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Imagined Roots

-- hereinafter we record instances in which southern Ruggles lines of descent have been mistakenly grafted into someone else's family tree.  In some cases, the mis-graft probably was inadvertent -- I make mistakes -- bet you have too!  In a few cases, the mis-graft probably was intentional -- probably done around 1900 by some "professional" genealogist quickly making a few bucks off some trusting family eager to have their family tree show up well in the local histories which were then all the rage in the US.  At this late date we can't tell which is which.  We can just record what the actual line of descent was.

This page was begun 14 February 2002 -- rak.

In 1897 great cover for the false trees was provided by the greatest of the American historians of the Ruggles family in this country.  In that year Henry Stoddard Ruggles published his monumental book The Family Ruggles.  On the very second page of his forward he said,

"Almost every person in America of this name is descended from one of these immigrants [1630-37 to Boston], and the stock of the Ruggles family is represented in almost every state in the Union.  Boston, Roxbury and Braintree (or Quincy) in Massachusetts and Pomfret and new Milford in Connecticut were the locations in which the Ruggles settlers were to be found in the seventeenth century and early in the eighteenth ...".

  Recently I got the opportunity to read through Mr. Ruggles' archived correspondence.  This makes it clear that at the time he published his book he had never heard of the southern Ruggles and had no idea that Ruggles had settled in Maryland, Virginia and Kentucky before 1800.  His files are replete with copies of helpful responses he made to almost everyone who wrote to him asking about their Ruggles ancestry.  The exceptions were letters from southern Ruggles.  His files indicate that he apparently never responded to one such letter!

  One might wonder why? And I am tempted to speculate.  Based on his correspondence, I think it fair to say that our Henry was a very proud, even arrogant man.  I suspect he could not bring himself to say in print that his knowledge had been limited or that he had made a mistake, even though he had left himself an easy "out" with the 'Almost every' at the beginning of the statement in his book. 

  Be that as it may, the idea spread in the land that every Ruggles was descended from those who settled first in New England and that idea "enabled" much grafting of southern Ruggles onto the New England Ruggles family tree.  Examples will be added as I come across them.

One. Sometime abut 1985 the book Stafford Kansas - 1885-1985 - Crossroads of Time was published.  On page 192 we read that the father of Dr. Charles A. Ruggles "was Thomas W. Ruggles, born in Kentucky in 1825, whose brother was General George B. Ruggles, a commanding General of Fort Leavenworth."  The father is correctly identified.  His birth-place was Lewis County, Kentucky, home-central for the southern Ruggles.  However, so far, no military record, much less the rank of General, can be found for Dr. Charles' uncle George B.  On the other hand, there was Brig. General George David Ruggles who was born in 1833 in Newburgh, NY of main-line New England Ruggles stock, who served in the American West and who may well have commanded Fort Leavenworth for a time.

Two. Something called The National Cyclopaedia printed nice biographies of prominent Americans.  Someone sent me p.266 of one of its volumes which has the entry for Clyde Orval Ruggles.  His line of descent is given.  He, in fact, was a nephew of Charles A. Ruggles just mentioned.  The line of descent goes nicely back to Thomas W.'s parents "George and Margaret (Plummer) Ruggles" [who, I will note, lived much of their lives in Lewis County, Kentucky before moving to Iowa].  But then it jumps to New England saying that George's parents were "George and Lucinda (----) Ruggles [who] came to this country from England and settled in Massachusetts."  In fact George, father of Thomas W, was the son of the first southern Ruggles to settle in what was to become Lewis County -- John and Elizabeth (Voires) Ruggles the probate of whose estate names George as a son and heir.  Much of this site is about them, their relatives and their descendants.