Category Archives: French Huguenot

Here’s Your Sign #8 ~ Ruckersville

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.

Ruckersville Peter Rucker historicalmarker

 

John Rucker, my 6th great-uncle, named the town of Ruckersville in Greene County, Virginia, after his uncle with whom he shared the name, John. Captain John Rucker established the St. Marks Parish Church here in 1732. The Rucker family patriarch Peter Rucker immigrated to the colonies in 1666. He was a French Huguenot who came here for religious freedoms. He settled not far from the town and many of his descendants lived in the area for generations.

 

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, French Huguenot, Genealogy, Here's Your Sign, Markers, Peter Rucker, Rucker's, Uncategorized, Virginia

Water ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks ~ #14

Peter Rucker huguenotMy 7x Great Grandfather Peter Rucker was a Huguenot (French Protestant) who was born in Bavaria, Germany in 1661. He was the son of Ambrose Levi Rucker a German citizen and Elizabeth Ann Beauchamp a French citizen.

The Huguenots were oppressed and outright killed throughout France from the mid-16th to the early 18th centuries. The French Catholic monarchy conducted the infamous slaughter of an estimated 70,000 Huguenots from Aug. 23-24, 1572, in the “St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre.” Approximately 400,000 Huguenots fled to Holland and England, and from there a small percentage came to Colonial America. They settled in New York, Boston, South Carolina and in Virginia, in what is now Powhatan County, on 10,000 acres ceded to them by Richmond city founder William Byrd I.

huguenot settlement Virginia

King William of England supplied more than 500 Huguenots with five ships and supplies bound for Virginia. However, when they arrived at Jamestown, William Byrd I and Gov. Francis Nicholson met them and instead steered the exhausted Huguenots 30 difficult miles upriver from Richmond to an abandoned Monacan Indian settlement, which later became known as Manakin Town.

This is how and why Peter Rucker came to the Colony of Virginia. Peter married Elizabeth Fielding in England before making the voyage across the sea. His first 2 sons were born in Gloucestershire, England in 1680 and 82. His first daughter was born in Virginia in 1702, so we know the Ruckers arrived here about 1700. Of the 5 ships that King William sent to Virginia only 3 of the ships manifests have been found. Peter and his family were not listed on those but he did arrive at the same time so we assume he was on one to the other two ships.

barrel

Since there is no definitive proof that Peter was on one of the ships, there are many legends surrounding his arrival. There are legends enough and the common thread is a “calamity at sea”. The most popular tale of Peter’s arrival is that his ship went down, and he swam ashore to the beach of the Virginia Colony.  Some say that he bobbed ashore with the assistance of a keg or two of rum; some favor the alternative spirits of brandy or whiskey. Some say Peter buoyed in the surf by the buoyant keg until he was rescued, a romantic but purely fanciful image. In the biography of Rev. James Rucker from the 1882 History of DeWitt Co., IL  it is claimed that Peter swam seven miles to Cape Hatteras, clutching a bottle of French brandy. In this case, the spirits were a reward, rather shipwreckthan being a savior. Another account appeared in a letter from Marie Keeble Rucker to Mrs. George S. DuBois it read: Frenchman Peter Rucker abandoned his warship, The Rising Sun when it was captured by the British, and he reached the shore “with great damage to his body from the effects of the saltwater.” Surprisingly, there is no mention of liquor in this version. It is a fact that a ship sank at the Jamestown Virginia dock in 1700 when Peter Rucker’s arrival has been suggested. Until a manifest or some other documentation is found we can just entertain ourselves imagining the “heroics” of Peter clutching a keg of rum and paddling toward shore.

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under #52ancestors, 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks, Ancestry, Family History, Family Search, French Huguenot, Genealogy, History, Personal Stories, Peter Rucker, Ship Wrecked, Uncategorized, Virginia

William Vassall, England to Massachusetts

map_england_1660-1892 (1)William Vassall was born on August 27, 1592, in Stepney, Middlesex, England. He was the son of John Vassal (the builder and owner of the Mayflower) and Anne Russell. The Vassall’s were of French descent. John Vassal who was born in Caen, Normandie, France about 1524 converted from Catholicism to Protestantism and had to flee France due to persecution.

William married Anna King in London, England in 1613. He was a merchant working for the Massachusetts Bay Company. He first came to America in 1630 on the Arabella and he returned to England in the fall of that year.

In July 1635 he brought his wife and 7 children to Massachusetts on the ship “Blessing”. ma bay colonyThey settled in Roxbury, but they moved to Scituate around November 1636. He was the first to build a home here. By 1637 they joined the local Church. He and Anna took the oath of allegiance to the Plymouth colony on February 1, 1638, and they received 150 acres of land for doing so. While living here he was on the committee to consider the division of lands, the committee to resolve orders, he was an arbiter, a deputy, he served on the Council of War and he was listed as one of the men who were able to own and bear arms. They moved to Marshfield in 1643 and William became a town officer.

William did not agree with the attitude of Mass. Bay and Plymouth governments towards persons whose opinions in politics and religion differed from the Puritan line. He used his influences for greater charity toward the Quakers, etc. The elders expressed their disapproval towards his outspokenness. The church of Plymouth sent him a message by way of John Cook, which is recorded in the book of the Second Church, Scituate, dated April 14, 1645; hoping he would desist from proceedings intended, and questioned if they would commune with him if he continued. He went to England in 1646 with a petition to Parliament for the liberty of English subjects.” (NEH&GR, Jan 1863, page 58)

barbadosmapHe returned to Scituate in 1647 however, being provoked by the persecution to which the Quakers were subjected, he returned to England with most of his family. Later he and Anna went to Barbados and he died there in 1657. William’s son, Captain John Vassall, sold the Situate estate in 1661, but the daughters married and remained in this country.

One of William’s daughters, Judith, married Resolved White who came to America aboard the Mayflower with his parents William and Susannah (Jackson) White.

William Vassall is my 10th Great Grandfather.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com:   http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Ancestry, Barbados, Europe, Family History, Family Search, French Huguenot, Genealogy, History, Massachuettes, Mayflower, McGowan, Smith, Uncategorized, William Vassall

52 Ancestors Week #10- Stormy Weather – Peter Rucker, First to Come to America

peter ruckerPeter Rucker is said to be the first of the Rucker line to come to America. He was born in Germany and his family fled to France during an uprising in their native land. Peter and his 3 brothers boarded a ship traveling along with 3 other ships to come to the new land and reached the shores of Virginia in the late 1600’s. There are several stories as to how Peter arrived here. A great storm arose as they were approaching land and it is proven that one of the ships sank before reaching the dock. This is where things change. The debate is how Peter, who was on the sinking ship, got to shore. Below are some of the accounts that can be found. I really like number 6 as this would be a great story to tell!

  1. “Peter Rucker floated for three days on a piece of driftwood, being picked up by a passing vessel.” (From Edythe Whitley’s History of the Rucker Family, p.9)
  1. Peter’s ship was “wrecked in a heavy storm 12 miles from the Jamestown shore—nearly all were lost. [Peter] tied two casks of rum together which buoyed him up and he floated for two days” until rescued. (This story was handed down in the family of Thomas B. Rucker, b. Oct. 29, 1807, Caldwell Co., KY and printed in Eva Cutts Davidson’s Rucker Kinsmen, p.45)
  1. “Peter Rucker . . . landed in Norfolk in 1701 after being shipwrecked and floating on a timber in mid ocean for three days. He landed at Norfolk with two brothers possibly three brothers . . . He left Norfolk in 1715 for the upcountry, and settled in Amherst Co., [VA]. (Written in a letter found by James M. Rucker, Gladys, VA, among his mother’s papers. This version came through the family of Edwin Sorrell Rucker, born April 8, 1803 [Wood, p.82])
  1. “The family of Ruckers were Huguenots and left France in the 17th century and settled near Fairfax, VA . . . The vessel which brought them to America was wrecked and everyone on board lost, except Rucker himself and one companion. (This story came through the family of Jonathan Rucker [Wood, p.299] of Mississippi, printed in The Alstons and Allstons, by Joseph A. Groves, p.147)
  1. “That there were three Rucker brothers who came over from Holland in Colonial Days. Their ship sank and only one lived to get to shore and that all the Ruckers were descended from this one man and most of them lived in the south.” (Neil Lewis Rucker, Burdett, KS, 1966, in a letter to Paul H. Rucker of Burlington, Iowa, submitted by Neil’s son, Clair N. Rucker)
  1. “The first of the name in America was Peter Rucker, a native of France. On the voyage to America, the vessel in which he sailed was wrecked about 12 miles from shore and nearly all on board were lost. Before leaving the wreck, Mr. Rucker took the precaution of tying a couple of large flasks of rum to his neck which buoyed him up. By that means and by taking an occasional drink of it, he was enabled to reach shore.” (‘Early Settlers of Sangamon County, IL,’ by Powers, 1876, submitted by Bette Lou Upton Nienstedt)
  1. “By the grace of God, a deck of cards, and a keg of rum, you are here today” (A talk by Edith Copeland Rucker to descendants at the Rucker Family Reunion, 1994.) “ . . . Peter Rucker was the first Rucker on American soil, and he came on a ship that was wrecked just before reaching the shores of Virginia back in the late 1600s. It seems that there were two potential survivors of the disaster, and they gambled in a game of ‘seven-up’ to determine who would win the remaining keg of rum to use to float to shore. Peter won, and ‘a keg of rum’ has over the years, been used as the password of Peter Rucker’s descendants.” (First printed in Days Gone By in Alpharetta and Roswell, GA, by Caroline Matheny Dillman, Nov. 15, 1986.)

Peter Rucker is my 7th Great Grandfather.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

10 Comments

Filed under #52ancestors, Ancestry, Family History, French Huguenot, Genealogy, Peter Rucker, Ship Wrecked, Virginia