A Biographical Sketch of Addison Clay Rucker

Addison Clay Rucker was born 2/19/43 in Amherst County, Virginia, the last of four children of William Ballenger Rucker and Mary Ann Dawson Rucker. [1] Addison likely was educated at the plantation school, and attended the New Prospect Baptist Church at Pleasant View, where his parents had been members since 1844. [2]  In 1850, seven year-old Addison was living with his parents, older brothers Daniel and William, and sister Susan. [3] By 1860, Daniel and Susan were married and living elsewhere, and Addison and William were still at home, helping to run their father's farm. [4] Their parents no doubt welcomed the help, as the farm was large and successful, and required the labor of at least a score of slaves.
   The Spring of 1861 was an exciting and uncertain time for the residents of Amherst County, with impending civil war. Virginians voted for secession on May 23, [5] and the men of Amherst responded to their new country's defense by enlisting in the local company of cavalry and two companies of infantry. It would be surprising if an eighteen year-old was not eager to join his friends and relatives for a chance to "see the elephant" and do his patriotic duty, and one can imagine the family conference to decide how many Rucker sons would be needed to run the farm. William promptly enlisted, and Addison apparently stayed home, as he was still there in August, when he donated $150 to help fund one of the local Confederate companies. [6]
   William Ballenger died 12/28/6 [7] and Addison assumed even more of the responsibilities of running the plantation. When the Confederacy began drafting men the next Spring, Addison claimed an exemption as an overseer of his slaves, rather than leave them and the land unattended. [8] His duties at home became even more critical when his mother died 3/11/63, [9] willing to him the 353 acre mansion tract. [10] Congress took steps that Spring to remove the exemption for slave overseers, and Addison responded by successfully bidding $75 for a four year contract to deliver the mail between Big Island and Pedlar Mills. [11] That contract, beginning 7/1/63, provided lasting exemption from the draft for the remainder of the war.[12] No muster roll records confirm the claim that he served under John Mosby, [13] and his name is not found in that unit's history. [14]
   The war must have brought great hardships to the Ruckers and other Southerners, not the least of which was the loss of their slaves. Large farms could not be worked profitably without them, and the post-war years saw many properties divided by sale. Addison persevered for several years in Amherst, and 4/1/68 married Lucy Lyle Snead at her family's residence in Rockbridge County. [15] By 1870 they were farming in the Pedlar District of Amherst County, employing two workers, and their first child, William, was one year-old.[[16] At least two more children were born in Amherst, Robert Snead and Mary Ann  Dawson, [17] so that the family was still on the homeplace 8/13/73 when Mary came. [18] Evidently, Addison saw a better opportunity elsewhere, so that by 1880 the family was in Bath County, Millboro Township. [19] Addison was now a miller, and the family had grown to include five year­old Henry, three year-old Charles M. and infant Addie, born in Apri1. [20]
   Another move occurred sometime in the next twenty years, for the family was renting at 913 E. Jefferson Street in Charlottesville by 1900. [21] Addie C. was still at home, and 17 year-old Edgar P. and 11 year-old Lyle W, were the last two of Lucy Lyle's eight children. Robert Snead had died 9/30/95, while juggling a daytime job and night-time studies at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. [22] Addison was city engineer and street commissioner, a member of the High Street Baptist Church and the Widow's Sons Masonic Lodge No.60. [23]
   True to his peripatetic nature, Addison moved from Charlottesville in 1901. [24] His son, William H., had moved to Newport News by 1898, where he lived until his death at age fifty-eight. [25] If Addison joined his son at some point, he was not listed in the city directory. [26] However, in 1906 he is listed in Roanoke as a surveyor and engineer. [27] Sons Charles M., Edgar P. and Lyle W. were clerks for the railroad in Roanoke the following year, but do not appear any later in Roanoke. [28]
   Addison died of "La Grippe" IO/10/06 in Newport News, his occupation listed as food inspector. [29] He is buried in the northeast of Charlottesville's Oakwood Cemetery, the third row, with his wife (died July 7, 1911), son Robert Snead, son Charles Manley (a veteran of the Spanish-American War, died 8/06/1944), and Charles' wife Charlotte Goodwin (2/5/81 to 6/26/1965). [30] Seven children survived Addison and Lucy Lyle Snead. [31] Earlier census data says that six of eight children were alive in 1900, but this is evidently in error. Sudie Wood states that daughter Mary wed A. R. McNeil in 1899; [32] both of her parent's obituaries list Mary's last name as Owen, which may represent a second marriage, not noted by Wood.

Compiled by Christopher D. Rucker, M.D., August 15, 1998
Return to Confederate Ruckers