Fred H. Keller | Retrospect
Brotherly love: Humphrey Rankin, 1840-1901
Humphrey Rankin married his dead brother’s wife, Charlotte Greengo Rankin on May 15, 1875, 19 months after her first husband died of typhoid fever. She became Charlotte Greengo Rankin Rankin. Humphrey died in 1901 while Charlotte was involved in a disastrous runaway horse and buggy accident on Hillside Road below Harris Hill on Aug 16, 1912. Photo by:
There is brotherly love and tragedy in the life of Lisbon pioneer Humphrey Rankin (1840-1901).
He was the fourth-born of 10 children of James and Mary Keyes Rankin, Scotch-Irish immigrants to the United States, who came to Lisbon in 1843, when Humphrey was only 3 years old. At that time, his parents had five children, four born in New York and Massachusetts and a fifth who was born in Racine as the family was traveling west to Wisconsin. Now there would be a sixth born, James Rankin Jr., on March 24, 1844, born in Lisbon, and this younger brother would have a profound tie to his immediate older brother, Humphrey, 28 years later.
The Rankin family initially claimed an 80-acre claim on what is Plainview Road, east of Hillside Road and east of Highway 164, and would later add 60 more ares. Today, this land belongs to the Payne and Dolan gravel pit business. This is where Humphrey would raise up to a grown man.
Humphrey was a self-educated man, attending the original one-room school houses of Lisbon. He pursued a higher education at the Spencerian Business College in Milwaukee and became a successful teacher starting at age 23. His school teaching career in Waukesha County lasted 14 years.
Now the event of brotherly love also occurred just as he was into his teaching career. His younger brother, James Rankin Jr, born in 1844, grew to manhood and married the 21-year-old Charlotte Greengo on Oct. 15, 1870. James was 26 years old. He would die Oct. 15, 1873 of Typhoid Fever, leaving a young widow. Just prior to his death, James had acquired 40 acres of farmland on what would today be the north side of Good Hope Road, and its extension to Highway 164 and beyond, into which he had built a home and was a struggling farmer.
Now on his sudden death, the burial was from the Lisbon United Presbyterian Church into the Lisbon Central Cemetery. The Rankin family has a piece of family lore that the bereaved Charlotte stood at the grave hold as her husband was being buried and uttered, "And now who will take care of me?" The unmarried Humphrey quickly answered, "I will."
Nineteen months later, she married Humphrey on May 15, 1875. Now the proper name for the remarried Charlotte was "Charlotte Greengo Rankin Rankin." Her parents were also Lisbon pioneers, Jesse and Mary Ann (Potter) Greengo, who were natives of England. They had a claim over by Town Line road, south of North Lisbon Road. The Greengo family was equally as famous in the Town of Lisbon ( and later Sussex) as the Rankin Family.
On the marriage, Humphrey was into this teaching years in Waukesha, but he would also farm the former James Rankin Jr. farm. After 14 years of teaching, Humphrey became only a farmer, and a very successful one. The couple was highly respected int eh community. They were in enviable positions in the social circles. Hew as 35-years-old when he married Charlotte, and she was only 26. They would have one child, Mary K, who married in 1909 Arthur Beauieu, who eventually took over the James-Humprey-Charlotte farm of 40 acres. As there was no son, the Rankin family name did not continue in this branch of the family.
Humphrey first voted for Abraham Lincoln, and was a Republican, as were most of the Rankin family, but he did change to a Democrat in later years. He served as a Lisbon supervisor and as clerk of the Board of School Directors. He was a frequent delegate to county conventions, fearless in expressing his convictions and in no uncertain way he indicates on which side of the question he may be found.
Unsaid about Humphrey was he always walked with a limp. Family history says that his limp was caused by a childhood (baby) period when he was dropped and injured.
Humphrey died at his farm home on Hillside Road, just north of Good Hope Road, on April 11, 1901, after nearly 26 years of marriage to Charlotte. The cause of his death was acute diabetes.
Charlotte would live on, see her daughter married and she would die in a tragic runaway horse accident on Hillside Road. The horse and buggy was cresting the "Harris Hill," the highpoint of Hillside Road, when the horse was spooked by a malfunction of the harness and took off running to the nearby Wildish farm. Charlotte was thrown from the buggy, striking her head and neck on a tree, instantly killing her. She died Aug. 26, 1912, at the age of 63.
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