Alfred R. Rankin was born on Nov. 29, 1876 in Wharton Township, Fayette County, PA, the son of Robert and Hester (Minerd) Rankin.
On May 19, 1903, when he was age 26, Alfred married 21-year-old Fannie Sutton Burkholder (1881-1923), the daughter of George and Margaret Burkholder. The ceremony was held at St. Peter's Church in Uniontown, by the hand of Rev. Thomas J. Cartwright. He was five years older than his bride -- he 26, and she 21 at the time of marriage.
The Rankins produced nine children – Albert Thomas Rankin, Emmett Rankin, Harold A. Rankin, James Orvel Rankin, Gertrude Alverta Maust Myers, Ethel Marie Hartman, Hazel Hilda Rodeheaver, Robert Hamilton "Poke" Rankin and George Howard Rankin.
The Rankins resided in Fairchance, Wharton Township. When the federal census was taken in 1910, Alfred and Fannie made their home as farmers with their four children plus Fannie's sister Hilda M. Burkholder, age 18. Living nearby were his aged parents; brother and sister in law George W. and Lillie (Fields) Rankin; and sister and brother in law Sarah and Charles J. Addis.
Heartache rocked the family twice in the decade of the 1910s when two of their young sons died in the middle of winter. James Orvel, afflicted with an abscess of his middle ear ("mastoiditis"), died on Feb. 22, 1913, at the age of one. Emmett passed away four years later on March 8, 1917 at the age of three years of bronchial pneumonia and whooping cough ("pertussis"). Both lads were buried in Brown Cemetery near Elliottsville.
In 1920, census records show Alfred and Fannie and their five middle children living under one roof in Wharton Township.
Tragically, Fannie died of pneumonia at age 40 on March 3, 1923. She was laid to eternal rest in the Brown Cemetery near Elliottsville, Fayette County. Her upright grave marker was still legible when photographed in the summer of 1995.
Alfred never remarried over the span of his long lifetime.
In 1936, Alfred and his sons Harold and Robert made headline news when they helped rescue victims of a terrible airplane crash. That year, on April 6, 1936, a TWA airliner named the Sunracer plunged into the foggy mountains above Uniontown. Everyone was killed except the flight attendant and two passengers.
The attendant somehow escaped the wreckage and stumbled to the home of Alfred’s nephew, Ray Addis. Ray's wife Clara telephoned neighbors and friends for help. Alfred and his brother George and sons Harold and Robert all went together to the wreckage to help find and rescue survivors.
Once on the scene, "they had to claw their way through trees and underbrush up the steep hill to the wreckage," writes Uniontown historian Walter "Buzz" Storey in his book Stories of Uniontown. Seen here is the tangled wreckage of the airplane's fuselage dangling in the mountain trees.
Harold and Robert were photographed by news reporters who were eager to capture their image for publication. Harold's eyewitness remarks later were printed in the Connellsville Daily Courier.
Alfred outlived Fannie by nearly a half-century, and made his home at High Point near Fairchance.
In November 1947, when Alfred celebrated his 72nd birthday, his children threw him a birthday party at his home. Among the guests, reported the Uniontown Morning Herald, were Mr. and Mrs. Robert Rankin, Mr. and Mrs. Harold Rankin, son George and Kenneth, High Point; Mr. and Mrs. Jake Hartman and family, Clifford, Harold, Elizabeth and Jessie, of Smithfield; Mr. and Mrs. Harry P. Maust, Elliottsville; George Rankin, High Point, and John Rankin, Elliottsville; Mr. and Mrs. Roy Snowdon, and the guest of honor... Numerous gifts were a feature of the occasion." His 89th birthday party, in October 1965, also made news in the Morning Herald.
Alfred also hosted the 14th annual Rankin Reunion at his farm in High Point in August 1962. Officers elected that year were his daughter Ethel Hartman, president; Gladys Sharp, vice president; Grace Snowdon, secretary; Roy Snowdon, treasurer; and Elizabeth Maust and Donna Jean Hartman, entertainment committee. In a news story in the Morning Herald, Grace invited "relatives and friends to be present at the next reunion [at Alfred's farm]... Dinner will be in the form of a basket picnic." By July 1966, the reunion had moved to Lick Hollow Park, and was dubbed the "reunion of the Alfred Rankin clan," with coverage in the Morning Herald.
In the fall of 1968, when Alfred turned 93, he was profiled in an October newspaper article following a birthday party thrown by his son Robert in Fairchance. The article noted that Alfred had five children living, 21 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren. Those attending the party, reported the newspaper, were:
Mr. and Mrs. Joe Rodeheaver and children Michael and Wanda of Albright; Mrs. Jake Hartman and Ed, Skip, Ann and Harold; Mrs. Gertrude Myers, Pete Rankin, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Rankin and sons Fred and Bobbie of Fairchance; Mr. and Mrs. William Casteel and family of Terra Alta; Mrs. Melvin Strahin and daughters Patty Joe and Shirley Lynn of Albright; Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Loughry and son Randy of Newburg; Mr. and Mrs. Fred Shay and daughter Diane of Newburg; Mr. and Mrs. George Cramer of Albright; Mrs. Clyde Maust and daughters of Brownfield, Pa.; Jesse Hartman and son of Smithfield, Pa.; Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Rodeheaver of Albright and Kenny, Jesse and Mark Rankin of Smithfield, Pa.
Alfred died on Feb. 28, 1971, at the advanced age of 95. Following a funeral service held in the Wagner-Cooley Funeral Home in Fairchance, led by Dr. Earl P. Confer, he was laid to rest beside Fannie at the Brown Cemetery. They were rejoined in eternity after a separation of 48 years, almost half a century.
At his death, reported the Uniontown Morning Herald, he was survived by 21 grandchildren and 28 great-grandchildren.
He does not have a stone to indicate his final resting place, but his grave is marked with a small metal plaque that was legible when photographed in 1995.
~ Son Albert Thomas Rankin ~
Son Albert Thomas Rankin (1904- ? ) was born in 1904.
Nothing more about his fate is known.
~ Daughter Gertrude Alverta (Rankin) Maust Myers ~
Daughter Gertrude Alverta Rankin (1906- ? ) was born in 1906. She was twice married.
Her first husband was Harry P. Maust (1899- ? ). They had at least one daughter, Grace Snowdon.
When the federal census was taken in 1930, the Mausts made their home in the Grant District of Preston County, WV. Gertrude's young brother, George, age 11, lived under their roof. Harry worked that year as a farm laborer.
In 1947, they resided in Elliottsville, Fayette County.
On Oct. 5, 1957, she wedded her second spouse, 55-year-old Uriah Myers ( ? - ? ), in a "quiet ceremony" in Leechburg, near Pittsburgh, said the Morning Herald. Uriah had been married once before, and had an adult son, Harold Myers. He was employed by United States Steel Corporation in the Pittsburgh area.
Gertrude and Uriah lived in Leechburg for a number of years. In August 1962, Grace was elected president of the Rankin family reunion, held at her father's farm at High Point near Uniontown. In a news story in the Morning Herald, she invited "relatives and friends to be present at the next reunion [at Alfred's farm]... Dinner will be in the form of a basket picnic."
Later, circa 1967, the Myerses returned to High Point, near Uniontown.
Uriah died at the age of 66, at Uniontown Hospital, on Sept. 25, 1968. Following a viewing in Leechburg, he was laid to rest there in Forks Church Cemetery with Rev. Randall Peters handling the service.
Daughter Grace Rankin wed Roy Snowdon. They had one known son, Harry Snowdon. Their home in 1962 was in Elliottsville and in 1965 was in Uniontown. When the 14th annual Rankin Reunion was held at the High Point farm of Grace's grandfather Alfred Rankin in August 1962, Grace was elected secretary and Roy was tapped as treasurer.
~ Daughter Ethel Marie (Rankin) Hartman ~
Daughter Ethel Marie Rankin (1907-1993) was born on July 31, 1907.
She married Jacob Hartman (1898-1978).
Their children were Clifford L. Hartman, Harold Hartman, Elizabeth Hartman and Jesse Hartman, plus unnamed, infant twin sons who died within days of birth in September 1926. They also raised a foster daughter, Edna Guthrie.
Jacob earned a living circa 1930 as a teamster for a lumber mill near Fairchance. That year, Ethel's motherless, younger sister Hazel lived in their home along Glendale School Road.
By 1940, still in Georges Township, Jacob earned a living as a laborer with the Works Progress Administration. During the Great Depression, the WPA was one of the ways President Roosevelt and the federal government tried to overcome widespread unemployment. It is widely considered one of the Roosevelt's largest and most ambitious undertakings of his "New Deal" to get the nation back on sound economic footing. Over the years, the WPA hired millions of out-of-work individuals to build public works projects, such as roads, bridges, retaining walls and buildings. Many of these structures still exist today and continue to benefit society.
The family resided in Smithfield, Fayette County and later circa 1971 in Glendale, PA.
Jacob passed away on Nov. 21, 1978.
Ethel lived as a widow for another nearly five years. She was carried away by the Angel of Death on July 11, 1993. Burial was in the Miller-Sisler Cemetery in Haydentown.
Son Clifford L. Hartman (1927-2008) was born on Dec. 13, 1927. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army. In about 1953, he married Betty Dice ( ? - ? ), daughter of Lloyd and Marie (Cramer) Dice. Their marriage endured for 54 years. They resided in Smithfield and were the parents of Cindy Rankin, Jacob D. Hartman, Linda Smith, William Hartman and Sherri Wrona. The Hartmans resided in Haydentown near Smithfield. For 17 years, Clifford was employed by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad. He then spent 22 years working for Fike's Dairy in Uniontown, retiring in 1988. In August 1954, the family is known to have attended the fifth annual Rankin reunion, held on the farm of Jake Rankin. Then in November 1955, they took part in the 80th birthday dinner for Clifford's grandfather, Alfred Rankin, with their names published in the gossip columns of the Uniontown Evening Standard. The Hartmans went to the 20th reunion of the John Cramer family, held in September 1977 in Haydentown at Rainbow Park. Clifford died on the third day of the new year in 2008, as a patient at UPMC Shadyside Hospital in Pittsburgh. His remains were returned for burial in Haydentown at the Miller-Sisler Cemetery. Rev. George W. McLaughlin preached the funeral sermon. An obituary was printed in the Morgantown Dominion Post.
Son Harold Hartman (1930- ? ) was born in about 1930.
Daughter Elizabeth Hartman (1933- ? ) was born in about 1933.
Son Jesse Hartman (1936- ? ) was born on June 6, 1936. He resided in Smithfield. He passed into eternity on June 27, 2006.
Foster daughter Edna Guthrie ( ? - ? ) was deceased by 2008.
~ Son Harold A. Rankin ~
Son Harold A. Rankin (1909-1967) was born in 1909.
He married Lu (or "Mary") Ellen Rule ( ? - ? ).
Their four children were Jessie Dice, George A. "Buck" Rankin, Kenneth Rankin and Mark Rankin.
The Uniontown Evening Standard said he "was a lumberman by trade."
After suffering from what the newspaper called "an extended illness," he died on Dec. 3, 1967, at the age of 58. He is buried in the Brown Cemetery near Elliottsville after a funeral service led by Rev. Earl P. Confer. His grave marker was photographed by the founder of this website in August 1995.
Daughter Jessie Rankin ( ? - ? ) married (?) Dice. She lived in Haydentown in 2017.
Son George A. "Buck" Rankin (1941-2017) was born on July 19, 2017 in Haydentown, near Smithfield. At the age of 25, in 1966, he was joined in marriage with Judy Barber ( ? - ? ), and remained together for 51 years until the separation of death. They initially dwelled in New Geneva, Fayette County. They produced five offspring -- Deborah Matthews, Charlene King Riggin, Janice Bittinger, George A. Rankin Jr. and Gerald "Gerry" Rankin. George earned a living with employment at Frey Lumber Company. Circa 2017, their home was in Oliphant Furnace, Fayette County. George died at the age of 76 on July 19, 2017. Burial was in Mountain View Memorial Park, with Rev. David Watson leading the funeral service. An obituary was printed in the Uniontown Herald-Standard.
Son Kenneth Rankin (1944-1985) was born in 1944. He resided at High Point. He was married and had children. He died in 1985, at the age of 41, with burial in Brown Cemetery. His grave is marked with a small metal plaque, and in 1995 was decorated with a pink floral bouquet spelling out the word "DAD."
Son Mark Rankin ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). He wedded Cindy ( ? - ? ). Circa 2017, the Rankins live in Haydentown, Fayette County.
~ Son Robert Hamilton "Poke" Rankin ~
Son Robert Hamilton "Poke" Rankin (1916- ? ) was born in about 1916.
He was married.
Circa 1947, he lived at High Point, Fayette County. By 1968, he was in Fairchance, Fayette County.
Nothing more is known.
~ Son George Howard Rankin ~
Son George Howard Rankin (1918-1980) was born on Aug. 31, 1918.
Motherless at age 11, in 1930, he made his home with his married sister Gertude Maust in the Grant District of Preston County, WV.
He later returned to High Point, Fayette County, where he resided with or near his widowed father.
George's final years were spent in Farmington, Fayette County.
He died at the age of 61 in May 1980, with interment of the remains in Brown Cemetery. A simple metallic plaque marked his final resting place when photographed in 1995.
~ Daughter Hazel Hilda (Rankin) Rodeheaver ~
Daughter Hazel Hilda Rankin (1921-1990) was born on Dec. 14, 1921 in Fayette County. She was only a year-and-a-half in age when her mother died.
On the Fourth of July 1940, when she was 18 years of age, she married 28-year-old Josiah "Joe" Rodeheaver (April 24, 1912-1989), son of Ulysses S. Grant and Lillie May (Teets) Rodeheaver. The Rodeheaver name goes way back in history in Preston County, WV.
The Rodeheavers lived in Albright, Preston County.
Their family of 10 known children were Patsy Strahin, JoAnn Shay, Ida Loughry, Betty Casteel, Linda Sue Funk, Marvin Rodeheaver, Peggy Cramer, Benny Joe "Ben" Rodeheaver, Michael Rodeheaver and Wanda Kay Rodeheaver.
Hazel was an expert baker and always added extra sugar to her breads.
Josiah passed away on Nov. 24, 1989 at the age of 77.
Hazel followed him into death nearly a year later, at age 68, on Oct. 18, 1990.
Daughter Patsy Lee Rodeheaver (1936-2019) was born on Nov. 2, 1936 in Fayette County. On March 24, 1956, when she was about 19 years of age, she wedded Melvin Sunday Strahin (Sept. 22, 1929-2006), son of Arthur Filmore and Sarah Alice (McDaniel) Strahin of Morgantown, Monongalia County WV. The marriage lasted for more than half a century until death. The couple bore four offspring -- Joseph Lee "Joey" Strahin, Melvin Junior Strahin, Shirley Stout Friend and Patty Markley. Son Melvin was born during a 1958 visit to Preston County. Melvin served with the U.S. Army during the Korean War. The family lived in Akron, OH circa 1957-1967 where their son Joseph and daughters Shirley and Patty were born. Later, they relocated to Albright, Preston County, WV. Sadly, Melvin died at the age of 76 in Kingwood on June 1, 2006. Patsy survived her husband by nearly a baker's dozen years. At the age of 82, she passed away in Preston County on Feb. 25, 2019. Her remains were cremated and scattered over Melvin's grave in Oak Grove Cemetery in Terra Alta, Preston County.
Daughter JoAnn Rodeheaver (1940-living was born on Sept. 30, 1940. On June 30, 1962, at the age of 21, she was joined in matrimony with 30-year-old Frederick Otis Shay Sr. (Sept. 20, 1931-2006), son of Holden Benjamin and Ethel (Myers) Shay of the Lantz Ridge community near Rowlesburg, Preston County. The marriage lasted for 44 years. The children born to this marriage were Frederick Otis Shay Jr. and Diane Shay. Fred worked for Sterling Faucet as a machine operator for 33 years. He also performed maintenance at the Preston County bureau of the Morgantown Dominion Post and at the Preston County Courthouse in Kingwood. Sadly, Fred passed into eternity on Oct. 2, 2006, at the age of 75, as a patient in Monongalia General Hospital. Burial of the remains was in Parnell Cemetery in Cuzzart, Preston County. JoAnn outlived her husband, and her home in 2019 was in Newburg, Preston County.
Daughter Ida Rodeheaver ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). She wedded Samuel Loughry ( ? - ? ), a native of Newburg, Preston County. They are the parents of a son.
Daughter Betty Rodeheaver ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). Circa 1960, she was united in the bonds of matrimony with William Casteel (Aug. 7, 1934-2014) of Cuzzart, Preston County and the son of Jesse Oscar and Goldie Mae (Miller) Casteel. The couple remained married for 54 years. They produced a family of seven children -- Ralph Casteel, Jonathan "Bubby" Casteel, Justin Casteel, Joyce Cupp, Donna Cupp, Billie Jo Sigley and Heidi Huffman. William owned and operated his own business, Casteel's Excavating. He also was employed at Terra Alta Limestone, Terra Alta State Road and Grafton Coal Company. Sadly, William died in Ruby Memorial Hospital in nearby Morgantown, Monongalia County at the age of 79 on Aug. 5, 2014. An obituary noted that his survivors were counted as 27 grandchildren and 19 great-great grandchildren. Rev. Larry A. Anderson preached with funeral sermon, with the remains lowered into repose in Oak Grove Cemetery in Terra Alta.
Daughter Linda Sue Rodeheaver (1944-2016) was born on May 1, 1944. At the age of 20, on Jan. 25, 1965, she married Raymond Lee Funk Sr. (July 4, 1944-2009), the son of Ervin Coy and Anna Pearl (Beatty) Funk of Terra Alta. The couple went on to a married life spanning 44 years. Their brood of offspring were Raymond Lee Funk Jr., Rebekah K. Newman, Rose A. Thomas and Loree A. Pritt. For 33 years, Raymond was employed by Greer Limestone Company. they belonged to the Terra Alta Wesleyan Church. Sadly, as his health failed, Raymond was admitted to Garrett Memorial Hospital in nearby Oakland, MD. There, he died on March 24, 2009. At the age of 71, Linda joined him in eternity on April 24, 2016. They are at eternal rest in Pine Grove Cemetery in Preston County.
Son Marvin Rodeheaver ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). He married Mary Cramer ( ? - ? ) of Terra Alta, Preston County. Her brother Thomas married his sister Peggy. They have made a home in Albright, Preston County and produced two daughters.
Daughter Peggy Rodeheaver ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). She wedded Thomas Cramer ( ? - ? ) of Terra Alta, Preston County. His brother Marvin married her sister Mary Cramer. They have three sons.
Son Benny Joe "Ben" Rodeheaver (1950-2020) was born on Nov. 5, 1950 in Albright, Preston County. He was joined in marriage with Thelma Marie (Adams) Sawyer (Dec. 11, 1944-2020), daughter of Mary Elizabeth Adams of Kingwood. The groom was six years younger than the bride. Having apparently been married before, she brought two sons to the marriage -- Charles "Chuck" Sawyer and Thomas "Tom" Sawyer. Their union endured for 45 years. Ben was self-employed as operator of Ben's Home Improvement in Kingwood. He and Thelma delivered Morgantown Dominion Post newspapers on their route for two decades until the end of their lives. She liked to bake, especially wedding cakes, and to cook. She was a member of the Valley Point Aostolic Church. The Angel of Death carried away both Ben amd Thelma a day apart, she on Feb. 4, 2020 and he on Feb. 5 in Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. Rev. J.W. Kelley officiated at the funeral service, with burial in Sunset Memorial Gardens Mausoleum. The family asked in an obituary that any memorial donations please be made to Valley Point church in Albright.
Son Michael Rodeheaver ( ? - ? ) was born in (?). He never married. Michael lives in Albright.
Daughter Wanda Kay Rodeheaver (1955-1973) was born on May 26, 1955. Tragically, at the age of 18, she and a friend were killed in an automobile accident on July 9, 1973, near the Valley Iron Furnace on the outskirts of Albright. Her remains were placed into eternal rest in Parnell Cemetery in Cuzzart, Preston County.
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