December 6, 2014

Colby & Sarah Roberts Rucker

In 1927 Edyth Johns Rucker Whitley put together a rather comprehensive account of the Ruckers in American. By her own admission, Edyth did not set out to provide "a complete history of the family" before they began to arrive on the shores of this country.*

She emphatically states that the origin of the Ruckers was "no doubt a very historical family" and was German. She descended into a short description of when the family originated when a "Sir Knight crusader, John Von Rucker, was granted in 1096 AD¹ a coat-of-arms, dating from the first Crusade."
This book is available to read and download at  I will borrow only slightly from it in this outline of the family and their intermarriage with the Coffey and Dalton families of Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. I have not relied on it entirely for Colby's descendants; instead I have relied on several contemporaries who have assisted me over the years while I researched my own Coffee/y ancestry.

Edyth tells us that Colby Rucker was a son of Peter and Sarah Rucker of Culpepper Co., VA. She found no exact date of marriage for Peter and Sarah but speculated that it "must have been about 1759." In 1775 Peter sold his land in Virginia and relocated with Sarah and his children to Mississippi. Through an investigative process Edyth speculates that although no official record has been found that provides Sarah's maiden name, she pretty much convinces researchers that her name was Sarah Cowherd, a daughter of Colby Cowherd whose property adjoined the Ruckers in Culpepper Co.

Colby Rucker was born Oct. 10, 1760 and died on Jan. 20, 1852 in Thorn Hill, Grainger Co., TN and was buried there at the Rucker Cemetery. He married Sarah Roberts** c1784 and she died c1844, but we do not know where or, the location of her burial.
They had at least eight children; seven of which are believed born in Wilkes Co., and the last in Grainger Co., TN.

The first was Elizabeth. An un-sourced contribution to Coffey Cousins' tells us that she was born  born Jan. 6, 1787 and died Mar. 22, 1855.  She married John Coffey, a son of Benjamin and Polly Hayes Coffey on Mar. 1, 1804 in Wilkes Co.  It is said that 12 children were born to the union but likely there were only ten.  We have no data on two of them:  Jesse T. and George.

The others were Ausburn (var.) who was born on Jan. 11, 1805 and died on Dec. 30, 1876 in Grainger Co. He was married c1830 to Matilda "Tildy" Dalton, a daughter of Enos and Rebecca Williams Dalton. Tildy was born Jan. 30, 1799 in Grayson Co., VA and died in Rockcastle Co., KY on Jan. 30, 1899. Ausburn is buried at the Rucker Cemetery in Thorn Hill, Grainger Co., while Tilda died in Rockcastle Co. and was buried in Roundstone, KY at the Scaffold Cane Cemetery. Thirteen children.

Colby, born Aug. 23, 1806 in Wilkes Co., died in Estill Co., KY on Jun. 17, 1888. He was married to Mary Ann "Polly" Adams on May 22, 1830 in Grainger Co., TN. She was born Oct. 6, 1807 in VA, died Sep. 26, 1887 in Estill Co. Both buried at Garrett Cemetery in Jinks, Estill Co. Ten children.

Benjamin, born Feb. 8, 1808 in Wilkes Co., died May 8, 1867 in Rockcastle Co. He married Nancy Hayes c1872 in Hawkins Co., TN.  Nancy was born Jul. 23, 1802 in NC and died in Rockcastle Co. on Feb. 14, 1874.  Both are buried at the Maret Cemetery in Wildie, Rockcastle Co. Ten children

Elizabeth Coffey Whitsett Hayes
Photo via S. Phelps
Elizabeth was born Oct. 14, 1810 in TN and died in Cass Co., MO on Aug. 30, 1883. Her first husband was Nathan P. Whitsett to whom she was married on Dec. 1, 1839. He died in Jan., 1842 in Grainger Co. and she then married her first cousin, George W. Hayes, a son of Thomas and Sarah "Sally" Rucker Hayes. Sally was the daughter of Colby and Sarah Roberts. The marriage occurred on Feb. 23, 1845 in Grainger Co. Both George and Elizabeth are buried at Pleasant Hill in Cass County's Union Baptist Church Cemetery. At least five children.

Nancy, born Jan. 12, 1811 in Grainger Co., died Nov. 20, 1896 in Rockcastle Co.  She never married and in the 1860 census she was enumerated as "insane."  She is buried at the Thomas Jefferson Coffey cemetery near Lake Linville in Rockcastle Co.

John Jackson, born Jan. 12, 1812 in Hancock Co., TN, died Oct. 15, 1877 in Rockcastle Co. His spouse was Elsie Nash, born 1810 in TN and died in Grainger Co. on Jan. 7, 1867. They were married Jul. 7, 1839 in Grainger Co. He is buried at Maret Cemetery in Wildie; she at the Condry Cemetery in Thorn Hill. Elsie was a daughter of Thomas and Dicy Mallicoat Nash. They also had a son named Marvel Nash who married Louisa Wells. Their daughter, Sarah Nash later married Wiley Coffey, son of Ausburn and Tildy Dalton Coffey. A son, Parrot Leon Nash also married Martha Matilda Coffey, a daughter of Wiley and Sarah Nash Coffey. John Jackson and Elsie had seven children.

The Coffey's loved their cousins!

John and Elizabeth Rucker Coffey's daughter, Sarah Lucinda, born c1822 in Grainger Co., married William E. (or H.) Coffey on Mar. 21, 1840.  William was the son of George and Margaret Rucker Coffey.  Margaret Rucker and Sarah's mother, Elizabeth Rucker were sisters and, John and George Coffey were brothers.  So, Sarah and William were double first cousins!  Sarah and William had seven children.

Margaret Elizabeth Coffey, born Feb. 28, 1823, probably in Grainger Co., married Isaac Bullen on May 9, 1844 in that county.  He was born Apr. 23, 1802 in TN and died in Rockcastle Co. on Nov. 28, 1896.  Margaret also died in Rockcastle Co.  Margaret was Isaac's second wife.  His first wife was Mary Dotson to whom he was married on Nov. 3, 1829 in Grainger Co.  They had five children, one of which (Hannah) married Elias Henry "Eli" Coffey in 1851 Grainger Co.  He was another son of Ausburn and Tildy Dalton Coffey.  Both Margaret and Isaac are buried at the Thomas Jefferson Coffey Cemetery.  Mary Dotson is buried at the Dotson Cemetery in Grainger Co.

Catherine Coffey, born Apr. 29, 1827 in TN, died Sep. 27, 1914 in Howell Co., MO.  She married a Mr. Sweet in Cass Co., MO.  We know that Catherine is buried at the Langston Cemetery in West Plains, Howell Co. MO, but no clues yet on Mr. Sweet.

William M. Coffey, born Oct. 31, 1828 in TN is the last known child of John and Elizabeth Rucker Coffey.  He married Ellen Nash on Jun. 10, 1849 in Rutledge, Grainger Co.  He died on Aug. 9, 1893 in that county; she on Jan. 19,1884.  Unfortunately, I have not yet found where they are buried.

2/16/2015 Update:

The following is from Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application made for the Colby's children.  His pension was denied as no proof existed that he actually served:

United States Department of Interior***
Bureau of Pensions
Rev. and 1812 Wars.         Washington, Nov. 6, 1925
Section R-9061

In response to your letter [presumed to be Whitley] of the second instant, I have the honor to advise you, that from the records of this Bureau it appears that Colby, or Colley Rucker was born October 10, 1760, place not stated.  During the Revolution he lived with his parents, whose names are not on record, on the Mississippi River, near Natchez.  He married soon after the Revolution in Wilkes County, North Carolina, date not given, Sarah Roberts.  He died in Grainger County, Tennessee, January 20, 1852.  His wife died about eight years before he died.  In 1852, their surviving children were:

Mrs. Margaret Coffee, aged sixty-five years.
Mrs. Elizabeth Coffee, aged sixty-seven years.
William Rucker, aged sixty-three years.
Mrs. Sarah Hayes, aged sixty-one years.
Mrs. Nancy Pain or Payne, aged fifty-eight years.
Mrs. Delphia Dalton, aged fifty-six years.
John Rucker, aged fifty-four years.
Mrs. Jane Hayes, aged fifty-one years.

On December 27, 1852, William Hays, or Hayes, soldier's administrator, a resident of Rockcastle County, Kentucky, applied for pension in behalf of the surviving children.  He was also soldier's son-in-law, but it is not stated which daughter was his wife.

It is stated that Colby, or Colley Rucker, enlisted in 1778, or 1770 and served under Captain Alston and Colonel Blunt, ranging up and down the Mississippi River near Natchez, for eighteen months.  After this, while going to North Carolina, he was captured by the British and confined in Savannah between four and six months, before he escaped.

He then went to Wilkes County, North Carolina, where he enlisted and served for three months under Captain John Keyes and Colonel Benjamin Harrald and Colonel Charles McDowell against the Cherokees.  Dates of service not given.

The claim was not allowed as soldier did not render six months service, in an embodied military corps as required by the pension laws.

Very truly yours,

Winfield Scott, Commissioner


¹ The People's Crusade; see
*Neither do I plan to create here a complete descendant list of children and other descendants of Colby.  I will however, be glad to discuss and provide information, including sources, to any researcher who would like to know more about this very large family.

** Was Sarah's surname Roberts or Robins?  According to the website "Robins [Ro-Bynes] Robbins - Clan?" Colby Rucker married Sarah Robins, daughter of John Robins, Jr., and Margaret Strother.

See the wewbsite as source of following information:

Children of John Robins, Jr. and Margaret Strother:

William Robins, born c. 1745 in Orange Cty., Virginia, died c. 1774 in Orange Cty., Virginia. He was married c. 1766 to Ann Foster, born c. 1744, died 14 June 1833.

Capt. Thomas Robins, born c. 1748 in Orange Cty., Virginia, died bef. 1824 Coffey Cty., Tennessee. He was married on the 24 December 1775 to Mary Foster, she was born abt 1747, died 4 December 1807 in Wilkes Cty., North Carolina.

NOTE: Check this link for a surname history for the Foster line: Foster Link

John Robins, born c. 1750 in Orange Cty., Virginia, died (?) in Franklin Cty., Tennessee. He married Elizabeth Dogan in c. 1771 in Orange Cty., Virginia.

NOTE: Check this link for a surname history for the Jones line

Reuben Robins, born bet. 1750-1755 in Orange Cty., Virginia, died in 1833 in Wilkes Cty., North Carolina. He was married on the 29 April 1782 in Wilkes Cty., North Carolina to Jane Turner, born c. 1760-70, died c. 1850-60

Mary Robins, born c. 1760 in Orange Cty., Virginia, died (?) in Wilkes Cty., North Carolina. She married Joseph Roberts c. 1781.

Ann Robins, born (?) in Orange Cty., Virginia. She married James Sartin c. 1786.

Lucy Robins, born bet. 1755-60 in Orange Cty., Virginia, died bef. 1787 in Wilkes Cty., North Carolina. She married (Benjamin) Brown

Sarah Robins, born (?). She married Colby Rucker c. 1786.

***Microfilm publication M804 (Washington, D.C.: NARA, ), M804, Pension No. R.9061.

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