Longtime Palacios, Collegeport preacher of the ‘auld sod’

Rev. George Gillespie

   For 28 years, the Presbyterian churches in Palacios and Collegeport were led by a “true son of the auld sod.”  
   George Frederic Gillespie, who had a true compassion for the people in his churches, also had a far-reaching influence on all residents of those communities. 
   His influence actually lasted until his death, 32 years after he arrived in Palacios. 
   George Frederic Gillespie was born in Down County, near Belfast, Northern Ireland on March 16, 1874. 
   He was the 10th child of the known 11 children born to James Gillespie and Margaret McBirney Gillespie. 
   Two of George’s aunts, Jane and Leticia Gillespie, immigrated to the United States and were employed as dressmakers from 1860 – 1872. 
   Leticia married in 1872 and lived the remainder of her life in Jo Daviess County, Illinois. 
   They were the only relatives George had in the United States and he visited them every year on his vacation. 
   George, like his father, was a school teacher in Ireland, but he immigrated in 1910 and entered the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church. 
   While attending seminary, he was the pastor of the Warrington Avenue Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 
   On May 7, 1914, George and nine others graduated from the seminary with George being the only one who wasn’t a citizen of the United States. 
   His first pastorate was at Roosevelt, Oklahoma where he remained until he became the YMCA chaplain at Ellington Field, Houston, during World War I.  

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