Sanford Ransdell

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Sanford Wesley Ransdell (September 11, 1781 - July 30, 1854) was an early American pioneer and soldier in the Battle of Tippecanoe.[1][2] Ransdell was born in Orange County, Virginia on September 11, 1781. He was a descendant of Edward Ransdell who was a signer of the historic Leedstown Resolutions a document written up in defiance of the Stamp Act.

Indiana Pioneer

By 1803, Ransdell was living in Mercer Co., Kentucky. Soon he emigrated to the frontier of the Indiana Territory where he was an early pioneer. He met and subsequently married, around 1808, Rhoda Sampson,[3] the daughter of William and Sarah (Coleman) Sampson in Harrison County, Indiana. William Sampson had served in the American Revolution with the Virginia troops. Their first child Frances Laura was born on March 15, 1809.[4]

Wartime service

On September 6, 1811[5] Ransdell enlisted as a mounted rifleman in a regiment known as the "Yellow Jackets."

At quarter to five in the morning on November 7, 1811[6] Ransdell’s regiment of eighty men, under the command of Spier Spencer, took part in the Battle of Tippecanoe at Tippecanoe Creek. This company occupied the right flank[7] where according to General William Henry Harrison the fighting was, "excessively severe," and that the men of Ransdell's company, "bravely maintained their posts." Despite "having suffered so severely, and having originally maintained their posts."[8]

During the fierce fighting two horses were shot dead from under Ransdell and his left thumb was shot off.[9] The captain of the regiment, Spier Spencer, the first lieutenant Richard McMahan and the second lieutenant Thomas Berry were all killed in action.[10] Ransdell was eventually mustered out at Corydon on November 24, 1811.[11]

In a message sent to the U. S. House of Representatives, General Harrison had this to say about Ransdell's company, "With equal pride and pleasure, then, do I pronounce that, notwithstanding the regular troops behaved as well as men ever did, many of the militia companies were in no wise inferior to them. Of this number were the mounted riflemen, commanded by Captain Spencer. To them was committed the charge of defending the right flank of the army. That it could not have been committed to better hands, their keeping their ground (indeed gaining upon the enemy) for an hour and a half with unequal arms against superior numbers, and amid a carnage that might have made veterans tremble, is sufficient evidence."

A year later Ransdell participated in the War of 1812 and served as a first sergeant in the 5th Regiment Indiana Militia in Captain Jacob Zenor's Company from October 20 to November 18, 1812. For his actions on November 7, 1811 and his wartime service he would be awarded forty acres of land.

Noah Beauchamp Affair

The Ransdells moved to Floyd County, Indiana[12] by 1820 and again later to Vigo County, Indiana. On March 15, 1827, their daughter Frances married Noah Beauchamp, Jr., the son of the blacksmith Noah Beauchamp.[13][14]

In 1840, Noah Beauchamp, Sr. stabbed his neighbor George Mickeberry to death over a dispute.[15][16][17] This famous incident culminated in a prolonged manhunt and trial that dragged both Ransdell and Rhoda into the witness box.[18]

Ransdell witnessed the coroner's inquest regarding Mickeberry’s death and was called to testify for the defense. Rhoda was also called to testify at the trial to verify that Mrs. Mickeberry had changed her story. Mrs. Mickeberry had previously stated various details to Rhoda and Elizabeth implying that if it had not been for George Mickeberry’s daughter Delilah Decker, by a previous marriage, the killing would not have taken place.[19]

Ultimately, their testimony in favor of their daughter’s father-in-law proved fruitless: Noah Beauchamp, Sr., was hanged on December 30, 1842.[20] The family continued to live in Vigo County with the notorious incident hanging about them for over a decade before eventually moving away to Cumberland County, Illinois.[21]

Last Years

The Ransdells had a total of nine children the last one Daniel was born in 1835 and would serve as a private in Company A. 7th Regiment of Illinois during the Civil War.

In 1854 Rhoda died from an epidemic. Sanford died from "intoxication and oppressive heat of the sun". The Ransdells died in Cumberland County, Illinois on July 30, 1854. The two were buried side by side at Berry Cemetery in Toledo, Illinois.

References

  1. The Battle of Tippecanoe, Read Beard, 1897
  2. The Battle of Tippecanoe, Alfred Pirtle, J. P. Morton and Company, Louisville, Kentucky, 1900
  3. The Mattoon Weekly Gazette, Mattoon, Illinois, July 14, 1893
  4. The History of Arkansas, 1913, pages 1570-1571
  5. The Battle of Tippecanoe, Alfred Pirtle, J. P. Morton and Company, Louisville, Kentucky, 1900
  6. The Tipton Papers, Volume 1, 1809-1827 Compiled by Glen A. Blackburn, 1942 Indiana Historical Bureau, Indianapolis, pp.74-83
  7. Judge Isaac Naylor's Account
  8. Official Dispatch, Wiliam Henry Harrison, November 18, 1811
  9. History of Vigo and Parke Counties, Together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley, H. W. Beckwith, 1880 pp. 449-450
  10. Judge Isaac Naylor's Account
  11. The Battle of Tippecanoe, Alfred Pirtle, J. P. Morton and Company, Louisville, Kentucky, 1900
  12. The Mattoon Weekly Gazette, Mattoon, Illinois, July 14, 1893
  13. The History of Arkansas, 1913, pages 1570-1571
  14. History of Vigo and Parke Counties, Together with Historic Notes on the Wabash Valley, H. W. Beckwith, 1880 pp. 449-450
  15. Wabash Courier, September 10, 1842
  16. Wabash Express, September 28, 1842
  17. History of Vigo County, Indiana, S. B. Nelson & Co., Chicago, 1891
  18. Noah Beauchamp Indictment, Parke County, Indiana, 1841
  19. Noah Beauchamp Indictment, Parke County, Indiana, 1841
  20. History of Vigo County, Indiana, S. B. Nelson & Co., Chicago, 1891
  21. Tribune Star Online, "Lynchings create somber yuletide", Mike McCormick, December 15, 2002


External links