Elisha settled near Bardstown, Kentucky and his descendants stayed in that general area for over a century. Elisha was a leader in his church and so there are numerous records mentioning Elisha and his family.
But finding the ancestors of Elisha proved problematic. I found clues that hinted that Elisha was an orphan child. It took a trip to the Maryland Archives to find some records that mentioned his parents. Later I found over forty records pages of records on familysearch.org. As far as I can tell those records had never been microfilmed, which might explain the reason that no researcher had located those records. In any case these orphan records1, clearly identify Elisha's parents as James T. and Mary A. Gates.
James T. Gates died sometime prior to 1800. A newspaper article dated 20 Jan 1800, lists Mary Ann Gates as the owner of a parcel of land at Anchovy Hills. I believe that Mary Ann Gates is the Mary A. Gates who is Elisha's mother because, eventually Elisha sold some a parcel at Anchovy Hills. Mary Ann Gates died prior to 10 August 1801, since that is the earliest dates shown in the orphan records.
|1787 Will of Peter Gates Prince Georges County, Maryland Liber T page 255-62|
Recently I found some records that may push back the Gates family about three more generations. The will of a Peter Gates2, leaves property to his oldest son, James Truman Gates. Could this James Truman Gates be Elisha's father, James T. Gates? I would like to find some more proof but one hint that it might be is the birth record of James Truman Gates, who is a grandson of Elisha3.
I will continue looking for more records to provide more proof that this is the correct family.
1. "Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940," index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XXFC-PPB : accessed 28 July 2013), Elisha Gates, 01 Jan 1800
2. "Maryland, Probate Estate and Guardianship Files, 1796-1940." Index and images. FamilySearch. https://familysearch.org : accessed 2014.
3. Ancestry.com. Kentucky, Birth Records, 1852-1910 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2007.
Original data: Kentucky. Kentucky Birth, Marriage and Death Records – Microfilm (1852-1910). Microfilm rolls #994027-994058. Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives, Frankfort, Kentucky. (Indexed incorrectly as James Freeman Gates)