When you write about your family, good things happen. You find flaws in your logic. You find those wonderful “ah-ha” moments. And on occasion, you find a genealogy angel. Or they find you.
Martha Spencer saw a post I made years ago on an Ancestry.com message board and responded. I missed her original response (!) but she found me again and it turns out she went to high school with my father. She sent me some of his yearbook pages as well as some newspaper clippings that pertained to my biggest brickwall, my g-g-g-grandfather Charlton Wallace.
This past week she sent me the relevant pages from my grandfather’s yearbook! Gilbert McClung Gillespie graduated from Lexington High School in 1934. My father attended Lexington High School until 1956 when he was a sophomore.
His ambition is “To beat Thompson out of his job.” Thompson was Kenneth Thompson, whom according to Martha was a “cranky” math teacher who was still teaching when she and my father attended Lexington High.
One has to believe that there is more to the story than that, but I don’t think the yearbook reveals any more. Also, I know that my grandfather was chosen as the Most Dependable. At least he wasn’t in the No Brains, but… category!
My dad’s mentions in his yearbooks are not that different. His nickname was also Gilly. I knew he was called that in High School, never knew my grandfather was. My dad, was selected as the male with the Prettiest Eyes. My dad and his brother and two sisters all had the same beautiful blue eyes. I’m glad to know he wasn’t chosen as Most Gullible.
And here are both Martha Spencer and my father who served on the Honor Court in 1954. Both are in the back row.
These photos and the rest that were sent to me, mean so very much. If you keep your family private and hidden away, you may miss out on some amazing stuff.
And to Martha, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Every time I look at these I get a little misty. :-)
Wyatt Paul Gillespie, son of Jeremiah Gillespie and Mary E Gillespie, was born on July 15, 1865 in Amherst County, Virginia.
Laura Cecil Donald, daughter of James Calvin Donald and Elizabeth Jane Wallace, was born on February 13, 1877 in Rockbridge County, Virginia.
They were married January 24, 1894 in Rockbridge County, Virginia. How they met is not known, at least to me. Wyatt was 28 and Laura was almost 17 when they married. 1 I suspect the picture below was taken around the time of there wedding.
They had 8 children, all born in Lexington, Virginia:
They purchased the land at 108 Houston Street, Lexington, Virginia in 1907 and built the house on it in 1908. The house was owned by someone in the family until Gilbert’s death in 2003. The house was sold and moved. The land is now occupied by medical offices. 2
Wyatt died on July 15, 1941 at the age of 75. Laura lived for another 23 years and died at the age of 87 on August 23, 1964. They are both buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington Virginia. Minnie, Eva, Fred and Gilbert are buried there as well. 3
1. Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Marriage Certificate, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecil Donald, 24 Jan 1894, Rockbridge, Virginia
3. Findagrave.com, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 6 Aug 2010), memorial page for Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Find A Grave Memorial no. 56048050, citing Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia.
Some documents are like a really great Christmas, they just have everything in them that you need. This Deed of Conveyance 1 defines quite nicely Wyatt Paul and Laura Donald Gillespie’s children, their children’s spouses and Wyatt and Laura’s death.
In Wyatt’s will he left the house at 108 Houston Street to his wife, and upon her death to his two single daughters, Minnie Maude and Eva Dold.
Wyatt died, testate, February 19, 1941 and his wife Laura, died, intestate, August 23, 1964. 2 He states in his will, which is quoted in the Deed, that upon the death of his wife he leaves the property and house at 108 Houston Street to his two daughters Minnie M Gillespie and Eva D Gillespie. 3. Minnie died on Apr 1, 1958 4 leaving Eva as the only heir for the property.
The deed then instructs that his property, other than the land and house, should be sold off upon the death of his wife and that $25 should be given to his daughter Louise Montgomery and the rest be divided between his three daughters Misses Eva D, Minnie M, and Helen and his four sons, Clinton, Ashby P, Fred and Gilbert. 5
The rest of the deed is the release from the remaining brothers and sisters, their respective spouses, and their residences in 1965, who are as follows:
Ashby P Gillespie and his wife Margaret M of Newport News, Virginia,
Clinton C Gillespie and his wife Ernestine of Portsmouth, Virginia,
Fred D Gillespie and his wife Eleanor K of Rockbridge County, Virginia,
Gilbert M Gillespie and his wife Ann Irene, of Graham County, North Carolina,
Louise Montgomery (widow) of Shelby County, Tennessee, and
Helen Gillespie Keezel and her husband John Calvin Keezel, of Rockbridge County, Virginia.6
So we’ve learned a bit about Wyatt and Laura and their family:
They had at least eight children, and the eight listed were alive when Wyatt wrote his will,
If there were other children, then they died without any living heirs,
When Wyatt wrote his will, Louise was married and by 1965 she was a widow,
Helen was married between the time her father wrote his will and her mother’s death she married John Calvin Keezel,
Minnie died between the time her father wrote his will and 1965 (she died in 1958),
Wyatt wrote a will; Laura did not,
The deed for the property on which the 108 Houston Street House was built is recorded in Deed Book 102, page 467,
Wyatt’s will is recorded in Will Book 54, page 517,
In Wyatt’s will he specified that the “farm consisting of forty seven (47) acres, more or less, located at Poplar Hills one and one half miles southeast of Lexington, Va be sold at my death” and the proceeds be used to pay for his just debts and funeral expenses, the rest going to his wife,7
That when Minnie died, she left her mother as her sole and only heir, and
None of the property at 108 Houston Street had been sold at that time.8
So there are a few obvious things to do. Finding Wyatt’s will and more information about the property at Poplar Hills comes to mind.
And in one legal document we have learned and documented Wyatt’s family and some of their relationships.
1. Children of Wyatt Paul Gillespie, to Eva D Gillespie, Deed of Conveyance, March 15, 1965, copy, privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], California, 2012; copy was handed down from my father, Gilbert M Gillespie, who probably received it from his father, who was one of the children of Wyatt Paul Gillespie.
2. Children of Wyatt Paul Gillespie to Eva Dold Gillespie, Deed of Conveyance, 1965, pp. 1 and 3.
3. Children of Wyatt Paul Gillespie to Eva Dold Gillespie, Deed of Conveyance, 1965, p. 2.
4. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 25 Jul 2012), memorial page for Minnie Maude Gillespie, Find A Grave Memorial no. 94194861, citing Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia.
5. Children of Wyatt Paul Gillespie to Eva Dold Gillespie, Deed of Conveyance, 1965, p. 3.
6. Children of Wyatt Paul Gillespie to Eva Dold Gillespie, Deed of Conveyance, 1965.
7. Children of Wyatt Paul Gillespie to Eva Dold Gillespie, Deed of Conveyance, 1965, p. 2.
8. Children of Wyatt Paul Gillespie to Eva Dold Gillespie, Deed of Conveyance, 1965, p. 3.
Both my father and grandfather were named Gilbert McClung Gillespie.
According to my father, it was tradition for parents to give the last name of the Doctor who delivered them as a middle name. The story was the elder Dr. McClung delivered my grandfather and the younger Dr. McClung who was the son delivered my father.
I have found nothing to support that this tradition was prevalent in the early 1900’s but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t tradition. It made have been a family tradition.
A search of the 1940 census in Rockbridge County, Virginia finds a Hunter McClung who was a practicing physician at the age of 60 in 1940. 1 I found no other physicians in Rockbridge County, Virginia whose last name was McClung. My father was born in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Lexington and I believe it is reasonable to assume that his doctor resided in Rockbridge County.
Hunter McClung was also a practicing physician in 1910 in Lexington. He was the son of John McClung who was a retired physician in 1910 .2 Again, I found no other doctors named McClung in Rockbridge County. My grandfather was born in Lexington, Virginia and Hunter McClung may have delivered him as well.
I wonder if the same man delivered both my grandfather and father. I have never found the name McClung in our family tree and I suspect that there is a bit of truth to the story of where their middle names came from, but it does appear that if it is true then they were delivered by the same man.
1. 1940 U.S. census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington Township, enumeration district (ED) 82-7, sheet 9-B, dwelling 195, Doctor Hunter A D McClung; Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 20 Jul 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 4290.
2. 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 167 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 114, sheet 17-A, dwelling 246, family 252, O H McClung; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed : 20 Jul 2012 ); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1647; Dr. Oscar Hunter McClung was a physician, his father John was a retired physician living with him at the time which suggests he did not deliver my grandfather, but Hunter did if indeed a Dr. McClung delivered him.
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:
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.
1. Rockbridge County, Virginia, Deeds, 285: 482, Children of Laura Gillespie to Eva Gillespie, 15 Mar 1965; County Courthouse, Lexington; Copy part of private collection of Anne Gillespie Mitchell.
2. Rockbridge County, Virginia, page 364, line 10 (1894), Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecile Donald; Virginia Department of Health, Richmond; states Laura is the daughter of James C and Elizabeth Donald.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
I am prepping for my first CG attempt, which I hope to start sometime this year. One of the requirements is to write Narrative Lineage. I’m going to practice writing one for my paternal paternal line.
Today, I’m going to write some informative paragraphs and a intro and end. I’m quite sure I’ll rewrite them but it’s time to start. I’ve got a lot more detail to fill in the middle here. but what I am realizing is how much of this is what I know I do not have sources. I need my grandfather’s birth certificate and marriage certificate, at the very least
So here goes.
My paternal grandfather, Gilbert McClung GILLESPIE, was born on March 20, 1914 in Lexington, Virginia.1 He was the seventh of eight children born to Wyatt Paul GILLESPIE and Laura Cecile DONALD. 2 His father was born at the end of the Civil War in 1865 3; his mother was the daughter of veteran of the Stonewall Brigade.4 Lexington, his hometown, was the burial place of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E Lee. He is buried in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery in Lexington, Virginia.
Over his lifetime he lived through WWI and II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. The Civil Rights movement and 9/11. He raised 4 children and lived to see all 8 of his grandchildren. He had 12 great grandchildren, but he died in 2003 before most of them were born.
He died on November 21, 2003 at the age of 89 in Huddleston, Bedford, Virginia. His youngest son, Paul, was with him when he died. He was buried next to his wife, Ann Irene FEAZELL who had died twenty years earlier. 5
1. Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 2 Jul 2012), entry for Gilbert M Gillespie, SS no. 224-03-0395.
2. I need my grandfather’s birth certificate to document this.
3. 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.
4. This is actually a complicated footnote; leaving for later.
5. Find A Grave, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 6 Aug 2010), memorial page for Gilbert McClung Gillespie (1914 – 2003), Find A Grave Memorial no. 56069420, citing Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, Rockbridge County, Virginia; the tombstone is for Gilbert McClung and his wife Ann Irene Feazell.
Update: I found I had the images out of order and that what was Page 6 continues the dowry release. It is all reasonably ordered now.
My grandfather, Gilbert Gillespie, told my father that this deed was the key to everything. My dad thought thought it had something to do with the theory that we are related to Alexander Anderson “Big Foot” Wallace. Both are gone know, so it up to me to figure out.
I do know that Samuel J Campbell was my grandfather’s cousin twice removed. I have no idea if William A Anderson was any relation.
This deed made this 15th day of March 1878 between James B Dorman and Chas A Davidson trustees of Saml J Campbell of the first part John C Bonds a Commisioner of the Circuit Court of Rockbridge of the second part Saml J Campbell and M L Campbell his wife of the third part and Wm A Anderson of the fourth part are all of the County of Rockbridge and State of Virginia Witnesseth; Whereas it appears from a Report of sale filed in the Chancery cause depending in the Circuit Court of Rockbridge in the name of Saml J Campbell’s trustees against Saml J Campbell & others, that James B Dorman and Chas A Davidson trustees under the authority of a deed of trust executed by said Campbell to them on the12th day of March 1872, and of Record in the Clerks Office of Rockbridge County County; and pursuant to a decree of the Circuit Court of Rockbridge pronounced in said Chancery Cause in the 10 day of April 1873, Offered for sale at public auction on the 11th day of June 1873 a certain lot of land near Lexington containing about Six Acres situated on the North side of the “Fair Grounds” Road adjoining the lands of John Miller and other at which sale Wm A Anderson being the highest bidder became the purchaser
of said lot for the Sum of One Thousand Dollars which sale was satisfied and Confirmed by the Court as appears from a decree rendered in said cause on the 15th day of September 1873. An d whereas it also appears from another decree pronounced in said cause on the 11th day of March 1878, that it was among
other things ” adjudged ordered and decreed
” that the said trustees do convey to the pur-
” chaser of the six acre lot the said lot by
” a deed with special warranty as soon
” as the purchase money is paid, in which
” said deed the defendants S J Campbell and M L
” Campbell his wife will unite and convey
” with general warranty and J C Bond a
” Special Commissioner for the purpose appointed will
” also unite and will convey with Special
” Warranty the interests of all other parties
” to the cause: And whereas the said
purchase money has been paid in full, Am therefore in consideration of the premises, as well as of Five Dollars in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged the said James B Dorman and Chas A Davidson trustees of Saml J Campbell and John C Bond Commissioner as
aforesaid do??? grant with Special Warranty, and the said Samuel J Campbell and M L Campbell his wife do grant with general warranty unto William A Anderson all that certain lot or parcel of land sold as aforesaid containing six acres more or less Situated on the Fair Grounds road and is the same lot of land conveyed by W N Pendleton & wife to Saml J Campbell by deed dated Oct 22 1870 and Recorded in the office of the Clerk of the County Court of Rockbridge in Book SS p 328 and from S J Campbell to J B Dorman and Chas A Davidson trustees by deed date March 12, 1872 and recorded in said Clerks Office in Book MM p 155 reference to which deed is hereby made for a more particular description of said lot. To have and to hold the above dis??? lot or parcel of land with its appurtenances to him the said William A Anderson his heirs and ass?? for ever.
Witness the follow Signatures and Seals
J B Dorman Trustee
Chas A Davidson Trustee
John C Bonds Comm
S J Campbell
M L Campbell
State of Virginia
Rockbridge County to wit
I J P Moore a Notary
Public for the County aforesaid in the State of Virginia do certify that S. J. Campbell whose name is signed to the writing annexed(?) bearing date March 15th 1878 has acknowledged the same before me in the County aforesaid. And I further certify that M. L. Campbell the wife of S. J. Campbell whose names are signed to the writing annexed bearing date March 15th 1878 personally appeared before me in the County aforesaid and being examined by me privately and apart from her husband and having the writing aforesaid full explained to her. she the said M. L. Campbell acknowledged the said writing to be her ?? and declared that she had willing executed the same and does not wish to interact with it.
Given under my hand March 16th, 1878
J. P. Moore N P
In Rockbridge County Court Clerks office March 19th 1878
This Deed from Saml J. Campbell’s trustees & c to Wm A Anderson was this day produced in this office and the State Tax
Note: Everything in italics is also on Image 05
declared that she had willingly executed the same and does not wish to retract it Given under my hand March 16th 1878
J P Moore N P
In Rockbridge County Court Clerks office March 19th 1878
This Deed from Saml J Campbell’s trustees & Co Wm A Anderson was this day produced in this office and the State Tax
of $1.00 being of said thereon it is admitted to record
J P Moore C.C.
1. Rockbridge County, Virginia, Deeds, Q: 212-216, Samuel J Campbell to William A Anderson, 19 March 1878, County Courthouse, Rockbridge.
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.
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
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.
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.