For the past month, we have learned how Susannah Rutledge lost eight of her children to the diphtheria epidemic, her oldest son to the Battle of Chancellorsville, and her husband to the Battle of Gettysburg, all within the time span of October 1862 to July 1863.
In the summer of 1863, Susannah Ziglar Rutledge is a widow with four children, nowhere to live, and no income. Her husband, James Rutledge, had been the miller at the Langhorne Mill before the war, and the family lived at the mill site. Now, Susannah had to find a way to clothe and house her children.
On September 22, 1863, at the Patrick County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office, Clerk L. G. Rucker signed off on Susannah’s claim for assessments “due James Rutledge, deceased late, who was Private of Captain Akers, Company D, 51st VA Regiment, and was transferred from that company to Captain Lawson’s Company K, 50th VA Regiment Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Pryor, and now Colonel Vandeventer, in the service of the Confederate States of America war against the United States; that the said James Rutledge was born in Stokes County, North Carolina and entered the war as a substitute for James A. Taylor at Camp Narrows in Giles County, on or above the first of February, 1863 and was killed at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on or about the second of July, 1863.” In agreeing to serve as a substitute for Taylor, James Rutledge (or his heirs) would receive 164 acres of unimproved land in the Hog Mountain area of Floyd County, plus his musket and bayonet. In death, as in life, James Rutledge took care of his family.
Susannah moved the children, Zilpha, Mary, Nancy, and Taylor, to the Burk’s Fork district, a short distance away to what is now more familiarly known as the land between Conner’s Grove and Black Ridge, near the present-day Chateau Morrisette Winery.
On April 20, 1865, twenty-three-year-old Mary Rutledge married William Popejoy and to this union was born Nancy Susannah Popejoy. Mary Rutledge later married Valentine “Tine” Hylton in 1876 and they had four children, Joseph, Moses, Isabelle, and Mary Hylton. Tragically, Mary Rutledge Popejoy Hylton died in November of 1885 at the age of 43.
Nancy Rutledge married Hardin Hylton on November the 21st, 1873; she was 28 years old. Nancy and Hardin had four children, Susannah, James, Franklin, and Mary Lucinda before Hardin’s death in 1888. After Hardin’s death, Nancy married Hathaway Hubbard and they had two sons.
Zilpha died at home on July 7th, 1874. She was only 33 years old, unmarried, and cause of death was listed as unknown.
Taylor Rutledge appears in the 1880 United States Census, still living at home with his mother, Susannah, but sometime after that date, Taylor drowned in the Dan River on the way to attend to family business in Germanton, North Carolina.
There are many descendants in Patrick County that can thank their heritage to Susannah Ziglar Rutledge and two of her daughters, Mary and Nancy. As previously mentioned, Mary had a daughter named Susannah Popejoy who married Elder Daniel Thomas Conner. My good friend, Joanne Lang Shirley is a great-granddaughter of this union. Well-known Primitive Baptist Preacher Elder Matt Conner is a descendant of this marriage too. Although I am not a descendant of Susannah Ziglar Rutledge; her grandson, Preacher Matt Conner contributed a big part to my existence on this earth. He performed the wedding ceremonies of both my paternal and maternal grandparents, along with hundreds of other marriages in Patrick and Floyd counties.
Mary Rutledge and her second husband, “Tine” Hylton, and two of their four children have many descendants in the area too. Joseph married Nancy Boyd and Mary married Cleveland Wood.
Nancy Rutledge and her husband, Hardin Hylton, also have many descendants in Patrick County. Nancy and Hardin’s daughter, Susannah married Asa Reed Jones, Mary Lucinda married William Boyd, James married Anna Hubbard, but tragically, their son Franklin was killed in a mine in 1893. Nancy Rutledge and her husband, Hathaway Hubbard had two sons; Taylor (Bunyan) married Stella Belcher and Ophus married Sallie Cockram.
So, what happened to Susannah Ziglar Rutledge, wife and mother of thirteen children, who endured so much loss and tragedy in her life? We know she was 82 years old when the 1900 census was recorded and was living with her daughter Nancy and two of her grandsons. Her granddaughter, Susannah Popejoy Conner, now a young widow, was living next door with her five sons. Great-great granddaughter Joanne Lang Shirley stated that she was told by her relative, Josie Thomas that Susannah Ziglar Rutledge passed away at the home of son- in-law, “Tine” Hylton. We have been unable to locate a death record for this magnificent woman, who dealt with so much tragedy with strength and fortitude. Susannah’s lone surviving child, Nancy passed away on March 17, 1932, at the age of 87.
Thank you so much to my friend, Joanne Lang Shirley (for sharing with me) Henderson and James Rutledge’s Civil War letters that created this spark to learn more about this family’s heartbreaking journey.
Woody may be reached at email@example.com.