• 208 members

About us

UNDER CONSTRUCTION! Please stay tuned ... more to come.

LINEAGE 1 -- see also the "DNA Results" link on the home page.

Lineage 1 ("L1") has two sub-lineages: the families of Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford Co., NC (L1A) and Joseph Rankin of New Castle Co., DE (L1B). Robert was definitely the original immigrant in his line. Joseph was probably the original immigrant in his. No common ancestor for the two lines has been found. YDNA results establish a low probability that there is one on this side of the Atlantic. A common ancestor probably exists around 1400, plus or minus a century, and almost certainly in Scotland.

Robert and Rebecca came to the colonies in 1750 from County Donegal, Ireland, according to an autobiography of a grandson. There is no known evidence of Joseph’s country of origin, although it was most likely either Scotland or Ireland. Both Rankin families first appeared in county records in the area around the Philadelphia ports, where most Scots-Irish immigrants landed during the “Great Migration” from Ulster.


Joseph of Delaware arrived in the colonies first. He may be the Joseph Rankin who appeared as a “freeman” (unmarried and not a landowner) on a 1729 tax list in London Britain Township in Chester Co., PA. By 1731, he had acquired a tract on White Clay Creek in New Castle Co., DE. Josep had four sons proved by deeds (Joseph Jr., Thomas, John and William), two sons proved by strong circumstantial evidence (Robert and James), and a daughter Ann proved by the will of her brother Joseph Jr. Joseph is buried at Head of Christiana Presbyterian Church in Newark, New Castle County. His 1764 tombstone still exists. Based on birth dates that are known, Joseph’s children were born in Delaware. Two of his proved sons – John and William – moved to Guilford Co., NC. A descendant of each of them has YDNA tested, and the two men are a close genetic match. There seems to be no evidence of the identity of Joseph's wife, except that she was named Rebecca. Nor is there any known evidence of Joseph's family of origin.

Robert and Rebecca’s family first appeared in the records in Chester County, PA. Robert and George Rankin (either father and son or brothers) were on the 1753 tax list for West Nottingham Township in Chester. Robert and George received so-called “Nottingham Company” land grants in Guilford (then Rowan) County, NC. According to a grandson's autobiography, they migrated to North Carolina in July 1755.

Robert and Rebecca’s children were almost certainly adults when they arrived in Pennsylvania in 1750. Two sons, Robert and George, are proved. There is good circumstantial evidence in the Rowan and Guilford records for other children, including a son John and daughters Ann Rankin Denny (wife of William Sr. of Guilford), Margaret Rankin Braly or Brawley (Thomas), and Rebecca Rankin Boyd (John). 

The David Rankin who died in Iredell Co., NC in 1789 (wife Margaret) may also have been a son of Robert and Rebecca. YDNA results establish that David and Robert were close genetic relatives, although there is apparently no conclusive proof of the family connection. David is therefore shown on the descendant tree as a probable son of Robert and Rebecca, denoted by a question mark. There has also been speculation among Rankin researchers that Samuel Rankin of Lincoln/Gaston (wife Eleanor "Ellen" Alexander) was a son of Robert. YDNA has also disproved that possibility, since descendants of Samuel and Eleanor do not even remotely match members of Lineage 1A and 1B.

A descendant chart for Lineage 1 appears below. There is no information for anyone born after 1900 in order to protect members' privacy.

Unknown # of Generations Back 
Lineage 1A     Lineage 1B
        ?? ??                  
Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford, NC; he d. abt 1770

Joseph Rankin

of New Castle, DE



Robert d. 1795 Guilford, NC

George d. 1760 Rowan, NC David d. 1789 Iredell, NC
1736 - 1814
Guilford, NC
1744 - 1804
Guilford, NC
1767 - 1851
McNairy, TN
1759 - 1840
McNairy, TN
~1748 - ~1834
Gibson, TN
1780 - 1866
Guilford, NC
John C.
1781 - 1858
Guilford, NC
John D.
1816 - 1870
1792 - 1845
m. Isabel
1791 - 1861
1778 - 1854
Robert C.
1830 - 1921
 Watson W.
1814 - 1857

Francis M.
1836 - 1890

Reuben Burr 1834 - 1909

1807 - 1890
James R.
1860 - 1938
Watson W.
1852 - 1906
Robert W.
1860 - 1890
George Alver
1868 - 1939
George Lee
1833 - 1909
Osborne Tatum 1852 - 1918 Jas Rowland
1894 - 1945
Fred W.
1886 - 1954
    George Whitfield 1874 - 1942 James Daniel 1875 - 1966    
# 628529 # 207504 # 552162 # 595004 Private # 149142


1 Robert Rankin, d. abt 1770 Guilford NC. wife Rebecca MNU. Likely immigrants to Chester Co., PA.

2 Robert Rankin, d. 1795 Guilford NC. Wife uncertain, possibly Jean Denny.

3 George Rankin, b. 1767 Guilford NC d. McNairy TN 1851. Wife Nancy Gillespie.

4 John D. Rankin, b. 1816 Guilford NC d. 1870 McNairy TN. Wife Mary (“Polly”) Kerby.

5 Francis Marion Rankin, b. 1836 TN d. 1890 McNairy TN. Wife Louisa Elizabeth James.

6 Robert W. Rankin, b. 1860 TN, d. 1919 Chester, TN Wife Margaret J. MNU.

Kit # 628529

4 Robert Rankin, b. 1792 Guilford NC, d. 1845 Pope AR. Wife Isabel Rankin, also a great-grandchild of Robert & Rebecca Rankin.

5 Reuben Burr Rankin, b. TN 1834 d. 1909 Franklin AR. Wife Nancy Elizabeth Nash.

6 George Alver Rankin, b. Crawford AR 1868 d. Franklin AR 1938. Wife Ollie Delana Francis.

Kit # 207504

2 George Rankin, d. Rowan NC 1760. Wife Lydia Steele.

3 Robert Rankin, b. 1759 Rowan d. 1840 McNairy TN. Wife #1 Mary (“Polly”) Cusick, wife #2 Mary Moody. Revolutionary War vet.

4 Isabel Rankin, b. 1791 Guilford d. 1861 Pope AR. Married her second cousin Robert Rankin b. 1792, see above for their line.

2 David Rankin, d. Iredell NC 1789. Probable son of Robert & Rebecca. Wife Margaret MNU.  

3 Robert Rankin, b. abt 1748 Iredell NC, d. abt 1834 Gibson TN. Wife Jean MNU, probably Denny.

4 James Rankin, b. 1778 d. 1854 Iredell NC. Wife Elizabeth McMin.

5 James Rankin, b. 1807 d. 1890 Iredell NC. Wife #1 Frances (“Frankey”) Mayhew, #2 Patsey Little.

6 George Lee (or Leroy) Rankin, b. 1833 NC d. 1909 NC. Wife Margaret Mills.

7 George Whitfield Rankin, b. 1874 Iredell NC, d. 1942 Iredell NC. Wife Sara Jane Parker.

Kit # 552162

6 Osborne Tatum Rankin, b. 1852 Iredell NC d. 1918 Rowan NC. Wife Amanda Isabella Shuford.

7 James Daniel Rankin, b. 1875 Rowan NC d. 1966 Watauga NC. Wife Tula Roberta Abernathy.

Kit # 595004.


1 Joseph Rankin, b. unknown 1704 d. New Castle, DE 1764. Wife unknown.

2 John Rankin, b. abt 1736 New Castle DE d. 1814 Guilford NC. Wife Hannah Carson.

3 Robert Rankin, b. 1780 Guilford NC d. 1866 Guilford NC. Wife #1 Margaret Scott; #2 Margaret Patterson.

4 Robert C. Rankin, b. 1830 Guilford NC d. Alamance NC . Wife Mary Ann McLean.

5 James R. Rankin, b. 1860 Guilford NC d. 1938 Vance NC. Wife Minnie Rowland.

6 James Rowland Rankin, b. 1894 Vance NC d. 1945 Wayne MI. Wife Charlotte Knudsen.

Kit # is private

2 William Rankin, b. 1744 New Castle DE d. 1804 Guilford NC. Wife Jane/Jennet Chambers.

3 John Chambers Rankin, b. 1781 NC d. 1858 Rowan NC. Wife Tabitha Wharton.

4 Watson Wharton Rankin, b. 1814 NC d. 1857 Cabarrus NC. Wife Sarah Elizabeth Alexander.

5 Watson Wharton Rankin b. 1852 d. 1906. Wife Margaret C. Houston.

6 Dr. Fred Wharton Rankin b. 1886 Catawba NC d. 1954 Fayette KY. Wife Edith Mayo.

Kit # 149142


Rankin Lineage 2 (“L2”) is the largest YDNA subgroup in the Rankin family project. There are currently more than 20 project members whose YDNA places them in L2. The family lines represented in the lineage are diverse, although the YDNA results are not. The group members are relatively closely matched genetically, suggesting that there may be a common ancestor no earlier than 400-500 years ago. The common ancestor is almost certainly in Scotland. The immigrant ancestor of many of the L2 members first appeared in Pennsylvania or Virginia during the "Great Migration" of Scots-Irish from Ulster. From there, they spread west into the Ohio Valley or south and southwest into Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee.

There are three identifiable Rankin sub-lineages in Lineage 2. There are also a number of L2 members who are "one of a kind," meaning each man’s last known Rankin ancestor isn’t (so far as is known) shared with another L2 member. Some members of L2 are “one of a kind” only because they have provided no information about their Rankin family trees, although they may well belong in one of the three known L2 families.

The three known L2 family lines having more than one member in the project are: 

(1) Lineage 2A, the line of John Rankin d. 1749 in Lancaster Co., PA; 

(2) Lineage 2B, the line of Samuel and Eleanor ("Ellen") Alexander Rankin of Lincoln Co., NC; and 

(3) Lineage 2C, the lines of David and Jeanette McCormick Rankin of Frederick Co., VA and William Rankin of Fayette Co., PA.

Members of Lineage 2 who don't have a common ancestor with another member of L2 are designated as "Lineage 2U" on the DNA charts.

Lineage 2A, Line of John Rankin d. 1749, Lancaster Co., PA

This is the Rankin family line memorialized on the bronze tablet in the Mt. Horeb Cemetery in Jefferson Co., TN. Lineage 2A consists of descendants of John Rankin who died in 1749 in Lancaster Co., PA whose wife was reportedly Mary McElwee. John's will named his widow as named Margaret. John’s will named Margaret, two sons (Thomas and Richard), six daughters, and two sons-in-law. All of the L2A members are descended from John’s son Thomas, who appeared in the records of Cumberland Co., PA, moved to Augusta Co., VA for a time, and then migrated to east Tennessee. No member of the Rankin project self-identifies as a descendant of Richard, who moved from Pennsylvania to Augusta Co., VA, where he died.

John d. 1749 was reportedly a son of William Rankin and grandson of Alexander Rankin of the Scotland “Killing Times” and the 1689 Siege of Londonderry. Hazel Townsend, who is descended from John d. 1749, has done research in Ireland. She found no proof that he was a son of William, or that William was a son of Alexander. Records in Ireland are limited, however. In light of Hazel’s research, the chart below does not include either William or Alexander and, instead, focuses on the line that can be proved. As with Lineage 1, there is no information for persons born after 1900.

A value of 19 for DYS449 is most likely a marker for this line.

JOHN d. 1749

John Rankin

d. 1749

Lancaster, PA



ca 1724-1812

Jefferson, TN




Blount, TN



Jefferson, TN



Jefferson, TN



1781-aft 1870

Harrison, IN

Robert Henderson


Cass, IN

Samuel Steele


Adams, IL



Jefferson, TN




Livingston, KY

John Knox


Douglas, KS

David Steele

ca 1813-1898

Linn, KS

Christopher H.
Jefferson, TN

Wm Sanders


Livingston, KY

John Karl


Shawnee, KS

Samuel Joseph


Wyandotte, KS

Frank Walter
Jefferson, TN
#105150 #516675 #N21274

Lineage 2B, Samuel Rankin of Lincoln Co., NC

Lineage 2B (“L2B”) is the line of Samuel and Eleanor (“Ellen”) Alexander Rankin of Rowan, Tryon, Mecklenburg, and Lincoln Counties, NC. There are several misconceptions about Samuel and Eleanor that persist among internet family trees. One myth is that Samuel was a son of either Joseph Rankin of Delaware (see Lineage 1, above) or a son of Robert and Rebecca Rankin of Guilford Co., NC (also Lineage 1). Both of these possibilities are conclusively disproved by Y-DNA. Another myth claims that Samuel and his wife were married in Pennsylvania, although her family of origin (her parents were James and Ann Alexander) was in Anson/Rowan County by at least 1753. Samuel and Eleanor were married about 1759, almost certainly in Rowan. There is no evidence of Samuel’s birthplace. The oral family history of one of Samuel’s descendants claims that he was the original immigrant in his line.

Samuel’s tombstone at the Goshen Grove Presbyterian Cemetery in Gaston Co., NC no longer exists.. A WPA cemetery survey in the 1930s transcribed his tombstone inscription to say that he was born in 1734 and died in 1816. His will was dated 1814, but wasn’t probated until 1826. His last appearance in the Lincoln Co., NC records was in June 1816. He left his most of his surviving children  (his son Richard predeceased him) a token bequest, and devised the bulk of his estate to his son James. Lincoln Co. Will Book 1: 37. Samuel and Eleanor’s children either remained in the Lincoln/Mecklenburg/Iredell area or moved to Arkansas, Rutherford Co., TN or Shelby Co., IL.

        RANKIN LINEAGE 2B        
Samuel & Eleanor Alexander Rankin, Lincoln, NC
 SAMUEL RANKIN 1734-1816
Shelby, IL
Rutherford, TN
Mecklenburg, NC
Lincoln, NC
Joseph B.
 abt 1799-1862
James Alexander 1829-1881
James H.
John Allen
Robert Benjamin 1870-1957
 Born aft 1900
Joseph P.
John Marvin
Born aft 1900
#559214 #73182 #81394 #888555

Lineage 2C

Based on posted trees and YDNA results, Lineage 2C has two distinct families: (1) David Rankin Sr. of Frederick Co., VA and (2) William Rankin of Fayette Co., PA.


David Sr.’s line is apparently represented by three project members, although one hasn’t posted an ancestry except to state he is descended from “David Rankin b. 1691 in Londonderry” (presumably the same man as the David Rankin who died in 1768 in Frederick Co., VA). 

David Sr. left a Frederick Co. will naming his wife Jennett and four children, including sons Hugh, William, David Jr. and a daughter Barbara. Frederick Co., VA Will Book 3: 443. Many online trees identify David Sr.’s wife as Jennett Mildred, although all of the records involving Jennett identify her without a middle name. Those trees have probably conflated David Sr.’s wife Jennett with a Mildred Rankin who was married to a different David Rankin, one of David Sr.’s grandsons.

David Jr. married Hannah Province or Provence, probably in Frederick County. Their line is represented by two Rankin project participants. David Jr. moved from Frederick to Washington Co., PA and then to Harrison Co., KY, where he died. David Jr.’s brother William also moved to Washington County and died there in 1799. William left a large family, although no known descendants have tested and joined the Rankin project. Some of Hugh’s line probably moved to Kentucky and then to Ohio. Rankin project administrators are seeking descendants of William and/or Hugh who might be willing to YDNA test.

The second family in Lineage 2C, William Rankin of Fayette Co., PA, is clearly genetically related to the line of David Rankin Sr. within a genealogical time frame. No common ancestor between the two L2C lines is known.

Lineage 3

The common ancestor for Lineage 3 is David Rankin Sr. who died in Greene Co., TN in 1802. His will identified seven children but not his wife, who evidently predeceased him. David Sr. was reportedly among the “Overmountain Men” who left what was then Washington Co., Tennessee to fight in the Battle of King’s Mountain. That battle was a major defeat for the British in the Southern Campaign. 

There is some disagreement among Rankin researchers about several issues concerning David Sr. First, researchers identify his wife (or wives) as Margaret Kerr, Anne Campbell, both, or neither. If someone reading this has any evidence regarding the identity of David’s wife, we hope that you will share it in the  “Activity Feed” link at this website or by email to an administrator.

Another question is where David Sr. lived before coming to Greene Co. in 1783. Many researchers are convinced that David Sr. was the same man as the David Rankin who received a 1771 patent in Bedford Co., VA. In fact, at least one of David Sr.’s children was born in Virginia. There is also circumstantial evidence linking David of Bedford to David Sr. of Greene, both of whom had connections to the Dinwiddie/Dunwoodie family. On the other hand, David Rankin of Bedford was a Quaker, while David Sr.’s son David Jr., his wife, and other family members were Presbyterian. If David Sr. of Greene was in fact a Quaker, that suggests a probable origin in England rather than in Scotland or Ulster. It also makes it somewhat less likely that David Sr. participated in a Revolutionary War battle in light of Quaker pacifism. Again, evidence on any of these issues would be appreciated.

Finally, some online trees and other sources claim that David Sr. of Greene Co., TN was a son of the William Rankin who died in 1792 in Franklin Co., PA (whose wife was Mary Huston). William was a son of the immigrant Adam Rankin, who died in 1747 in Lancaster Co., PA, (his wife was Mary Steele Alexander). However, David Sr. of Greene was definitely not the same man as David, son of William and Mary Huston Rankin of Franklin. The latter David, whose proved wife was Frances Campbell, migrated along with some of his children from Franklin to Des Moines Co., Iowa and died there. That is conclusively proved by deeds in Westmoreland Co., PA and by notes from a family Bible provided to Flossie Cloyd in the 1950s.

It may be the case that David Sr. of Greene Co. was the immigrant ancestor for Lineage 3.

Here is a descendant chart for Rankin Lineage 3, followed by a conventional outline descendant report.

David Rankin Sr. d. 1802
1768 - 1810
David Jr.
1776 - 1836