Home > Uncategorized > William Kennett Rule, An Autobiography

William Kennett Rule, An Autobiography

Source:  William Kennett Rule, An Autobiography (circa 1866), a transcription by Luster Earl Colley of a previous transcription, from the Luster Earl Colley genealogical collection.

William Kennett RULE

born 1 January 1797 Bourbon County, Kentucky


This document is a recopy from a copy:

The original is supposed to have been written about 1866.

William K. RULE, eldest son of Samuel RULE and Elizabeth Collier KENNETT, was born in Bourbon County Ky. on the 1st. day of January 1797. From his childhood he was employed in farming untill the age of 18 having during that time obtained very little education. He then by the direction of his father went into a retail store as an apprentice to the mercantile business in the town of Millersburgh, Kentucky, remaining there some sixteen months when his employer having failed he went to Maysville, Ky. where he obtained employment in the store of Mr.s MARTIN & January where he remained some eighteen months. He then entered into an engagement with Mr. Knox Halderman & Co. and came to St. Louis to act as their clerk or agent in carrying on the Boating & such other business as they might engage in. On arriving here Febuary twenty third 1818 he immediately entered on the duties of his engagement and served them untill March 1820 not without having encountered some trivial difficulties on his arrival here. The first of which was the obtaining a place to board, there being than no places of accomodation except Daniel TRUMAN’s Green Tree Tavern, Alexander BELISSIMOIR’s Petite Tavern & Fandango House, Mrs. PODDOCK and Mrs. SNOW’s Genteel Boarding Houses, and Madame Pierre LAMMI’s Boatmans boarding house, all of which were full to overflowing. On applying at Mrs. PADDOCK’s for boarding, she could not decide whether she could accomodate him or not untill she ascertained that he was a Kentuckian, when she guessed she couldn’t take him. A friend then directed him to Madam SNOW, who was a Baltimorian and advised him to hail from Maryland, the place of his motherr’s Nativity. This ruse at once secured him boarding and Lodging. He then entered into co-partnership with Capt. Alexander SCOTT (who had been a member of the late firm of Knox Haldeman & Co.) for the purpose of transacting the boating and companion business under the style and firm of SCOTT & RULE. in which they were very successful for about seven years. In March of 1822 they, in conjunction with the Mr.s SINDELL’s, bought out the sidewheel steamer, Pittsburgh & St. Louis Packett, which proved a perfact success up to May 1823 when the boat was sold and the connection with the SINDELL’s was dissolved. They then in connection with James WOOD of Pittsburgh, built the Steamboat, General Brown and brought her out in December following, when she was badly sunk at Plume Point. The greater part of her engine & furniture being saved and afterward placed on the Steamboat, North America which they brought out in March following. running her for two years with less success than the others, she being too heavy for her engine. They also built in connection with Jas. WOOD and Capt. Enoch PRICE, the Steamer, Illinois, for the Gabina Trade which boat was brought out in the spring of 1826. After running untill the following January and yielding a large income of about 150 per cent on her cost, was sunk at St. Genevive in January following. Her furniture and a part of her engines only being saved, her valuable cargo, a part of which belonged to the boat was mostly lost. They, SCOTT & RULE, also purchased in November of 1826 the Steamer, Pilot, and loaded her for New Orleans, John CRAWFORD Master & first pilot, sunk her on the east side of St. Genevive Isalnd losing thereby the cost of the boat and a considerable amount of Lead on which there was a small insurance, this being the first case in which they had ever insured anything, it being then very unfashionable to insure.

In the spring of 1829 they, in connection with Jas. WOOD, brought out the steamer, Michigan, how long they ran her is not remembered. At the time they commenced Steam Boating there was no Blacksmith shop in Saint Louis capable of doing heavy smith work and the want of such an establishment prooving a serious drawback on the boating and other interest. They were, about the year 1823 or 24, induced to establish a large blacksmith shop under the Superintendance of the ingenious Black Smith, Lewis NEWELL, which for a time answered the purpose but the want of a foundry becoming apparent, they sent Mr. NEWELL to Cincinnatti, Ohio and Albany, Indiana to examine the Foundries there and ascertain if suitable workers could be induced to come here and soon after his return, Samuel GATY Esq. as Forman of the foundry and Mr. CAMPBELL as pattern maker, arrieved here and were engaged to commence to put a small foundry in operation on the ground where the Mississippi Foundry now stands. The efforts proving successful the foundry and blacksmith shop were from time to time enlarged untill in 1831 they had become what was then considered important establishments and from causes which will hereafter be shown passed into the hands of Samuel GATY. The Mercantile business of SCOTT & RULE apparently proved very profitable up to the close of 1827 but they having from the opening of the Gabina Mines, became anxious to secure the Lead and trade and having too much confidence in the mines and miners advanced too largely to the smelters and traders by whom they ultimately lost between twenty and twenty five thousand dollars as was developed during the year 1828 or 29. They also sustained great losses by failing country merchants, Santa Fe Traders and fur traders in whom they had had too much confidence. Add to the list, the steamboat losses previously mentioned, and the loss of two remittances of four thousand dollars each and it will not be wondered that their circumstances became embarrasing and that in 1831 they were compelled to make an assignment barely paying the creditors who signed off.

In 1820, on the 5th. of September in 1820 Wm K. RULE was married to Miss Nancy FARRIS, daughter of Capt. Aaron & Jane FARRIS, formerly of Berkley County, Virginia. To them ten children were born, five died in infancy. Five came to maturity, of whom the eldest, Alexander Scott RULE married Miss Virginia Ann CARTER.  He died in the year 1854 leaving one son, Charles A. RULE and one daughter Edna, both of whom are now living.  Orville G. RULE (Superintendant of St. Louis Shot Tower), married Margaret E. BOBBS and has three sons & one daughter living (to wit, Lydia, Wm. K., Harry, and Nancy Eliza) Kate Amand married Lewis ASHBROOK and died in less than a year of time and leaving one daughter six days old which is still living., John Farris, the youngest, was married July 5th. 1865 to Miss Jane HAMILTON by whom he has a fine boy now four months old.  Passing by several years of his life he labored hard for the maintainance of his family, He in 1847 engaged in the business of City Weigher in which he has continued up to this time not making or caring for much more than a comfortable living.

Politically he has always been a Democratic Republican, though sometimes necessaraly connected with other parties, striving at all times to be faithfull to his government and to the individuals of St. Louis in whose councils he was called to serve as an Alderman during the last five or six years prior to 1831. In the year 1843 he became a convert to the Religion of Christ and joined the Methodist Episcopal Church at Wesley Chapel Station, where he still holds his membership.


St. Louis, Mo.


Sir, not being able to see to write, I have availed myself of my grandsons pen to give you as brifly as I could, a sketch of the prominent events of my life which has been greatly lengthined by unnecessarly interluding to Capt. SCOTT, Lewis NEWELL, Sam GATY & others & if as I fear is the case I have spun out too long a yarn or committed errors agains grammar, I beg that you will make such curtailment or correction as you may deam necessary.

With great respect-I am, sir, your friend & Obt. Sevt.


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