Biography of Eliphalet B. Ruckman
Marion County, IA Biographies





Eliphalet Benton Ruckman is a farmer residing on section 11, Union township, this county, and is well known and highly respected in his community. He was born in Barren County, Kentucky, on the 28th of April, 1837, and his parents, Amos and Amanda F. (Houck) Ruckman, named him after Thomas H. Benton, the great senator of Missouri, and Eliphalet Knott, a famous orator. His paternal grandfather was Isaiah Ruckman and his great grandfather was Joseph Ruckman. Amos Ruckman was born in Barren county, Kentucky, on the 17th day of February, 1806, the youngest of twelve children, and received his education in Kentucky and Tennessee. In early life he farmed in Kentucky, where his marriage occurred in 1836, but, as he and his wife believed it wrong to hold slaves, they left that state and came to Iowa in 1852. They started on the 14th of October with two yoke of oxen and two horses. It was fine autumn weather and for a time they made good progress. They crossed the Ohio river at Shawneetown and from there went through the cypress swamps in what is now known as Egypt in southern Illinois. They experienced the varied fortunes of the road and while in the swamp encountered a severe storm. In Illinois Mr. Ruckman purchased another yoke of cattle, making three in all. It was the year of the campaign for Pierce and Scott and liberty poles were seen in all the towns passed through. Before they reached their destination snow had fallen and the difficulties of travel increased. Their potatoes also froze. The family stopped near Keokuk, having crossed the river at that place. They were told that it was impossible to proceed farther on account of the rains, but the family continued on their way, however, by a devious route. They first went to Clark county, Missouri, thence to Bloomfield, Iowa, from which place they went to Drakesville, thence to Albia and then to Knoxville. They crossed White Breast creek on the 12th of December, 1852, just sixty days after they had started from Kentucky. They located on section 11, Union township, Marion county, where the father purchased one hundred and sixty five acres of land. He used his oxen to break the first ground and energetically developed his property. As his resources increased he added to his possessions and became the owner of six hundred and forty acres of good land. He became well known in the county, was justice of the peace in Union township for four years and trustee for ten years. His political allegiance was given to the republican party. He was active in church work and was for some time clerk of the Baptist church in his locality. He passed away on the 26th of April, 1884, and in his demise the county lost a prominent pioneer farmer and a good citizen. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Miss Amanda F. Houck, was a daughter of John and Elizabeth Houck and was born in Kentucky on the 12th of May, 1812. She was educated in her native state and remained at home until her marriage. She was taught the art of weaving by a school teacher and as she was very ambitious became an expert weaver. The loom she used is now in possession of the subject of this review. She taught all of the women in the neighborhood the art and was famous as a housewife. Mr. and Mrs. Amos Ruckman had three children: Eliphalet B., of this review; John Lewis, who was born September 17, 1838, and fell in battle at Jackson, Mississippi, during the Civil war while commanding his company, which was Company B, Third Iowa Infantry; and Joseph, who was born February 4, 1840, and was killed in battle before Jackson On the 12th of July, 1863. He was second lieutenant of the same company of which his brother was captain. Both were single. The mother of our subject died on the 30th of September, 1898.

Eliphalet B. Ruckman accompanied his parents to this state in 1852 and well remembers the erection of their home in 1853. It was made of logs and all of the work necessary in its construction was done by hand by members of the family. The rock to build the chimney was hauled from a nearby quarry and the father and sons broke it into pieces of the required shape and size. The subject of this review attended the school taught by Captain William Blaine, which was the first free school in the county. He taught for three months when in his twentieth year, receiving twenty dollars a month and boarding with the parents of the children whom he taught. He had thirty six pupils and among them were a number of girls almost grown. Two of them were planning to play a joke upon him and enjoy a laugh at his expense, but he turned the tables upon them and sent them from the room. They were highly indignant and took their belongings and went home. Their mother told him to whip them, but he did not. He subsequently entered Central University of Iowa at Pella and was a freshman in the scientific course there it the outbreak of the war. He left school and was never able to finish his course, as he was obliged to give his time to the work of the home farm for his two brothers had joined the Union army. After his father's death he succeeded to the ownership of the property, which comprises a quarter section of land on section 11, Union township. He does general farming and has been very successful in that occupation, gaining a competence which insures him comfort throughout his life.

Mr. Ruckman was united in marriage on the 17th of March, 1859, to Miss Charity Walker, a daughter of William and Mary (Teter) Walker. More detailed mention of the Teter family is found in the sketch of J. L. Teter, which appears elsewhere in this work. William Walker was the first male child born in Chillicothe, Ohio, and he resided there until April, 1857, when he came to Iowa, settling in Union township, this county. He farmed to some extent, but was a blacksmith and gunsmith and gave part of his attention to those trades. He was fairly successful in his farming and owned sixty two acres of fertile land. He was also a musician of local note. He was an expert fifer and belonged to the Campbell Clan. He died two years after coming to this state, in 1859. His wife was born in Ross county, Ohio, and there their marriage occurred. To them were born five children, of whom Mrs. Ruckman was the youngest. Her birth occurred in Ross county, Ohio, October 30, 1841, and she died on the 25th of January, 1881. She was the mother of nine children: Robert Quintus, born December 20, 1859; Mary Elizabeth, who was born October 9, 1861, and became the wife of G. J. Jones; Eliza Jane, whose birth occurred on the 28th of December, 1863, and who married J. O. Rinehart; Hannah, who was born February 8, 1866, and died May 25, 1878; John Lewis, born January 25, 1868, who is a lawyer of Aberdeen, South Dakota, and is the representative of Brown county in the state legislature, having been reelected in November, 1914; Joseph Independence, who was born on the 4th of July, 1870, and is a resident of Union township; Zacheus A., born April 4, 1873, who saw service in the Philippines and who married Bertha Love and resides in Red Rock; Martha S., who was born on the 29th of January, 1876, and is the wife of E. F. Carle; and William Clyde, born May 17, 1878, who married Miss Myrtle Moore and following her death was united in marriage to Miss Nellie D. Bellamy.

Mr. Ruckman is a republican and has held a number of local offices. He has been constable, trustee of his township, secretary of the school board, county surveyor, county supervisor and county auditor, and has been school director of sub district No. 4 or Blaine district. He held office the greater part of the time for fifty five years and has also served as a delegate to various county and state conventions of his party. For forty one years he has been trustee of the Central University of Iowa at Pella. He is a Baptist in his religious belief and aids materially in the work of the church. He has lived in the county since pioneer times and has not only witnessed but has also furthered the development that has made this one of the most prosperous counties of the state.

From:
History of Marion County, Iowa
And its People
John W. Wright, Supervising Editor
W. A. Young, Associate
Vol II
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Chiago 1915


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