Picking a John from the Gibson Pile

stephen-gibsonThe problem with names that are somewhat common is precisely that–they are somewhat common.

In April of 1811 there was a payout from the estate of Stephen Gibson in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. One of the sons listed in John Gibson. It is believed that this John Gibson may have moved to Vermont. There is just one problem: nothing in the probate packet of Stephen Gibson provides any reference to this John Gibson living in Vermont.


And it’s not like there is just one John Gibson living in the area during this time period. John’s a relatively ubiquitous name and Gibson isn’t all that unusual either. I’m going to need more than a first and last name combination to confirm that this John Gibson is another man of the same name in another location.

This may be a situation where it is necessary to track all the heirs of Samuel Gibson to determine where the others lived and see if there was a John nearby.  That would be a good approach, but it’s a little time and research intense. Not that I am opposed to that, but there may be another way to track this John.

And it is always possible that the John mentioned in the estate of Stephen Gibson did not settle near any of his own relatives. He could have struck out entirely on his own or lived near where his wife’s family had migrated.

Stephen Gibson’s estate mentions a significant amount of personal property, including farm equipment. What I should check first are deeds in Middlesex County–deeds that mention John Gibson specifically as a grantor or grantee and settlement deeds that may have been drawn up on after Stephen’s death. It is possible that John Gibson is styled as living in another location on a deed for property in Middlesex County. Of course, I would have to know as best I can that the John Gibson on the deed I had located was the John Gibson who was son of Stephen Gibson of Middlesex County, Massachusetts whose estate was being settled in 1811. stephen-gibson-middlesex

Because there may be more than one John Gibson.

Just like there’s more than one way to access his probate file. The images in this post were obtained from the microfilmed copy of Middlesex County, Massachusetts, probate files. The packet in question was for Stephen Gibson whose probate was contained in packet 9115 and was initiated in 1807. The digital image was made in May of 2015. The date of the digital image is not necessary for my citation. The first image in this post was from an estate disbursement accounting in that packet dated 10 April 1811.

That’s not quite in the style of EvidenceExplained, but it gets the essence of what’s needed.


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