Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Lemon Tree

First, I want to dedicate this post to Shirley S. Farrell who came before me with her incredibly in-depth research on the LEMON surname. If not for all her online inquiries and her subsequent correspondence with me, I would never have pieced together the Lemon connection to our Gillespie-Greer family. Wherever you are, Shirley, THANK YOU.

So let me briefly summarize how the LEMON surname does connect to us. James Greer married Jane Gillespie and came to New York from County Armagh, Ireland just before the outbreak of the War of 1812 with two of their children: John M. Greer and Eliza Jane aka Lizzie Greer. Lizzie married Charles Lemon, who can be found in the census' and deeds of early Oakland County, Michigan, and who was also mentioned as a friend in the court documents associated with the divorce of our Elizabeth Gillespie Gordon. But then Lizzie Greer Lemon apparently died early in her life, and Charles Lemon sold his land to Thomas Gillespie and moved away from Michigan with his family. The End.

Except not really. It's not really ever The End, is it? I have learned so much over the last 5 years (thanks in large part to people like Shirley Farrell), but maybe the most important thing has been to learn everything there is to learn about the BIG picture, and especially the collateral families. The truth of the genealogy is that I am not directly descended from anybody named Greer or Lemon, so why should I care? Because learning about the Greer's changed the entire picture of what we understand about our Gillespie family. And knowing about the Lemon's might still help us find some answers to questions that just keep hanging.

Like here's one. If the very large family of John M. Greer and Isabella Gillespie followed a predictable naming pattern with their 15 kids, then where in the world did the name of Charles come from when there was apparently nobody with that name in the family? Except there was. It just dawned on me. Charles L. Greer was born in 1840, which is around the time that his aunt Lizzie Greer Lemon is thought to have died (her death record and her burial site have never been located; we only know that in the 1840 census, Charles Lemon was the only adult in his household). What I realize now is that Charles Lemon was not only close to the Gillespie-Greer clan, he was loved by them. Almost certainly John M. and Isabella Greer named their fourth child for Charles Lemon.

So here are some other clues related to the LEMON family, and if we find any answers to these questions, we might indeed find more answers to what remains of our burning questions, the top of those being who were the parents of Isabella Gillespie Greer?
  • According to Shirley's notes, "Charles was born in 1800 and came to this country in 1817 and was in Orange Co N.Y. for a few years." Later census' of Charles Lemon's household indicate that he came from Ireland, and some references I have seen about the LEMON surname say the family could have been Scot-Irish. So where did Charles come from? And where was he in Orange County? There were Greer's in Montgomery, so it's logical to think Charles might have been there too, but can we actually place him there?
  • Charles Lemon had a first wife whose name was supposedly Mary Montgomery, and supposedly their only child, Stewart Montgomery Lemon, was born in Newark, Essex, New Jersey in 1827. Can we place Charles in Newark and is there any record of this first wife?
  • According to Charles Lemon's obit, he was early on involved with the Reformed Presbyterian Church. Does that clue give us a connection to a church in Newark or Orange County, and possibly with the Covenanters who we know the Greer's were involved with?
  • The death record of Isabella's daughter Jennie says that her mother's birth place was Newark, New Jersey. Were there Gillespie's living in Newark where Charles met and married Lizzie? Did they then move to Orange County to be part of the families making the trek to Michigan? 
Finally, here are a couple more questions which might be a little less important to answer, but which might still hold some interest:
  • The will of James Greer Sr, written in Michigan in 1850 had the name of James G. Lemon as a witness. Who was that?
  • Shirley's notes indicate that Charles had one or more brothers, one in particular named William. There are several trees that include a William Lemon, a son of Samuel Lemon who married Bridget and was a pioneer in Washington State. He was apparently born in Orange County, NY and moved with his family, briefly, to Michigan. Was this William Lemon related to our Charles Lemon; were they indeed brothers?
  • Shirley's notes also included this tidbit: Stewart Lemon's wife Luroncy (Lucy) appointed George E. Lemon of Washington D.C. as her attorney for the declaration of a widow's pension in 1894. I've done some amount of digging on this one, and though I don't doubt there must be some family connection, I haven't yet been able to establish it.
So there we have our Lemon connections, at least our known connections. And somewhere out there, the answers to these questions are still waiting to be found.  And those answers might just hold the key to better knowing and understanding our Gillespie and Greer families in early America.

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