RANNEY, RUFUS P. (30 Oct. 1813-6 Dec. 1891), lawyer and jurist, was born in Blandford, Mass., to Rufus and Dollie (Blair) Ranney. He moved to Freedom, Portage County, Ohio in 1824, and enrolled in Nelson Academy and later Western Reserve College (see CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY), but was unable to finish because of lack of means. In 1835, Ranney began studying law with Joshua Giddings and Benjamin Wade in Jefferson, and was admitted to the bar in 1836. When Giddings entered Congress in 1838, Wade and Ranney formed a law partnership. In 1845, Ranney opened a law office in Warren, in 1846 and 1848 making unsuccessful bids for that district's congressional seat. In 1850, Ranney was a delegate to the convention revising Ohio's constitution, there gaining recognition as one of the convention's leading figures while serving in the judicial department and on the revision, enrollment, and arrangement committees.
In 1851, Ranney became a judge on the Ohio Supreme Court. In 1856 he resigned from the court and moved to Cleveland, where he resumed practicing law as senior member of Ranney, Backus & Noble. In 1857, he was appointed U.S. attorney for northern Ohio, but resigned after 2 months. In 1858, Ranney made an unsuccessful bid to become governor. Against his expressed desire, Ranney was nominated and elected for the state supreme court again in 1862; he resigned in 1865 and resumed his Cleveland law practice. In 1881, he was unanimously elected the first president of the Ohio Bar Assoc.
Ranney married Adeline W. Warner on 1 May 1839. They had 7 children: Rufus P., Jr., John R., Charles, Richard, Howard, Cornelia, and Harriet. Ranney died in Cleveland and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.