“Wisdom Wednesday: It is what it is, it aint what it aint

As I dig into my family history I’ve run into things that have made me uncomfortable. I have at least six direct ancestors that fought for the Confederacy.  As my niece exclaimed when I told her of this fact: “But that is the wrong side!”

And there is more: the Jim Crow south, attitudes toward women, slavery,  just to name a few. It would be lovely if I could sanitize history and ignore these things.  But the more I dig into the history of the times my ancestors lived in and begin to write it up, well, it is just not all pretty. It is not all comfortable. But I have to write about what was.

But I want to put my ancestors in the context of the time they lived in.  I can’t know what they thought, but I can do my best to understand the events that shaped their lives and indirectly mine.

As we say in my family: It is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t.

Here is my first draft of my grandfather in the 1910’s and 1920’s.

————————————————————————-

Gilbert Gillespie in his early teens

Gilbert was born on March 20, 1914 in Lexington, Virginia.  His father, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, was almost 49 years old and his mother, Laura Cecile DONALD, was 37 years old.  He had six older brothers and sisters when he was born, the oldest, Minnie was 17 years old.1

In 1914, Woodrow Wilson was president and WWI was on the horizon.   The family had purchased a lot at 108 Houston Street in 1907 and I imagine by the time Gilbert was born, they were living in the house that Wyatt had built. The address of the house was listed as either 22 and 108 Houston Street.2

By 1920, WWI was over.  On January 17th of that year, prohibition had begun.   Women were granted the right to vote in 1920 by the Federal Government, but Virginia did not ratify the law until 1952; women had been voting  and holding elected office in Virginia since 1920.3

By 1930, The eighth and final child had arrived in the Gillespie household; Helen Mae was born on November 1st, 1918. Wyatt, 54, and Laura, 43, were living with all of their children: Minnie, Ashby, Eva, Clinton, Louise, Fred, Gilbert and Ellen.  Also living with them was Harriet, Wyatt’s older sister who was 69.  Eva, Clinton, Louise and Fred all attended school.4

In 1923, Warren G Harding, died of a Heart Attack in San Francisco, California. Calvin Coolidge assumed the presidency until 1929, when Herbert Hoover became president. In October of 1929, the US Stock Market had crashed. By March of 1930, 3.2 million people were unemployed.5

I know my grandfather completed four years of high school, he probably attended Lexington High School.

Morgan Riley, “Image of the Old Lexington High School” (http://http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:LexingtonVA_HighSchool.JPG, accessed : 10 Jul 2012), Creative Commons Attribution

In 1930, They owned the farm they were living on, and Wyatt worked as both a Carpenter building houses and as a farmer on presumably his own farm.  Wyatt also employed two other people.  Minnie was a Saleslady in a Dry Goods Store and Ashby was an Electrician in a Power Plant.  They lived in a neighborhood where most people earned their living working for local merchants.6

Gilbert was known to say that jobs were hard to find, you should hang on to them. And I imagine that the family was glad to have 3 family members employed in 1930.


Footnotes

1. 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 133, (stamped),enumeration district (ED) 121, sheet 1-A, dwelling 6, family 6, Gilbert M Gillespie; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed : 3 Jul 2012 ); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 1906.
2. Rockbridge County, Virginia, photo copy, J A and Nora F Champe to W P Gillespie, 14 Nov 1907, Lexington; copy privately held by Anne Mitchell inherited from father, Gilbert McClung Gillespie; the family story that has been handed down is that Wyatt built the house the family lived in and given that Wyatt was a carpenter I have no reason to doubt this.
3. Encyclopedia Virginia, (http://http://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/woman_suffrage_in_virginia : accessed 8 Jul 2012), “Woman Suffrage in Virginia.”
4. 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 68,(stamped),enumeration district (ED) 82-6, sheet 10-A, dwelling 208, family 251, Gilbert M Gillespie; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed : 3 Jul 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 2458.
5. American Experience, (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/timeline/rails-timeline/ : accessed 8 Jul 2012), “Timeline of the Great Depression.”
6. 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge Co., Va., Lexington, p. 68,(stamped),ED 82-6, sheet 10-A, dwell. 208, fam. 251, Gilbert M Gillespie; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed : 3 Jul 2012).

Tagged: , , , , , , , , , ,

6 thoughts on ““Wisdom Wednesday: It is what it is, it aint what it aint

  1. Anne Ciochetto July 12, 2012 at 10:46 am Reply

    Thanks for sharing this. Just a suggestion, if you could tie the historical timeline events more closely to this person or family, it would strengthen the story. E.g., who in the family served in WWI, how did that experience affect the family? Were there voter registrations that show political party, who the women voters in the family, were any women in this family involved in that movement? What effect did the Great Depression have on this family? I’ve found that local newspapers are a good resource for finding how this family or community were impacted by these greater historical events. Great that you’re doing this!

  2. [...] Can Read Anne Gillespie Mitchell’s Article Here: http://finding-forgotten-stories.com/2012/07/11/wisdom-wednesday-it-is-what-it-is-it-aint-what-it-ai… Share this:TwitterFacebookLinkedInStumbleUponPinterestDiggRedditTumblrEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe [...]

  3. M. A. S. July 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm Reply

    http://www.lexedu.org/Waddell/default.htm The present elementary school in Lex. Va. was the Lexington High School from approx. 1927/28 – 1960/62. This is likely the high school from which your grandfather graduated. The one you have pictured was once Anne Smith Academy, then became LHS until the new one was built in 1927. Your father attended the one that is presently Waddell Elementary pictured at this website.

    • Anne Gillespie Mitchell July 21, 2012 at 7:28 pm Reply

      Thank you so much for sharing that. I guess I should have done a little more homework! Thanks.

  4. M. S. August 13, 2012 at 5:24 pm Reply

    By the way, your father probably attended Ann Smith Academy bldg. shown here for primary grades because it reverted to that use and the upper elementary through seventh grade was Ruffner School.

  5. [...] Wisdom Wednesday: It is what it is, it aint what it aint [...]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,154 other followers

%d bloggers like this: