The Families of Adam Keith

Manufacturers, Merchants, and Artisans


Electric fencing, investor, and very rich


Frank Chace Rutan [1856-1922]


Ancestry:  Adam Keith1>Johann Michael Keith2>Barbara [Keith] m. second [John] Orewiler3>Michael Orewiler4>Amelia [Orewiler] m. [Elisha A.]. Rutan5>Frank Chace Rutan6

Mr. F. C. Rutan, president of the American Electric Fence Company of Chicago, is in the city exhibiting this new electric fence, which every farmer and ranchman who sees it, pronounces the finest fence in existence. At the rear of the Glen Lea, on the vacant lot fronting Commerce street, Mr. Rutan has a small square of land fenced with four strands of the electric wire fence. The wire used is plain, smooth galvanized wire, which costs much less than the barbed wire. But, when it comes to keeping away cattle, horses or any animal, it is more effectual than a barbed wire fence can every be. At one end of this plainly and cheaply constructed fence, there is a galvanic battery fed by a common composition of water, potash and zinc in jars. This is connected with a transformer, which is fastened to a fence post, and which, transforms the current from a galvanic into an alternating current. This ingenious little arrangement has ground connection and connection with every strand of wire. By merely pressing a small lever, the current of electricity is started and every strand of wire is charged. A horse or a cow, or any animal, which once touches one of the wires when thus charged, will receive a mild shock, but of sufficient force to make a lasting impression on their register of events, so they will ever after give the fence a wide berth. The apparatus has a telephone attachment which the farmer or ranchman may connect with his fence, and by which, he can tell the instant a strand of wire is broken, by the ringing of an electric bell in his bed chamber or sitting room. And, it will do better than that. By it, he can tell exactly where the break occurred. This fence also completely knocks out the Knight of the nippers, for as soon as he applies the cutters, connection is made with the charged wire, he receives a shock which paralyzes his wrist and the deadly clippers fall harmlessly to the ground. In case of a break, the party who goes out to repair the fence, by taking along with him a telephone attachment made for the purpose, may keep in communication with the ranch or farm while he is gone.


As for the cost of constructing this electric fence, it comes, if any difference, cheaper than the old style barbed fence. The wire costs less, and by doing away with the blind, which becomes useless with the electrical attachment, the posts may be set much further apart, which further cheapens the cost of construction. Every post is properly insulated, so that there is absolutely no waste of current. The only expensive, if it can be called expensive, item about the apparatus is the transformer. These are made any size to suit the length of the fence. One to charge 50 miles of wire will cost $35. They never wear out. They are there for a life time. The cost of supplying electricity for fifty miles of a four strand fence is only $25 per year.


Any stock-grower or ranchman will readily understand the advantages of this fence over the old barbed wire from an economical standpoint. Mr. Armour, the great Chicago packer, estimates that the yearly loss on hides alone, by being prodded and cut with barbed wire, is $400,000, and Texas foots the largest per cent of this loss. The loss by worms getting into fresh cuts and causing the death of the animals much larger. The large ranchmen will readily understand, that in addition to avoiding the loss mentioned above by damage to live stock, he will save the enormous expense of line riders, who are paid to do nothing but watch fencing. By the use of the electric fence, he will be more accurately and more promptly apprised of a break in his fence from his own home.


Although only recently introduced, thousands of miles of this fence has been constructed in Illinois, and orders have piled upon the company of other thousands of miles. The demand for the fence from Texas and California caused Mr. Rutan to visit Dallas with the view, possibly, of locating state headquarters here for the distribution of the fencing material and apparatus. The work will be done through a local company of stockholders, who will control the sale of the fence in this state.


Those who see the fence are pleased with its cheapness and simplicity in construction and its general adaptability to the wants of the agriculturalist, stockraiser and ranchman. It is as far ahead of the common wire fence as the latter is ahead of the old worm rail fence.


History of Ohio Northern University [Ada, OH] 7/13/1906


"F.C. Rutan, a Franklin, lives in Chicago. He is a promoter, deals in stocks, and I infer from his conversation that he is worth nearly a million in cold cash."


The New York Times, 4/28/1922


"Frank C. Rutan Dies Suddenly In Hotel


Middle West Capitalist Stricken With Acute Indigestion While Developing a Steel Combine.


Frank C. Rutan, one of th best known capitalists of the Middle West, died suddenly from acute indigestion late yesterday afternoon at the Hotel Prince George, 14 East Twenty-eighth Street, where he had stopped at intervals for the last four or five years.  Mr. Rutan was one of the organizers, and until recently one of the Directors, of the American Fuel Oil and Transportation Company, in which he held a large block of stock. Recently he had been actively interested in the development of a combine among independent steel companies.


Mr. Rutan's death is believed by some of his close friends to have been hastened by worry over the condition of his son, George Rutan, who is dangerously ill at Anaheim, near Los Angeles, Cal.  For a long time Mr. Rutan had been subject to attacks of indigestion.


An appointment with a business acquaintance from Philadelphia was kept at the Hotel Prince George yesterday morning by Mr. Rutan, who then seemed to be in good health.  He went about his affairs without complaining until 4 o'clock yesterday afternoon, when a chambermaid, attracted by his groans, found Mr. Rutan suffering from an attack of acute indigestion.


The management of the hotel was notified of his condition and gave first aid until the arrival of Dr. George O'Connor of 25 East Thirteenth Street.  A representative of the hotel who had known Mr. Rutan for a long time was massaging the patient in the hope of giving relief when Mr. Rutan gasped: "Well, I believe I'm going now," and breathed his last.


Colonel William J. Wilsey, for many years a friend of Mr. Rutan and associated with him at one time in a business deal, was notified of Mr. Rutan's illness and arrived at his bedside just before Mr. Rutan expired.  He said that Mr. Rutan had been the subject to atacks of indigestion for many months.


From Col. Wilsey it was learned that Mr. Rutan was the man who had carried through the big irrigation project in the Twin Falls district of Idaho.  He also developed valuable properties in Florida and Chicago.  Colonel Wilsey said that Mr. Rutan started in life as a professor in an Illinois college.  He was an expert in chemistry and conducted a number of experiments on the basis of which he drew up specifications for fuel oil for American and British battleships just before the European war."

June 16, 1891, Dallas Daily Times Herald, p. 5, col. 2.






A Dallas Company to be Organized to Handle the Texas Trade.


Every Farmer May Have His Own Telephone and Know the Exact Condition of His Fences.


Electricity has worked its way into industry and the arts until it is now indispensable. Ever since Benjamin Franklin brought it down his kite string, it has been undergoing a constant taming process, until to-day, it is one of the most docile and one of the most useful agents of man. But, it remains for a Chicago man to employ it in an entirely new field. He uses it to fence pastures and fields, and it makes a perfect fence, the only perfect fence known to the world.

Morton School

Sharon Township, Richland Co. OH

ca 1918

F. C. Rutan taught here in 1879-1880 after graduating from Ohio Northern Univ.