Genealogy Exploration: The Gilman Family Line

Introduction: In this article, Melissa Davenport Berry provides another story showing how paternity cases affected life in the 17th century Massachusetts Bay Colony – and, in particular, describes the Gilman family line. Melissa is a genealogist who has a blog, AnceStory Archives, and a Facebook group, New England Family Genealogy and History.

Author’s Note: I’ve recently been writing about paternity cases in the 17th century Massachusetts Bay Colony, describing how these cases have involved some of the prominent families in early Massachusetts – especially in the town of Newbury (see links at the end of this article). One such paternity case involved Joseph Mayo, who was sued by Henry Short Jr. on 22 May 1679. Henry alleged that Joseph had sex with his unwed sister, Sarah Short. Henry must have been right: the suit was dropped when Joseph married Sarah in a shotgun wedding seven days later, on May 29 – and their daughter Sarah Mayo was born 41 days later.

Today’s story revolves around two descendants of Sarah Mayo: Ephraim and Zadock Gilman.

Illustration: Ephraim Gilman, by Cephas Thompson
Illustration: Ephraim Gilman, by Cephas Thompson (donated by the Gilman descendants to Tennessee Library). Credit: Barbara Anne Waite.

The family line came about this way: Sarah Mayo married Maverick Gilman. To research this story, I found that GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives had a goldmine of information on the Gilman family. I also contacted a living direct descendant, Barbara Anne Waite, who has published on her Gilman ancestors. In her possession are family papers and some amazing relics – including a piece of George Washington’s coffin and Daniel Webster’s chair.

The first Gilman to come to New England was Edward in 1638 on the ship Diligent with his wife Mary Clarke and their children. He settled in Hingham, Massachusetts; later the family moved to Ipswich, Massachusetts, and then to Exeter, New Hampshire.

One son, Edward Jr., married Elizabeth Smith (daughter of Richard of Ipswich). Edward was granted the rights to erect and operate a sawmill in Exeter. His son Edward III married Abigail Maverick – and it was their son Maverick who married Sarah Mayo.

The two Gilman men who are the subject of my story today, Ephraim and Zadock, descend from Maverick and Sarah’s son, Revolutionary War captain Jonathan Gilman, and his wife Elizabeth Sanborn (daughter of William and Elizabeth Dearborn Sanborn). Barbara has spoken about Captain Jonathan Gilman at the Center Valley Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution in California.

Ephraim (1778-1853) and younger brother Zadock (1783-1826) were born in Hallowell, Maine, to Eliphalet and Joanna (Louge) Gilman. They left the family nest and headed south to make their fortunes, and became wealthy merchants and ship owners. The brothers were partners: Ephraim was in Virginia and Zadock in South Carolina.

Barbara has a unique relic she inherited from Elsie Hayes Roberts through Ephraim’s daughter, Malvina Amanda Gilman Hayes. It is a wood relief in the likeness of Ephraim carved by Zadock. He presented it to Ephraim when he married Anne Crawford on 12 June 1805.

Photo: the carved likeness of Ephraim Gilman made by his brother Zadock as a wedding present in 1805
Photo: the carved likeness of Ephraim Gilman made by his brother Zadock as a wedding present in 1805. Standing in the photo is Barbara Anne Waite’s daughter Carin Waite Roylance, a 9th lineal direct descendant of Ephraim. Credit: Barbara Anne Waite.

Ephraim took his new bride north. He placed an ad in the Alexandria Daily Advertiser on 21 June 1805: “I intend to be absent from Alexandria a few weeks, on a visit to my friends in New England.” Both Gilman brothers kept in close contact with their Yankee connections.

An ad for Ephraim Gilman, Alexandria Daily Advertiser newspaper advertisement 21 June 1805
Alexandria Daily Advertiser (Alexandria, Virginia), 21 June 1805, page 1

I found a marriage announcement for Zadock published in the Hallowell Gazette on 5 June 1816: “At Charlestown, (S. C.) Mr. Zadock Gilman, formerly of this town, to Miss Elizabeth Beedom” (daughter of sailmaker William Beedom and Elizabeth Faulkner).

An article about Zadock Gilman, Hallowell Gazette newspaper article 5 June 1816
Hallowell Gazette (Hallowell, Maine), 5 June 1816, page 3

There are several ads in GenealogyBank’s newspapers for the Gilman brothers. For example, Ephraim advertised in the Alexandria Daily Advertiser on 27 November 1805: “Ephraim Gilman has removed his Trunk Manufactory to the house on the corner of King and Pitt streets… where he will constantly keep an assortment of trunks, of all descriptions.”

An ad for Ephraim Gilman, Alexandria Daily Advertiser newspaper advertisement 27 November 1805
Alexandria Daily Advertiser (Alexandria, Virginia), 27 November 1805, page 3

Zadock Gilman ran ads in South Carolina. In 1803 he advertised the merchandise in his store.

An ad for Zadock Gilman, City Gazette newspaper advertisement 17 November 1803
City Gazette (Charleston, South Carolina), 17 November 1803, page 1

Zadock and his wife are mentioned in The Abiel Abbot Journals: A Yankee Preacher in Charleston Society, 1818-1827. Abbot, a prominent clergyman from Andover, Massachusetts, dined and prayed with the Gilman family. More on that and other descendants of Joseph Mayo and Sarah Short of Newbury coming. Stay tuned!

Note: Just as an online collection of newspapers, such as GenealogyBank’s Historical Newspaper Archives, helped tell the stories of Ephraim and Zadock Gilman, they can tell you stories about your ancestors that can’t be found anywhere else. Come look today and see what you can discover!

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2 thoughts on “Genealogy Exploration: The Gilman Family Line

  1. Good evening. I am a lover of history and a trustee of the Somerset County Historical Society (MD) on the eastern shore of Maryland. I recently came into possession of a large 19th century trunk that came from Ephraim Gilman’s shop in Alexandria, based upon a label inside. I believe the name punched on the top says Gilman. It may have been his trunk, or the way he marketed his trunks… not sure. It has issues and needs some restoration. I would love for this trunk to be returned to a family member. I did an internet search and came upon your site. If you can help, I would appreciate it. Thank you.

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