A couple weeks ago, I was contacted by a close match of my grandpa Fred Gibson. This match was estimated to be a 2nd-3rd cousin, so the match would go back to Fred's great-grandparents or great-great-grandparents. What's more, the match shared DNA with all of his paternal cousins I've identified so far. This was huge in and of itself, as I've identified matches going back to his Gibson grandparents, and my brick wall stops at his great-grandparents, so the opportunity to help extend those lines was thrilling!
I started corresponding with this match (actually, with his daughter, as she's the one doing the research) began comparing notes. As expected, the match had ancestry from Saint John, New Brunswick, which is where my Gibsons lived for 50 years before moving to Montana. But as we began talking, we realized that I didn't have his family surnames in my tree, nor did he have my names in his. We confirmed that the match is on his paternal side, as his mom's side is all from Nova Scotia and he has a paternal 1C1R (first cousin once removed) that also matches my grandpa and his three paternal cousins (no triangulated segments, but to match four descendants of the same ancestral couple for the right amounts and not be related on that side would be pretty hard to do).
Then we discovered something - one of the matches ancestors, Jessie Odell, was born out of wedlock, and there was no indication on who the father was. Her mother, Rebecca Odell, married Thomas Grant after Jessie was born, and they had a number of kids, who all used the Grant surname, but Jessie never did. All of the match's other lines can be traced back to at least 1850, close to when my Gibsons first arrived in Canada. What if Jessie's father was one of my Gibsons?
I went back over what I knew of John Gibson, Fred's grandfather, and his siblings. It wasn't much - I had more info on John than anyone - most of my data on his siblings came from a couple census records, and that's it. John was one of five sons of Henry and Ann Gibson. The youngest, George, was born about 1862, and would have been about 15 when Jessie Odell was born, making him unlikely to be the father. That left the other four boys - William, Thomas, John, and James.
John was single until 1879, when he married my ancestor Catherine Cain. John's brother James was single until at least 1881, when he was enumerated in the census a few doors away from John. Both of them were in Saint John, which is where Jessie lived in 1881. I haven't really gotten to researching William yet, so I don't know what happened to William after 1851. Thomas I have in the 1871 census with his parents and siblings, but I don't know what happened to him after that. Theoretically, either of them could have been the father of Jessie as well. This is all speculation at this point, but it's all that I have to explain the DNA connection.
At this point, I decided I needed more info on John Gibson's siblings, so I went digging. I decided to focus on the younger children of Henry and Ann, as they would likely live longest and make the most and best records. Over the next few days, I found records for three of John's siblings, Sarah, James, and George. Using the information in these records, I was able to identify descendants for the three of them. I was even able to trace some of Sarah's descendants down to the 1980s. Here's a simplified descendancy chart showing who I found. My grandfather is in bold print on the right side of the chart.
You may have noticed Ann's name at the top of the list. That was my favorite gold nugget in these discoveries - the maiden name of my 3rd-great-grandmother!!! I can now say I'm the descendant of Henry Gibson and Ann Stephenson. Feels so GOOD to know that, after all these years of wondering.
These are just the names of some of the people I found. However, there are some incredible stories for these people. Some of them are tragic, but all of them are worth sharing. My next few posts will be covering these stories.