Serilda Long: A Long Life (52 Ancestors #16)

Serilda Long is another ancestor that I have had a hard time tracking.  She has appeared as Serilda, Sirelda, Serelda, Serrelda, Serralda, Zerelda, Zerilda, and Cerelda.  She has been Long, Gilliland (sometimes Gilleland, Gilland or Gillen), and Bridges.  I really should re-evaluate how I spell it.  I’ve just been spelling it Serilda because that’s how it appeared on the first record on which I saw it written.  It appears most often as Zerelda or Serelda.  But I digress.

Serilda Long was born on January 15, 1820, in Kentucky, to parents Daniel and Ruth (Lewis) Long.1,3,5,7,8,9,10  She married Leason Gilliland sometime before 1840.11  The story I heard growing up was that Leason worked on a steamboat and was away a lot, but the 1840 Census says that he was employed in agriculture.2  I suppose it is possible that he switched professions, as many of my ancestors have done, but that seems like a big change to me.

Serilda and Leason had Daniel circa 1838, William T. circa 1840, Ezra W. in 1841, and Mary Elizabeth on January 22, 1849.1,3,5,7,8,11,12  In 1850, Serilda and the children were living with Asa and Maria J. Loundsbury or Longsberry.3  Leason wasn’t there, which caused me to suspect that he had died.  However, Sarah A. Gilliland was born in 1853.5,7,8  Either Leason was still alive and happened to be away from home, prompting Serilda to move in with a friend or neighbor, or Sarah was illegitimate.

Leason was most likely dead by 1857 (I haven’t found evidence of a divorce), as Serilda married John T.M. Bridges on October 15 of that year.4  Shortly after their marriage, John Bridges was tried for and convicted of murder and was sentenced to life in Indiana State Prison in Jeffersonville, Indiana in 1859.  (See Coroner’s Inquest, Trial Day 1, Trial Day 2, Trial Day 3, Trial Day 4, and The Verdict).  By 1860, Serilda had taken a job as a seamstress to provide for her family.5  At some point during John’s confinement, they must have realized that the “preacher of the Gospel” who had married them was not actually ordained and the marriage, therefore, not legal.  (See Marriage Mystery and Two Marriages).  John was released from prison for good behavior on February 2, 1871 (See John Bridges), and Serilda married him again the very next day.6

John died in 1899, and Serilda went to live with her daughter, Sarah, and her children.  Her son, Ezra, lived with them as well.8  Serilda lived with Sarah until her death on September 13, 1907.1,9,10  Serilda lived a long life, but I wonder if she would have lived longer without all of the stress that she must surely have felt.

Serilda Bridges, circa 1900.

Serilda (Long) Gilliland Bridges, circa 1900.


1.  Transcription of the Rakestraw Family Bible.

2.  1840 U.S. Census, Hardin, Kentucky, p. 30,

3.  1850 U.S. Census, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 105,

4.  Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Volume 4, p. 485, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

5.  1860 U.S. Census, 6th Ward, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 106,

6.  Floyd County, Indiana Marriages, Volume 6, p. 644, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

7.  1880 U.S. Census, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 2B,

8.  1900 U.S. Census, 5th Ward, New Albany, Floyd, Indiana, p. 16B,

9.  Floyd County, Indiana Deaths, Book CH-20, p. 32, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

10.  Obituary, New Albany Evening Tribune, Friday, 13 Sept 1907, p. 4, column 2, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

11.  Floyd County, Indiana Deaths, Book CH-33, p. 54, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.

12.  Floyd County, Indiana Deaths, Book CH-37, p. 67, Stuart Barth Wrege Indiana History Room.