One of the earliest essays I have written in this series was my argument for concluding that Isabella Gentry Robertson, my great great grandmother, was the daughter of Rev. Elijah Gentry and his wife Wilmoth Killen Gentry of Mississippi. I think we’ve just hit paydirt in nailing down this relationship, and many thanks go to the Wilsons of Oregon and California for their help.
One of the key elements of my conclusion was research done by Clarence Wilson and his sister Maxine Wilson Smith (great grandchildren to Rev. Gentry) which resulted in a report for the Rankin County MS Historical Society that listed one of the children of Elijah and Wilmoth as “G.B. (daughter) [who] married I.R. Robertson.” Given the circumstantial evidence, I was pretty sure that was going to turn out to be a transposition of names and that the daughter would be I.R. (Isabella) who married G.B. Robertson (Gustavus Boone Robertson, to be precise). But we couldn’t find out what the source was for the report listing the identities of the Gentry children.
Initially, I wasn’t able to find any of the Wilsons, but finally located an email address for Jim Wilson in Oregon. He’s a younger brother to Clarence and Maxine. He told me of Maxine’s loss, but was able to put me in touch with Clarence, now more than 90 years old, through Clarence’s daughter Nancy in California. Nancy told me that her father wasn’t in a position to track back his research to find the source of that one line in the history report, but she offered to send me some of his notes to see if I could find the information myself.
I’m delighted to report that not only was Nancy true to her word but that the meticulous research of her father and aunt has pointed us directly to an old deed that had to be executed when Wilmoth, as Elijah’s widow, wanted to sell 320 acres in Neshoba County MS in the late 1860s. The deed required signatures of all of Elijah’s heirs (and, for daughters who were married, their husbands). And on that deed we can find “I.R. Robertson” and “G.B. Robertson.” There’s only one couple in Mississippi in the 1860s where one spouse is G.B. Robertson and the other has a first name beginning with the letter I: Gustavus Boone Robertson and his wife Isabella.
I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of the document itself.