Friday, July 27, 2018
From One Clue to Another Question
Life in the early days of settlement in territorial Florida must have had its challenges. I have no factual basis to bolster that assumption, just those little details like ancestors suddenly disappearing or dying young.
While puzzling over my Charles family ancestors—my third great grandparents Andrew and Delaney Townsend Charles each disappearing sometime before 1860, leaving their three orphaned (or abandoned?) children in the care of Andrew's widowed-and-remarried sister Drucilla—I am grasping for any straws to piece this story together. Every lead I stumble upon, though, seems to open up another puzzling detail. So when, by the time of the 1870 census, I find Drucilla's girls in the care of yet another woman—this time, someone named Mary A. McLeran—I'm stumped once again with that person's identity and relationship to the extended family. (Not to mention, I still suspect this Mary to be the Mary of the Red Scarf legend.)
In the process of trying to answer the question of just who Mary McLeran was, I uncover the fact that the McLerans were somehow tied to the Tison family, another one of my ancestral surnames. But how were they connected? I'm stumped by that.
In order to answer that question, I have two possible approaches. First, I can work my way back through my family lines to my Tison ancestor and press beyond that individual to see what sibling might have connected with this McLeran line. Or, secondly, I could take this individual who tied the McLerans and the Tisons together—Rebecca Tison, wife of Nevin McLeran—and trace her family line to see where the connection might be with both Mary McLeran and my direct line Tison ancestor.
I want to take these approaches in order, but I already can see there's a problem with the first approach. Like the Charles family, my Tison ancestor—third great grandmother Sidnah Tison who married George Edmund McClellan—seemed to come from a magically disappearing family line, herself. Curiously, she, too, died in 1860, making me wonder whether there was some sort of viral outbreak or other hazard that, at about the same time, felled so many of my ancestors in the region where they lived in northern Florida. But I know very little about her parents that I can find documented.
What little I do know about this Tison ancestor is that she was born in Pitt County, North Carolina, in 1806, and that her parents—Job Tison and Sidnah Sheffield—eventually moved the family to Glynn County, Georgia, where they established a profitable inn along the post road between two of the local county seats.
It's been a bear to locate any reliable material on the roots of my Sidnah Tison McClellan, but I've been piecing together the documentation in that excruciatingly slow way that doesn't make for exciting narrative. Following one misdirected lead, in searching for any names of Sidnah's Tison siblings, I ran across some telltale signs in, of all places, the probate file of her husband, George Edmund McClellan, pointing up once again how intertwined these families were in northern Florida.
Remember, I'm still looking for a connection to the Rebecca Tison who married Nevil McLeran in hopes of then finding the nexus with the Mary A. McLeran, guardian of the missing Drucilla Charles Odum's children. Yet, looking where I didn't expect to find the answer to that question, I stumbled upon what I'd call a smoking gun. In someone else's file. I'm beginning to wonder whether they all were related to each other. Or whether this was 1860s Florida's version of a soap opera.