George holding Anna Estelle, Mary Louise, and Jessie
Photo taken in Morgantown, West Virginia circa 1897 and Jessie is probably pregnant with Sarah Margaret! (my paternal grandmother)


of Morgantown, West Virginia

George Ethelbert VanGilder, son of John Oliphant VanGilder and Mary Louise Hill, was born January 27, 1861 in Monongalia County, West Virginia. As a young man, he was a teacher in the rural schools of Monongalia County. For a time he was a house painter and paper hanger with his brother, Robert Ross VanGilder. In 1883, the same year his father was president, he was elected to the post of secretary of the Morgan District Board of Education.

On October 28, 1891 in Monongalia County, West Virginia, George married his second cousin and former student, Jessica B. Pool, daughter of Sampson Frum Pool and Sarah Louise Harner. It has been said that Jessie’s father, Sampson Pool, was not very pleased that his daughter was marrying a man who was almost ten years older. He warned her, “You watch, he will die and leave you with a parcel of kids!” It is with this marriage that the two VanGilder lines from which I descend come back together forming a genealogical knot. George VanGilder descends from Jacob and Anna Margaret VanGilder through their son Jacob, Jr. and Jessie Pool descends through their daughter, Elizabeth who married Sampson Smith Frum.

The VanGilders began to raise their family of girls in Morgantown. When the subdivision of Seneca was formed from Morgantown in 1898, George was elected its first recorder. He was the enumerator of the 1900 federal census for all those living north of Decker Creek in the Seneca District. A Republican, George ran successfully for two successive terms as the East Side Assessor. The Morgantown Weekly Post announced in the May 19, 1904 edition, “Although he was sick in bed and unable to canvas, VanGilder received the largest vote polled, VanGilder--2237 votes, Hawkins--865 votes.” The May 26, 1904 edition of The Morgantown Weekly Post recalled that, “VanGilders total number of votes was the highest in the county. Next highest was the 1495 cast for the man running for the State Senate.” In addition, he owned and ran a store in Morgantown with his brother-in-law, Charles Pell and was an honored member of the local lodge of Knights of Pythias.

Two months after the death of his father, George VanGilder died, on May 24 1904, after suffering for months with kidney disease. The Morgantown Weekly Post announced that, “The news of Mr. VanGilder’s death comes as a great shock to his host of warm personal friends in this city and vicinity, although it has long been known that he was in critical condition his friends had never ceased to hope that he would ultimately be restored to health, and the news of his demise will cause genuine heartfelt regret throughout the community.” In Morgantown there is a VanGilder Street located where the farm of John Oliphant VanGilder's farm was located. The cross street is “George Street” probably for George VanGilder.

Jessie, a widow at age thirty-four, opened a boarding house for West Virginia University students in her home in Morgantown. As the four girls grew older, they also helped with the cooking and cleaning after they were home from school. About 1912 Jessie and her four daughters moved to the new steel town of Woodlawn, in Beaver County, Pennsylvania where Jessie ran a boarding house and restaurant.

Jessie lived in various river towns on the Monongahela River from 1915-1920, probably cooking. By 1920, the family was living in Allegheny County, at 242 North Dithridge Street in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Jessie is listed as a “keeper of a rooming house.” In the 1920's, Jessie was employed as the cook on Captain Faddis’ riverboat La Belle. Her youngest daughter, Jessica Virginia "Ginger", worked with her mother before she married.

Jessie’s home base was Pittsburgh during the 1920’s and her grandchildren have fond memories of her baking skills. In 1928, Jessie had a huge goiter removed from her neck. She always wore a strand of pearls to cover the scar from the surgery. About 1932, she moved to Akron, Ohio and lived with her married daughter, Ginger Rootes and her family, until her death from a coronary, on November 13, 1949. Jessie’s memorial service was conducted at the Harner Chapel, named for her mother’s family, in Morgantown. Jessie is remembered by all as a warm and loving woman. She was an active member of the Methodist Church and the Women’s Christian Temperance Union.

Jessie and George are buried in Mt. Union Cemetery, north of Morgantown, West Virginia. Also buried in the same cemetery are George's ancestors, the Hills, the Houstons and his parents and Jessie's parents and a number of her siblings. Of note is a small stone on George’s grave which has A.B.V. engraved on it. Could it mean, “A Baby or Boy VanGilder?” Did Jessie and George have a fifth child that died as an infant?

Children of George Ethelbert VanGilder and Jessica B. Pool:

  1. Mary Louise VanGilder "Bobs" b. March 9, 1894 in Monongalia County, West Virginia d. November 1, 1962 in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania; married in 1921 Robert G. Wotherspoon, son of Robert and Mary Ann Wotherspoon. Mary Louise is buried Homestead Cemetery, Homestead, Pennsylvania.

  2. Anna Estelle VanGilder "Ted" b. April 8, 1896 in Monongalia County, West Virginia d. October 18, 1940, Bellevue, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Married Joseph M. Wallace, Joseph Schenk, and Maurice Jacob Tyman. Anna Estelle was visiting her sister, Sarah Margaret VanGilder Hughes at the time of her death. She was cremated and her ashes were kept by her daughter, Sarah Edna Wallace Diamond in Florida.

  3. SARAH MARGARET VANGILDER "Sally" b. March 2, 1898 in Monongalia County, West Virginia d. September 19, 1992 in St. Petersburg, Florida married GEORGE HENRY HUGHES on June 5, 1920.

  4. Jessica Virginia VanGilder "Ginger" b. October 28, 1903 in Monongalia County, West Virginia d. Januaryy 23, 1983 in Cuyahoga Falls, Summit County, Ohio married John Barber in 1923 and David Bolling Rootes in 1931. Jessica is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, Akron, Summit County, Ohio.

Updated: September 2015

  1. George and Vangilder Street in Morgantown, West Virginia.

  2. Marriage documents for George Ethelbert Vangilder and Jessica Pool.

  3. George Ethelbert VanGilder, The Nobel Life.

  4. George Ethelbert VanGilder West Virginia University student.

  5. Nobody's Fool: Jessie Pool VanGilder

  6. Tracing Jessie VanGilder's Life on the Monongahela River

  1. George Ethelbert VanGilder

  2. Jessica Pool Vangilder

  3. Mary Louise VanGilder Wotherspoon

  4. Sarah Margaret VanGilder Hughes

  5. Jessica Virginia VanGilder Rootes

Timeline for Jessica Pool VanGilder posted on timetoast.

Family research is not always done alone. I would like to thank my family--parents, aunts, cousins, cousins once removed--who have given support, stories, and old photos.

Unlock the VanGilder Treasure Chest!

CHECK IT OUT!!!! George Ethelbert VanGilder's Autograph Album from 1888! The oldest VanGilder document still around that we have found to date.

Contents of the 1888-1889 Autograph Album of George Ethelbert VanGilder submitted to the West Virginia USGenWeb Archives. The original is in the possession of his great granddaughter, Karen Roolf Schaller.

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