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William Rust
McLean County, Illinois

(Transcribed by: Amy Robbins-Tjaden)


William Rust was born in Granville County, North Carolina, February 23, 1792. His father was of English descent.

Mr Rust was raised in North Carolina. On the 8th of January, 1811, he married Nancy McGee, and soon after moved to Middle Tennessee. During the latter part of the war of 1812, Mr Rust became a soldier. He was sick during much of his time in the army, but was at the battle of New Orleans at the close of the war. He often described the fight, and said that the British came very close to the works before the Americans were allowed to fire. After the British General Packenham fell, the command devolved upon General Lambert, who was repulsed with frightful loss. At the close of the battle he asked permission to bury the dead, but General Jackson sent the British dead to them.

Sometime after the close of the war, Mr Rust emigrated to West Tennessee, where he lived a number of years. in 1829 he moved to Hamilton County, Illinois. Here he first made a half-faced camp in the timber, in which the family lived until they could build a log cabin. This was made of round logs, afterwards smoothed down on the inside. Mr Rust improved a farm of thirty-five or forty acres, and built a large tobacco house. This was a log house sixty feet long and twenty feet wide, with an open space twenty feet wide through the middle, but covered with a roof. Wagon loads of tobacco were driven into this opening and unloaded on each side. The house held five tiers of tobacco.

In the fall of 1834, Mr Rust came to McLean County. He stopped first with Jesse Funk, then went for a few days into an old school-house, until he could rent a farm of Samuel Stewart. At the end of two years he bought a piece of land for himself and improved a farm. It is now owned by William C. Noble. He broke prairie, raised stock, and succeeded well. In the spring of 1847 he went to Lytleville, and there engaged in the milling business. He first had a mill driven by water, but by the failure of water he was compelled to use steam. He then had two partners, Wooster and Hougham. In about the year 1867, he sold out, and retired to a quiet life. He was constable and justice of the peace during the active years of his life.

Mr Rust had nine children, five boys and four girls. James W., John F., and George W. Rust, live in Randolph township; Martha Ann, wife of Wilson Lindley, lives in Cowley County, Kansas; William M., Harvey J., and Mary, wife of David Hougham, live in Randolph township; Arnetta and Nancy Caroline Rust are both dead.

Mr Rust was about five feet and ten inches in height in his prime. He was a good-looking man, was healthy and square-shouldered, and weighed one hundred and seventy-five pounds. His eyes were blue, and his hair was almost black. He was a very honest man, faithful in fulfilling his obligations, and had this reputation among all with whom he had occasion to deal. He died at Randolph's Grove, August 26, 1873, aged eighty-one years six months and three days.

[The Good Old Times in McLean County, Illinois (Bloomington Ill, 1874)]



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