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                                         The Story as I Know It:

James L. Rutter, Sr. was born in Frederick Maryland about 1750. There is a will of his father, Edmund Rutter indicating that the family was of All Saints Parish. Edmund died in Maryland in 1755 and the family of young children moved to Pennsylvania. His wife was noted but not named in the will.

James married Elizabeth (Owen?) in Pennsylvania about 1772. Her last name may have been Owen, but this is as yet unproved.

James and Elizabeth had three children in Pennsylvania. They migrated to Washington County Kentucky about 1783 where they had six more children. They were:
1. Edmund Rutter born 1774 married Elizabeth Phillips
2. Peggy Rutter born about 1775 married Joseph Ray
3. Elizabeth Rutter married William C. Rogers
4. James Rutter Jr. born March 31, 1778 married Catherine Lamkin/Patterson
5. Sally Rutter married Patrick H. Rice
6. Mary (Polly) born 1788 married Mark Phillips
7. Letitia Griffin Rutter married Lilburne Lewis/2nd Christopher Houts
8. William Rutter married Polly Grundy
9. John P. Rutter born 1798 married Matilda McCarthy

James Sr. had a land grant in Livingston County in western Kentucky. Apparently for some years he moved back and forth between the Washington and Livingston counties. By 1810 James had moved to Livingston permanently. Some of the children stayed in Washington County. It is possible that Elizabeth never made the move to Livingston County. We do know that on Dec 15, 1808 James and Elizabeth sold land to Mr. Lancaster of Washington County, Kentucky. It consisted of 388 acres on both sides of Harden Creek. Both James and Elizabeth signed it with an x. This is recorded in Livingston County, Kentucky Deed books A-C 1800-1817.

Much of the above information comes from the book Livingston County, Kentucky marriage Records Vol. I Oct 1799 to July 1839.

James laid out the town of Salem in Livingston County. The Livingston County History and Families stated that he was an educated man for his day. He was a surveyor, i.e.Civil Engineer as was his son James Jr. The Rutter family was largely responsible for the founding and development of Salem, Ky.

On the 1810 Livingston County Ky Census, roll 7 Page 151 the James Rutter Sr.  family is shown to be:
1 male > 45    this would be James
1 female > 45 this is probably Elizabeth
1 female 16 - 25 -  Letitia - according to the Jefferson's Nephews noted below she was the last to marry.
1 male 10 - 15 - probably John P. age 12 at the time.

Letitia married Lilburne Lewis in Nov of 1810.  I believe the census would have been completed by that time so it is probably she.  Interestingly, Lilburne Lewis was responsible for taking the Census where the Rutter family lived. 

On Feb 1, 1814 James Rutter Sr. signed his will that did not mention his wife. I assume therefore that Elizabeth had died between 1810 when the census was taken and Feb. 1, 1814. He was a slave owner but left orders in his will that Rachel and her children not be sold out of the family and that she "be treated with tenderness and humanity for the many services she has rendered to myself and family".

A very tragic story about Elizabeth and James daughter, Letitia and her husband Lilburne Lewis can be found in the book Jefferson's Nephews by Boynton Merrill, Jr. Lilburne was a nephew of Thomas Jefferson. He was involved in a tragic murder and subsequently committed suicide in Livingston County. Letitia then married Christopher Houts and moved to Missouri. Her son by Lilburne changed his name to Houts.


If you know the answer please CONTACT US.

1. When was James born?

2. Was Elizabeth’s maiden name Owen?

3. Who was his mother?


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