About Ruckersville, Where Jabe McGehee was born Give Seperate
"ìPerhaps Ruckersville of all the early settlements of Elbert
County has received the greatest publicity notwithstanding the fact that
in its era of greatest prosperity it could boast of no more than 200 inhabitants
and a great number of these were slaves. This state of affairs has been
brought about, no doubt, byu the outstanding achievements of a number of
Ruckersvilleís most noted citizen was Joseph Rucker. This unusual
man was the descendant of Peetr Rucker of Orange County, Virginia, and
the son of John Rucker and Elizabeth Tinsley. He was born on Jan
12 1788. His wife Margaret Houston Speer, whom he married in January 1812,
was a daughter of William Speer.
In his young manhood he evidenced a decided genius for business zand
without having inherited property of any great value soon accumulated large
holdings in land and slaves. When banking was in its infancy he established
the Banks of Ruskersville in a wooden store building and conducted this
institution with marked success. He was the only sotckholder, the president
and cashier. Bills of this bank were onored in every section of the United
States without the least question. This insitutition has been said to have
been the first of its kind in Georgia.
Perhpas a portion of the graphic account given by his son in law, Rev
James S Lamar, will present a true insight to his character:
ìSquire Ruckerís judgment was never known to fail. Violently opposed
to secesssion, when the final act came at Milledgeville, he said, pointing
to one of his slaves ëSee that fellow. A year ago he was worth $1,500 ,
today he isnít worth a thrip.í But he accepted the situation-helped to
equip a company-took 30,000$ of the first issue of Confederate bonds, at
par. These bonds were lying in the old Banks of Athens, in the care of
the late albin Dearing, when the war was over, not a coupon had ever been
ëHe was always called Squire Rucker. I well remember the first time
that i saw him. It was in the summer of 1856. He was dressed in an old
fashioned suit of broadcloth, a vest also of cloth, and a coat of the same
material in the style called shad-belly-somewhat like the cutaways of the
present day. He wore it unbottoned-a watch chain with a heavy seal hanging
from a fob, or watch pocket. His neck cloth was then as always s white.
It was not a simple tie but a sort of folded handkerchief, put on by laying
the middle against the throat leading the ends back and crossing them,
then bringing them to the throat to be tied together. The knowt was plain.
I am not sure it was even a bow.
ëHe was polite, but very reserved. He seemed to be studying me, his
conversation was mainly questions-chiefly about men and women and things
in Augusta-Mrs Tubman, the Cummings, the Claytons, The Gairdners, and Mr
Metcalf-then about cotton and business prospects, but no human being could
have told by any expression on his face what effect my answers had upon
him or what inference as to me he drew from them.í
Josephf Rucker was sadly effected by the results of the War Between
the States and in 1865, here followed his wife to the grave within a month.
He was truly a remarkable character and many of his descendants, Joseph
Rucker Lamar, Assoc Justivce of the US supreme Court; Elbert Rucker, Tinsley
W Rucker, US States Congressman and noted lawyer and wit; and Jeptha Rucker,
postmaster of Atherns for many years, were all born in Ruckersville, and
took first rank among Georgians.
Joseph Rucker Lamar was appointed to the US Supreme Court by the affable
William H Taft. His choice was excellent for Justice Lamar served the nation
with unwavering faith, ability and fidelity. Lamarís father was Rev
James S Lamar who married Mary Rucker; his grandfather, Phillip Lamar Jr
married Margaret Anthony; his great grandfather Phillip Sr married Ruth
Davis, and his Great great grandfather, Robert, married Sarah Wilson. Mrs
Joseph Rucker Lamar, prominnent in Georgia society and club work, was Clarinda
Huntington Pendleton, dtr of Dr William K Pendleton once Pres of Bethany
In the year 1822, the date of Ruckersvilleís incorporation, it had
become a small trading center and was, it then seemed, destined to become
a town of major importance. In 1827, according to Sherwoodís Gazetter,
the village contained 10 houses, six stores, an academy
and a Baptist church. In the year 1849, there were 200 inhabitants
and this was undoubtedly its greatest era of prosperity.
The citizenship of Ruckersville was of the highest type and a number
of characters of note were born there. Among these were: Nathaniel J Hammond,
Major Peter W Alexander, Joseph R Lamar, Mrs Corra White Harris, James
Lofton, Dr Richard Banks, Elbert M Rucker, Tinsley White Rucker and William
H. H. Underwood. The Adams, Tyalors, Banks, Clevelands, Loftons and Wansleys
live there. Descendants of the illustrious families still reside in the
With the outbreak of the War Between the States Rukersville began to
wane [spelled this way at text] and at its close when chaos and confusion,
poverty and sadness reigned, its death knell as a town of importance was
sounded. The most vivd reminders of Ruckervilleís importance today are
the remains of the Joseph Rucker home, now owned by Earl W Rucker, one
of his descendants, and Vanís Creek Baptist churchyard, where many of the
early inhabitants sleep.
The act of the General Assembly of Georgia incorporating Ruckersville
is set out below:
To appoint commissioners for the better regulation and government of
the village or Ruckersville, in the County of Elbert.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatitives of the State
of Georgia in General Assembly met, and it is hereby enacted by the authority
of the same.
That the following named persons, to wit: John Banks, Henry Bourne,
John S Wilson, William White, and William H Underwood, be and they are
hereby appointed Commissioners of Ruckersville, in the County of Elbert,
and that they or a majority of them shall immediately after the passage
of this Act, convene and proceed to the appointment of a Clerk and such
other officers as they may deem necessary to carry this Act into execution.
Sec 2. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid,
That the said Commissioners shall hold their respective appointment
hereby given them, until, the first monday in February, 1824, at which
time and on every subsequent first Monday in Feb thereafter, the citizens
of Ruckersville entittled to vote for memebers of the General Assemby shall
choose by ballot five persons to succeed them as Commissioners of said
village. And they shall have and are here by vested with full authority
to make such by- laws and regulations, and inflict and impose such pains,
penalties and forfeitures as in their judgement shall be most conducive
to the good order and government of said village: Provided, such by laws
and regulations be not repugnant to the laws and consitution of this State.
Sec 3. And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that any
two or more justices of the peace for the said county of Elbert ae hereby
authorized and required to preside at said election for Commissioners aforesaid:
Provided nevertheless, that nothing contained shall be so construed as
to prevent the elction of the commissioners hereinbefore named. And any
person or persons who may hereafter be elected commissioners of said village,
shall be reeligible at the next or any subsequent election after the expiration
of the time for which he or they may be elected Commissioners under this
Speaker of the House of Representattives
Preseident of the Senate
Assented to Dec 9 1822
John Clark, Governorî
The foregoing was introduced in the House of Representatives by Barnard
C Heard, Charles W Christian, and William morre, the Elbetr County delegation,
and was sponsored in the Senate by Beverly Allen, of the County of Elbert.
Had the village of Ruckersville continued to thrive a subsequent Act
would, perhaps, have been necessary for the text of the Act does not mention
the importnant matter of boundary lines.
Rukersville [again spelled this way], considering it s population led
all Georgia in educational facilities. There were two seminaries,
one male and one female. Young people, not only from Georgia, but So Carolina
as well attended these excellent institutions.
Eudisco Academy, situated at Ruckersville, was incorporated by The
General Assembly in 1823, and John Banks, Bedford Heard, William H Underwood,
Asa Thompson, and Joseph Rucker were named trustees.
One year afte Eudisco Academy was incorporated the following Act was
passed and assented to by Governor Troup; ....to incorporate Philomathia
Academy in the County of Elbert and to appoint commissioners therein named....that
from and after the passage of this Act the Academy in the County of Elbert
known by the name of Philmathia Academy, shall be called and known by that
name: and that Beverly Alle, Henry White, Asa Thompson, Bedford Harper
and Richard Banks, the present Trustees .....
Section 5 of the foregoing act refers to the academy which was located
in thee town of Elberton. This school proved of great benefit to the surronding
country and ocntinued to thrive for more than half a century.
Until the public school system was established in Elberton there were
two institutions known as the ìelberton male Academyî and ìElberton Female
[excluded text regarding the pedigree of Allen Daniel, SPeaker of the
House of Res in 1822 when Ruckersville was incorporated ìfor many years
a citizen of Elbertc County....born in Virginia in 1772, married Mary Jones..
both with distinguished and long American lines.]...
In the year 1832 Ruckersville Methodist Church was charterd by and
Act of the Georgia Legislature.
The trustees named were Richard C Adams, Alfred Hammond, Peter Alexander,
John Johnes and William Bailey. They, and their successors, in office,
were empowered to employ a marshal whose authority, within a three mile
limit of the church building, was the same as the county high sheriff.
This provision has never been repealed. The muster ground of the militia
was within the prescribed limit and on one occasion two young militia offiers,
having drunk too freely of the plentiful spirits of the day, were chained
to trees for a period of three hoursr.s The trees were used in lieu of
a house in which to confine them.
This church is close3ly interwoven with the history of the families
of Alexander, Adams, Bailey, Banks, Burch, Cleveland, Hammond, Jones, Blackwell
In 1932 the centennial celebration of the church was held and a large
number of persons attended from every section of Georgia. Rev O A Vickery
was pastor at that time.
When the famous meteoric shower of 1833 took place, the vast
majority of people believed that the end of time had come and that the
universe was to be destroyed by fire. Some at once began to pray, some
sat quietly in their homes, calmly awaiting the end, some fled to storm
cellars, while the more practical minded began to seek means by which they
might save their wordly possessions.
John Watkins, fo Petersburg, when the show3er first begun, caused his
slaves to lower his family into wells about his largeplantation where they
were forced to stand fro several hours in water almost to their necks.
Mr James M Tate rushed his wife and children out of doors, into the barn
yard, and caused all of his female slaves to be placed beside them. He
then ordered his male slaves to draw bucketr after Bucket of water to throw
upon them in the event otheir clothing should begin to ignite. it is a
matter of conjecture just what his intentions were in the event that the
menís clothing began to burn. At any rate, it demonstrated the fact that
not only at sea did women and children come first. ....."
McIntosh, John H. The official history of Elbert County, 1790-1935
Elberton, Ga.: The Chapter, c1940, 568 pgs. [page 91-102]
GF FM L