Monday, November 16, 2015

Brick Walls Blocking
the Matrilineal Express

It's been a week, now, since I was reminded of my task to push further on my matrilineal line—that mother's mother's mother's line of ancestors measured in the mtDNA test. The odd thing is that I've sputtered through that assignment so many times, struggling with those brick wall ancestors who refuse to reveal their true documentation, that I can't remember what I've covered so far, and what needs further research.

So, to help keep tabs, we'll take today and tomorrow to review the situation. Then we'll see if there are any promising branches of that line which might yield a connection with my mystery cousin's birth family.

Today's review starts with my maternal grandmother, that same Rubie McClellan whose photos shared with me last week nudged me to revisit this part of my family history research.

Though Rubie Broyles McClellan grew up in Fort Meade, Florida, she was born near the northeast Tennessee home of her mother, Sarah Ann Broyles. It was through Rubie's maternal grandfather, Thomas Taliaferro Broyles, that I have been able to become part of Daughters of the American Revolution, for his maternal grandfather was a Taliaferro from Virginia—but that's a story to review on another day. For this go-round, we need to stick strictly to my matrilineal line.

The state-hopping from Florida to Tennessee didn't end with Rubie's mother Sarah. Sarah's own mother came from yet another state: Georgia. I had heard from my mother that her great-grandmother, Mary Rainey, had been adopted, and when I turned to the census records to see what could be found, I did locate her in someone else's household. That household, however, happened to be headed by someone with a familiar surname—Taliaferro—as well as contain another surname linked to our family, Broyles. Since it was the 1870 census—in which no relationships were noted among household members—I took a gamble in assuming the Mary Rainey and Thomas Rainey listed there were siblings, and went looking for verification in the previous census.

I found a promising entry in the Georgia household of one widow named Mary "Raney" in 1860, and then one with the complete Thomas Rainey family unit for the 1850 census, as well (sans the daughter Mary, who had not yet been born).

With the discovery of those entries, it brought me back to my third great grandmother, Mary Taliaferro Rainey, and another brick wall. If it had also revealed the nexus with my "exact match" mtDNA mystery cousin, it would have sufficed me. But, of course, these stories never conclude with such tidy arrangements—which is why we'll have to delve into yet another generation's tangled story. 


  1. With all the "cousins" marrying "cousins," I bet it was hard for even them to keep things straight!

    1. Tell me about it. I'm running into some DNA matches whose forebears and mine were those cousins. And I can't keep them all straight!


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