Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Building a Family Tree: An Example on -- Project Three, Part One

My friend Holly Hansen asked me to take some time and help find some information about her ancestor, Ignatious Gilpin, b. about 1750 in Maryland and d. 7 July 1818 in Putnam, Georgia, United States. Quoting from the Maryland State Archive website:
In 1654, Maryland's General Assembly passed An Act Concerning a Register of Births Marriages & Burialls, requiring inhabitants of the province to bring notice of all births to the clerk of their county court. The clerk would then record the birth date, the child's name, the father's name, and sometimes the mother's name in a register. Arranged chronologically, the registers were self-indexed to make searching for a particular name easier. Only a few of these old registers are extant today.
Holly thought that perhaps her ancestor was a Catholic because of his name, but I have found that Biblical names are fairly common in old Maryland Records. Since my wife and I have been serving as FamilySearch Record Preservation Missionaries/Volunteers, we have see a lot of names. In Maryland, the Court recorded birth records began in 1865. The responsibility for recording the earlier records was changed in 1695. Here is another quote from the Maryland State Archives website:
In 1695, the General Assembly passed a law which transferred responsibility for registering births to the clerk of the Church of England (Anglican) vestry for each parish. 
For a short time, the clerks of the county courts continued to register births concurrently with the clerks of the vestry. By the early 1700s, the registration of all births, regardless of a person's denomination, was the sole responsibility of the Anglican (now Protestant Episcopal) Church. Because of this law, church records are the main source of birth records from the colonial period through the late nineteenth century. Although the Church of England was the government sanctioned church in Maryland during the colonial period, churches of other denominations (such as Catholic, Quaker, Prebysterian, Methodist, and Lutheran) existed as well. Like the Anglican churches, these churches recorded births or baptisms occurring among their members. The 1695 law lost its effect in 1776 when Maryland enacted its first constitution. Most churches, however, continued the practice of registering births through the nineteenth and into the twentieth century. 
The Maryland State Archives holds church records for many churches in Maryland. Please see Special Collections for a list of church records available at the Archives. Another resource is Edna A. Kanely's book Directory of Church Records in Maryland published by Family Line Publications. This book lists Maryland churches, the records that exist for them, and the institutions that hold the records. It is important to note that the records for some churches have been lost or destroyed over time. Also, not every Marylander was associated with a church, and therefore births and baptisms in non-church-going families may never have been recorded.
Only certain counties' records are available. It looks like from the Maryland State Archives website that I will have spend more time in the Archives, but doing research rather than digitizing documents. There are, however, a huge number of digitized records from Maryland alread on and other websites. I will start with a search in the Maryland, Births and Christenings Index, 1662-1911 on This index contains more than 200,000 birth, baptism, and christening records. I only find seven (yes 7) records with the Gilpin surname.

I found an Message Board about Ignatious Gilpin.
In looking at the records in the FamilyTree, it looks like there are some inconsistencies. First, if Ignatious Gilpin married Charlotte Vinson, he was 40 years old when the marriage took place. But the second marriage supposedly took place in 1800 when the first wife was still living. If Gilpin was a Catholic, he probably did not get a divorce. Are there two different individuals? has an Ignatius Gilpin in the U.S. Census Recontstructed Records, 1660-1820.

Since this would have been the first U.S. Census, the record would only show the head of household. The record is interesting since it says the following:

We sometimes run across ancestors who led interesting lives. This record comes from the following:
Source Citation
Document: Telamon Cuyler Collection, Manuscript #1170 [Hargrett Library, University of Georgia]; Call Number: Box 42, Folder 2; Page Number: 1; Family Number: 1 
Source Information U.S. Census Reconstructed Records, 1660-1820 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.
Here is another record from the same database:

And there is a third record:
Incidently, all three of the marriage sources attached to Ignatious or Ignatius Gilpin on the Family Tree are from Columbia County, not Richmond County, although they are next to each other. The link in the fourth source to "Ignatius Gilpin in the Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992" is broken. The link takes me to someone named William Fuller. But there is a will record in that collection. Here are the three links, but note that they are in Putnam County in 1818.
What is missing so far is the will. 

Back to the question of where Ignatius Gilpin was born. A search on for Gilpins born in about 1750 plus or minus 10 years shows that there are only 1,106 results. From this, it appears that the name is relatively uncommon. I see from the results of the search that the Gilpin surname is scattered over the entire Eastern seaboard of the colonies. Interestingly, none of the records showing a Gilpin surname come from Georgia. there are 238 records for Gilpins that were either born in or lived in Maryland. Right now, without more research, his birthplace would be nothing more than a guess. 

I am going to continue this Project because of the connection to Maryland. Time to do some research in the Archives. 

Explanation of how this project began and why I am pursuing it.

In this particular project, I decided to help a good friend, Holly Hansen, with her ancestors. She provided me with information from the Family Tree and and with that information, I will show, step-by-step, the research needed to extend that person's family tree back several generations (good luck :-). Finding a person who has no apparent ancestors in the Family Tree is relatively easy for those who lived in or into the 20th Century. But the further back in time you go, the harder the task becomes. To clarify this project, I will not be reserving any of the people I discover for my own Temple List. I will simply leave the "green icons" on the Family Tree for that person's descendants to find and use for themselves. Please refrain from doing the temple work for people to whom you are not related.

Why am I doing this? For the past 15 years or so, I have been helping hundreds (thousands?) of people find their ancestors. I simply intend to document the process in detail with real examples so that you can see exactly how I find family lines. I simply want to show where those "green icons" come from. Since the Family Tree is entirely cooperative, I will simply assume that when I find a family that needs some research that I am helping that family. By the way, this is Part Three of the series because I intend to do this over and over with different examples.

I may or may not find new people to add to the FamilyTree. Since the families I choose are in an "end-of-line" sort of situation, there is no guarantee that I will be any more successful than the average user of the Family Tree in finding additional family members. In any event, I hope that my efforts as recorded will help either the family members or others to find more information about their ancestral families and relatives.

There is another reason why I am doing this. Because I constantly offer to help people find their ancestors and I get relatively few that take advantage of that offer. I need to spend some of my excess energy. Thanks to Holly for letting me help.

No comments:

Post a Comment