Biography - John Ruyle

HON. JOHN RUYLE, present county judge, was born in Jacksonville, Illinois, on the 2d of April, 1824. His father, who was a native of Davidson county, Tennessee, was born in 1793. His chances for obtaining an education were extremely limited, so that he could only read print and write his name. He was raised on a farm, and engaged in agricultural pursuits, in Sumner as well as in Davidson county, Tennessee. When about twenty-two years of age, he was married to Miss Lucy Dyer, daughter of Edward Dyer, Esq., formerly of Virginia. For about eight years after his marriage, he remained in Tennessee, engaged in farming; but being an anti-slavery man by instinct, though born in a slave state, he left his native state in order to found a home where his children might not be brought in contact with, or exposed to the influence of, slavery. Consequently, in 1823, he started for Illinois, and on the 3d of November of that year, without a single dollar in his possession, he arrived at Mauvaisterre Creek, Morgan county. The subject of this sketch was born the following year, at the location of his father in Morgan county. For the first seven years of his life he was without any means of obtaining an education, as there was not a single school house or church in the neighborhood. Occasionally Rev. Peter Cartwright would preach, and his presence was hailed with joy both by young and old. In 1830, when John was six years of age, Mr. Ruyle removed to Greene county, and located in Mount Airy precinct, about a mile from the present residence of Judge Ruyle. In this locality John Ruyle attended school for the first time. His first teacher, Western Scruggs, Esq., labored faithfully with him, and implanted in his young mind many principles which he has never forgotten. His education was wholly obtained in the common schools of Greene county, and, by studying at nights and at odd times, he was fitted, in a great measure, for the honorable career which has marked his mature years.

On the 14th of February, 1848, Mr. Ruyle was married to Miss Elizabeth Whitlock, daughter of Charles Whitlock, an early settler of Mount Airy precinct. Immediately after marriage, he commenced farming on his own account, and his career as a farmer, we might say, dates from his marriage. In 1844 he was elected constable, and his journeys as an officer often extended over a large portion of the county. In 1849, he made his first purchase of land – a tract containing about forty acres. In this year, also, he received, from Governor French, a commission as a second lieutenant in the 18th regiment Illinois militia. This was at the period of the Mexican war. Previous to this he had volunteered in the 1st Illinois regiment, and started to go to Mexico, but on account of a sudden illness, contracted at Alton, was discharged, and returned home.

In 1853, Mr. Ruyle was elected a justice of the peace for his precinct, and his career as a justice extended over a period of twelve years. In 1861 he was elected associate justice of the county court. His term of four years was very acceptable to the people at large, as they regardedhim as an honest, upright, and high-minded magistrate. In 1869 he received nomination of the democratic party for county judge, and was elected by a very large majority. His experience as constable, justice of the peace, and associate judge peculiarly fitted him for the responsible position, and now, as his term is drawing to a close, the people, irrespective of party, cannot but feel that he has proved true to his oath as a public officer.

Since 1856 Judge Ruyle has been residing in section 24, about a mile and a half from Athensville, where he attends to agricultural matters, when not engaged at court. In the prime of life, with all the faculties of his mind alive, he is a type of those characters who, born in poverty, nurtured in privation, and without any extended education, yet rise above all the petty conditions of life and show the true manhood that lies within them.

Extracted 07 Sep 2018 by Norma Hass from Atlas Map of Greene County Illinois, 1873, page 50.

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