Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Becoming a FAN


A most useful concept in family history research techniques can be the "FAN" Club, an acronym representing the Friends, Associates, and Neighbors of our difficult to trace target ancestors. In the case of my fourth great-grandfather, I'm beginning to realize that his FAN Club may be just what I need to find the answer to my question, "Where in North Carolina was Job Tison born?"

Granted, we've already read one article which stated he was from Pitt County, North Carolina. But if Job Tison was born in 1770, it's a far stretch to simply take an author's word for the fact from a report penned in 1933. I'd like a bit more information on how that detail was garnered, thank you.

According to local historian Margaret Davis Cate's column in the July 7, 1933, Brunswick News, Job Tison arrived in Glynn County, Georgia, about 1785. That would mean he was only fifteen when he got there. Did he come alone? Probably unlikely, given his age. That's the first clue that I need to look around for others who might have been traveling partners.

I noticed the same article in the Brunswick News detailed the history of Job's eventual father-in-law, West Sheffield. Interestingly, West Sheffield also came from somewhere in North Carolina, but unlike Job, had settled in nearby Wayne County, Georgia.

Though D.A.R. records readily indicate that West Sheffield was born in North Carolina, they note his service in the Revolutionary War was in Georgia, not North Carolina. Indeed, one of Job Tison's granddaughters applied for D.A.R. membership, stating that her great-grandfather West Sheffield had served as a private from Wayne County, for which he was granted land bounty.

That same membership report includes a statement about West Sheffield's father, John, who also lived in Wayne County, Georgia, but was born in North Carolina, and had died back there in Duplin County, two counties removed from Pitt County. Could John Sheffield have been returning on business to his original home in North Carolina when he was stricken?

The connection both of these men had with North Carolina—both frustrating in its possible coincidental closeness and its stubbornly remaining anonymity—certainly calls for not only further research, but research of the deep kind of inspection perhaps not available online. Despite that, I took my question to Google to see if there was anything to be found on West Sheffield and Wayne County, Georgia.

There was. Of all the unexpected resources, I found an article posted by Michele Lewis in the Legacy Family Tree blog on September 11, 2017. The article itself was about tracing records from burned counties and focused on an example from Jackson County, Mississippi. I assure you, that is the farthest from my research goals I could think of at this point, so let's just say that was unexpected to find.

However, the story the author presented was an illustration of how records from one burned county may be found—at least in duplicated version—in a far removed county. In this case, the document under examination was a marriage verification belonging to another daughter of West Sheffield—who at the time was living in Mississippi, site of the burned courthouse—which ended up in West Sheffield's estate papers in Georgia. A digitized page from that record was included in the Legacy Family Tree article, and a footnote provided a resource online at

Guess I'll be doing some serious reading of those estate papers, if I can actually find them online. Perhaps I'll be fortunate enough to find some slips of unexpected documentation, too. 

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