Updating the Profile for Robert Gillespie

Mary Ann Schaefer, March 28, 2010

Overview
According to The Gillespie Family Record published by Edith Gillespie in 1966, Robert Gillespie was the oldest son of John Gillespie (1780-1883) and his second wife Sarah Woods (1784- ). Robert's vital information is recorded as: b abt 1806 Ireland m Elizabeth Donaldson abt 1828 Ireland arrival Quebec, Canada abt 1838 (no true record of this other than Family Record) appears in 1860 census of Springfield, Michigan d 24 Mar 1871, Davisburg, Michigan, burial Andersonville Cemetery NOTE: According to the Michigan death records, Robert's mother was recorded as Jane Gillespie. It should also be noted that a record was found for Robert's brother James where James' mother was also recorded as Jane Gillespie. This inconsistency with the Family Record (stating their mother was Sarah Woods) is a point for further research.

Introducing Elizabeth Gillispie
A probate ABSTRACT was found for Elizabeth Gillispie, INTESTATE - filed March 1857, Bloomfield Twp. which lists her siblings: Nancy, sister Jane Greer, sister (wife of Robert) Thomas, brother Robert, James, and Sarah, 1/2 sibs Robert M. Greer was named as administrator. Source: http://files.usgwarchives.net/mi/oakland/court/a12301.txt Before going to FHL, I tried to summarize what we know about Elizabeth Gillespie: • Elizabeth Gillispie purchased land April 4, 1833 - 78.45 acres in Oakland County. Certificate says "of Orange County, New York". Note that I do NOT find any land purchases for any other Gillespie (such as Thomas for example). The Dibean Marriage Index lists a marriage for Elizabeth! ELIZABETH - GILLISPIE 08 XXX 1834

GORDON PETER - GORDON -- see researcher file CTY REC# VOL 1

Source: http://files.usgwarchives.net/mi/oakland/vitals/marriages/dbn-sep2009_g.txt

I do not find Elizabeth Gillispie by that name in1840 or1850 census.

Note: In 1840 census of Bloomfield, Oakland, Michigan there is a woman named Elizabeth Grodon (ancestry transcribes it as Gordon). She is listed right next to Thomas Gillespie, and she is the only one in her household, age 40-50 (this fits above as she seems to be 10 years younger than Thomas). In 1850 census, there is E. Gordon, F, age 62, from Ireland, living next to James and Jane Greer (ages 65 and 66). Since Jane is a Gillespie, I think possibly Elizabeth is the sister of Jane. This part is all curious. Why would Elizabeth purchase land in the name Gillespie, and her grave stone has the name Gillespie, but she appears on the census with the name Gordon? Hmmmm.... • An Elizabeth Gillespie buried in Franklin Cemetery, died Feb 17, 1857, age 70 (b 1787). Note: Also in Franklin Cemetery are: Thomas Gillespie, died 1859, age 82 (b 1777) Nancy, w/o Thomas, died 1872, age 92 (b 1780) James, (presuming Thomas' son), died 1866, age 46 (b 1820) (More notes about these characters later.)

FHL Research
First I would like to summarize the process of looking up Michigan probate records. 1. Look in the probate index. This lists names alphabetically by name and gives a reference number. 2. Look in the probate calendar for the reference number you got in step 1. The calendar records the date of every transaction having to do with that estate, along with a brief one-line description of what transpired, followed by a volume number and page.

3. Look up each volume and page you found in step 2. Hope and maybe pray that a) the photo copy of the film was decent (sometimes too dark or too light to read) and b) the handwriting of the person recording was legible. I describe this for the benefit of anybody coming behind me doing Gillespie research. You'll save the time it took me to learn how this system works, which was more than I expected. I will say that I'm not convinced I got it all figured out. Some of the volumes are Probate Journals, some are Commissioners Warrants, some are Bonds, etc. There is no way to tell from the FHL catalog what the volume is, so you'll only know by looking at the film. So Step 1 was finding Elizabeth Gillespie in probate index. Her reference number is 1411. Check. Step 2 was to look in the probate calendar for 1411. The scan of that record is on the previous page and it was surprisingly brief. It referred to Volume 26, pages 30 and 78. There was also reference to Volume 22 (a Bond volume) because Robert Greer needed to have a bond. Step 3 – look at the records in the volume. Here is a summary of what was there: 1. Nancy Gillespie petitioned the court on March 9, 1857 saying that Elizabeth died intestate and had $900 of estate to settle. She named the heirs-at-law as herself a sister, Jane Greer a sister, Thomas Gillespie a brother, and Robert, James, and Sarah as half-siblings. 2. Nancy requests that the administrator be assigned as Robert M. Greer. (whoever wrote the abstract assumed Robert was husband of Jane Greer, but nowhere does this record say that and in fact Robert M Greer is the son of Jane Gillespie Greer) 3. On April 7, 1857 it was agreed that a notice was run in the Pontiac Gazette (to see if Elizabeth owed anybody money I suppose), and then the judge did assign Robert M. Greer as the administrator. 4. On the same date, a bond was set. In skimming these documents it appears that the administrator had 3 months to give an inventory of the estate and then a year to wrap things up.

[Note: I made the scans in pieces so that I could blow up as much as possible for reading. If you can't zoom on the images in this document and/or detach the images and zoom, I can send the images separately.]

Note: I'm not quite sure why John Greer suddenly appears on this document – maybe just a witness?

Now the bad news is that April 7 was the last date on the probate calendar – there were no other entries after that! I started to go through the Probate Journal page by page, but it was just too grueling. One quickly understands the need for reference numbers to do these look-ups! I looked back in the probate index for Robert Greer, but since he himself was to die in 1859, there was nothing between 1857 and 1859 with either Elizabeth Gillespie or Robert Greer's name. So what to do? Once again, when I get the MOST stuck, I go back over What do I know (or think I know)? The first point on the list was that Elizabeth owned land. If she was dead, the land had to go to somebody, so perhaps it is logical to think there is something in the land records? Again for the benefit of those also researching Michigan records at FHL, there is an Index of Deeds, Grantors and Grantees for all the various years. Once you find a name, you note a volume and page, then find that film and hope and pray. :-) Here is a summary of land record I found: • On 24 May 1858, Robert Gillespie and his wife Elizabeth paid $75 to Robert Greer for 40 acres of Elizabeth's land. From what I can tell of the legal description, Section 18 is where Elizabeth's land was – I will be sending plat maps separately. The document records that this transaction represents Robert's interests as heir in the estate of Elizabeth Gillespie, deceased.

The actual records follow.

This then sheds new light on what has been known of the Gillespie family history. Based on this information, changes that need to be written into The Family Record include: a) Children from John Gillespie's first marriage include, but may not be limited to: Thomas, Jane, Nancy, and Elizabeth. b) These “first” children came to Michigan from New York, thought to be Orange and Dutchess Counties. They arrived in Michigan nearly 20 years before Robert arrived there from Canada. c) Robert Gillespie came to Michigan specifically to collect inheritance in the form of land from his half-sister Elizabeth.

Questions
If you look at the map, Bloomfield is southeast of where Robert Gillespie settled, Springfield, in the northwest part of Oakland County. So there are probably more land records to be found. I was able to find some land records between Robert Gillespie and William Beesley, his son-in-law (married daughter Mary Jane). I am attaching those records here in the effort to keep everything as it pertains to our Robert in one place. What happened to the rest of Elizabeth's estate? There should still be some other recording of that? What was Elizabeth's connection to Isabelle E Gillespie, the mother of our Belle Greer who married Robert's youngest son James? I thought Elizabeth might be Isabelle's mother, but then she should be considered an heir and she is not. Maybe Isabelle was a) her daughter but estranged, b) a niece but in this case wouldn't she still be considered an heir? I have some thoughts about all these connections, but want to map them out carefully in a subsequent document.

1860 Land Transaction

1861 Land Transaction

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