Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Slaves in the Rucker Family

For many years whenever the conversation touched on slavery, my family would state with much pride that we had no slave owners in the family tree.  However, that’s not exactly true.  They probably didn’t mean to lie; they just didn’t know the whole story.  While it’s true that the Davis and Jollett families were much too poor to own slaves, the Ruckers were large land owners requiring slaves to plow, plant, reap, and serve, according to the thinking of the day, that is. 

In February, Schalene Dagutis of Tangled Roots and Trees created the Slave Name Roll Project to encourage bloggers to share the names of any slaves they found in their research into deeds, wills, and other documents.  Such a noble gesture to help others in their search for their roots should inspire us all to step up. 




Orange Co. VA Will Book 1, 1735-1743, pages 299-300
(Transcribed on pages 2-3 of "The Rucker Family Genealogy" by Sudi Rucker Wood.  Old Dominion Press, Richmond, VA 1932.  Reprinted 1991 Heritage Books)

In the name of God amen I Peter Rucker of Saint Marks Parish in the County of Orange planter being weak in body but of pursued mind and memory knowing that it is appointed for all men once to die do make and ordain this my Last will and Testament in manner following:  Imprimis I do order that all my Just Debts and funeral charges be paid and satisfied. Item I lend unto my beloved wife Elizabeth Rucker all my Estate both real and Personal During her natural life and after her Decease to be Devided in the following manner. Item I give and bequeath unto my beloved Daughter Margaret Tinsley and my Son In-law Isaac Tinsley a Negro boy named Yorkshire to them and their heirs forever. Item I give and bequeath to my beloved Son Ephraim Rucker a Negro Girl named Phillis to him and his heirs forever. Item I give and bequeath to my beloved Daughter Ann Cook and my son in law Shem Cook a Negro girl named Jeny to her and her increase to them and their heirs forever. Item I do Desire that all the Remainder of my Estate both real and personal after my wifes Decease as aforesaid to be sold by my Exr. hereafter named at public auction to the highest bidder on six months credit for Current Money the Buyer giving Good Security and the money arising by Sale to be Equally Devided amongst my beloved Children by name as followeth Thomas Rucker, Elizabeth Pierce, William Rucker, Mary Offell, James Rucker, Ephraim Rucker and Ann Cook and to their heirs forever, and lastly I do Constitute and appoint my beloved Sons James Rucker and Ephraim Rucker to be my Whole and sole Executors of this my last will and Testament hereby revoking and Disannulling all other Testaments and wills by me made Confirming this and no other to be my Last will and Testament in witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and Seal this 18 day of January 1742/3. 

Signed Sealed

Published in the presence of Wit: Wm. Jackson, Wm. Offell, Michl. Holdt.
Peter (X) Rucker
23 Feb. 1743 [1744].
Presented in Court by James Rucker and Ephram Rucker who gave bond with Michl. Holt, George Holt and Richd. Mauldin Junr. securities. Proved by Wm. Jackson and MIchl. Holt.



© 2015, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


15 comments:

  1. Interesting. I will have to research my mom's family a bit more... I too, think most of them were too poor...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I read a will in which a 3-yr slave girl was given to the owner's daughter, but it isn't from my family so I didn't want to post that one. That's one of the saddest things I've read.

      Delete
  2. Glad to hear about the Slave Name Roll Project!

    and SAD about the little three year slave girl.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is a good project. Some time ago I chatted briefly with a gal on a Facebook genealogy group who was looking for one of her slave ancestors named Phillis Gaines (I think that's the last name). I wonder if it's this one in Peter Rucker's will because there are a lot of Gaines connections with the Ruckers.

      Delete
  3. What was the response of your family when they learned that there are slave owners among their ancestors, Wendy? I think it would be a hard truth to learn, especially because they were pleased not to have slave owners.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually most of them had died before I started on the Rucker research, so they never knew.

      Delete
  4. I've always said the same, but this makes me wonder about my own family as well. While the line I research the most was quite poor and I have found no evidence that they owned slaves, I do have other lines that were a better off that I have not worked on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not found any ancestors who owned slaves at the time of the Civil War; these Ruckers lived during the Revolutionary War. I have some distant relations who had one black woman living with them after the Civil War as a servant - probably cooking and cleaning.

      Delete
  5. My American ancestors were mainly from New England and Ohio. But I seem to vaguely recall a whatever cousin how many times removed who may have lived in Virginia or West Virginia. I need to follow up on that line for this project.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of Virginians moved to Ohio when new territory opened up. Can't wait to see what you find.

      Delete
  6. The fact of slavery in a family is a hard subject to deal with. I can understand why your relatives would have proudly made that claim. I struggle with that thought, myself, as you've seen, Wendy...but I think, if we were living back in those times, we would likely have thought nothing of it--nothing more, that is, than all those around us.

    Glad you picked up on the Slave Name Roll Project. I hope the project is picked up by lots of bloggers and creates a network of contributors that piece together something that can be of real help to researchers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. You ladies are awesome! I came to this post after reading the sidebar next to Wendy's Sepia Saturday post -- with the intention of telling her about the Slave Name Roll Project. Lo and behold, she's already participating. :) Great job, Ladies! I'm waiting to hear from a slave descendant who has been connected. Have a great weekend.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have not found a genealogical connection to the enslaved listed, but this blog post was instrumental in confirming oral history my family has about the Ruckers. I do not carry the surname or Y-DNA, but have substantial autosomal DNA matches that descend from the lines so that a connection is probable. Thanks.

      Delete
  8. Also a Peter Rucker of Orange Co, VA here, thru line of Rev James Rucker, SR who removed to Caldwell Co, Kentucky. I think the Slave Name Roll Project is such a brilliant idea, it should be a National project. As we transcribe wills and deeds for our ancestors for Lineage Organizations this Roll could provide documentation for many lines.
    Please explain All Rights Reserved copyright, is it for your Jollett Etc blog? The Peter Rucker will is noted as coming from the Rucker Family Genealogy by Sudie Rucker Wood. Copyright and Internet means nothing to some people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Julia, Thanks for stopping by my blog. The Slave Name Roll Project continues to draw participation among bloggers. We have an active genealogy group on Facebook and I regularly see new names being added to the roll.

      You asked about copyright. When I include something like a will that I obtained from a secondary source such as the one you see here, I include the source and give credit. The Creative Commons attribution is used by many bloggers. Here is a link to a Wikipedia article that explains it better than I can: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creative_Commons_license
      "All rights reserved" is simply an announcement that I claim this work as my own thoughts, research, and presentation. People are welcome to share my work for non-commercial use but must give me credit. I am not claiming a copyright for the Rucker Family Genealogy, only my blog.

      Delete