Thursday, January 22, 2015

Honoring Robert Dennard Tucker

Robert Dennard Tucker is the 4th cousin twice removed of my sister-in-law and today is the fifth anniversary of his death. Mr. Tucker published a genealogy of the Tucker family in 1991 entitled, The Desendants of William Tucker of Throwleigh, Devon. He got his love of genealogy from his grandmother, Sally (Tyson) Tucker, just as my father did from his mother. He served in the Korean War and was a keen business man. He founded two medical device and pharmaceutical companies.

Robert Dennard Tucker (1933-2010) from his book,
The Descendants of William Tucker of Throwleigh, Devon;
personal collection

Almost two years ago, I believed Mr. Tucker's book had helped me breakthrough a brick wall. Who were the parents of Benjamin Tucker (died 1778), my sister-in-law's six times great grandfather? I later discovered his conclusion about the connection between the Bermuda and Georgia Tucker families was incorrect through the Tucker DNA Project. Testing has proved they are not connected. Apparently, there were three men named Benjamin Tucker in what became Southampton County, Virginia, and Mr. Tucker got facts about them jumbled up. To his credit, no one else has been able to sort them out to date.

In his book he said, "I do take my goals seriously. When obstacles are confronted in their achievement, I use every weapon in my arsenal to overcome them." And I don't think he was kidding. He purchased the plantation patented to Benjamin Tucker in Southampton County in 1746.

Benjamin Tucker's Southampton County, Virginia, plantation, which was
purchased by Robert Dennard Tucker from his book; personal collection

He likely funded the restoration of the family cemetery found on the property and erected headstones for several of his ancestors buried there. He also funded work on the Tucker family parish church in England and paid professional genealogists to assist his research of nearly 40 years.

As a result of DNA testing, Mr. Tucker's work has been somewhat marginalized and his book thought to be unimportant. I believe this not to be the case. From my research, I think his work from Benjamin Tucker forward to be very solid. For years Judge Folks Huxford was considered by many to be the foremost authority on the Tucker line in Georgia.  He published several articles and at least one book about the pioneers of the wiregrass region of Georgia, including the Tucker family. The lineage he provided for Henry Crawford Tucker, Jr., who fathered 32 children and represented Colquitt County at the Georgia Secession Convention is not correct. Judge Huxford thought Henry Crawford Tucker, Jr., to be the son of Elisha Tucker. That lineage was accepted by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR).

However, Robert Dennard Tucker believed differently.

He conclusively proved in his book that Elisha and Henry Crawford Tucker, Jr. were brothers, not father and son. In addition the rest of his research on the Tuckers who migrated to Georgia after the Revolutionary War is very solid. I believe Mr. Tucker's life's work should not be tossed aside so lightly. It is certainly not the first family genealogy book that is not entirely correct. They are still good reference points to guide a genealogist's own independent research.

As a result of doing just that, I was able to share with my sister-in-law a great deal about her father's family. Her father died when she was 12 years old and she didn't know a lot about his family. That has been a joy thanks in large part to Robert Dennard Tucker.

"The Tucker Maneuver"
Thirty-two Children!
Henry Tucker and the Georgia Secession Convention

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