Ruth Hall Van Sant

Ruth Van SantFirst Lady
January 7, 1901 - January 4, 1905

Born: April 7, 1848
in Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania

Died: April 24, 1928
in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Married December 7, 1868 to Samuel Van Sant

Ruth Hall was born in Pennsylvania in 1848, the eldest of William and Harriet Hall's five children. When Ruth was eight years old the family moved to Iowa, where her father worked as a farmer and attorney. Ruth attended Iowa Seminary and taught school in Le Claire, Iowa, where she met a "dashing young cavalryman," Samuel Van Sant, and they married in 1868. The Van Sants had three children, only one of whom survived to adulthood.

In Le Claire, Samuel Van Sant and his father founded a successful business building and operating steamboats. In 1883 Samuel moved his family to Winona, Minnesota, whe he entered politics. He was elected governor in 1900, serving until 1905. During this time the Van Sants moved permanently to St. Paul.

Ruth took an active interest in her husband's political career but was not herself a public figure, preferring to focus her attention on home and family. She was a charter member of the Daughters of the American Revolution in Minneapolis and was active in the Lafayette Club in Minnetonka, the International Sunshine Society (an international organization to help blind children), and the Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church. She was also described as having "a genius for friendship."

The Van Sants enjoyed travelling; they took trips to Europe and California, and spent the last fifteen winters of their marriage in Tampa, Florida. Ruth died from influenza in 1928 at the age of 80. Both Van Sants are buried in their hometown of Le Claire, Iowa.