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G.M. Rankin

Page 688-689
G.M. Rankin, whose reminiscences form one of the interesting portions of Arkansas history, came to this State in 1837. The only other settler in that section at that period was Hezekiah Jenkins, who lived at Red Ferry, near the mouth of the Fourche. This man remained in that part of the country until the outbreak of war, when a difference of opinion led to his death, he being called to his door one night and shot down. Jedediah Rankin, the father of G.M., moved to Perry County in 1832. Shortly after the arrival of the Rankins, other settlers commenced to arrive, the next one being Robert Cook, who located about three miles from Red Ferry and then came John Greathouse, Robert Rankin, who settled at a point southwest of Perryville, John and Thomas McCabe and Dave Bland, who located on the north side of the Fourche, the widow Hanwell and her brother, who lived on what is now the Rising place, and the present site of Perryville was first occupied by a settler named Klingelhoefer. That portion of the Fourche near the forks was rapidly filled up, some of the first settlers being the Bowers, Lackeys, Williams, Aplins and Wades, and a few miles above was where old William Houston located. The first boat that ever plied up and down the river was a primitive affair called the "Inspector", which had a capacity of twenty five bales of cotton, besides a few barrels of whisky, it being currently reported at that time that the latter community never paid any revenue; however, that was something that troubled the settlers but very little. The first court of justice ever held in Perry County was presided over by Judge Claudman, and the most notable case brought to trial at that period was that of a man named Lively for the murder of a fellow being named McCool. The case dragged along for several years and was finally settled by the defendant being killed while under guard. The court was held in an old log cabin, about sixteen feet square and the grand jury held its session in the bushes a few feet away. The clerk, sheriff and county judge was John Rising, who filled all three offices for fourteen years. The first saw mill ever put up was one erected by a man named Madden, near the forks of the Fourche, and was operated by water power. It was not until 1878 that a steam mill was built when one was operated by Rankin & Bland, The county seat of Perry County was first located, it is believed, by a man named McCain, although the authorities on that point are not certain. G.M. Rankin was born within one half mile of the famous Guilford Courthouse in Guilford County NC Aug 1, 1821 and is the son of Jedediah Rankin of that State who was pressed into service as a wagoner during the War of 1812. The grandfather, Robert Rankin, was a Revolutionary soldier, and took part in the battle of Guilford Courthouse. He had just served out his time in the regular army and had returned home when the fight occurred, after which he piloted Gen Greene eighteen miles through the country and was then dismissed. Jedediah Rankin and his wife were the parents of five children, of whom two died when very young. The oldest, Catherine, was born in 1812, and married a man named Kidd, now residing in Texas. The next was Polly Ann, who married a Capt Wilson of Arkansas, in which state she died in 1863; and G.M. Rankin, who after his mother's death, in 1827, lived with an uncle named Robert Rankin until 1837, when he moved to Arkansas and joined his father, who had preceded him about five years. He resided with his father until his marriage and then made a home of his own, when the elder Rankin came to live with them until his death in 1862 at the age of seventy nine years, his wife dying in 1882 at the age of eighty one years. The mother's father was a cousin of Hugh White, a once noted congressman of Arkansas and her grandfather fought under Gen Jackson in the battle of New Orleans. The marriage of G.M. Rankin, which occurred on December 12, 1841 was with Miss Elizabeth J. Alexander, a daughter of John Alexander, one of the survivors of the battle of White Plains in 1812 who was captured by the enemy at that time, but made his escape by swimming the Maumee River. Fourteen children were born to Mr Rankin and his wife, of whom seven are yet living: Robert N. (born June 10, 1844, but died while an infant), W.H.B. (born 1849, now a merchant in Perryville), Polly Ann (born April 1851, died January 1863), Catherine (born April 1853, wife of John Bland of Perryville), John Rankin (born April 1855, died December 1880), Isabella (born 1857, died January 1877), Henry (born 1859), Lousetta (born December 25, 1861, wife of George Bland residing in California), Edmund (born December 26, 1864, died in Texas in 1886), Betsey J. (born March 1867, wife of E.B. Rorey residing in Perry County), Madison M. (born March 3, 1869). Mr Rankin served several months through the war, and fought under Gen Marmaduke. He took part in a number of battles and skirmishes but was never wounded, and even after returning to his home, was shot at over twenty times by his enemies, but always escaped without a scratch. He lost everything he possessed during the war, excepting his land, but being a man of energy and determination, he slowly came back into prosperity and now owns about 1040 acres of land, having some 125 acres under a high state of cultivation with a good dwelling, outbuildings and a number of tenant houses, besides three wells ande a splendid orchard. In politics he is a Democrat and in religion he attends the Methodist Church with his wife. Mr Rankin served on the first grand jury in Perry County and has served once a year ever since until late years which his advanced age will not admit of his doing.