Biography of Norman M. Ruick

Last Updated on May 17, 2012 by

This distinguished practitioner at the bar of Idaho has been connected with the leading interests of the state for some years, and in all the relations of life he has commanded the respect and confidence of his fellow men by his fidelity to duty and his devotion to the interests entrusted to his care. He comes from the far east, being a native of Connecticut. His birth occurred in Granby, that state, on the 4th of October, 1854, and his ancestry includes both Irish and Puritan stock. His paternal great-grandfather, a native of the Emerald Isle, emigrated to the New World and took up his residence in Hartford County, Connecticut, where he resided for many years. When the colonies attempted to throw off the yoke of British tyranny, he joined the army and valiantly fought in the war which gave to the nation her independence. The grandfather of our subject, William Ruick, Sr., and the father, who also bore the name of William, were both born in Granby, Connecticut, the latter on the l0th of July, 1822. He was a carriage-maker by trade and followed that pursuit in order to gain a livelihood for his family. He married Miss Temperance C. Hutchinson, a native of Mansfield, Connecticut, and a representative of one of the old Puritan families of New England. The Ruick family for several generations had been connected with the Methodist church, of which denomination the parents of our subject were also members. The mother departed this life in 1884, at the age of sixty-two years, and the father was called to his final rest in 1888, in the sixty-sixth year of his age. They had five sons and a daughter, and the sons are all yet living.

Norman Melville Ruick, whose name introduces this review, remained on the home farm with his father, assisting in the labors of field and meadow until seventeen years of age. Then, as so many other country boys have done, he went to the city to try his fortune. The ranks of prominent business men in our industrial and commercial centers are constantly being recruited from the farm, where the outdoor life and exercise have developed sturdy youths well fitted to cope with the off times difficult problem of securing a start in the financial world. Making his way to Troy, New York, Mr. Ruick first served an apprenticeship at the machinist’s trade in the Schenectady Locomotive Works, but he did not find this entirely congenial. He seemed to possess a natural predilection for the law, and de-voted all his leisure hours to reading the text-books containing the fundamental principles of the science of jurisprudence. When his term of apprenticeship was ended he entered the law office of King & Rhodes, of Troy, New York, and after a thorough course of study was admitted to the bar by the supreme court of Indiana, in Indianapolis, in 1877.

For three years Mr. Ruick engaged in practice in that city, and then went to Tucson, Arizona, with a view of locating there, but changing his mind he came to Idaho, by way of San Francisco, locating in the Wood River country, where he remained for a number of years. He practiced law in Bellevue and Hailey and served as assist-ant district attorney for Alturas County for two years. He was three times the nominee of his party for the position of district attorney, and filled that position in 1885 and 1886. In 1892 he was elected to the state senate and served with distinction as chairman of the judiciary committee. He was the author of the “Ruick law,” making all obligations to be paid in money payable in any lawful money gold, silver or green-backs notwithstanding anything in the contract to the contrary. Since his arrival in the state Mr. Ruick has been an important factor in political circles. In 1894 he was elected chairman of the Populist state central committee, and with signal ability conducted the memorable campaign of that year. As an organizer he has few equals and no superiors in Idaho. He marshals his forces with the skill and precision of a general on the field of battle, and at the same time does it with such tact that the most harmonious working is secured within the ranks of the party. It was he who conceived the plan and was largely instrumental in carrying to a successful issue the combination between the Populists and Democrats in 1896, which resulted in the election of the Democratic-Populist state ticket, giving a majority in the legislature and thus sending a Populist to the United States senate.

Upon becoming chairman of the state central committee, Mr. Ruick removed to Boise, where he has since made his home, successfully engaging in the practice of law. He is one of the most celebrated criminal lawyers in the state, his ser-vice as prosecuting attorney causing him to give special attention to this department of jurisprudence. His ability in this direction has caused him in many instances to be employed by various counties as assistant prosecutor, and he has al-most invariably succeeded in winning the suits with which he has thus been connected. Possessed of a keen and penetrating intelligence, a thorough knowledge of the law and an indomitable will, he has attained an eminent position in his profession, and in legal circles is known throughout the entire northwest.

On the 17th of August, 1888, Mr. Ruick was married to Mrs. Manda D. Reiff, and their union has been blessed with two sons and a daughter, Norman M.. Eleanor and Melville. In his religious belief Mr. Ruick is a Christian scientist, and socially is connected with the Modern Wood-men of America and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. In the latter he has served as past master in the local lodge and has been representative to the supreme lodge. He is of a genial nature and gentlemanly bearing, which characteristics are evidences of a commendable character, and he is one of the popular and esteemed citizens of Boise.



Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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