52 Ancestors Week #10- Stormy Weather – Peter Rucker, First to Come to America

peter ruckerPeter Rucker is said to be the first of the Rucker line to come to America. He was born in Germany and his family fled to France during an uprising in their native land. Peter and his 3 brothers boarded a ship traveling along with 3 other ships to come to the new land and reached the shores of Virginia in the late 1600’s. There are several stories as to how Peter arrived here. A great storm arose as they were approaching land and it is proven that one of the ships sank before reaching the dock. This is where things change. The debate is how Peter, who was on the sinking ship, got to shore. Below are some of the accounts that can be found. I really like number 6 as this would be a great story to tell!

  1. “Peter Rucker floated for three days on a piece of driftwood, being picked up by a passing vessel.” (From Edythe Whitley’s History of the Rucker Family, p.9)
  1. Peter’s ship was “wrecked in a heavy storm 12 miles from the Jamestown shore—nearly all were lost. [Peter] tied two casks of rum together which buoyed him up and he floated for two days” until rescued. (This story was handed down in the family of Thomas B. Rucker, b. Oct. 29, 1807, Caldwell Co., KY and printed in Eva Cutts Davidson’s Rucker Kinsmen, p.45)
  1. “Peter Rucker . . . landed in Norfolk in 1701 after being shipwrecked and floating on a timber in mid ocean for three days. He landed at Norfolk with two brothers possibly three brothers . . . He left Norfolk in 1715 for the upcountry, and settled in Amherst Co., [VA]. (Written in a letter found by James M. Rucker, Gladys, VA, among his mother’s papers. This version came through the family of Edwin Sorrell Rucker, born April 8, 1803 [Wood, p.82])
  1. “The family of Ruckers were Huguenots and left France in the 17th century and settled near Fairfax, VA . . . The vessel which brought them to America was wrecked and everyone on board lost, except Rucker himself and one companion. (This story came through the family of Jonathan Rucker [Wood, p.299] of Mississippi, printed in The Alstons and Allstons, by Joseph A. Groves, p.147)
  1. “That there were three Rucker brothers who came over from Holland in Colonial Days. Their ship sank and only one lived to get to shore and that all the Ruckers were descended from this one man and most of them lived in the south.” (Neil Lewis Rucker, Burdett, KS, 1966, in a letter to Paul H. Rucker of Burlington, Iowa, submitted by Neil’s son, Clair N. Rucker)
  1. “The first of the name in America was Peter Rucker, a native of France. On the voyage to America, the vessel in which he sailed was wrecked about 12 miles from shore and nearly all on board were lost. Before leaving the wreck, Mr. Rucker took the precaution of tying a couple of large flasks of rum to his neck which buoyed him up. By that means and by taking an occasional drink of it, he was enabled to reach shore.” (‘Early Settlers of Sangamon County, IL,’ by Powers, 1876, submitted by Bette Lou Upton Nienstedt)
  1. “By the grace of God, a deck of cards, and a keg of rum, you are here today” (A talk by Edith Copeland Rucker to descendants at the Rucker Family Reunion, 1994.) “ . . . Peter Rucker was the first Rucker on American soil, and he came on a ship that was wrecked just before reaching the shores of Virginia back in the late 1600s. It seems that there were two potential survivors of the disaster, and they gambled in a game of ‘seven-up’ to determine who would win the remaining keg of rum to use to float to shore. Peter won, and ‘a keg of rum’ has over the years, been used as the password of Peter Rucker’s descendants.” (First printed in Days Gone By in Alpharetta and Roswell, GA, by Caroline Matheny Dillman, Nov. 15, 1986.)

Peter Rucker is my 7th Great Grandfather.

I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: http://tinyurl.com/Your-Family-History and http://tinyurl.com/Genealogy-Research-Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.

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6 Comments

Filed under #52ancestors, Ancestry, Family History, French Huguenot, Genealogy, Peter Rucker, Ship Wrecked, Virginia

6 responses to “52 Ancestors Week #10- Stormy Weather – Peter Rucker, First to Come to America

  1. #6 is also my favorite. I’m always interested in reading your posts on the Rucker family. A Peter Rucker of Amherst was a neighbor on Horsely Creek of my William Dempsey per abstracts of land deeds. Peter was also administrator with Wilson M. Dempsey of the will of the same William Dempsey in 1836. Not much is known of Wm Dempsey so I’ll grab any straw (or rum keg) I can to break through this break wall.

  2. Pingback: 5 Great Family History Blog Posts - Part 1 - MyCanvas

  3. Deborah

    So is it safe to say that there was a shipwreck with rum involved?

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