Buena Vista County, IA
IAGenWeb Project

Extracted from:  Wegerslev, C. H. and Thomas Walpole. 
 Past and Present of Buena Vista County, Iowa
Chicago:  S. J. Clarke Publishing Co., 1909, p. 376-78.

Transcribed by Paul Nagy

Biography of  William Douglas Rust

William Douglass Rust is a well known real-estate dealer of Newell, also interested in general mercantile business, and a life of intense and well directed activity is bringing to him a gratifying success.  One of Illinois' native sons he was born in Bloomington, May 29, 1859.  His paternal grandfather, William Rust was a native of Tennessee and became a pioneer of McLean county, Illinois, where he followed the occupation of farming.  He also worked at the shoemaker’s trade, making shoes for his children and his neighbors in addition to his labors in the fields, having a shoe shop on his farm.  That was before Bloomington had an existence.  He married Nancy McKee, who was of Scotch descent, while he was of English lineage, being descended from one of four children who came from England during the early colonization of the new world and settled in Pennsylvania.  William Rust served his country as a soldier in the war of 1812 and died at the venerable age of eighty-three years.


His son, John F. Rust, was born in Tennessee and was reared as a farmer boy in McLean county, Illinois, devoting his entire life to the tilling of the soil.  As the years passed he prospered in his undertakings, adding to his possessions until at one time he owned about seven hundred acres of land, and to all of his children he gave a good farm.  While he enjoyed prosperity in his later life, however, his early years were a period of earnest toil, in which he was deprived of many of the opportunities and advantages enjoyed by others.  So limited were his financial resources in youth and early manhood that he mauled rails in order to earn money with which to buy the cloth to make his wedding suit and his bride wove the cloth.  After his marriage he built a small log cabin and therein the young couple began their domestic life, their furniture being made of slabs cut from logs, while wooden pins, placed through holes bored in the slabs, held together the various pieces that constitute an article of furniture.  His wife baked their bread on a board and they lived in true pioneer style, sharing in all of the hardships and privations of those early days.  John F. Rust was married to Miss Elizabeth Jane Lindlay, a native of Kentucky and a daughter of William Lindlay, who was likewise born in that state.  Removing to Illinois, he cast in his lot with the pioneer settlers of McLean county, where he followed the occupation of farming.  Both he and his wife reached an advanced age and in McLean county [where] they reared their family.  The death of John F. Rust occurred in 1894 at the age of eighty years.  His widow still survives him at the age of eighty-eight years.  For twenty-two years she was an invalid, her ill health being caused by the fact that she twice broke her hip, but she is now enjoying quite good health.  This worthy couple became the parents of eleven children, seven sons and four daughters, of whom eight are now living:  George W., a resident of Aurora, Illinois; Andrew J., deceased; Thomas Jefferson and John Lee, who are living in Bloomington, Illinois; Elizabeth J., the wife of Martin L. Bishop, of Carrollton, Missouri; Ruth Alice, the wife of John Kelley, who resides near Bloomington, Illinois; William Harvey, who died in infancy; William Douglas; Maggie, who died at the age of six years; Minnie, the wife of John Fitzpatrick, of Bloomington, Illinois ; and Benjamin Franklin,


William D. Rust was reared on his father's farm in McLean county, Illinois, where he attended the district schools, the "little temple of learning" being a log structure.  The methods of instruction, too, were quite primitive as compared with the methods of teaching at the present day.  He worked in the fields when not busy with his text-books and continued at home until he had attained his majority.  He then began renting land and thus continued to cultivate the soil for two or three years after his marriage.  In 1883 he came to Iowa and bought eighty acres of land in Greene county, his father assisting him in paying for the property.  His wife's health failed there, however, and he therefore sold the farm and removed to Rippey, Iowa, where he engaged in general merchandising for several years.  He afterward took up his abode in Webster City, Iowa, where he lived for seven years, during which time he was also connected with merchandising.


He next traded his stock for a farm of five hundred and sixty acres in Buena Vista county about four miles northeast of Newell in Newell township, paying twenty-seven dollars and a half an acre for this property, which he sold a few years later for sixty dollars an acre.  He now owns a farm of two hundred and forty acres east of the town and another of eighty acres west of the town, both finely improved properties.  He likewise has a good home in Newell and other property elsewhere, together with two hundred and sixty acres of land in Missouri.  His success has come as the direct result of his perseverance and unremitted diligence.  He has been a large breeder of short-horned cattle and still has both farms stocked with registered shorthorns.  He has done much toward improving the grade of fine cattle raised in the county and his labors have been attended with a measure of success, which shows his thorough familiarity with the business and that he has followed the best methods in accomplishing results.  On the 1st of March, 1908, he removed to Newell, where he is now conducting a real-estate and loan office.


On the 24th of March, 1881, Mr. Rust was married to Miss Martha J. Hartson, a daughter of David and Elizabeth (Noble) Hartson.  Mrs. Rust was born in McLean county, Illinois, her parents also being natives of that state.  The mother died when Mrs. Rust was only a little girl, but the father still survives and now makes his home in Bloomington.  They had a family of five children: Martha Jane; William, who is located in Bloomington; Annie, the wife of Joseph Clark, of Danville, Illinois; Thomas J., whose home is in Georgia; and Sallie, who died unmarried.  Unto Mr. and Mrs. Rust have been born two sons and two daughters:  Emery Andrew, who married Susie Howe and is a practicing physician, of Webb, Iowa; Stella, who died in infancy; Ethel C, the wife of Clarence Mason, a resident of Anthon, Iowa, by whom she has one son.  Keith Douglass; and William David, who is operating his father's farm west of Newell.  He married Ruby Conklin.  Mrs. Rust and her children are members of the Congregational church, while Mr. Rust belongs to the Christian church.  He also affiliates with Newell Lodge, No. 232, I. O. O. F., in which he has filled all of the chairs and has been a member of the Modern Woodmen of America for fourteen years.  His political support is given to the democracy and he has held the office of township assessor for four years.  In community affairs he is deeply interested and gives loyal and earnest support to every movement for the public good.  His life has been one of well directed thrift and industry, and he has long been accounted one of the most successful and prominent raisers of thoroughbred cattle in this part of the state.  His business affairs have all been carefully conducted and his good management is indicated in the excellent success which has attended his labors.