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  • What's in a Name

    Mildred Campbell Cassens

    Published Date : June 1984
    My great-grandmother's name was Mary Ann Renslow. Since she died when my grand-mother was a child, nothing was known about her except she came from Vermont. Then I found a reference to Ranslaw in the Register, 17:348-49. These extracts are from the 1755 diary of Reverend Samuel Chandler of New England. "Albany is the center of Madam Ranslaws manour which is 24 miles square. From the north Gate to the water is a fine wall of stone & Lime with loop holes Their Beds are Boxes boarded Bottom & a feather Bed 1 sheet under & cover with blanket.... abt 1-1/2 mile to Madam Ranslaw's Seat at the Mils wh. is pretty Grand." Reverend Chandler refers of course, to Madam Rensellear and he spelled the name as it sounded to him.

    This was the first inkling that Renslow had once been Rensellear. This belief was strengthened by Vermont Roster of Soldiers in the War of 1812-14. It listed John Ransalear, Kelley Renslare, Caley Ranslow, Kelley Ranslow. No doubt the last three names refer to the same man. It shows the transition from Rensellear to Ranslow. This writer also believes that Kelley was originally Killian or "Kehelyn" as it is sometimes found. It was under the name Kelley Ranslow that a pension was obtained from the government in 1871. These papers state that his first wife was Charlotte Wilder who died 2 June 1831 and his second wife, to whom he was married on 10 July 1831 by Levi Comstock, Justice of the Peace, was Jerusha Sheldon. Because he knew him as "Cale," the Justice of Peace assumed his name was Caleb and it is so erroneously written in the marriage records of the Town of Shelburne, Vermont. He, Kelley, states that he was "a substitute for Reuben Martin of Charlotte, Vermont smuggling as he supposes." He received two land warrants of 80 acres each. These facts are in the pension papers in the National Archives at Washington, D.C.

    Kelley Ranslow was born in 1793, and according to the Vermont Census of 1870 was born in Connecticut. His father was foreign born, and his mother Betsey was born in this country. I assume there was family trouble for my grandmother did not know that when her mother died, her grand-father was still alive. No further information has ever connected Kelley's father, William, with the well-known Rensellear family.

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