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Decatur honors its founder, Samuel Rugg

August 29, 2011

RUGG DAY ... Four descendants of Samuel Rugg, whose efforts caused the founding of Decatur and Adams County in 1836, returned on Sunday for the dedication of a monument to him. From left are: Deb Evans, Lisa Rugg, and John Rugg, Samuel's great-great-great-grandchildren; Janice Rugg and husband Marvin Rugg, Samuel's great-great-grandson; Larry Isch and Max Miller, co-chairmen of the Decatur 175th Anniversary Committee; and Mayor John Schultz. (Photo by Eric Mann)

    On Sunday, the 206th anniversary of Samuel L. Rugg's birth, the City of Decatur, to which he gave birth, celebrated his memory as the final event of the community's 175th anniversary extravaganza.
    Well over 100 people turned out for the afternoon unveiling of the four-sided black marble monument to Rugg that sits in the front lawn of the Decatur Chamber of Commerce office by the St. Marys River, 125 E. Monroe St.
    It was at that site where, in 1836, Rugg and a friend, Thomas Johnson, settled on the location of Decatur, which became the county seat. Adams County also came into being in 1836, thanks again to Rugg's efforts.
    The monument, which took local artisan Steve Windmiller more than 40 hours to etch, shows Rugg's face on the top and a representation of him and Johnson marking a tree to show where Decatur would be located.
    Four of Rugg's descendants attended the event: great-great-grandson Marvin Rugg of Colerain Township, near Cincinnati, and his children, the great-great-great-grandchildren of Samuel Rugg: Lisa Rugg of Mount Healthy, Ohio; Deb Evans of Taylor Mill, Kentucky; and John Rugg of Westchester, Ohio.
    Mayor John Schultz read a proclamation he issued to honor Samuel L. Rugg "and his impact upon our lives today."
    Schultz said in the document that Rugg "petitioned the Indiana legislature for a new county and spent hundreds of dollars of his money, causing great personal financial difficulty, to bring the Plank Road from St. Marys, Ohio [through Decatur], to Fort Wayne and facilitated the construction of a bridge over the St. Marys River to access Decatur for the public good."
    The mayor also noted that it was Rugg who chose to name the county after President John Quincy Adams and to name the community after Commodore Stephen Decatur, one of the first six ship commanders in the original U.S. Navy.
    In the opening prayer on Sunday, Rev. Martha Lyon of Decatur called for everyone "to remember the vision shown by these founding fathers," referring to Rugg and Johnson, and "to show the same kind of vision and dreams so this wonderful city can continue to grow and thrive."
     A letter from Indiana Lieutenant-Governor Becky Skillman was read; she gave her "best wishes" for the "tremendous legacy" that Samuel Rugg provided.
    Isch thanked Windmiller for his etching artistry, Zwick and Jahn Funeral Home of Decatur for a large monetary donation to the project, Liby Monuments of Decatur, and the Chamber of Commerce for providing space for the monument.
    Schultz extended his thanks to Larry Isch and Max Miller for their hard work leading the 175th anniversary committee and for coordinating the numerous celebratory activities.
    The program also included the presentation and retirement of flags by the color guard from American Legion Post 43 and songs sung by local vocalist Rosie Fairchild: "America the Beautiful," "God Bless America," and "Back Home Again in Indiana."
    Th final song, "Happy Birthday," was sung on behalf of Samuel Rugg and his two longest-lasting offspring: Adams County and Decatur.

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