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Rankin Family History Project

Samuel E. Rankin

02 December 1832 - 05 October 1914

Born on the Bayou     The Move To Missouri     Ellen Kline     The Civil War Years & Post-war Years     Alone     The Move to St. Louis     Children of Samuel and Ellen     Links     Contact us

Born on the Bayou

Samuel E. Rankin was born in Livingston Parish, Louisiana, probably on 02 December 1832. There are no records of his birth. His parents, Samuel Rankin and Elizabeth Richardson were married in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana in 1823. The family of Samuel Rankin appears only once in the St. Helena, Louisiana census in 1830. The southern part of St. Helena Parish became Livingston Parish in 1832 and one of his sisters was born there. In every census after 1850, Samuel E. Rankin gave his birthplace as Louisiana, and in two of the earlier censuses, his age points to his birth being in 1832-1833. His death certificate in 1914, while it knocked ten years off his age, gave his birthday as December 2nd.

Samuel E. Rankin was the youngest of four brothers. His older brothers were George Rankin, born in 1829 and Sanford Rankin, born in 1830. There is no record of the third brother after the 1830 census, so he probably died at an early age. It is assumed that Samuel, Sr. died around 1833, although no death record or will has been found. His name appears regularly in the court records of St. Helena Parish, with the last known document that he witnessed signed in April 1832. Samuel E. Rankin may have been named after his father or after his grandfather, Samuel Richardson.

Between September 1836 and April 1837, Samuel's mother Elizabeth Richardson Rankin married Thomas McCabe, an Irish immigrant with three sons: James, Michael and Bernard. Between them there were six sons and one daughter by 1840. Strangely, the census lists one female child but only three male children, and because this census lists only the head of household by name, there is no way of knowing which of the children are missing. Nonetheless, they would all be reunited in the 1850s.

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The Move to Missouri

Samuel E. Rankin's grandfather, Samuel Richardson, died in 1844. Shortly thereafter, his mother, stepfather, and siblings packed up their belongings and moved north. They probably travelled up the Mississippi by steamboat to Perry County, Missouri. They settled on a farm in Bois Brule township in time for the birth of Thomas McCabe, Jr.

In the 1850 census the family members in the McCabe household were Thomas and Elizabeth, daughters Mary Elizabeth, Martha Ellen and Minerva, and son Thomas McCabe. Samuel Rankin, age 17, is listed as a "laborer" and attending school. Thomas McCabe's sons Bernard and James McCabe are listed as "farmers". Samuel's brother Sanford is living in Perryville and working as an apprentice blacksmith for Adam Fath. George Rankin had purchased property from Thomas McCabe before the move, and he was still living in Louisiana. The whereabouts of Michael McCabe in 1850 is unknown. Both George and Michael would appear in Missouri before the next census was taken.

In 1854, Thomas McCabe purchased land in Perry County. Later he moved to Ste. Genevieve County just over the Perry County line. Samuel was probably still living with his mother and step-father and working on the farm until his marriage. His name appears in the 1856 ledger of B. S. Pratte & Co., Ste. Genevieve County, pg. 94. He owed $10.55 which the ledger indicates was "Paid". In the same ledger are records for Samuel's step-brothers, James and Bernard "Barney" McCabe.

05 May 1857, Samuel Rankin and his sister Mary Elizabeth McCabe stood as godparents for their nephew, Robert Allen. He was the first child born to Samuel's brother George and his wife Mary Elizabeth Dean. It was also Samuel Rankin's first appearance in the parish records of the Catholic church. It appears that Thomas McCabe was a Catholic while his wife, Elizabeth, was probably Baptist. It wasn't until after the move to Missouri that all the younger McCabe children were baptized into the Catholic church. There are no church records showing a baptism of either Samuel or George, but they joined the church as well when they married. Their brother Sanford was the only one of the clan that did not.

Many of the social functions in the rural community were centered around religious activities; baptisms, wedding, funerals. It could have been at one of these functions that Samuel Rankin met his future wife, Ellen Kline.

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Ellen Kline

"Samuel Rankin and Ellen Kline marriage recorded. Witnesses were Joseph M. Moore and Mary Dean. Fr. James McAtee."

Source: Marriages, St. Mary's Church of the Assumption, Perryville, Mo., 1822-1856

02 May 1859 this entry was recorded in the St. Mary's Church of the Assumption record book. Mary Dean was the wife of Samuel's brother George. Joseph M. Moore may have been a friend. Samuel was 26 years old; Ellen had just turned 15. She had already experienced tragedy in her young life. Ellen and her five siblings were orphaned in 1852 when both their parents died within 3 weeks of each other. Since that time, the children had been under the guardianship of relatives. Perhaps the care of so many children was a burden. It is easy to imagine that Ellen was encouraged to marry. At 15 she was not only a young bride, but she assumed the responsibility of raising her 12 year old sister, Marcella.

Family of Ellen Kline

William KLINE, born 1819 in Greenwich Township, Berks County, Pennsylvania; died December 10, 1852 in Perry County, Missouri. He was the son of Adam Joseph KLINE and Elizabeth LAUB. He married Mary Venecia MASSEY June 20, 1837 in Perry County, Missouri. She was the daughter of Joseph A. MASSEY and Sarah PRESTON.

Children of William KLINE and Mary-Venecia MASSEY are:

i. Joseph A. Kline, born March 30, 1838 in Perry County, Missouri; died February 15, 1865 in Perry County, Missouri; married Susannah Tucker, May 02, 1859, the same day as Samuel and Ellen. Susannah was the daughter of Gregory Tucker and Henrietta Chiles. They were the parents of three sons. After the death of Joseph Kline, Susannah married Joseph Parres.

ii. Mary Elizabeth Kline, born 1840 in Perry County, Missouri; died July 13, 1872 in Perry County, Missouri.

iii. James Percy Kline, born August 25, 1842 in Perry County, Missouri; died March 11, 1916 in Lithium Village, Saline Township, Perry County, Missouri; married (1) Catharine Tucker, April 17, 1860 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri; she was the daughter of Peter J. Tucker and Mary A. Stewart. James Percy and Catherine were the parents of four children. After Catherine's death, James married (2) Malinda Emma Drury, June 06, 1875 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri; she was the daughter of William Drury and Margaret Phillips. James Percy and Emma were the parents of four children.

iv. Ellen M. KLINE, born Abt. April 1844 in Perry County, Missouri; died 11 March, 1882 in Perry County, Missouri; married Samuel E. RANKIN, May 02, 1859 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri.

v. Marcella Angeline Kline, born January 17, 1847 in Perry County, Missouri; died July 29, 1896; married Charles Louis Tucker, November 26, 1865 in Ste. Genevieve, Missouri; he was the son of Peter J. Tucker and Mary A. Stewart. Marcella and Charles were the parents of ten children.

vi. William J. Kline, born 1852 in Perry County, Missouri.

By 1860, Samuel and Ellen had their first child, a daughter they named Martha, probably after Samuel's sister Martha Ellen McCabe. The godparents were Ellen's brother Joseph and his wife Susannah Tucker, who'd been married on the same day as Samuel and Ellen. Sadly this first child died at the age of 6 months. By that time, Ellen was already expecting her second child.

A daughter, Louise, was born in 1861. Another, Mary Ann, born in 1862, died at 24 days. A fourth daughter, born in 1863 was christened Eleanor Roxana, but was called "Hellena". Her godparents were Peter Dean, father-in-law of George Rankin, and Marcella Kline, the sister Ellen had raised.

Samuel was discharged from service in the Civil War in April 1865, and the following October Ellen gave birth to their first son, christened Sylvester Sanford. He was named for Sanford Rankin, who had died from a gunshot wound in 1863. Vincent Elias, born in 1867, died at the age of 2 months. William Alfred was born in 1870.

By the time the Missouri State Census was taken in 1876, the family had grown to include sons Samuel Edward and Jesse. 03 Mar 1878 an item appeared in the Weekly Perryville Union, and in the 19th century, typically, when your name appeared in the newspaper, the news was not good.

"An Accident -- While Samuel Rankin, residing a few miles northwest of Perryville, was engaged in chopping wood, his little son came up behind him and was struck with the edge of the axe on the joint of one of his elbows, cutting it about half off. It may have to be amputated."

The "young son" was not identified; it may have been Jesse, age 4. Shortly thereafter, came sons, Joseph, who died as an infant in 1877, Norman James in 1878, and John Gilfred in 1880.

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The Civil War & Post-War Years

Civil War Flags

The war between the states began in 1861, but it wasn't until 1864 that Samuel Rankin began his military service. No records could be found which would show where he served, but in the 1890 special census he indicated that he'd attained the rank of sergeant during his tour of duty. He was probably a member of the Enrolled Missouri Militia, as was his brother Sanford and many other Perry County citizens.

Samuel Rankin was listed as a farmer in each of the censuses after 1850, always on rented farmland. From the agricultural census of 1850 and 1860 we know that the typical Rankin/McCabe farm consisted of a couple of horses, a few dairy cows, oxen, pigs, and probably chickens. They made and sold butter and in the fields grew wheat, indian corn, oats, Irish potatoes, peas and beans. We know from an article that appeared in the Weekly Perryville Union in May 1874 that he raised sheep and probably sold the wool.

Farm life in Perry County in the 1870s meant long days and hard work. There was some time for recreation once the plowing, milking and washing was done. Men enjoyed hunting and fishing; women met for quilting parties. Occasionally neighbors would gather for a barn-raising. All these activities, along with being fun, had utilitarian purposes. The happiest celebrations were probably weddings, the one event when all thoughts of work could be abandoned for awhile. The wedding of Ellen's brother, James, and the celebration that followed, was such an event.

"MARRIED, on Sunday, June 6, 1875 at St. Mary's Seminary, by Rev. M. Rubi, Mr. James Klein to Miss Emma Drury. An infair was given at the residence of Mr. Samuel Rankin, seven miles northwest of Perryville, on Monday, and Mr. Samuel Meranda, who was an invited guest, tells us that there were at least two hundred persons present, all of whom partook of a splendid dinner. They enjoyed themselves hugely, and the best of good feeling prevailed, and when the party terminated the paricipants returned to their homes feeling better for having been at the infair."

11 Jun 1875, Weekly Perryville Union

A rather humorous incident occurred the summer of 1879. Samuel Rankin was called upon to serve on the Grand Jury, specifically to bring an indictment for assault with intent to kill against one "W. W. Shrewbury". The jury brought in the indictment, and Shrewsbury was convicted the following day. The judge ordered him to spend one hour in the county jail and pay the court costs. Apparently the gentleman, upon completion of his sentence, left town. One week later, the newspaper reported that "Dr. W. W. Shrewsbury, who was confined in our county jail a short time since, is wanted at Fredericktown, where he stole a horse". A hoax was discovered three weeks later when it was reported that "W. W. Shrewsbury" was actually the name of a respectable doctor in Reynolds county who was quite upset over the imposter who was causing trouble in his name.

In May 1880, Samuel became the guardian of the minor children of William Simon Riney and his 2nd wife, Mariah Smith. William's first wife had been Martha Ellen McCabe who died in 1863. William Simon died in 1876 and Mariah died two years later. The children were Lawrence Valentine, William, and Sarah A. Riney. It may have been Ellen who encouraged Samuel to take on the responsibility, remembering her own childhood as an orphan.

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"Died on Saturday morning March 11 at her residence, Mrs. Ellen Rankins, aged about 40 years, wife of Samuel Rankins."

In 1882, Ellen Kline Rankin died and this brief death notice appeared in the local newspaper. She was just 37 years old and for 22 of those years had been married to Samuel. In her short life she had given birth to at least thirteen children and had buried five of them.

Her two oldest daughters were married and starting families of their own. Norman, was barely 4 years old, and little John was just 18 months. Samuel, now 50, never remarried. He hired a nurse to assist in the care of the younger children. Six months after Ellen's death, her youngest son, John, died accidentally. A tragic item in the Perry County Sun tells the story.

"08 Sep 1882 - Fatal Accident - Last Monday morning a little two year old child of Samuel Rankin when the nurse gave the child a dose of what she thought to be syrup, but which proved to be carbolic acid."

How this accident happened is a mystery. In the 1880s, carbolic acid was used as a disinfectant for wounds, to relieve itching caused by small pox, and as a pesticide. The young victim would have suffered terribly painful burns before death relieved him of his misery.

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The Move to St. Louis

Sometime after 1890, Samuel, now in his 60's, retired from farming. In 1901, his daughter Hellena became a widow with seven young children to raise. She was in much the same predicament as he was when Ellen died. Samuel moved in with Hellena and her children and lived there the remainder of his life.

It was the beginning of the industrial age, and many people were leaving their life on the farms and looking for prosperity in the cities. In 1904, the Louisiana Purchase Exposition opened in St. Louis celebrating the one hundred years since Thomas Jefferson had acquired the Louisiana Territory from France. This major event made St. Louis the place to be.

Samuel and Hellena and the grandchildren were among the thousands that made the move to St. Louis at this time. Living near them were his sons, Sanford, Samuel Edward and Norman James, and their families.

Samuel E. Rankin
Samuel E. Rankin

05 Oct 1914, Samuel Rankin passed away at the age of 81. Samuel and Ellen are buried together in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Perryville. Near their stone are the markers of their daughter Hellena, her husband Charles Graff, and their grandson, Byron Graff and his wife, Lunetta Bierk.

Ellen Kline Rankin
Ellen Kline Rankin
Click on the pictures to see a larger view.

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Children of Samuel and Ellen Kline Rankin

Samuel E. RANKIN, born December 02, 1832 in Livingston Parish, Louisiana; died October 05, 1914 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri. He was the son of Samuel RANKIN and Elizabeth RICHARDSON. He married Ellen M. KLINE May 02, 1859 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri. She was the daughter of William KLINE and Mary Venecia MASSEY. Samuel and Ellen are buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Perryville, Missouri.

Children of Samuel RANKIN and Ellen KLINE are:

i. Martha Rankin, born January 24, 1860 in Perry County, Missouri; died July 30, 1860 in Perry County, Missouri.

ii. Louise Rankin, born June 25, 1861 in Perry County, Missouri; died in 1931 in California; married (1) Ezekiel Cissell Abt. 1878 in Perry County, Missouri and they were the parents of nine children; after Ezekiel's death in 1893, she married (2) William Charles Zahner, Abt. 1895, and they were the parents of three children. The Zahners and their children moved to San Mateo County, California. Louise and her husband are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Colma, California.

iii. Mary Ann Rankin, born November 27, 1862 in Perry County, Missouri; died December 21, 1862 in Perry County, Missouri.

iv. Eleanor Roxana "Hellena" Rankin, born December 25, 1863 in Perry County, Missouri; died May 24, 1933, in Perry County, Missouri; married (1) Charles S. Graff, Abt. 1882. They were the parents of nine children. Charles died in 1901, and Hellena moved to St. Louis to raise her family. Her father lived with her until his death in 1914. On Christmas day, 1924, she married her brother-in-law (2) John Christian Graff, who had lost his second wife the previous year, and returned to live in Perry County. She is buried with her first husband in Mt. Hope Cemetery, Perryville, Missouri, and near her parents Ellen and Samuel.

v. Sanford Sylvester RANKIN, born October 07, 1865 in Perry County, Missouri; died March 14, 1934 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri; married (1) Mary Louisa "Liza" May, January 03, 1886 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri; she died in 1889; they had one daughter. He married (2) Margaret "Maggie" Erwin, November 28, 1892 in Perry County, Missouri; she died in 1894; they had one daughter. Prior to his third marriage, he joined the army and served in Cuba during the Spanish American War. He married (3) Effie DANIEL, September 19, 1904 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri; they had two sons and one daughter. Sanford and Effie, who died in 1956, are buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, St. Louis, Missouri.

vi. Vincent Elias Rankin, born November 25, 1867 in Perry County, Missouri; died January 11, 1868 in Perry County, Missouri.

vii. William Alfred Rankin, born March 06, 1869 in Perry County, Missouri; died March 26, 1910; married Cora Margaret Moore, December 29, 1890 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri. They were the parents of six children.

viii. Samuel Edward Rankin, born 1870 in Perry County, Missouri; died August 03, 1943 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri; married Annie Moore, November 12, 1895 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri. They were the parents of nine children.

ix. Henrietta Rankin, born September 26, 1872 in Perry County, Missouri.

x. Jesse Rankin, born December 29, 1873 in St. Mary's Landing, Perry County, Missouri.

xi. Joseph Rankin, born Abt. 1877 in Perry County, Missouri; died February 18, 1878.

xii. Norman James Rankin, born September 17, 1878 in Perry County, Missouri; died September 12, 1959; married (1) Mary Elena McDowell, February 06, 1899 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri; they were the parents of ten children; he married (2) Zenia Langdale Hudson, Aft. 1920.

xiii. John Gilfred Rankin, born November 17, 1880 in Perry County, Missouri; died September 4, 1882.

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Rankin Family Links

The Rankin Cissell Picnic, ca. 1920     Rankin Surname
Generation 1:  Samuel Rankin     Generation 2:  George Rankin     Generation 2:  Sanford Rankin     Generation 3:  Sanford Sylvester Rankin     Generation 3:  Sanford Felix Rankin

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THANKS to Patricia Bishop Obrist, Lois Cissell and Maureen Janson for contributing information on the KLINE, CISSELL and RANKIN families.

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