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

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

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

This is Part Two of a project that started with another post. See "Building a Family Tree: An Example on -- Project Three, Part One."

This Project involves finding an end-of-line ancestor of my friend Holly Hansen who was born in the 1700s and died in the 1800s. This is a common time period when many ancestral lines end or become less than accurate. The reason for this discontinuity is simple: genealogically helpful records start to disappear or were never created for research in the 1700s.  Coupled with the paucity of records is the movement of whole populations from Europe to the Americas and the difficulty of finding the place of origin of an immigrant. 

According to the existing data in the Family Tree, Ignatius Gilpin was born in about 1750. To put this date into a historical context, the first major European settlements along the east coast of North American began in the early 1600s. By 1750, the European population of what would become the United States was just over a million people. See "Demographic history of the United States." To put that in context, that is about the population of Dallas, Texas or San Jose, California. According to, the Gilpin surname is English and primarily located in Lancashire and Yorkshire. Gilpin is not an unusual name but it is also not too common. 

In order to have a realistic appraisal of the difficulty of the research in any time period, it is important to start with a survey of the frequency of the surname in the area where the ancestral family is assumed to have lived. I started this process in the first post. Here at the Maryland State Archives, we are digitizing probate records. In conjunction with preparing documents for digitization, we are adding metadata to the files created. In doing this, we have compiled a list of over 17,000 names from probate, conservatorship and in indentured servitude. I searched this database for the "Gilpin" surname and did not find any results. 

In addition, I searched the Maryland, Compiled Census and Census Substitutes Index, 1772-1890[ database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1999. There were 46 results. None of these Gilpins were also named "Ignatious" or any variations of that name. There was only one person, named Samuel Gilpin, that appears as early as 1750. The name "Ignatious" or "Ignatius" was not that uncommon in the 1700s. I could not find anyone with the name of Ignatious or Ignatius in about 1750 in Maryland, Virginia, or North Carolina. I did find an Ignation Gilpin from Pennsylvania. Here is a screenshot of the reference.
This record is from Revolutionary War cards from the Pennsylvania State Archives. Now, I decided to search by using the name, "Ignation." With this search, I found the Georgia Marriage Record already attached as a source to the Family Tree entry. But I also found a mention in the United States Revolutionary War Rolls, 1775-1783 from Maryland.
So there was an Ignatius Gilpin in Maryland at the time of the Revolutionary War. Here is a copy of a second record also.
In the second record, the name is spelled "Galpin." The record is from the "Muster Roll of Lieut. Horatio Clagett Company of the Third Maryland Regiment. Well, this will give us something to think about and research. To begin, I found some references to men who served in the Third Maryland Regiment from Prince George's County and from St. Mary's County. The next step is to focus research on those two counties and see if the Gilpins show up.

This is the kind of research that needs to be done in stages. Each time you come back to the research, you will find things you didn't find before. Many genealogists advocate keeping a "Research Docket" or research journal. I keep a running set of notes about my research, in this case online with this series of posts, but usually in form of a Google Doc for each research project. Some of these are very long documents after a while. But I do make a point of returning to the same records and searches over and over to make sure that I haven't missed something. For example, here, I made the same search on FamilySearch with slightly different information and found the Revolutionary War records.

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 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.


  1. If you are really looking for someone to help, I have a great grandmother you could look for her family. Her name is Clara Henry. Her family search number is KWJT-6W7. I have a father's name because it was on her marriage record. Someone added in a grandfather, but I don't know if it's correct.I don't even know for sure if her father is correct.
    Lois Robertson

    1. I am always looking for someone to help. Are sure you want me to help? I looked at the record you gave me and I already see a lot of potential problems. I will be glad to look some more if you want me to do so.

  2. Yes, I would really like to have some help. If there are problems I need to know that now rather than later. It has taken me years to get as much as I have on Clara, but if it's not correct I need to know sooner rather than later. Since she died young and in a mental hospital there wasn't much to go on. Her son Homer (my grandfather) also died in a mental hospital and my grandmother divorced him so she could raise her children. If you would send emails through my address that is on family search I'll see it sooner. And I won't have a problem with you publishing it later if you want to. No problem with the opposite either.

    1. When you see me make a change in the Family Tree, send me a message and then we can communicate.

  3. While looking online at other reseacher's comments about Ignatius Gilpin, some have indicated he may have been a deserter from the American Revolution. Looking at the above second document below the list of Sergeants and Corporals there are three columns created to list the Privates. There is data only in the first two columns.

    Each private is numbered. Ignatius Gilpin is #13. On this report there is no indication he was a deserter. If you look across to the second column at Private #34 Richard Batten (?) is listed as deserting 13 January 1782.

    It seems highly likely that someone read straight across the page and did not take time to look at how the data was laid out. They did not realize the line contains information for two different Privates.

    What are your thoughts on this?