Ann Arbor's Wall Street never did live up to the financial reputation of its counterpart In New York, except, possibly, that a bit of the Panic of 1851 rubbed off personally on the Samuel Ruthruff family who lived there. That was the year their home was sold at public auction because they were unable to pay for it. It is the same home that 133 years later the Washtenaw County Historical Society moved from Wall Street on June 10, 1990 to 500 North Main Street and is now developing as a museum of county history.
Times were hard and money was scarce back in 1857 but all was not lost for the Ruthruffs, however. The high bidder was Samuel's son-in-law, Freeman P. Galpin, a prosperous farmer of Superior Township. He successfully bid $552.23 for the property at the sale on February 19, 1857. What financial arrangements then were made between Ruthruff and Galpin are not known but the Ruthruffs continued to live there. The property consisted of two lots, number 21 facing Wall Street on which the house sat and number 20 facing Maiden Lane. A month later Galpin bought lots 22 and 23 beside them from Attorney James Gott for $200. The Galpins did not sell the house with four lots until April 16, 1889, twelve years after Samuel Ruthruff died.
Old Ann Arbor city directories list Samuel Ruthruff (with different spellings of the last name) at 29 Wall (later 1015) but no occupation is given. Up to that time he had always farmed.
Samuel first came to Washtenaw County in 1836 and bought 80 acres of land in Superior Township, just south of Frain's Lake, near his father-in-law, Michael Frain, who came the year before. Samuel moved his wife and family there in 1837 from Seneca County, New York. Samuel had been born September 17, 1801 in White Deer Township, Union County, Pennsylvania, one of 14 children of Henry and Mary Magdelene (Reninger) Ruthruff. Several of his older siblings had died young of small pox and were buried in the garden near the house.
Samuel's grandfather, Johannes Rudrauff (one of several spellings of the name) had come to America in 1753 from Germany and first settled in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, north of Philadelphia. He was trained as a master linen weaver in Germany. Johannes's grandson, Samuel Ruthruff grew up in a strict Lutheran home. He worked out for the neighbors some before he moved to Seneca County, New York. "He followed farming and there was married to Susannah Frain," according to the History of the Ruthrauffs, 1560-1925 by Mary Ruthrauff Hoover. If Samuel's parents were strict Lutherans, his Uncle Johann or John Ruthrauff (1764-1837) might be considered even more religious. According to a Ripley's "Believe It or Not" column, his uncle not only operated a farm of 200 acres and a mill, but also, for 42 years, served simultaneously as pastor of ten Pennsylvania churches."
Samuel and Susannah were the parents of 13 children, seven born in New York State before the move to Michigan. In Michigan, Samuel bought 80 acres in Superior in 1836 for $700 from William Frain, his wife's brother. At some point the Ruthruffs had also bought another 80 acres in York Township which they sold in 1839 for $425. Ten years later, in 1849, Samuel was optimistic enough to enlarge his farm with another 30 acres adjacent to the 80 acres he already owned in Superior. He bought it from John R. and Hester Geer for $250. It was an irregularly shaped parcel just south of what are today known as Frain's and Murray's Lakes. The lakes were joined by a narrow outlet and were once called Hourglass Lake.
When the Superior township census taker called in 1850 all 13 Ruthruff children were listed as if at home with their parents. They ranged in age from 23 years down to 11 months. But, alas, on September 24, 1850, Samuel's wife, Susannah, died at age 44, only a few months after her father. Frain’s will suggest that Samuel Ruthruff was not his favorite son in law. He stipulated that, unlike his other children, his daughter Susannah Ruthruff's share was "to be paid to her or her heirs after the death of her husband, Samuel Ruthruff. In other words, he seemed to feel strongly that he did not want Samuel to get his hands on any of his (Frain's) money. Why Frain felt that way we do not know.
Frain left a 160 acre farm just west of Frains Lake. It was sold June 16, 1851. His widow died in October 1860. The deceased Susannah Frain Ruthruffs one eleventh share of her father's estate, amounting to $179.09, was divided among Susannah's eleven children before their father died.
By April 1852, when Samuel sold his Superior township land, his wife is listed on the deed as "Martha." The Ruthrauff history says Samuel's second wife was a "Miss Wilcox." Presumably she was Martha Wilcox. Samuel sold his farm to Thomas F. Leonard of Superior for $1,800. Then Samuel and Martha bought the Wall Street house with two lots in the Lower Village of Ann Arbor on January 29, 1853 for $600 from Dan Kellogg, executor of his father Charles's estate. The lot at 1015 Wall was one of five Dan Kellogg, a miller in Lower Town Ann Arbor, first bought in April 1837 from Thomas Peatt for $1,075.
Only a year-and-a-half earlier, in October 1835, Peatt had bought four lots, including 1015, from Desire Brown, widow of Anson Brown, for only $124.67. At the same time, he also bought a fifth lot for $300 from David R. Beers and his wife, Ann. Desire Brown's husband, Anson, and his brother-in-law, Edmund L. Fuller, had platted the lots as part of Brown and Fuller's Addition to Ann Arbor in 1832. Brown had high hopes that their lower village would eclipse the upper village. This was reflected in the names they chose for the streets--Broadway, Wall Street and Maiden Lane, named for New York City streets. But the eclipse was not to be. Brown died of cholera in 1834.
We can only speculate on why Peatt got four lots for $124.67 and paid $300 for a fifth one. Was it an auction for back taxes? Did he take advantage of the poor widow? Did the fifth lot already have a house built on it? Or, did Peatt badly want the block of five lots, perhaps with the idea of starting a business? For whatever reason, Wall Street seems to have been a temporary stopping place for the Peatts. By the time Thomas and Polly Peatt sold the Wall Street lots to Kellogg they were already "of Scio" according to the deed. Perhaps the grass looked greener there. Mills were developed at Delhi and Scio on the Huron River. Who could know but what they might outpace Ann Arbor?
In 1839 Thomas and Polly sold 100 acres in Scio Township to their son, Thomas, Junior. The parents then bought land in Dexter Township, west of Dexter. Thomas, Senior, farmed there until his death in 1855. His son, Thomas, Junior, bought part ownership of the mill dam at Delhi in 1840 near his Scio township farm. Eleven years later, after the grist mill first erected by Judge Samuel Dexter on Mill Creek at Dexter burned, Thomas, Junior, with a partner, Alva Alldridge, bought the site and rebuilt the mill.
Meanwhile, Dan Kellogg soon sold the five Wall Street lots to his brother-in-law, Ethan Warden, in 1838. The next year Warden, in turn, sold two of the lots, including 1015, to his father-in-law, Charles Kellogg, for $1, 800. Kellogg died in 1842. His widow probably lived there until her death in 1844. The two lots, including 1015, were not sold until 1853 when the Ruthruffs appeared. Why the Ruthruffs moved to town is uncertain. Perhaps Samuel wanted to get away from the place where he lost his wife and his unforgiving father-in-law had lived. Perhaps it was poor health or a desire to semi-retire or maybe the new Mrs. Ruthruff wanted to live in town. Whatever the case , Samuel didn't give up on farming completely A few months later they settled on Wall Street they bought 80 acres in Section 14 of Ann Arbor Township, from Leander Sawyer for $1,300. It was on Plymouth Road about a half mile east of Nixon Road.
But a few years later, Samuel had another financial reverse. His Ann Arbor township farm was sold at a sheriff’s sale June 26, 1862 to the high bidder, James Treadwell of Ann Arbor Township for $1,900. The mortgage on the property, first held by the Sawyers who had sold to the Ruthruffs, passed through other hands until it was assigned to--who else?--Freeman P. Galpin, the compassionate son-in-law who had saved the Ruthruffs home. A year later, James and Eliza Treadwell sold the 80 acres to Galpin for $1,000. Three years later, Galpin sold the "east 40 acres" of the Ann Arbor Township eighty to Gottfried D. Frederick Samuel Ruthruff witnessed that deal.
With Samuel's losses and no occupation listed in the city directory, one may wonder how the family made a living. Years later, in the 1890s, the Charles Greiner family apparently made a living from the four lots. He was listed in city directories as a "gardener... I suspect that the Ruthruffs, too, did a lot of gardening and they may have kept chickens, a cow or two, perhaps horses, even hogs. Life was simpler then--no plumbing, no garbage pick-up. Garbage disposal then meant giving it to the hogs or chickens to pick over or composting it. There may have been no bulls on Ann Arbor's Wall Street but there probably were some cows. And gardens enriched with compost and manure would grow luxuriantly. Professor Russell Bidlack, retired dean of the University Of Michigan School Of Library Science, quotes Andrew Ten Brook, one of the first U-M professors and sometime acting University president, saying of the 1840s, "We all then kept cows which ran at large and often strayed to the neighboring forests." The University's first janitor "enjoyed the privilege of planting wheat on the far east side of the campus and pasturing some cows to keep the grass down" according to The Making of the University of Michigan by Howard Peckham. One of the student pranks of the 1840s, according to Peckham, was stealing fruit from faculty gardens. In the 1850s, after President Tappan arrived, student pranks continued. "Once again," Peckham writes, "they filled the chapel with hay from the cuttings standing in cocks on the campus. Another time a calf was let into a classroom." Decidedly rural pranks, these. In the 1870s and '80s the campus was surrounded by a fence that would keep out wandering cows according to Old Ann Arbor Town, a book of old photographs published by then Ann Arbor Savings and Loan (now Great Lakes Bankcorp) in 1974. Pictures of the fence show openings with posts set far enough apart for a person to pass through but too narrow for a cow. The fence can also be seen in an 1880 birds eye view in the Michigan Historical Collections at the U-M Bentley Library. The county history of 1881 says one of the first ordinances passed by the newly incorporated Village of Ann Arbor in 1834 was to prevent swine running at large. Be that as it may, the Village Council passed another such ordinance in 1847, but soon rescinded it according to an index of proceedings at Ann Arbor City Hall. The actual minutes are missing.
In the next decade, City Council again passed an ordinance to prevent hogs running at large and again rescinded it. Similar proposals to prevent horses and cattle running at large were passed, but after several protests, they, too, were rescinded. Ann Arbor, thirty years after its founding, was apparently not ready for such niceties. Besides, it would do the owners out of free feed for their livestock and pasturing also kept the grass down. The luxury (or drudgery) of newfangled lawn mowers was far in the future. In 1861, an ordinance passed to build pounds to confine animals running at large and allowing the pound masters to charge a fee or fine for their retrieval. Given that the University saw fit to build a fence some years later one wonders how much that was enforced. It was only in that year that Lower Town was included in the young City of Ann Arbor, becoming the old Fifth Ward, and came under such regulations. Through the years thereafter city charters had ordinances against animals running at large. But they apparently did not expressly prohibit keeping domestic farm animals until the mid-twentieth century, with one exception, according to a search of the index by Herbert Katz of the City Clerk's office. A 1906 ordinance declared, "The keeping of hogs or maintenance of hog pens within the city limits is hereby declared to be a public nuisance, and the same shall be and hereby are absolutely prohibited within the limits of said city." The hogs had to go soon after the turn of the century but not necessarily other animals and fowl yet. The 1882 Ann Arbor City Charter also required that every dwelling house, manufactory or shop hereafter built within the city of Ann Arbor shall be provided with a suitable privy. To protect Victorian sensibilities it also provided that privies could be emptied only between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m.!
Adam Christman, author of Ann Arbor: The Changing Scene, mainly a history of the Burns Park area, relates that in 1924, when he and his wife and baby moved onto Lincoln Avenue, there was a stray white leghorn hen in the neighborhood, thought to have been left behind by a family who had recently moved from there. Dr. Christman, now a University Medical School professor emeritus of biological chemistry, writes that he captured the hen, and provided her with a make-shift home in a box in a pen. The hen obligingly provided him with an egg a day all summer until November. By then the hen was a pet and was sometimes let out in the garden or the neighbor children sometimes took her out of her pen and sometimes forgot to put her back in. In late November, after a big snowfall, she was missing. Sadly, she was found dead next April under the back porch where she apparently had become trapped by drifting snow.
Life in nineteenth and early twentieth century Ann Arbor was decidedly semi-rural. In fact, Kenneth Marz, who grew up in the Wall Street house in the 1930s, remembers there was a good sized barn behind the house that he helped tear down. As in the house, the hand-hewn barn beams were fastened with tapered wooden pegs, six to eight inches long. Marz also remembers that his family raised chickens and rabbits, both mostly for food, but the rabbits also as pets. They had fruit trees and a rhubarb patch from which they sold rhubarb to University Hospital.
Thelma Kempfert Graves, who grew up across the street from the Wall Street house and first suggested it for a museum, remembers when her uncle on Wall Street had a smokehouse on his lot. He didn't keep hogs but he would buy a butchered hog from a farmer and smoke his own hams and make his own sausage, she said. In fact, there is a smokehouse on Wall Street yet today behind Dr. Edward C. Pierce's office in an 1837 painted brick house. Earlier known as 947 Wall, the house has been re-numbered 940 Maiden Lane and is now entered from the back parking lot. Patients pass the small cobblestone building with brick quoins on the way into the doctor's office. The building fits the description given by Eric Sloane in An Age of Barns, "Many smokehouses were amazingly simple, being nothing but an airtight little house with a dirt floor."
I suspect the Ruthruffs were able to feed themselves quite well from the four lots and barn occupants. It was ready cash that was scarce--that was much harder to raise. Then too, Samuel Ruthruff had been a farmer all his life. A farmer needs to be a jack-of-all-trades, able to fix things, especially in hard times. It is possible that he and any of his sons who lived at home, were handy and worked for Galpin or other farmers nearby or in town. Two of his sons, William and George, were said to be quite good carpenters. Did they learn that, at least partly, from their father?
It is not known how many of the 13 children moved with their father and stepmother to Ann Arbor in 1853, although all had been listed at home in 1859, according to the census. The family history, however, says Daniel, the third child, disappeared at age 14. (If true, that would have been in 1843.) Daniel was supposed to be living in Detroit under an assumed name.
The children, with their ages as listed in the census of 1850, three years before the move to Ann Arbor, were Henry, 23 Samuel, 22, Daniel, 21, William, 20, Harrison, 18, Mary, 16, Harriet, 14, Edwin, 12, Chester, 11 , George, 8, John, 6, Sarah Ann, 3, and Emma Althea, 11 months. The father and the five oldest boys were listed on the census as farmers.
The family history says when Samuel, senior, moved to Ann Arbor in 1853, he rented his farm to his son, Henry. The deed of sale, however, to Thomas F. Leonard, was recorded at the Washtenaw County Courthouse on April 14, 1852.
Henry had taught school three winters--first in Belleville, Michigan, and then in Freeport, Illinois, returning to help his father on the farm summers. Then, he continued to work on the farm until his marriage to Arminda Miller. It's possible Henry rented the old family farm from Leonard, or perhaps another farm closer to Plymouth, where two of his three children graduated from high school, William Edgar and Erna Milton. His third child, Luella May, finished her schooling in North Dakota where Henry's family moved sometime after Grandpa Samuel's death in 1877. Henry lived past 93 years of age, dying February 27, 1920. 1 Samuel, junior, the second child, born in 1828, was "of Kansas" when he returned to Ann Arbor to marry Mary Fall, 22, of Ann Arbor township on April 1, 1858. The Reverend Ira W. Donelson of the Ann Arbor Methodist Church performed the ceremony at the bride's residence, according to Washtenaw County marriage records. (The Reverend Donelson also helped start the Dixboro Methodist Church that year.)
The Ruthrauff family history lists Samuel junior's wife as Delia Fall. It also gives conflicting death dates for Samuel--June 6, 1867 and June 6, 1907. Perhaps one is a typographical error.
Like Samuel, junior, Chester, the ninth child, also is supposed to have lived in Kansas. He married a Eurena Kellogg. It is not known if Eurena was related to the Kelloggs who had previously owned the Wall Street house. In fact, Kellogg seems to have been a fairly common name among the early settlers.
Even though some of the older children may have moved out of the house by the time Samuel and Martha moved to Ann Arbor, the house still must have been crowded. It is not known if any of the four girls were married at home, as many brides were in those days. Before Samuel died in 1877 he had at least 30 grandchildren. Presumably the house rang with their laughter and tears on visits to Grandpa's house.
At least two of the grandchildren were probably born in the house at 1015 Wall, as the family history says the youngest daughter, Emma Althea, "lived with and kept house for her father until he died." (At the present time, we do not know the fate of Samuel's second wife, Martha Wilcox Ruthruff.) But Emma Althea married Edwin J. Storms July 22, 1871, at Ann Arbor according to Washtenaw County marriage records. Emma was 21 and Edwin was 23. He was listed as a mechanic. The Reverend Samuel Haskell, who became pastor of the Ann Arbor First Baptist Church in March that year, performed the ceremony. The Storms had two daughters, Sadie and Bessie, born October 7, 1874, and March 15, 1877, respectively. Only a few months later, Saturday, September 15, Samuel, senior, died in Ann Arbor, aged 76 years, 11 months, and 27 days. The Ann Arbor Courier noted, "he has been a resident of this place for 25 years." A city directory lists "Edward J. Storms" as a painter, living at 29 (later 1015) Wall Street in 1872. (There were an "Edward J." and an "Edwin J." Storms both listed as painters. Perhaps the directory publishers were confused.) By 1899, Edwin, Althea and daughter, Sayda are living at 514 Lawrence Street near Althea’s brother, George Ruthruff who lived at 511. Storms was probably related to several other Storms who lived on Broadway. Sayda was listed as a reporter.
The first Ruthruff daughter to wed was Mary Elizabeth, the sixth child, who was married October 20, 1853, only a few months after the family's move to Ann Arbor from the farm in Superior Township. She was 19 when she was married to Freeman Galpin, a widower with three sons. The Galpins lived all their married life on a farm in Superior Township, less than a mile from where the Ruthruffs had first settled. True to Freeman's wish that the farm, settled in 1832, remain in the Galpin family for at least 100 years, it is still owned by Galpin relatives named Smith 160 years later. It has been recognized as a Michigan sesquicentennial farm. Galpin served as Superior township clerk 1857-59 and on the county board of supervisors 1873-80. He was a trustee of Dixboro Methodist Church when it was built in 1858 and a faithful member. Mrs. Galpin died May 14, 1899. Her husband died three months later. They are buried in Pray Cemetery along with Galpin's first wife. One of Freeman and Mary's eight children, the Reverend William Galpin, graduated from the University of Michigan in 1882 and was school superintendent in St. Clair before he became curate at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Ann Arbor, 1887-90. He went on to become rector of churches in Ishpeming, Elkhart, Indiana and Muskegon.
Harriet, the seventh child of Samuel Ruthruff, senior, married Elnathan Munger, a farmer, on April 10, 1865, according to the family history. It does not say where and a record of that marriage was not found in Washtenaw County records. It is uncertain if all marriages got reported to the county. Harriet died at Benton in Eaton County, southwest of Lansing, on February 29, 1872. While the family history says her body was returned to Dixboro for burial, no record of the burial was found in Dixboro's Oak Grove Cemetery records or in other nearby cemeteries including Pray Cemetery on Plymouth Road, east of Frains Lake where her parents were buried. However, Pray Cemetery records list three burials on the Ruthruff lot but don't identify them. Besides Samuel and Susannah, the third one could be their daughter, Harriet Munger or Samuel's second wife, Martha. Harriet had two daughters, Ella May and Mary A., born in 1866 and 1869, respectively. Only Ella May married.
The fourth daughter, Sarah, Samuel's 12th child, was married at Ypsilanti when she was 20 to Ransom Shuart on February 7, 1867. He was a farmer, age 24, of Superior Township. The Reverend John A. Wilson, of Ypsilanti's St. Luke's Episcopal Church, officiated. F. A. Shuart and J. W. Ruthruff, brothers of the bride and groom were witnesses. The couple lived in Dixboro all their lives. He died July 10, 1917 and she died the following January 7 at her daughter's home in Ann Arbor. The Shuarts had four children, two boys and two girls, born between 1868 and 1876. They were George Leslie, William Lee, Althea May and Mary Naoma. Althea Shuart married Robert Shankland and lived in Ann Arbor. Her sister married Herbert C. Amerman and lived in Detroit.
Civil War news must have been eagerly awaited at the Ruthruff home because two of Samuel's sons served in the war, according to the Washtenaw County History of 1881. Edwin, the eighth child, was in the Second Infantry and John, the eleventh child, in the Twentieth Infantry. Both were privates. The Second Infantry is said to have participated in "many of the most desperate battles of the war." The Twentieth, composed of about half Washtenaw men, participated in 30 battles and skirmishes. The unit left Jackson for Washington September I, 1862, and was disbanded at Jackson June 9, 1865. Edwin Ruthruff married Eliza Sly of Walled Lake in 1864. In 1866 they moved to Bangor, Michigan, and lived there the rest of their lives except for two years in the west. They had no children.
After the war, John W. Ruthruff married Kate B. Eginton, 19, on December 27, 1872 at Superior, according to Washtenaw County records. John, 26, was listed as a brakeman of Fort Gratiot (Port Huron). He later became a conductor on the Grand Trunk railroad. Their two sons, Chester Eginton and John Lee, were born in Port Huron in 1872 and 1874, respectively. Their father died March 13, 1893. The mother and a younger son, a plumber, later lived in Ferndale.
William, Samuel's fourth child, married Maria Knapp on July 4, 1855. She died October 18, 1857, leaving one child, William Addison, who died in 1880. William then married Phoebe Jane Smith September 30, 1860. They had a daughter, Nora Elinor, born April 7, 1864, who died a couple of years later at Dixboro where she is buried in Oak Grove Cemetery. Also buried there is J. W. Ruthruff, presumably John. The lot had been owned by William Ruthruff. The year after their little daughter, Nora died, William and Phoebe sold four lots in the northwest section of Dixboro Village for $400 to the trustees of the Dixboro Church and went to live in Wayne County.
A parsonage was built on Lot 9 (5045 Plymouth Road) according to Of Dixboro: Lest We Forget by Carol Willits Freeman. The other three lots were "to be used by the preacher for raising crops or pasture for the preacher's horse."
William Ruthruff was "considered a first class mechanic and housebuilder" according to the family history. "Since 1871 he has been manufacturing wooden suction pumps, and continued in that business until broken down in health and city improvements killed his business." The family history continues, "He has held township office in Greenfield, Wayne County, for twenty-five years, was on the school board nearly all the time, and, on the night of his resignation, he was honored by having the name "Ruthruff School" given to one of the schools (later) in the City of Detroit in the 16th Ward." William and Phoebe had two more daughters, Mary Bell and Harriet May, both of whom became teachers of music in the public schools. Mary Bell married Robert W. Morton and lived in Greenfield (township), Wayne County. She is pictured in The Dearborn Historian, Autumn 1981 edition, in a group which attended an old-time dance party in 1910 in Dearborn, given by Henry and Clara Ford. Listed as "Mrs. Bert Morton (Mattie Ruthruff)," she is seated in the middle of the front row right beside Mrs. Ford.
Harrison Ruthruff, Samuel's fifth child, farmed 124 acres in Ypsilanti Township and it was he who furnished biographical information for the 1881 county history so it happens that Samuel's biography appears in the Ypsilanti township chapter although he never lived there. Harrison was "of Superior," however, when he married Mary Jane Savage, 23, on October 6, 1859, at Ann Arbor. She was a daughter of David Savage, a Washtenaw pioneer of Ann Arbor Township. The Reverend Lucius D. Chapin, pastor of Ann Arbor's First Presbyterian Church, performed the ceremony. Two years later, Harrison bought two-and-a-half acres on Plymouth Road at Frain's Lake near his old home from Thomas F. Leonard. He lived there until he sold the parcel February 17, 1872, to Ferdinand J. Dalkey. Presumably, he then moved to Ypsilanti Township. The couple had six children, two boys and four girls, Lewis E., Hattie, Ida, Iola, Charles and Mary, born between 1861 and 1874. Harrison Ruthruff served as Superior township treasurer in 1863-64. He was followed in that office by brothers William in 1865 and George, 1877-78.
It's surprising that in a family of 13 children, only four of them girls, the family name would disappear from local directories but it did for years. It reappeared in 1975 when Robert F. Ruthruff and his wife, Alice,. were listed as retired and living at 2555 Carmel Street. Robert contacted Mrs. Freeman, the Dixboro, historian, and told her he remembered visiting his grandparents, George and Addie Ruthruff in Dixboro. (George was Samuel’s tenth child.) Robert said his grandparents "were one of the fortunate families who owned a summer and a winter home, but the winter home was not in Florida--it was in Ann Arbor." George was listed in the 1890-91 and succeeding Ann Arbor directories as a carpenter, residing at 7 Lawrence Street. In 1894, his only child, Burt T. is listed as a student boarding at that same address. Burt graduated from the University of Michigan in 1895 in dentistry and practiced in Bucyrus, Ohio where, presumably, his only child, Robert, grew up. Robert was born, however, in Huron, Ohio, on July 25, 1902. The George Ruthruff's summer home was at what is now 5071 Plymouth Road in Dixboro. In 1918 George was picking apples in a Dixboro neighbor's apple tree and fell out. He died of a hemorrhage three hours later. He and his wife, Addie Townsend Ruthruff, who died in 1932, are buried at Dixboro.
In the 1920s, Robert came from Ohio to live with his grandmother, Addie, in Ann Arbor and attend the University. He earned a B.S. and M.S. and was a teaching assistant while earning his Ph.D. which was awarded in 1927. He worked for Standard Oil of Indiana and another firm, supervising erection of (petroleum) cracking plants abroad and became director of research for Sherwin-Williams Paint Company during his career. He and his wife returned to Ann Arbor in 1975. Mrs. Ruthruff, the former Alice Schmutz of Ann Arbor, died March 18, 1979. Dr. Ruthruff died July 18, 1985. They are buried side-by-side in Forest Hill Cemetery.
The writer was happily surprised to find a copy of the Ruthrauff Family History still exists in the hands of Grace Judson, widow of the late Nathan Judson. His mother was Minnie Galpin, daughter of Freeman and Mary Elizabeth Ruthruff Galpin. The Judson home is less than a mile from where the Ruthruffs first settled in Superior Township.
Susan Wineberg, local architectural historian who wrote a previous Observer article about families who lived in the museum house, recently discovered a mention of Samuel Ruthruff.
In February 1930, the local Daughters of the American Revolution sponsored an American History Week observance and solicited loan of antiques which were displayed in more than fifty Ann Arbor merchants' windows, according to clippings she found in the Edward J. Staebler collection. One item was "a hand-scale contrivance used by Samuel Ruthraff" who was described as "an early Ann Arbor resident who lived on Wall Street."
A grandson of Harrison Ruthruff's daughter, Ida, Rollin Jay Roe, lives in Fenton, Michigan. A grandson of Ransom and Sarah Ruthruff Shuart, Rodney Veeder Shankland, is living in Valparaiso, Indiana. No doubt there are many other unidentified descendants in the United States.
The Galpins sold the four lots to Matthias Luippold for $800 on April 16, 1889. Luippold was a section hand on the Ann Arbor Railroad. It was still a bear market in Wall Street real estate when, a year and-a-half later, Luippold sold the four lots to Charles Greiner at a $100 loss. Sometime between Samuel Ruthruff’s death in 1877 and Luippold's purchase in 1889, the house numbering on Wall Street must have been revised from "29" to "33" Wall Street because the deeds list the same lots with the two different numbers.
Today, Wall Street contains a mix of older homes, apartments, and the Kellogg Eye Center and Turner Geriatric Clinic of the University of Michigan Medical Center. The University's need for more parking there led to purchase of the land the house was sitting on. The University didn't want the house and would have torn it down if the County Historical Society had not seen It as a possible museum.
After that, the University was very patient until the Society was able to arrange with the City of Ann Arbor to move it to 500 North Main in June 1990. Fortunately, the Society had a nest egg, accumulated in earlier years, to start the project. Many of those involved--the University, the City, and many contractors have been patient and generous with in-kind goods and services, so that the museum project is half-way to its fund-raising goal.
So it is, that one of Ann Arbor's oldest houses, at least partly built before Michigan became a state in 1837, is on its way to becoming a museum of county history. From its new location, it has been christened the Museum on Main Street, A Museum of County Life. The Ruthruffs might have been amazed but no doubt pleased.