At the age of twelve he became his father's assistant in the manufacturing of fanning mills. The team of father and son successfully made wire screens which became the foundation of a business. In 1832 James moved to Greenbrier County, Virginia, to set up mills. After a few years he returned to Pennsylvania. In about 1835 he went down to Louisiana, where he contracted malaria, and had to move north again. Poor health compelled him to abandon business in 1839.
He served in county offices in Washington County. He gained the title of general through his service in the Pennsylvania National Guard.
Married 24 Sep 1839 Sarah A. Mays, daughter of Charles Mays, of one of Washington County's first families.
Children: Charles M. Ruple, James Goodrich Ruple, Virginia Ruple Jones, Anna M. Ruple, Frank W. Ruple, Catherine Mays Ruple Thompson, Etta Ruple Cuthbertson.
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