Category Archives: Sunday Obituaries

Sunday’s Obituary — Maiden Aunts and Bachelor Uncles: Sarah, Civil War Child

Sarah Gillespie, daughter of Jeremiah and Mary Gillespie was born sometime during February of 1860 in Amherst County, Virginia. She was had 1 sister and 2 brothers; the family had a $300 farm and personal possessions worth $50.1

Sarah, 8 months old in the 1860 census, which was enumerated October of 1860.

She died in Feb of 1865.2

Her short little life spanned the Civil War.  She had 4 or 5 uncles who fought in the war for the Confederacy and I’m quite sure many neighbors.  The stress that must have been in the household is difficult to imagine.  I’m sure during the end, that good food and medicine were hard to come by.

I have no idea why she died.  Her mother was about 5 months pregnant with my great great grandfather Wyatt when Sarah died.  The pain Mary must have felt losing one child while carrying another.

I have just two records that Sarah is in, the 1860 census and her death index.

A brief blip in human history, but not forgotten.

Footnotes

1. 1860 U.S. Census, Amherst County, Virginia, population schedule,, p. 132 (penned), dwelling 979, family 977, Jaremiah Gillispie and family; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 18 Jul 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication, M653, roll Unknown.
2. Virginia, Deaths and Burial Index, 1853-1917, database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Jul 2012), entry for Sarah Gilispie, daughter of Jerry and Mary Gillespie, Feb 1865, Amherst, Virginia.

Sunday’s Obituary — Maiden Aunts and Bachelor Uncles: Harriet Ann Gillespie

Harriet Ann Gillespie was born on June 14 1850 in Amherst, Virginia and died at the age of 70 on October 5, 1920 in Lexington, Virginia.  She never married.  (I had a photograph of her tombstone which is in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, but I lost it when my dog chewed up my phone. Backups, heh?). Her grave is a short distance from her brother Wyatt’s home at 108 Houston Street where she appears to have lived at least the last few months of her life.

Harriet was the oldest child of Jeremiah Gillespie and Mary E Gillespie who according to my Great Aunt Eva were first cousins.  In 1850 she lived with her parents on a farm in Amherst, Virginia. 1

By 1860, the family had grown.  Harriet had two brother s James and William, ages 9 and 7, and sister Sarah who was born in the Feb of 1860.  (Note: Brother George was born January 28, 1856, but is not listed on the 1860 census.) 2
Virginia seceded from the Union in April of 1861.  Her father’s brothers Everett Milton, Varlan, William, and John Calvin all served in the Confederacy.  There is not record of her father serving which remains a mystery as to why he did not.  At the age of 35, while he was a little old to serve at the beginning, give the shortage of men the Confederacy has, it surprises me that he was called up.  He may have served and I may have not found the record of it yet.

Her only sister, Sarah died in Feb of 1865 at the age of 5. 3

Her mother’s brother Wyatt also served.  He died in a Yankee prison camp in Elmira New York on May 8, 1865. 4 Harriet’s youngest brother Wyatt was born on July 15, 1865. 5  While I don’t know for sure, I suspect he was named for his Uncle.

In 1870, Virginia is admitted back into the Union and Reconstruction starts.  It is not hard to imagine that the family is weary and embittered by the war.  Harriet works as a farm hand on her parent’s farm that is value ad $100.  She lives with her parents, her brothers James, William, George and Paul in Pedlar, Amherst, Virginia. 6  Given the number of men who died in the war, it is very likely that the number of suitors was greatly diminished which may explain why Harriet never married.

In 1880, she lives with her parents, and her brother’s George and Wyatt, all of them working on the family farm. 7

In the next 20 years, her parents Jeremiah and Mary die, although I have yet to locate the documentation for exactly when, and I’m not sure what happens to the property that they own.   In 1900 Harriet lives with her brother George in Pedlar renting a farm.  They appear to be living next door to James H Donald, who is the older brother of George and Harriet’s brother, Wyatt’s wife, Laura Donald. 8

I cannot find Harriet in the 1910 census, but in 1920 she is living with her brother Wyatt and his wife Laura.  She passes away in October of that year. 9

She lived through the Civil War, and I’m sure she saw much hardship.  It appears that after her parent’s death she lived with other family members.  She is mostly entries in census records.

Was she kind? Was she bitter? Did her family willingly take her in?  Or did they feel duty bound?  Did she have a suitor who died in the War?

She lived through impassioned, racially charged times in the South.  What did she think and feel about the times she lived through?

I will probably never know much about her, she is truly one of those forgotten stories in the Gillespie family tree.  But at least she is a little less forgotten.

Footnotes

1. 1850 U.S Census, Amherst County, Virginia, population schedule, Eastern, p. 96 (inferred), dwelling 340, family 340, Jeremiah Gillaspie and family; digital images,  Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 18 Jul 2012);  citing NARA microfilm publication, M432, roll 933.
2. 1860 U.S. Census, Amherst County, Virginia, population schedule,, p. 132 (penned), dwelling 979, family 977, Jaremiah Gillispie and familydigital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 18 Jul 2012);   citing NARA microfilm publication, M653, roll RRR
3. “Virginia, Deaths and Burial Index, 1853-1917,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Jul 2012), entry Sarah Gilispie, daughter of Jerry and Mary Gillespie, Feb 1865, Amherst, Virginia.
4. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 22 Jul 1922), memorial page for Corp Wiatt Gillespie  Find A Grave Memorial no. 35296331, citing Elmira Prison Camp, Chemung County, New York, USA.
5. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 6 Aug 2010), memorial page for Wyatt Paul Gillespie (1865 – 1941), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56048050, citing Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia; the tombstone is for Wyatt Paul Gillespie and his wife Laura Cecile Donald.
6. 1870 U.S. Census, Amherst County, Virginia, population schedule, Peddler, p. 497 (stamped), dwelling 218, family 210, Jeremiah Glasby;  digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 18 Jul 2012);  digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, M593, roll 1633.
7. 1880 U.S. Census, Amherst County, Virginia, population schedule, Pedlar, enumeration district 19, p. 215A (stamped), p. 13 (penned), dwelling 118, family 125, Jese Gilaspiedigital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 18 Jul 2012);  digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, T9, roll 1353.
8. 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Amherst County, Virginia, population schedule, Pedlar, p. 123 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 11, sheet 19-A, dwelling 336, family 341, George C and Harriott A Galispie; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed : 19 Jul 2012 ); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 1699.
9. 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 133 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 121, sheet 1-A, dwelling 336, family 341, Harriet A Gillespie; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed : 19 Jul 2012 ); citing NARA microfilm publication T625, roll 1906.

Sunday Obituaries — James Calvin Donald

This is a departure from my usual dedication to Maiden Aunts and Bachelor Uncles, but i found this while I was organizing yesterday.  James Calvin Donald, was my great great grandfather.

I laid flowers at his grave when my father died (June 2010) and when my aunt died (Oct 2010).    Many ancestors are in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.  When I was at their funerals I was struck by the fact that many of my immediate family and ancestors and stood in that cemetery and cried tears as we said goodbye to love ones.  It is a ribbon that weaves our family tapestry together.

Sunday’s Obituary: Maiden Aunts and Bachelor Uncles — Eva Dold Gillespie

We called her Aunt Bebe.  My cousin tells me that someone from our parents generation could not pronounce Eva and it came  out as “bebe” and that’s how we knew her.

Eva Gillespie (1901 – 1992)

When my parents divorced she spent time with my Dad, sister and me making sure someone was there to take care of us.  She sewed clothes for us and our baby dolls.  And she taught in public schools for all her life.

She was born at the turn of the century on July 15, 1901, the third child of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald.  She never married and stayed at home taking care of her parents and older sister Minnie who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis.

Her parents bought their house on 108 Houston Street, Lexington, Virginia in 1907 when she was six and she lived there for the rest of her life.  Her brothers and sisters gave her the house in 1964 when her mother died.

She died on April 13, 1992 and was buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery  next to her parents.

Family of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie ca. 1925-1930

Sunday’s Obituary: Maiden Aunts and Bachelor Uncles — Minnie Maude Gillespie

Every generation has their own maiden aunts and bachelor uncles who leave behind no children and often there  is no one left to tell their story.  They truly become forgotten stories.  I will devote Sunday to those Aunts and Uncles.

Minnie Maude Gillespie was the oldest child of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald and the oldest sister of my grandfather Gilbert M Gillespie. She was born on January 29th 1897 and died at the age of 61 on April 5th, 1958.  She was outlived by her seven brothers and sisters and her mother.

This is the only picture I have of Minnie.  Hopefully one of my cousins can supply me with a better one someday.  Minnie is sitting on the right on the first row.

Family of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie 1

She suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis most of her life.  Working at Adair-Hutton’s dry goods store as a clerk was such a struggle having to stand all day.  My father remembered her coming home to the house on 108 Houston Street and have to soak her feet.

Adair’s ad in the Lexington, Virginia Directory in 1923.2

She was  born in Lexington, Virgina, and moved with her parents to 108 Houston Street were she lived the rest of her life.  She finished 4 years of high school.  She was a member of the Trinity Methodist Church.

She was buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery which more or less in the backyard of her home.  She is buried near her parents, many of her sisters and brothers and other generations of the family.

I have two obituaries for Minnie Maude Gillespie. And I am truly sad I don’t more about her.

Obituaries for Minnie Maude Gillespie3

Footnotes

1. Family of Wyatt Paul and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie, digital image ca. 1925, photocopy privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]. Minnie Maude is in the lower right corner; Minnie would have been around 28 years old. My father, Gilbert Gillespie, had the original at one time, current location is unknown.
2. The City Directory of Lexington, Virgina (A.D. Smith, Inc., 1922), 80; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 Jul 2012)
3. “Ms. Minnie M Gillespie”, undated clipping, ca. 1958, from unidentified newspaper; privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]. Inherited from my father Gilbert Gillespie.