Friday, October 14, 2011

Surname Saturday: Rucker

Surname Saturday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers to focus on a particular name, its origin, its geographic location, and how it fits into one’s research.

Anyone who has any interest in Rucker genealogy knows Peter, maybe the first Rucker on Virginia soil, the Godfather of the clan.   His story is part fact and part legend filled with amazing stories of surviving a shipwreck off the coast of Virginia by tying himself to a keg of rum. 

What researchers are sure of is that Peter, traveling with some French Huguenots, arrived in Virginia about 1700.  His application for naturalization was approved in 1704 (the law required a 4-year residency for non-British subjects).  Peter married and settled in Essex County.  Later he moved to Spotsylvania County, where John Rucker purchased land. As population grew, new counties were carved out of Spotsylvania.  In 1793, Madison County was formed, and this is where my oldest Ruckers lived.

My most current Rucker family, my maternal grandmother’s side, lived in Rockingham and Page Counties, just across the mountain from Madison.  Searches on Ancestry result in a gazillion Ruckers in Amherst County and Botetourt County, but very few in Rockingham or Page County.  I wonder what made my family go in the opposite direction of the other Ruckers.

1885 map of land ownership in Rockingham County, VA
Frank Rucker's land is at the confluence
of the Shenandoah Riverand Naked Creek.

The fact that my definite ancestors were off by themselves is both a curse and a blessing.  Now keep in mind that it seems the goal of every Rucker descendent is to trace a straight line to Peter.  My straight line is problematic.  For sure working backwards from my grandmother it looks like this:

Lucille Rucker Davis à Joseph Calhoun Rucker à Frank Rucker à John Frank Rucker à ??

Tradition says that picking up at John Frank, the line continues to create this:

John Frank Rucker à Jarvis Rucker à William Rucker à Thomas Rucker à Peter

But more and more, the line looks like this:

John Frank Rucker à Angus Rucker à Ephraim Rucker à Peter


Just looking at naming patterns, I see that Eliza Rucker Baugher, daughter of John Frank, named one of her children Angus.  The name Angus was also given to a grandson.  There are no children in my family named Jarvis.  Another “coincidence” is that Frank named a son George Allen.  Angus had a son named George Allen.  Connecting the dots, that means Frank probably named his son after his uncle, his father’s brother.

However, these instances are not proof of anything, and so the battle between old research and new research continues.  It will take more thorough study of wills and deeds to find that direct line back to Peter Rucker. 


  1. Wendy,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. P.S. Love your great-grandmother humor, below, as well! ;-)

  2. The Rucker name caught my eye since there were also Ruckers in Amelia County, Virginia who married into my Wingo family.