Rugg, George H.

Born: 1823-08-XX Lancaster, Massachusetts

Died: 1897-12-05 Ottawa, Illinois

George H. Rugg was a machinist, inventor, reaper and furniture manufacturer, Republican, and Presbyterian. He settled in Illinois with his parents in 1838, not far from Ottawa. He learned carpentry and mechanics from his father, and, in 1844, invented a new kind of reaper. With an investor’s help, Rugg opened a small factory in Ottawa and began manufacturing his invention. In December 1846, he married Mary Louise Ebersol, with whom he had at least five children. In 1850, he owned $2,000 in real property. Although he failed to secure a patent on his reaper, his business grew more successful with time. By 1855, he employed over one hundred men in his reaper factory. After the Panic of 1857 and disputes with other reaper makers, however, his reaper business failed and he pivoted to furniture manufacturing. By 1860, he was still prosperous, owning $50,000 in real property and another $75,000 in personal property.

Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, La Salle County, 31 December 1846, Illinois State Archives, Springfield, IL; U.S. Census Office, Seventh Census of the United States (1850), Ottawa, La Salle County, IL, 204; U.S. Census Office, Eighth Census of the United States (1860), Ottawa, La Salle County, IL, 555; The Past and Present of La Salle County, Illinois (Chicago: H. F. Kett, 1877), 380; Ottawa Daily Journal (IL), 6 December 1897, 3:2; Ottawa Republican-Times (IL), 9 December 1897, 3:2.