EDWARD J. RUFFHEAD is now one of the most successful ranchers and farmers in Franklin Township of Ness County. He has home a long way on the road to success since he first located there thirty years ago in 1886. Some of his early experiences will serve as an important contribution to the history of that part of the state.
When he came to Ness County he brought a team of horses, $10 in cash and the horny hands of toil gained by working for others in several states. Mr. Ruffhead was born in London, England, August 25, 1859, within the sound of the Bow bells. A portion of his childhood was spent in Bedfordshire and later he came with his father to America, the family locating at Jersey Shore, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. While there he attended school, but when his father died he and his brothers separated and each took up the pursuit of fortune alone.
In 1880 Edward Ruffhead went to Nebraska, worked as a farm hand, and there earned enough to buy the team of horses which he brought to Kansas. His first two years in this state were spent as a farm hand in Ottawa County.
On locating near Brownell in Ness County be entered a homestead on the northwest quarter of section 5, township 17, range 22. The first thing he did on his claim, was to put up a sod house with dirt roof and floor. A year later he built something more comfortable and commodious, but still a sod house. The improvements consisted of windows and plastered walls, but the floor was still the bare dirt. He lived there while he was proving up his claim. In common with most of the early settlers he was unable to make all that was required for sustaining life from the crops of his land, and in the meantime he worked on a ranch for an old Nebraska acquaintance, Jim Butler, and also for other farmers. In the intervals of such employment he cultivated his home farm. During the five years he lived there engaged in the task of proving up he gained very monger crops. Later he left his land and moved to Ness City, where he was employed at wages on a dray line. From that he went into business for himself, starting a second hand store and buying seeds, wool and furs. Later he bought out a furniture stock, and sold furniture for several years. In the meantime he had sold his first claim, the old homestead.
It was his experience as a merchant at Ness City that put him on his feet and enabled him to resume farming, this time on a more successful scale. On selling his business in Ness City he bought the nucleus of his present farm in section 18, township 19, range 23. This land had received its first improvements from a man named Manchester. For the quarter section with its substantial stone buildings Mr. Ruffhead paid only $500, $100 in cash and $100 a year. It would be difficult to find a farm of any size in Western Kansas now that could be bought for such a price. Mr. Ruffhead took up farming and the cattle business, and has also bought and sold a large amount of land. While dealing in land he made a cash sale of 400 acres in 1908 at $20 an acre. That was the best cash sale registered in Ness County up to the time. At the present time Mr. Ruffhead owns six quarter sections of land in a body, and 375 acres are under the plow and grow large crops of wheat and general forage feed. His farm is on the south fork of Walnut Creek, four miles south of Ness City.
He has not neglected the responsibilities of a public spirited citizen while providing for his own needs and the comfort of his family. His home is in School District No. 4 and he has been on the board ever since he located on his farm. In an earlier period he served three years as deputy under Sheriff Clouston. It was while living in Nebraska that Mr. Ruffhead took out his citizenship papers, and on being given the privilege of a voter he identified himself with the republican party. The only deviation he made in his party allegiance was in 1912. He cast his first vote for James A. Garfield in 1880 and never neglected a Republican nominee for president until 1912.
Some reference now should be made to his family history. His parents were Thomas G. and Susanna (Ashby) Ruffhead. His father was reared in Littlington in Bedfordshire, and formerly lived for some years at Toddington in that shire. Mrs. Thomas G. Ruffhead died in England. The children were: Thomas G., who died at Williamsport, Pennsylvania, leaving a family; Edward J.; William H., who lives in New York; Frederick C., who is chief examiner of the lighthouse service of the United States and lives in Washington; Walter A., a resident of Arizona; and Mrs. Louise Whitaker, of Detroit.
Mr. Ruffhead was married in Ness County to Mrs. May Neusome. After her death he married, October 25, 1904, Miss Sadie Butler, of Utica, Kansas. Her father, Charles A. Butler, is a veteran Union soldier, a retired farmer and former county commissioner of Ness County. Mr. and Mrs. Ruffhead have two children; Eddie M. and Ethel Pearl.
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.
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