Wednesday, July 26, 2017

A Strother Mother

If you've been following along here at A Family Tapestry while I've been muddling through the puzzle of possible parentage of my orphaned second great grandmother, you may have been left with a question in the back of your mind. After all, we're seeking the mothers who people the matriline of Mary Rainey Broyles, and since my farthest removed opportunity to document her existence as I knew it was with her license to marry Thomas Taliaferro Broyles in 1871, everything beyond that roadblock really becomes conjecture. An educated guess, to be sure, but still nothing solidly documented.

So to arrive at Jane, wife of Thomas Lewis and daughter of William Strother of Stafford, Virginia, may seem exciting, but it's still a hypothesis.

Since we're comparing this genealogical paper trail with one other research tool, however, it is indeed good news to see I received an exact match to my mitochondrial DNA test which contained a surname matching a woman also figuring in my proposed matriline: Strother.

Despite the momentary glitch of finding my exact match's pedigree containing an error in the parentage of my Jane's sister Elizabeth, it appears we really are talking about sisters and not cousins or any more distant relationship. While this is good news, it is not the end of the line. It merely leads up to the nexus between my matriline and that of my exact match.

The person to whom the honor goes for being ancestral mother to both of us would be the mother of Jane and Elizabeth Strother. And as naming conventions in the western world would have it, that means the Strother mother actually was born with a name other than Strother.

It would be fitting, before moving on, to note just who that woman might have been. Thankfully, a number of references provide the information that William Strother, father of both Jane and Elizabeth, had as his wife a woman by the name of Margaret Watts, whom he married around 1720—according to one reference, before 26 March 1718. This Margaret was said to have been daughter of one Richard Watts.

So, in this pursuit of the woman who was my mother's mother's mother's (et cetera) mother, and the one filling that same role in my exact match's matriline, while we find the surname nexus at the appearance of the Strother sisters in our respective pedigrees, it was their mother who qualifies as our most recent matrilineal common ancestor.

If all the conjecturing which brought me back to Margaret Watts is correct, that means, without any mutations in our mitochondrial record from our current times back until Margaret Watts' birth in 1700 colonial Virginia, I have a three hundred year old genetic record within me that is exactly the same as one borne within the genes of a stranger with whom I apparently share no other relatives except this Strother bride and mother. That's a pretty far-reaching record.

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