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.
They had 8 children, all born in Lexington, Virginia:
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
1. Virginia, Virginia Department of Health, Certification of Vital Records, Marriage Certificate, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecil Donald, 24 Jan 1894, Rockbridge, Virginia
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.
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.
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:
Do you think this is the same dog as:
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.
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.
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 family; digital 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 Gilaspie; digital 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.
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.
As I dig into my family history I’ve run into things that have made me uncomfortable. I have at least six direct ancestors that fought for the Confederacy. As my niece exclaimed when I told her of this fact: “But that is the wrong side!”
And there is more: the Jim Crow south, attitudes toward women, slavery, just to name a few. It would be lovely if I could sanitize history and ignore these things. But the more I dig into the history of the times my ancestors lived in and begin to write it up, well, it is just not all pretty. It is not all comfortable. But I have to write about what was.
But I want to put my ancestors in the context of the time they lived in. I can’t know what they thought, but I can do my best to understand the events that shaped their lives and indirectly mine.
As we say in my family: It is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t.
Here is my first draft of my grandfather in the 1910’s and 1920’s.
Gilbert was born on March 20, 1914 in Lexington, Virginia. His father, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, was almost 49 years old and his mother, Laura Cecile DONALD, was 37 years old. He had six older brothers and sisters when he was born, the oldest, Minnie was 17 years old.1
In 1914, Woodrow Wilson was president and WWI was on the horizon. The family had purchased a lot at 108 Houston Street in 1907 and I imagine by the time Gilbert was born, they were living in the house that Wyatt had built. The address of the house was listed as either 22 and 108 Houston Street.2
By 1920, WWI was over. On January 17th of that year, prohibition had begun. Women were granted the right to vote in 1920 by the Federal Government, but Virginia did not ratify the law until 1952; women had been voting and holding elected office in Virginia since 1920.3
By 1930, The eighth and final child had arrived in the Gillespie household; Helen Mae was born on November 1st, 1918. Wyatt, 54, and Laura, 43, were living with all of their children: Minnie, Ashby, Eva, Clinton, Louise, Fred, Gilbert and Ellen. Also living with them was Harriet, Wyatt’s older sister who was 69. Eva, Clinton, Louise and Fred all attended school.4
In 1923, Warren G Harding, died of a Heart Attack in San Francisco, California. Calvin Coolidge assumed the presidency until 1929, when Herbert Hoover became president. In October of 1929, the US Stock Market had crashed. By March of 1930, 3.2 million people were unemployed.5
I know my grandfather completed four years of high school, he probably attended Lexington High School.
In 1930, They owned the farm they were living on, and Wyatt worked as both a Carpenter building houses and as a farmer on presumably his own farm. Wyatt also employed two other people. Minnie was a Saleslady in a Dry Goods Store and Ashby was an Electrician in a Power Plant. They lived in a neighborhood where most people earned their living working for local merchants.6
Gilbert was known to say that jobs were hard to find, you should hang on to them. And I imagine that the family was glad to have 3 family members employed in 1930.
1. 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 133, (stamped),enumeration district (ED) 121, sheet 1-A, dwelling 6, family 6, Gilbert M Gillespie; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed : 3 Jul 2012 ); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 1906.
2. Rockbridge County, Virginia, photo copy, J A and Nora F Champe to W P Gillespie, 14 Nov 1907, Lexington; copy privately held by Anne Mitchell inherited from father, Gilbert McClung Gillespie; the family story that has been handed down is that Wyatt built the house the family lived in and given that Wyatt was a carpenter I have no reason to doubt this.
4. 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 68,(stamped),enumeration district (ED) 82-6, sheet 10-A, dwelling 208, family 251, Gilbert M Gillespie; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed : 3 Jul 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 2458.
In 1907, my Great Grandfather, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, bought what I thought was a house at 108 Houston Street in Lexington, Virginia, but now that I reread the document, it appears that he bought the land, which lends credence to the family legend that he built the house.
I’m posting this so I can refer to in what I know will be many blog posts. Someone in the family lived here for most of the 1900’s.
This deed made this the 14 day of November in the year 1907, between
J A Champe, and Nora F Champe his wife, parties of the first part,
and W. P. Gillispie, part of the second part, all of the county of
That in consideration of $115.00 cash in hand paid, the receipt whereof
is hereby acknowledged, and the four bonds drawn by the W.P,
Gillispie, bearing date Oct 1st 1906, and payable to J. A. Champ, for the
sum of $100.00 each, payable in 1- 2- 3- and 4 years from date, said
bonds bearing interest from date, ( the interest being paid up to
Oct, 1 1907) the said parties of the first part doth grant and convey
unto the said part of the second part, with general warranty of title.,
a certain lot or parcel of land, situatied on Houston Street in the twon
of Lexington, Va, fronting on said street 141 feet, and running back the
full length of the lot owned by the sad J. A Champe, to 139 feet wide
in the rear. The lot conveyed adjoins a lot of John Sheridans,
on th eNorth west and J. A. Manspile on, on the sout east.
The said parties of the first part, hereby expressly retains a Vendor’s
lien on the said land hereby conveyed, as ultimate securety for the pay-
ment of the four bonds mentioned in this deed aggregating the sum of
Four hundred dollars, with all interest that may acrue thereon.
The said parties of the first part covenants, that they have the right
to convey the said lot, and have done nothing to encumber the same.
Witness the following signatures and seals.
J. A. Champe (signature) (seal)
Nora F Champe (signature) (seal)
1. Rockbridge County, Virginia, photo copy, J A and Nora F Champe to W P Gillespie, 14 Nov 1907, Lexington; copy privately held by Anne Mitchell inherieted from father, Gilbert McClung Gillespie.
We called her Aunt Bebe. My cousin tells me that someone from our parents generation could not pronounce Eva and it came out as “bebe” and that’s how we knew her.
When my parents divorced she spent time with my Dad, sister and me making sure someone was there to take care of us. She sewed clothes for us and our baby dolls. And she taught in public schools for all her life.
She was born at the turn of the century on July 15, 1901, the third child of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald. She never married and stayed at home taking care of her parents and older sister Minnie who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis.
Her parents bought their house on 108 Houston Street, Lexington, Virginia in 1907 when she was six and she lived there for the rest of her life. Her brothers and sisters gave her the house in 1964 when her mother died.
She died on April 13, 1992 and was buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery next to her parents.