Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Captain George Ruddell: the Hero of the New Madrid Earthquake

Lyman C. Draper, the founder of the Wisconsin Historical Society, was a collector of manuscripts.  He uncovered the story of the Ruddell Family, and family member Captain George Ruddell.

Isaac Ruddell, born about 1729, head of the family, married Elizabeth Bowman in 1756 in Pennsylvania.  They raised a family of eight children, George Ruddell being the oldest.  The family moved to Kentucky about 1777. The Shawnee Indians, along with the British, caused havoc on the families in this westward movement.  Dangerous times were abound. The family lived in the area of what is now Lincoln County. George Ruddell married Theodosia Lynn  in 1779. The whole Ruddell family took over an abandoned fort, rebuilt it, and added a grist mill.  They named it Ruddell's Station.

 The British and Indians formed a group that attacked Ruddell's Station, killing 20 people.  About 100 persons survived the attack, but were taken as prisoners. They were taken to Shawnee towns across the Ohio river, and some were taken further north to Canada. After more than a year, George Ruddell and his father, Isaac, were released at Detroit with a host of other family members. They returned to Kentucky.  The two youngest Ruddell sons, Abraham and Stephen, were not released by the Shawnee.  Instead, they were adopted by the brother of Tecumseh, and lived with the Shawnee for about fifteen years.

The Ruddell's rebuilt Ruddell Station.  By 1791, most of the family lived in Bourbon County, Kentucky. George Ruddell had moved to Missouri by 1795, taking an oath of allegiance to Spain.  He built his home on a Spanish land grant, not far from New Madrid.  Abraham and John Ruddell moved to Missouri near George.  They formed the new Ruddell Settlement.

New Madrid earthquake damage depiction, images.google.com

In December of 1811, the earth shook with great force near the Ruddell Settlement.  George Ruddell had noticed new lakes appearing and other lakes disappearing.  He felt responsible for the new residents of the area.  He recruited about 200 who would follow, and lead them about 30 miles over a three day trek. The Mississippi River had swallowed much of their land. They Ruddell family resettled in Batesville, Arkansas.  After his wife's death, George acquired a land grant in Texas in 1834, and he died in Nacogdoches County in 1837.  He left a large estate.