UPDATE: Rankin DNA Project Families, August 2021

This article is about Rankin families whose descendants participate in the Rankin DNA Project. It is a long read with numerous sources in footnotes, but that is the nature of the beast. It will be easy to find families of interest to you.

Two things stand out among the details. First, colonial Rankin families produced a considerable number of Revolutionary War soldiers. This is no surprise, because the Scots-Irish had little love for the British. Second, Rankin immigrants’ Presbyterianism frequently persisted for several generations. That was so often the case I concluded that non-Presbyterian Rankin immigrants may have come to the colonies from England rather than Ulster or Scotland.

Here are some Project basics. It began in 2006 with two Y-DNA test participants descended from the same immigrant ancestor. Fifteen years later, 75 of the 212 Project members are Y-DNA test participants[1] whose surname is Rankin or whose Y-DNA proves they are genetic Rankins.[2] The results identify nine genetic lineages comprised of at least eighteen different Rankin family ancestors.

Growth notwithstanding, the Project needs work. Some Y-DNA participants don’t yet have a match in the Project. That’s a concern because DNA is now an important tool for identifying ancestors. Little is known about some Y-DNA participants’ families. And the Project website isn’t always timely updated to add new information. Addressing these issues requires more Y-DNA testing, research, and administrative time. This is not criticism of Project administrators – I am one. It’s just a fact.[3]

This article treats the nine lineages and their component families unevenly. It contains considerable information and a wealth of supporting documentation for some families. Others receive cursory treatment, or none at all, pending further research. I must also apologize to Rankin daughters: my research is focused almost exclusively on the male line.

So that you may quickly identify lineages of interest to you, here are the earliest known families in each:

Lineage 1 – Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford, NC, David and Margaret Rankin of Iredell, NC, and Joseph and Rebecca Rankin of New Castle, DE.

Lineage 2 – John Rankin of Lancaster, PA, Samuel and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin of Lincoln, NC, David and Jennet McCormick Rankin of Frederick, VA, and William Rankin Sr. of Fayette, PA.

Lineage 3 – David Rankin Sr. of Greene, TN.

Lineage 4 – Three members. No writeup is included in this report pending further research.

Lineage 5 – Chambers Rankin of Bedford, PA, James Rankin of Ayrshire, Scotland and County Tyrone, Ireland, and Michael Rankin of County Tyrone.

Lineage 6 – Lt. Robert and Margaret (“Peggy”) Berry Rankin of VA, KY, AL, TX, and LA, John and Elizabeth Clay Rankin of Henderson, KY, Moses and Mary (“Polly”) Gill Rankin of Mason, KY, and John Rankin of Stafford, VA.

Lineage 7 – Two members. One identifies his earliest Rankin ancestor as John Rankin of Lochaber, Inverness, Scotland. Reporting awaits further research and testing.

Lineage 8 – Two members. William O. Rankin Sr. of SC is the earliest Rankin ancestor of one of them. No report pending further research and testing.

Lineage 9 – Adam and Mary Steele Alexander Rankin of Lancaster, PA.

Let’s jump in …

Lineage 1

Lineage 1 (“L1”) has two sub-lineages: L1A, Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County, North Carolina, and L1B, Joseph and Rebecca Rankin of New Castle County, Delaware. Robert was definitely the original Rankin immigrant in his line. Joseph was probably the original immigrant in his. The common Rankin ancestor for Robert and Joseph is unknown. Both Y-DNA results and traditional paper research indicate virtually no chance of a common ancestor in the colonies. He probably exists around 1400, plus or minus a century, almost certainly in Scotland.

Lineage 1A

Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford came to the colonies about 1750 from the Irish province of Ulster, County Donegal, Letterkenny Parish. That information is from an impeccable source: the autobiography of Rev. John Rankin,  a grandson.[4] Rev. John was an ordained Presbyterian minister who converted to Shakerism and founded a famous Shaker colony in Kentucky. Robert and Rebecca’s family also produced at least three Revolutionary War soldiers. Two survived the war. A third died at the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill in Lincoln County, North Carolina. Like most Scots-Irish immigrants, this was a family of farmers and (except for Shaker Rev. John) staunch Presbyterians.

The Guilford Rankins belonged to the Buffalo Presbyterian Church in what is now Greensboro, North Carolina. Many Rankins are buried in the church graveyard;[5] Reverend Samuel Meek Rankin wrote a history of the church.[6] There is no extant marker for either Robert, who died about 1770-73, or Rebecca.[7]

Robert’s first appearance in colonial records was probably on the 1753 Chester County, Pennsylvania tax list.[8] That same year, he and his son George also began turning up in North Carolina deed records.[9] Robert and Rebecca’s children were undoubtedly adults by the time they arrived in Pennsylvania. Two sons, Robert (died in 1795) and George (died in 1760) are proved. There is good circumstantial evidence in the Rowan and Guilford records for other children. They include a son John Rankin and daughters Ann Rankin Denny (husband William Sr.), Margaret Rankin Braly or Brawley (husband John), and Rebecca Rankin Boyd (husband John).

Robert and Rebecca’s son Robert  died in Guilford in 1795, leaving a son George and five daughters.[10] The identity of his wife is controversial.[11] Robert’s brother George died in 1760, leaving two young sons, including the future Shaker Rev. John Rankin and his younger brother Robert. George’s wife was Lydia Steele, who married Arthur Forbis/Forbes after George died.[12]

Lineage 1A also includes the line of David Rankin (wife Margaret MNU) who died in Iredell County, North Carolina in 1789.[13] David may have been a son of Robert and Rebecca of Guilford. Two descendants of David and Margaret have Y-DNA tested, and the results show a close match to Robert and Rebecca’s line. Y-DNA doesn’t reveal the nature of the family relationship.

Iredell David and Margaret had two sons, Robert and James, and a daughter, Elizabeth Rankin McCrary (husband Samuel). James died at the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill.[14] He left four children whose guardian in Lincoln County was John Alexander, a brother of James’ widow.[15]

Robert Rankin’s wife was named Jean, possibly Jean Denny of Guilford County.[16]  In the late 1820s, Robert moved from Iredell to Gibson County, Tennessee.[17] He filed a Revolutionary War pension application there. His relative Robert Rankin, a grandson of Robert and Rebecca of Guilford, was also a Revolutionary War veteran.

Robert and Jean Rankin’s sons James (wife Elizabeth McMin) and Denny (wife Sarah McMin) remained in North Carolina. Both sons and their wives are buried in the Centre Presbyterian Church cemetery near Mooresville, as is their mother Jean.[18]

Lineage 1B

Joseph and Rebecca Rankin of Delaware had six sons, four of whom served in the Revolution. According to family tradition, two sons were in the 1781  Battle of Guilford Courthouse.  Shortly before the battle, British soldiers took “all the grain, cattle, sheep, hogs, and fowls (except one old setting hen) from both [Rankin] plantations.”[19] Two other sons of Joseph and Rebecca, a Lieutenant and a private, served in Capt. Walter Carson’s company in the Delaware line. In civilian life, Joseph and Rebecca’s family were farmers and, of course, Presbyterians.[20]

Joseph (1704 – 1764) arrived in the colonies about 1730, roughly two decades earlier than his kinsman Robert Rankin of Guilford. The approximate time Joseph arrived suggests he migrated from Ulster, although he may well have been born in Scotland.[21] He is probably the Joseph Rankin taxed as a “freeman” (unmarried and not a landowner) on the 1729[22] and 1730[23] tax lists for London Britain Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania. In 1731, Joseph acquired a tract on White Clay Creek in New Castle County, Delaware, just a stone’s throw from London Britain.[24]

Joseph and Rebecca had at least one daughter in addition to their six sons. Four sons –  Joseph Jr., Thomas, William and John – are proved by deeds.[25] Two sons, Robert and James, are established by circumstantial evidence.[26] A daughter Ann Rankin is proved by the will of her brother Joseph (Jr.).[27]

Based on the birth dates of three sons,[28] Joseph and Rebecca’s children were born in Delaware. Two of their sons – John and William, the ones whose farms were plundered by British soldiers  – moved to Guilford County, North Carolina.[29] Descendants of both John and William  have tested and are an excellent Y-DNA match.[30]

Joseph Jr.[31] and Thomas[32] remained in New Castle County. Joseph Jr. apparently had no surviving children; he left his estate to two nephews and his sister.[33] Son Thomas left five children.[34]  Probable son James was likely the Revolutionary War soldier who filed a pension application and left a will in Washington County, Pennsylvania.[35] I was not able to trace probable son Robert.

Joseph (Sr.) is buried at Head of Christiana Presbyterian Church in Newark, New Castle County. His 1764 tombstone still exists.[36] His wife Rebecca’s maiden name is unproved. She and William Rankin, a son, were administrators of Joseph’s estate.[37]

Lineage 2

Rankin Lineage 2 (“L2”) is the largest group in the Rankin DNA Project. As of August 2021, there are twenty-five participants whose Y-DNA places them in L2. The families in L2 are diverse, although Y-DNA results are not. The L2 members are fairly close matches, suggesting a common ancestor about 400-500 years ago, almost certainly in Scotland or Ulster. The Y-DNA results for L2 members are so similar that paper research is the only reliable way to assign members to sub-lineages.

L2 has three sub-lineages designated L2A, B, and C. There are also eight “one of a kind” L2 members (“L2U”) who are not assigned to one of the sub-lineages. None of the L2U members (so far as is known) share an ancestor with any other L2 member. Some members of L2U are “one of a kind” because they have not provided information about their Rankin line, although they may well belong in one of the L2 sub-lineages or share a common ancestor with another L2U member.

The three L2 sub-lineages are (1) L2A, John Rankin who died in 1749 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, (2) L2B, Samuel and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin of Lincoln County, North Carolina, and (3) L2C, two families, David and Jenette McCormick Rankin of Frederick, Virginia, and William and Mary Rankin of Fayette, Pennsylvania.

Lineage 2A

This is the Rankin family memorialized on the famous tablet in the Mt. Horeb Presbyterian Church cemetery in Jefferson County, Tennessee. The Mt. Horeb church was organized in 1841 with four ordained elders, two of whom were Rankins. The land on which the original church was built was donated by another Rankin.

L2A includes Hazel Townsend, the Project Administrator who single-handedly started the Project fifteen years ago with two of her relatives as the first Y-DNA participants. She and her Rankin relatives hold a reunion at the Mt. Horeb church every year during the second weekend in July.

The original immigrant in this line was John Rankin, who died in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania in 1749. Family oral history on the Mt. Horeb tablet identifies John’s wife as Jane McElwee, although John’s will named his wife Margaret. John’s will also named his sons Thomas and Richard, six daughters, and two sons-in-law.[38]

All of the L2A members are descended from John’s son Thomas. The Mt. Horeb tablet says that Thomas  was a Revolutionary War Captain, although that is likely a case of “same name confusion.” Thomas lived in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania,[39] moved to Augusta County, Virginia,[40] then to east Tennessee.[41] John’s other son, Richard, moved from Cumberland[42] to Augusta and died there.[43]

According to family oral tradition, John was a son of William Rankin and grandson of Alexander Rankin of the Scotland Killing Times and the 1689 Siege of Londonderry – the legend inscribed on a tablet in the Mt. Horeb Presbyterian Church cemetery in Jefferson County, Tennessee. [44] I have not found anyone having evidence that John was a son of William and that William was a son of Alexander.

An interesting question about John’s lineage concerns the Adam Rankin who died in 1747 in Lancaster County.[45] Two Project participants are Adam’s descendants. Based on Y-DNA results, they are assigned to Lineage 9. Neither man matches a descendant of John. However, family oral tradition for both Adam’s line (L9) and John’s line (L2A) say that Adam and John were brothers. However, Y-DNA proves that John and Adam did not have the same father. Here is the ticklish part: if John and Adam were not brothers, which line – John’s or Adam’s – can claim the Mt. Horeb legend and its Rankin ancestors?

Lineage 2B

Lineage 2B is the line of Samuel and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin of south-central North Carolina. A descendant told me he was called “Old One-Eyed Sam.” She heard the story as a child from an older Rankin relative who inherited Sam’s home. Unfortunately, the homeowner had no idea how Sam lost an eye.

Sam’s name is on a D.A.R. plaque honoring “Revolutionary soldiers” that was once on the wall at Goshen Grove Presbyterian Cemetery in Belmont, North Carolina. Sam was buried there.[46] Some Rankin researchers believe the D.A.R. honored him for providing supplies to the army, a contemporary practice. A blue-haired D.A.R. lady in Houston turned up her nose at that, condescendingly comparing those who merely provided supplies to “real” soldiers. She may have had a point, although soldiers did have to eat, and one-eyed soldiers probably weren’t famous for marksmanship.

The pension application of Sam and Eleanor’s son William doesn’t exactly burnish the family’s military reputation.[47] William was in the  Battle of Camden, a humiliating defeat in which many patriot soldiers cut and ran. His unit arrived a day late for the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill. He was also in the  Battle of Eutaw Springs,  another British victory. On the other hand, William was in the small-ish  Battle of Colson’s Mill,  a patriot victory.

The best I can do for Old One-Eyed Sam and Eleanor is clear up online misinformation about them.[48] For example, some researchers believe Sam was a son of Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County (Lineage 1A) or, alternatively, a son of Joseph Rankin of Delaware (Lineage 1B). Both possibilities are foreclosed by Y-DNA results..  There is no known evidence of Samuel’s parents.

Some researchers believe that Sam and Eleanor were married in Pennsylvania. That doesn’t work. Eleanor’s parents James and Ann Alexander were in Anson County by 1753. James made deeds of gift to five of his six children, including “Elener,” before he died in 1753.[49] Sam and Eleanor were probably married about 1760, almost certainly in Rowan County. Their eldest child, the Revolutionary War soldier William, was born there in January 1761.[50]

Sam’s will gave eight of his nine surviving children a token bequest and left the bulk of his estate to his son James.[51] His son  Richard Rankin  predeceased him.[52] Sam’s tombstone in the Goshen Grove Presbyterian Cemetery in Belmont is missing, as is the D.A.R. plaque. A WPA cemetery survey taken in the 1930s recorded the dates on his tombstone as 1734 – 1816.[53]

Sam and Eleanor’s children who did not remain in North Carolina moved to Tennessee or Illinois; grandchildren scattered to the four winds.[54] One descendant had a town in Upton County, Texas, named for him. Rankin, Upton County, Texas has an old corrugated tin building painted with images of Augustus “Gus” McCrae and Woodrow F. Call from “Lonesome Dove.” Call is taking a selfie of the duo. Two other descendants of Sam and Eleanor are currently members of the same Presbyterian church in Houston, Texas. They discovered their kinship after they had known each other for almost a decade.

Lineage 2C

Lineage 2C members are descended from either David Sr. and Jennett McCormick Rankin of Frederick County, Virginia or William Rankin Sr. of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. The common Rankin ancestor of David Sr. and William Sr. is not known.

There isn’t much information about David Sr. and Jennett in the Frederick County records. A book containing the genealogy of one of their sons says that David Sr. “emigrated from the north of Ireland … about 1738-50.”[55] His 1757 will named his wife Jennett and children Hugh, William, David Jr. and Barbara.[56]

Two sons, David Jr. and William, left Frederick and were easy to trace. I have not been able to track Hugh’s line with confidence. David Jr. married Hannah Province or Provence, daughter of Thomas Province, in Frederick County.[57] The couple moved from Frederick to Washington County, Pennsylvania and then to Harrison County, Kentucky, where David Jr. died.[58] David Jr.’s brother William and his wife Abigail also moved from Frederick to Washington County. William died there in 1799, leaving eight surviving children.[59]

The second family in L2C is the line of William Rankin Sr. of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. William Sr.’s will was dated 1794 and named his children James, Hugh, William Jr., and Elizabeth Rankin Gillespie (husband William Sr.).[60]

One writer said that James had serious “financial troubles” and “removed to the west,” although I don’t know where.[61] James executed an agreement with several creditors that contained so many conditions it made Enron look like a more secure credit risk.[62]  Creditors named in a second deed were all members of his family.[63]

James’ brothers Hugh (wife Esther) and William Jr. (wife Jane) remained in Fayette and apparently stayed out of financial trouble.[64] There is no doubt this was a Scots-Irish Presbyterian family. Many of their descendants are buried in the Associate Reformed Cemetery and the Laurel Hill Presbyterian Cemeteries.

Three of Hugh and Esther’s children moved “west;” their fourth child, Thomas, remained in Fayette.[65]William Jr. and Jane Rankin’s family Bible has names and birth death dates for eleven children, many of whom also remained in Fayette County.[66] Descendants of the Thomas Rankin who is buried in the McCoy Cemetery in Londonderry Township, Guernsey County, Ohio believe he is the same man as Thomas, son of William Jr. and Jane Rankin.[67] Two descendants have tested and are Y-DNA matches with descendants of David Sr. and Jennett McCormick Rankin of Frederick County, Virginia.

Lineage 3

This lineage has a known common ancestor for its four participants: David Rankin Sr. who died in Greene County, Tennessee in 1802. His will identified seven children but not his wife, who evidently predeceased him.[68] David Sr. was reportedly among the “Overmountain Men” who fought in the Revolutionary War Battle of King’s Mountain, a decisive victory for the patriot forces.

David Rankin Sr.’s home in Greene County is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.[69] Some researchers (including whomever filed the National Registry application) believe that David Sr. was a son of the William Rankin who died in 1792 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania and his wife Mary Huston. That possibility is negated by both Y-DNA and paper evidence, including William and Mary Huston Rankin’s family Bible. David, son of William and Mary, moved to Des Moines County, Iowa rather than Greene, Tennessee. A descendant of William and Mary Huston Rankin who has Y-DNA tested does not match the L3 participants.

An interesting question is where David Sr. lived before coming to Greene County in 1783. A friend and excellent researcher who is a descendant is certain that David Sr. of Greene was the same man as the David Rankin who received a 1771 land patent in Bedford County, Virginia. He is probably right. I still have doubts. Bedford County David Rankin was a Quaker,[70] conflicting with the Presbyterianism of David Sr.’s children.[71] It is also hard to reconcile Quaker pacificism with David Sr.’s participation in the battle of King’s Mountain.

David Rankin Sr. of  Greene County, Tennessee may have been the immigrant ancestor in his line.

Lineage 5

Rankin Lineage 5 has four members who come from three families. Their common ancestor is not known. L5 is archetypal Rankin, tracing ancestors back to the province of Ulster in Ireland and Ayrshire in Scotland.

Chambers Rankin is the earliest ancestor in the only L5 family without proved roots in Ulster, although he was undoubtedly Scots-Irish. The family tradition is that his wife was Native American. Their only child was Franklin R. Rankin (1834 – 1878), a Civil War soldier. Portions of his diary are used in a book about two communities in the war, including Franklin County, Pennsylvania.[72]

Chambers died at age 30 in 1835 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania and is buried in the Old Log Cabin Union Church Cemetery near Schellsburg, Pennsylvania.[73] He had three known siblings: (1) Martha Rankin Bisel, born in 1818, buried in Harrison City Presbyterian Cemetery in Westmoreland County; (2) John C. Rankin, 1805-1897, buried in the same cemetery; and (3) Culbertson Rankin, born about 1793. Their parents may have been David Rankin and his wife Martha Culbertson of Westmoreland County. The Rankin Project needs a descendant of David and Martha to Y-DNA test in order to prove the ancestry of this line.

Another L5 participant still resides in County Down, Northern Ireland, in the traditional province of Ulster. The earliest known Rankin ancestor for this line is Michael Rankin, who died in County Down in 1722.

James and Rosana Rankin, the earliest ancestors in the third L5 family, are buried in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. Descendants have located the family acreage and home, a charming farmhouse with a traditional thatched roof. James and Rosana are buried in the Old Donagheady Burial Ground in County Tyrone along with a son. The tombstone is inscribed “Sacred to the memory of James Rankin of Carrickatain who died Nov. 1835, aged 80 years. Also Rosana, his wife, Oct 1834 and his son William, died 29 Jan 1866 age 66.”[74]

William’s widow Matilda and children migrated to Perry County, Alabama. Several are buried in the Marion Cemetery there. The tombstones for Matilda Rankin and her son Anthony state that he or she was born in County Tyrone.[75]

Lineage 6

Lineage 6 has two men who men with fascinating Revolutionary War stories. L6 may have a common Rankin ancestor in the Northern Neck of Virginia, where Rankins began appearing in the late 1600s.[76] They migrated westward, primarily in counties on the south side of the Potomac River.[77] By the 1770s, Rankins had appeared in many of Virginia’s Northern Neck counties and into the area that became Berkeley and Morgan Counties, West Virginia. Given their early arrival in the colonies, they may have come from England rather than Scotland or Ulster. Further, the Northern Neck Rankins apparently lack the multigenerational Presbyterianism characteristic of  Scots-Irish  immigrants.

The  earliest known Rankin ancestor for each of the six L6 participants was born in Virginia. Four of the L6 lines lived in Frederick County; one lived in Stafford County. The Virginia county origin of the sixth L6 ancestor is unknown, although his birth in Virginia is established.

Robert Rankin (1753-1837) and his wife Margaret (“Peggy”) Berry are the ancestors of three people in Lineage 6. Robert was a Lieutenant in the Revolutionary War and is buried in the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. His brother William was also a Revolutionary War soldier.. The two Rankins originally enlisted in Hugh Stephenson’s Maryland and Virginia Rifle Company, an elite unit of sharpshooters. William was captured at the Battle of Ft. Washington and endured a lengthy imprisonment in brutal conditions. Upon release, an officer and family friend sent him home to Virginia in a wagon. Lt. Robert  also has a remarkable military history. He survived the famous winter at Valley Forge and was captured at the Siege of Charleston.

Lt. Robert, William, and John Rankin, another brother, all lived in Mason County, Kentucky. They may have had other siblings, but the Northern Neck Rankins are hard to pin down. The brothers’ parents are unproved, although speculative theories abound. William[78] and John[79] died in Mason County. Lt. Robert left Mason and lived in Logan County, Kentucky, Washington County, Alabama (then part of the Mississippi Territory), Texas while it was still part of Mexico, and St. Landry Parish, Louisiana. His wife Peggy’s pension application and her will prove she and Lt. Robert had 10 children.[80]

Lt. Robert and Peggy’s line is unusual in several respects. First, one descendant is established by a combination of autosomal and Y-DNA testing. Second, two of their descendants have an unusual unknown in their line. They know they are descended from a son of Robert and Peggy, but which of two sons is unknown. Third, those two members’ descent from Lt. Robert and Peggy is convincingly established by Texas land records written in Spanish.

Here are the details. Two of Robert Rankin’s sons, Thomas Berry Rankin and Joseph Rankin, died at the Battle of Ft. Mims, Alabama in 1813.[81] There seems to be no evidence of childrens’ names in Alabama records. Fortunately, Texas land grants help fill the evidentiary gap. Lt. Robert’s 1834 land grant in Joseph Vehlein’s colony[82] in Texas (then part of Mexico) states that he came to Texas with “mi mujer y tres huerfanos” – his wife and three orphans.[83]

Texas land grant records also include character certificates[84] for two men named William Rankin and James Rankin. Each identified himself in his character certificate as an orphan from Alabama. They were the right age to be sons of the Ft. Mims casualties. Because of the lack of Alabama evidence, it is uncertain which Ft. Mims soldier was either orphan’s father. Both orphans have a proved descendant in the project. One, a descendant of Orphan William, has Y-DNA tested and is a match to Lineage 6. He is an autosomal match to a proved female descendant of Orphan James. And that’s a really fine example of the value of DNA testing.

John Rankin (died in 1841) of Henderson County, Kentucky is the only L6 ancestor who cannot be placed in a specific Virginia County. There were two Rankin lines in Henderson County in the 1800s. Dr. Adam Rankin, a grandson of Adam and Mary Steele Alexander Rankin of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was the patriarch of one Henderson County family. A descendant of his has tested and belongs in Lineage 9. Dr. Adam’s line can be distinguished from the L6 Rankin family based on Henderson tax lists.

John and his wife Elizabeth Clay Rankin were the second Henderson County Rankin family. A census says that John was born in Virginia,[85] but I have found no evidence of the county. John and Elizabeth’s children are established by a convincing web of connections in county records.[86] Among their children was an interesting character named Abia Benjamin, who traded a flatboat for land and subsequently amassed substantial acreage by bidding on adjoining tracts. He also planted a huge orchard which bore apples useless for anything except making cider. He gave the fruit to all comers. There is a picture of Abia at this link. at this link.

Moses Rankin (died in 1845) is the earliest known Rankin ancestor of a third L6 family. He lived in Frederick County and perhaps other Virginia counties, including Loudoun.[87] He migrated to Mason County, Kentucky, possibly from Frederick. His Mason County will named his wife Mary and a son William. He mentioned “my children” without providing their given names and a farm in Nicholas County.[88] His wife was Mary (“Polly”) Gill. They married in Mason County in 1795.[89]

A second John Rankin (born by 1766) who lived in Stafford County is the remaining L6 ancestor. His whereabouts prior to Stafford are unknown. Some of Stafford John’s family apparently moved to Licking County, Ohio. A descendant of the Licking County family who identifies Stafford John as an ancestor is a Y-DNA match with the Northern Neck Rankin descendants.

Lineage 9

Only two members of the Project who have tested have solid paper trails proving their descent from Adam Rankin and Mary Steele Alexander of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The two men are a Y-DNA match, although not a close one. One man is descended from Dr. Adam Rankin of Franklin County, Pennsylvania and Henderson County, Kentucky. Dr. Adam was a son of William and Mary Huston Rankin of Franklin and grandson of Adam and Mary. The other L9 member is descended from Reverend Adam Rankin of Lexington, Kentucky. Rev. Adam was a son of Adam and Mary Steele Rankin’s son Jeremiah Rankin.

Adam and Mary have some interesting descendants. They include Rev. Adam of Lexington, who established a Presbyterian congregation there and is known for his obsession with a theological issue known as “Psalmody.” Adam and Mary’s line also includes Confederate Brigadier General Adam Rankin “Stovepipe” Johnson, famous for capturing an Ohio town during the Civil War without firing a shot. He used a clever ruse involving, of course, a stovepipe. Descendants also include Revolutionary War veterans, many doctors, two professional baseball players, the Chairman of the Board of Churchill Downs, and the editor of a Texas newspaper. With such an abundance of interesting characters, I have written about this line often. If you are a descendant, you might be interested in some of the articles about Adam’s line identified in this link.  

Adam and Mary’s three proved sons – James, William, and Jeremiah – lived in the part of Lancaster County that became Cumberland and then Franklin County. James died in 1795, leaving six children and a wife Jean, maiden name unproved.[90] William married Mary Huston and died in Franklin in 1792.[91]

Jeremiah married Rhoda Craig and died in 1760 in a mill accident. He left four sons, including Rev. Adam Rankin of future Psalmody fame. All four sons (Rev. Adam, Jeremiah, William, and Thomas) went to Fayette and Woodford Counties, Kentucky. So far as I have found, the only county record in which Jeremiah Rankin appeared was the Lancaster County 1747 will of his father Adam.

If you are a male Rankin descendant of Adam and Mary Steele Alexander, I hope that you will do a Y-DNA test and join the Rankin DNA Project. Please contact me for information and anything I can do to help! This important line warrants further testing.

And that’s all the news that is currently fit to print. Your comments, questions, and corrections are most welcome.

See you on down the road with, I hope, exciting news in 2022.

Robin Rankin Willis

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[1] The Project website doesn’t show a total of 75 Y-DNA test results. That is because some participants do not permit FTDNA to display Y-DNA results, despite anonymity. If you are considering testing, please be assured that Y-DNA information is identified on the website only by FTDNA kit number to safeguard privacy.

[2] Y-DNA participants include men who were adopted and have a surname other than Rankin, although their biological fathers were Rankins.

[3] The Rankin DNA Project needs additional administrative help. Please contact me if you are interested in grouping members into lineages, doing occasional research, maintaining and creating material for the Project website, identifying lines which need testing, or recruiting men to test. None of those things are difficult. They just need to be shared.

[4] Rev. John Rankin (1757-1850) found his Presbyterian faith emotionally unsatisfying and became a Shaker. A transcription of his autobiography is available from the Library Special Collections department of Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green.

[5] Raymond Dufau Donnelly, Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Cemetery (Greensboro: The Guilford County Genealogical Society, 1994). Mr. Donnell’s book contains tombstone inscriptions and many relationship identifications. It is meticulously sourced.

[6] Rev. S. M. Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People: Greensboro, N.C. (J. J. Stone & Co., Printers, 1934).

[7] Find-a-Grave has a number of Rankin tombstone images at Buffalo Church, as well as several fanciful claims. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/1987536/memorial-search?firstname=&middlename=&lastname=Rankin&cemeteryName=Buffalo+Presbyterian+Church+Cemetery&birthyear=&birthyearfilter=&deathyear=&deathyearfilter=&memorialid=&mcid=&linkedToName=&datefilter=&orderby=r&page=2#sr-161801342. In the latter category, the website has the patriarch Robert Rankin’s name (no tombstone image) listed as Robert Estes Rankin. My opinion of that claim is unprintable.

[8] Robert and George Rankin were on the 1753 Chester Co. tax list for West Nottingham Township. 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).

[9] Shaker Rev. John Rankin’s autobiography says the family came to NC in 1755. The first deeds I found to which Robert was a party were executed in 1753. E.g., Rowan Co., NC Deed Book 2: 102, Granville grant to Robert Rankin dated 1 Dec 1753, 480 acres on the south side of Brushy Fork in a part of Rowan that later became Guilford. Robert and Rebecca gave that tract to their son George, see Rowan Co. Deed Book 2: 70, Robert Rankin and wife Rebecca to George Rankin, 480 acres on the south side of Brushy Fork for five shillings. The token consideration of five shillings flags the conveyance as a gift.

[10] Guilford Co., NC Will Book A: 318, will of Robert Rankin dated and proved in 1795. It named his son George, three sons of his deceased daughter Mary Rankin Wilson, and a daughter Isabel Rankin. Two other daughters are proved by the terms of the will but are not identified by name. Robert’s 1795 will identifies the testator as Robert Sr., perhaps causing some researchers to wrongly conclude the will was that of Robert, the original immigrant. See discussion of that issue at this link. http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2016/05/28/the-rankins-of-guilford-county-nc-the-mistake-identity-of-the-robert-rankin-who-died-there-in-1795/

[11] I believe the wife of the Robert Rankin who died in 1795 is unproved. Some researchers identify her as Jean Denny, see Note 16. I disagree because I believe the Robert who d. 1795 was Jean Denny’s uncle. Jean’s parents were William Denny Sr. and Ann Rankin Denny. Ann was a daughter of Robert and Rebecca, proved by a gift deed of land from her father Robert to her husband. William Denny’s will named his wife Ann and a daughter Jean Denny. Their daughter Jean was the only Jean Denny I found in Guilford who was of marriageable age in 1775, when she married a Robert Rankin.

[12] Guilford Co., NC Will Book A: 119, will of Arthur Forbis dated 1789, proved 1794. Executors were John and Robert Rankin, identified by the testator as his stepsons.

[13] Iredell Co., NC Will Book A: 200, will of David Rankin of Rowan Co. dated March 1787, proved 1789. Iredell was created from Rowan Co. in 1788.

[14] The evidence that James Rankin, son of Iredell David, died at Ramsour’s Mill is lengthy and difficult. See a discussion in this article. http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2017/01/18/the-mysterious-robert-rankin-of-gibson-county-tn/

[15] Anne Williams McAllister & Kathy Gunter Sullivan, Civil Action Papers, 1771-1806, of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, Lincoln County, North Carolina (Lenoir, NC: 1989), April 1791, guardian bond of John Alexander as guardian of David, Jane, Margaret, and William Rankin, orphans of James Rankin, deceased.

[16] Some Robert Rankin married Jean Denny in Guilford in February 1775. Frances T. Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records 1771-1868 Volume III Names O-Z (Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Co., 1984). Many Rankin researchers believe the 1775 groom was the son of Robert and Rebecca of Guilford. However, that Robert was probably Jean Denny’s uncle. I believe the man who married Jean Denny was Iredell David and Margaret’s son Robert. See http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2019/08/06/robert-rankins-guilford-county-nc/  Robert and Jean Rankin of Iredell named a son Denny.

[17] See the article about Robert Rankin of Gibson Co., TN at http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2017/01/18/the-mysterious-robert-rankin-of-gibson-county-tn/.

[18] See Lois M. P. Schneider, Church and Family Cemeteries of Iredell County, N.C. (1992). There are five Rankin graves in the Centre Presbyterian Church cemetery: Jean, James, Elizabeth (wife of James), “Dennie” [sic, Denny] and Sarah (wife of Denny). Elizabeth and Sarah were sisters, maiden name McMin. See Lincoln Co., NC Will Book 1: 124, will of Rachel McMin of Lincoln dated 1828, proved 1829, naming daughters Elizabeth Rankin and Sarah Rankin.

[19] Rev. S. M. Rankin, The Rankin and Wharton Families and Their Genealogy (Greensboro, N.C., J. J. Stone & Co., printers and binders, 1931) 22. Rev. Rankin argued convincingly that John and William Rankin fought at Guilford Courthouse. Id. at 255-257.

[20] The members of Joseph and Rebecca’s family who remained in Delaware belonged to and are buried at Head of Christiana Presbyterian Church https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/191343/memorial-search?firstname=&middlename=&lastname=Rankin&cemeteryName=Head+of+Christiana+Church+Cemetery&birthyear=&birthyearfilter=&deathyear=&deathyearfilter=&memorialid=&mcid=&linkedToName=&datefilter=&orderby=rand White Clay Creek Presbyterian Church in https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/977816/memorial-search?firstname=&middlename=&lastname=Rankin&cemeteryName=White+Clay+Creek+Church+Cemetery&birthyear=&birthyearfilter=&deathyear=&deathyearfilter=&memorialid=&mcid=&linkedToName=&datefilter=&orderby=rNew Castle County.

[21] One unsourced history says that Joseph came from “Clyde Scotland.” It also claims that Joseph’s children were born in Scotland, which is not correct. Bill and Martha Reamy, Genealogical Abstracts from Biographical and Genealogical History of the State of Delaware (Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books, 2001). The Find-a-Grave image of Joseph’s tombstone https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/14416262/joseph-rankin says he was born in Ulster. It is also unsourced.

[22] USGenWeb Archives, Chester Co., London Britain Township, 1729 tax list, http://files.usgwarchives.net/pa/chester/taxlists/london1729.txt identifying “Joseph Ranken” as a “freeman.” London Britain Township is in the southeastern corner of Pennsylvania, bordering the MD and DE lines. Strickersville, the largest town in London Britain, is less than four miles from Head of Christiana Presbyterian Church in Newark, where Joseph is buried.

[23] Id., 1730 tax list, http://files.usgwarchives.net/pa/chester/taxlists/london1730.txt.   “Joseph Rinken” was taxed as a freeman in London Britain Township.

[24] I cannot locate the 1731 deed in which Joseph acquired the White Clay Creek tract. The conveyance is proved by recitals in another deed. See New Castle Co., DE Deed Book Y1: 499, deed dated 9 Apr 1768 from John Rankin and wife Hannah of Orange Co., NC (a predecessor county to Guilford) and William Rankin of New Castle Co., DE, grantors, to Thomas Rankin and Joseph Rankin, both of New Castle, grantees, 21.75 acres on the south side of White Clay Creek. The deed recites that James Miller conveyed to Joseph Rankin 150 acres on the south side of White Clay Cr. in 1731. It also recites that Joseph Rankin’s will devised 21.75 acres of that tract to John and William Rankin, who conveyed it to Thomas and Joseph Rankin. I have been unable to find Joseph’s will in the New Castle probate records.

[25] Id.

[26] Both Robert and James Rankin served in Capt. Walter Carson’s militia company in the Delaware 1st Battalion, as did Joseph’s proved son Lt. Thomas Rankin. Henry C. Peden, Jr., Revolutionary Patriots of Delaware 1775-1783(Westminster, MD: Family Line Publications, 1996). Additionally, Joseph Jr., Robert, James, and Lt. Thomas all signed an “Oath of Allegiance” in New Castle. Delaware Archives Revolutionary War in Three Volumes, Volume II (Wilmington: Chas. H. Story Company Press, 1919) 998. Finally, the 1782 tax list for White Clay Creek Hundred lists James immediately adjacent Thomas and Joseph Jr., suggesting the three were living together. Ralph D. Nelson, Jr., Catherine B. Nelson, Thomas P. Doherty, Mary Fallon Richards, John C. Richards, Delaware – 1782 Tax Assessment and Census Lists (Wilmington: Delaware Genealogical Society, 1994).

[27] New Castle Co., DE Will Book S: 116, will of Joseph Rankin (Jr.) dated Oct 1819 proved Jun 1820. Joseph left $100 to his sister Ann and provided that she was to live with “my two nephews Joseph and Thomas Rankin” (sons of Lt. Thomas and Elizabeth Montgomery Rankin).

[28] Rankin, The Rankin and Wharton Families 55, 149. Rev. Rankin gives John’s birth year as 1736 and William’s as 1744. He said both men were born in Delaware. Joseph Sr.’s probable son James Rankin was born in 1749 and lived in Delaware when he enlisted.

[29] Id. Rev. Rankin’s book is the definitive source for descendants of Joseph and Rebecca’s sons John and William Rankin.

[30] Only one of Joseph’s two descendants who have tested participates in the Rankin DNA Project. The non-participant is a Y-DNA match with a member of the Project. I confirmed the non-participant’s descent from Joseph via traditional paper research.

[31] See Note 27, will of Joseph Rankin (Jr.) was probated in New Castle.

[32] New Castle Co., DE Orphans’ Court Book 5, an 1801 petition for sale of part of Thomas Rankin’s land to pay debts. Joseph Rankin Jr. was an administrator of the estate. The petition said Thomas was survived by his widow Elizabeth and five children: Joseph, Hannah, Montgomery, Margaret and Thomas. The eldest was fifteen in 1801.

[33] New Castle Co., Deed Book N5: 7, deed reciting that Joseph Rankin Jr. devised his land to Joseph and Thomas Rankin, sons of Joseph’s brother Thomas. See also Note 27.

[34] See Note 32, petition for sale of land.

[35] Washington Co., PA Will Book 5: 370, will of James Rankin of Smith Township, Washington Co., PA dated 1834, proved 1837. James named his children William, Joseph, John, Martha (“Patty”), Rebeccah, and Mary Rankin. John went to Belmont Co., OH and William went to Delaware Co., OH. James Rankin’s entire pension file is available with a subscription on Fold3 at Ancestry.

[36] Joseph and Rebecca’s son Lt. Thomas is evidently buried in the same grave as Joseph because there is a marker for Thomas at the foot of Joseph’s tombstone. See images at  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/15494084/thomas-rankin and https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/14416262/joseph-rankin

[37] New Castle Co., DE Orphans’ Court Record for 16 Apr 1765, online at Ancestry.com in Delaware Wills & Probate Records, 1676-1971, Register of Wills, Anna Racine – Lydia Rash, file of “Rankin, Joseph 1765.” The record refers to William and Rebecca Rankin as administrators of Joseph Rankin’s estate rather than as executors of his will. That suggests the will may not have been admitted to probate, which might explain why it doesn’t seem to be recorded in the New Castle will books.

[38] Lancaster Co., PA Will Book J: 211, will of John Rankin dated 1 Jan 1749 and proved 25 Feb 1749/50. Some researchers seek to reconcile the conflict between the family oral history (John’s wife was Jane McElwee) and John’s will (his wife’s name was Margaret) by giving John’s wife a middle name: Jane Margaret McElwee or Margaret Jane McElwee. The overwhelming odds are that a person born circa 1700 did not have a middle name. Another possibility is that John married more than once. A third possibility is that a different John Rankin’s wife was Jane McElwee.

[39] Thomas Rankin was a grand juror in Cumberland, PA in 1752. Diane E. Greene, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania Quarter Session Dockets 1750-1785 (Baltimore: Clearfield Company, Inc. 2000), citing Quarter Sessions Docket 1: 16. Thomas and his wife sold a  Cumberland County tract in 1779. Cumberland Co., PA Deed Book 1E: 511, Thomas and Isabel Rankin of Cumberland to John Rankin of same, 100 acres in  Fermanagh Township on the north side of the Juniata River.

[40] See the pension application of Thomas and Isabel Rankin’s son William transcribed at the end of this article. http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2021/07/10/same-name-confusion-thomas-rankin-of-east-tennessee-and-what-the-heck-is-depreciation-pay/ The pension application relates the family’s migration within Pennsylvania and then to Augusta Co., VA.

[41] See, e.g., Timber Ridge Church: A Two Hundred Year Heritage of Presbyterian Faith 1786-1986 (Greeneville, TN: 1986), identifying Thomas Rankin of Pennsylvania as a church elder. According to the Mt. Horeb tablet, the twelve children of Thomas and Isabel Clendennon Rankin were (1) John 1754-1825 m. Martha Waugh, (2) Richard 1756-1827 m. Jennett Steele, (3) Samuel 1758-1828 m. Miss Petty, (4) William 1760-1834 m. Sarah Moore, (5) Thomas 1762-1832 m. Jennett Bradshaw, (6) James 1770-1839 m. Miss Massey, (7) Jane m. William Gillespie, (8) Margaret M. m. Samuel Harris, (9) Ann m. Lemuel Lacy, (10) Isabel m. Robt. McQuiston, (11) Mary m. James Bradshaw, and (12) Nancy m. Samuel White.

[42] See, e.g., Cumberland Co., PA Will Book B: 138, will of Robert Reed dated 18 Feb 1772 witnessed by Richard Rankin et al.

[43] Ruth and Sam Sparacio, Virginia County Court Records Land Tax Book Augusta County, Virginia 1788 – 1790 (The Antient Press, 1997), 1788 tax list included Richard Rankin Sr.; Lyman Chalkley, Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1965), Volume III 199, will of Richard Rankin dated 1 Mar 1788, proved Dec. 1792. Richard Sr.’s will named sons Richard, Isaac, Joseph, George, John, James, Samuel, and Armstrong Rankin and daughters Rachel Gilston and Mary Johnson.

[44] There is a transcription of the legend at this link. http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2018/07/17/pa-tn-rankins-famous-rankin-legend/

[45] Lancaster Co., PA Will Book J, Vol. 1: 208, will of Adam Rankin dated and proved in 1747 naming his sons James, William, and Jeremiah and his daughter Esther Dunwoody.

[46] The marker has vanished, but it was inscribed, “In memory of the following Revolutionary soldiers” with the names Robert Alexander (brother of Eleanor Alexander Rankin), William Rankin (Sam and Eleanor’s son), Samuel Rankin, et al. FamilySearch.org Film # 0,882,938, item 2, “Pre-1914 Cemetery Inscription Survey, Gaston Co., prepared by the Historical Records Survey Service Division, Works Progress Administration.” Samuel Sr.’s tombstone has  disappeared, but Eleanor’s tombstone http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2020/10/19/eleanor-ellen-alexander-rankins-tombstone/ still exists.

[47] William Rankin’s pension application is transcribed at this link. http://revwarapps.org/s7342.pdf

[48] There is a discussion of these issues in this article. http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2017/07/05/samuel-and-eleanor-ellen-alexander-rankin-a-few-corrections-to-the-record/

[49] Anson Co., NC Deed Book B: 314 et seq., gift deeds dated 12 Jan 1753 from James Alexander of Anson to his children James Jr., John, David, Eleanor, and Robert. James and Ann Alexander also had a son William, their eldest. Rowan Co., NC Deed Book 3: 495. Prior to NC, the Alexanders lived in Amelia Co., VA. I don’t know where they lived before that, but Cecil Co., MD, New Castle, DE, and Lancaster or Chester Co., PA are all reasonable bets. That area is swamped with Alexanders.

[50] See note 47.

[51] Lincoln Co., NC Will Book 1: 37, will of Samuel Rankin of Lincoln Co. dated Dec 1814 and proved April 1826. The will names sons William, Samuel, David, Robert, Alexander, and James and daughters Jean Heartgrove, Anna Rutledge, and Nelly Dickson.

[52] Richard Rankin died in 1804. Charles William Sommerville, The History of Hopewell Presbyterian Church(Charlotte, NC: 1939). Circumstantial evidence proves Richard was Samuel and Eleanor’s son. Samuel’s sons William and Alexander were administrators of Richard’s estate. Samuel Rankin Jr. was guardian of Richard’s children. See NC State Library and Archives, C.R.065.508.210, Mecklenburg County Estates Records, 1762 – 1957, Queen – Rankin, file folder labeled “Rankin, Richard 1804” (administrators’ bond); 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, an 1807 order appointing Samuel Rankin guardian for the children of Richard Rankin.

[53] WPA cemetery survey, see note 46. The survey recorded tombstones for both Samuel (1734 – 1816) and Ellen Rankin (Eleanor, 16 April 1740 – 26 Jan 1802). Samuel’s last appearance in the Lincoln records was in July 1816, supporting the death date in the survey. Lincoln Co., NC Deed Book 27: 561, deed dated 25 Jul 1816 from Samuel Rankin to James Rankin for land on Stanley’s Cr.

[54] Sam and Eleanor’s children David, Samuel Jr., Robert, and Nelly Rankin Dickson went to Rutherford Co., TN. David stayed in Rutherford, but his three siblings moved to Shelby Co., Illinois. William, Alexander, James, and Anna Rankin Rutledge stayed in Lincoln. Jean Rankin Heartgrove http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2017/08/06/line-samuel-one-eyed-sam-eleanor-ellen-alexander-rankin-jean-rankin-heartgrove/  and family lived across the Catawba River in Mecklenburg Co., NC.

[55] Charles A. Hanna, Ohio Valley Genealogies Relating Chiefly to Families in Harrison, Belmont and Jefferson Counties, Ohio, and Washington, Westmoreland, and Fayette Counties, Pennsylvania (New York: Press of J. J. Little & Co., 1900) 103 et seq.

[56] Frederick Co., VA Will Book 3: 443, will of David Rankin Sr. dated 1757 and proved 1768. Some researchers identify David Sr.’s wife as “Jennett Mildred,” although no Frederick County records identify her with a middle name or initial. Researchers who call her Jennett Mildred may have  conflated her with an entirely different woman, a Mildred Rankin who was married to a David Rankin who was a grandson of David Rankin Sr. See Frederick Co. Deed Book 13: 8, lease dated 22 Mar 1769 for the life of David Rankin and his wife Mildred and Smith Rankin, his brother. The deed was dated after David Sr. died.

[57] Abstracts of Wills, Inventories, and Administration Accounts of Frederick County, Virginia, 1743-1800 (Baltimore: Genealogical Pub. Co., 1980) 31, will of Thomas Province dated 5 May 1767 naming among other children his daughter Hannah Rankin.

[58] Harrison Co., KY Will Book A:3, will of David Rankin of Harrison Co., KY naming his wife Hannah, sons William, Thomas, and David, and daughters Jenny Blackburn, Sarah Roberts, Hannah Morrison, Mary Rawlings, and Lettey Hays or Hals.

[59] Washington Co., PA Will Book 1: 206, will of William Rankin of Raccoon Cr., Smith Twp., Washington Co., PA. William named his wife Abigail and sons David, Matthew, Thomas, William, Jesse, and Samuel, his daughter Abigail Rankin Campbell (wife of Charles Campbell), a daughter of his deceased son Zachariah, two children of his deceased son John, and two children of his daughter Mary Rankin Cherry (wife of Thomas).

[60] Fayette Co., PA Deed Book D: 192, conveyance by William Jr. and his wife Jane recited provisions of the will of his father, William Sr., whose will was dated 5 Aug 1794. I have not found the will, although the deed recitals prove one existed.

[61] Franklin Ellis, History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, Vol. 1 (Philadelphia: L. H. Everts & Co., 1882) 672: “Financial troubles overtaking Mr. Rankin, he disposed of his property about the year 1800 and removed to the West.” See also Fayette Co., PA Deed Book C3: 1241, agreement dated Sept 1798 to secure notes owed by James Rankin to his relatives James Rankin, Samuel Rankin, and Elizabeth Rankin Gillespie’s family.

[62] Fayette Co., PA Deed Book C3: 1387. The lengthy agreement specified when to sell tracts, when to move out, where to live, access to pasture, how to pay, and numerous other detailed conditions. It listed debts to four men who lived in Ohio Co., VA, Uniontown, Fayette Co., PA, Charlestown, VA, and Washington Co., PA, plus a woman who lived in Uniontown.

[63] See deed in prior footnote.

[64] Find-a-Grave has images of the identical tombstones of Hugh (1750 – 1826) and Esther (1760 – 1831) in the Associate Reformed Cemetery in Laurel Hill. See also Fayette Co., Will Book 1: 275 (Hugh Rankin’s will proved in 1826) and Will Book 1: 330 (Esther Rankin’s will proved in 1831).

[65] Franklin Ellis, History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, identifying Hugh and Esther’s children William, Esther, Ann, and Thomas; only Thomas remained in Fayette.

[66] The family Bible says William Rankin (Jr.) d. Dec 1807; wife Jane d. 1837. Both are buried in the Associate Reformed (Presbyterian) Cemetery in Laurel Hill, Fayette Co. The Bible entries for the birth dates of their children are: Thomas Rankin 1786, Esther Rankin 1788, James Rankin 1789, Ann Rankin 1791, Hugh Rankin 1793, Samuel Rankin 1795, Mary Rankin 1797, James Rankin 1799, William Rankin 1800, John Rankin 1802, and Joseph Rankin 1804.

[67] Find-a-grave has images for the tombstones of both Thomas https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/47828906/thomas-rankin  and his wife Elizabeth Stevens. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/47828808/elizabeth-rankin

[68] Will of David Rankin dated 7 Feb 1802 abstracted by Goldene Fillers Burgner, Greene County, Tennessee Wills, 1783-1890 (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press, 1981). David Sr.’s will named his children James Rankin, Mary Williams, Robert Rankin, David Rankin Jr., Ann Rankin, Elizabeth Rankin, and Jane Rankin.

[69] See https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/29dbc658-cdcc-4f12-8c30-8dc877e7fdb4. The application for historic site designation contains several errors.

[70] Will of James McMurtree dated 30 Dec 1771, Bedford Co., VA, witnessed by David Rankin and proved 24 Mar 1772 by his “solemn affirmation,” David “being one of the People called Quakers.” Joida Whitten, Abstracts of Bedford County, Virginia Wills, Inventories and Accounts 1754-1787 (Dallas: Taylor Publishing Co., 1968). I found only one David Rankin in Bedford County in the late 1700s.

[71] See, e.g., Mt. Bethel Presbyterian Cemetery in Greene County, tombstones of David Rankin Jr., 1775 – 1836 (son of David Sr.) and his wife Jane B. Dinwiddie, plus a number of their descendants. Buford Reynolds, Greene County Cemeteries from Earliest Dates to 1970-1971 (1971).

[72] Edward L. Ayers and Anne S. Rubin, The Valley of the Shadow: Two Communities in the American Civil War (New York: W. W. Norton & Co. Inc., 2000).

[73] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/121616688/chambers-rankin. The Old Log Church is Lutheran, although Chambers’ siblings are buried in Presbyterian cemeteries.

[74] See the tombstone transcription at this link.

https://cotyroneireland.com/graveyard/donagheady/pg044.html.

[75] E.g., https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/100035922/matilda-rankin

[76] E.g., Dec. 1693, power of attorney granted to John Rankin. Richmond Co., VA DB 1: 102, abstracted by Beverley Fleet, Virginia Colonial Abstracts Vol. XVI Richmond County Records 1692 – 1704 (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1961) 33. See also the 1706 deed witnessed by Robert Rankin, Richmond Co. Deed Book 4: 86a, abstracted by Ruth and Sam Sparacio, Virginia County Court Records, Deed Abstracts of King George County, Virginia (1753-1773) (McLean, VA: 1987).

[77] For example, there are a wealth of Rankin records in King George Co., VA in the 1700s. Rankins lived there along with Berry, Kendall, Marshall, Woffendall/Woffendale, and Harrison families. Those families are all connected to Northern Neck Rankins.

[78] William Rankin left no will, but a Mason Co. court record has information about his family. William d. 12 Apr 1836 and his widow Mary Ann Rankin d. 29 Jul 1836. Their children were Harrison, Blackstone H., James M., John L., Robert P., Thomas, Elizabeth Hall (husband John), Sarah Rankin (who married a John Rankin), and Harriet Stockson (husband George D.). Lula Reed Boss, Mason County, Kentucky: families, court records, Bible records, declarations of soldiers (Limestone, KY chapter of the DAR, 1944-45) 403; original court record at FamilySearch.org Film #7647144, images 1042-43.

[79] Mason Co., KY Will Book E: 53, will of John Rankin (Sr.) dated and proved in 1819. The will named his wife Winnifred, “affectionate brother William Rankin,” and children Nancy Rankin (wife of John Rankin (Jr.), a son of Moses Rankin), Huldah Rankin, Marshall Rankin, Frances Rankin, Polly Rankin, Margaret Rankin, and Elizabeth Rankin. There were apparently two men named Moses Rankin in Mason Co.

[80] Lt. Robert and Peggy Kendall Rankin’s children were (1) Thomas Berry Rankin (1783 – 1813, Ft. Mims), (2) Elizabeth Rankin (b. 1785, no further record), (3) William Marshall Rankin (b. 1786), (4) Joseph Rankin (1788 – 1813, Ft. Mims), (5) John K. Rankin (b. 1791), (6) James Rankin (b. 1792), (7) Frederick Harrison Rankin (1794 – 1874), (8) Henry Rankin (b. 1796, no further record), (9) Massena Rankin McCombs, and (1) Francis Rankin Hubert.

[81] See, e.g., Gregory A. Waselkov, A Conquering Spirit: Fort Mims and the Redstick War of 1813-1814 (Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 2006), Appendix #1 250-51. The book identifies Joseph Rankin as a “Tombigbee resident, born in Kentucky, brother of Thomas Berry Rankin.” The book lists both Joseph and Thomas B. Rankin as casualties at Ft. Mims. It has two errors about the Rankin family: it assigns both Lt. Robert and his wife Margaret (“Peggy”) three names. Specifically,  it identifies Joseph and Thomas B.’s father as “Richard Robert Rankin” and his wife as “Margaret Kendall Rankin.” There seems to be no evidence in voluminous records about this couple to support three names, or even middle initials. It is 99% certain that neither “Richard” nor “Kendall” is correct.

[82] Vehlein’s Colony included the area where Robert Rankin’s family settled, now in San Jacinto Co., TX. See the map at this link. https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/vehlein-joseph

[83] If anyone has a yen to translate Lt. Robert’s grant, here is the online image  https://s3.glo.texas.gov/ncu/SCANDOCS/archives_webfiles/arcmaps/webfiles/landgrants/PDFs/1/0/3/0/1030662.pdf   at the GLO website.

[84] Gifford White, Character Certificates in the General Land Office of Texas. (Austin: 1985).  Character certificates were required by Mexico in order to obtain land. See also the “Spanish Collection of the General Land Office,” which contains land titles issued by Mexico during 1821-1836, along with associated documents such as character certificates.

[85] See 1880 federal census, Fords Ferry, Crittenden Co., KY, listing for A. B. Rankin (Abia Benjamin), born in Illinois, parents born in Virginia. Abia was a son of John and Elizabeth Clay Rankin. A descendant of Abia’s has tested and falls in Lineage 6.

[86] John and Elizabeth Clay’s children were Marston T., James W. (administrator of John’s estate), John B., William W., Barnett C., Abia Benjamin, George R., and Mary Rankin Berry.

[87] The given name Moses appeared often in the Northern Neck Rankin line. The Moses Rankin of L6 might be the same man as the Moses who appeared in an Aug 1792 Frederick Co., VA lease to Benjamin Rankin of Loudoun Co., VA for the life of Benjamin and his brothers Moses and Robert, lease witnessed by George Rankin. Frederick Co., VA Deed Book 22: 303. The Moses of L6 is not the same man as the Moses named in the will of Robert Rankin of King George Co. proved Mar 1747/48. That Robert’s will named his children William, John, James, Moses, George, Benjamin, Hipkins or Hopkins, and Mary Rankin Green. King George Co., VA Will Book 1-A: 201. Moses of Lineage 6 was born between about 1770, see the 1830 census for Nicholas Co., KY (Moses b. 1760 – 1770) and the 1840 census for Fleming Co. (Moses b. 1770 – 1780). He was not yet born when Robert wrote his King George Co. will.

[88] Mason Co., KY Will Book D: 357, will of Moses Rankin dated 14 Mar 1845, proved April 1845. There is also a  Kentucky death record identifying Moses and Mary Rankin as the parents of William Rankin, 1808-1877, of Robertson Co., KY. Ancestry.com, Kentucky, U.S., Death Records, 1852-1965 [database online]. Lehi, UT, USA. Ancestry.com Operations Inc., 2007.

[89] Selby Publishing, Mason County, Kentucky Marriage Records 1789 – 1833 (Kokomo, IN: 1999), marriage bond dated 14 Nov 1795 for Moses Rankin and Molly Gill, bondsman Edward Gill. Another Moses Rankin married Ann (“Nancy”) Berry the same year.

[90] Franklin Co., PA Will Book Volume A: 345, will of James Rankin of Montgomery Township dated 1788 proved 1795. His children were David, William, Jeremiah, James, Ruth Rankin Tool, and son-in-law Samuel Smith (wife Esther Rankin).

[91] Franklin Co., PA WB A-B: 256, Will of William Rankin dated and proved in 1792. The will names his wife Mary and children Adam, Archibald, James, William, Betsy, David, John, and Jeremiah. Dr. Adam, the eldest, went to Henderson County, Kentucky, married three times, and had a bunch of children. Archibald married Agnes Long and stayed in Franklin County. James, William, John, and Jeremiah went to Centre Co., PA where they had inherited land. David married Frances Campbell and went to Westmoreland Co., PA, Allen Co., IN, and Des Moines Co., IA.

Autobiography of Rev. John Rankin, Grandson of Robert & Rebecca Rankin of Guilford, NC

I previously promised to reproduce in full H. L. Eads’s transcription of Shaker Rev. John Rankin’s 1845 autobiography. That’s not going to happen, for reasons that will become clear. Instead, this article includes verbatim only the limited genealogical material in the autobiography. It also contains a general overview of the document and some additional details about Rev. John’s family.

Shaker Rev. John (1757–1850)[1] was the elder son of George and Lydia Steele Rankin.[2] He was a grandson of Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Rowan/Guilford Counties, North Carolina.[3] According to the autobiography, Robert, Rebecca, and George were originally from Letterkenny Parish, County Donegal, Ireland, when it was still part of the province of Ulster. Robert and Rebecca were this Rankin family’s immigrant ancestors.

Here’s why I must retract my promise to type Shaker Rev. John’s entire autobiography.[4] It is impenetrably dense prose. It is dreadfully prolix.[5] The content zooms miles past uninteresting and lands squarely in boring. It would surely cause readers to experience MEGO (“My Eyes Glaze Over”). Finally, the type is so blurry it is almost unreadable. My husband Gary described it as “word salad” and quit reading on page two of twenty. I persevered through the entire document and expect to receive some sort of Rankin Family Research prize for doing so. A quart of Visine would be appropriate.

Shaker Rev. John spent the bulk of his autobiography recounting his education, religious development, opinions, and mental state – beginning at age six. He was 88 when he wrote it. His self-absorption and memory are mind-boggling. My overall impression is that the autobiography is primarily theological navel-gazing. E.g., at about age nineteen, “my mind preponderated in favor of the newlight [sic, New Light”] scheme, and I greatly desired living religion that would reach my senses and understanding.”

As an adult, he reluctantly bought an enslaved person. He described the circumstances of the purchase in semi-exculpatory detail that was not entirely convincing. He stated the exact date of his marriage but, so help me God, did not mention his wife’s name! She was Rebecca Rankin, a daughter of John and Hannah Carson Rankin of Guilford County.[6] John Rankin was a son of Joseph and Rebecca Rankin of New Castle County, Delaware (1704 – 1764).[7] Y-DNA testing proves that John and Rebecca were genetically related, although the paper evidence establishes they were no closer than second cousins. The couple’s common Rankin ancestor lived on the other side of the Atlantic, possibly in Ulster, probably in Scotland.[8]

Shaker Rev. John also failed to mention the given names of his father George, his only sibling Robert, or the stepfather who raised him. Rev. John’s widowed mother Lydia Steele Rankin married Arthur Forbis (or Forbes) about 1764, when John was seven.[9] Rev. John’s younger brother was Robert Rankin (1759 – 1840), a Revolutionary War soldier who married (1) Mary (“Polly”) Cusick, then (2) Mary Moody. Robert died in McNairy County, TN in 1840.[10]

Shaker Rev. John was originally ordained a Presbyterian, of course: he came from a family of Scots-Irish immigrants. But he was depressed by Presbyterian doctrine and practices. He longed for something more. He finally had some sort of transformative experience while preaching at a revival meeting in Casper’s River, near the place that eventually became the Shaker colony at South Union, Kentucky. His sermon moved many to tears and trembling. He became a Shaker and was essentially the patriarch of the South Union colony.

If I have unfairly characterized his autobiography, I hope someone who has read it will offer a contrary opinion.

Here are relevant parts of it, verbatim. My comments, embedded in the text, are in italics.

“My parents emigrated from Ireland to the state of Pennsylvania & County of Lancaster in their youth – My Mother Lydia Steele, Jun., in the 13th year of her age under the superintendence of my grandmother Lydia Steele, Sen’r & the then single part of her family, in or about the year of 1746 from the County of Derry & parish of Newton; – the elder branches of the family removed before; and after this period, my eldest uncle John Steele, who was educated in Scotland & settled a Presbyterian preacher in the Town of Carlisle, with pay for life. – My father from the County of Donnegal [sic, Donegal] & parish of Letterkenny, about the year 1750, having then arrived to the year of maturity. [This suggests that George Rankin, Shaker Rev. John’s father, may have been born about 1729. George’s wife Lydia was born about 1733.]

… My Parents after a suitable acquaintance entered into that civil connection natural to the human family, who design living according to the order of the first Adam. After their union, they made preparation & emigrated to North Carolina in the month of July 1755 to lands purchased of Earl of Granville, the British proprietor, by a company in Lancaster County Pa. of which my father was a partner. [The Granville grants to Lancaster Co. Scots-Irish were collectively called “the Nottingham Settlement.” Many of the grantees were members of the West Nottingham Presbyterian Church, then located in Lancaster Co., later located in Rising Sun, Cecil Co., MD after the Mason-Dixon survey of the PA-MD line.[11] Most grantees lived in the disputed PA-MD area known as the “Nottingham Lots.”[12]] This grant of land contained 32 tracts of the first choice & was laid off in so many square miles (with some exception) about the center of Guilford County, & of course in the vicinity of Greensboro. The above mentioned company, who were principally Presbyterians of the old order, about this period emigrated, each to their respective possessions …

… I was born on the 27th of November 1757 two and a half years afterwards my Father was removed by death, & my Mother left a widow with two helpless infants, He left each of us children a tract of the above mentioned land. My Mother remained in her widowhood four years …

… On the 5th of December 1786, I entered a new relation in life & settled myself in a family capacity. [This is the date Shaker Rev. John and Rebecca married. The marriage bond was issued a few days earlier.]

 … [I was licensed as a Presbyterian minister in] the year 1795 … and [went to Sumner County Tennessee at a friend’s invitation] … [where] I found the inhabitants of the Presbyterian denomination comparatively a barren waste in a religious point of view … at the approach of Spring [1796], I returned home attended to my farm, and other secular concerns, received my Presbyterial appointments and fulfilled them through the summer

… I concluded, in union with my family to remove to the western country [Tennessee] without any visible prospect of regular settlement or congregational support. I sold my lands, crop & other disposable property and set out on the 6th of October in [1796], in company with Jesse McComb & family & arrove in the vicinity of Gallatin, Tenn. about the 15th of November; tarried there three months and then removed into the bounds of a small society on the ridge in Sumner County. In this place and two others equally destitute, I continued preaching near two years.

I … removed to this place, now, South Union, in December 1798.”

 John Rankin, sen. Now in the 88th year of my age.”

Unquote. End of excerpts.

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print about Shaker Rev. John’s autobiography. Other Rankins are tapping on my shoulder.

See you on down the road.

Robin

[1] Jim Small, Shaker Birth and Death Records, South Union Kentucky, accessed 24 Oct 2019 at http://homepages.rootsweb.com/~smalljd/ri/shbd.htm. See also Shaker Union burial records at http://files.usgwarchives.net/ky/logan/obits/b/gob1699burialsa.txt. The latter says, probably incorrectly, that Rev. John Rankin (shown as John Rankin Senior) was born in Pennsylvania. If John’s autobiography has the correct date for his parents’ move from PA to NC, he was born in North Carolina.

[2] See will of George Rankin dated and proved in 1760. He named his wife Lydia and two sons John and Robert. Guilford Co., NC Will Book A: 141. Lydia remarried, and her second husband, Arthur Forbis, named his stepsons John and Robert Rankin executors of his will. Guilford Co., NC Will Book A: 119.

[3] See deed from Robert Rankin and wife Rebecca to George Rankin, 5 shillings for 480 acres. Rowan Co., NC Deed Book 2: 70-73. The token price establishes the conveyance as a deed of gift and indicates a family relationship between grantors and grantee.

[4] If you wish to see the typed transcription of the original autobiography, you can obtain one from the Manuscripts & Folklife Archives, Library Special Collections, Western Kentucky University. The first page is headed “Auto-Biography of John Rankin, Sen., Written at South Union, Ky. 1845, & copied here, Aug. 1870 by H. L. Eads.” A handwritten note on the first page describes it as “South Union Shaker Record A.”

[5] The Merriam-Webster online defines “prolix” to mean (1) “unduly prolonged or drawn out: too long; (2) marked by or using an excess of words.” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/prolix. My articles are frequently prolix.

[6] Ruth F. Thompson and Louise J. Hartgrove, Volume I Abstracts of Marriage Bonds and Additional Data, Guilford County, North Carolina 1771 – 1840 (Greensboro, NC: The Guilford County Genealogical Society, 1989), marriage bond dated 28 Nov 1786, Rev. John Rankin and Rebecah Rankin, bondsman Robert Rankin. See also Rev. S. M. Rankin, The Rankin and Wharton Families and Their Genealogy (facsimile reprint by Higginson Book Company, Salem, Massachusetts) 55: Rebecca, a daughter of John and Hannah Carson Rankin, married Rev. John Rankin in 1786, son of George and Lydia Rankin.

[7] Rev. S. M. Rankin, Rankin and Wharton Families 52, 55. Rev. Rankin incorrectly identified Samuel Rankin of Lincoln Co., NC (wife Eleanor “Ellen” Alexander) as a likely son of Joseph Rankin of New Castle, DE. Y-DNA testing has disproved this, but the error has a life of its own. See discussion in the article at this link.

[8] Robert and Rebecca Rankin’s descendants and John and Hannah Carson Rankin’s descendants are a Y-DNA match. They belong to Lineage 1A and 1B, respectively, of the Rankin DNA Project. See the August 2021 report on the Rankin DNA Project at this link.

[9]  Will of Arthur Forbis dated 10 Arp 1789 and proved 1794 named his stepsons John Rankin and Robert Rankin to be his executors. Guilford Co., NC Will Book A: 119. The autobiography says that Rev. John’s mother Lydia “remained in her widowhood four years,” so she married Arthur about 1764.

[10] There is some information about Shaker Rev. John’s little brother Robert Rankin in the article titled “Four Robert Rankins of Guilford County, NC,” see it here. Robert’s pension application is the topic of the article titled “Pension Application of Two Robert Rankins” at this link.

[11] See history of the Mason-Dixon Line, including the PA-MD portion, at this link.

[12] There is some information about the Nottingham Lots  here.

Four Robert Rankins of Guilford County, NC

If you have searched for a Robert Rankin in the records of Guilford County, North Carolina during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, you hit the jackpot. There were at least six Robert Rankins in Guilford during that time. This article is about four of them, including Robert Rankin and his wife Rebecca, the colonial patriarch and matriarch of their family. Their descendants belong to Lineage 1A of the Rankin DNA Project.

Some of what I propose in this article is not mainstream Rankin thought. Here’s what may be controversial:

I have identified three “new” daughters of Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford. One of them may reasonably be deemed proved. The other two are probably  daughters. The latter two have not been identified in any compiled family history or online sources I have found.

the identity of the wife of the Robert Rankin who died in Guilford in 1795. I disagree on that issue with darn near every person who has ever said anything about the Guilford County Rankins.

This article ignores two of the six Robert Rankins who lived in Rowan/Guilford during that time period.[1]Both Roberts were grandsons of Joseph and Rebecca Rankin of New Castle County, Delaware, whose sons John and William migrated to Rowan/Guilford. Joseph’s line belongs to Lineage 1B of the Rankin DNA Project. Joseph’s line and Robert and Rebecca’s line are a genetic match, although the common Rankin ancestor hasn’t been identified. He almost certainly lived on the other side of the Atlantic in Ireland or Scotland.

Here are the abbreviated names I will use to distinguish among the four Robert Rankins covered in this article.

  1. R&R – Robert Rankin and wife Rebecca.
  2. Robert who died in 1795 – a son of R&R.
  3. Rev (short for “Revolutionary,” not “Reverend”) War Robert – a grandson of R&R.
  4. Arkansas Robert – a great-grandson of R&R. 

And here we go, from the top …

R&R – Robert Rankin and wife Rebecca

R&R were the original immigrant ancestors in their line. According to a grandson’s autobiography, R&R came to Pennsylvania from Letterkenny Parish, County Donegal, Ireland in 1750 along with some of their children.[2] R&R resided briefly in Chester County, Pennsylvania.[3] In 1755, they settled in the part of Rowan County that became Guilford.[4] According to Rev. Samuel M. Rankin, R&R are both buried at Buffalo Church in Greensboro, although no markers for them survive.[5]

Robert died in 1770-73.[6] He left no will. Other Rowan and Guilford records establish that R&R had proved children (1) George, (2) Robert, and (3) Ann who married William Denny.[7] Rev. Rankin failed to include Ann, but added a son John and a daughter Rebecca who married James Denny. There is circumstantial evidence in county records for a son John, although the Rebecca who married James Denny was probably a daughter of the Robert Rankin who died in 1795 rather than a daughter of R&R.[8] Rev. Rankin thought that R&R had other children. That seems likely.

Tantalizing probate records in Rowan County suggest two other daughters of R&R besides Ann Rankin Denny. These two women – Margaret (Rankin) Braly/Brawley and Rebecca (Rankin) Boyd are probably R&R’s daughters.

First, Robert Rankin was a security on the Rowan County bond of Margaret Braly/Brawley and John Braly, administrators of the estate of Thomas Braly. Even better, John Braly witnessed the 1760 will of George Rankin, along with Robert Rankin. Both George and Robert were proved sons of R&R. More often than not, witnesses to will were family.

The Braly administrator’s bond was dated 8 Jan 1765. Thomas’s nuncupative will established that his wife Margaret was pregnant, and thus of childbearing age. She therefore belonged to the same generation as R&R’s proved children.[9] Margaret can reasonably be deemed R&R’s “probable” daughter because of her age and the two strong Rankin-Braly connections established by the administrator’s bond and will.

Robert Rankin was also security on the Rowan County administrators’ bond of Rebecca Boyd, widow of John Boyd, in January 1767.[10] Robert’s signature on the original Boyd bond is identical to the signature on the original Braly bond, so it was the same Robert Rankin. There is also circumstantial evidence of Boyd/Rankin connections in some Guilford deeds.[11] Rebecca Boyd was probably also R&R’s daughter.

Here is a brief chart of R&R’s line, including the Robert Rankins covered in this post. R&R’s children are not necessarily in birth order; only George’s 1729 birth date is proved.[12] The men who are the subjects of this article are shown in boldface type.

Outline Chart #1

1 “R&R,” Robert Rankin was born circa 1700, probably in Scotland or Ireland, died in Guilford, NC about 1770. Wife Rebecca MNU.

2 George Rankin was born in 1729 in Letterkenny Parish, County Donegal, Ireland. He died in 1760 in Rowan County, NC. His wife was Lydia Steele Rankin. She married Arthur Forbis after George died.[13]

3 “Shaker” Reverend John Rankin, born in 1757 in Rowan, NC, died in 1850 in Logan, KY.[14] Married Rebecca Rankin, a granddaughter of Joseph Rankin of Delaware, in Guilford in 1786.[15] None of their children married: Shakers practiced celibacy.[16]

3 Robert Rankin, Rev War Robert, more on him below.

2 Robert Rankin who died in 1795, more on him below.

3 George Rankin (1767 – 1851), married Nancy Gillespie in Guilford in Jan. 1791, died McNairy Co., TN.[17]

4 Arkansas Robert Rankin, 1792 – 1845, more on him below. George and Nancy had other children in addition to Arkansas Robert.

2 John Rankin, lived in Guilford Co., a possible son of R&R suggested by Rev. Samuel M. Rankin. No further record.

2 Ann Rankin married William Denny Sr., lived in Guilford Co. More on them below.

2 Rebecca Rankin (probable) married John Boyd who died in Rowan, NC in 1767.

2 Margaret Rankin (probable) married Thomas Braly/Brawley who died in Rowan, NC, in Dec. 1764.

Next up: R&R’s son Robert.

Robert Rankin, died in Guilford, 1795

Robert Rankin, son of R&R, died in Guilford in 1795. His will did not name a wife, which probably means she predeceased him.[18] He identified only one son, George. Based on the express language of the will, Robert had four daughters. He identified only two of them: Mary Rankin Wilson, who died before Robert wrote his will, and Isabel Rankin, unmarried in 1795. The other two daughters, whose given names Robert did not provide, were apparently already married. One daughter was almost certainly the Rebecca Rankin who married William Denny Jr., whose will named his brother-in-law George Rankin and a daughter Rebecca. His wife evidently predeceased him. I have not identified the fourth daughter. Robert also named his three Wilson grandsons, William Rankin Wilson, Andrew Wilson, and Maxfield Wilson.

With the information from Robert d. 1795’s will, we can expand his section of Chart #1 as follows:

2 Robert Rankin, died 1795, Guilford

3 George Rankin (1767 – 1851) married Nancy Gillespie in Guilford Co. in Jan. 1791. Died in McNairy Co., TN.

4 Arkansas Robert Rankin, 1792 – 1845, more on him below. George and Nancy had other children as well.

3 Mary Rankin, died before 1795. Married Andrew Wilson as his second wife.[19]

4 William Rankin Wilson, born about 1788, moved to McNairy Co., TN.[20] Wife’s name was Lydia, possibly Rev War Robert’s daughter with Polly Cusick.[21] I found no marriage record for them.

4 Andrew Wilson, born about 1790, married Permelia/Pamela Denny in 1812. She was a daughter of William Denny Jr. and Rebecca Rankin.[22] Moved to McNairy Co., TN, then to Perry Co., AR to live with his son after his wife died.[23]

4 Maxfield Wilson, born  by 1795, married Sarah Baily in Guilford, 1829. Went to Orange Co., IN.[24]

3 Isabel Rankin, born before 1795. Probably died single.[25]

3 Rebecca Rankin, born before 1795, probably married William Denny Jr.[26]

3 Daughter Rankin, given name unknown, probably married by 1795, husband unknown.

A number of online trees and at least one compiled Rankin history wrongly conflate the Robert who died in 1795 with his father, who died in 1770-73. But there’s a tougher controversy about the Robert who died in 1795: the identity of his wife. Many Rankin researchers identify her as Jean (or Jane) Denny. They have a basis for doing so. The Guilford County marriage records indicate that some Robert Rankin married some Jean/Jane Denny in February 1775. William Denny Sr. (wife Ann Rankin) definitely had an unmarried daughter named Jean/Jane when he wrote his will in August 1766.[27]

A serious problem with that theory is that Robert d. 1795 was almost certainly Jean’s uncle. We are all accustomed to seeing marriages between cousins, but … an uncle and a niece?

The evidence about Jean/Jane Denny’s parents, William Denny (Sr.) and Ann Rankin Denny, is in Rowan County deeds. On back-to-back days in April 1755, Robert Rankin Sr. (i.e., R&R) executed deeds to his son George (480 acres) and William Denny (640 acres).[28] The consideration recited in both deeds was 5 shillings, clearly marking them as deeds of gift. Robert Sr. paid 10 shillings for the 640A tract he “sold” to William Denny Sr. for 5 shillings.[29]

That gift deed constitutes compelling evidence that William Denny Sr. was part of R&R’s family. William also witnessed the 1760 will of George Rankin along with his brothers-in-law Robert Rankin and John Braly.[30]Further, a John Rankin witnessed William Denny’s 1766 will.[31] Rev. Samuel M. Rankin believes R&R had a son John, probably the witness to William Denny’s will. They would have been brothers-in-law.

William & Ann Denny’s daughter Jean/Jane, unmarried in 1766, is the only Jean/Jane Denny I can find in Guilford who might have been the right age to marry some Robert Rankin in 1775. I just don’t believe that the Robert Rankin she married was her Uncle Robert who died in 1795. Surely, she married a different Robert Rankin. Her husband might have been, and probably was, a Robert Rankin from Iredell County.[32] Robert of Iredell was a genetic relative of the Guilford County line of R&R Rankin, and he had a son named Denny Rankin.

Let’s divert for a moment into the wonderful world of Y-DNA testing, a gift from the family history gods to genealogists.

Iredell Robert was a son of the David Rankin who died in Iredell in 1789.[33] Two men who are proved descendants of David are members of the Rankin DNA project and have Y-DNA tested. They match proved descendants of R&R.

One cannot conclude from those matches that David of Iredell was a son of R&R – although the results don’t preclude a father-son relationship, either. At minimum, Y-DNA proves that the Iredell Rankins and the line of R&R of Guilford were closely related genetically. If David Rankin of Iredell was a son or cousin of R&R, and if Jean Denny of Guilford married David’s son Iredell Robert in 1775 (which I believe to be the case), then Iredell Robert and Jean Denny were cousins of some degree.

That’s a lot more palatable than a man marrying his niece. Perhaps not coincidentally, Robert Rankin of Iredell and his wife Jean (1755 – 1779, per her tombstone in Centre Presbyterian Church in Statesville) had a son named Denny Rankin.[34] I would be happy to wager that his mother’s surname was Denny.

Whatever. The Robert who died in 1795 has only one proved son. That was George, who married Nancy Gillespie in Guilford in 1791. George was born in 1767, so he was clearly not the child of some Jean Denny who allegedly married his father in 1775. George and Nancy went to McNairy County, TN, where George died in 1851. The important thing here is that George and Nancy had a proved son (among other children) named … you can no doubt guess this … Robert. George and Nancy’s son was the man I call Robert of Arkansas, but we haven’t gotten to him quite yet.

Rev War Robert Rankin (1759 – 1840).

Rev War Robert, a grandson of R&R, was one of two sons of R&R’s son George and his wife Lydia Steele.[35]Robert’s Revolutionary War pension application states when and where he was born and when he moved to McNairy County.[36] Rev War Robert married first Mary (“Polly”) Cusick in Guilford in the early 1780s.[37] He married his second wife Mary Moody in Guilford in 1803.[38]

Rev War Robert’s children by Polly Cusick – there were apparently seven – are fairly easy to identify by tracking census records. His children by Mary Moody are a tougher nut to crack, and I have identified only two. Here’s how I would expand Rev War Robert’s part of Chart #1:

3 Robert Rankin, Rev. War Robert, was born in Rowan, NC on 29 May 1759, died in McNairy County, TN on 21 Dec 1840. He is buried in Bethel Springs Cemetery in McNairy. He married #1 Mary (nickname “Polly”) Cusick in Guilford, probably in the early 1780s, and married #2 Mary Moody, also in Guilford.

Children by Mary (“Polly”) Cusick:

4 George Rankin, born in Guilford about 1783, died between 1828-1830 in Arkansas Territory. He married Ann McMurray in Guilford in 1803. They were in Arkansas Territory by 1816 and eventually lived in Pulaski Co. They may have had as many as six children, but I can only identify three possible sons: Robert, William D., and John J. Rankin.

4 Jedediah Rankin, born 1785-86, married Rebecca Rankin in Guilford in 1811. She was a daughter of George and Nancy Gillespie Rankin. They were in Arkansas by at least 1830, when he was listed in the 1830 Arkansas Territory census.

4 Lydia Rankin, born in Guilford about 1789 if she was the Lydia who married William Rankin Wilson. For some unaccountable reason, online trees identify her as “Lydia Lea Isabella.” I would love to see any evidence for that name.

4 Isabel Rankin, born in 1791, Guilford, NC, died in 1861 in Pope, AR. She married Arkansas Robert Rankin, her second cousin, in Guilford in 1812. He was a son of George and Nancy Gillespie Rankin. They went to McNairy County, TN and then the Arkansas Territory, Conway and Pope Counties. See more on this couple below.

4 John Rankin, born in 1797 in Guilford, died 1846 in McNairy Co., TN. His wife was Mary Kirby/Kerby.

4 William Rankin, born in 1799 in Guilford, married Isabel Woodburn there in 1823. They went to McNairy, TN and DeSoto County, MS. Both William and Isabel are buried in Bethesda Cemetery in Tate County, MS.

4 Thankful Rankin, born between 1790-1800 in Guilford, married Hance McCain there in 1818. They may have lived in McNairy County.

Children by Mary Moody:

4 Thomas M. Rankin, born 1813-16 in Guilford, died in McNairy without issue in 1885.[39]

4 Letha Rankin, born about 1820, married Robert D. Wilson, undoubtedly a relative. Lived in McNairy, TN.[40]

With that, let’s move on to the last Robert in this discussion.

Arkansas Robert Rankin

Here is another case in which Y-DNA provides helpful and compelling evidence. Back up for a moment to Isabel Rankin, a proved daughter of Rev War Robert and his first wife Polly Cusick.[41] Isabel married some Robert Rankin in Guilford in 1812.[42] A descendant of Robert and Isabel (call him “Joe”) has Y-DNA tested and participates in the Rankin DNA Project. Joe can prove that Isabel Rankin is descended from R&R – but Isabel didn’t have a Y-Chromosome to pass on. Joe inherited that from Isabel’s husband Robert. The problem is that Joe hasn’t been able to prove Robert’s parents via traditional paper genealogy.

Considering all the Robert Rankins floating around Guilford, it’s understandable that Robert’s parentage is difficult to prove. Don’t forget there were also two sons of Joseph of Delaware in Guilford … so that Isabel’s husband Robert Rankin may have been from either R&R’s line or Joseph’s line. Or he may have parachuted into Guilford from Mars.

Isabel’s husband Robert was not from Joseph’s line, which has been well-documented by Rev. Rankin. We can discount the Mars theory. That leaves the line of R&R.

Y-DNA testing and land records came to the rescue. George Rankin (a son of Robert who died 1795) and his wife Nancy Gillespie had a son Robert who is conclusively proved, although he is unaccountably missing from many lists of George and Nancy’s children.[43] Robert was the right age to have been the Robert Rankin who married Isabel. Unfortunately, there is no evidence in the marriage bonds or elsewhere to prove that Isabel’s husband was the same man as George and Nancy’s son Robert. However, that Robert, as far as I can find, was the only Robert Rankin in Guilford available to marry Isabel. This is something of a “last man standing” theory.

More Y-DNA: a proved descendant of R&R’s grandson George Rankin and his wife Nancy Gillespie is a close Y-DNA match to Joe. The match establishes that Isabel and Robert’s line, and George and Nancy’s line, share a common Rankin ancestor fairly recently. The common ancestors are almost certainly R&R. The Y-DNA evidence is sufficient IMO to establish that Isabel’s husband Arkansas Robert Rankin is the same man as Robert, proved son of George and Nancy Gillespie Rankin.

That’s it for now. Someday, when it is too hot to go fishing, too rainy to garden, and the Astros aren’t playing, I will consolidate the several charts in this article into one table, add a bunch of names, and publish a loooonnnnngggg chart for the descendants of R&R.

See you on down the road.

Robin

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

[1] The Robert C. Rankin who died in Guilford in 1853 and Robert Rankin, who died there in 1866, were grandsons of Joseph and Rebecca Rankin of Delaware through their sons William Rankin and John Rankin, respectively.

[2] The grandson was Rev. John Rankin (1757-1850), a Shaker preacher who wrote his autobiography at age 88 (cited hereafter as “Shaker John’s Autobiography”). He died in Shakertown, Logan Co., KY. See John Rankin, “Auto-biography of John Rankin, Sen.” (South Union, Ky., 1845), transcribed in Harvey L. Eads, ed., History of the South Union Shaker Colony from 1804 to 1836 (South Union, Ky., 1870). You can obtain a copy of Ead’s transcript from the Special Collections Library, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky (WKU), where it is designated “Shaker Record A.” See the post titled “Autobiography of Rev. John Rankin, Grandson of Robert and Rebecca.”

[3] George Rankin and Robert Rankin appeared on the 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township in Chester Co., PA. Rev. Samuel M. Rankin (see note 5) says the family lived in Lancaster Co., but I didn’t find any record of them in that county. I did find them in Chester. See 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).

[4] Shaker John’s Autobiography (see note 2). See also deeds dated April 1755 in which Robert Rankin Sr. gifted land to his son George Rankin and son-in-law William Denny Sr. in Rowan Co. Deed Book 2: 67, 70.

[5] Rev. S. M. Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People (Greensboro, NC: Jos. J. Stone & Co., 1931), cited hereafter as “Buffalo Church History.”

[6] Id. Rev. Rankin says in one place in Buffalo Church History that Robert with wife Rebecca died before the church started keeping minutes, which was in 1773. In another place, he says Robert died about 1770.

[7] Rev. Rankin names George, Robert and John as sons of R&R in his Buffalo Church History. George is proved by a gift deed and Robert is proved by circumstantial evidence in numerous Guilford records. The circumstantial evidence for a son John is thin.

[8] James and Rebecca Denny (née Rankin, according to Rev. Rankin) are buried in the Buffalo Church cemetery. Rebecca was born in 1760 and died in 1816. She was from a later generation than R&R’s proven children and was most likely born too late to be their daughter. She might be a daughter of the Robert Rankin who died in Guilford in 1795. See Buffalo Church cemetery records online.

[9] George Rankin, a proved son of R&R, had two sons born in 1757 and 1759. See Shaker John’s Autobiography and his brother Rev War Robert’s pension application abstracted in Virgil D. White, Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Vol. 3 (Waynesboro, TN: National Historical Publishing Co., 1992). Robert Rankin, another proved son of R&R, had a son George born in 1767. See the 1795 will of Robert Rankin, Guilford Will Books A-B, File #312 (naming a son George) and George’s tombstone on Findagrave. The listing of George’s children at that website omits a proved son Robert.http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Rankin&GSiman=1&GScid=9234&GRid=6506241&.

[10] Rowan County Court Order Book 2: 667.

[11] E.g., deed of 1 Feb 1780 from James Boyd to William Boyd, both of Guilford, 20 shillings 630 acres on Little Troublesome Cr., Granville grant to John Boyd Sr. 15 Jul 1760. John Boyd Sr., the original grant recipient, was probably the deceased in the 1767 administrator’s bond. Witnesses to the deed were Robt. Bell, John Rankin, and John Bell. Guilford Co. DB 2: 437. See also deed of 18 Oct 1803, James Boyd of Guilford to Henry Fryar, same, £100, 150 acres on the waters of North Buffalo. Witnesses William Denney and Rebekah Denney. The witness Rebekah was a daughter of Robert Rankin who died in 1795 and a granddaughter of R&R. Guilford Deed Book 8: 230.

[12] Shaker John’s Autobiography.

[13] Will of Arthur Forbis dated proved 1794 named as executors his “stepsons John Rankin and Robert Rankin.” Guilford Co., NC Will Book A: 119.

[14] Shaker John’s Autobiography.

[15] Frances T. Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records 1771-1868 Volume III Names O-Z (Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Co., 1984). Another source for Guilford marriage records is Ruth F. Thompson and Louise J. Hartgrove, Volume I Abstracts of Marriage Bonds and Additional Data, Guilford County, North Carolina 1771 – 1840(Greensboro, NC: The Guilford County Genealogical Society, 1989).

[16] At least one Rankin researcher believes that one of Shaker John Rankin’s children did not convert to Shakerism and that he married and had children. I am skeptical. The Logan Co., KY census and burial records suggest that all ten of Shaker John’s children died single in Logan County.

[17] Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records.

[18] Guilford County Will Books A-B 1771-1838,” File #312 (will of Robert Rankin, 1795).

[19] Id., the 1795 will of Robert Rankin mentioned Andrew Wilson, Robert’s “former son-in-law.” See also the Buffalo Church History, listing the three wives of Andrew Wilson (Jr.).

[20] 1850 federal census, McNairy Co., TN, William R. Wilson, 62, farmer, b. NC, Lydia Wilson, 61, NC, Washington Wilson, 33, NC, Lucinda Wilson, 26, TN, Lydia Wilson, 8, TN, Adaline Wilson, 5, TN, Jesse Wilson, 3, TN, and Louisa Wilson, 1, TN.

[21] Rev. War Robert did have a daughter Lydia. She would have been William Rankin Wilson’s second cousin. See Guilford, NC Will Book B: 435, will of William Cusick naming 3 daughters of Robert Rankin (Lydia, Isbel and Thankful) and his deceased daughter Polly Cusick Rankin. Both Lydia and William Rankin Wilson were great-grandchildren of R&R. I’ve found no evidence in the Guilford records that WRW married Lydia, although they may have married elsewhere.

[22] Will of William Denny dated 12 Dec 1824 proved Feb 1825 naming daughter Pamela Wilson; see also Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records.

[23] See 1850 federal census, McNairy Co., TN, Andrew Wilson, farmer, 60, b. NC, dwelling #90, with Parmelia Wilson, 59, NC, Jane Wilson, 30, NC, Maxfield Wilson, 28, NC, Nancy Wilson, 25, NC, Parmelia Wilson, 21, NC, James Wilson, 19, NC, Eli Wilson, 16, NC, and Mary J. Black, 7, MO; see also 1860 federal census, Perry Co., AR, household of William Wilson, 45, farmer b. NC, with Andrew Wilson, 70, b. NC, also listed in his household.

[24] Thanks to my new cousin-by-marriage Peggy Derryberry Gould for that information. See 1860 federal census, French Lick, Orange Co., IN, dwl #1131, Maxfield Wilson, 70, b. NC; Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records.

[25] Isabel Rankin, daughter of Robert d. 1795, probably died single and without children. She was still single in 1795, when her father wrote his will, and she was probably about 30 at that time. Her father specifically bequeathed a slave to provide for her, which likely means he considered her unmarriageable. I found no marriage record for her in Guilford.

[26] Guilford County will of William Denny dated 12 Dec 1824 proved Feb 1825 naming as executor his “brother-in-law George Rankin” and children Rebecca Black, Pamela Wilson, William, Nancy, Isabel and Allen. See also the 1803 deed from James Boyd to Henry Fryar witnessed by William Denny and Rebeckah Denny, Guilford Co., NC Deed Book 8: 230.

[27] Will of William Denny (Sr.), Rowan Co. Order Book 3: 200; Rowan Co. Will Book A: 31. An abstractor of this will, Jo White Linn, made (for her) a rare error about 3 of William Denny’s daughters. Ms. Linn read the will to say that all of William and Ann’s daughters were married, but three of them – Hannah, Agnes, and Jane/Jean Denny – are clearly identified as single in the 1766 will.

[28] Rowan Co. Deed Book 2: 67 and 70.

[29] Rowan Co., NC Deed Book 2: 86, Granville grant to Robert Rankin dated 3 Dec 1753, ten shillings, 640 acres adjacent “Irish Tracts” #14 and #15 (part of the Nottingham Colony grants).

[30] Rowan Co., NC Will Book A: 141.

[31] Rowan Co., NC Order Book 3: 200; Will Book A: 31.

[32] See an articles about Iredell County Robert Rankin at this link.

[33] Will of David Rankin of Iredell proved Dec. 1789, original will viewed at the NC Archives in Raleigh, C.R.054.801.11, recorded at WB A: 200

[34] Lois M. P. Schneider, Church and Family Cemeteries of Iredell County, N.C. (1992); Iredell County, NC Deed Book D: 650, deed dated 17 May 1802 from Robert Rankin to his son Denny Rankin.

[35] Rowan County, NC Will Book A: 141, will of George Rankin dated May 1760, proved Oct 1760, naming minor sons John and Robert.

[36] National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 4, December 1937, Revolutionary War Pension Applications.

[37] See Guilford Co., NC Will Book B: 435, will of William Cusick dated 1816 naming 3 daughters of Robert Rankin and William’s deceased daughter Polly Cusick Rankin: Lydia, Isbel, and Thankful.

[38] Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records; National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 4, December 1937, Revolutionary War Pension Applications.

[39] See McNairy Co., TN Will Book 1: 53, will of T. M. Rankin of Bethel Springs dated 18 Jun 1885 naming two nieces and a nephew. One niece, M. (Melinda) E. Wilson, was the daughter of Letha Rankin and Robert D. Wilson, according to Melinda’s TN death certificate.

[40] Id.

[41] Guilford, NC Will Book B: 435, will of William Cusick naming 3 daughters of Robert Rankin and his deceased daughter Polly Cusick Rankin (Lydia, Isbel and Thankful).

[42] Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records.

[43] Guilford Co., NC Deed Book 14: 11, deed of 23 Mar 1819 from George Rankin Sr. to his son Robert Rankin Jr., both of Guilford, 110.5 acres on the south side of North Buffalo. George Sr. at that point was George, son of Robert d. 1795 (who devised that tract to George). Robert Rankin Sr. was Rev War Robert. See also Guilford Co., NC Deed Book 6: 346, survey for George Rankin, land Robert willed to George, a tract on the south side of North Buffalo Cr.

See you on down the road.

Robin Rankin Willis

[1] Robert C. Rankin, who died in Guilford in 1853, and Robert Rankin, who died there in 1866, were grandsons of Joseph and Rebecca Rankin of Delaware through their sons William Rankin and John Rankin, respectively.

[2] The grandson was Rev. John Rankin (1757-1850), a Shaker preacher who wrote his autobiography at age 88 (cited hereafter as “Shaker John’s Autobiography”). He died in Shakertown, Logan Co., KY. See  John Rankin, “Auto-biography of John Rankin, Sen.” (South Union, Ky., 1845), transcribed in Harvey L. Eads, ed., History of the South Union Shaker Colony from 1804 to 1836 (South Union, Ky., 1870). You can obtain a copy of Eads’s typescript from the Special Collections Library, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky (WKU), where is it designated “Shaker Record A.” The autobiography contains very little of genealogical significance, but what is has is good information. It primarily chronicles every thought Shaker Rev. John had about, and events concerning, religion through his long life from youth onward.

[3] George Rankin and Robert Rankin appeared on the 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township in Chester Co., PA. Rev. Samuel M. Rankin (see note 5) says the family lived in Lancaster Co., but I didn’t find any record of them there. I did find them in Chester. See 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).

[4] Shaker John’s Autobiography (see note 2); see also deeds dated April 1755 in which Robert Rankin Sr. gifted land to his son George Rankin and son-in-law William Denny Sr. in Rowan Co. Deed Book 2: 67, 70.

[5] Rev. S. M. Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People (Greensboro, NC: Jos. J. Stone & Co., 1931), cited hereafter as “Buffalo Church History.”

[6] Rev. Rankin says in one place in Buffalo Church History that Robert with wife Rebecca died before the church started keeping minutes, which was in 1773. In another place, he says Robert died about 1770.

[7] Rev. Rankin names George, Robert and John as sons of R&R in his Buffalo Church History. George is proved by a gift deed and Robert is proved by circumstantial evidence in numerous Guilford records. The circumstantial evidence for a son John is thin.

[8] James and Rebecca Denny (née Rankin, a rare mistake by Rev. Rankin) are buried in the Buffalo Church cemetery. Rebecca was born in 1760 and died in 1816. She was from a later generation than R&R’s proved children and was most likely born too late to be their daughter. Buffalo Church cemetery records are available online at this link.

[9] George Rankin, a proved son of R&R, had two sons born in 1757 and 1759. See Shaker John’s Autobiography and Rev War Robert’s pension application, abstracted in Virgil D. White, Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Vol. 3 (Waynesboro, TN: National Historical Publishing Co., 1992). Robert Rankin d. 1795, another proved son of R&R, had a son George born in 1767. See will of Robert Rankin dated and proved 1795, Guilford Will Books A-B, File #312.

[10] Rowan County Court Order Book 2: 667.

[11] E.g., deed of 1 Feb 1780 from James Boyd to William Boyd, both of Guilford, 20 shillings (a deed of gift), 630 acres on Little Troublesome Cr., Granville grant to John Boyd Sr. 15 Jul 1760. This tract winds up in Rockingham County. John Boyd Sr., the original grant recipient, is probably the deceased in the 1767 administrator’s bond. Witnesses to the deed were Robt. Bell, John Rankin, and John Bell. Guilford Co. DB 2: 437. See also deed of 18 Oct 1803, James Boyd of Guilford to Henry Fryar, same, £100, 150 acres on waters of North Buffalo. Witnesses William Denney and Rebekah Denney. The witness Rebekah was a daughter of Robert Rankin d. 1795 and a granddaughter of R&R. Guilford Deed Book 8: 230.

[12] Shaker John’s Autobiography.

[13] Id. See will of Arthur Forbis dated 10 Apr 1789, proved 1794, naming as executors his “stepsons John Rankin and Robert Rankin” (Shaker John and Rev War Robert). Guilford Co., NC Will Book A: 119.

[14] Shaker John’s Autobiography.

[15] Frances T. Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records 1771-1868 Volume III Names O-Z (Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Co., 1984). Another source for Guilford marriage records is Ruth F. Thompson and Louise J. Hartgrove, Volume I Abstracts of Marriage Bonds and Additional Data, Guilford County, North Carolina 1771 – 1840 (Greensboro, NC: The Guilford County Genealogical Society, 1989).

[16] At least one Rankin researcher at Ancestry.com believes that one of Shaker John Rankin’s children did not convert to Shakerism and that he married and had children. The Logan County census and burial records, however, suggest that all ten children died single in Logan County. There is some information about Shaker John’s autobiography here.

[17] Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records.

[18] Guilford County, NC Wills Books A-B 1771-1838, Probate File #312 (will of Robert Rankin d. 1795).

[19] See id., will of Robert Rankin d. 1795, naming as guardian of his Wilson grandsons Andrew Wilson, Robert’s “former son-in-law;” Buffalo Church History, listing the three wives of Andrew Wilson (Jr.).

[20] See 1850 federal census, McNairy Co., TN, William R. Wilson, 62, farmer, b. NC, Lydia Wilson, 61, NC, Washington Wilson, 33, NC, Lucinda Wilson, 26, TN, Lydia Wilson, 8, TN, Adaline Wilson, 5, TN, Jesse Wilson, 3, TN, and Louisa Wilson, 1, TN.

[21] Rev War Robert did have a daughter Lydia. She would have been William Rankin Wilson’s second cousin. See Guilford, NC Will Book B: 435, will of William Cusick naming 3 daughters of Robert Rankin (Lydia, Isbel and Thankful) and his deceased daughter Polly Cusick Rankin. Both Lydia and William Rankin Wilson were great-grandchildren of R&R. I’ve found no evidence in the Guilford records that WRW married Lydia, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t marry.

[22] Will of William Denny dated 12 Dec 1824 proved Feb 1825 naming daughter Pamela Wilson; see also Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records.

[23] See 1850 federal census, McNairy Co., TN, Andrew Wilson, farmer, 60, b. NC, dwelling #90, with Parmelia Wilson, 59, NC, Jane Wilson, 30, NC, Maxfield Wilson, 28, NC, Nancy Wilson, 25, NC, Parmelia Wilson, 21, NC, James Wilson, 19, NC, Eli Wilson, 16, NC, and Mary J. Black, 7, MO; 1860 federal census, Perry Co., AR, household of William Wilson, 45, farmer b. NC, with Andrew Wilson, 70, b. NC, also listed in his household.

[24] Thanks to my cousin-by-marriage Peggy Derryberry Gould for that information. See 1860 federal census, French Lick, Orange Co., IN, dwl #1131, Maxfield Wilson, 70, b. NC; Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records.

[25] Isabel Rankin, daughter of Robert d. 1795, probably died single and without children. She was still single in 1795, when her father wrote his will, and she was probably about 30 at that time. Her father specifically bequeathed a slave to provide for her, which probably means he considered her unmarriageable. I found no marriage record for her in Guilford.

[26] Guilford County will of William Denny dated 12 Dec 1824 proved Feb 1825 naming as executor his “brother-in-law George Rankin” and children Rebecca Black, Pamela Wilson, William, Nancy, Isabel and Allen. 1803 deed from James Boyd to Henry Fryar witnessed by William Denny and Rebeckah Denny, Guilford Co. Deed Book 8: 230.

[27] Will of William Denny (Sr.), Rowan Co. Order Book 3: 200; Rowan Co. Will Book A: 31. An abstractor of this will, Jo White Linn, made (for her) a rare error about three of William Denny’s daughters. Ms. Linn read the will to say that all of William and Ann’s daughters were married, but three of them – Hannah, Agnes, and Jane/Jean Denny – are clearly identified as single in the 1766 will.

[28] Rowan Co. Deed Book 2: 67 and 70.

[29] Rowan Co., NC Deed Book 2: 86, Granville grant to Robert Rankin dated 3 Dec 1753, ten shillings, 640 acres adjacent “Irish Tracts” #14 and #15 (part of the Nottingham Colony grants).

[30] Rowan Co., NC Will Book A: 141.

[31] Rowan Co., NC Order Book 3: 200; Will Book A: 31.

[32] Jean Denny may have (and probably did, in my opinion) marry Robert Rankin of Iredell Co., a son of the David Rankin who died there in 1789.

[33] Will of David Rankin of Iredell proved Dec. 1789, original will viewed at the NC Archives in Raleigh, C.R.054.801.11, recorded at WB A: 200

[34] Lois M. P. Schneider, Church and Family Cemeteries of Iredell County, N.C. (1992); Iredell County, NC Deed Book D: 650, deed dated 17 May 1802 from Robert Rankin to his son Denny Rankin.

[35] Rowan County, NC Will Book A: 141, will of George Rankin dated May 1760, proved Oct 1760, naming minor sons John and Robert.

[36] National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 4, December 1937, Revolutionary War Pension Applications.

[37] See Guilford, NC Will Book B: 435, will of William Cusick naming 3 daughters of Robert Rankin (Lydia, Isbel and Thankful) and William’s deceased daughter Polly Cusick Rankin.

[38] Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records; National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 4, December 1937, Revolutionary War Pension Applications.

[39] See McNairy Co., TN Will Book 1: 53, will of T. M. Rankin of Bethel Springs dated 18 Jun 1885 naming two nieces and a nephew. One niece, M. (Melinda) E. Wilson, was the daughter of Letha Rankin and Robert D. Wilson, according to Melinda’s TN death certificate.

[40] Letha’s Daughter Malinda Wilson Lee was identified as a niece in the McNairy will of Thomas M. Rankin.

[41] Guilford, NC Will Book B: 435, will of William Cusick naming three daughters of Robert Rankin and his deceased daughter Polly Cusick Rankin (Lydia, Isbel and Thankful).

[42] Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records.

[43] Guilford Co., NC Deed Book 14: 11, deed of 23 Mar 1819 from George Rankin Sr. to his son Robert Rankin Jr., both of Guilford, 110.5 acres on the south side of North Buffalo. George Sr. at that point is George, son of Robert d. 1795 (who devised that tract to George). George Jr. is probably the eldest son of Rev War Robert. Also, Robert Rankin Sr. at that time was Rev War Robert.

Rankin DNA Project: “flange it up!”

If you ever worked in the natural gas pipeline business, you might be familiar with the notion that something needed to be “flanged up.” That originally meant the need to get pieces bolted together to complete a job. Over time, it acquired a more general meaning for those who did not deal with actual steel: the need to improve something in some fashion.

The Rankin DNA project needs to be “flanged up” a bit. The project began in 2006 with just two YDNA test participants. It has come a long way, and has 176 members as of July 2019. About seventy members are YDNA test participants who are either men named Rankin or whose YDNA establishes them as genetic Rankins.[1] YDNA testing has been helpful to many project members when traditional “paper trails” were inadequate or disputed.

Progress notwithstanding, there are still ancestry, website, and relationship issues to be addressed. There are also a number of test participants who don’t yet have a Rankin match in the project. Obviously, a key need is to get more Rankin YDNA test participants. Please note, this is not a criticism of Rankin project administrators … I AM one. We just need to have more YDNA participants. Easier said than done.

In the meantime, here is a summary of Rankin YDNA results to date. The project has three lineages having four or more YDNA participants in each one. They are (no surprise here) designated Lineages 1, 2, and 3. All three lineages also have sub-lineages – distinct Rankin families that are genetically related, even though a Rankin common ancestor has not been identified. The families in these lineages include some that I have written about on this website. If you have read some Rankin articles, many of these names will be familiar.

On that note, let’s jump in …

Rankin Lineage 1

Lineage 1 (“L1”) has two sub-lineages: Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford Co., North Carolina (L1A) and Joseph Rankin of New Castle County, Delaware (L1B). Robert is definitely the original immigrant in his line; Joseph probably is. No common ancestor for the two lines has been found. YDNA results establish a low probability that there is one on this side of the Atlantic. He probably exists around 1400, plus or minus a century, and almost certainly in Scotland.

Robert and Rebecca Rankin came to the colonies in 1750 from County Donegal, Ireland, according to an autobiography of one of their grandsons.[2] See some articles about their family here, here, and here.  There is no known evidence of the origin of Joseph of Delaware.[3] Both Robert and Joseph first appeared in county records in the area around the Philadelphia ports, where most Scots-Irish immigrants landed during the “Great Migration” from Ulster.

Joseph of Delaware arrived in the colonies first, roughly two decades earlier than Robert and Rebecca. He may be the Joseph Rankin who appeared as a “freeman” (unmarried and not a landowner) on a 1729 tax list in London Britain Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania. By 1731, he had acquired a tract on White Clay Creek in New Castle County, Delaware. Joseph had four sons proved by deeds (Joseph Jr., Thomas, William and John), two sons proved by circumstantial evidence (Robert and James), and a daughter Ann proved by a brother’s will. Joseph is buried at Head of Christiana Presbyterian Church in Newark, New Castle County. His 1764 tombstone still exists.

Based on known birth dates, Joseph’s children were born in Delaware. Two of his proved sons – John and William – moved to Guilford County, North Carolina. A descendant of each has YDNA tested and they are a good match.[4] Joseph’s wife was named Rebecca, although there is no known evidence of her maiden name. Nor is there any evidence of Joseph’s family of origin.

Robert and Rebecca’s family first appeared in the records in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Robert and George Rankin (either father/son or brothers) were on the 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township in Chester. Robert and George received so-called “Nottingham Company” land grants in Guilford (then Rowan) County, North Carolina, near Greensboro. According to a grandson’s autobiography, they migrated to North Carolina in July 1755.

Robert and Rebecca’s children were almost certainly all adults when they arrived in Pennsylvania in 1750. Two sons, Robert and George, are proved. There is good circumstantial evidence in the Rowan and Guilford records for other children, including a son John and daughters Ann Rankin Denny (wife of William Sr.), Margaret Rankin Braly or Brawley (Thomas), and Rebecca Rankin Boyd (John).

David Rankin of Iredell County, North Carolina (died there in 1789) may also be a son of Robert and Rebecca. YDNA results establish that David and Robert were close genetic relatives, although there is apparently no conclusive paper proof of the family connection. David was probably either a son or nephew of Robert and Rebecca. Here is an article about David and Margaret’s son Robert.

Rankin Lineage 2

L2 is the largest group in the project. As of July 2019, there were 22 project participants whose YDNA places them in L2. The family lines represented in the lineage are diverse, although the YDNA results are not. The group members are fairly close matches, suggesting a common ancestor no earlier than 400-500 years ago, probably in Scotland. The immigrant ancestor of many of the L2 members first appeared in Pennsylvania or Virginia during the “Great Migration” of Scots-Irish from Ulster. From there, the L2 Rankins spread west into the Ohio Valley or south and southwest into Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

There are three Rankin lines in L2 which have at least four participants each. There are also a number of L2 participants who are “one of a kind,” meaning that each man’s last known Rankin ancestor is not (so far as is known) shared with another L2 member. Some members of L2 are “one of a kind” simply because they have provided no information about their Rankin family trees to project administrators, although they may well belong in one of the three known L2 families.

The L2 family lines are (1) John Rankin who died in 1749 in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania (Lineage 2A), (2) Samuel and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin of Lincoln County, North Carolina (Lineage 2B), and (3)  two families – both David and Jenette McCormick Rankin of Frederick County, Virginia and William Rankin of Fayette County, Pennsylvania (Lineage 2C). Here is a little bit about each one …

Lineage 2A, John Rankin of Lancaster Co., PA (see articles here and  here).

This is the Rankin family memorialized on the famous tablet in the Mt. Horeb Cemetery in Jefferson County, Tennessee – descendants of John Rankin who died in 1749 in Lancaster Co., PA. His wife is traditionally identified as Mary McElwee, although John’s widow was named Margaret. John’s will named Margaret, two sons (Thomas and Richard), six daughters, and two sons-in-law.[5] All of the L2A members are descended from John’s son Thomas. He briefly appeared in the records of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, moved to Augusta County, Virginia for a time, then migrated to east Tennessee. No member of the Rankin project self-identifies as a descendant of John’s son Richard, who moved from Pennsylvania to Augusta County and died there.

According to family tradition, the John who died in Lancaster in 1749 was a son of William Rankin and grandson of Alexander Rankin of the Scotland “Killing Times” and the 1689 Siege of Londonderry. Apparently, no one has found (or has publicly shared) any proof that John was a son of William, or that William was a son of Alexander. Records in Ireland are limited, however.

There are two project participants who are probable descendants of Adam Rankin of Lancaster County, whose wife was Mary Steele. Family oral traditions for both Adam and John (the common ancestor of the L2A participants) say that Adam and John were brothers. However, Adam’s probable descendants are not a YDNA match with John’s descendants, indicating that John and Adam were not genetically related through the male Rankin line. There are four or five articles about Adam’s line on this website, see, e.g., two articles here and here.

Lineage 2B: Samuel Rankin of Lincoln Co., NC

L2B is the line of Samuel and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin of Rowan, Tryon, Mecklenburg, and Lincoln Counties, North Carolina. Several misconceptions  about Samuel and Eleanor persist online. One myth is that Samuel was a son of Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County (Lineage 1A). Another is that Samuel was a son of Joseph Rankin of Delaware (Lineage 1B). Both possibilities are disproved by YDNA. Some researchers also claim that Samuel and his wife were married in Pennsylvania, although Eleanor’s parents James and Ann Alexander  were in Anson/Rowan County by 1753 at the latest. Samuel and Eleanor were married about 1759, almost certainly in Rowan. There is no evidence of Samuel’s birthplace.

Samuel’s tombstone in the Goshen Presbyterian Cemetery in Belmont, NC no longer exists. A WPA cemetery survey taken in the 1930s transcribed his tombstone inscription to say that he was born in 1734 and died in 1816. His will was dated 1814, but wasn’t probated until 1826. His last appearance  in the Lincoln Co., NC records while he was still alive was in July 1816. He left most of his nine surviving children (his son Richard predeceased him) a token bequest, and devised the bulk of his estate to his son James.[6] Samuel and Eleanor’s children either remained in the Lincoln/Mecklenburg/Iredell area or moved to Arkansas, Tennessee, or Illinois. Here are articles about Samuel and Eleanor’s son Richard and their daughter Jean Rankin Hartgrove.

Lineage 2C

Based on descendant charts provided by participants, L2C has two family lines: (1) David Sr. and Jennett McCormick Rankin of Frederick County, Virginia and (2) William Rankin of Fayette County, Pennsylvania. There is no known common Rankin ancestor for the two lines.

David Sr.’s line is represented by three project participants. He left a Frederick County will dated 1757 naming his wife Jennett and children Hugh, William, David Jr. and Barbara.[7] Many online trees identify David Sr.’s wife as “Jennett Mildred,” although all of the Frederick County records identify Jennett without a middle name. Researchers asserting that Jennett had a middle name may have conflated David Sr.’s wife Jennett with an entirely different woman, a Mildred Rankin who was married to one of David Sr.’s grandsons — also named David.

David Jr. married Hannah Province or Provence, probably in Frederick County. They moved from Frederick to Washington County, Pennsylvania and then to Harrison County, Kentucky, where David Jr. died. His brother William and his wife Abigail also moved to Washington County. William died there in 1799. Both David Jr. and William left large families. Some of Hugh’s line probably moved to Kentucky and then to Ohio. Project administrators are looking for descendants of William and/or Hugh who might be willing to YDNA test.

The second family in L2C is the line of William Rankin of Fayette County, Pennsylvania, who died in 1797. His son, William Jr., died in Fayette in 1807. Many from this line stayed in Fayette County for several generations. Some moved “west,” including to Ohio. There is no evidence of William Sr.’s  origin prior to the time that he began appearing in Westmoreland and Fayette.

Rankin Lineage 3

The common ancestor of the four L3 participants is David Rankin Sr. who died in Greene County, Tennessee in 1802. His will identified seven children but not his wife, who evidently predeceased him. David Sr. was reportedly among the “Overmountain Men” who left what was then Washington County, Tennessee to fight in the Battle of King’s Mountain in South Carolina. That battle was a major defeat for the British in the Southern Campaign.

There is some disagreement among researchers about the identity of David Sr.’s wife or wives. His wife is usually identified as Margart Kerr, Anne Campbell, both, or neither, without a citation to any evidence. Another question is where David Sr. lived before coming to Greene County in 1783. It is possible that David Sr. of Greene is the same man as the David Rankin who received a 1771 land patent in Bedford County, Virginia, although that man was a Quaker. Other researchers believe that David Sr. was a son of the William Rankin who died in 1792 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania (wife Mary Huston). That possibility has been disproved by YDNA results.

Rankin researchers can take comfort in the fact that Flossie Cloyd, the premier Rankin researcher of the 20thcentury, was baffled by David Sr.’s ancestry. He may well be the immigrant ancestor in his line.

Whew! That’s more than enough for right now …

See you on down the road.

Robin

[1] For example, the Rankin project includes men whose surname at birth was Rankin but were adopted by a stepfather after the Rankin parents divorced.

[2] Jonathan Jeffrey at  the Department of Library Special Collections at the University of Western Kentucky sent to me a 22-page transcription  of the autobiography of Rev. John Rankin, a grandson of Robert and Rebecca. For the most part, it is a recount of his faith history. It has very little helpful genealogy.

[3] One history says that Joseph came from “Clyde Scotland,” presumably somewhere near the River Clyde. It also claims that Joseph’s children were born in Scotland, which is demonstrably incorrect. See Bill and Martha Reamy, Genealogical Abstracts from Biographical and Genealogical History of the State of Delaware(Westminster, MD: Willow Bend Books, 2001). The Findagrave website claims that he was born in “Ulster Ireland,” which is undoubtedly a good guess but is unsubstantiated.

[4] Only one of Joseph’s proved descendants is a member of the Rankin DNA Project. He has provided information to project administrators about his YDNA match to another proved descendant of Joseph.

[5] Lancaster Co., PA Will Book J: 211.

[6] Lincoln Co., NC Will Book 1: 37. Given the nature of Samuel’s will, there would have been no rush to submit it to probate.

[7] Frederick Co., VA Will Book 3: 443.

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. They were tedious, prolix, and packed with trivial information of no possible interest. I apparently have an unattractive propensity to beat dead horses. Moreover, Y-DNA information on the issue has come to light which moots most of one post.

Here is their replacement. It just cuts to the chase re: discredited theories about One One-Eyed Sam’s possible parents.

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

Theory #1 – Joseph and Rebecca Rankin of White Clay Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware (1704-1764) . Two of their sons who belonged to the same generation as Old One-Eyed Sam moved to Guilford County, NC. The primary source for this theory is Rev. S. M. Rankin’s 1931 book, The Rankin and Wharton Families and Their Genealogy.[1]

Theory #2 – Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County, North Carolina ( “R&R”). Before migrating to North Carolina in the mid-1750s, Robert appeared on the 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township, Chester County, PA.

Y-DNA testing conclusively prove that both theories are dead wrong.

Here’s a bit about the DNA evidence.

The Y-DNA evidence re: Theory #1

There is a Rankin DNA Project which provides (anonymously)  members’ Y-DNA results online.[2] One member – 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 via conventional paper research – let’s call him “Mr. X.” Joe convinced Mr. X to Y-DNA test. 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 match isn’t a function of having a recent common ancestor, such as a great-grandparent. Joseph of Delaware is their common Rankin ancestor.

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

The Rankin DNA project has four members[3] whose paper trails prove them to be descendants of Old One-Eyed Sam and Eleanor Alexander Rankin. None are a match – not even remotely close – to Joe. Y-DNA evidence thus proves conclusively that Old One-Eyed Sam cannot be a son of Joseph of Delaware.

The Y-DNA Evidence re: Theory #2

 The Rankin DNA Project has four participants whose genealogical paper trail shows they are descended from R&R, Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford. None of them are a Y-DNA match with descendants of Old One-Eyed Sam. Again, the Y-DNA results are not even close. Old One-Eyed Sam therefore cannot be a son of Robert and Rebecca of Guilford, either.

Case closed. We must apparently find a matching Rankin on the other side of the Atlantic to learn more about Sam Sr.’s family of origin.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

[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/ was formerly the host website for the Rankin DNA Project. World Families deleted all of their websites in May 2018 when the European Union Privacy Act (the GDPR) took effect.

[3] The Rankin DNA Project had four members descended from Sam and Eleanor as of April 2019.

Two Rankin Revolutionary War Pension Applications

This article is about men from two Rankin families: (1) Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford, North Carolina and (2) David Rankin of Iredell, North Carolina. The families are a good Y-DNA match. David of Iredell could be a son of Robert and Rebecca, although that is unproved. They are undoubtedly at least cousins of some degree. Both belong to Lineage 1 of the Rankin DNA Project.[1]

It is easy to confuse some of the Rankin men who lived in North Carolina and Tennessee in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. That includes two men named Robert, both of whom fought in the Revolutionary War. They were both originally from North Carolina, but moved to Tennessee about 1825-1830. A commentor on our website made it clear that I had done a bad job of distinguishing them.

To clear up the confusion, lets revisit each man briefly to contrast their histories and pension applications. First, the man I call “Rev War Robert Rankin” (“Rev” stands for “Revolutionary,” not “Reverend”), then his fellow soldier “Mystery Robert Rankin.

Rev War Robert Rankin of Rowan/Guilford, NC and McNairy, TN (1749 – 1840)[2]

Rev War Robert was a son of George and Lydia Steele Rankin of Rowan/Guilford County, North Carolina.[3]He married twice: first, to Mary (“Polly”) Cusick, probably in the early 1780s, and then to Mary Moody in 1803.[4]He applied for a pension in McNairy Co., TN on May 20, 1833.[5] Among other things, he testified as follows in his application:

    • He was born in Guilford Co., NC on May 29, 1759. (At that time, it was Rowan County; Guilford wasn’t created until 1770.)
    • He was in the battle of Guilford Courthouse on March 15, 1781.
    • He lived in Guilford until 1830. Then he moved to McNairy County, Tennessee, where he was residing when he applied for a pension.

Rev War Robert died in McNairy County on Dec. 21, 1840.[6] He is buried in Bethel Springs Cemetery; there is an image of his military tombstone at findagrave.com.[7]

“Mystery Robert Rankin” of Gibson County, TN (1748 – after 1835)

I refer to the second Robert Rankin as “Mystery Robert” because his family of origin is not conclusively proved. The records of Gibson County, Tennessee, where he applied for a Revolutionary War pension, reveal little about him. He only appeared in the 1830 census, one deed, the pension application, and a few tax records in Gibson County.

One thing, however, is obvious: the Robert Rankin who applied for a Revolutionary War pension from McNairy County, Tennessee (“Rev War Robert”) was not the same man as Robert Rankin of Gibson County, Tennessee (“Mystery Robert”). The two pension applications leave no doubt about that.

Mystery Robert testified in open court on September 7, 1832 in support of his application for a pension. [8]He said the following, inter alia:[9]

    • He was 84 years old, and thus born about 1748.
    • He served in the North Carolina militia. This almost certainly means that he lived in North Carolina when he enlisted.
    • He was in the battle of Ramsour’s Mill, where, he testified, “I lost a brother, killed by the Tories.” That battle took place in June 1780 in Lincoln County, North Carolina.

Most of the patriot troops who fought at Ramsour’s Mill were from Iredell County, NC. The Philip Langenhour papers, owned by the Iredell Genealogical Society in Statesville, establish that one of the dead patriots was named Rankin. Other Iredell and Lincoln County records provide evidence that James Rankin died at Ramsour’s and that he was a son of David and Margaret Rankin of Iredell. David and Margaret also had a son named Robert, proved by David’s will. Robert appeared frequently in the Iredell County records through the early 1820s, then disappeared without leaving any probate or cemetery records. Given the real and personal property ownership among this Rankin family, it is unlikely that Robert died in Iredell. Instead, he probably moved on.

The odds are that he landed in Gibson County, Tennessee. The evidence strongly suggests that Robert, brother of James, son of David and Margaret Rankin of Iredell, moved to Gibson County, where he stated in his pension application that he had a brother who died at Ramsour’s Mill.

I hope you read the pension applications of these two men. The amount of detail these veterans recalled is amazing – usually in 1832 or 1833, a full half-century after their service. I shouldn’t be surprised, though. My husband is a Vietnam vet, and it is clear that a war experience leaves one with very strong memories.

See you on down the road. The Rankins and I are not yet finished with each other …

Robin

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 

[1] See identified Rankin lineages on the project website here.

[2] National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 4, December 1937, Revolutionary War Pension Applications. The pension application of Robert Rankin of McNairy Co., TN gave his date of birth as May 29, 1759. His widow, in her pension application, said he died on Dec. 21, 1840. See also an online transcription of Rev War Robert’s pension application, with additional information from his widow’s application, prepared by Will Graves. http://revwarapps.org/w5664.pdf.

[3] Rowan County, NC Will Book A: 141, will of George Rankin dated May 1760, proved Oct 1760, naming minor sons John and Robert and wife Lydia. See also the autobiography of Rev War Robert’s brother Shaker Rev. John Rankin, “Auto-biography of John Rankin, Sen.” (South Union, Ky., 1845), transcribed in Harvey L. Eads, ed., History of the South Union Shaker Colony from 1804 to 1836 (South Union, Ky., 1870), Shaker Museum at South Union, Auburn, Kentucky. The autobiography identifies Lydia Steele as George Rankin’s wife and the mother of John Rankin. See an article about the autobiography in Chapter 1.

[4] Guilford, NC Will Book B: 435, will of William Cusick naming three daughters of Robert Rankin (Lydia, Isbel and Thankful) and testator’s deceased daughter Polly Cusick Rankin; National Genealogical Society Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 4, December 1937, Revolutionary War Pension Applications, identifying Rev War Robert’s second wife as Mary Moody, married in Guilford County on Nov. 22, 1803.

[5] See Note 2.

[6] For more information on Rev War Robert and his children, see the article discussing him and three other men named Robert from Robert and Rebecca’s line in Chapter 1.

[7] The Findagrave.com site poster claims that Rev. War Robert married Mary (“Polly”) Cusick in 1781. I found no evidence for that or any other specific date.

[8] Mystery Robert’s Gibson Co. pension application states his age, establishing his date of birth as about 1748. He was on the Tennessee pension roll in 1835, and may have been the grantor in an 1837 deed and a taxable on the 1838 Gibson tax list.

[9] Here is another link to Mystery Robert’s pension application, transcribed by Will Graves..

 

Some Colonial North Carolina Rankin Lines: an Overview

It is extremely easy to conflate families having the same surname when they lived in the same area at roughly the same time. In North Carolina, all of the Rankin lines first appeared in the area that was originally Anson County. At its formation, Anson included an enormous territory. Its northern border was the Virginia, line until the formation of Rowan County in 1753. It had no western boundary until the formation of Mecklenburg in 1762. Its southern boundary was indeterminate until the survey of the SC line in 1764.

In short, the Rankin families of Rowan, Lincoln, Rutherford, Mecklenburg, Iredell, and Guilford Counties all lived in areas that were originally part of Anson. As if that weren’t bad enough, they all recycled the same male given names ad infinitum: Robert, David, John, Samuel, and William. With that in mind, here is some basic information about several of these colonial Rankin lines. The objective is to help you distinguish among those families when you run across them.

First, a caveat. If you have read my article about the Scots-Irish,[1]  you know that the earliest migrants into the colonies from Ulster arrived around 1700 and settled mostly in New England. Among those were evidently some Rankins. I know absolutely nothing about New England Rankins. What I do know with a modicum of confidence is something about colonial Rankin families of North Carolina. I mucked about the North Carolina records for more than a year, trying to identify the parents of my last conclusively proved Rankin ancestor.

Here are the North Carolina Rankin families briefly sketched in this article: (1) Joseph Rankin of Delaware (1704-1764), two of whose sons went to Guilford County; (2) Samuel and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin of Lincoln (then Gaston) County; (3) Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County; (4) David and Margaret Rankin of Iredell County; and (5) Robert Rankin (wives Mary Withrow and Leah MNU)of Rutherford County. Here are brief descriptions of each family.

Joseph Rankin of Delaware (1704-1764) (“Joseph of Delaware”), wife Rebecca MNU. Their sons John and William moved to Rowan/Guilford County.

Joseph of Delaware had definitely arrived in the colonies by 1731, when he acquired a tract in New Castle County, Delaware. He is buried at Head of Christiana Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Newark, New Castle County, where his tombstone survives. Joseph’s wife Rebecca (MNU) and his son William were administrators of his estate. His place of birth is unproved, although a serious gambler would put a lot of money on Ulster. One local history claims he was born in Clyde, Scotland, which is also possible. He had at least seven children. Four sons are conclusively proved (Joseph Jr., Thomas, John, and William), two sons are suggested by circumstantial evidence (Robert and James), and a daughter Ann, d.s.n.p., is proved by the will of her brother, Joseph Jr.

Joseph’s proved sons Joseph Jr. and Thomas remained in New Castle, where both died. Thomas, a Lieutenant in the Delaware militia, is buried in the same grave as his father. The DAR placed a “patriot” marker on the grave, probably giving rise to a claim by one researcher that Joseph (who died in 1764) was a Revolutionary War soldier. If so, he was a ghostly presence.

I have been unable to track Robert or James beyond brief appearances in the New Castle records.

Joseph’s other two sons, John and William Rankin, migrated to that part of Rowan Co., NC which later became Guilford County. John (born 1736, New Castle County, died 1814, Guilford) went to North Carolina first, about 1765-68. His wife was Hannah Carson. William Rankin (born 1744, New Castle, died 1804, Guilford) went to NC about 1768-70, where he married Jennet/Jean Chambers.

John and William are buried at the old Buffalo Presbyterian Church in Greensboro. They each had many children and grandchildren, and their lines were meticulously researched by Reverend Samuel Meek Rankin. His research is documented in his book, The Rankin and Wharton Families and Their Genealogy, originally published in 1931 and now available online in its entirety at at the UNC library website. For the record, Rev. Rankin’s book is dead wrong about Joseph of Delaware being the father of Samuel Rankin, see below.

Two of Joseph of Delaware’s proved descendants have YDNA tested and are a 37-marker match with a genetic distance (“GD”) of 1, a close match. One of the men is a participant in the Rankin DNA Project. Joseph’s line is part of Lineage 1B of the Rankin project, see the chart  here. Joseph’s descendants also match the lines of Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County and David Rankin of Iredell County. More about them  below. Together, those two families and Joseph of Delaware’s line comprise Rankin DNA Project Lineage 1.

Samuel Rankin (1734 – 1816) of Lincoln Co., NC and wife Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander (1740 – 1802)

Thanks to a family legend and YDNA testing, I am reasonably confident that Samuel and Eleanor are my ancestors. I therefore tend to be a bit prissy with respect to misinformation about them. Some researchers claim Samuel and Eleanor were married in Pennsylvania, which is demonstrably incorrect. Eleanor appeared in North Carolina deed and court records with her Alexander family of origin as a child in 1753 and 1755. She married Samuel about 1759-60, almost certainly in North Carolina. Their eldest son, William, was born in North Carolina in January 1761.

Some researchers assert that Samuel was born in Paxtang, Pennsylvania, although there seems to be no evidence for that claim. I think it’s highly improbable. Samuel may be the same man as the Samuel Rankin who appeared on the 1753 tax list for Sadsbury Township in Chester County, Pennsylvania There were no other Rankins on that list.

Samuel and Eleanor lived on Dutchman’s Creek in the part of Lincoln County that later became Gaston County. His nickname, I was charmed to learn, was “Old One-Eyed Sam.” I don’t know how he lost an eye. He and Eleanor had seven sons (William, Samuel, Robert, David, Richard, Alexander, and James) and three daughters (Jane/Jean, Anne, and Eleanor). William, Alexander, James, Jane, and Anne stayed in Lincoln County, or nearby. Richard Rankin died in Mecklenburg County, just east of the Catawba River. You can see Richard’s headstone on Beatty’s Ford Road north of Charlotte in the left foreground in the banner photo on this website. Three of Samuel and Eleanor’s sons (Samuel Jr., Robert, and David) and a daughter (Eleanor Rankin Dickson) went to Rutherford County, Tennessee. David stayed in Murfreesboro, but his three siblings moved on to Shelby County, Illinois.

Two theories about the father/parents of Samuel Rankin (Sr.) still have proponents on the internet. Both of them have been conclusively disproved by Y-DNA testing, see the article at this link. I have found no evidence in colonial records regarding the identity of Samuel’s parents. He is probably the original Rankin immigrant in his line.

Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford Co., NC (“R&R”)

This family arrived in the colonies in 1750 from Letterkenny Parish, Donegal County, Ireland, where their children were probably born. [1] They were in Pennsylvania for only a short while. Robert Sr. and his son George Rankin (or perhaps Robert Jr. and his brother George) were included on the 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township in Chester County. R&R then came to Guilford County in 1755 as part of the Nottingham Colony, a group of Scots-Irish members of Nottingham Presbyterian Church, now located in Maryland (it was then in Pennsylvania). Here is a map of Chester County in 1712 showing the Nottingham lots, located in disputed territory that wound up in Maryland.

R&R had at least two proved sons who died in Guilford County: George (died in 1760), whose wife was Lydia Steele, and Robert (died in 1795), whose wife’s identity is a matter of controversy among Rankin researchers. Some Rankin family trees and at least one compiled Rankin history conflate the Robert who died in 1795 with his father Robert (husband of Rebecca), who died about 1770-73. The article at this link addresses that issue.

According to Rev. S. M. Rankin, R&R also had a son John who proved to be a research dead end for me, although the Guilford records suggest that is possible. R&R also had a daughter Ann, whose husband was the William Denny who died in Guilford in 1770. R&R probably had other children as well, including two daughters who might be deemed only likely: Margaret (Rankin) Braly or Brawley, widow of Thomas Braly/Brawley,  and Rebecca (Rankin) Boyd, widow of John Boyd. Evidence concerning those daughters is discussed in this article.

All of the above is conventional wisdom so far as I know, except for (1) the identity of the wife of R&R’s son Robert Rankin who died in 1795 (see discussion under David Rankin of Iredell, below), (2) Ann as a daughter of R&R, (3) the two likely daughters Margaret and Rebecca, and (4) the death date of George Rankin, son of R&R. Rev. Rankin said George died in 1761, but that was probably a typo. George actually died in 1760, when his will was both written and probated.

David Rankin of Iredell Co., NC (d. 1789), wife Margaret LNU (“Iredell David”)

David Rankin’s 1789 Iredell will and other records establish a wife Margaret and three children: Robert, James (not explicitly named in the will), and Elizabeth (ditto). Both James and Elizabeth are established by the will, even though it doesn’t provide their given names, and other records.

Iredell David’s son Robert may be and probably is the same man as the “Mystery Robert” who applied for a Revolutionary War Pension from Gibson County, Tennessee in 1832. I made that argument in this article, although my opinion should be deemed somewhat speculative. The identity of Robert’s wife is also a matter of controversy. Some researchers believe his wife was a Jean Denny (1755-1779) from Guilford County. Some Jean Denny definitely married some Robert Rankin in Guilford County in 1775. Other researchers believe that Jean Denny of Guilford married Robert, the son of R&R who died in Guilford in 1795. I disagree, because I believe that Robert (son of R&R) of Guilford was Jean Denny’s uncle. This question requires a fairly lengthy argument which I will save for another day.

In any event, Robert and his wife Jean had two sons: (1) Denny, who married Sarah McMinn, and (2) James, who married Elizabeth McMinn, Sarah’s sister. Both families remained in Iredell. Two of Denny’s sons moved to Gibson County, TN (home of “Mystery Robert”) and then to Shelby Co., TN, where they both died. Many of James and Elizabeth’s descendants remained in Iredell; some are still there today. They are nice folks.

Iredell David’s son James died in the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill in Lincoln Co. in June 1780. His wife was a Miss Alexander (probably Susannah), and they had four children who are proved by Lincoln County guardian records: (1) David Rankin, born by 1781, Lincoln; (2) Margaret (“Peggy”) Rankin who married Thomas Witherspoon in Lincoln, 6 Jul 1801; (3) William Rankin who married. Mary Lourance/Lawrence, 17 Jan 1810; and (4) Jane/Jean Rankin m. William Crays.

Iredell deed records suggest that Iredell David’s daughter was probably  Elizabeth, wife of Samuel McCrary (or McCreary).

For a lengthy chart (including supporting records) on the line of David of Iredell, see the article at this link.

Robert Rankin of Rutherford County, NC (b. 1748-49, d. 1816, Caldwell County, KY), m#1 Mary Withrow, m#2 Leah LNU (“Rutherford Robert”)

Francis Gill did the definitive research on Rutherford Robert and published a book about him and others. I cannot find a copy of his book available for either purchase or loan, or I would buy it.

Rutherford Robert married Mary Withrow in Tryon County, North Carolina in 1769. He owned land on Second Broad River in what ultimately became Rutherford County. He and his future Withrow in-laws may have been listed on the tax list for Aston Township, Chester Co., PA in 1768, before going to NC. Rutherford Robert and Mary Withrow divorced, and he married as his second wife Leah LNU. They wound up in Caldwell County, Kentucky, where Robert applied for tax relief in a document establishing his birth year as 1748-49. He left a will naming his children Margaret, James, John, Rachel and David (children of Mary Withrow) and Elizabeth, Jennet, Jesse and Elias (children of his second wife Leah).  The children evidently scattered to the four winds. At least one of them, Jesse, wound up in Gibson County, Tennessee, see this article about him.

Whew! This article became longer than I expected. Hope this helps a bit in keeping these families straight. One final note: a couple of people who have read my articles say they never look at the footnotes, which just make them too long. I have started omitting them, for the most part. However, if anyone wants a citation to a source for anything in this or any other article, please let me know and I will be happy to provide it.

See you on down the road.

Robin

[1] See the article at http://digupdeadrelatives.com/2018/12/28/reprise-scots-irish-anyway/

[1] John Rankin, a Shaker preacher and grandson of R&R, hand-wrote his autobiography at age 88. These details about the migration of R&R are from that autobiography. See “Auto-biography of John Rankin, Sen.” (South Union, Ky., 1845), transcribed in Harvey L. Eads, ed., History of the South Union Shaker Colony from 1804 to 1836 (South Union, Ky., 1870), Shaker Museum at South Union, Auburn, Kentucky (SMSU), 29-30. For a typescript of Eads’s history, see Shaker Record A at the Special Collections Library, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky (WKU). The above citation can be found at this link.

Line of Robert & Rebecca Rankin of Guilford Co., NC

THIS ARTICLE IS OUTDATED AND NEEDS TO BE REVISED. MORE YDNA RESULTS ARE IN.

This is a descendant chart for yet another line of Rankins: Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford Co., NC. I cannot say anything positive about Y-DNA results concerning this line … yet. Y-DNA test results for one of their descendants should be available by the end of March 2017. More then. Meanwhile, I hope this chart has something of value for someone with a Rankin ancestor in North Carolina in the last half of the 18th century.

1 Robert Rankin and wife Rebecca (last name unknown) of Guilford County emigrated from Letterkenny Parish, Donegal County, Ireland to Pennsylvania about 1750.[1] Robert was part of the Nottingham Company, which acquired Granville grants in that part of North Carolina that became Guilford County. Robert and his son George were listed in the 1753 West Nottingham Township tax list for Chester County, PA.[2] Robert and Rebecca and some of their children migrated to NC in 1755. Because the family used the same men’s given names repeatedly – particularly Robert, George and John – I have adopted some shorthand designations or nicknames to distinguish among them. Here are the main ones:

  • Robert Rankin with wife Rebecca: “R&R” or “Robert Sr.’”
  • R&R’s son Robert: “Robert d. 1795.”
  • George d. 1851” was the only proved son of Robert d. 1795, although there may have been others. George d. 1851 married Nancy Gillespie and went to McNairy Co., TN. A gift deed proves that they had a son named Robert:
  • “Robert (1792? – 1845?).” As the question marks indicate, it is not certain where this Robert went and my opinion is speculative.
  • R&R’s son George who married Lydia Steele: “George d. 1760.” Proved sons of George d. 1760 and Lydia:
  • Shaker Rev. John, born in Guilford in 1757, was an ordained Presbyterian minister who became a “Shaker” and died in Logan Co., Kentucky.
  • Rev War Robert, born in Guilford in 1759, was a Revolutionary War veteran who moved to McNairy Co., TN and died there in 1840.

Robert Sr. left no will, despite bad information to the contrary in Gregg Moore’s compiled Rankin history. Moore claims that Robert Sr. died testate in 1795.[3] That is demonstrably incorrect, see my article on the subject here.

According to Rev. S. M. Rankin, Robert Sr. died in Guilford County about 1770.[4] Rev. Rankin also asserted in another part of his book that Robert died before the church started keeping minutes, which was in 1773. Rev. Rankin says that Robert and Rebecca’s children were George, Robert, Rebecca, John and others. I would add a daughter Ann Rankin Denny, who is established by strong circumstantial evidence. I would discount Rebecca because I didn’t find any evidence of her, although a daughter by that name would obviously be likely.

There are several family trees on Ancestry.com that identify R&R as the parents of both (1) David Rankin who died in Iredell Co., NC in 1789 and (2) Samuel Rankin (1734 – 1816) who married Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin and lived in Lincoln Co., NC. So far, I have not found anyone who cites any evidence for that information except for other Ancestry family trees. I have found no evidence in county or other records that either David or Samuel was a son of R&R. Two descendants of David of Iredell have tested, and neither matches Samuel Rankin. At minimum, this proves that David of Iredell and Samuel of Lincoln cannot possibly have been brothers.

R&R’s children appear in this chart with a “2” preceding their names. R&R’s grandchildren are numbered “3,” their great-grandchildren are “4,” and so on, in standard outline genealogy format, except that I have included more information than is usual in the outline format. Citations are contained in footnotes.

2 John Rankin was a son of R&R, according to Rev. Rankin. There was a John Rankin in some early Rowan/Guilford records involving other people in the line of R&R. That John was too old to be Shaker Rev. John, born in 1757, the elder son of George d. 1760 and Lydia Steele Rankin.[5] Based on such records, Rev. Rankin is probably right about R&R having a son John. I found no evidence of land ownership or identities of any of John’s children except in Rev. Rankin’s book, which says that John had a son John. I have been unable positively to identify this line after Guilford County.

3 John Rankin

2 Rebecca Rankin was a daughter of R&R according to Rev. Rankin. She reportedly married James Denny. I found no evidence of a James and Rebecca Denny in Guilford, and I haven’t tried to find them elsewhere.

2 Ann Rankin married William Denny. R&R gifted land to their son George Rankin and to William Denny on subsequent days in April 1755. Both transactions were for five shillings, the traditional gift deed price.[6] Rev. Rankin’s book asserts that Robert & Rebecca “sold” William Denny his land, although the price clearly marks it as a gift. That virtually guarantees that William Denny was a son-in-law. William and Ann Rankin Denny’s children are proved by his 1766 will, which names his wife Ann and the following children:[7]

3 James Denny, of age by 1766

3 William Denny, of age by 1766

3 Hannah Denny, unmarried in 1766

3 Agnes Denny, unmarried in 1766

3 Jane Denny, unmarried in 1766. Many Rankin researchers believe this is the Jean Denny who married, in 1775, Robert d. 1795 — a son of R&R. However, R&R’s son Robert would have been Jane/Jean Denny’s uncle, if I am correct that Ann and Robert were siblings. It is definitely correct that some Jane/Jean Denny married some Robert Rankin in Guilford County in 1775. Who was the Robert in question? Not (1) Robert Sr. (who died by 1773 and was married to Rebecca LNU), (2) probably not Robert d. 1795, who was most likely Jane Denny’s uncle, and (3) not George and Lydia’s son Rev. War Robert, who was only 16 in 1775. Perhaps there was more than one Jane/Jean Denny in Guilford, which is quite possible. Or perhaps Jane/Jean Denny’s husband was the Robert Rankin of Iredell Co., son of David, who had a son named Denny Rankin. I suspect that is correct.

2 Robert RankinRobert d. 1795 — left a will proving five children. He may have had others, of course. He had three daughters and one son still living when he wrote his will.[8] The will identified by name a son George (George d. 1851), deceased daughter Mary Rankin Wilson’s three sons, and a daughter Isobel. Further, the will gave a 1/5th share of his estate to “each of my daughters now living,” implying two more living daughters in addition to Isabel. Thus, the will left 1/5th of the estate each to (1) George d. 1851, (2) the Wilson grandchildren (divided among the three of them), (3) Isobel, (4) an unnamed daughter, and (5) another unnamed daughter. One of the two unnamed daughters was the Rankin woman who married yet another William Denny, because the second William Denny died in 1825 and named his brother-in-law (identified as such) George d. 1851 as executor of his will.[9]

Rev. S. M. Rankin identified John, Robert and William Rankin as “sons of Robert [Robert d. 1795] and grandsons of Robert Sr.,” citing Caruther’s “Life of Caldwell” — but inexplicably omitting George d. 1851, proved in his father’s will. Elsewhere in the book, Rev. Rankin identifies John, Robert and William Rankin as sons of Rev. War Robert (making those three men great-grandsons of Robert Sr.). Rev. Rankin probably confused his Roberts, a very easy mistake to make in Guilford, and the latter is most likely correct. I am not including those three here as sons of Robert d. 1795, because I found no evidence for them in the Guilford records. Instead, this chart includes only the children proved by the will of Robert d. 1795: George d. 1851, Mary Rankin Wilson, Isabel, and two unnamed daughters, one of whom was the wife of William Denny who died in 1825.

3 George Rankin (George d. 1851) was born in Guilford Co., NC, 22 Mar 1767 and died in McNairy Co., TN, 15 Sep 1851.[10] George d. 1851 married Nancy Gillespie on 28 Jan 1791 in Guilford.[11] He sold 443 acres on the south side of Buffalo Creek in Guilford on 22 Aug 1832, and then moved to McNairy.[12] He and his wife Nancy (1773 – 30 Jul 1843) are buried at Bethel Springs Cemetery in McNairy. The census records for George in Guilford and McNairy support the possibility of 11 possible, but I haven’t been able to prove that many. This chart shows only seven children, and I’m not entirely sure about a couple of those.

4 Some Robert Rankin was a son of George’s, which is proved by a gift deed.[13] George d. 1851’s son was (if I have the right man) born in 1792 and died 1845 – the man whom I call Robert (1792? – 1845?).[14] It is possible — ** and this is speculative ** — that George d. 1851 and Nancy’s proved son Robert was the same man as the Robert Rankin who married Isabel Rankin, daughter of Rev. War Robert and Mary (“Polly”) Cusick Rankin. Isabel was b. 1791 – d. 1861, per her tombstone; she and her husband Robert Rankin would have been great-grandchildren of R&R and therefore second cousins. Their pedigrees, in short (if my speculation is correct: (1) Isabel’s pedigree would be R&R > George d. 1760 & Lydia > Rev. War Robert & Polly Cusick > Isabel Rankin, while (2) her husband’s would be R&R > Robert d. 1795 > George d. 1851 m. Nancy Gillespie > Robert (1792? – 1845?). Some Robert and Isabel definitely married in Guilford in December 1812.[15] See their line under Isabel. I have put their line under Isabel because her identity as a daughter of Rev. War Robert and Mary Cusick is reasonably certain, while the identity of her spouse Robert is speculative.

4 Rebecca Rankin, who was almost certainly the Rebecca who m. Jedediah Rankin in 1811. He was a son of Rev. War Robert and Polly Cusick. They went to Perry Co., AR, see their line under Jedediah.

4 Margaret (Peggy) Rankin, b. 1796, Guilford, d. 1875, Lincoln Co., TN, m. Joseph H Wallace, Guilford, 6 Jan 1818.

4 Daniel G. Rankin? m. Elizabeth Hanner 1823.

4 Thankful Rankin Wharton? 1803-1885.

4 David Caldwell Rankin, b. 1808, Guilford Co., NC, married #1 Mary M. C. F. _______ (d. 1847, McNairy Co., TN), married #2 Nancy Wilson. David was almost certainly still in his parents’ household in the 1830 Guilford Co., NC census. He was listed in his own household in the 1840 and 1850 census for McNairy Co., TN, with his father George enumerated in his household.

5 William Rankin, b. abt 1834

5 Nancy Rankin, b. abt 1838

5 George Washington Rankin, b. abt 1840

5 Angelina Rankin, b. abt 1842, may have married A. J. Minton, 23 Jun 1863, McNairy

5 Marion Rankin, b. abt 1847

4 John D. Rankin, b. Guilford 1816-17, d. McNairy 1870, m. Mary (“Polly”) Kerby (1820-1883). Buried Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Finger, McNairy Co., TN.[16]

5 Francis Marion Rankin, b. 1836, d. 25 Jun 1890, buried Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Finger, McNairy Co. Wife Louisa Elizabeth James, 19 Aug 1834 – 25 Oct 1926.[17]

6 Julia Ann Rankin, 1858 – 1906.

6 Robert W. Rankin, b. 12 Mar 1860 TN, d. 15 Nov 1919. Wife Margaret J. ______ (1868-1958).[18]

7 Perry P. Rankin, b. Feb 1889, d. _____

7 Letta V. Rankin, b. abt. 1893

7 Robert L. Rankin, b. Mar 1895

7 Franklin Rankin, b. 13 Sep 1899, d. 24 Apr 1979. Per his TN death certificate, Franklin was a son of R. W. Rankin & Margaret J. Rankin. Franklin’s wife was Winnie Essie Patterson. Per marriage certificate, they were m. 18 Dec 1921 in Chester Co., TN. Both are buried in the Cave Springs Cemetery, Henderson, Chester Co., TN. Winnie’s obituary (she died November 28, 2001) identified her husband as Frank, d. 1979, and identifies her children as follows …

8 Herman Rankin, predeceased his mother. Death certificate says he was b. 20 Jul 1923, d. 9 Aug 1998, son of Frank Rankin and Winnie Essie Patterson, buried Shelby Co., TN.

8 Daughter Bernice Rankin McDaniel of Memphis.

8 Son Glenn Rankin of Selmer, TN.

8 Son Aaron Rankin of Gallatin, TN.

6 William Sherman Rankin, 1866 – 1937

6 Mary F. Rankin, 1868 – 1937, m. Mr. Maness

6 F. M. Rankin, Jr., 1871 – 1894

6 Louisa Rankin, 1873 – 1949

6 John B. Rankin, b. 1877, d. ____

5 Nancy Rankin, b. 1838-39, d. 1923?

5 Sarah E. Rankin, b. 1842, d. 1915?

5 Lucy E. Rankin, 1843-44, d. ____

5 Mary J. Rankin, b. 1845, d. 1934?

5 Robert Neal Rankin, b. 1847, d. 1922?

5 Thankful Caroline Rankin, b. 1850, d. ?

5 Margaret S. Rankin, b. 1852, d. 1927?

5 Julia A. Rankin, b. 1854, d. ?

5 Elizabeth E. Rankin, b. 1857, d. 1943?

5 George D. Rankin, b. 1860, d. ? May have gone to Oklahoma.

5 Hugh Kerby Rankin, b. 1865, d. 1946? Ditto. McNairy estate records mentions Elizabeth, George and Hugh Rankin, heirs and minors, by their guardian ad litem. So the estate was administered prior to 1876.

3 Mary Rankin m. Andrew Wilson, d. by 1795. Some of these Wilsons went to McNairy Co., TN, but I have not attempted to track them or sort them out.

4 William Rankin Wilson, b. 1787, Guilford Co., NC, d. 1855, reportedly m. Lydia Rankin — the Lydia who was a daughter of Rev. War Robert and Polly Cusick. I haven’t seen proof.

4 Andrew Wilson

4 Maxwell Wilson

3 Isobel Rankin

3 Daughter Rankin, possibly Rebecca? Not identified by name in her father’s 1795 will, but see will of William Denny dated 12 Dec 1824 proved Feb 1825. Will mentions brother-in-law George Rankin. See also Guilford DB 8: 230, 1803 deed witnessed by William Denny and Rebeckah Denny.

4 Rebeckah Denny m. Mr. Black

4 Pamela Denny m. Mr. Wilson

4 Nancy Denny

4 Isabel Denny

4 James Denny

4 William Denny

4 Allen Denny

3 Unnamed daughter Rankin.

2 George Rankin, b. 1729, Letterkenny Parish, County Donegal, Ireland. Emigrated to Pennsylvania about 1750 with father Robert.[19] Died 1760, Guilford Co., NC, m. Lydia Steele, from County Derry. George’s will, dated and proved 1760, names their sons John (“Rev. Shaker John”) and Robert (“Rev War Robert”).

3 Rev. Shaker John Rankin, b. 27 Nov 1757, Guilford Co., NC, d. 1850, Logan Co., KY. Married Rebeccah Rankin, 5 Dec 1786, a daughter of John Rankin and Hannah Carson (per Old Buffalo Church and Rev. John’s autobiography). He was ordained by Rev. Caldwell. He left NC in October 1796 and arrived in Gallatin, Sumner Co., TN, in Nov. 1796. In Dec. 1798, he moved to Gasper River, Logan Co., KY.

See http://digitalcommons.wku.edu.theses/1243. My listing of his children is entirely from the census records in Logan Co., KY.

4 George Rankin, 1787-1880. If birth date correct, he was b. NC.

 4 Hannah Rankin, 1789-1826. Ditto.

4 Robert Rankin, date unknown, reportedly second eldest son, if so … b. 1790.

4 James Rankin, 1791-1884

4 Solomon Rankin, 1796-1882

4 John N. Rankin, 1798-1870

4 Jesse Rankin, 1799-1882.

4 William Rankin, 1803-1880

3 Robert Rankin (“Rev War Robert”), b. 1759 in Guilford (per pension application), m. #1 Polly Cusick (date unknown), m. #2 Mary Moody in 1803, both marriages in Guilford. Polly Cusick evidently died about 1801. Robert and Mary Moody moved from Guilford to McNairy, TN about 1832. He died there in 1840.[20] She died after 1850, when she appeared in the census in a son’s household.

Children of Rev War Robert and Polly Cusick. Three daughters (Lydia, Isabel and Thankful) are proved by the Guilford Co. 1816 will of their grandfather, William Cusick, who identified his granddaughters as children of Robert Rankin and his deceased daughter Polly. [21]

4 Lydia Rankin, b. before 1803. Reportedly married her cousin William Rankin Wilson (a grandson of Robert Rankin d. 1795 in Guilford) and d. 1862 in Arkansas. I haven’t found proof. I (blush) haven’t seriously looked yet.

4 Isbel/Isabel Rankin, b. 1791, m. Robert Rankin 9 Dec 1812 in Guilford. I ** speculate ** he was her second cousin Robert, a proved son of George (1767-1851) and Nancy Gillespie Rankin.  Isabel and her husband Robert went to Arkansas, d. Pope Co. They are buried in the Old Kinslow Cemetery (about 1 mile west of Appleton, AR, now abandoned). Tombstones are inscribed “Robert Rankin d. 1845 aged 53” (which puts his birth year at 1792), “Isabelle Rankin died 1861 aged 70 years” (so born abt 1791), and “George W. Rankin died 1843 aged 22 yrs. 9 mo.” George was their son.

5 Margaret D. Rankin, 1813 –

5 Susan Rankin, 1814 –

5 George W. Rankin, 1821 – 1843

5 Malinda Rankin, 1823-1880, or possibly Salenda

5 Isabell Jane Rankin, b. 1825–26, d. 1899, married Joseph Poe

5 Robert M. Rankin, 1827 – 1894

5 Anthony Lambert Rankin, 1830-1892, m. Patience Ann Jones

6 Evert Rankin

7 Alta Rankin m. Ed Wilson

5 William Rankin?

5 Jasper N. Rankin, 1832-1862

5 Julia Ann Rankin

5 Carolina Rankin

5 Reuben Burr Rankin, b. 4 May 1834, d. 17 Aug 1909, Ozark, Franklin Co., AR. Married Nancy Elizabeth Nash, b. 1836, on 8 Dec 1853, marriage recorded in the minutes of the Glass Village Presby Congregation in Appleton, AR.[22]

6 John James Rankin, b. AR 8 Oct 1854, d. 22 Jan 1931, Perryville, Perry Co., AR. Married Margaret Ann Lemley, 7 Apr 1862 – 20 Oct 1948, Perryville.

7 Mollie Rankin, d. bef. 1961

7 Lee Lester Rankin m. May Hamilton, d. bef. 1961

8 Ruby Rankin

8 Lowell Rankin

7 Sibley Arthur Rankin, b. 1882, Appleton, AR, m. #1 Mayme Bunn, m. #2 Mary Estella Rankin, Morrilton, AR.

8 L. D. Rankin, Nachez, MS m. ????

9 Michael Rankin, b. abt. 1939, wife Carolyn, lived in Natchez on Rankin St.

9 John Patrick Rankin, b. abt 1943, Ole Miss, geological engineering

9 Lee Dennis Rankin, b. abt 1946.

7 Reuben Anderson Rankin, m. #1 Mae Bowie, m#2 Dollie Gentry, d. bef. 1961

7 Rulen? Nulen? Ephriam Rankin m. LaVada McGehee

8 John Edward Rankin of Tulsa, OK as of 1961

7 Jesse Parke Rankin m. Pearl Thedford, d. bef. 1961

8 Cleburne Rankin, lived in Perryville, AR as of 1961

8 Ida Rae Rankin m. Mr. Henry, lived in Little Rock as of 1961

7 Maudie Ethel Rankin, m. R. E. Richey, lived in Tulsa as of 1961

7 Odie Ella Rankin, m. #1 Ed Bland, m. #2 Jake Tulp, lived Little Rock

7 John Leland Rankin m. Maudie Luella Rankin, twin sister of the Mary Estella who m. Sibley Arthur Rankin, lived in Cutler, CA

7 Cecil Farrar Rankin, Perryville, AR, never married.

6 Mary M. Rankin, 1856-1871

6 Rosetta A. Rankin, 1857-1947, “Zett,” married Henry Templeton

6 Nancy Isobel Rankin, 1858-1947, m. Anderson Bartlett

6 Sarah Fina? Fine? Rankin, 1859-1934, m. Henry Bartlett

6 Laura Alice Rankin, 1865-1948

6 George Alver Rankin, 1868 – 1938, b. Mulberry AR, d. Lone Elm, Franklin, AR, m. Ollie Delana Francis, b. 1869

7 William Edgar Rankin, 1890-1946

7 Thomas Fay Rankin, 1892-1920

7 Phoebe Lois Rankin, 1895-1970

7 Jasper Francis Rankin, 1897-1988

7 George Argus Rankin, 1900-1993 m. Grace L.

7 Rollie Burr Rankin, b. 1905, AR, d. 1955, San Pablo, Contra Costa, CA, m. Hazel Melissa Mackey, 1904-1995. Kit #207504 in the Rankin DNA project.

4 Thankful Rankin, b. before 1803, m. Hance McCain in Guilford, 4 Feb 1818.

4 John Rankin, b. 17 Feb 1797 d. 24 Mar 1846, buried Bethel Springs Cem., McNairy Co., TN.

4 Jedediah Rankin is proved as a son of Rev. War Robert by an 1815 Guilford gift deed.[23] Born abt 1783-84, Guilford Co., NC, d. 1862. Appeared in the Guilford census in 1820.[24] Went to Perry Co., AR about 1832, says one source; another says he was there by 1830. Appears in the Perry Co. census in 1850 and 1860 in the household of his son George M. Rankin.[25] Jedediah was married twice. He married wife #1, Rebecca Rankin, 4 Dec 1811, Guilford Co., NC, Robert Rankin Jr., bondsman. [Note: Robert JUNIOR in 1811 was Robert, a proved son of George and Nancy Gillespie. Rebecca was almost certainly also a daughter of George and Nancy.] Rebecca died in 1827. Jedediah m. wife #2 was Elizabeth _______.

5 Catherine Rankin, b. 1812, married Mr. Kidd, to Texas.

5 Polly Ann Rankin, m. Capt. Wilson of Arkansas, she died in 1863.

5 George M. Rankin, b. abt 1822, Guilford Co., NC, m. Elizabeth Jane Alexander, 28 Dec 1841. See 1880 census.[26] Died 1896, Perry Co., AR. They had 14 children, per Goodspeed’s.

6 Robert N. Rankin, b. AR 10 Jun 1844, d. Corinth, MS, 1863

6 George W. Rankin, b. AR 15 Sep 1846, lived in Perryville

6 Rebecca Rankin, b. 1848, d. infant

6 William H. C. (or H. R.,?) Rankin, b. AR 4 Mar 1850, Perryville merchant, m. Mollie E. Swaggerty 7 Feb 1875 (she was b. GA)

6 Polly Ann Rankin, b. Apr 1851, d. 1863

6 Lucinda C. Rankin, b. AR abt 1854, might be the Lucinda Catherine b. Apr 1853, m. John Bland.

6 John J. Rankin, b. AR Apr 1855, d. Dec 1880

6 Isbel or Isabella C. Rankin, b. AR 1857, d. Jan 1877

6 Henry M. Rankin, b. AR 1859

6 Lousetta Rankin, b. AR 25 Dec 1861, m. George Bland, to California

6 Edmund (“Eddie”) Rankin, b. AR 26 Dec 1864, d. TX 1886

6 Elizabeth (“Betsey”) J. Rankin, b. AR Mar 1867, m. E. B. Rorer of Perry Co.

6 Monroe Madison Rankin, b. 3 Mar 1869, AR. See 1910, 1920 and 1930 census. Married Maggie Edwards 14 Jul 1895, Moab, Perry Co., AR. He was 26, she was 16. A SSI claim identifies spouse as Margaret M. Edwards, a child as Faye Edith Filkins. Children from census:

7 Lyle Rankin, b. abt 1898

7 Fay Rankin, b. abt 1905, married Mr. Filkins.

7 Roy Rankin, b. abt 1907-08 (seems to be “Ray” in the 1930 census)

7 Ruben N. Rankin, b. 1909. See 1930 census, living with parents Madison & Maggie. Married Eunice Bell Lane, 13 Jan 1929, Saline Co. AR. They have one child in that census: Ruben C. Rankin.

8 Reubin Cecil Rankin, 1930-1992. Tombstone in Smith-Rosemont Cemetery, Saline, Benton Co., AR. Wife Frances Louise Samples. SS death index mentions Reuben N. Rankin and Eunice J. Lane, his parents.

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=RAN&GSpartial=1&GSbyrel=all&GSst=4&GScntry=4&GSsr=1601&GRid=44304504&

 7 Sybil Rankin, b. abt 1915

4 George Rankin, b. Guilford Co., NC (reportedly 1782), d. 1828, went to Pulaski Co., AR. Married Ann McMurray, 22 Nov 1803. See Pulaski County census, 1840 … Ann Rankin, 0001-00000001. She is 50<60, b. 1780-1790, fits with likely birthdate of George, son of Rev War Robert and Polly Cusick. She is listed on the same page as Wiliam D. Rankin in the 1840 census, suggesting he is her son. See also 1830 tax list, Pulaski Co., Ann Rankin (also listed 1836, 1839). Jedediah Rankin is listed on the 1830 tax list along with Robert Rankin. In the 1835 tax list, there is Robert Rankin, William Rankin (1835 and 36) and William D. Rankin (1839).

5 Probable son: John J. Rankin, b. abt 1822. In the 1850 census, Pulaski Co., AR, he is listed in the dwelling next to Ann Rankin, probably his mother.[27]

6 Dores, probably Doris, Rankin, b. AR abt 1845

6 Frances Rankin, b. AR abt. 1846

6 George Rankin, b. AR abt. 1849-50.

5 William D. Rankin, b. 1800-1810, AR. Married Minerva Payne, 12 Jul 1832, Pulaski Co., AR. Land grant, 1838, 160A, Section 29, T3-N, R15-W. 1840 census suggests two sons born 1835-40, one son born 1833-1840, plus two daughters. [28] His wife is 20 < 30 in 1840, born 1810-1820.[29] Children from 1850 census.[30]

6 Thomas Rankin, b. AR abt 1831

6 Julia Ann Rankin, b. AR abt 1834

6 James W. Rankin, b. AR abt 1836, married Sarah LNU.[31]

 7 William D. Rankin, b. AR 1859-60

7 Franklin Rankin, b. AR abt 1861

7 Texas? Rankin, female, b AR abt 1862

7 Elmira Rankin, b. AR abt 1867

7 Julia Rankin, b. AR abt 1869

6 Sarah Rankin, b. AR abt 1841

6 William? Henry Rankin, b. abt 1843 per 1850 census, abt. 1842 per 1870 census. Rankin descendant says he was b. 1839, d. 1906.[32]

 7 George Emory Rankin, 1866-1931, m. Sophronia Evelena Coley, 29 Mar 1894, Faulkner Co., AR. She died 1926 in Ouachita Parish, LA. Obit said her husband was “of Caldwell Parish.”[33]

8 Chester Clyde Rankin of Ceres, CA, b. 27 Dec 1894, Conway Co., AR per draft registration card, d. 11 Jul 1977, Ceres, CA.

8 William Henry Rankin, b. 1898, Howard Co., AR, d. 1981, Columbia, Caldwell Par., LA.

8 Rollie R. Rankin, b. 1902, Howard Co., AR, d. 1984, Caldwell Parish, LA

8 Alberta Rankin, b. abt 1905, Howard Co., AR

8 Bertie L. Rankin, b. abt 1907, Howard Co., AR

8 Laura Dee Rankin, b. abt 1909, Howard Co., AR

8 Harry B. Rankin, b. abt 1909, Howard Co., AR

8 Fred D. Rankin, b. 10 Feb 1913, Howard Co., AR, d. 11 Feb 1975, Winnsboro, Franklin Parish, LA. His obituary names his surviving sons and a couple of his brothers.

9 George E. Rankin of Bossier City.

9 Fred Allen Rankin, b. 1944, lives in Benton, Bossier Parish, LA.

6 Enneline? Rankin, b. AR abt 1845

6 George Rankin, b. AR abt 1847

5 Robert Rankin, b. 1805, NC, d. 1863, Perry Co., AR, m. Frances Hogan.[34] Buried in Antioch Cemetery, Perryville, AR. Double headstone with Frances. His tombstone says “Killed by Jayhawkers.” http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Rankin&GSiman=1&GScid=52846&GRid=28734817&

6 W. G. Rankin, b. 2 Mar 1830, m. #1 Parmelia Ellsberry Mar 1852, two subsequent wives.

6 Martha A. Rankin, b. abt 1832, AR

6 Edmund Hogan Rankin, 5th child of 12, b. 31 Mar 1837 – d. 25 Jun 1917, m. #1 Nancy Jane Spears Jan 1863 (she d. 1883); m #2 Sarah Elizabeth Camp. Buried Antioch Cemetery, Perryville, Perry Co., AR.[35]

7 George W. Rankin, b. abt 1863, probably d. abt. 1881, age 18, buried Antioch Cem.

7 John A. J. Rankin, b. abt. 1864

7 Henry C. Rankin, b. abt. 1865

7 Elizabeth J. Rankin, b. abt. 1869

7 Charles C. Rankin, b. 11 Feb 1872, d. 15 Apr. 1901, buried Antioch Cemetery.

7 Edmond Filmore Rankin, b. 25 Jun 1873, d. 10 Aug 1947, wife Nancy Annie Rankin, 1872 – 1944. Buried Antioch Cemetery, Perryville.

7 Alice L. Rankin, b. abt 1874

7 Julie E. Rankin, b. abt 1878

7 William Alexander Rankin, b. 21 Sept. 1879, d. 1965, m. Zora Mae _____.[36] See also WWII Draft Registration card giving birth date, Zora’s name, and middle name.

8 Otto Harris Rankin, b. 5 May 1904, Perry Co., AR, d. 5 Dec 1977, AR. Married Novie Brown, Morrilton, Conway Co., AR, 14 Oct 1923, both age 19. Both buried Ada Valley Cemetery in Conway Co., AR.[37]

9 Marie Rankin, b. abt 1925

9 Paul Rankin, b. abt 1927

9 Juanita Rankin, b. abt 1929

9 Harold Leon Rankin, b. 2 Oct 1931, d. 20 Aug 2013, buried in Ada Valley Cemetery. Obituary names his survivors, including two sons. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Rankin&GSiman=1&GScid=2162879&GRid=115842083&

8 Edward C. Rankin, b. abt 1906

8 Pearl E. Rankin, b. abt 1908-09

8 Lloyd M. Rankin, b. 22 Jun 1910, d. 18 May 1963. Buried Antioch Cemetery. Married #1, Conway Co., Lorene Paul, 12 May 1935. Married #2 Pearl McClain, 29 Mar 1941.

8 Violet Rankin, b. abt 1912

8 Dollie Rankin, b. abt 1916

8 Rayburn Rankin, b. abt 1920

Grandsons of William A. and Zora, not sure of father, positive about grandfather:

9 Don Rankin, b. abt 1933

9 Ronnie Rankin, b. abt 1936

6 Harriet J. Rankin, b. abt 1840, AR

6 Julia E. Rankin, b. abt 1842, AR

6 Luzetta E. Rankin, b. abt 1844, AR

6 John S. Rankin, b. abt 1847, AR

6 Charles C. Rankin, b. AR abt. 1849

6 Frances J. Rankin, b. abt. 1851

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

Some more info, from one of those old “Heritage” books for Perry County, Page 689-690. *** Which George? (1) not George, son of R&R, died 1760; (2) not George d. 1851, because he stayed in TN and died there;

W.G. Rankin, a prominent stock dealer residing in Perryville, is a son of Robert Rankin and Frances Hogan of Tennessee and Georgia, respectively, the former a son of George Rankin of Guilford County, North CarolinaGeorge Rankin*** and his son Robert, in company with several others, traveled up the Arkansas River as far as Cane Hill, Washington, looking for a suitable location, but finally returned to Little Rock and shortly afterward settled on the Maumelle River, about fourteen miles southeast of Perryville, where he resided until his death. His wife died in 1858, a few years after his decease. … Robert Rankin moved with his father to the settlement on Maumelle River, where he entered eighty acres of land … Robert was married when quite young, being only twenty two years old on that occasion. He sold forty acres of land which he had previously entered and entered 120 acres more in the neighborhood of his eighty acres upon which he made his home and resided until his death in the fall of 1863, being murdered by a bushwhacker. His wife lived five years afterward and followed him to the grave. W.G. Rankin was born March 2, 1830, in what is now Faulkner County, and received all the advantages to be derived from the schools of that period. He remained at home and worked on the farm with his father until March 1852, when he married to Miss Parmelia Ellsberry, by whom he has had three children: C.C. (who resides in Perryville), Edmund H. (also of Perryville), and Margaret (wife of Robert Long, who resides eight miles from that town). Mr Rankin lost his wife on November 7, 1868 and in November 1871 he was again married, his second wife being Miss Julia Bagly, by whom he had one child: Mary Josephine. This wife died in 1878 and about one year and nine months later Mr Rankin married #3 Mrs Missouri Brazeale, by whom he has had two children: Egbert and Quinlen. After his first marriage he bought forty acres of land and entered 160 acres more eight miles east of Perryville where he resided from 1853 to 1876, and then moved to Perryville where he has lived ever since. During the war he enlisted in the army, but after three months’ service, the long marches, exposure and hard life of a soldier affected his health and he was forced to return home and hire a substitute to fill his place for the remainder of the war. Mr Rankin has made industry and good management accumulate a comfortable amount of property. He owns land east of block 14 in the town of Perryville, also forty acres just across the river with twenty acres under cultivation, besides having a half interest in 215 acres ten miles down the Fourche, of which twenty five acres are under cultivation. He is a member of the Masonic order and belongs to the Perryville Lodge. In politics he is a Democrat and has always voted that ticket. He is one of the old landmarks of the county and any history of the State of Arkansas would be incomplete without his name. Besides himself, Mr Rankin has two brothers and one sister still living: Edmund H. (residing in Perry County on the old homestead), Charles (residing 3 miles south of Perryville), and Martha (now the wife of Willis Y. Russell, living in Effingham County, Ill.

 

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

Source for the following: The Goodspeed Biographical and Historical Memoirs of Central Arkansas (Easley, SC: Southern Historical Press reprint, 1978; original publisher The Goodspeed Publishing Co. of Chicago, Nashville and St. Louis, 1889).

Goodspeed says that Jedediah Rankin came to Perry Co., AR in 1832. Jed was the father of G. M. Rankin, “who was born within one-half mile of the famous Guilford Court House … August 1, 1821.” “The grandfather, Robert Rankin, was a Revolutionary Soldier, and took part in the battle of Guilford Court House.”

                …. “Jedediah Rankin and his wife were the parents of five children, of whom 2 died when very young. The oldest, Catherine, was born in 1812 and married a man named Kidd, now residing in Texas. The next was Polly Ann, who married a Capt. Wilson, of Arkansas, [where] she died in 1863; and G. M. Rankin, who, after his mother’s death, in 1827, lived with an uncle named Robert Rankin, until 1837, when he moved to Arkansas, and joined his father … the elder Rankin [died] in 1862 at the age of 79 [thus born 1783, that would be Jedediah]… his wife [died in 1882, age 81].

                  … G. M. Rankin m. Elizabeth Jane Alexander 28 Dec 1841. They had 14 children, 7 still living (as of 1889, I suppose)…(1) Robert N. Rankin (b. 10 Jun 1844, killed at Corinth, 1863); (2) Wash. (b. 15 Sep 1846, lives in Perrybille); (3) Rebeca (b. 1848, d. infant); (4) W. H. R. Rankin (b. 4 Mar 1850, a merchant in Perryville, m. Mollie E. Swaggerty 7 Feb 1875, she from GA); (5) Polly Ann (b. Apr 1851, d. 1863); (6) Catherine (b. Apr 1853, m. John Bland of Perryville); (7) John Rankin (b. Apr 1855 d. Dec 1880); (8) Isabella (b. 1857, d. Jan 1877); (9) Henry (b. 1859); (10) Lousetta (b. 25 Dec 1861, m. George Bland, to CA); (11) Edmund (b 26 Dec 1864, d. TX 1886); (12) Betsey J. (b. Mar 1857, m. E. B. Rorer of Perry Co.); (13) Madison M. (b. 3 Mar 1869).

                  (Note on #4, William H. R. Rankin m. Mollie Swaggerty: they had 4 kids, (1) Hallie (Feb 1876), (2) Sibyl (Dec 1879), (3) Fay (Nov 1883) and (4) Joe (Jan 1886).

Another Rankin family, but I’m on a roll here … same source…

                  “W. G. Rankin …[of] Perryville is a son of Robert Rankin and Frances (Hogan) Rankin … Robert being a son of George Rankin of Guilford Co., NC… George Rankin and his son Robert …settled on the Maumelle River about 14 miles SW of Perryville … Robert … married … when only 22, d. fall of 1863, “being murdered by a bushwhacker” … W. G. Rankin was b. 2 Mar 1830 in what is now Faulkner county…m. Parmelia Elsberry in March 1852. W. G. and Parmelia had 3 children: (1) C. C. Rankin (Perryville); (2) Edmund H. (ditto); (3) Margaret m. Robert Long. Parmelia d. 7 Nov 1868 and W. G. married w#2 Julia Bagly, one dau (4) Mary Josephine. Julia d. in 1878 and W. G. married Mrs. Missouri Brazeale, two children: (5) Egbert and (6) Quinlen.

 …W. G. Rankin has 2 brothers and one sister still living: Edmund H. Rankin (Perry Co. on old homestead), Charles (3 miles south of Perryville) and Martha m. Willis Y. Russell, Effingham Co., IL.

 …about Edmund H. Rankin (b. 1 Mar 1837, Perry Co., the 5th of 12 children), son of Robert and Frances (Hogan) Rankin, m. Nancy Jane Spears, and they had 10 children, 9 still living: (1) George W., (2) Andrew J., (3) Henry Clay, (4) Frances Jane, (5) Charles C., (6) Edmond F., (7) Laura Alice, (8) Julian E. and (9) William A. … “the paternal grandfather” fought in the Battle of Guilford Court House…” I think Goodspeed’s may have omitted a generation … “the paternal great-grandfather came to America before the Rev War.” (ditto).

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

[1] The source for the migration information is the autobiography of one of Robert and Rebecca’s grandsons, “Shaker Reverend John Rankin” who went to Union Co., KY. Excerpts from it are available in some family trees at ancestry.com. I would love to have a complete copy if anyone has one or can send a link.

[2] 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).

[3] A. Gregg Moore & Forney A. Rankin (as added author), The Rankins of North Carolina : A Genealogy and History of Those Who Can Trace Their Ancestry to One of the Several Rankin Families Native to the Tar Heel State (Marietta, GA: A. G. Moore, 1997) (two volumes). Moore confused Robert d. 1795 with his father Robert Sr. m. Rebecca.

[4] Rev. S. M. Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People (Greensboro, NC: Jos. J. Stone & Co., 1931).

[5] See, e.g., Rowan County, NC Order Book 3: 200 and Will Book A: 31, will of William Denny dated 1766, witnessed in 1766 and proved in 1770 by John Rankin.

[6] Rowan Deed Book 2: 67, 14 Apr 1755 deed from Robert Rankin to William Denny, 5 shillings, 640 acres adjacent the corners of Nottingham Company tracts No. 14 and 15; Rowan Deed Book 2: 70, 13 Apr 1775 deed from Robert and Rebecca Rankin to George Rankin, 480 acres on the south side of Brushy Fork.

[7] Guilford or Rowan County Will Book A: 31, Order Book 3: 200, will of Wm Denny naming wife Ann, dated 10 Aug 1766 proved May 1770.

[8] Will of Robert Rankin Sr. (who was then called “Sr.” since Robert m. Rebecca had died earlier) dated May 1795, proved Nov 1795. Guilford Co., NC, WB A: file #312.

[9] Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998 (database online).

[10] Albert Brown, Cemeteries, 1824 – 1986 McNairy County, TN (1993).

[11] Frances T. Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records 1771-1868 Volume III Names O-Z (Athens, GA: Iberian Publishing Co., 1984).

[12] A. B. Pruitt, Abstracts of Deeds Guilford Co, NC Books 19, 20, & 21 (1825-1836) (2007), abstract of Deed Book 19: 688.

[13] A. B. Pruitt, Abstracts of Deeds Guilford Co, NC Books 14, 15, & 16 (1819-1826) (2005), abstract of Deed Book 14: 11, deed of 23 Mar 1819 from “George Rankin Sr. to his son Robert Rankin Jr.,” both of Guilford, 110.5 acres on the south side of North Buffalo Creek. By 1819, the man designated as Robert Rankin Senior would be Rev. War Robert, son of George and Lydia Steele Rankin.

[14] See the 1820 federal census for Guilford Co., 1830 census for McNairy, and the 1840 census for Pope Co., AR.

[15] Ingmire, Guilford County North Carolina Marriage Records.

[16] 7 Mar 1870, McNairy Co., TN, administrator’s bond on estate of J. D. Rankin, administrator F. M. Rankin, bond Francis Kirby. Book B: 88.

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Rankin&GSiman=1&GScid=15910&GRid=99472727&

[17] 1860 census, Purdy P.O., McNairy Co., TN, Frank Rankin, age 23, b. TN, Elizabeth Rankin, 24, July A. Rankin (sic, Julie or Julia), 2, and Robert W. Rankin, 3 months. Two households down from Frank Kerby. 1870 census, McNairy Co., Frances Ranken, 34, Sarah (?) E. Rankin, 35, Julia A. Rankin, 12, Robert W. Rankin, 10, William S. Rankin, 4, Mary F. Rankin, 1. The adjacent household is Mary F. Rankin, his mother (widow of J. D. Rankin). In 1870, he was the administrator on the estate of J. D. Rankin, with Francis Kirby, bondsman. 1880 census, McNairy Co., TN, F. M. Rankin, b. TN, parents b. NC, wife Louisa E. Rankin, son R. W. Rankin, 20, daughter Mary F. Rankin, 11, son F. M. Rankin, Jr., daughter Louisa Rankin, 7, and son John B. Rankin, 3. Headstone application for military veterans says that he was a Chief Master Sgt., 6th Tennessee Cavalry. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=6039779

[18] 1900 census, Chester Co., TN, Robert W. Rankins, 40, b. TN Mar 1860, wife Margaret J. Rankins, 32, b. TN Feb 1868, son Perry P. Rankin, 10, b. TN Feb 1889, dau Letta V. Rankins, 7, b. TN _____, son Robert L. Rankins, 5, b. TN Mar.1895, son Franklin Rankins, 8 months, b TN Sep 1899. Plus Louisa E. Rankin, 65, b. TN Aug 1835. Buried in Cave Springs Cemetery, Henderson, Chester Co., TN: Robert W. Rankin, 12 Mar 1860 – 15 Nov 1919, and Margaret J. Rankin, 13 Feb 1868 – 16 Mar 1958.

[19] William R. Black, “Went off to the Shakers: The First Converts of South Union” (2013), Masters Theses and Special Projects. Paper 1243. http://digitalcommons.wku.edu.theses/1243. Cites the autobiography of Shaker Rev. John Rankin, son of George and Lydia, for the immigration facts.

[20] Tombstone in Bethel Springs Cem., McNairy Co., TN: “Private Robert Rankin, 29 May 1759 – 21 Dec 1840.”

[21] Will of William Cusick dated 4 May 1816 proved May 1817 naming children of Robert Rankin “Sr.” and deceased daughter Polly: Lydia, Isbel and Thankful. Guilford Co. WB B: 435.

[22] From Jackie Gillie’s 1961 letter, the organizational minutes of the Sulphur Springs Congregation (now the Appleton Presbyterian Church, Appleton, AR): church was organized 23 Mar 1856, “Bros. Jno. M. Poe and Reuben B. Rankin were duly elected and ordained to the office of Ruling Elders. List of charter members included R. B. (Reuben Burr) Rankin, his wife Elizabeth Rankin, R. M. Rankin (Robert, Reuben’s brother), A. L. Rankin (Anthony Lambert), Isabel J. Poe (Reuben’s sister Isabel who m. Jo. S. Poe) and their mother Isabel Rankin, who was #1 on the list.

[23] Guilford Co., NC Deed Book 12: 312, deed dated 24 Oct 1815 from Robert Rankin to his son Jeddediah Rankin, both of Guilford, for natural love & affection, 150A on the waters of North Buffalo Cr. adjacent the northeast corner of Robert Rankin’s old tract. Acknowledged by grantor August 1816.

[24] Federal census, 1820, Guilford Co., NC, Jedediah Rankin, p. 96, 000110-20010. Eldest male (Jedediah) is 26<45.

[25] 1850 census, Perry Co., AR, household of George M. Rankin, 28, b. NC abt 1822, farmer, Elizabeth Rankin, 22, b. AR, Robert Rankin, 6, b. AR, George W. Rankin, 4, b. AR, and Jedediah Rankin, 65, b. NC abt 1785 and with Elizabeth Rankin, 54, NC; 1860 census, Fource LaFave Twp., Perryville PO, Perry Co., AR: household of George M. Rankin, 38, farmer, b. NC abt 1822, Elizabeth Rankin, 32, b. AR, Robert N.? Rankin, 16, AR, George W. Rankin, 14, AR, William H. C. Rankin, 10, AR, Lucinda C. Rankin, 6, AR, John J. Rankin, 4, AR, Isbel C. Rankin, 2, AR, Henry M. Rankin, 3 months?, AR, Jeddiah S. Rankin, 74, b. NC, and Elizabeth Rankin, 63, NC.

[26] 1880 census, Fourch LaFave Twp., Perry Co., AR, household of George M. Rankin, 58, farmer, b. NC about 1822, parents b. NC, wife Elizabeth J. Rankin, 54, b. AR, parents b. VA, son John J. Rankin, 24, b. AR, son Henry Rankin, 20, AR, son Eddie? Rankin, 15, b. AR, daughter Elizabeth J. Rankin, 13, AR, son Monroe Rankin, 11, b. AR.

[27] 1850 census, Big Rock Pulaski Co., p. 340, dwl. 369: John J. Rankin, 28, Elizabeth, 26, Dores, 5, fem., Frances, 4, fem., and George 6 mos, all b. AR. Next dwelling Ann Rankin, 70, b NC, 1780.

[28] 1840 census, Pulaski Co., AR, 210001-11001, he is 30 < 40, born 1800-1810. One Rankin researcher says Wm. D. Rankin, s/o George, lived 1806-1846.

[29] Minerva Rankin m. George Abbott, 13 Oct 1855, Conway Co., AR, age 42 (b. abt. 1813). She appeared in the 1860 census in Conway Co., dwelling #257, in the household of Chas Adams, 38, as a cook, name of Minerva Abbott, 46, b. TN abt 1814, with Nancy Sexton, 15, b TN, George Rankin, 12, b. AR (Minerva’s son). In the adj. dwelling is J. W. Rankin (James), also Minerva’s son, 25, farmer, b. AR, Sarah Rankin, 22, b. TN, and Wm. D. Rankin, 6 mos., b AR.

[30] 1850 census, Conway Co., AR, #390, Minerva Rankin, 36 (b. abt. 1814), farmer, b TN, with Thomas Rankin, 19, b. AR, Julia Ann Rankin, 16, b. AR, James Rankin, 14, b. AR, Sarah Rankin, 9, b. AR, Henry Rankin, 7, b. AR (abt. 1843, is this William Henry???), Enneline? Rankin, 5, b. AR, and George Rankin, 3, b. AR (abt 1847).

[31] See 1850, 1860 and 1870 census. In 1870, he is listed in Conway Co., AR, dwl #89: J. W. Rankin, 35, b. AR abt 1835, with Susan, 30, MS, William, 11, AR, Franklin, 9, AR, Texas?, female, 8, b AR, Elmira, 4, b AR, and Julia, 1, b AR.

[32] 1870 census, Clark, Pope Co., AR, #342: Henry W. H. Rankin, 28, b AR abt 1842, Elizabeth H. Rankin, 20, b. AR abt 1850, and George E. Rankin, 4, b AR abt 1866.

[33] 1900 census, Suplhur Springs, Howard Co., AR, George E. Rankin, b. May 1866, m. 7 years, b AR/AR/AR, with wife Fromia E., b. July 1891, age 28, m. 7 years, AL/AL/AL, with sons Chester C., b. Dec 1894 and William H., b. Oct 1898. 1910 census, Duckett, Howard Co., AR, George Rankin, 44, AR/AR/AR, Saphronia Rankin, AL/TN/TN, Chester Rankin, son, 14, Wm. H. Rankin, 11, son, Rolly Rankin, 7, son, Elberta Rankin, 5, daughter, Bertie L. Rankin, 3, daughter, Laura Dee Rankin, 2, daughter, Harry Bee, 2, son.

[34] 1850 census, Perry Co., AR, household of Robert Rankin, 47, farmer, b. TN about 1803, so TN is wrong, Frances J. Rankin, 37, b. AR, William G. Rankin, 20, b. AR, Martha A. Rankin, 18, b. AR, Edward H. Rankin, 13, b. AR, Harriet J. Rankin, 10, b. AR, Julia E. Rankin, 8, b. AR, Luzette E. Rankin, 6, b. AR, John S. Rankin, 3, b. AR, Charles C. Rankin, 1, b. AR 1849.

[35] 1880 census, Fourche Lafave Twp., Perry Co., AR: Edmond H. Rankin, 43, farmer, b. AR, father b. NC; wife Nancy J. Rankin, 39; son George W. Rankin, 17; son John A. J. Rankin, 16; son Henry C. Rankin, 15; daughter Elizabeth J. Rankin, 11; son Charles C. Rankin, 9; son Edmond F. Rankin, 6; daughter Alice L. Rankin, 6; daughter Julie E. Rankin, 2; son William A. Rankin, 8 months.

[36] 1910 census, Rankin, Perry Co., AR: William A. Rankin, b. AR/AR/AR, farmer; wife Zora M. Rankin; son Otto H. Rankin, 6; son Edward C. Rankin, 4; daughter Pearl E. Rankin, 2. See also 1920 census, Maumelle, Rankin Twp., Perry, AR: Will A. Rankin, 40, b. AR, parents b. AR; wife Zora Rankin, 35; son Otto Rankin, 16; son Eddie Rankin, 14; daughter 1910 Pearl Rankin, 11; son Loyd Rankin, 10; daughter Violet Rankin, 8; daughter Dollie Rankin, 4; son Rayburn Rankin, 9 months. See also 1940 census, Rankin, Perry Co., AR: William A. Rankin, 60, b. AR; Zara Rankin, wife, 53, has had 8 children, all living; son Loyd Rankin, 29; daughter Violet Rankin, 27; grandsons Don Rankin, 7, and Ronnie Rankin, 4.

[37] 1940 census, Higgins Twp., Conway, AR: Otto Rankin, 35, farmer; wife Novie Rankin, 34; daughter Marie Rankin, 15; son Paul Rankin, 13; daughter Juanita Rankin, 11; son Harold Rankin, 8; daughter Thelma Rankin, 4; daughter Evaline Rankin, 7 months.

The Rankins of Guilford County, NC: the mistaken identity of Robert Rankin who died in 1795

A professional genealogist once told me that most trees on the internet aren’t worth the paper it would take to print them. She said the most serious mistake a rookie can make is to use information from someone else’s tree without confirming it. Her advice was too late for me: I had already learned that lesson the hard way.

When I was a still a beginning family history researcher, I sent a chart for one of my lines to the administrator of the Graves Family Association website at his request.[1] The chart included information I had obtained from other researchers on the identity of my early Graves ancestors. Unfortunately, I had not confirmed the information with my own research.

I wish I had remembered that before I forwarded the chart. Ken Graves, the website administrator, replied with a blistering email excoriating me for perpetuating a fiction that serious researchers had long ago discarded. My screen and my red face were both too hot to touch after I read that email.[2]

We all make mistakes, even if we don’t naïvely adopt someone else’s data. Original records are incomplete or the courthouse burned down entirely. The handwriting in films of original records is faded, blurred, or indecipherable. Our ancestors recycled the same given names ad nauseam, producing an error called “same name confusion.” Other mistakes are probably caused by the occasionally unwarranted aura of accuracy enjoyed by books and journals. Some mistakes are just plain ol’ carelessness.

Here’s an example: Robert Rankin who died in 1795 in Guilford Co., NC

An error about one of the early Rankins in Guilford County, North Carolina combines same name confusion and carelessness. It may have originated in a Rankin compiled history which wrongly interpreted the 1795 will of Robert Rankin as being the will of the “patriarch” – the eldest immigrant – of his Guilford family line.[3] The ease of importing data from online trees probably guarantees the error’s immortality.

Robert Rankin the patriarch (let’s call him “Old Robert”) had a wife named Rebecca, maiden name unproved.[4] Old Robert and Rebecca had a son named George.[5] The 1795 will identified the testator as “Robert Rankin Senior” of Guilford County.[6] The will devised land to a son named George. It did not name a wife, who evidently predeceased him. In short, identifying the testator in the 1795 will as Old Robert seems reasonable at first glance. On second glance, not so much.

The problem is that Old Robert and Rebecca’s son George died in 1760 – thirty-five years before some Robert Rankin wrote that 1795 will.[7] Presumably, Robert the testator intended to devise land to a flesh-and-blood son George rather than someone who had been dead for several decades.

Guilford County is admittedly tough on Rankin researchers. There are a dizzying number of country records referencing, e.g., Robert Rankin, Robert Rankin Sr., and/or Robert Rankin Jr. One state grant mentions all three![8]As was common, the line of Old Robert and Rebecca recycled the same names ad infinitum, so that every generation had at least one Robert.

Guilford is also rough sledding because there were three Rankin “patriarchs” in Guilford: (1) John Rankin (1736-1814) who married Hannah Carson and is a proved son of Joseph and Rebecca Rankin of Delaware;[9] (2) John’s brother William Rankin (1744-1804), who married Jane Chambers; and (3) Old Robert Rankin and his wife Rebecca, who came to Pennsylvania from Letterkenny Parish, County Donegal, Ireland about 1750 and moved a few years later to the part of Rowan County that became Guilford.[10]

The facts in brief

Two facts prove that the Robert Rankin who wrote a will and died in 1795 in Guilford County – call him “Robert died in 1795” – was not Old Robert. First, a book about the Buffalo Presbyterian Church of Guilford establishes that Old Robert died well before 1795.[11] Second, the George Rankin issue: Old Robert’s son George, who died in 1760, was obviously not the same man as George, a devisee in the 1795 will. In fact, Guilford records establish that George the devisee was alive and well after 1795.

When did Old Robert with wife Rebecca die? Answer: circa 1770, definitely by 1773

Rev. Samuel Meek Rankin provides information about Old Robert Rankin in his book History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People. Rev. Rankin identified Old Robert as having belonged to Nottingham Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania.[12] Old Robert and his family (or some of them) migrated to North Carolina in the early 1750s.[13] The family acquired land in that part of Rowan County that later became Guilford.[14] Rev. Rankin identified Old Robert’s wife as Rebecca, whose name is confirmed in a 1755 gift deed of land by the couple to their son George.[15] According to Rev. Rankin, Old Robert and Rebecca had children “George, Robert, Rebecca, John and others.”[16]

For purposes of this article, we are only concerned with Old Robert and Rebecca, their sons George and Robert, and a grandson named – I’m sure you can guess this – Robert. A few facts about them are in order. Rev. Rankin says that George died in 1761, although his will was actually written and proved in 1760.[17] George’s will named his widow Lydia (Steele) and two minor sons, John and Robert. The latter is the grandson we have in mind.

George and Lydia’s son John – the future Shaker Reverend John – inherited the 480-acre tract on Brushy Fork that Old Robert and Rebecca had given to George. John sold it and left Guilford before 1800.[18] George and Lydia’s other son Robert, grandson of Old Robert, fought in the Revolutionary War and applied for a pension in 1833.[19]Bless his heart, because the application provides useful information. Let’s call him “Rev War Robert,” with “Rev” short for “Revolution,” not “Reverend.” His application establishes that Rev War Robert was born in Guilford County in May 1759 and that he moved to McNairy County, Tennessee in 1830. It is important for this narrative that Rev War Robert lived into the nineteenth century: hold that thought.

 Meanwhile, Reverend Samuel Meek Rankin had this to say about Old Robert, who was (according to oral tradition) one of the first elders in Buffalo Church:

Robert Rankin is another whom Rev. J. C. Alexander said tradition listed as one of the first elders. He settled here in 1753 … he died before the first date in the minute book.”[20]

Reverend Rankin said there were no records for Buffalo Church “from the organization in 1756 to 1773.” Consequently, Old Robert Rankin, husband of Rebecca, must have died by 1773. Rev. Rankin states elsewhere that Old Robert died about 1770, although there is no extant tombstone for him in the Buffalo Church cemetery.[21]

What about the George named in the will of Robert Rankin d. 1795?

Let’s look closely at Robert Rankin’s 1795 will, which names the following devisees and beneficiaries:[22]

    • his son George;
    • his three grandsons William Rankin Wilson, Andrew Wilson and Maxwell Wilson, sons of his deceased daughter Mary Rankin and her husband Andrew Wilson. Robert devised land on Buffalo Creek to George and the three Wilson grandsons.
    • his daughter Isobel.
    • and (5) two unnamed living daughters, each of whom was to receive one-fifth of Robert’s personal estate.

Subsequent Guilford County records establish that George Rankin was still alive in 1795, when his father wrote his will. About three years after Robert died, George surveyed the land he and his Wilson nephews inherited. Robert’s will prescribed a detailed metes and bounds description for how his land on Buffalo Creek was to “be divided.” The document filed in the real property records expressly recites that the survey of the tract was required by the will of Robert Rankin, deceased, and by his executor.[23] Some two decades later, George Rankin made a gift of a portion of that tract to his own son – named Robert, of course.[24]

So … who the heck was the Robert who died in 1795?

 Naturally, there were several Robert Rankins living in Guilford County in the late 18th century. We can eliminate anyone from the lines of John Rankin and Hannah Carson or William Rankin and Jean Chambers. Their sons named Robert (each couple had one) lived well past 1795.[25] The testator in 1795 was not Rev War Robert, son of George and Lydia Steele Rankin, because his pension file proves that he survived to the 19th century, dying in 1833. The only Robert Rankin in Guilford in 1795 who was old enough to have three grandsons, and who did notlive into the nineteenth century, was Robert Rankin, son of Old Robert and Rebecca.

And that is enough about one of the many Robert Rankins of Guilford County, North Carolina.

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[1]  See http://www.gravesfa.org.

[2] Ken Graves later sent me and my cousin Barbara Parker (who is also descended from John Graves of Halifax, VA) an email telling us Y-DNA research had proved that we are not descended from the famous Capt. John Graves of early 1600s Virginia. We are therefore not related to Ken. His email was positively gleeful. So was I. I have heard about him from other DNA project administrators.

[3]  A. Gregg Moore and Forney A. Rankin, The Rankins of North Carolina (Marietta, GA: A. G. Moore, 1997).

[4]  Rev. S. M. Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People (Greensboro, NC: J. J. Stone & Co., Printers, 1934) at 27. See also the gift deed in Note 5 from Robert and Rebecca to their son George Rankin.

[5] Jo White Linn, Rowan County North Carolina Deed Abstracts Vol. 1, 1753 – 1762, Abstracts of Books 1 – 4(Salisbury, NC), abstract of Deed Book 2: 70, a gift deed dated 13 Apr 1755 from Robert and Rebecca Rankin to their son George for 5 shillings (the usual gift deed consideration), 480 acres on the south side of Brushy Fork. Robert paid 10 shillings for that tract, a Granville grant. Id., abstract of Deed Book 2: 102.

[6] Clayton Genealogical Library microfilm, “NC Guilford County Wills Books A-B 1771-1838,” File #312, will of Robert Rankin Sr. dated 30 May 1795 proved Nov 1795, devising land on the south side of Buffalo Creek to his son George Rankin and grandsons William Rankin Willson, Andrew Willson and Maxwell Willson. Robert also named his daughter Isobel and two other living daughters who weren’t identified by either a given name or a married surname.

[7] Id., “NC Rowan County Will Books A-B 1767-1793,” will of George Rankin of Rowan County dated 23 May 1760, proved Oct 1760. Witnesses to the will included Robert Rankin (either George’s father or his brother), William Denny (George’s brother-in-law, whose wife was George’s sister Ann Rankin Denny), and John Braley (another probable brother-in-law). See the article titled “Four Robert Rankins of Guilford County, NC” at this link.

[8] William D. Bennett, Guilford County Deed Book One (Raleigh, NC: Oaky Grove Press, 1990), abstract of Deed Book 1: 504, 16 Dec 1778 state grant to Moses McClain, 200 acres adjacent Jonas Touchstone, Robert McKnight, David Allison, Robert Rankin Jr.’s line, along Robert Rankin Sr.’s line, NC Grant Book No. 33: 83. There is one deed in my Lunenburg Co., VA Winn line in which the grantee and two witnesses to a deed were identified as John Winn, John Winn, and John Winn. No “Sr.” or “Jr.,” or “John Winn, carpenter,” or “John Winn of Amelia County.” Those three men obviously had a sense of whimsy. Lunenburg Deed Book 7: 231.

[9] FHL Film No. 6564, New Castle Co., DE Deed Book Y1: 499, deed dated Apr 1768 from grantors John Rankin of Orange Co., NC (a predecessor to Guilford County) and his wife Hannah, and William Rankin of New Castle Co., DE, to grantees Thomas Rankin and Joseph Rankin, both of New Castle, land devised to John and William by their father Joseph Rankin.

[10] Autobiography of George and Lydia Rankin’s son John Rankin, “Auto-biography of John Rankin, Sen.” (South Union, Ky., 1845), transcribed in Harvey L. Eads, ed., History of the South Union Shaker Colony from 1804 to 1836 (South Union, Ky., 1870), Shaker Museum at South Union, Auburn, Kentucky. A copy of the transcript can be obtained from the University of Western Kentucky. The autobiography establishes Robert and Rebecca’s migration dates and origin. See the article titled “Autobiography of John Rankin, Grandson of Robert and Rebecca” here.

[11] Rev. S. M. Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church 22.

[12] Id. See also Futhey and Cope, History of Chester Co., PA (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), reproduction facsimile by Chester County Historical Society (Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, Inc. ,1996). The 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township, Chester Co., PA included George Rankin and Robert Rankin.

[13]  Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church 22.

[14]  E.g., Jo White Linn, Rowan County North Carolina Deed Abstracts Vol. 1, 1753 – 1762, Abstracts of Books 1 – 4(Salisbury, NC), Deed Book 4: 100, Granville grant dated 24 Jun 1758 to Robert Rankin, 640 acres on both sides of North Buffalo Creek. That creek flows roughly SW to NE into Buffalo Cr. The creek and the grant are located just south of Buffalo Presbyterian Church.

[15]  See Note 5.

[16] Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church 27. George and Robert are also proved as sons by deed records. There is only circumstantial evidence for a son John. Deed and probate records also prove a daughter Ann Rankin who married William Denny. Rowan County probate records also suggest daughters Rebecca Rankin Braley/Brawley and Margaret Rankin Boyd.

[17] Clayton Genealogical Library microfilm, “NC Rowan County Will Books A-B 1767-1793”  141, will of George Rankin of Rowan County, dated 23 May 1760 and proved Oct 1760. The 1761 date for George’s death appears in every family tree I have seen for Robert and Rebecca. Someone apparently read Rev. Rankin’s book and accepted the 1761 date without question, guaranteeing that it will multiply on the internet like Tribbles.

[18] Id. George devised to his son John the 480-acre tract on Brushy Fork or Brush Creek. John sold 200 acres in August 1784, Guilford Deed Book 3: 101, and the remaining 297 acres in Sep 1796, Deed Book 6: 182. John was listed in the 1790 census for Guilford County but not in 1800. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister. He struggled with what he saw as the abstract and impersonal nature of Presbyterian doctrine and became a Shaker minister. He went to Tennessee in the late 1790s and wound up in Logan County, KY in a place called “Shakertown.” See Note 10. In a Guilford County marriage that makes Rankin researchers rip their hair out, Shaker Rev. John married Miss Rebecca Rankin. She was a daughter of John Rankin and Hannah Carson from the line of Joseph and Rebecca Rankin of Delaware.

[19] Virgil D. White, Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Vol. III: N-Z (Waynesboro, TN: National Historical Publishing Co., 1992), abstract of the pension application of Robert Rankin, W5664. Robert was born 29 May 1759. Wife Mary. NC line. Soldier was born in Guilford and enlisted there. In 1830, he moved to McNairy Co., TN where he applied 20 May 1833. He died there 21 Dec 1840. Soldier had married Mary Moody 22 Nov 1803 in Guilford. Widow applied 12 Jun 1853 from McNairy at age 75. She died 11 Jul 1854.

[20] Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church at 122.  

[21] Raymond Dufau Donnell, Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Cemetery Greensboro, North Carolina (Greensboro, NC: The Guilford County Genealogical Society (1994), second printing March 1996), at p. ii, saying that the “earliest written records of the church date from 1773,” and stating that Robert Rankin Sr., “Pioneer … Ruling Elder” died circa 1770.

[22] Clayton Genealogical Library microfilm, “NC Guilford County Wills Books A-B 1771-1838,” File #312, will of Robert Rankin Sr. dated 30 May 1795 proved Nov 1795.

[23] Guilford Co. Deed Book 6: 346, 16 Feb 1798.

[24] Guilford Co., Deed Book 14: 11, 23 Mar 1819.

[25]  Rev. S. M. Rankin, The Rankin and Wharton Families and Their Genealogy (Salem, MS: Higginson Book Company facsimile reprint of the 1931 original) 55 (John Rankin and Hannah Carson’s son Robert lived from 1780-1866) and 149 (William Rankin and Jane Chambers’ son Robert C. Rankin lived 1791-1853).