Category Archives: Family Stories

Sorting Saturday — The Legend of Middle Names

Both my father and grandfather were named Gilbert McClung Gillespie.

According to my father, it was tradition for parents to give the last name of the Doctor who delivered them as a middle name.  The story was the elder Dr. McClung delivered my grandfather and the younger Dr. McClung who was the son delivered my father.

I have found nothing to support that this tradition was prevalent in the early 1900’s but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t tradition.  It made have been a family tradition.

A search of the 1940 census in Rockbridge County, Virginia finds a Hunter McClung who was a practicing physician at the age of 60 in 1940. 1 I found no other physicians in Rockbridge County, Virginia whose last name was McClung. My father was born in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Lexington and I believe it is reasonable to assume that his doctor resided in Rockbridge County.

1940 entry for Hunter Oscar McClung

Hunter McClung was also a practicing physician in 1910 in Lexington. He was the son of John McClung who was a retired physician in 1910 .2 Again, I found no other doctors named McClung in Rockbridge County. My grandfather was born in Lexington, Virginia and Hunter McClung may have delivered him as well.

1910 entry for Hunter Oscar McClung

I wonder if the same man delivered both my grandfather and father.   I have never found the name McClung in our family tree and I suspect that there is a bit of truth to the story of where their middle names came from, but it does appear that if it is true then they were delivered by the same man.

1. 1940 U.S. census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington Township, enumeration district (ED) 82-7, sheet 9-B, dwelling 195, Doctor Hunter A D McClung; ( accessed : 20 Jul 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 4290.
2. 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 167 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 114, sheet 17-A, dwelling 246, family 252, O H McClung; digital image, ( : accessed : 20 Jul 2012 ); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1647; Dr. Oscar Hunter McClung was a physician, his father John was a retired physician living with him at the time which suggests he did not deliver my grandfather, but Hunter did if indeed a Dr. McClung delivered him.

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.

Amanuensis Monday — The House on 108 Houston Street

In 1907, my Great Grandfather, Wyatt Paul Gillespie,  bought what I thought was a house at 108 Houston Street in Lexington, Virginia, but now that I reread the document, it appears that he bought the land, which lends credence to the family legend that he built the house.

I’m posting this so I can refer to in what I know will be many blog posts. Someone in the family lived here for most of the 1900’s.

Deed for 108 Houston Street, Lexington, Virginia 1


This deed made this the 14 day of November in the year 1907, between
J A Champe, and Nora F Champe his wife, parties of the first part,
and W. P. Gillispie, part of the second part, all of the county of
Rockbridge VA.,
That in consideration of $115.00 cash in hand paid, the receipt whereof
is hereby acknowledged, and the four bonds drawn by the W.P,
Gillispie, bearing date Oct 1st 1906, and payable to J. A. Champ, for the
sum of $100.00 each, payable in 1- 2- 3- and 4 years from date, said
bonds bearing interest from date, ( the interest being paid up to
Oct, 1 1907) the said parties of the first part doth grant and convey
unto the said part of the second part, with general warranty of title.,
a certain lot or parcel of land, situatied on Houston Street in the twon
of Lexington, Va, fronting on said street 141 feet, and running back the
full length of the lot owned by the sad J. A Champe, to 139 feet wide
in the rear. The lot conveyed adjoins a lot of John Sheridans,
on th eNorth west and J. A. Manspile on, on the sout east.
The said parties of the first part, hereby expressly retains a Vendor’s
lien on the said land hereby conveyed, as ultimate securety for the pay-
ment of the four bonds mentioned in this deed aggregating the sum of
Four hundred dollars, with all interest that may acrue thereon.
The said parties of the first part covenants, that they have the right
to convey the said lot, and have done nothing to encumber the same.
Witness the following signatures and seals.
J. A. Champe (signature) (seal)
Nora F Champe (signature) (seal)



1. 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 inherieted from father, Gilbert McClung Gillespie.

Sunday’s Obituary: Maiden Aunts and Bachelor Uncles — Eva Dold Gillespie

We called her Aunt Bebe.  My cousin tells me that someone from our parents generation could not pronounce Eva and it came  out as “bebe” and that’s how we knew her.

Eva Gillespie (1901 – 1992)

When my parents divorced she spent time with my Dad, sister and me making sure someone was there to take care of us.  She sewed clothes for us and our baby dolls.  And she taught in public schools for all her life.

She was born at the turn of the century on July 15, 1901, the third child of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald.  She never married and stayed at home taking care of her parents and older sister Minnie who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis.

Her parents bought their house on 108 Houston Street, Lexington, Virginia in 1907 when she was six and she lived there for the rest of her life.  Her brothers and sisters gave her the house in 1964 when her mother died.

She died on April 13, 1992 and was buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery  next to her parents.

Sunday’s Obituary: Maiden Aunts and Bachelor Uncles — Minnie Maude Gillespie

Every generation has their own maiden aunts and bachelor uncles who leave behind no children and often there  is no one left to tell their story.  They truly become forgotten stories.  I will devote Sunday to those Aunts and Uncles.

Minnie Maude Gillespie was the oldest child of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald and the oldest sister of my grandfather Gilbert M Gillespie. She was born on January 29th 1897 and died at the age of 61 on April 5th, 1958.  She was outlived by her seven brothers and sisters and her mother.

This is the only picture I have of Minnie.  Hopefully one of my cousins can supply me with a better one someday.  Minnie is sitting on the right on the first row.

Family of Wyatt Paul Gillespie and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie 1

She suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis most of her life.  Working at Adair-Hutton’s dry goods store as a clerk was such a struggle having to stand all day.  My father remembered her coming home to the house on 108 Houston Street and have to soak her feet.

Adair’s ad in the Lexington, Virginia Directory in 1923.2

She was  born in Lexington, Virgina, and moved with her parents to 108 Houston Street were she lived the rest of her life.  She finished 4 years of high school.  She was a member of the Trinity Methodist Church.

She was buried in Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery which more or less in the backyard of her home.  She is buried near her parents, many of her sisters and brothers and other generations of the family.

I have two obituaries for Minnie Maude Gillespie. And I am truly sad I don’t more about her.

Obituaries for Minnie Maude Gillespie3


1. Family of Wyatt Paul and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie, digital image ca. 1925, photocopy privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]. Minnie Maude is in the lower right corner; Minnie would have been around 28 years old. My father, Gilbert Gillespie, had the original at one time, current location is unknown.
2. The City Directory of Lexington, Virgina (A.D. Smith, Inc., 1922), 80; digital images, ( : accessed 1 Jul 2012)
3. “Ms. Minnie M Gillespie”, undated clipping, ca. 1958, from unidentified newspaper; privately held by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE]. Inherited from my father Gilbert Gillespie.

Treasure Chest Thursday — The Mysterious Samuel J Campbell Deed

Update: I found I had the images out of order and that what was Page 6 continues the dowry release.  It is all reasonably ordered now.

My grandfather, Gilbert Gillespie, told my father that this deed was the key to everything.  My dad thought thought it had something to do with the theory that we are related to Alexander Anderson “Big Foot” Wallace.  Both are gone know, so it up to me to figure out.

Deed: Samuel J Campbell to William A Anderson

I do know that Samuel J Campbell was my grandfather’s cousin twice removed.   I have no idea if William A Anderson was any relation.

Here is the transcription of the deed.

Image 01

Saml J Campbell’s trust & c

To squiqqle line     Deed

Wm A Anderson

1878 Mch 19


Tax      1

Rec      1.25

Paid    2.25

Recorded in Deed Book

QQ page 212


Image 02

This deed made this 15th day of March 1878 between James B Dorman and Chas A Davidson trustees of Saml J Campbell of the first part John C Bonds a Commisioner of the Circuit Court of Rockbridge of the second part Saml J Campbell and M L Campbell his wife of the third part and Wm A Anderson of the fourth part are all of the County of Rockbridge and State of Virginia Witnesseth; Whereas it appears from a Report of sale filed in the Chancery cause depending in the Circuit Court of Rockbridge in the name of Saml J Campbell’s trustees against Saml J Campbell & others, that James  B Dorman and Chas A Davidson trustees under the authority of a deed of trust executed by said Campbell to them on the12th day of March 1872, and of Record in the Clerks Office of Rockbridge County County; and pursuant to a decree of the Circuit Court of Rockbridge pronounced in said Chancery Cause in the 10 day of April 1873, Offered for sale at public auction on the 11th day of June 1873 a certain lot of land near Lexington containing about Six Acres situated on the North side of the “Fair Grounds” Road adjoining the lands of John Miller and other at which sale Wm A Anderson being the highest bidder became the purchaser

Image 03

of said lot for the Sum of One Thousand Dollars which sale was satisfied and Confirmed by the Court as appears from a decree rendered in said cause on the 15th day of September 1873. An d whereas it also appears from another decree pronounced in said cause  on the 11th day of March 1878, that it was among

other things ” adjudged ordered and decreed

” that the said trustees do convey to the pur-

” chaser of the six acre lot the said lot by

” a deed with special warranty as soon

” as the purchase money is paid, in which

” said deed the defendants S J Campbell and M L

” Campbell his wife will unite and convey

” with general warranty and J C Bond a

” Special Commissioner for the purpose appointed will

” also unite and will convey with Special

” Warranty the interests of all other parties

” to the cause: And whereas the said

purchase money has been paid in full, Am therefore in consideration of the premises, as well as of Five Dollars in hand paid the receipt whereof is hereby acknowledged the said James B Dorman and Chas A Davidson trustees of Saml J Campbell and John C Bond Commissioner as

Image 04

aforesaid do??? grant with Special Warranty, and the said Samuel J Campbell and M L Campbell his wife do grant with general warranty unto William A Anderson all that certain lot or parcel of land sold as aforesaid containing six acres more or less Situated on the Fair Grounds road and is the same lot of land conveyed by W N Pendleton & wife to Saml J Campbell by deed dated Oct 22 1870 and Recorded in the office of the Clerk of the County Court of Rockbridge in Book SS p 328 and from S J Campbell to J B Dorman and Chas A Davidson trustees by deed date March 12, 1872 and recorded in said Clerks Office in Book MM p 155 reference to which deed is hereby made for a more particular description of said lot.  To have and to hold the above dis??? lot or parcel of land with its appurtenances to him the said William A Anderson his heirs and ass?? for ever.

Witness the follow Signatures and Seals

J B Dorman Trustee

Chas A Davidson Trustee

John C Bonds Comm

S J Campbell

M L Campbell

Image 05

State of Virginia

Rockbridge County to wit

I J P Moore a Notary

Public for the County aforesaid in the State of Virginia do certify that S. J. Campbell whose name is signed to the writing annexed(?) bearing date March 15th 1878 has acknowledged the same before me in the County aforesaid.  And I further certify that M. L. Campbell the wife of S. J. Campbell whose names are signed to the writing annexed bearing date  March 15th 1878 personally appeared before me in the County aforesaid and being examined by me privately and apart from her husband and having the writing aforesaid full explained to her.  she the said M. L. Campbell acknowledged the said writing to be her ?? and declared that she had willing executed the same and does not wish to interact with it.

Given under my hand March 16th, 1878

J. P. Moore N P

In Rockbridge County Court Clerks office March 19th 1878

This Deed from Saml J. Campbell’s trustees & c to Wm A Anderson was this day produced in this office and the State Tax

Image 05a

Note: Everything in italics is also on Image 05

declared that she had willingly executed the same and does not wish to retract it Given under my hand March 16th 1878

J P Moore  N P

In Rockbridge County Court Clerks office March 19th 1878

This Deed from Saml J Campbell’s trustees & Co Wm A Anderson was this day produced in this office and the State Tax

of $1.00 being of said thereon it is admitted to record


J P Moore  C.C.


1. Rockbridge County, Virginia, Deeds, Q: 212-216, Samuel J Campbell to William A Anderson, 19 March 1878, County Courthouse, Rockbridge.

Details in City Directories: Howard’s Radio Career Uncovered

I was asked a couple of days ago, “Why are city directories interesting?”  It is a fair question.  You find them, you attach them to your online tree or software program, and then you have a list of them.  A list of them?  Dreadfully boring .

Listing of records for Howard Turner, 1919 – 1992

This is not interesting.  It doesn’t tell me anything about the man and his life.

It is all about pulling the story out of them.

In my previous post, Just Because It’s In Print, Doesn’t Make it True, I discussed the obituary I found of my grandfather and whether he was a radio announcer. City directories hold important clues to Howard Turner’s radio career.

In 1938 and 1939, Howard, 18, was living with his parents, James Austin TURNER and Sudie Sarah HAMRICK TURNER, at 316 E Morehead, Charlotte, NC.  Howard’s brother James Austin Jr., was living around the corner with his wife Annie Lineriux BOONE TURNER; both James Sr. and Jr. were salesman.  Ira and Pearl TURNER, Howard’s aunt and uncle lived not far from them at 1826 E 4th; Ira owns Turner Trading Company.

In 1938, Howard is a student and in 1939 we see that Howard begins his career as a Radio Announcer.1

On May 25, 1940 Howard marries Jennie Elizabeth PAYNE in Kings Mountain, North Carolina.2

He disappears from the City Directories in until 1943, where he is living with Jennie in Asheville, North Carolina.  Howard is a Radio Announcer for WISE Broadcasting as well as the manager of a Welding Engineering School where both his father, James, and his wife, Jennie, are working. 3 Their first child, a daughter is born in 1943.4

From 1944 to 1950, Howard and Jennie are back in Charlotte, and Howard is working for WBT, a major radio station in Charlotte, North Carolina.  They are living at 522 Hawthorne Lane in an apartment.  Their second child, a son is born in 1944.5

In 1951, it appears the couple has separated.  Howard is living with Lois Turner at 323 E Blvd in Charlotte and is now working for Turner’s.  Jennie is living at 523 Hawthorne Lane and is working as a nurse at the Presbyterian Hospital.6

Except for the marriage and births, all the detail comes from the City Directories.  It’s all about the details and making stories a little less forgotten.

1. Hill’s Charlotte (Mecklenburg County, N. C. ) City Directory(Richmond, VA, Hill Directory CO., Inc., 1938), 661 ; also subsequent year by the same title: 1939 (666); digital images, ( : accessed 22 Jun 2012), Howard Turner.
2. “North Carolina, Marriages, 1759-1979,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 22 June 2012), Howard Arthur Turner, 1940.
3.Hill’s Asheville (Buncombe County, N. C. ) City Directory (1943), 495.
4. Buncombe County, North Carolina, General Index to Births, North Carolina Birth Indexes, vol 31, Raleigh, North Carolina State Archives, microfilm NCVR_B_C013_66003, page 253, Katharine Ann Turner; digital images, “North Carolina, Birth and Death Indexes, 1800-2000, ( :accessed 22 Jun 2012).
5. Mecklenberg County, North Carolina, North Carolina Birth Indexes, vol 102, , microfilm NCVR_B_C065_66004, page 164, Thomas Richard Turner.
6. Hill’s Charlotte (Mecklenburg County, N. C. ) City Directory (1944) 754, (1945) 603,(1947) 723, (1948) 732, .

Just Because It’s In Print Doesn’t Make It True

I never knew my maternal grandfather, Howard Arthur Turner, as I lost contact with my mother and her side of the family when I was very young.  One day I discovered his obituary on and became intrigued with knowing more about him.

From his obituary I learned he died on June 26, 1992 and that he was survived by his wife Carol; son Tom Turner; daughter, Mrs. Kathy Currier; brothers, James Turner Jr., Michael Turner; two stepdaughters; two grandchildren; nephews and nieces. 1

That would be the first piece of information that is wrong.  He was survived by at least 4 grandchildren.  My sister and I are the daughters of Kathy Currier by a previous marriage.

When reading obituaries, family histories, newspapers, wills and other documents we use to understand genealogy it is important to remember details are often presented to fit current realities.  Given that my sister and I had not had contact with the man since we were very young and that we haven’t had any contact with the family for well over 30 years, it is understandable.  And a different story for a different day.

The paragraphs that I find the most intriguing from the obituary are:

A radio newscaster at WBT (1110 AM) in the early 1940s, Mr. Turner also taught David Brinkley, now host of the Sunday news Program “This Week With David Brinkley,” who was a UPI news reporter at the Charlotte Station, how to announce on the radio – or so the story goes, says Mr. Turner’s son, Tom.

“My dad would like to tell us about how he taught David Brinkley how to announce on the radio. I don’t know if it’s absolutely true, but he sure liked to tell the story,” said Tom Turner, now president of his father’s supply company. From 1941 to 1946, Mr. Turner paired with Grady Cole, for whom the Grady Cole Center on Kings Drive is named, to produce morning news reports on WBT.” 2

There is a story there.  How much of it is true? I know there are already missing pieces in this brief summary of his life. One thing I do know, the story is probably interesting. Tomorrow I’ll start trying to unravel it.

1. “Howard Arthur Turner,” obituary, The Charlotte (North Carolina) Observer, June 28, 1992; digital images,, ( : accessed 5 April 2009), Newspaper Obituaries Collection.
2. “Howard Arthur Turner,” obituary, The Charlotte Observer, June 28, 1992.

Returned not used: How I Almost Wasn’t

Wyatt Paul GILLESPIE was born at the end of the Civil War; his wife to be, Laura Cecile DONALD was born 11 years later.  He grew up during Reconstruction and they lived their married life in Lexington, Virginia in the Jim Crow south. In 1907, for $400, they bought a home at 108 Houston Street from which you could see Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery and they were buried there, Wyatt in 1941 and Laura in 1964.

My father’s paternal grandparents were married on January 24th, 1894 in Lexington, Virginia.

Wyatt was 28, single, born in Amherst County, Virginia, son of Jerry (Jeremiah) and Mary E GILLESPIE. (Jeremiah and Mary E were first cousins. My family tree twists twice.  Don’t judge. 1)

Laura was 17, single, born in Rockbridge County, Virginia, daughter of James Calvin DONALD and Elizabeth WALLACE.2

Two people, single, get married and lived, happily or some variation of that, ever after. But, and isn’t there always a but, those who are truly experienced in the art of genealogy know to do an exhaustive search to find the entire story.  Wyatt actually has two marriage licenses.  One was used, one was not.

The mystery of Lillian M Hatcher

On January 16, 1893, in Buena Vista, Virginia which is an independent city in Virginia right outside of Lexington, Wyatt and Lillian M Hatcher, ages 27 and 21, respectively, he born in Amherst Co, she born in Bedford Co., applied for a marriage license.  It is marked as being returned on January 16, 1893.   But way over there on the right hand side of the page, it states “Returned not used.”  Why?  I will probably never know.3

Marriage application for Wyatt Gillespie and Lillian Hatcher; Returned not used.

Lillian gets married on November 7, 1898 in Bedford County, Virginia to Paul G Tankersley who was a widower. 4 So there was no tragic accident that prevented Lillian from marrying Wyatt. Why they didn’t marry is probably a mystery for the ages.

But what I do know is this, if Wyatt had married Lillian, he wouldn’t have married Laura. And then there would not have been a Gilbert Gillespie to marry Ann Feazell and my father would not have been born. And I would not be.

So whatever happened, I have to say I’m glad it did. And now we know another forgotten story.


1. Eva Gillespie, daughter of Wyatt Paul and Laura Cecile Donald Gillespie, deceased, interview by Gilbert Gillespie, 2000; notes privately held by Anne Gillespie [address withheld], California, 2009.
2. Rockbridge County, Virginia, page 364, line 10 (1894), Wyatt Paul Gillespie, Laura Cecile Donald; Virginia Department of Health, Richmond.
3. Buena Vista, Virginia, Register of Marriages (1939), p. 6-A (penned), Wyatt P Gillespie; “Marriage register v. 1-2 1854-1909”, FHL, microfilm 30597.
4. “Virginia Marriages, 1785-1940,” index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 14 June 2012), Lillie Maude Hatcher, 1898.

If you don’t ask, you won’t know

Gilbert McClung Gillespie, date unknown.

I was searching for records for my grandfather, Gilbert Gillespie, and a passenger list popped up for him.  This seemed quite silly. He was born and lived his early life in Lexington, Virginia and then in later years lived in Robbinsville, NC and Rabun Gap, GA and spent his final days in Bedford, VA.

What would a southern boy who worked for James & Lee be doing traveling from the UK back to the states?  It simply did not fit my mental model of my grandfather.

I looked anyway, because that’s what we do.

Gilbert Gillespie, age 36, traveling form England to New York on the Queen Mary.

The Queen Mary arrived in New York on October 12th, 1950.  Gilbert would have been 36.  He was traveling with Thomas Janney and their address was listed as James Lees & Sons Co.  This had to be him. 1

I called my Dad, who would have been 10 at the time, and he confirmed that this was indeed his father.  Gilbert was working for James & Lees Co in Lexington, VA.  I know that he had been a rug weaver in 1940. 2 He had traveled with Thomas to England to try and sell someone there on an idea he had to speed up the process of rug weaving.   They did not convince whoever it was they were speaking to invest in their idea, but the attempt was made. 3
It’s the unexpected that makes this so much fun. We all build mental models of our ancestors and those models led us to look for specific records and reject the ones that just don’t fit. The Passenger List didn’t fit my mental model of my grandfather, and it would be easy enough to overlook.

Look at every piece of possible information no matter how farfetched you think it might be. The story wants to reveal itself, but it can’t if you don’t look.

1. “New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, ( accessed 14 June 2012), manifest, Queen Mary, 12 October 1950, p. 118 (stamped), line 24, Gilbert M Gillespie; citing NARA microfilm publication T715, roll 7901; Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
2. 1940 U.S. census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 100 (stamped), enumeration district(ED) 82-8, sheet 1A, family 10, George M Gillespie; digital image, ( : accessed 8 June 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627.
3. Gilbert McClung Gillespie, son of Gilbert McClung Gillespie, ([address withheld for personal use]), interview by Anne Gillespie Mitchell, 2009; notes privately held by interviewer [address withheld], California, 2009.