Item 27794 - The Honorable John Ruggles, Thomaston, 1859

Item 27794 - The Honorable John Ruggles, Thomaston, 1859
Contributed by Thomaston Historical Society
Item 27794
The Honorable John Ruggles, Thomaston, 1859
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John Ruggles was born in 1789 in Westboro, Massachusetts. He came to Thomaston in 1818, where he established a law office at the “Crick.” He married Margaret George from Watertown, MA, and they had four children: Adelaide C., b. June 22, 1825; Maria, b. Feb. 8, 1827; John 2nd, b. Jan. 30, 1828; and Margaret G., b. Mar. 10, 1831. He designed and built a stately federal-style home on East Main Street for his family in 1827 not far from Crick Village, Thomaston's town center up until the 1820s.

The house is impressive in size and refinement of detail not only on the exterior but throughout the interior as well. Four large rooms on each floor flank a central hall, and an ell extends from the back of the house. The entry, decorated with pilasters and keystoned arches, features a window surround with unusual glass pattern. The interior doorways have graceful proportions and are surrounded with elegant moldings. Some of the mantels are of the coveted Thomaston marble, exports of which generated an annual revenue of some $20-$30,000 during this period.

He was Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1825-29 and again in 1831-32. He served as a United States Senator from 1834 - 1840. He initiated legislation in 1836 that created the Patent Office and held the first patent, thus earning him the moniker of “Father of the U.S. Patent Office.” U.S. Patent Number One is his invention for a traction wheel used in locomotive steam engines. He was also judge of the Maine Supreme Court and was long one of Thomaston’s most prominent citizens.

Following his defeat for reelection, he returned to Thomaston, where he resumed his law career, made several other inventions, and was widely known as a writer and a powerful orator.

He died in Thomaston, Maine, on June 20, 1874 and is buried in Elm Grove Cemetery, not far from his home.

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