Samuel Rankin (abt. 1734 – abt. 1816) m. Eleanor Alexander: YDNA Evidence

In August and September 2016, I posted a two-part article about the possible family of origin of Samuel Rankin (nicknamed “Old One-Eyed Sam”) of Rowan, Mecklenburg and Lincoln counties, North Carolina. His wife was Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander. I just reread the posts, and they were tedious, prolix, and packed with trivial information of no possible interest. I apparently have an unattractive propensity to beat dead horses from time to time. Moreover, new YDNA information on the issue has come to light which moots most of one of the posts.

I am going to delete both posts from this website as soon as I figure out how to do that. Here is their replacement, which just cuts to the chase re: old theories of Old One-Eyed Sam’s possible parents. It also provides a brief description of the YDNA evidence to date.

Rankin researchers have had two main theories about the identity of Old One-Eyed Sam’s father:

Theory #1 — his father was Joseph Rankin of White Clay Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware (1704-1764). Let’s call him “Joseph of Delaware.” Two of Joseph’s proved sons who belonged to the same generation as Old One-Eyed Sam moved to Guilford County, NC. The primary source for Theory #1 is Rev. S. M. Rankin’s 1931 book, The Rankin and Wharton Families and Their Genealogy.[1]

Theory #2 — Old One-Eyed Sam’s parents were Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County, NC. Call them “R&R.” Before migrating to North Carolina in the mid-1750s, Robert and a son appeared on the 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township, Chester County, PA.

Here’s the bottom line. First, there seems to be no evidence in the records of Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina or any other colony to support either Theory #1 or Theory #2. Second, YDNA tests conclusively prove that both theories are dead wrong.

Here is a bit about the DNA evidence.

The YDNA evidence re: Theory #1

There is a Rankin DNA Project which provides YDNA results (anonymously) online.[2] One member — let’s call him Joe — has a solid paper genealogical trail proving he is descended from Joseph of Delaware. I located another proved descendant of Joseph of Delaware by conventional paper research – let’s call him “Mr. X.” Joe convinced Mr. X to test. Joe was unable to convince Mr. X to join the Rankin DNA Project, but Joe has his genetic profile. Mr. X and Joe  are 37-marker matches with one mismatching marker. Genetic genealogists call that a “37-marker match with a genetic distance of one” (or “GD=1”). That is a darn good match. Furthermore, the two men descend from different sons of Joseph of Delaware, so their close DNA match isn’t a function of having a recent common ancestor. Joseph of Delaware is their common Rankin ancestor.

With two closely matching YDNA samples and two very solid paper trails, there is a high degree of confidence that Joe and Mr. X provide a good picture of the YDNA of descendants of Joseph of Delaware – as well as those who aren’t his descendants.

The Rankin DNA project has two members whose paper trails prove them to be descendants of Samuel and Eleanor Alexander Rankin. None of them is a match – not even remotely close – to Joe. The YDNA evidence thus proves conclusively that Old One-Eyed Sam cannot be a son of Joseph of Delaware. Note: as of 16 April 2019, the Rankin Project has four members who descend from One-Eyed Sam and Eleanor and who have YDNA tested. The conclusion of this paragraph is confirmed by the additional testing.

The YDNA Evidence re: Theory #2

The Rankin DNA Project has two participants whose genealogical paper trail shows they are descended from R&R – Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford. Note: as of 16 April 2019, there are three descendants of R&R in the Rankin DNA project. Again, the conclusion below is affirmed.

The first is Mr. R, whose paper trail conclusively proves that he is descended from R&R’s great-granddaughter Isabel Rankin (her maiden name) and her husband Robert Rankin. Robert’s parents are not conclusively proved. The obvious problem is that Mr. R inherited his YDNA from Robert, not Isabel. So the question is: who are Robert’s parents? The circumstantial evidence convincingly establishes that Isabel’s husband Robert was her second cousin, a proved son of George (1767 Guilford, NC -1851 McNairy, TN) and Nancy Gillespie Rankin. George, in turn, was a proved son of Robert Rankin who died in 1795 in Guilford County. Robert is a proved son of R&R. Thus, Mr. R. is almost certainly a descendant of R&R.

The second relevant Rankin DNA Project participant is Mr. M, whose paper trail leaves no doubt that he is descended from R&R through their great-grandson John D. Rankin, a son of George and Nancy Gillespie Rankin.

Mr. R and Mr. M are a 37-marker match with a GD = 2, a darn good match. For those of you who actually know something about the science of YDNA, the two mismatched markers are at DYS 458 and CDY. My cousins Roger Alexander or Roberta Estes could undoubtedly appraise the quality of the match better than I can.

Whatever. Neither Mr. R nor Mr. M – descendants of R&R – are a YDNA match with the  descendants of Old One-Eyed Sam and Eleanor Alexander Rankin. Their YDNA profiles are not even close. Old One-Eyed Sam therefore cannot be a son of Robert and Rebecca of Guilford.

Case closed. I’m guessing we are going to have to find a Rankin on the other side of the Atlantic to have a clue about Old One-Eyed Sam’s family of origin.

See you on down the road.

Robin

[1] Rev. S. M. Rankin, The Rankin and Wharton Families and Their Genealogy (Greensboro, NC: J. J. Stone & Co., printers and binders, 1931, reprint by Higginson Book Co., Salem, MA).

[2] http://www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/rankin/This website was deleted by WorldFamilies.net in May 2018.

2 thoughts on “Samuel Rankin (abt. 1734 – abt. 1816) m. Eleanor Alexander: YDNA Evidence”

  1. I would be so grateful for some guidance especially about the DNA tests. I have looked at sites and articles re: the Rankin clan but can not get a handle on my grandfather Charles C. Rankin and his father Andrew Rankin. I gather from family stories that the family came to Ireland during the persecution of Protestants and then to the United States. Charles Jr. and his son Charles III are living in North Carolina where surely they shold be able to find links somehow. Thanks for any interest in their geneology. gloria rankin potter

    1. Gloria, I apologize for being so slow to respond to your comment!

      Do you have a living male relative named Rankin? If so, get him to take a Y-DNA test! Go to the website at FTDNA and select Y-DNA and start with a 37-marker test. (By the way, I am not affiliated with FTDNA and don’t make anything by suggesting them). Whoever tests should join the Rankin DNA project so that his results will automatically be uploaded to the project.

      Since you know the identity of your great-grandfather, I’m betting you an find a first or second cousin to test. If not, I will be GLAD to help you! Where in North Carolina have you found Andrew Rankin living? Contact me via email if you want to talk more.

      Regards,
      Robin

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