James Rankin was a Scottish immigrant who came to the United States in 1865. He was born on April 25, 1848 in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland. According to the 1861 Scotland Census, James was 12 years old and working as a coalminer.
On January 21, 1866, James boarded the City of New York at the docks of Liverpool, England, which took him to the United States. He became a naturalized citizen on July 23, 1874 in the city of Martinez.
Coming from a coal mining area in Scotland, he came to Contra Costa and the mines at Nortonville in 1870. In the 1880s, he became a store owner in Nortonville.
In 1884, he was elected Sheriff of Contra Costa County and in 1885 moved his family (wife Sarah and eight children) to Martinez. He served two terms as sheriff.
In 1893 he became President of the Bank of Martinez, a position he held until his death. In 1897, he was written up in the Oakland Tribune as having fine navel oranges on his ranch. Though his grove was small, he still sold $100.00 worth during the winter.
He was in poor health when he made a trip to Scotland in 1898 hoping that the change would be helpful. However, it did not help.
James went into the Lane Hospital in San Francisco with an apparent appendicitis attack. To make his journey more comfortable, he was laid out on a couch and two physicians accompanied him. He passed on October 15, 1901 from thrombosis of the mesenteric vein (blood clot), causing gangrene of the small intestines. Unfortunately, sepsis had sent in and he did not survive after the operation Flags floated at half-mast on every flagpole in Martinez.
Rankin Park sits on a portion of the Rankin property. The olive orchard picnic area is a remnant of the 400 olive trees Rankin had planted. Rankin family descendants continue to live in Martinez to this day.
The original content of this post was taken from the previous website and updated for republishing in 2021.