Elizabeth Richardson was born in Louisiana on 23 November 1807. She is believed to be the eldest daughter of Samuel Richardson and Rachel Hamilton.
Elizabeth grew up in St. Helena Parish, where her father owned about 2000 acres of land on the Ponchatoula River, just north of Lake Ponchartrain. He was a farmer who also raised cattle.
Like many of their neighbors, they owned some slaves, though not many. Samuel Richardson reported only one slave on his tax assessment in 1823, and when he died in 1844, there were thirteen total: seven adults and six children.
Elizabeth Richardson was born during a time when the Parish of St. Helena was in transition. Colonial Louisiana had been alternately under French, Spanish and British rule for many years. The Louisiana Purchase in 1803 did not initially include the Florida Parishes, of which St. Helena Parish was a part. Later the territory was annexed by the U. S., but the Rebellion of West Florida in 1810 established this area as an independent nation. When Louisiana became a state in 1812, it did not include the Florida Parishes, but that was corrected a few months later.
By the time of the 1820 census, Elizabeth was 13 years old and had 2 brothers and 4 sisters. She probably did not attend school, as later census records reported that she was unable to read or write. As the oldest daughter, she probably spent much of her time helping her mother care for her younger siblings. She would have learned the domestic skills she would need in a few years for her own family, such as cooking, cleaning and sewing. And she may have done some farm chores, like milking cows, feeding chickens and collecting eggs. Living in bayou country, she may have gone fishing occasionally with her brothers and sisters to catch their evening meal. She would also learn the dangers in bayou country like alligators, snakes, and unfriendly Indians.
Young Elizabeth and her family may have occasionally traveled to New Orleans on shopping trips. It would have been quite an adventure, with all the bustle of the busy port city. The sights and sounds and smells of New Orleans in the 1820ís would have greatly contrasted with their quiet county life, particularly for a girl in her early teens.
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Marriage to Samuel Rankin - 1823
In 1820, a newcomer to St. Helena Parish was a young man from Ohio named Samuel Rankin. He quickly became an important part of the small community near Springfield. Shipping was vital to the area as the main link in getting the goods that were produced locally to the markets in New Orleans. Samuel Rankin was a business partner of Richard Wade, a neighbor of the Richardsons. Together they had purchased a schooner, the Admiral of Springfield. It's likely that Samuel Richardson did business with Wade and Rankin, and the Richardson family may have even traveled to New Orleans on the Admiral.
In 1823, Elizabeth Richardson was fifteen, and was not too young to begin thinking about
finding a husband. Samuel Rankin was a successful businessman and a bachelor, and Elizabeth was probably a very charming young girl. Before the year was out, Samuel Rankin asked for her hand in marriage.
Elizabeth was just one month from her sixteenth birthday when she married. Samuel was probably twice her age. The age difference would not have been commented on by their contemporaries. Men were expected to postpone marriage until at least age twenty-five, while women were expected to find husbands by the age of twenty-one. Legally, she was under age needed her father's consent. Her father, Samuel Richardson had to write to the Parish Clerk and give permission for the marriage to take place before a license could be issued. This he did on 29 October 1823. The marriage would have taken place within a few weeks.
A typical wedding in 1823 celebrated at home. It might have been at the bride's or groom's home, or at that of a friend or relative. As it appears Samuel Rankin did not own any land at that time, they may have married at the home of his partner, Richard Wade, or in Elizabeth's own home. The entire family was probably in attendance, and perhaps some neighbors. This would also be a perfect opportunity for Elizabeth's parents size up other local bachelors as possible husbands for their remaining daughters.
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The Farmer's Wife
After their marriage, Samuel and Elizabeth lived on a 100 acre farm in St. Helena Parish, right
next to that of her father. The farm may have been a wedding gift. Samuel Rankin was still operating the Admiral of Springfield, but as the time approached for the birth of their first child, Samuel may have thought about giving up the work that kept him away from home for long stretches. Elizabeth's first child was born in 1824. No record of this child exists after the 1830 census, so we don't know his name or whether he survived to adulthood.
In May 1824, Samuel Rankin and Richard Wade sold the Admiral of Springfield to Robert Palmer for about half of what they had paid for it four years earlier. Ownership of the Admiral boded well for potential suitors of the Richardson girls. Two years after this purchase, Robert Palmer, married Elizabeth's sister, Polly.
In 1827, Samuel and Elizabeth's second son was born. This one was called George, probably after an uncle who lived nearby. In 1828, Elizabeth's sister, Rebecca, was married to William Durbin, with Samuel Rankin serving as a witness.
In 1829, Samuel Rankin became a Justice of the Peace, and was allowed to perform marriages in
St. Helena Parish. Perhaps with about half of Elizabeth's siblings still unmarried, Samuel thought this might turn out to be a profitable sideline. Almost immediately, Samuel Rankin officiated at the marriage of Elizabeth's brother, Augustus Richardson to Ann Gainey, at the home of their neighbor Absolom Traylor.
As 1829 went by, Elizabeth found that she was expecting another child, and in 1830 she gave birth to her third son they named Sanford. Little Sanford was barely two years old, in the spring of 1832, when Elizabeth found out she was expecting again. Perhaps with three boys already, she wished for a girl this time. Maybe she wondered how many more times she would have to go through pregnancy and childbirth before having a daughter.
In October 1832, the southern part of St. Helena Parish where the Richardson and Rankin families were living became Livingston Parish. On 14 December 1832, Elizabeth bore her fourth and final son to bear the Rankin surname. Sometime between April 1832, the date of the last document found that he witnessed, and April 1837, Samuel Rankin died. He was probably about 40 years old at the time.
We do not know where or how he died. It's possible it happened before the new baby was born, for this time the child was christened "Samuel".
Elizabeth must have been devastated. She'd been married only nine years and at age twenty-five she was a widow with four sons to raise. She may have gotten some help from her parents, but they were growing older and wouldn't be able to help her indefinitely. She did what any respectable woman in her position would have done -- she looked around and found another husband.
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Marriage to Thomas McCabe
Fortunately, it was a newcomer to Livingston Parish who would step in to keep the family together.
His name was Thomas McCabe and he was an Irish immigrant who'd been in Louisiana a short time.
Thomas had arrived in the United States between 1830 and 1836. He was probably accompanied by his wife, Julia Fitzsimmons, and their three sons: James, Michael and Bernard. Presumably, Julia died within a year or two of her arrival, although no record of her death has been found. Thomas had three sons, just a little older than Elizabeth's, who were in need of a mother. Elizabeth was a mother in need of a husband. It was the perfect blending of families, a sort of 19th century "Brady Bunch", except that all the children were boys. But that would soon change.
Elizabeth Richardson and Thomas McCabe were married between September 1836 and April 1837. The earliest record of Thomas McCabe found so far, is the sale of some land in April 1837, in which he states that the property was purchased 01 September 1836, prior to his marriage. It was in 1838 that the McCabe family welcomed the arrival of a baby girl, Mary Elizabeth McCabe. Elizabeth was probably thrilled to finally have a daughter in the family.
Not long after that, there were two more little sisters in the family: Martha Ellen and Minerva Ann McCabe. Between Elizabeth and Thomas, the total number of children was now nine. The youngest daughter, Minerva, suffered from some sort of mental disorder, probably since birth. She was the only one of the children who would never marry and she is listed in the 1880 census as "insane".
By 1844, both Elizabeth's parents, Samuel and Rachel Richardson, had passed on. Samuel left no will and so the heirs proceeded to divide the estate amongst themselves.
Elizabeth, for her portion, received one slave, Luke age 30. Other than this legacy, no records of the Rankins or McCabes owning slaves have ever been found. Luke was valued at $575, and it's likely that he was sold shortly thereafter. The McCabes may have used the money to finance their move to Missouri.
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The Move to Missouri
It appears that the McCabes started to plan the move in 1845. In May of that year, Thomas McCabe sold his land to his neighbor, Arnold Denker, with the provision that he be allowed to continue living there until the mortgage was paid. For some unknown reason, Thomas McCabe repurchased the land from Denker one year later, for the same price that Denker had paid.
The move finally occurred between 1846 and 1849, and they probably traveled up the
Mississippi by steamboat. All but two of the children accompanied them. Both George Rankin and Michael McCabe would make the move to Missouri in the 1850s.
Perhaps Thomas and Elizabeth weren't sure they'd like Missouri well enough to stay, and so they held onto some of their property in Livingston Parish. By 1849, they'd made up their minds and decided to stay in Missouri for good. Thomas McCabe made a trip back to Louisiana and sold his remaining land to his stepson, George Rankin, for $200, or about half of what he'd paid for it.
In 1849 in Missouri, Elizabeth had her 8th and last child, a son they named Thomas R., the R probably for "Richardson". They settled in Perry County, Missouri and later bought land in Ste. Genevieve County, just over the Perry County line.
The Richardson family in St. Helena and Livingston Parishes are presumed to have been Baptist. In 1852, perhaps finally giving into pressure from her Irish-Catholic husband, and further influenced by the strong Catholic community in the Perry County area, Elizabeth allowed all the McCabe children to be baptized at St. Mary's Church in Perryville. Later, sons George and Samuel Rankin would also be converted when they married Catholic wives.
Elizabeth must have missed her family back in Louisiana and her brother, Augustus, who lived across the state in Benton County, Missouri. They would have had to exchange news about family matters by mail. Although she couldn't read them herself, they could have been read to her by her husband or one of her children. This may have been how she learned of the birth of her sisters' children, the divorce of her sister Margaret from William Akers in 1847, and the deaths of her sister and brother-in-law, Polly and Robert Palmer in 1853.
Thomas McCabe, like Elizabeth's first husband, Samuel Rankin, became a Justice of the Peace in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri. Marriages were performed in their front parlor with the children occasionally standing in as witnesses.
In the 1860's, the Rankin sons, became successful and raised large families. George and Samuel were farmers, while Sanford was a blacksmith. The McCabe boys from Ireland did likewise. Elizabeth and Thomas had done an excellent job of integrating the two families into one. When the children began to marry and have their own families, the McCabes and Rankins often stood as godparents for each other's children.
Elizabeth Richardson lived until her sixty-fourth year, passing away on 19 July, 1872, just one month since her stepson, Michael McCabe, had died. She was survived by her husband, Thomas McCabe, and children: sons Samuel E. Rankin and Thomas R. McCabe, daughters Mary Elizabeth Brewster and Minerva McCabe. Elizabeth was laid to rest in the McCabe family cemetery. In 1983, there were only two stones left standing in this tiny cemetery. (PCHS, 1984) One belonged to Emma Phillips, who had married young Thomas McCabe, in 1873. The other stone was Elizabeth's, containing the only record of the dates of her birth and death, and the slightly incorrect names of her parents.
Elizabeth, Wife of Thomas McCabe
Dau. of Richard & Rachel Hamilton
Born 23 November 1807 - Died 19 July 1872
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Children of Elizabeth Richardson
Elizabeth RICHARDSON, born 23 November 1807 in Louisiana; died 19 Jul 1872 in Ste. Genevieve County, Missouri. She was the daughter of Samuel RICHARDSON and Rachel HAMILTON. She married Samuel RANKIN about October 29, 1823 in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana. She married Thomas McCabe sometime between Sep 1836 and Apr 1837 in Louisiana.
Children of Elizabeth RICHARDSON and Samuel RANKIN are:
Children of Elizabeth RICHARDSON and Thomas McCabe are:
- Son1 Rankin, born 1824 in Louisiana; died prob. before 1840 in Louisiana.
- George Rankin, born 1827 in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana; died November 21, 1870 in Perry County, Missouri; married Mary-Elizabeth Dean Abt. 1856 in Perry County, Missouri.
- Sanford Rankin, born 1830 in St. Helena Parish, Louisiana; died Aft. 1863; married Mary Elizabeth Scott Abt. 1854 in Perry County, Missouri.
- Samuel E. RANKIN, born December 02, 1832 in Livingston Parish, Louisiana; died October 05, 1914 in St. Louis, St. Louis County, Missouri; married Ellen M. KLINE May 02, 1859 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri.
- Mary-Elizabeth McCabe, born 1838 in Livingston Parish, Louisiana; died February 05 (year unknown, but after 1879) in Perry County, Missouri; married Thomas Brewster August 05, 1860 in Perryville, Perry County, Missouri.
- Martha Ellen McCabe, born July 12, 1841 in Livingston Parish, Louisiana; died October 07, 1863 in Perry County, Missouri; married William Simon Riney 1856 in Perry County, Missouri.
- Minerva McCabe, born 1843 in Louisiana; died after 1880, prob. in Missouri.
- Thomas R. McCabe, born January 23, 1849 in Perry County, Missouri; died November 25, 1915 in St. Mary's, Perry County, Missouri; married Emma Phillips December 17, 1873.