Saturday, May 28, 2016
Of Mothers Long Forgotten
Some researchers favor a solitary approach when pursuing the history of their ancestors. I am not one of them. If I can conduct research in the company of—or at least in conjunction with—a seasoned researcher possessed of judicious methodology, I'm much happier.
Perhaps that's because I've had positive experiences in such projects. I've found that you can meet the most interesting people, circulating among aficionados of genealogical research. True, there are people out there who have tried that approach and walked away from less than stellar experiences. But for the most part, I've appreciated the insight brought to the equation when I have a research partner to compare notes with.
That said, I'm always on the lookout to spot others sharing interest in the same family lines as I have. When I branch out to a new surname, the first thing I do is try to locate others who are working on the same surnames.
As I push back through the generations—especially in pursuit of my matrilineal line—I'm getting into unfamiliar research territory. When the trail of my mother's mother's mother landed me—after several iterations of that process—in the early 1700s with representative to the House of Burgesses Thomas Lewis, it was his wife in whom I was most interested.
She, as it turns out, was daughter of a man by the name of William Strother. Not knowing anything about the Strother surname, I thought I'd go cyber-exploring to see what I could turn up. If I can't have real live research partners, at least I can go find them online.
My first stop was to see what books might have been written on the Strother genealogy. Apparently, there were not a few. One item on the list which caught my eye was entitled Houses of Strother: Descendants of William Strother I, King George County, Virginia. Not a book, it was one of those items in the "other" category for which access was denied.
Not to be undone, I decided on an alternate route of discovery: Google it. After all, though I had no idea who "William Strother I" was—nor where King George County might have been—I did know the Strother on my matrilineal line was the daughter of a colonial someone named William Strother. He, in turn, was the son of another William Strother, who was son of yet another William Strother. The odds were with me.
As it turns out, my Jane Strother, wife of Thomas Lewis, was great granddaughter of William Strother I. In the process of pursuing this item first found in FamilySearch.org's book list, I did access a separate volume of the same title with the subheading, "William Strother II (1653-1726) and his descendants." That, courtesy of his granddaughter, would include me.
Just in case I had the wrong William Strother, though, I thought I'd check out what could be found via Google Books. Though the volume wasn't accessible online, it was searchable, so I did a search for Jane Strother's husband, Thomas Lewis. Sure enough, there in the book were three entries which included his name—one of which specified the relationship of in-law to the Strother family.
From that shaky beginning—not being able to access the item included on the hyperlinked list of resources at FamilySearch.org—I made a few other discoveries, as well. Primary among them was that there is a family association for descendants of that original immigrant William Strother.
Since some websites are put online, perhaps hosted by a generous benefactor, and then left there long after the organization has disbanded, I had to poke around to see whether this was still a viable group. Apparently, it is; they are holding their biennial conference in Charlottesville, Virginia, this coming July.
In addition, they have a web page dedicated to genealogy helps. Most of them are generic, but on that page, I discovered references to some archives and holdings of Strother family papers. While that is beyond the realm of genealogy, per se, I'd be interested in perusing such holdings.
I also discovered from their website that The William Strother Society, Inc., are spearheading a DNA project at Family Tree DNA. Despite knowing that many such surname-based projects focus exclusively on Y-DNA test results, I still clicked through to see what the project gave as its mission statement. Sure enough, there was a Y-DNA project, but that was not all. They are tracking "Distinct mtDNA Haplogroups," which I'd specifically be interested in. After all, the reason that led me on the path to discovering this group in the first place was a question about my matrilineal line.
Family associations sometimes provide members-only resources for genealogical research—or at least the comparison of research notes. While this might not be exactly the research partnership I had in mind, I'm happy to stumble upon such an organization. Teamwork always holds out the promise of synergistic results.