Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Seventh Heir

Doesn't the title sound like something for the cover of a good mystery novel?   Well, that's what we have, novel or not.

Just when I think there is nothing left for me to find at the FHL on the subject of Greer-Gillespie, the next clue floats to the top.  In November, I found a deed dated 16 Aug 1873 from Jennie E. Greer (infant), represented by Jerome W. Robbins, her Special Guardian to George W. Slater of Mason County, MI.  There is reference to a circuit court case as well as a Commissioner's Report, both of which I must look up the next time I'm in Michigan.  Meanwhile, who the heck is Jennie Greer?
After much staring and scratching of head, the only thing that makes sense to me about the identity of this person is this:
  1. As we know, Jane Gillespie Greer had a sister Nancy Gillespie, who we think also married a Greer, my guess being Robert Greer.  Nancy and Robert probably had multiple children, but the only one we know who survived was named Mary Greer, born in 1810, probably just before her family emigrated from Ireland to America.
  2. Mary Greer married George Slater probably in NY and probably just before the migration to Michigan.  This is the Mary Slater referred to in the 1873 deed as the grandmother of Jennie.
  3. Mary Slater had 6 children, and her oldest daughter was named Agnes J. (probably Jane), who died young, only 20 years old.  To make things really complicated she had married a Greer, Samuel Greer, who I am guessing was her cousin (which happened more often in those days).  In any case, Agnes only had two children before she died, the oldest being Agnes Jane "Jennie" Greer, the other being Mary Elizabeth who died at the age of 6 and before the date of this deed (1873).  Hence at the time of this deed, Jennie was probably exactly 14 years old (an age mentioned in the deed), her mother had died and we don't know what was up with her father because it looks like he remarried but apparently did not keep Jennie with his new family.  Hence she had a Special Guardian, named in this deed.  The land was being transferred to Jennie's uncle (Agnes' brother), George W. Slater.
Now here is the really curious part.  The land in question in this deed is exactly the land that lead me to connect the Greer and Gillespie families in the first place!  It is the land description belonging to Elizabeth Gillespie who died in 1857 without a will, and all the various heirs came forward to claim their piece:  3 siblings, namely Thomas (who still resided in Armagh), Nancy, and Jane, and 3 half-siblings, namely James, Robert, and Sarah.

But all the later records I've found always referred to SEVEN heirs and I have never been able to figure out who the seventh heir was.  Now it appears that 7th heir might have been Jennie Greer.  How she could be considered an heir, I'm still trying to figure out as she was probably less than a year old when Elizabeth died.  There is so much still to unravel here, but I feel pretty sure this is a major clue to unraveling the complicated connections between Greer and Gillespie relations.

And I can't help wondering if Elizabeth Gillespie had any idea that we'd be sitting here 156 years later trying to figure out how she managed to own Michigan land in the first place, and then how her family would descend from all sides, effectively helping to document a family story we never even imagined we had.  May 2013 lead us to continued discoveries!

Happy New Year!

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