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To the Returned Elders of Old Virginia

By: Ardis E. Parshall - November 15, 2012

Well, this letter feels like a poem to me, so I formatted it this way …

To the Returned Elders of Old Virginia

By Henry Wingfield and Elizabeth Bethel Rucker

We are the same little Mormons you left in the hills of Old Virginia
and we shall never forget you elders who first came to our door,
saying an angel had flown,
and the true and everlasting gospel had been restored.
We thank our Heavenly Father
that we were worthy to be numbered with the chosen few.

We shall never forget when you came to our home
tired, hungry, and thirsty,
and sometimes with feet blistered with heat,
and the joy it gave us to minister to your wants.

We long to look into your faces once more,
which beamed with joy, peace and happiness,
and behold your countenance shining with the spirit of the gospel.

We were baptized thirteen years ago.
We have had many trials and troubles
but a testimony of the gospel has always burned within us.
It has been the happiest part of our lives.
We still live at Windy,
but we long to be with the Saints.
We would like to have a face to face chat with you,
but we know that is yet in the future.

All the family send greetings,

Your brother and sister,

H.W. and E.B. Rucker.
James River, Va.

(1909)



5 Comments »

  1. I love this, Ardis, thank you. And you know why.

    But it’s interesting that you post this because I recently moved to the part of Virginia that this couple is from and have just started asking some of the older members of the ward about the early members of the Church here- mostly in the Blue Ridge mountains. There are still a few Wingfields in the stake, even though this couple went to Utah later.

    Comment by Amira — November 15, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

  2. Beautiful.

    James River, Virginia. It doesn’t come up on Google Maps as a town or village, but it looks like it’s in the Chesapeake Bay area, probably fairly remote. So they were baptized in about 1896. I wonder if they show up in the Latter Day Saints’ Southern Star. Yes.

    Elder E. D. Jones, of the Virginia Conference, has submitted a method of working that seems to us to be very feasible, and he claims is successful. He says, in a recent letter to this office: “I have thought of a project to help push the sale of our books, so I wrote some of the Saints to look out for a number of volumes of the Book of Mormon that I had ordered sent to them to be placed on sale at their homes. I assured them of our faith and prayers in behalf of their efforts.
    The results have been that Sister Rucker has sold two and has ordered two more. Brother Green has sold one and ordered two more, while Sister Myers has sold three. I merely mention this to show what the Saints can do by way of spreading this glorious record if they would but try.” Vol. 1, p 220.

    And then this sad note, but one which identifies Brother Rucker by name:

    THE DEAD
    Henry W., infant son of Brother and Sister Henry W. Rucker, died June 17, 1900.
    The parents of the little one which has been called away have ever been untiring workers in the cause of truth. We trust God will bless them and comfort them; that peace will abound in their hearts. Vol. 2, p 264.

    The baby was Henry Woodruff Rucker (January 12, 1900-June 16, 1900) and his parents were Henry Wingfield Rucker (October 10, 1855-June 5, 1922) and Elizabeth Boyd Bethel (June 22 1870-December 11, 1943). They made it to Utah sometime after 1909 and are buried in Beaver Dam Cemetery in Box Elder County. It looks like they had a large family with descendants in the church.

    Comment by Amy T — November 16, 2012 @ 7:57 am

  3. Since the Blue Ridge and the Chesapeake are separated by most of the rest of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I did a bit more snooping to try to figure out where these people lived.

    The James River empties into the Chesapeake Bay at Hampton Roads, between Norfolk and Newport News. Traveling upstream, one passes Jamestown, reaches Petersburg where the river turns sharply northward towards Richmond, where it turns westward again and then meanders generally in a westerly direction past Lynchburg and then on through a gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains into the Shenandoah Valley. So, it’s possible that any spot along that river might be called “James River.” It is of course possible that the village of James River was someplace else in the state, miles from the river of that name, but the rest of the clues suggest otherwise.

    The last county the river passes prior to the Blue Ridge is Amherst County, of which it forms the southwestern boundary. That is the county, according to New Family Search, where Henry and Elizabeth were born–he in Allwood, and she near “Windy.” Allwood appears on modern maps, but Windy is harder (in other words, impossible in the time available) to track down.

    NFS shows that Henry and Elizabeth were married in “Amherst, Virginia, and a spot check of a few of their children show birthplaces in Amherst County as well.

    So, it appears likely that James River was a village on the river of that name, on the southwestern border of Amherst County, between Lynchburg and the Blue Ridge.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 16, 2012 @ 9:15 am

  4. That’s all very cool, Mark B., but do you need me to send you a link to a nice tutorial on how to use Family Tree, the replacement for NewFamilySearch? : )

    Comment by Amy T — November 16, 2012 @ 10:50 am

  5. Only when they pry it from my cold dead fingers.

    Comment by Mark B. — November 16, 2012 @ 3:24 pm

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