Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Begin at the Beginning

Though genealogy is a craft that starts at the end and works its way back toward the beginning of a family's history, in the case of our hunt for the nexus between two matrilineal lines—mine and that of my mystery cousin, the adoptee whose mtDNA test results are an exact match to mine—I'm going to reverse direction and examine possible migratory routes of this family from their original home in the colony of Virginia.

First, of course, comes the caveat that not only does my adoptee cousin not know his matrilineal line for sure, but I don't know mine, either. Remember, in tracing backwards in time from my mother to her mother to her mother, I'm stalled at my second great grandmother's origin, for she, too, was said to be adopted.

"Adopted" back then, however, was not the closed case it would be in our time. Likely, before her marriage to Thomas Taliaferro Broyles in 1871, Mary Rainey was orphaned in her teen years and taken in by relatives willing to do their duty, as good family members of that age were expected to do. (Think Pollyanna moving in with her spinster aunt after the death of her parents.)

With that in mind, we need to remember that I am still assuming who my second great grandmother's parents were. With every step backwards through the generations, I'm working on the hypothesis that Mary Rainey's mother was Mary (possibly Nancy) Taliaferro, daughter of Warren Taliaferro and Mary Meriwether Gilmer of Rockingham County, Virginia.

So for our task of examining the migratory pattern of this family line, we'll reverse the usual research direction and start at that beginning—that jumping off place in Virginia from which some of the Taliaferro family and some from the Gilmer line left their ancestral Virginia property for the promise of a better life elsewhere.

The earliest influences on the Gilmer and Taliaferro families, in considering the question of moving from Virginia, may have been a result of the Revolutionary War. According to George Gilman Smith's The Story of Georgia and the Georgia People, General George Mathews, having served during the Revolution with Virginia troops in Georgia, decided to return there after the war (see page 112).
He was a shrewd speculator, and he bought at a bargain a claim to a large body of land known as the Goose Pond tract on Broad river and decided to move to it. He brought in the famous Broad river settlers....

Then, too, the agricultural practices back in Virginia had impoverished the land, and in combination with land grants following the war, became attractive incentives for many Virginians to forsake their previous land holdings. Again, according to Smith (page 139),
the prospect of finding good tobacco land in Georgia drew large colonies from all the central and tide-water counties of that State. 

Georgia governor George R. Gilmer, writing his own understanding of the migration of the company of Virginians to Goose Pond, gave the date for General Mathews' move to the Broad River area as 1784. Another survey of the history of the area listed, among the many Virginians following General Mathews' lead and relocating in this Broad River settlement, the Taliaferros, the Harvies, the Meriwethers and the Lewises.

Just the people we'll be looking for.




  1. Gilmer -- I caught that. Connection?

    1. I'm hoping. Still need to check it out...believe me, this is always a work in progress!

  2. You bring up a good point - adopted isn't necessarily "out of the biological family" - something I had forgotten.

    Reading about Daniel Boone - I learned he settled in Missouri -- back a little before the time of the Louisiana Purchase. I hadn't realized that!

    1. Well, I'm banking pretty heavily on that conjecture, Iggy--not only here, but with my paternal grandfather, who also claimed he was "adopted." I'm banking on adoption by family in both cases. I may need a little DNA testing to back that up, though.

  3. More often than not a relative took in an orphaned child...my Grandma was raised by her fathers sister...her Father was still alive but she was a girl and just 18 months old when her Mother died...she had a hard life:(

    1. I think I remember you mentioning that in your blog, Far Side. I think that sort of thing happened more than we realize...until we delve into the details of our family history.

      Come to think of it, the prevalence of that sort of "adoption" can be seen in literature of these bygone eras. Think Dorothy's "Auntie Em" in The Wizard of Oz.


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