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Rankin Family History Project

Sanford Sylvester Rankin

Early Life
Mary Louisa May
Maggie Erwin
You're in the Army Now
Effie Daniel
Children of Sanford Sylvester Rankin
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Early Life

The first record of Sanford S. Rankin is his baptism at the Catholic church in Perryville, Missouri.   The christening was a family affair.   Sanford had been born just a few weeks after his cousin, Mary Rosana McCabe.   The two baptism records follow one another in the parish register.  

"Baptized on 12 Nov 1865, Sylvester Sanford Rankin, born 07 Oct 1865, son of Samuel Rankin and Ellen Kline.   Sponsors:  Francis M. Moore and Susanna Kline.   Priest:  G.V. Moore, C.M."
The sponsors for Sanford were his aunt, Susannah Tucker Kline, widow of his mother's brother Joseph.   Francis Moore may have been a family friend.  

"Baptized on 12 Nov 1865, Mary R., born 18 Sep 1865, daughter of Bernard McCabe and Mary A. Smith.   Sponsors:  Thomas McCabe and Sarah McCabe.   Priest:  J. V. Brennan, C.M."
Sarah Ann Smith McCabe was the wife of Bernard McCabe's brother James.   Thomas McCabe could have been either Bernard's father or his 15 year old brother.   (It's also possible that it was an error and the sponsor was really Sarah Ann's husband James.)

Source:   St. Mary's Church of the Assumption baptism records, 1857-1920, pg. 161   (Translated from Latin)

Sanford was the fourth child and first son born to Samuel and Ellen Kline Rankin.   He was named for his father's brother, Sanford, who had been shot and killed the year before.   In the 1870, 1876 and 1880 censuses he is listed with his parents and siblings.

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Mary Louisa May

At the age of 20, Sanford married Mary Louisa May, born 29 October 1864.

"January 3, 1886 I this day have united in holy matrimony Sanford Sebastian Rankin son of Sanford Rankin and Ellen Klein, and Mary Louisa May, daughter of John May and Emma Riney, the witnesses were Vincent Miles and Mary A. Brewer.   (sig) D. D. Leyden, C.M."
Source:  St. Mary's Church of the Assumption marriage records, 1857-1920, pg. 4  (Translated from Latin)


There are a couple of errors in this record.   Sanford "Sebastian" Rankin was baptized "Sylvester" Sanford Rankin.   His parents were "Samuel" Rankin and Ellen "Kline".   Numerous published genealogies have picked up this error and have listed him as "Sanford Sebastian".

Mary Louisa "Liza" May was the great-granddaughter of Patrick May from County Down, Ireland.  Her grandfather, James B. May, had married Mariah Moore whose ancestry can reportedly be traced back to St. Thomas More.  Her father John May married Emily Riney.  The Rineys had ties with the Kline family.  Emily's father, Evarestus Riney, had been married to Sanford's great-aunt, Ellen Kline.  Their son, William Simon Riney married Sanford's aunt Martha Ellen McCabe.


Ancestors of Liza May

John May, born December 27, 1830 in Perry County, Missouri; died January 27, 1879 in Perry County, Missouri.   He was the son of James B. May and Mariah Moore.   He married Emily Filomena Riney November 21, 1853 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri.   She was the daughter of Evarestus Riney and Nancy/Ann Hagan.

Children of John May and Emily Riney are:

  1. William Lawrence May, born September 02, 1854 in Perry County, Missouri; died October 14, 1936 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri; married (1) Ambrosia Tucker October 29, 1877 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri; married (2) Theresa Ellen Klump December 18, 1904 in Sedalia, Missouri.
  2. Mariah Ann May, born March 01, 1857; married Thomas Albert Layton August 24, 1879 in Perryville, Missouri.
  3. John Evarestus May, born March 18, 1859 in Perry County, Missouri; died December 18, 1931 in St. Louis, Missouri; married (1) Emily Jane Cissell February 09, 1880 in Perryville, Missouri; married (2) Mary-Anne Miles October 09, 1882 in Perryville, Missouri.
  4. Felix Thomas May, born February 25, 1862 in Perry County, Missouri; died July 26, 1887 in Perry County, Missouri; married Mary-Elizabeth Lalumandiere April 06, 1885 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri.
  5. Mary-Louisa "Liza" May, born October 29, 1864 in Perry County, Missouri; died March 22, 1889 in Perry County, Missouri; married Sanford Sylvester RANKIN January 03, 1886 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri.
  6. Francis Patrick May, born March 17, 1869 in Perry County, Missouri; died June 15, 1954 in St. Louis, Missouri; married Mary Jenny Taylor.
  7. James Henry May, born April 07, 1872 in Perry County, Missouri; died June 25, 1872 in Perry county, Missouri.
  8. Emmet Arthur May, born February 20, 1874 in Perry County, Missouri.


Sanford and Liza May Rankin's daughter Mary Ida Rankin was born 09 October 1887. One month later, the family celebrated the baptism of Mary Ida at St. Mary's Church of the Assumption in Perryville.  

Whatever happiness the young family had was short-lived.  Mary Ida was about a year and a half when she lost her mother.  Liza had been sick for over two weeks with typhoid and malarial fever.  

"Mary Louise Rankin, female, white, age 24 years, 4 months, 22 days.
Occupation:  housewife
Died 22 Mar 1889 at 7am
Married, American citizen, living in Perry County, Missouri
Death was due to Typhoid, Malarial fever; duration of illness 16 days
Burial at St. Mary's Seminary, 22 Mar 1889
Undertaker Jno. C. McBride, Perryville, Missouri
Robt. C. Waters, M. D."
Source:  Missouri, Perry County, Permanent Record of Deaths

According to the obituary in the Perry County Sun, Mary Louisa May Rankin was buried at St. Mary's or Mt. Hope Cemetery, Perryville, Missouri.  No stone for her has been located.

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Maggie Erwin

After the death of his wife, Liza May Rankin, Sanford was left with toddler Mary Ida to raise.   Whether he raised her himself or had help is not known.   It was three years before he was ready to marry again.   In 1893, he married Maggie Erwin.   Maggie was the daughter of James Jasper Erwin from Alabama and his wife Rhoda Brown of Perry County.   Her uncle, Robert Varner Brown, was a Judge in Perry County.  


Ancestors of Maggie Erwin

James Jasper Erwin, born 1836 in Alabama.  He was the son of James Francis and Rosanna Erwin.  He married Rhoda Brown abt. 1866.  She was the daughter of James Scott Brown and Mary Varner, and sister of Judge Robert Varner Brown.  
Children of James Jasper Erwin and Rhoda Brown are:

  1. Annie Erwin , born 1867 in Missouri.
  2. Margaret "Maggie" Erwin , born 1870 in Perry County, Missouri; died 1893 in Perry County, Missouri; married Sanford Sylvester RANKIN November 28, 1892.
  3. James Erwin , born 1872 in Missouri.
  4. George Erwin , born March 26, 1874 in Missouri.
  5. Nellie Erwin , born 1876 in Missouri.


Sadly Maggie Erwin died shortly after their marriage and Sanford was a widower once again.   Seven-year-old Mary Ida went to live with cousin Emerson Gorman and his family.  

Sanford joined the Army.

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You're in the Army Now

07 Nov 1894  Sanford Sylvester Rankinís military enlistment began at Jefferson Barracks.   He apparently suffered from a series of illnesses during his military service.   In a document filed in 1901, he is described as being 5 feet 5 1/2 inches in height, with light brown hair and blue eyes.  

25 Jan 1895, according to his military medical record in a document written in April 1902, he suffered a severe sprain in the thumb of his right hand from an accidental fall.   He was in the hospital until 01 Feb 1895.  

19 Sep 1895 thru 15 Nov 1895 he was hospitalized for the first time with a bout of malarial fever.   Malarial fever would be a recurring illness the rest of his life.   From 31 Dec 1896 thru 07 Jan 1897 he was hospitalized with influenza.  

26 Sep 1897 he was discharged at Fort McPherson, Georgia, his service having expired.   24 Dec 1897 he re-enlisted at St. Louis, Missouri was assigned to Company A, 20th U. S. Infantry.   He joined the Company on 29 Dec 1897.  

07 May 1898 he was appointed corporal.   The War with Spain had begun and Sanford was sent to Cuba.  

A Not-so "Splendid Little War"

Cuba had a grim reputation as a breeding ground of malaria and yellow fever and the American military strategists wondered whether soldiers sent there would live long enough to fight.   April was the beginning of the rainy season which would last through September, and during this time the roads became impassable.   It was believed that if the troops ate the right foods, camped on high ground and kept themselves clean, they would remain healthy.   It was widely accepted among scientists that the tropical diseases were filth-born, and no one yet suspected the mosquito.  

By July, the army was approaching the limits of physical endurance.   A shortage of manpower required the soldiers to remain on constant duty in the trenches.   Rations were inadequate, and the men were suffering through alternate periods of scorching sun and drenching rain.   Some men went temporarily insane from the heat.   The generals reported that their troops could not march as their feet were swollen by hours in the flooded trenches, and dysentary, malaria and yellow fever were taking their toll.  

12 July 1898, Sanford Rankin had an attack of fever causing affection of the stomach and eyes, and deafness.   He also contracted rheumatism caused by exposure while serving in Santiago.   He was treated in the Army hospital there.  

Camp hospitals were plagued by shortages of equipment and trained personnel.   Many volunteers recruited to work in the hospitals knew little about medicine and even less about Army procedures.   Their neglect of sanitary procedures helped spread typhoid throughout the camps.   It was at this time that the first female nurses were employed to work in the hospitals.   Their devoted and capable service won over conservative Army surgeons who had opposed their intrusion into the all-male military.  

Malaria rarely killed the soldiers who contracted it, but it left them weak, emaciated, hollow-eyed and unable to digest their food.   It often was accompanied by dysentery.   Most of the sick never reached the hospitals, but stumbled through their daily duties until they collapsed and had to be carried away on stretchers.   Fear in the United States that returning soldiers would bring the diseases with them forced the sick to remain in Cuba until they had fully recovered.   By 27 July over 4,000 troops were in hospitals and the death rate reached 15 per day.   The customary rifle volleys and bugle calls at burials were suspended so as not to undermine the morale of the remaining troops.  

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By 03 August, 75% of the Fifth Corps, commanded by General Shafter, had contracted malaria and were described as an "army of convalescents".   It was imperitive that the Army return to the US before the troops in their weakened condition succumbed to an epidemic of yellow fever.   Shiploads of soldiers began leaving Santiago on 07 August.   The severely ill and those with yellow fever were left behind, believing they were being left to die.   Most of them, though, returned home by the end of the month.   The so-called "splendid little war" was over.  

18 & 19 Nov 1898 Sanford, who had probably returned to the US in August, had another case of malarial fever.  

20 Nov 1898,  Corporal Sanford Rankin was on furlough for 2 months.   The purpose was not stated in his military records.   However, in 1901 and 1902, Dr. J. M. Shirley wrote two letters that recalled his treating Sanford for rheumatism during his furlough.

"I am a practicing physician, and have been acquainted with the said soldier [as]  I was the family physician from 1890 to 1900.   He lived at Brewer when I was there [and] I lived two miles from his house.  When I first knew him he was sound man physically.   He served two term[s] in the U. S. Army.  He had been in the regular Army probably 3 years before the War with Spain came on.   He was probably 26-28 years old and his wife had died before he enlisted.

"I treated him while in service at home from Fort Leavenworth on furlough in Nov. 1898 for rheumatism. He was unable to get back when his time was out and I made an affidavit to extend the furlough.   I was called to see him the first night he came home and for two or three weeks after that.   I found him suffering from acute inflammatory rheumatism in his arm.   One arm, I think the left, became paralyzed, not able to be moved for a period 14 days.   I thought the cause was from exposure. He said they had been in water in Cuba a great deal and that the hospital was very wet."
When Sanford's Company was sent to the Philippines, he was too ill to accompany them.   02 Jan 1899, Sanford Rankin was sent to General Service, unassigned, U. S. Army at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.  

23 Feb 1899, Sanford Rankin was honourably discharged at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.   He worked in Perryville, Missouri as a mill engineer for a short time after that but poor health forced him to give up that line of work.  

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Effie Daniel

After his discharge from the Army, Sanford worked for a short time in Perryville, then moved to St. Louis.   He met a young woman named Effie Daniel and they were married on 19 September 1904.   Effie had been born in Lockwood, Dade County, Missouri.   Her parents had divorced when she was an infant and she lived with her mother.   She had one brother, Hugh, who had stayed with his father.   On the marriage application, Effie gave her age as 25.   Sanford, although almost 40, wrote down "32".  
Effie Daniel, abt 1903

Effie Daniel, abt 1903
Photo courtesy of Clarice Johnson

Images of Marriage Documents
Application File Law License Misdemeanor Prohibitions

Ancestors of Effie Daniel

Blewford Allen DANIEL, born November 25, 1847 in Cannon County, Tennessee; died September 07, 1930 in Weiser, Washington County, Idaho.   He was the son of Peter DANIEL and Mary-Cantrall BETHEL.   He married Sophia DAVIS February 02, 1871 in Dade County, Missouri.   She was the daughter of Harris H. DAVIS and Amanda WOOLUM.

Children of Blewford DANIEL and Sophia DAVIS are:

  1. Hugh Harris Daniel, born April 10, 1874 in Missouri; died July 30, 1953 in Payette, Idaho; married Minnie Alice Keller June 05, 1892 in Greenfield, Dade County, Missouri.  
  2. Effie DANIEL, born July 07, 1877 in Missouri; died October 02, 1956 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri; married Sanford Sylvester RANKIN September 19, 1904 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri.  


For awhile after their marriage, Sanford and Effie lived in Little Rock, Arkansas.   Sanford worked on the new State Capital building.   The Little Rock, Arkansas City Directory for this time period has a listing for "Sanford Rankin, engineer" residing at 601 Battery.   Their first son, Lester, was born there in 1905.   In a letter Effie wrote to her brother Hugh, she said that they did not like living in Arkansas.   By the time their second son, Gordon was born, they had moved back to Missouri.  

By 1910, many Rankins had moved to St. Louis from Perry County, including Sanford's father, Samuel Sr., his sister Hellena, and brothers William, Samuel Edward and Norman.   Sanford and Effie's next two children, Gordon and daughter Madge were both born in St. Louis.   Effie described her children as "three of the finest looking kids you want to look at", and by all accounts she spoiled them rotten.   Sanford acquired a nickname, "Poppy".  

In St. Louis he worked for Western Electric during the early days of radio.   He invented the armature winder, which became standard equipment in radios for years.   Because he was an employee of Western Electric at the time, he was unable to secure the patent.   According to family members, Sanford and Effie also ran a beer & wine bar in St. Louis until prohibition shut it down.  

Sanford and Effie were married for 30 years until he died peacefully in his sleep in 1934 at the age of 69.   He is buried at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.   Effie never remarried.   She took care of her mother Sophie until her death in 1940.   When Effie died in 1956, she was buried with Sanford at Jefferson Barracks.  

Sanford Rankin His wife Effie
Photographs by Marsha Hoelscher

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Children of Sanford Rankin

Sanford Sylvester RANKIN, born October 07, 1865 in Perry County, Missouri; died March 14, 1934 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri.   He was the son of Samuel E. RANKIN and Ellen M. KLINE.   He married (1) Mary-Louisa May January 03, 1886 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri.   She was the daughter of John May and Emily Filomena Riney.   He married (2) Maggie Erwin Abt. 1892.   She was the daughter of James J. Erwin and Rhoda Brown.   He married (3) Effie DANIEL September 19, 1904 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri.   She was the daughter of Blewford Allen DANIEL and Sophia DAVIS  .

Child of Sanford RANKIN and Mary-Louisa May is:

  1. Mary-Ida Rankin, born October 09, 1887 in Perry County, Missouri; died June 02, 1973 in Gerald, Franklin County, Missouri; married Clarence Cambron November 06, 1905 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri.

Children of Sanford RANKIN and Effie DANIEL are:

  1. Lester Norman RANKIN, born October 15, 1905 in Little Rock, Pulaski County, Arkansas; died December 31, 1966 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri.
  2. Gordon Rankin, born October 25, 1907 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri; died May 18, 1991 in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona.
  3. Madge Mildred Rankin, born September 01, 1911 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri; died July 1982.

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