Martinez in Contra Costa County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
Born in Larnackshire, Scotland, April 25, 1848
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
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
Erected by Alhambra Cemetery Commission.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Industry & Commerce.
Location. 38° 1.08′ N, 122° 8.7′ W. Marker is in Martinez, California, in Contra Costa County. Marker can be reached from Carquinez Scenic Drive near Talbart Street, on the right when traveling west. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 9 Carquinez Scenic Drive, Martinez CA 94553, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Captain Joseph R. Walker (here, next to this marker); Pioneer Cemetery (a few steps from this marker); Hook Family (within shouting distance of this marker); Dedicated to the Family of Don Ignacio Martinez (within shouting distance of this marker); Capt. Joseph R. Walker (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); God's Acre (about 400 feet away); a different marker also named James Rankin (approx. 0.2 miles away); Former Anti-Aircraft W.W. II Barracks (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Martinez.
More about this marker. This marker is located in Alhambra Cemetery. Pick up a key at the Martinez Police Department.
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. It was originally submitted on April 2, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 479 times since then and 15 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3. submitted on April 2, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.