Copyright © Janice Tracy, Mississippi Memories

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Family of John P. Gibson - My Brick Wall

This is an update of my "brick wall" family, headed by John P. Gibson. During the past three months, I have searched and re-searched for any information I could find on this family that consisted of John and his wife Margaret J. Williams Gibson, and their children, Elvira, Malverda , Francis, Asberry, Mary, Martha, and Becky.  Although I have little to show for my efforts, I am posting what I have found to date, in the hope that someone will be able to connect with one of these individuals and, in turn, help me uncover more about my Gibson ancestors.

I do know that John P. Gibson married Margaret J. Williams on January 3, 1843 in Aberdeen, Monroe County, MS.  This event is substantiated by a copy of the marriage bond that I obtained directly from the Monroe County courthouse.  I first found the date by searching through the Mormon Church's records at, when the site first went online almost ten years ago. The fact that I found the information the first time I searched the site was remarkable to me, and I immediately made a phone call to the Monroe County courthouse in Aberdeen to request a copy of the marriage record.  For less than five dollars, including postage, I received a copy in the mail a few days later. 

Later, I found out quite simply by accident, while reading a blog post written by the late Terry Thornton, that a fairly large number of residents of northeast Mississippi and the neighboring Alabama area became part of a group of Mormon followers that migrated west during the early 1800s. That event led to the twentieth century microfilming of early Monroe County vital records, including the marriage record of my third great-grandparents. 

An examination of the marriage record for John and Margaret revealed that Joseph Gibson had posted a five hundred dollar bond for John to marry his bride.  The posting of such a large bond (five hundred dollars in 1843 was a very large amount of money) almost certainly means that either John or Margaret had been married previously. The simple fact that Joseph Gibson posted a bond for John indicates some sort of familial relationship. To date, I have been unsuccessful in my attempts to validate a previous marriage for John or for Margaret, nor have I been able to prove a blood relationship between the two men.

A few years ago, I examined Joseph Gibson's will, on file in Monroe County, Mississippi, but the document failed to establish a blood relationship between John and Joseph.  A search of the Monroe County deed records conducted at the same time found that John P. Gibson had owned no real property in the county.  Joseph Gibson, however, owned large amounts of land, including several parcels that he had sold to others.  One of those individuals who purchased land from Joseph Gibson was John Williams. This finding raised a still unanswered question about Margaret's relationship to John Williams.

Several online researchers believe that Joseph Gibson was the son of John Gibson, a Revolutionary War veteran, born September 16, 1760 in Orange County, NC, who was living in Lincoln County, Tennessee, at the time of John's marriage to Margaret.  But according to the elder John Gibson's will, dated June 4, 1844, his sons were named Albert G., John H. Gibson, Felix G. Gibson, and Parke Gibson. Although it is possible, it is not likely, that Parke could be John P. Gibson, when he already had a brother named John H.

An important fact was established early in my research by a review of the U. S. Census recorded in 1860 in Calhoun County, Mississippi.  John P. Gibson was enumerated on that census, and details included an approximate date of birth of 1799, South Carolina as his place of birth, and the fact that he and his family resided in the Cherry Hill community at the time the census was taken.  John's occupation was shown to be that of "Blacksmith."

Earlier this summer, I was fortunate to have some assistance from a kind lady in Calhoun County, Mississippi, who found evidence that John P. Gibson sold land that he owned in Calhoun County in the late 1860s, when he and his family moved to Carroll County and purchased land there.  This move to Carroll County, Mississippi, validates oral family history information that places Malverda Gibson, a daughter of John and Margaret Gibson, in the area of Carroll County where my paternal great-grandmother, Margaret Susanna Meriweather Porter, grew to adulthood.

But the question still remains:  Who were John P. Gibson's parents?

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