Even in an age which recognizes young men and places responsibilities upon them which in the past have been laid only upon the shoulders of those of more mature years we seldom find one of twenty-eight years entrusted with the complex details of the business end of the administration of a City of 30,000 inhabitants. Such, however, is the confidence placed in Martin T. Rudgren by the people of the City of Rock Island that they elected him City Clerk when he had barely passed his twenty-eighth mile-stone, and that by an overwhelming majority. Events have shown that the trust was well merited.
Mr. Rudgren was born in Rock Island April 7, 1879. His parents, Carl J. and Christina W. Rudgren, were both born in Sweden, the former June 22, 1836, in Vermland, and the latter March 13, 1858, in Ostergotland. The father came to Rock Island in 1868. After a year he went to Moline and made his home in that City seven years. Then he returned to Rock Island, and has resided there since. Mr. and Mrs. Rudgren’s marriage took place March 14, 1878. In addition to the subject of this sketch they had one son, Carl Ludwig, who was born January 28, 1881, and died June 14 of the same year. Mrs. Rudgren died February 4, 1881. Mr. Rudgren is now retired and is cared for by his son. Martin attended the public schools of Rock Island, and after graduating obtained a commercial education at Augustana Business College and, the Gustus School of Business in Moline. Then he set out to make his own way. In this he was somewhat handicapped by an accident which maimed him permanently. When eight years old he was injured by being thrown from a sled so that the removal of the right hip joint became necessary. From this time on the use of crutches was required, but so well did Mr. Rudgren learn to handle himself that his handicap after all proved to be but a slight one.
Mr. Rudgren was first employed in the office of an implement factory in Moline, where he remained two years. Resigning at the end of this period he accepted a position with a Rock Island manufacturer, retaining it till the Winter of 1904-05. Then he resigned to take up the duties of tax collector for Rock Island, an office to which he had been elected in April, 1904. He served with such entire satisfaction that his successor the following year detailed ‘him to again collect the taxes for the township. In the Spring of 1907 H. C. Schaffer declined renomination for the office of City Clerk, and Mr. Rudgren’s Republican friends saw in him a suitable man for the place. They urged him to make the race and he did, with the result that he defeated his opponent by a majority of over 1600 votes. He took up the duties of office in May, 1907.
Mr. Rudgren is an active member of the First Swedish Lutheran Church of Rock Island and a leader in young people’s work. His political affiliations have always been with the Republican party. He is unmarried.