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 Anne 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).

Four Robert Rankins of Guilford Co., NC

If you have searched for a Robert Rankin in Rowan/Guilford counties, North Carolina during the century or so beginning in the 1750s, you really hit the jackpot. There were at least six men named Robert Rankin who lived there during that time. This article is about four of them, and includes some recent Y-DNA test results. I’ve obsessively, perhaps maniacally, provided citations (see endnotes), because some of what I propose is not mainstream Rankin thought, to put it mildly. Specifically, here’s what may be controversial:

I have identified three “new” daughters of Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford – one who may be deemed proved (who does show up in one or two Rankin trees online), one who is a likely daughter, and one who is absolutely speculative. None have been identified in any compiled family history or other published sources, so far as I know. Ditto most online Rankin family trees.

the identity of the wife of the Robert Rankin who died in Guilford in 1795 is controversial, at least in the sense that I disagree with darn near every other person who has ever said anything about the Guilford County Rankins.

This article ignores two of the six Robert Rankins who lived in Rowan/Guilford during that time.[1] Both were grandsons of Joseph Rankin of Delaware (1704-1764), whose sons John and William migrated to Guilford. It is fairly easy to avoid confusing Joseph’s line with the other four Robert Rankins, thanks to Rev. Samuel M. Rankin’s exhaustive genealogy of Joseph’s line in Guilford.

By way of introduction, here are the nicknames that I will use to distinguish among the four Robert Rankins covered in this article. This is the only way I can keep them straight.

  1. R&R – Robert Rankin and wife Rebecca.
  2. Robert d. 1795 – a son of R&R.
  3. Rev War Robert – a grandson of R&R.
  4. Arkansas Robert – a great-grandson of R&R. 

And here we go, off to the world of Guilford County Robert Rankins, from the top …

R&R – Robert Rankin and wife Rebecca

I have written briefly about R&R before. Some of this article will be repetitive if you already subscribe to this blog, see article here. To atone for the redundancy, I’ll introduce the controversial R&R daughters mentioned above.

R&R were the original immigrant ancestors in their Rowan/Guilford line. According to a grandson’s autobiography, R&R came to Pennsylvania from Ireland in 1750 along with some of their children, although the autobiography expressly mentions only their son George.[2] The family resided briefly in Chester County, Pennsylvania,[3] then settled in what was then Rowan County (the part that became Guilford) by 1755.[4] According to Rev. Samuel M. Rankin, R&R are both buried at Buffalo Church in Greensboro, although no markers for them survive.[5]

Robert died about 1770, but in any event by no later than 1773.[6] He left no will. The Rowan and Guilford records establish that R&R had at least children (1) George, (2) Robert, (2) Ann who married William Denny (William Denny Senior, for purposes of this article) and (4) a probable son John.[7] Rev. Rankin also names a daughter Rebecca who married James Denny, although that is almost certainly wrong.[8] Rev. Rankin also erroneously omitted Ann Rankin Denny (see information on her at the discussion of her brother Robert d. 1795, below). Rev. Rankin thought that R&R had other children. That seems likely.

Tantalizing probate records in Rowan County suggest two other possible daughters of R&R besides Ann Rankin Denny. These two women – Margaret (Rankin?) Braly/Brawley and Rebecca (Rankin?) Boyd – should be deemed *** SPECULATIVE ***. My friend Jody Thompson would probably wag her finger at me for even introducing these possible daughters. I weighed the genealogical ethics and concluded that the upside that a Braly or Boyd descendant might identify a maternal ancestor outweighed the negatives of people adding these women to their families as though they are proved. They are not, but keep reading and judge for yourself …

First, Robert Rankin was a security on the Rowan County bond of Margaret Braly/Brawley and John Braly, administrators of the estate of Thomas Braly. A man who acted as security on such a bond was frequently a family member. Even better, John Braly witnessed the 1760 will of George Rankin, along with Robert Rankin. Both George and Robert were proved sons of R&R. Witnessing a will is obviously also compelling evidence of a family relationship. Two such strong Rankin/Braly connections make me think Margaret could be deemed a “likely” daughter of R&R rather than merely “speculative.”

The Braly administrator’s bond was dated 8 Jan 1765. Thomas’s noncupative will established that his wife was pregnant, and was thus of childbearing age. She therefore belonged to the same generation as R&R’s proved children.[9]

Second, Robert Rankin was also security on the Rowan County administrators’ bond of Rebecca Boyd, widow of John Boyd, in January 1767.[10] His signature on the Boyd bond is identical to Robert Rankin’s signature on the Braly bond, so it was the same Robert Rankin – this was not the clerk’s handwriting in either case. There is also circumstantial evidence of Boyd/Rankin connections in the Guilford deed records.[11] However, Rebecca’s name, plus Robert Rankin providing security on her administrator’s bond, is probably the strongest circumstantial evidence suggesting she may have been a daughter of R&R. I still consider her speculative. However, if I were descended from either Thomas Braly or John Boyd, I would take a close look at their Rankin connections.

With that, here is a brief chart of R&R’s line including the four Robert Rankins covered in this post and adding Margaret Braly, Rebecca Boyd and Ann Denny as daughters. R&R’s children are not necessarily in birth order; only George’s 1729 birth date is proved.[12] The men who are the subjects of this post are shown in boldface type.

Outline Chart #1

1 “R&R,” Robert Rankin, b. ca 1700, probably Ireland, d. Guilford, NC abt 1770, wife Rebecca LNU.

2 George Rankin, b. 1729, Letterkenney Parish, County Donegal, Ireland, d. 1760, Rowan, NC. Wife Lydia Steele Rankin (m. Arthur Forbis after George died).[13]

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

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

2 Robert Rankin d. 1795, more on him below.

3 George Rankin (1767 – 1851), m. Nancy Gillespie, Guilford, NC, in Jan. 1791.[17]

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

2 John Rankin, lived in Guilford Co. No proved children of whom I am aware.

2 Ann Rankin m. William Denny Sr., lived in Guilford Co., more on them below.

2 Rebecca Rankin (speculative) m. John Boyd who d. Rowan, NC in 1767.

2 Margaret Rankin (possible) m. Thomas Braly/Brawley who d. Rowan, NC, Dec. 1764.

Next up: R&R’s son Robert.

Robert Rankin d. 1795

Robert Rankin died in Guilford in 1795 and left a will.[18] I have written about him before, see the article here. For some new material, I’ve added the controversy about his wife’s identity.

Robert’s 1795 will did not name a wife, indicating that she predeceased him. He identified only one son by name (George). Based on the express language of the will, Robert had four daughters. He identified only two of them by their given names, i.e., Mary Rankin Wilson, who died before Robert wrote his will, and Isabel Rankin, clearly unmarried in 1795. The other two daughters, whose given names Robert did not provide, were apparently already married. One daughter was Rebecca Rankin who married William Denny Jr.; I have not identified the other daughter. Robert also named his three Wilson grandsons (William Rankin Wilson, Andrew Wilson, and Maxfield Wilson).

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

2 Robert Rankin d. 1795

3 George Rankin (1767 – 1851), m. Nancy Gillespie, Guilford Co., Jan. 1791.

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

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

4 William Rankin Wilson, b. abt. 1788, moved to McNairy Co., TN.[20] Wife’s name was Lydia, reportedly Rev. War Robert’s daughter.[21] Ancestry.com claims that W.R. married Lydia in 1807 in Guilford, although I didn’t find a marriage record for that couple there.

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

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

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

3 Rebecca Rankin, b. before 1795, m. William Denny Jr.[26]

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

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

A serious problem with the theory that the Robert who died in 1795 married Jean/Jane, daughter of William Denny, is this: Robert was almost certainly Jean’s uncle. We are all accustomed to seeing marriages between cousins, but … an uncle and a niece? Has anyone seen that before?

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

That gift deed constitutes unassailable proof that William Denny Sr. was part of R&R’s family. There is more, of course. William Denny also witnessed the will of George Rankin (along with Robert Rankin and John Braly).[30] Further, John Rankin, probably a son of R&R, witnessed William Denny’s 1766 will.[31] If you don’t believe Ann Denny was born a Rankin, well, geez … it’s hard to do any better with late 1700s records.

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

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

Iredell Robert was a son of David Rankin who died in Iredell in 1789.[33] Two men who are proved descendants of David Rankin are members of the Rankin DNA project: Steven Ross Rankin and Bill Rankin. Steve has a mutation in his line that occurred after the ancestor he shares with Bill, so that Bill’s Y-DNA profile is a better genetic gauge of any earlier Rankin relationship. Two other men in the Rankin DNA project (Rollie and Michael G.), both of whom are descended from R&R, are a 37-marker match with Bill. Rollie and Bill have a genetic distance of one (one of 37 markers doesn’t match); Michael and Bill have a genetic distance of three.

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

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

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

Rev War Robert Rankin (1759 – 1840).

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

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

3 Robert Rankin, Rev. War Robert, b. Rowan, NC, 29 May 1759, d. McNairy, TN on 21 Dec 1840. Buried in Bethel Springs Cemetery in McNairy. Married #1 Mary (nickname “Polly”) Cusick in Guilford, probably in the early 1780s. Married #2 Mary Moody in Guilford in 1803.

Rev War Robert’s children by Mary (“Polly”) Cusick:

4 George Rankin, b. Guilford abt. 1783, d. bet. 1828-1830 in Arkansas Territory. Married Ann McMurray in Guilford, 1803. They were in Arkansas Territory by 1816 and eventually lived in Pulaski Co. May have had as many as six children, but I can only identify three possible sons: Robert, William D., and John J. Rankin.

4 Jedediah Rankin, b. 1785-86, m. Rebecca Rankin in Guilford, 1811. Rebecca was a daughter of George and Nancy Gillespie Rankin. Jed and Becky were both great-grandchildren of R&R and were therefore second cousins. They were in Arkansas by at least 1830, when he was listed in the 1830 Arkansas Territory census.

4 Lydia Rankin, b. Guilford abt. 1789, assuming that she was the Lydia who was listed in the census in the family of William Rankin Wilson, b. abt 1788. They went to McNairy Co., TN. For some unaccountable reason, online trees ID her as “Lydia Lea Isabella.” I would love to see proof for that name, especially since Lydia had a proved sister named Isabel.

4 Isabel Rankin, b. 1791, Guilford, NC, d. 1861, Pope, AR. Married Arkansas Robert Rankin, her second cousin (he was a son of George and Nancy Gillespie Rankin) in Guilford in 1812. They went to McNairy Co., TN and then to Arkansas Territory, Conway and Pope Counties. See more below.

4 John Rankin, b. 1797, Guilford, d. 1846, McNairy Co., TN. Wife Mary Kirby/Kerby.

4 William Rankin, b. 1799, Guilford, m. Isabel Woodburn in Guilford in 1823. They went to McNairy, TN and DeSoto Co., MS. Both are buried in Bethesda Cemetery, Tate Co., MS.

4 Thankful Rankin, b. bet. 1790-1800, Guilford, m. Hance McCain in Guilford, 1818. May have lived in McNairy Co., TN, where Hance appeared in some records. I haven’t found them enumerated there in a census, however.

Rev War Robert’s children by Mary Moody:

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

4 Letha Rankin, b. abt 1820, m. Robert D. Wilson, undoubtedly a relative. Lived in McNairy, TN.[40]

On that note, let’s move on to the last Robert in the line of R&R.

Arkansas Robert Rankin

Here is another case in which Y-DNA provides compelling evidence. Back up for a moment to Isabel Rankin, a proved daughter of Rev War Robert.[41] She married a Robert Rankin in Guilford in 1812.[42] Rollie Rankin, a descendant of Robert’s and Isabel’s son Reuben Burr Rankin, has taken a Y-DNA test and is a member of the Rankin DNA project. A problem is that Rollie can prove he is descended from R&R via their great-granddaughter Isabel Rankin. Of course, Isabel didn’t have a Y-chromosome to pass on: Rollie inherited that from Isabel’s husband Robert Rankin. The thing is, Rollie’s family hasn’t been able to prove Robert’s parents via traditional paper genealogy.

Considering all the Robert Rankins floating around Guilford, that’s perfectly understandable. AND there were also two sons of Joseph of Delaware in Guilford … so that Isabel’s husband Robert Rankin may have been from EITHER R&R’s line or Joseph’s line. Or he may have parachuted into Guilford from Mars. I am convinced that he is not from Joseph’s line (well-documented by Rev. Rankin), and heavily discount the Mars theory. That leaves the line of R&R.

Y-DNA testing AND land records to the rescue. George Rankin (son of Robert d. 1795) and his wife Nancy Gillespie Rankin had a son named Robert who is conclusively proved, although he is unaccountably missing from many lists of George and Nancy’s children.[43] He was the right age to be the Robert Rankin who married Isabel. Unfortunately, there is no evidence in the marriage bonds or elsewhere to prove that Isabel’s husband was Robert, son of George and Nancy – although that Robert, as far as I can find, was the only Robert Rankin in Guilford available to marry Isabel.

More Y-DNA: Michael G. Rankin, a proved descendant of R&R’s grandson George Rankin and his wife Nancy Gillespie, recently took the Y-DNA test. Lo and behold, he is a 67-marker match with a GD (genetic distance) of 2 from Rollie Rankin, meaning only 2 markers out of 67 are different.

That is a darn good match. I think it establishes (although I would defer to people who know more about DNA than I do, which is darn near everyone) that Isabel and Robert’s line and George and Nancy’s line share a common Rankin ancestor not very long ago. The common ancestors, based on the paper evidence, are almost certainly R&R. That’s sufficient DNA evidence (in my opinion) to establish that Isabel’s husband Arkansas Robert Rankin was the same man as Robert, proved son of George and Nancy Gillespie Rankin.

And that’s it for now. I will (soon, I hope) combine the several charts in this table, add a bunch of names, and post a loooonnnnnggggg chart for the descendants of Robert and Rebecca under “Rankin Charts” – see the menu at this website.

[1] Robert C. Rankin, d. Guilford 1853, and Robert Rankin, d. Guilford 1866, were both grandsons of Joseph of Delaware through his sons William Rankin and John Rankin, respectively.

[2] The grandson was “Shaker John” Rankin (1757-1850), a Shaker preacher who wrote his autobiography at age 88. He died in Shakertown, Logan Co., KY. The only reference to a full transcription of his autobiography (cited hereafter as “Shaker John’s Autobiography”) that I found is as follows: John Rankin, “Auto-biography of John Rankin, Sen.” (South Union, Ky., 1845), transcribed in Harvey L. Eads, ed., History of the South Union Shaker Colony from 1804 to 1836 (South Union, Ky., 1870), Shaker Museum at South Union, Auburn, Kentucky (SMSU), 29-30. For a typescript of Eads’s history, see Shaker Record A at the Special Collections Library, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, Kentucky (WKU).

[3] George Rankin and Robert Rankin appeared on the 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township in Chester Co., PA. Rev. Samuel M. Rankin (see note 5) claims the family lived in Lancaster Co., but I didn’t find any records for them there. See J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope, History of Chester County, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), reproduction facsimile by Chester County Historical Society (Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, Inc. 1996).

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

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

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

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

[8] James and Rebecca Denny (née Rankin, according to Rev. Rankin) are buried in the Buffalo Church cemetery. Rebecca was born in 1760 and died in 1816. She was probably born too late to be a daughter of Robert and Rebecca, unless Rebecca was Robert’s second wife. Buffalo Church cemetery records are available online at this link.

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

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

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

[12] Shaker John’s Autobiography.

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

[14] Shaker John’s Autobiography.

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

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

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

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

[19] See NC Guilford County Wills Books A-B 1771-1838,” File #312 (will of Robert Rankin d. 1795, naming as guardian of his Wilson grandsons Andrew Wilson, Robert’s “former son-in-law); Buffalo Church History, listing the three wives of Andrew Wilson (Jr.).

[20] See 1850 census, McNairy Co., TN, p. 14, William R. Wilson, 62, farmer, b. NC, Lydia Rankin, 61, b NC, Washington Wilson, 33, NC, Lucinda Wilson, 26, TN, Lydia Wilson, 8, TN, Adaline Wilson, 5, TN, Jesse Wilson, 3, TH, and Louisa Wilson, 1, TN.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[32] Jean Denny may have married Robert Rankin of Iredell Co., son of David Rankin d. 1789.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Rankin, died Iredell Co., NC, 1789

One of the many fun things about genealogy is meeting really nice people, including (in my case) some who are named Rankin. This includes a Rankin in Iredell County, NC, his wife, and his brother in Guilford County, NC. Unfortunately, YDNA proves that we aren’t related. That’s a shame. We have adopted each other nonetheless.

David Rankin of Iredell County, their Rankin ancestor, was one of my early research targets when I was trying to find the family of origin of my last proved Rankin ancestor. All I knew was that my ancestor was born in NC. Naturally, I tracked down every last Rankin in North Carolina starting from about 1750. I accumulated a lot of information. I had high hopes for David, to no avail, as Y-DNA has conclusively proved.

YDNA from David’s line establishes a match, although not a close one, with the line of Joseph Rankin of New Castle County, DE. David was neither Joseph’s son nor his grandson, although David might be Joseph’s nephew. There is no evidence of any connection, however, so David and Joseph most likely share a common ancestor on the other side of the Atlantic. David’s line is also a match with two men who are descended from Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County, NC. David might be Robert and Rebecca’s son, or a nephew, although the Y-DNA evidence is not sufficient to draw that conclusion. We can conclude that they are closely related, and that David is more closely related to Robert and Rebecca than he is to Joseph of Delaware.

Meanwhile, I want to share my research on David’s line, because some Rankin out there might find it useful. Here it is. I’ve included a great deal of documentation, as well as links to other sources, so this is verrrrry long. Please tell me if you spot problems.

1 David Rankin, b. unknown (circa 1725?), d. 1789, Iredell Co., NC. Will written 15 Mar 1781. Wife Margaret LNU.

Here is my abstract of the will of David Rankin made from the original located at the NC State Archives and Library. The will is dated 15 March 1782 and was proved Dec 1789. No recitation that he is sick or weak. Leaves to beloved wife Margret, one third of the “plantation on which I now live for life, choice of my horses … her own clothing,” etc. Beloved son Robert, “plantation where I live plus the third in which my wife has a life estate, livestock, plantation utentials, wagons, residue of household goods.” Beloved grandson David McCreary, £5 to be paid by my son Robert before he [David] comes of age. Also to my beloved grandson David Rankin, £5 to be paid him by my son Robert before he arrives at the age of 21. Also to my beloved grandson James Rankin, £20 to be paid him by his father my son Robert. And the above sums to be made as good as money was in the year 1763. Son Robert, executor. Signed 15 Mar 1782, David Rankin. Witnesses Wm Kerr, Isabella Falls?

As to his children, David’s will expressly names a son Robert who has a son James. It also implies (1) a daughter who married a McCreary and had a son David and (2) a son who is not named but was the father of “grandson David Rankin.”

In that regard, there was a James Rankin who died in 1780 at the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill who was almost certainly David’s son. See more below under 2 James Rankin m. Miss Alexander, probably Susannah. James and Miss Alexander definitely had a son named David Rankin, proved by Lincoln Co. court records.

2 Elizabeth Rankin  m. Samuel McCreary. Both left wills in Iredell County naming a son David, among other children.

3 David McCreary, b. bef. 15 Mar 1782.

2 Robert Rankin, b. circa 1745-1750 (based on proved birth dates of sons), probably b. 1748. Disappeared from Iredell/Lincoln County records by 1826. Probably went to Gibson Co., TN and died 1838-40. See my article about Robert Rankin of Gibson Co. at this link. Wife Jean LKU, possibly Jean Denny from Guilford Co.?, b. 1755 – d. 10 Dec. 1779, age 24. Some Robert Rankin married some Jean Denny on 28 Feb 1775 in Guilford. Most Rankin researchers think the groom was a Robert Rankin of Guilford who died in 1795, although that Robert Rankin was probably Jean’s uncle.  Jean Rankin is buried in Centre Presbyterian Church, Iredell Co. She and Robert definitely had a son named Denny Rankin.

3 James Rankin, b. 1777-78 – d. 22 Feb 1854, age 77. Wife Elizabeth McMin, b. abt. 1779. James’ Iredell Co. will names all eight daughters and a son James, who was apparently their only surviving son. I have found no extant marriage bond for James and Elizabeth, but they were probably married in Lincoln Co., NC because Elizabeth’s sister Sarah McMin and James’ brother Denny Rankin were married there. James’ Iredell will was witnessed by James D. Rankin, a nephew who lived adjacent James (James D. was a son of Denny and Sarah McMin Rankin). Note: a beneficiary of the will would not have been a witness, which establishes that James Rankin, son of James and Elizabeth, was not the man who called himself James D. Rankin. There is apparently no extant tombstone, but James was buried in the Centre Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Mooresville. The Historic Cemetery Directory shows his year of death as 1855. However, his will appears to have been recorded 6 Jan 1854. One of those two dates is obviously incorrect.

1820 Iredell census has a listing for James Rankin (2 listings apart from Denny Rankin), although the profile doesn’t appear to fit with James’ surviving children: 320010-2101. That profile includes a male and female 26 < 45, 3 young females, and 5 young males. I can’t explain this.

1840 Iredell census, James Rankin, 000000001-000230001. James is listed as 60 < 70, b. 1770-1780, as is his wife Elizabeth. Five daughters were still living at home, three of whom are listed as age 20 < 30 (b. 1810-1820), which would include Ann, Sarah, and one other daughter. Two are shown as age 15 < 20 (b. 1820-1825), which would include Nancy and one other.

1850 Iredell census, James Rankin, 72, b. NC abt 1778, Elizabeth Rankin, 71, b. NC abt 1779, Ann Rankin, 35, b. NC abt 1815, Sarah Rankin, 31, b. NC abt 1819, and Nancy M? Rankin, 28, b. NC abt 1822.

Here is my abstract of the will of James Rankin, made from the original located at the NC State Library and Archives, Raleigh, NC, file box C.R.054.801.11. The will is undated and there is no recitation of residence. It appears to have been recorded 6 Jan 1854.

To my dear wife Elizabeth, all real and personal property including land where I live, slave Henry, household and kitchen furniture, livestock, farming tools, grain fodder and other provisions. Also carriage, notes and money. All a life estate, remainder at her death to my three single daughters Ann, Sarah and Nancy [Rankin] to be theirs jointly and absolutely. If any of my daughters marries (either before or after death of her mother), then the married child “shall be allowed to take and hold” one bed and furniture, one cow and calf, one horse and saddle worth $85 and kitchen furniture “such as my other married daughter received.” After the death of their mother, no division of property between my 3 daughters Ann, Sarah and Nancy “so long as two of them remain unmarried for it is my will and desire that this should be a home to the single daughter both after the death of their mother as well as during her life time, but in the event that any two of them should marry then … the property sold and equally divided.” Son James, large dictionary and my rifle gun. I have already given and divided off to my other daughters Ruth, Rachel, Jane, Elizabeth and Lucinda “all the property I design to [be] given them as their portion.” Daughter Ann, my large Bible and the side saddle of my wife Elizabeth. Signed James (x) Rankin. Witnessed Robt J. McDowell, James D. Rankin.

4 Ruth Rankin

4 Rachel Rankin

4 Jane Rankin m. Alexander Williams

4 Elizabeth Rankin

4 Lucinda Rankin

4 James Rankin, b. abt 1807, d. 1890. Married #1 Frances (“Frankey Mayhew”), #2 Patsey Little, Lincoln Co., 17 Mar 1858.

1840 Iredell census, James Rankin, 200001-200001001. James is in the 30 < 40 age category, b. 1800-1810. Two sons < 5, b. 1835-1840. Female in the 60< 70 category may be his mother-in-law Susannah Mayhew, who was living with the family in 1850.

1850 Iredell census, James Rankin, 43, Frankey Rankin, 42, John D. Rankin, 19, George L. Rankin, 16, Nancy L. E. Rankin, 13, Rachel E. Rankin, 11, Franklin J. C.? Rankin (Frankie Caroline? See 1860 census), 8, James A. Rankin, 6, Hester A. Rankin, 5, and Susannah Mayhew, 74, b. MD. All others b. NC.

1860 census, James Rankin, 53, farmer, $1000/2000, b. NC, Iredell Sch Dist 60, Patsey Rankin, 54, Lee Rankin, 26, b NC abt 1834, (George Lee Rankin?), Eleanor Rankin, 23 (Nancy L. Eleanor Rankin), Rachel Rankin, 20, Caroline Rankin, 19, James Rankin, 16, Hester Rankin, 15, and Osborn Rankin, 8, all b. NC.

5 John Denny Rankin, b. 10 May 1831, Statesville, Iredell Co., d. 19 May 1912, Galveston, Galveston Co., TX. Buried Riddle Cemetry, Rockdale, Milam Co., TX. Preacher, doctor and schoolteacher. Wife Mary M. S. Sechler, Rowan Co., NC marriage bond dated 18 Feb 1862, daughter of Abraham Sechler and Mary M. Freeze.

1870 census, Washington Co., TX, John D. Rankin, 39, minister and carpenter, Mary M. S. Rankin, 35, McKenzie Rankin (male), 7, James Rankin, 6, Charles G.? Rankin, 5, and Agnes E. Rankin, 1, all b. NC.

1880 census, Milam Co., TX, John D. Rankin, 49, preacher, wife Mary M., 46, son Jackson M. (Jackson McKenzie) Rankin, 17, son James G. Rankin, 15, son Charlie L. Rankin, 14, daughter Agnes E. Rankin, 11, daughter Flora I. or J. Rankin, Rowan D. Rankin, 6, daughter, and Rosadalis Rankin, 5, daughter. All b. NC and parents b. NC except Flora, Rowan and Rosadalis were  b. TX.

1900 census, Milam Co., TX, D. Rankin, 69, b. May 1831, farmer, b. NC, parents b. NC, wife Emma Rankin, 55, b. Feb 1845, married 9 years, b. AL, parents b. NC, son J. G. Rankin, b. Apr 1864, b. NC, parents b. NC, daughter-in-law Thula Rankin, b. Jan? 1875, TX, parents b. GA, granddaughter Thula Rankin, b. Aug 1899, granddaughter Alice Noff, b. Dec 1885, b. TX, parents b. TX.

In 1910, James D. was living with his son Charles L. Rankin in Bell Co., TX.

TX death certificate in Galveston, Galveston Co., TX gives his dates of birth and death, lists his occupation as “preacher, doctor, schoolteacher;” born Statesville, NC, son of James Rankin, b. Iredell, and Susanna [sic] Mayhew, b. Statesville. Usual residence Florence, TX, buried Rockdale, TX.

6 Jackson McKenzie Rankin, b. 9 Jan 1863, NC, d. 9 Apr 1944, Abernathy, Hale Co., TX. Wife Sarah Alice Mayfield, married 16 Jun 1888 in Milam Co., TX. He was a Baptist preacher.

1900 census, Milam Co., TX, Jackson M. Rankin, Jan 1863, NC, parents b. NC, “preaching,” wife Sarah A. Rankin, b. Dec 1869, MO, son Dennie Rankin, b. Aug 1889, TX, daughter Maggie E. Rankin, b. Feb 1891 TX, son James E. Rankin, b. Oct 1892 TX, daughter Mary Rankin, b. Mar 1894 TX, son Harvey Rankin, b. Apr 1896 TX, daughter ______, b. Mar 1898, TX.

1910 census, Garza Co., TX, Jackson M. Rankin, 47, married 21 years, b. NC, parents b. NC, minister, Gospel Baptist Church, wife Sarah A. Rankin, 40, has had 10 children, all living, b. MO, parents b. MO, son Dennie Rankin, 20, b. TN, daughter Emma Rankin, 10, TX, son James Rankin, 17, TX, daughter Mary B. Rankin, 16, TX, son Harvey L. Rankin, 14, TX, son Willie H. Rankin, 12, TX, son McKenzie S.? Rankin, 9, TX, son Gambrell Rankin, 7, TX, son John Rankin, 4, TX, daughter Alice Rankin, 2, TX.

1920 census, Lubbock Co., TX, M. Rankin, 57, farmer, b. SC [sic], wife Sarah Alice Rankin, 50, MO, daughter Mary Rankin, 26, TX, son Kennedy (McKenzie?) Rankin, 19, TX, son Gambrell Rankin, 17, TX, son John Rankin, 15, TX, son [sic, the “sex” column has her identified as a female] Alice Rankin, 12, TX, daughter Rosa Lee Rankin, 6, TX.

1930 census, Crosby Co., TX, Jackson M. Rankin, 67, Baptist Minister, with wife Alice Rankin, 60 and daughter Mary Rankin, 36. Adjacent M. H. Rankin. In the 1840 census, Jackson M. and Sarah Alice are with their son McKenzie in Abernathy, Hale Co., TX.

TX death certificate gives dates of birth and death and identifies his parents as John D. Rankin, b. NC, and Mary Sechlar, b. PA. Informant was M. H. Rankin. Buried in the Abernathy Cemetery, Hale Co., TX.

7 Jackson Dennie Rankin, b. 16 Aug 1889, Rockdale, Milam Co., TX, d. 2 Aug 1939, Lubbock, Lubbock Co., TX. Occupation given as “teacher” on his son’s birth certificate, “bookkeeper” on his death certificate, and “singer” on his draft registration card. Wife Virgie Alice Dodson, b. Coryell Co., TX.

WW I draft registration card dated Jun 1917 for Jackson Dennie Rankin, 27, b. 16 Aug 1889, Rockdale, TX. Occupation “Evangelistic Singer, Baptist Church, San Augustine, TX.” Resides Petersburg, TX. Medium height and build, brown eyes, light brown hair, slightly bald. Single, no dependents.

1930 census, Lubbock, TX, Jackson Rankin, 40, married at age 31, b. TX, father NC, mother TX [sic], wife Argie Rankin, 36, b. TX, son Jackson Rankin Jr., 6, b. TX.

Death certificate identifies his parents as J. M. Rankin, b. NC, and Sarah Alice Mayfield, b. MO. Informant on death certificate was J. M. [sic] Rankin Jr. of Slaton, TX.

8 Jackson David Rankin, b. 25 Mar 1924, Brownfield, Terry Co., TX, d. 11 Dec 2005, Cambria, San Luis Obispo Co., CA. Corporal, US Army Air Corps, WW II. Went to Texas Tech in Lubbock. Buried in Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside, CA.

7 Maggie Emma Rankin, b. 24 Feb 1891, TX, d. 17 May 1979. Resided in Lorenzo, Crosby Co., TX; died in Lubbock, Lubbock Co., TX.

TX death certificate identified her as Emma Rankin O’Rear, a widow. Names her parents, Jackson M. Rankin and Sarah Alice Mayfield. Informant was James O’Rear.

7 James Mathew Rankin, b. 19 Oct 1892, Milam Co., TX, d. 9 Mar 1974, Lubbock, Lubbock Co. Resided in rural Crosby Co., TX. Schoolteacher, school superintendent, and Crosby Co. judge. Wife Maude Benton (b. 17 Dec 1892 in Red River Co., TX, d. 21 Jan 1967 in Lubbock). They married on 12 May 1920. He was an army Private, WW II. Both are buried in the Ralls Cemetery, Ralls, Crosby Co., TX.

TX death certificate states he was married and identifies his parents as Jackson M. and Sarah Alice Mayfield. Informant was Joe Rankin. Maude’s obituary identified two surviving sons.

8 Joe David Rankin, 8 May 1929 – 24 Dec 2002. 2nd Lieutenant, USAF, Korea. Buried Ralls Cemetery, Crosby Co., TX.

8 Jean McKenzie Rankin, 8 May 1929 – 4 Aug 1995. Doctor. Wife Marianne Clark.

7 Mary Elmore Rankin, b. 13 Mar 1894, TX, d. 21 Dec 1971, Ralls, Crosby Co., TX. Never married. Schoolteacher. Buried Abernathy Cemetery, Hale Co., TX. Death certificate identified her parents as Jackson M. Rankin and Sarah Alice Mayfield. Informant J. M. Rankin.

7 Harvey Carroll Rankin, b. 4 Apr 1896, TX, d. 9 Feb 1982, Falls Church, Fairfax Co., VA. Resided in Springfield, VA. Baptist minister. Wife Irene Hettie Dleozier. Virginia death certificate identifies his parents as McKenzie Rankin, b. TX, and Alice Mayfield. Obituary identifies survivors.

8 Robert Carroll Rankin, b. 26 Aug 1930, Lubbock Co., TX, d. 25 Apr 2006.

8 Nelda I. Rankin, b. 2 Mar 1933, Clovis, Curry Co., NM, d. 1 Oct 1995, Clovis. Attended Bob Jones University. Married Donald Albert Cowette 26 Jun 1953, Pasquotank, NC. Buried in Pleasant Hill Cemetery, Curry Co., NM beside her mother.

7 Willie H. Rankin, b. abt 1898, TX.

7 McKenzie Hix Rankin, b. 1 Nov 1901, TX, d. 28 Dec 1960, Abernathy, Hale Co. TX. Death certificate lists “postal clerk: as his occupation. Wife Marion B. Peston (1904-1991). Buried in the Abernathy Cemetery.

1940 census, Abernathy, Hale Co., TX, McKenzie Rankin, 39, b. TX, dairy manager, wife Marion Rankin, 35, b. VT, daughter Bernice Rankin, 13, TX, son Charles Rankin, 5, b. NM, father Jackson Rankin, 77, b NC, mother Sarah Rankin, 70, b. TX [sic].

7 Charles Gambrell Rankin, b. 19 Nov 1902, TX, d. 15 Feb 1991, last resided in LaPorte, Harris Co., TX. Wife Madie Agnes Walker (1904-1977).

7 John Stephen Rankin, b. 8 Aug 1905, TX, d. 14 May 1982, Lorenzo, Crosby Co., TX. Wife Martha Christine Holcomb (1909-1965). U.S. Army, WW II, enlisted 14 Oct 1942, released 14 Feb 1946. Minister. Buried in the Abernathy Cemetery, Hale Co., TX. TX death certificate identifies parents as Jackson M. Rankin and Sarah Alice Mayfield.

7 Alice Rankin, b. 20 Nov 1907, d. 16 Apr 1964. Husband James Francis Barron (1910-1994) on 24 Dec 1933. Buried Terrace Cemetery, Post, Garza Co., TX.

7 Rosa Lee Rankin, b. abt 1914, TX.

6 James G. Rankin, 24 Apr 1864 – 12 Sep 1922. Preacher. Had four daughters and a son who died at 13. TX death certificate for J. G. Rankin identifies father as J. D. Rankin, b. NC, mother Mary? Sechler. Buried New City Cemetery, Rockdale, Milam Co., TX.

6 Charles Lee Rankin, b. 8 Oct 1865, NC, d. 14 Jun 1935, Houston, Harris Co., TX. Wife Annie M. Dean. Texas death certificate identifies him as a son of John Denney Rankin and Mary M. Sechler. Buried Hollywood Cemetery in Houston, 3506 South Main.

1910 census, Belton, Bell Co., TX, Charles L. Rankin, 43, b. NC, parents b. NC, merchant, furniture, Annie M. Rankin, wife, 34, daughter Mary L. Rankin, 15, son Karnes M. Rankin, 14, son Charlie D. Rankin, 9, son John G. Rankin, 3, daughter Annie B. Rankin, 6 months, and father John D. Rankin, 78 (married 3 times), b. NC, parents b. NC.

7 Mary L. Rankin, b. 1895, TX.

7 Karnes McKenzie Rankin, 1896 – 1960s. 1940 census, Houston, 4802 Ave. I, Karnes Rankin, wife Ruth Pearl Hill, (she d. 1974, Madison Co. TX), daughter Ruth N. Rankin, 5, son Harold Rankin, 2.

Ruth N. Rankin, b. abt 1935.

 8 Harold Lee Rankin Sr., b. 31 Jul 1937.

7 Charlie Dean Rankin, 25 Oct 1899 – 11 Mar 1931. Worked for the Houston Chronicle. Father C. L. Rankin, mother M. Dean. 1900 census (Milam Co., TX), 1910 census (Belton, Bell Co., TX) and 1920 census (Harris Co., TX). Informant on death certificate: C. L. Rankin of Willis, TX. Buried Forest Park Cem., Houston, wife’s name was Chloe.

7 John G. or F. Rankin, b. 1907/08. Appeared in the 1910 census, Bell Co., no further record.

7 Annie B. Rankin, b. 1910.

7 George W. Rankin, b. 27 Jul 1912, d. 18 Nov 1997, buried Willis Cemetery, Montgomery Co., TX. Spouse Martha N. Rankin, 8 Mar 1912 – 2 Jan 2005, married 27 Sep 1931. 1940 census, Houston, Harris Co., TX, 4806 Ave. I., bookkeeper, bank.

6 Agnes E. Rankin, b. NC abt 1869.

6 Flora I. or J. Rankin, b. TX abt 1872.

6 Rowan D. Rankin (female), b. TX abt 1874.

6 Rosadalis Rankin, b. TX abt 1875.

5 George Lee (or Leroy) Rankin, b. NC 5 Nov 1833 or 34 – d. 23 Feb 1909. Married Margaret Ruth Mills (1840 – 1921). Company I, 7th Regiment, NC Troops, enlisted 26 Feb 1862.

1870 census, Davidson, Mount Mourne, Iredell Co. NC, George L. Rankin, 37, b. abt. 1833, farm hand, NC, Margaret R. Rankin, 29, NC, Aaron M., 8 months, NC and Mary V., 8 months (twins).

1880 census, Davidson, Iredell Co., NC, L. Rankin, 46, b. NC, parents b. NC, Mag. R. Rankin, wife, 40, A. M. Rankin, son, 10, M. V. Rankin, daughter, 10, J. L. Rankin, 7, son, Geo W. Rankin, 5, son, Martha A. Rankin, daughter, 3.

1900 census, Davidson, Iredell, George L. Rankin, b. NC Nov 1833, 66, m. 31 years, parents b. NC, Margaret R. Rankin, b. Apr 1840, NC, Mary V. Rankin, daughter, b. Dec 1869 (Mary Virginia), James L. Rankin, son, b. Jan 1873, Martha? Rankin, daughter, b. Dec 1876, Maggie E., daughter, b. Feb 1881.

Tombstone in the Rocky Mount United Methodist Church Cemetary, Iredell, George Lee Rankin, 5 Nov 1833 – 23 Feb. 1909. Margaret Ruth Rankin, same cemetery, 12 Apr 1840 – 1 Jan 1921.

See 1910 census, Davidson, Iredell Mooresville, Margaret R. Rankin, 59, widowed, has had 6 children, all still living, with James L. Rankin, son, 37, Mattie Rankin, daughter, 30, Elma Rankin, daughter, 27, all b. NC, parents b. NC. See also 1920 census, Davidson, Iredell, Margaret R. Rankin, dwl #17,  age 78, widowed, with M. Elma Rankin daughter, 37; James L. Rankin in adjacent household.

6 Aaron Marshall Rankin, b. 3 Dec 1868, d. 30 Jan 1935. Wife Lillian Emma Kerr, married 21 Apr 1897. NC death certificate for Aaron Marshall Rankin, Route 1, Troutman, Iredell, NC, has dates of birth and death and identifies him as a retired farmer, a son of Lee Rankin and Maggie Mills. Informant: Mr. E. R. Rankin.

7 Edgar Reid Rankin, b. 31 May 1898, d. 1962. Also buried New Perth Cemetery. Married Mary L. Windcoff (1899-1987) on 3 Jan 1920. 1930 census, Fallston, Iredell, dwl #39: Edgar R. Rankin, age 31, m. #1 at 21. Wife Mary E. L. Rankin, 30, daughter Vivian G. Rankin, 8, father Aaron M. Rankin, 60.

8 Vivian Geraldine Rankin, m. Harold Collins, 24 Dec 1939.

6 Mary Virginia Rankin, b. 3 Dec 1869, d. 1948. Married Thomas Jefferson Conger, 19 Mar 1902.

7 Margaret Conger, Duke University. Schoolteacher.

7 Luther Conger m. Amelia Watkins.

8 Luther Conger Jr. m. Louise McLendon.

8 Thomas Conger m. Frances Douglas.

8 James Conger m. Dottie Plyler.

8 George Conger m. Nancy Grau.

6 James Lee Rankin, 31 Jan 1873 – 6 May 1954, buried Rocky Mount Cemetery, Iredell. Wife Annie Freeze (26 Jun 1890 – 13 Sep 1924), married 17 Dec 1911. NC death certificate states his dates of birth and death and identifies his parents as George Rankin and Margaret Mills. Informant was Miss Elma Rankin (his sister).

1920 census adj. mother Margaret Rankin: James L. Rankin, dwl #18, age 47, married, but wife isn’t listed. Daughter Margie R. Rankin, 6, son Marion K. Rankin, 4?, and E. J. Rankin, son, 8 months, b. 1919.

1930 census, Davidson, Iredell, dwl #73, James L. Rankin, 54, widowed, Elma Rankin, sister, 48, single, Margaret Rankin, daughter, 16, Mary Rankin, daughter, 14? (should be son Marion K.), E. J. Rankin, son, 10.

1940 census, Davidson, Iredell, James L. Rankin, 67, M. K. Rankin, son, 24, Marjorie Rankin, daughter, 23, Emma Rankin, sister, 58.

7 Margie or Marjorie Rankin, b. 1914.

7 Marian Kermit Rankin, b. 9 Apr 1915, d. 9 July, 2002, Mooresville, Iredell, NC. Buried Glenwood Memorial Park, Mooresville, NC. Obit in Charlotte Observer 11 Jul 2002. First wife Thelma Overcase, 1915-1993. Second wife Rachel Owens, 1922-2001.

7 Edgar James Rankin, b. 22 Apr 1919, d. 9 May 1985. Wife Rosa Jane Freeze (1920-1977). Buried Rocky Mount United Methodist Church Cemetery, Mooresville, Iredell. WW II draft registration card IDs father as J. L. Rankin, Mooresville.

1940 census, Davidson, Iredell, J. Rankin, 20, Rosa F. Rankin, 19 and Jimme Rankin, 5 months (adj. father J. L. Rankin).

8 James John Rankin, b. 12 Oct 1939, Iredell, lived in Lincolnton.

8 JoAnn Rankin m. Tommy Fann.

8 Linda Rankin m. Joel Cook.

6 George Whitfield Rankin, b. 11 Sep 1874, Iredell, d. 17 Dec 1942, Troutman, Iredell Co., buried New Perth Cemetery. Wife Sara Jane Parker, married 16 Aug 1896.

1910 census, Fallstown, Iredell, Sherill’s Ford Road, George W. Rankin, 35, first marriage, married 13 years; wife Sarah Jane Rankin, 33, has had 6 children, all still living; daughter Mary Louise, 12, son William L. Rankin, 10, daughter Reitta May Rankin, 8, son Thomas F. Rankin, 6, daughter Ruby E. Rankin, 4, and son Charles A.? Rankin, 2.

1930 census, Fallstown, Iredell, NC, dwl #62, George W. Rankin, 55, 1st married at age 21, Sarah J. Rankin, wife, Edna Rankin, daughter, 23, Katherine Rankin, daughter, 12, Charles R. Rankin, son, 22, m. 2 years, and his wife Mildred Rankin, 20.

7 Mary Louise Rankin, b. abt 1898.

7 William Lee Rankin, 1899-1952. Married Edna Lawrence. 1940 census, Statesville, Iredell, age 40, with wife Willie E. Rankin, 39, and Jewel Rankin, 12. Will proved 21 May 1952.

7 Rita May or Mae Rankin, b 1902, m. Lathan Smith.

7 Thomas Fred Rankin, b. 7 Nov 1904, Iredell, d. 9 Dec 1972, resided Landis, Rowan Co., at 210 Rankin Road. Retired Barber. Spouse Elzora McCombs. Buried Carolina Memorial Park, Concord, Cabarrus Co., NC.

7 Ruby Edna Rankin, b. 1906-07, m. Mr. Gillian.

7 Charles Rnette (this is not a typo) Rankin, b. 2 Feb 1908, d. 23 Jul 1991. Wife Mildred Marie Hardline. WWII draft registration card calls him Charles Rneet Rankin, of Troutman, Iredell Co., NC. The NC birth index calls him Charles Rnette Rankin, son of George Whitfield Rankin and Sarah Jane Parker. NC death index also calls him Charles Anette Rankin. Buried New Perth Cemetery, Troutman, Iredell County.

8 Norman Dean Rankin, b. abt 1935, d. 11 Oct 2015, age 80, in Troutman, NC, Iredell. Husband Bobby Carroll Murdock.

8 Charles Allen Rankin, b. 24 Apr 1932, Troutman, Iredell, d. 10 Mar 2000. Wife #1 Peggy Stewart, wife #2 Sally Josey. Resided Iredell. Died in Surry Co., NC, work accident. Buried in Memorial Gardens, Statesville.

8 Peggy Joy Rankin m. Jim Templeton.

7 Katherine Rankin, b. abt. 1918, m. Mr. Hartsell.

6 Martha Ann Rankin, b. 21 Dec 1876 – d. 1963. Married Christopher Samuel Elihu Hart on 4 Dec 1913, he was b. 21 Dec 1876, d. 2 Apr 1963.

7 Spruce Rankin Hart, 17 Nov 1914 – 22 Feb 1967. First wife Mary Louise Brawley, second wife Mary Doris Keever, m. Sep 1953.

8 Charlotte Kay Hart, 3 Aug 1941. Schoolteacher.

8 Martha Bernice Hart, b. 28 Jan 1943. Married Lonnie Carroll Harmon 18 May 1969.

6 Maggie Elma Rankin, b. 25 Feb 1881, d. 1962?

 5 Nancy L. Eleanor Rankin, b. NC abt 1837. 

5 Rachel E. Rankin, b. NC abt 1839-40

5 Francis Isabella Caroline Rankin, b. NC abt 1841-42, d. 1897, m. James M. Rumple.

5 James Aaron Rankin, b. NC abt 1844. Company I, 7th Regiment, NC Troops. Enlisted 22 Jul 1861. Killed at Chancellorsville on 3 May 1863.

5 Hester A. Rankin, 1845-1920, m. William Marshall Mills.

5 Osborne Tatum Rankin, b. 20 Apr 1852, Iredell Co., d. 1918, Rowan Co., NC, m. Amanda Isabella Shuford.

1870 census, Davidson, Iredell Co., dwl 103: James Rankin, 63, farmer, b. NC, Louisa Rankin, 51, Osborne T. Rankin, 18, b. NC abt 1852.

1880 census, Atwell, Rowan Co., NC: James Rankin, 73, farmer, Louise Rankin, 63, wife; Osborne Rankin, 28, son, farmer, Amanda Rankin, 26, son’s wife (Amanda J. Shuford, b. 1853, m. 1873); James Rankin, 3, son Lee Rankin, 10 months (b. Aug-Sep 1879, son of Osborne and Amanda). In 1900 census, add son Charles W. Rankin, b. 1887.

NC death certificate for Osborne Tatum Rankin, barber, Unity Twp, Rowan Co., NC. Born 20 Apr 1852, d. 20 Aug 1918, age 66, wife Amanda. Father James Rankin, b. Beaties Ford, Iredell Co., NC; mother Franky Byrd Mayhew, b. Iredell.

6 James Daniel Rankin. b. 8 Jun 1875, d. 16 May 1966 in Boone, Watauga Co., NC. Wife Tula Roberta Abernathy of Boone, NC.

7 Ruth S. Rankin, 1904-2003, Denton Co., TX, m. Paris Milton Rutherford.

7 Charles Elmer Rankin, 1908-1996, m. Mildred McDade.

7 Winton Blair Rankin, b. 1916, Boone Co., d. 2015, Wake Co., NC, m. Edith Dora Griffin.

6 Robert Lee Rankin, b. 8 Aug 1879 – d. 31 Jan 1940. Wife Susie Mae Belk. NC death certificate identifies his father as O. T. Rankin, b. NC, mother Amanda Shuford. Informant Mrs. R. L. Rankin.

1930 census: Robert Lee Rankin, 50, Susie Mae Rankin, daughters Bessie, Lucille and Rosa Lee Rankin; sons Grey Rankin, 17, Flake Rankin, 23, and Billy Rankin, 7.

7 Bessie Rankin, b. 1907.

7 Lucille Rankin, b. 1909.

7 Robert Grey Rankin, b. 27 Oct 1912, Salisbury, Rowan Co., d. 21 Jan 1976, Winston-Salem, Forsyth Co., NC. Buried Rowan Memorial Park Cemetery. Wife Eileen Jones, 29 Aug 1914 – 17 Jul 2003.

Rosalie Rankin, 1915-1975, m. Thomas H. Jackson.

7 Osborne Flake Rankin, 10 Jan 1918 – 16 Jul 1978, buried Lebanon Lutheran Church Cemetery, Cleveland, Rowan Co., NC. Spouse Helen L. Miller.

7 William Benjamin (“Billy”) Rankin, 7 Sep 1922 – 2 Oct 1981. Wife Margaret Sharpe Linebarger, 1925 – 2001 buried Hollybrook Cemetary, Lincolnton, NC.

Etta Elmora Rankin, 1882-1970, m. James A. Peeler.

6 Charles Wesley Rankin, b. NC 11 Sep 1886, d. 14 Jun 1918. Buried Greenlawn Cemetery, China Grove, Rowan Co., NC. Wife Lurline Ray Graham.

7 Charles Wesley Rankin, Jr., 1913 – 1981, d. in Lynchburg, VA. Wife Alice Johnston, 1910-1986.

7 Edward Ray Rankin, 1917-1972.

Josephine Rankin, 1918-2003, m. Edwin Pionowski.

4 Ann Rankin, b. 1816, m. James Reid.

4 Sarah Rankin, b. 1820, m. J. F. Brawley.

4 Nancy M. Rankin, b. abt 1822, NC, m. James S. Beatty.

3 Denny Rankin, 1775 – 1823, Iredell Co., NC. Wife Sarah McMin, marriage bond dated 4 Jan 1803 in Lincoln Co., NC. Will proved 1823. Sarah’s petition to have dower set aside mentions 126 acres on the Catawba River. Estate papers identify John M. Rankin as the guardian of minor children Sarah Aseaneth Rankin, Rachel Elizabeth McMin Rankin, and James D. Rankin. Only James was still a minor as of 20 Aug 1838. Both Denny and his wife Sarah are buried in the Centre Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Mooresville, Iredell Co., NC. A total of eight children are proved by a 1837 deed from two of the heirs to their mother, see Iredell Deed Book T: 394.

1810 census, Iredell Co., NC, Denny Rankin, 1 male 26 < 45 (b. 1765-1784), 1 female same age range, 3 males and 1 female less than ten (b. 1800-1810) (John M. b. 1803, Samuel b. 1806, and possibly William; daughter uncertain).

1820 census, Iredell Co., NC, Denny Rankin, 220010-32110. One male 26 < 45 (b. 1775 -1794), female same age, 1 female 16 < 26, 2 females 10 < 16, 3 females < 10, 2 males 10 < 16 (John M. and Samuel) and 2 males < 10 (Robert A. and James Denny?)

Denny’s tombstone inscription reads as follows: “Dennie Rankin born 1775 died 1823/Farewell father who lies here/This stone erected by his loving son Samuel Rankin/Honor thy Father and Mother.” An abstract of Iredell Co. cemeteries notes that the stone was made in Memphis, TN.

Sarah McMin Rankin’s tombstone is inscribed “Sarah wife of D. Rankin born 1781 died 1843,” with the remainder of the inscription identical to her husband’s (except substituting “mother” for “father”).

4 John M. Rankin, 13 Oct 1803 – 7 Sep 1884. Wife #1 Dorcus LNU (1802-1858). Married wife #2 Catharine Nixon (16 Aug 1815-11 Aug 1866) in Lincoln Co., 5 Jan 1859. She appears in 1860 census with 5 children born before 1860, all apparently children of Dorcus. In 1870 census, wife #3 is Elizabeth LNU. Buried United Presbyterian Church, Lincoln Co., NC.

5 Catharine Rankin, 1833-1908, m. Mr. Nixon

5 Jane Rankin, 1835 – 1887

5 Dorcas Cherry Rankin, 1837 – 1922

5 Rachel Rankin

5 John N. Rankin, b. abt 1843. Enlisted 20 Aug 1862, age 18, Co. K, NC 23rd Inf. Mustered out 25 Oct 1862 at Winchester, VA.

5 Aseneth M. Rankin, 1844-1874

5 Robert R. Rankin, 1848-1855

4 Samuel Rankin, b. 22 Jun 1806, Iredell Co. – d. 27 Apr 1886, Shelby Co., TN. I believe (some Rankin researchers disagree) that he is the Samuel enumerated in the census during 1840-1880 in Shelby Co., TN. Denny and Sarah’s son Samuel bought stones for his parents’ Iredell County graves that were carved in Memphis, which is in Shelby Co. Wife Marcella LNU.

1840 census, Shelby Co., TN, Samuel Rankin, 200001-11001. Oldest male 30 < 40, b. 1800-1810. Two sons b. 1835-1840 (Marcus and George), a daughter b. 1835-1840 (Rachel), and a daughter b. 1830-1835 (Sarah).

1850 census, 2nd, Shelby Co., #615: Samuel Rankin, 44, carpenter, b. NC, Marcilla Rankin, 43, VA, Sarah Rankin, 16, TN, Rachel Rankin, 14, TN, Marcus Rankin, 11, TN, George Rankin, 7, TN, and William Rankin, 6, TN.

1860 census, 2nd, Shelby Co.: Samuel Rankin, 54, farmer, b. NC, Marcilla, 51, VA, Rachel, 23, TN, Marcus L. or S., 22, TN, George L. or S., 20, TN, Jamey?, 17, female, TN, Wm. D., 15, TN, and Samuel D., 7, TN.

1870 census, Shelby Co., #17: Samuel Rankin, 64, b. NC, Marcella Rankin, 63, VA, Rachel E. Rankin, 24, b. TN, George L. Rankin, 31, b. TN, James Rankin, 28, b. TN, Samuel D. Rankin, 18, TN.

1880 census, 2nd, Shelby Co., TN: Samuel Rankin, 74, b. NC, parents b. NC, Marsella Rankin, 73, b. VA, parents b. VA. West Union Cemetery, Shelby Co., TN: Samuel Rankin, b. 22 Jun 1806, d. 20 Jul 1890, and Marcella Rankin, 18 Oct 1806 – 27 Apr 1886.

5 Sarah Rankin, b. TN abt 1834, d. 19 Jul 1882, married Mr. Van Fleet.

5 Rachel E. Rankin, b. TN 26 Jan 1836 – 25 Jun 1910, husband M. L. McEncroe. Buried West Union Cemetery, Shelby Co., TN.

5 Marcus D. Rankin, b. TN abt 1838-39. Wife Carolyn Brazil?

1870 census Dist. 4, Shelby Co., TN, D. Rankin, 33, b. TN, H. C. Rankin, female, 28, b. TN, Mary T. Rankin, 9, b. TN, and Joseph C. Rankin, 2, b. TN.

6 Joseph C. Rankin, b. 7 Feb 1868 d. 29 Aug 1956, buried West Union Cemetery, Shelby Co. Death certificate identifies his parents as Mark Rankin and Carolyn Brazil Rankin and wife as Eva Corbitt Rankin (1872 – 1937).

1910 census, Dist. 2, Shelby Co., TN, Joe Rankin, 42, b. TN, parents b. TN, married 19 years, wife Eva, 39, has had 8 children, 4 living; son Terrell, 15, TN, son Louis, 9, TN, daughter Amanda, 6, TN, daughter Rachel, 1, TN, and brother-in-law Lawrence Corbit, 27.

7 Terrell Rankin, b. TN abt 1895

7 Louis Rankin, b. TN abt 1901

7 Amanda Rankin, b. TN abt 1904

7 Rachel Rankin, b. TN abt 1909

6 Luther E. Rankin, b. Oct 1880, d. 5 Jun 1929, buried West Union Cemetery, Shelby Co., single, according to death certificate. Parents identified as M. D. Rankin, Amie Bazoa.

5 Jamey (female) Rankin, b. TN abt 1842

5 George L. Rankin, b. TN abt 1843

5 William D. Rankin, b. TN abt 1844-45

5 Samuel D. Rankin, b. Shelby Co., TN abt 1853. Married Mary Jane McMurray, a widow. 1880 census, Dist. 2, Shelby Co., TN, D. Rankin, 27, b. TN, father b. NC, mother b. ?, wife M. Jane, TN, son Phelan M. Rankin, 5 months, and stepdaughter Othella McMurray, 7, TN.

Phelan M. Rankin, b. 1880.

4 William Rankin, probably b. 1800-1810.

4 Rachel Elizabeth McMin Rankin, b. abt 1818, Iredell Co., NC

4 Jane D. Rankin m. ______ Porter

4 Robert A. Rankin, d. 1844, Shelby Co., TN, m. Tabitha Leggett, Gibson Co., TN.

4 Sarah Aseaneth Rankin, b. abt 1816, Iredell Co., NC

4 James Denny Rankin, b. 1820, d. by 1857, wife Evaline or Emerline York.

1850 census, James D. Rankin, 30, b. NC, Evaline Rankin, William L. Rankin, 3, Sarah E. Rankin, 1, and Sarah A. Rankin, 34 and Rachel E. M. C. Rankin, his sisters Sarah Aseaneth and Rachel Elizabeth McMin Rankin.

1860 census, Evaline Rankin, 40, farmer, Leroy Rankin, 15, Bettie Rankin, 13, Harriet Rankin, 11, and Emma Rankin, 2.

5 William Leroy Rankin, b. NC abt 1846.

5 Sarah Elizabeth Rankin, b. NC abt 1847.

5 Harriet Rankin, b. NC abt 1849.

5 Emma Isabella Rankin, b. 10 Jul 1856, d. 26 Jan 1928, Mooresville. Born in Iredell County. Death certificate identifies her father as Denny Rankin, b. Iredell, and Emerline York?, also b. Iredell.

2 James Rankin, d. June 1780 at the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill, m. Miss (Susannah?) Alexander.

3 David Rankin b. by 1781, Lincoln Co., NC.

3 Margaret (“Peggy”) Rankin m. Thomas Witherspoon, 6 Jul 1801, Lincoln Co.

3 William Rankin m. Mary Lourance/Lawrence, 17 Jan 1810.

4 Jane/Jean Rankin m. William Crays.

 

 

Samuel Rankin, b. abt. 1734, d. abt. 1816, Lincoln Co., NC, m. Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander: Who Was His Father? (Part II)

Let’s continue the conventions from the earlier post about the Samuel Rankin who married Eleanor Alexander and call him “Sam Sr.” To reprise Part I of this article briefly, there are two persistent theories concerning the identity of Sam Sr.’s father that are favored by Rankin family history researchers:

  • Theory #1 is that Sam Sr.’s father was Joseph Rankin of White Clay Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware (1704-1764). That was the topic of the first part of this article. Y-DNA evidence establishes that Sam Sr. was not Joseph’s son. Here is a link to Part I.
  • Theory #2 is that Sam Sr.’s parents were Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County, NC. Before migrating to North Carolina in the mid-1750s, Robert appeared on the 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania.[1] I’m going to call him “Robert Sr.” because he was the patriarch of his Rankin line (which included many Rankins named Robert) in Guilford County.

This article asks whether Theory #2 is correct, i.e., whether Sam Sr. was a son of Robert Sr. First, we start with the probable printed origin of that theory and the merits of its argument. It may be that many family researchers have concluded that Sam Sr. was a son of Robert Sr. However, the first place I found that notion argued was in a book written by A. Greg Moore.[2] Second, we look at the Y-DNA evidence about the line of Robert Sr., which is inconclusive. The third step should be the evidence in the records establishing (or even suggesting) a connection between Robert Sr. and Sam Sr. That’s pretty easy, because I found no such evidence. The only thing even remotely resembling a connection is that Robert Sr. and some Samuel Rankin were both in Chester County, PA at the same time, although they didn’t live near each other.[3]

I have concluded that Robert Sr. is not the father of Sam Sr., although – until we get a more Y-DNA evidence – it is still a remote possibility. Moore doesn’t provide any convincing reason to conclude that Robert Sr. was Sam Sr.’s father. If I had nothing but the paper trail to go by, I would characterize the claim that Sam Sr. was a son of Robert’s Sr. as speculative. Fortunately, Y-DNA evidence can resolve the issue with a fair degree of confidence. A new volunteer who descends from Robert Sr. has just tested (January 2017) and results should be in by the end of February. Absent an NPE in his line, we should have (I hope!) some good answers. If his Y-DNA is not a match with descendants of Sam Sr., then we can kiss Theory #2 goodbye.

The origin of the Robert and Rebecca theory

Moore’s book – the first place I ran across Theory #2 – notes that Rev. S. M. Rankin argued that Sam Sr. was a son of Joseph of Delaware, and then continues:

“While this argument must be given weight, a stronger argument can be made that Samuel is actually a son of Robert and Rebecca Rankin … [who moved from Pennsylvania] to Rowan County, NC in 1755. The first instance of Samuel in the records of North Carolina occurs in Rowan County where he purchased 320 acres there on 14 July 1760 from David Alexander, probably the father of Samuel’s wife, Ellen Alexander … Samuel is thought to have been born between 1732 and 1740, the two dates most commonly attributed to this event. Thus, he is certainly of an appropriate age to be either Joseph’s or Robert’s son.”

For the life of me, I cannot see why this is “a stronger argument” than Rev. Rankin’s argument that Sam Sr. was a son of Joseph of Delaware (whose logic was discussed in Part I). Moore acknowledges that Sam Sr. was the right age to be a son of either Joseph of Delaware or Robert and Rebecca. The only new argument offered by Moore is that Sam Sr. first appeared in the records of Rowan County … and so did Robert Sr.

That’s a flawed argument. That is because location (taking into account county formation history) is equally persuasive whether one argues (1) Sam Sr. belongs to the family of Joseph of Delaware or (2) Sam Sr. was part of Robert Sr.’s family. Robert Sr. was located in a part of Rowan that became Guilford County. John Rankin and William Rankin, proved sons of Joseph of Delaware, also lived in Guilford County. All three of those Rankins – Robert Sr., John and William – attended the same church and are buried at the Buffalo Creek Presbyterian Church in Guilford County, now in Greensboro, NC.[4] They obviously didn’t live far away from each other.

So … how does one choose between Robert Sr.’s line or Joseph’s line as Sam Sr.’s family of origin on the basis of location, when both lines lived in a relatively small community in Guilford County?

Another problem with Moore’s “location” argument is that Sam Sr.’s first land purchase (and apparently his first appearance in the North Carolina records) was not in an area that became part of Guilford County. The land Sam Sr. bought from David Alexander in 1760 was located on James Cathey’s Mill Creek, also known (and shown on current maps) as Kerr Creek.[5] That creek is still in Rowan County. I have a copy of a map showing exactly where Sam Sr.’s land on Kerr Creek was located, but the copy is too poor to reproduce.

If you want to see a very rough location of Sam Sr.’s first land purchase on a current map, go to Google Maps and search for Sloan Park NC. Kerr Creek runs along the northwest side of the Park. Follow Kerr Creek southwest toward its headwaters. Sam Sr.’s land was located about where the creek crosses Caldwell Road, or NC Highway 1547. That location is a SWAG, at best. It could be off by several miles either upstream or downstream.

In any event, Sam Sr. was clearly not buying land near either the two sons of Joseph of Delaware or Robert and Rebecca, all of whom lived near Buffalo Presbyterian Church in Guilford County. Instead, Sam Sr. was buying land near his wife’s family of origin. The David Alexander who sold Sam Sr. the tract on Kerr/James Cathey’s Mill Creek was Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin’s brother (not her father, as Moore speculated). Eleanor’s parents James and Ann Alexander gave that tract, which was half of a 1752 grant to James, to their son David.[6] For more information on the Alexanders, see this article about Eleanor’s family of origin.

Enough of that. Let’s leave the art of family history research and turn to the science of DNA.

The Y-DNA Evidence: the line of Robert and Rebecca of Guilford County, NC

The short answer is there is no definitive evidence whether Sam Sr. was a son of Robert Sr. – so far. That is because the only proved descendant of Robert and Rebecca (Rollie B. Rankin) who has participated in Y-DNA testing and joined the Rankin DNA project is descended from their great-granddaughter Isabel Rankin and her husband Robert Rankin. It is Robert’s Y-DNA which his Rankin male descendants inherited. Isabel, of course, had no Y-DNA to pass on. Whoever Rollie’s male Rankin ancestor might be, he is definitely not related to Sam Sr., because Rollie’s Y-DNA is a total mismatch with the Y-DNA of Sam Sr.’s descendants.

The $64,000 question, of course, is who was the father of Robert ???? Rankin? That is a long story however, and I think I will save it for another day, after we have the results of the new Y-DNA volunteer. That will be a fun article to write, because there is nothing cooler than the solving puzzles at the intersection of conventional family history research and genealogical DNA.

The bottom line, however, is that the paper evidence is all we have to go on right now to answer the question whether Robert Sr. was the father of Sam Sr. Based on actual evidence in the records, the answer is probably “no.” We will be able to answer that question with confidence, I hope, when we have the Y-DNA results from the new volunteer.

Stay tuned!

[1] J. Smith Futhey and Gilbert Cope, History of Chester County, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), reproduction facsimile by Chester County Historical Society (Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, Inc., 1996).

[2] A. Gregg Moore & Forney A. Rankin (as added author), The Rankins of North Carolina : A Genealogy and History of Those Who Can Trace Their Ancestry to One of the Several Rankin Families Native to the Tar Heel State (Marietta, GA: A. G. Moore, 1997) (two volumes).

[3] Robert Sr. and his proved son George Rankin appeared in the West Nottingham Township, Chester Co., PA tax list for 1753. A Samuel Rankin (who may or may not have been the same man as Sam Sr.) appeared as a freeman on the Sadsbury Township, Chester Co., PA tax list that same year. See Futhey and Cope, History of Chester County. A “freeman” was a free male age 21 and over who was not married and who did not own any land. If Samuel were a part of Robert Sr.’s family, one might reasonably have expected them to appear on the same tax list. West Nottingham Township, where Robert Sr. and George appeared, was in the very southwest corner of Chester County on the Maryland border. Sadsbury Township was roughly in the middle of Chester County on a north-south axis and on the western border of Chester with Lancaster County. Sadsbury was five townships north of W. Nottingham.

[4] Rev. S. M. Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People (Greensboro, NC: Jos. J. Stone & Co., 1931). According to Rev. Rankin, Robert Rankin Sr. and his wife Rebecca, John Rankin and his wife Hannah Carson, and William Rankin and his wife Jennett Chambers are all buried in the Buffalo Church cemetery, although there is no extant tombstone for Robert Sr. or Rebecca. There are numerous records in Guilford County for all three men and their children (or some of them). There is no evidence that Robert Sr. and Rebecca had a son Samuel, and Rev. Rankin doesn’t name a son Samuel.

[5] Jo White Linn, Rowan County North Carolina Deed Abstracts Vol. II. 1762 – 1772 Abstracts of Books 5, 6, 7 (Salisbury, NC: 1972), abstract of Deed Book 5: 272, 14 Jul 1760 deed from David Alexander to Samuel Rankin, 320 acres on both sides of James Cathey’s Mill Creek.

[6] Anson County, NC Deed Book B: 314 et seq., five gift deeds dated 12 Jan 1753 in which James and Ann Alexander gave land and/or livestock to five of their six children: James Jr., John, David, Eleanor and Robert. See also Rowan County, NC Deed Book 3: 547, 25 Mar 1752 Granville grant to James Alexander of Anson Co., Gentleman, 640 acres adjacent Andrew Kerr (notation in the margin: “to his widow”).

Samuel Rankin, b. abt. 1734, d. abt. 1816, Lincoln Co., NC, married Eleanor (nickname “Ellen”) Alexander: Who Was His Father? Part I.

This is the first of two articles concerning the family of origin of Samuel Rankin of Rowan, Mecklenburg and Lincoln Counties, North Carolina (call him “Sam Sr.”). He lived in North Carolina from roughly the mid-1750s until he died in about 1816. Rankin family history researchers have at least two theories about the identity of Sam Sr.’s father:

  • Theory #1 — Sam Sr.’s father was Joseph Rankin of White Clay Creek Hundred, New Castle County, Delaware (1704-1764). The identity of Joseph’s wife is unknown.[1] Let’s call him “Joseph of Delaware.”
  • Theory #2 — Sam Sr.’s parents were Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County, NC. Call them “R&R.” Before migrating to North Carolina in the mid-1750s, Robert appeared on the 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township, Chester County, PA.

This article addresses the first theory, i.e., that Sam Sr. was a son of Joseph of Delaware. The article has three sections. First, we start with the probable origin of that theory, a book published in 1931 by Rev. S. M. Rankin about Rankin genealogy. Then we look at the evidence in the county and other records concerning Sam Sr. and the family of Joseph of Delaware. We conclude with the Y-DNA evidence about the descendants of Sam Sr. and Joseph of Delaware.

To take the mystery out early, Joseph of Delaware was not the father of Sam Rankin Sr. Although Rev. Rankin appears to have been a meticulous researcher, his notion that Joseph of Delaware was Sam Sr.’s father is speculative. There is no evidence whatsoever in the county, church or other records to support a close family connection between Joseph of Delaware and Sam Sr. As we might suspect, the Y-DNA of two proved descendants of Joseph of Delaware is not a match – not even remotely close – to a proved descendant of Sam Sr.

The origin of the theory that Joseph of Delaware was Sam Sr.’s father

There are a nunber of family trees on Ancestry.com, in compiled (paper) genealogies, and elsewhere on the web in which a researcher has identified Joseph of Delaware as the father of Sam Sr. So far as I have found, the first instance of that theory is in the Rev. S. M. Rankin’s 1931 book, The Rankin and Wharton Families and Their Genealogy.[2]

Here is what Rev. Rankin has to same about the family of Joseph of Delaware, with some material that I have italicized for emphasis:

“The children of Joseph Rankin were James, John, Robert, Thomas, William, Joseph and Anne and perhaps Samuel. We are sure about all of these except James, Robert and Samuel

[i]t is thought that Samuel was also a son of Joseph Rankin, Sr. The dates fit in. John [one of Joseph’s proved sons] was born in 1736, Samuel in 1740 and William [another proved son of Joseph] in 1744. The family names also indicate that Samuel was a brother of John and William … both John and Samuel had a child named Samuel, and both William and Samuel had a child named William. Furthermore the personal appearance and personal traits of characters of the descendants of these three men indicate that they were brothers. Professor Jesse Rankin Wharton, who was in college with some of the descendants of Samuel Rankin, and who prepared a partial genealogial tree of the descendants of John and William Rankin, gave it as his fixed judgment that Samuel was a brother of John and William. The fact that no record of Samuel was found in New Castle County, Delaware, does not prove that he was not a son of Joseph. Only one record, and that in a deed, was found to prove that John and William were sons of Joseph.”

Rev. Rankin essentially makes four arguments: (1) Sam Sr. was the right age to have been a son of Joseph of Delaware; (2) there are similar names in Sam Sr.’s family and the families of two proved sons of Joseph of Delaware, John and William Rankin of Guilford County, NC; (3) someone who went to college with descendants of Sam Sr. firmly opined that they were related to John and William; and (4) simply because there is no proof in the records doesn’t mean it isn’t true.

I choose to ignore the “personal appearance and personal traits of character” argument Rev. Rankin makes. The Scots-Irish were always described by other Scots-Irish as hard-working and upright Presbyterians, and never as the hard-drinking and occasionally rowdy characters their English and German neighbors occasionally accused them of being.

In the same vein as that silly argument, my husband once found a picture of a man named Rufus Grady Rankin in the genealogical section of the Charlotte, NC library. Gary was struck by how much he resembled my father, Jim Leigh Rankin. Grady Rankin is a conclusively proved descendant of Sam Sr. and Eleanor. I subsequently exchanged emails with a charming grandson of Grady’s, who told me that a receding hairline leaving behind a “topknot” was a characteristic of Rankin males in his family. My father definitely had one of those topknots. Unfortunately, I doubt that any serious genealogist would accept that physical trait as evidence that my father was a descendant of Sam Sr. and Eleanor (although that is actually the case). I still have that picture of Rufus Grady Rankin, but the copy is too poor to scan and include in this post. If it were any good, I would paste it in here along with a picture of my father. What the heck: here is my sweet father about 1952, with the incipient topknot and kind smile that he shared with Grady.

JLR abt 1952 favorite

And here is the topknot in full flower in 1960.

Jim Rankin abt 1960

Back to Rev. Rankin’s logic. Argument number one – that Sam Sr. was the right age to have been a son of Joseph of Delaware – is unpersuasive. First, Sam Sr.’s birth year is a matter of controversy. Various family history researchers give his birth year as 1732, 1736, or 1740, all without citing a source. The most credible evidence I have seen for Sam Sr.’s birth year is a DAR compilation of North Carolina tombstone records that was filmed in 1935 by the Genealogical Society of Utah. That compilation indicates that Sam Sr. was born in 1734, a date that doesn’t seem to have much of a following on the web.[3]

Whichever date is correct – and I’m voting for 1734 – Sam Sr. was probably born sometime during the 1730s. That would be consistent with the birth of his eldest son, William Rankin, in 1761.[4] However, if being born in the 1730s is evidence re: Sam Sr.’s father, then we should consider not only Joseph Rankin of Delaware, but also Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford County, NC … and most male Rankins of a certain age (say, between 20 and 70) living in Ireland or Scotland during the 1730s.[5]

The second argument — “similar names” in the family — is even more flimsy. How many Scots-Irish families used, ad nauseam, the names William, James, John, Samuel, Richard, or Robert? Some names are good evidence of a family relationship, such as Esom Graves and Esom Logan Burke. Or Parasida Burke, another name found among my Burke relatives. John and William, et al., aren’t much good as evidence of a genealogical relationship.

Third, the “fixed opinion” of Professor Wharton, who went to college with descendants of Sam Sr. and prepared a genealogy of John and William, is nice. Throw his vote in the pot with all the other family researchers’ opinions, but let’s not give it too much more weight than yours or mine.

As to Rev. Rankin’s last argument, the one I highlighted in italics. It is the most fun. Rev. Rankin says, in essense, that the fact there is no proof in the records doesn’t disprove the hypothesis that Sam Sr. was a son of Joseph of Delaware. True. Just because I have never seen a ghost doesn’t mean that ghosts don’t exist.

What Rev. Rankin says has some depressing truth, though: sometimes there just isn’t any evidence in the records. When there is no such proof, we deem the theory speculative. Period. As much as I admire Rev. Rankin’s research on the descendants of John and William Rankin, he deserves a C- on his theory about Sam Sr. as a son of Joseph of Delaware. Further, there is more than one deed to prove that John and William were sons of Joseph, and the recitations of names, relationships and locations in those deeds provide conclusive proof that William Rankin and John Rankin of Guilford County, NC were sons of Joseph of Delaware.[6]

I hope that, if nothing else, this highlights the fact that even careful and conscientious researchers like Rev. Rankin make mistakes. We all do, of course. In his defense, I note that Rev. Rankin carefully qualified his opinion of Sam Sr. and Joseph with this phrase in the passive voice: “it is thought that Samuel was also a son of Joseph.” That doesn’t say that was what Rev. Rankin thought. It just means somebody thought that, and that person (reading between the lines) was Prof. Jesse Rankin Wharton. Rev. Rankin also admits that “we” aren’t sure that Samuel is a son of Joseph. He thus expressly admits that he isn’t sure.

The evidence in the New Castle County, Delaware records about Sam Sr.

Rev. Rankin already said it all: there is none. Nada. Zilch. Zero. He claims that doesn’t disprove anything, but … hey … you can’t prove anything with no evidence, either. Every attorney in the world knows which side of that argument she or he wants to be on.

There are actually a fair number of records in New Castle County regarding the family of Joseph of Delaware, including deed, probate, church, tax, and military records. I will save all that information for another article, because it is fairly extensive. Suffice it to say that four sons of Joseph of Delaware are conclusively proved by New Castle County deed and probate records and two more sons are proved by good circumstantial evidence, including tax and military records.[7] Admittedly, the New Castle records are not complete – for example, Joseph of Delaware clearly left a 1764 will (at least two deeds recite that fact) – but there is no extant record of such a will that I can find. However, the county records aren’t exactly spotty, either. William Tecumseh Sherman didn’t burn down that courthouse.

The bottom line is there is no evidence in the New Castle County records so far as the eye can see – not even circumstantial – which suggests that Sam Sr. was a son of Joseph of Delaware. If you had to prove that Joseph of Delaware was the father of Sam Sr. to a jury, they would look you squarely in the eye and vote unanimously against you. Jury deliberation would take fifteen minutes, max.

The Y-DNA evidence

There is a Rankin DNA Project which provides (anonymously, if desired) Y-DNA results online.[8] One member who has taken a Y-DNA test has a solid paper genealogical trail showing him to be a descendant of Joseph of Delaware. His name is Doug Rankin. I found another proved descendant of Joseph of Delaware by conventional paper research (let’s call him “Mr. X”), and Doug convinced Mr. X to test. Turns out that Mr. X and Doug are 37-marker matches with one mismatching marker, which genetic genealogists call a “37-marker match with a genetic distance of one” (or “GD=1”). That is a darn good match. With two closely matching Y-DNA samples and two solid paper trails, there is a high degree of confidence that Doug and Mr. X provide a good picture of the Y-DNA of descendants of Joseph of Delaware – as well as those who aren’t his descendants.

There is more, of course. The Rankin DNA project has two members (call them Mr. A and Mr. B) whose paper trail proves them to be descendants of Samuel and Eleanor Alexander Rankin. Neither of them is a match – not even remotely close – to Doug Rankin and Mr. X. Based on the tests from Mr. A, Mr. B, Mr. X. and Doug Rankin, the Y-DNA evidence proves conclusively that Sam Sr. is definitely not a son of Joseph of Delaware.

The Y-DNA evidence thus confirms what the paper trail establishes: there is neither a genetic link nor a link in the records from Sam Sr. to Joseph of Delaware.

* * * * * * * * * *

[1] There is speculation about the identity of the wife of Joseph of Delaware, although there is no evidence whatsoever to support it.

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

[3] Microfilm at the Clayton Genealogical Library, Houston, TX, titled “North Carolina Tombstone Records, Vols. 1, 2 and 3,” compiled by the Alexander Martin and J. S. Wellborn chapters of the DAR; transcribed lists filmed 1935 by the Genealogical Society of Utah.

[4] Virgil D. White, Genealogical Abstracts of Revolutionary War Pension Files, Volume III: N-Z (Waynesboro, TN: The National Historical Publishing Co., 1992). William Rankin’s pension application states that he was born in January 1761 in Rowan County, NC.

[5] Robert Rankin (wife Rebecca) of Guilford County, NC. died by 1773; he had grandsons born in 1757 and 1759, so he was clearly old enough to have a son born in the 1730s.

[6] FHL Microfilm 6564, New Castle County Deed Book Y1: 499 and 565.

[7] Insert New Castle County deed, probate, military and tax records here. Alternatively, save them for a separate article about the family of Joseph of Delaware. <grin> If anyone reads this footnote, please let me know in a comment and I will promptly provide citations!!!!!

[8] http://www.worldfamilies.net/surnames/rankin/ This website has links to Y-DNA results (incomprehensible if you aren’t both a Rankin and Y-DNA expert) and to a “patriarch page” with lots of Rankin descendancy charts. For the most part, all participants provide their own ancestry and get to say from whom they are descended. When two different people whose Y-DNA does NOT match claim descent from the same Rankin ancestor, the editors of the patriarch chart intervene to either make corrections or at least file disclaimers. If you have questions about that website, please let me know.

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

© Robin Rankin Willis

The problem in general

Every genealogist knows that many family trees on the internet aren’t worth the paper it would take to print them. Mistakes abound. Perhaps the most serious rookie mistake one can make is to import data from someone else’s family tree without doing independent research to confirm it.

Some of us learned that lesson the hard way. When I was just getting started in this hobby in the late 1990s, I sent a chart for one of my lines (as requested) to the administrator of the Graves Family Association website.[1] The chart included information I had obtained from other researchers purporting to identify the forbears of my last proved Graves ancestor. Unfortunately, I had not confirmed those alleged ancestors with my own research.

I wish I had remembered that and deleted those names before I forwarded the chart. The website administrator replied with a blistering email excoriating me for perpetuating a fiction which all serious researchers had long since discarded. My screen and my red face were both too hot to touch when I read that email.

The fact is that all family history researchers make mistakes, even without naïvely adopting someone else’s data. It is the nature of the hobby. Original records are incomplete or the courthouse burned down entirely, handwriting is faded, blurry or just lousy, and our ancestors tended to recycle the same given names ad nauseam, producing an error called “same name confusion.” Other mistakes are perpetrated and then perpetuated by the aura of accuracy that accompanies information that makes it into print. If a printed history states, e.g., that Joseph Rankin of New Castle County, Delaware (1704-1764) had a son named Samuel Rankin who married Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander, that particular “fact” is thenceforth cast in concrete. That is so despite the lack of any supporting evidence whatsoever in actual records, as is precisely the case with Joseph’s reputed son Samuel.[2]

Some mistakes are just simple errors exacerbated by a dose of carelessness. Who can believe an ancestry chart asserting that a woman who was born between 1740 and 1743 was the mother of a man born in 1749? Or a chart saying that a man married Miss Smith months after he was already dead and his will probated? Happens all the time.

One Rankin problem in particular: the Robert Rankin who died in 1795 in Guilford Co., NC

There is just such an error in research concerning one of the Rankin families of Guilford County, North Carolina. The error appears in a number of Rankin family trees on the Family Search and Ancestry websites.[3] Specifically, many researchers interpret the 1795 will of Robert Rankin as being the will of the “patriarch” – the eldest immigrant – of his family line in Guilford.[4] Robert Rankin the patriarch (let’s call him “Old Robert” for short) had a wife named Rebecca, maiden name unknown.[5] Old Robert and Rebecca had a son named George.[6] The 1795 will identified the testator as “Robert Rankin Senior” of Guilford County, a designation occasionally used for Old Robert in the early days of the county.[7] Robert also devised land to a son named George. He did not name a wife, which proves nothing except that his wife most likely died before he wrote his will. In short, identifying the testator in the 1795 will as Old Robert seems reasonable at first glance.

The problem is that Old Robert and Rebecca’s son George died in 1760 – thirty-five years before Robert’s 1795 will.[8] I have heard of people being tardy about updating their wills, but … several decades? C’mon, y’all!

Admittedly, Guilford County is tough on Rankin researchers for several reasons. First, there are a dizzying number of country records referencing, e.g., Robert Rankin, Robert Rankin Sr., and/or Robert Rankin Jr. One state grant mentions all three of those names![9] Second, the line of Old Robert and Rebecca, as was common, used the same names every generation. They favored John, William, Robert, and George, sometimes distinguishing between them with “Jr.” or “Sr.” That didn’t always help, because a man identified as “Jr.” wasn’t necessarily the son of “Sr.” Sometimes those designations were used to differentiate between an elder and a younger man who were from different nuclear families – for example, a man and his nephew. Worse, the designations changed: a man called “Robert Jr.” in 1760 became “Robert Sr.” after the elder Robert died. Keeping tract of who was “Sr.” and who was “Jr.” isn’t easy.

Finally, Guilford is rough sledding because there were three Rankin “patriarchs” in Guilford: (1) John Rankin (1736-1814) who married Hannah Carson and who is a proved son of Joseph Rankin of Delaware;[10] (2) John’s brother William Rankin (1744-1804), who married Jane Chambers; and (3) Old Robert Rankin and his wife Rebecca, who came to Pennsylvania from Letterkenny Parish, County Donegal, Ireland about 1750 and moved to Guilford County (then Rowan) a few years later. Fortunately, the lines of John Rankin and his brother William Rankin are well-documented, so it is relatively easy to distinguish them from the line of Old Robert and Rebecca.

The facts in brief

Two simple facts establish that the Robert Rankin who wrote a will and died in 1795 in Guilford County – call him “Robert d. 1795” – was not Old Robert. First, the dates for the records of Buffalo Presbyterian Church show that Old Robert died long before 1795. Second, records concerning the George Rankin who was named as a son in the will of Robert d. 1795 establish that George the devisee was alive and well after 1795. He was not a George who had died thirty-five years earlier.

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

Rev. Samuel Meek Rankin provides information about Old Robert Rankin in his book History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People. Rev. Rankin identified Old Robert as having belonged to Nottingham Presbyterian Church in Pennsylvania.[11] Old Robert and his family (or some of them) migrated to North Carolina in the 1750s.[12] The family acquired land in that part of Rowan County that became Guilford County.[13] Rev. Rankin identified Old Robert’s wife as Rebecca, which is confirmed in a gift deed of land by the couple to their son George.[14] According to Rev. Rankin, Old Robert and Rebecca had children “George, Robert, Rebecca, John and others.”[15]

For purposes of this article, however, we are only concerned with Old Robert and Rebecca, their sons George and Robert (who was sometimes called “Robert Jr.” in early Guilford records), and a grandson named – I’m sure you can guess this one – Robert. A few facts about that crew is in order. Rev. Rankin says that George died in 1761, although his will was actually written and proved in 1760.[16] George’s will named his widow Lydia and two minor sons, John and Robert – the grandson we have in mind.

George and Lydia’s son John inherited the 480-acre tract on Brushy Fork that Old Robert and Rebecca had given to George. John sold it and left Guilford before 1800.[17] George and Lydia’s other son Robert, grandson of Old Robert, fought in the Revolutionary War and applied for a pension in 1833.[18] Bless his heart, because the application provides useful information. Let’s call him “Rev. War Robert.” His application establishes that Rev. War Robert was born in Guilford County in May 1759 and that he moved to McNairy County, Tennessee in 1830. It is important for this narrative that Rev. War Robert lived into the nineteenth century.

That is sufficient predicate, I hope. The bottom line is that Rev. Rankin also has this to say about Old Robert, who was (according to oral tradition) one of the first elders in Buffalo Church:

“Robert Rankin is another whom Rev. J. C. Alexander said tradition listed as one of the first elders. He settled here in 1753 … he died before the first date in the minute book.”[19]

Reverend Rankin said there were no records for Buffalo Church “from the organization in 1756 to 1773.” Consequently, Old Robert Rankin, husband of Rebecca, must have died before 1773. Rev. Rankin states that Old Robert died about 1770, although there is no extant tombstone for him in the Buffalo Church cemetery.[20]

Old Robert cannot be the same man as the Robert Rankin who died in Guilford in 1795 because Old Robert had been dead for more than two decades by 1795.

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

Let’s look closely at Robert Rankin’s 1795 will, which names the following devisees and beneficiaries:[21]

… his son George and his three grandsons William Rankin Wilson, Andrew Wilson and Maxwell Wilson, daughter of his deceased daughter Mary Rankin and her husband Andrew Wilson. Robert devised his land on Buffalo Creek to George and the three Wilson grandsons.

… his daughter Isobel.

… two unnamed living daughters, each of whom was to receive one-fifth of Robert’s personal estate.

Robert’s will plainly demonstrates that he was capable of distinguishing between his children who had died and those who had not. He described his three Wilson grandsons as “sons of my deceased daughter Mary Willson alias Rankin.” Robert describes his son George as … simply George, without stating that George was deceased or that the devise of land was for George’s heirs. The straightforward language of the will makes clear that Robert the testator (even if Old Robert had still been alive in ’95, which he wasn’t) was not referring to a son who died in 1760.

Subsequent Guilford County records indicate that Robert the testator was correct: his son George Rankin was still alive in ‘95. About three years after Robert died, George had the land he inherited from his father surveyed. Robert’s will included a detailed metes and bounds description of how his land on Buffalo Creek was to “be divided by my estate.” The document filed in the real property records expressly recites that the survey of the tract was required by the will of Robert Rankin, deceased, and by his executor. [22] Some two decades later, George Rankin made a gift of a portion of that tract to his own son – named Robert, of course.[23]

Here’s the best advice I could ever give to a rookie genealogist: follow the land.

So … who the heck was the Robert who died in 1795? Answer: Robert, son of Old Robert and Rebecca

Naturally, there was more than one Robert Rankin living in Guilford County in the late 18th century. We can eliminate anyone from the lines of John Rankin and Hannah Carson or William Rankin and Jean Chambers, because their sons named Robert (John and William both had a son named Robert) lived well past 1795.[24] The testator in 1795 was not Rev. War Robert, son of George and Lydia, because his pension file proves that he died in 1833. The only Robert Rankin in Guilford in 1795 who was old enough to have three grandsons, and who did not live into the nineteenth century, was Robert Rankin (Jr.), son of Old Robert and Rebecca.

And there you have it. In a perfect world, Old Robert would also have left an extant will. I suspect that he had already given away everything he owned, particularly his land, before he died about 1770. I will take up the matter of that land, and a brief chart for Robert and Rebecca’s line, in another article.

* * * * * * * * * *

[1] See http://www.gravesfa.org.

[2] Rev. S. M. Rankin, The Rankin and Wharton Families and Their Genealogy (Salem, Massachusetts: Higginson Book Company, facsimile reprint of the original, copyrighted 1931), p. 52. Rev. Rankin is reliably accurate, so far as I can tell from my own research, with few exceptions. However, evidence from y-DNA testing of living Rankin descendants conclusively establishes that the Samuel Rankin who married Eleanor Alexander was not a son of Joseph Rankin of Delaware.

[3] https://familysearch.org/search/ and http://home.ancestry.com. The former is free. The latter requires a paid membership.

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

[5] Rev. S. M. Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church and Her People (Greensboro, NC: J. J. Stone & Co., Printers, 1934) at 27. See also the gift deed in the next footnote.

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

[7] Clayton Genealogical Library microfilm, “NC Guilford County Wills, Books A-B 1771-1838,” File #312, will of Robert Rankin Sr. dated 30 May 1795 proved Nov 1795, giving metes and bounds instructions on how to divide the land he owned on the south side of Buffalo Creek and devising that land to his son George Rankin and grandsons William Rankin Willson, Andrew Willson and Maxwell Willson. Robert also mad bequests to his daughter Isobel and two other living daughters who weren’t identified.

[8] Clayton Genealogical Library microfiln, “NC Rowan County Will Books A-B 1767-1793,” p. 141, will of George Rankin of Rowan County dated 23 May 1760, proved Oct 1760. Witnesses to the will included Robert Rankin (either George’s father or his brother) and William Denny (George’s brother-in-law, married to George’s sister Ann Rankin Denny).

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

[10] FHL Film No. 6564, New Castle Co., DE Deed Book Y1: 499, deed dated Apr 1768 from grantors John Rankin of Orange Co., NC (a predecessor to Guilford County) and his wife Hannah, and William Rankin of New Castle Co., DE, to grantees Thomas Rankin and Joseph Rankin, both of New Castle, land devised to John and William by their father Joseph Rankin. Witnesses to the deed were neighbors of William and John Rankin in Guilford: Robert Breden, James Donnell and James Simpson. Robert and Rebecca’s immigration date and origin are established by the autobiography of their son, Rev. John Rankin, a Presbyterian minister who became a Shaker.

[11] Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church, p. 22. See also Futhey and Cope, History of Chester Co., PA (Philadelphia: Louis H. Everts, 1881), reproduction facsimile by Chester County Historical Society (Mt. Vernon, IN: Windmill Publications, Inc. 1996). The 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township, Chester Co., PA included taxables George Rankin and Robert Rankin.

[12] Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church, p. 22.

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

[14] Note 6.

[15] Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church, p. 27. George and Robert are also proved as sons by deed records. There is only circumstantial evidence for a son John and no evidence that I can find for a daughter Rebecca. The deed and will records also prove a daughter Ann Rankin who married William Denny.

[16] Clayton Genealogical Library microfiln, “NC Rowan County Will Books A-B 1767-1793,” p. 141, will of George Rankin of Rowan County dated 23 May 1760, proved Oct 1760. The 1761 date for George’s death appears in every family tree I have seen for Robert and Rebecca. Someone read Rev. Rankin’s book and everyone else … imported the information without checking it. Or something like that.

[17] Id. George devised to John the 480-acre tract on Brushy Fork or Brush Creek. John sold 200 acres in August 1784, Guilford Deed Book 3: 101, and the remaining 297 acres in Sep 1796, Deed Book 6: 182. John was listed in the 1790 census for Guilford County but not in 1800. He wrote an autobiography, but my notes don’t reveal where the original is located or where I found the information. Worse, I cannot find a transcription on the web. He was a Revolutionary War Soldier and an ordained Presbyterian minister. He struggled with what he saw as the abstract and impersonal nature of Presbyterian doctrine and became a Shaker minister. He left Guilford in the late 1790s for Tennessee and wound up in Logan County, KY in a place called “Shakertown.” In one of many Guilford County marriages that makes researchers rip their hair out, he married a Rebecca Rankin. She, it turned out, was a daughter of John Rankin and Hannah Carson.

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

[19] Rankin, History of Buffalo Presbyterian Church, p. 122.

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

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

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

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

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