I told my husband at breakfast one day that I was working on an article to correct bad information about some Rankins in the Pennsylvania Archives 5th Series.
He put down his fork, arching his eyebrows. “Are you kidding me? You’re taking on the Archives? That’s practically sacred scripture among Pennsylvania family history researchers.”
“Well,” I said (yeah, I realize this sounds prissy), “the Archives has confused two men named David Rankin who were contemporaries in the late 1700s – early 1800s.”
“So,” said Gary, “who would care, anyway?”
“Hmmmm,” I temporized, “perhaps descendants of either of the two men? Or someone who is trying to track early Rankin families around, as I am doing? Perhaps people with D.A.R. or S.A.R. aspirations? One of these two men was a soldier in 1780, but the other was too young.”
“You realize you will receive a dozen comments from people saying there are ‘many online trees’ showing you are wrong?”
I dug in. I’m not a Scots-Irish Rankin for nothing. “You’re undoubtedly right,” I responded, “but I’m writing the article anyway.”
Here ‘tis. It includes (1) a very brief chart, (2) the misinformation in the Archives, (3) the bottom line, (4) the argument supporting the bottom line, and (5) some additional information about this family just for fun – including the only photo I could find of a descendant. What’s not to like about a handsome man in a old-timey baseball uniform?
(1) A brief Rankin family chart
Let’s start with a short outline descendant chart to put the two Davids in their family context.
1 Adam Rankin was the immigrant ancestor in this Rankin line. The two David Rankins who are the subject of this article were his grandsons. Adam’s wife was Mary Steele Alexander, widow of James Alexander. Adam’s 1747 Lancaster County, Pennsylvania will named his sons James, William, and Jeremiah, and a daughter, Esther Rankin Dunwoody. This article deals with only James and William – fathers of the two Davids.
2 James Rankin, son of Adam, died in 1795 in Montgomery Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania. James’ wife was Jean, whose maiden name is unproved so far as I know. His will named their sons William, Jeremiah, James, and David #1, and two daughters, Esther Rankin Smith and Ruth Rankin Tool.
2 William Rankin, son of Adam, died in 1792 in Antrim Township, Franklin County. His wife was Mary Huston, daughter of Archibald and Agnes Houston. William named seven sons and one daughter in his will: Adam, Archibald, James, William, Betsy, David #2, John, and Jeremiah.
I will refer to these two David Rankins by numberbecause it helps me keep them straight. David #1was a son of James d. 1795, Montgomery Township; David #2 was a son of William d. 1792, Antrim Township.
(2) What the Pennsylvania Archives got wrong
Here’s the bad information the Archives provides about one of the two David Rankins. Only the boldface text is wrong; the rest is correct.
“David Rankin is shown in 1780, as a private under Captain William Smith. The will of David Rankin of Montgomery Twp., was dated 1829 and prob. 1833. He names wife Molly and two children, James and Betsy. To Mary Elizabeth Sellers, only child of daughter Molly, who had married Alexander Sellars, Oct, 7th 1824. Miss Molly L. McFarland of Mercersburg stated the above David was the son of William Rankin of Antrim Township who died 1792.”
(3) The bottom line
No, the David Rankin whose will was proved in 1833 was not David #2, son of William Rankin of Antrim Township. With all due respect to Miss Molly L. McFarland, the man the Archives describes was David #1, son of James and Jean Rankin of Montgomery Township.
Here are the key factors for telling the two Davids apart: age, wife’s identity, and – the pièce de résistance– location.
(4) The argument
Age. Although the law or custom varied from time to time, men were typically required to serve in the militia beginning at age sixteen. Sometimes boys served as early as 13. Thus, the David Rankin who was a private in 1780 was probably born by 1764 and definitely no later than 1767. According to county tax lists, David #1, son of James and Jean Rankin, was born no later than 1767-68.
On the other hand, the family Bible in Flossie Cloyd’s material establishes that David #2 was born in 1777. He was definitely not the man who was a militia private in 1780. Strike 1, Archives.
FYI, here is information from the family Bible listing the birth dates of all eight children of William and Mary Huston Rankin. In case you wish to track any of them, I’ve added enough information to tell you where to look.
- Adam Rankin, born March? 10, 1762. Adam first appeared on the Franklin Co. tax list in 1782, identified as a doctor. He inherited land in Westmoreland County that his brother Archibald sold for him. Adam moved to Henderson County, KY, married three times, and had a large family. He was the grandfather of Confederate Brigadier General Adam “Stovepipe” Johnson and the ancestor of a Rankin who is (or was, at one time) the chairman of the board of Churchill Downs.
- Archibald Rankin, born April 10, 1764, married Agnes (“Nancy”) Long. He remained in Franklin County his entire life. Records from the Upper West Conococheague Presbyterian Church record his death on June 24, 1845 at age 81.
- James Rankin was born April 20, 1766. He moved to Centre County along with his brothers William, John, and Jeremiah. He may have died between 1820 and 1830. I’ve found no evidence establishing his children or his wife’s identity.
- William Rankin (Jr.) was born Nov. 5, 1770. He moved to Centre County, married Abigail McGinley and then Susannah, possibly Huston. He died in Centre County.
- Betsy Rankin was born Oct. 13, 1774.
- David #2 Rankin, one of the subjects of this article, was born Feb. 5, 1777.
- John Rankin was born May 1, 1778 and died Apr. 22, 1848. He moved to Centre County with his three brothers, married Isabella Dundas in 1804, and died in Centre County.
- Jeremiah Rankin, born Nov. 26, 1783, married Sarah Whitehill. The date is confirmed on his tombstone in Centre County, PA.
Wife’s identity. Based on his will, the wife of the David Rankin who died in 1833 was named Molly, maiden name unproved. I have found no deeds or other records identifying the wife of David #1. We have better luck with David #2. Deeds conclusively establish that he was married to Frances (“Fanny”) Campbell, daughter of Dougal (Dongal/Dugald/Dugal) Campbell. In case there is any lingering doubt, the Rankin family Bible transcript Ron Rankin provided says that Frances Campbell and David #2 were married on June 13, 1799. In short, Molly’s husband was David #1. Strike 2, Archives.
Location is a great tool for establishing family connections. An 1818 Franklin deed from James Rankin (brother of David #1) to Jacob Kline conveyed a tract in Montgomery Township. Part of the tract was devised in 1788 by James Rankin Sr. to his son James Rankin (Jr.), the grantor in the 1818 deed – so we are certain that the deed deals with the line of James Rankin Sr. The conveyed tract was adjacent to David #1. The deed thus proves that David #1 owned a tract adjacent to Jacob Kline in Montgomery Township at some point. And …
- In the 1830 federal census for Montgomery Township (three years before David #1 died), David Rankin was listed adjacent Jacob Kline, grantee in the above deed. He was the only David Rankin listed in Montgomery in the 1830 census. His census profile “fit” the family of the David Rankin who died in 1833.
- David Rankin’s 1829 will, proved in 1833, referenced his Montgomery Township tract adjacent Jacob Kline.
Bottom line: the David Rankin who died in 1833 was David #1, son of James Sr. and Jean Rankin, and not David #2, son of William and Mary Huston Rankin.
(5) A few more facts
Some genealogists believe that David #2 went to Greene County, Tennessee. Not so. Instead, he and his family went from Franklin to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, then to Allen County, Indiana, and finally to Des Moines County, Iowa. David died there. His wife Frances apparently died before they reached Iowa.
While he lived in Franklin, David #2 attended the Presbyterian Church of the Upper West Conococheague,” as did his brother Archibald. On the other hand, David #1 and his brothers were pew holders in the Welsh Run Presbyterian Church, also known as the “Lower Conococheague” Church.
The Upper West church kept baptism records, although they are evidently incomplete. The four youngest children of David #2 are listed: Frances Rankin (baptized 9 May 1814), David Huston Rankin (28 Apr 1817), Archibald Rankin (10 Oct 1819), and Adam John Rankin (13 Feb 1822). In light of David #2’s entry in the 1820 census (seven children in the household), you would expect other children.  Indeed, the family Bible, Westmoreland County deeds, and other records prove nine children:
- Elizabeth (Betsy) Rankin, b. 3 Feb 1803, never married.
- Martha C. Rankin, b. 22 Nov 1805, married Mr. Sweeney.
- William Rankin, b. 6 Jan 1807, married Martha Jane Gray.
- Mary C. or H. or E. Rankin, b. 6 Feb 1809, married James Bruce.
- Dougal C. Rankin, b. 10 Apr 1811, married Mary Johnson.
- Francis Rankin, b. 1 Jan 1814, married James Waddle.
- David Huston Rankin, b. 14 Mar 1817, married Mary A. Oliver.
- Archibald Rankin b. 1 Aug 1819, married Lydia Blair.
- Adam John Rankin, b. 29 Dec 1821, apparently never married.
David #2 and his family left Franklin between 1827 and 1830. They are listed in Westmoreland County in the 1830 census and in Iowa Territory in 1840. The 1850 census in Des Moines County shows David as age 73, born in Pennsylvania. He is buried in the Round Prairie Cemetery in Des Moines County. Adam John Rankin and Dougal/Dugal Campbell Rankin are also buried in the Round Prairie Cemetery. Archibald Rankin is buried in the Kossuth Cemetery, also located in Des Moines County.
The family Bible also names the children of Archibald Rankin and Lydia Blair: (1) Elizabeth Jane Rankin m. William B. Reed, (2) Margaret F. Rankin, and (3) Martha C. Rankin.
Finally, here is the image of the baseball player: Dougal Wylie Rankin. He was a son of John William Rankin and Jennie S. Wylie. John William was a son of Dougal Campbell Rankin – a son of David and Frances Campbell Rankin. That is a fabulous shirt …
And that’s it from me on the two David Rankins, grandsons of Adam and Mary Steele Rankin.
See you on down the road.
* * * * * * * * * * *
 Lancaster Co., PA Will Book J, Vol. 1: 208, will of Adam Rankin dated 4 May 1747, proved 21 Sep 1747.
 Franklin Co., PA Will Book A: 345, will of James Rankin of Montgomery Township dated 25 Mar 1788, proved 20 Oct 1795.
 Franklin Co., PA Will Book A: 256, will of William Rankin of Antrim Township dated 20 Oct 1792, proved 28 Nov 1792.
 Franklin Co., PA Will Book A: 110, will of Agnes Huston, widow of Archibald Huston, dated 15 Nov 1776, proved 14 Mar 1787. Her will names William Rankin, husband of daughter Mary, as an executor.
 Thomas Lynch Montgomery, ed., Pennsylvania Archives, 5th Series, Volume VI (Harrisburg, PA: Harrisburg Publishing Co., 1906) 275.
 See https://allthingsliberty.com/2014/06/explaining-pennsylvanias-militia/ and/or https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/fighting-man-continental-army and/or https://www.constitution.org/jw/acm_3-m.htm
 David #1 was listed on the Montgomery Township tax list for 1789 along with his father James (Sr.) and brothers William, Jeremiah, and James Rankin. David was a “freeman,” meaning that he was age 21 or older and not married.
 Westmoreland Co., PA Deed Book 7: 392, deed from Archibald Rankin of Antrim Twp., Franklin Co. to David Carson of Greencastle Twp., tract on waters of Pine Run, Westmoreland, originally granted to William Rankin of Antrim Twp., 27 Jul 1773, surveyed 4 or 11 1776. Tract left to Dr. Adam Rankin by his father’s LW&T dated 20 Oct 1792. Doctor Adam Rankin granted his brother Archibald Rankin power of attorney dated 29 June 1792.
 Commemorative Biographical Record of Central Pennsylvania: Including the Counties of Centre, Clearfield, Jefferson and Clarion (Chicago: J. H. Beers, 1898) at 100-101.
 John Blair Linn, History of Centre and Clinton Counties, Pennsylvania (Louis H. Everts, 1883, reprinted Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co., 1975), 222-223.
 Franklin Co., PA Deed Book 9: 288, deed dated 8 May 1807 from David Rankin of Franklin and wife Fanny conveying land devised to David by the will of William Rankin dated 20 Oct 1792. Frances/Fanny’s father is also conclusively proved by a deed, see Franklin Deed Book 14: 245. See also Franklin Co., PA Deed Book 14: 266, deed dated 28 Aug 1827 from David Rankin and wife Frances of Montgomery Township, 54 acres in Peters Township, deed witnessed by Archibald Bald.
 Franklin Co., PA Deed Book 12: 28.
 1830 federal census, Montgomery Township, Franklin Co., household of David Rankin, 0000101-000010001 adjacent Jacob Kline. There are two people age 20 < 30 in David’s household, as we would expect: his daughter Molly was already married when David #1 wrote his will in 1829. The age category for the eldest male is clearly erroneous. He should be in the same age category as the eldest female, age 60 < 70 (born in the 1760s), if he was a militia private in 1780.
 See, e.g., https://npgallery.nps.gov/GetAsset/29dbc658-cdcc-4f12-8c30-8dc877e7fdb4. Please be advised that this application for historic site designation contains several Rankin history errors and unproved assertions.
 The creek and church name were spelled Conococheague or Conogogheaue, among other variants.
 The Upper West church records show Archibald’s marriage to Agnes Long, as well as his death date. Recall that David and Archibald each inherited a part of their father William’s “Mansion Place,” so they originally lived next to each other. See Franklin Co., PA Will Book A: 256, will of William Rankin of Antrim Township devising 200 acres “off my Mansion Place” to son Archibald, and “the old Mansion place,” 300 acres, to his son David #2. You would expect both brothers to attend the nearest Presbyterian church.
 Virginia Shannon Fendrick, American Revolutionary Soldiers of Franklin County, Pennsylvania (Chambersburg, PA: Historical Works Committee of the Franklin County Chapter of the D.A.R., 1969) (copyright 1944) 180.
 Some records of the Upper West Conococheague church are available online at Ancestry.com.
 David #2 was then living in Peters Township and is listed as age 26 < 45 (born 1775 – 1794). There were seven children in his household, including 1 male and 2 females age 10 < 16 (born 1804 – 1810), plus 3 males and one female under age 10 (born 1810 – 1820).
 David #2 and his wife Frances executed a deed in Franklin Co. in Oct 1827, see note 17. He did not appear in the 1830 census for Franklin.
 1840 federal census for Iowa Territory, Des Moines Co., David Rankin, age 60 < 70 (born 1770 – 1780).
 The 1850 federal census listing in DesMoines Co. for David Rankin’s household includes Dugald Camel, 30, b. PA, and Frances Camel, 14, b. Indiana. Given the spelling perversions one finds in the census, they were probably Dugal (or Dougal) Campbell and Frances Campbell.
 Dougal Wylie Rankin, b. 7 Jan 1889, d. 12 Oct 1850, Eugene, Lane Co., OR. Buried in West Lawn Memorial Park . See 1910 census, Lane Co., Oregon, J. William Rankin, wife Jennie W., sons Dougal, Byron L. and Boyd, and daughter Frances E. Rankin; 1870 census, Des Moines Co., IA, D.n C. Rankin, 58, with David, Hezekiah, Sarah and John W. Rankin