Archive for December, 2002


Monday, December 30th, 2002

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.

… and Bakers and candlestickmakers…!

Thursday, December 5th, 2002

Well… maybe not candlestickmakers. But Bakers… lots and lots and lots of Bakers! All the way back to 1635 for sure and who knows how much farther back than that???

Turns out that Louisa Baker Cottrell, my great great grandmother, is descended from a long and marvelous line that we can trace back at least to 1607 when Alexander Baker was born in London. He was a ropemaker in England and came to America in 1635 at the age of 28, with his wife Elizabeth, age 23, and daughters Elizabeth, age 3, and Christian, age 1, on the ship the Elizabeth and Ann. His son Samuel was born in 1638 in Massachusetts; Samuel’s son William was born in 1675 in Massachusetts; William’s son Thomas was born in 1710 or 1711 in Pennsylvania (and is reported to have died when the gunpowder he was making for the Americans for the Revolutionary War exploded in 1777); Thomas’s son David was born in 1749, probably in Virginia — he was a corporal in the Revolutionary War and fought in the Battles of Brandywine, White Plains, Princeton, and Trenton (where his brother was killed), and was mustered out in 1778 from Valley Forge; David’s son Martin was born in 1797 in North Carolina (probably in the town now called Bakersville after David Baker); and Martin’s daughter Louisa was born around 1826 in North Carolina.

Martin and several of his children, including Louisa and her brother Josiah, moved to Parker County, Texas in the 1850s. We just located the record of Louisa’s marriage to George W. Cottrell (also spelled Cotrell) in Johnson County, Texas. They were married on January 29, 1855, and their firstborn was my great grandfather, Martin Gilbert Cottrell, born in Parker County on September 30, 1855. When George made his claim for 160 acres in Parker County in 1861, one of his witnesses was his brother-in-law Josiah A. Baker.

There are scores and scores of Baker descendants out there who claim descent from David or Alexander. Lots and lots of new cousins to touch base with. What fun!