Thursday, October 29, 2015

Lillias (Johnston) Alston - 52 Ancestors #43

For this week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks writing challenge from blogger Amy Crow Johnson of No Story Too Small, I am sharing the little bit I know about a third great-grandmother, Lillias Johnston.

Almost two years ago, I blogged about finding Scotland, Births, Baptisms, and Marriages at I found a record for the birth of "Lilias Johnstone" on June 4, 1806, in Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, Scotland, to Robert Johnstone and Lilias Kennedy. She was the third of their six children. She was baptized on June 16, 1806.

Just after her 27th birthday, she married John Alston on June 28, 1833, at Glasgow, Scotland. (See their marriage record and read about her husband at John Alston - 52 Ancestors #36.)

The Alstons immigrated to America in 1835 with their oldest child and settled in Allegheny City, Pennsylvania.

Recently, I borrowed a microfilm from the Family History Library to look for my Presbyterian ancestors in Allegheny County. This microfilm had records from several different Presbyterian churches, but about half of this microfilm (items 5 - 8) was:
Church records, 1830-1900 from the First United Presbyterian Church (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania : Allegheny). These included Session minutes 1837-1870, 1830-1870 (includes communicants, deaths, received by certificate and testimony); Session minutes 1839-1900.
(See the complete microfilm description at the FamilySearch Online Film Ordering website.)

This church was organized in 1831 as the Associate Reformed Church of Allegheny. (As readers of my blog and those familiar with Pittsburgh history know, Allegheny City merged with Pittsburgh in 1906.) In 1858 the church became the Allegheny First United Presbyterian Church, North Side in Pittsburgh and in 1994 the First Allegheny Presbyterian Church.

Although I had no luck finding my Hunter ancestors in these records, very early on, I found mention of John and Lilias Alston joining the church!

25 Octr [1835] The Lords Supper was dispensed
when the following persons were received
on testimonials ~
James Guy
+                                Wm. Simpson
Margarget Guy          Matthew Brown
John Alston              Jane McMurrow
Lilias Alston
Mrs. Geo McIntire

Two things to note: (1) John and Lilias had just arrived in New York City on August 7, and within three months (October 25), they were in Allegheny and affiliated with a church. (2) They were early members of this church, having joined within the first five years of its existence.

Lilias had nine children with John, only the first born in Scotland:
John K. Alston, born in 1834 in Scotland (though I didn't find a birth record for him)
Robert J. Alston, born November 1835 in Pennsylvania according to the 1900 U.S. Census
Lilly (or Lilias) Alston, born 1838
Margaret Alston, born February 16, 1840
William Alston, born January 31, 1842
Mary Alston, born 1844 (Not so sure about her...)
Andrew Alston, born 1847
Christine Agnes Alston and Marion Helen Alston, twins, born May 1850.

Sadly, she didn't live to see her twins reach the age of two; she died on January 3, 1852. She is buried in Union Dale Cemetery, Pittsburgh, where many of my maternal grandmother's ancestors are buried. See the FindAGrave memorial for Lilleas Alston. (Yes, there are several variations on the spelling of her name!)

I descend from Lillias as follows:

Lillias Johnston
Marion Helen Alston
Marguerite Lysle
Helen Lysle Hunter
My mother

This is my matrilineal line, where my mitochondrial DNA comes from. (See List Your Matrilineal Line - Update for an explanation of mtDNA.)

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