Thursday, August 17, 2017
Last of my Tilson Line
Daughters are always the genealogical challenge to tie in correctly into the family tree. We have daughters for whom we know the married name, but not the maiden name. And then we have some for whom the maiden name obviously gave way to a new surname, yet we can't seem to uncover just what it might have been.
And then we have daughters with fairly easily traced surnames that marry into family names that are so prevalent as to render them nearly invisible.
Not that the last of my Tilson line disappeared into the midst of a family of Smiths, but becoming a Davis was almost as difficult a research proposition. After all, once we crossed over from that fifth generation of Mayflower descendants as the last Alden descendant in my line (Janet Murdock) married a Tilson, we were fortunate to have a fairly reliable guide through the Tilson generations in the form of the 1911 publication, The Tilson Genealogy.
Now, however, Rachel Tilson, daughter of Peleg Tilson—William's son and Stephen's grandson—has gone and married a man first identified in The Tilson Genealogy only by his initials: J. C. Davis.
Fortunately, the generational litany continues on the next page with an entry for Rachel, herself, which completes the picture by offering her husband's name more fully: James C. Davis "of Erwin, Tennessee."
Keeping in mind that these two, the next link between me and membership in the Mayflower Society, predate the official 1876 designation of Erwin as a town in Tennessee, we at least have provision of a few dates for them—as well as a listing of their children's names. Rachel Tilson Davis, said to have been born June 12, 1801, in Saint Clair, Virginia, lived until October 25, 1851. Her husband, James Davis, was born January 15, 1795—though no indication was provided for location of that birth—and died October 24, 1855, presumably in Tennessee. But not yet—at least not officially—in Erwin, Tennessee.
It is at this point that I wish for an equivalent guide through the Davis generations as I had in The Tilson Genealogy. Searching for such a book with a name as commonplace as Davis, though, would be a tiresome effort, with so many unrelated Davis lines in existence in this country. Unfortunately, while I've found some Davis details on my own, after years of pursuing this line, I've yet to find answers to questions as basic as who James Davis' father was, or where he came from.
Still, I have the next step that I need laid out nicely for me in The Tilson Genealogy, where it reveals the names of eight of Rachel Tilson Davis' children: Ruth, Baxter, Thomas, Lucretia, Jane, Robert, William and James.
For our purposes, the next step in tracing the route between Mayflower descendancy and my own family involves taking a closer look at just one of these Davis children: James and Rachel Davis' second-born son, Thomas D. Davis, who arrived at the Davis home—wherever it was in Tennessee—on December 5, 1828.