Wednesday, January 22, 2020

New Evidence

there she blows - Wiktionary
(nautical) The traditional hail of the lookout in a whaler (whaling ship) when sighting the spouting water thrown up by a whale surfacing.

If I had been a whaler rather a genealogist, first I would be seasick, then I would be saying There She Blows! Genealogy is about sailing on the surface of a vast underworld of ancestors. That these ancestors exist(ed) below the surface is not a question. The question is where to look for them, and how and when we might encounter them. As we start this new decade of 2020, the answer to the question is Maybe Here, Maybe Now.  There She Blows.

And when I say We in my blog posts, I am always referring to collaboration, either in the exploration for, the discovery of, and/or the analysis of genealogical evidence. My most recent collaborator has been one Doug Hart. His research into the Gillespie's of early Ulster/Orange (& surrounding areas) spans decades, and his documentation of it has resulted in a Compendium that he generated with a Typewriter (!) in the 1990s. A Compendium sounds a bit like my rookie attempt to catalog some NY Gillespie's in 2012. Compendium, Catalog. Catalog, Compendium. OK, a Compendium sounds more complete and it is. Doug deserves alot of credit for tracing and studying several NY Gillespie family groups, though long and tedious a task, with the belief that doing so could allow the story of previously obscured Gillespie's to surface. That I generally share this research approach with Doug and that we both seem committed to ongoing discussions of possibility and meaning with regard to Gillespie evidence, both old and new, surely makes us collaborators and me grateful.

All of which is a long introduction to reporting on Doug's recent discoveries of new evidence to add to our NY Gillespie research bucket. Here is a summary:
  • A 1770 deed of James Gillespy selling 129 acres of his land in Shawangunk to Matthew Beviers Jr. This document, a transcription, is one that Doug found long ago in his research, but which, at the time, could not be more fully understood. The transcription of the original deed is in itself an exquisite piece of work, giving clarity to the original language of the deed which not only mentions the names of James' wife, and also those of James' parents and when they might have died, but it also describes the exact property later sold in 1797 by William Gillespy Jr and his wife Martha to Matthew Gillespie previously of NYC and more recently of Montgomery. We are in the process of locating the original deed, which when located, will be a wonder to behold, I have no doubt.
  • A database of Colden Store records where many Gillespie's are mentioned, some mentioning genealogical relationship, and some involving names that imply closer relationship (neighbor, and/or in-law?) -- specifically Hunter and Kain, and more indirectly, Graham. 
  • A transcription of marriage records of the First Presbyterian Church of Troy showing three Gillespie marriages. The marriage catching our attention now is that of Andrew Graham and Jane Gillespie, married in 1797 in Lansingburgh, a place central to our current research exploring links between Ulster and Rensselaer Gillespie's.
To continue the oceanic analogy started in this post, sometimes evidence comes in waves splashing over the deck. The waves are unpredictable and forceful in nature; they can wreck what was once there, and often they leave behind things that are long forgotten or else inexplicable. In this case, all we know with certainty is that the deck is still wet and littered with fragments. Doug and I are in the process of analyzing this new evidence and how it applies to our growing pile of evidence and analysis from the last several months (see my Research Library for 2019 articles). There is a sense that we are inching closer to something of greater import; it could be a whale of a story. Stay tuned.

*Tin Anniversary*

I am having an anniversary of sorts. It's been ten years now since I started working on genealogy "seriously," and nearly that long since I decided to try blogging. From its start, this blog was meant to report Forward Progress on MY Gillespie's, which is to say, progress that relates solely to those descendants of John Gillespie and Jane Woods of County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Period. There are innumerable other Gillespie's in the world, but it has not been my purpose to research them nor to report on them here even if I were privately interested. It has been a selfishly narrow decision to make, and one that I think our previous family historian, Aunt Edith, also had to make. We have only so much time given to us, and so how shall we spend it? Doing what we think matters most in the long run.

Now, ten years later, I feel this policy of My-Gillespie's-Only needs some amending. The simple truth is that we don't know what we don't know, and to overcome that, it seems to me, I have to be willing to open more doors to see what's on the other side. By widening the net, purposefully, I increase the chances of furthering what matters most. And what is that? In my lifetime, I would like to find the Gillespie connection back to Scotland. I know it's there, we all do. But I want to book my flight to Glasgow knowing the names of the ancestors who started this story. I have hope. I think there's still time.

With that said, I made a more conscious choice last fall to start wandering off the beaten path of my Gillespie research. Following small DNA matches that appear to connect me and others of my known relations back to New York, I've started to more fully engage in understanding exactly who were the Gillespie family groups of early Ulster/ Orange/ Dutchess counties. My only goal has become this: to learn more even if the work never ties back to MY Gillespie's directly. By finding a balance between keeping my questions mentally focused and my research disciplined, and allowing room for curiosity, instinct, and even accidental insights, I believe it's still possible to discover more and move our collective understanding forward.

From here on, the posts you read on this blog may not apply directly to MY Gillespie's. In the title of each forthcoming blog post, I will somewhere embed an asterisk (*) if the information being posted is something only a direct cousin to My Gillespie's would want to read. Otherwise, expect my posts to cover my thoughts on various research discoveries as they pertain to the surname Gillespie, even if the discoveries, for now, seem irrelevant to my immediate family. As with the world in general, it becomes increasingly more obvious to me that we are all connected somehow. By shining a curious and insistent light on other early Gillespie families, we might yet find our way back to Glasgow.

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Road to Sterling

If you've been following my research journeys this fall, you know that I have taken an interest in identifying Gillespie family groups in early Ulster/ Orange, NY by way of bounty lands that were delivered to the heirs of soldiers who died in the Revolution. The story that came out of the Marcellus bounty land was enough to inspire me to carry on with the next task of identifying the heirs of Robert Gillespie. But the road to Sterling has been more bumpy.

At this point in my genealogy life, I'm usually pretty good at figuring out how county lines changed over time, and where I need to be looking for records. But the more I tried to dig into Sterling, the more empty the results. The Gillespie family went through the NY State Legislature to get this Sterling property -- what happened to it? In Stuck Times like these, I have to pause and wonder What Am I Missing? What Don't I Know? In terms of New York counties as pertains to the Central Military Tract, I know I don't know alot. Time to ask for help.

Let me here express my humble thanks to all those who attempt to share what they know about complicated genealogical questions, and to one particular volunteer at the Cayuga County NYGenWeb Project.  Recently, complete strangers have re-energized my research with their mutual curiosity and willingness to share what they know.  I am certainly not the only one who believes in the importance of history and getting it right.  Thank you.

With that said, here is the helpful reply that I received to my inquiry about where to look for land records pertaining to Sterling Lot 51.  I find this explanation infinitely more clear than anything I have read on the internet:

Be aware that your Sterling Lot 51 land records research may involve looking within 2 or 3 NY counties. The original Military Tract Township of Sterling NY was established & surveyed into lots in circa 1794-1795.  Onondaga County NY was formed from Herkimer County in March 1794. Thus, lot 51 in the Military Tract Township of Sterling was originally part of Onondaga County NY. Cayuga County NY was formed from part of Onondaga County in March 1799. Then in March 1804, the west portion of Cayuga County (including the west half of the original Township of Sterling with Lot 51) became part of Seneca County NY.  A part of Seneca County (Including the west half of Sterling Township with Lot 51) was taken off to become part of Wayne County NY in 1823.  

Consequently, Lot 51 in the original Military Tract Township of Sterling was likely only considered part of Cayuga County from 1799 to 1804. From about 1804 to 1823, Lot 51 in the original Military Tract Township of Sterling was probably considered part of Seneca County NY.  Then after 1823, Sterling M/T Township Lot 51 was part of Wayne County NY. To further complicate things, the west half of the original M/T Tract Township of Sterling was renamed a few times between 1794-1823. I'm not sure of the exact dates... But it looks like the west portion of Sterling Township became known as part of the Town of Junius in Seneca County and then later became known as the Town of Wolcott in Seneca & later Wayne County. Today, Lot 51 in the original Military Tract Township of Sterling is NOW located within the Town of Wolcott in Wayne County NY.  

So Holy Cow. Based on the detailed knowledge of my helpful expert, Sterling would have been part of Seneca county in 1807. And LO! There we find a deed from William Gillespie of Newburgh, Orange, NY selling his 1/4th interest in Sterling Lot #51. The deed recites that this land was the patent granted to the representatives of Robert Gillespie, deceased. This much alone is enough to make me leap from my chair with joy. It all but confirms my working theory that the Ulster Gillespie brothers, namely William, Samuel, and Matthew, were also brothers of Robert who died after being captured by the British in 1777. But if the Sterling land was being sold in undivided fourths, and we now have William and by association Samuel, and Matthew -- who was the fourth? Based on the names in the list of Robert's representatives, I submit the fourth heir was a man named James Gillespie - the name of a man, indeed that of several men I have been spending inordinate amounts of time researching.

But this particular road to Sterling contains a bonus surprise. William Gillespie sold his part of the Sterling land for $1 to Andrew Gillespie of Lansingburgh, Rensselaer, NY, and Andrew and wife Sally subsequently sold it for $261 to Josiah Shippey of NYC. Why should we care about Andrew Gillespie? Because he also served in the Revolution, and in his pension application, he reported that he was born in Shawangunk, Ulster, NY in 1763. And because the only person to vouch for him was Matthew Gillespie of Lansingburgh who had known Andrew for over 60 years (yes, probably Andrew's brother). And because we have a collection of indirect evidence strongly suggesting that the father of Andrew and Matthew Gillespie may have been one James Gillespie.  

And so, this particular research quest to find Gillespie's in Sterling, Cayuga, NY ends in Wolcott, Wayne, NY where it appears, so far, that no Gillespie ever took residence.  But the Pay Dirt on this one is bigger than that.  The bounty land records have given us a much broader understanding of the Ulster/Orange Gillespie family group. Andrew Gillespie was not only a Revolutionary veteran, he was also a skipper on the Hudson, as were the men believed to be his brothers, Matthew and Joseph, and some of their sons after that.  These Gillespie's lived in Troy and Albany and New York City, that we know of, in the years leading to the War of 1812.  Their stories and their connection to the Ulster/Orange Gillespie's seem more clear by the day.  The more we learn, the richer the Gillespie family history becomes.

And finally, let us not forget Robert Gillespie, the one who lost his life in what were surely inhumane prison conditions in 1777.  Thirty years after his death, Robert's family certainly remembered him on the road to Sterling, even without knowing that the struggle to be free from the British was still not over. Freedom is never free. I dedicate this post gratefully to their memory, the resisters, the fallen, the survivors, one and all.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

NY Bounty Lands

I've lately been working on a study of men named James Gillespy/Gillespie in early Ulster/Orange counties, New York.  Even though at this point, I am not looking for a particular connection to the James Gillespie who appeared with my Michigan pioneers in 1850 Bloomfield, Oakland, MI, I became curious about the men named James Gillespy/Gillespie who served in the American Revolution. It turns out there was much to learn, in particular from the bounty lands that were awarded to Gillespie's in 1790:
  • James Gillespy, NY. 4th NY Reg under Walker, listed among the dead.  Sep 1790, 500 acres to heirs.  This land was in Marcellus in Onondaga county, lot #34. The patent was delivered 7 Jul 1790 to C.C. Schoonmaker for W. Gillaspy, adm.  Given that C. C. Schoonmaker was from the Shawangunk area, W. Gillsapy was probably William Gillespy 1737-1813 who was enumerated in Shawangunk in 1790.
  • Robert Gillespie. 16 Aug 1807.  200 Acres to Gillespie representatives James, Samuel, William, John, Barbara, Matthew, Jane, Ann, Polly, Olive, Burr, and James Gillespie Jr.  This land was in Sterling, Cayuga county, lot #51.
I followed up by checking on deeds in Onondaga and Cayuga counties, and found two Onondaga deeds selling the land of James Gillespie in Marcellus. These deeds show that the property was divided in fifths, and four Gillespie's were named:  John (wife Sarah), Margaret, Elizabeth (Wallace), and Hanna (Lebolt), all of Ulster or Orange counties, NY. David Gillespie appeared in Marcellus starting in 1801 (tax lists), so I have to presume that he was the fifth heir of James. Given my understanding of who was considered next of kin when someone died intestate, I believe that John and David were brothers of James, Margaret could have been an unmarried sister, and Elizabeth and Hanna were likely daughters of another Gillespie sibling who had died before 1790 (I guess George). See my article for more details.

That leaves the men named James listed as heirs of the bounty land of Robert Gillespie who served in the 5th NY Regiment and died after being captured at Ft. Montgomery in 1777. More research is in process which seems to indicate that Robert's heirs also tie back to Ulster and Orange counties, New York. So much to untangle, and so much to learn, not the least of which is the discovery that bounty land records are a very valuable source of genealogical information!

UPDATE 12/5/2019:  We have an update pertaining to the William Gillespie who was administrator of the bounty land of James Gillespie who served with the NY 4th Regiment.  It turns out that he too was awarded bounty land in Marcellus.  Read all about it.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Welcome to Mamakating

Mamekoting was one of the Hudson Valley native American tribes, which is today the name of a town in Sullivan County, NY, and uses the spelling Mamakating, pronounced "ma-MA-ka-TING".

So now we have another fun-to-pronounce place to add to our family geography, one that is a mere 20 miles from another fun-to-pronounce Gillespie location, Shawangunk.  I stumbled upon Mamakating by tracing Abraham Gillespie who had some land in Mamakating when the town was in Sullivan county. But Sullivan county was not formed until 1809, and so where was Mamakating before that?  Ulster.

In any case, Mamakating Precinct is one place where the 1775 Articles of Allegiance, also called the Revolutionary Pledge, have survived. Four Gillespy names appeared on that list:  John, James, David, and George.  Along with records showing that the Fifth Hanover Company in 1775 had officers Capt. John Gillespie and Ensign Samuel Gillespie, I think we have a good picture of the Gillespie families with strong roots in the Ulster area.  More research is upcoming!

Meanwhile, here is a new article relating more details about my initial research in Sullivan county.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

John Gillespy of Shawangunk

In my periodic review of records and DNA matches, I found one very remote match to me and two other of our elder Gillespie relations. This DNA match has a direct ancestor named Martha Jane Gillespie, 1832-1908, daughter of John Gillespie and Maria Klyne, wife of Andrew J Evans. These families lived in the Shawangunk area of Ulster county, which is the general area of New York where our early Gillespie and Greer families lived.

This new John Gillespy deserves some attention. He was born in Orange County around 1803, which means that his family was in America before our relations came around 1812. Who was he? Here is my latest research exploring that question.

It's exciting to think that we have finally found some connection between my Michigan Gillespie family and the Samuel Gillespy families of pre-Revolutionary New York. It means that Michigan Gillespie's are remotely related to all those early New York Gillespy's. The evidence of that connection, however, still only stems from a fairly trivial DNA match. All of this learning about the family group of John Gillespy of Shawangunk still provides no documented tie to the Gillespie's who migrated to Michigan in the 1830s. But, I feel we're getting closer. The better we understand each Gillespy family group, the more likely it is that more connections will surface. Closer and closer.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Different Diffin

Back in 2013, I reported some Diffin Connections to, we believed, our Gillespie family of Armagh. We had three reasons to pursue this lead:
  • In the 1881 census of Quebec, there was one Mary Diffon, age 27, living with my ancestor James Gillespie. Who was she?
  • My Gillespie family inherited an old photograph taken in Armagh which was labeled in pencil (by whom we don't know) as Mrs. Diffin.
  • Contact from a Mr. Diffin who lives in Ireland, and whose ancestors were Henry Diffin and Mary Jane Gillespie.
Here is what we've learned since then.

Indeed, Mary Jane Gillespie married Henry Diffin in 1866. Her father was Thomas Gillespie 1799-1865 who lived in Ennislare and married Mary McCord. Several records are missing for this family group, so much of what we know is based on the genealogy research of Mr. Diffin in Ireland as well as what we can surmise from extant records. There is still some possibility, at least in my mind, that the photograph we have is of Mary Jane Gillespie Diffin. And if that is true, then the fact the photograph ended up with Gillespie family belongings who went to Quebec still suggests that we are some how related to Mary Jane.

Meanwhile, who was Mary Diffon living with James Gillespie in 1881 Quebec? We have not found anybody in the family lines of Henry Diffin to explain who she might have been. But as I mentioned 6 years ago, there were other possible Diffin connections to our family, which now might offer the explanation we've been looking for.

As we know, my ancestor James Gillespie emigrated to Quebec in the 1830s but before leaving Ireland, he married Mary Orr Jamieson in Lisnadill. Mary was the daughter of Arthur Jamieson and Mary Orr. I recently searched for other children born to Arthur Jamieson, and found one Ann "Nancy" Jamieson, born in 1832 who married one James Diffin in 1852! This James Diffin was from the same townland, Garvaghy, where Henry Diffin had lived, making it seem likely that James and Henry were cousins. And even though I find no baptism record for Mary Diffin born about 1854, it seems quite likely that she was the daughter of James Diffin and Ann Jamieson. In that case, she was James Gillespie's niece (by his wife), apparently coming to Quebec when she was 25. I have not found what became of Mary Diffin after 1881, but now we better understand her connection to our family.

So how are the two Diffin lines of Henry and James connected? The answer to that question is still as uncertain as how are the families of Thomas Gillespie of Ennislare and Thomas Gillespie of Cavanacaw connected? But thanks to clues found in North America, we know these families most certainly have some connection, some how. Research goes on.