Archiver > OH-FOOTSTEPS > 1999-10 > 0939744211

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Subject: BIO: RUMBAUGH, 1906, Allen Co.
Date: Tue, 12 Oct 1999 12:03:31 EDT

The following sketch was copied from the "Lima Republican-Gazette" of July 3,
1906, page 2 col. 1 - 3.

PIONEER SKETCHES - William King Rumbaugh

"Bill, are you goin' to be all day getting' them sticks for this fire?", said
Father Rumbaugh the night after he and his family arrived in Allen County to
make their permanent residence. Bill was seventeen then, and scurried around
with right good to obey his father's injunction, knowing full well that there
would be something doing if sticks were not forthcoming pretty quickly. He
got the wood and the Rumbaugh family gathered around their first kitchen fire
on their own farm, a property now occupied by the Allen County Infirmary.
This was 1832. In 1828 the senior Rumbaugh and his son, William, came over
the wilds of Allen County to see what might be doing in the way of settling.
They followed a wagon train through the limitless forests, passing bands of
Indians in camp and sleeping to the soothing screech of the wild cat and the
lugubrious lullaby of the owl. On the 20th of June, 1906, "Bill" Rumbaugh,
the subject of this sketch started down town from his home on McPherson Ave.
and before he could get back his knees gave out and he was found a few
minutes later by his daughter, Mrs. S.L. Hulliberger, lying prone across the
sidewalk near their house. In telling about it he laughed. He feels he has
a right to lie down where and when he pleases as he will be 92 years of age
on his next birthday and has been living in this county and city since 1832,
the day his father sent him after sticks for the fire.


When they first saw Lima there was really nothing here to see. The square
about which so much has been written and is said in boast and censure, was
filled with stumps and underbrush. In 1828, when W.K. Rumbaugh and his
father came exploring into the great Northwest Territory in search of a home,
a few log huts fringed the edges of this square, while snakes crawled between
logs and under dead branches which strewed it. At that time the 100 or so
people who claimed this place as their home were doing their best to clear
away the forest debris and were succeeding as fast as possible under the
circumstances. The well paved main street which now leads into the city was
an Indian trail. The cross streets were not there at all. Lima was then a
town in name only, the settlers having merely squatted about in a circle and
dubbed the inside space as a square. Rumbaugh senior, with the zeal which
has characterized the American pioneer in all the history of the nation, soon
cleared a place for his log cabin and became in a short time an integral
feature of Allen County life. There was a store or two in the town proper to
which they came once or twice a week to procure the necessities of life which
they found impossible to raise in their own little clearings. Occasionally a
band of roving Indians, always friends, but awe-inspiring to the younger
generation, would stop at the little cabin to trade a few pelts for food or
other commodities which the encroaching white folks had to barter. William
Rumbaugh soon learned how to handle these red-skinned brethren and was the
chief arbiter of all the commercial transactions between his folks and the


At the age of 19, William Rumbaugh, still called "Bill" by his father,
decided to separate himself from the parent tree and start a vineyard of his
own. There were eleven children in the family and he argued that it was
about time for someone to get out and "hoe his own row." Back in Green
County where he was born and raised lived a pretty young maid - Mary Ashcraft
- whom he had known from childhood. Their childish fancy had ripened into
love and when he reached the age of 19, then much older than it is now, he
decided that Miss Ashcraft must become Mrs. Rumbaugh. Accordingly in the
fall of the year, he journeyed back to the land of his nativity and when he
returned there were two of him. Pursuing the policy of his father, the
following spring, he purchased a section of land adjoining his parents farm
and he he remained almost the remainder of his life, or until the infirmities
of age compelled him to seek shelter in the homes of his children. Forty
years ago the first wife died after bearing her husband eleven children -
five boys and six girls - and in the course of time Mr. Rumbaugh married
again. This time it was a native of Germany, who had been wedded before.
Her name was Mary Rader and this well seasoned couple lived happily together
for 20 years, when the second wife died. The remains of the first wife
repose in what is known as Ward cemetery and the second is buried in Bluelick.


Mr. Rumbaugh might be termed the first infirmary superintendent of Allen
County. Of course, in those ancient days there was no real almshouse, the
elder Rumbaugh still holding the land which afterwards sold for this purpose.
But after his marriage, Mr. Rumbaugh, Jr., was called on to care for one of
the county's poor. It was a case of farming them out. That was the custom
then and Mr. Rumbaugh had one pauper on his hands for more than a year.

When the war of the Rebellion broke out he went to Washington and served with
the 33rd Ohio for several months, afterward returning and resuming his duties
as a farmer. Harvey Rumbaugh, a son, enlisted and served through the war,
father and son thus fighting for the same cause.

In the early days of the Rumbaugh settlement the nearest town of any kind was
Wapakoneta, a purely Indian village and spelled in the good redskin fashion
Waughpaughkaughnaughtaugh. There were no whites there then, says Mr.
Rumbaugh, and the nearest white settlement was Bellefontaine, itself merely a
pale blotch in the wilderness. There were no schools in those early days, no
mills, no factories, no societies - the settlers wringing an existence from
the soil and contenting themselves with this alone. During all these years
Mr. Rumbaugh has resided in Ohio and Allen County, journeying away at various
times but never remaining longer than necessary. Today, at the age of 91, he
is remarkable well-preserved. He talks with freedom, his memory is clear and
the tell-tale wrinkles about his eyes indicate his love of a joke and a good
story. Saloons follow closely on the heels of advancing civilization, he
claims, and it was not long after his arrival in Allen County before there
were grog shops in Lima, but he says he never patronized these places except
occasionally in real hot weather for a glass of beer. Whiskey he tabooed,
and malt he never heard of, yet he is close to the century mark. Just how
much older he might be now had he been a whiskey drinker he is unable to

Mr. Rumbaugh now stays with his daughter at 358 McPherson street, but has
resided with several other children. He recounts with great appearance of
glee the difference between his last attempt to come down town on a show day
and the first time, perhaps seventy years ago. As near as his recollection
will recall it was an animal show of some kind in a tent, which he and his
young wife came to Lima to witness, though even then he had been living in
Allen County a number of years. But he was not afraid of being knocked down
by the crowds as he was a week ago last Wednesday when Ringling Bros. show
was here. Rather he was alarmed least he knock someone else down. But this
year he was a trifle weak. While he eats like a harvest hand and can talk
like a reconteur, he is showing his age, and says he does not expect to do
much walking in the future. At 91 he feels he has earned the right to rest,
after the hard and turbulent life as a pioneer he has lived, and views with
the greatest complacency the approaching end which he realizes can not be far


William Rumbaugh, the father of twelve children, still reckons eight as his
progeny, all of whom show a great interest in the welfare of the
nonogenarian. The living children are as follows: Harvey Rumbaugh of
Harrod; Mrs. Louisa May, living five miles west of Elida on the Auglaize
River; Mrs. Eliza Stevicks living near Allentown; Mrs. Virginia May of
Kansas; Mrs. Lorraine Hulliberger of Lima; Mrs. Elizabeth Thomas of Lima;
Milo Rumbaugh of Allen County; and George Rumbaugh of St. Marys, Ohio.

Samuel A. Rumbaugh born in Green County and died in 1884 was a cousin of
William K., as was also Benjamin Rumbaugh, born 1825, both mentioned in the
History of Allen County published in 1885. (These sketches state the
Rumbaughs came to Ohio from Virginia).

Submitted by
Joyce Godfrey
Oct. 13, 1999

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