MySource:Cos1776/Rankin, John Mason. 1854 0913 Transcript of Letter

MySource Rankin, John Mason. 1854 0913 Transcript of Letter
Place Decatur, Indiana, United States
Louisville, Jefferson, Kentucky, United States
Lexington, Fayette, Kentucky, United States
Mississippi, United States
Rusk, Texas, United States
Pennsylvania, United States
Hagerstown, Washington, Maryland, United States
Lexington, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, United States
Georgetown, Scott, Kentucky, United States
Augusta, Virginia, United States
Tennessee, United States
Texas, United States
Maury, Tennessee, United States
Washington, Texas, United States
Tippah, Mississippi, United States
Nacogdoches, Texas, United States
Year range - 1854
Surname Rankin
Publication information
Publication Originally written by John Mason Rankin. Privately held.
Rankin, John Mason. 1854 0913 Transcript of Letter. (Originally written by John Mason Rankin. Privately held.).
Name thought to be in possession of descendant Robert Rankin
Address McAllister, Texas, United States

Source - 25 Jan 2008, khulsm posted these 3 documents pertaining to the family of John Mason Rankin.

  1. Family Bible - Rankin, John Mason
  2. Rankin, John Mason. 1852 0924 Transcript of Letter
  3. Rankin, John Mason. 1854 0913 Transcript of Letter

Following a source inquiry, she kindly responded (30 Sep 2011) that she thought all three were from Robert Rankin (pos of McAllister, TX) and that she had received them sometime in the 1990s.

If anyone has access to original images of these documents, please let us know, so that we can add them to the pages. I have annotated the transcripts slightly by providing breaks in text between the information of various families and added wiki links to individual WR pages.
--Cos1776 19:51, 14 July 2015 (UTC)


13 Sep 1854

Dear Cousin,

I commence my first letter to you with excuses for so long delaying to answer your friendly and satisfactory letter. I had a severe spell of sickness last spring, 12 months as I was recovering I received a letter from my long lost cousins in Decator Co. of your state, descendants of Jeremiah Rankin my and your father’s Uncle which informed me of their welfare and that my old Aunt, their mother was still alive. She whome I loved as a mother and they with whome I had been raised as brothers and from whome by culpable negligence I had not heard from more than twenty years. I determined as I recovered my health to pay them a visit taking with me my wife and older daughter intending to spend the summers month with them the Blue Lick and Harrodsburg Springs in Ky. and visit my niece Martha Harney [spelling unclear] in Louisville and Lexington my native place and return through Tennessee visiting my wife’s relations and some of mine. And from there to my two brothers in Mississippi. Near a short time after we had conclude on my trip I received your letter which I should then have answered but hoped I would see you soon for I expected to land in your city on my way to Greensburg --- but before I could arrange my business to leave for so long time we were informed the cholera and yellow fever was very bad in N’Orleans and on the river. I thought the danger so great that I was risking too much for pleasure. I have still had the trip in view but fear we will not accomplish it

A few days ago your cousin Henry L. Rankin (son of Thomas Rankin your fathers brother) took out of our post office a letter addressed to John Calvin Rankin he opened it thinking it was to his brother John Y Rankin who had been living here but is now in Rusk an adjoining county found it to be

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from Benjamin J[?] Rankin he sent it to me requesting to know if I knew from whome it came upon reading it I found it was from your brother and so informed Henry Your brother requests an answer from some of his relations but as I received yours first and so long ago I am almost ashamed to write to you. But, delay will make it no better. I will therefore leave it to Henry to answer your brother Benjamin if Henry does not, and he will let me know, I will.

In yours to me after giving an interesting and satisfactory account of your and my relatives as far as you knew you requested me to do the same which I will take pleasure in doing as far as known to me and will commence as far back as I find recorded in my father’s family bible

Adam Rankin moved from Scotland to Ireland had three sons - Adam, John and Hugh and one daughter named Jane.

In 1720 Adam and Hugh came to America. Adam was married to Elizabeth May in Ireland. She died soon after her arrival in America. He then married Mrs. Steel [Mrs. Mary (Steele) Alexander], by her he had three sons James, William, and Jeremiah and died 1750.

Jeremiah the youngest was born 1733, was married to Rhoda Craig, 1754, by whome he had 4 sons - Adam (My father) William (Your grand Uncle) and Thomas (your grandfather) and Jeremiah (Your youngest grand Uncle) and was killed in his mill on Cannegogy creek in Pennsylvania not far from Hagerstown, Maryland.

His widow [Rhoda (Craig) Rankin] afterwards married a man named English, by whome she had several children. Some of whome settled near Lexington and adjoining counties. One of his daughters married a Walker and one I think a Faris.

Your G-Uncle William lived and died a close neighbor to your grandfather in Woodford County leaving his widow and, I think, 4 children - 3 daughters and one son.

Rhoda married a Mr. Thorn and lived near Georgetown. One married and moved to Mt. Sterling with whome I was not much acquainted and have forgot the name. Patsy the youngest and William were still living with their mother on the old place when I left Kentucky 1829.

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Your grand Uncle Jeremiah lived and died a mile from Lexington, Kentucky, father’s farm and his joined. He left three sons: Adam, Joseph and Andrew and two daughters: Rhoda and Mary.

We were raised together much of my time when a boy I used to spend out on the farm (father lived in town) and at Aunt Nancy’s. Andrew the youngest being near my age. Adam married Hetty Logan. Rhoda married James Logan and Mary married Martin Logan all brothers and sisters and Andrew married, I am told, Margaret Anderson their (Logan) niece. They had all moved to Decator County before we left Lexington. Their letter informed me they were all doing well.

My father, your other G-Uncle was born March 24, 1755, licensed to preach in Presbyterian Church Oct. 24, 1782 was married to Martha McPheeters Oct. 13, 1782, 11 days before licensed to preach. Moved to Lexington, Ky 1784, was there the first settled minister in Ky. He left the Presbyterians when they introduced Watts and other hymns and joined Associate Reformed Presbytery. Had care of his church in Lexington till Oct. 1827. He left for Philadelphia. We stayed first night with your father on our way. which is I suppose was the last time you saw any of us (I wrote that without thinking for I believe your father had not left when mother, brother and myself returned the next spring.)

Father died in 2 weeks after we arrived in Philadelphia and he’s buried in Spruce Street burial ground and at his request no tomb marks his resting place. We soon after returned to mother's native home in Augusta County, Virginia and after spending the balance of the winter with her brother, in the spring we returned to Lexington and after remaining there 12 months or so we moved to Columbia Tennessee where her other children were living and after keeping house there with brother and myself she died July 27, 1836. She had nine children, Samuel, Alexander (who died an infant), Adam Jane, Adam, Annan, William (which died age 5 years), Rhoda (died an infant), Jeremiah, and myself [John Mason Rankin].

Brother Samuel married three times. His first wife, Mary Fleming died before you were born leaving three sons and one daughter. Joseph F., Adam, William and Rhoda Jane. His 2nd wife Mary Hinds died leaving one son who died soon after his mother. His 3rd wife Hannah Harrison with whom he moved to Tennessee taking his first wife’s children. They live there 15-20 years and soon after I moved to this county he move here and settled 300 miles west of this on the Colorado River where he died 6 or 7 years ago leaving his wife and four sons and one daughter by her. Two of his first wife's children - Adam and William died. Rhoda married James York, he is dead leaving three children. She and her brother, Fleming

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(who is married) live in Maury County near Columbia farming and wealthy. One of his sons, Harrison, by his last wife edits and publishes a paper in Washington in this state. One [Calvin] is a graduate practicing physician, married, and lives near his mother. Her daughter married and is living near her. All I believe, doing well.

Bro. Adam married a sister of Bro. Samuel’s wife, also moved to Tennessee and after I left moved to Chickasaw County, Mississippi where he died two years ago, leaving some six or seven children in good circumstances.

Annan married and his wife died in Mississippi leaving one son, Adam.

Bro. Jeremiah’s first wife died in Mississippi without children he married again but has no children. He lives in Tippah County.

I have forgot to mention sister Jane who married William Wallace, a minister of the Associate Reformed Presbyterians. She died leaving three daughters, Martha, Ellen, and Alethea. Martha married Mr. Harney, lives in Louisville and edits a paper. She visits me. Ellen is dead. Althea has been, I am told, in this country, but has returned to Ky.

And when we went to Tennessee, [I] engaged in selling clocks. I kept four wagons peddling in that state about 10 years and done very well. I married in Columbia, Sarah L. Slaughter and soon after mothers death, I move to this country visited this country with my wife in winter 1836 & 1837 and laid out capitol what I could then command for land claims returned in the spring to Tennessee with my wife and visited it again myself and spent the winters 1837 & 1838 trading for more land claims. Returned in the spring to Tennessee and in the fall 1838 moved my family to this place, where we have remained.

I employed myself teaching school here for some time and loaning money, but I had to quit teaching. My health would not admit of the confinement and I found employment in other business. The current rate of money at interest was five per cent per month. Some made fortunes and paid that interest for money, though it can now be borrowed at 12 to 20 percent per annum. Mine at 12 percent which our laws allow is with my office as Justice of the Peace and County Treasure (which I have held for the last seven years) more than sufficient to defray all our reasonable expenses. I foreclosed [unclear what that word is] about 26,000 acres of land claims, but have been able to secure only about half that amount. Some proved fraudulent and I gave part of the balance to have them located, surveyed, and patented.

I have five children, three girls and two boys. Martha Frances, John William, Ellen Gertrude Mary Louisa and Henry Adam.

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I think I have now complied with your request fully as I am able, writing four pages and as much, I suppose, as you have time and care to read, having been more tedious than necessary, but I have done according to the golden rule as I would wish my relations would do to me for I desire to hear all the particulars and rejoice in their welfare. God has been good unto us, supplying all our temporal wants and preserving us that as yet I have not lost any of my family. I have not enjoyed good health for many years, often troubled with chronic dysentery or inflammation of the mucous coats of the stomach and bowels, some severe spells, but the Lord still has spared me. Our country here is, I think, healthier than Columbia, Tennessee and I suppose, than any in the south. This portion of it has been settled many years. Nacogdoches a neighboring town is, I suppose, as old as almost anywhere in the south. Society here is very good. We had 4 very flourishing schools, 2 female and 2 male, all numbering upwards of 200 scholars, but there is now not more than half that number. Our town and country have also not more than half the number of inhabitants and improvements would not sell for more than an average 33 1/2 per cent of their cost, all are desirous of leaving here for the western and north western counties since we have had peace with Mexico and Northern Indians, although they are often troublesome to the border settlements. But our western counties are so inviting they are settling up rapidly by immigration from other states and eastern parts of this. The land is exceeding rich and splendid range for stock, the raising and attention to which is the best business and quickest and surest way to make a fortune of any I know of. They only require a little attention of herding to keep them gentle. They require no feeding fat winter and summer. On the prairies mesquite grass is good and in the river bottoms the wild rye and winter grass is in winter green as a rye or wheat field. Their increase in number and value is about 40 percent compounded annually. Many have made fortunes commencing on little, some have 1 to 10 thousand head of cattle. They are also getting large stocks of horses, mules, sheep, hogs, ______ [unreadable], wheat and corn are produced in abundance.

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In four seasons, the average producer of corn is 40 to 50 bushels per acre and wheat 30 to 40. I have heard of 80 of corn and 50 of wheat and wheat weighing 72 pounds to the bushel. But cotton and sugar is the chief export crops from Texas, lands are rising very fast and sell at one to ten dollars and some improved farms in settlements could not be bought for $20 per acre. Yet as good lands can be purchased out of settlements for one or two dollars and poorer lands down to 25 to 30 cents per acre. I know of no country where a family can make a living easier or a fortune by farming quicker than in our western counties. Their meat and milk cost them nothing but a little attendance and a few months’ labors in the spring to raise them a few acres of corn and wheat. Natural increases of stock and land in time will make them rich. Our government gives a man of a family, if he will occupy and improve it for a home, 160 acres.But I suppose what I have written is no news to you for many of your countrymen, I suppose, have visited and reported of this country. But I suppose, neither they or I can describe the whole country so large, some may describe one and some another part, some parts would please some and displease others.

I must close this, it is getting late and I wish to start it in the morning mail. But I find before closing I have not answered your other request to inform you if I could the cause of your fathers [Samuel Rankin's] great esteem and affection from mine [Adam Rankin]. I can only attribute to your father being left an orphan whose mother also was blind and being his nephew he [Adam Rankin] became also his guardian and his counselor in temporal and spiritual matters, lived with his widowed mother some years under father’s roof and at no time, I think, out of our neighborhood till he moved to Elkhorn, 4 miles from Lexington. This intercourse was never interrupted.

My father [Adam] loved yours [Samuel] as a son and he, mine as a father, and I loved yours as an elder brother, also your Uncle Thomas, whose family lives now in this country.

I forgot to mention your Uncle Thomas moved to Missouri some years after I left Lexington. He died about 2 years or so ago. His eldest son, Henry, had been living and married in this country some time and on his father’s death he wrote to his mother to move here. She came here last winter, 12 months. Henry lives 4 miles in the country, farming. His mother lives in this town with her two youngest children (daughters) Her eldest daughter, Ellen married Mr. [George] M. Hogan who lives in Navarro County in this state, 175 miles west, then the next oldest married Mr. N. Houx and lives close [another translation reads “alone"] here. Her 4th child, John lives in a neighboring town (Henderson) clerking. Julia, Josephine lives with their mother about 300 yards from me, they are all well.

I have filled this half sheet, but find still room to request you to answer this as soon as you conveniently can, giving me all the news you have respecting yourself, our relatives and friends, remembering me to them, giving such information from this letter as you may think worth their attention, and hope you will excuse the omissions, outerlineings [unclear on this word], blots and _____ [unreadable] for I am too lazy to copy it and it hurts me to write. I have been two nights at this till 11 o’clock. You must take it with all its imperfections as you must take your affectionate cousin,
J.M Rankin [John Mason Rankin]