52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 17:
Family Finds Charter Oak

In Search of a Document

One of my brick-walls is a 4th great-grandmother who was married to my 4th great-grandfather named Thomas Gillespie, 1766-1810. [1] I have been unable to find a document for Thomas or his children that names the wife and mother. Part of the difficulty is the lack of record creation during the time period in which my unknown ancestress lived. I believe she was born in approximately the same year as her husband. She died after her youngest child, Margaret, was born in 1805. All of her children were assigned guardians in 1810, when Thomas Gillespie died. In summary, I believe my brick-wall ancestress was born ca. 1766, probably in Pennsylvania, married in Hamilton Co., Ohio in ca. 1796 and died between 1805 and 1810 in Butler or Warren County, Ohio.

Review of Documents

For this weeks’ prompt I am revisiting the documents I have for the Thomas Gillespie family in hopes of discovering my unknown 4th great-grandmother. First, I gather the estate records for Thomas Gillespie in the Orphan Court records of Butler County, Ohio for the years 1810 to 1812. [2, 3, 4, 5] These sort of records tend to include not only family members’ names but also those of neighbors and court professionals. Administrators and bondsmen named for Thomas Gillespie’s estate include his brother George, plus James McClallan and Patrick Moore. The appraisers are named Michael Ayers David Layman and Joseph Cox. [2] Upon Thomas’ death, the court appointed guardians to his children. Initially they were named as Thomas Irwin and Joseph Williamson. [3] Different guardians were appointed in late 1811, Joseph Cox and John Robeson. [4] One of these men could possibly be a relation to Thomas’ wife, my unknown ancestress. I researched census, land and vital records for these men, but did not discover a single possible lead.

Another document I reviewed includes the will of Thomas’ brother George Gillespie Jr., 1770-1820. [7] George’s will provides the names of their siblings, including the surnames of their married sisters. It is not uncommon to find siblings having spouses who are also siblings. Thomas’ three sisters married men with the surnames Bradford, Dick and Edgar. His 5 brothers married women with the surnames Campbell, Johnson, McClellan, Miskimmins, and Robinson. Although I could not definitively discover a connection between any of these siblings’ spouses and my unknown 4th great-grandmother, two of these families remain on my radar for further research of a connection: McClellan and Robi(n)son. Finding primary sources for this time period in southwest Ohio is my biggest challenge.

Orphan Court Record for Gillespie

I previously wrote about using these records to discover more about my 3rd great-grandmother, the daughter of Thomas, Isabella Gillespie, in the week 9 post “Females”. [6]

1820 George Gillespie Will Summary

This summary does not do justice to the will. George Gillespie was very generous to his siblings, nieces and nephews, and particularly to his tenant Mr. Woodyard.

Maps as Documents

Using maps, census and other documents I have identified near neighbors of the Gillespie’s. It’s possible my unknown 4th great-grandmother’s family were neighbors, and fellow emigrants, to the Gillespies. Thomas’ father, George Gillespie Sr., owned land in Washington County, Pennsylvania prior to emigrating to southwest Ohio. From a landowners map dated 1787 I discover the neighbors to research. [8] I have researched about half of these neighbors, and, so far, none are good leads.

Somerset Twp, Washington Co, PA 1787
Somerset Twp, Washington Co, PA 1787

Neighbors: Andrew and Nicholas Venneman, Hugh Forbes, Martin Smith, Robert Greenlee, John Kerr, John Stevens, Micamer Thomas, Peater Lamb, and George Kintner.
George Gillespie calls his property “Good Fortune at Last”, yet he moves west in 1794.

A New Document Discovered

While working on this post, I came across a new (to me) document for my Gillespie ancestors in southwest Ohio. A petition sent to the Hamilton County, Ohio Quarter Sessions Court for May 1795 term. [9] George Gillespie owned property just east of the place now known as Middletown, Ohio. It seems very possible that my unknown 4th great-grandmother lived near to the Gillespie family when she married Thomas. I do not have a marriage record for the couple, but I estimate it to be between the time the Gillespie’s arrive in Ohio, 1794, [10] and when the couples first child is born, 1797. So, this record with names of neighbors from that time period could be my best lead so far. I have not yet begun to research all these people, so I will save any update for a future post.

It’s possible the road referenced in the petition is what is now called “the Dixie Hwy.” I am listing the names here for indexing purposes: William Bedell, Dennis Linly, Robert McCaskey, Abijah Davis, Caleb Mulford, Jonathan Davis, Danial Vorhis, James Bedell, Daniel Banta, James Norris, Jacob Vorhis, John Shaw, Patrick Shaw, Joseph Vandalah, Jonathan Higgins, Ilha Corviry. William Miller. Thomas Humphries, John Clark, Samuel Gollohar, Joseph Vance, John Vance, John Cummins George Babcock and David Kirkwood.

1797 Road Petition


None of the reviewed documents have led to my discovery of my unknown 4th great-grandmother who was married to Thomas Gillespie. But, I remain hopeful that a clue may be found among the names on the recently discovered road petition document from 1795. It will take a great deal of time to search and review records for all the men listed on the petition. I will give particular attention to any who are married to women named Isabella, Jane, Martha, or Margaret. Cincinnati and the counties of southwest Ohio were very young during this time period and documents are scarce. Stay tuned.


  1. Profile for Thomas Gillespie, ‘Osborn‘ tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/1441473110/facts
  2. Entry for Thomas Gillespie, Butler Co., [Ohio] Orphan and Testamentary Records, 1803-1810, date: 21 Aug 1810, page 71
  3. Entry for Thomas Gillespie, Butler Co., [Ohio] Orphan and Testamentary Records, 1803-1810, date: 4 Oct 1810, page 74
  4. Entries for Gillespie, Butler Co., [Ohio] Orphan and Testamentary Records, 1811-1814, date: 16 Dec 1811, page 85
  5. Entry for Thomas Gillespie, Butler Co., [Ohio] Orphan and Testamentary Records, 1811-1814, date: 20 Apr 1812, page 96
  6. Blog post, Family Finds: Females; https://barblafara.com/females/
  7. Entry for George Gillespie, Ohio, U.S., Wills and Probate Records, 1786-1998, Will Index, Vol 1, 1804-1895; Will Records, Vol 1-3, 1803-1829, Court of Common Pleas, November Term for 1820, Warren County, OH, record#: 158.
  8. Map of Somerset Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Pennsylvania State Archives, Records of the Land Office “Warrantee Township Maps”, series# 17.522, Accessed online: http://www.phmc.state.pa.us/bah/dam/rg/di/r17-522WarranteeTwpMaps/r017Map3197WashingtonSomersetWeb.pdf
  9. Entry for Thomas Gillespie, “Historical Sketches and Early Reminiscences of Hamilton County, Ohio” by J. G. Olden, pub. H.Watkin 1882, Hamilton Co., OH, Ch. “Early White Settlements”, page: 145. Accessed online: https://books.google.com/books?id=MtsyAQAAMAAJ&pg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false
  10. Entry for George Gillespie, “History of Cincinnati, Ohio: with illustrations and biographical sketches” by Henry A. Ford and Kate B. Ford, pub. L.A.William and Co. 1881, Ch. XX “Religion in Cincinnati”, page: 149. Accessed online: https://archive.org/details/cu31924032193520/page/n197/mode/2up

1 Comment

  1. Charles E McKee

    Barb: Thank you for this post. I am also looking for information on Thomas Gillespie, although I am not as directly related to him as you (son of direct ancestor of my step-grandfather). I appreciate your meticulous research and documentation, and for providing a record for others. Thank you.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Remember Me and I Will Live

Frank Takeo Flucawa

Born Takeo Furukawa on 15 March 1883 in Tottori-Ken, Tokyo, Japan, little is documented of his early childhood. Family oral history stories say that the young Takeo experienced hunger, poverty and the loss of his family. Additionally, the stories tell of friendship, spiritual learning and scholarship.

David L. Osborne: His Indianapolis Homes

My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne, lived at over 20 addresses around Indianapolis between 1876 and 1942. I thought it would be interesting to see all the old buildings and homes where he lived in my hometown of Indianapolis.

The Marriage of David and Jennie Osborne

My great grandfather, David Louis Osborne (1848-1942), was a widower with two young sons in 1886 when he married Jennie Warbington (1857-1918) in Minneapolis on the 27th of May. I decided it was time to put sources to the story.

Do You See A Resemblance?

While working on a family photo project I decided it would be fun to compare side-by-side my father and his parents, at similar ages, to try and discover a family resemblance.

Probate of Jesse King 1868

Jesse King was born in Ohio (probably in the vicinity of Chillicothe) in 1805, he was a son of Philip King and Mary Leah Wright, both of Pennsylvania. Philip King was a farmer, he married Leah Wright in 1801 in Somerset, PA, they had six children, of whom Jesse was the third.

Letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary

A handwritten letter from Sarah Tucker Lafary to the then president of the United States, Grover Cleveland. It was her last appeal for a War of 1812 pension, sadly the pension was denied. The letter gives a glimpse of a woman who had no formal education, a poor farmers wife, then widow, mother of nine, she probably just wanted some independence through an income of her own.

Sarah Smith: Challenge

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 2: Challenge
So much about genealogy research is a challenge, perhaps the most common challenge is the ‘brick wall,’ meet Sarah Smith. 18?? – 1846

Laferre to LaFara: Unusual Name

The surnames in my tree are typical of common western European names. However, the name that is unusual among these names is MY surname: LaFara.

Luella Pressell: Surprise!

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 6: Surprise!
Just when you think you know everything about an ancestor, surprise! I thought I knew most everything about my paternal great grandfather David L. Osborne, 1848-1942.

Rumple Family Photo 1895

For all of us who are procrastinating about labeling photos I have one thing to say, “Be considerate of the genealogist of the future!” My maternal grandmother was very good about labeling old family photos, and there is one, in particular, I found very informative.

Conrad Rumple: Bachelor Uncle

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 10: Bachelor Uncle
My uncles are the marrying kind, sometimes more than once!
I had to go back four generations for a bachelor uncle, my great-great-great uncle Conrad Rumple, 1833-1911.
Conrad was an older brother to my great-great grandfather on my matrilineal line, William Rumple, 1839-1912.

George Lafary and Catherine Landon: Large Family

My great-great grandparents, George Lafary and Catherine Landon, had a relatively small family, three of their six children survived to adulthood. However, they both came from large families of nine siblings and nearly all survived to marry and have children.

In The Paper

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 13: In The Paper
It’s fun to find articles in the paper mentioning one of my relatives. Mostly they are birth, marriage, divorce and death events. But, it’s the oddball articles in the papers I like the most.

Genealogy Brick Walls

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week 14: Brick Wall
We all have a brick wall, that one ancestor who defies all research. I decided I would work at my brick walls by generation, I broke through the last of my 3rd great grandparent brick walls, now I am working on 4th great grandparents.

Catherine Landon: Out of Place

I realized I did not have a date of death for my great, great grandmother, Catherine Landon Lafary. A fresh search uncovered the date and much more. Out of place, but once discovered, everything fell into place.

Immigrant Ancestors, Fresh Start

52 Ancestors, in 52 Weeks – Week1: Fresh Start.
The varied reasons my European ancestors immigrated to North America for a fresh start.

William and Uva Lafara: Favorite Photo

I have many favorite photos among my collection of family artifacts. Currently, my favorite photo is of two little children from 1916 who were a complete mystery to me until last spring.

Close to Home

My grandparents. Earl and Pearl, met at church, close to home, in 1914,

So Far Away

My great-uncle Frank immigrated to the United States from Japan in 1905 to further his education, so far away

Same Name

I get excited when I discover an ancestor with the same name as a friend, or co-worker, or neighbor. Maybe we are related!