52 Ancestors: #1 Laura Cecile Donald

My 52 Ancestors posts are going to focus on the women in my family tree.  Just to try something different.  I’ve discussed both of my grandmothers so I will start with my great grandmothers.

blog image

Granny Laura and her Dog, about 1950.  Granny was 73 years old.  This looks like it was taken at 108 Houston Street, Lexington, Virginia.
Granny Laura and her Dog, about 1950. Granny was 73 years old. This looks like it was taken at 108 Houston Street, Lexington, Virginia.

Great Granny Laura.  My father’s paternal grandmother.  One of my favorite pictures of her is the one with her dog which I think was taken around 1950.

She lived a good long life (1877-1964), 87 years all in Lexington, Virgina.1

Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald ca. 1894. I suspect that this is their wedding photo.
Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald ca. 1894. I suspect that this is their wedding photo.

She was married to Wyatt Paul Gillespie, merely 16 when they were married on January 24, 1894, in Lexington, Virginia.2 They were married for 47 years until his death 1941.She lived on her own for another 23 years.

She had 8 children: Minnie, Ashby, Eva, Clinton, Louise, Fred, Gilbert and Helen.4

The family lived at 108 Houston Street, Lexington, Virginia from early in the 1900’s and it remained in the family until 2003.

She was the daughter of a Civil War Veteran who spent part of the war as part of Stonewall Jackson’s troops.  They are all buried within sight of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson’s grave.  I imagine she worked hard all her life, raising her children, keeping her husband’s house.  She lived through Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era.  She couldn’t vote until she was 42 years old when women were given the vote in 1920. She lived through Prohibition, survived the Great Depression.

And she was remembered fondly by everyone in the family who talked about her.

Footnotes

1. Find A Grave, digital images, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 2 Jan 2014), memorial page for Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie, Find A Grave Memorial no. 56061683, citing Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia.
2. Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Marriage Certificate, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecil (sic) Donald, 24 Jan 1894, Rockbridge, Virginia; Department of Health – Division of Vital Records, Richmond, Virginia.
3. Find A Grave, digital images, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 2 Jan 2014), memorial page for Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Find A Grave Memorial no. 56048050, citing Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia.
4. Rockbridge, Virginia, Will Book 54:417-418, Wyatt Paul Gillespie Will, recorded 21 Feb 1941; Clerk of County Court, Lexington.

The Gift of Yearbook Pages. Treasure Chest Thursday.

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.

Gilbert McClung Gillespie from the 1934 Crystal, the yearbook of Lexington High School.  Senior Picture.
Gilbert McClung Gillespie from the 1934 Crystal, the yearbook of Lexington High School. Senior Picture.

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.

Faculty at Lexington High School 1934, Lexington, Virginia
Faculty at Lexington High School 1934, Lexington, Virginia

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!

Hall of Fame 1934 in the Lexington High School Crystal
Hall of Fame 1934 in the Lexington High School Crystal

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.

Gil Gillespie in Lexington Crystal
Gil Gillespie in Lexington Crystal

And here are both Martha Spencer and my father who served on the Honor Court in 1954.  Both are in the back row.

Honor Court, Lexington High School 1954, Martha Spencer and Gil Gillespie, in the back row
Honor Court, Lexington High School 1954, Martha Spencer and Gil Gillespie, 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. :-)

Wisdom Wednesday — Wyatt and Laura

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.

Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald ca. 1894

They had 8 children, all born in Lexington, Virginia:

  • Minnie Maude Gillespie (1897 – 1958 )
  • Ashby Paul Gillespie (1899 – 1967)
  • Eva Dold Gillespie (1901 – 1992)
  • Clinton Clifton Gillespie (1904 – 1990)
  • Louise Graham Gillespie (1907 – 1997)
  • Fred Douglas Gillespie (1910 – 1974)
  • Gilbert McClung Gillespie (1914 – 2003)
  • Helen Mae Gillespie (1918 – 2002)
Family of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie ca. 1925-1930

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

Gravestone of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Donald Gillespie; Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia

Footnotes

1. Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Marriage Certificate, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecil Donald, 24 Jan 1894, Rockbridge, Virginia
2. Anne Gillespie Mitchell, “108 Houston Street,” Finding Forgotten Stories blog (http://www.finding-forgotten-stories.com  accessed : 1 Aug 2012); published deed of land purchase.
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.

Sympathy Saturday — Miss you Dad

Gilbert McClung Gillespie’s (1940-2010) grave site at Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia 1

Two years ago today my sisters, my stepmother and my Uncle Paul were with my Dad as he spent his last hours on this planet after fighting a 3 month battle with Leukemia.

We buried him a few days later in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery where many generations of his ancestors are buried.

Dad and I didn’t always see eye to eye on things. :-)  But we did love each other.  He gave me my love of history and genealogy.  This we always had in common.  We had planned a research trip for the summer of 2010 that we never took.

Obituary from the Culpeper Star Exponent 2

I miss you Dad.

Footnotes

1. DeHaan, Michael, Photo of Gil Gillespie’s Grave, 1 Aug 2010. Copy help by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], California, 2012.
2. “Gilbert McClung “Gill” Gillespie Jr.,” The Culpeper Star-Exponent (Virginia), 30 Jul 2010, Web Edition, (http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/starexponent/obituary.aspx?n=gilbert-mcclung-gillespie-gil&pid=144358493 accessed : 27 Jul 2012).

Wisdom Wednesday — Granny’s Dog

I love my two dogs, Coco and Belle.  I remember the dogs I had as kids, Boomer, Peppy and Caesar.  I can remember my dad talking about his dog Smokey and how he claimed that the one time he ever get in trouble was for tying Smokey to the water heater.    I believe the “one time he got in trouble” is a bit of a family legend.

I recently obtained this picture of my great grandmother Laura Cecil Donald Gillespie that has Laura Gillespie and dog Mckey or Mickey 1950 on the back:

Granny Laura and her Dog, about 1950. Granny was 73 years old. This looks like it was taken at 108 Houston Street, Lexington, Virginia.

Do you think this is the same dog as:

Eva Gillespie and grandchildren of Wyatt and Laura Gillespie, about 1944

Hmm.  Not too sure.  The dog would have been 6 years older in the picture with Granny, but not enough black on it’s face unless the sunshine is making it look white.    Looks like a similar dog.

I just love the picture.  Sitting on the front porch in a rocking chair, reading a book with your dog.  Sounds like a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Tombstone Tuesday — I found my missing Stonewall Jackson Cemetery pics!

I could not remember where I had stashed these.  Eureka they have been found!

These are the tombstones for my previous entries on my Maiden Aunts:

Harriet Ann Gillespie, daughter of Jeremiah Gillespie and Mary E Gillespie, born Jun 14, 1853, Amherst, Virgina, died October 5, 1920, Lexington, Virginia.

Harriet Ann Gillespie’s tombstone, Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia.

Minnie Maud Gillespie, daughter of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald, born Jan 29, 1897, Lexington, Virginia, died March 1, 1958, Lexington, Virginia.

Minnie Maude Gillespie, Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia

Eva Dold Gillespie, daughter of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald, born July 15, 1901, Lexington, Virginia, died April 13, 1992, Lexington, Virginia.

Eva Dold Gillespie, Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, 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.