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This old portrait belonged to the Ethelbert and Mary Cason Rankin family of southwestern Itawamba County. After a study of the census records, the portrait is more than likely that of Mary Cason Rankin’s younger sisters.
Mary Cason Rankin was the daughter of Braxton (son of James and Mary Deal Cason of Abbeville District, South Carolina) and Elizabeth Harris (daughter of John and Milly Stanfield Link Harris of Abbeville District) Cason. Braxton Cason was an Itawamba County planter during antebellum times arriving in Itawamba County around 1844 with his family and slaves from Abbeville District, South Carolina where he and Elizabeth had married on December 19, 1833. Braxton Cason was born on March 22, 1811 and died on June 21, 1887. The Cason family plot is located in the old Providence Cemetery at the site of the old Providence Academy in old southwestern Itawamba County (present-day Lee County east of Nettleton). Braxton Cason served at the Mississippi constitutional convention of 1865 immediately after the Civil War.
The Cason plantation was located in extreme southwestern Itawamba County below the New Chapel and old Richmond areas. During the 1860 U.S. Federal census for Itawamba County, daughters in the Cason household were Sarah (age 19), Elizabeth (age 17), Narcissa (age 15) and Louisa (age 13). Living next door to the Cason plantation was Ethelbert and Mary Cason Rankin and their young family consisting of Thomas (age 10), John (age 6), Laura (age 4) and Amelia (age 2).
Located with this cased portrait of two girls is a young man in Confederate uniform, more than likely a portrait of their older brother John H. Cason John served in Company C (Town Creek Rifles of Itawamba County) of the Second Mississippi Regiment and was killed at the Battle of Second Manassas in Virginia during August of 1862.
Photographs courtesy of Wanda Wilburn Rankin