Sorting Saturday — Making Sense out of the Mess or Sources Matter

I am trying to pull my grandfather and his ancestor’s lives into order and tell their story.  I find I have a mess of records.  One big old honking mess.  So I’m getting organized.  And not just thinking about it.  Or starting and stopping. (Yes,  I’ve done that multiple times.)  I’m doing it.

Prune the Tree. I use Family Tree Maker (yes, I’m a employee, but I was using long before I joined the company.)  I went to Export and selected my grandfather, his descendants.

I selected his ancestors and included all parents and all ancestor’s descendants for 1 generation.

Do I really need all of his 5th cousins 4 times removed husbands?  I think not.

This is a copy, nothing is lost if I need to go back.

Sources.  OK, it is time to clean up my sources.  And is where I am now.  I’m cleaning up duplicates.  And removing all those horrid sources that you collect over the years.  I opened my electronic of Evidence Explained (you must get yourself one!) and went to work.  I’m about 30% of the way done I’d guess.  Oh, and managed to delete about 50 1880 sources.  I will recover I’m sure.

My 1850 sources are looking awesome!

One document per family.  I’ve also have one document per family, and attach every one to that.  Boy does the cut down on the chaos.  AND when I make a mistake in  sourcing (gasp!) I only have to correct it and re-correct it once.

Images for Indexes.  You know when you merge in a Social Security Death Index, but you have no image.  Well I make one.  I have Snagit (I love it, but there are other reasonable solutions.)  So let’s say I add my Great Aunt Eva’s SSDI.  I go to the page, clip out the important stuff:

So if I’m working on someone and I don’t have access to the internet, I have everything I need.

I’m sort of excited to have a clean tree.  Sourced correctly.  And then the story telling will go much faster.  I’ve often found it takes me as long to source a blog post as it does write it.  This should really help.

I learned a lot when I took the Genealogy course at Boston University.  I took the class and I got an A.  Now I have to walk the walk. And one thing I believe with all my genealogy heart is that sources matter.  No more sloppy sourcing for me.  And I won’t have to feel guilty when I sit in Thomas Jones or Elissa Scalise Powell‘s classes at FGS!

Happy Sourcing!

Follow Friday — 1940 is Done! and Blown Away with DNA

Here is what I’ve been reading this week.  It’s been a great week for genealogy blogs!


A beautiful pictorial journey through Virginia: Surprises Around Every Corner by Belle Grove Plantation Bed and Breakfast:


And last, but not least, what I thought was the most touching story of the week from the Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell: Blown Away with DNA

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


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 (  accessed : 1 Aug 2012); published deed of land purchase.
3., database and images ( : accessed 6 Aug 2010), memorial page for Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Find A Grave Memorial no. 56048050, citing Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, Lexington, Virginia.

Sunday’s Obituary — Maiden Aunts and Bachelor Uncles: Sarah, Civil War Child

Sarah Gillespie, daughter of Jeremiah and Mary Gillespie was born sometime during February of 1860 in Amherst County, Virginia. She was had 1 sister and 2 brothers; the family had a $300 farm and personal possessions worth $50.1

Sarah, 8 months old in the 1860 census, which was enumerated October of 1860.

She died in Feb of 1865.2

Her short little life spanned the Civil War.  She had 4 or 5 uncles who fought in the war for the Confederacy and I’m quite sure many neighbors.  The stress that must have been in the household is difficult to imagine.  I’m sure during the end, that good food and medicine were hard to come by.

I have no idea why she died.  Her mother was about 5 months pregnant with my great great grandfather Wyatt when Sarah died.  The pain Mary must have felt losing one child while carrying another.

I have just two records that Sarah is in, the 1860 census and her death index.

A brief blip in human history, but not forgotten.


1. 1860 U.S. Census, Amherst County, Virginia, population schedule,, p. 132 (penned), dwelling 979, family 977, Jaremiah Gillispie and family; digital images, ( accessed : 18 Jul 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication, M653, roll Unknown.
2. Virginia, Deaths and Burial Index, 1853-1917, database, ( : accessed 22 Jul 2012), entry for Sarah Gilispie, daughter of Jerry and Mary Gillespie, Feb 1865, Amherst, 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.


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, ( accessed : 27 Jul 2012).

Follow Friday — Good Advice, Sweet Tributes and Grip 2012

Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:

A good set of posts of GRIP 2012 from Stonehouse Research:

Treasure Chest Thursday — One Document Defines Them All

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 ( : 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.

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