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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
John N. Ruff

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 206-207 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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John N. Ruff, vice president of the Liberty Dressing Company, Incorporated, of Gloversville, New York, was born at Bleecker, Fulton county, February 11, 1873, of German parentage. His father and mother were George F. and Phillipine (Rice) Ruff, who came to the United States in 1865 and spent a year in New York city. George Ruff was a lumberman in his native land and before long he moved up state to Bleecker, where he engaged in his old occupation for seven or eight years. From Bleecker he moved to Caroga, where he did teaming for a large Arietta tannery and thence to Gloversville. Eventually he engaged in farming about three miles out of this city, which he continued until about three years prior to his death in December, 1922, in his eighty-fifth year. Mr. Ruff's mother died in 1893, when she was about fifty. John Ruff was reared and educated in Wheelerville, Fulton county. Until he was twenty-three years of age he worked for his father, after which he started out to learn his trade of wool pulling and pickling. He worked for Robinson Brothers for seventeen years, during which he became an expert in that part of the leather industry known technically as beam house work.

In 1918 Mr. Ruff became associated with Frank A. Patten and Arthur K. Hamm in establishing the Liberty Dressing Company of No. 17-29 Burr street, Gloversville, manufacturers of fine glove leathers. Mr. Patten is president, treasurer and manager of the firm; Mr. Ruff is vice president; and Mr. Hamm is secretary. All three men are persons of long experience in the leather and glove industry, each being considered an expert in his particular line. Mr. Hamm, who came from England as a young man, has been in the business for forty years and is regarded as an authority on leather tanning and coloring. Mr. Patten is a practical glove man, with years of experience in his father's glove-finishing shop back of him. At first the company did only custom work in finishing leather, but soon they entered into leather manufacturing and the tanning of the skins they used. Ninety-five per cent of their output is sold to local glove manufacturers, whose fine products have made Gloversville famous. The company specializes in Spanish leather bearing the trade name, "Lidresco Spanish". About forty-five people are employed when the plant is running at full capacity and it ranks second in size in the city. Mr. Ruff's part in building up this concern is all that would be expected from one so peculiarly fitted to help build up a leather business by the character of his previous training and experience.

Mr. Ruff married Miss Anna H. Fischer, on October 28, 1896, and to them were born three children: John F., aged nineteen, who is associated with his father in the factory, learning the trade of a tanner and colorer; Anna Alice, aged sixteen, a schoolgirl; and Edith, thirteen, who is likewise in school. This family circle was first broken by the hand of death when the mother passed away on February 13, 1924, following a brief illness from heart trouble.

Mr. Ruff's political affiliations are with the republican party, but he has never cared to take an active part in its campaigns. His religious faith is indicated by his membership in the Lutheran church. Out-door life has always held great attractions for him and he finds no more enjoyable or beneficial way of spending his recreation period than in hunting and fishing. Success has come to this manufacturer solely as the result of his own persistent efforts and to him is due all the credit for the advancement he has made in life. He is a man of many sterling qualities, not the least of which is the capacity for long sustained effort along a single line of endeavor, which has played so important a part in shaping his career.

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