ROBERT A. RANKIN. The Rankin family, of which Robert A. Rankin is a member, came to Westmoreland county from Allegheny county in 1866. Robert Rankin, the grandfather of Robert A. Rankin, came with his family from county Derry Ireland, in 1837, and settled in Allegheny county. The tradition is that four brothers had lived about four miles north of Londonderry, and that two of them came to America, from one of whom Robert, mentioned above, was a descendant.
John Rankin. Jr., the oldest son of Robert Rankin, was born October .21. 1821, and came to America as a member of his father's family, as above indicated, when he was sixteen years old. He was brought up on the farm and in his early years learned the tanner's trade, which he abandoned to resume farming, to which vocation he has given his entire life. He married in 1845, Eliza Jane Kelley, of Allegheny county, a daughter of Samuel Kelley. She died in March, 1879, and was buried in West Newton cemetery. They had nine children: Margaret C., intermarried with J. E. Cunningham, who lives in Rostraver township; Mary E., intermarried with A. G. Cunningham, who lives in Johnston county, Missouri; Martha Jane, intermarried with J. H. Smith, who lives in Rostraver township; Samuel Stewart, deceased; Robert A., referred to hereafter; Eliza Ann, unmarried and living at their home; John C., intermarried with Annie Culbert; William J., intermarried with Mollie Stevens, who lives in Rostraver township; and Sallie B., intermarried with John Rader, who lives in McKeesport. John Rankin Jr., their father, although now past four score years and four, is yet living and in good health on the old homestead in Rostraver township.
Robert A. Rankin was born May 8, 1857, and brought up as a farmer. He entered the common schools and later spent three years in Jefferson Academy, Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania, after which he returned home and engaged in farming. He was thus engaged until 1889 when he was appointed clerk in the prothonotary's office under John Rial. In June 1889, he married Margaret Belle Finley, of Rostraver township, a daughter of Thomas G. and Elizabeth T. Finley. Her ancestors were early settlers in the county. Her great-grand- father was Rev. James Finley, who assisted in organizing and was the first Pastor of the old Rehobeth Church in Rostraver township, a church so noted in Westmoreland history. Among her family were other noted men: Rev. Samuel Finley, president of Princeton College in 1776; and Samuel Finley Breese Morse, the inventor of the electric telegraph. Robert A. Rankin was also clerk in the prothonotary's office under R. A. Hope, and was deputy prothonotary under Lewis Thompson. He was elected prothonotary of Westmoreland county in November, 1897, and filled the office in 1898, 1899 and 1900. In April, 1900, on the organization of the Westmoreland Savings & Trust Company of Greensburg, he was elected assistant secretary and treasurer of the institution, and filled that position until September, 1903, when the governor appointed him register of wills and clerk of the Orphans' court to succeed Samuel C. Stevenson, deceased. At the close of his term of appointment, he was elected to the same position in 1905 by a majority over his opponent of 7823 votes. He has been president of the First National Bank of Webster since its organization, and all these positions he has filled with credit to himself and friends. Since coming to America the Rankins have been energetic and active in politics. The older members of the family were Whigs, who became Republicans upon the birth of that party. Robert A. Rankin has been twice elected chairman of the Republican committee, in 1900 and 1901, in which campaign the party was successful, the majorities reaching from 4000 to 6000. For the last sixteen years he has been a resident of Greensburg. Both he and his wife were communicants of the old Rehobeth Church in Rostraver township beforce coming to Greensburg, since which time they have been members of the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Greensburg, of which Mr. Rankin has been a trustee and treasurer for many years.
Source: Page(s) 114 -115, History of Westmoreland County, Volume 2, Pennsylvania by John N Boucher. New York, The Lewis Publishing Company, 1906.
Transcribed June 2001 by Nathan Zipfel for the Westmoreland County History Project
Contributed for use by the Westmoreland County Genealogy Project (http://www.pa-roots.com/westmoreland/)
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