Benjamin Gorsuch

Who were the parents of Benjamin Gorsuch, who died in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1851?

I’m still looking for documentary evidence to identify them. But maybe DNA evidence will uncover some new leads too!

 

Here’s what I know.

Benjamin Gorsuch was born in the 1770’s, probably ca. 1776-1777 (based on census records and a local history[1].) The 1850 census in Tuscarawas County, Ohio[2], says he was born in Maryland and was 73 years old, living with [his second wife] Susanna and 13-year-old [son] John. If Benjamin was the one talking to the census taker, Maryland is likely true. But if the informant was his wife, or youngest son, or oldest son Thomas next door, or Thomas’s wife—well, none of them knew Benjamin when he was just a boy; they might be wrong. Still, Benjamin’s occupation was shown as ‘none’, so it’s possible he was home to provide the answers.

Benj Gorsuch d 1851001

image courtesy of Larry Eastwood

One source of information for birthplace is to ask those of his children who were alive during the 1880 census: the first U.S. census to ask for parents’ place of birth. The good news is, Benjamin had eight children still alive then. The bad news is, two said he was born in Maryland, two said Pennsylvania, three said Ohio (although Ohio wasn’t a state until more than a quarter of a century after Benjamin was born), and the youngest said his father was born in England.[3]

Wherever he was born (Maryland or Pennsylvania seem most likely), he married Nancy McGuire in Brooke County, West Virginia, in November of 1797[4] and then was found in the 1800 census in Hopewell, Washington County, Pennsylvania, about 14 miles away.[5] There were no other Gorsuch (or variations of that name) in Hopewell at that time. Benjamin and Nancy had several children in Pennsylvania, and then moved to Ohio, where the family can be found in the 1820[6], 1830[7], 1840[8], and 1850 censuses.

I have found genealogy books that claim Benjamin was the son of Thomas Gorsuch and Keziah Wheeler[9]. I have found online trees that claim Benjamin was the son of Benjamin Gorsuch and Kerenhappuch Johnson[10]. Both state that he was born 1 Jan 1777 in Baltimore County, Maryland. But none have offered any citations explaining what evidence they have for that assertion.

(If anyone reading this has evidence, I’d love to hear from you! Contact me at DNAsleuth@att.net.)

While there is certainly more research to be done, in courthouses and archives, on microfilm and fragile paper, it’s possible DNA testing could also help.

Y-DNA testing is appropriate for those on the direct paternal line – the father’s father’s father’s father. I’m not personally on that path, but would welcome chatting with anyone who is. If you’re a Gorsuch male descended from Benjamin, a Y-DNA test could match you to other Gorsuch males, and we might learn if Benjamin is really descended from the colonial Maryland Gorsuch family that has had so much written about them.

Autosomal DNA testing (such as is offered by AncestryDNA or 23andMe or the FamilyFinder test at FamilyTreeDNA) could also open some doors. There are two or three caveats.

  1. When the ancestor sought is from Colonial times, it’s quite possible that two DNA testers who match may have more than one couple in common among their forebears. So a matching DNA segment doesn’t ‘prove’ that piece of DNA came from Benjamin Gorsuch’s line—we can’t be sure *which* ancestor passed down that DNA segment we share. In this case, the more people who test and match, the better we are able to ‘triangulate’ the matches to narrow it down to one person or couple, time and place.
  2. Benjamin Gorsuch is my great-great-great-great-grandfather. I have 64 4x-great-grandparents, but I have to confess, I don’t have ‘proof’ for all of those. Some are even missing. And that will be true for people whose DNA matches mine too. Somewhere out there is someone else who has a chromosome segment from Benjamin’s parents that might match my DNA—but if their tree doesn’t go back that far on that line, or they’ve copied info from someone else’s tree or a book that was wrong, then it’s a problem.
  3. Finally, if Benjamin is also a 4x great-grandfather to the distant cousin I’m hoping to match, that would make us 5th cousins. Odds are only 50-50 that two 4th cousins will share enough DNA to be considered a ‘match’. For 5th cousins, the odds are much less: 30%. On the other hand, Benjamin had a LOT of descendants. He had twelve children when he wrote his will in 1851[11]. If each of them had even 6 children, and each of them had 6 children… by now there might be 93,000 descendants. Even if I only match 30% of them… that’s a lot of potential matches! (Of course, only a small fraction will take the DNA test. But I don’t need many.)

I’m putting together an informal project of ‘cousins’ who have DNA tested and are descended from Benjamin Gorsuch (or any Gorsuch in Maryland or Pennsylvania before 1800.) I already have found William – a confirmed 5th cousin; Margaret – a confirmed 3rd cousin once removed, and WJE – a confirmed 2nd cousin 3x removed for the project.

  • WIlliam and I: Most Recent Common Ancestor is Benjamin Gorusch and his wife Nancy McGuire.
  • Margaret and I: Most Recent Common Ancestor is Benjamin and Nancy’s daughter Jemima and her husband Lew Griffith.
  • WJE and I: Most Recent Common Ancestor is Benjamin Gorsuch (we’re descended from different wives).

As new matches come in, I can compare them to these distant cousins. If a new person matches someone in my close family *and* a distant cousin in my Gorsuch project, then our shared common ancestor could be Benjamin Gorsuch or one of *his* ancestors. Communicating with our new match could get me closer to finding out the answer to my mystery puzzle:

Who were the parents of Benjamin Gorsuch, who was born ca. 1776-1777 in likely Maryland or Pennsylvania and who died in Tuscarawas County Ohio in 1851?

(c) Ann Raymont, 2016

Citations:


[1] Charles Hallowell Mitchener, ed., Ohio Annals: Historic Events in the Tuscarawas and Muskingum Valleys… (Dayton, Ohio: Thomas W. Odell publisher, 1876), p. 306.

[2] 1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Tuscarawas County, Ohio, Wayne Twp., p. 399-B (stamped), dwelling 329, family 335, Benjamin Gossage, digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 Oct 2015); citing National Archives Microfilm Publication M432, roll 735.

[3] Eight different 1880 censuses; it you really want to know the citation details, email me!

[4] “Marriages,” digital images, West Virginia Archives and History (http://www.wvculture.org/vrr/va_select.as1px : accessed 27 Dec 2015), search for last name G* and year 1797; Benjamin Gassage – Nancy MGuire; book 1A, entry 5 [penned], pg 3 [stamped]. Brooke County.

[5] 1800 U.S. census, Washington Co., Pennsylvania, Hopewell Twp, p. 56 (penned), line 11, Benjamin Gossage, digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 Oct 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication M32, roll 44, FHL film 363347.

[6] 1820 U.S. census, Tuscarawas Co. OH, Wayne Twp., p. 160 (208A, penned), line 11, Benjamin Gossage, digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 Oct 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication M33, roll 95.

[7] 1830 U.S. census, Tuscarawas Co. OH, Wayne Twp., p. 19, line 16, Benjn Gorsuch, digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 Oct 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication M19, roll 141; FHL film: 0337952.

[8] 1840 U.S. census, Tuscarawas Co. OH, Wayne Twp., p. 402 (stamped), entry 22, Benjamin Goodrich, digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 Oct 2015); citing NARA microfilm publication M704, roll 430, citing Family History Library Film: 0020178.

[9] Hall, William C., The Thomas Gorsuch genealogy : being a history of Thomas Gorsuch and his descendants in America, Family History Library, CD-ROM no. 7610, p. 1,2, 311.

[10] SO Many trees on Ancestry.com and elsewhere…

[11] “Ohio Probate Records, 1789-1996,” images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1971-31213-31008-31?cc=1992421 : accessed 19 October 2015), Tuscarawas; Wills 1810-1864 vol 1-4; image 160 of 561; Benjamin Gorsuch; county courthouses, Ohio; p. 250. Pages are typed [apparently copied from another source]; transcription marks shown.

4 thoughts on “Benjamin Gorsuch

  1. KatieR

    Have you had any luck with Benjamin Gorsuch/Gossage? I’m curious b/c I’ve been tracing my cousin Karl’s DNA matches and he matches a number of Daniel Gossage descendants from Tennessee. They have his parentage everywhere, but based on locality and the shared matches, I think Benjamin Gossage from the 1773 tax records in Mine Run Hundred could well have been his father (extrapolated based on where the Parrishes were mostly). That’s how I happened upon this blog. I’m sure it’s quite distant, but he matches 17 of Daniel’s descendants. There’s a lot of overlap with the descendants of Edward Parrish and Elizabeth Harryman (married abt 1744) and in particular with the Harryman’s.

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  2. dnasleuth Post author

    Thanks so much for sharing your insights! I confess, I have adopted a strategy of choosing my brick walls to work on by location. I’ve dedicated 2019 to my Irish brick walls and am targeting 2020 for my New York State brick walls. So I haven’t really looked at Benjamin Gorsuch/Gossage since this post. But when I do pick him up again (or maybe just need a break from the prioritized goals!), I’ll be glad you replied here and can look at those new leads. Thanks again!

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    1. Tomas

      Hello! Benjamin Gorsuch was my 6th GG. Trying to find out who his parents were. I can’t use the thru-lines in ancestrydna as evidence because it only goes back to 5th gg. Have you found any DNA evidence so far? Thx

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      1. Ann Raymont

        Hi! DNA *does* support a hypothesis that BG was the son of Benjamin Gorsuch and Kerenhappuch Johnson. I need to do more research, both to see if I can find any evidence of that relationship in contemporaneous documents, and to see if the trees of those DNA matches are correct. That far back, there is a risk that the common ancestor could be someone on a different line, maybe in a branch no one has taken back that far. (But FYI, the DNA matches presenting this hypothesis descend from Elisha Gorsuch and David Gorsuch, alleged sons of Benjamin Gorsuch and Kerenhappuch Johnson. There are also matches descended from alleged children Thomas and Keziah, but those matches are very small and might be false positives.)

        I have a little more info on the status of my research on this line. Email me at DNAsleuth@att.net if you want to exchange more notes on this – thanks!

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