Sunday, May 7, 2017

The James Rainey Family: Pulaski County, Kentucky to Indiana c.1851

A photo from a Facebook site called "Abandoned Pulaski County, Kentucky"

Family knowledge of the Raney family, without the help of, begins with James Rainey (b. 1814 - died between 1860 and 1870), who married Milla  (Millie) Roberts in May of 1832 in Pulaski County, Kentucky. They were our 3rd great-grandparents. We think James was born in Virginia, but when asked in censuses after his death, they gave conflicting answers, indicating he removed from Virginia to Kentucky early in his life and didn't recount stories of life in Virginia, or was a quiet man.

Our cousin Pat and our uncle Paul Raney drove to Pulaski County years ago and at the courthouse in Somerset located the marriage license for James Rainey and Milla Roberts, recorded 5 May 1832. That was before these ancestry sites digitized everything for the Internet.  Part of a page in a large tome reads, "James Rainey and Millie Roberts . . . consent of John Roberts . . . my daughter of age."  Someone typed up that large tome, and it's available online, but the handwritten entries aren't.  Millie might have been born in 1810. In some censuses she's listed as older than James; in others James is listed as older.

Pulaski County, Kentucky
 The 1850 census was the first to list the names of family members, a boon to genealogists.  In the Pulaski County census Absolom was born in 1835, James in 1838, Larkin in 1839.  Sarah is listed as the same age as Larkin, so was either his twin or born within a year. Cinthy Ann (Cordelia) was born in 1842; Everett (our great-great grandfather) in 1844; Serena in 1845; and Elizabeth in 1847.  They later had daughter Melvina in 1852, after they moved to Indiana. Absolom, James and Larkin are checked as having attended school, but not the other children. In doing research, I've observed that census takers can be inaccurate and downright sloppy. You'd think Millie would want to get as many children as she could out of the house and down the road, but southern communities were notorious for not providing schools and teachers to rural areas. It often depended on farmers themselves to build a schoolhouse, find a teacher, pay and board him. James himself was illiterate and must have seen no shame in it.  He's listed as a farmer with a real estate value of $200.00, so he owned his own land. In this 1850 census his place of birth is listed as Kentucky, but in the 1860 census in Pike County, Indiana, it's listed as Virginia. In later censuses various children thought his place of birth were those states, but also Tennessee and North Carolina.  Millie's place of birth was consistently listed as Kentucky.

James moved his family north to southern Indiana between the census being taken in 1850 and Melvina being born in Pike County in 1852. He most likely barged them, their possession and livestock down the Cumberland River to the Ohio River, perhaps across it into Illinois and then a short way overland along the river road into southern Indiana. Perhaps others emigrated with them. Extended families and neighbors were interdependent and safety lay in numbers. Travel wasn't as dangerous as  in earlier years when their parents moved from Virginia and eastern Kentucky to Pulaski County. The Indian threat was gone, but strangers met along the way weren't to be trusted.   And what would they find when they arrived? But they might have had connections with families who'd already resettled in Indiana. Others had earlier moved from Pulaski County to Indiana - our Turpin forebears for one. And a Turpin had married a Roberts in Pulaski, possibly Millie's aunt, and moved up to Indiana. Word may have come back of how fine a place it was.

What made James decide to pull up stakes? The eternal question that always involves land. Indiana was the place of new hopes in the 1830s, twenty years earlier. Perhaps James' Kentucky land was barely maintaining his large family.

Cumberland River flowing through Pulaski County into Tennessee and then up to the Ohio River.

The 1860 census of Pike County, Indiana, finds James (age 46) owning his own land, which he valued at $250.00 and his personal property at $300.00. Nearby established farms were valued at three and four times more.  Neither he, Milla (age 50), James [it reads Jason] (age 22), Cynthia (age 19) could read or write (or so the census taker ticked under that heading). Everett (age 17) could read and write. Serena, age 15 had attended school; but Elizabeth, age 11, and Melvina, age 8, are not checked off under "attended school." In this 1860 census Absolom, Larkin and Sarah were no longer residing at home. Sarah would have been about 21. Had she married and had her own household?

Pike County, Indiana

James Rainey doesn't appear in the 1870 census. Instead, Millie is shown as head of family, with son Everett Rainey, his wife Nancy Jane (Dougan), and his young family either living in a house on Millie's property or renting the next farm over. I can locate no grave-site for James.

The Civil War had a major effect on the development of Indiana. Before the war, the population was generally in the southern part of the state, many settlers having entered via the Ohio River, and then using it as a cheap and convenient means of exporting products and agriculture to New Orleans to be sold. The war closed the Mississippi River to traffic for nearly four years, forcing Indiana to find other means to export its produce. This caused a population shift north, relying more on the Great Lakes and the railroad for exports. Ohio River ports, stifled by an embargo on the Confederate South, never fully recovered economic prominence; consequently southern Indiana fell into a post-war economic decline.  

Oldest child Absalom married Mary Jane Riddle in 1853, reared a family, and died in Warrick County, Indiana, in 1907, age 72. In the 1860 census he is listed as a farmer, owning his own land, and has three sons, James, William and Warden. The name William may be connected to both the Rainey and Roberts forebears. Absolom enlisted in Company G, Indiana 59th Infantry Regiment on 11 Feb 1862, but mustered out five weeks later at St Louis, Missouri. He came home before Everett enlisted in August of 1862. In the 1880 census he listed four additional children.

Second son James Rainey is difficult to place, James being a common Rainey name, but a person on, who claims descent from him, shows him marrying in 1858 and moving to Covington, Kentucky, fathering 11 children and dying in 1888. He also claims he served in the Union army, but the paperwork I saw online indicates only that he registered for the draft. Here is a photograph of this James Rainey's son, Luther Rainey. Perhaps there is a family resemblance, although that's quite a long chin he has.
Luther Albert Rainey (born 1872, Harrison County, Kentucky - died 1916, Pike County, Missouri)

Larkin Rainey, born in 1839, married two sisters - 1858 to Eleanor Lance (1840-1863), with whom he had three children, and then to Martha Lance (1844-1880), with whom he had four children. In 1870 he appears to be farming land leased from his well-off father-in-law, for he lives next to him. In the 1900 census Larkin, then 64, is working as a "servant" on a farm owned by James Julian. You remember the Julians - Alice was married to our 3rd great-grandfather William Hill Dyson in Kentucky by our 4th great-grandfather, the Reverend Samuel Denton Julian, and the entire Julian family moved to southern Indiana. James Julian must have been Alice's nephew or great-nephew. Poor old Larkin, in the 1910 census he's 72 years old and an inmate at the Gibson County Farm, on which he works for wages.  Where were all his children, that he ended up destitute? Or was he so ornery or demented, no child would take him in.  He died in 1914 at 75 and probably was buried at the county farm, for I've found no grave-site.

As for Sarah Rainey, born in 1839 or 1840, I'm unable to find anything about her. She might have died before the 1860 census or married, her husband's name unknown.

Cynthy Ann Rainey, real name Cordelia Ann, born 1842, married in 1870 Robert Barrett, a widower with two children. He was a miller by trade then, but became a farmer. By 1880 they had four children of their own - Dora, Alonzo, Fines and Henry. In the 1900 census she's listed as having been a widow for 10 years, having had 10 births, but only four living children. She had her son Finis with her and a woman with a baby as boarders. She rented her home and claimed to have been born in Missouri - a census-taker error or some dementia on her part?  Either she died or she is the Cordelia Barrett, who by 1910 was an inmate at the Pike County Poor Farm, remaining there until her death in 1924. Probably buried there without a tombstone. 1910 and 1920 census information came from the institution's records. Her place of birth is again given as Missouri, and it states she has no children. She certainly appears abandoned.  The facility was closed in 1949 and is now the grounds of the high school. How did two members of James Rainey's family end up at poor farms? Did they live too long? Did they develop dementia? Without property or a veteran's pension or children who would or could take them in, they became charity cases.

Pike County Poor Farm about the time of its closing in 1948

Serena Susana Rainey, born in 1845, married Civil War veteran William H. Mason (42nd Indiana Infantry Regiment) on December 4, 1865, using the name Susana Rainey for the license, but the minister entered Serena on the certificate, perhaps because that's what he called her.  They had children James, Elmer, Effie, Willa, Rosa and George and lived in Lewis County, Kentucky.

Lewis County, Kentucky
William sought an invalid status veteran's pension in 1880.  Serena was widowed in 1895 and in that year applied for veteran's widow benefits. In 1898 she requested a certified copy of her marriage certificate, perhaps because her application was initially denied.

The 1900 census in Lewis County, Kentucky, states that she owns her farm.  She died of influenza in 1923. I posted her no-nonsense-looking photograph in Everett Rainey's story, part 5 HERE 

Serena Rainey Mason tombstone.
We've covered Everett Rainey's life (1844-1899), beginning HERE

Elizabeth Rainey (1848-1924) married about 1870 William W. Heath (1838-1892), a Civil War veteran, who served with the  42d Indiana Infantry Regiment from 1861 to 1865. They had children Henry Franklin "Frank", Mary, Charles and Lafayette. I can't find Elizabeth's grave-site, but she applied for a veteran's widow pension in 1892. They appear to have tried homesteading in Kansas after their marriage - two children born there - but returned to Pike County by the 1880 census. Elizabeth owned her own home in Pike County in 1910 and had a 7-year-old orphaned granddaughter, Oda Warner, living with her. She died in Posey County, Indiana, in December, 1924.
Posey County, Indiana
And that leaves the youngest daughter, Melvina Rainey (1852-1885), who married David Hanover (1856-1935). He was born in Alabama and could neither read nor write.  He was a farmer and they lived in Pike County, Indiana. It was with Melvina that their mother Millie Rainey was living when the 1880 census was taken. Millie, then 72,  was described in the census as "struck with thunder" and the box "maimed, crippled or bedridden" was ticked.  She'd most likely had a stroke. In that year Melvina also had 6-month old Elizabeth to care for -- and had only a few years left to live. 

Life was difficult and relatively short for most of this family, but Indiana must have been a peaceful and lovely place to reside.

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