What's with all the speculation?, you may be wondering as I puzzle out just who my orphaned second great grandmother's family might have been.
What if you're wrong?, the genealogist in you is certainly asking. After all, I have very little proof that my guesses are correct.
That, however, is the goal I'm after: to build a case through documentation that seeks to allay those concerns while demonstrating the possibility that my proposal could be credible.
A few years ago, in my DNA results was another mitochondrial "exact match" result belonged to an adoptee who turned out to be successful in figuring out who his birth parents were. He shared his search technique with me, one which is so bombastic and assuming as to make a trained genealogist shudder at the possibilities of error. The trick, my mystery cousin explained, was to build a private tree on Ancestry.com and experiment with hunches—by entering possibilities to see what might trigger "hints" that led to viable material.
I am not attempting an approach as energetically radical as his, in this quest to determine which family my second great grandmother might have belonged to. But I do need to experiment with some possibilities using, at least, educated guesses. The reason: after bringing you up this matrilineal line of ascent all the way from Mary Rainey Broyles to Jane Strother, there is a second part to the story.
Yes, you guessed it: I have an exact mtDNA match with someone whose matriline includes a Strother mother. According to my records—yes, my records based on guesswork—this person's line includes Jane Strother's sister, Elizabeth Strother.
Sisters, that is, depending on whose accounting we choose to believe.
We've already found one old genealogy which stated that the Thomas Lewis who is presumed to be part of my orphaned second great grandmother's line married someone named "Jane, daughter of Wm. Strother, of Stafford county, Va."
That hint, as it turns out, is a trickier line than originally bargained for. The William Strother we are seeking would have been married to a woman named Margaret Watts. Depending on which genealogy publication you believe, though, William and Margaret had either "thirteen daughters" or what seems to read as none at all:
William VI, b. circa 1696; d. 1732; m. circa 1720, Margaret Watts, who m. (second) John Grant, leaving six daughters.
None, that is, if those six daughters were actually the descendants of Margaret and her second husband.
Meanwhile, best I can determine, our Jane Strother had a sister—well, at least according to some accounts—named Elizabeth, who married a Revolutionary War era man named John Frogg. That his entry in the roster of Patriots at the national Daughters of the American Revolution is in dispute makes me wonder whether the reports of his wife's name may also be suspect.
Of course, it would be this Elizabeth Strother to whom my exact match is linked. Therein lies the problem: just how do this Elizabeth and my Jane relate?
All this to say: while I've discovered an exact match through my mtDNA test possibly linking me to the Strother line, not only do I need to construct a proof argument for my orphaned second great grandmother's link to the Strother family, but I then have to sort out whether I have my Strothers lined up correctly, for my accounting does not reconcile with my match's pedigree.
Nothing is ever easy.