Tag Archives: Virginia

Solo ~ William Thornton Sr. ~ 52 Ancestors 52 Weeks #27

solo-logoThis week’s prompt is “Solo” so I thought I would write about one of my many ancestors who made the voyage to America by themselves. Since there are so many I had a hard time choosing just one. However, I have never written about this particular ancestor before and I have enjoyed researching him.

William Thornton, my 10x Great Grandfather, was born in 1620 in The Hills, Yorkshire, England. He immigrated to Jamestown Virginia in 1641 being transported powatan warby William Prior and by 1643 he moved to York County, Virginia. There he purchased 164 acres of land and began to build his home. On April 18, 1644, the Powhatan Confederacy launched a coordinated attack on the settlements in Virginia killing around 400 colonists. All of the settlers who survived the attack were ordered to return to Jamestown for their safety and this included William. Here he married Elizabeth Rowland (1627-1671) in May 1644.

By 1647, the Indian War was over and William and his wife returned to his property and completed the house. They had 3 sons, William Jr. (1649-1727), Francis (1652-1726), and Rowland (1653-1722). In October 1648 the House of Burgess passed an William Thornton mapact allowing settlement north of the York River with an effective date of 1 September 1649. Colonists were allowed to apply for land grants immediately. It was two months later on December 21, 1648, that Richard Lee was granted 1250 acres on the north side of York River. Sometime before February 16, 1653, Lee assigned the northern portion of his grant to William Thornton thus it appears William Thornton moved north of the York River between September 1,1649 and February 16, 1653. This land is in present-day  Gloucester County, Virginia, on the south side of Bland Creek. Gloucester County was created in 1651 from York County.

It was on this parcel in Gloucester County that William would live until he moved to Stafford County, Virginia, around 1708. On February 16, 1665, William Thornton of Petsoe Parish, Gloucester County, increased the size of his holdings when he received a grant of land for another 164 acres on land joining the land where he lived.

Even though he continued to live in Gloucester County, on September 27,1673 William purchased land further to the west up the Rappahannock River apparently to provide for his sons. William purchased 2000 acres on the north side of the river from John and George Mott. That same day William, of Gloucester County, Virginia, gave James Kay a power of attorney to accept possession of the 2000 acres he had purchased from the Motts. William gave this land on July 16, 1675, to his 210px-William-thortonsons Francis and Rowland, if they had no heirs then it would go to his son William Jr. William was a vestryman in Petsoe Parish from 1677-1706. He was listed as William Thornton, Senior, in the Petsoe Parish, Gloucester County, quit rent roll for 1704 as having 525 acres. On April 23,1706 William asked for a “quietus” from serving as a vestryman. The vestry granted his request and appointed a new vestryman in his stead. Sometime before December 22, 1708, William moved to Stafford County, Virginia. On that date William, “Late of the County of Gloucester and now of Stafford County,” gave a power of attorney to Jonathan Gibson to acknowledge a deed of gift for 2000 acres of land he had given to his sons in 1675. He had acknowledged the deed in Gloucester County Court but wanted to record it in Richmond County where the land was then located. William died in 1709. Although he came to the colonies solo, he left an abundance of descendants.

Researching this ancestor has led me to the discovery of a new line that I am anxious to dive into. If what I uncovered is true and I can prove it, I may be related to one of my favorite historical figures. If it proves correct, I will be writing a follow-up blog.

 

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.

 

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Here’s Your Sign #5 ~ Rosewell Mansion, Gloucester Co, Virginia

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.

rosewell sign Mann Page

 

Mann Page Sr. (1691-1730), my 8x Great Grandfather, was born on the property that was to become Rosewell Plantation in Gloucester County, Virginia. His parents and his grandparents on both sides were all deceased by the time he was 16 years old and he was left with all of the property and wealth they had all acquired. The building of the mansion began in 1725. It was built of brick with imported marble casements, and it was 3 stories high, not including the basement. It was then and for many years afterward the largest house in Virginia. The rooms were cubes in their proportions. The large hall was wainscoted with polished mahogany and the banister of the grand stairway was made of the same material and it was carved by hand to represent baskets of fruit, flowers, etc. From the roof of the Mansion, you could see the Nelson House at Yorktown that was 15 miles away. It is said that Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence in this house before going to Philadelphia.

 

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.

 

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Hometown Tuesday ~ Northumberland County, VA

hometown tuesdayIn the winter of 1607–08, Captain John Smith traveled up the Rappahannock River as a prisoner of the Powhatans. He was the first European known to have visited the Northern Neck. Northumberland County, Virginia, was originally known as Chickacoan, an Indian district on the Northern Neck, lying between the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers, tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay.

In 1648, this “Mother County of the Northern Neck” was organized and VA-Northumberland conamed after County Northumberland, England. The first white settler to make a permanent home in the county was Col. John Mottram, sometime between 1635-1640. In 1651 Northumberland County, Virginia, was officially formed by an act passed by the Burgesses in Jamestown, Virginia. It was later divided into three additional counties: Lancaster, Richmond, and Westmoreland

Virginia OystersSteeped in history, it is a land where generations of watermen continue to harvest Rockfish, Blue Crabs, and the ever-famous Virginia Oyster from the waters surrounding the peninsula.

This peninsula nestled between the two above Rivers and spilling intoz-4 northumberland county Marker the Chesapeake Bay was part of the enormous 1649 land grant by Charles II, known as the Fairfax Grant. The bountiful waters of the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers and the Chesapeake Bay supported and induced English settlement. The English built stately homes and farmed tobacco for export to England, which became the basis of the Northern Neck’s economy during the Colonial era. Some consider this area as the “birthplace of our nation” with three of the first five American presidents born here along with other prominent families that helped form our nation.

george_washingtonThe Northern Neck’s most famous son, George Washington, my 3rd cousin 8x removed, was born on Pope’s Creek off the Potomac River, called the region “the Garden of Virginia.” Our nation’s fifth president, James Monroe, was born in Westmoreland County in 1758.

Captain William Powell, my 9x Great Grandfather, came from Wales in 1607 with Capt. John Smith. He represented James City in the First House of Burgess. He was killed by Indians 1623.

The Lee family of Virginia called the Northern Neck home and builtStratford Hall this one Stratford Hall in the 1730s, of bricks fired from the clay soil on the premises. A son of Thomas Lee, my 11x Great Grandfather, Richard Henry Lee, my 10x Great Grandfather, co-wrote the Westmoreland Resolves, which proposed American independence in 1766 in protest against the Stamp Act. Richard Henry Lee and his brother Francis Lightfoot Lee, my 2nd cousin 9 x removed, were the only two brothers to sign the Declaration of Independence. The last Lee to survive to maturity, Robert E. Lee, my 4th cousin 7x removed, was born at Stratford Hall in 1807.

For hundreds of years, Northumberland remained a county largely isolated from the rest of the state due to the lack of a road network. But in 1926, with the bridge crossing from Essex County to the Northern Neck, with access to the west, growth began in the area.

 

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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

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Freaky Fridays ~ What’s Your Name?

Freaky Fridays imageI, like many others, have several ancestors who have given two of their children the same name. This usually occurs when the first-named child had died, so the next child of the same gender born after the death of the first child will be given the same name. I have a couple of ancestors who have lost 2 children at a young age so the next two were named after them. So, there were two Benjamins and two Rueben’s in the same family.

Last week I came across a Freaky naming pattern. My 6x Great Grandfather, John PageJohn Page who had a total of 13 children, 12 with his first wife and 1 with his second. John was a prominent figure in Virginia history. He came from a long line of Page’s who lived on Rosewell Plantation located in Gloucester County. He had attended William and Mary University where his roommate was Thomas Jefferson. They became lifelong friends. He fought under George Washington in the French and Indian Wars. He also served in the Revolutionary War, was a Congressman from Virginia, and became Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

With his first wife, he named his 3rd son after himself. John #1 was born in 1768 on the Rosewell Plantation. He died of pneumonia a few months later, also in 1768.

Five years and 2 more children later John #2 was born in 1773. His mother Frances came from the Burwell family who was also prominent in the area. They owned Fairfield Plantation not far from Rosewell. Fairfield was the largest Plantation in Gloucester Count encompassing thousands of acres which included Carter’s Creek. The creek had been named after an ancestor. In the summer of 1784, John #2 accompanied his mother and siblings to visit their relatives at Fairfield. The children with their cousins went down to the creek to swim. No one knows exactly what happened, but John #2 drowned in the creek. He was 11 years old. His mother died in 1784, a couple of months later, some say it was from the heartbreak over her sons drowning.

fairfield-plantation-historical-marker 2In 1789 John Page Sr then married Margaret Louther. I assume they must have had other children before John #3 was born but I can find no record of them. John Page #3 was born in 1797. He was the only John who lived to be an adult. His father died when he was 10 years old. John was an attorney and lived in Williamsburg. He died age 40 at the home of William Anderson, Jr., and was originally buried in William’s father Richard’s plot in Richmond’s Shockoe Hill Cemetery. His remains were later disinterred and moved to Hollywood.

I wonder why John Sr would name 3 sons John. Could he have been desperate to leave a namesake? Or perhaps because of his prominence he had a big ego? One may never know!

 

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.

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Hometown Tuesday ~ Shepherdstown, Jefferson Co, Virginia

hometown tuesdayColonial settlers began their migration into the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley in the early 1700s. Many crossed the Potomac River at Pack Horse Ford, about one mile downriver from the modern site of Shepherdstown. There, Native American tribes once clashed at what was then part of the Warrior Path. Later it was known as the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road, a major north-south connector of colonial and early America.

The colony of Virginia began issuing Valley land grants in the 1730s, but settlers in the area of what became Shepherdstown had arrived earlier, perhaps before 1720. In 1734,great_wagon_road Thomas Shepherd took up a tract of 222 acres on the south side of the Potomac, along the Falling Spring Branch, now known as Town Run. For a brief time, the settlement there was called Pack Horse Ford or Swearingen’s Ferry. In 1762, the Virginia Assembly established the town as Mecklenburg (later renamed Shepherdstown). As the sole trustee, Shepherd retained chief responsibility for its government. Shepherdstown is the oldest town in the state of Virginia, having been chartered in 1762. Since 1863, Shepherdstown has been in West Virginia and is also the oldest town in that state.

More than twenty natural springs feed Town Run before it enters the south end of town. The Run rarely floods and never runs dry; it meanders through backyards, under houses, across alleys, and beneath five streets before it rushes down to the Potomac. To early settlers, the stream provided water for domestic purposes and firefighting as well as fish for the table. Most important, it powered the shops of millers, tanners, potters, smiths, and other artisans. As a result, on the eve of the American Revolution, the town thrived. A busy waterfront on the Potomac and workshops on Town Run complemented growing farms beyond the town. Mecklenburg had grown to 1,000 inhabitants and had a ferry crossing the river to Maryland. Being near Pack Horse Ford gave the town a strategic location on the Great Philadelphia Wagon Road. With the official blessing of the Virginia Assembly, Shepherdstown residents celebrated two annual fairs “for the sale and vending of all manner of cattle, victuals, provisions, goods, wares, and merchandise whatsoever.”

shepherdstown VA Historic houseIn the summer of 1775, the Continental Congress issued a call for volunteer rifle companies from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania to come to the aid of embattled Boston. Captain Hugh Stephenson filled the ranks of his 100-man company from around Mecklenburg. The troops departed from Morgan’s Spring, about one-half mile south of the town limits, in mid-July. This famous “Beeline March” covered 600 miles in 24 days as the marchers hastened to help fellow colonists threatened by George III’s Redcoats.

The town contributed liberally to the cause of American independence. Its cemeteries contain at least thirty-eight Revolutionary veterans, a measure of the town’s military involvement. Citizens also supplied clothing, wagons, saddles, and other items for military use.

After the Revolution, the little river town continued to flourish, though the War left many widows and orphans, and some veterans moved west to take up land grants. On December 3, 1787, a historic moment during the critical days of the early republic, James Rumsey conducted a successful trial of a steamboat. A large gathering of townspeople and notables witnessed the event from the banks and bluffs of the Potomac River. A few months later, Abraham Shepherd provided riverfront land and facilities for the Mecklenburg Warehouse, a tobacco inspection facility approved by the Virginia General Assembly in 1788.

In addition to Rumsey’s ingenuity, Shepherdstown’s early records reveal impressive Potomack Guardianexamples of wit, learning, and culture. West Virginia’s first newspaper (The Potomak Guardian and Berkeley Advertiser) and first book (The Christian Panoply) were published here in the 1790s. A number of schools had been started before the Revolution, including an English school and a German school, and the first academy in what became West Virginia opened shortly afterward.

Because Shepherdstown provided a convenient stopover for wagon masters and other sojourners, many taverns and inns sprang up. In addition to food, drink, and lodging, these establishments provided horse racing, gambling, cockfighting, and other entertainments for the weary travelers and interested townspeople.

George Washington Heritage Trail MarkerThe 1790s brought many changes. The first post office in what became West Virginia opened in 1793. By 1794 Welsh’s brickyard operated along Town Run on the south side of Washington Street between Princess and King. Because of the brickyard, between 1790 and 1840, many of the wooden structures of pioneer Shepherdstown were torn down to make way for brick homes and shops favored by a new generation of businessmen and industrialists. Houses for the brickyard workers, known as Fossett Row, still stand on W High Street. African American workers, both slave and free, lived at each end of German Street, Little Philadelphia on the west and Angel Hill on the east. By 1857, nearly 100 slaves lived in Shepherdstown.

 My 5x Great Grandfather, Jacob Newcomer was born in 1770, in Shepherdstown. He is one of my many maternal brick walls. He married Susannah Finter (1773-1810) on October 7, 1794, with the marriage being officiated by Rev. John Counce. They had only one child that I can prove, a daughter, Sarah Newcomer (1808-1881). The 1810 Census shows that he had 5 sons and 3 daughters. It was written in one Finter biography that Jacob and Susannah were killed by Indians during a raid of a neighbor they just happened to be visiting in 1810. However, I have never been able to prove this story.

 

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.

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Hometown Tuesday ~ Four Mile Tree, Surry County, Virginia

hometown tuesdayFour Mile Tree in Surry County Virginia is one of the oldest Plantations on the James River. It was established by Colonel Henry Browne (1598-1661). As part of “the Council of State,” he patented acres of the south side of the James River, 2000 acres granted by order of the court dated December 12, 1634, and 250 acres by purchase from Captain William Perry and Captain Thomas Osborne, overseers of the will of John Smith. Also, 2000 acres were granted for the transportation of thirty-two persons by himself and eight acres by his wife Ann Swann (1602-1664). When this grant was renewed on November 1, 1643, 200 more acres were added. These transactions are described as the beginning of Four Mile Tree Plantation. It got this name from Governor Argall in 1619 because it was the farthest limits of Jamestown, Virginia. The tree marking the boundary was 4 miles from the city.

This plantation stayed in the Browne family for over 200 years. Henry and his wife had Four_Mile_Tree_Plantationonly one child, a daughter named Mary (1640-1681) who married Colonel William Brown (1638-1705). William’s father Thomas was the brother of Henry making William and Mary first cousins. They went on to have 6 children. 4 daughters. and 2 sons. The plantation was one of Surry County’s more prosperous; its owners served as viewers of tobacco and had slaves from an early period. The Browne’s were regularly Justices of the County Court throughout the colonial period. Several members of the family served on the Governor’s Council or in the House of Burgesses during the seventeenth century. During the War for Independence, William Browne, Colonel William Browne’s Great Grandson, was a member of the Surry 4 milr treeCommittee of Safety and Lieutenant Colonel of Militia. His son, the last of his name to be Master of Four Mile Tree, was a lieutenant in the revolutionary militia. The British sacked the plantation during the War of 1812 according to the then Colonel of the county militia. In 1815 the plantation passed to William Browne III’s granddaughter, Sally Elizabeth Bowdoin, and her husband, General Philip St. George Cocke. The Cockes lived at Four Mile tree until 1840 when they moved to another plantation,  Belmeade, in Powhatan County, Virginia.

Four Mile Tree is “ancient” in its own right having been founded in the first half of the seventeenth century; its gravesite contains the oldest legible tombstone in Virginia (1650).

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunday Salute ~ Thomas Allen ~ War of 1812

War of 1812 picA mere 29 years after the end of the Revolutionary war the United States again entered into a war with the British. The French under Napoleon had engaged in a war with Britain. As a result, the British enforced a naval blockade to choke off neutral trade to France. This was something the Americans contested as being illegal under international law as they did a lot of trade with the French. The British also began supplying arms to American Indians so they could raid the settlers on the frontier, trying to hinder their westward expansion and this caused a lot of resentment of the British. On June 18, 1812, President James Madison signed into law the American declaration of war. Most of the war was fought on the United States and Canadian borders although there were battles taking place in diverse places throughout the United States. Soldiers were called up from all over the country to help in the war.

Thomas Allen, my 4x Great Grandfather, was born on June 2, 1768, in Frederick Co, wilkes co NC 1780 mapVirginia. He was the first son born to Colonel Richard Allen, a patriot of the Revolutionary War and his wife Nancy Lindsay. In 1770 his family moved to Wilkes, Surry Co, North Carolina. Thomas was only 15 years old when this war ended and although he wanted to fight he had to stay home to help his mother and help care for his 4 younger siblings. On October 1, 1796, Thomas married Permelia “Milly” Loving (1774-1866). They had 12 children, the first two died at birth. In about 1805 the family moved to Bedford, Tennessee. This is where they lived when the War of 1812 broke out.

Ft StrotherThomas, at the age of 44, joined the 1st Regiment (Napier’s) West Tennessee Militia Under the command of Captain John Chisholm. He enlisted as a private. As part of General Thomas Johnson’s brigade, this regiment mustered in at Fayetteville and marched to Huntsville, then Ft. Deposit, Fort Strother, and Fort Williams. While some detachments participated in the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (27 March 1814), others stayed at Fort Williams on guard duty. Many of the men then marched to the Hickory Ground (near present-day Montgomery, Alabama) where Jackson anticipated another battle with the Creeks, but the defeat at Horseshoe Bend had been decisive and the Tennesseans faced no further massed resistance. The regiment numbered about 500 men. Once Napoleon abdicated his throne there was no longer any reason to cut off the trade with France. This started the end of the war.

At the end of the war, Thomas returned home and continued to farm and they had theThe Allens 1840 last two of their children. In 1819 Thomas bought 80 acres of land in Moniteau Co, Missouri and moved his large family there. Missouri did not become a State until 1821 so this was still part of the frontier. It was a good life as they built their home and farmed the rick land. When their older children began to get married and have their own families, they all stayed close to home. On August 7, 1843, he died at the age of 75.

 

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.

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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.

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