James Rankin

James Rankin (HM1REF)

Location: Martinez, CA 94553 Contra Costa County
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Country: United States of America
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N 38° 1.08', W 122° 8.7'

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Born in Larnackshire, Scotland, April 25, 1848

Coal miner, store and hotel owner, Justice of the Peace, mine manager and owner, rancher, County Sheriff, banker and community leader.
At seventeen, in 1865, James Rankin left his family and emigrated from Scotland, landing in New York City. In 1869, he made his way to San Francisco and from there to Black Diamond mines, between New York Landing (Pittsburg today) and Clayton.
Between 1868 and 1884, James worked in the mines, rising to mine manager while owning a succession of hotels and general merchandise stores in the now forgotten towns of Somersville, Nortonville, and Stewartsville in steep foothills reminiscent of the Scottish highlands.
In 1879, Rankin married Sara Elizabeth Brown, the sister of his Somersville friend and business partner, Sam Brown.
The year before, Sara had surprised her brother, Sam, when she stepped off the train from Pennsylvania in place of another brother to whom he had sent the ticket she used. The following year, Janet Rankin was born, the first of nine Rankin children.
In 1884, James Rankin was elected Sheriff of Contra Costa County, leading him to bring his growing family to Martinez where they renovated a home on the west side of town. There Rankin established a fruit ranch whose hillside olive orchard is still visible today.
Rankin served two terms as Sheriff while continuing to manage the mines at Somersville and Nortonville. In 1888, he ran unsuccessfully for State Senator on the Republican ticket.
During the late 1880s and 1890s, Rankin divided his time between Martinez, the mines, a 649-acre grain ranch he had developed at McAvoy, near New York Landing, and Europe where he would go for mineral baths.
In 1899, when Bank of Martinez encountered difficulties, its Board of Directors asked him to become its President. He served in this capacity until his death, October 15, 1901, at the age of 53.

In the death of James Rankin, the town and county loses a very estimable citizen. He was very unassuming in manner, but the good that he has done in many directions cannot be estimated. He was always one of the first to put his hand in his pocket to help out any project that would tend to benefit the people. His loss is one that cannot be replaced. He was charitable to a fault, and many a person has to thank him for his start in life. Mr. Rankin was strictly a self made man, and he knew what it was to get a foundation started by self efforts. The town feels its loss keenly. Any community has few enough of this class of men, and it a blow to have them taken away. The sympathy of the entire public is extended to the family in its time of sorrow. — {Editorial from Contra Costa Gazette, October 19, 1901}
Placed ByAlhambra Cemetery Commission
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Saturday, April 2nd, 2016 at 1:01pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)10S E 575049 N 4208157
Decimal Degrees38.01800000, -122.14500000
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 38° 1.08', W 122° 8.7'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds38° 1' 4.8" N, 122° 8' 42" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Area Code(s)510, 925
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling West
Closest Postal AddressAt or near 1-9 Carquinez Scenic Dr, Martinez CA 94553, US
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