Sunday, August 3, 2014

52 Ancestors: #31 - Ephraim 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.

My 5X great-grandfather Ephraim RUCKER was the sixth son and ninth child of ten born to Elizabeth and Peter Rucker.  The goal for many Rucker researchers is to trace their line to “Peter the Immigrant,” the first to settle in Virginia.  The Ruckers are well-researched and well-documented but not without controversy stemming from errors in early research and not without some dramatic legends.  One of the most interesting of the legends is that Peter Rucker was shipwrecked on the James River and floated to land clinging to a barrel of whiskey.  That story gets told in various ways, sometimes with two of his sons being the stars of the story.  At any rate, Peter is responsible for the long line of Ruckers in Virginia and across the country. 

Historic marker
Ruckersville, Greene Co, Virginia
Peter settled in Essex County about 1700 where he and Elizabeth raised their family.  He died in Orange County, but this doesn’t necessarily mean he moved because Orange was created out of Spotsylvania County which was created from parts of Essex.  Between 1700 and 1743/44 (double dates due to old calendar style), Peter amassed quite a bit of land and by all accounts appears to have been a successful landowner and farmer.  In his will he left everything to his wife, and then one slave to each of his children.  Ephraim, my 4X great-grandfather, and his brother James were appointed executors.

Ephraim, like his father, owned hundreds and hundreds of acres of land.  He paid taxes on land in both Culpeper and Madison counties, both formed from Orange County.  Ephraim was a frequent grantor and grantee in the land game, no doubt keeping the court clerks hopping. 

A timeline of land deals involving Ephraim Rucker
  • 1750 –  200 acres in Culpeper Co, VA, were deeded by John Vawter to his son-in-law Ephraim Rucker and Margaret 
  • 1751 – 159 acres in Orange Co, VA sold by Angus and Ann Vawter to Ephraim and James Barbour (Orange Co Deed Book 13, p. 272)
  • 1759 – 100 acres in Culpeper Co on Elk Run at the fork of the Robinson and Rapidan Rivers purchased from brother-in-law Isaac Tinsley and wife Margaret Rucker
  • 1773 – 505 acres on Elk Run at the fork of the Rapidan and Robinson Rivers purchased from William Twyman of Culpeper 
  • 1774 – sold some land in Culpeper Co, VA; also Ephraim and his wife paid for three years of their grandson’s schooling:  “ …  paid 30 shillings for the present years schooling of Charles George Cook, and thirty shillings for the next, and for the year following.” (Culpeper Co Deed Book H, p. 22) 
  • 1775 – grandson Charles G. Cook paid 21 lb. to Ephraim for 60 acres of land, 1/2 mile above the bridge, which crosses Elk Run
  • 1775 – Ephraim deeded 150 acres at the fork of the Robinson and Rapid Rivers to son Angus Rucker; another 150 to son-in-law Edmund Gaines; and 150 to James Davis (whose relationship has yet to be determined) 
  • 1776 – sold 159 acres to Jeremiah Jarrell
A timeline of tax activity
Land and Personal Property tax books in Orange Co mention “Col. Ephraim Rucker” paying on 63 acres, 13 head of cattle, and 8 slaves named Sambo, James, John, Giles, Hog, Ishal, Rachel, and Adams.

Ephraim owned property in a section of Orange that later became Greene Co, but he was living north of the Rapidan River in Culpeper Co which was later carved out to become Madison Co.  (Which way did he go?  Which way did he go?)

Land and Personal Property tax books in Culpeper Co show Ephraim paying on 400 acres of land and a number of slaves:  Harry, Ben, York, Cloe, Venus, Diana, Will, Phil, Moll, George, James, Milly, Violet, Phillis (this was the slave given to him by his father Peter Rucker), and Frank. 
  • 1787 – In Culpeper Co, Ephraim paid personal tax for two sons, Julius and Elliot, who were still involved in service related to the Revolutionary War
  • 1792 – When Madison was formed from Culpeper, Ephraim paid on the same 400 acres as he did until his death in 1796. His estate continued until 1811. 
  • 1796 – Ephraim paid taxes for two grandsons and for his son Julius as well as his own.  Julius had been injured during the Revolutionary War, so perhaps he was unable to work.
  • 1799 – Margaret Rucker paid on 7 slaves in Madison Co. 
  • 1800 - 1813 – Margaret Rucker paid for her son, most likely Julius 
The well-dressed Continental Army
image from wikipedia in public domain

Revolutionary War Service
Apparently no one applied for a pension based on Ephraim’s service.  However, families of young soldiers certainly did for their husbands, fathers, and sons.  In providing proof of service, many referred to particular battles or marching under the command of “Captain Ephraim Rucker” or “Col. Ephraim Rucker.”

Culpeper Court records of 1776 indicate Ephraim was a captain.  But the next year, he was appointed Lieutenant Colonel along with James and John Slaughter.  In my research, he is most often referred to as “Colonel Ephraim Rucker.”

Will of Ephraim Rucker
Dated Sept. 24, 1796, probated Dec. 28th, 1797 (Will Book 1, p. 348, Madison Co)
To my wife, Margaret, my whole estate until her death, then 1/7 to son Angus, and the land whereon he now lives.  1/7 to son Elliott, 1/7 to son John, 1/7 to daughter Tabitha Gaines, 1/7 to daughter Mary Vawter, 1/7 to daughter Tomagen Rucker and her sons John and Ambrose Booten, and her daughters Ann and Elizabeth Rucker.
To my daughter, Margaret Morgan, and her sons, Elliot and Joseph Minor, and her daughter Mary Early. Witness: James Ridish, George Allen and Joseph Bradford.  
Executors: Sons Angus, Elliott and John.

Angus and John gave bond in the sum of $10,000.00 Dec. 28, 1797, with William Blakey and Joseph Bradford, security.

Using the handy inflation calculator at Dave, I see that the Rucker brothers forked over a hefty bond.  Today that $10,000 equates to over $185,000. 

Those Ruckers did all right. 


Ephraim RUCKER ( 1718 Essex County, VA – 24 Sep 1796 Madison County, VA) & Margaret VAWTER (1720 – 1813)  25 Mar 1738 Essex County, VA

1. Margaret RUCKER ( 1738 Culpeper Co, VA – 1797 Madison Co, VA ) & m1) Armistead MINER ; & m2) William MORGAN 17 Oct 1795 Madison Co, VA
          Armistead and Margaret had the following children:
  • Mary Allen MINER ( 04 Oct 1781 Culpeper Co, VA – 15 Jun 1841 Boone Co, KY) & Whitfield EARLY (10 Jan 1777 Culpeper Co, VA – 05 Aug 1866 Boone Co, KY)  15 Dec 1795 Madison Co, VA
  • Joseph MINER (1782 Madison Co, VA – 08 Jun 1858 Missouri) & Sara YOWELL (18 May 1781 – 11 Nov 1861 Chariton Co, MO)
  • Elliott MINER (1785 Madison Co, VA – After 1860 Boone Co, KY) & Jane RUCKER (1791 Madison Co, VA – After 1870 Boone Co, KY)
2. Tabitha RUCKER ( 1745 Culpeper Co, VA – 1815 Madison Co, VA ) & Edmund Pendleton GAINES (1743 – 1816)
  • Sarah GAINES ( 27 May 1775 Culpeper Co, VA –  Feb 1863 Madison Co, VA ) & Thomas Abraham LEWIS ( 23 Jun 1772 Culpeper Co, VA – 05 Sep 1823 Madison Co, VA ) 10 Jul 1806 Madison Co, VA
3. Angus RUCKER ( 1746 Culpeper Co, VA – 21 Sep 1836 Madison Co, VA ) & Jane ALLEN (1755 – 1830 Madison County, VA ) about 1770 Culpeper County, VA
  • Sallie RUCKER (20 Jun 1782 Madison Co, VA – 31 Aug 1858 Fayette Co, IN) & William M. GAINES (31 Jan 1771 Virginia – 18 Nov 1836 Fayette Co, IN)  04 Oct 1804 Madison Co, VA
  • Catherine RUCKER ( 27 Oct 1786 Madison Co, VA – Aft 1860 Madison Co, VA ) & William EARLY ( Oct 1773 – 1839 Madison Co, VA ) 02 Feb 1804 Madison Co, VA
  • Jane RUCKER (1791 Madison Co, VA – After 1870 Boone Co, KY) & Elliott MINER (1785 Madison Co, VA  – After 1860 Boone Co, KY)
  • Margaret RUCKER ( 1793 Madison Co, VA – 03 Aug 1888 Missouri) & James BLAKEY (25 Dec 1794 – 30 Mar 1847 Madison Co, VA)  19 Nov 1813 Madison Co, VA
  • 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 Co, VA
  • George Allen RUCKER (1798 Madison Co, VA – 01 Oct 1844 Saline, MO) & Anna Marie VAWTER (1800 – 21 Sep 1844 Saline, MO)  07 Jul 1821 Madison Co, VA
4. Julius RUCKER (1747 Culpeper Co, VA – 1804 Virginia )

5. Elliott Legrand RUCKER (1748 Culpeper Co, VA – 19 Mar 1832 Shelby, KY) & Nancy SMITH 06 May 1789 Orange, VA
  • George Washington RUCKER ( 1790 Culpeper Co, VA – 1844 Kentucky) & Maria VAWTER (1792 – )  06 Oct 1810 Woodford Co, KY
  • Legrand F. RUCKER (28 Aug 1793 Culpeper Co, VA – 02 Dec 1836 Shelby Co, KY) & Harriet DAVIS (22 Jan 1802 – 23 Aug 1859 Shelby Co, KY) 02 Jul 1821 Woodford, KY
  • Merial RUCKER & John Earle DENEALE
6. Tomagen RUCKER ( 1749 Culpeper Co, VA – 1814 Madison Co, VA) &  m1) Ambrose BOOTEN ; & m2) Augustine RUCKER (1750 – 1815)

          Tomagen and Ambrose had the following children:
  • John BOOTEN ( 1765 –  11 Feb 1819 Madison Co, VA) & Frances Fanny CLARK (1770 – 1840)  24 Jan 1786 Culpeper Co, VA
  • Ambrose BOOTEN JR. ( 1767 Culpeper Co, VA  – 1775 Culpeper Co, VA)
         Tomagen and Augustine had the following children:
  • Polly RUCKER (1777 Culpeper Co, VA – ) & Thomas PARROTT 13 Apr 1802 Madison Co, VA
  • Ephraim RUCKER ( 1778 Culpeper Co, VA – 08 May 1858 Anderson Co, KY) & Rosamond WRIGHT  (03 Mar 1800 Virginia – 1858 Anderson Co, KY)  04 Jan 1816  Madison Co, VA
  • Ann RUCKER  (1782 Culpeper Co, VA – )
  • Elizabeth RUCKER  (08 Jan 1782 Culpeper Co, VA – 31 Mar 1828 Nashville, TN) & Severn DONALSON (1779 – 1818)
  • Larkin RUCKER (02 May 1783 Culpeper Co, VA – 15 May 1860 Greene Co, KY) & Lucy TERRY ( 01 Apr 1787 Madison Co, VA – 1840 Madison Co, VA ) 20 Feb 1815 Madison Co, VA
7. Mary RUCKER ( 1749 Culpeper Co, VA – about 1798 Kentucky) & William VAWTER (1758 Essex Co, VA – 27 Nov 1823 Boone, KY)  04 Jun 1784 Orange Co, VA

8. John RUCKER ( 1751 Culpeper Co, VA – 1792)

Brydon, Jeannie. "Peter Rucker, Immigrant. Updated Feb 2012." Rucker Family Society Homepage. Web. 25 July 2014.

"Peter Rucker, d. abt 1743 in VA." Excerpt from "Rucker and Edwards Heritages." Rucker, William Robert. Dallas, TX. 1983.  Web. 25 July 2014.

Wood, Sudie Rucker. The Rucker Family Genealogy. Old Dominion Press, Richmond, VA. 1932. Web. July 25, 2014.

© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. I loved reading all of this! Great information and a lot of work!

    1. It was a lot of work. I had done practically nothing on the Ruckers before this series, so it's good to get some of it done.

  2. Your 5x Great Grandfather's history reads much like my 5x Great Granddaddy who hailed from Virginia and served in the Continental Army as Sons of Liberty. You have really done a lot of research and successful digging in the tax rolls. Makes me want to do the same, but I had to move on from Virginia and three more generations to get to Georgia. Are you watching TURN on A&E? The new season started last night. Interesting Revolutionary War series.
    Sue at CollectInTexas Gal

    1. No, I missed "TURN." I'm a terrible historian. I need to check it out. Whenever I work on Rev War people, I start hankering for "The Patriot." I bet "Turn" would do the trick.

  3. Great post again, it is great that you can find out all this information on your family. You have a lot of patience.

  4. Wendy, I love the tale of your ancestor floating ashore holding onto a whiskey keg. ha! But, seriously, this is a great family story that shows your hours of research!

    1. That legend is a good one. And thanks for the kind words.

  5. Sally is so right. "Patient" is a good word to describe you! Great job with this. :)

    Happy Monday.

    1. Y'all are being nice.
      Happy Monday to you, too!

  6. I am impressed that you've been able to make this connection from yourself back so many generations and in only a few months, Wendy! You're such a genealogy sleuth!!!

    Ephraim was obviously a very distinguished man and servant to our country.

    1. Of the various lines I've researched this one seems to be one with some "class" and distinction. At least for a couple generations, anyway. HA!

  7. Hello, I'm a Wendy too! I think we may be related via Margaret Rucker 1710-1801, I believe she married Isaac Smith 1716-1802 who are my 6th great grandparents, I've been building my family tree on AncestryUK. I live in the UK, I loved reading your info on the Ruckers, Kindest Regards, Wendy