Wisdom Wednesday — Review Your Work and Why Sources are Important When You Have Conflicting Evidence

I’ve probably been at this about 10 years, give or take, and I’ve been a lot more serious about it in the last couple of years.   I made a vow to go back and review and fix all of my sources and I started with my paternal grandfather’s line.  Slow work, but I am making progress.

I’m so glad I’ve done this.  This is the first line I started working on, and my lack of experience and my willingness to jump to conclusion and accept them as fact is quite stunning.

Last night I had a few free hours before my plane left  and I stopped by the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  I looked up microfilm for Amherst, Virginia and came across Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853.

Now, I will admit, that I’ve looked at many a microfilm, and gone back to it thinking that I hadn’t seen it only to find that I had.  But this was not the case.

From reading the description, I expected to find the actual marriage bonds, and for the most part, the film seemed to be a typewritten index (for which I was very grateful) and a hand written register of all of the marriage bonds that they had seen.  The register was recorded in chronological order, so the index, that was alphabetical was quite useful, as I decided to do a Surname survey for the name Gillespie.

I found 20 records most of which matched people in my tree.

The record for my great great grandparents Jeremiah Gillespie and Mary E Gillespie was there on page 408. 1

Register Entry for Jeremiah and Mary E Gillespie, Bond Date: 21 Nov 1848

Jeremiah is listed as under age and his parent or guardian is Talton Gillaspie.  (This is actually Tarlton who is his father.)

Close up of names for Jeremiah and Mary

And the Security and Witnesses are listed as James Gillaspie, J Powell Jr, and Richd Waugh.

Witnesses for Jeremiah and Mary

I do not know who these men are.  I suspect that James is a relative.  A cousin or an uncle.  Jeremiah’s older sister Editha marries a Roderick Waugh 2, maybe Richard is related to Roderick.

I’ve also have in my tree that Jeremiah is born on March 4th, 1826.3 This information comes from my interpretation of a family bible that was handed down to me.

Jeremiah Gillespie’s birth date which appears to be March the 4th 1826

But if this date is true, then he would have been 22 on November 21, 1848, and he would not have been under the age he could be married without consent.

The dates in the bible appear to have been written in 1860.  Jeremiah was married in 1848.  It is hard to imagine that he would state that he was not 21 when he got married if he wasn’t.  It would just complicate matters more.  Given these two sources and what we know about when they were recorded and the legal situation implied by the marriage bond, I believe that he was not born in 1826.  I would suggest 1828 and that he was twenty.

It is probably reasonable to think that his birthday was March 4th.  And it is hard to imagine that whoever did the entries in the bible subtracted wrong, or just didn’t know.

So until I get better information, I’m going to assume that he was born in 1828 or later.  Just because it was written in a bible doesn’t make it true.  When it was written and by who are important. Sources are important!

And now that I’ve been cleaning up my sources and I’m about half done with this line, well, it is a lot faster to write a blog post.  More to come on the marriage register.


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. Amherst County, Virginia, “Register of marriages, Amherst County, Virginia, 1763-1853”, index and images, Virginia State Library, Richmond, Virginia, p. 391, entry for Rodk Waugh and Editha Ann Gillaspie, bond date 28 Mar 1845; FHL microfilm 30273. Security and Witnesses: Taillor A Gillaspie (most likely Tarlton).
3. Gillespie Family Bibile, 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 date April 20 1860.