The Compleat Book of Rankins … or at least what I have so far

Like all fine literature and authoritative non-fiction, The Compleat Book of Rankins has reviewers’ blurbs on the back cover. Here is what they say:

— Old One-Eyed Sam Rankin: “These family histories provide unexpected insights.”

 — Brigadier General Adam Rankin “Stovepipe” Johnson: “A picture is worth a thousand words — so is a nickname.”

 — Genghis Khan: “They will need to add me to this book if they go back far enough.”

— John Cleese: “This book proves genealogists are not a dull, humorless lot. Check out the Index entries for Star Trek, Mars, Dr. Richard Kimble, Sesame Street’s Swedish Chef, Tommy Lee Jones, and Victorian Era Silly Walks.”

— Sponsors of the Mt. Horeb Presbyterian Church Cemetery Tablet:    “Family legends are rarely completely accurate — but some are nevertheless cast in bronze.”

— Former Bastard Stable Boy, now Laird of the Manor: “DNA does not lie.”

Truth in lending compels me to admit that the Book is not actually complete. It contains Rankin articles published on this blog, the majority of which have been updated and corrected since publication. New Y-DNA results and new information arrive daily. I was revising the book this morning to add information about a Rankin wife’s maiden name when Gary threatened mutiny. He prepared the book’s Index, a thankless task because Word’s indexing tool alphabetizes people by given name. If you want to look up entries for everyone named John, I suppose that’s a perfect approach. Gary converted the entries so that they are organized by surname. This required a substantial investment of time.

My addition of a Rankin wife’s maiden name and her father’s identity required revising the index. Thus the near mutiny. If the pagination had changed (rendering the existing Index obsolete), he would have been justified in resigning his commission.

More on incompleteness: in addition to newly arriving Y-DNA results and other info, there are a half-dozen new Rankin articles floating around in my head. They are screaming to reach fruition on my laptop, but have been deferred while I corrected the damn book. Allegheny County, Pennsylvania has several Rankin families which need to be distinguished. Ditto Westmoreland. Rankin disinformation abounds on the web. I have some Rankin outline descendant charts in progress, including one for the line of Adam and Mary Steele Alexander Rankin. An article about a mill in Antrim Parish, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, is begging to be written (assuming I can sort out conflicting info about the mill and find some Rankin who owned land on Muddy Creek).

Also, of course, I could not add new articles to the book without screwing up the Index. I knew better than to cross that Rubicon.

You get the drift. Meanwhile, as the subtitle (“or at least what I’ve got so far“)  suggests, it is time to cut bait and fish. Belly up to the bar. Choose your pithy saying. There is clearly a Volume II in my future.

I chose to have the current book bound in hardcover rather than paperback. That is because many libraries receiving softcover books promptly pay to have them recovered in hardback to prevent rapid deterioration. Libraries are notoriously penurious, except for the FHL in Salt Lake City, and I didn’t want any to incur that expense. Here’s the rub: the Compleat Book‘s publisher, Lulu Publishing, sets the purchase price. IMO, it is a bit dear (almost $40). No one except a Rankin, library, or genealogical/historical  society would conceivably have any interest in this book. And most Rankins presumably have something better to do with discretionary funds than purchase a book which devotes only a chapter to their own Rankin line. This was never intended to be a profitable venture in any case. My goal was and is to make information available to Rankin researchers.

Accordingly, here’s my plan. I can buy the book at cost. If you will email to me information for your local library and/or genealogical/historical society, I will simply pay for a copy to be mailed to that address. If you have any interest in those pithy back cover blurbs, or our son’s imaginative cover, you will know where to find it.

So … Happy Fourth of July! I feel like a brand-new nation all by myself, having finally gotten that damned thing finished.

See you on down the road. New posts are calling, and some of them aren’t even about Rankins.


20 thoughts on “The Compleat Book of Rankins … or at least what I have so far”

    1. Christine, and everyone else,

      The book is now “live” on Lulu Publishing … … at its Bookstore.

      Searching on the “The Compleat Rankin Book” or “Robin Rankin” or “Robin Willis” will bring up the book.


      Gary Willis

  1. Do you have any information on a J.F. Rankin that lived in Columbia, TN (Maury County)? I believe there may have been two men that lived here with those same initials. I am searching for one that had at least 2 sons. I own the old brick house here he probably built but haven’t been able to get much history on it. Found “J.F. Rankin’s sons” written on the house as owners on an old tax map from the late 1800’s. House was probably built around 1820 when the city was founded. Found where J.F. Rankin also started carving his name in the brick outside. This Rankin line also probably married into the West family. Any info you have would be greatly appreciated!

  2. I’m still trying to find ancestors of Lt Robert Rankin and what ever happened to his grandson William Rankin who was last seen living with his Daughter Mary Olive “Ollie” Locke in the 1900 census in Montgomery Texas. William is my great grandfather. No grave, no paper work for either him or his wife Matilda Hall/Rankin. I love your stuff Robin and thank you for all you do for the Rankin clan.

  3. Hi Robin, I would like one of your books. I am related to the Rankin family. My 5th great Grandfather was Robert Rankin Sr. who was born in Letterkenny Parish, Donegal, Ireland. He married Rebecca Rankin, b 1700 who migrated with him to Guilford. They both died in Guilford, North Carolina and is buried there. Then the family migrated to TN.

    I am wondering if any of this sounds familiar to you. We had a discussion at one point about my 2nd great GM was Nancy A. Rankin born in 1811. Her parents were Robert Rankin and Mary Moodey. I really would like to buy one of your books. Let me know if you want money now or later.

    1. Rosemary, yep, I remember Robert & Rebecca and their grandson Robert Rankin m. #2 Mary Moody. There is an article or two mentioning Robert in the book.

      FYI, you don’t order it from me — you order it direct from Lulu, the publisher. Their website can be found at this link:

      Gary (who has published a book on Lulu) tells me you can search there either by author’s name or book title. I also now understand my book will be available Tuesday the 5th. I will check back and let you know if that is wrong.

    2. Rosemary, the book can be ordered now at — search on my name or book title. 🙂

  4. Congratulations on the book completion, Robin. I look forward to the second edition!

    I just ordered a copy through the link you provided too Rosemary. (Rosemary, Robert Rankin Sr. is my 6th GGfather.)

  5. Congratulations on the book completion, Robin. I look forward to the second edition! 😉 I just ordered a copy through the link you provided to Rosemary. (Rosemary, Robert Rankin Sr. is my 6th GGfather.)

  6. Congratulations Robin on the publication of The Compleat Rankin Book! You’ve toiled long and hard on Rankin family research that has uncovered helpful information for many Rankin descendants – like myself, whose Rankin line died off long ago. A question: should I wait until edition 2 when the latest YDNA results are included that possibly pertain to my Adam Rankin line from Franklin, PA, to Harrison & Guernsey counties in Ohio, and the future Rankin outline descendant charts in progress, including one for the line of Adam and Mary Steele Alexander Rankin?
    Your announcement also coincided with my completion of a 3-month process of submitting documentation to prove 14th generation descendance to a Mayflower passenger though my mother’s Rankin> Pumphrey>Martin>Dunham lines. An exciting week it’s been!

    1. Sara, congratulations on the Mayflower acceptance! That documentation must have been a hassle.

      I don’t think the outline descendant chart for Adam and Mary will do you much good. And I have given up on finding more living descendants of Adam and Mary Steele to test. I recruited FOUR different men; three of them had no Rankin matches whatsoever, i.e., were not genetic Rankins. Probably the best thing you can do for your line is to find a living male named Rankin who descends from the Harrison and Guernsey Ohio counties Rankins. If you can find one and persuade him to test, that would be the best evidence you could have! I hope you will do that.

      Congrats again!

  7. Hello Robin,
    I have just found this site on the Rankin families. The data is endless!!
    I have been searching for years for the family of Elizabeth Rankin (1780-1840) of Mecklenburg County, NC. All the data I have read (but can’t verify) has said she and Abel (Henry) Dockery were married there. They then migrated to southern TN, where Abel was killed in the War of 1812 in 1815. From this point I have proofs. She and her children then migrated to Alabama and settled in what is now the Talladega Forest of Alabama near Tuscaloosa. I have been to her gravesite there. I have also been to the Mecklenburg County library(Charlotte, NC) to research the Rankin families in that area, but have found no trace of Elizabeth or a marriage record.
    Without reading all of the monthly postings, has anyone researched the Rankin families in the Mecklenburg County area, and specifically found an Elizabeth Dockery there.
    Many thanks.
    Sylvia Sumner Thorp

    1. Sylvia, do you know where in TN Elizabeth and Abel lived? When I hear from you, I’ll root around my records to see what I can find. One of the Mecklenburg Rankins went to Rutherford Co. — Samuel Rankin Jr., son of Samuel and Eleanor Alexander Rankin of Lincoln. The other Mecklenburg Rankin was Sam Jr.s brother Richard, although he did not have a daughter Elizabeth.

      Glad you found us!

  8. I am so sorry to be so late in responding. I was out of town and now leave for two weeks with our family at the beach.
    I will give you more information on the Tennessee site when I return.
    Sylvia Thorp

  9. Robin, I am finally back home and have some data for you. As I said, supposidly Elizabeth Rankin and Abel (Henry) Dockery were married in Mecklenburg, NC about 1805 – I say supposidly because I have found no record of this, yet it appears everywhere in family history data of others. Elizabeth was born in 1780 in Mecklenburg, North Carolina. They migrated to around Lincoln, Tennessee. He fought in the War of 1812, and his wife (Elizabeth) appeared in court in 1815. He had no will, and she was selling the estate. The 1820 census Lincoln Tennessee lists her as head of household with children.
    She moved to Alabama after 1820- purchased land in 1828 in Tuscaloosa County, AL – and is in the 1830 census there. She was also known as Betsy. She died before 1840 in Tuscaloosa County. She is said to be the breeder of fine horses. I have been to the grave site area – in the middle now of the Tuscumbia National Forest.
    Let me know if you know anything of a family with the daughter Elizabeth, born about 1780. I am at the end of what I can find.
    Thank you
    Sylvia Thorp

    1. Sylvia, glad to hear from you! I will root around in my Mecklenburg records again to see what I can find. Will contact you via email if anything interesting turns up.

      1. Hi! I’m also curious about Elizabeth’s children…could you please send me what you found also?

        Thank you!

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