Is there something you’d like to hear us talk about?
We’ve start a new series on Ancestry.com called Between the Leaves. It’s a genealogy chat show for some of the genealogist who work at Ancestry.com: Myself, Juliana Szucs Smith, Amy Johnson Crow and Crista Cowan. The first episode was a lot of fun to film and I can’t wait to do the next one!
I presented Successfully Searching for Your Family Story at both Wytheville and NGS. Here are the slides from those talks.
Slides from My Talk on Using Military records on Ancestry.com and Fold3
What I Was Writing This Week:
NGS 2014: Richmond, Virginia : May 7-10
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
There are a lot of things I know about Elizabeth. Her parents. Her husband. Her children. But I didn’t know when she died or where her final resting place was. And it bothered me.
Her husband, James Calvin Donald,1 her son John Charlton2 and John’s wife Elizabeth3 and their two sons are buried in at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia. All in the same plot. You can see James Calvin Donald in the back with the Southern Cross. John C Donald Sr and Elizabeth J Donald in the front, and to the right out of the picture are John and Elizabeth’s two sons. Where is Elizabeth Wallace, wife of James? Mother of John?
There are four posts about six inches high around the plot. I took this short video to document the size of the plot and then empty spaces.
I headed over to the cemetery office to ask him about the plot and to see if there was any information we could find. The very helpful office worker, I wish I could remember his name, looked up James in the index and then helped us find the correct card in his book. Two columns. On the left, John C Donald (Dec 27/1827 March 6/ 1748), Elizabeth J Donald (1895-1973), John C Donald (1921-1976), and William Lewis Donald (6-28-1927 – 5-16-05)5
And in the right column? James C. Donald (1836 -1899). And three graves. We asked the caretaker and he said that those were unmarked graves. He also told us that the information came from the church when they transferred the cemetery to the city. Notice the information on the right was typed. The information on the left was written, no doubt when the person was buried.
Now let’s say one of them was Elizabeth Jane Wallace, wife of James. Who are the other two? According to a rather lengthy family history of the Lyle family in Rockbridge County, James and Elizabeth had two children that died young: William D and Andrew M.7
Are the three unmarked graves, Elizabeth, William and James? I asked about the question mark on that page and it is a possible grave.
We do know that Elizabeth’s will was written in 1901 and she left everything to her son John C Donald, who is buried in the plot with unmarked graves.8 He also declares himself the executor of her estate on October 1st, 1918.9 It is loose circumstantial evidence that he would have buried his mother in that same plot that he later was buried in and his father was buried in.
I also know that Elizabeth is in the 1910 census, living with her son, John C, and her mother.10 So she died sometime between 1910 and 1918, most likely in 1918. And I think there is a strong possibility that she is one of the unmarked graves in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery. Still more work needs to be done. But I’m closer!
What I Was Reading This Week:
RootsTech 2014 Recap
What I Was Writing This Week:
52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks
I presented two lectures at RootsTechs 2014:
If you were there and would like a copy of my slides or are interested you can find the PDF’s on my Slides and Presentations page.
Over time, we all get better at genealogy. We learn better ways to search, to analyze and how to prove that which seems unprovable. The first group of family you work on is most likely to be filled with errors and bad assumptions.
My Gillespie line is that line for me. I worked on it with my Dad, but neither one of us had a very good idea of what we were doing.
So let’s review.
My cousins and I believe this to be Mary Elizabeth Gillespie Gillespie. Based on the watermark it was taken between 1866 and 1883 in Tennessee. Mary would be have been somewhere between 40 and 60 years old. I’m guessing I can get a better date on this by analyzing the head scarf she is wearing and the clothing. She looks very serious.
My great aunt, Eva Dold Gillespie, told my father that Mary and Jeremiah, Mary’s husband, were first cousins. I’ve never proven that, but I have used that to make a lot of assumptions about my research. I have no reason to doubt my great aunt. She was very sharp, taught history in Lexington, Virginia and according to my father cared a great deal about family history. Oh, if I only I had been interested in this when she was alive!
So what do I know about Mary?
The difference in Mary’s age does support the Jeremiah has possibly married two different Mary’s, but why would the children who would be the wife of the first Mary be listed as the heirs of the second Mary’s estate in 1893? It seems that it should be the same woman.
So who were Mary Elizabeth Gillespie parents? Jeremiah’s parents where Tarlton Gillespie and Mahala Reynolds. There were two other possible Gillespie families in the Amherst area that are possibilities. Willis Gillespie and Roland Gillespie. Both had daughters named Mary. Roland’s daughter Mary married James S Camden. Willis had a daughter Mary who is listed in his will as Mary Gillespie (no husband given).
Willis had a son, Wyatt who died May 15th, 1865 in the Prisoner of War camp in Elmira, New York.Jeremiah and Mary had a son Wyatt who was born July 15th, 1865. Was they younger Wyatt named after the older? Does this show a relationship?
Then there is the Bedford County connection. Tarlton and Mahala, Jeremiah’s parents, were married there. There are other Gillespie’s there. They need to be considered.
What if Mary Gillespie was a Gillespie because she married another Gillespie before marrying Jeremiah? Not as likely, but it’s possible.
I need to start with doing some deed work and hoping I can find the connection between the land Mary and Jeremiah might have owned and someone else. Or find something useful in neighbors. Or tax lists. Or chancery records. Or order books. Lots of places left to look. Lots of work to do.
There was a lot of sadness in Eva Georgia “Georgie” Baxter Payne’s 47 years. Her mother died when she was 4. Georgie died 5 years after her husband when she was 47 leaving behind 8 children, the youngest who was 8.
And she had a really inconvenient birthday. The 1880 census recorded everyone who was living in the household on June 1st, 1880. And Georgie was born on June 10th, 1880. Oh, the 1880 census her family was on was enumerated on June 17th, 1880; but this enumerator followed the rules.
Finding her parents was a bit of a challenge. Georgie’s death certificate said her mother was Mary Alexander and her father was S. R. Baxter. The informant was my grandmother, Georgie’s daughter, Jennie E Payne.
There are no S.R. Baxter’s that I could find in North Carolina. I looked. And I looked. And I looked.
I looked for Georgie’s marriage certificate James. James and Georgie were married October 18th, 1902. North Carolina marriage certificates have parents’ names. I found the film, I scrolled through it. Bingo! You know that feeling when you find the obvious document that will have your answer. The excitement! The answer!
Georgie’s parents are listed as unknown and unknown, and they both were dead. And you know that feeling too, don’t you?
Time to use the FAN method! I recorded the information that was on the marriage certificate including those who signed. B. R. Payseur, and name I still can’t read, and something like Reasley Carrol.
I went back to the North Carolina death certificates on Ancestry.com and search for people who had a father S.R. Baxter or a mother Mary Alexander.
And I found Sara Baxter, whose mother was Mary Baxter and her father Peter Baxter. And her husband? Boyce R. Payseur. Now we know that B. R. Payseur was a witness to James and Georgie’s wedding. I felt like I was on to something. OK, not solid proof. But it sure felt like a substantial lead. And it was. Boyce is listed as a guardian for Georgie’s children. James and Georgie’s son was named Jack Boyce Payne. 
But I needed more. I hunted down Peter Franklin Baxter’s probate files, who is listed as Sarah’s father on her death certificate and her father in 1880. He died October 16th, 1897, five years before Georgie and James were married. When his will is recorded it lists a Sally Payseur, wife of Boyce and a Georgie Baxter. But that still isn’t enough. What if there is another Georgie Baxter that has a sister named Sally/Sarah?
So I searched for the final settlement for Peter’s will. And lo and behold, Georgie, is now Georgie Payne and her husband is JR Payne.
She tried to hide her parents, but with a little FAN work I found her. Every piece of data on every may be significant.
The answers are out there.