Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Gordon and Company

Exploring the contents of my old file cabinet with the collection of twenty-year-old family history notes seemed much akin to opening up grandma's old trunk. There were all sorts of surprises tucked away inside.

Entering into that domain I hadn't checked for decades, I was rediscovering surnames I hadn't worked on for ages. Even better, I got to re-familiarize myself with gems I had once foundand had once promised myself to include in the bigger picture, once I got around to weaving it into my database.

Of course, in the avalanche of further genealogical data, that "around to it" never got here. Maybe it's a good thing I've stumbled upon this research question.

After pulling out the files on the Gordon surname and the geographic area where they once livedGreene County, PennsylvaniaI remembered there were related surnames with just as many goodies stashed in their respective folders, as well.

I had to take a closer look in that other far corner of the "old trunk."

The first related surname to re-check was that of John Gordon's own wife, Mary Hellen Duke. I have no records on her parents, but just revisiting this research project has shown me that there was quite a bit written on her relations, as well. It's time to lay out more detail in my own file, based on the remembrances shared in those Greene County records I mentioned yesterday.

The next step will be to examine the resources stashed away in folders on John and Mary's son William, my husband's fourth great-grandfather. William, according to notes, was born in Frederick County, Maryland, but moved with the family, first to Monongalia County in what was then still Virginia, and onward to Greene Countyall in the late 1700s.

It was William's first wife who introduced the second related surname I want to explore: that of Carroll, a name full of interesting possibilities from that era of our country's history.

William was also the one who introduced another element into our family history: the addition of a second wife who bore to him just about as many children as had his first wife, Mary Carroll, before her death in 1812. While large families were certainly not the exception in those days, and while migrating westward with the whole bunch of them was not uncommon either, to have a descendant of one wife's children end up marrying the descendant of the other wife's children creates that messy status of becoming one's own distant cousin.

Life in the western far reaches of states like Virginia and Pennsylvania introduced their own wild possibilities into the family history, as well. I remember treasuring some of the anecdotes I found tucked between the covers of the history books I mentioned yesterday. Hopefully, now that I'm revisiting this entire section of the family history, I'll remember to flag those stories, share them hereand be sure to include them in the final cut of my genealogical saga.


  1. The Duke family is well known in the central NJ region - they were quite wealthy.

    John and Mary's son William... goodness - talk about generic and hard to distinguish names for people!

    1. That is interesting to hear about the Duke family in New Jersey. I wonder if that is the same family as married into our Gordon line. I haven't done much work on Mary Helen Duke's own family. Who knows? Maybe that would uncover some additional surprises!

  2. I have some old notes like that also, maybe next winter! :)

    1. I used to think I'd remember all those details. I guess I just didn't count on how much stuff can be accumulated over a lifetime of family history research. There is no way I can remember it all now. It's like finding new treasures all over again!


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