Saturday, December 21, 2013

Two old Gillson family photos

Thomas and Lorena (Kraft) Gillson and family about 1924.
Back row (left to right): Russell, Pearl, Walter, Helen, Esther, Edwin.
I've been hanging on to these family photos in my email inbox for 5 years! My sister, Sheri, received them from cousin Mike Gillson (Esther's grandson), who has researched the family history more fully. Neither Sheri nor I had ever seen these photos before. Time to put these photos in a more permanent place.

The first is my paternal great-grandparents and great uncles and aunts likely taken in Mankato, Minnesota about 1924 (guessing Helen is about 11 years old). My paternal grandfather is Russell Gillson, though everyone knew him as "Buck." He is the youngest of the boys above. The dates below are mostly from family history, but I've used dates found on the US Census information on the web if different.

As an adult, besides my grandfather, Russell, I only knew aunt Helen and her husband Harold. He made great peanut brittle when he visited!

Thomas Gillson (b. June 14, 1870; m. May 14, 1892; d. May 13, 1942)
Lorena Hulda Dena Kraft Gillson Ballard (b. March 11, 1875; d. January 8, 1957)

Pearl Lorena Gillson Spear (b. December 18, 1893; m. Leon Spear; d. June 22, 1977)
Esther Florence Gillson Gillson Adkins (b. June 17, 1896; m. 3rd cousin Alfred George Gillson December 6, 1919; m. Adkins July 7, 1928 (annulled); d. August 29, 1977)
Edwin Robert Gillson (b. June 11, 1899; m. Emmaline Sauter December 1947; d. April 8, 1964)
Walter Earl Gillson (b. February 1904; m. Irene O'Brien June 24, 1929 (div. June 19, 1941); m. Eva Roberts; d. June 26, 1948)
Russell Marvin Gillson (b. January 22, 1911; m. Leora Gertrude Blanshan January 19, 1929; d. December 31, 1991)
Violet Gillson (b. March 6, 1912; d. March 16, 1912)
Helen Marcella Gillson Cornwell (b. October 24, 1913; m. Harold Cornwell; d. April 25, 2001)

Then we go back another generation--my grandfather's grandfather!

Robert and Orella (Brooks) Gillson and family about 1887.
Back row (left to right): Ezra, Jane, Emma, Frank, Eliza, Tom.
Front row (left to right): John, Robert, Blanche, Orella. Not shown: Charles.
This photo was also likely taken in Minnesota or Michigan. Dating it is a bit harder, but the 1887 date is based on guessing that Ezra looks to be about 6 years old and John about 11 years old.

Robert George Gillson (b. October 25, 1831; m. Millicent Baxter 1853; m. Orella Brooks; d. November 25, 1924)
Orella Brooks Gillson (b. September 22, 1842; d. July 24, 1914)

Frank Gillson (b. 1860; d.?)
Charles Gillson (b. March 5, 1862; m. Eva Miller; m. Maggie Margaret O'Brien November 25, 1899; d. September 9, 1932)
Eliza Ann Gillson Johnson Weber (b. October 12, 1865; d. July 25, 1939)
Emma May Gillson McNeil (b. May 4, 1868; m. Calvin Douglas McNeil before May 1919; d. February 20, 1952)
Thomas Gillson (b. June 14, 1869; m. Lorena Dena Kraft May 14, 1892; d. May 13, 1942)
John Rutherford Gillson (b. 1876; m. Cora Hardin September 10, 1897; d. September 29, 1957)
Jane Gillson Trotter (b.?; m. Trotter; d.?)
[Twin (b.?; d. of smallpox in 1870s)]
[Twin (b.?; d. of smallpox in 1870s)]
Ezra Gillson (b. January 31, 1881; d. July 30, 1929)
Blanche Gillson Benewitz (b.?; m. Bill Benewitz; d.?)

Interesting history passed on to Sheri from Mike: "Thomas Gillson's family. He is on the far right. His parents are Orella (Brooks) and Robert Gillson. Orella is supposed to have been 1/2 French and 1/2 Indian (probably Chippewa). But she lied on 4 different federal census forms, giving different names and places of birth so I haven't been able to identify her parents yet. She was born in 1841, most likely in upper Michigan, which was Canada at the time. This would have made her an English citizen and Mike thinks she was an "illegal alien", funny when she was 1/2 native American that she could also be illegal. Robert came over from England with four of his brothers who all settled in the Michigan area. He later moved to Pillager, Minnesota. He was born in 1831 in Buckworth England. He married his childhood sweetheart, but she died at sea [emigrating from England to Nova Scotia] just a couple of months after they were married. Six months after he arrived in Michigan, he married Orella." gives Quebec as Orella's birth place, but she was evidently hiding her identity even then. Interesting that I can't find US census information on the younger children.

So I have preserved some family history before it becomes lost and distorted even more. There are some additional photos and stories of my paternal grandparents that I want to share another time.


  1. The Gillson's come from Scotland. Part of my family are the Gillson's. Only a few left for Nova Scotia and America and a few stayed behind. I have lots of info on if you would like to message me. One of my ancestors was Agnes Gillson of Inverness, Scotland area. She had many children with Cowie's and Wallace's as the last name. Then there was a John Gillson and a George Gillson. My username is Scottishgal64 there and juliepoe208 on Google.

    1. My grandfather was George Gillson he died 1942 Birmingham,had one son Richard Gillson who wS my father.

  2. good morning to you all.
    i am ilan thomas gillson, born in Israel 17.11.49
    my father, George willyam gillson was born in popler england in 1916 his mother was agnes gillson nee flood
    his father was thomas gillson.
    as far as i know some of his ancestors moved to america years ago.
    my father joined the british police and came to israel
    ( palestine) during the british mandate in the 1930s,
    he passed away in2016 100 years old.
    who knows...we might be relaited.
    have a good day.


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