John Allen Rankin & Amanda Lindsey — Another Family Legend

by Robin Rankin Willis © June 2016

My ancestor John Allen Rankin and his wife Amanda Lindsey, daughter of Edward Buxton Lindsey, have a good story. (See http://digupdeadrelatives.com/category/articles/lindsey-articles/ for my article on the legend concerning Edward Buxton Lindsey.) From one vantage point, John Allen and Amanda’s story is a war story, pure and simple. It is also a love story. The love story and war story intersect in both my family’s legends and the verifiable facts.

My father’s “how to” genealogy book advised that the best place to start compiling one’s family history is by interviewing family members. A goodly part of the oral family history is invariably wrong, but even the misinformation contains clues aplenty, says the book. In my experience, the book is dead right.

As I noted in another article on this website about Edward Lindsey, my father promptly took that “how to” advice when he was “bitten by the genealogy bug.” He and his sister, my Aunt Louise, set out to talk to all their north Louisiana kin to see what they could learn about the Rankins et al. Here is what Daddy wrote to me in a 1969 letter – yes, we actually did once communicate via snail mail in writing — telling me the latest he had learned about his family. This qualifies as my favorite family legend, bar none:

“Dearest Robin Baby: ….Cousin Norene Sale Robinson at Homer told us that Grandma [Amanda Lindsey] was living in Monticello, Arkansas in 1863 when she met John Allen [Rankin]. He came to their door one night looking for a sister who lived there in town. Grandma said that she went to the door and ‘there stood the most handsomest soldier that she had ever seen and that she fell in love with him right there.’ They were married some time after that.”

There is a wealth of information in that legend. One of its chief virtues is that its essential objective elements – location, date, a soldier’s uniform, the people involved – are readily subject to verification among actual records. The legend also comes from an unimpeachable source, because Cousin Norene, who was twenty-eight when Amanda died in 1920 and had lived with Amanda for some time, had actually heard that story straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. This legend was not subject to the vagaries of multiple oral retellings.

When I starting digging around amongst my Rankin and Lindsey relatives, I set about trying to confirm the objective facts about that legend.

First, Amanda’s father, Edward B. Lindsey, was living in Monticello, Drew County, Arkansas in 1860.[1] During the war, he was a member of the Monticello “Home Guard,” so he was still in Monticello in 1863. So far, so good – Amanda’s family was right where the legend says they would be in 1863.

However, John Allen did not have a sister who was old enough to be married or living on her own when he was knocking on Monticello doors in (according to the legend) 1863.[2] John Allen did have a married older brother, William Henderson Rankin, living in Drew County.[3] William, I discovered as I looked at the 1860 census for Monticello, was listed just a few dwellings down from Amanda’s father Edward B. Lindsey.[4] However, William was still off fighting in the War in 1863.[5] Thus, John Allen was almost certainly looking for his sister-in-law rather than a sister. As legends go, that’s close enough.

It is also certain that John Allen was a soldier. My father’s 1969 letter to me continued with the war part of the family legend.

“Cousin Norene said that [John Allen’s] war record was never discussed by the family. It does seem funny that he was out of it in 1863. I have always thought that he was wounded in the war and that was one reason that he died at a fairly young age. It seems that was what we were told. So there could be a body hidden in the closet. Anyway we will find out for I am going to send off for his war record tomorrow, and if he did desert we will keep that out of the record.”

When I started writing short articles about my ancestors to preserve the history for our children, I looked for John Allen’s war records among my father’s materials. I couldn’t find them anywhere. Perhaps, I thought, the National Archives had lost John Allen’s records, and Daddy never received anything. Many records from the Civil War have just flat disappeared. However, I had a clear recollection about Daddy telling me about some of the information he learned from those war records.

Unable to find anything in his materials, I started sending off for records of my own. Amanda Lindsey Rankin’s Confederate pension application, a certifiable heartbreaker, arrived by mail first. She filed the application from Haynesville, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana in April 1910.[6] She was living with her daughter, Anna Belle Rankin Sale (Cousin Norene’s mother), as of 1900.[7] I cannot find her in 1910, although she was obviously still alive. Amanda signed the application in the quavery handwriting of an old person although she was only sixty-five, which, at this point, doesn’t seem at all old to me. The rest of it, though, is filled out in a strong feminine hand.

Amanda swore in her application that she had no source of income whatsoever, no real property, and no personal property worth a spit. That is all unquestionably true, from what I know of my north Louisiana relatives: that didn’t change until my father’s generation. She certainly couldn’t get much help from her son John Marvin (“Daddy Jack,” my grandfather), who at that time was struggling to make ends meet with a wife and four children, a rented house, and a job driving a dray wagon.

Amanda stated further that John Allen volunteered to serve the Confederate Army in Pine Bluff, Arkansas on March 14, 1862 (turns out that was the wrong year), that Captain Henry was his company commander, and that he was in the 9th Arkansas Infantry. She also swore – under oath, mind you – that he was honorably discharged on April 10, 1865, which just happens to be one day after Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House.

Here we have an apparent disconnect between the legend and the pension application. The legend says that John Allen and Amanda met in 1863. Amanda swore that he was discharged two years later.

The Office of the Board of Pension Commissioners of the State of Louisiana sent Amanda’s application off to the War Department in Washington, D.C. The War Department had this to say in response.

“The records show that John A. Rankin, private, Captain Phillip G. Henry’s Company C, 9th Arkansas Infantry, Confederate States Army, enlisted July 25 (also shown August 9) 1861. On the muster roll covering the period from November 1 to December 31, 1863 (the last on which his name is borne), he is reported absent in arrest in Canton, Mississippi by order of the Provost Marshal. No later record of him has been found.”

With that information in hand, the Louisiana Pension Board Commissioners rejected Amanda’s application. “Absent in arrest” means “AWOL.”

I don’t think Amanda ever knew the truth about her husband John Allen’s service, unless she figured it out after her pension application was denied. What do you think?

I wonder who came up with a discharge date one day after Appomattox? In my imagination, which badly wants to give the destitute Amanda the benefit of the doubt, some nice female clerk was helping Amanda fill out the application (it is, I surmise, her handwriting on the forms, although it might have been Amanda’s daughter, Anna Belle Rankin Sale). The clerk asked when John Allen was discharged, to which Amanda responded truthfully that she did not know. The clerk, who knew her history, said, “well, everyone was discharged by April 10, 1865, why don’t we just use that date.”[8] Fine, said Amanda. The clerk naturally assumed that John Allen received a normal discharge, or why else would Amanda even bother to apply?

John Allen’s entire military record arrived in the mail shortly thereafter.[9] Here are the facts, along with some great images from records that are more than 150 years old. Ironically, when I retrieved these records from my own notebooks, I found my father’s copies stashed in the same clear plastic page cover. So I have a spare copy of these records, if anyone in the family needs one!

Amanda did have some of the facts about her husband’s war record down pat. John Allen Rankin did enlist in the Confederate army at Pine Bluff, Arkansas – near where his family farmed, in Jefferson (now Cleveland) County. He was a private, and is shown as having served in both C and K companies of the 9th Arkansas Infantry. He enlisted for a one-year term on July 25, 1861 and served under Captain Henry.

At the beginning of the Vicksburg Campaign, the brigade of which the 9th Arkansas Infantry was a part was located at Port Hudson, Louisiana. It was ordered to Tullahoma, Tennessee on or about 15 April 1863, but was recalled on 18 April 1863 and sent to what was called the Battle of Champion Hill on 16 May 1863.[10]  Here is a weird historical coincidence. I have looked at the Confederate military history of only two families among my ancestors: the Confederate Estes brothers and John Allen Rankin’s family (John Allen’s mother, Mary Estes Rankin, was a sister of the Confederate Estes crowd). John Allen was in a different unit than his three Estes uncles, who served in Ham’s Calvary, from Tishomingo Co., Mississippi.  The Estes brothers and John Allen were nonetheless commanded by the same incompetent Confederate general — at two different battles. Gen. Stephen Lee (no relation to Robert E.) was the commanding Confederate general at both Champion Hill and the Battle of Ezra Church, where Capt. Allen W. Estes was killed. See my article about the three Confederate Estes brothers here:

 http://digupdeadrelatives.com/category/articles/estes-articles/

At Champion Hill, about 4,300 Confederate soldiers and 2,500 Union soldiers were casualties. That battleground is just east of Vicksburg, where the main action took place. It was considered a Union victory and an important battle in the Vicksburg campaign. I find it difficult to grasp applying the term “victory” to that carnage.

On our way home from a trip to the Tennessee Archives in Nashville, Gary and I drove around the area of the battle of Champion Hill, a backwoods area east of Vicksburg. It has been almost entirely forgotten by history: no park, no historical markers, nothing except a decent-sized stone monument where Confederate Brigadier General Leonard Tilghman died.

On 19 May 1863 – near the end of the second year of his one-year enlistment – whatever was left of John Allen’s division after Champion Hill arrived at Jackson, Mississippi. He was in the 1st Mississippi CSA Hospital in Jackson from May 31 to June 13, 1863. Here is an image of the explanation for his hospital time that appeared in his military record:

 

Confed 2

The problem, in case you cannot read that record: “diarrhea, acute.” Can’t say that I am surprised. I’d have diarrhea, too, if someone had been shooting at me, and I was getting a pretty good fix on which side would win, and the Confederate general in charge at Champion Hill had — incredibly — marched my unit piecemeal straight into Sherman’s entrenched troops. However, the records certainly don’t provide any support to the “war wound” theory that somebody in the family concocted to explain John Allen’s reluctance to talk about The War.

On September 1, 1863, now in Selma, Alabama, the Army of the Confederacy issued John Allen a new pair of pants, a jacket and a shirt, all valued at $31.00. Good wool and cotton stuff, presumably. Probably the best suit of clothes John Allen ever had in his young life. Here is the record:

Confed 3

There is more. On October 14, 1863, the Confederate States of America paid John Allen $44 for the pay period from May 1 through August 31, 1863. I assume that he was paid in Confederate dollars. Whatever — he was paid in something. Here is the record of his last pay:

Confed 4

And that was the last the CSA saw of my great-grandfather John Allen Rankin, who evidently just walked away. His original enlistment for twelve months was long up. By November 1, 1863, he was listed as absent. They finally quit carrying his name on the muster roll after December 1863.

It probably wasn’t too long after he was paid in Selma in October 1863 that John Allen met his future wife at the front door of Edward B. Lindsey’s home in Monticello, Arkansas. That had to have been about the middle of November 1863, assuming he made about twenty miles per day on the 400-mile walk from Selma to Monticello.

With that, the legend turns happy. He was wearing an almost brand-spanking new uniform, he was the most handsome soldier Amanda had ever seen, and she fell in love with him on the spot.

Here are the last two records – “muster rolls,” a regular record of who showed up in a military unit at periodic intervals – for John Allen’s Confederate service.

Confed 1

The last record says “absent in arrest in Canton by order of Provost Marshall.” That means the equivalent of an arrest warrant was issued after he was declared AWOL. John Allen never did any time in the pokey, or there would be other records in his file. By the time that AWOL order was issued, he was undoubtedly already in Monticello, Drew County, Arkansas, making Amanda Addieanna Lindsey swoon.

I once had a huge Rankin portrait that hung in my grandmother Rankin’s house in Gibsland, Bienville Parish, Louisiana, where my father graduated from high school in 1925.[11] My cousin Ellis Leigh Jordan (son of Aunt Louise Theo Rankin Jordan) gave it to me in consideration of my promise to photograph or somehow reproduce it for all the Rankin cousins. The man in the photograph is definitely good looking – no big ears or nose like his son John Marvin. He did have the classic male Rankin receding hairline and “topknot” that is shared by the Lincoln County, NC Rankins. He had a fabulous mustache. My Rankin cousins were unanimous that our grandmother positively identified this man as a Rankin, but the cousins don’t know which Rankin he is. We all agreed that the picture cannot possibly be our grandfather John Marvin (“Daddy Jack”) Rankin. It follows that it must be John Allen or his father Samuel Rankin. However, it cannot conceivably be John Allen’s father Samuel, who died in 1861-62. The quality of the photograph was just too good, and Sam hadn’t been as young as the man in that picture since the 1840s.

Besides, it seems highly unlikely that our grandfather would display a huge portrait of his grandfather, rather than his father, in his parlor. That photograph must have been John Allen Rankin, probably in the early 1880s at about age forty, not long before he died. Unfortunately, that fabulous photograph was lost, which breaks my heart. I would pay a small ransom to have it back.

Back to the story. In 1870, John and Amanda were living in Homer, Claiborne Parish, with their two eldest children, Anna Belle Rankin, age three, and Samuel Edward Rankin, age one – the latter undoubtedly named for his two grandfathers, Samuel Rankin and Edward Buxton Lindsey.[12] John Allen and Amanda listed $400 in real property and $350 in personal property in the census enumeration, and John Allen identified himself as a farmer. They apparently owned some land, although I cannot find a deed of purchase or a land grant to John Allen. I do know, however, that he and Amanda sold nine acres in Claiborne Parish for $33 in August 1870.[13]

The sale of land is perhaps a clue that farming did not work out well. By 1880, John Allen and Amanda were living in Webster Parish.[14] John Allen, age 36, was Deputy Sheriff. By 1880, he and Amanda had six children, including my grandfather John Marvin “Daddy Jack” Rankin, who was born in 1875. Their seventh and last child, Mary Alice, was born in September 1880, too late to appear in that census.

The deputy sheriff job apparently did not work out well, either. A letter that was saved by the family of John Allen’s brother Elisha Rankin reported that John Allen and family went through Homer in October 1882 on their way to Blanchard Springs (north of Shreveport) to run a barber shop.[15] I don’t know what happened to the barber shop, but the Rankins wound up moving back to Claiborne Parish, where they stayed.

The next thing you know, John Allen was six feet under. According to Amanda’s pension application, John Allen died of “congestion of the brain,” an obsolete medical term. It most likely means that John Allen had a stroke. He was only forty-five years old. There were five children age fifteen and under still at home.

Amanda obviously did not have an easy time thereafter. She expressed her anguish in a letter she wrote to one of John Allen’s brothers, Elisha (nickname “Lish”) Rankin, and Elisha’s wife Martha, who lived in Arkansas. Amanda wrote the letter three months after John Allen died on Sunday, October 13, 1888. She was forty-four years old. Here is a transcription, with spelling and punctuation (or lack thereof) exactly as transcribed, and question marks where the language is uncertain or totally illegible.[16]

“Dear Brother and Sister, it is with pleasure tho a sad heart that I try to answer your kind letter I received some time ago   Would have written sooner but I was in so much trouble I could not write soon   We had to move   Dear brother you have no idea how glad I was to get a letter from you   I feel like one forsaken   My happiness on earth is for ever gone of course I know you grieve for the Dear (?) house (?) but oh what is the grief to be compared to misery when a woman loses her husband. How sad I feel today for the dear one was a corpse on sunday. how long seems the days and nights to me.

Brother Lish you wanted to know how we are getting along   We are in det over one hundred dollars and no hom. I have moved to Mr. Weeks to work on ????? Jimmy Burton my Nephew is going to ??? after the little boys and show them how to manage this year. Eddie [Amanda’s son, Samuel Edward] is at Harrisville [Haynesville?]. I could not depend on him to ?????? He is not settled yet. I will ???? ???? me and the children a longe time to pay our det. It was the oldest children that caused me to be so bad in det. If I was young and able to work I would feel like maybe in two or three years we wold get out of det. I will do all I can to help the boys make a crop. Joe [Amanda’s son, Joseph D. Rankin] is 16 but he don’t now how to work much. I have got a few hogs and cowes all I have got. Annie and Lula [her daughters Anna Belle and Lula, both of whom married men named Sale] married brothers. They have got good homes. They live 3 miles from me. They live in site of each other.

Brother Lish be sure to write as soon as you get this   it does me so much good to get a letter from any of you how proud I was to think you thought enough of me to inquire after my welfare tho it is quite different to what you thought it was   some times I all most give up and not try to work then I think of the poor little children and no father to provide for them   I try to pick up courage to work all I can for there was ????? she is no longer a pet we sent her to school last year   teach come to see me about the pay I told him I could not pay it. He said he would wait untill next fall or the next year untill I could pay it ?? ??? ??? ???? ?? ???? ?? ????with me for it   if she had a ??? and out of det maybe we could make a living but in det and no home ???? and little childern no father oh lord father give me

Brother Lish I am a fraid you cant read this. It has been so long since I wrote a letter. Give Mother my love [presumably, “mother” refers to Mary Estes Rankin, the mother of John Allen and Elisha] and tell her to pray for me that I ???? ???? my children ???? I will have to be Father and Mother both. Give my love to all the connection and tell them to write. My love to Martha and the children write soon and often I remain ever ?????? ???? Sister.

Amanda Rankin”

Goodness gracious. Her anguish is overwhelming. Wouldn’t you like to see Elisha’s reply, if any? I wonder how he handled Amanda’s letter. Did he read it as a plea for funds? Or did he just see it as someone describing her feelings in the context of a desperate financial situation and emotional loss? No telling. May you rest in peace, Amanda and John Allen. Both are buried in the “Old Town” Haynesville Cemetery in Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. Be careful if you visit there – no matter where you step, I will guarantee you are treading on someone to whom I am related at least by marriage!

J A & Amanda Rankin 3

[1] See “Edward Buxton Lindsey: One of My Family Legends” on this website under “Lindsey Articles.”

[2] John Allen had two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth (“Lizzie”) Rankin. 1860 census for Jefferson Co., AR, p. 848, dwl. 549, listing for Samuel Rankin included Mary Rankin, age 10; 1870 census, Jefferson Co., AR, p. 575, dwl. 17, listing for Mary F. Rankin (Sam’s widow) included Elizabeth Rankin, 8. The elder daughter, Mary, would only have been about thirteen in 1863.

[3] Jennie Belle Lyle, Marriage Record Book B, Drew Co., Arkansas (Little Rock: Democrat Printing & Lithography Co., 1966), William H. Rankin, 20, married Eliza Jane Law, 21, July 1, 1858.

[4] 1860 census, Drew Co., AR, p. 101, dwelling 155, listing for William Rankin and p. 103, dwelling 167, E. B. Lindsey.

[5] William H. Rankin’s service record at the National Archives indicates that he enlisted from Monticello in the Confederate Army on 8 Feb 1862 for three years or the duration of the war. He was listed as present on his company’s muster roll through Oct. 31, 1864.

[6] Louisiana State Archives, “Widow’s Application for Pension” of Amanda A. Rankin, widow of John A. Rankin, P.O. Haynesville, LA, filed 4 Apr 1910.

[7] 1900 federal census, Haynesville, Claiborne Parish, LA, p. 55, household of A. C. sale with mother-in-law Amanda Rankin, wife Annie Sale, and children.

[8] That’s not accurate, of course. Some fighting continued after Lee’s surrender on April 9.

[9] National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C., Civil War record for Rankin, John A., Companies C and K, Arkansas Infantry, Private.

[10] I will add a brief description of the Battle of Champion’s Hill at the end of this article. On second thought, I will write a separate article about that battle.

[11] Unfortunately, John Allen’s portrait is now lost, as is a portrait of his mother, Mary Estes Rankin, which was taken at the same time, in (probably) the early 1880s.

[12] 1870 census, Claiborne Parish, LA, Homer PO, p. 59, dwl #39, listing for John A. Rankin, 27, b. MS, Amanda Rankin, 25, b. MS, and the two children, both b. LA.

[13] LDS Film # 265,980, Claiborne Parish Deed Book J: 226.

[14] 1870 census, Webster Parish, LA, p. 219, dwl 255, J. A. Rankin, wife Amanda Rankin, and children Anna Belle, Edward, Lulu, Joseph, Marvin, and Melvin.

[15] Letter from Washington Marion Rankin (“Wash”), who lived in Homer, to his brother Napoleon Bonaparte (“Pole”) Rankin dated October 1882.

[16] I do not own, and have never seen, the original of this letter. I obtained a transcription from Megan Franks, a descendant of Elisha Rankin, John Allen’s brother. Another distant cousin reportedly owns the original of Amanda’s letter, as well as several other Rankin letters from the 1880s. I have called and written him (he lives here in Houston) but he never responded. That is a shame, because I could probably clarify some of the “X”ed material.

Edward Buxton Lindsey: one of my family legends

by Robin Rankin Willis

I like my Lindsey ancestors for a number of reasons.

First, our second son Ryan Willis and first grandchild Alexandra Willis have the middle name Lindsey. That name and the entire family line have therefore acquired a certain cachet, a je ne sais quoi, merely by association with those two fabulous people.

Second, there is a family legend associated with my most recent male Lindsey ancestor, who lived from 1811 to 1883. The legend assured me there would be absolutely no doubt when I found him that I had bagged the right Lindsey.

Third, my North Carolina Lindsey ancestors were Methodists. Serious Methodists, with names like John Wesley Lindsey and Asbury Lindsey. I have found very few slave owners in my extended Lindsey family. Some of them had the financial wherewithal to own slaves, which suggests they might have had some principled opposition to slavery.

Fourth, I have become friends via email with some really nice Lindseys. Several of them are my cousins, and all of them are good Lindsey researchers who are happy to share their research.

Finally, I am quite fond of my ancestor Edward Buxton Lindsey, father of my great-grandmother Amanda Addieanna Lindsey Rankin, notwithstanding that he was a family embarrassment as far as Amanda and her family were concerned.

Amanda A. Lindsey Rankin’s father: the Lindsey legend

My father Jim Leigh Rankin kick-started our family history research. He was “bitten by the genealogy bug,” as he liked to put it, about the time he retired in 1968. He and his big sister Louise Rankin Jordan trekked all over north Louisiana picking the brains of every known relative in the area. That is what every “how to do genealogy” book tells beginners to do right off the bat. Not only does it provide hard facts – names and dates and locations – it also produces colorful family legends, which are sometimes even better than facts. Daddy’s detective work unearthed two family legends, both of which concerned Lindsey ancestors.

Daddy unquestionably learned from those interviews that his grandfather John Allen Rankin married Amanda Addieanna Lindsey. However, I don’t think Daddy was ever quite sure that he had identified Amanda’s father. What he knew for certain about his great-grandfather Lindsey he learned from his cousin Norene Robinson, neé Sale. Norene was well-acquainted with their grandmother Amanda Lindsey Rankin, who lived with the Sale family at one time.[1] Norene’s mother, neé Anna Belle Rankin, was Amanda’s daughter.[2] Amanda lived until 1920, when Norene was twenty-eight.[3] In short, Cousin Norene was a highly credible witness concerning Amanda’s family.

Norene told Daddy that Amanda Lindsey Rankin’s father had been married four times. Four times. So far as I had known, no one in my father’s family had ever been divorced until his generation came along, and then there was just his cousin Elizabeth, who kept marrying men who turned out to be bad choices. On the other hand, my generation of Rankin first cousins has more divorces than long-term marriages. Go figure. Divorces were not all that common in the Reconstruction south, however. Amanda was apparently somewhat chagrined by her father’s remarkable number of marriages, which included two divorces and two marriages to women who were considerably younger than he was.

Four marriages constitute a legend you can get your hands around, research-wise. Unfortunately, Cousin Norene could not recall the given name of Amanda’s father, or at least his name did not make it into Daddy’s ancestor charts. His notes do include a census listing for the right man: Edward B. Lindsey of Drew County, Arkansas. In the 1850 census for that county, Amanda A. Lindsey, age five, was listed in the household of Edward B., his wife Elizabeth, and a host of other children.[4] The census listing says that Amanda was born in Mississippi in 1845, which is consistent with the birth date on her Claiborne Parish tombstone and her state of birth from later census records.[5] At first glance, the Amanda in Edward B. Lindsey’s household looks like exactly the right Amanda A. Lindsey.

Some time between late 1863 and mid-1865, Edward B. Lindsey, his eldest son William A. Lindsey, and Amanda A. Lindsey moved from Drew County to Claiborne Parish, Louisiana. On July 20, 1865, J. A. Rankins [sic] married Amanda A. Lindsey.[6] The Lindseys and Rankins immediately began leaving evidence in the records that they were closely related. First, William A. Lindsey and his wife Frances appeared as grantors in a deed witnessed by both E. B. Lindsey and John A. Rankin.[7] In another deed, John Rankin and his wife – expressly identified as Amanda A. Lindsey, one of those peculiar quirks of Louisiana law – sold some land, and E. B. Lindsey witnessed the deed.[8]

Considering those deeds, plus Amanda’s appearance in Edward’s household in 1850, there is no reason to doubt that Edward was Amanda’s close relation. Any residual doubt that Edward was her father (rather than, say, her uncle or cousin) could be banished by proving that Edward had four wives. As it turned out, three of them appeared with him in a census.[9] Moreover, there are surviving marriage records for each wife in four different states, something I would have deemed wildly against the odds.[10] In short, Edward Buxton Lindsey is conclusively proved as my great-great grandfather.

Edward Buxton Lindsey’s four wives

Edward’s first wife was Elizabeth Jane Odom, who was Amanda’s mother and therefore my ancestor. She and Edward married in Pike County, Alabama in 1832.[11] After producing at least nine and possibly ten children, Elizabeth Jane died in 1854 in Drew County, Arkansas.[12] Here is her obituary:

“Mrs. Elizabeth Jane Lindsey departed this life in Drew Co., Ark 11 Oct 1854 in the 42nd year of her age. She was the daughter of Jacob and Nancy Odom who emigrated to south Alabama. Soon after her marriage, she joined the Methodist E. Church. She called her husband and children around her bed. She embraced her infant. Signed, 4 Nov. 1854 by J. M. Carr. The Memphis and Arkansas Advocate will please copy.”[13]

There is a most peculiar thing about that obituary: it named Elizabeth Jane’s parents, even providing detail about where they had lived, but failed to identify her husband. What is that all about? Who wrote the obit? Presumably, J. M. Carr, who was a Methodist Episcopal minister in Drew County.[14]

Less than two years later, Reverend Carr officiated at Edward’s marriage to Ruth B. Crook, a wealthy woman with several children.[15] Perhaps here is my father’s problem with deciding whether Edward was Amanda’s father: the 1860 census for Edward Lindsey’s Drew County household lists Ruth and her minor Crook children, but no Lindsey children.[16] In fact, I couldn’t find the Lindsey children anywhere in 1860, in Drew County or elsewhere. They were probably right there in their father’s household, and Ruth (or whomever responded to the census enumerator) just didn’t bother to name them. If that is right, it reinforces the old saw that one of the biggest mistakes one can make in family history research is to believe that the census records are 100% correct.

Ruth and Edward’s marriage didn’t last: she was wife number two only briefly. I have not found an Arkansas divorce record, although that doesn’t mean much. Suggesting that a legal divorce did in fact take place, Ruth appeared as a head of household in the 1870 census under her former surname, Crook.[17] Restoring her former name seems to say that Ruth was very serious about not wanting to retain any Lindsey aura whatsoever.

The Drew County deed records indicate that the Lindsey-Crook marriage may already have been coming apart by the time the census enumerator visited the Lindsey-Crook household in July of 1860.[18] A month earlier, Ruth had filed with the Drew County court a list of her fairly substantial separate property.[19] The legal effect was to protect her assets from her husband’s control and debts. The filing strongly suggests that Ruth was contemplating (or had already initiated) a divorce, or that Edward had turned out to be financially irresponsible. Or both. Perhaps Ruth had already kicked Edward and his children out of the house when the census enumerator came around in July, but the enumerator, who was naturally a stickler for the patriarchal rules, insisted that her husband must be identified as the head of household so long as she was still married.

That obviously qualifies as one of my flights of fancy, although I frankly find it impossible to imagine Edward and Ruth continuing to cohabit after her separate property filing. However, the census rules required listing the names of everyone living in the household, so either Edward was living there or Ruth wasn’t willing to admit she had kicked him out. Perhaps Edward was in the dark about the separate property filing.

Moving on, Edward survived the Civil War without a hitch. Unlike my Arkansas Rankin family, with two soldiers fighting on each side, Edward did not participate in active service. That probably had nothing to do with Methodist principles.[20] Edward was just too old to be conscript fodder. Further, he wasn’t sufficiently wealthy or politically connected to be an officer.

Instead, in October 1863, Edward enlisted in the Monticello Home Guard.[21] With civil authority collapsing in many parts of Arkansas and Confederate troops being sent away, local jurisdictions were encouraged to form companies of “home guards” to protect persons and property, enforce the conscript law, and support Confederate troops when requested. As one would expect, the home guards were largely composed of men who were too old for regular military service. The Monticello Home Guard, for example, consisted of forty-seven men between the ages of thirty-eight and sixty-two – with an average age of fifty years. Consequently, it was popularly known as the “Old Man’s Company.” Edward was fifty-two when he enlisted. He was a private. I can visualize him marching with a bunch of other old play soldiers on a parade field, albeit in considerably better shape than the others, since he had two very young wives in his future. I would dearly love to have a picture of Edward.

By late 1862, Edward had apparently sold his Drew County land.[22] By July 1865, when his daughter Amanda married John Allen Rankin, Edward had moved to Claiborne Parish. Amanda, who was only twenty when she married, almost certainly did not migrate on her own. Four months after Amanda married John Allen, Edward married wife number three, Elizabeth J. Marshall, in Claiborne Parish.[23]

For reasons unknown – perhaps Amanda’s patent disapproval of a stepmother who was a quarter-century younger than Edward – the Lindsey newlyweds subsequently moved to Texas. In the 1870 census, Edward, now fifty-nine, and wife Elizabeth, age thirty-four, were listed in Woodville, Tyler County, Texas along with their one-year-old son, Edward Lindsey Jr.[24] Two years later, still in Tyler County, Edward married wife number four: Pamelia Dean, a widow or divorceé who was more than twenty years his junior.[25] I don’t have any proof regarding what happened to Elizabeth J. Marshall Lindsey. However, it is almost certain that she died, because Edward B. Lindsey Sr. wound up with custody of young Edward Jr. Even a century later, that would have been highly unlikely if Edward Jr.’s mother had been alive. If it is correct that Elizabeth died, then she was the second woman named Elizabeth J. who up and died on Edward.

Edward’s marriage to Pamelia Dean, like his marriage to Ruth Crook, ended in divorce.[26] An ex-wife in the neighborhood must have been enough to take the shine off Texas for Edward Sr. He was back in Claiborne Parish by 1880, age sixty-nine, with his eleven-year-old son Edward Jr. in tow and no further marriages in store.[27] My heart goes out to both of them. There is a reason that young people have children.

The 1880 census, his last, identified Edward Sr. as a dry goods merchant, although he had called himself a farmer in all prior censuses.[28] Perhaps he was too worn out to farm, or maybe he finally just gave up trying to make a living off the land.

The probate records for Claiborne Parish establish that Edward Sr. died there in January of 1883.[29] He must have been buried somewhere in Claiborne Parish. Joseph Day, a doctor who had no Lindsey family connection that I can find other than having been one of Edward’s creditors, administered Edward’s estate.[30] It yielded $380.78 after debts were paid – plenty of money for a tombstone, but I can’t find one.[31]

The Claiborne Parish probate records say that Edward had six heirs, including his son E. B. Lindsey. The other heirs were William A. Lindsey, Mrs. J. A. Rankin, James Burton, Mrs. N. J. Morley (Nancy Jane Lindsey Morley, wife of George Morley), and John H. Lindsey.

Edward Lindsey was underage and therefore represented by a guardian (called a “tutor” in Louisiana law).[32] The tutor was one J. M. Kight, no known relationship to the Lindsey family.[33] All I know is that Mr. Kight resided in Webster Parish, immediately west of Claiborne Parish. In fact, the Kight family lived just a few houses down from Amanda Lindsey Rankin, Edward Jr.’s half-sister.[34] I have not found any further record of Edward B. Lindsey Jr., orphaned at a tender age. As it turned out, Edward Sr. lost both his parents by 1817, when he was only six. I will save that story for another day.

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

© 2016 by Robin Rankin Willis

[1] 1900 federal census, Haynesville, Claiborne Parish, LA, p. 55, household of A. C. sale with mother-in-law Amanda Rankin, wife Annie Sale, daughter Norine [sic] Sale, and other children.

[2] 1880 federal census, Webster Parish, LA, dwelling #285, p. 219, household of J. A. Rankin, born MS, with wife Amanda A. Rankin, born MS, daughter Anna Belle Rankin, and other children.

[3] 1900 federal census, Haynesville, Claiborne Parish, LA, p. 55, Norine Sale was born 1892; John Purnell Frazier and Wanda Volentine Head, Cemetery Inscriptions of Claiborne Parish, Louisiana, Volume I (Shreveport: J & W Enterprises, 1985), Haynesville Cemetery tombstone for Amanda A. Rankin, born 19 Apr 1845, died 7 Oct 1920.

[4] 1850 federal census, Drew Co., AR, Spring Hill Twp., p. 94, dwelling #270, listing for E. B. Lindsey, 39, farmer, born NC, Elizabeth J. Lindsey, 38, born GA, and nine children, including Amanda A. Lindsey, age 5, born MS.

[5] Notes 3 and 4.

[6] Willie Huffman Farley, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana Marriage Records, 1849-1940 (Shreveport: J & W Enterprises, 1984), abstract of marriage record for 20 Jul 1865, J. A. Rankins and Amanda A. Lindsey, Book 1, Folio 320.

[7] FHL Film #265,980, Claiborne Parish Deed Book J: 65, deed dated 24 Jan 1866 from William A. Lindsey and wife Francis Jane Marary (sic, Merony) of Claiborne Parish to Lucy C. Lindsey, 240 acres, witnessed by E. B. Lindsey and John A. Rankin, et al.; Jennie Belle Lyle, Marriage Record Book B, Drew Co., Arkansas (Little Rock: Democrat Printing & Lithography Co., 1966), marriage of William A. Lindsey and Francis Merony, 20 Oct 1852.

[8] FHL Film #265,980, Claiborne Parish Deed Book J: 226, deed dated 15 Aug 1870 from John A. Rankin and wife Amanda A. Lindsey to Lucy Lindsey, all of Claiborne, 9 acres, witnesses E. B. Lindsey and S. M. Newsom.

[9] 1850 federal census, Drew Co., AR, p. 94, household of E. B. and Elizabeth J. Lindsey; 1860 federal census, Drew Co., AR, p. 103, Edward and Ruth Lindsey; 1870 federal census, Tyler Co., TX, p. 392, Edward and Elizabeth J. Lindsey.

[10] Family Adventures, Early Alabama Marriages 1813 – 1850, (San Antonio: 1991), marriage record for Edward B. Lindsey and Elizabeth J. Odom, 30 Jun 1832, Pike Co., AL; Lyle, Marriage Record Book B, Drew Co., Arkansas, marriage record for E. B. Lindsey and Ruth B. Crook, 16 Sep 1856; Farley, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana Marriage Records, marriage of E. B. Lendsey and E. J. Marshall, 15 Nov 1865; and Frances T. Ingmire, Marriage Records of Tyler County, Texas 1847 – 1888 (St. Louis: 1981), marriage of Ed. B. Lindsey and Permelia Dean, 20 Nov 1872.

[11] Family Adventures, Early Alabama Marriages.

[12] 1850 federal census, Drew County, Ark., Spring Hill Twp., p. 94, dwelling #270, listing for E. B. Lindsey, 39, farmer, born NC, Elizabeth J. Lindsey, 38, born GA, William A. Lindsey, 17, AL, James R. Lindsey, 16, AL, Nancy J. Lindsey, 12, AL, John H. Lindsey, 11, AL, Charity A. Lindsey, 9, AL, Elizabeth W. Lindsey, 7, AL, Amanda A. Lindsey, 5, MS, Edward C. Lindsey, 2, AR, and Thomas E. Lindsey, 9 months, AR.

[13] E. M. Tipton, Marriages and Obituaries from the New Orleans Christian Advocate 1851-1860, Vol. 1 (Bossier City, LA: Tipton Printing & Publishing,1980). Elizabeth Jane Odom Lindsey’s obit appeared in the Advocate issue of 25 Nov. 1854, No. 3, p. 3, col. 1.

[14] Lyle, Marriage Record Book B, Drew Co., Arkansas, identifying J. M. Carr as an M. E. minister.

[15] Id., Marriage Book B:140, 16 Sep 1856, marriage of E. B. Lindsey, 45, and Ruth B. Crook, 48, J. M. Carr officiating; see notes 17 and 20.

[16] 1860 federal census, Drew Co., AR, Marion Twp., p. 103, dwelling #167, household of E. B. Lindsey, farmer, 48, with Ruth Lindsey, 55, Susan Crook, 17, James Crook, 15, and Ruth Crook, 13.

[17] 1870 federal census, Drew Co., AR, Monticello P.O., p. 629, dwelling #465, listing for Ruth Crook, 63.

[18] 1860 federal census, Drew Co., AR, p. 103, listing for E. B. Lindsey. Census taken on July 13th, 1860.

[19] FHL Film #981,521, Drew Co. Deed Book F: 268, 18 Jun 1860 filing in the real property records of Drew County containing a schedule of the separate property of Ruth B. Lindsey, wife of E. B. Lindsey. The list included inter alia seven slaves, a horse, two yoke oxen, eleven head of cattle, twenty-seven sheep, fifteen hogs, a wagon, buggy, two bureaus, bookcase, clock, six bedsteads, two dozen chairs, a safe, and 200 acres.

[20] Edward had no scruples preventing him from marrying Ruth Crook, who owned seven slaves. See id.

[21] I cannot find my source for that tidbit and am not inclined to bother relocating it, considering that the chances are virtually nil that anyone will ever give a fig. For the record, however, the sentence beginning “with civil authority collapsing” and much of the remainder of the paragraph are roughly verbatim quotes from the source, whatever it was.

[22] FHL Film #981,522, deeds dated 4 Nov 1862 and 30 Dec 1862 recorded in Drew Co., AR Deed Book G: 452 and 476, respectively, conveying Edward Lindsey’s tracts in Section 24, Twp 12 South, Range 7 West.

[23] Farley, Claiborne Parish, Louisiana Marriage Records, 15 Nov 1865 marriage bond, E. B. Lendsey and E. J. Marshall, Marriage Book 1, Folio 336.

[24] 1870 federal census, Tyler Co., TX, Woodville Beat, p. 392, dwelling #321, listing for Edw. Lindsey, 59, farmer, born NC, with Eliz. Lindsey, 34, born ALA, and Edward Lindsey, 1, born TX.

[25] Ingmire, Marriage Records of Tyler County, Texas 1847 – 1888, Pamelia Dean married Edward B. Lindsey 20 Nov 1872. See notes 26 and 27 for Pamelia’s and Edward’s ages in 1880.

[26] 1880 federal census, Tyler Co., TX, p. 397, dwelling #16, listing for Permelia J. Lindsey, age 47, divorced or widowed. She must have been divorced, since Edward was still alive in 1880, see note 27.

[27] 1880 federal census, Claiborne Parish, LA, p. 285, listing for Edward B. Lindsey, dry goods merchant, 69, born NC, parents born NC, listed with Edward B. Lindsey, son, 11, at school, born TX, father born NC, mother born MS.

[28] Id.; notes 13, 17 and 26.

[29] FHL Film #265,999, Claiborne Parish, LA Probate Record Book E: 392.

[30] Id., 31 Mar 1883 report of administrator Joseph W. Day on the sale of Edward B. Lindsey’s land.

[31] Id., Claiborne Parish Probate Record Book E: 398, 31 Aug 1883 report by administrator.

[32] Id.

[33] See id.

[34] 1880 federal census, Webster Parish, LA, p. 219, dwelling #297, listing for J. M. Kight, 38, farmer, and his family; also on p. 219, dwelling #285, listing for J. A. Rankin, wife Amanda and family.