Thursday, September 5, 2013

Francis H. Ruggles

By Douglas H. Shepard, 2013


            Andrew Young, History of Chautauqua County, New York (1875), p.657 lists Ruggles as the Board of Supervisors' Clerk in 1834.     The Town of Pomfret Assessment Roll for 1836 lists him (for the first time) as holding ½ acre assessed at $275. (A note at the beginning says the roll was in the collector’s hands in December 1836.) The house and lot were on Mechanic Street, today's Forest Place.

            The Fredonia Censor of 1 June 1836, 3:1, reported that FHR, Esq., of Fredonia had been appointed a delegate to the State Convention. The issue of 2 May 1838 reported that he was a member of the Board of Excise of Pomfret meeting at Asa Peirce's home on the 7th. The 25 July 1838 issue reported he had been admitted an Attorney at the Supreme Court. Probably late in 1838, he acquired a two-acre lot, probably with a house already on it, on Temple Street. The Censor of 2 January 1839, reported his late house and lot were for sale, but the 1839 Assessment Roll (dated 21 August 1839) shows him still holding both properties.

            However, there is a deed of 10 June 1841 from Zena Bliss of Burlington VT to Henry J. Ruggles of Rutland which is for the property F.H. Ruggles was occupying and paying taxes on in 1839. Henry J. (S.?) Ruggles of Poultney, Rutland County, VT deeded it to Francis H. Ruggles on 24 August 1843 for the same $1,000 he had paid Bliss.

            The Censor of 20 November 1839 announced that Francis H. Ruggles, Esq., of Fredonia, would be an Associate Editor of the paper. The editor, Ebenezer Winchester, was planning to issue The Settler for six months from April 1840. It was a political advocacy paper supporting William Henry Harrison for President. Winchester gave up the Censor in April 1841. There is a 16 June 1841 announcement that he was leaving his accounts with Ruggles. In a subsequent issue, 21 July 1841, Ruggles had an ad that as "Attorney & Counselor at Law and Solicitor in Chancery" he would "henceforth give his undivided attention to professional business."

            In 1842, Benjamin F. Greene studied law with Ruggles (Young, p.636). A retrospective column in the Censor of 13 January 1892 referring to 1842 stated "F.H. Ruggles had an office in the rear of the Post Office in the Johnson House [roughly today's 1 Park Place], on Center street, where the late Judge B.F. Greene studied law." In an ad in the Censor of 27 July 1842 Ruggles added "Commissioner in Bankruptcy" to his other functions.

            Young, p.649, states that Ruggles was a Judge in 1843 and there is a passing reference to him as "Judge Ruggles" in the Censor of 18 November 1845. It was in an ad for L.S. Watkins, portrait painter "at the residence of Judge Ruggles" and at the Johnson House for a short time. The ad ran into 1846.

            The Censor passed from Ebenezer Winchester to Robert Cunnington in April 1841 and one year later from Cunnington to [Willard]. McKinstry & Co [Levi L. Pratt].  On 10 April 1844 McKinstry announced that Ruggles and Benjamin F. Greene, Esqs., would have charge of the political department of the paper "as Editors till after the Presidential election."

            Ruggles is included in the 1845 New York State Census for Pomfret. His household included three males, five females, one male subject to military duty and one person entitled to vote. In October 1846 he was nominated to represent the 8th District of New York (the Fredonia Censor 6 October 1846). Young, p.653, lists him as a Senator from the 8th District. (He adds a description of what was included in that district at various times.)

            Although the assessment rolls for 1847 through 1851 show Ruggles still owning his Temple Street house and lot, the 1850 Roll does add "M.S. Woodford, Agent" next to Ruggles' name, and when he sold the property to a John Smith, the deed of 1 August 1851 described him as "of Albany."

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