Monday, November 18, 2019

Untangling the Twisted Lines

Now that I've finished the collection of Civil War letters of my first cousin, four times removed—Taliaferro Simpson, or "Tally" for short—my next task is to go back through all the notes I've gleaned from the editors' footnotes on family relationships. Just to be sure—one never knows, you see, whether I've missed an ancestor.

For instance, one footnote at the end of the volume, affixed to a letter of condolences from a Captain Henry P. Farrow of the Confederacy's War Department, mentioned that he was "husband of Tally's cousin Cornelia." Off I went to search for all the Cornelias in my family tree database. After all, how many Cornelias could there be?!

As it turned out, more than I cared to slog through, including one false lead on the Broyles side of our family. Tally's mother, you may remember, was sister to my third great-grandmother, Sarah Ann Taliaferro, who married Ozey Robert Broyles. Their daughter, Margaret Cornelia, married Samuel Van Wyck. Not Farrow.

I knew that. Maybe it's pushing capacity to remember all those names in a nineteen thousand person tree.

As for the other Cornelias? None of them seemed to relate to Tally's mother's side of the family. Besides, I have no Farrows in my tree. Must be a connection on the Simpson side.

But there are others. Remember the "Taylor Shop" entries in Tally's letters? I'll be reviewing those notes to see what can be added about another of Tally's aunts on the Taliaferro side. And of course, since the Miller family—another Taliaferro link—was featured so prominently in the book, I'll be reviewing all those notes to glean details for my database there, as well.

And then, there is the discussion of the future of the "Fair Unknown," Miss Fannie Smith. Whether the Charleston refugee shows up in any other documents frequented by genealogists, I'm not sure, but I'll be scouring those resources closely to see what became of her, after those tumultuous war years.

If there is anything remarkable to report of all this review of footnotes, you can be sure I'll mention it this week. After all, footnotes can provide the most valuable leads for research.


  1. Footnotes are very important. I cracked a brick wall on my husband's Whitmer family because a footnote in a Frederick County, MD book mentioned that a John Whitmer came from Barbelroth,Germany. I followed up on it and that John was my husband's ancestor.

    1. That's great, Linda! When I think of how much I disliked footnotes during my student years, it amazes me how I didn't then realize their true value. Your experience and discovery is a report that I imagine many of us repeat, time and again, in our own research.


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