Returned not used: How I Almost Wasn’t

Wyatt Paul GILLESPIE was born at the end of the Civil War; his wife to be, Laura Cecile DONALD was born 11 years later.  He grew up during Reconstruction and they lived their married life in Lexington, Virginia in the Jim Crow south. In 1907, for $400, they bought a home at 108 Houston Street from which you could see Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery and they were buried there, Wyatt in 1941 and Laura in 1964.

My father’s paternal grandparents were married on January 24th, 1894 in Lexington, Virginia.

Wyatt was 28, single, born in Amherst County, Virginia, son of Jerry (Jeremiah) and Mary E GILLESPIE. (Jeremiah and Mary E were first cousins. My family tree twists twice.  Don’t judge. 1)

Laura was 17, single, born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, daughter of James Calvin DONALD and Elizabeth WALLACE.2

Two people, single, get married and lived, happily or some variation of that, ever after. But, and isn’t there always a but, those who are truly experienced in the art of genealogy know to do an exhaustive search to find the entire story.  Wyatt actually has two marriage licenses.  One was used, one was not.

The mystery of Lillian M Hatcher

On January 16, 1893, in Buena Vista, Virginia which is an independent city in Virginia right outside of Lexington, Wyatt and Lillian M Hatcher, ages 27 and 21, respectively, he born in Amherst Co, she born in Bedford Co., applied for a marriage license.  It is marked as being returned on January 16, 1893.   But way over there on the right hand side of the page, it states “Returned not used.”  Why?  I will probably never know.3

Marriage application for Wyatt Gillespie and Lillian Hatcher; Returned not used.

Lillian gets married on November 7, 1898 in Bedford County, Virginia to Paul G Tankersley who was a widower. 4 So there was no tragic accident that prevented Lillian from marrying Wyatt. Why they didn’t marry is probably a mystery for the ages.

But what I do know is this, if Wyatt had married Lillian, he wouldn’t have married Laura. And then there would not have been a Gilbert Gillespie to marry Ann Feazell and my father would not have been born. And I would not be.

So whatever happened, I have to say I’m glad it did. And now we know another forgotten story.

Footnotes

1. Eva Gillespie, daughter of Wyatt Paul and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie, deceased, interview by Gilbert Gillespie, 2000; notes privately held by Anne Gillespie [address withheld], California, 2009.
2. Rockbridge County, Virginia, page 364, line 10 (1894), Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecile Donald; Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.
3. Buena Vista, Virginia, Register of Marriages (1939), p. 6-A (penned), Wyatt P Gillespie; “Marriage register v. 1-2 1854-1909″, FHL, microfilm 30597.
4. “Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XRJ1-GG4 : accessed 14 June 2012), Lillie Maude Hatcher, 1898.

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4 thoughts on “Returned not used: How I Almost Wasn’t

  1. Jana Last June 14, 2012 at 2:48 pm Reply

    Great post and awesome job on your exhaustive search. Makes for an interesting story! Lovely photo too. And her hat is just too fun!

  2. ljhlaura June 15, 2012 at 4:46 am Reply

    Great photo. Interesting how one document can open the door both to new stories and new mysteries to explore …

  3. MARY March 4, 2013 at 8:07 am Reply

    Yes, further looks at information may open up family stories. I further looked into a gentleman in my searching and found he was a bigamist in 1910. He had one wife and children in Illinois and another wife and one child in Ohio. His occupation: traveling salesman. I caught him because of his living with his father in Ohio which made him easier to trace.

  4. Sue March 4, 2013 at 8:15 am Reply

    Interesting that it was applied for and returned on the same day. Oh the mysteries!

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