The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933
Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
Communities of the Tri-Counties
What's in a Name - Gillett
Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Tri-County Genealogy & History Sites Home Page
How to Use This Site
Warning & Disclaimer
No Unauthorized Commercial Use
South Creek Township Page
Say Hello to Joyce 
Article by Sylvia DENTON Smith
Portraits of John F. Gillette (son of Asa) and his wife Phoebe Moore (below) photographed by Joyce M. Tice August 2003


GILLETT OR GILLETTE - What's in a Name? 

The other day I came across an old newspaper clipping dated August 5, 1983.  It told of South Creek's upcoming sesquicentennial celebration.  It was being held to commemorate the anniversary of Asa Gillette's settling in the township and the naming of the community of Gillett in his honor.

Further down in the article was this:  "There has been much consternation concerning the misspelling and mispronunciation of 'Gillett'.  The founder's name had the 'e' on the end of it, but was gradually dropped, and the town is named 'Gillett', with the pronunciation now being on the first syllable."

Asa Gillett was my gr-gr-gr-grandfather, and since I have been researching this line for some years now, I feel I may help set the record straight.

Surprisingly, the Litchfield Ct. Early Town Record states, "Asa son to Asa Gillet and Naomi his wife Born October 16th 1789".  This spelling of Gillet, used over and over in father Asa's Revolutionary War record, in many deeds, in mother Naomi's will and on her tombstone, was always the same - single 'T', no 'E'.

Joyce's Search Tip - November 2008
Do You Know that you can search just the articles on the site by using the Articles button in the Partitioned search engine at the bottom of the Current What's New Page

As the family migrated down through New York State in the wake of the war, they lived for a while in Otsego County, eventually moving on to the Town of Masonville, Delaware County, N.Y.  There is an Otsego County deed (April 26, 1824) wherein the younger Asa and his sister Ruth both spelled their name Gillet.  At that time, Asa was 35 years old.

By Masonville, the two generations of Asa Gillets had separate homes and families.  The "History of Delaware County, N.Y.  1799-1880" lists Asa Gillett, the son, as a deacon of the First Baptist Church (organized January 27, 1810).

Young Asa's final move brought him into Bradford County, Pa. where he was one of the early settlers.  Though I've found no proven date, different accounts place his arrival somewhere between 1830 and 1833.  My own feeling is that it was more likely 1829/1830.  Family lore says that Asa came first to make provisions for his family.  His sons, then only 12 and 14, followed sometime afterward, bringing their mother and sisters by 'canopy top' wagon through Indian country on rough wilderness trails to join him.  The boys would have reached these respective ages by the spring of 1831.

Establishing himself in South Creek Township, Asa purchased land, a sawmill and a hotel, and he soon proved himself a successful business man.

Originally the area post office was kept at Fassett, Pa. by Philo Fassett.  Somewhat later it was moved to Gillett, and was kept by Asa Gillett in his hotel.  Perhaps because of the post office location, or perhaps because his hostelry was a stage coach stop between Williamsport, Pa. and Elmira, N,Y., the growing community became known as 'Gillett's Station' - this name according to the "History of Bradford County, Pa." published in 1878.

Asa had married Laura Osborn ca 1814.  They had four children before they came south.  The 'E' on the end of the Gillett name seems to have first appeared on the gravestone of their eldest child, Laura Emily, when she died in 1839, aged 24 years.  She is buried in the Lower Gillett Baptist Church Cemetery.

John Franklin, their second child, and his family seemingly adopted the 'E', carrying it through his long career, with only occasional lapses, straight to their gravestones.  An exception:  Heverly in his "Our Boys in Blue" lists their son as Nelson Gillett, a Pennsylvania volunteer in the Civil War, yet his grave marker says 'A. Nelson son of John F. and Phoebe (sic) C. Gillette'.

I cannot discover that my gr-gr-grandfather, Daniel Harvey Gillett, ever used the 'E'.  A letter to his intended, Olive Wells Smith dated April 26, 1846, their wedding announcement dated August 6, 1846 (their marriage August 4, 1846), his obituary dated January 26, 1901, and their gravestone all carry the name Gillett.

As for Augusta Maria, Asa and Laura's youngest child, I have never found her referred to by her maiden name except in the DAR application of her daughter who spelled each generation of the family's name 'Gillett.  This seems to indicate Augusta herself probably accepted that spelling.

Asa's will (March 19, 1859; probated May 2, 1864), on file at the Bradford County Courthouse, reverts back to, and is signed, 'Asa Gillett'.

For more than a century now, two gravestones have stood side by side in the Gillett Cemetery beside the Baptist Church.  One stone says 'Deacon Asa Gillette died March 7, 1864'.  The other says 'Laura A. Wife of Dea. Asa Gillett died June 29, 1868'.

So, what do YOU think?  I opt for the present community name - 'GILLETT - with the accent on the first syllable - just as it's been for so many years.  I'm proud it was named for my grandpa Asa, just as he must have been.

You know, he had more than a quarter of a century of time to change it if it hadn't been spelled right!

...Sylvia DENTON Smith

Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA

Published On Tri-Counties Site On 23 JUL 2005
By Joyce M. Tice
Email Joyce M  Tice

You are the  visitor since the counter was installed on 23 JUL 2005

The History Center on Main Street, 83 N. Main Street, Mansfield PA 16933