JOHN W. RUTH, the clever and enterprising jeweler of Shelbyville, was born February 27, 1839, in Shelbyville, being a son of George W. Ruth. The father was born in Granville County, N. C., in 1799. A short time before George Washington died, when on his last Southern tour, he passed by the house where George W. Ruth was born only a short time before. He stopped and lifted the infant in his arms, and then and there it was named George Washington Ruth in remembrance of the incident and of the great man. The father came to this county in 1822. He married, lived and died here, being a jeweler by occupation. He was a very prominent citizen of the county, and for many years was a magistrate. He was mayor of Shelbyville two terms, and was identified with the public interests all his life. He was a leading member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and for many years was a steward. Politically he was a Democrat. His death occurred in August, 1858. His father was a soldier in the Revolutionary war. The mother of John W. was born in Baltimore County, Md., and came to Shelbyville when quite young. She was born in 1804 and died in 1863. The ancestry of John W. were of Scotch-Irish descent, predominating in Scotch blood.
The immediate subject of this sketch was reared in Shelbyville and learned his father’s trade, which has been his life time business. He is also joined by his son in the business now, the name of the firm being John W. Ruth & Son. He was elected to the office of mayor of Shelbyville in 1873, and served till 1875. In 1885 he was re-elected to the same office, and is now the incumbent. He was married, in 1865, to Miss Fannie E. Newton, who bore him three children, viz.: Albert H., Anne C. and Weakley D. Mr. Ruth and his two oldest children are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church South. He is a Knight Templar Mason and a Knight of Honor. Politically he is a Democrat, but conservative in his views. He is a popular, genial and enterprising citizen of Shelbyville.
Transcribed by Kathryn Hopkins
Goodspeed Publishing Co. History of Tennessee from the Earliest Time to the Present: Together with an Historical and a Biographical Sketch of Maury, Williamson, Rutherford, Wilson, Bedford & Marshall Counties, Besides a Valuable Fund of Notes, Reminescences [Sic], Observations, Etc., Etc. Easley, S.C.: Southern Historical Press, 1988.