The Rankin Family History



There appears to be an interesting but untold story hidden in the records of the Rankin/Godbey marriage. Only speculations can be made.

James Rankin and Amanda Godbey were married by her brother, Reazon V. Godbey on Feb 12, 1850 and are found on the 1850 Pulaski Co. Census. Ten years later Amanda is gone and James is found married to Hannah. Most interesting, the daughter of James and Amanda is living with Francis and Rhoda Godbey. James and Hannah have been married at least four years, probably five, because the 1860 Pulaski Co.,  Census shows them with four children, ages 4, 3, 2, and 4 months. Hannah must be their mother because James would have had little time to remarry and have another child between any of these four.

So here is a totally unproven story. James and Amanda married. They had one daughter, Mary Jane Rankin. Amanda dies, perhaps during childbirth at the end of 1850, leaving James with his daughter. James is a farm laborer and cannot care for his daughter so Amanda's parents take in Mary Jane. James, in time, meets Hannah and remarries in about 1855 but as we see by the 1870 Pulaski Co. Census, Mary Jane remains with her mother's family.



There is only one Rankin family in the Montgomery/Pulaski County area from 1810 until 1850.  This is the James Rankin/Mary Muirhead family.  In 1850, James Rankin (abt. 1773-abt. 1847) has apparently died leaving Mary (Muirhead) Rankin (1780-abt. 1855) the head of the household.  At this same time the James Rankin/Amanda Godbey family appears. From proximity it appears that this second James Rankin must be the son of James and Mary Rankin.  The second James Rankin's birthdate is 1824.  The first James Rankin has no son in 1820.  In 1830, the second James Rankin should appear and indeed a young male is listed but with the age of 15-20.  Then in 1840, no son is listed for the Rankin family.

In 1820, the first James Rankin is listed with a daughter under 10 years of age but in 1830 no daughter is listed.  Further research is needed to confirm whether the 2nd James Rankin is the son of the 1st James Rankin.  The first James Rankin's will does not mention a son.  It is found in the Pulaski County, VA-Will Book #1 on pages 160-161 with the date December 28, 1846.  At this time, if the second James is his son he would have been unmarried and living with his mother, Mary.  The fact that the second James is not mentioned however could indicate that he is not the son of the first James Rankin.  The will was probated on June 7, 1849.  It names his wife, Mary, and provides for the emancipation of his slaves.  His estate was to be sold "and proceeds to be used to remove said slaves to some free state, and to fix them comfortably."











The Rankins in the VA Census


VA in 1740-A Reconstructed Census

All Rankin, Rankins, Rankines


            Adam.  Westmoreland, 111,     112


            Robert. King George,    053

            William.  King George, 053



1787 Montgomery County Personal Property Tax

No Rankins listed.       



1810 VA Census-Montgomery County

All Rankin(s) listings

p. 11   

Rankins, James

Male    1, age 26-45                (James-age abt. 37)

Female 1, age 26-45                (Mary-age 30)



1820 VA Census-Montgomery County

All Rankin(s) listings

p. 182 

Rankin, James

Male    1, age 45+                                            (James-age abt. 47)

Female 1, under 10;      1, age 26-45                (Mary-age 40)



1830 VA Census-Montgomery County

All Rankin(s) listings

p. 89

Rankins, James

Male    1, age 15-20    1, age 50-60    (James-age c. 57)

Female 1, age 60-70 (Mary-age 50)    1, age 90-100



1840 VA Census-Montgomery County

No Rankin(s) listings



1840 VA Census-Pulaski County

All Rankin(s) listings

Rankin, James                                                                                      Slaves

Male                1, 60-70           (James-age abt. 67)                               1

Female             1, 50-60           (Mary-age 60)                                        2



1850 VA Census-Pulaski County

p. 256  479/494          

Godby, Archiabald       38                    Farmer

            Matilda             36

            Martha             14

            Mary                12

            Eliza                 10

            Cephas               7

            Virginia   5

            Charles B.          3                                           


p. 495 

Rankin, James              26                    Laborer

Amanda (Godbey)        21


p. 247  353/366          

Rankin, Mary               70

Muirhead, James          23                    Farmer             $1000             



1860 VA Census-Pulaski County


p. 767  James Rankin               37                    Laborer

            Hannah                         37                    James and Hannah cannot read or write

            Alexander                      4

            Rhoda                            3

            Martha                           2

            Malinda                        4/12


p. 767  Francis Godbey                        74                    Miner?

            Rhoda E. (Whitt)          72

            W(illia)m L.?               24                    Laborer

            Mary J. Rankin             12



1870 VA Census-Newbern, Pulaski Co.


Rankin, James              46                    Farm Labor                  VA

Hannah                         48                                            James and Hannah cannot read or write

Rhoda Sue?                  14                                            Rhoda can read but cannot write

Malinda L.                    11                                            Malinda and James cannot read or write

James B.                      8                                             but have attended school within last year

Jefferson D.                  8

Sarah Ann                    4