Sunday, January 8, 2012

Sharing Thoughts About Isabella Gillespie Greer

Happy New Year! Looks like I've been blogging for almost a year - woo hoo! I do like this way of tracking my notes, my questions, and my finds. It's been a great way to keep me 'publishing' even if in this minor way, and to get the info out where my cousins and others can find it. Yeah.

I want to give an update about my favorite brick wall whose name is Isabella Gillespie Greer. Since the day I discovered her nearly 3 years ago, I've not been able to determine who her parents were, and for this reason I have no idea really how she ties in to the Gillespie family if at all (and I hate to say that because it seems more than unlikely that she is not related to my Gillespie's in any way....).

Last week I was at my local FHC, and there was flyer taped on the door for the Broomfield Genealogical Society, and since I had not heard of them and since I live not that far away, I looked them up. There was a notice on their website by a member there, Diane Barbour, who is finishing her two-year study to become a certified genealogist and is offering once-a-month free consultations to members with brick walls. Well, just for fun I replied!

Of course it's hard to tell the whole story of a brick wall in 45 minutes. But Diane had asked for some details beforehand and had very kindly done a little researching on her own the night before. Here are the things she pointed out for me during our session:
  • There is no question that these Gillespie and Greer families are interconnected, and that the connection easily goes back to Ireland. I guess there's a pattern with families who know each other well, and our Gillespie/Greer's fall into that category.
  • Diane agreed that probably the only records to provide the parentage information I'm looking for, besides finding a letter or a Bible, would be a marriage or death record. A birth record, maybe, but we think that finding that for the time 1813 in early New York seems unlikely.
  • Diane agreed that there should absolutely be a death certificate for Isabella given a death year of 1891, and the fact that turning over every rock in Michigan has not produced one says that Isabella probably died some place else. Diane asked me to follow up with locations other than Michigan where Isabella's children lived at the time of her death. In going through that exercise, states other than Michigan where Isabella's children were known to be living include Illinois, Ohio, and Colorado. I think I have located death indices in Illinois and do not find Isabella there, which leaves Ohio and Colorado - states where it is apparently not so easy to find an index of deaths that occurred in the year 1891. A little more digging is required.
  • Finally Diane pointed out a huge difference in the real estate value for John Greer between the 1850 and 1860 census. I had not noticed that before and since I am going through all Michigan land records - yet again - it will be interesting to follow up on this. I don't think it will lead to Isabella's parents, but it's still something of note to look into more.
So, I want to start the new year by expressing my thanks to Diane, and to all genealogists who so kindly share. What I'm realizing is that sharing is a proactive thing. One doesn't just passively sit at home waiting for somebody to knock on the door and ask a question to which you might know the answer. There's a decision point where a choice is made to take some kind of action to reach out. I think as genealogists we realize that sitting on what we know defeats our purpose right out of the gate. None of us would be where we are without the help of others, and so along with being thankful, I look to my own resolutions about how best I can return the sharing. May 2012 be a good one for us all!

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