John Guthrie & Wives

The Family Focus is on . . .

~ Worcester County, Maryland ~

Just as a small gust of wind might start an avalanche all it takes is one clue to lead to a bevy of discoveries for our family tree. Descendants of GFG1A Branches D and E have known for a while that their two families are probably closely related. Participants in our Y-DNA project representing the families of John S Guthrie (born 1815-20 – died p1880) & Euphemia Jones and George Leonard Guthrie (born c1840 – died 1882-92) & Annie Maria White possess genetic matches to Guthrie Family Group 1A. This informs us that the two lineages share a common direct paternal ancestor, but we had no other documentation to identify that individual until now.

Origin Theories:

A new project participant descending from Branch E’s John & ‘Famie’ Guthrie prompted me to browse for new data. I found a few speculative trees lacking supportive evidence, but one interesting find included the attachment of an indenture between John Guthery and James S Nelson, cordwainer, dated 25 February 1836 published in the Court Proceedings of Worcester County, Maryland. This document arranges an apprenticeship for John’s son, also named John Guthery, to learn the art, trade, mystery of Boot and Shoemaking. It gives us the age and birth date of his son, who on the 12th of May next (1836) will be seventeen years old. John is to be bound out to James S Nelson as his apprentice until the 12th day of May 1840 when he is twenty-one years old. The contract outlines that John Guthrie shall honestly and obediently serve James S Nelson as an apprentice in the business and with the rest of the family. James S Nelson is to teach him the trade, provide 4 months schooling, meals, and clothing.

What we know about Branch E’s John S. Guthrie from census records is that his occupation is that of a Boot and Shoemaker. His age in these records: 35 (1850), 36 (1860), and 50 (1870) give us a range of 1815-1820 as his birth year. He is is of an appropriate age and has the right occupation to be the apprentice in the record above.

New data gathered from the document:
Birth Date – 12 May 1819
Father’s Identity: John Guthrie
Apprenticeship: 25 Feb 1836-12 May 1840 with James S Nelson, cordwainer.

Who is John Guthrie of Worcester, Maryland? The document does not provide us with any additional information on the father of John S. Guthrie. Since the son was born in 1819, we can infer that the father was most likely 16-50 years of age at his birth giving us a very broad range of 1769-1803 as a potential birth range.

There are 4 Guthrie families listed in the 1790 census for Worcester Maryland, none of them with a John Guthrie listed as a Head of Household.

  1. James Guthery – 1 Free White Male 16 and over, 1 Free White Male under 16, 3 Free White Females, 1 Slave. Total: 6 persons.
  2. Nelly Gutthery – 1 Free White Female, 1 Free White Male 16 and over, 1 Free White Male under 16. Total: 3 persons
  3. Captain Wm Gutthery – 1 Free White Male 16 and over, 2 Free White Male under 16, 3 Free White Females. Total: 6 persons.
  4. Wm Guttery Junior – 1 Free White Male 16 and over, 1 Free White Male under 16, 2 Free White Females, 3 Slaves. Total: 7 persons.

If John Guthrie is enumerated in one of the above households it is most likely that he was under 16 years of age in 1790 narrowing the probable birth range to 1775-1790 and then adding on the other potential years from the first estimate giving us 1775-1803.

The 1800 census of Worcester, Maryland lists the following.

  1. Eleanor Guthery – Boquetenorton Hundred – 1F 45 and over, 2 M 16-25, 1M 10-15. Total: 4.
  2. Severn Guthery – Mattapony Hundred – 1M 26-44, 1F 45 and over, 1M 16-25, 1F 10-15, 1 Slave. Total: 5.
  3. Wm Guttery – Mattapony Hundred – 2M 26-44, 1F 16-25, 1F 45 and over, 3 Slaves, Total: 7.

Again, there is no John Guthrie listed as the Head of a Household. If he is one of the men or boys listed above there are 3 potential birth ranges: 26-44 (1756-1774) – too young, 16-25 (1775-1784) – possibly, and 10-15 (1785-1800) – possibly. This rules out the household of Wm Guttery (probably the Wm Guttery Jr from 1790) and leaves the households of Eleanor (likely Nelly Gutthery from 1790) and Severn Guthery (potentially a descendant of Severn & Atalanta Guthrie of Accomack County, Virginia).

The 1810 census of Worcester, Maryland includes 4 potential families:

  1. Jesse Guthery – 1M and 1F 26-44, Total: 2.
  2. William Guthery – 2M and 1F 26-44, 1M and 1F 16-25, Total: 5.
  3. William Guthery – 1M 45 and over, 1M and 1F 26-44, 1M and 1F 16-25, Total: 5.
  4. Severon Guthery – 2M and 1F 26-44, 1F under 10, 1F 45 and over, 2 Slaves, Total: 7.

Again, there is no John Guthrie listed as a Head of Household. The estimated birth range of 1775-1803 indicates that if he is living in Worcester County, MC by 1810 that he would probably be enumerated in one of the above families. He would be between 7 and 35 years of age. By age range he could be in Household 2, 3, or 4.

The 1820 census of Worcester, Maryland includes only 2 potential families:

  1. Jas. Guthry & Sister – Election District 2 – 1M 45 and over, 1F 26-44, 1M and 3F under 10, Total: 6.
  2. Jesse Guthry – Election District 3 – 1M and 1F 45 and over, 1M 26-44, 1F under 10, Total: 4.

Yet again there is no sign of John Guthrie as a Head of Household in Worcester County, MD by 1820. By our broad estimate, he should be between 17 and 45 years of age. Importantly, we also know that he should be married by this date and have at least 1 child: John S Guthrie, who was born on 12 May 1819. The listing for the first household is interesting because it specifically tells us that the household is that of James Guthrie and his sister. It does not reveal whether the children in the household are his or hers. We can also conclude that John Guthrie and his young family are not enumerated in either of these households. It is possible that John settled in Worcester County, Maryland as an adult.

Finally, in 1830, we have our first available clues about John Guthrie of Worcester, MD and family. Theirs is the only Guthrie family enumerated in the county.

  1. John Gutherie – District 2 – 1M 30-39, 1F 20-29, 2M 10-14, 1M 5-9, 1M and 1F under 5.

John’s birth range can now be narrowed to 1791-1800.
His wife was born 1801-1810.
Two sons were born between 1816-1820. That fits what is known about John S Guthrie born in 1819.
One son was born 1821-1825.
One son and one daughter were born 1826-1830.

Now that we know John Guthrie’s household doesn’t include any children born before 1816, let’s take a look at Worcester County, Maryland marriage records.

Source: Maryland County Marriages, Family Search

  1. Elizabeth Guthery and Sevasten Lankford – 2 May 1795
  2. Hanna Guthery and William Tarr – 22 Sep 1797
  3. Jesse Guthery and Lovina Dennis – April 1803
  4. John Guthrie and Leorna Dennis – 19 April 1803
  5. Severn Guthrie and Sarah Rowley – 30 January 1808
  6. John Guthry and Betsy Nelson – 11 Feb 1817
  7. Maria Guthrie and William Beecher – 26 July 1826
  8. John Guthrie and Piercey Wilson – 28 August 1833
  9. William Guthrie and Mary Walker 25 February 1840
  10. John Guthrey and Fammy Jones – 19 January 1841

The last record is that of John S Guthrie (b.1819) to Euphemia ‘Fammie’ Jones.

Although there is a marriage record for a John Guthrie in 1803 this is too early to be the John Guthrie who was born between 1791-1800. He would only be 3 to 12 years of age at the time.

That leaves one marriage as a possible match, and the name of the bride is a clue in itself: Betsy Nelson.

John Guthrie and Betsy Nelson married on 11 Feb 1817. The timing is right to make this the couple represented in the 1830 census as the two oldest children in the household were born between 1816-1820.

The fact that Betsy’s maiden name is Nelson is also an interesting clue. When John Guthrie bonded his son John out as an apprentice he contracted with James S Nelson, cordwainer. Could this decision have been made because James was his father or brother-in-law? Sounds probable.

According to online trees, James Stewart Nelson was born on 7 Jun 1807 in Maryland. He was the son of William Nelson and Sarah Brothers. He married Mary Elizabeth Cain Sommers on 22 Jan 1835. He died on 10 Mar 1882 in Snow Hill, Worcester, MD. Census records list him as a shoemaker and later a farmer. He is listed with a sister named Elizabeth who was born 22 Nov 1798 and died about 1833.

A combination of Vital Records and Census documents provided clues for the identification of John Guthrie’s family.

The Family of John Guthrie of Worcester County, Maryland:

Parents: Unidentified
Born: Abt. 1800
Location: Unknown
Occupation: Farmer
Married 1st: Betsy Nelson on 11 Feb 1817 in Worcester County, Maryland, USA
Married 2nd: Piercey Wilson on 28 Aug 1833 in Worcester County, Maryland, USA
Married 3rd: Ann (MNU) about 1830 / marriage inferred
Died: After 1850
Location: Unknown, presumably in Worcester County, Maryland, USA
Buried: Unknown, presumably in Worcester County, Maryland, USA

Parents: William Nelson & Sarah Brothers (Unconfirmed)
Born: 22 Nov 1798
Location: Maryland, USA
Children: John S (1819), William (1820), Thomas (1824), James (1826), (FNU)/daughter (1826-30)
Died: 1833 (found in trees) or between 1826-1833
Location: Worcester County, Maryland, USA, presumably
Buried: Worcester County, Maryland, USA, presumably

Parents: Unidentified
Born: 1791-1800
Location: Unknown
Children: Hannah Elizabeth (1834), Margaret A (1834)
Died: 1834-1839
Location: Worcester County, Maryland, USA, presumably
Buried: Worcester County, Maryland, USA, presumably

Parents: Unidentified
Born: Abt. 1815
Location: Unknown
Children: George Leonard (1840), Ann (1844), James (1845), Charlotte (1847), Charles (1848)
Died: After 1850
Location: Unknown, presumably in Worcester County, Maryland, USA
Buried: Unknown, presumably in Worcester County, Maryland, USA


1819 MD – 1893 MD

John S Guthrie was born in Worcester County, Maryland. He was likely the eldest child of John & Betsy (Nelson) Guthrie. At the age of 17 he was bound out as an apprentice to his uncle, James S Nelson to learn the art of boot and shoemaking. He lived with the Nelson family, attended school for 4 months, and learned the business. The contract ended upon his 21st birthday in 1840. A few months later, John married Euphamia ‘Fammie’ Jones on 19 Jan 1841. They settled in Snow Hill where he worked his trade.

There were at least 5 children: Martha Emma (1842), Nelson Gray (1850), John James (1853), May (1854), and Annie (1857).

On August 8, 1893, an accidental fire started in a store owned by G. Marion Dryden. Centered on a block full of wooden buildings the flames spread quickly destroying many stores in the business area of Snow Hill. The bucket brigade could do little to slow its progress, and though telegrams were sent to Salisbury and Wilmington their firefighting brigades and fire engines did not arrive until hours later when it was far too late.

Read this account for more details: ‘Snow Hill in Ashes — A Day When Pandemonium Reigned‘.

The Democratic Messenger reported a list of homes and businesses destroyed by the fire. John S Guthrie was listed as the occupant of a building owned by Dr E W Marshall. Another article reported that Mrs Guthrie had been out of town during the event. Only a couple of months later, the death of John S Guthrie was reported by the Delaware Gazette and State Journal: Guthrie–At Snow Hill, Md., Octobert 15th, John S Guthrie, aged 74 years.

Guthrie DNA Project Participants
Y-DNA Tests: Yes
Autosomal DNA / Family Finder Tests: Yes

c1820 MD – 1893 DE

William W Guthrie’s birth location is documented in Maryland. Census records show him living in Worcester County. In 1850, he is listed as a farmer living with his wife Mary and children Susan and Charles. Also living with the family is Hannah E Guthrie, presumed to be his half-sister.

William was a farmer. He was twice married. First to Mary Walker on 25 Feb 1840, the mother of Susan and Charles. After Mary’s death, he remarried on 3 May 1853 to Sarah Ann ‘Sallie’ Jones, a possible relative of his sister-in-law Euphamia ‘Fammie’ Jones. They were parents to 7 sons and 2 daughters: William (c1852), David (c1855), Paul (c1856), Levi (c1859), Mary (c1861), Edward (c1862), Littleton (c1863), John (c1865), and Maggie (c1866).

The family lived in Newark,Worcester, Maryland at least until 1870 when they were listed on the census. By 1880, they had moved to Nutters, Wicomico, Maryland, and later to Seaford, Sussex, Delaware. William died there on 23 January 1893. His widow lived in Seaford until her death on 22 May 1921.

Guthrie DNA Project Participants
Y-DNA Tests: No
Autosomal DNA / Family Finder Tests: No

1824 MD – p1882 MD

Like his older brother, Thomas B Guthrie became a boot & shoemaker. There is also an indenture for an apprenticeship initiated by his father, John Guthrie. This contract is dated 9 July 1839. The party of the second part is Levi Nelson, a boot and shoemaker. The document indicates that Thomas was 15 on the first day of April last past (1838) indicating that he is to remain an apprentice until the 1st day of April in 1845 when he reaches 21 years of age.

At the age of 27 Thomas is found living in Baltimore, Maryland during the 1850 census in the home of John W Albaugh, a bootmaker, and his family. Also there is James Silvan, a ladies shoemaker. Ten years later, Thomas Guthrie is back in Snow Hill, Worcester, Maryland, and apparently still a single man. He was living with the family of James S Nelson and presumably working with him as a shoemaker. Also there are three free black persons presumably with the surname of Guthrie. These are George Guthrie, laborer, William Guthry 17 apprentice, and Caroline Guthry 12.

Thomas Guthrie married Julia Purnell on 13 Dec 1865 in Worcester County, Maryland. Online trees list her maiden name as Scott, which is sourced from the 1880 census listing Thomas’ mother-in-law as Elizabeth Scott. However, it is unknown whether Scott was the surname of Julia’s father. This couple had at least two children: Edward (c1867) and Thomas (c1870). Both Julia and son Thomas died prior to the 1880 census when Thomas was listed as a widower.

Guthrie DNA Project Participants
Y-DNA Tests: No
Autosomal DNA / Family Finder Tests: No

1826 MD – 1903 MD

James Guthrie is found in 1850 living with his brother’s family: John S & Euphemia Guthrie. He is listed as a 23 year old laborer.

He married Sarah ‘Sallie’ Smack on 11 January 1853 in Worcester County, Maryland. They raised a family of 8 children: Mary Elizabeth (1857), William H (1859), Thomas (1862), Elimira (1863), Laura (1866), James Stewart (1869), Elenora (1872), and Isabel (1876).

James was a farmer, laborer, and carpenter. Like his brothers, he serviced the union during the Civil War. He died of cancer in May of 1903.

Guthrie DNA Project Participants
Y-DNA Tests: No
Autosomal DNA / Family Finder Tests: No

1826-30 MD – ???? UNK

This unidentified daughter is enumerated on the 1840 census as being under 5 years old. She is believed to be the youngest child of John Guthrie’s first wife Betsy Nelson. That census lists John’s wife in an older age category than Betsy, so it is presumed that she died and that he remarried. The marriage record of John Guthrie to Piercey Wilson on 28 Aug 1833 fits the right time frame.

This daughter is not found with John’s family in 1850, so it is possible she died young or that she was placed into the care of relatives or friends.

c1834 MD – ????

Hannah Elizabeth was born about 1834. She may have been a twin to Margaret A Guthrie. Both are listed as 15 years of age in the 1850 census of Worcester County, MD.

John Guthrie had remarried after the death of his wife Betsy Nelson, but his second marriage to Piercey Wilson would be short lived. Hannah and Margaret are presumed to be her daughters.

In 1850, Hannah E Gutry, 15, is living in the household of her older half brother William W Guthrie, his wife Mary, and their two children, Charles and Susan.

She is still single in 1860, listed as 26, and living with her older half brother James Guthrie, his wife Sallie, and their two children, William and Mary.

No further info known.

c1834 MD – ???? UNK

Margaret A Guthrie was born about 1834. She may have been a twin to Hannah Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Guthrie. Both are listed as 15 years of age in the 1850 census of Worcester County, MD.

John had remarried after the death of his wife Betsy Nelson, but his second marriage to Piercey Wilson would be short lived. Hannah and Margaret are presumed to be her daughters.

Margaret is listed in the 1850 census living with the family of William T Lewis 35, and his wife Ann 30, along with their children. This household is listed next to that of William W Guthrie, wife Mary, children Susan and Charles, and Hannah E Guthrie. It is unknown whether the Lewis family was in some way related to the Guthrie family or if they were boarding or employing Margaret.

c1840 MD – 1882-92 VA

Prior to the start of this fact-finding mission, the identity of George’s parents remained speculative. The genetic match in combination with a census match of a George Guthrie of the approximate age in the right location suggests that this is the right family.

There is at least a 6 year gap between the births of Hannah & Margaret and George, but also about a 5 year gap until the next child’s birth. Since none of the unmarried older children from John Guthrie’s previous marriages are living with him and his new wife Ann in 1850, it seems probable that George Guthrie is her son rather than his late wife.

John, Ann and the others are not found in the 1860 census of Worcester. By this date George was already an adult. A Worcester County, MD search finds two potential entries:

1. HANCOCK HOUSEHOLD – Costens, Worcester County, MD – John H Hancock 31 farmer, Elizabeth Hancock 21, Leonard Guthrie 15 (born c1845)
2. BRITTINGHAM HOUSEHOLD – Costens, Worcester County, MD – Elijah Brittingham 50 farmer, Mary Brittingham 34, Mary Brittingham 9, Coriata Brittingham 7, Elijah Brittingham 5, Sarah Brittingham 2, Alfred Brittingham 2/12, Euphemia Pruitt 34, George Guthrie 22 (born 1838).

George married Annie Maria White about 1865. They were parents to Mary Louise (1866), William Wesley (1877), and Alfred Winfield (1882).

George Guthrie worked as a laborer and sawmill hand. The family lived at Sandy Hill, Worcester, Maryland; Salisbury, Wicomico, Maryland; and Cypress, Nansemond, Virginia. The 1880 census in Nansemond, Virginia is the last George is listed. He probably died between 1882 and 1892. His wife Annie Marie White remarried on 31 March 1892 to William D Oliver. She died on 24 December 1919 in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Guthrie DNA Project Participants
Y-DNA Tests: Yes
Autosomal DNA / Family Finder Tests: Yes

c1844 MD – ???? UNK

Ann Guthrie is the oldest known daughter of John Guthrie and his third wife Ann whose maiden name remains unknown. She was named in the 1850 census of District 2, Worcester, Maryland with her parents and siblings. Nothing further is known.

c1845 MD – ???? UNK

John Guthrie already had a son by the name James. It is not uncommon to name another child by the same name if that child died young. That is not the case in this instance. James may be an important family name on Ann’s side.

The only information we currently have is that James Guthrie was about 5 years old in 1850 when he was listed on the census with his family in District 2 of Worcester County, Maryland.

c1847 MD – ???? UNK

Charlotte was 3 years old when she was listed with her family in the District 2 census of Worcester County, MD. No further details are known.

c1848 MD – ???? UNK

Charles was 2 years old when she was listed with her family in the District 2 census of Worcester County, MD. No further details are known.


There are currently 2 Y-DNA (Direct Paternal Line) tests representing this family. One is associated with Branch D: George Leonard Guthrie & Annie Marie White. The other participant descends from Branch E: John S Guthrie and Euphemia Jones.

Branch D: Kit 846168
Y111-marker Test

Branch E: Kit 290792
Y37-marker Test

At the Y37 marker level, both kits share a unique genetic marker most likely inherited from their most recent common paternal ancestor: John Guthrie. DYS392 = 14 instead of the group’s mode result = 13.

Both kits = 38 at CYDi, but this is what is called a fast moving marker. Several others within the group show some kind of change at this specific marker, so it is not necessarily an indicator of an inherited mutation.

Since the Branch D kit has additional testing, we can compare his results to other GFG1A members who have also tested at the Y111 marker level.

He has a unique genetic difference at DYS557 = 18 instead of group mode 17.

Another unique genetic difference at DYS504 – 16 instead of group mode 17.

He shares 2 genetic differences at DYS712 (19 instead of 18) and DYS513 (12 instead of 13) with three other members of the group.

  1. Kit 74203 – Our VIP representative for GFG1A who descends from the Guthries of Craigie.
  2. Kit 72673 – Most recent common ancestors with above kit are James Guthrie (1669-1711 Dundee, Angus, SCT) & Christian Scott.
  3. Kit 924936 – A man by the surname of Godfrey with no specific known Guthrie ancestry.

Only 10 of the 27 YDNA participants for Guthrie Family Group 1A have tested at the Y111 level.

So far, the men representing GFG1A-Branches B representing the Middlesex, VA line of John Guthrie and Elizabeth Baskett at the Y111 level do not appear to possess any of those genetic differences. This suggests that the family of John Guthrie (Branches D & E) could be more closely related to Branch A’s Craigie line instead.

If you have historical information, documents, corrections, or theories about this Guthrie family, please share.

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