Sunday, February 14, 2021

SUNDAY’S OBITUARY ~ Susan Burgess Gillespie–my maternal 2nd great grandmother (1841-1933)

My maternal 2nd great grandmother, Susan BURGESS was born 20 Nov 1840 in England (no specific location known).  She was the daughter of Henry Burgess (about 1812-before 1875) and Elizabeth GAYDON (1813-1884).  She had two known siblings, William and John.

Susan immigrated to the United States on 23 Dec 1862, with her husband Joseph GILLESPE, two infants, and her widowed mother, Elizabeth Gaydon Burgess. This is recorded in the book Passage to American, 1851-1869, page 68, a record of Passenger Agent, Richard Elliott. 

At the time of her immigration Susan was 22 yrs. old, her husband Joseph was 25, infant daughter Susie was 2 years old and her infant son Joseph, 9 months old.  Other than the reference in the book noted above, I have not located an immigration record. 

Susan and her husband Joseph went on to have two more children, born in Detroit. Elizabeth in 1865 and Louise in 1866. 

Susan became a widow on 26 May 1908, when Joseph died at age 71.  She lost her only son, William Henry Gillespie just 3 years later in 1911. He was only 49 years old and left a wife and 3 sons. 

Susan lived for 25 years after the death of Joseph and was 92 when she died.  I am fortunate to have several pictures of Susan. 

Left to right - Joseph & Susan Gillespie with their great granddaughter Dorothy Milne circa 1907, Susan and Joseph with their granddaughter, Irene Milne circa 1910 and photo on far right is Susan age late 80's-90 standing on the left, the young child is her great granddaughter, Betty Jane Roe, the woman with the little girl is someone named Aunt Sally and the woman standing on the right is Susan's daughter, Susie Gillespie Milne 

We each have 16 2nd great grandparents.  Of those, I have pictures of only 5.  I feel quite fortunate to have those.  Depending on your age, you may have more pictures of your 2nd great grandparents.

At the top of this post, you can see the page from the scrapbook where the information about Susan Gillespie’s death was kept all these years.  I visited her great granddaughter Betty Jane Roe in 2009 and she was kind enough to share many family photos and articles with me.

Here is Susan’s obituary and below that, my transcription.

Obituary for Mrs. Susan Gillespie - Detroit Free Press, page 5 - 10 Mar 1933

Funeral services for Mrs. Susan Gillespie, for 70 years a resident of Detroit, will be held Saturday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock in the Church of the Messiah, Lafayette Ave. and E. Grand Blvd.  Burial will be in Elmwood Cemetery.

Mrs. Gillespie died Wednesday in the home of her daughter, Mrs. James Forsyth, at 1438 Helen Ave.  She was 92 years old.  Her husband, James [misprint, should be Joseph] died 25 years ago.  A son, William, formerly circulation manager of the Free Press, died 22 years ago.

Surviving are Mrs. Forsyth and two other daughters, Mrs. Clyde Smith of Detroit, and Mrs. James B. Verney, of Toronto.

I searched the Detroit Free Press for any articles that might have included Susan’s name.  Any societies she was a member of, teas or gatherings she attended etc.  I found none.  I have no idea about the details of Susan’s life.  What did she enjoy doing?  Who were her friends? 

I wish I had those answers.

If you are connected to anyone mentioned in this blog post, I’d love to hear from you.


52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks–Week #4–Elizabeth Gaydon Burgess–1813-1884–My 3rd great grandmother – this post is about Susan’s mother

SUNDAY’S OBITUARY ~ Elizabeth Gillespie Verney–my great grandaunt (1865-1948) – this is Susan’s daughter

Happy hunting,

Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2021   Diane Gould Hall



  1. I love reading your posts especially the ones from Detroit. I don't have any connection (yet) to what you have written but MY great-grandfather was also buried at Elmwood Cemetery. That is quite the place to visit.

    1. Hi Cheryl. Thank you so much for reading my posts. I’ve been back to Detroit 3 times in the last 12 years (I live in CA). And each time, I visit Elmwood and other cemeteries like Grand Lawn and Woodmere and Mt Oliver. Elmwood is my favorite.

  2. Great find in Cora’s Scrapbook, Diane.


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.