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. 🙂
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.
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.”
You get out of the habit, and it’s easy to stay out of the habit of not posting. Let’s see if I can work on better habits. 🙂
I received my DNA results back from Ancestry.com (full disclosure, I am an employee).
I was expecting Scottish and German. Here is what I have:
Every line I’ve been able to track, both paternal and maternal go back to the 1700’s and I’ve yet to find a document that gives me proof of jumping the Atlantic. But given names and other genealogies I’ve seen, I’m pretty sure that there are a ton of Scottish or Ulster Scots in my tree. So that 69% British Isle feels right.
And yes, I’ve got what many have referred to as the “Scandinavian Surprise.” But the Scandinavians many centuries ago spent a good deal of time wandering the British Isles and shall we say, left some of themselves behind.
I have a lot of of what I believe to be German names in my tree. Feazell, Baxter, Snavely (which may be Swiss). I suspect they are the Eastern European. I would have guessed more than 17%, but guessing and being are two different things.
Not a lot of “What the heck?” in there.
I’ve also been able to match through trees of mine and others possible connections to my Mary Gillespie branch. I believe that her father was Willis Gillespie but it is all indirect evidence and sort of weak at that. If that connection is true, then I have Smith’s from Amherst in my line, and I found two trees where that is the only overlap. Now I know that doesn’t prove anything. But it is a clue. And I’ll take a clue I didn’t have any day of the week. It does make me want to hunt harder for that evidence or at least work harder to put it together.
But that is all in the background at the moment. CG work calls.
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.
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.
1. Gillespie Family Bible, The Holy Bible, (New York, American Bible Society, 1857), “Family Records, Births”, pp 840-841; privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] California, 2012. Four 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 1862.
This picture was found in some of my dad’s things:
But who are these people and when was it taken?
The boy holding the dog is my father. The woman standing in the photo is my great aunt, Eva Gillespie. The girl on her left is my Aunt Madeline, my father’s sister.
I talk to my cousins, and the adorable girl sitting on bench looking at the dog is my Aunt Martha, my father’s sister. My cousin tells me she has a variation of this picture and on the back it says that Aunt Martha is 18 months old.
Martha Gillespie was born in December of 1942. This means this picture was taken in 1944, most likely in June. My father would have been almost 4 years old, and my Aunt Madeline would have been 7. My Great Aunt Eva, would have been almost 43.
I would guess that the other two girls are about 3, and 5 or 6, meaning that they were born in 1941 and 1939. They may be the youngest two girls of my Great Aunt Louis who married Milton Montgomery.
The children looked dressed up. Easter was in April 9th that year. Maybe it was just a Sunday. Maybe they just always dressed nicely; after all, my Great Aunt appears to be wearing a house dress.
Another cousin has identified this as the house at 108 Houston Street. It appears to be a lovely summer day in Lexington.