Ole Man’s Family

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Ole Man’s Father. John Ellison Gillespie became famous early in life as one of the volunteer Texas Rangers who participated in the Battle of Pease River which freed Cynthia Ann Parker from the Comanches. As fate would have it, these same men would later join Ranks under the Texas 6th Cavalry commanded by the same man who led them against the Comanches – General Sul Ross. However, John suffered four Major chronic injuries during the civil war that limited what work he could do.Sarah came to Texas in November 1902 and became enamored with the former Texas Ranger and veteran of the civil war. Sarah and John were Married during November 1904 when John was 60 years old. John Sr filed for his civil war pension 2 weeks before John Edward Gillespie was born on September 19, 1905.
Robert Gillespie followed several years later. Unfortunately, the civil war veteran filed for admission to the Confederate Home For Men in Austin, Texas when his son was only 2 years old. Almost a son, almost an orphan.

It was a sorrow filled day when John Sr parted ways from his son. Sarah was left to care for 2 sons as She became a maid for a local hotel. John Jr and His brother Robert, dropped out of school and began Selling vegetables door to door to help. His was a Family living on the edge and at the mercy of family Friends, the catholic church and any odd job they could find. A new fraternal organization called the Knights of Columbus heard of their plight and began to assist by finding odd jobs, providing food, and the noble men of this organization became father figures to Young John.

Sarah Gillespie would become the pillar of motherly strength to her sons. Money problems began to add up as it became apparent that something had to be done. Although she did not want to burden her ailing husband, he realized the dire need for his help and discharged himself from the Confederate Home on February 1, 1917. However, he re-applied within a year because he was suffering the accumulation of chronic infirmities as a result of the civil war. John Sr could not hold a job as he was ill more than he was well. Family finances warranted moving Sarah and the boys to a flat above the pastor’s house at St Mary’s Church. Sarah would clean homes, clean hotel rooms and whatever work would come her way. When he was old enough, John Jr would hustle vegetables door to door as a way of earning money for the family.

The priest at St Mary’s church had often asked John Jr about becoming a man of God. John had wondered if this was his life’s mission or if God had intended him for some other calling. Fate, however, interceded between he and the cloth as he became man of the house at a young age. It was the daily toll on his mother which would deeply affect him as a young boy and cause him to push himself beyond what other boys had to do. The reality of his father’s frailties gave him the sight to see his mother’s diminishing health. He had become a man of depth beyond his age. The civil war stories his father told now meant more. The pride and compassion of his mother were traits his scouts were to see time and again. Learning adult secrets at a young age gave him a wisdom easily given as advice to boys who would later see him as a second father.

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