Harry Welles Rusk
Harry Welles Rusk, a native of Baltimore, Maryland, was born on October 17th 1852 though his death certificate and gravestone read 1854. His parents were Jacob Krebs Rusk, a butcher, and Catharine Olivia Lane. His great great grandfather was David Rusk who volunteered to serve without pay in the Revolutionary War, and his grandfather was George Welles Rusk who also volunteered and served in the War of 1812. His mother, Catharine Lane, was a first generation immigrant from Ireland. Harry was one of six children. Listed from oldest to youngest they are George, Harry Welles, Hannah, Jacob Krebs Jr., Thomas, and Jefferson Steuart. Harry and his family were Methodists who practiced at the First Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Publicly schooled, Harry Welles Rusk graduated Baltimore City College High School in 1866 and then from the University of Maryland Law School in 1872. After careful review of the 1872 class register, Robert Murch discovered that Elijah J. Bond is listed as Rusk's classmate. Elijah J. Bond filed the first patent No. 446,054 on the Ouija board in 1890. The two would meet in law class and begin their historic friendship.) Rusk was then admitted to the bar the following year in 1873. Shortly after that he entered into business with his brothers and opened a private practice, Rusk and Rusk, located in downtown Baltimore. The practice specialized in patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Rusk and Bond would remain close friends and Rusk would take out a mortgage from Bond in 1876.
Heavily active in politics, Harry Welles Rusk was a proud Democrat who was elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1876 and again in 1882. He became the chairman of the Democratic City Committee of Baltimore City in 1882 and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1884. Rusk was then elected to the Maryland State Senate in 1884 and again in 1886. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives representing Maryland’s Third District in the 1885 term, elected on November 2nd 1886 after the death of William Cole, serving the remainder of his term. He then went on to serve four additional consecutive terms in the House. After declining to be a candidate in 1896, Rusk resumed his post as the chairman of the Democratic City Committee of Baltimore in 1898 and resigned in 1908. He also continued his private practice in Baltimore. He was also a member of the Maryland Club, the Merchant's Club, and the Yacht Club.
On October 20th 1890 Harry Welles Rusk along with Charles W. Kennard, William H. A. Maupin, Col. Washington Bowie, and John F. Green appeared in a Baltimore Court to sign and register the incorporation papers of the Kennard Novelty Company which were certified on October 30th 1890. Rusk is listed as the company's president on the Ouija trademark No. 18,919 which was registered February 3rd 1891.
The Kennard Novelty Company was reorganized by Col. Washington Bowie and its name changed to the Ouija Novelty Company in 1892. Harry Welles Rusk remained as its president and on April 12th 1898 the Ouija Novelty Company would assign its assets and interest including the U. S. Bond Ouija patent 446,054 and U. S. Ouija trademark 18,919 to Bowie and Rusk in the split of 5/6 to Col. Washington Bowie and 1/6 to Harry Welles Rusk. On December 2nd 1902 Rusk's relationship with the Ouija board came to an end when he sold his 1/6 remaining interest to Bowie for $100.00.
Rusk married Isabelle Whitmore Adams on December 16th 1880. They had only one son, Harry Welles Rusk Jr. Harry Welles Rusk died of influenza with bronchitis on January 28th 1926 and is buried with his wife and her family at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland.
(For more information about the Rusk family please visit RuskFamily.com.)
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