Tag Archives: virginia

Early Research. Sloppy Research. Lots of Questions. 52 Ancestors #5: Mary Elizabeth Gillespie

1866-1883 - GrandmotherOver 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 marriage register for Mary states that her surname was Gillespie.  It does not list her father; no one had to sign for her, so I’m pretty sure she was at least 18 when she married Jeremiah Gillespie November 21st, 1848.  This suggests that her birthday was before November 21st, 1830.[1]
  • Because she was married in 1848, there is no census record where she will be enumerated by name.
  • In 1850, she is living with Jeremiah and their 6 month old daughter in the Eastern District of Amherst County, Virginia.[2]
  • In 1860, she is still living with Jeremiah and 4 children: Harriet I (10), Jas R (9), Wm H (7), and 8 month old Sarah M.[3]I never noticed it before, but there is a very big gap between Harriet, James, William and then Sarah.  Why where there no children?
    • There is actually I missing child here, George C, who would have been about 4 years old and William was more likely to have been 5.  That makes the ages of the children a bit more believable.
    • The Civil War came and went. I can find no record of Jeremiah serving even those his older brother did and his two younger brothers did.
    • Sarah dies in February of 1865[4]; Wyatt Paul, Jeremiah and Mary’s youngest child is born July 15th, 1865, 5 months later.[5]
    • The 1870 census is very strange to say the least. Mary is listed as Ann.  (I have no reason to believe that Mary had died, Jeremiah had remarried an Ann and then later married a Mary. I guess it’s possible.)  They own $100 worth of real estate. And the entire family is listed as not being able to read and write.[6]

    1870-us-census

  • In 1880, they are living in the Pedlar District of Amherst. Jeremiah “Jese” and Mary are living with Harriet, George and Paul.  This time Jeremiah is listed as 60 and Mary as 40. [7]

1880-us-census

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.

  • I do not have an exact date of death for her, but I have a deed where her heirs sell their inheritance to Wyatt Paul Gillespie, my great grandfather and her youngest child in 1893.[8]

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.[9]  Willis had a daughter Mary who is listed in his will as Mary Gillespie (no husband given).[10]

Willis had a son, Wyatt who died May 15th, 1865 in the Prisoner of War camp in Elmira, New York.[11]Jeremiah and Mary had a son Wyatt who was born July 15th, 1865.[12]  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.[13]  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.


[1] Amherst County, Virginia, “Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853″, index and images, Virginia State Library, Richmond, Virginia, p. 408, entry for Jeremiah Gillaspie and Mary E Gillespie, bond date 21 Nov 1848; FHL microfilm 30273. Parents or Guardian of Husband: Talton Gillaspie; Security and Witnesses: James Gillaspie; J Powell Jr; Richd Waugh.
[2] 1850 U.S. Federal Census, Amherst County, Virginia, population schedule, Eastern, [unnumbered], dwelling 340, family 340, Jeremiah Gillaspie; digital images,  Ancestry.com  (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 18 Jul 2012);  citing NARA microfilm publication, M432, roll 933.
[3] 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Amherst County, Virginia, population schedule, p. 132 (penned), dwelling 979, family 977, Jaremiah Gillispie;  digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 18 Jul 2012);   citing NARA microfilm publication, M653, roll 1332.
[4] Virginia, Deaths and Burials 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.
[5] Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery (Main Street, Lexington, Virginia), Wyatt Paul Gillespie marker; personally read, 2013.
[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 Federal Census, Amherst County, Virginia, population schedule, Pedlar, enumeration district 19, p. 215A (stamped), p. 13 (penned), dwelling 118, family 125, Jese Gilaspie;  digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 14 May 2010);  digital images, citing NARA microfilm publication, T9, roll 1353.
[8] Amherst County, Virginia, Deeds, UU: 393-4, Mary Elizabeth Gillespie heirs to W.P. Gillespie, recorded 10 Nov 1893, Clerk of Circuit Court, Amherst.
[9] Virginia, Deaths and Burials Index, 1853-1917, database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 Feb 2014), entry for Mary E Camden, daughter of Rolin and Lucy Gillaspie, 16 Apr 1881, Amherst, Virginia.
[10] Amherst County, Virginia, Will Book 19:253, Willis Gillespie, Dec.18,1865; Clerk of County Court, Amherst.
[11] Find A Grave, digital images, database and images (http://findagrave.com : accessed 24 Aug 2012), memorial page for Corp Wiatt Gillespie  Find A Grave Memorial no. 35296331, citing Mount Olivet Cemetery, McGaheysville, Rockingham County, Virginia, USA.
[12] Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery (Main Street, Lexington, Virginia), Wyatt Paul Gillespie marker; personally read, 2013.
[13] Virginia Marriages, 1740-1850, database, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 Feb 2014), entry for Tatton Gillaspie and Mahala Reynolds, 27 May 1816, Bedford, Virginia.

How an Ancestry Shaky Leaf Solved My Marriage Problem: 52 Ancestors #2: Clara Ellen Hash

My great grandmother was Clara Ellen Hash. Her parents were Weldon Alexander Hash and Sarah Hash who were first cousins.[1]    Their fathers were Zebedee Hash and Abram Hash, respectively.

She was born May 12, 1889 in Grayson County, Virginia.[2]  She had 6 children with Adam Franklin Feazell: Sarah, Ann, Carl, Helen, Charles and Harry.[3]  She died in Buena Vista, Virginia on March 8, 1948 at the age of 58.

And all of that is fairly well documented.  The one thing I could never find was where and when did Adam and Clara get married? Did they get married?

Sarah, their oldest, was born April 10, 1915.[4]. Assuming they were married before she was born, you would think they were married around 1913, give or take a few years.

  • In May of 1910, Adam was living with his parents John and Idella Feazell in Groseclose, Smyth County, Virginia.[5]
  • Also in 1910, Clara was living with her parents, Weldon and Sarah in Atkins, Smyth County, Virginia as well.[6]
  • On June 5, 1917, Adam and Clara and two children were living in Marion, Smyth County, Virginia.[7]

I searched the records of Smyth County.  Nothing.  I checked Grayson County where Clara was born. Nothing.  I abandoned my search.

Maybe they weren’t ever married.  Maybe I just wasn’t being clever enough or exhaustive enough in my search. The 1930 census suggested that they were married in 1913.[8]  So I was pretty sure I wasn’t being clever enough.

Yep I wasn’t clever enough. :-)

One day, up pops a shaky leaf  for Clara.  Ancestry.com had indexed West Virginia marriage records.  And guess who was there?  Clara and Adam.  There were married March 6, 1913 in Williamson, Mingo County, West Virginia.[9] West Virginia has lots of vitals online, and lucky for me, the image was there.

Frank Feazell and Clara Hash marriage record

Frank Feazell and Clara Hash marriage record

Now why they went to West Virginia to get married is still a bit of a mystery to me.  Adam’s older brother Elbert was most likely living in Williamson around that time.  He was living there as early as September 12, 1918.[10]

I also see that Frank was working as a railroad worker.  Maybe he was trying to earn money to get them set up.  Maybe they eloped.

Frank and Clara's marriage record: bottom portion

Frank and Clara’s marriage record: bottom portion

But at least now I know when and where they were married.


[1] Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Certification of Birth, Clara E Hash, 12 May 1889, Grayson County, Virginia; Department of Health – Division of Vital Records, Richmond, Virginia.
[2] Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Certification of Birth, Clara E Hash, 12 May 1889, Grayson County, Virginia; Department of Health – Division of Vital Records, Richmond, Virginia.
[3] 1930 U.S. census, Smyth county, Virginia, population schedule, Marion Magisterial District, [unnumbered], enumeration district (ED) 82-5, sheet 16-B, dwelling 328, family 319, Frank A Feazell; database and digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Nov 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 2461.
[4] Smyth County, Virginia, “Index to births and deaths, 1853-1917″,  registrations ordered alphabetically, entry for Sarah Josephine Feazell; FHL 2025451, item 2. birth date 10 Apr 1915, file no. 1.
[5] 1910 U.S. census, Smyth county, Virginia, population schedule, Groseclose Precinct, p. 99 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 85, sheet 9-A, dwelling 157, family 159, John D Feazell household; database and digital images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Nov 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1649.
[6] 1910 U.S. census, Smyth county, Virginia, population schedule, Atkins Precinct, p. 95 (stamped), enumeration district 85, sheet 5-A, dwelling 81, family 82, Weldon Hash household; database and digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 24 May 2011); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1649.
[7] “World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” database and images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 4 Nov 2009), card for Adam Franklin Feazell, serial no.521, Precinct 1, Smyth County, Virginia; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509, 4,582 rolls.
[8] 1930 U.S. census, Smyth county, Virginia, population schedule, Marion Magisterial District, [unnumbered], enumeration district (ED) 82-5, sheet 16-B, dwelling 328, family 319, Frank A Feazell; database and digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 4 Nov 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 2461.
[9] West Virginia Marriage Index, database and images, West Virginia Division of Culture and History, (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_view.aspx?Id=10332698&Type=Marriage : accessed 1 May 2013), entry for Frank Feazell, 25 and Clara hash, 23, 6 Mar 1913, page 85; citing West Virginia State Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics.
[10] World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, database and images, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 11 Sep 2012), card for Elbert A Feazell, serial no.1245, Local Board for the County of Mingo, Williamson, Mingo, Virginia; citing NARA microfilm publication M1509.

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.

Mary Elizabeth Gillespie Heirs sell to W.P. Gillespie: Setting up Research Plans from Documents

Bound volume of deeds in Amherst County Courthouse 1

Bound volume of deeds in Amherst County Courthouse 1

My niece, Rachel, and I went on an epic research trip in Virginia in July.  We hit 5 courthouses, untold cemeteries, tromped around all sorts of weed filled fields and made a local unhappy when we photographed a deer head suspended from a telephone pole. (That’s a different story.)

We photocopied and photographed countless documents.  Each courthouse had their own rules as to what the methodology was.

Amherst County Courthouse proved to be the most frustrating.  Most volumes were in bound books that did not allow you to pull individual pages out of the book, and the powers that be said that we had to take pictures, no photocopying.  Not all of our  pictures turned out great, but that is what that is.  Looking at the state of some of the volumes, you can guess why.

One goodie I found was a deed where Mary Elizabeth Gillespie’s heirs sold their share of the property to W.P. Gillespie. Transcription:

In margin
Mary Elizabeth
Gillaspies heirs
to } Deed
W.P. GillaspieTax 50COriginal delivered
to grantee Jany
13, 1896This deed made the 4th day of September 1893 between Jeremiah Gillaspie
James R Gillapsie and Amira Gillaspie his wife Geo C Gillaspie Wm H Gillaspie
and Elizabeth Gillaspie his wife, and Hattie Gillaspie heirs of Mary Elizabeth
Gillaspie decd of the first part and W.P. Gillaspie of the second part.
Witnesseth.  That for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred and
seventy five (175) dollars in hand paid, the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged
the said parties of the first part do grant and convey with general warranty
to the said W.P. Gillispie all the their right, title and interest in and to a certain
tract or parcel of land lying and being in the County of Amherst in the
State of Virginia, adjoining the lands of Wm L Davis and others and contain-
ing fifty nine (59) acres it being the same land conveyed to the said Mary E
Gillespie by deed from R. N. Ellis Trustee as to fifty six (56) acres said deed
bearing date on the 23d day of April 1878 and recorded on the 20th day of
May 1878, together with three (3) acres conveyed to said Mary E Gillispie by
deed from Alfred Byas dated on the 19th day of January 1878 and recorded
May 20th 1878 which several deeds are recorded in the Clerks office of Amherst
County Court in Deed Book LL page 167 to which Deeds reference is hereby
and for a more particular description of said lands with its metes and
bounds.   The said parties of the first part do covenant that they
have a perfect right to coney said land, that they have done no act to
encumber the same, that the said grantee shall have quiet and peaceable
possession of the same and that they will execute such further assurances
as may be legally required of them to make this deed sure and complete
forever.
Witness the following signatures and seals.
Jeremiah (his x mark) Gillespie (seal)
Jas. R. Gillispie              (seal)
Almira Gillespie                (seal)
G. C. Gillispie                 (seal)
William (his x mark) H Gillispie(seal)
Elizabeth Gillaspie             (seal)State of Virginia
County of Bedford } to wit:
I B M Page a Notary Public in and for the
County aforesaid in the said State do certify that Jeremiah Gillispie, Jas. R.
Gillispie, Geo C. Gillispie, Wm H Gillispie and Elizabeth Gillispie his wife whose
name are signed to the foregoing writing bearing date on the 4th day of September
1893 have each acknowledged the same before me in my County aforesaid.
Given under my hand this 7th day of September 1893.
B.M. Page N.P.Bedford County, to wit:
I B.M. Page a Notary Public in and for the County aforesaid
in the State of Virginia do certify that Almira Gillispie the wife of James
R. Gillapsie whose name is signed to the foregoing writing bearing date on
the 4th day of September 1893 has acknowledged that same before me me in my
said County.[p394]
Given under my hand this 23d day of September 1893.
B. M. Page, N.P.
Virginia:
In the Clerks Office of the County Court of Amherst County, November 10th 1893,
This deed was this day received in said office and upon the annexed certificate of
acknowledgement admitted to records.
Teste: Wm. Sandidge, Clerk 2

OK.  This has some truly awesome stuff in it.

  • Mary died before September 4, 1893.  Jeremiah died after that.  (I have yet to find a will or probate documents for either of them.)
  • Why did Mary own the land? Why was it deed to her from R. N. Ellis Trustee in 1878?  And why the other three acres from Alfred Byas?  Both of those were recorded on May 20, 1878.  Was there something important about that date?  What about Jeremiah?
  • Why can’t my ancestors pick a spelling of Gillespie?  They seemed to like Gillispie and Gillaspie here.  I know Wyatt Paul (the aforementioned W.P.) settled on Gillespie.
  • Neither Jeremiah or William H signed their names, instead they made their mark.  Evidence that they could not write.
  • W.P, Wyatt Paul, is also the legal heir of Mary.  Why isn’t that mentioned here?
  • Why didn’t Hattie (Harriet) sign this document? Why wasn’t her acknowledgement notarized?
  • Did we manage to pull a copy of the deeds from Deed Book LL, page 167?  (I’m still organizing.)
  • The good news is that this deed lists all of the people I expect to be listed with their appropriate spouses.  The only other child that Mary and Jeremiah had, Sarah, died in 1865.

Now what?

  1. Update the timelines of Wyatt Paul and Jeremiah and Mary Elizabeth Gillespie. Need a nice abstract.
  2. Look to see if we pulled the deeds from Book LL, page 167.  Transcribe and post.
  3. Look for other deeds related to this one.  Wyatt Paul marries Laura Cecile Donald in February 1894 in Rockbridge County and eventually settled in Lexington.  When did they sell the land?
  4. What about Harriet and her involvement with the land?
  5. Is there a legal situation where Mary would own the land and her husband wouldn’t in 1878?
  6. Everyone was notarized in Bedford County, Virginia, including Jeremiah.  Need to look for wills, probate and other documents there.

Footnotes

1. DeHaan, Rachel, “Bound volume of deeds in Amherst County Courthouse,” 24 Jul 2013. Copy help by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE], California, 2013.
2. Amherst County, Virginia, Deed Book UU:393-4, Mary Elizabeth Gillespie heirs to W.P. Gillespie, recorded 10 Nov 1893, Clerk of Circuit Court, Amherst.

Tombstone Tuesday: Remembering Martha Spencer

Martha Spencer was a lovely lady. She contacted me out of the blue to share information with me about my father — they had both been students at Lexington High School. (The Gift of Yearbook Pages) The images and memories she shared with me were priceless. She also gathered other pieces of information that fit into my genealogical puzzle. All of this without compensation. She just enjoyed doing it.

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

I had breakfast with my uncle, Reverend Horace Douty a few weeks back and he mentioned Martha Spencer and the sad news that she had passed away.  She had been working with him on his second book about Rockbridge County, doing genealogical research for him.

Martha passed away July 13, 2013, leaving behind brothers and sisters.

I am sad she is gone, but I am very glad that I knew her even though it was a brief time.

And her selfless kindness I shall use as an inspiration.  One should always be happy to help.

Thank you Martha and God Bless.

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. :-)

A few upcoming speaking engagements. Tuesday’s Tip

I have a few speaking engagements coming up that you might be interested in.  I usually post my slides when I’m done, so if you can’t attend, you can view them later.

March 16, 2013: Ancestry Day, Blue Springs, Missouri

The Midwest Genealogy Center is sponsoring an Ancestry Day with Ancestry.com in Blue Springs, Missouri.

I will be doing two presentations:

  • Find them Fast: Searching Secrets to Help You Find Your Ancestors Stories on Ancestry.com
  • Putting Your Ancestors in Historical Perspective: Extracting Stories from Military Records on Ancestry.com and Fold3

Also, the ever amazing Lou Szucs will be there as well speaking on:

  • Extraordinary Clues in Ordinary Records
  • Hidden Treasures at Ancestry.com

March 21-23: RootsTech, Salt Lake City, Utah

I will be doing one lecture and participating in a panel at RootsTech this year:

April 5 – 6: The Fairfax Genealogical Society’s Annual Spring Conference and Spring Expo

I do not have the schedule for the Fairfax Spring Conference yet, but will post them when I do.

The Legal Genealogist Inspires Me to Take Another Look at the Puzzle of Jeremiah. Treasure Chest Thursday

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

Jeremiah Gillespie's birth date in the Gillespie Family Bible

Jeremiah Gillespie’s birth in the Gillespie Family Bible: March 4th 1826

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.

Register entry for Jeremiah and Mary Gillespie

Register entry for Jeremiah and Mary Gillespie

I build a table to see how old Jeremiah was on the dates of various Conscription Acts:3

Dates and Age of Jeremiah for 3 Confederate Conscription Acts

Dates and Age of Jeremiah for 3 Confederate Conscription Acts

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:

  1. He enlisted and I just haven’t found the right record yet or
  2. 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.

Footnotes

1. Wikipedia (http://www.wikipedia.org), “Confederate States Army,” rev 4:16, 31 Dec 2012.
2. The Holy Bible, (New York, American Bible Society, 1857), “Family Records, Births”, p840; privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] California, 2012. The sons of Tarlton and Mahala Gillespie are listed with their birth dates; it appears that they were all written at one time and are dated April 20 1860.
3. Wikipedia, “Confederate States Army,” rev 4:16, 31 Dec 2012.
4. Lee, Susanna Michele, “Twenty-Slave Law,” Encyclopedia Virginia (http://http://encyclopediavirginia.org/ accessed : 10 Jan 2013); Foundation for the Humanities, 31 May 2012
5. 1860 U.S. census, Amherst County, Virginia, slave schedule, Gill?spie; NARA microfilm publication M653.
6. 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Amherst County, Virginia, population schedule,, p. 132 (penned), dwelling 979, family 977, Jaremiah Gillispie; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 18 Jul 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication, M653, roll 1332.

7. CJ’s Civil War Home Page (http://www.wtv-zone.com accessed : Jan 10 2013 ), “Confederate Draft.”

What is that one best piece of evidence that you have? Wisdom Wednesday

So why would you need to write a summary of the basic vital facts about a person?

Case in point, Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie:

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.

Laura Cecile Donald was born on 13 February 1877 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and died 23 August 1864 in Rockbridge County, Virginia.1 On 24 January, 1894 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Laura married Wyatt Paul Gillespie.2 He was born 15 July 1865 in Amherst County, Virginia, the son of Jeremiah and Mary (Gillespie) Gillespie,3 and died on 19 February 1941 in Rockbridge County, Virginia.4   Laura and Wyatt are buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery. 5

Genealogy is about defining kinship and identity. Birth, marriage, death all are critical in defining both.  Getting the evidence correct is critical.  So let’s look at what I have:
Birth
I have a tombstone.  Now that may be all you ever have, but for someone who was born in 1877 in Virginia, you should have a birth record or a line in a birth register. This will also most likely tell me who her parents are.  So more work to be done.
Marriage
I have a certificate from Virginia that has the information recorded on Wyatt and Laura’s marriage record.  This is probably sufficient, but it is a not the original.  I do believe that I have a digital copy of the record somewhere.  This is one of those times where horrible organization comes to bite you big.  The marriage record documents Wyatt’s parents as well and his birth date.

Death

I have a tombstone.  This is not bad.  But a will (or wills), or obituaries might really be a better source.  The date originially on Wyatt’s tombstone for his death was wrong.  My uncle had it fixed.
Gravestone of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Donald Gillespie; Stonewall Jackson Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia

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

All this is in my tree. But this is actually a great tool, for examining what you have and determining what you need.  And for anyone reading it, it lets them know how deep you have gone.  I have some work to do. :-)
Footnotes
[1] Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery (Rockbridge County, Virginia), Wyatt Paul and Laura Donald Gillespie Tombstone; photographed by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, 1 August 2010.
[2] Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Marriage Certificate, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecil Donald, 24 Jan 1894, Rockbridge, Virginia; Department of Health – Division of Vital Records, Richmond, Virginia. (Is this citation right?)
[3] Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Marriage Certificate, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecil Donald, 24 Jan 1894, Rockbridge, Virginia; Department of Health – Division of Vital Records, Richmond, Virginia. (What is the short version of this?)
[4] Stonewall Jackson Cemetery (Rockbridge Co., Virginia), Wyatt Paul tombstone.
[5] Stonewall Jackson Cemetery (Rockbridge Co., Virginia), Wyatt Paul tombstone.

Let’s Practice Our Narrative Lineage’s! Motivation Monday

I’m currently working on being a Certified Genealogist (CG).  There are 7 parts, and the one I’m currently working on is the KDP or Kinship Determination Project.  I can’t publish my work as I go along, but I thought if I did a parallel project and published the process it might help me figure out issues with the one I will turn in.

A KDP can be a narrative lineage (the simplest one!) that traces three generations and has at least two proof statements of parentage as well as a narration of the couple’s lives.

I’m going to being with my great grandmother, Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie.

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.

Laura was the youngest living child of James and Elizabeth (Wallace) Donald.  She was born in 1877 and lived 87 years.

I’m going to use the format that Connie Leizen, CGSM  did in her paper:  The Maternal Line of Elizabeth (Niesz) TitusYou can find other samples of BCG’s page Sample Work Product

For certification, you need to trace three couples, and you need to include at least:

  1. Intro
  2. General Vital Summary
  3. Proof/Discussion of Parentage
  4. Children
  5. Narrative of Life

Today, let’s look at the General Vital Summary.  (There has to be a better name than this, I’m sure.)

1.Laura Cecile Donald was born on 13 February 1877 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, and died 23 August 1864 in Rockbridge County, Virginia.1 On 24 January, 1894 in Rockbridge County, Virginia, Laura married Wyatt Paul Gillespie.2 He was born 15 July 1865 in Amherst County, Virginia, the son of Jeremiah and Mary (Gillespie) Gillespie,3 and died on 19 February 1941 in Rockbridge County, Virginia.4   Laura and Wyatt are buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery. 5

So for any person you describe you need to know AND document:

  1. Name (full name)
  2. Birth date and place
  3. Death date and place (burial place if you have it)
  4. Marriage place, date and spouse’s name.
  5. Spouse’s birth date, parents and death date.

Now I know I have better documentation on some of these facts.  I have to go find it.  Oh yes, we are digging back into them early genealogy days of bad organization and documentation.

Now these posts are not meant to be definitive answers on what the pieces of a narrative lineage is, but instead and opportunity to allow me to work through the pieces.  If you have thoughts, comments or questions, I’d be glad to hear them.


[1] Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery (Rockbridge County, Virginia), Wyatt Paul and Laura Donald Gillespie Tombstone; photographed by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, 1 August 2010.
[2] Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Marriage Certificate, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecil Donald, 24 Jan 1894, Rockbridge, Virginia; Department of Health – Division of Vital Records, Richmond, Virginia. (Is this citation right?)
[3] Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Marriage Certificate, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecil Donald, 24 Jan 1894, Rockbridge, Virginia; Department of Health – Division of Vital Records, Richmond, Virginia. (What is the short version of this?)
[4] Stonewall Jackson Cemetery (Rockbridge Co., Virginia), Wyatt Paul tombstone.
[5] Stonewall Jackson Cemetery (Rockbridge Co., Virginia), Wyatt Paul tombstone.
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