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~The Story of James Isham Gideon~

The following is excerpted from the book "The Descendants of James Isham Gideon and Allied Families 1764-1969" by Gertrude Cleghorn Josserand, 1969. As there is no copyright, and the book was published for distribution to family members who descended from James Isham for the purpose of helping them learn more about their heritage, I will quote from it liberally throughout this website. As the author stated in her original preface, "May this genealogy help to keep alive the family's history and a feeling of kinship among the widely scattered descendants."


It was August in 1764 when three young lads landed in Norfolk, Va., in a slow ship from Ireland, according to Judge Thomas Jefferson Gideon, prominent lawyer of Springfield, MO. Judge Gideon, a great-grandson of one of these immigrants, wrote a brief sketch in 1895 about this early Gideon family having lived near his grandfather for more than twenty years, most of the information was first hand as follows:

"James Isham Gideon, the founder of this branch of the family in America, was born in Cork, Ireland, in A.D. 1749 of Irish parentage. His father was a Hatter by trade and in humble; circumstances. The news of the New World, its riches and advantages and the free homes it offered, increased his desire to escape the oppressions of the Old World, and he cast his lot with the great masses who were pushing the star of the empire westward. In the Spring of 1764 in company with his two half-brothers, Roger and Frank, they sailed for America and landed at Norfolk, Va. about August 1764. They settled in Roanoke Co. Virginia on a large tract of land where they engaged in farming until the War of the Revolution broke out. Remembering the suffering of the Irish people at the hands of Great Britain, their natural antipathy for England, and their love of liberty, they entered the Continental Army under Washington and served during the war.

Frank was killed in battle in Virginia, and left only James Isham and Roger from which the family sprung. After the war closed, they retired to their homes and it is said that Roger married and moved to New York.

James Isham married Patty Mills in Wilkes Co., N.C. who was perhaps of English descent. He moved to Wilkes Co. N.C. and settled a farm on the Yadkin River. Of this marriage five sons and two daughters were born: Edward, William, James, Isham, Elizabeth, Sarah and John.

James Isham emigrated from Wilkes Co., N.C. to Hawkins Co. Tennessee and located with his family on a farm on War Creek where he died of Paralysis in 1832; his wife Pattie, died in 1834. In politics he was a Federalist or Anti-Tory; in religion he and his wife were Baptists, hard-shell, and he was a member of the Masonic Fraternity. Although a farmer, he was a Hatter, having learned the trade from his father in Cork, Ireland."

After years of searching for the old Gideon Bible, it was located by Judge J.R. Gideon of Forsyth, Missouri in Pawhuska, Oklahoma, in possession of a great great granddaughter, Catherine Florence Cullifer. (A xerox copy included here.) Unfortunately the page of deaths was torn out so the dates of some of the family will forever remain a mystery. It is interesting to see the various spellings of the name in the Bible.

The marriage License of James Isham Gideon was found in Wilkes Co., N.C., but the ink has faded through the almost 200 years and the photo-stat is not pain enough to include. However it reads: "Know all men by these presents that we James Giddens and Stephen Carpenter of Wilkes Co., N.C., are held and firmly bound until Richard Cavwell Esq. Govnor &c. in the full sum of 500 pounds (subject to liquidation) to be paid to the said Richard Cavwell, Govenor and his successors in office to which payment will be Truely be made, we bid ourselves, Our Heirs, Executors and Administrators, jointly and severally firmly by these presents stated with our seals and dated this first day of February A.D. 1787."

"The condition of the Above Obligation is such that whereas James Giddens hath made application for a marriag(sic) License to be granted between his James Giddens, and Martha Mills- Now if there is no just cause to obstruct said marriage, but, if it be in every respect Lawfull, then the above obligation to be void. Otherwise to remain full force and Virtue."

Signed, sealed and delivered James (X) Giddens (Seal) in Presents of - his mark Wm. Lenoir D.C.C.

(Capitals and spelling as in the record) Stephen (X) Carpenter(Seal) his mark

Children of James Isham and Martha "Pattie" Mills Gideon: (dates and spelling as in the Family Bible)

1. Edward Giddens b. 5 November 1787 m. Katie Bunton

2. William Giddens b. 4 June 1791 m. Matilda Woods

3. James Giddins b. 21 August 1793 m. Sarah ________

4. Isham Giddins b. 15 October 1795 m. Nancy Miller

5. Elizabeth Gidins b. 12 March 1798 m. (1) Solomon Davis (2) Capt. John Pike

6. Sarah Giddins b. 21 November 1808 m. Hiram Reed

7. John Giddins b. 4 June 1810 m. Mary Ivans (Evans)


Footnote- In Biographical Sketches of seven Gideon Men in "The Reminences History of the Ozark Region" some stated that the brothers of James Isham were Roger and Edward, while another descendant stated the brothers were Reuban and Edward. Both Reuban and Roger have been found in N.C. and Georgia. Files of data have been collected on these men. It is hoped that their full stories will be compiled and published by someone later on. (end of quote from the book)

Update: A fellow researcher has found a Revolutionary War name of a Gideon, spelled several different ways, in the "9 Continental Line of Virginia". Anyone with information on this unit or the military service record of James Isham Gideon, please contact me. (TES)

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