In June of 2000 I was casually searching Ancestry.com for the ancestors of my Aunt Sophie’s husband, Clark Gibson. I had learned from my Cousin Mark that Clark’s father was Arnold Gibson and his mother was Harriet (Hattie) McFadden and that Clark was born in Fairfield, Franklin County, Vermont on June 20, 1894. Mark also told me that my Aunt Sophie was Clark’s second wife!
According to family legend, Clark married the daughter of a Scottish sea captain, the couple had two children, and then Clark’s wife returned to Scotland with the two children and was never heard from again.
According to the 1910 Census, Clark was living at home with his parents in Fairfield, Franklin County, Vermont. According to the 1920 Census, Clark was living in a rooming house in Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts. According to the 1930 Census, Clark was married to my Aunt Sophie and the family was living in Albany, Albany County, New York. Clark and Sophie’s first child, Jack Arnold Gibson was born in 1923 in Albany, Albany County, New York. Based on this information, Clark and his first wife must have been married, had their children, and separated between 1910 and 1920.
While I thought that Clark’s first marriage and the fate of his first wife and children was extremely interesting, I figured that the story would forever remain a family legend with no chance of ever knowing what happened to Clark’s first family. After all, I didn’t even know the name of Clark’s first wife or his children, I had no firm dates, and all I know about the family was that they returned to Scotland. Not much to go on; so I moved on to other details of Clark’s life.
In June 2000, I was searching Ancestry.com for information on Hattie McFadden, Clark’s mother. I saw a couple of hits in the message boards and was surprised to see the following post dated May 28, 2000:
I am looking for any family connection to Hattie Fadden,my GG grandmother.She was married to Arnold Gibson and had possibly 3 children,named Clark, lewis(or louis) and a daughter with the initials A.M(possibly Anna May).Hattie was born in Sept. 1868 and died on Jan 22 1930.Her husband Arnold was born in Aug. 1861 and died on Mar 14 1928.They lived in the area of Vermont and are buried in New Jersey.
Well, son-of-a-gun! Someone else was searching for Clark Gibson’s family! And he had posted this message just about two weeks earlier. Well, I decided to jump right in and post a reply:
My aunt married Clark Gibson. Clark’s mother was Harriet McFadden and his father was Arnold Gibson. Clark was born in 1894 in Fairfield, Vermont and had three sisters: May, Arilla, and Adessa. I am told that there are men in the family named Lewis and Meriwether.
A few days later a reply was posted:
I believe that this is a connection to my family.Do you have any other details about your aunt (Clarks wife).I think that this was a different wife.I have an old family letter from a A.M Gibson Page…could this be one of his sisters.I also have a photograph of Hattie and Arnold’s Headstone in New Jersey.Where does the name Meriwether come in? I am looking for any info. on all aspects of our family(both past and present).
My jaw dropped! Could this be a descendant of Clark Gibson and Clark’s first wife? I replied immediately. Then a few hours later, another message was posted on the message board. Paydirt! Without going into too many more details, the two of us began corresponding by email. We exchanged family trees, pictures, and more information. This was indeed Clark Gibson’s lost family. The thread of our original message board conversation is still available on the Ancestry/RootsWeb message board.
Since that time, members of both sides of the family have traveled to visit the other side of the Atlantic and have had a very happy reunion.
Tomorrow: Breaking down another brickwall on the message boards.