Joseph R. Cruse was born in Fairmount, Missouri and raised in that state. He moved to Jefferson County in 1885 and settled along Bear Creek near Morrison where he farmed for 30 years and bred dairy cattle for over a decade. He then moved to Pine where he engaged in a mercantile business. About six years before his death he moved to Edgewater. Commissioner Cruse also served as a State Water Commissioner from 1913 to 1915, and was a member of Golden Lodge No.13 of the I.O.O.F. for 55 years.