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March 7, 2011

The Ralston Family
Of Beaver County, Pennsylvania

        This section focuses on the Ralston family of Beaver County, one of the families in the ancestry of Keziah Jane (Jennie) McClurg (1861-1895).  Jennie was the daughter of Cyrus McClurg (1836-1883) and Martha Ann Ralston (1838-1916), who had been married in November 1886 or 1887. Both Cyrus and Martha grew up in Western Pennsylvania.  Jennie was the first wife of Charles William McLaughlin (1862-1940).  See separate accounts of the McClurg family and the McLaughlin family.  

        The ancestry of Martha Ann Ralston, the wife of Cyrus McClurg, has undergone extensive study, and that work continues.   These are some who have been involved in this work:

* Archibald Dean Dungan (1885-1977), of Ohio, provided his research on the Ralstons to at least one library, and he has been quoted by a number of students of the family.  

* Rachel Long Misey (1924-2004), of Maryland, a granddaughter of Jennie McClurg, collected information on the McClurgs and Ralstons, among other families.  

* Margaret Owens Hartman (1818-1992), a McClurg family descendant, assisted Rachel Misey and others with their research.

* Helen Bjorkman and Barbara Nelson are among individuals who have studied the family and posted information on the internet.  

        There is extensive research into the Ralston family. One of the key internet sites,, is a well-trafficked forum for posting and answering questions.


        This section is not an effort to report on all of the complex interrelations of the Ralston family.  Rather, it focuses on the portion of the Ralston family that relates most closely to Jennie McClurgThe sections below follow what is believed to be the line of descent from Gavin Ralston in Scotland to Martha Ann Ralston McClurg in Beaver County.

Gavin Ralston (b. 1687)

        Researchers on several websites believe that the basic ancestor in this line was Gavin Ralston, who was born in Campbeltown, Argyll, Scotland, about 1687.  Historical records used varying spellings of the family name, including Ralston, Ralstoun and Ralstone.  At least one researcher believes that Gavin's ancestors can be traced back further. Although with only sketchy information, it has been suggested that the family line is the one below. Each person on the list is thought to be an offspring of the previous one :

John Ralstoun, born about 1450 in Renfrewshire, Scotland.
Thomas Ralston, born about 1475 in Ayreshire, Scotland
Hew Ralston, born about 1500, in Ayreshire, Scotland
Hew Ralston, born about 1531 in Woodsyde, Beith, Scotland
Gavin Ralston, born about 1552, in Ayershire, Scotland
John Ralston, born about 1580 in Ayershire, Scotland
David Ralston, born about 1620 in Beith, Ayreshire, Scotland
William Ralston, born about 1650, who married Elspeth Adams, born about 1652
Gavin Ralston,  born about 1687

        Gavin Ralston, son of William and Elspeth Adams Ralston, according to this research, was born about 1687 in Scotland. About 1712, he married Marrion Anderson, who had been born on June 26, 1691, also in Scotland.  Family researcher Barbara Nelson has posted a web page on Gavin and his children. 

        It appears from various research efforts that Gavin and Marrion had nine children, and that most of them were born and remained in Scotland.  Their son William Ralston, who went to America, is the most significant one in this chain of descendants.

William Ralston (1713?-1817?)

        According to one researcher, William Ralston was born on April 27, 1713, in Campbeltown, Scotland, apparently the first of the many children of Gavin and Marrion Ralston.  William married Isabela McNair, who also had been born in Scotland and reportedly was christened on December 18, 1727.  William moved to America – possibly the only one in this Ralston family to do so.  If all of his children were born in Scotland, the family must have moved to America after 1777 when their last child, Adam, was born.  William would have been 64 when he made the trip.

        It is believed that this is the “William Ralston from Scotland” who is listed as an early settler in the History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, Ohio, on page 433.  One descendant said a record showed him living in 1802 in Trumbull County, Ohio, which shares a border with Mercer County, Pennsylvania.  The settlement by William in that county led a significant number of Ralston descendants to reside there and in the bordering counties of western Pennsylvania. One of William’s sons, Nathaniel Ralston, appeared on the tax lists of Trumbull County from 1807 through 1810.

        One report said that William died about 1817 in Liberty Township, Trumbull County, but this is likely incorrect.  Comparing that date of death with his reported date of birth (1713) would lead to the conclusion that he was 104 when he died.  Another report said that he died about 1813, when he would have been 100.  It is believed that William and Isabela had nine children, all of them born in Scotland before their trip to America.  The information below has been attributed to family researcher Archie Dean Dungan. The first child in William's family, and most significant for this account, was Archibald Ralston.  William's children were:

Archibald Ralston (1753-1831)
Elizabeth Ralston (b. 1755)
Gavin Ralston (b.1758-bef. 1762)
John Ralston (1760-1850)
Gavin Ralston (b. 1762, twin)
Andrew Ralston (b. 1762, twin)
Lillias Ralston (chr. 1766)
Nathaniel Ralston (b.1769)
Adam Ralston (1777-1814)
        Some family researchers have confused the children of Archibald and John Ralston, who were children of William born seven years apart. Both Archibald and John have been the subject of extensive research.

John Ralston (1760-1886)

        John Ralston, the fourth child of William Ralston, was born on April 6, 1760, Campbeltown, Scotland, and died in 1823 in Hanover Township. He was buried in Kings Creek Cemetery, Beaver County. John married Rebecca and, according to one account, they had ten children:

Isabella Ralston (1803-1886), married William McKenzie (See more below)
William Ralston (1800-1867), married Sarah McKenzie
Elizabeth Ralston (1804-1882), married Colin McKenzie
Alexander Ralston (1808-1885), married Elizabeth
Jane Ralston Bredin (b. 1802)
Nancy Ralston (1813-1852)
Archibald Ralston (1810-1888), married Rebecca McMillan
Mary Ralston (1816-1883), married Charles Obney
David Ralston (b. 1807)
Nathaniel Ralston (b. 1815)

        These children included Isabella Ralston, who was born in November 1803 and died on May 15, 1886, in Beaver County. According to one genealogical study, reportedly done by Walter Murphy, Isabella married William McKenzie, who had been born on January 10, 1803, in Washington County PA and died on September 3, 1835. Both were buried in Hanover Pioneer Cemetery. (Special attention is given Isabella because other studies of the Ralston family have said she was the child of Archibald Ralston, the brother of John.)

       William McKenzie, Isabella's husband, was the son of Kenneth McKenzie and Jane Clark. One of their four known children was John Ralston McKenzie, who was born on November 22, 1827, in Hanover Township, Beaver County. He died on May 7, 1893. John married Elizabeth Strouss (1833-1916). According to family researcher Dave McKenzie, their seven children included David Strouss McKenzie, who married Martha Marie McClurg (1858-1952), creating another link between the Ralston and McClurg families.

Archibald Ralston (1753-1831)

        Archibald Ralston, the first child of William Ralston, is the most clearly identifiable ancestor of Martha Ann Ralston.  He was her grandfather.  Researchers agree that he was born in Scotland, probably Campbeltown.  He died in Washington County, Pennsylvania.  The date was March 9, 1831, according to his tombstone.  There is reported evidence that he was christened on September 16, 1753.  If the baptism was shortly after his birth, he would have been 78 when he died.  The tombstone said that Archibald was 71 when he died, which would indicate he was born in 1760. However, if the date of his christening is correct, the tombstone was in error.

        Archibald Ralston, born 1831Where Archibald actually lived is not clear.  The History of Trumbull and Mahoning Counties, Ohio, said on page 431 that an early settler in those counties was “Archie Ralston,” who emigrated from Virginia in 1802.  This appears to be either incorrect or a reference to a different Archibald Ralston, since Archibald appeared in the 1790, 1800 and 1810 census reports for Hanover Township, Washington County, and on the tax list for adjoining Hanover Township, Beaver County, in 1802.  He appeared in the census for Beaver County in 1830, just prior to his death.  His will was found in Hanover Township, Washington County (Will Book #4, page 576).

        The confusion about his county of residence is probably the fault of the realignment of political boundaries.  Records show that Beaver County was created on March 12, 1800, by taking parcels of land from Allegheny and Washington Counties.  Hanover Township had been created on March 11, 1786, in Washington County, and then in 1800 it was divided between Washington and Beaver Counties.  It is probable that Archibald Ralston remained living in the same place – “Hanover Township” -- but that census takers and others did not understand that new political boundaries had been drawn.  Whichever county was Archibald’s home, it is clear from census records that the Ralstons and McClurgs lived relatively close together in these two counties of western Pennsylvania.  

        Archibald's wife was named Anne, according to the tombstone in King's Creek Cemetery, Hanover Township, Beaver County.  The marker said that she died on March 10, 1832, at the age of 62, and therefore would have been born about 1770. One researcher said that her name was "Ann McCready" (or McCreary), and gave the same dates of birth and death, but that family name does not appear in other sources.  

Children of Archibald Ralston

        Several researchers have produced very different accounts of the children of Archibald Ralston. One report said that Archibald had nine children, and another said there were six.  In both lists, the key individual in the line of descent to Jennie McClurg McLaughlin was William Ralston.  See the genealogical chart for the family of Archibald Ralston. Seven children were named in his will. The will was dated November 16, 1830, and probated on March 25, 1831, just 16 days after he died.  Executors were his sons William and John.  Beneficiaries under the will were his wife (not named), three sons and four daughters. The children named were William Ralston, John Ralston, Nathaniel Ralston, Mary Ferguson, Jean Kerr, Betsey Robb and Sally Ralston.  Various sources give these additional details:

Mary Ralston was born in 1776 and married Samuel Ferguson in 1808 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.
Samuel had been born in 1778 in Ireland. Mary was named in Samuel’s will, which was proved in 1872 in Liberty Township, Trumbull County. He died on September 8, 1867. 
Nathaniel Ralston was born about 1794.
John Ralston was born about 1795 and died in 1851.
William Ralston was born in Pennsylvania in 1796, either on February 12 or June 7. See more below.
Elizabeth (Betsy) Ralston was born about 1797 in Pennsylvania.
Jean (Jane) Ralston Kerr  was born in Pennsylvania on May 17, 1797.  She was married to John Kerr, Jr.,
on December 1, 1814, in Liberty Township, Trumbull County, Ohio.  John had been born on October 3, 1793.  They are related to a long line of descendants with the name Kerr, Karr or Carr, many of them in Trumbull and Columbiana Counties, Ohio, as well as several counties of Michigan.
Sally Ralston is known only through the will. No other details are available.

     A puzzle is that Mary Ralston does not seem to fit the list of the children of Archibald, since her mother, Ann McCreary Ralston, was reported to be born about 1770, only six years before the birthdate of Mary as given here. On the other hand, Mary Ferguson is listed in Archibald's will as his child. Perhaps Archibald had two wives, one who was the mother of Mary and a second who was the mother of the other six children.   

     Another account, apparently assembled by Archie Dean Dungan, a descendant, claimed that Archibald and Ann Ralston had nine children.  The list is below. This account erroneously contended that Isabel was the daughter of Archibald but she was in fact the daughter of Archibald's brother John (see above). This list did not include Mary. Both lists included William Ralston, born in 1796. The other names on Archie's list are completely different. Perhaps this is a different family entirely. Other thoughts on this are welcome. Archie Dungan's list of the children of Archibald is as follows:

James Ralston was born May 13, 1794, and died March 7, 1795.
William Ralston was born in 1796. He died on September 8, 1867.
Robert Ralston was born on December 9, 1797.
John Ralston was born on February 26, 1801, and died on August 25, 1852.
Isabel Ralston was born on February 18, 1807, and died on May 15, 1886, in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.
 (Inclusion of Isabel in this list is an apparent error, since she was the child of John Ralston.)
Sarah Ralston was born on October 10, 1809.
Nathaniel Ralston was born on May 25, 1812.
Anne Ralston was born on February 2, 1815, and died on September 4, 1818.
Robert Ralston (a second Robert!) was born on August 29, 1818.


William Ralston (1796-1867)

        The next generation of Ralstons connecting to the McClurg family is headed by one of the sons of Archibald and Ann Ralston, William Ralston.  William was believed born in Hanover Township, Beaver County.  His age at his death on September 8, 1867, was reported to be 71 years, 5 months and 2 days, which would indicate that he was born in 1796.  (The census of August 1850 indicated he was a carpenter, 50 years old, born in 1799.  In 1860, the census said he was 64, or born about 1796.)  William and his wife were both buried in King’s Creek Cemetery in Hanover Township.

        William married Martha Brown McCatherine, who had been born on February 12, 1800.  Records assembled by Archie Dean Dungan said that she was born three days after her family arrived in America.  (She was identified in another study as “Catherine Brown McCatherine,” but this may be an error.) It was understood that she grew up in the family of James Edgar (1787-1875), who was living in Cross Creek Township, Washington County, at the time of the 1860 census.  According to her tombstone, she died on February 22, 1873, at the age of 73 years and 10 days.  

        In the 1850 census, William and Martha are shown living in Hanover Township of Washington County.  A portion of this township was broken off to form Hanover Township of Beaver County in 1800.  It is not clear whether Archibald or his descendants lived in the Washington or Beaver County section of Hanover Township. Census reports appear to have confused the two Hanover Townships. 

        It is believed that William and Martha Ralston had six children.

Children of William and Martha Ralston

        The family of William and Martha Ralston, as reported in the 1850 census, was as follows.  The ages and dates of birth in the census vary somewhat from information available elsewhere.

William Ralston, 51 (thus born about 1799), farmer, born in Pennsylvania,
with real property valued at $4,000
Martha Ralston, 52 (about 1798)
Milton Ralston, 23 (about 1827)
Archibald Ralston, 22 (about 1828)
Robert Ralston, 20 (about 1830)
Jane Ralston, 17 (about 1833)
Margaret Ralston, 14 (about 1836)
Martha Ralston, 11 (about 1839)

        The 1860 census added a child, James Ralston, 12, therefore born about 1848.  That census, for the area near Frankfort Springs, showed, on the same page as the Ralstons, two families that would intermarry with the Ralstons – the Reeds and the Dungans.  William Ralston’s son Archibald married Margaret Reed (see below), and their daughter, Margaret Jane Reed Ralston, would later marry Emmett Dungan, who was six years old in 1860 and living with his parents in a property close to the Ralstons.  

        Details on the children of William and Martha Ralston are as follows:

        1.  Milton Ralston was born about 1827, according to the 1850 census, probably early in the year since his brother Archibald was born in December of the same year.  Milton was listed in the 1850 census as a carpenter living in Hanover Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania.  The census indicated that his property immediately adjoined the property of his father.  Milton was the first of the family to leave home.  While Milton had a separate residence, his siblings were shown in the census (above) at home with their parents. The 1850 census showed Milton, 23, married to Mary Ralston, 21, with one child, Martha, age 1. Besides Martha, born about 1849, Milton had other children. As shown in the 1860 census, they included Louisa, born about 1850, Mary 1852, Elizabeth 1854, and Samuel 1859.  Later, Milton and Mary had Margaret (Maggie) 1862, Thomas 1864, Orlando 1867, and Clarence 1870. Researcher Natasha Beery reported that in the 1880 census, Milton and Mary Ralston were living in East Liverpool, Ohio, just across the river from their former home in Pennsylvania. At that time, Milton was still working as a carpenter. His children Samuel, Thomas and Orlando Ralston were working in the pottery business of that area, while Maggie was a seamstress and Clarence, age 10, was in school. In 1900 and 1910, Milton's son Orlando N. Ralston was still living in the East Liverpool area, according to the census for those years. (A man named Orlando F. Ralston, born about 1863 in Ohio, has been shown in Colorado Springs from about 1885 to 1905, but he is not the Orlando who was the son of Milton Ralston in this paragraph.)

        2.  Archibald Ralston was born on December 28, 1827, in Hanover Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania.  Because of the duplication of names, there has been confusion between him and his grandfather, also called Archibald Ralston

        Archibald the son married Margaret Jane Reed, who had been born on January 16, 1828, in Hanover Township.  Margaret died on March 4, 1869, when she was 41, and she was buried in King’s Creek Cemetery in Hanover Township.  It appears that Archibald remarried within the year, since his wife was named “Mary” in the 1870 and 1880 census. She was born about 1835, according to one census report, although another census indicated it was about 1829.  Archibald died, according to one researcher, on May 15, 1888, and also was buried at King’s Creek Cemetery. Archibald Ralston Grave

        The 1860 census showed that Archibald, 32, was living in Harshaville, Hanover Township, Beaver County, with Margaret, 31, and children William, 6, and Margaret Ralston, 3.  In the 1870 census, Archibald, 41, a blacksmith, was in the same place, with his new wife, Mary, 35, and children William B., 16, Margaret J., 13, and Sarah E., 3.  Also living with them was Archibald’s mother, “Martha B. [Brown] Ralston,” 70.  She died in 1873.  Martha’s husband, William Ralston, had died in 1867.
        The 1870 census provided an example of how members of the family remained close together.  In the property on one side of the residence of Archibald and his family that year was Archibald’s sister, Martha Ann Ralston, with her husband Cyrus McClurg and six of their children (listed in the section on the McClurg family). In the property on the other side was the Reed family, the parents of Archibald’s first wife, Margaret.  The household consisted of Adam Reed, 78, a farmer, his wife Susannah Beal Reed, 62, and David, 33, Hettie, 33, and three young children.  Adam Reed (1796-1888) and Susannah Reed (1806-1872) were both buried in King’s Creek Cemetery.  

        The 1880 census showed “Archy Ralston,” 52, a blacksmith, with his wife Mary, 48, and children William B., 25, Jennie, 22, Lizzie, 13, Eva M., 9, John A., 7, and Martha M. Ralston, 6.

        In total, it appears that Archibald Ralston had six children, three with his first wife, Margaret, and, after Margaret died in 1869, three with his second wife, Mary.  The children were these:

William Ralston, born in 1855
Margaret Jane Ralston, born in 1857 (see details below)
Sarah Elizabeth (Lizzie) Ralston, born in 1867, married Fred Dungan
Eva Ralston, born in 1871, married John Laughlin
John Anderson Ralston (1873-1933), married Estella Culley, a grandniece
of the Cyrus McClurg who married Archibald Ralston’s sister
Martha Ann Ralston (see below)
Martha Ralston, born in 1874

        Special attention should be given to one of these:

-- Margaret Jane (“Jennie”) Ralston, one of the children of Archibald and Margaret Ralston, was born on January 27, 1857, in Frankfort Springs, Beaver County.  She was shown in the census as age 3 in 1860 and age 13 in 1870.  Margaret (“Jennie”) was received into the membership of the King’s Creek United Presbyterian Church by profession of faith in October 1876.  She married Emmett Steven (or Stevens or Stephens) Dungan, who had been born on March 1, 1855, in Steubenville, Ohio.  (The name Emmett is used in several reports, including the census and the cemetery, although one researcher called him “Charles Dungan.”)  Emmett died in Frankfort Springs on April 12, 1909, as shown in the records of the Frankfort Springs Presbyterian Church (1964).  Margaret Ralston Dungan died on April 25, 1941, at age 84.  Both were buried in Mill Creek Hill Cemetery, Beaver County.

Jennie and Emmett had at least two children: Archibald Dean Duncan (see details below) and Charles Ray Dungan, who was born about 1888 and married Edna M.

-- Archibald Dean Dungan, a son of Jennie and Emmett Dungan, was born on August 29, 1885, at Frankfort Springs, and baptized as an infant in King’s Creek church in May 1886.  He married Myrtle (Lila) Crouse, who had been born on August 25, 1885.  She died on April 25, 1969, in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.  Archie died in East Cleveland, Ohio, on May 4, 1977.  Archie did extensive research into the Ralston family, and some of it is included in this report.  A family member said that his research had been presented to the Beaver County Historical Society, and that Archie was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR). Data on Archie and his parents was provided by Agnes Dungan Kreutzberg, a daughter of Archie, in her application for membership in the DAR in 1967.

        3. Robert Ralston was born about 1830.  His wife was Jane.

        4. Jane Ralston was born about 1833, as shown by the 1850 census.  She married Ulysses Grant Saunders (Sanders). It appears they had a son, born about 1871, who signed his name “U. G. Saunders” and was listed in the 1920 census as “Grant Saunders,” a musician.  One of the treasures of the McClurg family genealogy is a strange letter that Grant wrote on October 22, 1913, to Martha Ralston McClurg, the sister of Jane Ralston Saunders and the wife of Cyrus McClurg. 

        “My dear Aunt Martha,” he called her, writing from San Francisco.  He said he had been urged byJane Ralston Sanders a family member to agree to send her greetings on her birthday, which would have been her 75th, but he was writing (three days late) “to explain why I cannot enter into any such agreements.”  He said he knew that her kinsmen wished to bring a little sunshine into her dear life, but he objected to this manner of doing so.  The long, two-page letter apparently was not intended as a joke.  He said the past 20 years of his life had been:

. . . largely devoted to deep, study, research and practice of the Scriptures, and my experience has yielded me the understanding that Life does not being with the cradle and end with the grave. . . . I consider it a grave mistake to do anything that is liable to remind any person that they are growing old.  Rather would I have you forget all about your birthday and the years of your mortal existence. . . . You may not fully comprehend my statements, but when you come to see more with the eyes that God sees with, you will appreciate the value of the stand I am making.  

        He then, strangely, changed course and concluded by describing a band that he was playing with at the California Land Show and telling Martha of a new discovery by Luther Burbank, the horticulturalist.  

        5. Margaret Jane Ralston was born about 1836, as shown in the 1850 census.  Nothing else is known about her, although, because of her name, she has been confused with a Margaret Jane Ralston who was the daughter of her brother, Archibald (see above).  Nevertheless, she appeared in the 1850 census as a child, age 14, of William and Martha Ralston.

        6. Martha Ann Ralston was born on October 19, 1839, and died on January 21, 1916, at theMartha Ralston McClurg age of 76.  Martha and her sister Margaret were received into membership at King’s Creek United Presbyterian Church in October 1854, when Martha was 15.  Martha married Cyrus McClurg. They lived in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, near Hookstown, and had ten children.  After Cyrus died at age 44, Martha lived 33 more years.  In 1913, she was living in Murdocksville, about 15 miles north of Hookstown.  See more on Martha and Cyrus in the section on the McClurg family.  Also the genealogical chart for Cyrus and Martha Ann Ralston McClurg.

        7.  James Ralston is known only from the 1860 census, when he was 12 years old and living with William and Martha Ralston near Frankfort Springs.  From the age, it may be concluded he was born about 1848, nine years after his sister Martha. His mother, Martha, would have been 50 years old in the year of his birth, which is normally beyond childbearing age in that era.  James might have been a grandson, although none of the other children, above, was known to have a child named James.


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