Among the most interesting of residents in Santa Clara County, particularly on account of his enviable record for valuable services rendered his country in military defense of the nation, may well be numbered Charles W. Rust, the retired Civil War veteran living at 128 South Twentieth Street, San Jose. He was born on September 7, 1842, in Jennings County, Ind., where he resided until 1846, the son of Henry Rust, who had married Miss Mary McFarlan. When four years old, he accompanied his parents to Platte County, Mo., and there, on a half-section of land, his father cut away the timber, cleared a small field, and literally hewed out a home. Owing to the wilderness, however, he decided to return to Indiana with his family until the country should become more settled; but he soon tired of the peaceful Hoosier state, and returned again to Western Missouri. This was in 1848, and he again landed in the wilds with a family of five and seventy-five cents in his pocket. This time, he went to work on a tobacco press; but the labor was distasteful on account of the nauseating fumes of tobacco, and because he was made a slave-driver; and in 1849 he was glad to regain possession of his old farm in Platte County, to which he moved and where he toiled until 1855.

The year previous, Kansas had become a territory, and Henry Rust determined to try his fortune there; so he became one of the first pioneers of the new El Dorado in Atchison County, crossed the Missouri River at Atchison, proceeded southwest some six miles, and found an ideal spot for a home. He laid a pre-emption claim to a quarter-section of land, and erected a log house, into which, in the spring of 1855, he moved his family, using a flat boat to cross the river. There were no signs of civilization there at that time, although one could see for miles over the prairie. His tract included a fine grove of eighty acres of timber land, a good spring of water, and eleven acres of sod land, where he himself had planted corn. Flour was seven dollars per sack of ninety-six pounds, and hard to get.

As a mere boy, Charles assisted his father, and when their springs were frozen over, he helped care for the cattle, cutting holes in the ice on the Missouri River, when the ice was from 18 to 24 inches thick, and at fifteen, he had become a first-class oxen driver. He had never attended school, however, and he scarcely knew one letter from another, for there were then no schools in that territory. After a while he returned to Indiana with a friend of his grandfather, and they stopped at Weston, Mo., en route, where they took the New Lucy, a southern steamer, to St. Louis. He had then never seen a house larger than a story and a half, or a railroad train; and he found St. Louis a wonderful city, and also the old Planters Hotel, where he and his friend Spencer stayed that night, a wonderful affair. He had never seen an orange, and in St. Louis he purchased his first citrus fruit. At St. Louis he and his friend boarded an omnibus and crossed the Mississippi River on a ferryboat.

He also boarded the first railroad train he had seen and traveled to Terre Haute, Ind., and at Terre Haute they stopped to see friends of Mr. Spencer, and the next day resumed their journey to Vernon, at the end of the railway line. Grandfather Rust, a native of Ohio. had come to Indiana in 1838, when the state was only sparsely settled; and as there were seven stalwart sons, he had plenty of help in clearing his land and building a good home. He also had both a saw and a grist mill; and Henry, the eldest, was chosen miller, and worked where, thirteen years later, our subject found the mill still being operated. In the spring of 1858, however, this old mill was destroyed by flood of the Muscatatuck River.

Charles. when fifteen, attended his first school, at his grandfather's, a private undertaking supported by the patrons, and there he selected only a speller. When informed that he must also have a reader, arithmetic and copy-book, he argued that they were not necessary until he had learned to spell. In four months, however, he had advanced to the third reader, and by 1859 he was able to send the first letter written by himself home to his parents. In 1858, he also walked through deep snow to attend a night school. In the late spring of 1859, he returned to his Kansas home after having received all the education considered necessary for a young pioneer of the unsettled West. He traveled from North Vernon on the Ohio and Mississippi Railroad, to St. Louis, then went by rail to Jefferson City, and then by boat up the Missouri to Atchison, where a surprise or two awaited him. His father had replaced the log house with a frame building of a story and a half, and had also put horses and mules in place of the oxen. Neighbors also had surrounded his' father's quarter-section.

After the very dry year, 1860, when farmers left Kansas on account of the drought, the winter of 1860-61 left the soil in fine shape for spring planting, and Charles helped to put in the crops and make hay. The disturbed political affairs of the day also absorbed him, and in May, 1861, he assisted in organizing a company of young men under Colonel May, fifty in number, for home-guard duty. In September, 1861, when the Governor of Kansas had authorized the formation of the Seventh and Eighth regiments of Kansas volunteers, he enlisted, and on September 19 he and his comrades assembled at Atchison and marched to Fort Leavenworth, where they were mustered into the U. S. service, being in Company C. Eighth Kansas Infantry, serving under Captain J. M. Graham, and on October 1 they set out to march to Fort Riley, 125 miles distant.

On February 3, 1863, he proceeded to Nashville. reached Cairo on the 14th, three days later arrived at Fort Donelson, and reached Nashville on the 23rd. There the Eighth Kansas remained until June, 1863. when they were ordered to join the army at Murfreesboro. On the 8th of July the Eighth was ordered to search the Cumberland Mountains for a bunch of guerillas who were harassing the people, but without success; and on the 17th of August the army marched to Stevenson. Ala., and soon moved over to Caperton's Ferry on the Tennessee River, and after taking part in an engagement on Sand Mountain, reached the top of Lookout Mountain. On September 19 he was in the battle of Chickamauga. and seven days later General Grant arrived on the scene. On November 15, General Sherman arrived at Chattanooga, and on the 27th Mr. Rust and his compatriots marched to the relief of Knoxville, a distance of 150 miles, which they reached on December 7. He had been a corporal; but on January 4, 1864, he was appointed, by Col. John A. Martin. sergeant in Company C, the promotion being for gallant service during the Battle of Chickamauga and for gallantry in the Battle of Mission Ridge.

On February 9, 1864, our subject was mustered out of service as a volunteer, and immediately reenlisted and was mustered into service as a veteran volunteer, for another term of three years, or for the duration of the war, after which he enjoyed a furlough of thirty days; he did picket duty, and took part in minor skirmishes up to December 15, when he was in the Battle of Nashville. While on Montgomery Hill he was wounded so badly that his leg had to be amputated. He had been at Nashville four times in 1863 and '64, and on March 28 he left for Indiana, to visit his grandfather's home, when he found that both his grandfather and his father had taken part in the war. He was at North Vernon when Lee surrendered, and he also attended the memorial funeral services there, in honor of Lincoln, on April 19th. On April 21, 1865, he started for Kansas, and on June 14, at Fort Leavenworth, he was discharged. He went to St. Louis to see if he could be provided with an artificial leg; but this proved a failure.

Henry Rust was county clerk before the war, and resigned a short time before war was declared; and in the fall of 1865, Charles Rust, unaware even that he had been nominated, was elected by popular vote to succeed his father. He applied himself assiduously to his duties, studied law, and held the office for twenty-one years. He was principal and deputy county clerk, county treasurer, city assessor, and also held a commission as notary public; and he held all these offices until 1887, giving satisfaction to everybody, when he came West to California. He settled in Napa County, and for a short time engaged in the sale of real estate and insurance, then he went into San Francisco and there for ten years continued in the same field. In 1904, he went to Oakland, where he lived until 1911, when he retired from business activity 'and settled at East San Jose.

On December 26, 1867, Charles W. Rust was married at Atchison, Kan., to Miss Mary J. Biddle, a native of Columbus County, Ohio, and the daughter of Joseph Biddle. Her father had served in the same company and regiment with Henry Rust, who died from fever at Ft. Smith, Ark., in 1863. Charles had three uncles in the service. The Rusts have had a family of seven children. The eldest, Lillian B., is the wife of Everett R. Brent of East San Jose; Mabel C. has become Mrs. Frederick Wood of San Jose; Nellie died at the age of seven; Joseph is living in Napa Valley. He served with Dewey on the Olympia in the Spanish-American War; Alice had become Mrs. Lee Shaw, and she died in California; George R. died in his second year; and Eva, the seventh-born, died, aged two. Of the grandchildren, Mrs. Wood has four: Inez is Mrs. Klemm of Oakland; Marie is Mrs. Ellinwood; Morris Wood is the famous baseball player; Frederick is in the high school at San Jose. Mrs. Shaw also has a son, Raymond Shaw, who is the head of the Union Indemnity Company, with their branch at Los Angeles. Joseph Rust, too, has four children: Joseph, Jr., and Derrick are in the U. S. Navy; while the third and fourth are Queen and Martha. Mrs. Klemm has two children: John W. and Fay Klemm; and Marie Ellinwood has a son. Thus Mr. and Mrs. Charles Rust have two great-grandsons and one great-granddaughter.

Recalling all the incidents of this career, in which Mr. Rust never failed to do his full duty as he saw it, and the sacrifice he made on the battlefields, which condemned him to a life of partial incapacity and inconvenience, it will be seen that Sergeant Rust will forever be entitled to all the esteem and goodwill which his fellow-citizens can shower upon him, and will also merit the reverence of posterity that comes after and enters into the fruits of his life and unselfish service.

From Eugene T. Sawyers' History of Santa Clara County,California, published by Historic Record Co. , 1922. page 1253


SANTA CLARA COUNTY The Valley of Heart's Delight