Indirect or Circumstantial Proof…The Case of Thomas Gist (Part I)

Where there is no direct proof  of relationship in the records, and the documents do not appear to give obvious circumstantial clues, you can use other elements of identity to show probable relationship:

  1. Migration Patterns: Family members tend to move together in groups from one place to another.  This is especially true  where adult sons or sons approaching marriageable ages do not already have land holdings.  The father will move to a place where can either acquire sufficient land to share with his sons or where the  vacant land available will allow them to buy their own land.

Russell Gist was a blacksmith, born in Kentucky about 1805.  Searches in eight separate counties for his origins disclosed that Thomas Gist is the only Gist male of the right generation, in the right places, at the right time periods to qualify as the father of Russell Gist.

Thomas Gist outlines his own migrations in his Revolutionary War pension file S1762.  He resided in Greene County TN and enlisted from there.  About 4 or 5 years after the war he moved to Knox County TN where he lived 9 years.  This would place him in Knox County from 1787 to 1796.  He then moved to Barren County KY where “I remained till  about twenty three years ago.” His statement was made 21 Aug 1832, placing him in Barren County until 1809.  During this time Russell Gist was born in Kentucky.

Thomas then moved to Smith County TN across the state line, where he stayed for two years only.  Last, he moved into White County TN just in time to appear on the tax rolls in 1811.  He remained in White County TN until his death.  Making most of these same moves were Thomas’ father Benjamin.  His brothers :  Joseph with whom Thomas had served in the war, certifying the service of them both in affidavits submitted with their pension applications.  And William.

Joseph Gist remained in Barren County.  William died in either White County or  Jackson County TN.  William had land holdings in both counties and the loss of the records byfire, makes it difficult to determine which.

Stay tuned for other chapters in the Gist saga.  Your favorite Tennessee Genealogist, Arlene Eakle

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