Part of the American History & Genealogy Project

Barbara Ruckle Heck 1734 ~ 1804


The family of Barbara Ruckle were driven from their homes on the Rhine by Louis XIV, and sought refuge in Ireland, and there Barbara Ruckle was born. When but a young girl of eighteen, she joined the Methodist "Society" which had been established by John Wesley on one of his religious tours some years before.

Barbara Ruckle was early recognized among her associates as a woman of deep religious thought, a good counselor, and her greatest treasure was her old German Bible, which she clung to all through her long eventful life. In 1760 she married Paul Heck and they immigrated to the new world and settled in New York. At the house of Philip Embury, a cousin of Barbara, she gathered a few religious people and begged that Philip Embury should preach to them, and this was the germ of the Methodist Episcopal Church in America.

Embury proved to be a very devout man and earnest preacher. As the congregation increased Barbara Heck began to entertain the idea of building a church. Captain Webb, a military officer, was one of Wesley's local preachers and had aroused the people by his zeal. Barbara succeeded in interesting him in her project and to 1770 the site for a church on John Street was purchased and the subscription started. Captain Webb subscribing thirty pounds.

This list bears the names of the Livingstons, Duanes, Delancys, Leights, Stuyvesants, Lispenards, and the clergy of the day, Auchmuty, Ogilvie, and Englis, and this is supposed to be the first church of the Methodist denomination in America. Embury worked with his own hands on the building and Barbara Heck helped to whitewash the walls. Within a year there were a thousand members in this congregation.

During the Revolutionary War, the Heck family emigrated to lower Canada, where they lived near Montreal, finally removing to Augusta, upper Canada, where Barbara Heck died at the age of seventy. She was found sitting in her chair dead with her much-loved Bible in her lap.

Women of America

Source: The Part Taken by Women in American History, By Mrs. John A. Logan, Published by The Perry-Nalle Publishing Company, Wilmington, Delaware, 1912.


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