Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Greer Arrival in 1812

In looking over my old posts, it seems over a year and half ago I was speculating about whether our Greer relations might have arrived around the War of 1812.  Well, I think now that the answer is yes, and moreover, they arrived in 1812, just before the war broke out! 

In looking more closely at the source British Aliens in the U.S. During the War of 1812, compiled by Kenneth Scott, I realized the names listed in that source were not people who were deported (though at some point, some might have been).  Rather it is a list of people who registered with the Federal Marshall as required by law.  This source lists four Grier families who arrived between 1809 and 1812, including two families whom I presume to be the Greer-Gillespie brother-sister couples of our family mythology, namely Robert Greer, presumed husband of Nancy Gillespie who arrived with three children, and James Greer, husband of Jane Gillespie who arrived with four children.  Both couples arrived in May or June of 1812, only weeks before the United States declared war on Britain. 

It should be noted that the alien registration took place in Kingston, Ulster, New York near the end of October, 1812.  Both men were listed as weavers, which is consistent with what we know of Greer and Gillespie occupations back in County Armagh.  Subsequently located church records (Pleasant Valley Presbyterian Church) show that both couples very quickly settled in Pleasant Valley, Dutchess, New York. 

Of the three children arriving with Robert and Nancy, only one, Mary, is known to have survived.  It appears that Robert and Nancy had at least one more child in Pleasant Valley, a girl named Jane, who presumably did not survive.  And the fate of Robert Greer remains unknown.  We only know that by the time the Greer's migrated to Michigan in the early 1830s, Nancy was married to Thomas Gillespie, thought to be a cousin.

Of the four children arriving with James and Jane, only two survived, namely John and Eliza, as these were the two children naturalized with their parents in 1821.  It occurs to me it is also possible that the family brought over children from other Greer families in Ireland who were not necessarily their own, accounting for the other two children.  It's a possibility.  In any case, this couple had at least four more children in New York before making the trek to Michigan.

I am adding an article with more details in the library on my website, called Greer Arrival in America.  I welcome feedback and discussion.

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