EDWIN E. RUGG, a retired lumber leader and business man of Liberal, first became identified with this interesting section of the Southwest thirty-one years ago, and he knew Liberal when it was a frontier town.
He came west from Chicago about 1887-89. At that time thousands were eagerly looking forward to the opening by the Government of the neutral strip of No Man's Land in what is now the extreme western part of the State of Oklahoma. Mr. Rugg became a squatter on this neutral strip, making his home at Clear Lake. While there he gathered some cattle and made the stock business his chief source of profit. Month after month he and his neighbors pursued a policy of "watchful waiting" in anticipation that the Government would issue the orders for the opening of the land. But this Congress failed to do, and several years before No Man's Land was made available for settlement the original Oklahoma Territory was put on the market, and most of those who had squatted in readiness to secure claims in the neutral strip accepted the opportunity to make the run into original Oklahoma. However, Mr. Rugg remained in his first locality and lived there in a sod house, which was the only permanent improvement he felt justified in making owing to his failure to have ownership of the land.
Those were interesting frontier days and not so wild and riotous as popular imagination has led outsiders to believe. While there was no law to govern the region, at the same time there was no crime worthy of punishment, no taxes or expenses to keep up government, and peace and order generally reigned. Even the deficiency of public education was met by private co-operation and support. In this particular neighborhood Mrs. Rugg, a trained school teacher, held a school in her own home and accepted whatever wages the parents of the few children determined to pay. The Ruggs and their neighbors also kept up church and Sunday school. Sessions of worship were attended by men in their overalls and all society was plain and unpretentious. Mr. Rugg says it was useless in those days to talk politics or have political opinions, since there was no opportunity to vote, and this absence of politics no doubt obviated much of the ill feeling which usually occurs in communities where some public question must be decided by periodical election. The chief opportunity for money making was in raising stock. For a time the nearest market place was Dodge City, a hundred miles away, until Englewood Station was established at the end of the Santa Fe road.
Mr. Rugg remained in this interesting western community nearly four years before he returned with his family to Chicago in 1891. Subsequently he lived on a farm about five years in Michigan, near St. Joseph, and then spent about three years in Pasadena in Southern California. These various removals had as their chief impelling cause a desire for a climate that would aid him in combating a persistent affliction of asthma. Finally Mr. Rugg returned to the locality where years before he had been benefited and had lived so carefree and happily, and established himself at Liberal, where the atmosphere seemed about as good for one of his complaint as anywhere in America. On coming to Liberal he established himself in the lumber business, and conducted a yard until his location was condemned for railroad purposes, when he retired.
Mr. Rugg became a resident of Liberal when it numbered about 500 people and when the town was at the low water mark of its history. The old boom days had passed and when he joined the community it had two grocery, three dry goods and two hardware stores, besides a bakery, a bank and drug store. His own made the third lumber yard in the town. The News was the only paper published there, and the center of educational interests was the high school. Mr. Rugg has had only one office to give him practical experience in public affairs. That was the position of assessor, which he held during his residence on his claim adjoining the Oklahoma-Kansas line. Politically he is a democrat. Mrs. Rugg is a member of the Methodist Church.
Edwin E. Rugg was born at New Lenox, Illinois, April 20, 1863, and grew up in that locality on a farm and as a boy had much experience with the practical operations of a dairy. His father shipped milk to the Chicago markets. His grandfather, Jason Rugg, was a Vermont man, and in seeking a home in the west journeyed with wagon and ox team from New England to Illinois. That was about 1836, and as Chicago was a small village around old Fort Dearborn it did not offer attraction sufficient to detain him long and he established his home at Now Lenox, where he followed farming and where he was buried at the close of his useful life, Jason Rugg married Lydia Mellen. They had two daughters and one son, Justina, John J. and Olivia. Justina married William Lynk and Olivia married Tunis Lynk.
John J. Rugg, father of Edwin E., married Jane A. Simmons, who was born near Albany, New York, daughter of Philander Simmons. Philander Simmons was of an old Southern family from the vicinity of Charleston, South Carolina, and moved from there to the vicinity of Albany, New York, and later, about 1836, came west and established a home near New Lenox, Illinois. John J. Rugg died October 22, 1910, and his widow on October 29, 1917. They had just two children, Edwin E. and Nettie. Nettie, now deceased, married Doctor Shutterley.
Edwin E. Rugg while reared and trained on a farm also acquired a liberal education. From the public schools he entered the Cook County Normal, and while there found the great romance of his life, beginning the acquaintance which ripened into affection and gave him his wife, when at Chicago October 20, 1886, Miss Anna Tisdale became his bride. Miss Tisdale was born near Taunton, Massachusetts, March 10, 1862, but grew up in Chicago. She was about six years of age when she came to the Middle West with her uncle, George Tisdale. She attended the public schools, and, as above mentioned, was a student of the Cook County Normal School under the famous Professor Parker. She finished her education at Rockford College and as a teacher she taught two years in Olmstead County, Minnesota, and a year and a half in Will County, Illinois. During her residence on the neutral strip in Oklahoma she was clerk of the school district as well as teacher.
Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Rugg, two of whom survive, Edwin E. and James T. Both were for a time ranchers at Blaine, Colorado. James T. is a graduate of the grammar and high schools of Liberal and his brother finished his grammar school work at Pasadena, California, and attended high school at Liberal, subsequently spending a year in Valparaiso University in Indiana, and finally taking three years of agricultural college work at Manhattan, Kansas. James is now a soldier in the regular army in the Thirty-Fifth Infantry, and Edwin E. was called into the army June 24, 1918.
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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