I followed up on your speculation that John A. Ranson, father of Sarah Ann Ranson, might have died in the Civil War. Indeed he did. According to records in the "Illinois State Archives, Illinois Civil War Detail Report" he enlisted on Aug. 12, 1862 in Company M of the 2nd Illinois Cavalry organized in large part from men in Mason County. He was blacksmith. He was dead before Thanksgiving, having died from disease on Nov. 2, 1862 in the regimental hospital at Bolivar, Tenn.
Tragically, the same record sets show that the oldest brother (James Ellis) of John Colvin Ellis, Sarah Ranson's husband, also was in the same unit served for 2.5 years of his three year enlistment but died of the smallpox after fighting under Grant at Vicksburg among other engagements along the Mississippi.
He is buried at Memphis National Cemetery.