Monthly Archives: July 2012

Treasure Chest Thursday — The Gillespie Family Bible

There are quite a few pages in the Gillespie Family Bible that are interesting, but I used this one in a presentation today, so I thought it worth talking about here.

From the Gillespie Family Bible, pages 840-841 1

The bible was printed in 1857.  I love all of the subtraction statements.  Why are they there?

1861 was obviously an important year, the year the Civil War started. Virginia, where this family lived seceded from the Union on April 17th, of the that year.

The births listed as well as I can make out:

  • John C Gillaspie was born in the year of our Lord adomos 1840 the 10 of May And it is the year 1861 now. ( I think that is how it goes.)
  • Jaremiah Gillespie was born March the 4th 1826
  • Milton Gillaspie was born on June 22 in the year of our lord (I can’t read the year)
  • Varlen Gillespie was born June 9th (can’t read the year.)

I can’t read the names on the top of the second page. I would really love to know those.

John C Gillaspie was born in the 10 of May 1840 and now in the year  1861 10 of may followed by the subtraction of 1861 – 1840 = 21 years.

Jeremiah is my great great grandfather. He had brothers named John Calvin, Varlan, Everett Milton and William. No idea why William isn’t listed, but part of the page is torn off.

This page is more mysterious than helpful.  But sometime I shall unlock it.


1. Gillespie Family Bible, The Holy Bible, (New York, American Bible Society, 1857), “Family Records, Births”, pp 840-841; privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] California, 2012. Four sons of Tarlton and Mahala Gillespie are listed with their birth dates; it appears that they were all written at one time and are date April 20 1862.

Citing Your Sources Can Be Fun!

OK, I don’t know if I made it seem fun, but hopefully I did explain it enough to motivate people to try!
The presentation is at: Citing Your Sources Can Be Fun on livestream.

Amanuensis Monday — Estate Settlement of James Calvin Donald

I posted James C Donald’s obituary yesterday.    This is the settlement of his estate.

James C Donald’s Appraisement

An Inventory and appraisement of the Personal Estate of James C Donald dec’d made November 20th 1900, by John T L Preston, L M Leibig and Greenlee Farrow in pursuance of an order of Rockbridge County Court, Virginia, of date November 7th 1900, having been first duly sworn for the purpose

Appraisement of Property claimed by the widow of James C. Donald decd as exempt from sale under Sections 3650 and 3653 of the code of Virginia and set aside to her
Property   (Value)
1 Roan Mare (56.66)                            56.66
6 chairs  (1.30)
1 sow and two pigs (11.00)
1 sewing machine     (6.33)

Given under our hands the day and year first hereinbe-
fore written

J L Barger, D.S. for Thomas A         Greenlee Farrow  (all three appraisers)
Sterrett S R C & as such                L M Leibig
Adm of James C Donald decd         J T L Preston

Examine and approved for recordation
W.s. Hopkins Coms of accts
State of Virginia
In Rockbridge County Court Clerk’s Office, December 11th 1901. This Appraisement of the Personal estate of James C Donald deceased was this day presented in this office and admitted to record
Teste: A T Shields Clerk

James C Donald’s
Sale Bill

Sale Bill of Personal Property of James C Donald, decd made by his Administrator December 27th 1900

J Scott Moore, Clerk of Sale

Examined & approved for recordation.
W. S. Hopkins, Court of Accts

state of Virginia
In Rockbridge County Court Clerk’s Office, December 11th 1901.

This Sale BIll of the Personal Estate of James C Donald deceased was this day presented in this office and admitted to record.

Teste: A T Shields, Clerk 1

Often in the sale of estate items you will find relatives of the family.  This case is no different.  James H Donald and John Donald are the sons of James C Donald.  James E Brogran and W P (Wyatt Paul) Gillespie are the son-in-laws.    I suspect, thought I don’t know, that D H Gillespie is Daniel Heck Gillespie who was Wyatt’s cousin.  John Eaton may be James wife, Elizabeth Wallace’s uncle.


1. Rockbridge County, Virginia, Will Book, Book 31: 396-39, Estate Appraisement and Sale of James C Donald, Nov 7 1900, Dec 27, 1900 and 11 Dec 1901, County Clerk’s Office, Rockbridge;
Family Search (, accessed : 16 Jan 2009 ).

Sunday Obituaries — James Calvin Donald

This is a departure from my usual dedication to Maiden Aunts and Bachelor Uncles, but i found this while I was organizing yesterday.  James Calvin Donald, was my great great grandfather.

I laid flowers at his grave when my father died (June 2010) and when my aunt died (Oct 2010).    Many ancestors are in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery.  When I was at their funerals I was struck by the fact that many of my immediate family and ancestors and stood in that cemetery and cried tears as we said goodbye to love ones.  It is a ribbon that weaves our family tapestry together.

Sorting Saturday — My Documents Are a Complete and Utter Mess or Yes, Elizabeth Shown Mills is Always Right

In my post Sorting Saturday: Starting a Narrative Lineage, I stated that my grandfather was the descendant of a Civil War Veteran, specifically, the a member of the Stonewall Brigade.  And I left the proof for later.  Here are the statements I need to prove:

  • Gilbert McClung GILLESPIE was the son of Laura Cecile DONALD. 1
  • Laura Cecile DONALD was the daughter of James Calvin DONALD and Elizabeth Jane WALLACE. She was born on February 13, 1877 in Lexington, Rockbridge, Virginia. 2
  • James Calvin DONALD was born June 30, 1836.  He enlisted in enlisted in Company H, 4th Infantry Regiment Virginia on April 20, 1861, three days after Virginia seceded from the Union. He served in Company H, until April 16, 1862 when he transferred to Preston’s Company, 7th Cavalry Regiment Virginia. 3
  • Company H was part of the Stonewall Brigade.4

Parents of Wyatt and Laura on Certificate of Marriage

Oh goodness.  I can not find a whole bunch of documentation.  Ms. Mills tells us to document and summarize as you go.  And you know she’s right.  And I have stuff everywhere and it is totally unorganized.

I shall take a moment to feel totally sorry for myself.  And I vow to spend 30 minutes everyday to start sorting through documents online and in that big pile in my office and get myself organized.

And never again do I pull documents and throw them on my hard drive or on a pile telling myself I will source and organize later.  Probably never. 🙂

And I am going to get assertion about my grandfather and his grandfather documented.

1. Rockbridge County, Virginia, Deeds, 285: 482, Children of Laura Gillespie to Eva Gillespie, 15 Mar 1965; County Courthouse, Lexington; Copy part of private collection of Anne Gillespie Mitchell.
2. Rockbridge County, Virginia, page 364, line 10 (1894), Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecile Donald; Virginia Department of Health, Richmond; states Laura is the daughter of James C and Elizabeth Donald.
3. Where are my Fold3 Documents?
4. Where are my Webpages for this?

Follow Friday, part Two : Boston University Genealogical Research Certificate Alumni Blogs

I am a very proud of my Genealogical Research Certificate from the Boston University, Center for Professional Education.  One of the great parts of the class was meeting so many people who really care about genealogy and doing it right.

I started collecting blogs published by the graduates of the class.  Here is my first pass at the list:

Follow Friday — Genealogy as a Professsion, 7 Marriages, and A Hundred Years Ago

Here’s what I’ve been reading this week.

Great blog posts on Genealogy as a Profession:

And finally, Kelly Vial’s very kind words about yours truly: Follow Friday – Finding Forgotten Stories

Treasure Chest Thursday — A Summer Day in 1944 at 108 Houston Street

This picture was found in some of my dad’s things:

Eva Gillespie and grandchildren of Wyatt and Laura Gillespie, about 1944

But who are these people and when was it taken?

The boy holding the dog is my father. The woman standing in the photo is my great aunt, Eva Gillespie.  The girl on her left is my Aunt Madeline, my father’s sister.

I talk to my cousins, and the adorable girl sitting on bench looking at the dog is my Aunt Martha, my father’s sister.  My cousin tells me she has a variation of this picture and on the back it says that Aunt Martha is 18 months old.

Martha Gillespie was born in December of 1942.  This means this picture was taken in 1944, most likely in June.   My father would have been almost 4 years old, and my Aunt Madeline would have been 7.  My Great Aunt Eva, would have been almost 43.

I would guess that the other two girls are about 3, and 5 or 6, meaning that they were born in 1941 and 1939.  They may be the youngest two girls of my Great Aunt Louis who married Milton Montgomery.

The children looked dressed up.  Easter was in April 9th that year.  Maybe it was just a Sunday.  Maybe they just always dressed nicely; after all, my Great Aunt appears to be wearing a house dress.

Another cousin has identified this as the house at 108 Houston Street.  It appears to be a lovely summer day in Lexington.

“Wisdom Wednesday: It is what it is, it aint what it aint

As I dig into my family history I’ve run into things that have made me uncomfortable. I have at least six direct ancestors that fought for the Confederacy.  As my niece exclaimed when I told her of this fact: “But that is the wrong side!”

And there is more: the Jim Crow south, attitudes toward women, slavery,  just to name a few. It would be lovely if I could sanitize history and ignore these things.  But the more I dig into the history of the times my ancestors lived in and begin to write it up, well, it is just not all pretty. It is not all comfortable. But I have to write about what was.

But I want to put my ancestors in the context of the time they lived in.  I can’t know what they thought, but I can do my best to understand the events that shaped their lives and indirectly mine.

As we say in my family: It is what it is, it ain’t what it ain’t.

Here is my first draft of my grandfather in the 1910’s and 1920’s.


Gilbert Gillespie in his early teens

Gilbert was born on March 20, 1914 in Lexington, Virginia.  His father, Wyatt Paul Gillespie, was almost 49 years old and his mother, Laura Cecile DONALD, was 37 years old.  He had six older brothers and sisters when he was born, the oldest, Minnie was 17 years old.1

In 1914, Woodrow Wilson was president and WWI was on the horizon.   The family had purchased a lot at 108 Houston Street in 1907 and I imagine by the time Gilbert was born, they were living in the house that Wyatt had built. The address of the house was listed as either 22 and 108 Houston Street.2

By 1920, WWI was over.  On January 17th of that year, prohibition had begun.   Women were granted the right to vote in 1920 by the Federal Government, but Virginia did not ratify the law until 1952; women had been voting  and holding elected office in Virginia since 1920.3

By 1930, The eighth and final child had arrived in the Gillespie household; Helen Mae was born on November 1st, 1918. Wyatt, 54, and Laura, 43, were living with all of their children: Minnie, Ashby, Eva, Clinton, Louise, Fred, Gilbert and Ellen.  Also living with them was Harriet, Wyatt’s older sister who was 69.  Eva, Clinton, Louise and Fred all attended school.4

In 1923, Warren G Harding, died of a Heart Attack in San Francisco, California. Calvin Coolidge assumed the presidency until 1929, when Herbert Hoover became president. In October of 1929, the US Stock Market had crashed. By March of 1930, 3.2 million people were unemployed.5

I know my grandfather completed four years of high school, he probably attended Lexington High School.

Morgan Riley, “Image of the Old Lexington High School” (http://, accessed : 10 Jul 2012), Creative Commons Attribution

In 1930, They owned the farm they were living on, and Wyatt worked as both a Carpenter building houses and as a farmer on presumably his own farm.  Wyatt also employed two other people.  Minnie was a Saleslady in a Dry Goods Store and Ashby was an Electrician in a Power Plant.  They lived in a neighborhood where most people earned their living working for local merchants.6

Gilbert was known to say that jobs were hard to find, you should hang on to them. And I imagine that the family was glad to have 3 family members employed in 1930.


1. 1920 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 133, (stamped),enumeration district (ED) 121, sheet 1-A, dwelling 6, family 6, Gilbert M Gillespie; digital image, ( : accessed : 3 Jul 2012 ); citing NARA microfilm publication M432, roll 1906.
2. Rockbridge County, Virginia, photo copy, J A and Nora F Champe to W P Gillespie, 14 Nov 1907, Lexington; copy privately held by Anne Mitchell inherited from father, Gilbert McClung Gillespie; the family story that has been handed down is that Wyatt built the house the family lived in and given that Wyatt was a carpenter I have no reason to doubt this.
3. Encyclopedia Virginia, (http:// : accessed 8 Jul 2012), “Woman Suffrage in Virginia.”
4. 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 68,(stamped),enumeration district (ED) 82-6, sheet 10-A, dwelling 208, family 251, Gilbert M Gillespie; digital image, ( : accessed : 3 Jul 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 2458.
5. American Experience, ( : accessed 8 Jul 2012), “Timeline of the Great Depression.”
6. 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge Co., Va., Lexington, p. 68,(stamped),ED 82-6, sheet 10-A, dwell. 208, fam. 251, Gilbert M Gillespie; digital image, ( : accessed : 3 Jul 2012).

Tuesday’s Tip — Ask Ancestry Anne’s Top 20 Search Tips

I posted a series of Search Tips specific to and thought that they might be worth rehashing here.  Here are my top 20 search tips:

  1. Shaky Leaves — will do searches for you
  2. Place Pages — 30,000+ data collections organized by country, state and county.  Great way to find data collections you may never have seen
  3. Card Catalog — How to find where your ancestors may be hiding in 30,000+ data collections
  4. Finding Local Histories — Local histories give you context and hide many hidden gems
  5. Finding Surname Histories — You never know who may have documented part of your family tree
  6. City Directories — New technology have made these goldmines easier to search
  7. Wiki  — Red Book and The Source for free
  8. Message Boards — See what other people are looking for and ask a question yourself
  9. One World Tree — There are hidden treasures in here; find out how to uncover them
  10. It’s a Big Web Out There — Suggestions to members on where else they might look
  11. Name Filters — How to narrow down your searches and get known name variations
  12. Location Filters — My favorite filter; adjacent counties rock!
  13. Wildcards — Tried and trued, but it still works
  14. Limit Your Scope — Start with a small search and then expand out
  15. Category Searches — Search one record type at a time
  16. Use Facets — Don’t ignore the left side of your search results page
  17. Search From Your Trees — User your online tree to populate your searches
  18. Read the Search Form — Effectively searching a data collection requires you to understand what is in there and what is indexed
  19. First or Last Name Searches — If you can’t find out who you are looking for, try one of these techniques
  20. Look for Family Members — If your direct ancestor is hiding, look for his or her family