Biography of Hon. Ruel Rounds

Ex-Senator Ruel Rounds, postmaster and prominent citizen of Idaho Falls, was born in Rutland, Vermont, September 3, 1841, a son of William M. and Maria (Sanderson) Rounds, both natives of Vermont, where his ancestors were early settlers. Forefathers of his in both lines fought for American liberty in the Revolutionary war. His parents were members of the Methodist Episcopal church and wielded an influence for good upon all who knew them. His father, who was a successful farmer, died in his fifty-eighth year. His mother died ten years younger. Of their eight children, five are living and Ruel was the first born.

After having gained requisite primary education in the district schools near his home, Ruel Rounds entered Windsor College, from which institution he was “graduated” into the United States Army in May 1861, without waiting to finish his classical course. He became a member of Company K, First Regiment Vermont Volunteer Infantry, and on the l0th of June, the next month after his enlistment, received his “baptism of fire,” in the battle of. Big Bethel. His term of service expired in 1862, and he reenlisted in Company K, Twelfth Regiment, Vermont Volunteer Infantry, which was included in the Army of the Potomac. He was in numerous engagements, among them those of Falmouth, Fredericksburg and Gettysburg; where he participated in heavy and prolonged fighting. At the end of his term of enlistment he received a second honorable discharge from the service in the United States Army. Returning to the life of a private citizen, he was for two years engaged in the marble business. In 1866 he left New York City for the west and arrived in Virginia City, Montana, in the fall. A little later he joined a company of prospectors bound for the Wind River mountain, where he prospected during the winter and spring of 1866-7, and early in the summer following he established a trading post at South Bitter Creek, on the stage road between Denver, Colorado, and Salt Lake City, Utah. While this enterprise promised well at the outset, it was doomed to an early termination, for the establishment was wiped out of existence by Indians, July 7, 1867, and its proprietor was left nothing but his rifle and the clothes he wore. A position as guard on the stage line was offered him by the Wells-Fargo Express Company, and he accepted it, the more gladly because he hoped some day to get a shot at some of the redskins who had despoiled him. Whether he did or not he never knew, for he never recognized any of the Indians who from time to time were defeated in attacks on the stages on which he rode. The life was an exciting one, and he continued it until the Union Pacific railroad was completed to Green River, Wyoming. He then engaged in merchandising along the line of construction, stopping for a longer or shorter time at different points, as business policy appeared to dictate. When the two branches were completed to the junction, in 1869, he sold his stock in trade and for about two years mined with considerable success in the Sweet Water mining country. Again he started up a business in marble, this time in Denver, Colorado, but he sold it out after two years to go back to mining in the San Juan district in that state. There he operated to some good purpose, and in 1878 he went to Silver Cliff, a new mining town in the Wet Mountain valley.

He was successful there for two years and then mined a year at Leadville. At this time opportunity for merchandising with profit along the line of construction of the Mexican Central Railroad was presented. He availed himself of the opportunity and operated at different points between El Paso del Norte and the city of Mexico until the railroad was completed. He then returned to Colorado, and in 1885 went thence to southwestern Kansas, where he developed into an efficient and prominent real-estate operator and from 1885 to 188n helped to “boom” several Kansas towns. In 1889 he returned to Colorado. In 1890 he took up his residence in Idaho Falls, where he bought land, and was interested with others in the purchase of all the unsold lots in the original town site and also bought more land outside the town limits and helped to plat additions thereto and became one of the leading promoters of the town.

In 1893 he was appointed, by Governor McConnell, commissioner for Bingham county, a responsible position, in which he served with great ability and credit for two years, assisting to adjust satisfactorily all matters of difference between Bingham and adjacent counties, growing out of the erection of several new counties from the territory formerly known as Oneida county. His part in these important affairs was taken so creditably that he was the most available Republican candidate for the state senatorship, in the campaign that followed. He was elected and made an enviable record as a senator, placing himself on the right side of much important legislation and bearing a conspicuous part in the movement which seated Hon. George L. Shoup in the United States senate. In 1897 Mr. Rounds was appointed postmaster of Idaho Falls, and it is a noteworthy fact that his was the first appointment by the present administration in the state of Idaho, it having been confirmed by the senate April 19, 1897. Mr. Rounds entered upon the performance of the duties of this office June 1, following, and is discharging them in such manner as to win the approbation of all classes of citizens.

Mr. Rounds has seven hundred and twenty acres of rich farming land near Idaho Falls, and a fine fruit farm at one side of the town. His residence in Idaho Falls is one of the finest in the city and he owns other town property. His interest in everything which affects the welfare of the people of Idaho Falls and the growth and development of the city along all industrial, commercial and financial lines, is deep and abiding, and as a citizen and an official he has the respect of all who have knowledge of his straightforward methods and uprightness of character.


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

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