This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California

Phoenix history as seen through the eyes of a dog - Judge Ruppert


I enjoy Phoenix history. And when people hear about that, they usually go find a history book, and ask me to look at it, or talk about some famous person. And yes, I've read the books, and I've learned about the famous people. I did that a long time ago, and it was boring. No wonder kids don't like to learn history in school! I'm interested in ordinary stuff. I want to see, and feel, what it would have been like living in Phoenix 100 years ago. And yesterday I got the chance to see it, through the eyes of a dog, whose name was Judge.

One of my PhD (Phoenix History Detectives) let me borrow a box of stuff yesterday. It's owned by the heirs of the estate of Fred Ruppert, who died this year, and who had been very involved with Phoenix History, including First Families. I was given permission by the family to scan in what I felt was appropriate, and to share them on the internet, which I started doing yesterday. In fact, I spent just about all day yesterday doing it. And it started with a dog named Judge, who lived in Phoenix between 1898 and 1902.

If you're wondering how I could be so precise, keep in mind that there's a lot of information out there, in places like the Library of Congress. And even though I'm more of a visual person, I can do some detective work, and more importantly, I have detective experts out there that help. I call them "left-brained people" because I'm more of a "right-brained person". That is, I like pictures, I'm a visual person. But I can't really enjoy old photos of Phoenix unless I can walk into them in my imagination, and I know the exact place and time. Walk with me.

Like most old photos, some had writing on the back, some had nothing. The collection was from the Ruppert family, whose roots go deep in Phoenix history, and I kept seeing the name "Judge Ruppert" on the back of several photos that had a dog. Then I found an article about the dog's untimely death in 1902, which I was able to confirm on the Library of Congress site. The article, as you can see, mentions the age of the dog, and from that I was able to determine that the photos of Judge had to be between 1898 and 1902. And since he's not a puppy in any of the photos, it narrowed it down to 1899 and 1902.

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December 21, 1902 article about the death of Ed Ruppert's dog, Judge, the 176-pound Great Dane, who was born in Phoenix in 1898. From the Library of Congress http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020558/1902-12-21/ed-1/seq-4.pdf

OK, let's do some Phoenix History Detective work. I started with a bunch of photos that had various names on them, including "Judge", and an old newspaper article, which turns out to be from 1902. Here's a link to the entire newspaper page, from the Library of Congress http://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/lccn/sn84020558/1902-12-21/ed-1/seq-4.pdf

As you can see, the article is about the untimely death of the dog Judge, who belonged to Ed Ruppert. Since it gave the dog's age, I knew that any photos that included the dog had to be before December of 1902, and after 1898.

Ed Ruppert and his Great Dane Judge in 1901, Phoenix, Arizona. You're looking north at Washington and 9th Avenue. Sadly, Judge died in 1902. From the Ruppert Family Collection.

Then I found a lot more information about the Ruppert family in Phoenix. There was Ed, of course, and also his sons Fred and Karl. Luckily, some of the photos gave an exact location, which is where the family lived for a long time, at 9th Avenue and Washington. So I had an exact location, an exact date, and exact names. All because of a dog! Thanks, Judge! Good dog!

Fred and Karl Ruppert with their dog Judge in 1901, Phoenix, Arizona. You're looking north from 9th Avenue and Adams. It was written on the back of the photo. From the Ruppert Family Collection.


Image at the top of this post: Looking east on Washington towards 1st Avenue at the Fleming Building and the Monihon Building in 1901, Phoenix, Arizona.