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What I’ve Been Reading This Week
- Ambassador What To Bring from FGS Blog
- Use Your Ancestors’ Social History to Your Advantage from Archives.com
- The Oratrix from The Legal Genealogist
- The Marriage Date from The Legal Genealogist
- Peaceful Valley from Emerging Civil War
- Hidden Treasures at Ancestry.com from The Ancestry Insider
- The Decree Nisi from The Legal Genealogist
- Grandparents “Words To Live By” Contest from Ancestry.com
- Genealogy – What Do You Mean It Isn’t Free? from Hack Genealogy
- The Ancestry.com “Suggested Records” Features Helps Me Again from Geneamusings
What I’ve Been Writing This Week
What I’ve been reading and writing this week. Enjoy!
- Philippina’s Choice from The Legal Genealogist
- This may be why your Civil War ancestor lost an arm or leg from Poore Boys in Gray
- Researching Newspapers for Genealogy for Free from The Ancestor Hunt
- You Don’t Always Have To Be There: Is That a Problem? from Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog
- Questions About the GPS from Ancestoring’s Ask a Genealogist
- The Death of Assassin Paul Roberts from Shiloh to Caanan
- Why they did it from Morning Coffee with John
- Treasure Chest Thursday ~ Grandpa Debs’ Black Briefcase from Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog
- In the Words of Women: The Revolutionary War and the Birth of the Nation, 1765 – 1799 from Our Heritage: 12th Century & Beyond
A couple of To Be Continued posts that you should start reading:
- Moonshining in Alabama from A Southern Sleuth
- Treasure Chest Thursday ~ Grandpa Debs’ Black Briefcase from Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog
And a little shameless self promotion, my 3 posts in Ancestry.com’s Sticky Notes this week:
A couple of days ago I wrote a post The Legal Genealogist Inspires Me to Take Another Look at the Puzzle of Jeremiah which discusses why can I find no record of my 2nd great grandfather Jeremiah Gillespie fighting for the Confederacy? Or the Union for that matter.
Marian Regan mentioned in a comment that maybe she should go back and look for her ancestor who seemed to old being born in 1817, but who knew? Maybe he did fight. It is not out of the realm of possibility.
In 2011 I wrote a series of 6 posts for Ancestry.com on the Civil War. The last 4 were about Robert Bryant, who was born about 1802. Yep, 1802. He fought for the 7th Kentucky Calvary (Union) and died from complications from a skin infection in a military hospital. Don’t assume anything! :-)
My two introductory posts:
Four posts about Robert Bryant:
- Is He or Isn’t He?
- It’s All in the Details
- Sorting Out Your soldier’s War story
- Exploring a Civil War Pension File
I sometimes regret publishing these — they would have been an awesome case study for conflicting evidence for my CG. It is what it is.
I just read Judy Russell’s blog post The drafty Ohioan in her blog The Legal Genealogist where she discusses why Ignatius or Ignatz Fleitz didn’t fight for the Union during the Civil War. Her discussion focuses on laws at that time and what the possibilities were for not fighting.
And of course my 2nd great grandfather, Jeremiah Gillespie, pops into my head. His older brother Everett Milton enlisted. His younger brothers Varlan, William and John all have enlistment paper trails. But I have never found any record of Jeremiah fighting. Why not? He lived in Amherst County, Virginia in 1860 and in 1870. The Confederacy by the end of the war had almost every male between the ages of 17 and 50 fighting.1
So how old was Jeremiah during the Civil War? His birth year has always been a bit fuzzy, but here is what we know. I have a record of a bible page, that lists his birth date as March 4, 1826.2
His marriage as it is recorded in the Amherst marriage register suggests that he is was born in 1828 or later. He is married November 21, 1848 and as listed as underage (under 21). If he were born March 4th, 1828, he would have been twenty. For the sake of argument, let’s assume he was born either March 4, 1826 or 1828.
I build a table to see how old Jeremiah was on the dates of various Conscription Acts:3
From this table, we see that at least by July 15, 1863 he should have enlisted in the war. Why didn’t he? What exemptions were there?
On October 11, 1862, the Confederate Congress passed what was known as the Twenty Slave Law allowing men who owned over 20 slaves exemption from service.4 But the 1860 slave schedule shows us that Jeremiah owned no slaves. The only Gillespie in Amherst County who is listed as owning slaves in 1860 is Wyatt Gillespie, whom I believe to be Jeremiah’s brother-in-law.5 I don’t think it was the Twenty Slave exemption.
I do notice something interesting on the Encyclopedia page. It’s a picture of document used for Applying for a Military Exemption. Can anyone say “To Do List!”
It was possible for a man to purchase a substitute for $300. But I don’t believe that Jeremiah was a man of much means. In 1860, he declares he has real estate worth $300 and a personal estate of $50; his occupation as a farmer.6 Sure, anything is possible, but I don’t think this is it.
The Confederacy did exempt men who worked in occupations “such as railroad and river workers, civil officials, telegraph operators, miners, druggists and teachers.”7
So I have two possibilities:
- He enlisted and I just haven’t found the right record yet or
- He has an exemption, and I should try searching for that paper work.
And I always wanted to believe he was a spy! But for now, I’m going to try and track down exemption records. The answers are out there.
7. CJ’s Civil War Home Page (http://www.wtv-zone.com accessed : Jan 10 2013 ), “Confederate Draft.”
I am a perpetual student because the world is a limitless place. — Elissa Scalise Powell
I had the honor of being in Elissa’s class when I was a student in the Boston University Online Certificate program. She was inspiring then, and in a recent post on APG mailing list, she delivered the above gem. (I couldn’t find this attributed to anyone else, so I assume it is hers.) It was part of a great discussion about education.
When I was a computer science student at the University of Arkansas working on my bachelor’s degree, I remember sitting in an architecture class and thinking, there is absolutely no way I am ever going to know all there is to know about this. It inspired me to go get a Master’s Degree at Purdue.
I had that moment in my BU class where the light went on and I knew I would have to pick and choose what I became truly knowledgeable about in Genealogy.
For me, I want to know all I can about Southern Genealogy, specifically Virginia, and the Carolina’s and the Civil War. That is where my family’s history lies.
Oh, and sourcing!
Some days I feel like I am making progress and some days I am overwhelmed.
But I keep reading and practicing. Because the world is indeed a limitless place.
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
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.
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.
There are quite a few pages in the Gillespie Family Bible that are interesting, but I used this one in a presentation today, so I thought it worth talking about here.
The bible was printed in 1857. I love all of the subtraction statements. Why are they there?
1861 was obviously an important year, the year the Civil War started. Virginia, where this family lived seceded from the Union on April 17th, of the that year.
The births listed as well as I can make out:
- John C Gillaspie was born in the year of our Lord adomos 1840 the 10 of May And it is the year 1861 now. ( I think that is how it goes.)
- Jaremiah Gillespie was born March the 4th 1826
- Milton Gillaspie was born on June 22 in the year of our lord (I can’t read the year)
- Varlen Gillespie was born June 9th (can’t read the year.)
I can’t read the names on the top of the second page. I would really love to know those.
John C Gillaspie was born in the 10 of May 1840 and now in the year 1861 10 of may followed by the subtraction of 1861 – 1840 = 21 years.
Jeremiah is my great great grandfather. He had brothers named John Calvin, Varlan, Everett Milton and William. No idea why William isn’t listed, but part of the page is torn off.
This page is more mysterious than helpful. But sometime I shall unlock it.
In my post Sorting Saturday: Starting a Narrative Lineage, I stated that my grandfather was the descendant of a Civil War Veteran, specifically, the a member of the Stonewall Brigade. And I left the proof for later. Here are the statements I need to prove:
- Gilbert McClung GILLESPIE was the son of Laura Cecile DONALD. 1
- Laura Cecile DONALD was the daughter of James Calvin DONALD and Elizabeth Jane WALLACE. She was born on February 13, 1877 in Lexington, Rockbridge, Virginia. 2
- James Calvin DONALD was born June 30, 1836. He enlisted in enlisted in Company H, 4th Infantry Regiment Virginia on April 20, 1861, three days after Virginia seceded from the Union. He served in Company H, until April 16, 1862 when he transferred to Preston’s Company, 7th Cavalry Regiment Virginia. 3
- Company H was part of the Stonewall Brigade.4
Oh goodness. I can not find a whole bunch of documentation. Ms. Mills tells us to document and summarize as you go. And you know she’s right. And I have stuff everywhere and it is totally unorganized.
I shall take a moment to feel totally sorry for myself. And I vow to spend 30 minutes everyday to start sorting through documents online and in that big pile in my office and get myself organized.
And never again do I pull documents and throw them on my hard drive or on a pile telling myself I will source and organize later. Probably never. :-)
And I am going to get assertion about my grandfather and his grandfather documented.