Out of Our Past

Descendants of Donald Gillespie and Catherine McDonald

This family story reaches from Scotland to small towns in Ontario and beyond. Donald Gillespie was born about 1826 in Scotland. His wife, Catherine McDonald, was born 1 June 1828 in Scotland. By the mid 1840s, they were both living in Canada West, based upon their marriage taking place around 1849.

Their first child, Margaret, was born in the village of Cannington, Brock Township  on 8 June 1850. The family continued to live in the area for some years. Another daughter, Christina, was born in Brock Township 4 July 1854.

A son was born to Donald and Catherine on 10 March 1856, in Brock Township. This was Donald Jr., who throughout his lifetime most often went by his second name, Daniel.

Another son, John, was born 4 November 1857. At this date, the family were still resident in Brock Township.

On 14 April 1860, a third daughter, Mary Ann, was born to Donald Gillespie and Catherine McDonald. By 1861, the family was living in Carden Township, Victoria County. There the family was enumerated when the census was taken. In that year, Mary was their youngest child in the household, being identified as a one year old.

Three years later, in 1863, in Victoria County, another son, Angus was born. The following years, the family’s youngest child was born. This was another son whom they named Duncan. He  was born in the month of July 1864 in Carden Township, Victoria County.

Pinegrove Cemetery, Norland
KARA Digital Cemetery Headstone Collection 2020

Pinegrove Cemetery, Norland

KARA Digital Cemetery Headstone Collection 2020

By the next census in 1871, the family resided in Dalton Township, Victoria County. Leaving this township, the family moved to Lutterworth Township where Donald and Catherine remained for the rest of their lives. Donald Gillespie died on 16 May 1893 and was buried in Pine Grove Cemetery at Norland.

Catherine remained living in Lutterworth Township over the next decade. In 1901, she resided in the household of her son, Daniel. She died in Somerville Township, at the home of her daughter on 18 April 1909. The cause of her death was given as old age and pneumonia. Catherine (McDonald) Gillespie was laid to rest beside her husband in the cemetery at Norland, Ontario.

Adult Lifetimes of The Children

Margaret Gillespie
Source: Online Public Member Tree

Margaret, daughter of Donald and Catherine (McDonald) Gillespie, was born 8 June 1850 at Cannington in Brock Township. On 12 November 1880, she married the widower, Sylvester Avery. He had seven children from his first wife, Janet Currie. They ranged in age from 1 year up to 14 years old. With Margaret, Sylvester had another four children: Catherine Cassie, born in 1883; Charles James born in 1885 died in 1964; Russell John born in 1887 died in 1981 and Daniel, born in 1890 died in 1967.

Cassie married Joseph Albert Cowie in October 1902, at Cannington, Ontario. Joseph was born 15 July 1870 in Mara Township. He was a son of John Cowie and Lucinda Dixon. Six children were born to Cassie and Joseph. He died in March 1950 and Cassie’s death occurred in May 1967.

Joseph Cowie & Catherine Avery
Oct. 15, 1902
Source: Online Public Member Tree

Sylvester Avery died on 6 June 1900 at Toronto, Ontario. In 1901, Margaret resided in Brock Township with their four children. We lose track of her for a time after this, but find her again in 1921, living in Lutterworth Township. She was by then, the wife of Isaac Belfry. Isaac had previously married Margaret’s younger sister, Christina Gillespie. After Christina’s death, Isaac married Margaret.

Christina, daughter of Donald and Catherine (McDonald) Gillespie, was born 4 July 1854 in Brock Township. As already noted, she married Isaac Belfry in the mid-1870s. They had seven children before Christina’s death in 1901 at Shellbrook, North Battleford, Saskatchewan.

Of their children, Francis born in 1877 died in 1904; Susanna born in 1879 died in 1965; Mary Elizabeth was born in 1879; Christena, who was born in 1883, died in 1943; Angus Randolph was born in September 1887; Robert, who was born in 1889, died in 1970 and Minnie Gertrude was born in 1892.

After Christina’s death in Shellbrook, Saskatchewan, Isaac returned to live in Ontario. Here, he married her older sister, Margaret. Isaac Belfry died 27 November 1921 in Lutterworth Township. His remains were interred in Pinegrove Cemetery at Norland.

Donald Daniel, son of Donald and Catherine (McDonald) Gillespie, was born 10 March 1856. He went by Daniel throughout most of his lifetime. Daniel married the widow, Elizabeth Brohm around 1896. Elizabeth was born
19 February 1868, a daughter of Stephen Demoe.

They had four children: Joseph Donald, born in 1897 who died in 1994; Ira James, born in 1899 who died in 1964; Mary Eliza, born in 1901 who died in 1986 and Maria Christina, born in 1908 who died in 1991.

Ira James married Hilda Evelyn Hughes and Mary Eliza married Thomas W. Nesbitt.

Daniel Gillespie died 25 May 1945 in Norland, Ontario. Eliza (Demoe) Gillespie died 1 August 1947 in Norland. Daniel is buried in the cemetery at Norland. Eliza is buried in the Kinmount Cemetery.

Donald Gillespie Headstone

Source: Online Public Member Tree

John, son of Donald and Catherine (McDonald) Gillespie, was born 4 November 1857, in Brock Township. He married Mary McDonald on
17 May 1888 at Fenelon Falls, Ontario. Mary was born in 1862 in New Jersey, United States. She was a daughter of Colin McDonald and Elizabeth Dunlop.

John and Mary had two sons and a daughter. Alexander, born in 1891 was their older boy. John Jr., was born in 1895 and Elizabeth was born in 1897.

Mary McDonald with Alex and Angus in Saskatchewan
Source: Online Public Member Tree

Gillespie Headstone
KARA Digital Cemetery Headstone Collection 2020

John Gillespie senior, died 14 March 1911 in Lutterworth Township. The family was not followed beyond his death.

Woodcock Headstone
KARA Digital Cemetery Headstone Collection 2020

Mary Ann, daughter of Donald and Catherine (McDonald) Gillespie, was born 14 April 1860. She grew up to marry George Wesley Woodcock.

George was born 29 October 1859, in Ontario. They had four sons and a daughter. Mary Ann (Gillespie) Woodcock died in Norland on
12 November 1938. The date of death of her husband does not appear on their headstone. They rest in the Pinegrove Cemetery, at Norland.

Angus, son of Donald and Catherine (McDonald) Gillespie, was born in 1863 in Victoria County. He married Esther Valentine on 24 December 1891 in the village of Kinmount, Ontario. Esther was born in 1862 in Minnesota, United States.

Their family included five children: Maggie, born in 1892; Catherine born in 1894; Duncan born 1896; Charles born in 1899 and Donald born in 1907.

Angus Gillespie died 11 June 1931 in McKellar Hospital at Fort William, Ontario. His remains were interred in the cemetery at Fort William. Esther (Valentine) Gillespie died in 1941.

Angus Gillespie with his three sons, Duncan, Charlie & Donald
Standing to the left is Joe Miller
Source: Online Public Member Tree

Duncan, son of Donald and Catherine (McDonald) Gillespie, was born in July 1864 in Carden Township, Victoria County. He married Laura Hirstwood on 18 June 1894 at Lindsay, Ontario. Laura was born in Toronto in 1866, a daughter of Thomas and Anna Hirstwood.

One child was found for this couple. Nita May Gillespie was born in 1896 and died in 1906, at Kinmount, Ontario.

Duncan Gillespie died 16 January 1928 at the McKellar Hospital in Fort William, Ontario. Laura (Hirstwood) Gillespie died in 1910 at Thunder Bay, Ontario. They rest in the Mountainview Cemetery at Thunder Bay.

Out of Our Past