“Explaining the Migration Patterns of English and Scottish Immigrants – A Look at the Gibson Family”

One common misconception about immigrants is that once arriving in the United States, they remained in one place; however, it was quite common for immigrants to move from place to place. Often immigrants would either move farther West or along the East Coast. One family that represents this migration pattern is the Gibson family. William Gibson was born in County Armagh in Northern Ireland while his wife Margaret Mahaffey Gibson was born somewhere in the British Empire, although the exact place is unclear.[1] William immigrated to the United States from Northern Ireland via Liverpool, England on May 2, 1849. [2] They married on March 20, 1852 in Philadelphia at the Eleventh Street Methodist Episcopal Church.[3] William would go on to become an allopath (a doctor who practices allopathic medicine), and Margaret is listed as a housekeeper in the 1880 U.S. Census. [4]

(Figure 1: Photo of Marriage Record of Margaret and William – Courtesy of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708 – 1985. “William Gibson and Margaret Mehaffey,” accessed September 26, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com.)

(Figure 1: Photo of Marriage Record of Margaret and William – Courtesy of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708 – 1985. “William Gibson and Margaret Mehaffey,” accessed September 26, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com.)

 

In addition to getting married in Pennsylvania, two of their children Matilda Emily and Henrietta, were also born there. [5] Their next child, Thomas Samuel, was listed in both the 1870 and 1880 U.S. Census as being born in Illinois, thus illustrating that the family moved. [7] One interesting fact about the Gibson family is that by 1860, William and Margaret sent their daughter Matilda Emily to live with Margaret’s parents, the Mahaffeys, in Alexandria, Virginia.[8]

(1860 Census of Alexandria, Virginia showing Matilda Gibson as listed as in the Mahaffey household – Courtesy of 1860 U.S. Census Data (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, sheet no. 83, Matilda Gibson, line 6, digital image, accessed September 14, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com.)

(1860 Census of Alexandria, Virginia showing Matilda Gibson as listed as in the Mahaffey household – Courtesy of 1860 U.S. Census Data (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, sheet no. 83, Matilda Gibson, line 6, digital image, accessed September 14, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com.)

 

(The blue house marks the location of the Mahaffey house in Alexandria in 1860 – This is where Matilda Gibson lived with her maternal grandparents. Courtesy of Don Debats, Voting Via Voce: Unlocking the Social Logic of Past Politics, University of Virginia, Accessed September 25, 2016, http://sociallogic.iath. virginia.edu/node/14?name=Mahaffey&sex=&race=1&bg=&data_set=alex_people&contains=1.)

(The blue house marks the location of the Mahaffey house in Alexandria in 1860 – This is where Matilda Gibson lived with her maternal grandparents. Courtesy of Don Debats, Voting Via Voce: Unlocking the Social Logic of Past Politics, University of Virginia, Accessed September 25, 2016, http://sociallogic.iath.
virginia.edu/node/14?name=Mahaffey&sex=&race=1&bg=&data_set=alex_people&contains=1.)

 

In the two years following Thomas Samuel’s birth, the Gibson family moved to Alexandria, Virginia where they lived for the remainder of their lives. [9] During their life in Alexandria, they had six more children in addition to Thomas Samuel: four sons and two daughters. At the time of William’s death in 1903, the Gibson family was well established and respected within the local community. [10]

1880 Census Showing the Gibson Family in Alexandria, Courtesy of 1880 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, Enumerated District 4, sheet no. 8, “Margaret Gibson, line 23, digital image, accessed September 15, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com.)

1880 Census Showing the Gibson Family in Alexandria, Courtesy of 1880 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, Enumerated District 4, sheet no. 8, “Margaret Gibson, line 23, digital image, accessed September 15, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com.)

 

(Newspaper obituary for Dr. William Gibson. Courtesy of “Death of Doctor Gibson” Alexandria Gazette, January 28, 1903. Accessed September 27, 2016, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress.)

(Newspaper obituary for Dr. William Gibson. Courtesy of “Death of Doctor Gibson” Alexandria Gazette, January 28, 1903. Accessed September 27, 2016, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress.)

 

(The gravestone marking the burial site of William and Margaret Gibson – Courtesy of Find a Grave “William Gibson,” accessed September 23, 2016. www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&Grid=67445373.)

(The gravestone marking the burial site of William and Margaret Gibson – Courtesy of Find a Grave “William Gibson,” accessed September 23, 2016. www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&Grid=67445373.)

 

[1]. It is hard to know with certainly exactly where Margaret was born. On the 1870 Census, her place of birth is listed as Canada. But on the 1880 Census, her birthplace is listed as Scotland. Complicating matters, her father’s birthplace is recorded as Scotland, while her mother’s is listed as Canada, making both places a possible birthplace of Margaret.

[2]. New York, Passenger and Immigration Lists, 1820 – 1850. “William Gibson,” accessed September 24, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com.

[3]. Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Church and Town Records, 1708 – 1985. “William Gibson and Margaret Mehaffey,” accessed September 26, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com.

[4]. Directory of Deceased American Physicians, 1804 – 1929, “William Gibson,” accessed September 24, 2016; 1880 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, Enumerated District 4, sheet no. 8, “Margaret Gibson, line 23, digital image, accessed September 15, 2016, http://www.ancestry.com. http://www.ancestry.com.

[5]. 1880 U.S. Census, Alexandria Virginia, “Matilda Emily Gibson and Henrietta.”

[6]. 1870 U.S. Census (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, sheet no. 7, “Thomas Gibson,” line 36, digital image, accessed September 15, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com.

[7]. 1860 U.S. Census Data (Population Schedule), Alexandria, Virginia, sheet no. 83, Matilda Gibson, line 6, digital image, accessed September 14, 2016. http://www.ancestry.com.

[8]. “Death of Doctor Gibson” Alexandria Gazette, January 28, 1903. Accessed September 27, 2016, Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers, Library of Congress.

[9]. “William Gibson,” Find a Grave, accessed September 23, 2016. www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&Grid=67445373.

 

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