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William Leonard Ruff

Biography courteously provided by Joyce Riedinger, Delaware County Coordinator.

WILLIAM LEONARD RUFF, a well known farmer and the leading cattle breeder in Bovina, Delaware County, was born in the adjoining town of Roxbury on February 21, 1855. His father, John Gottlieb Ruff, was born in Germany, and married Rosa Leonard before emigrating to America in 1853. He belonged to an old and rich family, had been trained a farmer, and was far from penniless when he crossed the seas. For a year the new comers stayed in New York City, and then went to Greene County, where they hired a farm in Prattsville. Not feeling satisfied there, they left the place before the birth of their second child, William L., and settled in Roxbury, where they purchased two hundred acres, whereon they remained till recently, when they moved into the village, in retirement from hard work, and where they are now in the enjoyment of comfort and good health, and of religion, also, as members of the United Presbyterian church. Mr. Ruff is especially active in religious matters, and is a Republican in politics. There were born into the homestead seven children, all now living and thriving. John Ruff, the eldest, born in 1853, is a farmer in Andes. Next comes William L. Ruff, of Bovina. The eldest daughter, Kate, born in 1858, is now the wife of Lewis Van Aken, a Roxbury farmer. Carrie Ruff, born in 1868, married Albert Craft, of Roxbury. George Howard and Edward Ruff, born in 1863 and 1867, live in the same county, the former in Stamford and the latter in Middletown. Henry Ruff, born in 1871, remains on the parental estate, and is largely engaged in land speculation.

William L. Ruff grew to manhood in the usual way of a farmer's son, working on the land and attending the district school. In 1872, at the age of seventeen, he started for himself, and for nine years worked on other farms for about fifteen dollars a month. By this time he was twenty-six; and, being very economical in disposition, he had accumulated a goodly sum of money. He therefore felt justified, on March 10, 1881, in marrying Anna Melissa White, daughter of John White, an early settler in Kortright where he still lives, a representative farmer, an earnest Democrat, and in sympathy with the religious opinions of his wife, who belongs to the Methodist society in Hobart.

After his marriage William L. Ruff bought the Rutherford farm, of three hundred acres, in Bovina, where he has continued to live and work hard ever since. Of course, he has to engage more or less in general agriculture, but gives his special attention to his dairy and to cattle breeding, keeping seventy-one cows, including the young stock. His milch cows yield each two hundred and eighty-five pounds of butter yearly for market, and the average has sometimes reached three hundred pounds a head. He is justly proud of his high breed of cattle, registered, full blooded Jerseys. If you wish to see it, he will show you a neatly printed chart, giving the pedigree of the head of the herd, Ida Meridale's Angelo, No. 28,013, dropped March 23, 1891, and described as having a solid color, black tongue and switch. This superb creature he bought of the Meridale farm at Meredith, Ayer & McKinney proprietors, for a hundred and twenty-five dollars, when the beast was only three months old. His majesty can be traced back four generations, through Ida of St. Lambert's bull, 19,169, and Angela Grand, 32,607. Among his progenitors were the famous imported Stoke Pogis, 1,259, and Michael Angelo, 10,116, the latter sold to Miller & Sibley for twelve thousand five hundred dollars each, when only a calf six months old. The cattle raised on Mr. Ruff's farm are sold into Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and especially into Wayne and the adjacent counties, the calves always commanding two hundred dollars apiece, and sometimes twice that sum. For ten calves, now grown into cows, he refused two thousand dollars. All this successful work has not been carried on in the old buildings which were on the place when Mr. Ruff bought it of W. L. Rutherford. There is a new barn, measuring eighty by fifty-six feet. The other structures have all been remodeled, and thoroughly piped with water. There is stabling for some eighty cattle. and the Buckley water device is used in the dairy process. The Ruff farm is anything but a rough farm, being under fertile cultivation. The proprietor gives himself strictly to business, and keeps two or three men constantly employed over his stock.

Two children have blessed the family board - Minnie Bell and Lula May, born respectively in 1883 and 1886, and both gracing the home with the promise of fair womanhood. Mrs. Ruff is a member of the Methodist society in Bovina Centre; but her husband belongs to the United Presbyterian church in New Kingston, both following the parental lead. He is a Republican, but is best known as the leading cattle breeder of the vicinity. Though barely forty years of age, Mr. Ruff is a hustler; yet he has won his way by strict integrity. The home is provided with every modern attachment for health and comfort.

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