Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Click Your Way Genealogical Success Online - Part Three

In the last post in this series, I left Ignatius Gilpin with a probate file. The file is actually in two parts on and there was another interesting document. This one is the following:

This document shows Ignatius' signature. The J Gilpin is really "I" or Ignatius Gilpin.

In addition, from the previous documents, we have one of the children named in the Family Tree: Green Gilpin. With these four names, we are starting to get a cluster of family members. But where are these people?

Time to back up a bit. There are several documents, not yet attached to the FamilySearch entry that pertain to Ignatius Gilpin. These include the following from
  • 50 pages of a probate file from Georgia
  • 1790 Reconstructed U.S. Census records from Georgia
  • 2 U.S. Revolutionary War Roll records from Maryland
There are also several Georgia marriage records showing a marriage to Nancy Denham. These marriage records are attached as sources to the individual record.

Where are we with this research? I am not alone in doing research on this family. As I have mentioned before, Holly Hansen, an exceptional researcher, has been working on Georgia genealogy for years. It was her suggestion that got me started in with this particular project. Genealogy is moving, like it or not, from an individual, isolated activity into a totally collaborative mode. By using the Family Tree, Holly or anyone else can review, add to, change or delete any information. Although this may seem alarming, it is really at the core of the new genealogical model. I spent some time on the phone with Holly and here is what is now available as sources for Ignatius Gilpin:

Because of our collaboration, we increase our efforts. Obviously, we need to separate true collaboration from the random addition of unsupported information.

What do I do with this additional information? As I pointed out with the names already accumulated, these probate documents put Ignatius into a cluster of people in a particular location. In this case, the location is Putnam County, Georgia in the years surrounding 1820. So we have a geographic area and a number of the names of people who lived in that area. How are all these people related? So far, from marriage and records we have three surnames:

  • Gilpin (with various spellings)
  • Vinson
  • Denham
We also have more than one location. The records mention at least three counties in Georgia:
  • Putnam
  • Columbia
  • Laurens
We have the names of all the people mentioned in the probate records. The handwriting in the record is poor so many of the names are approximate based on reading the record. Here is a partial list of some of those names.
  • Eli S. Thorten or Thorter
  • Charles Denham
  • Coleman Pendleton
  • George Nigh
  • Benjamin Birroks (sp)
  • Marshall Pelma
  • John Gilpin
  • G. Bennett
  • Dr. Hiram Storn
  • Dr. Thomas Moore
  • John Luckey
  • Thomas Telownay
  • James Park
  • Robinson Ralls
  • D B Perryman
  • James Wood
  • J. Ellis
We have dates from 1800 to around 1821 or so. We also have names of some family members. 

What do we do with all these names? During the time period when Ignatius was living in Georgia, there were three and possibly four U.S Censuses. Let's see if any of these names appear in the Census for either Columbia, Putnam or Laurens County. Well, guess what? There are no U.S. Censuses for Georgia in 1790, 1800 and 1810. What is available is the Putnam County Tax Digests for 1817, 1820, 1824, and 1852. 

Georgia is organized into Military Districts and you can sort out where the people lived by finding out where the individual military districts were located. Of course, that is assuming the districts had some geographic reference. So, we are back to looking up some history. Hmm. The Georgia State Archives has a map of the "Georgia, Minor Civil Divisions - Militia Districts."

So it looks like the process is to search the tax records and then put the people on the Militia District maps. The Putnam County Tax Digests for 1817, 1820, 1824, and 1852 records are about 335 images, so that will take some time.

Meanwhile, I have been talking to Holly Hansen and here are some of her notes on the families:
1. Ignatius Gilpin married Charlotte Vinson as proven by Legislative act making their marriage contract null and void as reported in the Georgia Gazette 9 February 1798. Who is David Gilpin listed as their child born 9 months after this decree was made? 
2. Ignatius Gilpin married Nancy Denham the daughter of Charles Denham. She has a brother also named Charles Denham. 
3. Nancy Denham's father Charles died June of 1805. Therefore he is not the same Charles who was appointed Administrator of the estate of Ignatius Gilpin. The most likely candidate for the Administrator is Nancy's brother Charles. 
4. David Vinson is Charlotte Vinson's father. The David Vinson on Family Tree has many errors and problems. The probate detail listed in the source information is for a David Vinson who died in North Carolina in 1810. It also lists Frances Vinson as his widow and relict. The Tree has his wife listed as Hannah Watkins. The Tree has 13 children listed for David and Hannah. 
5. In the Columbia County, Georgia probate records the will of David Vinson of Richmond County, Georgia is filed in Columbia County. There are two instances of the will. The original and a clerk's copy in the books. 
The will names one daughter, some grandchildren, and great grandchildren. It details the situation with his grand daughter Elizabeth Gilpin Denham Melton and her children. 
The copy gives the daughter's name as Charlotte Johnson, where the original actually says Charlotte Jackson. 
The copy gives one granddaughter with the name of Rebina where the original clearly has her listed as Rebecca. 
So, the clerk made copy errors as well. 
I have not connected this will to David Vinson on Family Tree as there are too many errors. 
It leads one to ask: Who is the real David Vinson? If he had several children why was only one listed in the will? Who is Hannah Watkins? Is she the real mother of Charlotte Vinson? Or is there another David Vinson researchers have missed? (records inn the tree have him in Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia). 
The will of David Vinson is needed to understand some relationships of Ignatius Gilpin's family members. 
6. Very little is known about Ignatius Gilpin's second wife, Nancy Denham, the daughter of Charles Denham and sister of Charles S. Denham. Family Tree has Charles Denham mixed up and merged up with other men of the same name. Also, Charles son's James Denham and Charles S. Denham have been mixed up with men of the same or similar names. These families need to be pulled apart and listed correctly on Family Tree. 
We know that Charles Denham of Columbia County, Georgia was married to Sinai. Charles Denham of Liberty County, Georgia was married to Ann. In Family Tree Sinai and Ann have been merged into one person. They are definitely two distinctly different people. So, the more we work on these families of early Georgia the more we see that name matching and forcing families to fit together has been taking place. I have more documents not attached to the tree, while I work out the details on how to correct the errors. 
7. Ignatius Gilpin was in Richmond as early as 1786 based on a land document (I attached to the tree today) 
8. John Lucky, Collins H. Belcher and others appearing in the estate papers of Ignatius Gilpin are tied to the Vinson and Denham families. The part that makes it challenging is the extra people stuffed into families and the multiple individuals of similar or same names being merged into one person. How to separate these and rebuild accurate families is our goal and desire. 
9. The 1820 census is the first census available for Georgia and some parts of it are missing. At this point we find the following Gilpin names in 1820 Georgia census: 
Green Gilpin in Columbia County 
John Gilpin in Morgan County 
Benjamin Gilpin in Putnam County 
As you can see, we have stepped off into a Fire Swamp of details. Stay tuned to see my thoughts on working through such complex problems.


  1. In the image above where you have listed three Gilpin names. John and Joseph are not Gilpin. Their surname is Guyton. In the 1820 Census John Guyton is living in Laurens County, Georgia. Joseph Guyton is living in Hall County, Georgia.

    Another note: Ignatius Gilpin's signature, I Gilpin, matches the signature on the marriage bond for James Denham and Betsey Gilpin. In the Columbia County, Georgia will for David Vinson he lists his grand daughter Betsey Milton whose first husband was James Denham. This indicates that Charlotte's daughter Betsey is also Ignatius Gilpin's daughter. Also listed in the will are grand children, Green Gilpin, Sally Newman and Rebecca Belcher. Sally is commonly interchanged with the name Sarah.

    With what we have so far, this tells us that Elizabeth, Rebecca, Green, and Sarah Gilpin are all grandchildren of David Vinson. And most likely the children of his daughter Charlotte and Ignatius Gilpin. There is no mention of a David Gilpin, how does he fit? There are no sources for David Gilpin.

    1. Thanks , I must learn how to read one of these days.