James Reid Ralston


James Reid Ralston, second son of David Ralston and Mary Reid was born in Pennsylvania, April 20, 1781 and died January 22, 1853, Giles County, Tennessee.  He was raised in the Cumberland Settlements near Nashville.  James married Esther Shannon (1774–1837) on May 7, 1808, in Davidson County, daughter of Samuel Shannon and Jean Reid.  James and family moved to Lincoln County around 1811, then settled in neighboring Giles County.  Giles County Tax records for 1836 show James Ralston with 136 acres of land.

James' son, Samuel, discribes him as a large portly man, of grave aspect but very genial temperament and that he had the reputation of being a very pious good man.


1.             Reverend Samuel Shannon Ralston (18091890)  FamilySearchSamuel Shannon Ralston (1809–1890) – [See Personal Recollections by S.S. Ralston A.D. 1867]
Quote from The Centennial History of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (1803-1903) Sketches of Ministers:

Ralston, Samuel Shannon – Was the son of James and Esther Shannon Ralston, and was born near Nashville, Tenn., May 11th, 1809. His memory of his earlier days was remarkable. In his autobiography he mentions the earthquake shocks of 1811-12 as distinctly remembered.

His parents were poor and he was very anxious to secure an education. At the age of eighteen he had never owned as much as ten dollars. At this age he left his father's and hired as a day laborer for nine dollars per month.

He spent several months in school at Lebanon, Tenn., with his uncle, Rev. William Ralston, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister. About this time Rev. Henry Bryson, D. D., offered him free board and tuition in his school at Viney Grove, Lincoln Co., Tenn. This he gladly accepted and spent three years under Dr. Bryson's care.

During that time he became a member of Bethel, one of Dr. B.’s churches. Two years were spent in college at Jackson, Tenn.  He afterwards spent a year or two in Maury Co., Tenn., studying with and assisting Rev. Robt. Galloway in his school. He now began studying Theology under Dr. Bryson, but after one year, went to the Seminary at Due West S.C., and completed his course and was licensed by the 2nd A. R. Presbytery, May 6th, 1837 and ordained by the Tennessee A. R. Presbytery in June 1838.

His first preaching was done in S. C. in 1837. The winter of 1837 was spent in Alabama, Mississippi and West Tennessee, reaching Middle Tennessee in 1838.  He was in charge of Head Spring, Marshall Co., and Zion in Lincoln Co., until 1843 when he removed to the bounds of the Kentucky Presbytery and accepted a call from Mt. Zion and Buffalo Mo., and was installed as pastor over these churches May 30th, 1845, three-fourths of his time at Mt. Zion, and one-fourth at Buffalo. He demitted the Buffalo branch of his charge March 26th, 1852, though he continued as stated supply. Sept. 10, 1859, he asked to be released also from Mt. Zion, though formal action was not taken until Sept. 8th, 1860. At this time he was not only released from the pastoral relation, but was .also given a certificate to connect with the United Presbyterian Church. He removed to Le Claire, Iowa, where he died Nov. 1st, 1890.

Mr. Ralston was moderator of the A. R. Synod of the South in 1852 and delegate from the M. P. church to our Synod in 1873. 

He was a man of more than ordinary abilities, and was held in high esteem by his brethren.

Mr. Ralston was married three times. His first wife was Mary Ann Hill, of Maury Co., Tenn. who became the mother of four children, one of whom is Mrs. John G. McCain., of Idavil1e, Tenn. She died Aug. 28th, 1845.

He was married June 6th, 1846, to Sarah Yeager, of Kentucky, who died April 10, 1873. He was married again Dec. 30th, 1875. to Mrs. Rebecca McGarvey, of Freeport, Ill., who is still living in Freeport, Ill. Neither of the two last had any children. 

Mr. Ralston published " Ralston on the Apocolypse" in 1858, and “Five Arguments for the Post Millenial Theory" in 1875.

His views on prophecy being somewhat different from those ordinarily entertained, he hesitated to publish his book. While in this state of mind, he and his wife earnestly engaged in prayer for the divine guidance and when thus engaged there was a considerable shock of earthquake. He accepted this as the divine approval, especially as it was accompanied with a feeling of such calm assurance as he had never felt before.

m.     1838 – Mary A Hill (1818–1845)

a.                 Mary Jane Ralston (1839–1899) m. 6 Nov 1855 Lincoln, MO Thomas S. Wallace (1834–1914) born in Giles County, TN, settled in Adams, IL

b.                Martha Ralston (1841–1914) m. John G McCain (1844–1934) born in Giles County, TN, lived in Tipton County, TN

c.                 Robert Shannon Ralston (1843–1862) born in Giles County, TN, died in Greene County, MO, in US Army of measles – never married

d.                James Ralston (1845–1931) m. in Iowa 1866, Margaret Jamison (1845–1930) born in Lincoln County, TN, lived in Scott, Madison, and Polk Counties, IA

m.     1846 – Sarah Yagle (1811–1874) – no children

m.     1887 – Rebecca Ralston McGarvey (1828–1916) – no children [Rebecca was the daughter of John Ralston and Mary Galbreath, a very distant cousin.]


2.             David Ralston (1810–1881) m. c 1829, Giles County, Mary Short Lee (1809–1840) born in Davidson County, lived in Giles and Maury Counties, TN (tax collector and farmer in Giles County – in the winter of 1840 sold his farm land to his wife's mother, Mrs. Susanna E. [Short] Lee, and moved to Maury County, TN)

a.                 Calfernia Susanna Esther (Callie) Ralston (1834–1888) m. 1859 Maury County, TN, Charles Strong Scott (1824–1888) born in Giles County, lived in Maury County, TN

b.                James Reid Ralston, DDS (1836–1870) – never married, born in Giles County, lived in Maury County, TN, received dentistry degree at University of Nashville

c.                 John L. Ralston (1838–1852) born in Giles County, lived in Maury County, TN – died age 14


3.                John Ralston (1812–1879) m. Harriet Caroline Lee (1813–1888) born and lived in Giles County, TN (tax collector)

a.                 Susan E Ralston (1835–1903) m. 8 Mar 1866 Giles County, TN, Thomas C. Marks, born and lived in Giles County, TN

b.                Esther A Ralston (1837–1882) m. 1862 Logan D. Harwell (1817–1899) born and lived in Giles County, TN

c.                 James Alexander Ralston (1845–1907) m. 1867, Giles County, TN, Cornelia Adeline Harwell (1842–1920) born and lived in Giles County, TN


4.                Jane Ralston (1813–1838) born and lived in Giles County, TN – never married


5.                Mary E Ralston (1815–1905) m. 1855 Thomas Urban Stephenson M.D. (1813–1901) born in Giles County, lived in Lincoln County, TN

a.                 James Ralston Stephenson (1860–1934) m. 1881, Lincoln County, TN, Cordelia Hamilton (1861–1945)


6.                Catherine Ann Ralston (1820–1857) born and lived in Giles County, TN – never married