A few weeks ago, if you remember, I wrote about how North Plank Road had changed over the years. I was intrigued by something on the blueprint, the name ‘Miss B. Gillies”. I found myself pondering this rather unique, personal way to list a name and thought I should explore it a bit.
When I went down this rabbit hole, I was astounded by how much Miss Martha Barnes Gillies, and her family, contributed to shaping our Town and culture. I discovered that her Grandfather, Jacob Gillies (b. 04-20-1790, d. 09-29-1834) had purchased this farm in March of 1829, from John Inness and his wife, Elizabeth. From what was noted, Elizabeth couldn’t read and write, so she only made her mark on the deed. According to what I’ve read, the original house was constructed of stone and consisted of five or six rooms. I contacted the current owner, who’s only had possession for three years, and he wasn’t able to provide much information. The current building has bee
n divided into apartments and appears to have been built after the original, perhaps in stages. Just to the south of this current building is a section of stone wall, including an oven. This may be part of the original home. I’ve included a copy of an article from the Beacon News, March 18th, 1948. I’ve also included a portion of the 1864 map that indicates the area the farm was located.
The Inness family included a distinguished artist, George Inness (b. 05-01-1825, d. 08-03-1894), who was born on this farm. Perhaps I’ll write an article on Mr. Inness in the future, but for now, let’s stick with the Gillies family. You can drift over to the old standby, Wikipedia, and there is a page for George Inness, which is where I obtained this photo.
I drifted over to Ancestry and was able to gather some family details, both on Jacob’s and his wife’s ancestry as well as their offspring, which I’ve included. Perhaps, some descendants will read this article and be able to share photos of the original home. I’ve shared this lineage.
Interestingly, Jacob Gillies (b. 06-01-1818, d. 02-12-1881), was a well-to-do business leader in our community, mainly in the manufacture of brick, as well as a devoted Methodist and temperance leader, and was a farmer in our Town. All records speak highly of this individual. He was instrumental in the formation of the Fostertown United Methodist Church. He has a special mention in The History of Orange County, New York by Ruttenber. Many of this family, and extended family, are interred in the Fostertown Cemetery on North Fostertown Road. And to solidify the generosity and spirit of this man, if you drift over to the Fostertown Cemetery, and read the grave marker where Miss Martha B Gillies rests, you’ll see the name Lavina Carpenter (b. 1850, d.1925). She was an orphan at the end of the Civil War who Jacob and his family took in, bonding with the others for her entire life as she had no other known family.
Thanks especially go out to Martha B. for her efforts and devotion to the Fostertown Church and Cemetery. Though she was never married, she inspired many. A great lady, who graced our community for many years.