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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you on down the road!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[43] See notes 25 and 28.

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

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

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

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

[48] See note 38.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

©Robin Rankin Willis May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is the photo.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

M A Swaine to Mrs M A [sic] Rankin”

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

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

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

Martha Swain”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[23] Cockran, History of Old Tishomingo County.

[24] Id.

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

[26] See note 18.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[37] Id.; see also note 35.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ancestor Charts for John Allen Rankin & Siblings

Here are two ancestor charts for John Allen Rankin. They have the same information, although in two different formats. I’m trying them on for size. Both show three generations of ancestors for John Allen Rankin; one chart also identifies his siblings. There isn’t much information on any individual. This is just a “big picture” of John Allen’s family tree.

The first tree is an unsophisticated chart that I drew using Word, at considerable cost to my sanity. I tried several times simply to paste the chart in this post, but could not make that work. Instead, I accidentally created a link to the chart. A potential problem here is that I am not sure I can duplicate the process … <grin>

Here is the link for that ancestor chart: Rankin chart 1

The second chart is one that Family Tree Maker drew for me with the click of a mouse. Much easier on the blood pressure, but not nearly as colorful. Ultimately, not very satisfying, either. Here is the link to the FTM tree chart:

JARankin Tree Chart

Here’s hoping that some of the innumerable people clinging to the mistaken belief that Mary F. Estes Rankin was the daughter of Lyddal Bacon Estes and Sally Alston Hunter see these charts and reconsider the error of their ways. Mary Estes Rankin’s mother was Ann Allen Winn, nickname “Nancy.” Sally Hunter was married to a different Lyddal Bacon Estes, a doctor who lived in Maury County, Tennessee. Next, I will publish an article describing the “same name confusion” error that surrounds Dr. Estes and his namesake, a nephew, who was actually Mary Estes Rankin’s father. Cheers!

Robin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Allen Rankin & Amanda Lindsey — Another Family Legend

by Robin Rankin Willis © June 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Confed 2

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

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

Confed 3

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

Confed 4

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

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

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

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

Confed 1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amanda Rankin”

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

J A & Amanda Rankin 3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Buxton Lindsey: one of my family legends

by Robin Rankin Willis

I like my Lindsey ancestors for a number of reasons.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edward Buxton Lindsey’s four wives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

© 2016 by Robin Rankin Willis

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

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

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

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

[5] Notes 3 and 4.

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

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

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

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

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

[11] Family Adventures, Early Alabama Marriages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[32] Id.

[33] See id.

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