Recently, Jane and Chris Gilbert of the Gilbert Y-DNA Project informed me that there were some errors in my research. They backed this up with solid science in the form of an extensive study that matches haplogroups of Gilbert men with demonstrable and documented lineages. To wit, they can find no documented connection between the Yardley Gilberts and the Gilberts of Compton. Further, most of the Somerset Gilberts are demonstrably a different family altogether. A second break in the lineage, demonstrated by the Y-DNA, is that the Vevay, Switzerland County, IN, line of Gilberts does not connect to the Bucks County, PA, line. Both errors are likely due to mistakes made by antiquarians and early genealogical researchers who, as I’ve pointed out in previous articles, could be a bit slapdash at times – inscribing word-of-mouth into family trees as fact. (For an example of this, go back to my article about the supposed relationship between the descendants of Gilbert Crispin and the Gilberts of Compton.) Rather than being a disappointment, this is a unique opportunity to set the record straight using modern technology and information systems. After all, it is the truth that matters.
The result of all this rethinking is that my line can only be conclusively demonstrated through Amos Gilbert Sr. (b. ca. 1780 – d. April 14, 1843, Vevay, IN) The quest now is to discover Amos’s birthday so we can try to distinguish him from the surprising number of Amos Gilbert’s who were floating around New England at the time. I say New England because part of Amos’s travels from east to west have been documented in the form of wills, marriage records, census records and land grants. Fascinatingly, we know that Amos Sr. was in Cincinnati, OH, receiving a government grant for land in Switzerland County, IN, in 1816 – a grant document that was signed by President Madison and which was discovered in a Vevay attic by a homeowner in 1900! Before that, we know he married Sally Magruder in Washington County, OH, in 1810, who was the daughter of a respected Virginia family who lived across the Ohio River in Wood County (now in West Virginia). Remarkably (and confusingly), there seems to have been another couple named Amos and Sarah (Sally being the diminutive of Sarah) Gilbert at about the same time, but married in Kentucky and living in Tennessee.
We know a lot about Amos Sr., to include that he owned three slaves when he lived in Wood County, and had many dealings with his father-in-law, Revolutionary War veteran Norman Bruce Magruder. The extended family appeared to move down the Ohio river to Switzerland County, IN, where we know Norman is buried. We also know that Amos Sr. was married at least twice and likely three times. What we don’t know is: Where the heck does Amos Gilbert Sr. come from? This is important because there are a number of possible East Coast Amos Gilberts showing up in contemporary records. Knowing which (if any) of these Amos Gilberts is our Amos Gilbert will likely be enough to tie him to a known New World Gilbert family and perhaps back to a known Old World family. Key to this will be knowing his birthdate. Finding his obituary was a tremendous help, telling us he was 63 when he died on April 14, 1843. In a later census, one of his sons said his father was from New York. Though that may not be where Amos Sr. had been born, we can say with some certainty that our Amos was born sometime around 1780 in New England.
To further nail down the date, I’ve received tremendous help from the Switzerland County Historical Museum, Library, and Cemetery Commission. They have been providing me resources and information that I hope to use during a fact-finding trip I am planning there this summer. Physically present in their archives are various deeds and licenses issued to Amos Sr. during his lifetime, to include tavern, grocery, and butcher’s licenses. My hope is to find Amos’s grave or some other item that might indicate his actual birthdate. Interestingly, while there I can stay at the Swiss Inn, a place Amos Sr. lived from 1827 to about 1833 when it was the Switzerland Hotel. This is just up the road from a three-story brick building, Russell House, that Amos built near the ferry landing on the Ohio River – which stands to this day.
UPDATE: I have since discovered that the house described below is likely NOT the aforementioned house, the site of Amos Gilbert’s tavern and market. Property deeds and newspaper articles mention that his building stood on lot 181 of the original town plat, making its location caddy-corner from this one – a lot currently occupied by a coin operated laundromat.
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