Ralston Connection

Have you ever read a biography in a county history and said to yourself, they have to be connected to my family? That was my case when searching the book, Armstrong County Pennsylvania, Her People, Past and Present on archive.org for my Ralston and McCormick families.

One of the items I found was the biography of Robert Louis Ralston on page 460 of volume 1.

Robert Louis Ralston, of Kittanning, is one of the leading lawyers at the bar of Armstrong county. He devotes all his time to legal work and holds the confidence of both clients and fellow practitioners.
His family is of Scotch-Irish extraction. The Ralstons of whom he is a descendant came from Ireland in 1803 and settled at Slate Lick, Armstrong county. On the paternal side he is related to the Galbreath family. His mother was a Thornburg, and was a descendant of old Allegheny county family of that name. His father, James Ralston and mother, Maria Thornburg, were married in 1856, and spent their married life on a farm in South Buffalo township, The family consisted of three children: George T., who resides on the home farm; Laura M., who resides in Kitanning and the subject of this sketch.
Mr. Ralston was in early life a school teacher. After three years spent in teaching in the public schools of the count he entered Westminster College, in Lawrence county, Pa., and graduated from that institution in 1890. He studied law with James H. McCain in Kittanning and was admitted to the bar in 1893. He has been engaged in the practice of the law ever since.

Armstrong County Pennsylvania, Her People, Past and Present: Embracing a History of the County and a Genealogical and Biographical Record of Representative Families, vol 1 (Chicago: J. H. Beers & Co., 1914), p 460-461; digital images, Archive.org, http://www.archive.org viewed online 24 August 2023.

While I don’t have a Robert Ralston as a descendant of my ancestor, David Ralston, a sentence in the biography prompted me to look further for a connection:

The Ralstons of whom he is a descendant came from Ireland in 1803 and settled at Slate Lick, Armstrong county

The Find A Grave memorial for my ancestor, David Franklin Ralston, indicates he was born in Ireland. It further states

the family immigrated to America in 1803

While it is possible that two different RALSTON families immigrated to the United States from Ireland in 1803 AND settled in Armstrong county, Pennsylvania, I believe this is a major clue that the Robert Ralston of the biography is somehow related to my ancestor, David Ralston.

When I did a search of the FamilySearch tree for Robert Ralston, I found one whose parents match the biography: Robert Ralston [9FM2-S4L], son of James Ralston and Maria Thornburg. Robert’s father, James C. Ralston [K678-2SL] is shown as the son of a Rebecca Ramsey. Rebecca’s profile does not lead back to a Galbreath connection as mentioned in the biography of Robert Ralston.

Because of the reference to the 1803 immigration, I started looking at the descendants of Ann Ralston to see if I could find a Galbreath connection. According to the FamilySearch tree, Ann’s son, John Ralston [LRY9-5NK] was married to Mary Polly Galbraith. John and Mary (Galbraith) Ralston had a son, James Curtis Ralston (1822-1876) [L25W-TMG]. While this James Ralston is of the appropriate age to be the father of Robert Ralston, his profile does not show he was married or had any children.

While I believe the biography suggests that Robert Ralston descends from John Ralston and Mary Galbraith, I do not have enough information to support a merger of the two James C. Ralstons or to attach Robert Ralston to James Curtis Ralston. Thus, I’ve added the biography as a source for Robert Ralston. I’ve also added an alert note to Robert Ralston’s profile asking whether his grandparents might be John Ralston and Mary Galbraith instead of Rebecca Ramsey.