian warrior upon the frontier in the dark days, and who had been their captive upon more than one occasion.
Col. James Ruple, the eldest son of Baltis and Anna (McCollum) Ruple, was born February 18, 1788, in New Jersey, and was consequently about six years old when he came to this county with his father. He received a fair educational training at the subscription schools of the period, and learned the trade of carpenter and joiner, which he followed in Washington county; some years before his death he commenced the manufacturing of brick, and continued the business until the year before his death. In 1809 he married Diana Goodrich, a native of New York (near the Connecticut line), daughter of Jesse Goodrich, whose ancestry came to America in 1648. Two brothers Goodrich emigrated from England in that year, one of whom, at the instance of a relative whose heir he was, started to return, but was lost at sea; the other brother, John, settled in Connecticut. Jesse Goodrich came to Washington county in the early part of this century. To Col. and Mrs. James Ruple were born twelve children, of whom the following is a brief record: Elizabeth is the deceased wife of John Ruth, of Washington county; James B. is the subject of this sketch; Minerva is the widow of Henry M. Bristor, and now lives in Ohio; Joseph C. died recently in this county; Dr. Samuel H. is in Illinois; Sarah is the deceased wife of William Acheson; Rebecca, married to Rev. L. P. Streator, Anna, married to John D. Braden, and John, are all living in Washington; David, Henry and Ruth are deceased. The father died January 8, 1855, the mother in 1885, aged eighty-six years, less one month. James Ruple served in the war of 1812-15, as adjutant of a Pennsylvania regiment, and was assigned to service on the Niagara frontier, but his health becoming impaired, and his regiment having disbanded, he returned home. In 1814, when the city of Baltimore was attacked by the British, he set out to aid in its defense, in command of a company, but before reaching his destination was recalled, together with the rest of the forces from Washington county. After the close of this war he was promoted to colonel in the uniformed militia and commanded a regiment for many years. In his political preferences he was a Jackson Democrat. From 1817 to 1820 he served as coroner. From 1828 to 1835, and from 1839 to 1842, he was clerk of the county courts.
Gen. James B. Ruple was born June 3, 1812, in Washington, Washington Co., Penn., and is consequently now (March, 1893) over fourscore years old, but is hale and hearty, well preserved, both physically and mentally. When a boy he had to do his share of work at times when not attending the subscription schools of the, then, village. At the age of twelve he commenced to assist his father in the shop, who in addition to his regular business was making fanning mills. The times were then, and had been for many years, very dull, money scarce and all kinds of business depressed. Wheat dull at 25 cents a bushel; oats, 10 to 12 cents; flour, 75 cents a hundred weight (112 pounds); eggs, 2 cents a dozen; country-cured hams, 2 1/2 cents a pound; with other products and labor in the same proportion the result of a tariff for revenue only. The woven- wire screens for the mills required the cash to purchase them in Pittsburgh, which was a very heavy draft upon a small business, and he determined to try its manufacture at home. The apparatus he constructed for that purpose proved a success, and he aided his father in weaving the wire for the mills. In 1826, after years of depression, business revived generally, and money began to circulate rather freely. The wire manufacturing increased by the making of rolling screens for flouring mills, sieves, riddles, and to which he added the making of wire rat and mouse traps, fenders for fireplaces and other articles, and it became a fairly remunerative business. In fact, he earned while a boy, nearly a man's wages. But "there is no rose without its thorn" when fourteen years of age young Ruple became afflicted with a disease which left him partially crippled for several years.
When more advanced in years he became a clerk in one of the county offices, in which capacity he served for a time. In 1832 he went to Greenbrier county, Va., where he engaged in the manufacture of fanning mills. After closing that business early in the winter of 1835-36, at the request of Mr. John A. North, clerk of the court of appeals of the Western District of Virginia, he took a situation in his office for a few months, and returned to Washington in the spring. Upon his return he accepted a clerkship in the postoffice, which was at that time one of the heaviest distributing offices in the country. The long hours of labor and the close confinement induced him to leave it in the summer and engage in carpentering, which he followed until the ensuing winter. Shortly after, he went South, to Louisiana, where he was much pleased with his prospects, but in the summer he was seized with the malaria, so prevalent in that section, and was compelled to return to the North. In the fall of that year (1837), in company with T. B. Bryson, he engaged in cabinet making; in the summer of 1838, the disease he contracted in the South still affecting him, he was obliged to withdraw from the business on account of his health. Having been appointed to a clerkship in the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, he proceeded to Harrisburg in January, 1839, and served under Gov. David R. Porter until 1845.
Prior to the expiration of his term of clerkship he had bought a one-half interest in the Washington Examiner, a weekly newspaper, and for four years was connected with that journal as partner of T. W. Grayson. In 1852 he was appointed deputy sheriff by John McAlister, sheriff of the county, doing most of the business of the office for three years, after which he was for two years acting prothonotary of the court of common pleas for W. S. Moore, during the latter's illness; in 1857 he was elected to the office, was reelected in 1860, serving, in all, eight years. Gen. Ruple was originally a Democrat, but in 1854 he left the ranks of that party and identified himself with the Republicans. In February, 1867, he was appointed, by President Andrew Johnson, Assessor of Internal Revenue for his District (24th Pennsylvania), in which incumbency he served four years, since when the aged gentleman, so much honored in the county, has lived retired, except in local municipal positions, wearing his well-earned laurels with dignified modesty. In his military connections, the General was, in 1836, elected captain of a volunteer company, and in 1846 was appointed, by Gov. Shunk, one of his aids with the rank of lieutenant- colonel, a position he filled during the latter's governorship. In 1855 he was elected and commissioned a general in the militia.
On September 24, 1839, General Ruple was united in marriage with Miss Sarah A., daughter of Charles Mayes, one of the old settlers of the county. The last male member of the Mayes family to pass away was the far-famed Squire Joseph F. Mayes, of whom it is said that during his official lifetime he united in wedlock more than 2,000 couples. To the General and his wife were born seven children, as follows: Charles M. (a sketch of whom follows); James Goodrich, district passenger agent for the Pennsylvania Company, at Pittsburgh, Penn.; Virginia, widow of Rev. J. J. Jones (she now resides in Washington, Penn.); Anna H., living with her parents and engaged in mercantile business (she taught school for nearly twenty years); Frank W., in Columbus, Ga., with the Central Railroad; Katharine, wife of William M. Thompson, a farmer in Fayette county, Penn.; and Etta M., wife of Dr. A. J. Culbertson, in Washington. Our subject and his faithful wife have lived in the same house since 1852, in which year it was built. He became a member of the I. O. O. F. in 1841, and in 1852 was elected grand representative to the Grand Lodge of the United States, being the first representative in that body from the western part of the State. In 1843-44 he was D. D. G. M. of the Harrisburg district, and of the Washington district in 1845-46-47-48. In 1848 he was entered a F. & A. M.
CHARLES M. RUPLE, Esq., was born June 14, 1840, at Harrisburg, Penn., where his father was serving as clerk in the office of the Secretary of the Commonwealth of the State.
He was four years old when his parents came with their family to Washington county, and here he received his primary education at the common schools of the neighborhood, after which he attended Washington (now Washington and Jefferson) College, leaving, however, without graduating. He graduated at the common schools, and was the valedictorian of his class, under A. M. Gow, who was then principal. Mr. Ruple then entered the office of the prothonotary in Washington, where he remained till the spring of 1864. While in said office he commenced the study of law with Robert H. Koontz, then a prominent attorney of Washington, and later he acted as deputy-prothonotary for a time. He then removed to Beaver county, same State, where he was clerk in the office of Capt. John Cuthbertson till May 1, 1865. Returning to Washington, Mr. Koontz having in the meantime died, he renewed the reading of law under the preceptorship of Boyd Crumrine, and was admitted to the bar of Washington in 1866. In the same year he was appointed, by Governor Curtin, a notary public, holding the office until 1883, when he was elected a justice of the peace, and re-elected in 1888. Upon the expiration of his term in 1893, he formed a law partnership with T. Mc K. Hughes, Esq., under the firm name of Hughes & Ruple. For some five years prior to this election to the office last spoken of, he was deputy clerk of the courts.
In April, 1877, Squire Ruple was married to Miss Lide J. Moore, of Monongahela City, daughter of David Moore, who died there in 1867 in fact Mrs. Ruple is the only member of the Moore family now living. No children have been born to Squire and Mrs. Ruple. Our subject is a stanch Republican and an earnest worker for his party. In 1887 he was a candidate for the office of prothonotary in the convention, but was defeated. He has been borough auditor several times, and until the election of Judge McIlvaine he had served as clerk for the "return judges" almost from boyhood. In 1874, under the new law, he was chosen assistant to the court, and served as such up to the end of Judge Hart's term.
Text taken from page 19 of:
Beers, J. H. and Co., Commemorative Biographical Record of Washington County, Pennsylvania (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1893).
Transcribed March 1997 by Neil and Marilyn Morton of Oswego, IL as part of the Beers Project.
Published April 1997 on the Washington County, PA USGenWeb pages at http://www.chartiers.com/.
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