Saturday, September 5, 2015

Ruluff White Hollembeak (1851-1911)

Photograph courtesy of

   From Ohio and Capell Lane Weems we journey west to Iowa and Mr. Ruluff White Hollembeak, a two term representative from Adair County to the Iowa General Assembly. While he may have been prominent in Iowa at the turn of the 19th century, only a tiny amount of information could be found on his life to post here. Hollembeak's name is also on a short list of strange named political figures who died in odd circumstances, as he was struck and killed by a train in 1911 while driving across the tracks at Casey, Iowa. 
    Born near Genoa, Illinois on June 14, 1851, Ruluff White Hollembeak was the son of Aramont Noble (1816-1908) and Parmella Hollembeak, natives of New York and Pennsylvania who had migrated to DeKalb County, Illinois in the late 1830s. A two term town supervisor of Genoa, Illinois, Aramont N. Hollembeak bestowed the names "Ruluff White" upon his fifth born child,  being in honor of his father, Ruloff White Hollembeak, a native of Vermont who died in Pennsylvania in 1829. One should note that there are two different spellings of Hollembeak's first name, being given as both "Ruloff" and "Ruluff" (the latter being listed in his Iowa legislative biography, as well as his gravestone.) 
   Little is known of Hollembeak's early years in Illinois. He married in Genoa on December 16,  1874 to Emma Brown (1851-1915), with whom he would have two sons, Ralph Harry (1877-1901) and Roy Burr (1882-1946). Around 1876 Hollembeak and his wife removed from Illinois to Iowa, eventually settling in Walnut township in Adair County. For a good majority of his life he worked at farming and is recorded by the 1915 History of Adair County as having owned "a large herd of Hereford cattle at one time."
   Ruluff Hollembeck first entered political life in 1903, when he became a Republican candidate for the Iowa State House of Representatives. On election day that year he notched up a victory over his Democratic opponent J.G. Powers, 2,011 votes to 1, 148. Taking his seat at the start of the 1904-06 term, Hollembeak proved to be busy as a first term legislator, serving on the house committees on Agriculture; Appropriations; County and Township organization; Insurance; Normal Schools; Public Libraries and Representative districts. He also chaired the committee on Horticulture during this session.
   Following his second term Hollembeak was defeated for reelection by Edwin J. Sidey. In 1908 Hollembeak served as part of the Adair County delegation to the Iowa State Republican Convention. In 1901 Hollembeak sufferred the loss of his eldest son Ralph, who died aged 24. On February 27, 1911 he himself died in tragic circumstances when he was struck and killed by a "Rock Island train" whilst crossing the tracks at Casey, Iowa. Hollembeak is recorded as "driving" (presumably a horse and buggy) at the time of the accident, and was killed instantly. A small write up on the accident appeared in the Marshalltown Evening Times Republican and is posted below.
  Remembered as a man "of genial and sunny disposition", Hollembeak was memorialized in his Casey Vindicator obituary as having:
"Touched the life of this community at almost every point of possible human contact, and his touch was indisputably a clean, wholesome, refining and uplifting one."
 Following his death Ruluff Hollembeak was interred at the Oakwood Cemetery in Casey, Iowa. This  cemetery is also the resting place of his wife Emma (who died in 1915), as well as his son Ralph Harry.

From the Marshalltown Evening Times Republican, February 27, 1911.

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