THE JEFFERSONIAN, TOWSON, MARYLAND, FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 1933: THOMAS E. GILL, OF RUXTON, MD., IS GRANDSON OF FULL-BLOODED CANADIAN INDIAN CHIEF
Romantic Story of Gill Family, Handed Down To Present Generation, Dates Back to Opening Days of 19th Century
You would never guess it-his blue-gray eyes, sandy hair and beard and fair complexion disarm suspicion-but Thomas E. Gill, of Ruxton lays claim to being the grandson of a full-blooded Indian Chief.
Mr. Gill explains his blondness on the grounds that he is one of the members of his family who inherited the characteristics of the maternal side of the house. Other members, he tells you, were distinctly sons and daughters of his father and grandfather, looked like Indians and displayed unmistakable traits of the Red Race.
The Romanic story of the Gill family, as handed down to the present generation, begins away back in the opening years of the nineteenth century, when written family records, in the outlying sections of the United States and Canada, were poorly kept, if kept at all, and lineage is traceable largely, or only, through tradition. Frontier settlers were not greatly interested in leaving written accounts of themselves, their families, what they did, or the whys and wherefores of the vicissitudes of their lives, and it isn't very surprising that a white women swallowed up by an Indian tribe as wife of it's chieftian, living the nomadic existence of the early red man in the Canadian wilds, left so little definite information about herself, her husband and her experiences to posterity. She hadn't time and probably little or no disposition to compile family chronicles-Indians are not given to that; their histories, songs, customs and traditions, in those days anyway, were not written and only very important things were handed down by word of mouth, and old Mrs. Gill, more than likely, became considerable Indian in her habits of mind as well as habits of living. So the story of the family back of the coming of the White Squaw to Baltimore County, Md., is almost wholly lost.
However, according to the narrative as it comes down through the family, Mrs Gill, grandmother of the subject of this sketch, who today is seventy- one years of age and the youngest of nine children, came to America from England and settled in Canada. From what place in England she came or to what place in Canada she went, Mr. Gill does not know. Nor does he know the year in which she came, but has always understood that it was about 1800, anyway in the first years of the nineteenth century.
Evidently, soon after her arrival in Canada, she left Quebec, or Montreal, or wherever it was she first stopped, and went inland toward the frontier, where, in some manner unknown to the present members of the family, she met and married the chief of a tribe of Indians which inhabited the Canadian lands in what is now the Province of Quebec. Whether she was taken captive by the tribe or was brought into contact with the chief at some trading post and married him after a love romance is not known. Nor has the name of the chief or his tribe been handed down to his descendants.
It appears that nothing of the life of the grandmother with her Indian husband, or where she spent it, has been passed along to the grandchildren, but it is known that sometime in the eighteen twenties or early thirties, she left her husband and her home in Canada and came down to Baltimore County, Md., where she either bought or was given several hundred acres of land to the west of Hereford in the Cedar Grove section, and there she built a house and made a new home for herself and two children, Joshua and Sallie.
When she appeared in Baltimore county she went under the name Gill, which it is believed, was her maiden name, and her children and grandchildren took that name.
The daughter, Sallie, never married, and when she grew up left the home place and went to New York. Joshua, however, stayed on the home farm with his mother until her death and eventually married Eliza A. Turnbaugh, daughter of Teeter Turnbaugh, a resident of the upper county. To that union were born six boys and three girls, and Mr. Thomas Gill was the youngest child.
The Indian and White resemblance and characteristics seemed to have been evenly divided among the children." says Mr. Gill. About half of us were blond and blue-eyed, as was our mother and grandmother, while the other half were dark skinned and black haired, as was our father and grandfather. They say my aunt Sallie, who lived in New York, was of the Indian type and my father was an Indian through and through. He not only looked like one but had the roving spirit of the Indian. He used to go off and roam about the country for years at a time, leaving my mother on the farm to run it as best she could and raise the family. Father never took to farming; he was a weaver by trade and just wondered around the country, getting work wherever he could, coming home now and then to see that the family was still there and then starting out again. Finally he went away and never came back, and none of us ever knew what became of him.
Why, I was fourteen years old before I saw my father at all, and I can't remember ever hearing him tell anything about my grandmother or grandfather. You see, I was the baby of the family-a baby who came along late in the life of my parents, with a stretch of more than ten years between me and the next eldest, and I wasn't of much consequence to him.
My elder brother, George N. Gill, who was in Texas the last time I heard from him, which was in 1887, I believe, strongly resembled my father in looks, disposition, and temperament. He was a quartermaster with Custer in his Indian campaigns, but by some sort of chance, wasn't along when his regiment was wiped out at the battle of Little Big Horn. One or two other of the boys were of the Indian type, too, and one of my sisters took after father's side of the house very strongly.
My grandmother's house stands on what is now the Nash farm, near Cedar Grove, and her land, at one time took in what is now the Nash, Thompson, and two Foster farms. My grandmother is buried in the orchard of the old home place. There wasn't any headstone for her, as I remember, so I never knew her full name nor when she died. I haven't seen the old place in years; not since it belonged to old Benjamin Nash. I worked for old John Griffith on it for two years.
The old house is still standing, and is now the home of Watson Nash, son of Benjamin Nash, who say's his father bought the place from John Griffith about forty years ago. It is a two-story log and frame house of about eight rooms and is beautifully set on a wooded mound which rises out of a small valley about a mile to the South of Cedar Grove Church. The burying ground in the orchard has completely disappeared.
Mr. Thomas Gill followed after his mother's people and became a farmer. Later he built up a business as a huckster and then took up gardening. He has lived in Ruxton thirty-two years and reared a family of ten children, "some of which are fair, as I am, and some are dark and of the disposition of their grandfather and great-grandfather," he says.
Mr. Gill is very proud of his Indian blood. "It didn't mark me with the physical aspect of the red man, but" he boasts, "it gave me the health and strength of him. I am seventy-one years old, but I can hold my own in work with any youngster today.
This story kindly provided by Bill Gill. This story is reminescent of the Massachusetts Samual Gill kidnapped in Colonial times to Canada. Bill Gill has a home page with more detail: http://hometown.aol.com/mwgill/index.html.
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Copyright ©1998, Bill Gill. These documents may be freely used for private purposes, and included in your own genealogy. However, this document is copyrighted and may not be sold, nor given to anyone who may attempt to derive profit from same. Please send any errors, corrections, conjectures, updates, etc. to Dr. Frank O. Clark.