Sunday, June 1, 2014

Southern Ruggles.... Who is our Immigrant Ruggles Ancestor?

Southern Ruggles

This line of descendants has been stumped as to who our Ruggles connection is in America. We were under the impression that we were part of the Ruggles clan who came in with Thomas Ruggles and Margaret Dandridge, the immigrants of the Northern Ruggles Line. According to the Southern Ruggles Researchers, we are not. In the "Imagined Roots" section they state:

"In 1897 great cover for the false trees was provided by the greatest of the American historians of the Ruggles family in this country.  In that year Henry Stoddard Ruggles published his monumental book The Family Ruggles.  On the very second page of his forward he said,

"Almost every person in America of this name is descended from one of these immigrants [1630-37 to Boston], and the stock of the Ruggles family is represented in almost every state in the Union.  Boston, Roxbury and Braintree (or Quincy) in Massachusetts and Pomfret and new Milford in Connecticut were the locations in which the Ruggles settlers were to be found in the seventeenth century and early in the eighteenth ...".

Recently I got the opportunity to read through Mr. Ruggles' archived correspondence.  This makes it clear that at the time he published his book he had never heard of the southern Ruggles and had no idea that Ruggles had settled in Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky before 1800.  His files are replete with copies of helpful responses he made to almost everyone who wrote to him asking about their Ruggles ancestry.  The exceptions were letters from southern Ruggles.  His files indicate that he apparently never responded to one such letter!"

In my research on my Grandmother, Nellie May Ruggles' side of the family, I have since learned the Ruggles are not all PROVEN to be related... YET! She apparently comes from the Southern Ruggles clan and it is through her immediate family line that the Southern Ruggles' clan is documented. 

John B. Ruggles 
Birth 1755 in Virgina USA

Death 12 Sep 1822 in Turtle Creek, Shelby, Ohio, United States
(Wife #1) Elizabeth Betty Voires - married in 1783 or 74/
(Wife #2) Elizabeth Brimmer - married in 1808
  1. Thomas P. Ruggles  1785 - 1861 / Louise Amelia "Millie" Burris
    1. Birth January 11, 1785 in Monongalia County, West Virginia, USA
      Death 23 Jan 1861 in Ribolt, Lewis County, Kentucky
  2. Mary "Polly" Elizabeth Ruggles  1789 - 1860 / John B. Fitch
    1. Birth 1789 in Monongalia, West Virginia, USA
      Death 1860 in , Lewis, Kentucky, USA
  3. Nancy Ruggles  1790 - 1879 / James Osborn
    1. Birth 16 Feb 1790 in Monongalia County, Virginia (now West Virginia)
      Death 02 Feb 1879 in Jefferson, Idaho, USA
  4. George Enoch Ruggles  1795 - 1882 / Margaret Plummer (My Line)
    1. Birth 1795 in Lewis County, Kentucky, USA
      Death 08 Mar 1882 in Keokuck, Blackhawk Township, Iowa
  5. Sarah Ruggles  1796 - / Thomas Hurley
    1. Birth 1796 in Ribolt, Lewis, Kentucky, USA
  6. Rachel Levine Ruggles  1797 - / John Buzzard
    1. Birth December 25, 1794 in Lewis County, Kentucky, USA
      Death 12 Apr 1881 in Wayne, Huntington, Indiana, USA
  7. Elizabeth Ruggles  1800 - / Issac Bennett
    1. Birth 1800 in Lewis County, Kentucky, USA
      Death 1860 in , Mahaska, Iowa, USA
  8. John B. Ruggles, Jr.  1801 - 1882 / Nancy Weaver
    1. Birth April 15, 1801 in Lewis County, Kentucky, USA
      Death 23 Nov 1882 in Wayne, Huntington, Indiana, USA
  9. William Ruggles  1804 - / Sarah Cecil
    1. Birth 1804 in Lewis County, Kentucky, USA
      Death Aft. 1856
  10. Jesse Ruggles  1806 - 1848 / Amanda Melvina Lambert
    1. Birth June 8, 1806 in Lewis County, Kentucky, USA
      Death 19 Apr 1848 in Jefferson, Iowa, USA
  11. James Ruggles  1807 - 1886 / Drusillia Fayens Voiers
    1. Birth May 8, 1807 in Piqua, Miami, Ohio, USA
      Death 23 Nov 1886 in Wayne, Huntington, Indiana, USA
  12. John Ruggles  1786 - 1863 / Elizabeth Wilson

  13. Enoch Ruggles  1790 - 1880 / Ruth Wilson

  14. Jane Etta Ruggles / John R. Smith
    1. Birth 15 Sep 1811 in Lewis, Brown, Ohio, USA
      Death 17 Dec 1872 in , Adams, Ohio, USA
We still didn't know who our Immigrant Ruggles was. The Southern Ruggles Researchers pressed on trying to discover our missing link. They went through the tax records for the States of Maryland, Virginia  and Kentucky searching the Ruggles who lived in those areas. No immigrant ancestor could be found. In the Ruggles of Maryland and Virginia -- a Family Reconstructed page, the Researchers focused their attention on three Ruggles men: 

James1 Ruggles -- (bef.1682 -- aft.1702)

This James Rugless married in Talbot County, MD in 1702.  We suspect he either 1) was a Northern Ruggles who somehow met a Maryland girl, came south to marry her and went back north, or 2) was a recent emigrant who did not live long after his marriage.  We find no trace of any issue in Maryland or Virginia.

I would tend to write off James1 altogether except for the following.  In 1930 when Thomas Ruggles wrote his History of the Buzzard Family, he said: 

"... your great grandmother Rachel Ruggles Buzzard who's family came to the United States from England, away back in the first settling of this country in the 16th century.  About this time several families of Ruggles' came here together and settled on the coast of Maryland and started a little town and called it Ruggles Town for a nickname, and it grew and grew and GREW, until it became a large town, when 75% of the population was either Ruggles or akin to them."

Cousin Madilyn Brown who is a Buzzard descendant and who sent this quote to me says she found a reference to Ruggles Town in Talbot Co, MD while researching in the Allen Co. Ind. Library in Ft. Wayne, IN.  I have asked her for the specific reference; there was no response to this request and I strongly doubt the information.
I get the impression that Thomas was passing on family legends and that the details were mostly wrong.  For instance, if true, it had to be the 17th or 18th century, not the 16th; the records indicate that there were a tiny handful of Ruggles in Maryland, not 75% of any population, etc.  However, most legends are built on a kernel of truth and it is not impossible that our Ruggles did first settle in Talbot County. 

This James Rugles, aka. Roughless and Ruglass, was convicted with others in London for mugging a homosexual in a public park in London in 1744.  Since no reference is made in the records of the proceedings to "youth", we guess that he was at least 21 in 1744.  Although he was sentence "for life", we guess that his sentence was commuted to transportation to the colonies, that he was purchased for seven years, that he served his time, and that by 1751 or 1752 was free to marry.  The earliest Kentucky Ruggleses we now know of seem to have been born in the period 1755-67, which would be the right time to have been the result of a marriage by James in 1753-54.  He is now, more than ever, our prime candidate for progenitor of the Southern Ruggles.

In 1882 Henry Hardesty wrote, on page 125 of his Biographical Atlas, volume 3 which includes the folk of Braxton County, WV,  that the James Rugless who was father to James (who married, in Maryland, Elizabeth Harding) and grandfather to Eliza Jane (who married Jonathan Caldwell Friend in Greenup County, KY) came from England to Baltimore County, Maryland.
We believe that he was the James whose 1777 and 1778 records are found in Montgomery Co, MD.  If we have this right, then  between 1751 and 1778, James managed to marry and produce at least four or five children, but was unable to buy land.  This would indicate that in his servitude he did not acquire skills sufficient to generate income adequate to both support a young family and to buy land.  He must have worked at wage labor in some semi- or un-skilled job or jobs.

The Hardesty information says James Rugless married [in Maryland] Mary Winfield whose parents came from Ireland.  Wright, Inhabitants of Baltimore County 1692-1763, p. 24 reproduces a 1737 list of taxables in the Patapsco Lower Hundred showing Richard Wingfield as a taxable in the household of Jacob Rowles.  Clements and Wright, The Maryland Militia in the Revolutionary War, p.147, reproduce records for 1777 service by Jona and Richd. Winfield in the Calvert County militia.

In our 2001 work, we had speculated that  the wife's maiden name might have been Brimmer, but this apparently was incorrect.  The speculation went as follows:  the only two hints we had were 1) the knowledge of John B. Ruggles middle initial and 2) the fact that the family name Brimmer has long been associated with our Ruggles family so much so that some have suggested it as the maiden name of a wife in the next generation whose maiden name almost surely was something else.  If James was poor, with no land and few skills, he would have been hard pressed to make a very good match, and would have tried hard to improve his lot and that of his prospective children by marriage.  And there was a Brimmer family on the margins of Maryland society.

According to Gust Skordas' Early Settlers, p. 57, James Bremer was transported to Maryland in 1678.  By 1687, according to Peter Coldham's Settlers 1679-1700, p.20, James Brimar [surely the same man] owned Weems, a tract of 424 acres, in St. Mary's County, MD.  According to Barnes' Maryland Marriages, p.20, Will'm Brimer married Catharine Gaskin in 1712 in Anne Arundel Co. and p.200 in 1768 Fanny Brammer married Jno. Wooler in Baltimore Co, MD.  So far, we have been able to find nothing else about this family.  But Mary Brimmer, born sometime 1730-40 could well have been a granddaughter of this small farmer in early Maryland. But her maiden name seems to have been Winfield, not Brimmer.

In 1778-1779 Mary Rugloss served as a witness to John Holmes' will in Montgomery County.  This was not a very common thing for a woman to do.  We are guessing that James was the one who was supposed to do this, that he had died or was traveling at the time, and that his wife or widow, Mary, served in his place.  That his wife was Mary adds more credibility that he had a daughter named Mary as well.

Elsewhere we have speculated that this couple had at least five children:  John B. (1755, VA or MD), Thomas (1756), William (1760, VA or MD), James (1761, MD) and Mary (1767).  We suspect that there were more daughters who may have lived and married.  If we have placed this family correctly, the children were all likely born somewhere in what was then Frederick Co, MD or in nearby areas of Virginia.

The Hardesty information indicates that James was a had moved west to the Cheat River [in what was then Monongalia County] when that area was raw wilderness, where he drowned in that river while trying to cross it with a load of goods he had brought from Baltimore.   Cousin Roger Carr believes he can verify that James was a teamster and that this drowning happened while trying to ford the river at or near St. George (then known as Minear's Fort, now in Tucker County, WV).  Roger has found James on a Monongalia tax list and believes that the Ruggles lived at the time of James' death in either St. George (aka the Horseshoe Settlement) itself or in the Hardin Cove Settlement (named for the family of Elizabeth Hardin) some 20 miles further west. 

William Ruggles (bef.1734 - aft.1790)

William arrived in Prince George's Co, MD in 1755 and surely must have been 21 or older at the time.  We believe he was the William Rugless who saw Revolutionary War service in the Maryland militia, that he married Elizabeth Lowe in 1789 in Prince Georges Co. and that he headed the household listed as William Rugless, also in Prince Georges Co., in the 1790 census.  We have found no evidence that he had male issue and have found no evidence of the marriage of the daughters that seem to be indicated in the 1790 census.


  1. The Ruggles clan may have migrated with the Wilsons from Montgomery County MD as Rev Jonathan Wilson father of Sallie and Ruth gave a fidelity oath there in 1778, and they later emigrated to Lewis Co KY and later Moral/Van Buren Townships in Shelby Co IN where they are buried in the Ruggles Cemetery. My family tree also has Sallie Wilson as wife of Will Ruggles.

  2. hello cousin 😊 i come from the line of sarah ruggles & thomas hurley.