M: Guthries of Mercer, IL

Guthrie Family Group 2A – Branch M
Born in Scotland and Immigrated to Canada and/or the USA

Origin Theories
Mistaken Identities
The Guthrie DNA Project


There is a cluster of Guthrie families found in Mercer County, Illinois beginning in the 1860s. They lived closely to each other. The heads of these families were all born in Scotland. By all appearances they seem to be extended members of the same family. They did not arrive in Illinois as a single group from the same location. Some came by way of Canada and others from other locations in the USA, but they all made their way to Mercer County about the same time.

Mercer County is in NW Illinois.
The Mississippi River forms the western border of the State separating it from Iowa to the NW and Missouri to the SW.

The family of Samuel Guthrie c1830SCT-1889IL & Catherine Stevenson has a representative in the Guthrie DNA Project with a Y-DNA (direct paternal line) test that matches the genetic profile for Guthrie Family Group 2A. This is an important match for GFG2A because despite its size and scope the group does not have many lineages with well-defined roots in Scotland. Its connections there may be deep, but many of its branches have been unable to find the home base of its early generations. There are still a lot of questions even with Samuel Guthrie’s family in the mix, but the inclusion of his presumed brothers may help further our research.

We do need direct male descendants (Guthrie men) representing the lineages of William, Andrew, & Edward to confirm the family relationship with Y-DNA tests. Until then, we now have a descendant of William Guthrie & Gennie Totten in the project bringing some family history that backs up our theory about the relationships involved.

Gennie (Hunter) Stewart 1867IL-1952, the granddaughter of William & Gennie via daughter Martha, wrote a letter to her nephew, Walter Wilson, in 1927 sharing the family story:

“I do not know much about Mother’s folks before they left Scotland for Mother (Martha Guthrie) was very young when they left, but as near as I can figure, her Father worked in the foundry over there. He married a woman named Gennie Totten and the children they had that were born in Scotland were: Helen, William, Martha, and Thomas. I think about the year 1851 Grandfather’s health failed and the doctor told him he would have to quit the Iron Works, and he decided to come to America.

He already had two brothers living in Canada, so he went there, leaving his family in Scotland until he found a location and could send for them. In the year of 1853 the family came. They had a very bad and sorrowful trip. There were many storms that blew them back and out of their course and the mother was sick most of the time. They were on the water for seven weeks and three days and the sad part was the baby. Thomas got sick and died and had to be buried in the ocean. Just think about what a sad meeting that Mother and Father had with one of their dear ones missing.”

Letter by Gennie (Hunter) Stewart to Walter Wilson, 1927. Details provided by Kelly Clayton.

William & Gennie (Totten) Guthrie settled in Ontario, Canada where they raised their family including additional children. Sadly, Gennie died about 1860.

“A short time after that Grandpa decided to move to the United States, so he and his two brothers, Andrew and Samuel, came and settled in Mercer County, IL, which at that time was a new country and a very beautiful place in which to settle. There was good rich soil, plenty of timber and water, and lots of coal. These brothers (Edward, whom I have mentioned before) were already here.”

Letter by Gennie (Hunter) Stewart to Walter Wilson, 1927. Details provided by Kelly Clayton.

The marriage of Andrew Guthrie and Susan Thompson is recorded for 12 December 1840 at Abbey, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Both resided at Johnstone in the parish. Andrew & Susanna immigrated to Canada.

Andrew Guthrie & Susan Thompson
Abbey, Renfrewshire
12 December 1840

The marriage of William Guthrie and Jean Totten is recorded for 17 April 1842 at High Church, Renfrewshire, Scotland. Both are listed as being from that parish. William & Gennie immigrated to Canada.

William Guthrie & Jean Totten
High Church Parish, Paisley, Renfrewshire
17 April 1842

The marriage go Samuel Guthrie and Catherine Stevenson is recorded on 1 June 1852 at Old Kirkpatrick, Dunbarton, Scotland. Both were residing at Bonhill/Barnhill in the parish. This is a possible record match. Samuel & Catherine lived in Morris County, New Jersey after their marriage and moved to Mercer County, Illinois between 1860-1865.

Edward seems to have been the youngest of these brothers, born about 1832 in Scotland. His early years are unknown to the project. Edward Guthrie and Sarah Jane Dalson were reportedly married in St Louis, Missouri about 1853. They may have lived in Iowa prior to settling in Mercer County, Illinois by 1863. By 1880, they had moved to Kansas and from there to Oklahoma.

The Old Parish Records of Scotland do not shed as much light on this family and its origins as we would hope. The children born in Scotland to these couples are not listed in the OPR birth / baptismal records. Nor are there any clear records identifying the parents of these brothers. According to Census Records, Andrew Guthrie was born about 1815, William Guthrie about 1818-1820, Samuel Guthrie about 1830-1832, and Edward Guthrie about 1832-1835.

Both Andrew and William were residents in Paisley, a town in Renfrewshire, upon their marriages making it probable that they were from that county. The OPR birth/baptismal records do not list any individuals who can conclusively be identified as these brothers.

Abbey, or sometimes Abbey Paisley, is a civil parish in Renfrewshire, Scotland traditionally centred on the towns of Paisley and Johnstone. From the Reformation until 1736, the Abbey was the only church in the burgh and parish of Paisley. During that year the Laigh Kirk (Low Church) was built followed by the High Kirk (High Church) in 1754. Note that the Guthrie-Totten marriage is recorded for High Church 12 years before the building was erected indicating that the parish was already in existence at that time.

Since there is a 17 year gap between Andrew’s estimated birth year in 1815 and Edward’s estimated birth year in 1832, it is safe to say that their unidentified parents probably had other children in the years between. Whether they lived to adulthood is something to consider in the records search.

The OPR for Abbey, Paisley, Renfrewshire includes 31 Guthrie marriage records dating from 1737-1853. Statutory records begin in 1855. Twelve of the thirty-one are female Guthries. This leaves 19 records to examine as prospective parents. Assuming the parents were legally married in Abbey prior to the year Andrew Guthrie was born, the marriage would have occurred no later than 1815. Only 5 of the 19 records occur on dates prior to that year. Andrew may not have been the eldest child. If the parents were married up to 15 years earlier, the marriage would have taken place no earlier than 1800. There is only 1 couple that meets the criteria: Petter Guthrie & Jean Blair on 8 Dec 1810 in Abbey. The name Peter is not used as a child’s name in either of the 4 brothers’ families, so is seems unlikely that this is the right person.

Guthrie marriage records for Renfrewshire between 1800-1815 results in 5 OPR Banns and Marriages:
1) William Guthrie (sailor) & Catherine Cunninghame on 14 March 1801 in Port Glasgow
2) David Guthrie (weaver) & Janet Carmichael on 10 July 1802 in Eastwood
3) Petter Guthrie & Jean Blair on 8 December 1810 in Abbey
4) John Guthrie (private, royal artillery) & Janet MacNeish on 13 January 1811 in Paisley Middle
5) William Guthrie & Mary Neill on 15/16 October 1814 in Paisley Low / Paisley Middle

OPR Birth and Baptismal Records between 1800 and 1830 produced 24 couples and their children.
Adam Guthrie & Elizabeth Duncan – Abbey: George (1828)
David Guthrie & Agnes Huton – Abbey: James (1800), Agnes (1803)
Hunter Guthrie & Jane Bowes – Paisley Middle: William (1811), Thomas (1813)
James Guthrie & Janet Finlay – Greenock New or Middle: James (1833)
James Guthrie & Janet Currie – Abbey: Janet (1828), Mary (1830), James (1833)
John Guthrie & Ann Aitken – Abbey: John (1818)
John Guthrie & Ann Enwright – Paisley High Church: Catharine (1819), Ann (1823), Abbey: Janet (1821)
John Guthrie & Janet Macnish – Paisley Middle: John (1817), James (1819)
John Guthrie & Jean Park – Eastwood: David (1803), Margaret (1805)
Matthew Guthrie & Jane Clark/Clerk – Paisley Middle: Anne (1800), Mary Kerr (1804)
Robert Guthrie & Elizabeth Hilhouse – Paisley Burgh or Low: Robert (1800), Jean (1802), James (1808), Christian (1809)
Thomas Guthrie & Agnes Munn – Erskine: Robert (1835)
William Guthrie & Elizabeth Wright – Greenock Old or West: James Wright (1829)
William Guthrie & Ann Reston – Erskine: Ann (1835)
William Guthrie & Eleanor Henderson – Paisley Burgh or Low: Isabella Morton (1833), John Morton (1835)
William Guthrie & Elisabeth Henderson – Paisley Burgh or Low: Jean (1823), Abbey: Elizabeth (1825), William (1828), James (1831)
William Guthrie & Elisabeth Murray – Paisley High Church: Mary (1804)
William Guthrie & Euphemia Findlay – Eastwood: Agnes (1801), William (1803), William (1804), Watson (1806)
William Guthrie & Janet Boyd – Paisley Burgh or Low: William (1825)
William Guthrie & Janet Guthrie – Paisley High Church: Mary (1820), Abbey: Elisabeth (1822), Janet (1825), Elizabeth (1827)
William Guthrie & Jean Scadlock – Abbey: Thomas (1823), Robert (1825), Paisley Burgh or Low: Morton (1827), Abbey: Jean (1831), Janet (1833)
William Guthrie & Mary Neil – Paisley Burgh or Low: Francis (1814), Paisley Middle: Catherine (1816), John (1819), Jean Clark (1822), Mary (1829)
William Gutrie & Mary Sharp – Eastwood: James (1804)
William Gutrie & Christian Graham – Abbey: William (1801), John (1806)

There are no children named Andrew, Samuel, or Edward in the mix. Plenty named William, however all a little too early or late. Maybe Renfrewshire is not the right location. Does anyone have thoughts or clues to share?

Mistaken Identities

Well, not so much mistaken as being someone else, but there are also other more distantly related Guthrie families in Mercer County, Illinois. The descendants of Jacob Guthrie 1810PA-1871IL & Lucinda Hobbs belong to Branch D of GFG2A were established in Illinois about 40 years before Branch M showed up in the area. That line had been also been in Colonial America since at least the 1750s. Jacob’s estate records and those of other Guthries are found in the Mercer County Probate Records and Estate Files.

The Guthrie DNA Project

If you are a descendant of these Mercer County, Illinois families, please consider adding your DNA results, family lore, and research to the project. What may look like random information could add up to some worthwhile clues. If you are a male Guthrie, your Y-DNA would help bring conclusive evidence of your ancestry to the project.

Guthrie Family Group: GFG2A
Group Designation: Branch M – (Undetermined Cluster)

Haplogroup: R-M269
Confirmed Haplogroup: R-Z30233

YDNA Matches:  1
Kit B276145 (+FF)
Samuel Guthrie/Catherine Stevenson > Samuel George Guthrie/Mary Elizabeth Blocklinger > Earl S Guthrie/Ella McIntyre (GGP)

Family Finder / Autosomal DNA Kits: 1
Kit 757994 (FF + Ancestry)
William Guthrie/Gennie Totten > Martha Guthrie/Walter Hunter > Agnes Mae Hunter/Marcus Gilbert Wilson (GGP)

The Y-DNA results of our Guthrie-Stevenson descendant matches the genetic profile of Guthrie Family Group 2A, which is the largest of all established groups. Its major branches have origins stories and documented ties to Scotland and Northern Ireland. This branch of the group is now labelled Branch M and is being extended to include the lineages associated with Samuel Guthrie’s brothers. The relationship is inferred to be a biological match to Branch M unless future DNA results debunk the family’s history.

The Autosomal DNA results of the Guthrie-Totten descendants match that of our Guthrie-Stevenson participant and show significant matching with nearly all other branches of GFG2A.


    • No new YDNA participants for your branch. There is one Family Finder / Autosomal DNA participant who descends from William Guthrie and Gennie Totten. William is likely a brother to your ancestor. The newest YDNA match you have received is a descendant of Guthrie Family Group 2A – Branch G. Your most recent common ancestors are probably back in the 1400s-1500s.

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