The Rucker Family Society has met every other year since 1988 for a national reunion and to conduct Society business. The emphasis of the meetings is learning about the host city's Rucker history, and the weekend can fairly be described as a "Rucker field trip." Early reunions were held in Virginia, since Peter Rucker was an immigrant to that colony, and so much of the Rucker history is to be found there. The Society is national in scope, however, and reunions now alternate between Virginia and other states. We have met in Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, Utah, Arizona and West Virginia. Society members in our host cities arrange lectures, tours of historic homes, cemetery visits, museum time, and fine dining with friends old and new. There is no better way to learn about an area and its Rucker ties.
Our 2004 Virginia reunion was held at the
nexus of the early Rucker family history,
and featured Lynchburg's Batteau Festival.
We visited historic Rucker homesites, and
toured museums and family graveyards.
Sweet Briar College was the setting for
many of our lectures and programs, which
ran the gamut from the scholarly to the
The 2006 Salt Lake City reunion capitalized on the genealogic research resources of the downtown's LDS Family History Library. City and regional tours exhibited the area's Winter Olympics legacy, posh ski resorts, the world's biggest open pit copper mine, historic homes and modern universities, and the convention center, where we attended a live radio broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and orchestra.
Our Kansas City reunion celebrated the westward migration of the Rucker family, symbolized by the wagon wheel ruts visible on our tour of the Santa Fe, Oregon and California trails. The Harry Truman home and Presidential Library, beautiful river towns and old cemeteries, and a tour of the collection of the excavated cargo of the steamboat Arabia were a few of the highlights.
Our June, 2008 reunion in Charlottesville, Virginia included tours of the historic homes of three of our founding fathers: Thomas Jefferson's Monticello, James Monroe's Ashlawn-HIghland and John Madison's Montpelier. We toured the University's Rotunda and Lawn, and its exhibits of the Declaration of Independance and historic maps. The observatory was ours exclusively for an evening of stargazing through its 125 year-old telescope. We toured Ruckersville, and visited some of its many antique stores. Our Sunday speaker introduced us to the newly indexed account books of Lynchburg's Diuguid funeral home, a great source of genealogical information for Rucker research in Amherst County.
Nashville, TN was the site for our 2010 reunion, the second time the Rucker Family Society enjoyed its charms. We visited Andrew Jackson's The Hermitage and James K. Polk's home, and toured the site of the Civil War's Battle of Franklin. The newly renovated Grand Ole Opry hosted us for an evening performance by some of Nashville's established (Randy Travis) and up-and-coming musicians. We enjoyed the hospitality of our hosts at a lavish wine and cheese reception, and sampled the wide variety of local restaurants, and the nightlife and music of downtown. The life of one of our ancestors, Confederate Col. Edmund Winchester Rucker, was interpreted by Mr. Mike Rucker in the guise of his Civil War forbear, William Ambrose Rucker. The live auction at our Sunday meeting and brunch was lively, indeed, and raised funds for the Society's general fund. We were blessed by perfect weather, and the fellowship of old and new friends.
Two views of The Hermitage, home of President Andrew Jackson
Continuing the tradition of holding every other reunion in Virgina, we met in Richmond from June 21 to 24, 2012. The capitol city boasts the Library of Virginia, which was a great help to those of us working on the Rucker family tree. We took advantage of the city's rich history with tours of her old town and the remnants of her canal system, Hollywood Cemetery, Petersburg's Civil War battlefield and Blandford Church, and visits to the Museum and the White House of the Confederacy. Cocktail receptions were the ideal opportunity to catch up with Rucker cousins, and make new friends. Food was always a high priority, and a visit to the Halfway House, operated by yet another cousin, was a delight. The staff of the Museum of the Confederacy presented a lecture on the Women of Civil War Richmond, and we were spellbound as Mike Rucker performed dramatic recitations of the works of Edgar A. Poe.
Richmond on the James River
Phoenix, Mesa and Gilbert, Arizona were the February 2014 sites for the Rucker Family Society reunion. Western hospitality was on display, as we were hosted in beautiful homes for delectable barbecue and Mexican specialties. These were ideal opportunities to make new Rucker friends, and compare genealogic notes. We had presentations on our Rucker DNA project, new software to catalog Rucker gravesites, and local Rucker historic sites from the days of the "Old West." The official State Historian regaled us with stories of Arizona Rucker forbears, and we sampled the Cowboy Way at the Rockin' R Ranch with music and food, Western Style. The RFS auction was a huge success, preceded by a performance of Cowboy Poetry. Side trips to the Family History Library, the Mesa LDS temple, Indian ruins, the Chandler Western Art Gallery and the local nature park and mountains rounded out our experience in the Phoenix area. Our reunion ended with a productive business meeting, at which it was decided to meet in West Virginia for the next edition of the Rucker Family Society reunion.
Columbus, Georgia was a delightful setting for the October 12-15, 2017 reunion of the Rucker Family Society. Presentations included the history of Columbus, the poetry of Sidney Lanier, the life of Col. Edmund Winchester Rucker, baseball legends Nap and Johnny Rucker, Col. Kyle Rucker, an historic middle Tennessee Rucker crazy quilt, and a discussion of his works by artist Bucky Bowles. The historic homes and buildings of Columbus, its beautiful river walk along the whitewater of the Chattahoochee, and the many museums kept our members entertained. We partied at the Uptown Concert, and at the outdoor soiree on the "Rucker Party Pad" of our local hosts.
Lewisburg, West Virginia was our home base for the Rucker Family Society reunion October 8 to 11, 2015. The annual "Taste of our Town" festival on Saturday and the mountains' colorful foliage filled the city with visitors, and provided added charms to Lewisburg's famous hospitality. Our host, Mike Rucker, entertained us with his dramatic rendition of Samuel Taylor Coleridge poetry at Thursday's meet and greet, where we relaxed, caught up with old friends and met new Rucker cousins. Attendees came from California to Florida to meet in historic Greenbrier County and learn about its Rucker settlers. Local historians and noted authors regaled us with tales of the Civil War, ghosts, and prominent West Virginia Ruckers. Our guided tour of the Greenbrier Historical Society's museum interpreted the local history, and we met some of the past townspeople on a tour of the old cemeteries. The famous Greenbrier Hotel in nearby White Sulphur Springs was on our itinerary, and we toured the hotel and its once-secret underground bunker, meant to shelter the US Congress in the event of a nuclear attack. Cultural events included a performance by the Zydeco band BeauSoleil, and a performance of Shakespeare's Hamlet. From kids to seniors, there was something for everyone, and all had a great time.
Columbus, GA Riverwalk
The June 6-9, 2019 reunion in Lynchburg and surrounding areas was packed with visits to historic Rucker sites, providing opportunities for sightseeing, research and fellowship with Rucker cousins. The campus of Sweet Briar College was our home base, affording comfortable lodging and excellent meals to refresh us for the tours in Lynchburg, Amherst and Bedford counties. The 75th anniversary of D-Day took us to the National D-Day Memorial for a commemoration marked by a flyover of WWII and modern aircraft. Tours included the Amherst Batteau museum, Appomattox battlefield and Civil War museum, Amherst County graveyards, Lynchburg's restored theater space and Presbyterian cemetery, and the Jones Library for some research time with Rucker materials. Our lectures covered early Rucker and Virginia history, the Rucker Family Society DNA initiative and new directions in testing, memories of eccentric Rucker ancestors, art and literature by living Ruckers, and the art of Queena Stovall. Our auction raised funds for the DNA project, and the guests participated in some light-hearted historical drama. Sweet Briar, local eateries, and the hospitality of our hostesses kept our hunger at bay, and provided opportunities to renew old friendships and begin new ones.
The Covid pandemic has changed our plans for the next reunion, which would have been in 2021. We plan to have the reunion in 2022 on the California coast. This will protect our planning committee and our guests. The committee is working hard to host a fantastic event, so stay tuned to the newsletter and this space for details.