Thursday, March 2, 2017
It was the quest to find all of my distant cousins which led me to the discovery of a fifth cousin who had won the title of Miss North Carolina, back in 1956. In fact, I've stumbled upon quite a few stories, thanks to this goal—which means more stories coming up to share, as well.
If you are the research type who insists, "Direct ancestors only, please," you may wonder why I bother with tossing my net so wide. The simple answer is, it all started with my mystery cousin. If you've stuck around here at A Family Tapestry for the past few years—oh, like back to the fall of 2014—you may have recalled that moment in which I received an email announcing an exact mtDNA match with someone who is an adoptee.
Since that time, it's been a top priority project for this mystery cousin and I to push our way back through the generations to see who our most recent common ancestors might have been. It's a good thing that reuniting with those birth parents wasn't contingent upon my finding the right woman on my matriline. (I still haven't found her, though my cousin at least has now met his birth mother and has a solid idea of the women in his family tree.)
Granted, that introduction happened over two years ago. Yet here I am, still trudging along on my family lines, pushing back through the generations from mother to mother's mother to mother's mother's mother to—well, you get the idea.
With each generation I push back in time, I then double back, tracing all the descendants of that woman. In one way, it's a tedious process. In another way, it sure fills in plenty of blanks in my family tree. And, as an added bonus, I find myself stumbling upon some names that get me wondering.
You knew there had to be a reason for telling you all that, of course. And there is. Right now, I've pushed back to the level of my sixth great grandmother, Jane Strother, and her husband, Thomas Lewis of Rockingham County, Virginia.
Then came the long trek back to the present. On my side, the line went through Jane's daughter Elizabeth, who married Thomas Gilmer, and saw her female descendant in my direct line associate with such notable colonial surnames as Meriwether and Taliaferro before settling on the Rainey which led to the second great grandmother who married Thomas Taliaferro Broyles, whom I've mentioned before.
In this particular iteration of the search, I compared my own line from Elizabeth Lewis, wife of Thomas M. Gilmer, to that of her older sister, Agatha Lewis. Agatha was twelve years older than Elizabeth, having been born in 1753 to Elizabeth's 1765 arrival.
Agatha was married twice. For our purposes here, it's a descendant of her first husband, John Frogg that I'll be focusing on. They named their daughter Elizabeth Strother Frogg. This Elizabeth, in turn, married someone by the name of Estill, and for the subsequent three generations, I found myself tracing the descendants of that same Estill surname—seemingly endlessly.
Eventually, I ran into one daughter in that most recent Estill generation, and my research finally broke out of the Estill mold in which I had been captured. As I moved into this new surname—admittedly, also breathing a sigh of relief that I was now back into the 1900s and in definitely more familiar territory—something kept nagging at me from the back of my mind.
That surname, the one she had married into: it seemed so familiar. Wasn't there a senator by that name somewhere?
Above: "In Café Bauer," 1898 work by German Impressionist painter Lesser Ury; courtesy Wikipedia; in the public domain.