Descendants of Christopher and John Gibson and of Thomas Johnston
Northern Ireland to Pickering, Ontario 1840's
Last Updated March 30, 2010 -- Update James Gibson family information; Add link to Oakwoods Cemetery family information web page
Welcome! This is a very much "in progress" web site reflecting my very much "in progress" (sometimes slow or none) efforts to identify all of the descendants of two brothers, Christopher and John Gibson, and of the second husband of the widow of Christopher, Thomas Johnston. All three of these men were born in Northern Ireland and by the early 1840's were living in Pickering Township (Ontario County), Ontario. [Actually Ontario was officially called Canada West at that time, though many also still referred to it by its then-recently obsolete name, Upper Canada.]
This effort is ultimately designed to bring back together the far-flung descendants of these men. The reasons for that are both for the present re-connection of the family and also for the effort to learn more about the family's history in Northern Ireland.
The 1923 violence in Ireland destroyed the Public Record Office in Dublin. And most of the historical records of the centuries of the births, marriages and deaths of all families across Ireland were suddenly gone. Thus it is my hope that the bits and pieces of family stories and photos and heirlooms that have survived in the various branches of our family can somehow bridge the gap that exists in the official paper trail.
Origins in Northern Ireland
All that I know at this point about the Irish origins of the three men is the following:
- Christopher Gibson's son James reported his birthplace as Armagh when he married 8 Sep 1870 (in Pickering to Janet Smith). Christopher (birthdate unknown, but probably older than John, so about 1810) had married Elizabeth Gray in Northern Ireland about 1833. They had three known children there: Ellen (c 1834), Thomas (c 1837) and James (c 1839). By about 1842-1843, they were in Canada, when their fourth child Christopher was born.
- John Gibson's son Christopher's daughter gave the birthplace of John (born c 1812-1813) and his wife Margaret (Sprout) as County Down on the 1929 death certificate of her father. John and Margaret married in Northern Ireland about 1835 and had three known children there: Jane (c 1836), John (c 1838) and Margaret (c 1840). By about 1842-1843, they were in Canada, when their fourth child Sarah was born.
- Thomas Johnston is the one about whom I know the least. He was born in Northern Ireland about 1800-1802. So he was about 40 when he married Christopher's widow. When did he come to Canada? Had he lived elsewhere in Canada before coming to Pickering? Had he been married before? Did he have other children? Did he have family in Pickering Twp or nearby? Where in Northern Ireland was he born? All of these questions remain unanswered with no clues. The only bit of information is that the 1851 census does not show any other Johnston children with the family; so if he did have other children then they were not with him in 1851 (when he was almost 50 so that his children would almost certainly be grown and have families of their own).
The descendants have spread far and wide. Here is an overview of what I know thus far, which is very much incomplete and in progress.
- Christopher Gibson's daughter Ellen married George Cook 1863, two years after Thomas Johnston died, leaving Elizabeth a widow once again. The brothers and sisters stayed together until the early 1870's. Then they split up.
- James Gibson (1840-c 1887) was the first to leave. He married 8 Sep 1870 (in Pickering to Janet Smith). They must have moved almost at once to Euphrasia, Ontario. I do not know when James died, but it must have been hard on the family, since all the minor children show up in separate homes as servants and domestics in the 1881 census of Euphrasia. Their children lived in wide-spread places.
- John Gibson (c1871) stayed in Ontario, living in Artemesia in 1891 and Gravenhurst in 1938. He apparently is the John Gibson who erected the monument at Groveside Cemetery near Brooklin, Ontario for his uncle Thomas Gibson.
- Elizabeth Mary Gibson (1873-1913) married Frank Gibson (not known if he was related) 1893 in York County, Ontario, when she lived at Newton Brook. They moved west, living in Monteith, Ontario in 1901, in Souris, Manitoba in 1906, and in Medicine Hat, Alberta in 1911. She died Hand Hills, Alberta in 1913. Their son Frederick Gibson (1893) stayed in Medicine Hat, mnarried Bernadina Evenson and raised 5 children there. But Frank & Elizabeth's daughter Hilde Blanche Gibson (1902 Manitoba-1971 Ontario) moved back to Ontario, where she married Donald Wallace Clapper, brother of the famous hockey star Aubrey Victor Clapper and raised 2 children.
- Christopher Gibson (1875) is last known in Euphrasia, Ontario in 1891, a domestic in the home of William & Margaret Lewis, but I have not found any information on him after that.
- Thomas Gibson (1876) is last known in Euphrasia, Ontario in 1891, a domestic in the home of Edwin & Eliza Cullis, but I have not found any information on him after that.
- Robert Gibson (1878) is last known in Euphrasia, Ontario in 1903, when he married Martha Jane Irwin, but I have not found any information on him after that.
- George Henry Gibson (1880) came to Chicago in 1886 or 1887, apparently after the death of his parents. In 1900, he was living with his aunt Ellen (Gibson) Cook and her husband George Cook at 103 Stephenson Street, not far from her half-nephew (and George Henry Gibson's half-cousin) George Johnston's family at 7242 South Dobson. In 1909, George Henry Gibson married Josephine A. Smith in Chicago. They lived at 5017 N. Erie in 1910. By 1930, he had remarried to Alice (maiden name unknown) and lived at 3427 W. 115th Place. I do not know if he had any children. The last record that I have found for him is his 1942 WWII draft registration, still liveing at 3427 W. 115th Place, but apparently no longer married, working at the Pullman railcar company.
- In 1881, Ellen Gibson Cook, Christopher Gibson, and John Johnston all moved with their spouses and children to Chicago, where all are buried (John in Mount Greenwood Cemetery & his wife and son in Oakwoods Cemetery - click here for more information on family graves at Oakwoods Cemetery). Their known descendants range from coast to coast in the United States.
- Thomas Gibson remained with their mother Elizabeth (Gray) Gibson Johnston in Pickering. She must have died between 1881 (when she is in the census, as Elizabeth Gibson) and 1895 (when he finally married), but I have never found any information on her death. Thomas married a Toronto widow and apparently had an unusual arrangement in which he lived in Brooklin, Ontario and his wife and her children continued to live in Toronto. He died in Brooklin in 1916 and is buried in Groveside Cemetery. His cemetery monument was erected by his nephew John Gibson, probably the oldest son of Thomas's brother James.
- John Gibson moved to Orillia, Ontario by 1871 and apparently died there. His family seems to have mostly stayed in the Orillia area. However, this is the branch on which I have done the least research. So I could find more descendants further flung. But as late as 1911 most of the children and their families all seem to have been together in the census.
More to Come
I have a great deal more very specific information which I will be putting out here eventually. So please check every couple of months to see if I have posted anything new.
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Walter Wesley Johnston
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