20 A note about research

You may be wondering how a researcher can come up with information about these people to fill in the details of their lives around the information provided in the letters. There are many sources, and I’ll mention them throughout the course of this archive. One of them is the trove of genealogical volumes published in the second half of the nineteenth century and collected by the Mormons for their genealogical studies. One such volume was an 1890 book by Samuel P. May, called The Descendants of Richard Sares (Sears) of Yarmouth, Mass., 1638-1888. It is available in the Internet Archive at https://archive.org/details/descendantsofric00mays/page/n7 , but a useful synopsis of the data found there was made and published to the web by L. Ray Sears in 2002. It is available at http://www.searsr.com/richard1/ and the page that describes the Ranneys looks like this:


  1. Achsah Sears(PaulDaniel , Paul , Paul , Richard ) was born 11 Apr 1789 in Ashfield, MA. She died 7 Aug 1869 and was buried in , 570.

Mayflower Index: No 29,883

Achsah married George Ranney, son of George Ranney and Esther Hall, on 11 Nov 1811 in Ashfield, MA. George was born 12 May 1789 in Ashfield, MA. He died 9 Sep 1842 in Phelps, NY.

They had the following children:

3365 M i Alonzo Franklin Ranney was born 13 Sep 1812 in .
3366 M ii George Lewis Ranney was born 10 Mar 1815 in . He died Apr 1881 in Hillsdale, MI.
George married Sarah McConnell. Sarah was born 1819 in .
+ 3367 M iii Henry Sears Ranney
+ 3368 M iv Lucius Ranney
3369 M v Harrison J Ranney was born 4 Mar 1824 in .

S.P. May Handnote p.141 Merchant in Clearwater, MN

Harrison married Living
3370 M vi Lyman A Ranney was born 1 Aug 1828 in . He died 7 Mar 1854 in Van Buren, Unm., AR.
+ 3371 M vii Lemuel S Ranney
+ 3372 M viii Anson B Ranney


In spite of the fact this is a book about the Sears family rather than the Ranneys, there’s a lot of useful information here, including the names of wives and children, and the dates and locations of people’s deaths. One mystery this page may help solve is what happened to Lyman Ranney, whose letters you’ve been reading. He apparently died in Van Buren on March 7, 1854. The letters from Lyman mysteriously end, as you’ll see, but the brothers never mention him after he stops writing. I’ll have more to say on this when we reach 1854.

Update, 2/2/2020: I received an email today from L. Ray Sears, the genealogist I mentioned above who runs a website for the Sears family and who updated the 1828 Sears Genealogical Catalog by May in 1992. It’s available on the Internet Archive. Ray wrote me to comment on something I had written about how Lyman had been hoping to study medicine with Sears in Carmel. I checked for Ranneys in Ray’s book and discovered something I didn’t know: Harrison Ranney married the sister of Lewis’s wife Sarah Ann McConnell. Helen M. McConnell Ranney (8/7/1831-1/24/1892) was born in Steuben County, New York (about fifty miles from Phelps). Lewis had described her older sister Sarah (8/14/1823-9/25/1907) as “a rugged woman” who helped with the farm work during Lewis’s illness “from choice.” It’s not clear whether Sarah and Helen met the Ranney brothers in New York or in Michigan. But it’s fun to know there are other people interested in the lives of these Yankee and Yorker migrants!

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