Saturday, August 10, 2013

Age of Nicholas Gassaway Rogers

Sometimes the official documents make very little sense, but it's difficult to argue with them since you weren't actually there. Today is a day when I have official documentation which reports specific relationships between persons which make very little sense, and so I have to try and adjust my records accordingly.

Major Nicholas Gassaway, son of Thomas Gassaway and Susanna Hanslap, married Catherine Worthington, daughter of Thomas Worthington and Elizabeth Ridgely. Both Nicholas and Catherine have existing baptismal records which have them being baptized in 1719 and 1720, respectively. As they were likely baptized as infants, it is safe to assume both were born in the years in which they were baptized.

Despite this, somehow, most family trees I have come across online have their daughter Susanna Gassaway, who married John Rogers, as being born somewhere in the 1720's, some even having her approximate year of birth as 1720. Since she clearly cannot be the age of her parents, this information is incorrect.

Similarly, many have the year of birth of Susanna's son, Nicholas Gassaway Rogers, as approximately 1749, and some even list him as being born in the early 1740's. This would mean Nicholas Gassaway and Catherine Worthington would have become grandparents in their early-to-mid 20's. This seems highly unlikely.

Some might say "How do we know Susanna Gassaway is the daughter of Nicholas and Catherine?" Well, we know because of both of their wills. Nicholas names her "my daughter Susanna Rogers", and Catherine names her "my beloved daughter Susanna Rogers". Nicholas's will also names his grandson, Nicholas Gassaway Rogers, seemingly proving he is a biological grandson, rather than a son of a previous marriage of John Rogers. (It seems probable he had a previous marriage, as he appears to be significantly older than Susanna Gassaway, though he may not have been.) So if Nicholas Gassaway was born in 1719, when were Susanna and Nicholas Rogers born?

Nicholas Rogers was having children by the early-to-mid 1770's with his wife, Margaret Odell. Most have Margaret's date of birth being approximately 1753-1755. This would make her between 19 and 21 when she first became bearing children, and this makes sense. I think we can likewise conclude that Nicholas was born between 1753 and 1755, rather than in the 1740's.

While it is possible Catherine Worthington was bearing children as young as 14 or 15, I think it more likely she was 16 or 17. So I would estimate Susanna Gassaway's approximate year of birth to be about 1737. That way, she was at least 16-18 when Nicholas Rogers was born between 1753-1755. If only we had baptismal records for Susanna Gassaway and Nicholas Rogers as we do for Nicholas Gassaway and Catherine Worthington, then there could be more certainty regarding their ages, but as far as I have found, none exist.

To review:

Rather than having Nicholas Gassaway and Catherine Worthington born in 1719 1720, respectively, and having their daughter born in the 1720's, and having their grandson born in the 1740's, the more logical timeline should be: Nicholas and Catherine born in 1719 and 1720, Susanna born approximately 1737 (give or take a year), and Nicholas Gassaway Rogers being born between 1753 and 1755.

If anyone disputes any of this or has proof that any of these persons may be older or younger than I presume, please contact me.

1 comment:

  1. Nathan,
    I am a descendant of Nicholas Gassaway Rogers and I too have been troubled by the confusing dates. Could it be that we are looking at several generations with the same name, and have confused who is married to whom? My Rodgers relatives ended up in SC some time in the late 1700s and are mostly all still there! Would love to correspond with you. My name is Michele Rodgers and my email is The default comment id is Katherine Wagner, my daughter.