Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Getting Tactical: the McClellan Lines
If I'm going to conquer the many lines constituting my as-yet-unknown southern families, this will require delving into the details. My drawback, at this point, is being able to research in great detail, as so much of what documentation is needed is regarding pioneer settlers. Not too many pioneers kept records—unless, of course, they survived to brag about their conquests afterwards. Some of those folks in my roots, apparently, did not.
Beginning today, I'll catalog the surnames I need to pursue, and what little I know about them. Who knows? Maybe a distant relative will grab some of this cousin bait and agree to collaborate on research.
For beginners, let's take a look at my mother's McClellan line. All I know about this family is what I learned through my maternal grandmother, who was a McClellan, herself. This family had roots in Florida since at least 1833, when my third great grandparents had a baby girl born somewhere in the land that eventually became the state of Florida.
That was the family of George Edmund McClellan and his wife, Sidney Tyson. They, collectively, formed the brick wall that has had me stymied at this position ever since I began researching their line. I have seen other researchers mention that George was born in the Barnwell District of South Carolina, but have failed to replicate such research results, myself. Likewise, others have noted George's wife Sidney—with her surname sometimes rendered Tyson, and at other times spelling it Tison—to have come from either Pitt County, North Carolina, or Glynn County, Georgia.
What I can be sure of, so far, is the McClellans' location, once they arrived in Florida. That, no matter how the county boundary lines changed over the years, was essentially in or near a speck on the map known as Wellborn. Pre-dating the formation of the state of Florida, the McClellans' land saw its governmental jurisdiction fluctuate from territorial to statehood (George Edmund being a member of those writing the original Florida constitution), and the county of Suwannee get carved from Columbia County.
Thanks to some online resources—namely, the Suwannee County website itself, as well as a brief summary of their history on the Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce website—I can see where part of my McClellan forebears' story fits in the narrative.
But nothing I've found, to this point, explains what brought the McClellans to where they settled in northern Florida—no matter whether it was from North Carolina, South Carolina or Georgia. And this is what I mean to untangle as I prepare for my class in southern research at the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy next January.
Of course, the story of the McClellans will need to include that of George's wife, and the story of the Tyson—or Tison—family. Job Tison, George Edmund McClellan's father-in-law, has left a smattering of records stretching back to the late 1700s, indicating his presence in Pitt County, North Carolina, a new research field for me. (If you don't know where Pitt County is—no worries; neither did I—think Greenville. However, at the time Job Tison resided there, it was a county of a mere eight thousand people.)
The McClellan saga will need to expand to include the story of one of George's daughters-in-law, Emma Charles, daughter of Andrew Jackson Charles and Delaney Townsend whose early demise left Emma and her two brothers orphans. A twist of fate like that leaves me with many questions about their roots, as well.
In a more modern part of this research predicament, a large number of my DNA matches seem to have southern roots, as well, telling me that pushing back those brick walls to an earlier generation may help me finger the most recent common ancestors I share with these many mystery cousins. One by one, I'm addressing those farthest reaches of my McClellan lines and documenting my way back to the present. It's grunt work, to be sure, but hopefully, it will open doors to identifying the links with a good number of DNA matches.