Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Massachusetts or Rhode Island? Depends on the Year

The changing  state boundaries of the colonial era can make locations very confusing.    It helped me understand the details better when I compared these two maps.  Also, a quick trip to Wikipedia helped me understand the land tracts that were purchased and how they related to current geography.

In 1641, the Plymouth Colony (at the time separate from the Massachusetts Bay Colony) purchased from the Indians a large tract of land which today includes the northern half of East Providence (from Watchemoket to Rumford), Rehoboth, Massachusetts, Seekonk, Massachusetts, and part of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. In 1645, John Brown of Plymouth bought a considerably smaller piece of land from the Indians, which today comprises the southern part of East Providence (Riverside), Barrington, Rhode Island, and a small part of Swansea, Massachusetts. Finally, in 1661, Plymouth completed the "North Purchase", from which Cumberland, Rhode Island, Attleboro, Massachusetts and North Attleborough, Massachusetts were later to be formed. The whole territory, which also included parts of modern Somerset, Massachusetts, and Warren, Bristol, and Woonsocket in Rhode Island, was at the time called "Rehoboth". The center of "Old Rehoboth" was within the borders of modern East Providence, Rhode Island.

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My 4x great-grandmother, Sarah Jillson was born in 1745 in Cumberland, RI and later moved with her husband, Silas Gaskill, to Richmond, NH.   Sarah is easily found in Genealogy of the Gillson and Jillson Family by David Jillson, the source of most of the information here.

Sarah’s father was Uriah Jillson, a well-known resident of Cumberland, a large landholder who held many official offices during his lifetime, including Town Sergeant, Town Treasurer, and Justice of the Peace and he was a soldier during the Revolutionary War.  His birth year is not known, but he was probably born in Attleboro, MA.  He died in 1781.

Uriah was the son of Nathaniel Jillson and Elizabeth, last name unknown.  Nathaniel and Elizabeth were married between 1700 and 1705. Nathaniel, born in 1674, was a cooper, a farmer and he owned substantial land in Bellingham, MA (but what is now Woonsocket, RI) and he died in 1751.  Also, it appears the surname changed from Gilson to Jillson during Nathaniel’s lifetime.

Nathaniel was the son of James Gilson and Mary, last name unknown.  James first appears in the record books of Rehoboth, MA (now Attleboro) in 1666.  Subsequently, his name appears often in land records for Rehobeth.  He and Mary both died in 1712.

There are several Gilsons who emigrated from Britain, but it is not known which one was James’ ancestor, or if in fact, James might have been the emigrant.  I guess I’ll have to learn to live with this as the endpoint.

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