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The first of our lineage was John Gaston. Any (Irish) Gaston researcher with deep roots in America is probably descended him. He was born 1600 in France. The Gaston's were Protestants. The religion originated in Germany but became known as (French) Huguenot. After many years of persecution the descendents of John Gaston fled to Scotland then Ireland where they resided for some 200 years. By the 1600's William Gaston and, brother, John had established their families in County Antrim, Ireland. The throne of the British empire wished to make the Church of England the only religion of the country so the Protestants were, once again, being persecuted. Their marriages were declared invalid which highly angered all the Protestants, especially the ones who faithfully served the Queen. John was born 1645 in Scotland and died in Ireland. John Gaston's eldest son was William Gaston who was born 1685 and died 1770 in Ireland. He married Mary Olivet Lemon.
siblings of William Gaston are Hugh m. Jennet *?Kirkpatrick, unknown
male, Joseph m. Margaret *?*, John, Jr. m. Janet Thompson and Alexander
m. Mary Wilson.
William and Mary Gaston were progenitors of the many Gaston lineages in America today. Ours included. Their children were Justice John Gaston, Elizabeth m. John Knox, Rev. Hugh, Mary m. Justice James McClure, Robert m. Margaret Logan, Janet m. Charles Strong, William m. Jane Harbison, Martha m. Alexander Rosborough, Dr. Alexander m. Margaret Sharp
The eldest child of William and Mary was John who came to be known as "Justice John Gaston". He was born 1703 in County Antrim, Ireland and died 1782 in Fishing Creek, Chester District, South Carolina. He married Esther Waugh who was born 1715 died 1789. Both are buried in Fishing Creek. They are not in a cemetery.
Justice John was the father of 12 children.
The children of John and Esther Gaston were, Margaret m. James McCreary, Martha m. Joseph Gaston, William m. Janet "Jean" Love, John m. Jannet Knox, James, Robert m. Jennett (?), Hugh m. Martha McClure, Alexander, David, Ebenezer, Esther m. Alexander Walker, Joseph m. Jane Brown
The ancient Gaston family is well documented as to the part played in the formation of our country…four sons of John and Esther Gaston were killed during the Revolutionary War, all for the cause of freedom. Justice John was so involved in the cause of freedom for the Colonies that Tarleton pursued him even though he was an elderly man…so much so that John was forced into hiding. Each and every son was a veteran of that War and his daughters were also involved. Daughter, Esther, spent many hours caring for her injured brother and many other injured soldiers. Daughter-in-law, Mrs. John, Jr. (or Jannet Knox) was also highly involved. It is said, in many places, that the southern battles fought during the Revolutionary War were the deciding factors involved in American independence. The tactics used by the southern protestants who lived inland from the South Carolina coast were said to have done "in six months what the northern armies could not do in 3 ˝ years"… they helped to win the War. There is much documented and written about the Gaston family's part played during the War of Independence.
In 1745 John Gaston, Jr., the fourth child of Justice John and Esther, was born. In 1768 he married Jannet Knox, the daughter of James Knox and Lady Elizabeth Craig. Jannet was born October, 1742 in Glasgow Lanarkshier, Scotland whose family had migrated to the Colonies in 1767 to claim lands provided thru the Bounty Act that provided 100 acres of land to protestants over the age of 16.
John Gaston, Jr. served as a private in the Mounted Militia in the Company of Captain James McClure in the Regiment of Colonel Thomas Sumpter in March, 1776. He performed several tours of duty in order to suppress the collection of Tories who were bent on furnishing aid to the invaders. Following this victory it was decided to take care of the frontier where the British were stirring up the Indians against the settlers. John, Jr. then participated in a three month tour against the Cherokee. With this accomplished hostilities settled down until the Winter of 1780 when the British decided to use South Carolina for a base of their operations because of the mildness of the climate, the richness of the country, its proximity to Georgia and its distance from general George Washington. Sometime near May, 1780 the British and Tories robbed the household of John and Jannet Gaston taking nearly all their property. Years later Jannet was to report that they had even taken their marriage records. The ancestral home of Justice John and Esther Gaston was burned to the ground by Tareleton and his troops in their effort to hunt down John who had temporarily left his home in flight.
As the War proceeded Tarleton overtook Colonel Buford's troops in an "ambush" and slaughtered almost 300 of the patriot forces under a flag of truce. This so riled the protestants of the Rocky Creek Country that the protestant minister, Rev. William Martin, urged his church congregation to defeat the British…"Men, it's no time to talk; it's time to fight". The protestant religion had suffered so much in Scotland and Ireland that they would take no more persecution…"Would ye, my hearers, know the tender mercies of Britain? Then go to Waxhaw Meeting House and ye will see thy fellow citizens so mutilated that they have scarcely the appearance of human beings". The next morning Jannet Gaston began to organize and prepare to meet the foe. It had been said of her that "she did everything to defeat the British but shoulder arms".
John, Jr. was present at the defeat of the British at Kings Mountain. In the meantime, Jannet was left to run her household alone. Hanging Rock was another attempt by Sumpter to take a British Post. It was here that two of John's brothers were killed and a third was wounded. Shortly after Sumpter was defeated at Fishing Creek but with newly added forces he defeated Major Wemy at Fishdam Ford on the Broad River. It was here that John Gaston, Jr. was employed as a "quack doctor" to dress the wounds received in the battle by the General. Sumpter took a fancy to John and requested his company as a surgeon. John stayed in that position until after the Battle of Eutaw Springs when he was dismissed. Eutaw was the final battle of the Revolutionary War in the Southern States. (Even though John, Jr. wasn't a certified physician the 'nickname' 'Dock' stuck with his family for generations. We know that his grandson, David, was called Dock as was David's grandson, Issac Gaston & this writer's father was often called Dock).
No children were born of this union until 1777 when, son, James was born. James died 1802 of unknown causes. This writer believes that he is buried either in Logan or Butler Counties in Kentucky or Marion County Illinois…still searching for evidence. The other children were William b. 1779 died 1804, Elizabeth b. c. 1781 and Esther b. 1792.
In the winter of 1787 Jannet Knox/Gaston's father passed away (James Knox). In spring of 1788 Jannet's mother, sisters and brothers (Elizabeth, Robert, Samuel, Margaret & Nancy) left the Carolinas for Kentucky. William Knox and the family of the deceased James Knox, Jr. remained.
In 1796 the eldest daughter, Elizabeth Gaston married Jonathan Ferguson and in the spring of 1800 Elizabeth and Jonathan moved to Logan County, Kentucky.
Esther married her cousin, Samuel Gaston in 1806. This family has descendents in the area of Marion Co., Illinois today.
John Gaston, Jr. died of influenza in January, 1808. This was the time that Jannet and Esther and Samuel Gaston removed to Kentucky and later to Marion County, Illinois. Jannet Knox Gaston lived to a ripe old age and thoroughly enjoyed her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. In 1836 she applied for her pension from John's service during the War…she was 81 at the time. The Honorable Zadok Casey said in her memorial presented before the Committee on Pensions in 1834 that "This heroine of the revolution…appears to have done everything but fight in the Revolutionary War". In August, 1839 Jannet passed away at the age of 84 and is buried in the Gaston Cemetery, Rome Township, Jefferson, Illinois.
We believe that James, born 1777, and his wife Isabella Bigham (born 1780) was also involved in the move made in the spring of 1800, along with sister, Elizabeth and Jonathan Ferguson from South Carolina to Kentucky. In both the 1830, 1850 and 1860 census records for Monroe County, Tennessee the son of James & Isabella Bigham-Gaston/Shields told census enumerators that he was born in Kentucky.
Isabella Bigham was the daughter of James Bigham and Jane McFadden of Fishing Creek, Chester District, South Carolina. James Bigham was a friend and neighbor of Justice John and Esther Gaston.
We believe James and Isabella were married circa 1797-1799 in the Richland/Fishing Creek area. They gave birth to only one child. Their son was born in 1800 in Kentucky. The James Gaston family probably moved on to Illinois.
Sometime between 1802 and 1810 Isabella Bigham/Gaston met and married David Shields. Before the birth of their daughter, Margaret in 1811, David and Isabella Shields returned to Tennessee bringing the son of James Gaston with them. Isabella likely died in Monroe County, TN. This is verified by a court case in Greene County, Tennessee in which James and Margaret gave deposition. Old John Mosier gave a deposition stating that he knew Isabella Gaston for years & had lived near them. It is not made clear if this was in Greene or Monroe County.
In 1817, the Hiwassee Purchase opened up much of the Cherokee lands of southeast Tennessee. From these lands was formed Monroe County, Tennessee. By 1820-21 James Gaston (Born 1800) had married Mary "Polley" Sheets. Mary was the daughter of Jacob Sheets and Margaret Rule of Mt. Bethel, Pennsylvania. Jacob and Margaret had arrived in Tennessee by 1790 and had resided in Sullivan County for a few years before moving on to Monroe County, TN. Mary was born 1796 in Sullivan County, Tennessee. In 1821, James Gaston signed a petition in Monroe County. In the years following the Gaston's move to Monroe County there is a great amount of documentation that clearly shows their involvement in the St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church and the families within the church and the political structure in Monroe County.
Mt. Bethel was the seat of many of the families we find the Gaston's
involved with throughout the early years. The Sheet's, Gaston's,
Galbraith's, Rule's and others are often found there.
Margaret, James' sister, married, John Sheets, born 1799 & was the brother of Mary Sheets. They also made their home in Monroe County, TN. Their children were: Rachel c. 1827, John c. 1829, Isabella c. 1832, Henry c. 1834, Margaret Katherine c. 1836 ( Margaret married William Toliver Frank and both are buried at New Hope Cemetery in Loudon Co., TN.), Nancy c. 1839, David c. 1841, Decatur c. 1843, Marion c. 1845, Emoline c. 1849. Margaret and John Sheets are interred at St. Pauls Evangelical Lutheran Church Old Cemetery.
Joseph Shields married Margaret Sheets. Margaret Sheets was sister to Mary and John Sheets. We have letters that were written by a family member during the Civil War from the child of Margaret Sheets and Joseph Shields whose name was David Shields. David Shields died of measles while serving in the Civil War in Obion County in west Tennessee. This same David Shields called David Gaston "cousin".
Joseph Shields is only presumed to be a son of David Shields, the husband of Isabella Bigham/Gaston. It is unproven since no evidence can be found as to who he is. It IS known that Joseph played a part of the Gaston's lives. The term that David used, 'cousin', could refer only to the relationship between the Sheets part of the family.