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August Ruihley Papers (Archbold, Ohio) - MS 494

Introduction | Biographical Sketch | Scope and Content | Series Description | Inventory


The August Ruihley papers were donated to the Center for Archival Collections in June 1987 by his grandson Dr. Glenn Ruihley, Professor of English at Eastern Michigan University), with additional donations in July 2005 by Joan Ruihley Goslow and in August 2009 by Glenn and Wayne Ruihley.

Included with the papers were two copies of August Ruihley: A Private History (1984) by Glenn Ruihley and a scrapbook made by Anna Ruihley, August Ruihley's wife. The collection consists of personal and business correspondence to and from Ruihley, newspaper clippings about Ruihley and the park in Archbold that was named after him, greeting cards, certificates, and photographs from 1876-1979.

No restrictions exist on the use of this collection and duplication is permitted for research purposes. This finding aid was prepared by James Kaser, doctoral student in American Culture, in October 1988, with revisions in 2009 by Marilyn Levinson, Curator of Manuscripts.

 Biographical Sketch

Little is known of August Ruihley's early life. His father, Clemens Ruihley, a farmer, came to the United States in 1854 from the Canton of Schaffhausen, Switzerland, at the age of twenty-four. Ruihley was born on a farm near Archbold, Ohio on August 3, 1869. The first stage of his formal education ended when he reached the age of thirteen in 1882, which made him too old for the local country school. No public high school existed in the area, but his connection to education did not end. He became a schoolmaster himself and taught for two years before attending Fayette Normal, Music, and Business College (Fayette, Ohio). He was enrolled at Fayette between 1885 and 1887 when he completed the course of studies called the English Normal curriculum which was designed to prepare teachers.

Ruihley began teaching in the Leninger (Ohio) School District, the autumn after ending his studies. During the following year he began reading law in the offices of John W. Rosenborough, a lawyer in Burlington, Ohio. On August 25, 1890 he married Anna Frey, the twenty-three year old daughter of Conrad Frey, an Archbold farmer.

This period was interrupted by a serious illness which would affect the rest of Ruihley's life. Sometime during the autumn of 1892 he contracted a case of either pneumonia or typhoid fever that brought him near death. His doctor decided he had to be moved to take advantage of the medical resources of the Indianapolis Clinic. Although Ruihley survived the disease, the muscles of his neck froze in the position in which he had been propped during the course of his illness. Over the next several years, rheumatoid arthritis set into the same area, resulting in a spine that curved forward, starting just above the waist. This affected his lungs, heart, intestines, and stomach and meant that, as his grandson Glenn Ruihley has written, "August spent the rest of his life in a struggle against progressive physical breakdown."

In spite of his ill health, Ruihley led an industrious life, supporting his family and assisting two sons and a daughter through college. Paula (Ruihley) Urrutia graduated from Western College at Oxford, Ohio, and went on to teach foreign languages in Chicago. She married in 1925 and moved to South America where, according to Glenn Ruihley, she "lived elegantly in distinguished social circles." Alonzo did undergraduate work at Miami University, attended law school at the University of Michigan, and received the doctor of jurisprudence degree with highest honors from that institution. He went on to become secretary and treasurer of the Trucson Steel Company in Youngstown, Ohio. Elliot, valedictorian of his high school class, also attended the University of Michigan where he studied architecture and engineering. He became president of a successful architectural firm in Toledo.

The work through which Ruihley supported his family was of necessity various, because of the limited range of opportunities for work other than manual labor offered by Archbold (which, even as late as 1922 had a population of only 1,100). Starting in 1892, he began working as a notary public in real estate, insurance, and legal work. He served as township, and then village clerk, and for thirty-two years, staring in 1894, he served as justice of the peace. Although ill-health had prevented him from taking the bar exam, he functioned as Archbold's only lawyer. His conscientious labor in all these fields earned him the respect of his fellow citizens, who referred to him as Squire Ruihley. They elected him to seven consecutive terms as mayor of Archbold. He served from January 1916 until his death on June 19, 1928.

During his years in office, Ruihley reviewed and reformulated all the village ordinances to ensure their internal consistency and compliance with the Ohio legal code, dealt with a severe financial crisis through sound knowledge of options available under the law and wise fiscal management, and, for the first time in the history of the village, made certain that all official acts of the council and mayor were recorded and published. The act for which he is best known, however, and the one which became, through the actions of the townspeople of Archbold, a living memorial to him, was the founding of a thirteen and one-half acre park within the town limits. An avid gardener, Ruihley lobbied for the park out of concern that young people have playing fields and a swimming pool available and that the community have a place for public celebrations and a picnicking ground. He was able to reduce its cost considerably by locating donors of plant material and motivating volunteer labor. During his final illness, the townspeople expressed their appreciation by naming the park for him.

 Scope and Content

The August Ruihley Papers, 1876-1979, mainly document the personal history of Ruihley and the history of the park in Archbold, Ohio that bears his name. The material includes incoming and outgoing personal correspondence, newspaper clippings, financial documents, legal documents, and photographs.

Personal correspondence includes that carried on between Ruihley and his wife during the time of the illness that left him disabled, and that between him and his sons and their wives. The letters from Elliot and and his wife Beatrice describe their first years as a married couple, focusing on matters related to the furnishing of their apartments and the birth of their first child. They also include expressions of gratitude for items received from August and Anna Ruihley, and plans to visit them. Several undated notes between August and Paula include arrangements for a trip to the western United States on which Ruihley sent Paula. A letter by Ruihley tells about his trip to the newly-opened Toledo Art Museum and his visit (on the same trip) to an automobile show (January 12, 1912). Also includes two copies of Paula and Humberto Urrutia's wedding announcement, October 15, 1925.

The collection contains a minimal amount of business and other correspondence. Some letters deal with the Yoder-Lehman farm, the mortgage on which he was forced to take over. In the letters, he advises his tenant on the making of fences and planting of crops, and announces his ownership and desire to sell the farm to a variety of business acquaintances. The one incoming letter is a demand from the bank holding the mortgage. One folder of material deals specifically with August’s illness and death, with a letter by Dr. James A. Dickinson, MD (Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The Cleveland Clinic) giving a complete medical description of Ruihley dated August 29, 1927 and written to the Medical Director of Trucson Steel (the company of which Alonzo Ruihley was secretary/treasurer). A letter by Ruihley to Paula Ruihley Urrutia dated February 3, 1928 commenting on Mexico, and an undated letter by Anna Frey Ruihley was written from Battle Creek Sanatorium shortly before Ruihley's death. This folder also includes eulogies, testimonials, newspaper obituaries, letters of sympathy, and funeral cards

The various printed items, newspaper clippings and scrapbook material document Ruihley's activities as mayor, his accomplishments in that office and particularly, the development of Ruihley Park. One thing to note is that the memorial card for his father, Clemens Ruihley, located with miscellaneous printed material, lists his death date as Jan 30, 1881, when the year should be 1889 according to tombstone information from St. James Lutheran Cemetery, German Township, Fulton, County, Ohio.

 Series Description


Sept 18, 1885
Letter from August while he was a student at Fayette Normal College to his father

December 1892-March 1893
Arranged chronologically
Letters from Ruihley to his wife Anna and from her to him while he was at the Indianapolis Clinic recovering from the illness that left him disabled.

Sept 20, 1913- Oct 15, 1925, n.d.
Arranged by individual and chronologically
Letters written by Ruihley to his children Elliot, Alonzo, and Paula, and letters from them home, with some letters from Elliot Ruihley and his wife Beatrice to Ruihley, and letters from Paula to Alonzo. Some letters from Alonzo to August written in German. Move to scope & content

June 5, 1905-June 28, 1927, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes postcards from friends traveling in the United States and abroad and a birthday card from his brother, John, dated August 15, 1922, informing August of the sale of John's farm; also postcards written by Ruihley on a trip to Washington, DC with his wife, son Alonzo and daughter-in-law in August 1924,

May 5, 1924-April 3, 1928, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes incoming personal and business correspondence related to Ruihley's retirement from selling insurance for two companies, obtaining plants for Ruihley Park.

December 22, 1916-Dec 8, 1920
Arranged chronologically
Includes outgoing and incoming letters related to the Yoder-Lehman farm. Also a letter dated December 8, 1920 to the Hon. Hugh L. Nichols, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court requesting permission to take the bar exam

August 29, 1927-June 1928, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes a letter giving a complete medical description of Ruihley’s condition, a letter by Anna Frey Ruihley written from Battle Creek Sanatorium shortly before Ruihley's death, and various eulogies, testimonials, newspaper obituaries, letters of sympathy, and funeral cards.


January 1922-November 12, 1980, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Primarily articles written for the Archbold Examiner that discuss plans for and development of the park. Later articles deal with the history of the park.

November 14, 1945-September 26, 1979, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes newspaper articles on places and people of importance to Ruihley, particularly Archbold and its mayors, Fayette Normal School, and O. W. Taylor.


1916-1944, n.d.
Arranged chronologically
Includes texts of speeches, proclamations, resolutions, ordinances, and newspaper clippings relating primarily to campaigns and elections

January 1949
A card announcing the funeral and several photocopied obituaries.

Thirteen undated Christmas cards.

Jan 30, 1889-April 7, 1902, 1918
Arranged chronologically
Includes a death announcement of Clemens Ruihley, August's teaching certificate, Certificate of Election, Sunday School temperance pledge card of Elliot Ruihley, visiting cards and other mementos belonging to Anna Frey Ruihley, and The Crease (a Law school student newspaper at the at University of Michigan, of which Alonzo Ruihley was one of the editors).

An exam book from Elliot Ruihley's college career.

One copy of Archbold High School Bitter Sweet (yearbook) for 1912. Elliot and Alonzo Ruihley were on the staff.

1895-1927, n.d.
Various school texts, notebooks, and family books used by members of the Ruihley family in topics of art history, literature, and architecture (including a study book of pencil drawings of architectural sites from Elliot). Items identified as belonging to Paula, Alonzo, and Elliot. Some handwritten notes providing background information on specific volumes are included


circa 1895
Small book on model houses belonging to Alonzo with some local photos pasted in or laid-in of unidentified scenes, probably around Archbold, including devastation of unidentified fire

circa 1885-1927, n.d.
Individual and group photographs, locations, and school groups, both dated and undated, of family members and others.

Copy negatives of the Ruihley family home, and one of Anna Ruihley (labeled “Grandma”)


Box 1


  1. Correspondence, August to father Clemens Sept 18, 1885
  2. Correspondence, Anna and August Ruihley December 1892-March 1893
  3. Correspondence, August/Anna Ruihley to sons October 1, 1912-June 4, 1928, n.d.
  4. Correspondence, August to Paula Ruihley Urrutia January 12, 1912-Oct 15, 1925, n.d.
  5. Correspondence, Alonzo Ruihley to August Sept 20, 1913-Aug 16, 1922, n.d.
  6. Correspondence, Elliot Ruihley to August [1919], Jan 13, 1921-Mar 25, 1922, n.d.
  7. Correspondence, Paula Ruihley Urrutia to Alonzo Mar 18-May 13, 1913, n.d.
  8. Correspondence, Postcards June 5, 1905-June 28, 1927, n.d.
  9. Correspondence, Miscellaneous General May 5, 1924-April 3, 1928, n.d.
  10. Correspondence, Business December 22, 1916-Dec 8, 1920
  11. Correspondence, related to Ruihley's death August 29, 1927-June 1928, n.d.
  12. Scrapbook Material, related to Ruihley Park January 1922-November 1980, n.d.
  13. Scrapbook Material, people and places connected with Ruihley/Archbold, Nov 14, 1945-Sept 26, 1979, n.d.
  14. Printed Material, related to Ruihley as Mayor 1916-1944, n.d.
  15. Printed Material, related to Anna Ruihley's death January 1949
  16. Printed Material--Christmas greetings n.d.
  17. Printed Material, miscellaneous Jan 30, 1881-April 7, 1902, n.d.
  18. Printed Material, Elliot Ruihley exam book n.d.
  19. Printed Material, Archbold High School yearbook Bitter Sweet, 1912

Box 2


  1. Book, Reinach, S. Apollo, an illustrated history of art through the ages, 1910
  2. Book, Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. Poems n.d.
  3. Book, Ruihley, Elliot. Architectural sketches n.d.
  4. Book, Hugo, Victor. Selections from the poetical works, n.d.
  5. Book, Wright, Richardson, ed. House and Gardens book of houses, 1920

Box 3


  1. Book, Hubbell, Lucy Embury, ed. Book of Little houses, 1927
  2. Photo album, Unidentified photos pasted in book circa 1895
  3. Photographs, August Ruihley photos and places circa 1889-1927, n.d.
  4. Photographs, Clemens Ruihley n.d.
  5. Photographs, Other Ruihley family members n.d.
  6. Photographs, School and class photos n.d.
  7. Photonegatives n.d.

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