Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Roundabout New Jersey

I like to use my blog to record my research questions and findings, even when the results appear to be negative. Here's one road I went down in the spring of 2013 but never recorded. I'll try to summarize what I did in the hopes that there might still be some viable clues.
  • Looking at 1850 census of Oakland County, MI has shown us a 78-year-old James Gillespie from Ireland whom we have never been able to place, living with an 11-year-old girl named Margaret Gillespie. I finally got the idea to look more at his neighbors on that census for clues. Living next door to James was a 37-year-old woman, presumed to be a widow, named Mary Fort, born in New York, along with 6 children, half of whom were born in New York, and half born in Michigan.
  • The Fort name rang a bell with some case studies I had just been doing of Gillespie names in New York. There had been a John Gillespie of Poughkeepsie, Dutchess, NY who died in 1833. His will mentioned his beloved wife Esther, and his minor daughter Margaret, as well as a house in Bloomfield, Essex, New Jersey. One of the executors was James Fort. Subsequent research tells me that James Fort died in 1842 in Poughkeepsie. A wife is not mentioned in the probate petition, but other Fort names mentioned (apparently heirs) do not include the name Mary nor the place Michigan. So given the evidence so far, we don't know if Mary Fort, the neighbor of James Gillespie in 1850 Southfield, MI, had any connection whatsoever to John Gillespie of Poughkeepsie, NY.
This exercise did, however, lead me to wonder about Gillespie connections in New Jersey. First, I looked for John Gillespie in Poughkeepsie in 1830, but he was not there. There was, however, a John Gillespie enumerated in Newark, Essex, New Jersey. As mentioned in my previous post, Newark is significant because:
  • the death certificate of one of Isabella Gillespie Greer's daughters said that her mother was born in Newark, New Jersey
  • Charles Lemon, who married one of the Greer immigrants, had a son from a first marriage (Stewart M. Lemon) who was purportedly born in Newark, New Jersey
  • the second wife of Charles Lemon, Eliza Jane Greer, had a brother, James Greer, who was a graduate of the College of New Jersey in Princeton in 1836
The 1830 John Gillespie household in Newark had two adults 30-40, 1 male under 5, 1 female 5-10, and 1 female 15-20. If this was the household of John Gillespie of Poughkeepsie, NY, the younger female would be about the right age to be the daughter, Margaret. While I loudly admit that I was completely reaching, I speculated that the other young female in the John Gillespie household would be just the right age to be Isabella Gillespie.

But then two things popped my bubble:
  • I found a marriage record in 1829 in Essex County, NJ between John Gillasbie of the island of Cuba and Esther Bergen of Bloomfield. Even if I could get my brain around the Cuba part, at best this would mean that if our Isabella Gillespie were the daughter of this John Gillespie, she was the daughter of a previous marriage.
  • The 1840 census of Newark shows the same John Gillespie household enumerated there in 1830, just 10 years later. So given that John Gillespie of Poughkeepsie died in 1833, this theory went officially out the door.
It was a good try though! And the clues we found in Michigan pointing to New Jersey still remain. What we really need is to find a good Presbyterian church in Newark with surviving records!

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