Rains Brothers in Randolph County, North Carolina

The author is a descendant of the Ishmael Rains in this article, and his son Ambrose. Descendants of Ambrose migrated to Missouri where the family is centered in Pettis and Saline Counties.

Many Rains researchers are struggling to discover the ancestor of the Rains family that lived in Randolph County North Carolina in the late 1700s and early 1800s (including this author). I am not offering much new evidence but intend to assimilate known facts in this article and propose a family relationship of several Randolph County Rains men. This relationship will allow correlation of several facts. Subsequently some new conclusions possibly can be drawn on the origins of these men.

What I wish to “suggest” (not prove) in this article is that there were six Rains brothers in Randolph County North Carolina in the late 1700s. If this is the case, then I “suggest” that they came from Caroline County Virginia. My objective is to focus on possibilities and stimulate research toward this area of Virginia.

The first fact to review is the will of my ancestor, Ishmael Rains. This will is found in the Randolph County North Carolina Records of Wills Inventories and Settlements of Estates, Book 1 1779-1793, page 99. It reads as follows:

March term 1791 In the name of God Amen, I Ishmael Rains of Randolph County of North Carolina, being weak in body but perfect in Senses and Memory praised be God, Do make this my last will and Testament – I give unto my son John Rains an Equal part of my goods except the land. ITEM I give unto my two Sons George Rains & Ambrose Rains my lands that I now live on to be equally Divided between them when they come of Age to them & their heirs for Ever. ITEM I give unto my loving wife Sarah Rains Equal divide with all (“my” scratched out) the children ITEM I give to all my children and (sic) equal part of all my Goods and Chattles I do hereby constitute my trusty Brother Laurence Rains and my son George Rains to be Sole Executors of this my last will and Testament hereby Revoking and Disanuling all former wills and Testaments. In Witness whereof to all and Every part of the said will & Testament I have hereunto Set my hand and Seal this 17th Day of December 1790.”

The will was signed by Ishmael and was witnessed by Robert Rains, Laurence Rains and George Rains. It specifically identifies Laurence as his brother.

Robert Rains’ will is listed in the Randolph County North Carolina Records of Wills Inventories and Settlements of Estates, Will Book 2 1794-1804, page 6. It reads as follows:

In the name of God amen. I Robert Rains of the County of Randolph being thro the abundante mercy and goodness of God tho weak in body yet of a sound & perfect understanding and memory constitute this my last will and testament and desire it may be received by all as Such. First I most humbly bequeth my soul to God my maker and desire by burial may decent without pomp of State or to my worldly Estate. I will and positively order, First that all my debts be paid then I leave all my lands and moveable Estate to Dearly beloved wife during her widowhood or natural life to raise my small children upon but if she marrys again or should decease I desire my lands should be Equally divided among my sons. ITEM I Desire my lands should be Equally divided among my sons ITEM I desire that my Eldest son John have my black horse ITEM I desire that my son James have my black colt ITEM I desire that my daughter Mary have five shillings As for the rest of my property I desire it may be equally divided amongst the rest of my children and I constitute John Wilson and Isaac Arledge to by my Executors of this my last will and Testament and trustees for my wife and children. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this sixteenth day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand Seven hundred and ninety four.”

It is signed with Robert’s mark and witnessed by Henry Garner, Jacob Gregg, and Ambrose Rains (Ambrose is Ishmael’s son). It was proved in open court, Randolph County, November term 1794. It unfortunately does not give any clues to identify brothers.

The next fact to examine is the letter of Mary Lucinda Rains McNary presenting her family history. This letter is found in Volume 7 (July 1987) of Rainey Times, page 89. She is the granddaughter of the George Rains that we have seen above and the letter was written around 1907. In the letter she states that her grandfather George was a brother of Lawrence Rains. They moved to Highland County Ohio in 1809. She also states that they left three brothers in North Carolina near Ashboro (Randolph County). She also relates that she knew of a Henry Rains in Kentucky or Tennessee. She had seen his photograph and he resembled her father very much. She thought that they were of some kin. We will see later that this Henry Rains was probably from Caroline County Virginia.

We conclude from her letter and the wills that Lawrence, George, and Ishmael were brothers, and that Robert was probably also a brother. Since Ishmael and Robert were dead when Lawrence and George moved to Ohio, the three brothers that were”left in North Carolina” must have been other than Ishmael and Robert. This would imply that we should find at least seven Rains men in Randolph County in the late 1700s. (editor’s emphasis)

The next fact is the 1779 tax list of Randolph County North Carolina. In Joseph Hinds district are found six Rains men: Ishmael, Robert, Anthony, Laurence, James and George. There is a John Rains in William Milliken’s district that I will talk about later. Now, we have suggested that four of these six are probably brothers that leaves us to wonder about Anthony and James. Since Mary Lucinda Rains states there were three additional brothers left in Randolph County, I would like to suggest that Anthony and James were two of those brothers. Why not John? I’ll get to that later!

In the 1790 US Census of Randolph County we find George, John, Anthony, Ishamel, Robert, Laurence, Isaac, and Mary (more about Mary and John shortly). With the exception of James, we still find the same collection of Rains men plus Isaac.

If Anthony is indeed a brother, we then have a link to Carolina County, Virginia. Anthony was a Revolutionary War veteran (W-1481). In his wife’s pension application she states that he was born 13 Oct 1757 in Caroline County Virginia and died 25 March 1837 in Randolph County  North Carolina. In an earlier pension application she states that he was born in Caroline County Virginia on the Rappahannock. He lived there until 15 years old when he moved in 1772 with his brothers and mother (his father being dead) into Randolph County North Carolina where he lived when called.

An interesting comparison is the names of the children of Lawrence, George Ambrose, and Anthony. Lawrence’s children are Isaac, Hannah, Ruth, Catherine, Lawrence, John, Elizabeth, Ann, Rebecca, Nathan, and Benjamin. George’s children are named Catherine, Aaron, Sarah, Hannah, Isaac, John, Ishmael, Amy, and Charlotte (from the Mary Lucinda Rains letter). Ishmael’s children (from his will) are Ambrose, George, and John. Anthony’s children (from his pension application) are John, Isaac, Elizabeth, Balsum, William, Rebecca, Jean, Mary and Hannah. There are a lot of repeats of names here, and even though most are common names it does at least show a trend that is to be expected within a family.

OK, now we have Anthony with missing brothers in Randolph County North Carolina and we have Lawrence and George with missing brothers in the same place and time. We have some commonality of children’s names. We have no other Rains men here in 1779 (except John) to choose from. There is a very high probability then that they are all brothers.

So why isn’t John a brother to round out the seven? He was a Revolutionary War veteran also (W-982), and in his pension application he states that he moved to Randolph County North Carolina as a boy with his father so this can’t be one of the brothers that came here with their mother. He was born 2 Aug 1759 in Fredericksburg, Carolina County Virginia so he is probably a relative. So is there a seventh brother and if so, who is he? Maybe it is the Isaac in the 1790 census.

We don’t know who the mother was who came to Randolph County with her sons, but there is a Mary Rains found here in the late 1700s. There are Randolph County land transactions in her name in 1794, buying and selling land (Deed Book 1, page 198, and Deed Book 6, page 35 and page 41). She is also in the 1790 US Census of Randolph County with 1 male 16 and up, 3 males under 16 and 2 females over 16. Maybe this is the mother of our Rains men. We have no other records of her, especially the 1800 US Census, so she probably died between 1794 and 1800.

So, if we consider these six Rains men brothers, then we have an area to look for their family: Caroline County Virginia in the region of the Rappahannock River and in the Fredericksburg area. There are several Rains associated with this area, so data is available. Fredericksburg is on the Rappahannock River at the northern end of the line dividing Caroline County from Spotsylvania County to the West. Since Rains are found in both counties throughout the 1700s, this area around Fredericksburg would appear to be central to our search.

There are a few possibilities here as father to these Randolph Rains men. In 1729, Henry Rains took title to land from the English Crown in Caroline County Virginia. The source is a book on Caroline County Virginia on file with the Kansas State Historical Society 975.51-C22-C153. He acquired title to 686 acres in 1729 to land located on the Mattapony-Rappahannock watershed near the Spotsylvania County line, near Fredericksburg. His will was filed in 1767 in Caroline County, which means that his death date is before a fatherless Anthony came to North Carolina in 1772.

In 1749 Henry deeded land to his son Henry Rains Jr. If this Henry Jr. is the same Henry that was a Revolutionary War veteran then he is probably not the father we are looking for. This veteran lived in Caroline County and settled in Hardin County Kentucky. He is probably the Henry Rains of Kentucky (or Tennessee) that Mary Lucinda Rains spoke of and would not appear to be a brother, but is possibly related. (From the pension application of William Rains R-8561 we see that William was a brother to Henry.)

Another possibility is Ambrose Rains of Spotsylvania County Virginia (Ishmael had a son named Ambrose). There are two things against Ambrose being the father: there are county records as late as 1775 (should be dead by 1772), and his wife was named Sarah, not Mary. Obviously much more work is required.

Inconclusion,wehaveseenthatLawrence,GeorgeandIshmaelarebrothers. Thedatasupports Anthony as also being a brother, along with Robert and James. If so, then we should concentrate our research in the area around Fredericksburg, Caroline County Virginia. I look forward to critical feedback on this premise.

Submitted by Gary Raines, 218 Highland Terrace, League City, TX 77573