Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Drowned Lands!

I've recently been going through the piles of research notes I'v written in the past several years. It's interesting to try to follow my own breadcrumbs! But it also has lead me to re-discovering some things. Like for example, an advertisement in an 1808 and 1810 NY newspaper called the Commercial Advertiser, which read like this:
"Pubic notice is hereby given to the owners or proprietors of the Drowned Lands in the County of Orange, that the Subscribers, Commissioners appointed by the Act entitled "an act to raise monies, to drain the Drowned Lands in the County of Orange," have, by virtue of the power in them vested, deemed proper fo Assess the owners or proprietors of said Drowned Lands, for the purpose of draining the same, the sum of thirteen thousand two hundred and fifty three dollars, to be paid within three months to the said Commissioners, which assessment they have apportioned among the said owners or proprietors, according to the proportions in the roll specified, which has been duly made and filed agreeable to law, by the Inspectors in the said act appointed, and is as follows:"

In the first column, the following names appear together, making me wonder if they weren't neighbors:

Jacob Smith: $20
Daniel Millspaugh: $12.50
James Gillespie: $13
David Millspaugh: $4.50

So first off, what in world are the Drowned Lands? Here is just some of the interesting reading on the topic.

Now here are the Gillespie-Millspaugh associations I can come up with:
  • Susannah Gillespie, daughter of Samuel Gillespie and Esther Rainey of the Pine Bush Gillespie's married Martinus Millspaugh at Dutch Reformed Church in Montgomery, Orange, NY. Supposedly, this Martinus was born 20 Feb 1769 in Walden, Orange, NY, son of Jacob Millspaugh and Elizabeth Bookstaver.
  • Then there was a Martinus I. Millspaugh born 1785, apparently the son of Jacob Millspaugh and Eva Crist, who married a Sarah Gillespie, with no suggestion as to where that Gillespie name comes from as the only source seems to be an SAR application. However, Martinus and Sarah are attributed as being the parents of a Wheeler Case Millspaugh, which caught my attention. When James Gillespie died in 1817, the executor of his estate was David Millspaugh, who together with somebody named Wheeler Case were appointed as guardians to James' children. One of those children had the name Sally, which is a nickname for Sarah. It is entirely worth noting that somebody named Rev. Wheeler Case was the first pastor of the Presbyterian church at Pleasant Valley in Dutchess County, from 1765-1791, which is a time before our family was known to be in that area and seemingly a huge coincidence. It's more likely that the Wheeler Case mentioned in the Gillespie will is the one born in 1791 in Goshen who was a lawyer and an Orange County surrogate, who married Betsy Wilkin and attended the First Presbyterian Church in Goshen. All of which to say is that it appears that James and Mary Gillespie did have a daughter named Sarah who could have married a Millspaugh.
At the end of the day, however, this is just another passing point of interest. As far as I can tell, the only Millspaugh to purchase land in Oakland County in Michigan Territory was from Seneca County, NY. If the Millspaugh family in Orange County, NY had any connection to our Gillespie-Greer line, it's not evident, at least to me. The only thing we do know is that a seemingly unrelated-to-us James Gillespie had the misfortune of owning property in the Drowned Lands.

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!

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.