Sunday, January 19, 2014

52 Ancestors #3: The "Tucker Maneuver"

For the third week of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge I am back to my sister-in-law's Tucker family, but I've jumped forward in time about 200 years. January 22nd marks the fourth anniversary of the death of Robert Dennard Tucker[1], a man I never met but treasure greatly because of his 40 years of Tucker genealogy research and his book, The Descendants of William Tucker of Throwleigh, Devon, which was published in 1991. It helped me break through one of my brick walls.

The Descendants of William Tucker of Throwleigh, Devon, Robert Dennard Tucker. The Reprint Company, Publishers; Spartanburg, South Carolina, 1991

My sister-in-law is a Tucker from the Georgia line. I spent several months researching her ancestors and was able to confirm that Henry Crofford (Crafford or Crawford) Tucker (1752-1832) was her five times great grandfather.  But I got stuck there over some confusion as to who Henry's father might be -- Benjamin Tucker or Elisha Tucker. Most published sources said Elisha, but it made no sense to me as his most likely birth date made him more Henry's age. So I stopped beating my head against this brick wall and moved on to other research.

The back of the headstone of Henry Crafford Tucker (1752-1832)

Months later I picked up my Tucker research again, but decided to attack it from another angle. I had read in many Tucker histories the family was originally from Bermuda, though I had found no such connection by tracking backwards from my sister-in-law. So I decided to research the Bermuda Tuckers and see where that went. This approach is in no way recommended by any genealogy protocol I have ever read about brick walls.  However, I'm a curious, undisciplined sort of person so I broke the "rules." Attacking a brick wall obliquely can be a waste of time or you can hit pay dirt, but I find it's always interesting.

The Bermuda Tuckers[2] were fascinating -- real island "movers and shakers." Some of them even moved back to England and it was obvious they were a very well-connected family. The English Tuckers were instrumental in colonizing India, for example, in addition to Bermuda, and helping to save the colonists at Jamestown. I had a very nice family tree going for the Bermuda Tuckers and several given names were common between that line and my Georgia Tucker line, but I just couldn't make the connection.

Anne (Butterfield) Tucker, wife of Col. Henry Tucker, and two of her children, Elizabeth and Nathaniel[2].  They sat for this portrait by Joseph Blackburn in 1753.  Image from the book, Family and Society in American History, edited by Joseph M Hawes and Elizabeth I Nybakken

Then I read a reference to The Descendants of William Tucker of Throwleigh, Devon by Robert Dennard Tucker. From the reference, it seemed as if the book included Bermuda and Georgia Tuckers.  I Googled the book title and found a seller on eBay with the wonderful "Buy It Now" button. I bought that book in a second!

It took forever to arrive and I was pretty excited when it did. After days of reading, I learned that both my Tucker trees -- Georgia and Bermuda, though bare boned -- were correct as far as they went. More importantly, I was able to figure out through Robert Tucker's wonderful research how the two lines connected. It turns out Benjamin Tucker (1704-1778) was Henry Crofford Tucker, Sr's father (my brick wall) and Benjamin's father was Henry Tucker (1652-1728), who I already had in my Bermuda tree. The connection hung on just one person missing from my two Tucker trees. And that's how I knocked down my Tucker brick wall. I now call an oblique attack on a brick wall a "Tucker maneuver."

And that's why I am so indebted to Robert Dennard Tucker, a man I have never met.

Robert Dennard Tucker (1933-2010)

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[1] Robert Dennard Tucker was born on 18 Jul 1933 at Tifton, Tift, Georgia, to Robert Buck and Ethel Margaret (Dennard) Tucker. He married Peggy Angelyn Smith on 23 Jun3 1957. He died on 22 Jan 2010 at Atlanta, Georgia, and is buried in West View Cemetery at Monticello, Jasper, Georgia. His book, William Tucker of Throwleigh, Devon, is currently out of print. My copy has a cherished place in my genealogy library.

[2] I wrote about one of the Tuckers from the Bermuda line, Nathaniel Tucker, as the subject of my 52 Ancestors Week #1 post.

8 comments:

  1. This is a fascinating concept. I think we always need to hope that there's a grain of truth in every family story. Yours led you round about to where you needed to be. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. I end up in a lot of weird places when I'm researching! I wouldn't recommend this as a typical brick wall approach but my sister-in-law lost her father when she was very young and she really wanted to learn about his family. So I've spent a lot of time on the Tuckers and obviously done some off-the-wall research "techniques."

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  2. Hi...I am a 4th great granddaughter of Henry c. Tucker. There is now some debate on the Tucker page on Yahoo concerning Robert D. Tucker's research. The claim on the Tucker yahoo page is yes, Henry C. was a descendant of Benjamin, but Benjamin's father couldn't not have been from the Bermuda Tucker's based on current DNA. I am at a lost because I know Robert D. Tucker spent year's researching, even traveling to England! Monica, Fayetteville, ga

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    1. Monica, thanks for your comment. I will look for the Yahoo debate. I'm going to leave my tree as is for now because the source documentation Robert Tucker collected is impressive. The DNA is hard to ignore and it will be very interesting to see how it plays out.

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    2. Monica, thanks again for your post. I've researched the DNA and it is clear Benjamin's father couldn't be the Henry Tucker from Bermuda as Robert Tucker thought. There is some connection between the families, but it is more distant and not known at this time. So those of use interested in the Georgia line are back where we started. I still find the family very interesting and have a whole new appreciation for all the Colonial history I learned in school.

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  3. Very interesting. Col. Henry Tucker is my 5th gr. grandfather.

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    1. Thanks! I've since discovered Henry Tucker is not Benjamin Tucker's father. There has to be some relationship, but I am unsure now what it is. The Tucker's have been an interesting family to get to know regardless. And the Georgia branch has been equally interesting. One ancestor voted in the Georgia convention to secede from the Union.

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  4. Very exciting, thanks for the write up. I am from the great Thomas County Georgia line of Tuckers, been trying to do a lot of family research. I may have to get ahold of that book :)

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