Thursday, April 15, 2021

Rabbit Trail Redux


From the looks of it, one could presume that "rabbit trails" have a bad reputation among family history researchers. I'd like to propose we reconsider that viewpoint. After all, what is a researcher, if not one embued with inquisitiveness and the willingness to check out possibilities. If nothing else, our pursuit of that Bright Shiny Object beckoning us to confirm—or reject—a possibility can lead us to an answer. Yes. Or no. Possibly even maybe. That should be sufficient to reduce the myriad options down to a manageable few research directions.

Even though our wild chase after a possible Guseman relationship caused our crash into a null set, we are not quite finished exploring the Guseman connections to my mother-in-law's third great-grandmother, Mary Carroll Gordon. As it turns out, there is another Guseman hypothesis out there, proposed by the writer of one of those nineteenth-century county history publications.

You know those tomes: the books with such imaginative titles as History of Monongalia County, most of them published any time between the late 1880s and the early 1910s. They were also called by some, "mug books," for their flattering vignettes of the leading members of the town, occasionally embellished with their likeness.

We've talked about one such book before: The Tenmile Country and Its Pioneer Families, by Howard Leckey. Never mind that that 1950 book focused on a somewhat different region—Tenmile Creek of southwestern Pennsylvania—it happens to contain several entries on the Gordon family, among many others, including one Guseman we'd be particularly interested in following.

As much as I've researched the many lines of the Gordon family, how could I have missed this? But there it was, on page 435—I told you this was a tome—the eldest daughter of John Gordon and Mary Duke, Elizabeth, marrying a Guseman.

According to researcher Howard Leckey, Elizabeth Gordon was born in 1761, just to provide some perspective. Her marriage was back at the location of the Gordon's previous family home in Frederick County, Maryland, though by the time of the birth of her second child, her family was living in Monongalia County, Virginia.

Elizabeth, by the way, was older sister to William Gordon, who eventually become husband of Mary Carroll, that third great-grandmother of my mother-in-law. And now that we've entangled ourselves in the intertwining lines of the Gordons and the Carrolls, let me add yet another knot: Elizabeth Gordon and her husband Christopher Guseman—at least, according to the Leckey book—were parents of Godfrey Guseman, the man who eventually became husband of Mary Carroll's supposed sister Margaret.

At least, that's according to one of those history books. And presuming that Anthony Carroll was indeed the father of both Margaret and Mary. I'm not quite sure of that Guseman-Gordon connection, even at this point. But wandering down these rabbit trails certainly has opened my mind to more possibilities to explore. After all, in seeking to cement further family connections, we may need to revisit Anthony Carroll's own will to see if we can detect the identity of one more person he mentioned among his children: the Carroll heir named James Walls.

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