Sunday, August 31, 2014

52 Ancestors: #35 - The JARRELLS

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

My 3X great grandmother Mary P. JARRELL managed to accomplish something few of my oldest ancestors couldn’t:  she had family who provided a tombstone that could survive the trampling of cattle and loss of cemeteries. 

Mary P. RUCKER 1791 - 1871 Rockingham County, VA
Mary P. Jarrell 1791-1871
photo courtesy Jan Hensley

She was the wife of John Frank RUCKER and mother to five children.  Other than some dates, I know little about Mary since my research has thus far been limited to online sources.  At, many Rucker researchers claim Mary was the daughter of Daniel and Mary Terry Jarrell.  However, there is no supporting evidence.

In fact, there is significant supporting evidence that those researchers are just wrong.  A website dedicated to the Jarrells and related families provides thorough research as well as documentation.  

Here is where that research differs from the common view on Ancestry:
  • Daniel Jarrell was not married to Mary Terry.  He was married to Mary DAVIS, as proved by the wills of James Davis and Benjamin Davis II as well as a number of records that support this close Jarrell and Davis connection.
  • MY Mary Jarrell was not the daughter of Daniel and Mary.  Their daughter Mary married William Humphreys.

Searching through the siblings of Daniel Jarrell leads to the conclusion that MY Mary wasn’t a niece either.  All the Mary Jarrells and their husbands were present and accounted for.

The fact that Mary and John Frank were married in Madison County puts them in the neighborhood of this family of Jarrells.  After all, the Jarrells and Ruckers shared property lines, served together in the Revolutionary War, intermarried, bought land from one another, and supplied witnesses for countless records.

So who was Mary’s family if not Daniel’s or his brothers'?

One possibility is that she was part of the Fitzgerald family who also lived in Madison County.  They were a totally separate family unrelated to the Jarrells.  However, a number of proven Fitzgeralds used the name Jarrell or Garrell interchangeably with or instead of Fitzgerald.  The often-used spelling “Fitzjarrell” and “Fitzgarrell” makes it easy to see how that could happen. 

This quirky name game was evident in my 4X great grandmother’s experience.  Mary “Polly” SELF was married to Eason Fitzgerald in January 1802 in Orange County.  What became of Fitzgerald is unknown – he might have died or Polly might have left him (or him her).  Being legally unavailable might explain why during her time with Jacob Shiflett she was a common-law wife known as Polly Garrell/Jarrell. 

Fitzgerald names that need investigating include James, Thomas, William, Stephen and Lewis.   

Horsley, Joan. The Jarrell Family of Early Virginia with focus on Daniel Jarrell and his wife Mary Davis: Their Family, Relatives, & Neighbors. Raleigh, NC: J. Horsley, 2009. Available online at

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Well-Suited for the Beach

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt suggests many possibilities ranging from beaches to trains to aquariums to running away.  The image of the well-dressed gentleman making his way across the dunes made me recall this photo:

Unknown men in suits Ocean View, VA 1919-21
from photo album of Helen Killeen Parker
Ocean View, Virginia about 1919-21

As one who can’t tolerate sand in her shoes, I am perplexed that these men would trudge out toward the water in their Sunday best. 

Since I have no story to accompany this photo, I’ll do like Agnes Whoever and wave good-bye for this week.

Agnes Unknown Ocean View, VA 1919-21
Agnes Unknown
friend of Helen Killeen Parker
about 1919-21

Please visit Sepia Saturday for more stories and photos of beaches and escapes.

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Dog Days of Summer #7

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Poodles of New York 1917
from album of Lillie Killeen 1917
Much loved poodles belonging to Lillie's cousin yet to be identified
One of the dogs was named "Cutie."

Counting down the number of photos of dogs in my collection

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Three Years of Blogging Happiness

Jollett Etc. is three years old today.  To celebrate, I’ve given her a little facelift.  A couple weeks ago, Alex Daw of Family Tree Frog invited all interested bloggers to join her in a quick project to revamp our blogs.  We visited one another, praised what we liked and made suggestions for improvement. 

Some lovely compliments about the color of my blog, the font style and size, the format, and use of photos really brightened my day.  Aw shucks, I’m still blushing. 

At the same time, some really good suggestions for improvement have now been implemented:
  • I like my color scheme because it is appropriate for the historical focus of my blog, but I also agreed with one comment that it was drab.  So I lightened the background and added a new blog banner.  The colors brighten up the place yet retain that antique feel.
  • I added the Search box since so many bloggers mentioned it.  (Was that always a Blogger option?  I don’t remember seeing it three years ago.)
  • Several bloggers recommended moving “About Me” up in the sidebar, so I did.  One person said it was too long.  In editing, I decided it was also outdated, so I started over.
  • I found a new “Email Me” image with a more vintage feel in keeping with the focus of my blog.
  • Several noted that my sidebar is cluttered.  Unfortunately, it is still cluttered because whatever was removed was replaced by something else.  I edited my labels cloud dramatically by restricting it to family surnames.  That helps somewhat.
  • The family pages have been updated with newly revised family charts. Some pages were eliminated either because they were redundant or woefully under-researched.  Maybe they’ll make a return one day. 
  • I updated my photo, not that it matters.

While in the remodeling mood, I also implemented some changes suggested by Thomas MacEntee and Lisa Alzo in Blogger Boot Camp:
  • I added more “follow” options.
  • I added some Twitter and Pinterest buttons.
  • I added copyright notices to blog posts.   

Do I know how to celebrate or what?

©2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

52 Ancestors: #34 - Stephen SLADE

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

My 3X great-grandfather Stephen F. SLADE must have been a stonemason because he surely did set up a sturdy brick wall.

Stephen was born about 1815 in Georgia.  He’s pretty clear about that in the 3 census records in which he appears, all in Florida.  Apparently the only Slade in 1820 Georgia was William Slade.  Stephen fits right nicely as one of two boys and one girl under age 10 with parents older than 26. 

1850 Madison Co, Florida
Stephen was first enumerated in 1850 Madison Co, Florida.  A farmer, Stephen was 34 and his wife Mary was 30, so it’s not likely she was the mother of all the younger members of the household.  If the James M. at 19 was their child, then Mary would have given birth at age 11.  Others in the household included Mary 17, Joseph 13, Peter 11, William 9, Andrew 7, Julia 5, and Cabell 2. 

In 1860 Stephen and family were in Lafayette, Florida.  However, wife Mary has been either renamed or replaced by Margaret, who was two years older than Stephen rather than four years younger.  As for the children, there was only one familiar name:  Julia.  The others were either married and on their own, dead, or parading around with a new name.  Pilester was 22, so were Peter and Pilester the same person?  If so, then one of the enumerators erred in noting the gender.  Instead of Cabell at age 12, there is Louiza, age 12.  Again, if they were the same person, which enumerator got the gender right?  A new child has been added:  Stephen, age 5. 

During the same census year, next door was James Douglas 80 and his wife Nancy 63.  According to a marriage record dated 1853, James married one Nancy Slade, so possibly she was Stephen’s widowed mother. 

In 1870, the Douglases were gone, but the “Slaid” family was still in Lafayette.  Wife Margaret was listed as Peggy, a common nickname for Margaret.  Also in the household were Julia 23, Cabel 21, and young master Luther born December 1869. 

And that’s where the Slades come to a screeching halt and all the questions begin:

  • Cabel Slade was indexed as male in 1850 and 1870, yet there is a marriage record in Lafayette County in 1874 for Cabel Slade and CHARLES Ross.  What the heck?  To make matters worse, they are consistently MIA as far as census records are concerned.
  • Andrew?  Peter?  Joseph?  Mary?  You too, James.   Where are you?
  • Young Stephen born 1855 SHOULD be my 2X great-grandfather, but I can’t be sure without a paper trail.  After 1860, I cannot find him except in the 1890 City Directory for Atlanta, Georgia and again in the 1898 City Directory for Norfolk, Virginia, where Julia Slade is listed both times as the widow of Stephen F. Slade. 
In an effort to learn more about the Slades of Georgia and Florida and how they arrived in Virginia, we joined the Slade Surname Project and had Daddy’s DNA tested.  That was eight years ago.  Do you know how many “Slade” hits we’ve gotten?  Zero.  However – and it’s a BIG HOWEVER – we apparently have a definite common ancestor within four generations with the Calhoun family. 

I have corresponded with our match families, and none of us can figure out where we intersect.  But I have a theory.

In 1860 two doors away from Stephen and Margaret is a farm laborer living with the White family.  His name was John C. Calhoun. 

1870 Lafayette, Florida
He was a few years younger than Margaret.  Perhaps he was the father of little Stephen, age 5.  The one hang-up in this theory is that so far none of the Calhouns that I have corresponded with can claim him.  Maybe they just haven’t connected him to their tree YET. 

Or maybe I’m just wrong.

To Do:
Find a genealogist in Florida! 

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Sea the World

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt with its mantilla-bedecked senoritas whispering behind decorative fans suggests all things Spanish.  What is more Spanish than a bullfight?

Bullfight Lima, Peru Plaza de Toros de Acho 1920s, collection of Ray Rucker
Photo Postcard of bullfight in Lima, Peru

Plaza de Toros de Acho, Lima, Peru
from Wikimedia Commons

On the back of the photo postcard is written “Bull fight Lima, Peru.”  This must be a souvenir from one of my granduncle’s tours in the Navy.  My maternal grandmother’s brother Ray Rucker served on board the USS Nevada sometime between 1918 and 1922. 

A comparison of the bullfight photo with a photo on Wikimedia Commons suggests the event took place at the Plaza de Toros de Acho, the most prominent bullring in Lima. It is classified as a national historic monument. 

USS Nevada Fifth Anniversary March 11, 1921 souvenir booklet

A booklet marking the Fifth Anniversary of the USS Nevada contains photos of places Ray saw on his travels to the British West Indies; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; and Lima, Peru in 1920-21. 

Page from USS Nevada Fifth Anniversary booklet March 1921
Scenes from Cuba and Lima, Peru
Page from the Fifth Anniversary booklet

But that was not the Nevada’s first brush with Spanish. 

USS Nevada off coast of Spain, collection of Ray Rucker 1920s
On the back Ray wrote
"USS Nevada off the coast of Spain"

In December 1919, the USS Nevada was one of 10 battleships and 28 destroyers that escorted President Woodrow Wilson aboard the oceanliner George Washington to the Paris Peace Conference that officially ended the Great War.

When the posters promised “Join the Navy and see the world!” they weren’t kidding. 

Por favor visitar a mis amigos en Sepia Sábado.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Dog Days of Summer #6

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Helen Killeen Parker, friend, dog Ocean View, VA
Helen Killeen Parker and unknown girl and dog
Ocean View, Virginia about 1920-21

Counting down the number of photos of dogs in my collection

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: #33 - John Frank RUCKER

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

For many years the Rucker Society has argued over whether my 3X great-grandfather John Frank RUCKER was the son of Jarvis or Angus.  Traditional wisdom favored Jarvis.  However, common sense and the DAR won out and gave the prize to Angus. 

John Frank was the fifth of six children born to Angus and Jane Allen Rucker.  Unfortunately, his name never appears in a census record, to my knowledge.  Born about 1794, John Frank was likely the 16-25 year old male living in his parents’ home in Madison County, Virginia in 1810.  In 1820, he might have been in the household of his bride’s family, the Jarrells. 

Or perhaps he missed the census that year because he was off defending the country during and following the War of 1812.  There is a service record for John F.

Pension Record John F. Rucker and Mary Rucker

as well as a record of enlistment in Madison County. 

John F. Rucker enlisted under Captain Mann P. Lomax.  John Frank was 26; he had brown hair,
hazel eyes, and dark complexion.  He was a farmer from Madison County.

John Frank enlisted in 1819 and was discharged in 1821.  Inspection Returns indicate he served
at Fort Monroe (Hampton, VA) and Fort Norfolk (Norfolk, VA).

How interesting to learn that John Frank had hazel eyes and served at Fort Norfolk, just a short drive through the tunnel from where I grew up. 

In 1830, he and his wife Mary were probably the 30-39 year old male and female living with Angus in Madison.

John Frank, Mary, and the kids must have moved to Rockingham County soon after.  John Frank died in Rockingham about 1839, as proven by the Abstracts of Guardian Bonds: 

"15 July 1839, Guardian Bonds, Rockingham Co., Va., 
Parent, John F. Rucker; Orphans, Onslow, Angeline, 
and Eliza; Guardian Jared Powell, Bond was $2,000, 
bondsmen, John Cook and Honorias Powell."

Two children were not mentioned, probably because they were already married and on their own.  One was Sarah Jane, and the other was Franklin Rucker, my great-great grandfather.

Sadly, where John Frank is buried is unknown, although it is probable that he lies in the Baugher Cemetery in Beldor, Rockingham County, Virginia, along with his wife Mary Jarrell Rucker.

Tombstone Mary P. Jarrell Rucker
Mary P. Rucker
Asa Baugher Cemetery in Beldor
photo courtesy Jan Hensley


John Frank RUCKER ( 1794 Madison VA – 15 Dec 1839 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Mary P. JARRELL ( 1791 Madison Co, VA – 25 Sep 1871 Rockingham Co, VA )    10 Feb 1816 Madison Co, VA

1. Sarah Jane RUCKER ( 11 Apr 1819 Madison Co, VA – 01 May 1897 Rockingham Co, VA ) & James H. FRAZIER (1824 – 03 Apr 189723) Dec 1838 Albemarle, VA
  • Noah W. FRAZIER ( 1840 Rockingham Co, VA – 24 Jan 1916 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Mary E. UNKNOWN ( 20 Jan 1844 – 02 Feb 1910 Rockingham Co, VA )
  • George Allen FRAZIER ( 11 Jan 1841 Rockingham Co, VA – 12 Jan 1916 Chariton, Randolph, MO ) & Mary Melvina HALL (1852 – 1917 )
  • Lavinia FRAZIER ( 1844 – )
  • Amanda FRAZIER ( 1847 – )
  • Victoria Virginia FRAZIER ( Sep 1852 Rockingham Co, VA – 1900 Page Co, VA ) & John MERICA ( 27 Sep 1851 – 24 Aug 1920 Page Co, VA )  18 Oct 1877 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Mary Elizabeth “Bettie” FRAZIER ( 1854 Rockingham Co, VA –  1904 Rockingham County, VA ) & Summerfield DAVIS  (25 Nov 1845 Petersburg, Grant, WV –  08 Jan 1913 Harrisonburg,  VA ) 14 Dec 1882 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Robert F. FRAZIER ( 30 Nov 1855 Rockingham Co, VA – 27 Mar 1927 Rockingham Co, VA ) &  Serina Cornelia MERICA (12 May 1866 Page Co, VA – 24 Aug 1961 Rockingham Co, VA )  15 Apr 1886 Page Co, VA
2. Franklin RUCKER ( 1824 Madison Co, VA – 05 Nov 1880 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Sarah A. HERNDON  (1832 Rockingham Co, VA –  19 Mar 1893 Rockingham Co, VA ) 15 Sep 1851
  • William RUCKER ( 1852 Rockingham Co, VA – )
  • John Wesley RUCKER ( 20 Jul 1854 Rockingham Co, VA – 29 May 1889 Shenandoah, Page, VA ) & Matilda Esther STOCKDELL (27 Aug 1855 – 18 Dec 1943 Shenandoah, Page, VA )
  • Elizabeth RUCKER ( 1858 Rockingham Co, VA  – )
  • Mary S. RUCKER ( Apr 1860 Rockingham Co, VA – )
  • George Allen RUCKER ( 11 Dec 1862 Rockingham Co, VA – )
  • Robert Edward “Bob” RUCKER ( 15 Aug 1863 Rockingham Co, VA –  01 Jan 1951 Shenandoah, Page, VA ) & Mattie T. WOOD (23 Jul 1877 – 20 Aug 1956 )  1901
  • Walter Newman RUCKER ( 26 Dec 1866 Rockingham Co, VA – 16 Apr 1932 ) & Ada EPPARD ( Jan 1877 Page Co, VA –  17 Sep 1957 Page Co, VA )  1893
  • Susan White RUCKER ( 21 Aug 1870 Rockingham Co, VA – )
  • James C. RUCKER ( 1873 Rockingham Co, VA – )
  • Joseph Calhoun RUCKER ( 26 Jul 1874 Rockingham, VA – 1933 Shenandoah, Page, VA ) & Mary Susan “Sudie” EPPARD  (Oct 1875 Rockingham Co, VA –  1958 Shenandoah, Page, VA )  1897
  • Clint A. RUCKER
3. Onslow RUCKER ( 1826 – Before 1860 Rockingham Co, VA )

4. Angeline “Anna” RUCKER ( 1827 Rockingham Co, VA – 23 Jul 1900 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Mickleberry Michael B. ROACH (1821 Greene Co, VA – Oct 1893 Rockingham Co, VA )  31 Jan 1840 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Emanuel Berryman ROACH ( 1841 Rockingham Co, VA –  27 Aug 1917 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Mary FAULKNER (Nov 1844)   27 Jun 1867 Rockingham Co, VA
  • William M. ROACH ( 1843 Rockingham Co, VA – ) & m1) Sarah BEASLEY ( 1848 Greene Co, VA – Before 1889) 24 Jun 1866 Greene Co, VA ; & m2) Frances UNKNOWN ( 1850 – Before 1902 Rockingham Co, VA ) 20 Apr 1889 ; & m3) Susan WELLS 10 Sep 1902 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Mary ROACH ( 1847 Rockingham Co, VA – )
  • Jonathan Scott ROACH ( 1849 Rockingham Co, VA – Before 1920) & m1) Rachael WILLIAMS (1849 Hardy, WV –  07 Jan 1885 Hardy, WV ) May 1879 Hardy, WV ; & m2) Cora Virginia KECKLEY (Jan 1865 West Virginia –  16 Sep 1936 Greene Co, VA )  1890
  • Charles O. ROACH ( 06 Sep 1853 Rockingham Co, VA –  06 Mar 1928 Rockingham Co, VA & m1) Margaret Elizabeth MORT 1872 (06 Jun 1844 Maryland – 01 May 1909 Frederick, MD) ; & m2) Annie Magdeline GARRETT (01 Apr 1871 – 07 Aug 1949)  24 Mar 1889 Hardy, WV
  • Joseph ROACH ( Jun 1855 Rockingham Co, VA – 1922) & Comora Frances MORRIS (Jul 1860 – )  13 Dec 1889 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Amanda ROACH ( 1858 Rockingham Co, VA – ) & m1) Unknown ; & m2) George W. WILLIAMS (1852 – ) 05 Apr 1880 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Rebecca ROACH ( Oct 1863 Rockingham Co, VA – Jul 1920 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Jacob Clay WARBLE ( Jul 1853 – 1930 )   1877
  • Enoch Blakely ROACH ( 1864 Rockingham Co, VA – 25 Nov 1893 Greene Co, VA ) & Lydia Margaret STRICKLER (08 Oct 1870 Rockingham Co, VA – 01 Jul 1922 Rockingham Co, VA ) 16 Aug 1891 Rockingham Co, VA
  • George Richard ROACH ( 01 Apr 1872 Rockingham Co, VA – 21 May 1930 Lynchburg, Campbell, VA)  & Ella Nora Francis ROYER (16 Sep 1874 Rockingham Co, VA – 07 Jun 1938 Lynchburg, VA )  03 Mar 1891 McGaheysville, VA
5. Eliza F. RUCKER ( 1829 Rockingham Co, VA – 08 Feb 1900 Beldor, Rockingham Co, VA ) & Asa Samuel BAUGHER (13 Feb 1819 Rockingham Co, VA – 24 May 1895 Rockingham Co, VA ) 11 Mar 1842 Rockingham Co, VA
  • George Tazwell BAUGHER ( Oct 1843 Rockingham Co, VA – 18 Nov 1915 Rockingham Co, VA) & Bettie Mildred DUFF (Mar 1847 Greene Co, VA – 31 Dec 1914 Rockingham Co, VA )  17 Jan 1867 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Angus Gordon BAUGHER ( 13 Jun 1846 Rockingham Co, VA –  12 Mar 1921 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Susan Nellie SHIFLETT (23 Dec 1850 Rockingham Co, VA – 19 Sep 1928 Rockingham Co, VA ) 27 Jun 1867 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Andrew Jackson BAUGHER ( 27 Jul 1849 Rockingham Co, VA – 01 Mar 1882 Rockingham Co, VA )  & Annie Catherine LAWSON (15 Dec 1851 Rockingham Co, VA – 15 Dec 1931 Rockingham Co, VA )  23 Dec 1871 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Virginia Frances BAUGHER ( 10 Feb 1853 Rockingham Co, VA –  before 1860 Rockingham Co, VA )
  • Columbia Elizabeth BAUGHER ( 10 May 1856 Rockingham Co, VA – 25 Feb 1896 Rockingham Co, VA ) &  John Willis MORRIS (12 Apr 1850 Rockingham Co, VA – 09 Dec 1912 Elkton, VA )  02 Jun 1879 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Victoria BAUGHER ( 1859 Rockingham Co, VA – )
  • Ada BAUGHER ( 1865 Rockingham Co, VA –  )
  • Michael Samuel BAUGHER ( 01 Sep 1867 Rockingham Co, VA – 1957 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Barbara Ann LAWSON (Apr 1870 Rockingham Co, VA – after 1930 Rockingham Co, VA )  19 Aug 1890 Rockingham Co, VA

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Watch This Space

Last week Alex Daw of Family Tree Frog invited bloggers to join her in a blog-tweaking weekend.  Perfect Timing!  My blogiversary is around the corner and it’s time to give this tired blog a facelift and maybe a tummy tuck.   

Participants are to visit one another and praise what’s praise-worthy and make suggestions for improvements.  I’ve already gotten some great feedback.  Even if you’re not a participant in this effort, I’m interested in what you think about my blog as it is.

So go ahead.  Take your best shot.  

Friday, August 15, 2014

Sepia Saturday: A Letter to Grandma

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt depicts soldiers writing letters at the encouragement of the sign on the wall, “Remember to Write That Letter Home!”

Those might have been the same words my grandmother said to my mother as a 10-year old girl in 1939. 

Mary Eleanor Davis Slade about 1939
Mary Eleanor Davis
about 1939

It was summertime, and Momma was visiting with Aunt Velma and Uncle Woody at their home in Martinsburg, West Virginia.  Momma always described them as “the fun ones.”  

June 12, 1939
Martinsburg, W. Va.

Dear Grandma,
I’m getting along just fine and I’m coming home Thursday on #13.  I went to four shows so far and I’m going Wednesday to see “Rose of Washington Square.”  We had Woodys Birthday Party Sunday.

With love,
Mary E.


  • The “Grandma” of this letter was no doubt Momma’s paternal grandmother, Mary Frances Jollett Davis.  The letter was among the photos and other memorabilia passed down to me through Violetta and Velma, daughters of Mary Frances.  Had the letter been sent to the other grandmother, it probably would not have survived.  
  • Woody’s birthday was actually the 13th of June, which was on a Tuesday in 1939, so it must have been more convenient to celebrate on the weekend before.
  • Momma was traveling by train.  She might even have traveled alone on that Thursday, June 15, 1939.
  • Momma would be annoyed with herself for leaving out that apostrophe in “Woodys.”

To see who else is writing home, please visit Sepia Saturday

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Dog Days of Summer #5

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Sailor and dog Ocean View, Virginia 1918-1921
from the album of Helen Killeen Parker 1918-21
at Ocean View, Virginia
Unknown sailor and dog

Counting down the number of photos of dogs in my collection

Sunday, August 10, 2014

52 Ancestors: #32 - Angus RUCKER

Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small has issued a challenge:  write one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor.  It can be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem – anything that focuses on one ancestor.

Angus RUCKER is my four times great-grandfather.  He was the oldest son of the eight children born to Ephraim and Margaret Vawter RUCKER about 1746 in Culpeper County, Virginia.    In 1770, at age 24, Angus married 15-year old Jane Allen.  Such an age difference was fairly typical of the time.

It was also typical for all able-bodied men to serve their community not just by paying taxes but also by keeping up the roads and helping to preserve order.  Angus was typical in that way too.  

In 1774, Angus served on the Committee of Safety for Culpeper.  Such committees, referred to as “shadow government” or “counter-government,” were established throughout the 13 colonies as anti-British sentiment spread and royal officials became unreliable.  Committees of Safety called for independence.  They eventually controlled the politics and militia in their communities. 

Statue of the Minuteman with plow and rifle
All tithables, in other words men age 16 and older, were required to serve in the militia.  While communities were expected to meet several times a year to train, militia were not issued uniforms or weapons.  Most provided their own muskets and wore their farm clothes.  So Angus put down his plow and picked up arms.  In fact, he was among the Minutemen, a group of well-trained militia who were the first to fight in the American Revolutionary War.  Minutemen were enlisted to form small companies of about 50 men who could move in a moment’s notice. 

In 1775 Angus enlisted in the Continental Army in Culpeper County, and in 1776 he was made Commissary to the Marines.  In that role he procured food and supplies.

In January 1777 Angus was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant under Captain John Nicholas and Colonel George Gibson.  After he raised his full quota of men, they marched to Williamsburg to join Col. Gibson’s Regiment.  They then marched to Pennsylvania to join General George Washington.   Angus had the dubious pleasure of saying he was at Valley Forge with George Washington.  Fortunately, Angus spent the summer there, so he missed that terrible winter when nearly 2500 men died from disease, starvation, and exposure. 

Between 1778 and 1779, Angus led commands in a number of camps in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.  How much fighting he saw, I don’t know, but he was paid for service in Middlebrook, Brunswick, Ramapo Clove, White Plains, West Point, and Philadelphia.

Chesterfield Court House that was once used
as a hospital during the Revolutionary War

"Chesterfield Historic Courthouse" by James Shelton32
Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 
In 1780, Angus was made Captain and returned to Virginia.  When it was discovered that there were too many officers, he was declared a Supernumerary.  Ever the patriot, Angus took it well and vowed to serve his country in whatever capacity needed.

The next year he was called on to supervise the hospital in the converted courthouse in Chesterfield. Since his service records indicate he served there until the siege at Yorktown, it is likely Angus was right there in April of 1781 when the hospital was burned by British troops. 

Looking back on the life of Angus Rucker, I see my ancestor as an ordinary man doing a brave thing.  In his pension application of February 1830 are many letters from officers and soldiers who wrote eloquently about the “faithful and meritorious” service of Captain Rucker.

Angus Rucker died in 1836 and is buried in Madison County, Virginia.  The inscription on his tombstone reads

Departed this life on Sept. 21, 1836
in the 89th year of his age
an officer of the Revolution
and for many years
a soldier of the cross.


Angus RUCKER ( 1746 Culpeper Co, VA - 21 Sep 1836 Madison Co, VA) & m1) Jane ALLEN (1755 – 1830 Madison Co, VA)  Abt. 1770  Culpeper Co, VA ; & m2) Mary Susannah GRAVES (02 Aug 1758 – ) 24 Aug 1806 Madison Co, VA

Angus and Jane had the following children:

1. Sarah Allen “Sallie” RUCKER ( 20 Jun 1782 Madison Co, VA – 31 Aug 1858 Fayette Co, IN) & William M. GAINES (Jan 1771 – 18 Nov 1836 Fayette Co, IN)  04 Oct 1804 Madison Co, VA
  • Augustus B. GAINES ( 1805 Madison Co, VA – 23 Jul 1865 Holt, Clinton, MO)
  • Henry Thomas GAINES ( 12 Sep 1810 Madison Co, VA – 20 Feb 1897 Shelby, IN) &  Matilda Willis CORNELIUS (03 Sep 1818 Boone, KY – 04 Dec 1900 Shelby, IN)  09 Aug 1836 Shelby, IN
  • Mary Jane GAINES ( 20 Apr 1814 Boone Co, KY – 20 Jan 1894 Fayette Co, IN) & Benjamin F. CONNOR (17 Jul 1817 Boone, KY – 12 Oct 1910 Fayette, IN) 03 Oct 1837
  • Richard George GAINES ( 20 Apr 1814 Boone Co, KY – 20 Jan 1883 Shelby, IN) & m1) Margaret Jane STRATTON 04 Sep 1837 Crawford, IL ; & m2) Sarah WOODWARD about 1842
  • Benjamin A. GAINES ( 05 Sep 1821 Boone Co, KY – 1895 Vincennes, Knox, IN) &  Edna Ann CORNELIUS (1820 – 1878) 03 Aug 1845 Kentucky
  • Susan GAINES ( 29 May 1823 – 1861) & John V. HACKLEMAN before 1846 Indiana 
2. Catherine RUCKER ( 27 Oct 1786 Madison Co, VA – After 1860 Madison Co, VA) & William EARLY (20 Oct 1773 Culpeper Co, VA – 25 Aug 1839 Madison Co, VA)  02 Feb 1804 Madison Co, VA
  • William EARLY JR.
  • Jane Rucker EARLY ( 1804 Virginia  – 1880 Texas ) & Brightberry GARTH (1799 –1880 Texas )
  • Joseph A. EARLY ( 1805 Virginia – 1865 )
  • Howard A. EARLY ( 1806 Virginia – After 1880 Owen, KY ) & Tabitha LEWIS (1809 Virginia – 1864 )
  • Elizabeth S. EARLY ( 1811 Virginia – 24 Apr 1866 Madison Co, VA ) & William T. GARTH (1811 Madison Co, VA – 1863 Madison Co, VA ) 05 Dec 1835 Albemarle Co, VA 
3. Jane RUCKER  (About 1791 Madison Co, VA – After 1870 Boone Co, KY) & Elliott MINOR (About 1777 Madison Co, VA - After 1860 Boone Co, KY) 20 Sep 1808 Madison Co, VA
  • George Allen MINOR ( 1809 Kentucky – After 1870 )  & Ann UNKNOWN (1820 Kentucky – )
  • Margaret MINOR ( 1811 Kentucky – )
  • John Rucker “Jack” MINOR ( 22 Feb 1814 Kentucky – 11 Mar 1886 Clinton Co, MO ) & Katherine Paulina NAVE  (1818 – 1913 Clinton Co, MO )  19 Nov 1842
  • Owen MINOR ( 28 May 1816 Kentucky – 28 Feb 1885 Boone, KY  ) & Nancy NAVE (02 Nov 1815 – 28 Jun 1889 Boone, KY )  01 Dec 1844 Kentucky
  • Dalton MINOR ( 20 Apr 1818 Kentucky – 30 Oct 1839 Boone Co, KY )
  • Gabriel Oren MINOR ( 06 May 1820 Kentucky – 06 Jun 1881 Kentucky ) & Ann E. CASON (24 Oct 1838 Scott, KY – 19 Apr 1929 Harrison, KY)  24 Dec 1854 Harrison, KY
  • William M. MINOR ( 30 Dec 1822 Kentucky – )
  • James G. T. MINOR ( 10 Jul 1824 Kentucky –  )
  • Julie Ann MINOR ( 28 Sep 1828 Kentucky – )
  • Richard C. MINOR ( 28 Sep 1828 Kentucky – )
  • Amanda Melvina MINOR ( 1831 Kentucky –  08 Nov 1905 Pettersburg, KY ) & Henry D. MALLORY (03 Sep 1825 Ohio – 24 Sep 1903 Kentucky )  14 Nov 1852 Boone, KY
4. Margaret RUCKER ( 1793 Madison Co, VA – 03 Aug 1888 Missouri ) & James BLAKEY (25 Dec 1794 Madison Co, VA – 30 Mar 1847 Madison Co, VA) 19 Nov 1813 Madison County, VA
  • Angus Rucker BLAKEY ( 30 Sep 1816 in Madison Co, VA – 02 Feb 1896 ) & Jane Elizabeth JOHNSTON  ( 1812 – 1880 )
  • Sarah Catherine BLAKEY ( 15 Apr 1819 Madison Co, VA – 30 Mar 1862 )
  • Marcus Denison BLAKEY ( 28 Mar 1822 Madison Co, VA – 03 Jan 1873 Monroe, MO ) & Patsy Julia BUCKNER (19 Feb 1820 – 07 Nov 1870 Monroe, MO )
  • Jane Allen BLAKEY ( 31 Mar 1829 Madison Co, VA – 21 Jan 1892 Louisville, KY ) & Alfred Dismukes ALLMOND 13 Jan 1848 Rockingham Co, VA
5. John Frank RUCKER ( 1794 Madison County, VA – 15 Dec 1839 Rockingham Co, VA) & Mary P. JARRELL (1791 Madison Co, VA – Sep 1871 Rockingham Co, VA) Feb 1816 Madison County, VA
  • Sarah Jane RUCKER ( 11 Apr 1819 – 01 May 1897 Rockingham Co, VA ) & James H. FRAZIER ( 1824 – 03 Apr 1897 )  23 Dec 1838 Albemarle, VA
  • Franklin RUCKER ( 1824 – 05 Nov 1880 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Sarah A. HERNDON ( 1832 Rockingham Co, Va – 19 Mar 1893 Rockingham Co, VA )  15 Sep 1851
  • Onslow RUCKER ( 1826 – Dec 1851 )
  • Angeline “Anna” RUCKER ( About 1827 – 23 Jul 1900 Rockingham Co, VA ) & Mickelberry ROACH ( About 1821 Greene Co, VA  – Oct 1893 Rockingham Co, VA )  31 Jan 1840 Rockingham Co, VA
  • Eliza F. RUCKER ( 1829 Rockingham Co, VA – 08 Feb 1900 Beldor, Rockingham Co, VA ) & Asa Samuel BAUGHER (13 Feb 1819 Rockingham Co, VA –  24 May 1895 Rockingham Co, VA ) 11 Mar 1842 Rockingham Co, VA
6. George Allen RUCKER ( 1798 Madison Co, VA – Oct 1844 Saline Co, MO ) & Anne Marie VAWTER ( 1800 – 21 Sep 1844 Saline Co, MO)  07 Jul 1821 Madison Co, VA
  • George Allen RUCKER JR. ( 1827 Madison Co, VA  – 18 Aug 1856 Saline, MO )
  • Angus Alexander RUCKER ( 1829 Madison Co, VA  – 1865 Saline Co, MO ) & Leah White FRY (04 Jul 1828 – 30 Jul 1871 Saline, MO )  18 May 1848 Howard, MO
  • John F. RUCKER ( 1831 Madison Co, VA  – 1867 Rocheport, Boone, MO ) & Jane COWDEN (14 Aug 1829 – 12 Feb 1912 Polk, MO )
  • Anne Marie RUCKER ( 1833 Madison Co, VA – 1865 Saline, MO ) & Franklin Seldon ROBERTSON  (27 Mar 1828 Cumberland, KY –  10 Feb 1886 Saline, MO )  20 Sep 1853 Saline, MO

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sepia Saturday: Public Humiliation

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt is a mug shot of a poor ol’ soul holding a slate on which is written his name and crime. 

While crime and punishment is seldom a laughing matter, posing as if having committed a crime is.  A favorite photo spot in Colonial Williamsburg is the stocks and pillory. 

Barry Mathias Williamsburg, VA Dec 1971
Barry in the stocks at Williamsburg
a VERY warm December 1971
And it really is funny to see adults and children lining up to put their feet in the stocks or their head and hands in the pillory for the sake of a holiday memory.

That’s what tourists do.

But in colonial times, public humiliation was a popular form of punishment, particularly for witchcraft, arson, wife-beating, treason, blasphemy, and drunkenness.  Local citizens would gather to laugh at or even spit on the most recent town criminal.  Sometimes they threw food, rocks, and disgusting things. 

Barry Mathias in the pillory Williamsburg Dec 1971
Barry in the pillory at Williamsburg
December 1971

Posing in the stocks and pillories is a fun diversion today, but in eighteenth century Williamsburg, a person could die from heat exhaustion or starvation in the summer or freeze to death in the winter. 

If there’s a jail cell on the tour, you can bet there’s a tourist rattling the door. 

That's what tourists do.

Barry Mathias Eastern State Penitentiary Philadelphia 2009
Barry rattling a jail cell door
Eastern State Penitentiary Philadelphia March 2009

We visited the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia and saw Al Capone’s cell.  Since he was a “celebrity,” he spent his time there in luxury even providing his own furniture:  an oriental rug, a fine desk and table, a comfortable chair, some lamps, and a cabinet radio. 

Al Capone's cell Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia
Al Capone's cell
Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia, PA

That’s a far cry from the pillory. 

For more mug shots and criminals, visit Sepia Saturday.  I would not lure you there under false pretenses.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Dog Days of Summer #4

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Lucile Unknown and dog
from album of Helen Killeen Parker 1918-21
her friend "Lucile" UNKNOWN and dog
Ocean View, Virginia

Counting down the number of photos of dogs in my collection