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Chapter 16

John Thomas Gilmour and His Descendants

A2C4. John Thomas Gilmour was born on 5 November 1840, in La Harpe, Hancock County, Illinois. His parents were John Wilson and Jane Alexander (Bronaugh) Gilmour. He died on 28 January 1905, in Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington.

In the 1850 US Census, John Thomas Gilmour was listed, with his siblings, in the home of his parents who resided in Hancock County, Illinois. In 1851, he made the trip with them westward across the plains to Oregon where they arrived on 10 September. In the 1860 U.S. Census, he was listed, with his siblings, in the home of his parents in Lebanon, Linn County, Oregon.

John Thomas Gilmour was married on 26 October 1862, in Albany, Linn County, Oregon, [LlK] Virginia Linebarger, born on 29 April 1845, in Washington County, Oregon. She was the daughter of [L1] Lewis Linebarger and [H1] Jane Henderson. Virginia Linebarger and her ancestors are discussed in Chapter 17 of this volume.

John Thomas and Virginia [Linebarger] Gilmour were the parents of twelve children:

A2C4a. Jefferson Gilmour was born in the year 1866, in Lebanon, Linn County, Oregon. He was listed in the 1870 U.S Census, residing with his parents in the Sand Ridge Precinct for Linn County, Oregon. His age 4. He died on 15 May 1876, and according to cousin, Ernie Gilmour was buried next to his sisters, Ellen and Rova Gilmour, in the Sand Ridge Cemetery in Lebanon, Linn County, Oregon.
A2C4b. Ellen J. Gilmour was born on 2 September 1867, in Lebanon, Linn County, Oregon and died at, or shortly after birth. She was not included with her parents and family in the 1870 U.S. Census who resided in the Sand Ridge Precinct, Linn County, Oregon at that time. According to cousin, Ernie Gilmour, she was buried in the Sand Ridge Cemetery in Lebanon, Linn County, Oregon next to her brother Jefferson Gilmour and sister Rova Gilmour. Ellen does not appear in my great Aunt Maud Gilmour’s family chart but, she didn’t put this chart together until the mid 1930’s when she was living in Los Angeles, California. She probably did not know about Ellen since she would have been born ten years before her own birth date. Aunt Maud’s older sister Frances, the oldest surviving Gilmour family member, who was still living in 1930, may not have not known about Ellen either.
A2C4c. Frances Irene Gilmour was born on 31 July 1868, in Lebanon, Linn County, Oregon and died in Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington on 4 December 1954. She and her descendants are discussed in Chapter 18 of this volume.
A2C4d. Helena Bell Gilmour was born on 18 November 1870, in Albany, Linn County, Oregon and died on 9 July 1960, in Hawthorne, Los Angeles County, CA. She and her family are discussed in Chapter 19 of this volume.
A2C4e. Rova H. Gilmour was born in August 1872, in Albany, Linn County, Oregon and died in Lebanon, Linn County, Oregon on 16 February 1879. Very little is known about her. She was buried next to her siblings, Jefferson and Ellen Gilmour in the Sand Ridge Cemetery in Lebanon, Linn County, Oregon.
A2C4f. Frederick [Fred] Gilmour was born on 14 October 1875, in Lebanon Linn County, Oregon and died in Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington on 17 November 1928. He and his descendants are discussed in Chapter 20 of this volume.
A2C4g. Maud Gilmour was born on 12 November 1877, in Lebanon, Linn County, Oregon and died in Hawthorne, Los Angeles County, California on 9 March 1968. She is discussed in Chapter 21 of this volume.
A2C4h. John Lewis Gilmour was born on 13 March 1880, in Silverton, Marion County, Oregon and died in Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington on 27 July 1969. He is discussed in Chapter 22 of this volume.
A2C4i. Ellen Gilmour, died at birth in the year 1882 in Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington.
A2C4j. Ona Jeanette Gilmour was born on 19 August 1883, in Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington and died in Covina, Los Angeles County, California on 16 March 1968. She and her descendants are discussed in Chapter 23 of this volume.
A2C4k. Grace Gilmour was born in the year 1885, in Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington and died in Ellensburg, Kittitas County on 11 May 1900. She was buried in the IOOF Cemetery in Ellensburg with her father and mother, John T. and Virginia Gilmour and grandfather, John Wilson Gilmour.
A2C4l. William Gilmour, died at birth in the year 1885 in Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington

At the time of the 1870 U.S. Census, John Thomas Gilmour resided with his spouse Virginia and children, Jefferson and Frances, in the Sand Ridge precinct, located in Lebanon, Linn County, Oregon. By 1880, he had moved to nearby Marion County and in the 1880 U.S. Census, John T. Gilmour and his family were listed in Silverton, Marion County, Oregon.

John Thomas Gilmour and his family grew tired of the seemingly endless rain and fog which plagued the Willamette Valley of Oregon and yearned for a drier climate where there was sunshine most of the year. During the summer of 1880, John and his brother, James Alexander Gilmour made plans to move their families to the Kittitas Valley, on the eastern slope of the Cascade Mountains, in the center of the Washington Territory which reportedly met these conditions and seemed to be an ideal place to live. In October of that year, they packed their belongings in covered wagons and made the trip to the small town of Ellensburg, which was a new and growing community located on the Yakima River in the newly formed county of Kittitas.

In 1880, Ellensburg was fast becoming a transportation hub for traffic from Seattle to the eastern part of the Washington Territory and points east. Because of its mid-point location, there was even a proposal that Ellensburg should become the territorial capital. In any event, this would become an ideal place for John Thomas Gilmour and his brother James to establish a blacksmith shop. In 1883, the Northern Pacific Railroad was completed which linked Seattle on the coast with the rest of the county. This line went through Ellensburg, providing new business opportunities for its residents.

In 1885 and in 1887, Kittitas County conducted a census in preparation for territorial Washington’s admission as a state. In both census reports John Thomas Gilmour and his family were listed among the residents of Ellensburg. On 11 November 1889, territorial Washington became a U.S. State.

In the 1900 U.S. Census report John Thomas and Virginia Gilmour and their children, Maud, Ona, and John Lewis Gilmour were listed living together as residents in Ellensburg, Ward 2, Kittitas County, Washington.

John Thomas Gilmour followed in his father’s steps as a blacksmith and was a widely respected citizen of Ellensburg and Kittitas County. Following his death there on 5 January 1905, he was buried in IOOF Cemetery in the Space B-116-01 in the same plot as his father, John Wilson Gilmour and his daughter Grace Gilmour and two grandchildren. Following her death on 9 August 1914, his wife Virginia Linebarger Gilmour was buried there as well.

The following biography of John Thomas Gilmour appeared in the Ellensburg Daily Record on 4 December 1954, as a tribute to him and his daughter, Frances Irene Gilmour Lothrop who died on that date. This article follows:

Mrs Frances Lathrop [Frances Irene Gilmour], died here this morning. From the Record, Dec. 4, 1954. A pioneer daughter of pioneers who came to Kittitas in a covered wagon. The Gilmour family are truly pioneers of the Pacific Northwest.

Many of us have smiled at the picture of the little girl who brought her doll with the broken head to the village blacksmith and hoped he could mend it for her. Once I said to an old timer when he was smiling at the little picture, “any pioneer blacksmith would have tried to fix the broken doll head, and would have, at least, done his nest to comfort the child”. Said the old timer, “she’d taken her busted doll head to old John Gilmour, by golly, he’d have fixed it”. And so he would have.

Nine years before the Civil War, John Wilson Gilmour, left his home in Illinois, and with his family and all of his possessions in the heavy wagons, the plodding oxen followed the well-traveled trail across the plains to the Oregon country, the lodestone for so many pioneers. All that summer, through the dust, the burning sun, scant grass, poison water, the wagon went slowly but surely westward. The father strode by the side of the straining oxen with his eyes seeking the far horizon to the mountains with the straight black pines and the fragrant cedar, the cozy valleys covered by the high walls, where the wild grasses grew and thrived in the friendly sun.

When we read the stories of these pioneers, one seldom reads of a wagon train that had a good blacksmith among the members that ever experienced the misfortunes of the trail that one associates with crossing the plains. And John W. Gilmour was the blacksmith and skilled wheelwright with his company, even beyond the authority of the train master, the blacksmith’s word was law. The trail was traveled only when he said the wagons were in order.

His son, John Thomas Gilmour, was 11 years old, quite old enough to assume many of the camp chores and assist his father as he mended wagons and tightened wheels. Gilmour never mended what he called a “done-out wheel” . He carried extra spokes in a neat bundle tied at the end of his wagon all read to be set and tightened into the ring of a new wheel. Thus the Gilmour sons learned the father’s trade and acquired his skill.

The Gilmour family built the western home in Lynn County, Oregon. John Thomas went to school, helped his father, did any and everything that fell to the lot of a pioneer boy. In 1862, he and Virginia Linebarger were married and made their home on a claim near Albany. Here John had his own blacksmith shop. Life in Oregon was pleasant, but tales were being told of wonderful valleys, grassy plains and free land in Central Washington. Also, the weather was lauded, and that was an attraction to those who never liked the fog and rain in Oregon.

So, it was in 1879 that the John Thomas Gilmour family came to Kittitas over the Satus trail. It was October 1813 when they arrived, a old frosty day in the autumn of what pioneers called “an early fall, and the beginning of a hard winter”. The Gilmours were not dismayed at the stories of cold and snow; one of the things that brought them to Kittitas was the reputed ’51 days of sleighing every winter, clear and cold sunshine every day’.

They liked Ellensburg. The Ellensburg of 1879 was not the village of 1871 with its long huts and leaning shacks. According to McKenney’s Pacific Coast Directory, there were more than a dozen places of business, and to them was soon added the Gilmour Brothers Blacksmith Shop, for with John T. had come his brother James, who became his partner in the shop, located at the southwest corner of Second and Pearl.

The first Gilmour home in Ellensburg was the Shaser Hotel, the little boarding house built by George George Shaser on the corner of Pine and Fourth where the Safeway parking lot is now. The Shaser family had left Ellensburg the previous year, and now the Gilmours purchased the little so-called hotel. One of the partners of John Gilmour was Willis Thorp. After six months, Thorp sold out to Mr. Gilmour and Mr. Farrell, the first of the Farrell brothers to come to Ellensburg, became a partner. Others who worked at the Ellensburg shop were Jack Ware and Sam Gonigle.

Lest one may wonder why a blacksmith and wheelwright needed so many helpers, it might be of interest to review a bit of Ellensburg history. Stages and freighters were of great importance; regular trips were made from the Dalles, Ore., through Kittitas and over the Colockum to the Okanogan mines. The stage line was Ellensburg to Wenatchee, to Waterville, to Coulee City, to Conconully. The stage line

from the Dalles to Ellensburg, organized by Tom Johnson, was the mode of travel for travelers through Central Washington. All freight and produce was hauled over those trails in heavily drawn freight wagons drawn by four or six horse teams. The wheels on those stages and wagons required constant attention and horseshoes did not last long on the roads, if the trails could be called roads A driver must be sure that his wagon and horses were in perfect condition and the shoes of the horses must be inspected. A lame horse could not be replaced on a steep grade.

The never ending horse shoeing and wagon repair was entrusted to John Gilmour. Years later, Clarence Palmer, a freight driver over the Colockum, said, “When John said you outfit was ready to roll, the driver sat tight and let her rattle, and you always got there, and nothing ever broke down either”.

Mr. Gilmour was never interested in the political squabbles that occurred in all frontier towns over every question. He made new wheels and fixed old ones and left politics to the lawyer fellows, and Ellensburg, like other towns seems to have been well supplied.

In 1883, occurred the amusing story of the city jail. As the result of a particularly noisy July 4th celebration, a public meeting was held in Elliot’s Hall and the outraged citizens decided to solicit money from the various merchants to build a small jail on the corner of the courthouse square. One pioneer merchant said, “What’s wrong with a man yelling on the Fourth of July?” The citizens went ahead withy the jail project and appointed J. T. McDonald, chairman and John Gilmour members of the committee to receive subscriptions from the businessmen and to help plan the building. History does not state how the committee performed its duties. . .if they ever did . . .but the jail was built and Ellensburg passed a restful July Fourth in 1884.

It will be 50 years, Jan. 5, 1955 since John Gilmour died. There are a few a few old timers around who knew him and remember this pioneer blacksmith. But the Gilmour name long will be remembered in the pioneer history of Ellensburg. Firty five years ago his sons, John and Fred, opened the Gilmour & Gilmour Grocery, which is also an interesting story.

MY COMMENT ON THE ABOVE: My great aunt Maud Gilmour, a younger sister of Frances, recorded the Gilmour family departure from Oregon in 1880 and not 1879 as the article states. This date is more believable since they were listed in Silverton Oregon in the 1880 U.S. Census.

According to historians, Ellensburg “was a natural place for cowboys to congregate in early days”. It possessed an “abundance of water” and became a natural place for a trading center. Prior to 1870, Andrew Jackson Splawn built a log cabin store which came to be known as “Robbers Roost”. There are many differing stories as to why. In 1871, the Splawn store came into the hands of John A. Shoudy, and he named it “Ellensburgh” in honor of his wife. In the year 1894, the final “h” was dropped, “through actions of the postal department”.

On 20 July 1875, at the request of John Shoudy and his wife Ellen, a master plan was devised and recorded which provided for a town covering twenty four blocks by twenty four blocks and which named streets and provided for public buildings.

In “The History of Central Washington” published in 1904, there is a another biography of John Thomas Gilmour which follows:

John T. Gilmour is a resident of Ellensburg, Washington and is following the same trade that his father followed before him— that of blacksmith. he was born in Hancock county, Illinois November 5, 1840. His father John W. Gilmour, was born in Kentucky September 13, 1813, and passed away in Ellensburg November 7, 1903, at the age of ninety. The elder Gilmour crossed the Plains with ox teams in 1851, and the following year settled on a homestead in Linn County, Oregon where he lived for thirty-three years. He then moved to the forks of the Santiam and resided there for some eight years, after which he lived with his children until his death last fall. His wife, Jane (Brounaugh) Gilmour was born in Kentucky in 1812 and died there in 1884. Mr. Gilmour, the subject of this article, attended school in Illinois until he was eleven years old, at which time he crossed the Plains with his parents. He helped them all he could until August 24, 1862, and then he took a claim near Albany, Oregon, where he lived a quarter of a century. While there in 1870, he took his father’s place at blacksmithing, with whom he learned his trade, then moved to Ellensburg and entered into business with Willis Thorp. After six months, Mr. Gilmour bought out his partner and has since continued to conduct business alone. He was married October 26, 1862, to Virginia Linebarger, who was born April 29, 1845, in Washington county, Oregon. Her father, Lewis Linebarger, was born in North Carolina in 1810, and was a farmer and frontiersman. He came to Oregon in 1843 and died in 1884. Her mother, whose maiden name was Jane Henderson, was born in North Carolina in 1808 and passed away in 1882. Mr. Gilmour was one of a family of ten children, and two brothers and two sisters are still living. Mr. and Mrs. Gilmour have been the parents of eleven children, of whom five are deceased. The surviving children are named: Fanny, Lena, Maud, Ona, Fred and John Their father was formerly a member of the Independent Order of Odd fellows and has passed through the entire Lodge, but in recent years has given up his membership. He is an ardent believer in the principle of the Democratic party, but has never been a seeker after political preferment.

MY COMMENT ON THE ABOVE BIOGRAPHY: There is some incorrect information in this biography. The correct spelling for the last name of John Thomas Gilmour’s mother was Jane Bronaugh, not Brounaugh and she was born in 1811, not 1812. Lewis Linebarger was born on 8 October in the year 1800 and not 1810; he died on 29 May in 1883, not in 1884. Jane Henderson was born on 5 August in 1802 and not in 1808. She died on 23 December 1875 and not in 1882 as the biography states.

This page copyrighted 2006 by its auther, Ron Stephens. Used by permission.