Hometown Tuesday ~ 7 Oaks, Nelson County, Virginia

hometown tuesdayWith the establishment of the Virginia Colony in 1607, English emigrants arrived in North America by the thousands. By the late 17th century English explorers and traders had traveled up the James River to this area. Early trading posts were established between 1710 and 1720. By 1730, many families moved into the area currently known as Amherst County. They came because of the abundance of land and the good tobacco-growing soil.

Originally known as “The Oaks” and “Seven Oaks Villagethis town started as a stage station on the Charlottesville-Lynchburg road. In 1806 the county took its present proportions when Nelson County was formed from its northern half. The county seat was then moved to the village of Five Oaks, which was later renamed Amherst. The original courthouse was built in 1809 on two acres of land purchased “from a Mr. Coleman for ten shillings.” The original courthouse was torn down 1872 and the present courthouse was built “from the homemade brick of Amherst County clay.” All Amherst County records have been stored in the courthouse since 1761 when Amherst-Nelson counties were divided from Albemarle County. The county was named for Lord Amherst, known as the “Conqueror of Canada“, who commanded the British forces that successfully secured Canada from the French during the Seven Years’ War and had been named Governor of Virginia although he had never been there. 

When 7 Oaks Town’s name was changed to the Town of Amherst in 1807, it was also named after Sir Jeffery Amherst. By this time tobacco was the major crop grown as well as apples. The soil was rich and there were still plenty of lands to be had.

After the death of my 3rd Great Uncle, John Rucker (1680-1742) in January 1742, his wife Susannah (1684-1742) moved their 12 children (7 sons and 5 daughters) from Orange, Virginia to 7 Oaks. John Sr had purchased 5850 acres of land here in 1738. Unfortunately, she died in September of that same year. The Rucker’s were very prosperous making a good name for themselves and growing tobacco which they exported to England. Two of the sons, Anthony (1728-1821) and Benjamin (1726-1810) invented a new type of riverboat to transport the tobacco to Jamestown. These boats were also used to move supplies and munitions up and down the inland rivers during the Revolutionary War. Another son, John Jr. (1720-1780) was a dispatch rider for George Washington during the war.

 

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s Your Sign #3 ~ Revolutionary War James River Batteau Boats

For many years I have been collecting photos of and information about the various signs that have been placed in honor of some of my ancestors. These signs are a glimpse into some event and/or place where they lived. Some of the signs are small like a placard with a few poignant words, some are large and they go into great detail, and then there are those that are somewhere in between. Each one gives added life to those ancestors.

Ruckers James River Batteau historicalmarker2 2

My 1st cousins 7x removed, Anthony and Benjamin Rucker, invented these boats in 1774. The Batteau was used by the Continental Army. Batteau was used to move troops, munitions, and supplies on the shallow inland rivers during the Revolutionary War. They were a carefully built craft as they were often mentioned as being built by a boat builder or “ship’s carpenter.” This evidence infers that the crafts known as “James River Batteaus” were strong, shallow-drafted vessels. They were a valuable military asset and were considered a major loss if captured by the enemy. These boats were used until around 1850.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

Revolutionary War Bateau Boats Made By The Rucker’s

Anthony and Benjamin Rucker where the sons of John and Susannah (Phillips) Rucker of Rucker CrestOrange County Virginia. Benjamin born in 1726 became a lawyer, justice of the peace, a vestryman at St. Matthews Church, trustee of Warminster Academy, a member of the Amherst County Committee of Safety, and a Captain in the Revolutionary War. Anthony born in 1728 was also a Revolutionary War Captain, as well as Amherst’s Commissioner of Provision Law in 1781 and Tobacco Inspector in 1792. 

The fact that the Rucker’s were tobacco farmers prompted Benjamin and Anthony to try Batteau boatto figure an easier way to move the harvested tobacco down the James River to Richmond.  Sometime in 1774 the Rucker Brothers invented a flat-bottomed boat called a Bateau. It has not been proved as to whether it was just Anthony or if the two brothers worked together. The first Bateau was launched in April 1775. The earliest known reference to the Bateau comes from Thomas Jefferson’s account book, dated April 19, 1775. Jefferson made notes in his account book describing this new river boat in 1775: “Rucker’s bateau is 50 f. long 4 f. wide in the bottom & 6 f. wide at the top. she carries ll.hhds. & draws 13 ½ water.”

James River RuckersThe Bateaus where used by the Continental Army. Bateaus were used to move troops, munitions and supplies on the shallow inland rivers during the Revolutionary War. They were carefully built craft as they were often mentioned as being built by a boat builder or “ship’s carpenter.” This evidence infers that the crafts known as “James River Bateaus” were strong, shallow-drafted vessels. They were a valuable military asset and were considered a major loss if captured by the enemy. These boats were used until around 1850.

There is a James River Bateau Festival held every year in Lynchburg VA. They celebrate the Rucker’s and their contribution to the early Transport for the tobacco industry and the Revolutionary War. They launch replica Bateaus and travel down the James River to Maiden’s Landing.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.