CLARENCE N. RUCKER, who has been a resident in the vicinity of Burdett since September 9, 1878, had his early experiences as a farmer and gained his initial successes under the heavy handicaps imposed upon the Western Kansas farmers of early days, and is now owner of one of the most extensive acreages in one body in Marena Township of Hodgeman County. While Mr. Rucker made a success of farming with the crude implements and methods of earlier days, he is by no means anchored to the past, and has in fact proved himself one of the most progressive men in this agricultural district. Some time ago he invested in his first tractor, and has found this investment well justified by the increased efficiency that comes from the operation of power machinery. He is also a thorough convert to the silo plan of preserving stock feed, and while he has several silos in use already he would feel better satisfied if he had several more.
Mr. Rucker came to this section of Kansas from Montgomery County, Illinois, with his parents. He was born in that Illinois county December 16, 1860, and was reared there on a farm and educated in country districts.
His grandfather was a Kentuckian who went in the early days to the vicinity of Carlinville, Illinois, and it is believed that he took up government land in that section. He married a Miss Wood, and of their five children only two sons grew to maturity, Reuben, who died in Iowa, and Richard J. Richard J. Rucker, father of Clarence N., was born near Carlinville, Illinois, in 1842. He came to manhood with a fair education and in 1861, at the age of nineteen, enlisted in Company I of the Thirty-Second Illinois Infantry. He was promoted to a first lieutenant of his company and had a long and varied experience as a soldier. He was with Sherman's army during some of its heaviest fighting, including the Atlanta campaign and the march to the sea. He went up through the Carolinas with Sherman's forces, and the last engagement of the war was at Goldsboro. Later he marched with Sherman's troops in the Grand Review at Washington and after more than four years of active service was mustered out. He married Emma Hudson, whose people were farmers in Greene County, Illinois. She died leaving one child, Clarence N. Mr. Rucker has a half-brother, Chauncey, now a resident of El Paso, Texas.
On coming to Western Kansas Richard J. Rucker took as his homestead the northeast quarter of section 2, township 22, range 21. He spent the rest of his active days improving and developing this farm and home. On coming to Western Kansas he bought considerable more property and was a much more substantial man in point of material possessions than the average early settler. His equipment and working capital consisted of two teams, two cows, calves and several thousand dollars in cash. The pioneer home of the family was a dugout lined with stone inside and consisting of one long room, 12 feet wide by 44 feet in length. That structure served as a habitation for the first three years. He afterwards occupied other homes in the neighborhod[sic] until his retirement. When he came to Kansas Richard J. Rucker tried to apply the same methods of wheat growing to these western soils as had paid him in Illinois. The result was that his wheat fields were practically a failure the first three years. In that time all his surplus capital had vanished, and as a last resort he gathered together a few sheep of his own and took others on the shares, and did sheep herding for five years, at the end of which time he had considerable profit to show for his labors. He then went into the cattle industry, and from that eventually got back into farming. Besides proving up his soldier's claim he proved up a pre-emption and also acquired a quarter section of school land. These constituted his holdings at the time of his death. Richard J. Rucker began voting as a republican, but subsequently became a reformer and populist. He was a member of no church.
Clarence N. Rucker stayed with his father and did what he could for the family fortunes until he was twenty-two years of age. He then homesteaded and took a tree claim in section 1, township 22, range 21. The tree claim, on which he is still living, is the northeast quarter of that section. His pioneer house there was a sod structure containing one room, and in the nature of a dugout. It was the home where he hibernated for about two years. For a living he did cattle herding, later pursued the same line on the shares, and from the capital proceeds of that enterprise he was able to live and get a start in the world. After his marriage he built a two-room sod house and that was the family home from 1886 to 1889. In the latter year Mr. Rucker took the Wood Ranch on the shares and conducted it two years. Returning to his own claim, he entered upon a plan of substantial improvements, gradually extending his interests as a stockman and through practically all the years he has spent in Kansas has handled stock. His own cattle he has graded up until it is practically registered animals of the Hereford strain. He has shipped many carloads from his own pastures to the Kansas City market.
The proceeds of this industry have enabled him to buy other land until he now owns three sections in a body. This is improved with two sets of buildings and a thousand acres are now under cultivation. With all his interests as a stockman Mr. Rucker has not neglected wheat as the great staple crop of these plains and has made a great deal of money notwithstanding some failures. As a stockman he has found his wheat fields valuable forage and pasture in fall and winter, and even when there has been no great grain yield his land was valuable on that account. It was in 1913 that he began experimenting with silos and he now has two pit silos and one above ground. Ensilage he considers one of the important factors in housing the agricultural problems of Western Kansas. He is one of several farmers in this district who now successfully employ the tractor and in the prevailing scarcity of farm labor it has proved of especial advantage to him in the management of his extensive farm. Mr. Rucker is a stockholder in the Farmers Elevator & Grain Company at Burdett, and is also financially interested in the Farmers Elevator at Gray.
In politics he is a republican, having cast his first presidential vote in 1884 for James G. Blaine. He has served as treasurer of the joint school district No. 68 and is a member of the Knights and Ladies of Security.
The prosperity which he has been able to acquire by his diligence and good judgment has been liberally shared by his family and he takes much justified pride in his children. He was married in Pawnee County December 12, 1886, to Miss Ella M. Mather. She is a daughter of Nathaniel O. Mather and a sister of Elmer A. Mather of Burdett. Mr. Rucker's oldest child is Neil Lewis, who was graduated from the State Agricultural College at Manhattan in 1913 and is now associated with his father in farming. He was appointed in 1917 as emergency demonstration agent for Hodgeman County at the request of the United States authorities and served one year. Neil was married September 2, 1914, to Miss Mildred Grace Crawford, and they have two sons, Mark C. and Maurice. Vance Mather, the second son, is a member of the class of 1918 in the Kansas Agricultural College. He volunteered in May, 1918, as a naval recruit and in less than a month he was in France. Glen Lionel is attending high school, and the youngest of the family is Dorothy H.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project