Eight is Enough

Charles Turpin Rentfrow of the 29th Indiana Infantry.  Grandson of Turpin and Sarah (Troup) Rentfrow.

Charles Turpin Rentfrow of the 29th Indiana Infantry. Grandson of Turpin and Sarah (Troup) Rentfrow.

Turpin Rentfrow and his wife Sarah (Troup) Rentfrow had eight children. For the time and place that they lived, eight wasn’t very many. Most farmers who made their way west after the Revolution had at least that many kids to help them run the family farm and settle the frontier land they had inherited or squatted on.

My latest family history project (or obsession, depending on who you talk to) has been to track this family as they procreate and spread out in Ohio, Indiana and beyond. The scantiness of records in the early 19th century and the propensity of the family to move around and have babies will make it a challenging project indeed.

In theory finding and following Turpin Rentfrow and his family should be a relatively easy proposition. A name like Turpin Rentfrow tends to stand out in the records. As far as I know, my 5th-great grandfather was the first person ever to go by this name and the only one hanging around in Kentucky and Ohio at the turn of the 19th century.

Turpin was born in Virginia on the eve of the Revolution (1774), the son of Rev. Moses Rentfrow and his second wife, Elizabeth Turpin. Moses had fought in the French and Indian War of the 1750s and 60s and was a supporter of the patriots in the Revolution.

Turpin’s wife Sarah Troup was the daughter of one of those patriots. Her father Jacob Troup died at the Battle of Yorktown in 1781, when she was only 5 years old. Her mother Mary was left destitute with three small children to raise.

Turpin and Sarah married in Virginia in 1794. Most likely, Turpin had returned to Virginia to wed Sarah after traveling through Tennessee and Kentucky with the Rentfrows and Turpins in the 1780s and 90s. Rev. Moses Rentfrow and many of his family and friends had been part of Colonel John Donelson’s party of adventurers who floated up the Tennessee River and became some of the first settlers near Nashville, Tennessee around 1780.

By 1800, Turpin and Sarah had moved to Lincoln County, Kentucky, along with many of their Rentfrow cousins, aunts and uncles. Then sometime around 1805, Turpin and Sarah took their children and moved to Montgomery County in the newly formed state of Ohio.

On July 26th, 1808, Turpin penned his last will and testament. At 34, he was already for some reason “of weak body.” By September 6th of that year he was dead, leaving behind his widow Sarah and their eight children.

Over the next decade or two, all of their children would leave Ohio for Indiana except their youngest son, John.  He was born right around the time of Turpin’s death and the 1850 census-taker would find him still living in Montgomery County, Ohio with his mother Sarah and list him as “insane.”

Among Turpin and Sarah’s more than 50 grandchildren (I’m still counting) are at least eight veterans of the Civil War.  A few served for less than a year, a few served for the whole war and one died of disease after only a few weeks in the army.

Of all these grandchildren, I’ve only found one named Turpin.

Eight children provide more than enough stories to follow and details to track down.  Just figuring out this one small part of my family tree could take a long, long time.

If you’re a descendant of Turpin and Sarah, I would love to hear from you.  Feel free to comment below and share what you know or email me directly at kevhar72@gmail.com.

Click here to see Turpin’s 1808 will.

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9 Responses to Eight is Enough

  1. Harlan Rentfrow says:

    I am a descendent of Turpin and Sarah through their son, Moses and Elizabeth Hartzell then Jonas and Mary Conrad, James Franklin and Isabelle McKane, Harland and Anna Dutton and my father, Howard and Velma King. I have a good deal of the family ancestry and photos, including more of Charles Turpin Rentfrow whom you posted. I also have a couple of large photos of Rentfrow reunions in the early 1900’s with many family members. I’d like to hear from you.

    • ArborFam says:

      Harlan, It’s great to hear from you. I think we exchanged some emails a few years ago. I would love to chat more about the family. I’ve been working on my Rentfrow line again recently and am having trouble sorting out some of the characters. I will send you a personal email, or you can always reach me at kevhar72@gmail.com. Thanks for reading and connecting with me!

  2. Missy Rentfro says:

    I am Missy Rentfro, married to Donald Ray Rentfro, son of Larry Dean Rentfro, son of Floyd Raymond Rentfro, son of John Edward Rentfro, son of Joseph Rentfro, son of John S. Rentfro, son of Turpin Rentfro. I think.

    I am researching this branch of the family tree and I am stumped by the John S. Rentfro…. in your blog you indicate John, the son of Turpin and Sarah, lived with Sarah in 1850. Other information I have found says that John was taken to Iowa and raised by his grandfather, Moses, I presume. Do you know if this is the same John Rentfro, or if there is another that was taken to Iowa and raised by a grandfather. The John raised by a grandfather died in Effingham, Illinois.

    Missy Rentfro
    Natchez, Mississippi

    • Harlan Rentfrow says:

      Missy: That’s not my blog and I’m not aware Of Turpin’s son, John, ever living with his grandfather, Rev. Moses, as Moses died in Garrard Co., KY in 1824 while still living with his wife, Elizabeth Turpin. She went on to MO with their youngest son, Dr. William Rentfrow. Sarah remained in Ohio after Turpin’s death and married Enos Miles there in 1812. They went on to have six children. Sarah died in Montgomery Co., OH, in 1855. Enos died there in1845. I don’t really know much about John, Turpin’s last son, but I suppose it’s possible he lived with Sarah in Ohio in 1850. I don’t see how John could have lived with his grandfather since Rev. Moses died in Garrard Co., KY, in 1824 and his wife, Elizabeth Turpin, went on to MO with their youngest son, Dr. William Rentfrow. I can’t identify the John Rentfro you describe, but perhaps I might locate him if you can send me some dates. You can contact me by email at genrl1861@yahoo.com.

      • ArborFam says:

        Harlan and Missy: It’s been awhile since I have done any work on my Rentfrow family. I did pull out my notes today. I have a copy of Enos Miles’ will if you’re interested.

        My assumption about John, son of Turpin, is that he is the one who is living with Sarah Miles in Montgomery County, Ohio according to the 1850 census. I am guessing he is also one of the 20-30 year old males living with Enos Miles in 1830. It makes sense he would stay with his family if he was “insane” as listed on the 1850 census. I don’t think I have any more info on him.

        My biggest questions about the descendants of Turpin right now are 1) is Henry S. Rentfrow, born 1825 probably in Indiana, a descendant of Turpin and 2) is Jacob, born 1833 in Union County, Indiana, a descendant of Turpin? I would love to track down how these two fit into the Rentfrow family.

        Any help or any corrections/additional information to what I have included above is gladly appreciated!

        Thanks for reading and dialoguing.

        • Harlan Rentfrow says:

          Kevin…Your comment about John makes sense to me. I don’t have any more information about him either.
          I have two Henrys. First, Henry, son of James Rentfrow and Charity Fifer, b10 Dec 1832 in Goshen, Elkhart Co., IN–d11 Nov 1865 in Kosciusko Co., IN. He married Mary Ann Juday He would be a grandson of Turpin’s.
          Second Henry, son of Moses and Elizabeth Hartzel, b30 Dec 1834 in Montgomery Co., OH–d18 Sep 1891 in Barrien Co., MI. He was also a grandson of Turpin’s.

          I also have two Jacobs. First, Jacob, son of Moses and Elizabeth Hartzel, bFeb 1826 in Montgomery Co., OH–d04 Nov 1863 in Kosciusko Co., IN. He married Elizabeth Harris and was a grandson of Turpin’s.
          Second Jacob, son of James and Charity Fifer, b26 Apr 1831 in Montgomery Co., OH–d06 Feb 1920 in Kosciusko Co., IN.He married Elizabeth Darr and was also a grandson of Turpin’s.

          I don’t have a Henry b1825 nor a Jacob b1833, sorry. The Henry who is a mystery to me is Henry T. (Turpin?) Rentfrow, b.24 Aug 1810 in Montgomery Co., OH–d24 Feb 1877 in Montgomery Co., OH. Some think he was a son of Turpin’s but Turpin died in 1808. He married Adeline Warble, had 8 children, all born in OH, and both are buried in Slifers Presbyterian Cemetery in OH.

          Let me know if any of this helps. My email is genrl1861@yahoo.com. Send me yours and I’ll give you access to the family tree on Ancestry.

          • Harlan Rentfrow says:

            Never mind, I found your email address above. I’ll have Ancestry allow you to have access to the family tree.

  3. Liz says:

    I know I’m years too late with my comment, but if you’re still around Harlan, did you ever find out any more info on Henry T. Rentfrow? He’s one of my direct ancestors and I’ve been trying to find his parents. At this point, I’m wondering if there was confusion on his year of birth and if he’s a son of Turpin and Sarah, but I’m not yet ready to jump in and say “yes” quite yet.

    I had a DNA test done and show a match with a man whose last name is Renfro. He’s a descendant of one of Turpin’s sons.

    Looking for obituaries, I came across a listing through the Dayton Metro Library for a column called “Our Forefathers” by Lindsay M. Brien. The column of 9/24/33 is about the Renfrow family, and says it talks about Turpin, Henry, Sarah, Moses, John, and more. It’s not online yet. I contacted the library and they should send me a copy of the column in about two weeks. It does tell me this much: “Turpin Renfrow died in 1808 in Montgomery County, Ohio, leaving widow Sarah and ten children.”

    Have you posted your Rentfrow family photos online anywhere?

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