Monday, August 27, 2018
A Research Intermission
It's been a while since I last puzzled over my Florida ancestors—almost a week, it turns out, thanks to an intermission to attend the FGS Conference in Fort Wayne. What better place, though, to seek answers to my genealogical brick walls. Considering that Fort Wayne is home to the country's largest public collection of genealogical material, I couldn't just go there to spend my days in a convention center; I made sure to walk across the street to the site of that treasure trove during the evenings.
Of course, I planned ahead. No sense spending time while on location to look up research material. I wanted to hit the ground running when I arrived in Fort Wayne. My secret strategy: locate the call numbers ahead of time, using the Allen County Public Library's online catalog.
I had noticed that another researcher had found an entry on the potential father of my George Edmund McClellan, thanks to a hint announcing that fact at Ancestry. Another researcher had taken the time to transcribe an entry from a book, regarding a man named Charles McClellan of the Barnwell District in South Carolina, who had moved to Georgia, and then to territorial Florida.
Not one to simply copy what others have shared, I wanted to take a look at the source of that transcription, which, in this case, was a book originally published in 1957. A date that late, unfortunately, eliminated any possibility of finding the digitized text at a public domain resource like Internet Archive. While WorldCat told me a copy of the multi-volume set could be had for a mere fifty mile drive to the California Genealogical Society and Library in Oakland, I knew once I arrived in Fort Wayne, it would be even more accessible with a simple walk across the street from my hotel room.
What I was looking for was volume three of the collection known as Pioneers of Wiregrass Georgia by Folks Huxford. There, on page 225, was a brief biography of the Reverend Charles McClellan. Though it was barely a page in length, the entry covered a listing of his children, as well as the mention of his origin and his occupation. This, perhaps, will help link me to documentation to support an old family story that one of my maternal grandmother's ancestors was a Methodist circuit rider; lacking the man's name, I was at a loss as to whose name to search in what I understand is a robust collection housed somewhere on behalf of the Methodist Church. It would be a thrill, indeed, to discover a journal kept by such a trailblazing preacher.
While I was in the neighborhood—both figuratively, in researching my South Carolina, Georgia and Florida roots, as well as literally, in the second-floor genealogical department of the Allen County Public Library—I took the liberty of researching all the associated surnames to the McClellan family constellation. After all, there was a whole library shelf of material related to that county in Georgia where I first located mention of Charles McClellan. I looked for the Tisons and the Charles family, and the Sheffields, finding mention of Revolutionary War soldiers to keep me busy with supplemental DAR applications for months.
That, as exciting as it sounds, was not my purpose in perusing those pages in Allen County's genealogy center. My goal, remember, was to figure out just how my Tison line came from Pitt County, North Carolina, and settled, eventually, in Florida—and how, having discovered my Mary Ann Charles who married William McLeran, she somehow had a mother-in-law who turned out to be a Tison.
Like a bowl of tangled spaghetti, these surnames seem to have twisted together with each other. My Tisons from North Carolina somehow connected with my Charleses from Florida and my McClellans from South Carolina and Georgia. They are so intertwined that I can't figure out how they actually made the connection. Perhaps they were not related lines, after all. But something tells me to keep looking further, thus leading me down a very long path of discovery of the bigger story of each family.
Hopefully, at some point, I'll discover the actual connection.