Part 1 of Several: John Burke, b. VA abt 1785, d. 1842, Jackson Co., TN

Who says there is no humor in genealogy? It’s everywhere you look, from ol’ One-Eyed Sam Rankin of Lincoln Co., NC to my second favorite watercourse in Virginia, “Soak Arse Creek.”[1]

My favorite watercourse in Virginia is in Lunenburg County, where my Estes, Winn, Bacon and Andrews lines came together in the mid-1700s. There are deeds, land patents and court orders referencing land on “Effing Creek,” except that the records expressly spell out the Anglo-Saxon gerund.[2] I am not making this up. Thomas Winn (or Wynne), my common ancestor with my friend and cousin Bill Lindsey, owned land on that creek.[3] At some point, some wimpy-arsed cartographer changed its name to “Modest Creek” – conclusive proof that there is also irony in genealogy.[4]

Here’s a fine example of some more contemporary genealogical humor…

A film of Wilson County, TN loose chancery records at the Tennessee State Library and Archives is preceded by a filmed page titled “How the Records Are Filed.”[5] The explanation was signed by Linda Granstaff, a friendly and helpful woman who can evidently still be found most days at the Wilson County Archives in Lebanon, TN. Here’s a link to Ms. Granstaff at the Wilson County Archives.

Ms. Granstaff had this to say by way of explanation for “how the records are filed:”

“The Chancery Court Loose Records have been microfilmed beginning with Box 1 and going through Box 122. Boxes 1 through 108 were done and then files that should have been filmed earlier were found in places under and behind things that could not be found in time to film in the order used first. These boxes are filmed following Boxes 1 through 108 beginning with Box 109 through 122.”

This nicely captures the difficulty of organizing old county records that have been “filed” willy-nilly. At the state Archives, it doesn’t get any easier. I cannot begin to explain the byzantine process required in order to find the microfilmed records concerning a court case in which, say, Esom Logan Burke – a proved son of John Burke – was plaintiff.

Yes, that was a long way to get around to John Burke. It may have been a subconscious delaying tactic: I am still trying to postpone writing about my Burke line, something I have been doing for roughly 20 years. There are several reasons for my reluctance to tackle the Burkes.

  • I cannot prove the identity of John Burke’s parents. He was definitely born in Virginia. As luck would have it, there are a plethora of Burkes in that colony/state, in a dizzying number of counties. Many of them are in so-called “burned” counties with lost records.
  • There are two extant family legends in the form of documents handwritten by John’s descendants that purport to identify his parents. Unfortunately, I have not found any supporting evidence. One of the legends contains at least one obvious whopper. Both contain errors about names, dates and locations, a couple of which are fairly significant. This puts them in the same category as all family legends: they always contain some truth, or at least a grain of truth, and they are always wrong about some stuff. The obvious problem is separating the wheat from the chaff. Here is an article about unpacking another family legend.
  • John Burke’s first wife was Elizabeth Graves, whose family came to Tennessee from Halifax County, Virginia. The Graves Family Association website identifies John’s birthplace as Albemarle County, Virginia and his father as William Burke – without, of course, providing proof for either assertion.[6] We will look at this theory in a later post. However, it just complicates the situation. What to believe?

In short, John’s family of origin hides somewhere amidst obfuscating clouds of dust and hails of gravel. The search has been frustrating. I hope somebody who reads this can help me out.

Until that happens, let’s look at the two written family legends, starting with the shorter, less colorful version. It is a one-page document apparently written by John Victor Moulder.[7] Victor, who lived from 1867 – 1949, was a great-grandson of John and Elizabeth Graves Burke, so Victor presumably acquired his information through family oral tradition.[8

Here is the first part of Victor’s document verbatim.

“1793. John Burk Sr. was born on the James River in Virginia and then married Elizabeth Graves who bore him 10 children. He migrated to Tenn. and settled on Flinn’s Creek, on Cumb. R., where he had a large plantation and a number of Negro slaves. His first wife died there and he married Jenny Lamb who bore him 6 children. He died in 1853. His father was James Burke.”

Let’s try to separate the wheat from the chaff in that paragraph.

  • Year of birth: wrong. The document seems to say John was born in 1793, although the 1830 and 1840 federal censuses for Jackson County, TN put John in the age group born during 1780-1790. There doesn’t seem to be evidence for a more precise date. The first time he appeared in the records is an 1811 entry for fifty acres on Bullard’s Creek “to include where John Burke now lives.”[9] His eldest child was born that same year. I have settled on “about 1785” for his date of birth because my observation has been that 18th and 19th-century men tended to marry about age 25.
  • Born in James River, VA: partly correct, partly unknown. John Burke was definitely born in Virginia. Some of his children lived until 1880, when the federal census included information about the birth states of a person’s parents. His children usually responded that John and his wife were born in Virginia.[10] Whether John was born “on the James River” is another matter entirely. I just don’t know whether that is correct. Counties along the James River in the latter 1700s included Isle of Wight, Prince George, Chesterfield, Suffolk, Surry, York, James City, Charles City, Henrico, Goochland, Elizabeth City, Nancemond, and possibly others. Do note, however, that birth in a county along the James conflicts with the Graves Organization website’s claim that John Burke was born in Albemarle Co. The Rivanna River, a tributary of the James, flows through Albemarle. The James River does not.
  • Wife Elizabeth Graves, mother of 10: partly true. John Burke’s first wife was undoubtedly Elizabeth Graves, daughter of Esom Graves and Judith Parrott.[11] She was the mother of eleven children, not ten.[12]
  • John and Elizabeth married in Virginia and then migrated to Tennessee: The Victor Moulder document seems to suggest that the family moved to Tennessee after John and Elizabeth Graves married. The Graves family lived in Halifax County, VA before they moved to Jackson County, TN.[13] Esom Graves had moved to Tennessee by no later than 1805, when he was a party to a deed reciting that he was a resident of Smith County.[14] John and Elizabeth Graves Burke’s eldest child, Henry F. Burke, was born in 1811.[15] Given the couple’s well-demonstrated ability to produce offspring, it is a good bet they were married in Tennessee in 1809 or 1810.
  • John settled on Flynn’s Cr.: probably incorrect. John Burke did own land on Flynn’s Creek, but it is doubtful he lived there.[16] In 1811, his first appearance in the records, John was living on Bullard’s Creek, on the south side of the Cumberland.[17] By a year later, he had left that tract.[18] On the 1836 tax list for Jackson County, John is listed with a 289-acre tract on the north side of the River near War Trace Creek, and a 250-acre tract on Bullard’s Creek on the south side of the river. Esom Graves and some of his family lived on the north side of the River, and I’m betting that is where the Burke homestead was, too.[19]
  • Large plantation and slaves: more or less correct. As noted above, the 1836 tax list for Jackson County showed John owning a total of 539 acres. The 1840 census shows 6 slaves. He clearly wasn’t a poor man, although dividing that estate among a widow and 16 children would not produce much of an inheritance. John died intestate, so his estate would have been divided among all of those heirs.
  • John had 6 children with second wife Jenny Lamb: mostly incorrect. The Victor Moulder paper is the only reference I have seen to a given name of Jenny. Both written legends give her surname as Lamb. The widow’s War of 1812 pension application, however, says that John’s first wife was Elizabeth Graves and his second wife (the applicant) was Jane D. Basham. Jane and John Burke had five children, not six.[20]
  • John died in 1853: wrong. Jane Basham Burke’s widow’s application for a pension states that John died on 6 June 1842. Several court filings also recite that he died in June 1842.[21]

The Victor Moulder paper also identifies John Burke’s father as James Burke and has some information about John’s children, but let’s save a discussion of those matters for another article in this Burke series.

Next up: the second legend.

 

[1] I cannot recall the county in which I saw a reference to Soak Arse Creek, but I promise it is not a figment of my rather pedestrian imagination.

[2] E.g., June Banks Evans, Lunenburg County, Virginia Order Book 1, 1746-1749 (New Orleans: Bryn Ffyliaid Publications,1999), abstract of OB 1: 397, court order of 4 Apr 1748, Thomas Wynne appointed surveyor of the road across Fucking Cr.; Lunenburg Deed Book 7: 231 (my copy of microfilm), Thomas Winn to John Winn, 762 acres, part of grantor’s 2,959-acre patent on the south side of Fucking Cr.

[3] E.g., Cavaliers and Pioneers Volume VI: 1749-1762 (Richmond: Virginia Genealogical Society, edited by Dennis Ray Hudgins, 1998), abstract of 7 Aug 1761 patent by Thomas Wynne, 2,959 acres on both sides of Hounds Cr. and the south branches of Fucking Cr.

[4] E.g., Lunenburg Deed Book 32: 73 (viewed at Lunenburg Courthouse), John P. Winn and wife Elizabeth P. of Scott Co., MO to James W. Hudson of Lunenburg, 148.75 acres on Modest Cr. An online group claims the name of the creek was changed by “local gentry.” Search for “modest” at this website, a group apparently dedicated to the topic of “offensive names on maps” who clearly need to get a life: https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.appalachian/MrukWgk_uwc

[5] Wilson County Microfilm Roll #B-1230 at the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

[6] http://www.gravesfa.org/gen145.htm.

[7] An image of the document is available online at https://ancestry.com/mediaui-viewer/tree/6832610/person/24678785473/media/82eb6aaf-46de-418a-80cf-9132e30d7d2b.

[8] Victor’s mother was Elizabeth Burke, a daughter of James W. and Matilda Richmond Burke. James W. was a son of John and Elizabeth Graves Burke.

[9] Jackson County Deed Book 25: 153.

[10] E.g., 1880 federal census, Wilson Co., TN, dwelling 76, John G. Burke, 61, farmer, born TN, parents born Virginia, with wife Lucy (Moore) Burke, 51 and two sons; 1880 federal census, Collin Co., TX, Marion Burke, 53, b. TN, parents b. VA, with wife, 5 children and 2 grandchildren; 1880 federal census, Harrison Co., TX, dwelling 147, T. E. and “Elezzie” (sic, Lizzie Burke) Simpson, born TN, father born VA.

[11] Jane Basham Burke’s widow’s application for War of 1812 pension states that John’s first wife was Elizabeth Graves. There is only circumstantial evidence that Elizabeth was a daughter of Esom Graves and Judith Parrott, but it is darn good: she named two sons Esom Logan Burke and Franklin Parrott Burke.

[12] The widow’s War of 1812 pension application states that John died on 6 Jun 1842 and that he had married Jane Basham in 1835. Among the proved children of John Burke, the eleventh child – Franklin Parrott Burke — was born in 1828 and was thus Elizabeth’s son. Jonas Burke, the eldest child of Jane Basham and John Burke, was born in 1837.

[13] E.g., Halifax County, Virginia Wills, 1792-1797 (Miami: T.L.C Genealogy, 1991), abstract of Will Book 3: 180, 11 July 1795, jury for coroner’s inquiry included John Parrot, Reubin Graves, and Easson [sic] Graves.

[14] Smith County Deed Book B: 294, Rench McDaniel of Wilson County to Easom Graves of Smith County, 250 acres on the north side of the Cumberland River adjacent the grantee. Jackson County was created from Smith County in 1801.

[15] Henry F. Burke’s tombstone in Platte Co., MO gives his date of death as 25 Oct 1845, aged 34 years, 6 months. It is hard to read. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=24041218&PIpi=122893512.

[16] See Tennessee State Library and Archives microfilm, Jackson Co., Roll No. 95, original complaint dated 12 July 1842 from the suit Sam E. Stone and Leroy B. Settle v. Henry F. Burke, Richard P. Brooks and William C. Burke. The complaint is misfiled in the folder titled “McClellan Andrew & others vs. Graves Alvey & others Chancery 1843 – 1845.” The complaint lists land owned by John Burke on Flynn’s Creek, the Cumberland River, and War Trace Creek.

[17] Jackson County Deed Book 25: 153, July 1811 entry for 50A on Bullard’s creek where John Burke now lives.

[18] Jackson County Deed Book 27: 350, August 1812 entry by Jonas Bedford on Bullard’s Cr. including part of the improvements where “John Burke formerly lived.”

[19] See Family History Library Film No. 985,334, file folder labeled “Hopkins John O. & others vs. Brooks R. P. & others, Chancery 1855,” answer of Esom L. Burke et al. noting that John Burke owned a large tract on the Cumberland River near the mouth of War Trace Cr. when he died.

[20] The 1850 federal census for Jackson County lists a Jane D. Byrk [sic] with Jonas, Elvira, America, Milly, Mitilda and Margaret Byrk, age 1. Since John Burke died in 1842, Margaret, born about 1849, cannot be his child.

[21] https://www.ancestry.com/interactive/1133/miusa1814_114115-00803?pid=83087&backurl=http://search.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/sse.dll?indiv%3D1%26db%3DWarof1812_Pension%26h%3D83087%26tid%3D%26pid%3D%26usePUB%3Dtrue%26_phsrc%3DnSQ31%26_phstart%3DsuccessSource%26usePUBJs%3Dtrue%26rhSource%3D4281&treeid=&personid=&hintid=&usePUB=true&_phsrc=nSQ31&_phstart=successSource&usePUBJs=true

More on the Line of Samuel (“One-Eyed Sam”) and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin: Jean Rankin Heartgrove

First, a really fun fact. I just met a new Rankin cousin – a 4th cousin, once removed, to be exact. She is also descended from Samuel and Eleanor Alexander Rankin. Her family lived in Mecklenburg County, NC, across the Catawba River to the east from the Lincoln/Gaston County Rankins. As a child, her parents took her to visit the then-current resident of the “ancestral” Rankin home in Gaston County – Rev. Frank Bisaner Rankin.

Rev. Frank said that Samuel Rankin was referred to as “One-Eyed Sam.” Rev. Frank didn’t know whether or how Sam lost an eye. Whatever the story behind it, Sam just became fractionally more real as a result. It’s the only personal aspect of him that has come to light.

Moving on: let’s do a little more exploring among One-Eyed Sam and Eleanor’s children. In particular, Jean (sometimes called Jane) Rankin Hartgrove, Samuel and Eleanor’s eldest daughter. I’m going to call her Jean because that name appears four times in her will.

This article has little that is new except citations to sources, an idea whose time may have come — considering the ease and speed with which erroneous information multiplies on the web. Tilting at windmills may also become popular soon. <grin>

Like most eighteenth and nineteenth century women, Jean was largely absent from county records. Exceptions include her father’s will, her marriage bond, a census when she was listed as a head of household, and her husband’s estate records. Also – in a departure from the female norm – she left a will. Before we get to that, here are some basic facts.

  • Jean Rankin Heartgrove is a proved daughter of One-Eyed Sam and Eleanor Alexander Rankin. Her father identified her as a daughter in his will.[1]
  • Her birth date is usually given in online family trees as 1765. The federal censuses – the only evidence I could find of her age in the records – confirm that she was born during 1760 through 1765.[2] Her elder brother William Rankin gave his birth year as 1761 in his Revolutionary War pension application, which suggests she was born during 1762 to 1765.[3]
  • Jean Rankin’s Lincoln County marriage bond to Benjamin Heartgrove was dated Sept. 21, 1792.[4] At minimum, she was 27 years old. One-Eyed Sam’s daughters seemed to marry late. Perhaps he frightened off potential suitors whom he deemed unworthy.
  • Benjamin was listed as a head of household in the federal census in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina for the years 1800, 1810 and 1820.[5] He died intestate in 1826 in Mecklenburg. Administration papers for his estate apparently show at least legatees Robert Wilson, William Walker, Richard Rankin, and Stephen Taylor, who were Benjamin’s four sons-in-law (see discussion of Jean and Benjamin’s children, below).[6]
  • Jean’s allotted dower was 68 acres in Mecklenburg adjacent Thompson Hartgrove, who was listed near Benjamin in some of the censuses.[7] She appeared as a head of household in the 1830 census and died in 1836, when her will was proved.[8]

Jean’s two-page will proves the identities of her four daughters, two sons, and two of her granddaughters. Here is a full transcription, including original spelling (with some bracketed inserts for clarity; underlining added):

“In the name of God Amen I Jean Heartgrove of the County of Mecklinburg and State of North Carolina being Sound in mind and memory but of a weekle Situation Calling to mind the unserty of Life Doe make this my Last will and testament my [body] I commit to the Dust from whence it Came and my Soul I freely Surrender to God who gave it me and as Such worly property as it has please God to Bless me with in this Life and will and Bequeth in manor and form here after mentioned I will to my Daughter Sarah Walker one Doller I will to my Daughter Ann Rankin one Doller I will to my Daughter Polly Taylor one Doller I will to my Daughter Nelly Willson thirty Dollars I will to my Son Ephrim Hartgrove two Hundred and fifty Dollars fifty Dollars to be paid to him yearly by my Exetor I willill to my Son Bengemin Hartgrove three Hundred Dollars fifty dollars to be paid to him Every Year By my Exetor I will to my Daughter Sarah Walker[‘s] Daughter Jean twenty Dollars I allow the Balance of my monne and my Land and Houshold and kitchen furnity and all my estate of Every kind to be Sold and the money to go to the use of my Son Bengemin Hartgrove[‘s] Children all but twenty Dollars and that to go to Polly Taylor[‘s] Daughter Jean. I appoint Robert Willson my Exeutor of this my Last will and testement in witness hereof I have hereunto Set my hand and Seal this twenty Seven Day of August Eighteen Hundr and thirty five.” Witnesses James C.? Rudicell and Stephen Wilson. Jean signed with a mark (“x”).

Here is a very little bit of information about the Hartgrove children and their families. I have not tried to track this line beyond what appears below, in part because my library’s Mecklenburg County resources are scant, and in part because this branch of the Rankinfamily never made it to the top of the “to-do” list. I also found Jean and Benjamin Heartgrove’s grandchildren very difficult to locate with confidence. It is therefore highly unlikely that I have identified all of this couple’s grandchildren.

If I were descended from the Rankin-Heartgrove line, I would do some serious deep diving into the original Mecklenburg records at the county courthouse and/or the Charlotte-Mecklenburg main library at 310 N. Tryon Street. The library, a really good one with a lot of Mecklenburg microfilm, is located a very short walk from The Dunhill, a charming boutique hotel at 237 N. Tryon Street. When we stayed there in 2001, we were scotch drinkers and had a bottle of Dalwhinnie with us. The first night we stayed there, we returned to our room at 5 p.m. when the library closed, ordered some ice from room service, and had a scotch-and-water before going to dinner.

When we returned to our room at the same time the second night, the ice bucket (which clearly hadn’t been there long because the ice hadn’t begun to melt) was full, and it was set out with two crystal highball glasses and some bottled water next to the bottle of scotch. The routine was repeated every night we were there. There was no extra charge. And that, my friends, is southern hospitality. I don’t want to know what their room rates are now. Or what a bottle of Dalwhinnie costs.

Dragging myself back from that memory to the children of Benjamin and Jean Rankin Heartgrove …

Eleanor (“Nellie”) Heartgrove Wilson, the eldest child, was born about 1793. She married Robert Wilson 29 April 1813 in Mecklenburg.[9] She appeared as a widow and head of household in the 1850 census for Mecklenburg, age 58, along with her probable children Jane (born about 1814), Isaac (about 1825), Amanda (about 1830), and Leroy (about 1836). By the 1860 census, only Jane (described as “insane” in both the 1850 and 1860 censuses) and Leroy were still living at home

The 1850 census shows that Eleanor was living in the Steele Creek area of Mecklenburg, so she may be the Eleanor Wilson who was reportedly buried at the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, born 20 Dec 1792 (perhaps the wrong year in light of her parents’ marriage date) and died 6 July 1867.[10] There is also a small child named Benjamin H. Wilson (1820-1822) buried in that cemetery who is obviously a pretty good bet to have been her son.

Sarah Heartgrove Walker, 20 Nov 1794 – 7 Nov 1854. I found no marriage record for Sarah and William Walker, although the probate records prove that William was Sarah’s husband.[11] The couple appeared in the 1850 federal census in Mecklenburg with their probable children Robert (born about 1816), Benjamin (1823), Ephraim (about 1827), James (about 1831), Ann (about 1834), and John (about 1836). They also obviously had a daughter Jean, born before 1835, who was named as a legatee in her grandmother’s will.

William and Sarah are both buried in the Sharon Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Charlotte, along with at least two of their sons:

  • Benjamin H. Walker (11 Jan 1823 – 17 Dec 1862), who died at the battle of White Hall in Wayne County, NC.[12]
  • Their eldest son Robert, characterized as “idiotic” in the 1850 census, who also died relatively young. His tombstone is identical to Benjamin’s, which is some evidence that they were members of the same family.[13]
  • There is also a John B. Walker (1836 – 30 June 1862) buried in the Sharon Presbyterian Church Cemetery who was a Civil War casualty, although the tombstone is different than Benjamin’s and Robert’s.[14] He may also be Sarah and William’s son.

Their son Ephraim may be the same man as the Ephraim Walker enumerated in the 1880 federal census in Williamson County, TX. He was born in NC about 1827 and was listed with sons named William, Robert, John B., James A., and Samuel. I know nothing about William and Sarah’s daughters Ann and Jean.

Ann Heartgrove Rankin, 7 Nov 1796 – 30 Jan 1866. Ann married her first cousin Richard Rankin of Lincoln County in Mecklenburg on 18 May 1825.[15] Richard was a son of Jean Rankin Heartgrove’s brother William and his wife Mary Moore Campbell Rankin of Lincoln County.[16] Ann Heartgrove Rankin, unlike her mother Jean Rankin Heartgrove, managed to stay out of the county records entirely after she married. The 1840 census suggests Ann and Richard may have had 5 sons and 2 daughters, assuming all the children under age 15 were theirs.[17] The 1850 census, however, shows only three sons: (1) John D. M. Rankin, born 1830-31, (2) James C. Rankin, born 1832-33, and (3) Ed L. Rankin, born about 1843.

Ann Heartgrove Rankin is buried in Goshen Presbyterian Cemetery in Belmont along with a host of Rankin relatives.[18] Richard (24 Sep 1804 – 14 Sep 1899) married twice more after Ann died[19] and is buried in the Mount Holly City Cemetery[20] along with his third wife Delia Bisaner[21] and their son, Rev. Frank Bisaner Rankin, who left behind a gift to us: One-Eyed Sam’s nickname.[22] Richard and Delia Bisaner Rankin also had a daughter Kathleen A. Rankin.[23]

Polly Heartgrove Taylor was probably born during 1790-1800, based on the census records for Benjamin Heartgrove’s family from 1800 through 1820. She married Stephen Taylor in Mecklenburg County, marriage bond dated 23 March 1826.[24] The Taylors reportedly moved to Tennessee according to online family trees. I haven’t tried to track them, having already learned the frustrations of tracking Taylors, Wilsons and Smiths.

Benjamin Heartgrove was born about 1803-04 according to the 1850 census. He had obviously died by 1860, although I found neither probate records nor a cemetery tombstone for him. Richard Rankin, his first cousin, was guardian of Benjamin’s minor children; the guardianship records are misfiled in the estate folder of Benjamin Sr. at the NC Archives. Benjamin’s wife was Mary Catherine Anthony, Mecklenburg marriage bond dated March 3, 1830.[25] His children were (1) William (born about 1831), (2) James (about 1833), (3) Jane (about 1836), (4) Robert (about 1839), (5) Richard (about 1844), (6) Mary (Oct. 1847 – 26 Jan 1914), and John A. (1850).[26]

Ephraim Hargrove is a mystery. The conventional wisdom is that he was born about 1808. There is an estate file for an Ephraim Hargrove in Mecklenburg dated 1840, although it contains virtually no information. The Mecklenburg records do have a record establishing that James Rankin of Lincoln County (brother of Jean Rankin Heartgrove) was Ephraim’s guardian after his father died, so he was underage in 1826. Benjamin Sr.’s estate file also establishes that James Rankin settled Ephraim’s guardianship account in 1830, which suggests that Ephraim was born in roughly 1809.

That is all I know about the Heartgrove family, although I suspect there is a wealth of additional information in the Mecklenburg records. I hope someone will correct my errors or supplement this scanty information in a comment!

 

 

 

[1] North Carolina State Archives, Box C.R.060.801.21, will of Samuel Rankin dated 16 Dec 1814, proved April 1826, bequeathing daughter Jean Heartgrove $1. Recorded in Lincoln County Will Book 1: 37.

[2] 1810 federal census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, household of Ben Heartgroves, 01001-11201, eldest female (Jean) born by 1765; 1830 federal census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, household of Jean Heartgrove, 00002-000020001, eldest female born 1760-1770. Taken together, the 1810 and 1830 census suggest a birth between 1760 and 1765.

[3] Virgil D. White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Volume III: N-Z (Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing Co., 1992).

[4] Frances T. Ingmire, Lincoln County North Carolina Marriage Records 1783-1866, Volume II, Females (Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Co., 1993).

[5] 1800 federal census, Mecklenburg, household of Ben Heartgroves, 00010-40011; 1810 federal census, Mecklenburg, household of Ben Heartgrove, 01001-11201; 1820 federal census, Mecklenburg, household of Ben Hargrove, 011201-00201; 1830 census, Mecklenburg, household of Jean Heartgrove, 00002-00002001.

[6] Ancestry.com, North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: images from Wills and Estate Papers (Mecklenburg County), 1663-1978, Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina). Note that some of the papers in this estate file are misfiled, e.g., records concerning Richard Rankin’s guardianship of the children of their son Benjamin Hartgrove (Jr.).

[7] E.g., 1800 federal census, Mecklenburg, Benjamin Heartgrove listed adjacent Thompson Heartgrove; 1820 federal census, Mecklenburg, sequential listings for Thompson, William, John and Benjamin Hargrove.

[8] 1830 federal census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, household of Jane Hartgrove, 00002-000020001, 3 slaves (eldest female age 60 < 70, born 1760-1770, with two females and two males ages 20 < 30; Brent Holcomb, Mecklenburg Co., NC, Abstracts of Early Wills, 1763-1790 (1980), abstract of Will Book E: 141, will of Jean Hartgrove dated 27 Aug 1835, proved Oct 1836.

[9] Brent H. Holcomb, Marriages of Mecklenburg Co., NC, 1783-1868 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981).

[10] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Wilson&GSiman=1&GScid=257584&GRid=95564117&

[11] See Notes 6 and 8.

[12] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=walker&GSiman=1&GScid=1986909&GRid=8998400&

[13] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=walker&GSiman=1&GScid=1986909&GRid=23997545&

[14] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=walker&GSiman=1&GScid=1986909&GRid=23997966&

[15] Holcomb, Marriages of Mecklenburg Co., NC.

[16] See 1850 federal census, Lincoln Co., NC, household of Richard Rankin, 45, Ann Rankin, 51 (Ann Heartgrove Rankin, William Rankin, 89, John D. M. Rankin, 19, James C. Rankin, 17, and Ed L. Rankin, 7. William Rankin, One-Eyed Sam’s eldest, was born in 1761. See Virgil D. White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Volume III: N-Z (Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing Co., 1992), abstract of the pension application of Rankin, William, NC Line, S7342, states that he was born Jan 1761 in Rowan County, North Carolina.

[17] 1840 federal census, Lincoln Co., NC, Richard Rankin, 113001-110001, 5 slaves: 1 male and 1 female born 1800-1810 (Richard and Ann), 3 males born 1825-1830, 1 male and 1 female born 1830-1835, and 1 male and 1 female born 1835-1840

[18] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=69710926

[19] Richard’s second wife was Caroline LNU, see her tombstone in Goshen Cemetery at https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Rankin&GSiman=1&GScnty=1686&GSsr=201&GRid=69711053&. See also C.R.040.508.42, file folder “Rankin, Caroline 1874,” containing an oath of Richard Rankin affirming that Caroline Rankin died intestate and he was administrator. Richard married a third time in 1875 to Delia Bisaner, who was less than half his age. See Paul L. Dellinger, Lincoln County, North Carolina Marriage Records 1868—1886 (Lincolnton, NC: 1986).

[20] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=38892699&ref=acom

[21] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Rankin&GSiman=1&GScid=2166251&GRid=38892811&

[22] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=31082103

[23] 1900 federal census, Gaston Co., River Bend Twp., Stanley Precinct, dwelling 204, listing for Delia Rankin, widowed, b. Aug 1844, with her son Frank B. Rankin b. Nov. 1878 and daughter Cathlene A. Rankin, b. Feb 1880. See also NC death certificate for Mrs. Kathleen Rankin Moore, parents identified as Richard and Delia Rankin, wife of Walter P. Moore.

[24] Brent H. Holcomb, Marriages of Mecklenburg Co., NC, 1783-1868 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981).

[25] Id.

[26] 1850 federal census, Hopewell, Mecklenburg, Benj Hargrove, 47, Catherine, 40, William, 19, James, 17, Robert, 11, Richard, 6, Mary, 4, and John, infant; 1860 federal census, Mecklenburg, Mary C. Hartgrove, 51, Robert, 21, Richard, 16, Mary, 14, and John, 11; 1880 federal census, Gaston, dwelling 673, John A. Hartgrove, 29, wife Elizar J., 29, son John W., 3, daughter Zoe E., 1, mother Mary C., 72, and sister Mary O., 33. See also death certificate for Miss Mary Hartgrove, Cleveland Co., NC.

More on the Line of Samuel (“One-Eyed Sam”) and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin: Jean Rankin Heartgrove

First, a really fun fact. I just met a new Rankin cousin – a 4th cousin, once removed, to be exact. She is also descended from Samuel and Eleanor Alexander Rankin. Her family lived in Mecklenburg County, NC, across the Catawba River to the east from the Lincoln/Gaston County Rankins. As a child, her parents took her to visit the then-current resident of the “ancestral” Rankin home in Gaston County – Rev. Frank Bisaner Rankin.

Rev. Frank said that Samuel Rankin was referred to as “One-Eyed Sam.” Rev. Frank didn’t know whether or how Sam lost an eye. Whatever the story behind it, Sam just became fractionally more real as a result. It’s the only personal aspect of him that has come to light.

Moving on: let’s do a little more exploring among One-Eyed Sam and Eleanor’s children. In particular, Jean (sometimes called Jane) Rankin Hartgrove, Samuel and Eleanor’s eldest daughter. I’m going to call her Jean because that name appears four times in her will.

This article has little that is new except citations to sources, an idea whose time may have come — considering the ease and speed with which erroneous information multiplies on the web. Tilting at windmills may also become popular soon. <grin>

Like most eighteenth and nineteenth century women, Jean was largely absent from county records. Exceptions include her father’s will, her marriage bond, a census when she was listed as a head of household, and her husband’s estate records. Also – in a departure from the female norm – she left a will. Before we get to that, here are some basic facts.

  • Jean Rankin Heartgrove is a proved daughter of One-Eyed Sam and Eleanor Alexander Rankin. Her father identified her as a daughter in his will.[1]
  • Her birth date is usually given in online family trees as 1765. The federal censuses – the only evidence I could find of her age in the records – confirm that she was born during 1760 through 1765.[2] Her elder brother William Rankin gave his birth year as 1761 in his Revolutionary War pension application, which suggests she was born during 1762 to 1765.[3]
  • Jean Rankin’s Lincoln County marriage bond to Benjamin Heartgrove was dated Sept. 21, 1792.[4] At minimum, she was 27 years old. One-Eyed Sam’s daughters seemed to marry late. Perhaps he frightened off potential suitors whom he deemed unworthy.
  • Benjamin was listed as a head of household in the federal census in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina for the years 1800, 1810 and 1820.[5] He died intestate in 1826 in Mecklenburg. Administration papers for his estate apparently show at least legatees Robert Wilson, William Walker, Richard Rankin, and Stephen Taylor, who were Benjamin’s four sons-in-law (see discussion of Jean and Benjamin’s children, below).[6]
  • Jean’s allotted dower was 68 acres in Mecklenburg adjacent Thompson Hartgrove, who was listed near Benjamin in some of the censuses.[7] She appeared as a head of household in the 1830 census and died in 1836, when her will was proved.[8]

Jean’s two-page will proves the identities of her four daughters, two sons, and two of her granddaughters. Here is a full transcription, including original spelling (with some bracketed inserts for clarity; underlining added):

“In the name of God Amen I Jean Heartgrove of the County of Mecklinburg and State of North Carolina being Sound in mind and memory but of a weekle Situation Calling to mind the unserty of Life Doe make this my Last will and testament my [body] I commit to the Dust from whence it Came and my Soul I freely Surrender to God who gave it me and as Such worly property as it has please God to Bless me with in this Life and will and Bequeth in manor and form here after mentioned I will to my Daughter Sarah Walker one Doller I will to my Daughter Ann Rankin one Doller I will to my Daughter Polly Taylor one Doller I will to my Daughter Nelly Willson thirty Dollars I will to my Son Ephrim Hartgrove two Hundred and fifty Dollars fifty Dollars to be paid to him yearly by my Exetor I willill to my Son Bengemin Hartgrove three Hundred Dollars fifty dollars to be paid to him Every Year By my Exetor I will to my Daughter Sarah Walker[‘s] Daughter Jean twenty Dollars I allow the Balance of my monne and my Land and Houshold and kitchen furnity and all my estate of Every kind to be Sold and the money to go to the use of my Son Bengemin Hartgrove[‘s] Children all but twenty Dollars and that to go to Polly Taylor[‘s] Daughter Jean. I appoint Robert Willson my Exeutor of this my Last will and testement in witness hereof I have hereunto Set my hand and Seal this twenty Seven Day of August Eighteen Hundr and thirty five.” Witnesses James C.? Rudicell and Stephen Wilson. Jean signed with a mark (“x”).

Finally, here is a very little bit of information about the Hartgrove children and their families. I have not tried to track this line beyond what appears below, in part because my library’s Mecklenburg County resources are scant, and in part because this branch of the Rankin family never made it to the top of the “to-do” list. I also found Jean and Benjamin Heartgrove’s grandchildren very difficult to locate with confidence. It is therefore highly unlikely that I have identified all of this couple’s grandchildren.

If I were descended from the Rankin-Heartgrove line, I would do some serious deep diving into the original Mecklenburg records at the county courthouse and/or the Charlotte-Mecklenburg main library at 310 N. Tryon Street. The library, a really good one with a lot of Mecklenburg microfilm, is located a very short walk from The Dunhill, a charming boutique hotel at 237 N. Tryon Street. When we stayed there in 2001, we were scotch drinkers and had a bottle of Dalwhinnie with us. The first night we stayed there, we returned to our room at 5 p.m. when the library closed, ordered some ice from room service, and had a scotch-and-water before going to dinner.

When we returned to our room at the same time the second night, the ice bucket (which clearly hadn’t been there long because the ice hadn’t begun to melt) was full, and it was set out with two crystal highball glasses and some bottled water next to the bottle of scotch. The routine was repeated every night we were there. There was no extra charge. And that, my friends, is southern hospitality. I don’t want to know what their room rates are now. Or what a bottle of Dalwhinnie costs.

Dragging myself back from that memory to the children of Benjamin and Jean Rankin Heartgrove …

Eleanor (“Nellie”) Heartgrove Wilson, the eldest child, was born about 1793. She married Robert Wilson 29 April 1813 in Mecklenburg.[9] She appeared as a widow and head of household in the 1850 census for Mecklenburg, age 58, along with her probable children Jane (born about 1814), Isaac (about 1825), Amanda (about 1830), and Leroy (about 1836). By the 1860 census, only Jane (described as “insane” in both the 1850 and 1860 censuses) and Leroy were still living at home

The 1850 census shows that Eleanor was living in the Steele Creek area of Mecklenburg, so she may be the Eleanor Wilson who was reportedly buried at the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, born 20 Dec 1792 (perhaps the wrong year in light of her parents’ marriage date) and died 6 July 1867.[10] There is also a small child named Benjamin H. Wilson (1820-1822) buried in that cemetery who is obviously a pretty good bet to have been her son.

Sarah Heartgrove Walker, 20 Nov 1794 – 7 Nov 1854. I found no marriage record for Sarah and William Walker, although the probate records prove that William was Sarah’s husband.[11] The couple appeared in the 1850 federal census in Mecklenburg with their probable children Robert (born about 1816), Benjamin (1823), Ephraim (about 1827), James (about 1831), Ann (about 1834), and John (about 1836). They also obviously had a daughter Jean, born before 1835, who was named as a legatee in her grandmother’s will.

William and Sarah are both buried in the Sharon Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Charlotte, along with at least two of their sons:

  • Benjamin H. Walker (11 Jan 1823 – 17 Dec 1862), who died at the battle of White Hall in Wayne County, NC.[12]
  • Their eldest son Robert, characterized as “idiotic” in the 1850 census, who also died relatively young. His tombstone is identical to Benjamin’s, which is some evidence that they were members of the same family.[13]
  • There is also a John B. Walker (1836 – 30 June 1862) buried in the Sharon Presbyterian Church Cemetery who was a Civil War casualty, although the tombstone is different than Benjamin’s and Robert’s.[14] He may also be Sarah and William’s son.

Their son Ephraim may be the same man as the Ephraim Walker enumerated in the 1880 federal census in Williamson County, TX. He was born in NC about 1827 and was listed with sons named William, Robert, John B., James A., and Samuel. I know nothing about William and Sarah’s daughters Ann and Jean.

Ann Heartgrove Rankin, 7 Nov 1796 – 30 Jan 1866. Ann married her first cousin Richard Rankin of Lincoln County in Mecklenburg on 18 May 1825.[15] Richard was a son of Jean Rankin Heartgrove’s brother William and his wife Mary Moore Campbell Rankin of Lincoln County.[16] Ann Heartgrove Rankin, unlike her mother Jean Rankin Heartgrove, managed to stay out of the county records entirely after she married. The 1840 census suggests Ann and Richard may have had 5 sons and 2 daughters, assuming all the children under age 15 were theirs.[17] The 1850 census, however, shows only three sons: (1) John D. M. Rankin, born 1830-31, (2) James C. Rankin, born 1832-33, and (3) Ed L. Rankin, born about 1843.

Ann Heartgrove Rankin is buried in Goshen Presbyterian Cemetery in Belmont along with a host of Rankin relatives.[18] Richard (24 Sep 1804 – 14 Sep 1899) married twice more after Ann died[19] and is buried in the Mount Holly City Cemetery[20] along with his third wife Delia Bisaner[21] and their son, Rev. Frank Bisaner Rankin, who left behind a gift to us: One-Eyed Sam’s nickname.[22] Richard and Delia Bisaner Rankin also had a daughter Kathleen A. Rankin.[23]

Polly Heartgrove Taylor was probably born during 1790-1800, based on the census records for Benjamin Heartgrove’s family from 1800 through 1820. She married Stephen Taylor in Mecklenburg County, marriage bond dated 23 March 1826.[24] The Taylors reportedly moved to Tennessee according to online family trees. I haven’t tried to track them, having already learned the frustrations of tracking Taylors, Wilsons and Smiths.

Benjamin Heartgrove was born about 1803-04 according to the 1850 census. He had obviously died by 1860, although I found neither probate records nor a cemetery tombstone for him. Richard Rankin, his first cousin, was guardian of Benjamin’s minor children; the guardianship records are misfiled in the estate folder of Benjamin Sr. at the NC Archives. Benjamin’s wife was Mary Catherine Anthony, Mecklenburg marriage bond dated March 3, 1830.[25] His children were (1) William (born about 1831), (2) James (about 1833), (3) Jane (about 1836), (4) Robert (about 1839), (5) Richard (about 1844), (6) Mary (Oct. 1847 – 26 Jan 1914), and John A. (1850).[26]

Ephraim Hargrove is a mystery. The conventional wisdom is that he was born about 1808. There is an estate file for an Ephraim Hargrove in Mecklenburg dated 1840, although it contains virtually no information. The Mecklenburg records do have a record establishing that James Rankin of Lincoln County (brother of Jean Rankin Heartgrove) was Ephraim’s guardian after his father died, so he was underage in 1826. Benjamin Sr.’s estate file also establishes that James Rankin settled Ephraim’s guardianship account in 1830, which suggests that Ephraim was born in roughly 1809.

That is all I know about the Heartgrove family, although I suspect there is a wealth of additional information in the Mecklenburg records. I hope someone will correct my errors or supplement this scanty information in a comment!

[1] North Carolina State Archives, Box C.R.060.801.21, will of Samuel Rankin dated 16 Dec 1814, proved April 1826, bequeathing daughter Jean Heartgrove $1. Recorded in Lincoln County Will Book 1: 37.

[2] 1810 federal census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, household of Ben Heartgroves, 01001-11201, eldest female (Jean) born by 1765; 1830 federal census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, household of Jean Heartgrove, 00002-000020001, eldest female born 1760-1770. Taken together, the 1810 and 1830 census suggest a birth between 1760 and 1765.

[3] Virgil D. White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Volume III: N-Z (Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing Co., 1992).

[4] Frances T. Ingmire, Lincoln County North Carolina Marriage Records 1783-1866, Volume II, Females (Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Co., 1993).

[5] 1800 federal census, Mecklenburg, household of Ben Heartgroves, 00010-40011; 1810 federal census, Mecklenburg, household of Ben Heartgrove, 01001-11201; 1820 federal census, Mecklenburg, household of Ben Hargrove, 011201-00201; 1830 census, Mecklenburg, household of Jean Heartgrove, 00002-00002001.

[6] Ancestry.com, North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: images from Wills and Estate Papers (Mecklenburg County), 1663-1978, Division of Archives and History (Raleigh, North Carolina). Note that some of the papers in this estate file are misfiled, e.g., records concerning Richard Rankin’s guardianship of the children of their son Benjamin Hartgrove (Jr.).

[7] E.g., 1800 federal census, Mecklenburg, Benjamin Heartgrove listed adjacent Thompson Heartgrove; 1820 federal census, Mecklenburg, sequential listings for Thompson, William, John and Benjamin Hargrove.

[8] 1830 federal census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, household of Jane Hartgrove, 00002-000020001, 3 slaves (eldest female age 60 < 70, born 1760-1770, with two females and two males ages 20 < 30; Brent Holcomb, Mecklenburg Co., NC, Abstracts of Early Wills, 1763-1790 (1980), abstract of Will Book E: 141, will of Jean Hartgrove dated 27 Aug 1835, proved Oct 1836.

[9] Brent H. Holcomb, Marriages of Mecklenburg Co., NC, 1783-1868 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981).

[10] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Wilson&GSiman=1&GScid=257584&GRid=95564117&

[11] See Notes 6 and 8.

[12] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=walker&GSiman=1&GScid=1986909&GRid=8998400&

[13] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=walker&GSiman=1&GScid=1986909&GRid=23997545&

[14] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=walker&GSiman=1&GScid=1986909&GRid=23997966&

[15] Holcomb, Marriages of Mecklenburg Co., NC.

[16] See 1850 federal census, Lincoln Co., NC, household of Richard Rankin, 45, Ann Rankin, 51 (Ann Heartgrove Rankin, William Rankin, 89, John D. M. Rankin, 19, James C. Rankin, 17, and Ed L. Rankin, 7. William Rankin, One-Eyed Sam’s eldest, was born in 1761. See Virgil D. White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Volume III: N-Z (Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing Co., 1992), abstract of the pension application of Rankin, William, NC Line, S7342, states that he was born Jan 1761 in Rowan County, North Carolina.

[17] 1840 federal census, Lincoln Co., NC, Richard Rankin, 113001-110001, 5 slaves: 1 male and 1 female born 1800-1810 (Richard and Ann), 3 males born 1825-1830, 1 male and 1 female born 1830-1835, and 1 male and 1 female born 1835-1840

[18] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=69710926

[19] Richard’s second wife was Caroline LNU, see her tombstone in Goshen Cemetery at https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Rankin&GSiman=1&GScnty=1686&GSsr=201&GRid=69711053&. See also C.R.040.508.42, file folder “Rankin, Caroline 1874,” containing an oath of Richard Rankin affirming that Caroline Rankin died intestate and he was administrator. Richard married a third time in 1875 to Delia Bisaner, who was less than half his age. See Paul L. Dellinger, Lincoln County, North Carolina Marriage Records 1868—1886 (Lincolnton, NC: 1986).

[20] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=38892699&ref=acom

[21] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Rankin&GSiman=1&GScid=2166251&GRid=38892811&

[22] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=31082103

[23] 1900 federal census, Gaston Co., River Bend Twp., Stanley Precinct, dwelling 204, listing for Delia Rankin, widowed, b. Aug 1844, with her son Frank B. Rankin b. Nov. 1878 and daughter Cathlene A. Rankin, b. Feb 1880. See also NC death certificate for Mrs. Kathleen Rankin Moore, parents identified as Richard and Delia Rankin, wife of Walter P. Moore.

[24] Brent H. Holcomb, Marriages of Mecklenburg Co., NC, 1783-1868 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981).

[25] Id.

[26] 1850 federal census, Hopewell, Mecklenburg, Benj Hargrove, 47, Catherine, 40, William, 19, James, 17, Robert, 11, Richard, 6, Mary, 4, and John, infant; 1860 federal census, Mecklenburg, Mary C. Hartgrove, 51, Robert, 21, Richard, 16, Mary, 14, and John, 11; 1880 federal census, Gaston, dwelling 673, John A. Hartgrove, 29, wife Elizar J., 29, son John W., 3, daughter Zoe E., 1, mother Mary C., 72, and sister Mary O., 33. See also death certificate for Miss Mary Hartgrove, Cleveland Co., NC.

Appendix to The John Willis Family and The Maryland Supply Tax of 1783

An abbreviated descendant chart for John Willis of Wantage with highlighted names of people and tracts of interest. This Appendix supplements the narrative article “The John Willis Family and The Maryland Supply Tax of 1783,” which is located immediately below this posting:

 

….. 1 John Willis b: Bef. 1660, Wantage, Berkshire, England, d: Nov 1712 in Dorchester Co, MD (patented Wantage in 1702)

……….. 2 John Willis, Jr. b: Abt. 1683 in Dorchester Co, MD, d: Bef. May 1765 (1717 land on Marshy Creek, Willis Regulation)

……….. + Mary Unknown d: Bef. 1731, m: Abt. 1702

…………….. 3 John Willis b: Abt. 1703 (25 Old 26), d: likely Bef. 1783

…………….. 3 Mary Willis

…………….. + Unknown Clift (Poss. Joseph or Mark)

…………….. 3 Judeath Willis

…………….. 3 Elizabeth Willis

…………….. + Unknown Killingsworth

…………….. 3 Isaac Willis d: Abt. May 1789 (Letters Admin to Henry & Joshua Willis)

………………….. 4 Henry Willis b: Bef. 1760 (“of Isaac” in Loyalty Oath 1778)

………………….. 4 Andrew Willis b: Bet. 1761-1767 (“of Ic” in 1783 Supply Tax)

…………….. 3 Richard Willis b: Abt. 1718 (15 Old 452), d: 1764 in Dorchester Co., MD

…………….. + Rebecca Granger d: Aft. 14 Aug 1771

………………….. 4 Richard Willis, Jr. b: 08 Aug 1759 in Dorchester Co., MD, d: 14 Feb 1823 in Caroline Co., MD (Sarah’s Delight, New Foundland)

………………….. + Britannia Gootee b: Abt. 1765 in Dorchester Co., MD, d: 03 Jan 1826 in Caroline Co., MD, m: 22 Jan 1788 in Caroline Co., MD

………………….. 4 Mary Willis

………………….. 4 Thomas Willis d: 1795 in Caroline County, MD (Perry’s Delight, New Land)

………………….. + Elizabeth Perry

………………….. 4 Joshua Willis b: Abt. 1765, d: Bet. 1793-1805 (Good Luck, New Land)

………………….. 4 Robert Willis d: 1804 in Caroline County, MD (Perry’s Discovery)

………………….. + Sarah Rumbold b: 31 Oct 1757, m: 08 Nov 1774 Dorchester Co., MD

…………….. 3 Joshua Willis b: Abt. 1720, d: Abt. 1797 (First Constable Caroline Co.) (Painter’s Range, Bank of Pleasure, Willis’s Right)

…………….. + Susannah Unknown poss. Richardson d: Bef. 1774

………………….. 4 Elizabeth Willis b: Abt. 1762

………………….. + William Everngham m: 1786

………………….. 4 Joshua Willis b: Abt. 1763

………………….. + Elizabeth Wright m: 02 Sep 1799

………………….. 4 Frances Willis b: Abt. 1767

………………….. + Charles Baker d: Bef. 1805 in 23 HD 181, m: 1785

…………….. +Deborah Greenhawk m: 1774

………………….. 4 Deborah Willis

………………….. + Joshua Lucas m: 1789

………………….. 4 Charles Willis b: Abt. 1776, d: Bef. 1801

………………….. 4 Peter Willis b: Abt. 1777, d: 03 Oct 1834

………………….. + Elizabeth Holmes m: 1798

………………….. 4 Thomas Willis b: Abt. 1778, d: Bef. 1801

………………….. 4 James Willis b: Abt. 1779

………………….. 4 John Willis b: Abt. 1780

………………….. 4 Annaretta Willis b: Abt. 1781

………………….. + Unknown Fleming

………………….. 4 Mary Willis b: Abt. 1783

…………….. 3 Dorcas Willis

…………….. + Benjamin Nicols

……….. + Elizabeth Sharp d: Aft. Nov 1768, m: 1730

…………….. 3 John Willis III b: 1731, d: Abt. Nov 1794 (inherited Willis Regulation)

…………….. + Keziah Unknown d: Aft. Nov 1794

………………….. 4 Philemon Willis b: 1764, d: 05 Mar 1836 in Talbot Co., MD

………………….. 4 John Willis

………………….. 4 William Willis

………………….. 4 Lewis Willis

………………….. 4 Sarah Willis

………………….. + John Nabb

………………….. 4 Nicholas Willis b: Aft. 1771

………………….. 4 Henry Willis b: Aft. 1771

…………….. 3 Gernay “Jarvis” Willis b: 1735, d: 1799

……….. 2 Grace Willis b: Abt. 1685, d: Aft. 1722

……….. 2 Elizabeth Willis b: Abt. 1688

……….. 2 Andrew Willis b: 1690, d: 1738 in Dorchester Co., MD

……….. + Jennet Jones d: Bef. Apr 1728

…………….. 3 William Willis b: 1717, d: 1782

…………….. + Unknown poss. Elizabeth Hill

………………….. 4 Elizabeth Willis b: Abt. 1736, d: 1793

………………….. + James Buchanan b: 1737, d: 1805

………………….. 4 William Willis b: Abt. 1740, d: 1793

………………….. 4 Jacob Willis b: Abt. 1742, d: 1782

………………….. + Elizabeth Nancy Eaves b: 1756, d: 1782

…………….. 3 Thomas Willis b: 1715, d: 1751

…………….. + Rachel Bullock d: 1757

…………….. 3 Andrew Willis b: 1719, d: 1778

…………….. + Sarah Hill b: 1720

………………….. 4 Andrew Willis b: 12 Feb 1768 in Dorchester Co., MD (Fisher’s Venture)

………………….. 4 Keziah Willis b: 12 Oct 1770 in Dorchester Co., MD

………………….. 4 George Willis b: 03 Dec 1775

………………….. 4 Mary Willis

…………….. 3 Sarah Willis b: 1721

……….. + Rebecca Goostree b: 1697, d: 1746 (inherited land that became New Town)

…………….. 3 Richard Willis b: 1721, d: 1773 (inherited New Town)

…………….. + Rachel Possibly Pritchett

………………….. 4 Mary Willis b: 17 Feb 1754 in Dorchester Co., MD (inherited New Town)

………………….. + Benjamin Meekins b: 03 Oct 1747 in Dorchester Co., Maryland, d: Bef. Sep 1782

………………….. 4 John Willis b: 03 Jan 1755

………………….. 4 Elizabeth Willis b: 08 Dec 1755 in Dorchester Co., MD (inherited Buttons Chance)

………………….. + possibly Budd Shinton (owner of Buttons Chance in 1783)

………………….. 4 Richard Willis b: 20 Mar 1761 in Dorchester Co., MD

………………….. 4 Sarah Willis

…………….. 3 George Willis b: 1723, d: Bef. 1784 without issue

…………….. 3 John Willis b: 1725, d: Aft. 1784 (inherited New Town through George)

…………….. + Ann/Nancy Unknown

………………….. 4 Jarvis Willis b: 06 Dec 1758 in Dorchester Co., MD, d: 1852 in Lawrence, AL

………………….. 4 John Willis b: 21 Apr 1762 in Dorchester Co., MD

……….. 2 Thomas Willis b: Abt. 1692, d: 1722

……….. 2 William Willis b: Bet. 1694-1700, d: Aft. 1746 (inherited Wantage)

……….. + Judith Seward/Soward b: Bet. 1696-1702, d: Aft. 1746

…………….. 3 Thomas Willis b: Abt. 1714, d: Aft. 1784

 

 

The John Willis Family and the Maryland Supply Tax of 1783

A friend recently pointed me toward a great resource, the Maryland Supply Tax of 1783. The Continental Congress periodically levied a tax on each state to pay for soldiers’ salaries and supplies during the Revolutionary War. Many of the Maryland records of the 1783 tax survive and are preserved in the Maryland State Archives (MSA). Best of all, the records are available online so you can review them from home.

MSA published an index of the records for some counties at: http://msa.maryland.gov/msa/stagser/s1400/s1437/html/ssi1437e.html

Most importantly, the Maryland Society of the Sons of the American Revolution (MDSSAR) scanned the surviving records and posted them on their website at: https://www.mdssar.org/membership/marylandtaxlists

Like most tax records of the era, these contain a wealth of information about the property owners. The records list all heads of household along with details such as land holdings, names of the tracts, numbers of slaves by age and gender, numbers of horses and cattle, the value of each asset and the total tax assessed. Some jurisdictions also describe the real property as to location, condition of the soil, and improvements. Additionally, the lists show the number of white inhabitants for each household, sometimes divided by gender. Males without taxable property between the ages of 18 and 50 were listed and assessed a default tax of 15 shillings. Paupers were listed as such and assessed no tax.

I recommend beginning at the searchable MSA index to identify the pages and tax district where a person of interest or a named tract of land is listed. Then logon to the MDSSAR site and scroll to the proper location. The scanned records are alphabetical within each tax district, making the site easy to use. I was pleased to find my family, the descendants of John Willis, listed here.[1]

The John Willis Family

In 1702, the John Willis who settled in Dorchester County patented 50 acres of land named Wantage located on the Little Blackwater River about three or four miles from Cambridge. John had four sons: John Jr., Thomas, Andrew, and William. We know from county land records the following information:

John, Jr. bought land in 1717 on Marshy Creek in what would become Caroline County. John’s land became known as Willis’s Regulation and stayed in the family for several generations.

Thomas purchased land on Marshy Creek adjoining John’s tract. However, he died without issue.

Andrew ultimately lived in Dorchester County on his second wife’s inherited land located west of the main Blackwater River. He expanded his holdings with a patent called New Town in 1730.

William inherited Wantage from his father John, Sr. in 1712 and lived there until 1734 when he sold to William Soward, one of his wife’s brothers.

Sons John, Jr. and Andrew, Sr. had proven children. Son William had one likely son Thomas, who does not appear in the records. The Caroline County assessment lists the following sons of John, Jr.: Joshua, John III, and Jarvis; and his grandsons Henry, Andrew, Richard, Thomas, Joshua, and Robert. The Dorchester County assessment lists three grandsons of Andrew, Jr.: Andrew, John, and Jarvis.[2] That list also shows William Soward as the owner of Wantage, the Willis family’s original tract, and Levin Hughes as the owner of New Town, previously owned by Andrew’s family. Let’s turn to the detail within each county’s assessment.

Caroline County Assessment

The 1783 assessment divided Caroline County into three districts – Upper Choptank, River, and Lower Choptank Districts.[3] All the sons and grandsons of John Willis, Jr. listed on the 1783 rolls are in Lower Choptank. There are other Willis families in the county not related to the John Willis of Marshy Creek. Those Willis groups can be identified and distinguished generally by their lands.[4] Here is what the record reveals about each Willis related to John, Jr., grouped by family:

Isaac Willis, son of John, Jr., was alive until 1789 when Letters of Administration issued on his estate. However, he is not listed in the 1783 tax assessment. We can conclude he did not own land and was too old to be otherwise listed. Therefore, he was exempt from taxation. Neither of his sons owned land either.

Henry Willis, listed as “of Isaac” in the 1778 Loyalty Oath records, is shown in the tax assessment. He does not own land and heads a household consisting of one male and two females. His property including 3 horses and 3 cattle are valued at £30.

Andrew Willis, listed as “of Ic” in the 1783 tax assessment, is shown with no land and a family of one male and three females. His personal property is assessed at £10.

Apparently, these Willis men worked land owned by others, possibly relatives. As seen below, many in the family owned significant acreage.

Richard Willis, son of John, Jr., died in 1764. His four sons listed below owned 1,000 acres of land and total property valued at £727.

Richard Willis, son of Richard, Sr., owned 200 acres called Sarah’s Delight, Addition to Sarah’s Delight and Newfound Land. Only 20 acres was cleared while the rest was forested. Richard lived alone in 1783, however he had a female slave age 14-36 and two older slaves. He did not marry until five years later. His property was assessed at £185.

Thomas Willis, son of Richard, Sr., owned 400 acres being part of Perry’s Delight and part of New Land, 100 acres of which was under cultivation. He owned one slave and 5 cattle. His household apparently consisted of just him and his wife (known from other sources to be Elizabeth Perry). Thomas was one of the more prosperous young men in the region with property valued at £260.

Joshua Willis, Jr., son of Richard, Sr., owned 200 acres named Good Luck and part of New Land adjoining his brother Thomas. The improvements on his land were noted as “Bad,” presumably in need of repair. He owned one slave and 22 cattle with a total property value of £190. He headed a household of two males and four females.

Robert Willis, son of Richard, Sr., owned 200 acres of land, which was part of Perry’s Discovery. The improvements on his land were also noted at “Bad.” His household consisted of three males and three females. Robert’s property was valued at £92.

Joshua Willis, son of John, Jr., owned 464 acres called Painters Range, Bank of Pleasure and Willis’s Luck. Acreage under cultivation totaled 180 acres and property improvements were listed as “Good.” Joshua owned ten slaves, three of them males ages 14-45. He also had seven white males in his household, which explains his ability to farm so much acreage. He had 23 cattle and nine horses. His property assessed at £676, clearly the wealthiest individual Willis on the list. His total household was seven males and five females.

John Willis III, son of John, Jr. and his second wife Elizabeth Sharp, owned 163 acres called Addition to Willis’s Regulation. This land combined the original tract on Marshy Creek purchased by John Willis, Jr. with other patents and resurveys. John III inherited the land under his father’s 1764 will after the death of his mother Elizabeth. Improvements on the land were in Bad condition, but 100 acres were under cultivation. John had four slaves, five horses and 11 cattle, and headed a household of seven males and two females. His property value totaled £192.

Jarvis Willis, son of John, Jr. and his second wife Elizabeth Sharp, did not own land. He headed a household of one male and three females and had property assessed at £10.

The Willis families descended from John, Jr. owned 1,627 acres and total property valued at £2,105 – quite impressive for a group that began from the humble beginnings of John Willis of Wantage. Sadly, the record also shows that among their “property” were nineteen human beings. Their aggregate white households totaled 24 males and 23 females.[5]

Dorchester County Assessment

The Willis families in Dorchester related to John Willis of Wantage were descended from John’s son Andrew. This branch of the family was not as successful in the state of Maryland as the John Jr. branch. Many of them migrated to the mainland, seeking improved fortune in Virginia, North Carolina and other places. The descendants who remained did not have significant property. The Willises or the lands related to the Willises are scattered among Dorchester County’s three districts – Upper, Middle, and Lower.[6]

Andrew Willis, Jr., son of Andrew, Sr., is not listed because he died in 1778.

Andrew Willis, son of Andrew, Jr., owned 60 acres called Fisher’s Venture located near Staplefort’s Creek in the Lower District. Cleared acreage amounted to 8 acres. Andrew had eight cattle and a total property value of £71. His household included seven people total. Dorchester County records do not indicate gender of the white household members.

Richard Willis, son of Andrew, Sr., is not listed because he died in 1773. He had inherited in 1738 half of land called New Town from his father. Richard willed his half of New Town to his daughter Mary, wife of Benjamin Meekins. Richard willed other land he owned called Buttons Chance to his daughter Elizabeth.

After her husband died, Mary Willis Meekins, daughter of Richard, sold her share of New Town to Levin Hughes in 1782. Therefore, she is not listed.

Elizabeth Willis, daughter of Richard who inherited Buttons Chance, is not listed as its owner. Instead, a Budd Shinton is shown as the owner of 27 acres called Buttons Chance in 1783. I found no purchase of Buttons Chance by Shinton. It is possible that he married Elizabeth Willis. He owned two other tracts: 54 acres being part of Johns Delight plus 93 ½ acres unnamed.

John Willis, son of Richard, is listed as a pauper with no assets yet a household of eight people. There are three Johns who could be this pauper. One is John, mentioned below, who inherited and sold part of New Town. He was not likely to be without assets in 1783. John who inherited New Town also had a son John, but he was too young to have a household of eight people. Therefore, I eliminated both of these men leaving the listed pauper as John, son of Richard.

John Willis, son of Andrew, Sr., is not listed. He inherited the other half of New Town from his father through the demise of his brother George. Andrew’s 1738 will gave New Town to sons Richard and George with their share to fall to son John should either die without issue. George apparently died without children because John sold half of New Town to Levin Hughes at some time before the 1783 assessment. That sale was recorded in 1784. I surmise that John had moved away before 1783. Levin Hughes is therefore listed as the owner of 85 acres called Addition to New Town in the Lower District of Dorchester.

Jarvis Willis, son of John, is listed in the Upper District without any land. He has two horses and five cattle and total property valued at £23. He headed a household of eight people.

The last land of interest to the Willis family is the original 50-acre tract called Wantage. John of Wantage willed it to his son William. William and his wife Judith sold it in 1734 to William Soward, one of her brothers. The 1783 tax list shows William Soward as owning 50 acres being part of Bridge North and 50 acres called Wanton [sic Wantage] both in the Middle District of Dorchester. Improvements on the property included an old frame dwelling, two logged houses and an orchard.

One possible disparity in the record is that the lands are stated as situated on the Little Choptank. That is certainly true of Bridge North, which is located in the neck region of Dorchester on Hudson’s Creek. However, Wantage is located near the Great Choptank River which might be in the Upper District. The custom of the day was that property owners rendered their own property, sending a notice to the tax assessors of the tally of acreage and other taxable property. William Soward likely lived in the Middle District on Bridge North, property long held by his family. I suspect as a matter of convenience, Soward rendered both properties to the Middle District commissioners rather than making separate submissions to the Middle and Upper District. In any event, I am confident the property in question was the original Wantage.

I highly recommend everyone take a look at the data available in these records. They help form a better picture of the life and circumstances of folks who lived so long ago.

*************

[1]Note: The Willis surnames in Caroline County appeared in the MSA Index but were missing on the MDSSAR site. However, knowing where they should be from the index, I requested and got copies of those pages from the Maryland Archives.

[2] See separate Appendix to The John Willis Family and The Maryland Supply Tax of 1783 for an abbreviated descendant chart for John Willis of Wantage highlighting the names of people mentioned here and related land.

[3] Caroline County’s normal jurisdictional subdivisions or “Hundreds” were Great Choptank, Fork, Tuckahoe, Bridgetown and Choptank. The 1783 tax districts were as follows: 1) Lower Choptank District – made up of Great Choptank Hundred and Fork Hundred. This district encompassed the entire southern part of the county bordering Dorchester and bounded on the east by the Choptank River and on the west by Delaware; 2) River District – parts of Tuckahoe and Bridgetown Hundreds; and 3) Upper Choptank District – the remainder of Tuckahoe and Bridgetown Hundreds and all of Choptank hundred.

[4] The Willis data are found on pages 57-59 of Lower Choptank District, Caroline County.

[5] Other Willis listings in Caroline County include two families descended from Quakers Richard and Frances Willis. Elijah, Thomas and William are clustered around land called Timber Tree Neck. The second group includes Andrew. Joseph, Ezekiel and Thomas associated with land called Friendship Regulation. Needless to say, none of these families owned slaves.

[6] The Upper District included Great Choptank Hundred and Nanticoke Hundred, which bordered Caroline County and Delaware, respectively. I do not know the western or southern boundary. The Middle District covered Transquakin and Little Choptank Hundreds. The Lower District was everything south of Transquakin and Little Choptank.

 

Alexander Family History: a “Must-Read”

If you follow this blog, you know that Gary and I do not cite compiled family histories as sources. Alexander Family History by John Alexander  will be an exception. It has many things to commend it, beginning with excellent, easy-to-read writing and meticulous research. It is an absolute “must-read” if you are from the line of James and Ann Alexander of Amelia County, Virginia and Anson/Rowan, North Carolina.

Before we get into the book itself, you can order it by contacting John Alexander at this email address:

jfalex37@comcast.net

The book is also available as an html version at this link. Make a note of that link, because John will continue to add to and correct the html version. John strongly encourages other Alexanders to add to the accumulated knowledge of this family via your own research. He is also happy to hear differences of opinion, provided they are backed up with citations to records.

Alternatively, John says he will send you a copy of the pdf file of the current book, and you can print away to your heart’s content. For those of us who are addicted to highlighting, this is clearly a good option.

Despite these nice alternatives, I strongly recommend that you order a bound copy of the book from John – even if you aren’t connected to this Alexander line – and donate it to your local library. Such donations are deductible. John says about $20 will cover the cost of the book plus postage.

For some information about the book, let’s just have it tell you about itself. The cover page, a good place to start, says this:

“James and Ann [Alexander], born around 1700 or shortly after, may be original American colonists or may have been born in the colonies. The story follows four of their sons, James, John, David, and Robert, and their only daughter, Eleanor, from the earliest-discovered records several generations toward the present.”

Here is some very brief information about these children that might help you determine whether any of these lines are of special interest to you …

  • James Alexander, son of James and Ann, was probably born about 1730 in the colonies. He appeared in the Anson, Rowan and Tryon records, and ultimately lived in Spartanburg County, SC. His wife was named Mary, MNU. He had four children of whom John is fairly certain, perhaps more. John identifies the four as James Jr., Matthew, William and Thomas. Matthew and William went to Logan County, KY, while most of the family remained in Spartanburg.
  • John Alexander, son of James and Ann, also born circa 1730, married Rachel Davidson and moved to the area that became Buncombe County, NC. Their four proved children were James, Ann, Mary and Thomas.
  • David Alexander, son of James and Ann, was born about 1736-37. He married Margaret Davidson (also spelled Davison) in Rowan County in 1762. They lived in Pendleton District, SC. David’s 1795 will (proved 1795, Anderson Co., SC, filed in Will Book c: 77) named his children Anne Gotcher, Jane Moore, David Alexander, Margaret Davis, Catherine Brown, Ellenor Read, James Alexander, Elizabeth Woods, John Alexander, William Morrison Alexander, and Ruth Alexander. 
  • Eleanor Alexander, the only daughter of James and Ann, married Samuel Rankin in Rowan County about 1760. The Rankins and their children lived in Lincoln (later Gaston) and Mecklenburg counties, North Carolina. Four of their ten children migrated to Rutherford County, TN and Shelby County, IL.
  • Robert Alexander, the youngest child of James and Ann, appeared in Rowan, Tryon, and Lincoln county records. He served in the Revolutionary War and was a Justice of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions in Lincoln County, where he died. His first wife was Mary Jack; his will names his wife Margaret, MNU. His children (not necessarily in birth order) were Lilly, Ann, Robert J., Polly, Margaret, Elisa, Evalina and Charity Amanda

For the record, James and Ann had a fifth son, their eldest, William Alexander. Unfortunately, there are apparently no records that can be attributed to him with any degree of confidence after the 1750s.

The book also includes copies of many original records, photographs, and a discussion of Y-DNA analysis. Again, the best thing to do is to let the book tell you about itself. Here is the table of contents:

Preface and Dedication

Chapter 1: What They Knew

Chapter 2: The Genealogical Digging

Chapter 3: James (died 1753) Alexander and Ann

Chapter 4: James Alexander of Spartanburg County, SC

Chapter 5: The Alexander Family in Western Kentucky

Chapter 6: Henry County and Beyond

Chapter 7: James C.’s Fayette County Branch

Chapter 8: James Alexander Jr. and the East Tennessee Branch

Chapter 9: Thomas Alexander and Mary

Chapter 10: Other Alexander Kin, Parentage Not Certain

Chapter 11: Family of John and Rachel Davidson

Chapter 12: Family of David and Margaret Davidson

Chapter 13: Family of Eleanor and Samuel Rankin

Chapter 14: Family of Robert and Mary Jack

Appendix A: Pension Applications Of Matthew And Eleanor

Appendix B: Documents from Amy Riggs, Born Amy Gore

Appendix C: South Carolina Deeds, James of Spartanburg

Appendix D: Records Relating to James (died 1753) and Ann

Appendix E: Legal Documents Relating to the Death of William McMillin

Appendix F: Siddle Documents and the Alexanders in Robertson County

Appendix G: Descendants of James (d. 1753) and Ann

Appendix H: 19th Century Marriages in Western KY and Western TN

Appendix I: Deeds of Trust, William and James C. Alexander, 1847

Appendix J: SC Documents Relating to Thomas Alexander

Appendix K: Documents from James Alexander and Rhoda Cunningham

Appendix L: Documents Relating to Ann (Alexander) Craig

Appendix M: Wills of Samuel, Alexander and James Rankin

Appendix N: Published Histories that May Be Difficult fo Find

Appendix Y: YDNA and YDNA Testing

I plan to sit down with this book, one chapter at a time, and make sure that my own family history software reflects John’s information. If it doesn’t, then I have some work to do.

Enjoy!
Robin

Samuel and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin: a Few Corrections to the Record

Here we are, tilting at windmills again, just for the fun of it. The idea is to correct some frequent errors about Samuel and Eleanor Alexander Rankin, who appeared in the records of Rowan, Tryon, Mecklenburg, and Lincoln Counties. A cousin has asked why I write these “correction” articles. That’s an easy one. Thanks to the the ease of “copy and paste” and importing other peoples’ family trees in a few clicks, online genealogy errors have multiplied exponentially, like the Tribbles in the original Star Trek. Anything that has appeared in print is taken as gospel. While it is a truism that every family history contains errors, I assume that most people prefer to eliminate them when possible. Thus, cousin, I’m providing a Tribble extermination service here, even though some of these errors are minor. <grin>

So let’s turn again to Samuel and his wife Eleanor. Two previous articles on this website dealt with erroneous theories about Samuel’s parents. The first article dealt with the persistent notion that he was a son of Joseph Rankin of New Castle County, Delaware. The second article addresses speculation that Samuel was a son of Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County, North Carolina. Y-DNA testing has conclusively disproved both possibilities. So far as I have found, there is no evidence on this side of the Atlantic as to the identity of Samuel’s parents.

And now, on to new territory. Here are the positions I’m taking with regard to some of the conventional wisdom on Samuel and Eleanor:

  • Samuel was probably born in 1734 (not 1732) and he probably died in 1816 (not 1814).
  • There is no reason to believe that Samuel was born in New Castle County, Delaware. There is no evidence where he was born, so far as I know.
  • He and Eleanor married in Rowan County, North Carolina, and not in Pennsylvania.
  • Samuel had arrived in North Carolina by no later than April 1760.
  • His wife’s given name was Eleanor. “Ellen,” the name on her tombstone, was a nickname.
  • Eleanor was born in 1740, not 1743.
  • Eleanor’s father was not the David Alexander who sold Samuel a 320-acre tract on James Cathey’s Mill Creek aka Kerr Creek. David was her brother. Her parents were James and Ann Alexander.

Let’s start at the top.

What were Samuel’s dates of birth and death?

Samuel’s birth: many Rankin researchers, including a “findagrave” website for the Goshen Presbyterian Cemetery in Belmont where Samuel was buried, say that he was born in 1732.[1] His tombstone has disappeared, or at least my husband and I couldn’t find it when we visited the cemetery in August 2001. I haven’t seen any evidence that he was born in 1732, although that doesn’t mean there isn’t any. So far as I have found, the only evidence of his birth date is on a film titled “Pre-1914 Cemetery Inscription Survey, Gaston Co., prepared by the Historical Records Survey Service Division, Works Progress Administration.”[2] That survey, taken during the Great Depression when the tombstone was obviously still extant, says that Samuel Rankin was born in 1734. Of course, even in the 1930s, the stone was already more than a century old and could easily have been misread. Or Samuel’s children might not have known his actual date of birth – and Samuel wasn’t around to correct them. However, the WPA survey is apparently the only available evidence.

Samuel’s death: findagrave and many online family trees give Samuel’s date of death as December 16, 1814. That is the date that Samuel executed his will, and the probability that he died on the same day is slim to none.[3] In fact, the actual probability is zero, because he appeared in the Lincoln County records in 1816. On July 26 of that year, he conveyed to his son James a tract on Stanleys Creek adjacent James’ brothers William and Alexander (and Thomas Rhyne, see my article about Samuel’s grandson Sam, son of Richard).[4] That is the last entry I found for Samuel in the Lincoln records until his will was proved in 1826.[5] The WPA cemetery survey says Samuel died in 1816.

Where was Samuel born?

Many Rankin researchers claim Samuel was born in New Castle County, Delaware. That is probably a holdover from when many believed he was a son of Joseph Rankin of New Castle. Since that has been disproved, there is no logic for placing Samuel’s birth where Joseph lived. In fact, I found no evidence of a Rankin named Samuel in New Castle County in the relevant time frame, although there are many records concerning Joseph’s proved sons (Thomas, Joseph Jr., John and William) and possible sons (Robert and James). There seems to be no evidence for any place of birth for Samuel, or even any evidence that he was born in the colonies rather than on the other side of the Atlantic.

Where did Samuel and Eleanor marry, and who were her parents?

The couple undoubtedly married in North Carolina, not Pennsylvania, despite the view of Minnie Puett, who wrote a history of Gaston County. Eleanor’s family – her parents James (not David) and Ann and her brothers William, James, John, David and Robert – were in that part of Anson County that became Rowan by at least March 1752, when there was a Granville grant to James Alexander “of Anson Co., Gent.”[6] Eleanor Alexander was the grantee in a gift deed of livestock from her father James on January 12, 1753, when she was not quite thirteen. Before they came to North Carolina, the Alexander family was in Amelia County, Virginia. Here is an article about Eleanor’s family.

 When did Samuel come to North Carolina, and from where?

It is possible that Samuel came to North Carolina from Pennsylvania, as many Rankin researchers think. So did many other Scots-Irish settlers of the Piedmont Plateau. If you had to guess, you would probably say that Samuel came to NC from either Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, or Virginia. The only evidence I have found for a man who might be the same man as Samuel Rankin prior to his arrival in NC is in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Some Samuel Rankin is listed as a freeman (i.e., age 21 or over and single) on the 1753 tax list for Sadsbury Township of Chester County.[7] There are no other Rankins on that list, although there are a number of other Scots-Irish whose names will be familiar to Lincoln/Rowan County researchers. There were several Moores, Beatys and Campbells, as well as a McCleary, Erwin and Kerr. The Samuel Rankin taxed as a freeman in 1753 was born by at least 1732, which might be why some researchers have deduced that date for his birth.

Wherever he came from, the evidence establishes that Samuel was in North Carolina earlier than some researchers believe, including Minnie Puett. His first land acquisition was a purchase from David Alexander in a deed dated July 14, 1760.[8] The tract was on James Cathey’s Mill Creek (also known as Kerr Creek), and not on Kuykendahl/Dutchman’s Creek, where the family eventually settled. The Revolutionary War Pension application of Samuel’s son William says that William was born in January 1761 in Rowan County, which puts Samuel in NC no later than April 1760.[9] Assuming he took more than a few months to court Eleanor and that William was their eldest child, one would conclude Samuel was in NC by no later than 1759.

Samuel’s wife was named Eleanor and she was born in 1740, not 1743

Her Goshen Presbyterian Cemetery tombstone, which was still intact (although barely legible) when we visited in 2001, calls her “Ellen.” So did the Rev. Samuel Meek Rankin in his book about the Rankin and Wharton families, probably based on that tombstone.[10] Her family and friends undoubtedly called her Ellen. Almost all Rankin researchers do the same, and I have been corrected more than once for calling her Eleanor. Nevertheless, I persist. <grin> The records establish that her given name was Eleanor. Period. Her father called her “Elener” [sic] in a gift deed.[11] A Rowan County court called her “Elinor.”[12] At least three deeds (one with her signature as “Elender”) do the same.[13] She and Samuel had a daughter and at least five granddaughters, all named Eleanor rather than Ellen.[14] Those facts surely establish that her given name was Eleanor, or I will eat my hat. If I owned one. Her nickname was Ellen.

Eleanor was almost certainly born in 1740, not 1743. The Rowan County court allowed her to choose her own guardian in 1755.[15] Doing so required her to be at least fourteen, so she must have been born by at least 1741. Two tombstone surveys say the date of birth on her tombstone was 16 April 1740.[16] The date is now so eroded, however, that it could reasonably be read as 1743 – although that date is foreclosed by the court record.

… and that’s it for now. I’m not done with this family, though: there is more to come.

[1] The findagrave website contains several errors about Samuel and Eleanor, mostly minor, some not so minor. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Rankin&GSiman=1&GScid=1192379&GRid=127500305&

[2] Family History Library Microfilm No. 0,882,938, item 2.

[3] North Carolina State Archives, File Box C.R.060.801.21, will of Samuel Rankin of Lincoln County dated 16 Dec 1814, proved April 1826. Recorded in Lincoln County Will Book 1: 37.

[4] Lincoln County Deed Book 27: 561, conveyance from Samuel Rankin to James Rankin witnessed by William Rankin and Benjamin Hartgrove. The grantor is not Sam Jr., who owned land in Mecklenburg, not Lincoln and had already sold his Mecklenburg tracts before 1816.

[5] There was no hurry to probate Samuel’s will because he left each of his surviving children $1, except for James, to whom he left the rest of his estate. With nobody anxious for their payout, there was no reason to rush to the courthouse.

[6] Rowan County Deed Book 3: 547, Granville grant of 25 Mar 1752 to James Alexander, 640 acres in Anson adjacent Andrew Kerr. James gifted half of that tract to his son David Alexander, and David sold it to Samuel Rankin in 1760. See Anson County Deed Book B: 314 et seq. for charming gift deeds of land and livestock from James Alexander and his wife Ann to five of their six children, including Eleanor.

[7] J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope, History of Chester County, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), reproduction facsimile by Chester County Historical Society (Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, Inc. 1996).

[8] Rowan County Deed Book 5: 272, deed dated 14 Jul 1760 from David Alexander to Samuel Rankin, 320 acres both sides of James Cathey’s Mill Cr. (AKA Kerr’s Cr.).

[9] Virgil D. White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Volume III: N-Z (Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing Co., 1992).

[10] Rev. S. M. Rankin, The Rankin and Wharton Families and Their Genealogy (Greensboro, NC: J. J. Stone & Co, 1931).

[11] Personal copy of Rowan County Deed Book B: 315 (obtained by mail from the clerk of court), gift deed from James Alexander to his daughter Elener.

[12] Jo White Linn, Abstracts of the Minutes of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Rowan County, North Carolina, 1753-1762 (Salisbury, NC: 1977), abstract of Order Book 2: 90, entry of 22 Oct 1755, David and Elinor Alexander (spelling per abstractor) came into court and chose their mother Ann Alexander as their guardian.

[13] Jo White Linn, Rowan County North Carolina Deed Abstracts Vol. II. 1762 – 1772 Abstracts of Books 5, 6, 7 (Salisbury, NC: 1972), abstract of Deed Book 6: 225, deed dated 31 Aug 1765 from Samuel Rankin and wife Eleanor (spelling per the abstractor) to John McNeeley, 320 acres on James Cathey’s Mill Creek; original of Lincoln Co. Deed Book 1: 703 (viewed by me at the courthouse), deed of 26 Jan 1773 from Samuel Rankin of Tryon to Philip Alston, 150 acres on Kuykendall Creek signed by Samuel Rankin and Elender Rankin.

[14] At least five of Samuel and Eleanor Rankin’s children named a daughter “Eleanor” (not “Ellen”), including Samuel Rankin Jr., Jean Rankin Hartgrove, Robert Rankin, David Rankin, and Eleanor (“Nellie”) Rankin Dickson. See, e.g., an image of the tombstone of Eleanor, wife of Joseph Dickson, Ellis Cemetery, Shelby Co., Ill., died 4 Apr 1848, age 62, at www.findagrave.com.

[15] Linn, Abstracts of the Minutes, abstract of Order Book 2: 90, 22 Oct 1755, David and Elinor Alexander came into court and chose their mother Ann Alexander as their guardian; the court appointed Ann guardian for Robert, about age 12, son of James Alexander, dec’d.

[16] Family History Library Microfilm No. 0,882,938, item 2. See also Microfilm at Clayton Genealogical library titled “North Carolina Tombstone Records, Vols. 1, 2 and 3,” compiled by the Alexander Martin and J. S. Wellborn chapters of the DAR; transcribed lists were filmed 1935 by the Genealogical Society of Utah. Tombstone of Ellen Rankin, b. 16 April 1740, d. 26 Jan 1802.

More on the Line of Samuel and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin: Richard Rankin’s son Samuel

This article is about a Samuel Rankin – just call him “Sam” – who last appeared on this website playing a minor supporting role as the spouse of Mary F. Estes Rankin. She was a daughter of Lyddal Bacon Estes and “Nancy” Ann Allen Winn Estes, whose nine children shared the spotlight in my most recent Estes article. The only mention of Sam in that article was a brief description of him as an “incorrigible character.”

Sam earned that characterization fair and square. First, his year of birth varied so wildly in the census that he must have fibbed about his age for the fun of it. Second, he named a son Napoleon Bonaparte Rankin. What kind of merry prankster lays that on a newborn? Third, I had the very devil of a time trying to identify his parents: it seemed he was being deliberately evasive. I spent months poring over North Carolina records in the library, back when there were virtually no records available online. Fourth, there is evidence that Sam may have been an unmanageable child, but that’s getting ahead of the story.

There isn’t much information in the records about Sam’s adult life. He was a farmer in Tishomingo County, Mississippi, and then he was a farmer in Jefferson County, Arkansas. He and his wife Mary married about 1836 in Tishomingo, moved to Arkansas about 1849, and had ten children who reached adulthood. Sam died in 1861 or early 1862, when his youngest child was on the way. One branch of the family thinks he died in the War, but that is highly unlikely. He was too old to be conscript fodder, four of his sons enlisted, his wife was pregnant, and the National Archives has no record of him.

Let’s begin at the beginning of the search for Sam’s family of origin. A researcher typically starts with two basic questions in the search for an ancestor’s parents: where and when was he/she born? Here are the facts about Sam. Federal censuses prove that he was born in North Carolina.[1] Unfortunately, his birth year is elusive. The 1837 Mississippi state census and the 1840 federal census suggest Sam was born between 1792 and 1820.[2] The 1850 census gives his age as sixty-two, or born about 1788.[3] In the 1860 census, Sam was sixty-one.[4] Thus, during the decade of the 1850s, Sam managed to get a year younger, a skill I wish I could master. If one had to pick a sort of median value, one might guess Sam was born circa 1800.

Mississippi records reveal one other thing: Sam almost certainly had a brother. A William Rankin was listed near Sam in the 1837 state census in Tishomingo County, Mississippi.[5] William did not own any land, but Sam had ten acres under cultivation.[6] Neither man owned any slaves, and they were the only two Rankin heads of household in Tishomingo in 1837 and 1840. William was born between 1800 and 1810, so that he and Sam were probably from the same generation.[7] Finally, William married Rachel Swain, and the JP who performed the ceremony was Sam’s father-in-law Lyddal Bacon Estes.[8] Sam’s wife Mary Estes Rankin had a sister who also married a Swain.[9]

On those facts, it is likely that Sam and William Rankin were brothers and that they were farming Sam’s tract together. If that is correct, then I was looking for a Rankin family having sons named Samuel and William who were born about the turn of the century in North Carolina.

Big whoop. If you have spent any time among the many North Carolina Rankin families, you know the above information is a wretchedly slender reed upon which to hang an ancestor’s identity. I therefore left the records and turned to oral family history. It led me to conclude that Sam’s parents were Richard Rankin and Susanna (“Susy”) Doherty, who were married in 1793 in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina.[10] There is no doubt about the identity of their parents. Richard was a son of Samuel Rankin (“Sam Sr.”) and his wife Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin.[11] Susy Doherty Rankin was a daughter of John Doherty and his wife Agnes, maiden name unknown.[12]

I found the key oral family history in a biography of Claude Allen Rankin, a grandson of Sam and Mary Estes Rankin. Claude reported that his grandfather Sam Rankin “reached manhood in Lincoln County, North Carolina,” and then “removed to Murfreesboro, Tennessee,” which is in Rutherford County.[13]

My instinct told me to accept those facts as the gospel truth. For one thing, the specific locations convey a bulletproof certainty. Moreover, there is no reason on God’s green earth that Claude would have invented those locations out of thin air. Consider the odds: Lincoln is one county out of one hundred in North Carolina; Rutherford is one county out of ninety-five in Tennessee. The odds are therefore 9,500 to one that Claude would have identified both of those counties as places his grandfather Sam had lived in just those two particular states. Claude no doubt heard those locations from his father Elisha Thompson Rankin, who, in turn, learned them from his father Sam.

If Lincoln County, North Carolina and Rutherford County, Tennessee are places where Sam lived, then it is a virtual certainty that Sam was a grandson of Sam Sr. and Eleanor Rankin, who lived in Lincoln (Gaston) County, North Carolina. Three of their sons and one daughter moved to Rutherford County.[14] I have found no other Rankin family that was in both Lincoln and Rutherford counties for the relevant time period.

The search thus boiled down to identifying which of Sam Sr. and Eleanor’s sons could have been the father of Sam. Four of the couple’s sons – William,[15] David,[16] Alexander,[17] and James[18] – are eliminated by their locations and children. The three remaining sons – Robert, Sam Jr. and Richard – were possibilities to be Sam’s father.

I started with Richard Rankin and his wife Susy Doherty because Sam and Mary named their eldest son Richard, and the Anglo naming tradition dictates naming the first son for his paternal grandfather.[19] Richard and Susy lived on Long Creek in Mecklenburg County, just across the Catawba River from the home of Sam Sr. and Eleanor in Lincoln (now Gaston) County.[20] Richard’s brother Sam Jr. also lived in Mecklenburg with his first wife, Susy’s sister Mary (“Polly”) Doherty.[21] Richard Rankin and his sister-in-law Polly Doherty Rankin are buried at Hopewell Presbyterian Church on Beatties Ford Road, just northwest of Charlotte, alongside John Doherty, father of Susy Doherty Rankin and Polly Doherty Rankin.[22] Richard’s headstone is in the left foreground of the photograph below, which is the banner photo for this website. The headstones of Richard’s sister-in-law and father-in-law are in the right foreground.

Richard and Susy appeared in the 1800 census for Mecklenburg with three sons and a daughter, all born between 1794 and 1800.[23] The “family tree” of Sam Sr. and Eleanor (a somewhat mysterious source mentioned in Gregg Moore’s book about Sam Sr.’s family) indicates that Richard and Susy had five children, one of whom was born between 1800 and 1804.[24] Only four children survived until 1807, however. In April of that year, the Court of Common Pleas & Quarter Sessions for Mecklenburg County appointed Richard’s brother Sam Jr. as guardian of Richard’s four children: Joseph, Samuel, Mary and William Rankin.[25]

When I found that record in a Clayton Library abstract, I sprang from my chair and did a little victory jig, earning some disapproving glares from a couple of blue-haired ladies at the next table. It was my first real break in the search for Sam’s family of origin. First, it eliminated Sam Jr. as a candidate to be my Sam’s father. Second, it put Richard and Susy at the very front of the pack, since they had sons named Sam and William. After tracking Richard’s brother Robert from Rutherford County, Tennessee to Shelby County, Illinois and identifying some of his children, I concluded that Richard was the only son of Sam Sr. and Eleanor who could have been the father of my great-great grandfather Sam.

I don’t know how Richard Rankin died, although the fact that he was only thirty-five and left no will indicates his death was probably sudden and unexpected. He was a sheriff, patroller, justice of the peace and tax collector, all public positions of trust and responsibility; he ran unsuccessfully for other county offices (coroner and high sheriff).[26] He had a hard time managing money in the course of performing his official duties, because the court had to haul him up short more than once.[27] Unfortunately, that was a harbinger of things to come.

Richard died up to his eyeballs in debt, although that wasn’t immediately apparent. Right after he died, Richard seemed to have been a reasonably well-to-do man. The estate administrator’s bond was either £1,000 or £2,000, neither of which was inconsequential.[28] The sale of his estate (excluding land) brought in £935.[29] The 1806 and 1807 Mecklenburg tax lists indicate that Richard’s estate owned 800 acres there.[30] The honorific “Esquire” with which he appeared in court records squares with the image of a prosperous and respected man.

Reality soon reared its ugly head in the form of lawsuits and  jugments against Richard’s estate. I quit taking notes on these suits, although there were many more, after the trend became painfully obvious.

October 1804, Andrew Alexander’s Administrator v. Richard Rankin’s Admr., verdict for plaintiffs, damages of £103.50.[31]

April 1805, William Blackwood’s Administrators v. Richard Rankin’s Admr., verdict for plaintiffs, damages of £38.18.1.[32]

April 1805, Robert Lowther v. Richard Rankin’s Admrs., verdict for Plaintiff, damages of £34.18.9.[33]

January 1806, Trustee Etc. v. Richard Rankin’s Admrs., verdict for Plaintiffs, damages of £18.9.0.[34]

October 1807, Richard Kerr v. Richard Rankin’s Admrs., judgment for Plaintiff for £7.15.9.[35]

Here is the most depressing court record of them all. Creditors finally had to go after Richard’s land because the estate had no more liquid assets with which to discharge judgments:

Oct 1807, John Little v. Richard Rankin’s Admrs, judgment and execution levied on land for £16, administrator pleads no assets. Ordered that the clerk issue scire facias against Samuel Rankin, guardian of the heirs, to show cause.[36]

The minute book abstract is silent regarding the purpose of the show cause hearing. In context, it is clear that Sam Jr. was to show cause, if any, why Richard’s land should not be sold to pay the judgment creditor. Sam Jr. made no such showing, because the Mecklenburg real property records contain a sheriff’s deed dated October 1807 reciting as follows:

“[B]y execution against the lands of Richard Rankin, dec’d … being divided by the administrator and Samuel Rankin off a tract of 500 acres held by Richard Rankin … [the tract sold] containing 200 acres including the old house, spring, meadow and bottom on both sides Long Creek.”[37]

Wherever Susy and her children were living, it was clearly not in the “old house.” Some of Richard’s land remained after this sale, but I did not attempt to track its inevitable and dreary disposition.

It eventually dawned on me that I was mucking about exclusively in the records of Mecklenburg County looking for evidence of Susy’s family. However, Claude Allen Rankin’s biography said that Sam “reached manhood” in Lincoln County, not Mecklenburg. I belatedly went to the Lincoln records looking for evidence regarding Susy’s whereabouts after Richard died.

Lo and behold: Susy was living in Lincoln County by at least 1808, when she was a defendant there in a lawsuit.[38] I did not find her listed as a head of household in the 1810 census, although she was alive until at least 1812.[39] The family was undoubtedly still residing in Lincoln County in October 1812, when the Lincoln court ordered that “Samuel Rankin, about thirteen years old, an orphan son of Richard Rankin, dec’d be bound to John Rhine until he arrive to the age of 21 years to learn the art and mistery [sic] of a tanner.”[40]

If the indentured Sam Rankin was the same man as my ancestor Sam Rankin, which is highly likely, then there is no doubt that Sam “reached manhood” in Lincoln County, as Claude said. That is where John Rhyne lived, and the indenture lasted until Sam reached legal age.[41]

Sam’s indentured servitude was not an unusual fate for a destitute child whose father had died. Five years before the indenture, it was abundantly clear that Richard Rankin’s estate was rapidly vanishing. None of Richard’s other three surviving children were indentured, however, which is puzzling. Why just Sam? And why wasn’t he indentured earlier?

Perhaps Sam had become incorrigible – the child who was designated to “act out” the Rankin children’s collective anger and grief at the loss of their father and economic status. It would certainly go a long way toward explaining a man who didn’t marry until his late thirties and who named a son Napoleon Bonaparte. Perhaps it would also explain why the prominent and wealthy Rankin family of Lincoln County did not prevent the indenture of a 13-year-old Rankin whose father died when he was five. Indentured grandsons/nephews don’t exactly enhance a family’s reputation in the community.

Nothing like a strict German master to straighten out a wild Scots-Irish teenage boy, I guess.

Whatever Sam’s temperament, or the reason his rich Rankin relatives consented sub silentio to his indenture, his mother Susy had been having an abjectly miserable time of it. In 1803, she lost her sister Mary Doherty Rankin, the wife of Richard’s brother Sam Jr.[42] In 1804, her husband Richard died, leaving her with minor children.[43] One of their children also died, because (according to the Rankin “family tree”) Richard and Susy had five children: the court appointed a guardian for only four in 1807.[44] Also in that year, Susy’s mother Agnes Doherty died[45] and a part of Richard’s land was sold to pay a judgment debt.[46] In 1809, Susy sold via a quitclaim deed her dower right to a life estate in one-third of Richard’s land.[47] Do you think she may have needed cash?

In the midst of those excruciating losses, Susy’s brother-in-law William Rankin (and former co-administrator of Richard’s estate) sued her.[48] In 1808, William obtained a judgment against Susy for £106.7.6, about half of which he collected by garnishing the funds of a man who owed Susy money.[49] William is enumerated in the 1810 census (immediately followed in the list by Thomas Rhyne, John Rhyne, and Samuel Rankin (Sr.), which indicates geographic proximity) with eleven slaves, so the suit against Susy was obviously not a matter of economic need. I trust that his orphaned nephews and niece were not going hungry. He was obviously a vengeful and greedy sonuvabitch, and I don’t like him one whit. Whatever Susy’s sins may have been, Richard’s children deserved better from his brother.

As for Susy, I haven’t found a worse record of persistent and pernicious emotional and financial calamity among any of my other ancestors. If she managed to remain moderately sane through all that, she must have had some backbone. However, she evidently couldn’t cope with her son Sam, about age thirteen.

It turns out that John Rhyne, to whom Sam was bound, was connected to the family of Sam Sr. and Eleanor Rankin. William Rankin (the mean SOB) and his son Richard Rankin both witnessed the will of John Rhyne’s father Thomas.[50] Thomas Rhyne was bondsman for William’s marriage bond to Anne Moore Campbell. The Rhynes lived on land adjacent to Samuel Sr. and Eleanor’s plantation on Kuykendall Creek (later renamed “Dutchman’s Creek”).[51] Susy’s son Sam Rankin therefore served about four years of his indenture within walking distance of his wealthy grandfather Sam Sr.[52] No wonder Sam declined to pass on his given name to any of his eight sons. Sam did, however, have children who shared the name of each of his three surviving siblings: Joseph, William and Mary.

Sam probably remained with his master John Rhyne through the 1820 census.[53] There was a male age 16-26 listed with Rhyne that year who was not the Rhynes’ child and who would most likely have been Sam, the indentured tanner, born about 1799.[54] The 1820 census for John Rhyne also indicates that one person in the household was engaged in manufacturing, and tanning was deemed a manufacturing business.

Meanwhile, some of the Lincoln/Mecklenburg Rankins had begun moving to Rutherford County, Tennessee in the early 1800s. Richard’s brother David and his wife Anne Moore Campbell may have been in Rutherford by August 1806, when David acquired a tract there.[55] In 1810, both David and his brother Robert Rankin appeared on the Rutherford County tax rolls.[56] By the 1820 census, David, Robert and their brother Sam Jr. were all listed as heads of households in Rutherford County.[57] Sam undoubtedly made a beeline for Tennessee the day he turned twenty-one: recall that his uncle Sam Jr. had been Sam’s guardian, and his siblings may have migrated with Sam Jr.

For various reasons, I vacillated for years as to whether my great-great grandfather Sam Rankin was, in fact, a son of Richard and Susy and grandson of Sam Sr. and Eleanor Alexander Rankin. At bottom, all I had were Claude’s oral family history, family migration from North Carolina to Rutherford County, a guardianship record, an indenture, and the name of Sam’s brother. Most disconcerting is the fact that Sam Rankin essentially disappeared from all records after that 1812 indenture until he showed up in Tishomingo County – a lapse of a quarter-century. That would make anyone uneasy. Fortunately, Y-DNA testing resolved my uncertainty. My first cousin Allen Rankin is a close match to proved descendants of Samuel Sr. and Eleanor.

MORAL: if you are a Rankin male (or have a Rankin male relative) and you/he have not done Y-DNA testing, please go to FTDNA.com ASAP, sign up for a 37-marker or 67-marker test, and join the Rankin DNA project. There are now enough participants in the project that you are almost certain to find a Rankin match, assuming there is no “non-paternal” event among your male Rankin line (e.g., an adoption or illegitimate birth). I would be thrilled to help you and to provide whatever information I have about your Rankins.

See you on down the road!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

[1] 1850 federal census, Jefferson Co., AR, dwelling 426, Samuel Rankin, born NC; 1860 federal census, Jefferson Co., AR, dwelling 549, Samuel Rankin, born NC. Several of Sam’s children lived to be counted in the 1880 census, which asked where each person’s parents were born. Sam’s children fairly consistently identified their father’s state of birth as North Carolina. E.g., 1880 census, Dorsey (Cleveland) Co., AR, dwelling 99, Richard Rankin, 43, b. MS, father b. NC, mother b. AL.

[2] Laverne Stanford, Tishomingo County Mississippi 1837 State Census, 1845 State Census (Ripley, MS: Old Timer Press, 1981), Samuel Rankin, age 21 < 45, born 1792-1819; 1840 federal census, Tishomingo Co., MS, Samuel Rankin, age 20 < 30, born 1810-1820.

[3] See note 1, 1850 federal census, Samuel Rankin, age 62.

[4] See note 1, 1860 federal census, Samuel Rankin, age 61.

[5] Stanford, Tishomingo County Mississippi 1837 State Census, listing # 54 for William Rankins, age 21 < 45, a female > 16, no slaves, and no acreage under cultivation.

[6] Id., listing # 64 for Samuel Rankins, age 21 < 45, no slaves, 10 acres under cultivation.

[7] 1840 census, Tishomingo Co., MS, listing for William Rankin, 1 male 30 < 40 (born 1800-1810) and 1 female 60 < 70 (born 1770-1780). The woman with William in the 1837 and 1840 census, which were taken before William married in 1843, may have been his mother.

[8] Irene Barnes, Marriages of Old Tishomingo County, Mississippi,Volume I 1837 – 1859 (Iuka, MS: 1978), marriage bond for William Rankin and Rachel Swain dated 7 Sep 1843, married by L. B. Estes, J.P., on 14 Sep 1843. Lyddal Bacon Estes was Sam Rankin’s father-in-law.

[9] Martha Ann Estes, Mary Estes Rankin’s sister, was married to Wilson Swain.

[10] Brent H. Holcomb, Marriages of Mecklenburg Co., NC, 1783-1868 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981).

[11] Richard was not named in his father Sam Sr.’s will because Richard predeceased Sam Sr., but other evidence is conclusive. First, William and Alexander Rankin, proved sons of Sam Sr. and Eleanor, were administrators of Richard’s estate along with Richard’s wife Susy. NC State Archives, C.R.065.508.210, Mecklenburg County Estates Records, 1762 – 1957, n.d. Queen – Rankin, file folder labeled “Rankin, Richard 1804,” original bond of Susy, William, and Alexander Rankin, administrators of the estate of Richard Rankin. Second, Samuel Rankin Jr. (another proved son of Sam Sr. and Eleanor) was the guardian for Richard’s children after Richard died. Herman W. Ferguson, Mecklenberg County, North Carolina Minutes of the Court of Pleas Volume 2, 1801-1820 (Rocky Mount, NC: 1995), abstract of Minute Book 4: 663, court order of April 1807 appointing Samuel Rankin guardian for the children of Richard Rankin.

[12] Herman W. Ferguson and Ralph B. Ferguson, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Will Abstracts, 1791-1868, Books A-J, and Tax Lists, 1797, 1798, 1799, 1806, & 1807 (Rocky Mount, NC: 1993), abstract of Will Book C: 21, will of John Doherty of Mecklenburg dated 20 May 1786 naming wife Agnes, son James, and daughters Susanna and Mary; id., Will Book C: 34, will of Agnes Doherty of Mecklenburg dated June 19, 1807, proved Jan. 1808, naming daughter Susanna Rankin and granddaughters Violet and Nelly Rankin. The latter were children of Sam Rankin Jr. and his wife Polly Doherty, who died before her mother Agnes.

[13] D. Y. Thomas, Arkansas and Its People, A History, 1541 – 1930, Volume IV (New York: The American Historical Society, Inc., 1930), biography of Claude Allen Rankin at p. 574.

[14] Sam Sr. and Eleanor’s children who moved to Rutherford County were David, Robert, Samuel Jr., and Eleanor Rankin Dixon. Eleanor Rankin married Joseph Dixon; David Rankin married Jane Moore Campbell, a widow. Jean or Jane Rankin, another daughter of Sam Sr. and Eleanor, married James Rutledge. The Rutherford County records are full of entries in which the Rankins were associated with Dixons, Rutledges and Moores. E.g., WPA Tennessee Records Project, Records of Rutherford County, Tennessee Vol. C, Minutes 1808 – 1810 (Murfreesboro: 1936), abstract of Minute Book C: 197, entry of 1 Jan 1810 regarding a lawsuit styled William Dickson v. Robert Rankin, George Moore, Robert Rutledge and Joseph Dickson, Jr.

[15] William Rankin, the eldest son of Sam Sr. and Eleanor Rankin, remained in Lincoln County and did not have a son named Samuel. See A. Gregg Moore & Forney A. Rankin, The Rankins of North Carolina (Marietta, GA: A. G. Moore, 1997).

[16] Id. David Rankin and his family moved to Rutherford County. Their son Samuel King Rankin, born 1818, is not the same man as the Sam who married Mary F. Estes.

[17] Id. Alexander Rankin remained in Lincoln and had no son named Samuel.

[18] James Rankin had a son named Samuel, but he was born in 1819 and married Nancy Beattie. See also NC State Archives, CR.060.508.105, Lincoln County Estate Records, 1779 – 1925, Ramsour, George – Rankin, John, file folders for James Rankin labeled 1832 and 1842, naming the heirs of James Rankin as Robert, Rufus, Caroline, James, Louisa, Samuel, Richard, and Mary Rankin.

[19] Sam and Mary F. Estes Rankin’s children were, in order, Richard Bacon Rankin, William Henderson Rankin, Joseph Rankin, John Allen Rankin, Elisha (“Lish”) Thompson Rankin, James Darby Rankin, Mary Jane Rankin, Washington (“Wash”) Marion Rankin, Napoleon (“Pole”) Bonaparte Rankin, and Frances Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Rankin.

[20] Microfilm of Mecklenburg County Deed Book 18: 365, Sheriff’s deed dated Oct. 1807, execution against the lands of Richard Rankin, dec’d, 200 acres off a tract of 500 acres owned by Rankin crossing Long Creek, widow’s right of dower excepted.

                  [21] Holcomb, Marriages of Mecklenburg, Nov. 16, 1791 marriage bond of Samuel Rankin and Mary Doherty, bondsman Richard Rankin (Sam Jr.’s brother); 1800 federal census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, household of Samuel Rankin, 1 male age 26<45 (Sam Jr., born 1755-1774), 1 female same age, 3 males < 10, and 2 females < 10.

[22] Charles William Sommerville, The History of Hopewell Presbyterian Church (Charlotte, NC: 1939, 1981). This source incorrectly states that Richard Rankin was married to Mary (nicknamed “Polly”) Doherty Rankin because their graves are side-by-side. The records, however, are clear that Richard married Susy Doherty, Sam Jr. married Polly Doherty, and Richard’s surviving widow Susy was still alive after Polly died.

[23] 1800 federal census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, Richard Rankin, age 26 < 45, with four children under the age of ten, a female 26 < 45, and a female > 45, most likely Richard’s widowed mother-in-law Agnes Doherty.

[24] The Rankin “family tree” is referred to as a source in Moore and Rankin, The Rankins of North Carolina.

[25] Ferguson, Mecklenberg Court Minutes, abstract of Minute Book 4: 663, April 1807 order appointing Samuel Rankin guardian of Joseph, Mary, Samuel and William Rankin, orphans of Richard Rankin, dec’d. “Orphan” just meant fatherless. Susy, the children’s mother, was still alive in 1807.

[26] Id., Minute Book 4: 314, entry in Oct 1801 recording votes for the election of two coroners (John Patterson 11 votes, Robert Robison 8 votes, Richard Rankin 2 votes); Minute Book 4: 375, Oct 1802, Richard Rankin was appointed “Patroller” by the court, having authority to search for and recover runaway slaves; Minute Book 4:387, Jan 25 1803, Richard Rankin et al. “being commissioned by his excellency the Governor to act as Justice of the Peace in this county, appeared in open court and was duly qualified as by law accordingly;” Minute Book 4: 397, Jan 1803, records of the County Trustee indicated that Richard Rankin was sheriff, 1797-1798; Minute Book 4: 409, Apr 1803, Magistrates appointed to take tax returns included Richard Rankin; Minute Book 4: 421, Jul 1803 election for high sheriff (7 votes for Wm Beaty, 5 for Richard Rankin).

[27] Id., Mecklenburg Minute Book 4: 281, entry for Apr 1801, notice issued to Richard Rankin, former sheriff, to appear and show cause why he hasn’t satisfied a judgment; id., Minute Book 4: 300, entry of Jul 1801, motion of County Trustee, Richard Rankin ordered to appear and render to the trustee all money due him for county tax & stray money collected by Richard for 1797 and 1798. Richard confessed judgment for £104.12.2.

[28] Ferguson, Mecklenburg Court Minutes, abstract of Minute Book 4: 458, April 1804, ordered that Susannah Rankin, William Rankin and Alexander Rankin administer on the estate of Richard Rankin, Esquire, dec’d, bond of £2,000. Another record shows the bond as £1,000. See North Carolina Archives, C.R.060.801.21, copy of original bond.

[29] Ferguson, Mecklenburg Court Minutes, abstract of Minute Book 4: 478, Jul 1804 inventory and amount of sale of the estate of Richard Rankin returned by William Rankin, Alexander Rankin and Susy Rankin, £ 935.1.11.

[30] Ferguson and Ferguson, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina Will Abstracts, abstract of the 1806 and 1807 tax lists, entry for Richard Rankin’s estate, adm. by Wm. B. Alexander, 800 acres.

[31] Ferguson, Mecklenburg Court Minutes, abstract of Minute Book 4: 501.

[32] Id., Minute Book 4: 530.

[33] Id., Minute Book 4: 531.

[34] Id., Minute Book 4: 592.

[35] Id., Minute Book 4: 704.

[36] Id., Minute Book 4: 706.

[37] FHL Film No. 484,186, Mecklenburg Deed Book 18: 365.

[38] Anne Williams McAllister & Kathy Gunter Sullilvan, Courts of Pleas & Quarter Sessions, Lincoln County, North Carolina, Apr 1805 – Oct 1808 (Lenoir, NC: 1988), William Rankin v. Susy Rankin, court case record for Jan 1808. The county court had no jurisdiction over a defendant who was not a resident of the county, so the fact that Susy was sued in Lincoln and the case was not dismissed for lack of jurisdiction proves that she lived there.

[39] Ferguson, Mecklenburg Court Minutes, abstract of Minute Book 5: 277, entry of Aug 1812, on petition of Susannah Rankin, widow of Richard Rankin, regarding her right of dower in the land of her deceased husband. Although a court did not have jurisdiction over a nonresident defendant, anyone could petition a county court for relief, whether a resident or not. The land in which Susy had a dower right was located in Mecklenburg. She therefore had to file in that county and nowhere else in order to assert her dower right.

[40] North Carolina State Archives CR.060.301.4, “Lincoln County, County Court Minutes Jan 1806 – Jan 1813” at p. 589.

[41] 1820 census, Lincoln Co., p. 224, listing for John Rhyne.

[42] Sommerville, History of Hopewell Presbyterian Church, tombstone of Mary (“Polly”) Doherty inscribed, “Here lies Polly Rankin, died Jan. 30, 1803 in her 33rd year. She left 5 motherless children and a discomfortable husband.”

[43] See notes 25 and 28.

[44] See note 25, appointment of guardian for four children of Richard Rankin; Gregg & Forney, Rankins of North Carolina, citing the Rankin “family tree.” None of Richard and Susy’s children were of age in 1807, since they were married in 1793. Thus, all of their living children would have required a guardian in 1807.

[45] Ferguson & Ferguson, Mecklenburg Will Abstracts, Will Book C: 34, will of Agnes Doherty dated June 19, 1807, proved Jan 1808, naming daughter Susanna Rankin.

[46] See note 37, sheriff’s deed for part of Richard Rankin’s land.

[47] FHL Film No. 484,186, Mecklenburg Deed Book 19: 606, quit claim deed dated 15 Apr 1809 from Susy Rankin, widow and relict of Richard Rankin of Mecklenburg, $200, to David Smith, her right of dower in all land which her late husband died owning.

[48] See note 38.

[49] Anne Williams McAllister and Kathy Gunter Sulliver, Court of Pleas & Quarter Sessions Lincoln County, North Carolina April 1805 – October 1808 (1988), abstract of court minutes for January 1808, William Rankin v. Susy Rankin, jury awarded plaintiff damages of £106.7.6, of which judgment was rendered against Samuel Lowrie Esq. for £48.16.

[50] Miles S. Philbeck & Grace Turner, Lincoln County, North Carolina, Will Abstracts, 1779-1910 (Chapel Hill, NC: 1986), abstract of Lincoln Will Book 1: 405, will of Thomas Rhyne naming inter alia son John Rhyne, witnessed by William Rankin and Richard Rankin, 2 Jun 1834.

[51] E.g., microfilm of Lincoln Co. Deed Book 2: 543, deed of 19 Apr 1780 from James Coburn of Lincoln to Samuel Rankin, same, 180A on Kuykendall’s Cr. adjacent Thomas Rhine’s corner.

[52] NC State Archives, C.R.060.801.21, Lincoln County Wills, 1769 – 1926 Quickle – Reep, file folder labeled “Rankin, Samuel 1826,” original will of Samuel Rankin of Lincoln County dated 16 Dec 1814, proved April 1826, recorded in Will Book 1: 37. According to a transcription of Sam Sr.’s tombstone, now lost, he died in 1816.

[53] 1820 census, Lincoln Co., NC, p. 350, listing for John Rhyne, 26 < 45, 1 female 26 < 45, 1 male 16 < 26, 4 males < 10 and 2 females < 10; one person engaged in manufacturing.

[54] John Rhyne didn’t marry until 1808, so it is fairly certain that the male in the 16 < 26 age bracket listed with him in the 1820 was not John’s son. Frances T. Ingmire, Lincoln County North Carolina Marriage Records 1783-1866, Volume I, Males (Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Co., 1993).

[55] Helen C. & Timothy R. Marsh, Land Deed Genealogy of Rutherford County, Tennessee, Vol. 1 (1804 – 1813) (Greenville, SC: Southern Historical Press, 2001), abstract of Deed Book A: 194.

[56] FHL Film No. 24,806, Item 3, Tax List, 1809-1849, Rutherford County, Tennessee.

[57] 1820 census, Rutherford Co., TN, listings for Robert Rankin (p. 109), David Rankins (p. 121), and two listings for Samuel Rankin (p. 94 and p. 116).

Love letter

This letter isn’t really genealogy. It is, however, family history in the true sense of the phrase, so I’m going to post it so that I can look at it from time to time.

June 7, 2017

My dearest wonderful Gary,

I am so happy that the silly, superficial sorority girl I once was fell head over heels for that funny, handsome, smart, skinny, black-haired Air Force Academy cadet. I had no idea, of course, how you would turn out, or what sort of wonderful adventures (and trials and tribulations) we would have over the course of a half-century of marriage.

Who knew that you would be a kind, gentle, earth-connected person who talks to doves, whistles at mockingbirds, and reassures undersized fish that they will be OK and back in the water if they will just hold still while you extract a hook? Or the compassionate, empathetic man who weeps every time we visit the Wall; the generous man who gives, as the man in the Bible admonished, to anyone who begs; the patient man who cared for my dying mother in spite of her verbal abuse; and the fiercely principled person who regularly writes intelligent, outraged letters to the ignorant, soulless grifter in the White House who has no regard for the rule of law.

You have also been a loving, supportive husband, father, son and brother. And, on top of all that, you love Paris, London, the theater, history, crossword puzzles, grilled oysters, gardening, genealogy, and fishing. I have no idea how I got so lucky. I do know, however, that I have fifty years of being your partner for which to be grateful beyond measure. I will love you forever.

Happy fiftieth anniversary.

Robin

Identifying the Children of Lyddal Bacon Estes and “Nancy” Ann Allen Winn: the “Follow the Land” Theory of Genealogy

©Robin Rankin Willis May 2017

First, a disclaimer. This is a very long article because (1) there are nine children to discuss, (2) there are some nice stories about the family, two pictures, and partial transcriptions of two 1888 letters, and (3) I have religiously provided evidence in a mind-boggling plethora of footnotes. The extensive proof is included because several people have told me they really like to see it, and we aim to please.

OK, you’ve been warned. On to the article …

My husband Gary calls our favorite family history research tool the “follow the land” theory of genealogy, since family relationships can often be identified in land transactions. Proving the children of Lyddal Bacon Estes (hereafter, “LBE”) and his wife “Nancy” Ann Allen Winn[1] is a case study in that approach. The identities of all but one of the children who survived LBE are conclusively proved by Tishomingo County, Mississippi deed records. And that lone holdout is Lyddal Bacon Estes (Jr.), about whom there can be little doubt.

As a bonus, the deed records also paint a charming picture of the Estes family.

LBE’s land is our starting point. Tishomingo probate and deed records identify the Estes tracts, about 800 acres in all, as follows:[2]

  • Northeast Quarter of Section 30, Township 2 South, Range 7 East;
  • Northwest Quarter of Section 13, Township 2 South, Range 6 East;
  • Southwest Quarter of Section 12, Township 2 South, Range 6 East;
  • Southeast Quarter of Section 12, Township 2 South, Range 6 East; and
  • Northeast Quarter of Section 12, Township 2 South, Range 6 East.[3]

LBE died intestate between January 1, 1845, when he performed a marriage as a Tishomingo J.P., and March 3, 1845, when his widow Nancy and Benjamin Henderson Estes obtained a bond as administrators of his estate.[4]

For almost a decade after he died, LBE’s 800 acres – which eventually sold for more than $4,000 – remained in the family, rather than being liquidated or partitioned. That is highly unusual. LBE had nine surviving children, including three married daughters. Any heir (or son-in-law) had the right to petition the court for either a sale of the estate’s land or a partition. As a result, the land of an intestate – i.e., someone who died without a will devising land to someone specific – was usually either sold or partitioned fairly promptly.

That didn’t happen in this family. Nancy and two of her sons, LBE Jr. (age 24), and Allen (18) were still living on family land in 1850, five years after LBE died.[5] That was apparently fine with the extended family, which seems downright loving. At minimum, it was generous. There is no right of usufruct in the English common law, so there was no legal requirement to let Nancy and the unmarried children remain in their home.

Moreover, in 1852, LBE Jr. married.[6] By 1854, the youngest son – Allen, who was born about 1832-33 – had just became an adult.[7] Also in 1854, Nancy and B. H. Estes petitioned the court for permission to sell the land in order to distribute the proceeds to the heirs.[8] The timing of that petition was surely not accidental. It suggests that the Estes family agreed after LBE died to keep the land together, with Nancy and minor children continuing to reside in the home place until all the children were grown.

The sweet family story doesn’t end there. At the 1854 public auction, LBE Jr. bought the entire 800 acres for $4,392, roughly $5.50/acre, a premium price.[9] Mind you, there is no way LBE Jr. had that much cash, or anticipated having that much cash in the immediate future. He was a farmer, and claimed only $1,400 in both real and personal property in 1860.[10]

A reasonable bet is that the family agreed LBE Jr. would bid on their behalf at the public auction, and then divide up the land later. For the cynical among us, the court records reveal that attendees at the auction included “several of the next of kin … as well as divers other persons.”[11] The court allowed the land to be sold on twelve months’ credit, so LBE Jr. didn’t have to fork over cash at the auction. Instead, he posted a bond, bought it on credit, and sold it in pieces to (1) Benjamin Henderson Estes (320 acres for $2,160 in August 1854, about $6.75/acre),[12] (2) Martha Swain (160 acres for $472 in August 1854, $2.95/acre),[13] (3) Riley Myers (160 acres for $1,400 in November 1856, $8.75/acre),[14] and (4) Nancy and Allen W. Estes (176 acres for $882 in January 1857, a bit over $5 per acre).[15]

Those deeds, of course, don’t prove that any of the parties were children of LBE and Nancy. For proof, we will have to look at each child. Here they are, in what I believe is birth order.

Benjamin Henderson Estes, b. Lunenburg, VA, 12 Dec 1815, d. 6 Jan 1897, buried in McLennan Co., TX.[16]

Benjamin H. Estes used his middle name in most records. Out of respect and affection, we will do the same. Henderson is proved as an heir of LBE and Nancy by a Tishomingo County quitclaim deed dated 15 Jun 1872. Henderson conveyed to Lyddal B. Estes (Jr.) any interest Henderson had in the northwest quarter of Section 13, Township 2, Range 6 East in Tishomingo, “which said claim and interest [Henderson] has by reason of being an heir and distributee of L. B. Estes, deceased, and Nancy A. Estes, deceased, the widow of said L. B. Estes.”[17] To be an heir at law of an intestate who had children, one had to be a child (or grandchild whose Estes parent had died). Since Henderson was too old to be LBE’s grandchild, he was necessarily a son.

Every census in which Henderson appeared from 1850 through 1880 identified him as having been born in Virginia, alone among LBE and Nancy’s children.[18] His birth in December 1815 in Virginia clearly marks him as the eldest child, since LBE and Nancy were married in March, 1814 in Lunenburg County, VA.[19] LBE made his last appearance in the Lunenburg records on March 22, 1816 on a personal property tax list as Lidwell [sic] B. Estes — so LBE and Nancy were still living in Lunenburg when Henderson was born.[20]

Henderson was involved in Tishomingo public life. He was a Justice of the Peace, a Constable, and a school board trustee.[21] He was apparently a family caretaker, serving as co-administrator of LBE’s estate and as sole administrator of a Winn cousin’s estate.[22] In October 1839, he married Mary A. Ducse, about whom I know nothing.[23]

Although he was 45 when war broke out, Henderson was a Captain in the 11th Mississippi Cavalry, Company A (aka Ham’s Cavalry).[24] LBE Jr. and Allen W. Estes were also officers in that unit, which I suspect (but cannot prove) Henderson helped organize. He was proud of his service, notwithstanding that he was on the wrong side of history and justice. And decency. His tombstone states his rank and unit.[25]

After the War, Henderson and his family moved to McLennan County, Texas, near Waco. He still identified himself as a farmer.[26] He didn’t own any land that I could find, so he must have been farming with family, probably his son Lyddal Bacon Estes (LBE the 3rd). In 1880, he and LBE 3rd were both listed in the Brown County census, several counties west of McLellan.[27]

Henderson returned to McLennan County one last time, as he and his wife Mary are both buried in the Robinson Cemetery there. The identity of their children is disputed. I identify them as follows from census records, their migration from Tishomingo to McLennan, and burial of Mary and Nancy in the Robinson Cemetery.

  1. Mary A. Rebecca Estes, b. 19 Oct 1849, Tishomingo, d. 12 Jul 1909, McLennan Co., TX. Married William Griffin 18 Sep 1871, McLennan Co.
  2. Lyddal Bacon (“Bake”) Estes, b. about 1855, Tishomingo, d. 22 Mar 1918, Grant Co., NM. Married Martha (“Mattie”) Brandon 15 Nov 1885, McLennan Co.
  3. Nancy California (“Callie”) Estes, b. 29 Oct 1856, Tishomingo, d. 12 Nov. 1937, McLennan Co. Husband Benjamin P. Hill.

Mary F. (undoubtedly Frances) Estes Rankin, b. AL 1817-18, d. after 1888, Cleveland Co., AR.

Mary is my ancestress, although I don’t know much about her. She was LBE and Nancy’s eldest daughter. Her year and state of birth vary in the censuses, but she was likely born in 1817-18[28] in Madison County, Alabama.[29] About 1836, she married Samuel Rankin in the area of the Chickasaw Nation that became Tishomingo County in the northeast corner of Mississippi. The Rankins moved to Jefferson County, Arkansas in late 1848 or 1849.[30]

Another quitclaim deed proves that Mary F. Rankin was a daughter of LBE and Nancy. It was dated 31 August 1872, from Mary Rankin as grantor to L. B. Estes (Jr.), grantee. The deed did not state that Mary’s claim to the land conveyed arose via heirship, as did Henderson’s. The description of the land is all the evidence we need, however. Specifically, Mary conveyed her right to land in the northwest quarter of Section 13, Township 2, Range 6.[31] The only way Mary had a claim to that tract was as an heir of LBE and Nancy. Like Henderson, she was too old to be a granddaughter.

I have a portrait of Mary with her grandson John Marvin Rankin by her side. My grandmother, John Marvin’s wife, identified them in writing on the back of the portrait as “JM” and “Mary,” so there isn’t any doubt about her identity. It was taken about 1878, when she was about sixty – but she looks 80 (although perhaps I am underestimating the benefits of sunscreen, moisturizers, good nutrition, and birth control). She is not attractive, to understate the matter wildly. She has large ears, accentuated by the fact that her hair is parted in the center and pulled back severely in a bun (two of my uncles had the misfortune to inherit those ears). It is difficult to imagine that she ever smiled, looking at her downturned mouth and the lines around it.

Here is the photo.

It’s easy to sympathize with Mary. Her husband Samuel was almost two decades her senior and an incorrigible character, although that’s another story. She had ten children who survived her; the first eight arrived less than two years apart like clockwork. There were still seven minors at home when Samuel died in 1861 or 1862, and her youngest child was born about the time he died or soon thereafter.[32] Mary couldn’t read or write, although her siblings for whom I could find that information were literate.[33] Four of her sons fought in the Civil War, two on each side. That’s another story, too. The family was apparently not poor, but they didn’t have much and the children didn’t inherit anything, judging from their subsequent economic situations. Mary undoubtedly worked from sunrise until past sunset all her life.

In short, Mary qualifies as what we Texans call “rode hard and put up wet,” and my heart goes out to her. Ten children survived her:

  1. Richard Bacon Rankin, b. May 1837, Tishomingo, d. Mar 1930, Cleveland Co., AR. Married three times. He has a military tombstone inscribed Co. H., 5 Kansas Cavalry, a Union unit.
  2. William Henderson Rankin, b. Nov 1839, Tishomingo, d. Sep 1910, Little Rock, Pulaski Co., AR. Married Eliza Jane Law, 1858, Drew Co., AR. Private, Owen’s Battalion, Arkansas Light Artillery, CSA, enlisted at Monticello, Drew Co., in Feb 1862.
  3. Joseph S. Rankin, b. Aug 1841, Tishomingo, d. Arkansas? Married Nancy J. White.
  4. John Allen Rankin, my great-grandfather, b. Jul 1843, Tishomingo, d. Oct. 1888, Claiborne Par., LA. Married Amanda Adieanna Lindsey, July 1865, in Claiborne Parish. Private, 9th Arkansas Infantry, enlisted Jul 1861. Deserted October-November 1863, twenty-one months into his one year enlistment term after a disastrous battle for the CSA, a newly issued uniform, and several months’ back pay.
  5. Elisha Thompson Rankin, b. May 1845, Tishomingo, d. Apr 1911, Pike Co., AR. Married Martha Willie Daniel. Enlisted 1863, Private, 5th Kansas Cavalry, Union pension approved May 1898.
  6. James D. Rankin, b. Apr 1848, Tishomingo, d. Nov 1930, Drew Co., AR. Married Mary Allen “Mollie” Matthews, 1870.
  7. Mary Jane Rankin, b. 1850, Jefferson Co., AR, m. Nick Scott, 1875, Jefferson Co.
  8. Washington Marion Rankin (“Wash”), b. Mar 1852, Jefferson, AR, d. after 1920, probably Pulaski Co., AR. Married Victoria A. Hall; divorced.
  9. Napoleon Bonaparte Rankin (“Pole”), b. Jul 1855, Jefferson, AR, d. after 1928, probably Dallas Co., TX. Married #1 Ivy Lee Brooks, #2 Alice Austin.
  10. Frances Elizabeth Rankin (“Lizzie”), b. Feb 1862, Jefferson, AR, d. 1919, Grant Co., AR. Married Robert Bearden, Dec 1877, Cleveland Co., AR. Had 11 children; widowed at age 40.[34]

Martha Ann Estes Swain (b. Madison Co., AL, Sep. 1819 – d. 2 Mar 1905, McLennan Co., TX).

Martha was seemingly as sunny and upbeat as her sister Mary appeared to be dour. Martha was still describing herself as a farmer at age eighty.[35] I have copies of transcriptions of two letters Martha wrote to Mary in 1888, and they are charming, chatty, gossippy, kvetchy, and full of love for the extended family group she called “the connection.” (See excerpts below in the discussion of Lucretia Estes Derryberry).

Her 1905 obituary is worth quoting in full:[36] “Mrs. Martha Swain died on March 2, at the home of her son L. B. Swain, at Golinda, at the advanced age of 87 years. She died of pneumonia and was sick only a few days. She leaves two children, one son, L. B. Swain, of Golinda, and Mrs. J. N. Strahan, of the Hillside community. Also a large number of grand and great-grand children to mourn her demise. The entire community extends sympathy to the mourning relatives and friends and also feels the loss of a noble woman. We could write at length of the good deeds of this good woman, as it was our privilege to know her for over thirty years. –Eli Gib.”

She had nine children and outlived all but two of them, which strikes me as the worst thing that can befall a human being.[37] Nevertheless, she persisted. I found no marriage record for Martha and Wilson Swain, but other records suggest they were married by the mid-1830s.[38] Wilson died about 1849, because Martha was a head of household in 1850 with the youngest child in the family only one year old.[39]

Martha bought one of the Estes family tracts from her brother LBE Jr. in 1854, which she sold in two pieces in 1871.[40] Also in 1871, she executed a quitclaim deed to LBE Jr. for – you can undoubtedly guess this by now – the northwest quarter of Section 13, Township 2, Range 6 east.[41] By 1871, Martha was clearly about to move to Texas.

Four of Martha’s nine children apparently did not live long enough to be named in the 1850 census. She also had two children – Armistead and Josephine – about whom I found nothing in the records except census listings in 1850 and 1860. Her other three children moved to Texas with Martha, although only two of those outlived her. Here are the children who evidently survived to adulthood:

  1. Nancy J. Swain, b. 1837-38, Tishomingo. She married M. W. Oldham in McLennan Co., TX, 25 May 1882. She has a Robinson Cemetery joint tombstone with John Neil Strahan on which her date of birth is shown as “abt 1837” and her name as “Nancy Jane Swain Oldham,” death in May 1912.[42] John N. Strahan was obviously her second marriage, date unknown.
  2. Mary Ann Swain, b. about 1840, Tishomingo. She married J. N. Strahan in McLennan Co., 28 Feb 1872. I found no death or cemetery record, but she apparently died before May 1882, after which J. N. married her sister Nancy J. (who must by then have been the widow of M. W. Oldham).
  3. Lyddal Bacon (“Bud”) Swain, b. Dec. 1846, Tishomingo, d. Dec. 1923, McLennan Co. Confederate veteran. Wife Martha Ann Hill.

Martha Ann Estes Swain also features prominently in her sister Lucretia’s story, up next.

Lucretia Estes Derryberry (abt. 1822-23, Madison Co., AL, d. after 1888, probably in Little River, AR).

Lucretia (nicknamed “Cretia” or “Creasy,” as was her maternal grandmother, Lucretia Andrews Winn) and her husband Henderson D. B. Derryberry were married in January 1844 in Tishomingo.[43] In 1858, the couple executed a deed to her brother Henderson Estes, for $100, “all right, title, claim and interest” the Derryberrys had “as legatee of the estate of Lyddal B. Estes” in all of LBE’s land, described by section, township and range.[44]

Cretia and H.D.B. left Tishomingo shortly thereafter, moving first to Nacogdoches County, Texas, and then to Little River County, Arkansas. They appeared faithfully in the census records in 1850 (Tishomingo),[45] 1860 (Nacogdoches),[46] 1870, (Little River)[47] and 1880 (ditto).[48] I cannot find a death or cemetery record for Lucretia, but H.D.B. died in 1887 and is reportedly buried in the Campground Cemetery in Winthrop, Little River Co., AR.

Identifying their children is difficult because the names and years of birth vary from census to census, although I confess I haven’t looked at anything but census records. All of their children except for John were born in Tishomingo, and he was born in Arkansas. I’m confident about the names of only 5 children, although there were at least three more.

  1. Isaac Derryberry, b. 1844-45.
  2. Nancy Derryberry, b. 1846-48.
  3. Virginia Derryberry, b. 1848-49.
  4. Martha Caroline Derryberry, b. 1850-51.
  5. John Derryberry, b. 1858-59.

In between Martha and John were three sons born 1851-1857: Calvin, William and Gilbert (according to the 1860 census). Two of them had the middle (or first) name of Scott and Anderson, according to the 1870 census. I’m baffled, and haven’t sorted it out. If this is your line, please set me straight.

Here is some fun stuff: family gossip. By way of necessary background, Cretia and H.D.B. had a granddaughter Martha Derryberry, whose parents I have not identified. In 1880, Martha, age 9, was living with H.D.B. and Cretia. By 1887, H.D.B. was dead. Here, verbatim (including “xxx” where the transcriber couldn’t interpret the handwriting, as well as question marks) are excerpts from two 1888 letters Martha Estes Swain wrote to her sister Mary Estes Rankin. My comments/interpretations are in italics. Martha opens the first letter by demanding in no uncertain terms to know why the hell her sister hasn’t written, and then moves on to the gossip.

Excerpt from first letter, written to Mary when Martha was visiting Cretia in Little River

“April the 24 1888, Little River Co. Little River PO.

Well mi dear sister i will write you a few more lines to let you no how i am getting along i rote to you when i first came out here and i have not heard from you yet i would like to no what is the mater that you don’t rite we are all well at this time and i do hope that these few lines will find you all well and doing well   well i am going to start home tomorrow morning Cxxxx [Cretia] and isac? [Isaac, eldest son of HDB and Cretia] will go to Texar kana and then we will part I hate to leave Cxxxxx [Cretia] for she xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx run away and married and now Cxxxxx will bea left alone and that is mity bad because she is to old to bea left alone … and write to Cxxxxx she wants to hear from you all mity bad   well   i will bring mi letter to close me and Cxxxxx send our love to all so good by for this time

M A Swaine to Mrs M A [sic] Rankin”

Summary and excerpt from second letter, after Martha has returned home from Little River, June 16th [1888]

Martha begins by thanking Mary for her letter and complaining about her rheumatism. She says she hasn’t seen Mary and Henderson since she came home, talks about crops, asks about Mary’s lost cows, and mentions some family, noting who has written to her and who has not: Lizzie (Mary’s youngest child), Mr. Strahan (an in-law, who is moving to Wilbarger Co., TX), Minnie (Bearden, a granddaughter of Mary’s), John (several possibilities), Judge (a son of Richard Bacon Rankin), Pole (Mary’s son), Wash (ditto), Aunt Jane and Dulo (I have no idea), and Joe Estes (Allen W. Estes’s only child, a nephew of Martha and Mary’s). Then Martha gets down to the nitty gritty with obvious relish.

“well Mary I will tell you something about my trip home i stayed with sister Creby [sic, Creasy or Cretia] til the 25th of April her and isac come with me to Tex arcance i taken the train at 11 in the morning I got at Waco at 12 20 at night. bud [Lyddle Bacon Swain, Martha’s son] met me there and we came 9? miles at brother henderson I stayed there until saturday morning and started home saturday morning and got caught in a big rain before I got to brother tonys? [Martha’s brother LBE Jr.] I hant been well since I got home the first day of may i never hated to leave anybody as bad as i did Cxxxx [Cretia] Martha [the granddaughter, married 8 Apr 1888] she run away and murried and left Cxxxx a lone i think she could do as well without her as with her although she was left a lone she was mighty disobedient to her grandma i am afraid she has done bad business in murring I got a letter dated the 15th of may and she [Cretia] said she was still liveing a lone and she said they was all well write soon and often and give me all the news a bout all of the connection be sure and come if you can I will bring my few lines to a close your sister until death

Martha Swain”

On that note, let’s leave Cretia, Martha, and Mary with a smile, and go see about the next Estes sibling. I wish I had known those three women.

John B. Estes (b. Madison Co., AL 1822-24, d. between 1872-1880, Nacogdoches Co., TX)

John B. Estes is a mystery because the records reveal very little about him. He wasn’t listed in the 1850 census, so far as I can find. Perhaps he was on the move. He had clearly arrived in Nacogdoches County by August 1851, when he married Avy Ann Summers there.[49] She was a widow, née Parish,[50] and had three children. John B. Estes was listed in the 1854 school census as their guardian, and he gave Alabama as his state of birth.[51]

The couple executed a deed dated 19 August 1853 conveying to LBE Jr. for $200 all “right, title, claim they may have as legatees of the estate of Liddal [sic] B. Estes, dec’d, late of Tishomingo,” to LBE’s land. Like the Derryberry deed, it included a description of LBE’s tracts by section, township and range, leaving no doubt that John B. was LBE’s son.[52]

John B. owned several tracts in Nacogdoches County. I have not delved into the county probate records to see if there was an estate administration, although there must have been in light of his land ownership. The census records reveal only one child, a daughter Nancy A. Estes, born about 1861. Nancy was listed in the 1870 census with John B. and Avy Ann and in 1880 with her mother, who was widowed by then.[53] Ancestry.com trees give John’s middle name as “Byron,” without citing any sources except other online family trees. I would love to hear from anyone having actual evidence about that name.

Lyddal Bacon Estes Jr. (b. McNairy Co., TN? 20 Sep 1826, d. McLennan Co., TX, 18 Apr 1903).

Ironically, LBE Jr. didn’t execute a deed reciting heirship, although I can’t imagine there could be any reasonable doubt about his parentage. The entire record of his land transactions among family members, and his unusual name, and the fact that he appeared in Nancy A. Estes’s household in 1850, constitute sufficient circumstantial evidence to establish him as a son of LBE and Nancy.

LBE Jr. was a Confederate veteran, a First Lieutenant in the same cavalry unit in which his brothers Henderson and Allen W. Estes served.[54] A county history identifies him as “Toney” Estes, as does one of Martha Swain’s letters excerpted above. Interesting nickname for a family of solidly British Isles heritage on both sides.

In 1852, LBE Jr. married Elvira Caroline Derryberry, a sister of H.D.B. Derryberry, in Tishomingo.[55] LBE Jr. was apparently the last of LBE and Nancy’s children to remain in Tishomingo – or Alcorn County, by the time he left. He last appeared as a resident there acknowledging a deed dated November 1876.[56] By March 1879, he was in McLennan County, where he executed what appears to have been his last deed to Mississippi land.[57]

LBE Jr. was a landowner in McLennan County and left some helpful estate administration records, including one identifying his children.[58] His widow Caroline applied for letters of survivorship on August 5, 1903, reciting that her husband died intestate in McLennan in April 1903 and giving his children’s ages and residences.

  1. Louisa Russell, 50, Hill County, TX.
  2. Harriet Wood, who predeceased LBE Jr., leaving 2 surviving children in Jones Co.
  3. F. (Margaret Frances) Garner, age 46, residing in McLennan Co.
  4. Mark L. Estes, 44, Jones Co., TX.
  5. Mattie Coyel, age 42, also a resident of McLennan.
  6. Emma? Moore, 34, resident of Bosque Co., TX.
  7. Florence Cooksey, 32, McLennan.

LBE Jr. was also kind enough to leave a picture of himself and Caroline that is widely available in family trees online. Here it is. He was clearly a snappy dresser, which might account for his nickname.

Alsadora Estes Byers, b. abt. 1828?, McNairy Co., TN, d. ???

Alsadora was named for her mother Nancy A. Winn Estes’s youngest sister, Alsadora Abraham Winn Looney, and that is the only interesting thing I know about her. Alsadora married Edward Byers in Tishomingo on September 16, 1845. In 1850, she and Edward were listed in the Tishomingo census with three children.[59] That census gives her age as 20, but earlier census records for LBE’s family, and her brother William’s likely birth year, suggest she was born a year or two earlier.

There is, of course, the inevitable deed proving that Alsadora Estes Byers was a daughter of LBE and Nancy. On 14 March 1847, Edward and Alsadora conveyed to her brother Henderson all of the “right, title, claim and interest they have as a legatee of the estate of Lyddal B. Estes” in LBE’s land, all tracts described by section, township and range.[60] No doubt about that parentage. I would almost have deemed her proved just on the strength of that highly unusual given name and the fact that LBE’s was the only Estes family in Tishomingo in the mid-1800s.

William P. Estes, b. abt 1830, McNairy Co., TN?, d. unknown (San Francisco Co., CA?)

William P. was probably born about 1830, because he first appeared as a taxable on the Tishomingo tax rolls in 1848. He is listed on the tax rolls again in 1849, but he is not in the 1850 census in Tishomingo. I found only two other records for him. One was a general power of attorney he granted to Henderson in 1853 which identified him as a resident of San Francisco County, California.[61] Second, there was the 1872 deed reciting that William, Alsadora Byers, Lucretia Derryberry and Henderson Estes were heirs and legatees of LBE, from B. H. Estes of McLennan Co., TX to Lyddall B. Estes of Alcorn Co., Mississippi.[62] Specifically, Henderson quitclaimed for $100 any interest he had in the northwest Quarter of Section 13 Township 2 Range 6 East, “which … the party of the first part having previously bought and had conveyed to him the interest of Lucretia Derryberry of Elsidora Byers and of William P. Estes thereafter other heirs and distributees of the said L. B. Estes and Nancy A. Estes, dec’d.

Given the timing of his departure in about 1850 and his destination, one might speculate that William was bitten by the gold rush bug. Please let me know if you have any info on him.

Allen W. Estes, b. 1832, TN, d. 29 July 1864, CSA Hospital in Atlanta, GA

Allen W. (and my money is on Allen Winn), LBE and Nancy’s youngest child, died at the Battle of Ezra Church. In 1864, that was west of Atlanta. Now it is just off I-20 at MLK Boulevard, well inside the city limits. He was a Captain in his cavalry unit, the same one in which his brother LBE Jr. and Henderson served. They fought “dismounted” at Ezra’s church, meaning as infantry. They were commanded by an incompetent general who had his troops repeatedly charge a well-fortified position on higher ground against orders. The general was ordered to contain the Union troops, not advance.

The same foolish general – Steven Dill Lee, no relation to Robert E.– commanded my great-grandfather John Allen Rankin’s unit at the Battle of Champion Hill near Vicksburg with similar incompetence, so I have a real grudge against him. My husband and I wrote an article about the three Confederate Estes brothers in Ham’s Cavalry, which you can find here. Gary, a graduate of the Air Force Academy and an amateur military historian and tactician (and grizzled Vietnam vet), provided the battle information. There is also an article about John Allen’s war story on this website, with Gary again contributing military savvy.

I just hope Nancy had already died before she learned about Allen’s death. He was, I can guarantee, still her baby at 32.

The only other thing that stands out about Allen is the puzzle he created by failing to leave a deed proving his parents’ identity. Other records provide compelling circumstantial evidence, although not conclusive proof, that Allen W. was a son of LBE and Nancy. The deed records come through for us again, though. First, here are the census and marriage records, which also identify Allen’s only child:

  • Allen Estes, 18, was living with Nancy A. Estes in the 1850 census.
  • In 1859, Allen married Josephine Jobe, and Allen W. and Josephine Estes were living with Nancy in 1860.
  • In 1868, Josephine Estes married G. L. (Grimmage) Leggett.
  • In the 1880 census, Jos. Ester [sic] was listed in the household of Grim Leggette along with his wife Josephine. Joseph, 18, was identified as Leggette’s stepson, and thus a son of Allen W. and Josephine Jobe Estes Leggett.

Of course, that still isn’t conclusive proof that Allen W. was a son of LBE and Nancy: he could have been a nephew. We need the deed records. They get a bit esoteric …

Back in 1857, Allen W. and Nancy bought one of LBE’s tracts – and this one is key: the northwest quarter of Section 13, Township 2, Range 6 East, the only tract in Section 13. As a matter of law, Nancy (who was a single woman in 1857), could actually own property in her own name. Imagine that! She and Allen each owned an undivided interest in the tract. I never found a will or estate administration for either Nancy or Allen. Both probably died intestate.

Under the law of intestate descent and distribution, Nancy’s half of the tract would have descended to Nancy’s heirs — her surviving children, plus any children of a deceased child. Allen’s half of the tract would have descended to his sole heir, Joseph. By 1872, LBE Jr. owned all the children’s claims to that tract except for Allen’s: (1) LBE Jr. had purchased all of John B. Estes’s interest in LBE’s land; (2) Henderson had purchased all of William, Alsadora Byer’s, and Lucretia Derryberry’s interest in all of LBE’s land, which he quitclaimed to LBE Jr.; and (3) LBE had quitclaim deeds to that specific tract from Henderson, Martha and Mary.

In short, the only surviving heirs who had claims to any part of Allen and Nancy’s Section 13 tract were LBE Jr. and Joseph Estes. You’ve got to appreciate the English common law obsession with orderly land transfers and records. And being in a county that William Tecumseh Sherman missed.

LBE Jr. asked the court to partition the tract between him and Joseph Estes. A commission did just that, laying out 9/16ths of the tract to LBE Jr., and 7/16ths to Joseph. I have no idea how they came up with those fractions, except that one of the partitioned tracts must have had improvements that the other lacked.

And, my friends, that is it. Whew! I congratulate anyone who made it through this entire piece. The secret word is “footnotes.” Put it in a comment on this article and I will buy you a Starbucks coffee. Or send you a gift certificate for same.

[1] Either “Nancy” or “Ann” was a nickname, probably Nancy. She appeared in the Lunenburg Co., VA records as Ann Allen Winn (Lunenburg Will Book 6: 204, FHL Film 0,032,381, her father Benjamin Winn’s will), Nancy Allen Winn (Lunenburg Guardian Accounts 1798 – 1810, FHL Film 0,032,419, at p. 136), and Nancy A. Winn (Emma R. Matheny and Helen K. Yates, Marriages of Lunenburg County Virginia 1746 – 1853 (Richmond: 1967, reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, 1979), Nancy’s marriage to LBE).

[2] Tishomingo Probate Records Vol. M: 484, court order of 14 Mar 1854 to sell the land of Lyddal B. Estes, identifying the tracts by section, township and range; id. at 438, court order regarding notice and citation; Tishomingo Deed Book R: 15, FHL Film 0,895,878, deed of 30 May 1854 conveying the land and identifying the tracts by section, township and range.

[3] There is a minor question about this tract. At least four Tishomingo court and deed records identify it as the northeast quarter. Online BLM records identify it as the northwest quarter.

[4] See Irene Barnes, Marriages of Old Tishomingo County, Mississippi, Volume I, 1837 – 1859 (Iuka, MS: 1978), LBE presided as J.P. at a marriage on 1 January 1845; FHL Film 0,895,897, Tishomingo Probate Records Vol. C: 391, 3 Mar 1845 bond of Benjamin H. Estes and Nancy A. Estes as administrators of Lyddal B. Estes.

[5] 1850 U.S. census, Tishomingo, Nancy Estes, 62, b. VA, with Bacon Estes, 24, b. TN, and Allen Estes, 18, b. TN; see FHL Film 0,895,878, Tishomingo Deed Book R: 15, deed of 30 May 1854 reciting that the 1854 auction of the land was held at LBE’s house.

[6] Thomas Proctor Hughes and Jewel B. Standefer, Tishomingo County, Mississippi Marriage Bonds and Ministers’ Returns, January 1842-February 1861 (1973), 11 Feb 1852 marriage of L. B. Esters [sic] & Emaline C. C. Derryberry.

[7] 1850 U.S. census, Tishomingo, Allen Estes, age 18 (born about 1832); 1860 U.S. census, Tishomingo, Allen W. Estes, age 27 (born about 1833). Allen was living in Nancy’s household in 1860 along with his wife Josephine (Jobe) Estes. See Hughes and Standefer, Tishomingo County, Mississippi Marriage Bonds, marriage of W. A. Estes [sic, should be A. W.] and Josephine Jobe, 13 Oct 1859.

[8] I could not find the administrators’ petition among the county records, but the court order to sell the land references it. Tishomingo Probate Records Vol. M: 484, court order of 14 Mar 1854.

[9] FHL Film 0,895,878, Tishomingo Deed Book R: 15, deed of 30 May 1854 reciting inter alia the following: B. H. Estes and Nancy Estes, administrators of L. B. Estes, dec’d, to Lyddal B. Estes Jr. of Tishomingo … whereas the probate court on 2nd Monday in March 1854 ordered to sell on 12 months’ credit all the land of dec’d containing 800 acres … on a portion of said land L. B. Estes resided at his death and had thereon a dwelling house, stables and other appurtenances. Notice of the time and place of sale was given in a newspaper and by posting copies of the notice at public places. The sale was held between 12 noon and 5 p.m. at LBE’s residence on May 1, 1854. The highest bidder was Lyddal B. Estes Jr.: $4,392.

[10] 1860 U.S. census, Lyddal Estes, 33, farmer, $1000 realty, $400 personal property, b. TN, Caroline Estes, 23, b. TN, Louisa Estes, 6, b. MS, Harriet Estes, 3, b. MS, and Marcus Estes, 2, b. MS.

[11] Tishomingo Probate Book 5: 255–56 (original viewed at the chancery court in Iuka, MS, administrators’ report of the sale).

[12] FHL Film 0,895,878, Tishomingo Deed Book R: 19, deed from L. B. Estes and wife to B. H. Estes.

[13] FHL Film 0,895,878, Tishomingo Deed Book R: 18, deed from L. B. Estes and wife to Martha Swain.

[14] FHL Film 0,895,881, Tishomingo Deed Book U: 570, deed from L. B. Estes and wife to Riley Myers. I’m not sure what Riley’s relationship to the Estes family might have been, if any.

[15] FHL Film 0,895,881, Tishomingo Deed Book U: 155, deed from L. B. Estes and wife to A. W. Estes and Nancy A. Estes.

[16] Central Texas Genealogical Society, Inc., McLennan County, Texas Cemetery Records, Volume II (Waco, TX: 1973), tombstone for B. H. Estes in the Robinson Cemetery.

[17] FHL Film 0,895,389, Tishomingo Deed Book 2: 590.

[18] 1850 U.S. census, Tishomingo, B. H. Estes, 35, farmer, b. VA, with Mary Estes, 32, b. TN, two children sometimes identified as Henderson and Mary’s, and their daughter Mary, age 1; 1860 U.S. census, Tishomingo, Benj. H. Estes, 43, farmer, b. VA, Mary Estes, 41, Mary Estes, 11, Siddle (sic, Lyddal) Estes, 5, and Nancy Estes, 3 (plus Thadeus Gossitt, 15, who was also listed in this family in 1850); 1870 U.S. census, McLennan Co., TX, Waco P.O., Benjamin Estes, 55, farmer, b. VA, Mary Estes, 51, Rebecca Estes, 21, MS, Bacon Estes, 15, MS, and California Estes, 14, MS; 1880 U.S. census, Brown Co., TX, Benjamin Estes, 64, b. VA, and wife Mary Estes, 60, TN.

[19]Henderson’s stated year of birth varies from 1815 to 1817 in the census records, but his tombstone says 1815. https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&amp;GRid=7096040&amp;ref=acom; see also Matheny and Yates, Marriages of Lunenburg County, Virginia, Lyddal B. Estes of Lunenburg and Nancy A. Winn, married 10 March 1814.

[20] Clayton Library microfilm #239, Lunenburg County, Virginia Personal Property Tax Records, 1805 – 1835, 1816 personal property tax list, Upper District of Lunenburg, Lidwell [sic] B. Estes, one taxable poll, visited on 22 March 1816.

[21] Fan A. Cockran, History of Old Tishomingo County, Mississippi Territory (Oklahoma City: Barnhart Letter Shop, 1969).

[22] Tishomingo Probate Records Vol. C: 606, FHL Film 0,895,897, petition of Benjamin Estes for administration of the estate of John Winn.

[23] Cockran, History of Old Tishomingo County.

[24] Id.

[25] See note 19, link to an image of his tombstone.

[26] See note 18.

[27] 1880 U.S. census, Brown Co., TX, Benjamin Estes, p. 443, dwelling. 90, age 64, b. VA, parents b. VA, Mary A. Estes, wife, age 60, b. TN, parents b. VA; adjacent listing in dwelling 91, Luddell [sic] Estes, 25, b. MS, father b. VA, mother b. TN, Rebecca Estes, wife, 19, and Newton B. Estes, b. Sep 1879, TX.

[28] 1850 U.S. census, Jefferson Co., AR, household of Samuel Rankin, Mary Rankin, 31, b. MS; 1860 U.S. census, Jefferson Co., household of Samuel Rankin, Mary F. Rankin, 42, b. AL; 1870 U.S. census, Jefferson Co., household of Mary F. Rankin, 50, b. AL; 1880 U.S. census, Dorsey Co., AR, household of Robbert Bearden, Mary F. Rankin, mother-in-law, 63, b. AL.

[29] I have not found LBE and Nancy in the Madison County records, but it is clear from the extended Winn family in McNairy Co., TN and Tishomingo that the couple migrated with Nancy Winn Estes’s family of origin. Nancy’s mother, Lucretia Andrews Winn, definitely migrated from Lunenburg to Madison Co., where she and several of her children appeared in the records.

[30] See 1860 U.S. census, Jefferson Co., AR, household of Samuel Rankin, indicating that James Rankin was born in Mississippi about 1848 and the next child, Mary Rankin, was born in Arkansas about 1850; Tishomingo Deed Book M: 219, FHL Film 0,895875, deed dated 18 Nov 1848, Samuel and Mary Rankin acknowledged it the same day. It was their last appearance in person in Tishomingo.

[31] Tishomingo Deed Book 2: 588, FHL Film 0,895,389.

[32] In the 1861 tax list for Jefferson Co., AR (which I viewed at the county courthouse in Rison, AR), Samuel Rankin was taxed on 280 acres. In 1862 and 1865, his son Joseph S. Rankin was taxed on that acreage, although there was no deed conveying it. Samuel and Mary’s youngest child, Frances Elizabeth (“Lizzie”), was born in Feb. 1862, see 1900 U.S. census, Cleveland Co., AR, household of Robbert Bearden.

[33] 1870 U.S. census, Jefferson Co., Mary F. Rankin, cannot read or write. Compare the 1870 the census for LBE Jr. (Alcorn Co., MS), Henderson Estes (McLennan Co., TX), John Esthers (sic, Nacogdoches Co., TX), Lucretia Derryberry (Little River Co., AR, where the census taker marked the literacy columns exactly backward); see also 1900 census, Martha Swain (McLennan Co.).

[34] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&amp;GRid=7127018&amp;ref=acom

[35] 1900 U.S. census, McLennan Co., TX, Martha Swain, b. Sep 1819, widow, age 80, farmer (!!!), has had nine children, 2 living.

[36] Waco Weekly Tribune, Waco, Texas, Saturday, March 11, 1905, p. 11.

[37] Id.; see also note 35.

[38] 1837 Mississippi State census, Tishomingo, Wilson Swain, listing #65 (next to Samuel Rankin), 1 male 18 < 21, 1 female > 16, and 2 females < 16; 1840 U.S. census, Tishomingo, household of Wilson Swain, 1 male, 20 < 30, 1 female, 15 < 20, and 2 females < 5; Tishomingo Deed Book S: 340, deed dated 1 Jan 1846 from Wilson Swain to Seaborn Jones signed by Wilson Swain and Martha Ann Swain.

[39] 1850 census, Tishomingo, household adjacent to Nancy A. Estes, Martha Swain, 30, b. AL, with Nancy Swain, 13, Mary Swain, 10, Bacon Swain, 4, Armistead Swain, 2, and Josephine Swain, 1, all children b. MS; 1860 census, Tishomingo, household adjacent to LBE Jr., Martha A. Swain, 42, farmer, b. TN, with Nancy J. Swain, 22, Mary A. Swain, 20, Bacon Swain, 14, Annista (sic, Armistead, male), 12, and Martha, 11, all children b. MS; 1870 census, Alcorn Co., Martha Swain, 50, farmer, b. TN, with Nancy Swain, 30, MS, Mary Swain, 27, MS, Lucius? Swain, should be Lyddal Bacon, 25, MS, Martha Swain, 25, MS, and Alice Swain, 4 (not Martha’s child).

[40] Tishomingo Deed Book R: 18, FHL Film 0,095,878, deed from L. B. Estes and wife Elvira C. C. Estes to Martha Swain, 160 acres for $472; Alcorn Deed Book AA: 563; Alcorn Deed Book 1: 176 and 184.

[41] Alcorn Co. Deed Book 2: 436, FHL Film 0,895,389, deed dated 11 Dec 1871, quitclaim for $1.

[42] https://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=pv&GRid=35256937&PIpi=16426853.

[43] Barnes, Marriages of Old Tishomingo County, Mississippi or Tishomingo County Mississippi Marriage records 1837 – 1900 (Ripley, MS: Old Timer Press). I am not sure which abstract I used.

[44] Tishomingo Deed Book M: 188, FHL Film 0,895,875, deed dated 23 Sep 1858 from the Derryberrys to Henderson Estes conveying all their interest in LBE’s land.

[45] 1850 U.S. census, Tishomingo, H. B. Derryberry, 28, farmer, b. TN, Lucretia Derryberry, 29, b. AL, Isaac Derryberry, 6, Nancy Derryberry, 4, Virginia Derryberry, 2, and Martha Derryberry, 6 months, all children b. MS.

[46] 1860 U.S. census, Nacogdoches Co., TX, Henderson Derryberry, farmer, 37, $862, b. TN, Lucretia Derryberry, 38, b. TN, Isaac Derryberry, 14, Nancy Derryberry, 12, Virginia Derryberry, 11, Carolina Derryberry, 9, Calvin Derryberry, 7, William Derryberry 5, Gilbert Derryberry, 4, and John Derryberry, 1, all children b. MS except for John, b. Arkansas.

[47] 1870 U.S. census, Little River Co., AR, Henderson Derryberry, 45, b. TN, Lucretia Derryberry, 44, b. MS, Isaac Derryberry, 26, Catherine Derryberry, 24, Andelina Derryberry, 23, Caroline Derryberry, 20, Scott Derryberry, 19, Anderson Derryberry, 14, and John Derryberry, 12, all children b. MS except for John, b. AR.

[48] 1880 U.S. census, Little River, H. D. B. Derryberry, 58, b. TN, wife Lucresa Derryberry, 59, b. TN, and granddaughter Martha Derryberry, b. AR, father b. TN, mother b. MO.

[49] Pauline S. Murrie, Marriage Records of Nacogdoches County, Texas 1824-1881 (1968).

[50] Nacogdoches Co. Deed Book W: 505, FHL Film 1,003,601, deed dated 15 Apr 1872 from Ava Ann Estes to William Parish, all her right to a tract of land known as the estate of David Parish dec’d. Signed Ava Ann and John Estes.

[51] Carolyn Reeves Ericson, 1854 School Census of Nacogdoches County. The U.S. census records are inconsistent: the 1860 census says he was born in Alabama, the 1870 census says Mississippi.

[52] Tishomingo Deed Book Q: 305, FHL Film 0,895,878.

[53] 1870 U.S. census, Nacogdoches Co., TX, household of John Esthers, sic, 48, with Ann Estes, 50, Nancy Estes, 11, and William Somers, 20; 1880 U.S. census, household of her brother David Parrish, Avy Ann Esthes, [sic] 59, and Nancy A. Esthes, 19.

[54] Cockran, History of Old Tishomingo County, says that Henderson Estes was a Captain in the 11th MS Cavalry, Co. A, and that Toney Estes was 1st Lieut. That is consistent with their military records from the National Archives. Allen W. was originally a Sergeant, but had been promoted to Captain by the time he fought at the Battle of Ezra Church.

[55] Barnes, Marriages of Old Tishomingo County, Mississippi.

[56] Alcorn Co., MS Deed Book 4: 473, original of deed book viewed at the county courthouse in Corinth.

[57] Alcorn Co., MS Deed Book 8: 29, original of deed book viewed at the county courthouse in Corinth.

[58] McLennan Co., TX Probate Packet #2757, original viewed at the county clerk’s office in Waco.

[59] 1850 U.S. census, Tishomingo Co., E. Byers, 24, farmer, b. AL, Alsadonia [sic, Alsadora] Byers, 20, b. MS, Mary Byers, 4, b. MS, Francis Byers, 2, b. MS, Joseph Byers, 2 months, b. MS.

[60] Tishomingo Deed Book H: 417, FHL Film 0,895,875.

[61] Tishomingo Deed Book Q: 307, FHL Film 0,895,878.

[62] Tishomingo Deed Book 2: 590, FHL Film 0,895,389.