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 firstname.lastname@example.org.