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Solving Family Mysteries

While not positive, a likely picture of Gillie V. Morriss Ison, Gabriel Ison, and their child, Bea?

While not positive, a likely picture of Gillie V. Morriss Ison, Gabriel Ison, and their child, Bea?

For me, solving a mystery provides a little rush of excitement and an almost embarrassing sense of accomplishment. As with my last post, I have uncovered a new link to the past and a better understanding of our nation’s history. I now know more about the parents of Gillian Virginia Morriss Ison, my great, great grandmother. I have also uncovered details regarding their children and their background. I’ll get back to that in a moment but first, the process…which is the fun part.

There are numerous suggestions on information byways regarding how to break through genealogical brick walls. Still, it seems, humans (at least this one) learn best through the trials of self discovery. From my recent detective work, I offer these three take-aways.  1. Find kindred spirits in your extended family. 2. Sometimes going through a backdoor takes you to the right room.  3. Place matters! Here is my “Gillie” example.

First, my dear “cousin-in-law” sent a disc including all the pages from a beautiful family history album she created. Included among many treasures that I plan to share at a later date, I found a page from the Ison bible.  bible isonThat led me to where, with birth dates, I filled in some holes in the information about Gillie and Gabriel Ison’s children. It also started me wondering. I had previously research Gillie, born in 1860, with no luck. I wasn’t even sure of her name. Vital records recorded Gillie’s name variously as Gillia Ann Morrison, Gillie V. Morris, and, in an obituary posted on, Gillie V. Morrison. As an aside, the obituary also mentioned that she was born in Rothville, Chariton County, Missouri where a sister and two brothers still resided at that time (no names given.) In a middle of the night epithany, I decided to search Rothville census information narrowing in on the time period she was there, using only the last name Morrison which I was convinced was her maiden name because of the obituary and marriage record. No luck until I tried Morris and searched every variation for 1860, no luck, and 1870…pay dirt! (See how excited I get!) “Gilian Morriss,” daughter of Peter P. Morriss and Eliza E. lived in Chariton County in 1870. The 1860 record listed her as Julie!  In those times it seems that if you couldn’t read or write that you were at the mercy of the hearing and spelling skills of whoever recorded the information. Thus Gillian Virginia Morriss’ name altered into so many different versions over time, even unto her death.

So now we know that Gillian Virginia Morriss, nickname Gillie with a soft “g” sound, was fathered by Peter Philader Morriss (1831-1916) born in Virginia and Elizabeth “Eliza” Ely (1836-1928) born in Kentucky. They married in 1855 at Rothville and had 5 children. I also am researching their parents’ and their children’s history. I will post that information after I exhaust my research which won’t happen until after our Pennsylvania trip coming up next week. Meanwhile,  it may be interesting to note that this is the first of our family that held slaves and had family members that fought on the Confederate side and believed in that cause. Kansas and Missouri were infamous for the “border wars” of the 1860’s and our family would have been either involved or caught up in the events of that time. Check out the two sites below to learn more about that place in time…it matters.

via Chariton County, Missouri – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Chariton County was settled primarily from the states of the Upper South, especially Kentucky and Tennessee. They brought slaves and slaveholding traditions with them, and quickly started cultivating crops similar to those in Middle Tennessee and Kentucky: hemp and tobacco. Chariton was one of several counties settled mostly by Southerners to the north and south of the Missouri River. Given their culture and traditions, this area became known as Little Dixie and Chariton County was at its heart. It was heavily pro-Confederate during the American Civil War.[3]

About Us. Bates County Archaeology regarding Kansas-Missouri Border Wars


About croywright

The author, a writer of history and historical fiction, always yearned to go back in time.

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