A search for Hammitt families from South Jersey in the 18th Century will no doubt find the family of George Hammitt and Rhoda Packer. Married in 1731, George and Rhoda, are believed to be the parents of 12 children. Although George Hammitt’s death is recorded as occurring in 1789, his Will, dated January 6, 1784, was proved June 26, 1788, making it more likely he died in1788. Most online family trees identify George’s parents as George Hammitt and Sarah Ruckman. After a bit of research, we decided to take the road less traveled and not follow the common path.
Sarah Ruckman Hammack is commonly identified as George Hammitt’s mother. Born about 1675, she was the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Ruckman. In her father’s Will, she is identified as Sarah Hamack, wife of George Hamack. Thomas Ruckman’s Will was written in 1708 and proved May 13, 1713, in Gloucester County, New Jersey. From the New Jersey, Calendar of Wills, 1670-1760 we learn his wife was Elizabeth, he had 6 surviving daughters and one grandchild, John Hamack, when the Will was prepared. While we haven’t confirmed Sarah’s birthyear, the document does confirm Sarah was married to George Hamack. It’s unlikely that Thomas Ruckman would have included only one grandchild in his legacy if there were others.
In the records of George Hammitt and Rhoda Packer we find their marriage recorded in the U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900. Rhoda Packer’s records indicate she was born in Pennsylvania and The Affirmation of Rhoda (Packer) Borton, dated February 25th, 1823, provides a glimpse of both the Packer and Hammitt families. In the U.S. and Canada, Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s George Hammett is listed as arriving from Nova Scotia. The existence of these two records suggests the George Hammitt married to Rhoda Packer may not have been the son of George Hammitt and Sarah Ruckman, as represented in so many Ancestry Trees.
George and Rhoda’s son, Samuel Hammitt (1732-1784), presented an equally confusing set of facts. Some family trees show Samuel married to Elizabeth Sharp, while others identify his wife as Esther Sharp and a few solved the mystery with a second marriage. It turns out there were two Samuel Hammitt’s, both had fathers named George and were both married women with the maiden name Sharp. Samuel Hamack, the son of George Hamack, was married to Esther Sharp in 1746. Esther was the daughter of William Sharp and Mary Austin, his first wife. Samuel Hammitt, the son of George and Rhoda, was married to Elizabeth Sharp, the daughter of William Sharp and Hannah Austin, his second wife, in 1755. It turns out Esther and Elizabeth were half-sisters. Adding to the confusion is the fact that their mothers, Mary Austin and Hannah Austin, were sisters, the daughters of Francis Austin and Mary Borton.