John Gass Will & Misc. Family Notes
I am sick in body but sound in memory and judgment blessed be almighty God for it I make this my last will and testament revoking all other wills and testaments made by me. I bequeath my sole to the great God who gave it to me and my body to be decently buried in the church yard of Donegal as my exs. some site allow. I leave my dear wife two child's parts of the whole after my just and lawful debts is paid: also if she marries in eight to ten years she is to leave the plantation to my sons: also my children are not to receive their part for four years after due. Also I leave my dear wife and Benjamin Gass executors and William Brayns and Sam Smith or Peter Rod tutors to my whole family.
Signed Sealed and Delivered in the Presence of Use: and dated this 28 day of June 1734.
Memorandum before signing that it is only the three oldest of my children that are to want their part for four years after it is due.
Archibald Woods, William Wallace, Sa(m) Smith, William Bryan
Jon. Gass (Seal)
I wish to thank, Mary Cole of California, for her continued kindness and great efforts in
researching the Gass family ... and sharing w/us this wonderful token of family history
... The Jon. Gass Will.
Lancaster Co., Pennsylvania Will Book A, Volume 1, page 19
Benjamin Gass was named exc. in 1734. In his will the elder John Gass directed that his remains "be desently buried in the church yard of Donigall" and that "ye plantation (be left) to my sons."
*Donegal Church is located in the present day town of Hershey, Daulphin Co., Pa. At the time of John's death this area was located in Lancaster Co., Pa. No "Gass" is shown as
having been a member of Donegal Church. Those I did find with similar spelling are:
Joseph and Mary Guess ... Joseph Guest ... The following all have surname Gest:
Ann, Benj., Daniel, Deborah, Deborough, Elizabeth, Hannah, Henry, John, Joseph,
Margaret, Mary, and Ruth.
It's believed and undoubtedly so, that William Magill was quite possibly the third
husband of Margaret Gass. Margaret removed to Virginia sometime after Johns
death ... wherein, she and William were married. Thusly, the children listed for
William Magill would be his children and not hers. It's further speculated, because
of the unusual request in John Gass' Will, that Margaret may not have been the
mother of all of his children and that he feared for her well being after his death.
Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Viginia extracted from the original
court records of Augusta Co., 1745-1800.
"Abstracts of Wills of Augusta County, Virginia, Augusta County Court ...
Will Book Number 1" ... Page 202
10th Octorber, 1749. William Magill's will -- Wife, Margaret, and her son, David
Gass; sons, James and William, adjoining Charles Campbell; son, John; grandchild,
James' son; daughter, Elizabeth. Executors, Robert Cravens, Hugh Campbell.
Signed William Magill, Margaret Magill. Teste: Andrew Erwin, Charles Campbell.
Proved, 29th November, 1749, when Margaret renounced the will. (p. 15)
An Index to the Will Books and Intestate Records of
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania 1729 - 1850
(The following Cowen's can be found in the above described index)
David Cowan (1757)
Henry Cowan (1760)
John Cowan (1760)
Wm. Cowan (1793)
David Cowan (1758)
Geroge Cowan (1799)
Thomas Cowan (1770)
The Origin of Surname Gass
In the 13th century the massive land holdings of the powerful Murray clan
of Tullibardine included Trinity of Gask, located near Edinburgh in the
Parish of Perathshire. Our ancestors trace to this period. They
represented the ancient Murray family, and more than likely were
men-at-arms from Gask and rated as " bonnet lairds'--meaning they held land
by the feudal method of bearing arms for their superiors. In the 14th
century some of Murrays of Gask moved south to Dumfriesshire. There our
Perthshire forebears "of Gask" also settled and became cross connected at
least by legal implication, to three powerful Border clans--the Murrays,
Carruthers, and Irvings. In 1438 the name Andrew of Gask appears as Rector
of Rampatrick, embracing the present Parishes of Dornock, Gretna, and
Kirkpatrick Fleming. His signature exisits as witness to a transcript of a
Murray Cockpool Chater. The Merkland Cross stands today in memory of the
eldest son of Lord Maxwell who was sworded by Matthew Gask in 1484 in
revenge for the hanging of a cousin. William and David Gask witnessed a
land grant on July 3, 1532 involving the Currathers and later, Gask the
Elder, sighned a document dated June 23, 1541. Scores of legal Gask
signatures survive these early times and all have documented. Sometime
before teh 16th century, the Dumfriesshire Gask agreed to " lowlandize" the
name to GASS. John Gass and others in Tordock are recoreded in the
Commissariat of Dumfries in 1626. The Dornock Parish tombstones reveal the
early spelling as "GAFS' --- the old method of showing the double S. Today
the evidence is conclusive. The name was originally GASK and only the
decendants of William GASS ( 1667-1749) and thoes who claim descent from a
Dumfriesshire source are related and are descended from our common
forebear, ANDREW OF GASK, who lived in the 1420 period. It has been said
that the world isdivided into two nationalities-----Scotsmen and those who
wish they were Scotsmen. The claim is not easily proved for it was not
until 1855 that the Scots were compelled to record births and deathes.
Very frw Scots today, particularly along the Border, can trace their
forebears beyond the mid 1800's. It is both unusal and historically
satisfying that we are able to authenticate the history of our family of
Americian GASSES directly back for ten generations and the name even
futher. It must be remembered that the English-Scottish frontier is and
was the dividing line between two of the most energetic, agressive,
talented.and altogether formidable nations in human history. Between the
two countries there existed centuries of terrible and prolonged violence.
By the 16th century, robbery and bloodshed was a systematic way of life.
The Border people literally lived on a battlefield. Feuds with the
English, as well as between families and clans, were long and deadly. But
the constant strife bred a hard and self-reliant people. For centuries
GASS families farmed and fought in this beautiful Dumfriesshire Border
country along the Solway shores. The name appears in most every burial
ground in the Dumfriesshire area, as well as on Scotland's oldest map.
Distant relatives are promient in the area today. The rugged Border
country was indeed the land of our forebears, and the ancestral roots go
deep in the ancient Scottish soil.
*The above was provided, with the greatest of appreciation by Vickie Gass.
©1998 Roxann Gess Smith
All Rights Reserved
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