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From: Barbara Ellison <>
Subject: [Melungeon] Of interest to Gibsons
Date: Thu, 17 Oct 2002 23:46:27 -0500
References: <><004e01c2759c$c1ca3e00$89cb4341@greybird7>

My Gibson Goins was in MS in 1830 on Choctaw roll..Some day I will find his
mother, who I believe was a Gibson...anyway...Gibson info below:
To: June Cross
Fr: Mario Valdes
Dt: April 25th, 1996

As I explained earlier with my first pass at the Gibson genealogy completed,
I am not at all sure that President Clinton is a descendant of the black
Gibsons. And here's why.

Having at last seen what is probably the only work attempting to
differentiate the three or four Gibson families who immigrated to South
Carolina in the 18th century, patterns in first names lead me to suspect
that Clinton is descended from a white Rev. Jacob Gibson who became pastor
of the Broad River Baptist Church, Fairfield Co. in 1771. The names Jacob
and Joseph show up among his children and grandchildren and since Clinton's
Gibson ancestor is a Joseph (who, in the 1850 census also lists a Jacob as a
son) there is a fifty-fifty chance that he is a member of this particular
line of Gibsons.

I said fifty-fifty because, on the other hand, from the system the
enumerators employed, it might also be that Joseph Gibson who would have
been thirty at the time of the 1820 census, was living in the household of a
Jordan Gibson. That year there were only two Gibson males of that age group
not yet heading their own households. With the help of an extant will one
can be identified.

It is quite possible therefore that the other unnamed male Gibson living
with Jordan Gibson in Marion Co. is Joseph. Not only because Jordan was a
traditional first name of the African American Gibsons but because
documentation available proves it, there can be no doubt about which Gibson
family he belonged to. If it is, indeed, Joseph who was enumerated along
with Jordan Gibson in the 1820 census then we could safely assume that he
too was a descendant of the inter-racial clan that Winthrop Jordan first
pointed out in "White Over Black." What could add to this specific
possibility is that in the genealogical work I refered to, there are both a
Jacob and a Joseph who are identified respectively as a son and a grandson
of one Randal Gibson, another first name especially associated with those
Gibsons of colour who would migrate to Mississippi and Kentucky.

Furthermore, given the clues to names provided by the work of Virginia
Demarce and Paul Heinegg, and the racial description of the individuals
enumerated, a look at the 1850 census of South Carolina where this
particular branch of the Gibsons and their relatives hailed from, reveals
that part of the state could well have qualified as a tri-racial community.

What About President Carter?

Although President Clinton's descent from the African American Gibsons is,
at least for the time being, an open ended question, President Carter's, on
the other hand, is, comparitively, less problematic. Because of the work on
the Gibsons that now serves as my guide, I am fairly confident that the
Gibson Dawson the New England Historical Genealogical Society identified as
his great, great, great grand father was the son of a Gibson woman who,
considering her location in Edgefield Co. during the latter quarter of the
18th century, appears to be related to the Gibsons we are researching.

As I also mentioned, in Salt Lake City I came across a partial Wallace
genealogy with a South Carolina Gibson in it. Will try following that line
to see if it is the Alabama Governor's.

The Gibsons' Prominence and Influence

Despite the vague idea I initially had of the kind of social prominence the
Gibsons once enjoyed, it was not until I was able to compare the bare
genealogical data retrieved on the trip with the state histories,
biographical dictionaries, Who's Whos , etc. etc. here at Harvard that I got
a much clearer picture of just how close to the axis of power this family
has been able to position itself.

Besides maintaining their own place in southern politics for over two
centuries, on the diplomatic marriage market they were able to ally
themselves with families like the Harrisons of Virginia who produced a
signer of the Declaration of Independence and two US Presidents. Louisiana
State Senator Randal Gibson's aunt, for example, was married to Robert
Trimble of Mississippi, two of whose cousins, William and William Allen
Trimble, were Senators of Kentucky and Ohio respectively while a third,
Allen Trimble became Governor of Ohio. A sister of his mother's was the wife
of a Supreme Court Justice, Judge White. I should point out here that John
Gibson, either an uncle or a cousin of Senator Randal's, had also been
appointed Governor of Louisiana but declined because of his health.
Mentioned, didn't I, that the Senator's son married Marshall Field's niece?

The first transcontinental railway magnate Thomas Butler King was the
brother in law of Mary Gibson Fort, a great, great, grand daughter of black
Gideon Gibson, the Regulator. When she married Stephen Clay King in 1823,
this Georgia heiress brought him a dowery of land and slaves just as large
as the one Thomas' wife, an heiress like herself, had provided her husband
to fund his enteprises with. In point of fact, Stephen Clay was not only
Thomas Butler King's partner but his major financier, as well, even though
he is hardly mentioned in the history of his brother's contribution to this
development in transportation. (Incidentally, Mary's daughter, Martha,
married John H. Hull, the brother of the Governor of Florida.)

Until I provide you with more details on some of the other families we have
been following, would like you to take a look at the attached so that you
can see from these "primary sources"(the bio was taken from a history of
Kentucky published in the 20s.) just how eminently the Gibsons were once
regarded. From the description of Duncan Gibson's race horses to the almost
breathless adulation with which his branch of the Gibson family are written
up, it is quite obvious that they were perceived as nothing less than the
very epitome of Kentucky Blue Blood society.

Captain Isaac Ross is a prominent Gibson descendent who lived in the first
half of the 19th century. But by describing Captain Ross as the child
instead of the grandchild of Isaac Ross and Jane Brown, the author of an
article from the Journal of Mississippi History conveniently glossed over
the fact that Captain Isaac was in fact the son of a Gibson woman (Mary
Gibson who was married to Isaac.) Interestingly enough though, he did
mention that one of the family weddings had been performed by Rev. Randall
Gibson (a name that identifies him as a black Gibson.) Besides the
biographical perspective this article offered, I thought you might be able
to use the first few lines as an example of how passing is achieved at even
this chronological distance. What I could not help but find even more
intriguing was the Afro-Am content of the piece and its possible historical
context vis a vis the Ross family's Gibson descent.

"Captain Isaac Ross provided in his will that his slaves should be sent to
Liberia, if they elected to go, through the American Colonization Society,
and his entire fortune was to care for them, except about $10,000, given to
his granddaughter. The inventory made under the order of the Court gave one
hundred and sixty slaves, 5,000 acres of well improved land and personal
property valued at around $100,000....It was not to be expected that the
heirs of Captain Ross would quietly permit this valuable estate to pass out
of their hands as an expected inheritance without protest. The will was
contested, and after twelve years of litigation conducted by some of the
ablest talent in Mississippi,...the Supreme Courts sustained the validity of
the will."
>From "Captain Isaac Ross and Some of His Descendants" by Thomas M. Wade in
The Journal of Mississippi History, Vol. 9, 1947

The piece goes on to describe how as a result of this long litigation which
began in 1838, the slaves thought that if they could get rid of Isaac Ross
Wade, the acting executor and general manager of the estate, they could at
last get to Africa. It was supposedly at the urgings of the American
Colonization Society in Port Gibson that the slaves, unable to tolerate the
interminable delays, rose up and burnt the mansion while Wade was
entertaining. Because most of the estate had been spent defraying court
costs, it was not until 1849, after they had worked for another two years to
cover their transportation that these former slaves were finally allowed to
embark for Liberia. While waiting for a ship in New Orleans, however, twenty
five died of cholera. Only ninety reached their destination and having
arrived in such dramatically reduced fiscal circumstances, this colonization
attempt proved a "complete failure."

Besides the fact that their "passing" has, fortuitously, been well
documented, do not forget that even while still recognizable as people of
colour, the Gibsons began making an impact on the political life of the
nation. Indeed, Rachel Kline in "Unification of a Slave State", a monograph
I came across at the University of South Carolina published in 1990, pointed
out that as the leader of the Regulators, Gideon Gibson's race was
undoubtedly a problem for the colonial government especially since he was so
successfully able to defy it. And even though I am hoping that you use
Brown's work on the South Carolina Regulators as an example of how Gibson's
ethnic background was ignored for other political reasons, it was he who
drew attention to the fact that the alliance of planters Gideon led began
chanting "no taxation without representation" a number of years before we
threw our tea party here in Boston harbour.

Click here for a Gibson family tree ........

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