Here is a fun fact I learned from a distant cousin. She is a Rankin researcher whose family lived in Mecklenburg County, on the east side of the Catawba River across from our shared ancestors Samuel and Eleanor Rankin. When she was a child, her parents took her to visit the then-current resident of the “ancestral” Rankin home in Lincoln/Gaston County. He was Rev. Frank Bisaner Rankin, a grandson of Samuel and Eleanor.
Rev. Frank said that Samuel Rankin was called “One-Eyed Sam.” Rev. Frank didn’t know how Sam lost an eye. Whatever the story is, Sam’s nickname makes him seem fractionally more real. Endearing, perhaps.
Let’s take a look at my cousin’s Rankin ancestor, Jean (sometimes Jane) Rankin Hartgrove or Heartgrove. She was Samuel and Eleanor’s eldest daughter. I’m going to call her Jean because her name is spelled that way in some original records.
Like most eighteenth and nineteenth century women, Jean was largely absent from county records. Exceptions are 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. Here are some basic facts about Jean.
- She is proved as a daughter of Old One-Eyed Sam and Eleanor Alexander Rankin by his will.
- Her birth date is usually given in unsourced 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. Her elder brother William Rankin gave his birth date as January 1761 in his Revolutionary War pension application, which suggests Jean was born during 1762 to 1765.
- Jean Rankin’s Lincoln County marriage bond to Benjamin Heartgrove was dated Sept. 21, 1792. At minimum, she was 27. Old One-Eyed Sam’s daughters seemed to marry late. Perhaps his visage frightened off potential suitors.
- Benjamin was listed as a head of household in the federal census in Mecklenburg in 1800, 1810 and 1820. He died intestate in 1826. Administration papers for his estate show at least legatees Robert Wilson, William Walker, Richard Rankin, and Stephen Taylor, Benjamin’s four sons-in-law (see discussion of Jean and Benjamin’s children, below).
- Jean’s allotted dower was 68 acres in Mecklenburg adjacent Thompson Hartgrove, who was listed near Benjamin in some of the censuses. She appeared as a head of household in the 1830 census and died in 1836, when her will was proved.
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 and capitalization (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 will 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.
Here is a very little bit of information about the Heartgrove children and their families. I have not tried to track this line beyond what appears below. It is highly unlikely that I have identified all of this couple’s grandchildren.
If I were from this Rankin-Heartgrove line, I would deep dive into the original Mecklenburg records at the county courthouse and/or the Charlotte-Mecklenburg main library at 310 N. Tryon Street. The library has a lot of Mecklenburg microfilm. It is located a very short walk from The Dunhill, a charming boutique hotel also on Tryon Street.
Time for a slight digression. When we stayed at the Dunhill in 2001, we had a bottle of Dalwhinnie with us. The first night we were there, we returned to our room about 5:15 p.m. after the library closed, ordered ice from room service, and had a scotch-and-water before going to dinner.
When we returned to our room about the same time the second night, the ice bucket had recently been refilled. There were two cut-glass crystal highball glasses and bottled water set out on a desk with the Dalwhinnie. This routine was repeated every night we were there. There was no charge. And that, my friends, is called southern hospitality.
Getting 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. 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. I found no entry for her in the 1870 census.
The 1850 census shows Eleanor living in the Steele Creek area of Mecklenburg. She may be the Eleanor Wilson reportedly buried at the Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, born 20 December 1792 and died 6 July 1867. There is also a small child named Benjamin H. Wilson (1820-1822) buried in that cemetery who is a solid bet to have been Eleanor’s 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. 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 had a daughter Jean, born before 1835, who was a legatee in her grandmother’s will.
William and Sarah Heartgrove Walker 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), died at the battle of White Hall in Wayne County, NC.
- Their eldest son Robert, characterized as “idiotic” in the 1850 census, also died relatively young. His tombstone is identical to Benjamin’s, which is good evidence that they were members of the same family.
- There is a John B. Walker (1836 – 30 June 1862) buried in the same cemetery who was also a Civil War casualty, although his tombstone is different than Benjamin’s and Robert’s. He may be Sarah and William’s son, although that is unproved.
William and Sarah Walker’s 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 Walker’s daughters Ann and Jean.
Ann Heartgrove Rankin, 7 Nov 1796 – 30 Jan 1866. Ann married her first cousin Richard Rankin of Lincoln on 18 May 1825 in Mecklenburg. Richard was a son of Jean Rankin Heartgrove’s brother William and his wife Mary Moore Campbell Rankin of Lincoln County. Ann Heartgrove Rankin stayed out of the county records entirely after she married. The 1840 census suggests she and Richard may have had 5 sons and 2 daughters, assuming all the children under age 15 were theirs. 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. Richard (24 Sep 1804 – 14 Sep 1899) married twice more after Ann died. He is buried in the Mount Holly City Cemetery along with his third wife Delia Bisaner and their son, Rev. Frank Bisaner Rankin, who gave us a charming gift: Old One-Eyed Sam’s nickname. Richard and Delia Bisaner Rankin also had a daughter Kathleen A. Rankin.
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, marriage bond dated 23 March 1826. The Taylors reportedly moved to Tennessee according to online family trees. I haven’t tried to track them.
Benjamin Heartgrove (Jr.) was born about 1803-04, according to the 1850 census. He had died by 1860, although I found neither probate records nor a tombstone for him. Richard Rankin, his first cousin, was guardian of Benjamin Rankin Jr.’s minor children. The guardianship records are misfiled in the estate folder of Benjamin Sr. at the NC Archives. Benjamin Sr.’s wife was Mary Catherine Anthony, Mecklenburg marriage bond dated March 3, 1830. His children were (1) William (born about 1831), (2) James (1833), (3) Jane (1836), (4) Robert (1839), (5) Richard (1844), (6) Mary (Oct. 1847 – 26 Jan 1914), and John A. (1850).
Ephraim Hargrove is a mystery. The conventional wisdom is that he was born about 1808. There is an estate file for an Ephraim Hargrove or Mecklenburg in the NC Archives. It is dated 1840 but contains virtually no information. The Mecklenburg records establish that James Rankin of Lincoln County (brother of Jean Rankin Heartgrove) was Ephraim’s guardian after Benjamin Sr. died in 1826. Ephraim was thus born after 1805. Benjamin Sr.’s estate file also establishes that James Rankin settled Ephraim’s guardianship account in 1830, which suggests that Ephraim was born about 1809.
And that is all I know about the Heartgrove family. I suspect there is a wealth of additional information in the Mecklenburg records.
See you on down the road.
 North Carolina State Archives, Fibreboard Box Labeled C.R.060.801.21. The box contains the will of Samuel Rankin, dated 16 Dec 1814 and proved April 1826. He bequeathed $1 to daughter Jean Heartgrove. Recorded in Lincoln County Will Book 1: 37.
 1810 census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, household of Ben Heartgroves, 01001-11201, eldest female (Jean) born by 1765; 1830 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.
 Virgil D. White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Volume III: N-Z (Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing Co., 1992), abstract of pension application of William Rankin of Lincoln Co., NC.
 Frances T. Ingmire, Lincoln County North Carolina Marriage Records 1783-1866, Volume II, Females (Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Co., 1993).
 1800 census, Mecklenburg, Ben Heartgroves, 00010-40011; 1810 census, Mecklenburg, Ben Heartgrove, 01001-11201; 1820 census, Mecklenburg, Ben Hargrove, 011201-00201; 1830 census, Mecklenburg, Jean Heartgrove, 00002-00002001.
 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). Some of the papers in Benjamin (Sr.’s) estate file are misfiled, e.g., records concerning Richard Rankin’s guardianship of the children of Benjamin Hartgrove (Jr.).
 1800 census, Mecklenburg, Benjamin Heartgrove listed adjacent Thompson Heartgrove; 1820 federal census, Mecklenburg, sequential listings for Thompson, William, John and Benjamin Hargrove.
 1830 census, Mecklenburg Co., NC, 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 and proved Oct 1836.
 Brent H. Holcomb, Marriages of Mecklenburg Co., NC, 1783-1868 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981).
 See Notes 6 and 8.
 Holcomb, Marriages of Mecklenburg Co., NC.
 See 1850 census, Lincoln Co., NC, Richard Rankin, 45, Ann Rankin, 51 (Ann Heartgrove Rankin, William Rankin, 89 (son of Old One-Eyed Sam), 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, abstract of the pension application of William Rankin, NC Line, states that he was born Jan 1761 in Rowan County, North Carolina.
 1840 federal census, Lincoln Co., NC, Richard Rankin, 113001-110001, 5 enslaved persons: 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.
 Richard’s second wife was Caroline MNU, see her tombstone in Goshen Cemetery at this link.. See also NC Archives Fibreboard box C.R.040.508.42, file folder labeled “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).
 1900 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.
 Brent H. Holcomb, Marriages of Mecklenburg Co., NC, 1783-1868 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1981).
 1850 census, Hopewell, Mecklenburg, Benj Hargrove (Jr.), 47, Catherine, 40, William, 19, James, 17, Robert, 11, Richard, 6, Mary, 4, and John, infant; 1860 census, Mecklenburg, Mary C. Hartgrove, 51, Robert, 21, Richard, 16, Mary, 14, and John, 11; 1880 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.