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Rankin Family History Project

Sanford Rankin

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Louisiana Roots

Sanford Rankin was born in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana in 1830.   He was the middle son of Samuel Rankin and Elizabeth Richardson.   It is assumed that he is one of the two males in the 1830 census under the age of 5 living in the household of Samuel Rankin.  

Samuel Rankin probably died about 1835.   Sanford was about seven years old when his mother Elizabeth married Thomas McCabe, a recently arrived Irish immigrant.   His new stepfather had three sons who had travelled with him from Ireland.   This newly blended family of six boys welcomed the arrival of a little sister, Mary Elizabeth McCabe in 1838.  

The 1840 Louisiana census for Livingston Parish, created in 1832 from the southern part of St. Helena Parish, lists Thomas McCabe as the head of household living very close to Elizabeth's father, Samuel Richardson.   Along with one female his age (assumed to be Elizabeth)and one infant female, there are just three males under the age of 14 listed.   It's possible the census taker made an error, or it could be that some of the children were living with other relatives.  

By 1843, two more sisters joined the family: Martha Ellen and Minerva McCabe.   Between 1843 and 1848, the McCabe family pulled up stakes and moved to Perry County, Missouri.   The last of Thomas and Elizabeth McCabe's children, Thomas Jr., was born there in 1849.

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The Blacksmith

The first record found that mentions Sanford Rankin by name is the 1850 census.   The McCabe family was living on a farm in Bois Brule township.   Sanford, age 20, had gone to Perryville and was working as an apprentice blacksmith in the employ of German immigrant Adam Fath.   He was the only member of the McCabe household to pursue a career outside of farming.   By 1860 Sanford was operating a blacksmithy of his own in Saline township.  


He was also the only one of the children who did not join the Catholic Church.   The younger McCabe children were all baptized in 1852.   Afterwards their names and the names of Sanford's brothers, Samuel and George Rankin appear in St. Mary's Church records.   There might appear to be no connection at all between Sanford and the other Rankins in Perry County but for two important clues.   He was born in Louisiana, and he named his children after other Rankin family members.  

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Married with Children

Around 1854, Sanford Rankin married a 20 year old woman known to us only as Mary.   By 1860 they had three children.   The first was a daughter named Elizabeth born in 1855.  

One of the more common practices in the 19th century was the naming of the first son and daughter after their grandparents.   The next son and daughter were frequently named after the parents.   Elizabeth was a popular name for girls of that era. It was also the name of Sanford's mother, Elizabeth Richardson.   A second child, born in 1857 was named Samuel E. Rankin.   That name was probably selected to honor both Sanford's father and his brother.   Samuel E. Rankin, the brother, returned the complement in 1865 when he named his first son Sanford.   The third child, born in 1859 was named Sanford Felix Rankin.  

In the 1860 census, Sanford Rankin, his wife Mary and their three children are living in Saline township in the northern part of Perry County.   Sanford's occupation is listed as blacksmith working in competition with his former employer Adam Fath who still operates a blacksmithy in Perryville.   Sanford is apparently doing quite well financially.   His net worth is listed as $3000, more than triple that of his brothers George and Samuel.  

He was doing so well that he was able to purchase land in Ste. Genevieve County.   Two deeds dated 23 September 1861 are recorded Ste. Genevieve County, Book R.   A total of 54 acres was purchased from Ransom Jones.  

Sanford and Mary Rankin's neighbors are of interest.   Just 13 houses away lived the family of Joshua and Mary Anne Hudson.   Their son, 9 year-old George Washington Hudson, married the 5 year-old Elizabeth Rankin a few years later.   Living in the household of Joshua Hudson was Clinton Erwin, and right next door lived James Jasper Erwin and his bride Rhoda Brown.   Jasper and Rhoda Erwin had only recently married and did not have children yet.   Thirty-two years later, their daughter Maggie married Sanford Rankin's nephew and namesake, Sanford S. Rankin.  

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The Civil War Years

By this time, the Civil War had begun and would last another four years.   Among the Perry County citizens who joined in the fight to save the Union were Samuel Rankin and step-brother Michael McCabe.   Sanford Rankin was a member of the Enrolled Missouri Militia.   The source of this information did not come from the usual sources of military records or the 1890 special census, but from a bizarre item that appeared in the Weekly Perryville Union newspaper in March 1863.  

"MAN SHOT - On last Tuesday, Mr. Sanford Rankin, residing on Saline creek in this county, a member of Captain Adair's company E.M.M., as we learn, was arrested for absence from the company, the said company now being on duty at Ironton, and after proceeding a short distance with the escort, (one soldier and guide) he made an attempt to escape and was shot in the hip.  A dangerous wound was inflicted, although it is thought not mortal."  

Obviously there is more to this story.   He must have had a very good reason for leaving his company when he did.   Perhaps he felt he needed to be on hand for the birth of a child; son Charles was born in 1863.   Or maybe there was some other trouble at home, possibly an illness suffered by his wife or one of the children.  

Recently discovered information has added a sad ending to this story.   The assessment of the seriousness of the gunshot wound as reported by Union was wrong.   Within a week, Sanford Rankin was dead, and his property seized by the county.   The following month, a notice appeared in the Union regarding the settlement of his estate.   The property was finally sold by the Sheriff at public auction to the highest bidder on 23 June 1865.  

When Samuel Rankin's first son was born in 1865, he did not follow the convention of naming the baby after a grandparent, but named him Sanford after his brother.   No record of Mary's death has been found, but she probably died about 1875, when the minor children became the wards of the court.   The place of burial for Sanford and Mary Rankin is unknown.  

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Children of Sanford and Mary Rankin

Sanford's family was not found in the 1870 census for Perry or Ste. Genevieve Counties, although by examining a series of seemingly unrelated facts, we know they were still in the area.   In 1876, the Missouri State census for Perry County lists a 13 year-old Charles W. Rankin living with the family of George Washington Hudson and his wife Elizabeth.  

It was quite common for minor children of deceased parents to be taken in by older siblings.   The suspicion that Elizabeth Hudson might be the sister of Charles Rankin is bourne out by some additional information.   Elizabeth's age is given as 21, which is consistent with the 1860 census, where Sanford Rankin's daughter Elizabeth is said to be 5 years old.   In 1875, George Washington Hudson was named as curator for Sanford's sons, Sanford F., George A., and Charles A. Rankin, and he became the guardian of Samuel E. Rankin in 1880.   And in 1887, Sanford Felix Rankin named one of his sons George Washington Rankin.  

Sanford Rankin, born 1830 in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana; died in March 1863 in Perry County, Missouri   He was the son of Samuel RANKIN and Elizabeth RICHARDSON.   Children of Sanford and Mary Rankin are:

  1. Elizabeth E. Rankin, born 1855 in Perry County, Missouri; married George Washington Hudson Abt. 1872. They were the parents of at least six children; the names of just three daughters are known: Rhoda, Mary E. and Rosella Hudson.

  2. Samuel E. Rankin, born 1857 in Missouri.
  3. Sanford Felix Rankin, born 1859 in Perry County, Missouri; married Mary-Marcellina Watkins 1882.
  4. George A. Rankin, born Abt. 1861.
  5. Charles W. Rankin, born 1863.

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Links to other Sanford Rankin Pages

Man Shot 13 Mar 1863
Adminstrator's Notice 08 Apr 1863
Administrator's Sale of Real Estate 23 Jun 1865
Sanford Felix Rankin

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