We are back to “normal” writing style. This article has no alleged first-person account by someone who has been dead for more than a century. Nor does it have a whimsical story of research by a private eye named Spade. The purpose of this article, rather than entertainment, is simply to provide information about several Rankin families in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania beginning in the late 1700s. I hope someone finds it helpful. I fully expect a couple of emails featuring “yawning” emojis. 😉
Fortunately, the five Rankin families in this county are easy to distinguish by township location. I don’t know whether any of them are genetically related, because only one of the lines has a descendant who has Y-DNA tested. The Rankins here include: a family in Allegheny City, who are descendants of Adam and Mary Steele Alexander Rankin; a family in Mifflin Township which may have had three Revolutionary War soldiers; a Baldwin Township family who came to Maryland from Ireland, then lived in both Westmoreland and Allegheny Counties; a Robinson Township family which is a total mystery to me; and a family in Elizabeth Township which arrived from Ireland in two migrations decades apart. There is so much information in the records about these families that more than one article is surely in the works.
Allegheny City Rankins
Dr. David Nevin Rankin jumps out of the records in Allegheny City, which was a separate city until it was annexed by Pittsburgh in 1907. He was a great-great grandson of Adam and Mary Steele Alexander Rankin of Lancaster County. Dr. David graduated from Jefferson Medical College of Philadelphia in 1854, then practiced with his father in Shippensburg until the Civil War. He was in Company A of the 20th Pennsylvania Artillery, became an Assistant Surgeon, and helped open many of the largest Union Army hospitals during the war. He worked for many years as a prison doctor. He and several members of his family are buried in the Allegheny Cemetery in Pittsburgh.
Here is an outline chart showing how Dr. David fits in Adam and Mary’s line:
1 Adam Rankin d. 1747, Lancaster Co., PA, wife Mary Steele Alexander.
2 William Rankin d. 1792, Franklin Co., PA, wife Mary Huston.
3 William Rankin, 1770 – 1847, moved to Centre Co., PA. Married first Abigail McGinley, second Susannah Huston.
4 Dr. William Rankin, b. 1795, Centre Co., PA, d. 1872, Shippensburg, Cumberland Co. Wife Caroline O. Nevin. Dr. William was a son of Abigail McGinley Rankin, his father’s first wife.
5 Dr. David Nevin Rankin, b. 1835, Shippensburg, d. 1901, Allegheny Co. Wife Ann Catharine Irwin.
6 Lilly J. Rankin, b. abt 1864.
6 Dr. Henry Irwin Rankin, 1869 – 1914. Married Hester McCaughey, both of Philadelphia, license issued 5 May 1908. No children found.
6 Edith N. Rankin, 1873 – 1926, Allegheny County. Husband Henry A. Plumer. Buried in the Allegheny Cemetery.
So far as I have found, Dr. Henry H. Rankin was the last male Rankin in the Allegheny City line. That’s a shame, because Y-DNA results for Adam and Mary Steele Rankin’s line are scarce as hen’s teeth. If you are a male having the Rankin surname and think you are descended from them, please go take a “Big Y” test ASAP!
Mifflin Township Rankins
Hugh Rankin was the apparent patriarch of the Mifflin Township Rankin family. His tombstone says that he was a Revolutionary War soldier who served in the 8th Pennsylvania Regiment of Infantry as of 1777. That unit completed an epic winter march across the mountains from western Pennsylvania to New Jersey, leaving many men sick or dead. It was engaged at Bound Brook, Brandywine, the massacre at Paoli, and Germantown in 1777. It was also at Valley Forge. Wow.
The military records at Fold.3 have limited information, although they provide a possible clue about Hugh’s family. Two other men named Rankin(s) served in the same company as Hugh: Isaac and Solomon Rankin. It would be unusual if they were not kin. Based on no evidence other than names, it is possible (but rank speculation) that the three men were from the line of David and Jeanette McCormick Rankin of Frederick County, VA. That couple definitely had a son Hugh and a grandson Solomon.
If I were a descendant of Hugh and Mary, I would head straight to the muster and payroll records available at the National Archives and Records Administration to see what is there for Hugh, Isaac, and Solomon. NARA is without question the best source for relatively complete Revolutionary War military records.
Hugh first appeared in the Allegheny records in the 1790 census. The county was organized in 1788, so he may have been from one of the Rankin families of Westmoreland or Washington County. Two of David and Jeanette Rankin’s children appeared in the latter county. Although Hugh’s family of origin is unproved, one thing is certain: they were Presbyterian through-and-through. That means that he (or his family of origin) were almost certainly Scots-Irish who immigrated from Ulster or, although it is less likely, Presbyterians who came to the colonies straight from Scotland.
Hugh’s tombstone is also inscribed with his wife’s name: Mary Stewart, 1769-1851. It is clearly a fairly new stone, so it could be either a replacement or a first-time marker installed well after the couple died. It gives Hugh’s dates of birth and death as 1764 – 1844-45. The uncertainty about his death date is a pretty solid clue that the stone wasn’t installed at the time Hugh died.
Neither Hugh nor Mary left a will. Census records suggest one son and three daughters. Deed records confirm a son, but only two daughters:
- Archibald Rankin, 1802 – 1853.
- Mary Rankin Livingston, probably born 1790 – 1794.
- Another daughter, also born 1790-1794, who likely married a Mr. Torrence.
Hugh and Mary’s son Archibald kindly left a will identifying his children. There is an outline chart for Hugh’s line below, along with a plethora of footnotes. There are a sufficient number of male Rankins in this line that there is surely a surviving Rankin male descendant who could Y-DNA test!
And that’s all the room available in this article for the first two Allegheny County Rankin families. Next up: William and Ursula Rankin of Bedford Township.
1 Hugh Rankin, 1764 – 1844-45?, wife Mary Stewart, 1769 – 1851, b. PA. Their fairly new tombstone in the Mifflin United Presbyterian Cemetery is inscribed 8th PA Regiment, 1776 – 1779. NASA records could undoubtedly provide evidence for anyone in this line interested in a DAR or SAR membership.
2 Mary Rankin, married a Mr. Livingston. Possibly William R. Livingston, who was an executor of her brother Archibald’s will.
2 Miss Rankin m. Mr. Torrence.
2 Archibald Rankin, 1802 – 1853, probably born and died in Allegheny Co. Wife Jane Brewster or Bruster, 1814 – 1876. Arch still had minor children when he died. Both Arch and Jane are buried in the Miffllin United Presbyterian Church Cemetery.
3 Sarah Rankin, 24 Apr 1832 – 10 Sep 1914, b. Jefferson Twp., Allegheny Co. Sarah married Samuel J. Chamberlain. Her Allegheny County death certificate identifies her parents as Archy Rankin and Jane Bruster.
3 Mary Rankin, 14 Jan 1834 – 19 Dec 1910. Her death certificate identifies her parents as Archibald Rankin and Jane Brewster, a minor spelling difference. She married a John Rankin, relationship unknown. If you can figure it out, I would love to know.
3 William Rankin, b. abt 1836. Wife Mary Ann McClure, daughter of Francis McClure.
4 Howard M. Rankin, 7 May 1860 – 24 Feb 1914.
4 William A. Rankin, 1861 – 1902.
4 Frank Rankin, 1867 – 1892.
4 Rebecca C. Rankin, 1864 – 1868. The find-a-grave memorial for this family in the McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery indicates that Rebecca’s birth date is unknown and that she lived into the twentieth century, both of which are incorrect based on the family memorial, see Note 20.
4 Fannie F. Rankin, 1868-1870.
3 John Rankin, 1839 – 1892. Wife Alice Giles, 1836 – 1906. John sold his 1/3rd interest in his father’s land to his brother William. John had moved to Oakalla, Iroquois Co., IL by 1870 and then to Pottawatomie Co., IA.He is buried with his wife and two of their children in the Carson Cemetery in Pottawatomie.
4 Archie Rankin, b. abt 1865, WV.
4 Laura J. Rankin, 1867 – 1883, b. IL. Carson Cemetery.
4 John P. Rankin, b. IL 1870 – 1883. Carson Cemetery.
4 William S. Rankin, b. IL abt 1872. Married Winnie or Minnie Gertrude Pace. Their marriage record identifies his parents as John Rankin and Alice Giles.
4 Son, b. abt 1874.
4 Alice Rankin, b. IA abt 1877.
3 Eliza Rankin, b. abt 1841-42
3 Jane Rankin, b. abt 1844, m. Dr. William D. Riggs. Lived in Pittsburgh.
3 Evaline Rankin Martin, 15 Jul 1846 – 7 May 1923. Buried in the Mifflin United Presbyterian Church Cemetery.
3 Samuel L. Rankin, 27 Feb 1849 – 11 Apr 1912. Wife Sarah Downay, 1848 – 1934. Samuel went to Iroquois Co., IL and then Pottawatomie Co., IA. The couple is buried in the Carson Cemetery in Pottawatomie along with two of their children.
4 Ella Rankin, 1874 – 1877. Carson Cemetery.
4 Sammy Rankin, 1876 – 1877. Carson Cemetery.
4 Warren Rankin
4 Edna J. Rankin
4 Lula M. Rankin
4 Edith Belle Rankin m. Mr. Breneman.
And that’s all for now on some Allegheny Rankins. See you on down the road.
 Appletons’ Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1600-1889, Vol. V: Pickering – Sumter 180. There is a great picture of Dr. David and his wife Caroline Nevin at this link.
 Dr. Rankin’s find-a-grave memorial can be found here.
 See 1870, 1880, and 1900 census entries for Dr. David Rankin; Allegheny County death certificates for son Dr. Henry and daughter Edith N. Plumer. Here is Catherine’s find-a-grave memorial.
 See cemetery memorial here. There is also an Allegheny County death certificate for Henry.
 See cemetery memorial at this link.. There is also an Allegheny County death certificate for Edith Rankin Plumer.
 Ironically, more Rankins claim descent from Adam and Mary than you can throw a stick at. If you think you might be from that line, please go to the Rankin DNA Project website and send me an email. I will answer questions and do whatever I can to help.
 See Frederick Co., VA Deed Book 12: 46, lease and release from Hugh Rankin to William Rankin, proved sons of David and Jeanette McCormick Rankin, witnessed by Solomon and David Rankin. Solomon was a fairly unusual name. I have not tried to track Hugh’s family.
 Allegheny Co., PA Deed Book 21: 250, FHL #8091674, image #432, deed dated 1815 from William and Tabitha Reed to Hugh Rankin, all of Allegheny Co., 401.5 acres called “Tabermore” to Hugh Rankin for his life or the life of his wife Mary, at the death of the survivor to their son Archibald in fee simple. See also Deed Book 55: 183, FHL #8036728, image #110, Hugh Rankin and wife Mary of Allegheny to their son Archibald “all … land … now in their occupation.” Hugh Rankin and his family were listed in the federal census for 1790 through 1820 in Mifflin Township. In the 1830 census, Hugh was probably living with his son Archibald.
 Allegheny Co., PA Deed Book 118: 181, FHL film #8091702, image #109, deed dated 1853 from Mary Livingston of Jefferson Twp, Allegheny Co., daughter of Hugh Rankin, dec’d, and one of his heirs at law, to my brother Archibald Rankin of Mifflin Twp., for $200, all my claim to Hugh Rankin’s property.
 Allegheny Co., PA Deed Book 70: 163, FHL Film #8091683, image #532, deed dated 1845 from Mary Torrence and Jane Torrence of Mifflin Twp., heirs at law of Hugh Rankin, all our claim to Hugh’s real and personal property to Hugh’s son Archibald.
 Hugh and Mary’s shared tombstone can be found here.
 1850 Allegheny Co., PA census, household of Archibald Rankin 48, Jane 36, Sarah 18, Mary 16, William 14, John 11, Eliza 9, Jane 6, Emiline 4, and Mary Rankin 81; 1860 census, Mifflin Twp, Allegheny Co., household of Jane Rankin, 46, widow, $7,550/560, b. PA, John Rankin 21, Eliza Rankin 18, Jane Rankin 16, Emeline Rankin 13, and Samuel Rankin 11. They are enumerated adjacent the household of William Rankin, 24. For proof of their five daughters, see Allegheny Co., PA Will Book 26: 36, FHL film #5538, image #396, will of Jane Rankin of Mifflin Township dated 11 Jul 1871 proved 13 Mar 1876. To be buried in Mifflin graveyard, Presbyterian rites. Divide all property into 5 parts, 1/5th each to daughter (1) Sarah Chamberlin, (2) Mary Rankin, (3) dec’d daughter Eliza Forsythe’s children, (4) Jane Riggs, and (5) Emiline Martin. Executor Samuel J. Chamberlin. Witnesses Harvey Sheplar, C. D. Phillips.
 Allegheny Deed Book 290: 682, 1866 deed from Samuel J. Chamberlain and wife Sarah to John Rankin, tract in Jefferson Twp.; Deed Book 381: 99, FHL film # 8092431, image #285, 1877 quitclaim deed from Samuel J. Chamberlin (or Chamberlain) and wife Sarah, formerly Sarah Rankin, of Jefferson Twp., Allegheny Co., to William Rankin of Mifflin Twp. for $300. All claim by Sarah to tract “bequeathed to her by her father Archibald Rankin.”
 Sarah Rankin Chamberlain’s memorial in Mifflin United Presbyterian Church Cemetery can be found at this link.
 Allegheny Co., Deed Book 396: 684, quitclaim deed dated 1878 from John Rankin and Mary Rankin (daughter of Archibald Rankin, dec’d) of Jefferson Twp., to William Rankin of Mifflin Twp. The grantors John and Mary were married, as is proved by her separate examination re: dower release. The deed conveys all of Mary’s claims to the legacy willed her by Archibald, including a 150-acre tract on the headwaters of Lewis Run, Mifflin Twp. Who the heck is John? I don’t know.
 See Allegheny Co., PA Deed Book 243: 475, FHL Film # 8092177, image #413, 1869 deed from Mrs. Jane Rankin, widow of Archibald Rankin late of Mifflin Township, Allegheny, to William Rankin, son of Archibald, all of her right, title, interest to a tract in Mifflin Township containing 100A, part of the real estate which Arch devised to his wife for life known as the Adersen (sic, Anderson) farm. See also Allegheny Co., PA Deed Book 352: 670, film #8092385, image #18, 1875 quitclaim deed from Robert Day and wife Catharine J. of Allegheny City, Francis N. McClure and Margaret his wife of Allegheny Co., Sarah Rhodes, widow of David Rhodes of McKeesport, and William Rankin and wife Mary A. Rankin of Mifflin Twp., grantors, to Richard McClure of Mifflin, $3,500, 275A. Signatures reveal Wm. Rankin was married to Mary Ann McClure, daughter of Francis McClure. See 1860 census, Mifflin Twp, Allegheny Co., household of William Rankin, 24, farmer, $400, b. PA, Mary Anne Rankin, 23, PA, and Howard M. Rankin, b. May 1860, listed adjacent William’s widowed mother Jane and her children still at home; 1870 census, Mifflin Township, household of William Rankin, 34, farmer, $15,200/$15,000, b. PA, Mary Ann Rankin, 23 (sic, should be 33), $800, PA, Howard Rankin, 10, William Rankin, 8, Francis Rankin, 3 (male, Frank), and Fanny Rankin (female), 1.
 William A. Rankin, three of his siblings, and his parents William and Mary Ann are buried in the McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery in McKeesport, Allegheny Co. There is an impressive monument inscribed with the names and birth/death dates of Mary Ann Rankin (1836 – 1896), William Rankin (1834-1904), William A. Rankin (1861-1902), Frank Rankin (1867 – 1892), Rebecca C. Rankin (1864 – 1868), and Fannie F. Rankin (1868 – 1870). I don’t know who erected the monument, but Howard M. Rankin, who survived all six of them, is a good bet.
 Allegheny Co., PA Deed Book 177: 299, FHL film #8092152, image #490, deed dated 1864 from John Rankin and his wife Mary Alice to William, undivided interest per the will of Archibald Rankin, father of the parties; Allegheny Co., PA Deed Book 301, FHL film #8092388, image #3421872 deed from John Rankin and wife Alice of Iroquois Co., Illinois to William Rankin of Allegheny for $5. Quitclaim to tract in Mifflin Township adj James and Robert Rath, et al. Archibald Rankin died owning tract and by his will devised it to his three sons John, Samuel, and William. Both Samuel and John are listed in the 1870 census in Iroquois Co.
 1870 census, Iroquois Co., Illinois, Oakalla PO, household of John Rankin, 31, farmer, $5,100/700, b. PA, Olive? Rankin, 33, England, presumably Alice Giles. Jennie Rankin, 7, PA, Archie Rankin, 5, VA, Laura Rankin, 3, IL, and John Rankin, 6 months, b. Jan 1870, IL; 1880 census, Grove Twp., Pottawattamie Co., IA, household of J. Rankin, 41, farming, b. PA, parents b. PA, wife Alice, 43, b. England, son Archie, 15, b. WV, daughter Laurie, 13, b. ILL, son John, 11, IL, son William, 8, IL, unidentified son, 6, IA, and daughter Alice, 3, IA.
 Allegheny Co., PA Deed Book 369: 94, FHL film #8092392, image #108, 1877 deed from William Riggs, M.D., and wife Jane, formerly Jane Rankin, of the 28th ward of Pittsburgh, acknowledging receipt from William Rankin of Mifflin Twp payment of the $300 legacy bequeathed to Jane Riggs by her father Archibald Rankin in his LW&T dated 5 Sep 1853. Also, grantees quitclaim tract devised by Archibald to William and his brothers John and Samuel Rankin.
 See memorial here.
 Allegheny Co., PA Deed Book 301: 477, FHL film #8092388, image #342, 1872 deed from Samuel Rankin of Iroquois Co., Illinois to William Rankin of Allegheny Co., Samuel’s undivided 1/3rd of tract in Mifflin Twp., Allegheny, adjacent James Rath, Robert Rath, Hays, McElhenny, Livingstons, Hope et al. Devised by Archibald Rankin’s will to the parties.
 Samuel L. Rankin’s find-a-grave memorial is at this link. His wife Sarah Downay Rankin’s memorial is here. Their daughter Ella and son Sammy Jr. are also buried in the Carson cemetery and have similar tombstones.
 Edith Rankin’s delayed birth record says she was b. 9 Apr 1886, in Grove Twp., Pottawatamie Co., IA, and identifies her parents as Samuel Rankin, b. Pittsburg, and Sarah Downay, b. Oneida Co., NY. She signed the birth certificate as Edith Belle Breneman.