History and images have been compiled from various sources including, among others, the 1987 National Register of Historic Places, Stack & Beasley's 1902 Sketches of Monroe and Union County, Union County Public Library (Patricia Poland, Genealogy & Local History Librarian), the Heritage Room Photo Collection, North Carolina Map Collection, Rootsweb - An Ancestry.com Community and Ancestry.com family histories.

The W.J. Rudge Company

Photo courtesy the Heritage Room Collection
The W.J. Rudge Company

"The accompanying picture shows the pretty interior of the book, stationery, fancy goods and jewelry store of the W.J. Rudge Company, and a visit to this store will verify the impression made by the picture that this is one of the prettiest stores of its kind to be found in North Carolina. Not only is it pretty, but it is likewise commodious, having a floor space of 31x90 feet. That handsome building was recently erected by Belk Bros. and was constructed especially for this firm. The interior is finely finished, which, with the many large floor show cases, and other up-to-date furnishings, accounts for the fine effect upon a visitor as he enters the door. The company is incorporated [1 Oct 1900] and has the following officers: R.A. Morrow,  president; Dr. J.M. Belk, vice-president; W.J. Rudge, secretary, treasurer and general manager. Papers of incorporation were granted in October 1900 and the company has since been doing a thriving business. Mr. Rudge, the manager, is assisted by his sister, Miss Kate Rudge, both of whom are exceedingly popular. Mr. Rudge is yet a very young man, and a bright future lies before him. The company has a large trade in school books, books of a general nature, magazines, jewelry and fancy goods." (Stack & Beasley 1902)

The company advertised frequently in the Monroe Journal. The follow is a 1903 ad:
"A Little Side Talk on Watches and Jewelry. We have just received a new supply of watches and jewelry and those wanting to purchase a watch, now is the time. We want you to compare the prices we name below and see if we do not save you from 20 to 25 per cent. 18 size 7 jewel Elgin in solid nickel case at $4.98; 18 size 7 jewel Seth Thomas in solid nickel case at $5.98; 18 size 7 jewel Elgin in 20 year in Fay's case at $9.75. We also have other sizes at prices that will save you money. We have in stock the celebrated 1-10th gold chain at a big reduction. Don't fail to give us a call. The W. J. Rudge Co." (24 Mar 1903 The Monroe Journal p. 3) - Contributed by great grandson David Rudge.

John and Louisa Rudge
William Rudge (1778-1823) - born and died in England

John Rudge (1822-1860) - born in London, England, married Louisa Mitchell. He died in Wilmington, NC on 30 Dec 1860. According to Dave W. Rudge, Louisa migrated to Monroe with her son's (John William Rudge (1849-1915) family, where she started a millinery store with her daughter Caroline Virginia (Pae) Rudge.

"MILLINERY AND DRESS MAKING. Mrs. L. and Mrs. Carrie V. Rudge, we understand, will open, at an early day, a millinery and dress making establishment in the room recently occupied by Mr. J. S. Lucas. Goods are already bought and will be here in a few days. Circulars announcing day of opening will be distributed shortly. Mrs. L. Rudge has been working here for some time in the dress making department and has displayed much taste and experience in her work." (16 Apr 1877 Monroe Enquirer)

John William (1849-1915)
Caroline Virginia Pae Rudge
John William Rudge (1849-1915) was born in France and died in Morganton, NC, married Caroline Virginia Pae. First settled in Wilmington, NC; arrived in Monroe before 1876. 1880 Monroe census: tin smith "tinner" John W. Rudge 31, milliner Carrie V. 31, daughter Carrie V. 5, son Wm. John 4, daughter Kate 1, mother-in-law Sophia Pae 58 and servant Robert Blair 35.

W.J.'s Sisters
Bettie and Caroline
W.J.Rudge (1876-1940)
William John Rudge (1876-1940) born 17 July 1876 in Monroe to J. W. and Caroline Pae Rudge. His siblings, Bettie Louise (1871-1879) and Caroline Virginia (1874-1962) were born in Wilmington. Sister Katherine Erma "Kate" (1879-1969) was born in Monroe and married James Thomas Griffith (1879-1955) 29 June 1904 in the First Presbyterian Church, Monroe; Griffith was born in Davidson County. Caroline Virginia "Carrie" married John Bunyan Coble in 1897.*

Sister Kate
W.J.'s Wife
Ethel J. Adams
Ethel Adams Rudge
William John Rudge was christened at the First Presbyterian Church at age 16 (3 June 1880); he married Ethel Josephine Adams (1876-1963) 7 Aug 1901. Their children: William Jerome (1902-1972) and Fannie Person Rudge (1906-1962).

W.J. 1938 in Office
W.J. outside Store
William John Rudge died 26 Nov 1940 in the Ellen Fitzgerald Hospital; in 1917 he organized donations and contributed money for the then proposed hospital. His funeral was at First Presbyterian Church; buried in Suncrest Cemetery, Monroe, Union County, NC.

Part of his obituary:
..."Mr. Rudge was born in Monroe in July, 1876. His parents had come here from Wilmington the previous year before when the railroad came. Monroe was expected to soon be a big town and it did go into a boom.   Mr. Rudge's father, the late John W. Rudge, was a tinner and contractor and put the roofs on all the early buildings erected here. As a youth he had a considerable career. His parents were English people who moved to France, where he was born. When he was eight years old his parents came to Wilmington and settled. At fourteen he ran away from home and got into the Confederate service. When the Confederacy was on its last legs, its ebbing commercial life blood was kept flowing through the Federal blockade at Wilmington. Blockade runners passed in and out under the guns of Fort Fisher, dodged through and around the Federal fleet at night. The cotton that they carried out and the goods they brought in from Nassau, Cuba and other ports, kept North Carolinian troops supplied after every other port of the Confederacy had fallen. Mr. Rudge was a cabin boy in the blockade fleet and ran under the gun many times, going and coming between Wilmington and Nassau.
     Mrs. Rudge, the mother of Mr. W. J. Rudge, was a Virginian, born and reared in Richmond.
     Mr. Rudge was educated in the Monroe schools and in Washington City. He came back from Washington and began in the store of Belk Bros. Almost accidentally he got into the business which he followed in after life. Rev. A. T. Latta, who had run a book store in Monroe for many years, wished to sell out on account of his age. The Belks, Mr. R. A. Morrow, and Mr. Rudge bought the store and greatly enlarged it, and Mr. Rudge managed it the remainder of his life, having bought out his partners many years before. Mr. Rudge was an elder in the Presbyterian church, a Mason, and a man who had a large circle of warm friends. He was of a keen mind, affable, kind and accommodating. His long years in the book and jewelry business had made him known to a great many people who will learn of his death with regret.
Mr. Rudge is survived by Mrs. Rudge, who was Miss Josephine Adams, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Adams, and by one son and one daughter. The son is Mr. William J. Rudge J. of Pittsfield, Mass., and the daughter is Mrs. Steve Kenney of Tarboro. Two sisters survive, Mrs. Carrie Coble and Mrs. Jas. T. Griffith, of Monroe." (26 Nov 1940 The Monroe Journal p. 1, 5)

"Rudge Business Sold Monday to Local Men. The W. J. Rudge Company, jewelers and stationers, has been bought by Messrs. W. L. Langdon and J. Howard Williams, it was announced yesterday. The firm will be operated under the same name and at the same location. Mr. Langdon and Mr. Stanley Helms will remain in charge of the watch department. Mr. Williams, principal of the Benton Heights school, will resign at the end of his term and take active charge of the business. Mr. Langdon will continue to operate his jewelry store on Franklin street. The purchase price of the business was not announced. The sale was made by the administrators of the estate of Mr. W. J. Rudge, who died recently. The store handles jewelry, books, stationary, novelties, etc." (10 Dec 1940 The Monroe Journal p. 1) - Contributed by great grandson David Rudge.

Mary Katherine Coble
Edwin H. Niven II

* Caroline Virginia "Carrie" Rudge and John B. Coble's son, Emmett Rudge Coble (1898-1949) married Selma Louise Medlin. Their daughter Mary Kathryn "Kat" Coble (1918-2002) married Edwin Harold Niven Jr. (1918-1989) 28 June 1942.  

"Kat" Niven's father
Emmett Rudge Coble

Coble Family portrait: Standing (l-r) Paul Watson Coble, John Bunyan Coble Jr., Harry Woods Coble, Emmett Rudge Coble (oldest), Wesley Wendall Coble. Seated (l-r) John Bunyan Coble Sr., David Lamar Coble, Louisa Rudge Coble, Carrie Rudge Coble, Caroline Virginia Coble. circa 1915 (be sure to enlarge.

Descendants of Caroline Virginia Rudge Coble - Genealogy and Family Photos

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