Ruckersville Methodist

Elbert County
Org 1796
Photography by Randy Clegg

The little white church you see above is a very historic one located in the lost village of Ruckersville in Elbert County. It is close to the Savannah River and therefore was one of the earliest settlements in Georgia.  The church was organized in 1796, but moved in 1832 to the present site when three acres of land were donated by Peter Alexander for construction of the current building. There are eighteen members of the Alexander family buried in the cemetery.  The cemetery is also the final resting place for several Revolutionary War, Civil War, War of 1812 and WWII veterans. The oldest grave is that of  William Alston (b. 1736 – d. 1810), who was a Lt. Colonel in the NC 3rd Regiment during the Revolutionary War.  He also served as a member of the North Carolina Provincial Congress in 1775. 

Ruckersville Methodist is an active church, and although the original church was built in 1833, there have been many changes over the years to make the sanctuary welcoming for the congregants.  However, the membership has been very mindful of their history and the structure maintains its 1833 character. Repairs and enhancement began in 1911 with the pitch being changed to the roof to allow for proper drainage. In 1950 the front porch was added and one door replaced the two originals that had separated the men from the women and children, a common practice at the time. Also that year the benches were replaced with theater seats from Augusta, Georgia.

Ruckersville was quite the place at the beginning of the 19th century.  It was named for Joseph Rucker, who was born in Virginia in 1788 and died in 1865. His family had migrated from Orange County, Virginia and acquired large land holdings in the late 1700’s in Georgia. Joseph settled on the headwaters of Van’s Creek, and named the growing community Ruckersville – after his father’s hometown in Virginia. At one time, Joseph Rucker owned as many as 12 plantations and was known as ‘Squire’ Rucker. He was also known as ‘Georgia’s First Millionaire’. 

Here is some additional Ruckersville history published in 1929.  “The Elberton Star September 19, 1929 The following article appeared in the Elberton Star apparently as a reprint of an article by Lee Rogers of Elberton and which appeared in the Sunday Atlanta Journal: Elberton, GA.- In the northern section of Elbert county, on Van’s Creek, and near an old Indian trail, is the town of Ruckersville, once a flourishing city of 600 or 700 people. Around it cluster the memories of much of Georgia’s history. Once it had fifty stores, two banks and a newspaper, and was the home of Georgia’s first millionaire. It was the depot for distribution of freight for all points above Petersburg, the freight being brought up the Savannah river by pole-boats. It had two schools, and an academy of which a Princeton graduate was principal……. Ruckersville appears to have been settled in 1773 by Virginia aristocrats, who came leisurely down the overland route, stopping a year or two in North Carolina and a year or two in South Carolina. Their purpose seems to have been to take up land grants, they no doubt sensing afar the coming prosperity of the section. John Rucker and John White took up the first grants in 1773. There are descendants of each in the county today. No doubt the town was named after John Rucker or his family. He came from a little town, Ruckersville, in Virginia. In 1777 he made a trip back to his old home, where he married Elizabeth Tinsley and returned with her as his bride. It was his son Joseph who became the first millionaire and one of Georgia’s most prominent citizens.”

Today there is little left of the original town of Ruckersville, other than a few cemeteries and the little Methodist Church.  We are indebted to the congregations that have kept the history of Ruckersville alive to be passed on to subsequent generations.  Be sure to click and scroll on the photos below to learn more about the history of Ruckersville and the early pioneers who lived there.

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