RICHARD B. RUTH, publisher and proprietor of the Petersburg Observer and also owner of two other papers, making three out of the five papers published in Menard county, has throughout his entire business career been connected with journalistic interests, working his way upward by consecutive stages from the humblest position in the office to that of editor and owner. Born in Mason City, Mason county, Illinois, August 12, 1867, he is a son of Frank B. Ruth, who was born in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, November 2, 1831, of Pennsylvania-German parentage, and married Margaret R. Bell, a daughter of James C. and Ellen Bell. Mrs. Ruth, now living at Aurora, Illinois, was born October 4, 1843, at Bell's Mills, Ohio - a small town named in honor of the brothers, Peter, Dawson, James and Joseph Bell, who in the early days of Ohio were the leading business men of that little business center. The name of the place has since been changed to Beach City.
At the usual age Richard B. Ruth began his education in the schools of Mason City, where he continued his studies until sixteen years of age and then put aside his text-books in order to learn the printer's trade and assist in the support of his widowed mother, one brother and five sisters. He entered the office of the Mason City Independent as apprentice, in August, 1883, and worked at his trade for three years there. In the spring of 1888 he entered upon his first independent newspaper venture, becoming the publisher of the Mason County Record, the only Republican newspaper in the eastern part of Mason county. This he continued until August, 1890, when it was consolidated with the Mason City Independent, under the firm name of Ruth & Roach. Thus seven years after entering the newspaper field Mr. Ruth became one of the proprietors of the paper on which he had served his apprenticeship. He continued this connection for twenty months, when he sold out to his partner, S. B. Roach, and in April, 1892, he purchased the Mason City Banner, continuing its publication until November 1, 1902, when he sold the paper and plant to Warren Milley, its present owner.
Removing to Petersburg, November 15, 1902, he took possession of the Petersburg Observer, the only Republican paper in Menard county, and has since been identified with journalism in this county as its editor and proprietor. He has since extended the field of his labors by becoming the owner of the Athens Free-Press and the Tallula Record, three of the five Menard county papers, and through the columns of these journals he has contributed in substantial measure to many measures and movements of benefit to the general public, using his influence to further every good cause. His offices are well equipped and he keeps abreast with modern progress in the newspaper field.
On the 2nd of October, 1886, at Peoria, Mr. Ruth was married to Miss Julia Ann Woll, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Woll, of San Jose, Illinois. They have two sons, Harrison Harreld Ruth, born June 19, 1888 - the week in which Benjamin Harrison received the nomination for president from the Republican national convention, hence his first name. It was in the same week that the father brought out the first issue of his first newspaper and hence the name Herreld was also given to the little son. The second son, Thomas M. Ruth, was born November 2, 1899. The parents are members of the First Presbyterian church of Petersburg and Mr. Ruth belongs to Wilfred lodge, No. 213, K. P., of Mason City, which he joined in November, 1892. He has always supported the Republican party and has as a private citizen exerted a strong influence in its behalf in central Illinois. In 1904 he was appointed by Governor Richard Yates press representative of the Illinois commission of the Louisiana Purchase Exposition in St. Louis. Strong and commendable purpose and unfaltering diligence, as shown through the analyzation of his character and life work, have been the salient features in the success he has achieved. Without advantageous circumstances or inheritance to assist him, he has steadily advanced in those walks of life demanding intellectuality, business ability and fidelity, and today commands the respect and esteem not only of his immediate community, but of all who know him throughout the state.