Joseph, Thomas and William – What do we know about Generation 2?

Joseph, Thomas and William – What do we know about Generation 2?

When we go back to Alva Gorby’s book published in 1935, we are told that Samuel Gorby and Mary May had three sons;

Joseph, born about 1725

Thomas, born about 1730

William, born about 1742

Again, this information is all anecdotal, primarily coming from notes kept by Josephus Gorby (son of John, son of Job, son of Thomas).  With a date span of 17 years between the eldest and youngest sons, likely there were other children who are not documented.  But what does the historical record say?

About William, it says nothing.  I have found no historical documentation of his existence.  Josephus said he died without issue, so unless proven otherwise, his birth is moot.

Now where Joseph is concerned, his earliest records were discussed in our previous post.  He makes his first appearance in the historical record in 1745.  Alva’s estimation of his birth date is simple conjecture, we have no idea of his actual birth date.

Joseph continues to appear in many land records as he and Maria sold off bits of the property she inherited from Erasmus Stedham up through 1764.  After that, the trail stops.  One wonders what happened to all of the money garnered from these sales as no one from Joseph’s line seemed to inherit anything of substance.  More on this topic in a future post.

Alva’s book mentions Joseph Gorby appearing on the Bethel Township, Delaware Co, PA tax lists.   The Chester County web site at has these records online.

Joseph was taxed on 15 acres in Bethel Township in 1772, 1773 (as ‘Gorbey’) and 1774.  His occupation is noted as ‘Mason’.  He also appears on the 1775 tax roll but as an ‘inmate’, not a landholder which means that year he was renting the property where he lived.  We are sure (based on the available records) that this Joseph Gorby is Generation 3, son of Joseph Generation 2 and Maria Littlejohn.

Of Thomas, the historical record begins later, but is more clearly documented in the Pennsylvania Archives through land and tax records.

Alva found Thomas “Garby” on the tax list for Kennett Township, Chester Co, PA in 1769.

In 1783 Thomas is living in Rostraver Township, Westmoreland Co, PA then in 1785 he is living in Washington Township, Fayette Co, PA but — he did not actually move.  Washington Township was created from Rostraver Township when Fayette County was split from Westmoreland County in 1783.

Here is Washington Township, Fayette Co, PA (maps from Wikipedia):

Washington Twp, Fayette Co, PA

In 1786, Thomas is living in Washington Co, PA, first in Donegal Township then after it is split in 1788 in Finley Township.  Finley is then split into East Finley and West Finley in 1828 with Thomas’ property ending up in East Finley.

Here is East Finley Township, Washington Co, PA (maps from Wikipedia):

East Finley Township, Washington Co, PA

This is quite important to us because this leads us to our one and only historical record which ties the descendants of Thomas to the descendants of Joseph.

From “WARRANTEES OF LAND IN THE County of Washington 1784-1892”, 34-Vol. XXVI, 3rd Ser. we find:

Gorby, Thomas  200 acres, Date of Survey March 24, 1788.

Then from Records of the Land Office, PATENT INDEX, P SERIES (P-20 to P-35), 1792-1800. {series #17.155}, on page 113, we find that Joseph Gorby purchased on June 3, 1795 400 acres of land in Washington Co, PA adjacent to Thomas’ patent, which he sold on the day of the survey to Job Gorby, son of Thomas.

To make things easier on us, the original land records are now on line through the Pennsylvania Archives here:

When we search them we find the two Gorby plats, side-by-side:

Thomas and Joseph Plats in East Finley Township, Washington Co, PA

Then, in context, the plats superimposed over a modern topographic map.  The area around the intersection of Pennsylvania 231 and State Route 3035:

East Finley Township topo map

What we do know is that the name ‘Joseph’ was rarely used by Thomas’s descendants, but was common in Joseph (Gen 2)’s branch of the Family.

Alva assumed the 1795 purchase was made by Thomas’ brother Joseph (Gen 2) , but then she had also made the error that Joseph (Gen 3) who married Hanna Stilley was the same person as his father Joseph (Gen 2).

Regardless of which Joseph made the 1795 purchase, it has always been assumed that the purchase ‘proves’ the familial link between the two branches.  In light of the lack of any other documentation, it is the best we have.

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