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Rucker, James Jefferson

Posted by MarthaCrossSargent 
Rucker, James Jefferson
February 28, 2007 06:35PM
History of Bourbon, Scott, Harrison and Nicholas Counties, Kentucky, ed.

by William Henry Perrin, O. L. Baskin & Co., Chicago, 1882. p. 610.

[Scott County] [Georgetown City and Precinct]

JAMES JEFFERSON RUCKER, Professor of Mathematics in the College and

Principal of the Female Seminary at Georgetown, Kentucky; was born Jan. 27,

1828, in Randolph County, Mo. He is the son of Rev. Thornton Rucker, and

his wife, Martha, both natives of Virginia, and married in that State. His

father was a Baptist clergyman, and among the earliest preachers of that

denomination in Missouri. His mother, a sister of William Snyder, a citizen

of prominence in Boone County, Ky., comes from a family having its lineal

representatives in this State, Missouri and Orange County, Va., whence it

originally sprung. Remotely this family were by occupation millers, and

the Rucker family farmers. About the year 1820 the parents and

grandparents of Prof. Rucker emigrated from Virginia to Missouri, settling

respectively in Howard and Monroe Counties. In these and Saline and

Randolph Counties, Prof. Rucker passed his childhood and youth, mostly in

assisting his father on the farm. During this period he received but

meager schooling, and at the age of nineteen found himself possessed of

but the merest rudiments of an English education. Feeling the absolute

necessity for a knowledge of arithmetic for ordinary business purposes, in

the fall of 1847 he entered a county school with a view to attain this

knowledge. In this school he continued about a year. It proved the

occasion of determining his whole future course of life. His teacher,

observing that his abilities were of more than usual character, urged upon

him the pursuit of a routine of studies especially calculated to fit him

for a professional career. Adopting these friendly suggestions, in the

fall of 1848 he commenced teaching a country school, employing his leisure

hours in self-culture. In the winter of 1849-50 he entered Howard high

school, at Fayette, Missouri, remaining as pupil and assistant teacher,

until June 1851; in the fall of that year he recommenced the duties of a

country school teacher, in the spring of 1852, through the advice,

influence and financial aid of his friend, E. D. Sappington, of that

county, a gentleman for whom he has ever since cherished the highest

esteem, he came to Kentucky and entered Georgetown College to pursue and

complete his studies; here he remained a student, teaching at intervals a

school in Bourbon County, Ky., until June 1854, when, with the honors of

his class, he graduated as an A.B.; after graduating he kept up his school

in Bourbon County until the fall of 1855, at which time he entered upon

the discharge of the duties of principal of the academy attached to the

Georgetown College, to which position he had been appointed during the

summer of that year. He, however, had scarcely assumed the discharge of

these duties when, a vacancy occurring in the chair of mathematics in

the Georgetown College, he was temporarily appointed to the place in the

capacity of a substitute. He took the chair on the 21st of Nov., 1855,

and gave such signal proofs of ability that when the board of trustees

met in the following June they at once invested him permanently with the

office, which he has ever since continued to fill with honor to himself

and profit to the community. Among his pupils in mathematics may be

especially mentioned Dr. J. F. Cook, President of LaGrange College,

Missouri; Dr. Varden, of Paris; and W. H. Felix of Covington, Ky. At the

close of the war, in 1865, the building at Georgetown, which for twenty

years had been occupied by Prof. Farnham as a female seminary, having

burned down, a void in that department of education was thereby created,

which for a time was keenly felt by the people, who put forth man efforts

to remedy the evil, but all unavailingly until Prof. Rucker came to their

relief, taking charge of the school and appropriating to its use his own

private property until better and more commodious premises could be

obtained. Perceiving, however, after a time, through the indications of

failing health, that he had undertaken too much by assuming the additional

duties of Principal of the Seminary, he sold out property and school to

Rev. J. B. Thorp, who continued its management for two years, when the

school was transferred to other quarters and re-organized. During the

summer of 1868, the citizens of Georgetown projecting a new building for

Seminary purposes, Prof. Rucker became the agent of its Board of Trustees

to solicit funds and to superintend it construction, devoting much time

thereto; and when in the fall of 1869 it was completed, again became its

Principal, which he yet remains. This institution now occupies a front

rank among all similar ones throughout the State. In 1874 he conceived

the idea of aiding Georgetown College financially by having a chair

endowed with a fund raised from it former students. The work of canvassing

among them was done by himself during vacations. With some assistance

from Rev. R. M. Dulley, he succeeded in raising sixteen thousand dollars.

This sum being insufficient for the purpose, he applied to the Legislature

for an act of incorporation for an association, granting them power to take

charge of the fund and increase it. The charter was obtained during the

session of 1875-76, the title of the corporation being "The Students'

Association of Georgetown College." Thus provided for, the sum has since

become an assured fact. It is now slowly but steadily increasing, with

every prospect of ultimately attaining an amount sufficient to meet fully

the design of its institution. It is managed and controlled by a board

chosen from the members of the association, of which at the present time he

is the chairman. About the close of the war, desirous of advancing the

moral and religious good of the people, he called a meeting of Sunday

school workers for the purpose of uniting their efforts in such a way as to

render their labors in the cause of Christianity and Bible truth more

efficient. The meeting turned out a success, and resulted in the formation

and establishment of the "Baptist Sunday School Convention of Elk Horn

Association" and organization which was the first of its kind in Kentucky,

of which there are many in the State. For a number of years Prof. Rucker

was the chairman of the "Sunday School Board of the Baptist General

Association of Kentucky," retiring therefrom only when duties otherwise

pressing and ill health constrained him so to do; he has been a consistent

member of the Baptist Church since his early youth, having imbibed his

religious principles from his father, who was a constant living

exemplification of Christian character. To his father he attributes much

of his success in life, having drawn from him all those habits of correct

training and thought which are so conspicuous in his own daily walk,

conversation and manners, and which have been the true foundation of his

many years of usefulness; besides all these various occupations heretofore

recited, which have engaged his time and attention, he has been an active

member of the Board of Trustees of Georgetown nearly the whole period of

his residence there, taking a genuine interest in all its municipal affairs

and conserving the public good in every legitimate way possible, to the

best of his ability; this he did without the hope of fee or reward, the

service being of that class of work which brings no compensation save that

of an approving conscience; to such men the community really never knows

how much they are indebted, until they have passed from the business stage

of life. Professor Rucker is a man of great public spirit, enlarged

views, sound practical knowledge, indefatigable purpose, untiring energy

and withal, of a very conscientious, kind and impressible nature; in

manners is courteous, unassuming, modest and prepossessing. His school,

which numbers over one hundred young ladies, is a model of order,

refinement, good government and regularity. On Sept. 10, 1855, he was

married to Miss Mary M. Allison of Bourbon County, Ky.; after marriage they

made Georgetown their home, where they have ever since resided; they have

four children--a daughter and three sons. In his marriage, Professor

Rucker has been extremely fortunate, he having obtained for a life

companion a lady of most exemplary character, pleasing address, fine

sensibilities and rare good judgment, and one, withal, of whom it may be

truly said, she knows her every duty and how best to fulfill it.

Rucker Sappington Cook Varden Felix Thorp Dulley Allison Snyder


Boone-KY Bourbon-KY Kenton-KY Orange-VA Randolph-MO Howard-MO

Monroe-MO Saline-MO

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