Thursday, November 21, 2019

The Nieces and Nephews He Never Met

Tally Simpson, the voracious letter writer from the Confederate front of the Civil War, died before the close of hostilities. He never returned home to see how the lives of his siblings turned out.

Of course, I am one to wonder whether any of his family's descendants held his memory in their hearts long enough to pass it down to subsequent generations, so I went looking for who was left. Tally's sister Anna apparently never married, and his younger brother, John Garlington Simpson, died as a teenager before the war even started.

Tally's brother Dick, though, did marry and raise a family. Though Dick's letters home were also included in the book, Far, Far From Home, they ended at the point at which Dick was discharged from the Confederate army on account of his many illnesses. Once home, he and his sweetheart, Maria Louise Garlington, eventually married.

There were several footnotes in the book of war letters explaining the off-again-on-again wedding date for Dick and Maria. Maria's family suffered not one but two losses during the Civil War, and for the death of each brother, their wedding date was understandably postponed. That, however, was not the only reason their wedding date kept being pushed off. Besides Dick's recurrent illnesses, a lingering symptom of his days in the service, Maria herself encountered health problems.

A footnote in Far, Far From Home revealed that, in a private family history written by Maria, she "took diphtheria" one week before their wedding day. Not wishing to postpone any further this wedding event between two very much in love but terribly sickly sweethearts, on the appointed morning of their wedding, Maria was still sick in bed, but
got up and was closely wrapped up and went down stairs, was married, and immediately returned to my room where I remained for nearly a week.

With a start to married life such as this, one would expect the marriage to not last very long. However, as the book reported, Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Simpson enjoyed a marriage "which lasted forty-seven years and produced ten children."

Only problem: of Tally's nieces and nephews whom he never met, I could account for only eight of them. Could two have disappeared from view by means of an untimely death? I went back through the census records I could find, but was unable to discover any additional names for the Simpson household.

There was, however, another resource: that recently-remembered book—by Richard Simpson himself, published after his death—which included many genealogies of families from Pendleton, South Carolina, the place where Tally and his family had lived. Sure enough, R. W Simpson did not neglect to include his own family in the recounting of Old Pendleton's heritage.

Only problem: according to the father of the family, he listed not ten children, but nine: Margaret, Susan, Maria, Annie, Conway, Richard junior, John, Taliaferro, and Jean. (Though I have yet to research her line, I suspect Jean was born after the 1880 census and married before the 1900 census was taken.) Of those nine children of Tally's brother Dick, at least six married and had children of their own—some of those generations undoubtedly stretching down to our own times.

With that, I have my research work cut out for me, if not for curiosity over whether any of them will show up as my DNA matches, at least for the question of whether any of Tally Simpson's nieces and nephews passed down his legacy for their own descendants to know.

In the process of learning all that, I discovered yet another missed person. I had neglected to note that several of Tally's letters were addressed to "Sister Mary"—a name I had not included in my own charts for his family group record. As it turns out, this Mary became yet another reason why Tally had nieces and nephews to remember his name in their own family constellation—and a line I need to add to my own records, as well.   


  1. Thank goodness for self publishing!! Losing that census causes so many road blocks, doesn't it?

    1. I'm a big fan of using multiple resources to verify such details. Even that self-published book could only provide us a snapshot in time, as we subsequently found out from other documents. But yes, Miss Merry, I am glad for self-published resources--and for the websites which have digitized and preserved them for our free access, as well.

  2. I enjoy watching you develop so much material - on all sides and sidelines of your family. I'm going to be reading Richard Simpson's book.

    I get frustrated with all the incorrect information on the family-tree websites. It is tempting to accept something as gospel when it is repeated dozens of times. These family trees have such an authoritative look!

    1. I'm so glad to hear you will be reading the Simpson book, Lisa. It's wonderful that it is so ready available online now (though I bought a reprinted copy, which may still be available for sale online).

      I can also relate to your comment about the frustrating wholesale copying of trees from easy targets online. However, I've also discovered that those old-fashioned books were not immune to mistakes of their own. I find it prudent to approach those old, printed genealogies with a critical eye, as well. With all the resources and access to digitized documents we have today, it is quite easy to do some quality control on the trees which were printed up in hundred year old books. Perhaps my viewpoint is partial to the hybrid approach--take the best of both worlds.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...