Finding Elewisa

Map of Gallatin County, Illinois

Map of Gallatin County, Illinois

Elewisa has long been one of my elusive forebears. She was born Elewisa Hubbard. When she married William Jefferson Gatewood in 1828 in Gallatin County, Illinois, her name on the certificate was Elewisa A. R. Hubbard. When William Jefferson died in 1842, she married Jarvis Pierce three years later, becoming Elewisa Pierce. When their daughter, Mary E. Pierce Phillips died in 1929 in St. Petersburg, Florida, her mother’s name was given on the death certificate as Adyline Rumsey, written over what appears to be another name which was smudged out. That name looks like Elewisa Gatewood.

Elewisa and her first husband, William Jefferson Gatewood, were first cousins. His mother and her father were brother and sister, Elizabeth Hubbard Gatewood and Adolphus Hubbard. Elewisa and William were both born in Kentucky, but moved while young to Illinois which had only just become a state in 1818. William taught school in Gallatin County while studying law. He was admitted to the bar in 1828, the year he married. He and Elewisa had several children, four of whom

Courthouse in Old Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Illinois

Courthouse in Old Shawneetown, Gallatin County, Illinois

survived: William Jefferson Jr., Ephraim, Nancy and Isaac. William was elected to public office, first to the state Assembly and later to the state Senate. The capital of Illinois was in Vandalia when he was first elected and later in Springfield. While in Springfield during the legislative session, he died suddenly of a heart attack on Saturday night, January 8, 1842, while at his lodgings. He was buried in the Old City Graveyard in Springfield and later reinterred at Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, where Abraham Lincoln was buried. Lincoln and Gatewood, both lawyers at the time, knew each other. Supposedly, Lincoln announced Gatewood’s death at the Supreme Court in Springfield.

Harrisburg,_IL_West_Side_of_Square copy

West side of Square, Harrisburg, Illinois. The photograph was probably taken in the late 1800s

Elewisa married Jarvis Pierce, a widower, in 1845 in Gallatin County, about three years after her husband’s death. They had one daughter, Mary E. Pierce, from whom I descend. Jarvis was a plasterer and a contractor.

Sometime in the mid-1860s Elewisa left Jarvis and told him not to come looking for her. She had her reasons for leaving and they were good ones. Jarvis filed for divorce in 1866 on grounds of desertion. According to the divorce proceedings, Elewisa treated Jarvis poorly and gave him no peace. While he was ill, she left with several wagonloads of household goods. We don’t have Elewisa’s side of the story but it can be found in several records.

Living in the household with Jarvis and Elewisa in the 1860 census in Harrisburg, Saline County, Illinois, were Unity Barnes, a widow, 41, and her young daughter Louisa, 3.

Ten years later, in the 1870 census, there is Jarvis Pearce, 69, Unity Pearce, 52, Sarah E. Barnes, 13, and Nora Pearce, 10. Sarah and Louisa are probably the same person, but Nora is new. Nora turns out to be Madora Etta Pierce, Unity’s daughter, born 20 November 1860 in Harrisburg – according to her death certificate in Oakdale, Louisiana, in 1935. The certificate names her father as Jarvis Pierce. Madora Pierce, 19, married Fredrick C. Burgner, 21, in Harrisburg on 24 December 1879. Jarvis married Unity in September 1866, as soon as Jarvis and Elewisa’s divorce was final.

I looked for Elewisa for several years, wondering where she went, if she remarried and when she died. Because of the name “Adyline Rumsey” on her daughter’s death certificate, I tried looking for her under that name – with zero results. I could not find a record of another marriage, nor her death. Jarvis thought she went to St. Louis, Missouri, but I did not find her there. She was not living with her son, William Jefferson Gatewood Jr., in San Diego in 1870. I could not find her Gatewood daughters. So the search for Elewisa was put  aside for many years.

Recently, while visiting friends in Murphys, California, just a few miles down the road from San Andreas, I decided I needed to know more about Col. William Jefferson “Jeff” Gatewood, Elewisa’s oldest son. Jeff Gatewood went out West to California at the time of the Gold Rush. He was living in Sacramento in 1850 and in San Andreas in 1860. Jeff was a lawyer and the District Attorney there, but is well-known because he was involved in a duel.

The Mitchler Hotel, 1860, Murphys, California, now the Murphys Hotel. Photo taken the at the time Col. William Jefferson Gatewood was living in nearby San Andreas

The Mitchler Hotel, 1860, Murphys, California, now the Murphys Hotel. Photo taken the at the time Col. William Jefferson Gatewood was living in nearby San Andreas

On 16 September 1868 Col. Gatewood had an argument with Dr. Peterson Goodwyn in a saloon on Main Street in San Andreas. Goodwyn called Gatewood a “damned old abolitionist” and a duel ensued. Rifle shots were fired. Gatewood apologized to the wounded Goodwyn who later died. No charges were filed as Goodwyn felt Gatewood had acted honorably.

Gatewood later moved to San Diego at the urging of his brother-in-law, Phillip Crosthwaite, who wanted him to come down and publish a newspaper in San Diego – which he did. He had been publishing the San Andreas Register in Calaveras County, so in 1868 he took his equipment, moved to San Diego and became one of the co-founders of the San Diego Union.

St_Louis_Birdseye_Map_1896 copy2

Map of St. Louis, Missouri, in 1896

While searching for Jeff Gatewood I found a Gatewood descendant who had shared Gatewood information in a genealogy forum. It was there I found that Elewisa was living with her daughter Nancy Gatewood Addison and her family in White County, Illinois, in 1870. Her name in the census was given as Louisa Gatewood – so she had gone back to her first husband’s name. She died in 1877 in St. Louis and is buried there at Frieden Cemetery. The cemetery would be located in the top right corner of the map above where the Mississippi River curves around an island.

Next time I am up in San Andreas I will photograph the street sign at Gatewood Avenue and East St. Charles Street (Highway 49), a country lane near to the cemetery.


Map of Gallatin County: “Atlas of Henry Co. Illinois to Which is Added an Atlas of the United States,” Warner & Beers Publishers, Chicago, 1875. Submitted to ILGenWeb by Alice Gless.

Old Shawneetown Courthouse: “The Courthouse in [Old] Shawneetown, Illinois.” Lee, Russell, 1903-   , photographer. 1937. Wikimedia Commons

West Side of Square, Harrisburg, Illlinois:  Released by the Daily Register newspaper in 2003. Wikimedia Commons

St. Louis Birdseye Map, 1896:  By Fred Graf. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Mitchler Hotel, Murphys, Calaveras County, California: Historic American Buildings Survey V. Covert Martin Collection, Stockton, Calif. Original- 1860’s Re-photo- June, 1940 view from Southeast. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C.  Wikimedia Commons

This entry was posted in Family Research, Gatewood Family, Genealogy, Hubbard Family, Pierce Family and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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