Monday, October 02, 2006

Official Pennsylvania Historical Marker honoring William Chester Ruth

Ida E. Ruth Jones with her brother William Chester Ruth

Bright and early at 7:00 AM this morning I picked up my mother and we drove to my brother's house. When we arrived we transferred ourselves from my car to my brother's. Then the three of us drove to Gap, Pennsylvania. Why did we do this?

We drove to Gap to participate in the unveiling of a historical marker for my Great Uncle William Chester Ruth. The Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission along with Marvin Stoltzfus dedicated a Pennsylvania Historical Marker honoring my great uncle. Nancy Hess, a local historian and Communications Coordinator of the Octorara Area School District organized this important event.

Several officials were there:
  • Joan Lorenz - Local Historian and member of Salisbury Township Historical Society
  • Bruce Bomberger - PA Historic & Museum Commission representative Curator from Landis Valley Museum
  • State Representative Art Hershey
  • State Representative Gordon R. Denlinger
The Octorara Area High School Chorus performed two hymns: "I Love Thy Kingdom Lord" (1800 by Timothy Dwight) and "Walking By the Saviour's Side (1895 Irvin H. Mack.) Dannon Stewart, a member of the chorus, read the biographical sketch for my Great Uncle.

William Chester Ruth (1882-1971)

He was an inventor who had at least 52 patents. As a child he had an uncontrollable urge to take his toys apart. This inquisitive nature led him to invent numerous pieces of farm equipment and machinery. He moved from Ercildoun, PA to Gap PA in 1917. My Uncle Chester worked for Luken's Steel when he moved to Gap. In 1923, he opened his own Blacksmith Shop. Some of the items he created in his Blacksmith shop were:
  • The Baler-feeder
  • The Automatic Tie Baler
  • The Manure Spreader
  • The adaptor for the grain elevator which enabled it to be plugged into a light socket
  • The Cinder spreader
During World War II the US government commissioned William Chester Ruth to design and manufacture secret devices for airplanes and bombsightings.

Uncle "Ches" married Gertrude Miller. They raised one son, Joseph. Joseph married Roberta States who gave birth to three children: Richard, Janie and Gwendolyn. Richard and Gwendolyn were both at the unveiling along with their children.

My Great Aunt Ida and her sister Lucy were also there. So many of my relatives came out for this 9:00 AM ceremony. I was happy to see so many people. Our second Ruth Reunion was scheduled for September 2nd, but it had to be cancelled because of the weather. The weather forecasted that it would rain all day and it did. So I thought I was going to have to wait until next fall to see members of the Ruth family. Having a second historical marker unveiled in Pennsylvania for our family was a bonus.

My Great Grandmother, Ida Ella Ruth Jones, (Uncle Ches' sister) was the subject of the first marker. Her historical marker is located in East Fallowfield, PA at the corner of route 82 & Rokeby Road. It was unveiled on Saturday, October 23, 2004. Many of the same family members were present for that ceremony as well. My great grandmother was a folk artist who created over 300 paintings and pencil sketches after the age of 70.

Here she is holding one of her paintings:

Cold Wave an oil
painting she completed in 1950.

I feel blessed to be a part of this family. My ancestors founded churches, were pastors, artists, entertainers, farmers and of course inventors. My paternal great great grandfather, Robert Allen Pinn, was one of 16 African Americans to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1865 for his actions at Fort Harrison in the Battle of Chaffin's Farm in 1864. George Ruth, William Chester's brother, frequently performed at the White House during President Warren G Harding's administration. He conducted a 40-piece orchestra.

I am glad that I was able to be present on such an historical day in my family and proud to share it with you. Double click on my flickr banner to see more photos from this event.

Marvin Stoltzfus
Current property owner