Solano County

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The name of the Hon. Benjamin Franklin Rush needs no introduction to the readers of this work, for to an unusual degree he has figured for years in the growth and development of this section of our favored commonwealth, contributing in many ways to the advancement of its normal and legitimate growth. Equally noted as a citizen whose useful career has conferred credit upon the community and whose marked abilities and sterling qualities have won for him much more than local repute, he holds distinctive prestige as one of the most progressive and successful men who have here inaugurated and carried forward large and important undertakings. Although modest and unassuming and always easily approached, he possesses a strong and vigorous personality and in the best sense of the term is a leader of men and well fitted to manage important enterprises. Measured by its accomplishment, its beneficence and its helpful optimism, the life of Mr. Rush has had wide and emphatic significance.

Benjamin Franklin Rush was born in Sacramento county, California, on the 12th day of October, 1852, and is the son of Hiram and Sarah (Inwood) Rush. The Rush family was originally from the state of Pennsylvania, whence Mr. Rush's paternal grandparents moved to the state of Ohio. Later they settled in South Bend, Indiana, where their son Hiram secured his education, after which he was employed as a clerk. Hiram Rush had within him those qualities of which men of action and definite accomplishment are made, for, not satisfied with the local outlook for individual advancement and with a farsighted vision of the possibilities lying in the far west, he, in 1849, purchased a small herd of cattle and started across the weary expanse of plains and mountains lying between him and the Golden West, his objective. He must have been a man of character and force, for he was chosen captain of the train with which he traveled and the long journey was accomplished successfully under his direction. On reaching the Sacramento valley he and his family were so well pleased with the country that they decided to go no farther and stopped there, the rest of the company going on to other locations. The cattle which they had brought with them were turned out into the magnificent grass and Mr. Rush at once engaged in the hotel business, establishing what was known as the Fourteen-Mile house, which at once demonstrated the wisdom of the venture, for it became a popular and well patronized stopping place for the weary travelers on their way into the state. Eventually, Mr. Rush found it necessary to give his attention to his rapidly increasing herd of cattle and Mrs. Rush took over the operation of the hotel, in which she succeeded most admirably. They were eminently successful in both their lines of effort, but in 1852, owing to unsatisfactory climatic conditions, they decided to seek a more healthful location, and accordingly they came to Solano county, locating in the Protrero hills, in the southwestern part of the county, where also they found fine range for the cattle. In the following year they moved their home to Suisun, which was the family home for many years.

Hiram Rush was a man of keen business sagacity and quick action and his operations during these early years were crowned with splendid success, so that in a few years he became recognized as one of the wealthiest and most influential men in Solano county. His cattle increased in number to about three thousand head, in addition to which he had several hundred head of horses, and his land holdings amounted to fifty-one thousand acres, a portion of which tract was located in Monterey county, besides an interest which he held in the Luco grant in Suisun. In 1865, in order to give the children better educational advantages, the family residence was established in San Francisco, where a comfortable home was purchased. Mr. Rush's untimely death occurred on October 4, 1869, at the age of sixty years, when he fell from a vehicle while crossing a stream, and his passing was considered a distinct loss to the entire community, for, aside from his important business connections, he held to a very marked degree the respect and admiration of the people generally, being a man of fine personal qualities and likable character. He was twice married, first to a Miss Inwood, by whom he had two daughters, Eleanor and Sarah. After her death he married her sister, Sarah Inwood, and to them were born three children, namely: Benjamin Franklin, the immediate subject of this sketch; Mary, who became the wife of W. K. Fletcher of San Francisco, and Kate, also of San Francisco. Hiram Rush was for many years an appreciative member of the Masonic order, the beneficent principles of which he exemplified in his own life.

Benjamin F. Rush was a baby of but two years when the family came to Solano county and was thirteen years of age when they established their home in San Francisco. In the schools of the latter city he secured his elemental education, attending also the public schools of Oakland. He then attended the Oakland Military Academy and rounded his educational training by taking a course in Heald's Business College in San Francisco. His first employment was as a bookkeeper for the firm of Titcomb & Williams, with which house he remained about five years, at the end of which time he resigned in order to take charge of his father's estate, to which he thereafter devoted his entire time and attention. During the subsequent years he has carried on and extended the operations for which his father had established so fine a foundation and he too has been eminently successful in all his operations. He has taken a great interest in the raising of. Stock-cattle, sheep and horses-and enjoys a well earned reputation as one of the leading stock raisers of the state of California. He has carried on his work in a systematic and scientific manner, ever maintaining high standards and striving for continual improvement. His efforts and accomplishments have been widely recognized and appreciated and he has been honored by appointment to positions of great responsibility in connection with the agricultural interests of the state. At one time Mr. Rush ran as many as five thousand cattle, all high grade stock, and many sheep. He has been keenly interested also in the breeding and raising of harness horses, in which line he has attracted considerable attention, having sold a number of speedy trotters, among which were "Mamie R.," which sold for six thousand dollars; "Ben F.," 2:07 1/2; "Solano Boy," 2:07 1/4; "Denervo," 2:06 3/4; "Ben Rush," 2:10 1/2; "Nemonio," 2:09 3/4; and "Miss Winn," 2:10 1/2; the dam of "Mono Wilkes," 2:03 1/4; "Aerolite," 2:05 1/2 at three years old, that was sold for eight thousand dollars, and a number of other good horses.

Mr. Rush has through the years of his active identification with business affairs contributed in many ways to the prosperity and success of Solano county and its institutions. For a while he was interested in the management of the Solano County Republican, one of the county's leading newspapers, and has long been a director in the Solano County Bank, besides having other financial interests, and has long been identified in an official and public way with the affairs of the county and state. He first held public office when, in 1882, he was appointed a trustee of the Crystal school district, in Suisun township, a position which he still holds. In 1894 he was elected sheriff of Solano county, serving in that office with honor until 1899. In 1906 he was elected to the state senate, where he performed able and distinguished service and to which body he has been returned by successive re-elections to the present time, now being the senior senator in point of years of service. In the senate he has been time and again honored by appointment to many of the most important regular and special committees, in all of which he has distinguished himself by services ol the highest order. He was a member of the special committee for selecting a location for the state agricultural farm, securing a tract of nearly eight hundred acres at Davisville for the agricultural department of the State University. He has served many fimes as chairman of the senate committee on agriculture; as chairman of the committee on hospitals and asylums; was active in securing the necessary appropriation for the state hospital at Napa and the Veterans' Home at Yountville; was a member of the committees on finance, agriculture and dairying, drainage, swamp and overflow lands, mining and oil industries, fruit and vine interests, and roads and highways.

Mr. Rush was the first president of the Solano County Agricultural Society and for many years has been a member of the State Agricultural Society, which he served six years as president, during which period he was ex officio regent of the state university. It is noteworthy that during this six-year period the California State Fair first became a stable institution, largely due to the indomitable efforts and business-like methods of Mr. Rush, who devoted himself heart and soul to the end that the fair should really be what it purported to be, an exhibit of the state's products and industries, and its popularity as a fair dates from the realization of this idea. His standing as one of the most progressive and advanced, as well as one of the most successful, stockmen and farmers in the state gave him a well deserved prestige and his influence has always been exerted for the benefit of the state at large. In addition to his extensive stock interests, Mr. Rush also raises great quantities of grain and to facilitate the shipping of both grain and stock he constructed two boat -landings, Rush's landing on the Suisun slough and another on Montezuma slough, both of which have been of great benefit to the public. Mr. Rush has for many years been actively interested in the Masonic order, in which he has taken the work of both the York and Scottish rites, a Knight Templar in the former and attaining the thirty-second degree in the latter. He is also a member of Islam Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, in San Francisco, and of the Knights of Pythias.

In 1876 Mr. Rush married Miss Anna McKean, who was born and reared in Astoria, Oregon, and to them were born the following children: Richard I., who was graduated at Leland Stanford University with a degree in electrical engineering and is now a ranch owner and stock dealer at Suisun; Frederick W., who also was graduated (civil engineer) at Leland Stanford and is now cashier of the Kern County Land Company at Bakersfield, California; Eleanor, who is at home; Mrs. Mary Gurnett of Fairfield, Solano county; Benjamin, who is connected with the Kern County Land Company at Bakersfield, and Hiram and Annabelle, both at home. Mr. Rush is in the fullest sense of the term a progressive, virile, aggressive man, thoroughly in harmony with the spirit of the advanced age in which he lives, and it is not too much to say that his career has been one of honor and genuine worth, as well as of material success. He has contributed freely to the maintenance of such institutions as make for the general good and many less fortunate than he have been the recipients of his generosity. Both the community and the state have been dignified by his noble life and splendid achievements and he has long stood as an honored member of a striking group of noted men whose influence in the civic and economic life of the state has been of the most beneficent character. He has been a close personal friend of Senator Hiram Johnson, with whom he has many ideas in common. A man of vigorous mentality, strong moral fibre and a genial and friendly personality, he has a wide acquaintance throughout the state and many warm and loyal friends. A notable instance of the esteem in which Mr. Rush is held was the banquet tendered to him and to Frank L. Combs of Napa by their friends at Sacramento in 1925, when each was presented with a valuable gold watch, suitably engraved, as a token of merit for services well performed.

History of Solano County, California By Marguerite Hunt and Napa County, California By Harry Lawrence Gunn. From Their Earliest Settlement To The Present Time. Chicago. S.J. Clarke Pub. Co. 1926. 883 pages.

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