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Alfred R. Rankin


Alfred and Fannie

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 Rodehaver, 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.


Fannie in a fanciful ostrich feather hat, and her grave marking her death at age 40, leaving behind 9 children



Uniontown news coverage, 1936

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.

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.


Officials (lower right) examine Sunracer
wreckage on Chestnut Ridge.
ACME photo.

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 at left is the tangled wreckage of the airplane's fuselage dangling in the mountain trees. 

Harold and Robert are seen here, as news photographers were eager to capture their image for publication. Harold's eyewitness remarks later were printed in the Connellsville Daily Courier.


Brothers Harold and Robert Rankin

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.

Alfred, right, with his grandson and wife, Clifford and Betty Hartman



News story, 1968

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.


Brown Cemetery

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 (1908- ? ) was born in 1908. 

She married Jake Hartman. They resided in Smithfield, Fayette County and later circa 1971 in Glendale, PA.

Their children were Clifford Hartman, Harold Hartman, Elizabeth Hartman and Jessie Hartman. 

Son Clifford Hartman married and had a family, and resided in Smithfield.


Brown Cemetery

~ 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.

  • Granddaughter Deborah Rankin married Kenneth Matthews. Circa 2017, their home was in McClellandtown, Fayette County.
  • Granddaughter Charlene Rankin wedded (?) King and (?) Riggin. She resided in 2017 in Smithfield.
  • Granddaughter Janice Rankin was joined in marriage with Randy Bittinger. Their residence in 2017 was in Fairbank, Fayette County.
  • Grandson George A. Rankin Jr. lives in Orlando, FL.
  • Grandson Gerald "Gerry" Rankin dwells in Ocala, FL.


Brown Cemetery

Son Kenneth Rankin (1944-1985) 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. 


Brown Cemetery

~ Son George Howard Rankin ~ 

Son George Howard Rankin (1918-1980) was born in about 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.

He died in 1980, and is buried in Brown Cemetery. A simple metallic plaque marks his final resting place.


~ Daughter Hazel Hilda (Rankin) Rodehaver ~ 

Daughter Hazel Hilda Rankin ( ? - ? ) was born in (?).

She married Joe Rodehaver ( ? - ? ).

The Rodehavers lived in Albright, Preston County, WV. 

Their children were Michael Rodehaver and Wanda Rodehaver.


Copyright © 2000, 2005, 2007, 2012, 2017 Mark A. Miner