2024 Jun 13 Thu

Missing Person: David Ralston

Missing Person: David Ralston
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I don’t hardly ever talk about my family, but I feel that maybe its time I open up a bit and talk about some of the mysteries. This is one of my brick walls. This is all the information I have.

My 4th great grandfather is William Ralston who came from Ireland and settled in Hopewell, Washington, Pennsylvania. He wrote a LW&T (last will and testament) in 1848 naming all his surviving children. One of them was David Ralston.

I believe that David was his first born son, since all the other children were named in birth order, and was born approximately 1807 in Washington Co. PA. In my analysis of the census records, David “appears” in 1810, 1820, 1830, and 1840.

On May 4, 1850, David Ralston married Mary Ritchey, daughter of Thomas Ritchey and Mary McCorkle. She was born in 1825. The ceremony was done by “S. Taggart” and all were “of Hopewell Twp.”

David Ralston does NOT appear anywhere in the 1850 census. I have looked extensively through every matching name and even misspellings to no avail. William Ralston died in June 1850 and according to the probation records from June 1850 to November 1851, David received his money of $89.88. Not “wife” or “widow”, but David.

In 1857, Mary Ritchey Ralston died a widow. She left a Will leaving her estate which included her house to her sister, Margaret Ritchey, and brother, Wallace Ritchey. She was buried in a local Presbyterian cemetery along with her Ritchey family. There were no children. A visit to the cemetery and still operating Grove United Presbyterian Church did not turn up any other records.

There are no deeds to or from a David Ralston in Washington County, PA that I could find. I’ve made several trips there looking for anything on him. I have been through Ancestry and FamilySearch hoping to find something, but didn’t. I have read through every history I could find for the time period of 1845-1857. I checked surrounding counties, every cemetery, and even the entire States of PA, VA (the panhandle of what is now WV). and OH. It’s possible I may have missed him somewhere, but I am certain I was thorough about it. I even had the fortune of going through private collections of history and genealogy too and my family was never in any of them.

I feel that I have searched extensively for David and could not find him. I even presumed he may have gone to CA during the gold rush years, but found no record or mention of a Ralston (outside of the famous William Chapman Ralston who had a mansion).

In short, David Ralston lived from ~1807 and is last known to be alive from June 1850 to Nov 1851 when the estate was settled. His wife, Mary, died in 1857 a widow either by death or abandonment. She was 32 years old.

There are a couple ideas as to what may of happened to David. Dangerous wildlife was still present in the woods and a person travelling could be met with an ill fate from a bear or wolves. Another possibility is that he went to California during the gold rush and was never heard from again for whatever reason. When David and Mary got married in 1850, he was 43 years old and she was 25 years old. By the time she died in 1857 at age 32, David would have been 50 years old if he were still living.

Any knowledge, comments, ideas, clues, tips, or information leading to the discovery of what happened to David Ralston would be greatly appreciated.

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1 Comment

  1. BJ

    It’s a long shot, but I found a David Ralston listed in the Find A Grave database interred in the Lebanon Cemetery (Warren County, OH) whose birth (1806) and death (1852) years are appear close to your ancestor’s. He also had a son named William. What was your David’s occupation? If he traveled periodically or spent some time in Ohio, he might have had another family there. The person maintaining the Find A Grave 5memorial might be a descendant and have some information about this David and his family.

    See following Find A Grave weblink:http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Ralston&GSfn=David&GSbyrel=in&GSdyrel=all&GScntry=4&GSob=n&GRid=52491148&df=all&

    I hope this info helps.

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