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Ancestors of Thomas Alton Rutledge

This history of the Thomas Alton Rutledge family summarizes information that I have gathered over the last 16 years from various sources.  This information comes from visits to places where my ancestors lived, research at the Library of Congress, various county libraries, the Georgia Archives, the Family History Center of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and various Internet sites including, the Rutledge Family Association Web page and USGENWEB sites. After running into several dead ends in my early research, I feel that the following history contains as much fact and as little conjecture as is possible given the English and US records which survive today.

Though the information in this family history is derived from many sources, the following were especially helpful in piecing together the final story:

  • George and Ginger Jansen provided extensive documentation that they had gathered over the years on the Routledge family in England and the Pennsylvania colony during their early Quaker years.
  • Glen Cupit provided me with information from Cupit family history documents which were written by John T. Cupit and which trace the Routledge family from Pennsylvania through Virginia to South Carolina, primarily via Quaker records.
  • Larry and Janice Rutledge whose family history write-up provided valuable information and leads to sources for the Rutledge family in Gwinnett County, Georgia.
  • Sean Rutledge whose documentation on the origins of the Routledge family and whose photographs of the Bewcastle area were valuable in developing this story on the origins of my Rutledge family.

The key person in this family history for which I need to continue my research is John – Son of Reason Rutledge.  I have very little information about this individual but would like to further identify where he resided prior to the move of his family to Georgia and determine if he is one of the John Rutledges who show up in Gwinnett between 1819 and 1830.  I have attached Appendix A which contains facts about the John Rutledges I have found in SC and GA during the period from the mid 18th to early 19th centuries.  I have also included in Appendix B views of the Rutledge home place in Gwinnett County, just south of Snellville, Georgia.

There are allied families which I have not described in depth for which some data does exist – especially the Nixon family in Cumberland and the Dalton family in the UK and Pennsylvania.  At some point in time it would be interesting to put together more information on these families. And last but not least, the Sarah Cofer family history needs to be developed. But that is a separate project.


Origins of the Rutledge Family

The Rutledge family originated in Cumbria County, England, just south of the English border with Scotland, during the Anglo-Saxon era.  This land was at times part of Scotland then at other times would revert back to English control. The name Rutledge comes from two words which describe a red stream or letch. “Surnames of United Kingdom”, by H Harrison describes the original Anglican words as redd and lache, which were later simplified to Routledge. In “A Present Day Tour of Reiver Country”, Sean Rutledge describes a visit to Bewcastle parish in Cumbria where he found numerous Routledge graves at St Cuthbert’s church and a visit to the Routledge Burn, “where generations of Routledges are said to have dwelled.” This burn or stream was red, giving credence to the story of the origin of the name Routledge. There were numerous variations in the spelling of this surname over the years, for example Routledge, Routlege, Rutlegs, Rowtlede, just to name a few.

The inhabitants of this area can trace ancestry to most of the countries of Western Europe.  The early Celtic people were invaded by the Romans almost two thousand years ago. After centuries of Roman rule, Angles and Vikings settled in this part of England. And finally, the Normans invaded in the 11th century.  The present day Rutledge DNA, then, would probably show traces of all of these people.

The first record of the Routledge/Rutledge family is around the middle of the 15th century in the form “de Routluge.” Then, in 1470 Edward IV granted the old Roman fortress of Bewcastle and associated land to the Duke of Gloucester who sublet the Bewcastle area to “Cuthbert Rutledge, John Rutledge, Robert Elwold (Elliot) and Gerald Nickson (Nixon).” In the 16th century, we find the Routledges were one of a score of families that many English sources identify as Border Reivers who raided across the English/Scottish border, stealing sheep, cattle and horses, burning barns, etc.

In 1528 an expedition of 500 armed men drove the Routledge families  from England into an area north of the Scottish border near Langholm called “Tarras Burn”, a desolate region controlled by the Armstrong Clan. Some of these Routledges melded into the Scottish Clans around them, taking the Scottish clan names.  Others immigrated to Ireland where the spelling of the name became Ruttledge or Rutledge. A third group drifted back into the Bewcastle area over a period of several decades and took up their old lawless ways.  This third group eventually settled on the Routledge spelling of the family name. Our direct ancestors were among this latter group of people called Routledge. 3

Note: Some of the descendents of the “Scotch-Irish” Rutledge families immigrated to the American colonies in the 18th century.  In particular, Edward and John Rutledge of Charleston and of Revolutionary War fame are descendents of this distantly related line of the Rutledge family.

Routledges in Seventeenth Century England:

By the middle of the 17th century there were many Routledges in Bewcastle and surrounding parishes.  The first of the Routledge family we can identify as our ancestors are Thomas Routledge and his wife Isabell Nixon Routledge of Low Toddhills in Bewcastle Parish. George Fox, the founder of the Quaker Movement was very active in the Northern portions of England during the middle 17th century and Thomas and Isabell were among his converts in Cumberland County.  We know the following details about this couple:

  • Thomas Routledge of Bewcastle, Cumberland County, England ( birth date unknown) married Isabell Nixon (sometimes referred to as Isbell) on November 9, 1667. Thomas and Isabell had a son John (Jno) who was christened June 11, 1676 in Bewcastle. Additional children of Thomas and Isabell cannot be positively identified from available records.

    In 1686 Thomas and Isabell were expelled from Bewcastle for being  Quakers, which could mean they refused to pay a tithe or to have their children christened in the Anglican Church.  They moved to Kirklinton, a neighboring parish which also had an active Quaker congregation. Isabell died in Kirklinton on February 2nd, 1701 and Thomas died in Kirklinton on June 17, 1707.

Routledges in Pennsylvania:

While the Scotch-Irish Rutledges settled in Northern Ireland prior to immigration to the colonies, the Routledge ancestors traveled directly from England to the Pennsylvania Colony, as evidenced by the retention of the Routledge spelling of their surname.  The first of our direct ancestors who immigrated to the colonies was John Routledge, about whom we have a good deal of information:

  • Thomas and Isabell’s son John Routledge, born in Bewcastle, Cumberland County, England immigrated from Kirklinton, Cumberland, England to Pennsylvania approximately 1689 with a William Routledge who was probably a close relative. John would have been approximately 13 years old when he arrived in the colonies.  John became active in the Quaker church and when he and Margaret Dalton were married in the Falls Meeting House in Bucks County on May 9, 1701, William Penn was one of the guests at the wedding. John Routledge died in Bucks County Pennsylvania May 23, 1725.  Margaret, his wife, died  April 29, 1735 in Bucks County. 7

    William Routledge obtained a certificate from the Kirklinton Monthly Meeting house dated February 16, 1689 showing that he was a Quaker in good standing.  William traveled to the colonies soon after this certificate was issued, taking his relative John Routledge, a minor, with him.  On June 25th, 1701, William married Mary Atkinson Wildman, a widowed Quaker minister, in the Middletown, Bucks County Quaker congregation. William died in Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania on before March 30, 1728, leaving the bulk of his estate to John Routledge’s widow and children.

    We know the following details about John Routledge (who we will now refer to as John Routledge #1) and Margaret Dalton’s family:
    John Routledge #1 – Married Margaret Dalton (born August 16, 1681 in Pembrey, Wales, died April 29, 1735 in Bucks County, PA) on May 9, 1701.  Their children were born in Bucks County, PA:
    (a) Rachel Routledge born Jan 1, 1703, died ?, Married James Yates about 1726
    (b) Mary Routledge born abt 1707, died aft 1752 in PA, married John Strickland April 7, 1726
    (c) Elizabeth Routledge born Aug. 11, 1705, died ?
    (d) Thomas Routledge born Feb 14, 1702 , Died in Fairfield County, SC ?, married Mary Janey (Jenny) LNU.
    (e) John Routledge Sr. born September 29, 1711, died abt 1785 in SC, married Jane Caldwell
    (f) Sarah Routledge born Dec. 1, 1713, died ?, married John Cooper abt. 1733
    (g) Isabell Routledge born Dec 2, 1717, died ?

Eighteenth Century South Carolina:

Two of Margaret and John’s seven children, Thomas and John (our direct ancestor who we will now call John Sr. while we call his father John #1), moved west and eventually south, trading with the Indians on the frontier. As did many other Quakers, they moved down the Shenandoah Valley through Virginia and ended up in South Carolina.  Thomas settled in what is now Fairfield County, South Carolina and John Sr. settled on land on Hanging Rock Creek, a branch of Lynches creek in Lancaster County, near the Kershaw county line, before 1760.  At this point, the spelling of the surname was changed to Rutledge, consistent with the spelling for the Scotch-Irish Rutledge family who had become prominent in Charleston.

  • John Rutledge Sr. was born September 29, 1711 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and died in South Carolina, though the year of his death is not recorded.  John reportedly married Jane Caldwell, though the identity of his wife is not certain.  John and Jane’s children would have all been born before the couple settled on Hanging Rock Creek in South Carolina.  This family unit was made up of the following family members:

    John Routledge Sr. Married Jane Caldwell – Only tradition provides the name of John’s wife. Their children were:
    (a) Mary Rutledge married Samuel Hammond
    (b) Hannah Rutledge (land grant Beaver Creek, SC – 1760)
    (c) James Rutledge died in Wilkes County, GA in 1822
    (d) Thomas Rutledge (purchased land in Fairfield County, SC in 1772)
    (e) Reason Rutledge born about 1728, probably in VA, died ?
    (f) John Rutledge born Oct. 17, 1738, probably in VA , died 1803 in Camden, SC
    (g) George Rutledge (birth date unknown)
  • Reason Rutledge was one of the oldest of the children of John Rutledge Senior. Reason was born in Virginia about 1728 and was awarded a land grant on Hanging Rock Creek in 1759.  He later moved to the old Ninety-six district of South Carolina that included Abbeville, South Carolina. Reason Rutledge shows up in the “1779 South Carolina Early Census Index” in the Ninety Sixth District, part of which became Abbeville County. Note that in addition to the fact that the Gwinnett County, Georgia Rutledge family matches up to Reason Rutledge’s grandchildren by name and date of birth, Georgiana Holland Dunlap, a descendent of Mary Rutledge Bryant (an aunt of James Washington Rutledge) , lists Reason Rutledge as an ancestor based on her family bible.

    Documentation on further movements of Reason Rutledge has not been discovered.  There is no record of Reason or any of his sons fighting in the Revolutionary War, an indication that the family unit stayed on the frontier, away from the battles that surrounded his brother, John in Camden.  Efforts by the Quakers on the frontier in South Carolina and Georgia to avoid the war are well documented in Quaker literature as are disownments of those Quakers who supported the war.

    It is not certain at what point the descendents of Reason left the Society of Friends but, since John Rutledge II fought in the War of 1812 and John ‘s sons fought in the Civil War, they would have been expelled from the Society of Friends for this military service. Still, it appears that one of the distinguishing features of this branch of the Routledge/Rutledge family for at least a century after Reason’s birth, a result of their Quaker heritage, is that they did not own slaves.

    Worth noting here is the real division between the “up-country” families and the “low-country” families in South Carolina.  The Rutledge families of Charleston may have received land grants in the up-country of South Carolina or even Georgia but did not live there during the revolutionary period.  The Rutledge family members of the Camden and Abbeville area, as far as we know, never moved to the coastal areas of South Carolina or Georgia. So, it can be difficult, at times, to distinguish between the families based on land records but not so difficult to distinguish between the families in census records, especially when data on slave ownership is included.

    We know of the existence of the following members of the Reason Rutledge family unit:

    Reason Rutledge married Mary (last name unknown.)  The only child on record for Reason and Mary is:
    (a) John Rutledge – Son of Reason Rutledge born about 1750 in SC, died 1830 in Gwinnett County, GA (additional children are undocumented.) married Ruth LNU in 1769. 7,15  

    Nineteenth Century Georgia:
  • Reason Rutledge’s son John, referred to in most accounts as John – Son of Reason Rutledge was reportedly born in the Camden/Abbeville area of South Carolina about 1750 and died in 1830 in Gwinnett County, Georgia.  He is identified in many accounts as the patriarch of a large family unit that moved from South Carolina to Gwinnett County, Georgia in the 1820s. This family unit included Joseph Rutledge and Jesse Rutledge and their sons.  Joseph and his family lived in the Snellville, Georgia area and attended Haynes Creek Primitive Baptist Church. Note that the author has not been able to find firm evidence that John – Son of Reason Rutledge went to Gwinnett County, Georgia, though there was definitely a John Rutledge in Gwinnett in the 1820 to 1830 time frame. The family unit in South Carolina consisted of:

    John Rutledge – Son of Reason Rutledge married Ruth Spivey They had the following children:
    (a) Joseph Rutledge born about 1770 in SC, died 1852 in Gwinnett County, GA, married Mary Polly Hearn about 1793.
    (b) Jesse Rutledge born Nov. 11, 1774, died April 10, 1857 in Gwinnett County, GA, married Jennie McDavid (born 1782, died 1822) on November 11, 1774 in SC
    (c) Reason Rutledge born 1776
  • Joseph Rutledge, son of John Rutledge and grandson of Reason Rutledge, was born in South Carolina in 1770 and died in Gwinnett County Georgia in 1852. Joseph and Jesse, his brother, show up in the 1800 US census for Abbeville, South Carolina. He settled on land off Rosebud lane, just north of the Stone Mountain Highway and his son John II Rutledge lived with him there.  Joseph married Mary Polly Hearn about 1793 in South Carolina. Joseph and his wife had 10 children, all of whom were born in South Carolina between 1794 and 1815.

    Joseph and the other family members moved to Gwinnett County after the 1820 census and before the 1830 US census, in which they appear in Gwinnett County. Joseph did not receive land in the 1820 land lottery but may have purchased land from one of the few settlers in Gwinnett County before the lottery or from someone who obtained land via the lottery.

     The family unit for Joseph and Polly Rutledge was composed of the following members:

    Joseph Rutledge married Mary Polly Hearn (born about 1774 in SC, died about 1855 in Gwinnett County, GA) about 1793 in SC. Their children:
    (a) John II Rutledge born October 21, 1794 in SC, died June 6, 1872 in Gwinnett County, GA
    (b) Margaret Elizabeth Rutledge born July 24, 1799, died June 14, 1870 in Gwinnett County, GA
    (c) Josiah Rutledge born about 1800 in SC
    (d) Celeta (Slater) Rutledge born Feb. 16, 1801 in SC, died July 8, 1888 in Gwinnett County, GA
    (e) Malenda Rutledge born about 1803 in SC
    (f) Mary (Polly) Rutledge born Nov. 1, 1805 in SC, died Nov. 21, 1899 in Fulton County, GA
    (g) Dewitt C. Rutledge born about 1807 in SC, died Dec. 23, 1860 in Atlanta, GA
    (h) Irena Rutledge born about 1813 in SC, died 1858 in Gwinnett County, GA
    (i) Alexander W. Rutledge born 1814 in SC, died about 1885 in Gwinnett County, GA
    (j) Berry Rutledge born 1815 in SC
  • John II Rutledge, son of Joseph was born October 21, 1794 in South Carolina and died June 6, 1872 in Gwinnett County.  He is also buried at Haynes Creek Cemetery.  Note that most of the old markers in this cemetery are in poor condition and Rutledge family members of the generations of John II, his father Joseph and his wife Mariah are identified through church minutes.

    John II was married to Mariah (last name unknown) about 1820 in South Carolina.  Mariah, who died in 1731, was reported to be the first person buried in Haynes Creek cemetery. 13 John II and Mariah had five children, the youngest of whom is my great-grandfather, James Washington Rutledge.
    Haynes Creek Primitive Baptist Church records indicate that John II Rutledge had some problems. He was suspended once then later excommunicated from the church for drunken and lewd behavior toward a female parishioner.  John did manage to be reinstated in the church prior to his death.

    John II Rutledge served in the War of 1812 in the South Carolina Militia.  Records show that he was “mustered into service at the age of 18 in the Abbeville District of South Carolina.”  

    The John Rutledge II family unit was very large, consisting of the following family members:

    John II Rutledge married Mariah (last name unknown, born 1805 in SC, died 1831 in Gwinnett County, GA) about 1820 in South Carolina.  Their children:
    (a)  William A. Rutledge born July 31, 1821 in South Carolina married Nancy Hopkins Nov. 15, 1822
    (b) Susan C. Rutledge born January 12, 1824 in South Carolina, died May 2, 1904 Married Jesse H. Spivey then William S. Wiley. She died in Georgia
    (c) Benjamin E. Rutledge born August 7, 1826 in Georgia, died May 31, 1899, married Rachel Tennessa  Miller then Martha J. Humphries.  He died in Gwinnett County, GA
    (d) Joseph Newton Rutledge born August 14, 1828 in Gwinnett County, GA , died Feb. 21, 1908 in Walton County, GA married Elizabeth F. Rawlins on November 24, 1853
    (e) James Washington Rutledge born August 16, 1830 in Gwinnett County GA, died April 13, 1874 Married Isabella Williams. He is buried in Gwinnett County, GA

    John II Rutledge married Mary (Louisa) Gresham (born March 2, 1807, died December, 1848 in Gwinnett County, GA) about 1832 in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Their 10 children were born in Gwinnett County, Georgia. Their  children:
    (a) Nancy E. Rutledge born June 19, 1833, died Aug. 17, 1850
    (b) Micager J. Rutledge born Jan. 7, 1835, died March 16, 1864 in New Market Tennessee after capture by Union troops during the Civil War
    (c) Permelia C. Rutledge born May 1, 1837, died August 2, 1909 in Gwinnett County, GA, married  John Lumpkin Moore
    (d) Jesse E. Rutledge born December 12, 1838, died March 11, 1863 in New Market, Tennessee
    (e) Mary (Polly) Ann Rutledge born July 29, 1840, died June 12, 1917
    (f) John Alexander Rutledge born July 17, 1842, Died May 16, 1922 in Cherokee County, GA, married Margaret Lou Miller
    (g) Rachel A. Rutledge born May 12, 1842, died March 21, 1899 in Gwinnett County, GA, married William J. Harper
    (h) Kizah Adaline Rutledge born Feb. 17, 1846, died May 18, 1999 in Gwinnett County, GA, married ??? Wills
    (i) Infant Rutledge born May 1847, died June 30, 1847 in Gwinnett County, GA
    (j) Mastia S. Rutledge born Oct. 14, 1848, died August, 1849 in Gwinnett County, GA

    John II Rutledge married his second wife’s younger sister, Kizah A. Gresham (born Apr. 2, 1810 in SC, died April, 1884 in Gwinnett County, GA),  December 26, 1848. Their children:
    (a) Infant Rutledge b Jan15, 1850 in Gwinnett County, GA, died Jan 15, 1850
  • James Washington Rutledge was born in Gwinnett County, Georgia August 16, 1830 and died in Gwinnett April 16, 1874.  James married Isabella Williams, one of 17 children of William Pittman Williams, on March 3, 1858.  The marriage produced children between 1859 and 1872, but wedded bliss was evidently short lived. James served in the Civil War, Co. I, 55th Georgia and was captured September 9th at Cumberland Gap Tennessee when 2500 Confederate troops who were cut off when Knoxville fell were starved into surrender. Ill treatment at camp Douglas, the worst of all Civil War prisons , as well as starvation rations prior to the surrender at Cumberland Gap, resulted in James contracting scurvy, from which he never recovered. James lived for 9 years after the war, dying blind and crippled at the age of 43. An existing photo of James Washington Rutledge would appear to have been taken after the war when he was suffering from the effects of the scurvy.

    James Washington RutledgeIsabella evidently took good care of James and buried him after his death in her family cemetery where she is also buried (Isabella b: July 9, 1935, d: February 16, 1910.) James headstone has a touching inscription which one would suppose Isabella chose: “Rest soldier rest, thy warfare o’er.” After James death, she raised the 7 children.  Isabella was revered by her youngest, my grandfather, Thomas Callaway Rutledge. In later years, my Cousin Sarah Brownlee Bryant remembers riding in a buggy with her grandfather Thomas Callaway Rutledge and her younger sister Fran to the William Pitman Williams cemetery where Isabella and James were buried to place flowers on their graves.
    James Washington Rutledge

    The James Washington Rutledge family consisted of the following members:

    James Washington Rutledge married Isabella Williams (born July 9, 1835, died February 16, 1910 in Gwinnett County GA, buried William Pitman Williams cemetery.) on March 3, 1858. Their children, all born in Gwinnett County, Georgia:

    (a) Althara A. Rutledge born Jan. 17, 1859, died Dec. 4, 1824 in Gwinnett County, GA, married Thomas Alvin Clower Dec. 1, 1878.
    (b) John W. Rutledge born Dec. 11, 1860, died Oct. 19, 1867 in Gwinnett County, GA
    (c) James Daniel Rutledge born Nov. 14, 1862, died Dec. 16, 1925 in Gwinnett County, GA, died Dec. 16, 1925, married Mary Alice Davis in 1891
    (d) Susan L. Rutledge born May 1, 1866, died Dec. 16, 1891 in Gwinnett County, GA
    (e) Mariah E. Rutledge born Feb. 3,1868, married J. W. Davis Dec. 18, 1890
    (f) Sanford E. Rutledge born Jan. 23 1870, died Feb. 14, 1871 in Gwinnett County, GA
    (g) Thomas Callaway Rutledge born April 4, 1872, died August 24, 1969 in Charlotte, NC, buried Bethany Missionary Baptist Church near Snellville, GA, married Sarah E. Cofer in 1897.
  • Thomas Callaway Rutledge, my grandfather, was born in 1872 in Gwinnett County, Georgia on the farm that he described as the original property settled by his family near Snellville, though at this point in time it cannot be determined whether these settlers were members of the Rutledge family or the Williams family.    In 1987, my father, Thomas Alton Rutledge, showed me this farm and the “old home place” where he was also born, a 19th century farm house, that stood until December, 2002 at 3142 Springdale Rd., just off the Scenic Highway between Snellville and Centerville.  When he was a child there was an old log cabin on the back of the property that was probably the original structure used by our ancestors.

    Thomas Callaway Rutledge
     Thomas Callaway Rutledge married Sarah Cofer February 21, 1897. They had 8 children, the youngest of whom was Thomas Alton Rutledge, my father.  Thomas Callaway Rutledge lost the farm in the farm depression of the 1920’s and moved the family to Atlanta. He and the older boys initially found work in construction in Miami. Later Thomas Callaway took a job with GM as a supervisor in their warehouse in Atlanta.  He and my dad used to tell me the story of the move to Atlanta.  They packed all the belongings and children on their farm truck and drove to downtown Atlanta where they settled in a rented house. It sounded to me like a scene out of the Grapes of Wrath.

    In 1933 during the depths of the depression, GM closed their Atlanta warehouse and Thomas Callaway Rutledge was forced to retire at 61. For the rest of his life, he lived with his children, dying August 24th in Charlotte, North Carolina at the age of 97. I have many memories of my grandfather, Thomas Callaway Rutledge as do my oldest children.  We called him grandpa and grandpa was a strict Southern Baptist who did not put up with card playing, dancing or drinking of alcohol.

The Thomas Callaway Rutledge family was made up of the following members:

Thomas Callaway Rutledge married Sarah Cofer (born July 22, 1874 in Gwinnett County, GA, died Dec. 17, 1937 in Dekalb County, GA, Buried at Bethany Missionary Baptist Church near Snellville, GA.) on February 21, 1897. She was the one grandparent I never had a chance to know.  Their children, all born in Gwinnett County, GA were:
(a) Ronzo Dewey Rutledge, born June 1, 1898, married Mary Lou Boggus December 21, 1931
(b) Grace L. Rutledge born January 6, 1900, died in Charlotte, NC in Dec., 1999, married Warren F. Brownlee July 2, 1921
(c) James Boyd Rutledge, born April 5, 1903, married Mary Frances Hatley September 20, 1927
(d) Isabel Rutledge born June 26, 1905, died May 5, 1957 in Gwinnett County, GA, Married Cain McCart Dec. 25, 1926
(e) Hershel C. Rutledge, born August 30, 1907, married Willie Mae Keith November 2, 1928
(f) Ezmalee Rutledge born February 2, 1910, died Nov. 9. 2000 in Dekalb County, GA, Married Robert E. Johnson November 25, 1928; Married “Pat” Patrick
(g) Susie Janette Rutledge born June 11, 1912, married Joseph J. Hardegree December 26, 1930
(h) Thomas Alton Rutledge born July 26, 1916, died January 19, 1998 in Charlotte, North Carolina married Willie Frances Joyner on July 12, 1936

Thomas Alton Rutledge  Thomas Alton Rutledge was born in Snellville, Georgia at the old home place on Springdale Road July 26, 1916 and died in Charlotte North Carolina January 19, 1998 after a long struggle with Parkinson’s disease.  He married Willie Frances Joyner, born September 29, 1916  on July 12, 1936 in Atlanta, Georgia. Thomas and Willie (known to her family as “Bus”), had five children, all boys who were born in Atlanta and Decatur. They raised the oldest children in Decatur and DeKalb County, Georgia then moved to Charlotte North Carolina in 1962.

I always admired my dad because he had foresight and he was a very hard worker.  When his family moved back to Snellville in 1933, Thomas Alton stayed in Atlanta with his older sister and her husband, worked days, paid room and board, went to high school at night and graduated from Commercial High School in Atlanta instead of going back to what was essentially a one room school house in Snellville.  He was successful in business and an active leader in his church, The Disciples of Christ.  He is remembered by his family as a very large man who stood six feet and four inches tall but also a gentle man. All who  knew him were comfortable going to “Alton” to talk about their problems.

Thomas Alton Rutledge, known as Alton, married Willie Frances “Bus” Joyner (born Sept. 29, 1916 in Atlanta Georgia) on July 12, 1936.   Their children were:

(a) Thomas Alton Rutledge Jr. born August, 27, 1937 in Atlanta, GA
(b) John Joyner Rutledge born January 12, 1939 in Atlanta, Georgia
(c) Donald Hugh Rutledge born July 19, 1940 in Atlanta, Georgia
(d) Larry Wayne Rutledge born June 30, 1944 in Atlanta, Georgia
(e) Joel Colvin Rutledge born  May 5, 1949 in DeKalb County, Georgia

Appendix A: Tracking John Rutledge

Note that the Rutledge family histories of T. G. Rutledge and Alex Rutledge provide information about the early Gwinnett County Rutledge families but differ in one key respect: T. G. Rutledge lists Joseph Rutledge, son of John, as the father of John Rutledge II. Alex Rutledge lists John Rutledge as the father of John Rutledge II, leaving out Joseph Rutledge. I have written this family history based on T. G. Rutledge’s information realizing the conclusions about the identification of John Rutledge which are supplied in this Appendix would change if the Alex Rutledge family history is correct – though other information about direct ancestors would remain unchanged.

  • One of John Rutledge Senior’s sons was John Rutledge Jr., born about 1738, probably in Virginia.  John Rutledge Jr. settled in Camden South Carolina. John Rutledge Jr. was identified in many accounts as “Camden John Rutledge”.  He is identified in DAR documents as a Revolutionary War soldier who provided forage for the Revolutionary troops who were engaged in life-or-death struggles with the British troops toward the end of the war.  John Rutledge Jr. died in 1803 in Camden and is, as far as I can determine, not in the direct line of ancestry of the Gwinnett County Georgia Rutledge families.  

    Note: Tracking John Rutledge of Camden is facilitated by the fact that famous John Rutledge of Charleston with which he is often confused in land records signed his name with an “Esq.”

    Comment: The two John Rutledges of Camden, SC are not direct ancestors of the Gwinnett County Rutledge Families.
  •  A John Rutledge, the Revolutionary War soldier who was the subject of a 1941 Atlanta Journal article, and who served in the 2nd Georgia Battalion, was born in 1765 according to his grave marker at Haynes Creek Primitive Baptist Church in Snellville, Georgia.

    Comment: The birth year of this John Rutledge would make him too young to be the father of Joseph Rutledge, the grandson of Reason Rutledge, since Joseph was born in 1770.  Note, though, that Joseph and John II also attended Haynes Creek Primitive Baptist Church
  • A John Rutledge lived in Gwinnett County when it was Indian land.  He shows up in the 1820 census as living in the southern part of the county, prior to the land lottery that distributed the Indian lands in late 1820. In the 1827 Georgia land lottery, John Rutledge of the Wallis district in Gwinnett was given an extra draw as a Revolutionary War soldier.

    Comment: This John Rutledge is probably the person by that name who is buried at Haynes Creek Primitive Baptist Church.  But, he is probably not the father of Joseph Rutledge since this John Rutledge owned 3 slaves in 1820 while Joseph and his son John II Rutledge did not own slaves - at least not until after 1840.
  • A John Rutledge shows up in the 1790 Abbeville, South Carolina Federal Census, with three white females in the Family group, no male children and no slaves.

    Comment: Lack of detail in the 1790 census does not allow us to identify this person with any precision but, since this John Rutledge owns no slaves and since Reason Rutledge shows up in the 1779 early census index in the Ninety Sixth District that includes Abbeville, there is a reasonable probability that this John is John son-of-Reason Rutledge who was born about 1750. Also, we have Joseph and Jessey (sic) Rutledge showing up in Abbeville in the 1800 census. If they are the sons of this John Rutledge, they are old enough to have been on their own and to have been in another district at the time of the 1790 census. More work needs to be done to track these Rutledge family members, possibly through the Bush River or Wrightsboro monthly meetings minutes.
  • A John Rutledge shows up in Abbeville, South Carolina for the 1810 Federal census.  The family members and ages of the family members match up to the census record we have for John Rutledge in the 1820 US Census for Gwinnett County, GA. With the exception that two young females are missing – possibly married. The census shows this family head to be between 26 and 45 years of age, consistent with the Gwinnett County family head who was age of 45 and up in 1820. Two adult slaves are also listed in 1810.

    Comment: This John Rutledge is probably the same John Rutledge who migrated to Gwinnett County Georgia before 1820.  But again, the ownership of slaves makes it doubtful that he is the father of Joseph Rutledge.  He also was born 1765 or later which is consistent with the age of the Revolutionary war soldier but not consistent with having a son Joseph born in 1770.
  • In 1825 land that a John Rutledge had purchased was advertised to be sold at auction to satisfy the original owner of the land who had won the land in the 1820 land lottery. Joseph N. Rutledge, brother of James Washington Rutledge and son of John Rutledge II owned a portion of this lot (lot #32, 5th District in Gwinnett County), in 1890.

    Comment: A strong possibility exists that this land was never sold at auction and that Joseph inherited the land from his father John Rutledge II.
  •  John Rutledge, son of James Rutledge lived in Wilkes County, Georgia during the Revolutionary War and could have been a Revolutionary War soldier as was his father. The father, James was reported born in SC and to be the son of John Rutledge, Sr. and Jane Caldwell – see ancestor #3. This John Rutledge was born approximately 1865. 3   He died in Clark County, Georgia in 1814.

    Comment: Given his date of birth, this John Rutledge could not be the father of Joseph Rutledge. Given the location and the date of his death he could not be the John Rutledge buried at Haynes Creek Primitive Baptist Church.
  •  There was at least one Rutledge settler in coastal Georgia who was with Oglethorpe in 1741 – John Rutledge who fought at Ft. Frederica.  As far as can be determined, this person was not related to the South Carolina Rutledge families but came with Oglethorpe from Gibraltar or from troops recruited in the British Isles. He served a seven year indentured term in the army for which he was awarded land in 1750 when he was discharged.

    Comment: This immigrant is probably the ancestor of many of the Rutledge family members who show up in Georgia during the period from 1750 to 1830, but not one of my direct ancestors. 
  • John Rutledge II was the son of Joseph Rutledge and is known to have died in Gwinnett County, GA in 1872. He is buried at Haynes Creek Primitive Baptist Church. John Rutledge II served in the War of 1812, often called the Second Revolutionary War. The land records mentioned above place him in Gwinnett County by 1825.

    Comment: Though John Rutledge II was in Gwinnett in 1825, his father Joseph and other family members may have come either before or after John II, since he would have been 30 years old in 1825.
  • Two John Rutledge families show up in the 1830 Federal Census for Gwinnett County:
    a. John Rutledge 30-40 years old with a Wife 20-30 years old and one male child under 5 years of age, and no slaves
    b. John Rutledge 30-40 years old with a wife 30-40 years old , an adult female 50-60 years of age, two male and two female children under 10 and no slaves.  

    Comment: John Rutledge described under 10b is almost certainly John Rutledge II given his age and the number of children in the household, though there is a discrepancy in the Age of his wife (Mariah would have been 25.)  The 50-60 year old female in this household could be John’s mother-in-law.  We cannot be sure who the John Rutledge 10a is or where he moved to after 1830.

     Note that Joseph and his wife Ruth show up in Gwinnett in this census with a male 90-100 years old in the home and two male children under the age of five. The older male would be John Davis, a Revolutionary War Soldier who lived with Joseph’s family until his death at age 110. The relationship of John Davis to Joseph’s family is not known but A William  Davis and Joseph Rutledge were neighbors in Abbeville, SC. John Davis is old enough to be either Joseph’s or Mary Polly’s grandfather.


Appendix B: The Old Home Place

The following photos were taken at the same site in Gwinnett County: 3142 Springdale Road where my father and grandfather were born.  Based on the description of the house and its history supplied by my father, I assume the old farmhouse was built around 1858 when James Washington Rutledge and Isabella Williams were married, on land that had been in either the Rutledge or the Williams families since the 1820’s. Here are three views of the farm:

This photo was taken approximately 1917 and shows the Thomas Callaway Rutledge Family in front of their home. My Father, Thomas Callaway Rutledge is seated on his mothers lap.


This is a view of the same farm and farmhouse in August of 2002:

This is a photo of the property in January, 2003 after development of the property had begun and the farmhouse had been removed.

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