Thursday, April 1, 2010

Deep Roots in American History: The Gaskill Line

Gaskill Name Meaning and History

English (Lancashire): habitational name from Gatesgill in Cumbria, so named from Old Norse geit ‘goat’ +skáli ‘shelter’.
The Gaskill Name in History

My Gaskill Line

Billie Louise Gaskill (grandmother)
b. 1919, Dodge City, Kansas
Claude Everett Gaskill (great grandfather)
b. 1890, Wray, Colorado
Asbury Gaskill (2nd great grandfather)
b. 1844, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
Timothy Sewell Gaskill (3rd great grandfather)
b. 1811, Wilmington, Ohio
Thomas Gaskill (4th great grandfather)
b. 1788, Fayette County, Pennsylvania
Samuel Gaskill (5th great grandfather)
b. 1749, Burlington County, New Jersey
Benjamin Gaskill (6th great grandfather)
b. 1709, Burlington County, New Jersey
Edward Gaskill (7th great grandfather)
b. 1667, Salem, Massachusetts
Samuel Gaskill (8th great grandfather)
b. 1639, Salem Massachusetts
Edward Gaskill (9th great grandfather)
b. 1604, Upholland, Lancashire, England

Well...wouldn't you know it! My paternal grandmother's line leads right to some major events in American History, including the founding of Salem, Massachusetts and the Salem Witch Trials.
The entire line is full of interesting characters that led interesting lives although sometimes those lives were filled with betrayal, persecution, torment and tragedy. There are so many stories to tell here including treacherous travel on the high seas,  the pioneering of New Jersey and Ohio. Several books are filled with the accounts of this line of ancestors that include their diary entries, letters and trial accounts .I must buy all of them! My 8th Great Grandfather and grandmother, Samuel Gaskill and Provided Southwick Gaskill, were Quakers and have deep roots in the beginnings of the Quaker religion. Provided has an amazing story herself, one of being nearly sold into slavery to pay the owed fines of her parents, also Quakers. More on these individuals in later postings for each one deserves their own so that their story may be told once again.

I have come to enjoy the detective work involved with following the lines, verifying documents and making sure everything matches up with proven sources. It's so exciting to find a story while on the paper trail, one that may have been buried under years of past generations but now uncovered by yet another descendant.

Such was the case with my Great Grandparents, Claude E. Gaskill and Myrtle Irene Currey Gaskill. My great grandfather Claude was born in 1890 in Wray, Colorado and before the age of five, the family up and moved taking Claude and his seven siblings (a 9th child would be born later) to Washington County, Kansas. He grew up in Mill Creek and after he turned 20 years old he left home looking for work as a "Hired Man" in Grandview, Kansas. He married Myrtle Irene Currey on March 24, 1917 when he 26 years old and Myrtle just 18. During their marriage they had four daughters, Dorothy, Billie (my grandmother), Marjorie and Ruth.  Their marriage lasted about 10 years, then, for unknown reasons, by 1930 they were divorced and Claude was living in Wichita, Kansas shacked up with a woman thirteen years younger than himself. This left my great-grandmother in Dodge City to raise four daughters, all under the age of twelve, alone and during the Great Depression. This couldn't have been easy. After the divorce she rented a room at the Lora Locke hotel which had just opened in 1928 and where, coincidently, my 2nd Great Uncle Carl Clare was also a lodger. She began work as a maid at the hotel while the children lived with her parents. It's assumed that she also stayed with her children at her parent's home when she wasn't working as she was listed at both locations during the 1930 census...oops!  She was counted twice!
The Lora Locke Hotel, 1930's
Without access to the 1940 census (to be released to the public in April 2012) I cannot be sure when she was able to get back on her feet and have her children living with her. I do know that she remarried Everett Donald Jones but I am unsure of when this marriage took place. My dad said that he never liked Myrtle or his step-grandfather much because they were mean and gave out beatings if you misbehaved (Myrtle does come from a line of  Slave Owners!). He told the story of how all the families, cousins, siblings, everyone would gather over at "The Joneses" and that they would always have a big meal but that Myrtle, being a rather large woman, would just sit and boss everyone around. When they would go over to visit, she would put the kids to work in the yard. When my dad was old enough to say his peace, he told his parents that he wasn't going over there anymore and that was the end of his visits. Perhaps, though, she had a hard, long life full of heartbreak and disappointment. Perhaps discovering the story of her raising her four daughters during the depression, will give him a new perspective. He said his mother, Billie, never talked about when she was a child, never talked much about her mom or the life they led so this story of his grandmother as a strong, single parent was new to him.

On the other hand, my dad loved going to visit his grandfather, Claude in Wichita, Kansas. Claude would call the kids "Scallywags". He lived next door to a penny arcade and my dad and his siblings would save up all their pennies for the visit just so they could go and play all the games. Claude died in 1962, three years before I was born. Myrtle died in 1970 when I was six years old. I wasn't raised with this side of the family so I don't have any memories of her and I'm not sure if she had a chance to see me when I was a baby.  But, I feel like I know her now and I'm very proud to have yet another strong woman in my family tree!


  1. Hello, thanks for posting this lineage. I'm also a descendant of the Southwicks, and there are lots of Gaskill marriages, cousins and in-laws in my family tree. I was born in Beverly, right across the harbor from Salem, and my ancestors have always lived there. I see lots of other familiar names in your list on the right (Endicott, Hutchnson, etc.)

  2. Thanks Heather! It's been a fun journey so far discovering all of my ancestors. I love your blog and hope mine can be as involved and interesting one day! I'm just getting started!
    I found your story on the quilt wonderful! Keep up the great work!

  3. This was cool read my last name is gaskill wonder if any connection

  4. I too am a descendant of Provided and Samuel Gaskill. I have many Quakers in my family tree.

  5. I too am a Gaskill. We have always been told that because the name is so uncommon if you met some one with it y'all are related some where down the line.

  6. my name is judith gaskill i have a book on gaskill geneology, i am only 1/4 of a way through it, it dates back to the 1600's
    and the name gaskill used to be spelled gaskell when our ancesters came from england and settled in salem mass. i remember
    samuel is mentioned in the book, i will start reading the book again and get back to you on what is written there.