Wednesday, February 5, 2020
Gordons on One Side
How many people can say they are their own cousin? Surely that sounds strange—until you begin researching lines which had been in this country for hundreds of years. It turns out several colonial settlers in the 1600s and 1700s thought nothing of having their children marry their cousins. In a situation in which there was a limited pool of eligible spouses, it made sense to select a mate who was known to the family, and cousins often filled the bill.
Whether that was the situation in my mother-in-law's case, I can't say. But I did discover that the Gordons on her paternal side of the family were eventually related to the Gordons on her mother's side of the family. Today, we'll look at that paternal side, and follow up tomorrow with the maternal side.
It was actually her father's paternal grandmother who was a Gordon. Though this woman was known as Nancy Gordon, apparently her real name—at least, according to her 1891 headstone—was Ann or Anna. From Nancy, the Gordon line stretches back to Greene County, Pennsylvania, through her father James to his father William B. Gordon. It is Nancy's mother who also causes me research headaches, for she—Sarah Rinehart—was the daughter of the one of the two Simon Rineharts whom I can't yet place within the Rinehart family. For now, though, we'll focus on Sarah's husband James Gordon's line, and his father, William B. Gordon.
It was William Gordon who points us in the right migration direction, for though he died in my mother-in-law's home turf in Perry County, Ohio, he came there from the southwest Pennsylvania territory known as Tenmile Country, and he arrived there, eventually, from his 1772 birthplace in Frederick County, Maryland.
William Gordon, in turn, was son of John Gordon and Mary Hellen Duke, the couple I mentioned yesterday as the progenitors of all the Gordons connected to my mother-in-law's family. In addition, William, who was married twice and could boast of a robust family with each wife, was the likely reason my mother-in-law never realized she was her own cousin—but that, too, is a story for another day.
Researching this Gordon family and all its twists and turns has been a challenge requiring me to take a close look at the many collateral lines of these Gordon patriarchs. Using the whereabouts of both William Gordon and his father, John Gordon, has allowed me to trace their movement westward during the very earliest days of this nation. And being able to spot those geographic locations where they settled allows me to find the records detailing their lives as the Gordon clan migrated from Frederick County, Maryland, eventually westward to Ohio by 1827.
Above: Portion of pedigree chart showing Nancy Gordon's father James, her paternal grandfather William, and great-grandfather, John Gordon of Frederick County, Maryland.