Monday, January 17, 2022

How 'bout a Third Look?


The search for information on distant relatives—such as my quest to discover more of the biographical details of my fourth great-grandfather, Job Tison—becomes more complicated, the further back in time we reach. Given that Job Tison was born in 1770—where is the question, and to whom—we are stretching back quite a while, indeed.

Last Friday, we took a second look at what I've already entered in my genealogy database for Job Tison and his family. Thankfully, posting my research dilemmas online through the medium of a genealogy blog makes for some helpful crowdsourcing, and readers have risen to the challenge. Perhaps this is one way to remind us all to take a third look at resources as we grapple with our brick wall research questions.

In an email after Friday's post, fellow genea-blogger Charles Purvis of Carolina Family Roots advised me to widen my search by taking it to resources online like Google Books. And blogger Kathy Duncan of Porch Swings, Fireflies, and Jelly Jars suggested broadening the scope by looking "downstream" at possible published later-life recollections of Job's children or grandchildren, such as this brief bio of Job's son found in the February 19, 1879, Brunswick Advertiser.

There are indeed several other resources we can explore during the remainder of this month, but these helpful suggestions remind me that, in preparation, it would be helpful in that "third look" to review just what we already know about Job Tison's family.

In brief—and I'll share more as the week progresses—I have found that several researchers claimed Job Tison was "from" Pitt County, North Carolina. The problem is that none of the mentions of this detail seem to include documentation to verify that assertion. Worse, now that I've taken Kathy's advice in reading the article she mentioned, I see the Brunswick Advertiser stated back in 1879 that Job Tison—and, incidentally, his wife Sidnah Sheffield—were born "on the line of Virginia and North Carolina," yet that is certainly not an apt descriptor for the location of Pitt County.

True, that one biographical sketch for John Mason Berrien Tison featured details for just one of Job Tison's descendants. I have seven other Tison children's lives to explore—and undoubtedly, I've missed maybe one or two of the earliest of his children. Plus, going on the F.A.N. Club theory that Job Tison may well have shadowed his father-in-law's migration pathway, I can do likewise for Sidnah's father, West Sheffield and (especially) his many sons.

In the meantime, tomorrow we'll strike out to explore the possible census entries from the Virginia-North Carolina border southward to see whether there are any signs of either Job Tison or West Sheffield as early as the first census in 1790. If nothing else, that exercise will confirm or reject the reports that Job Tison had moved to Glynn County, Georgia, by the time he was fifteen.


  1. That phrase "on the line of Virginia and North Carolina" seems deliberately vague to me. Why not just say Virginia or North Carolina if you know which state your parents were born in?

    In 1780, my husband's relative Richard Henderson (of Transylvania Company fame) was out "running the line between Virginia and North Carolina," meaning he was working on surveying the boundary line between the two states. His goal, of course, was to push that line as far north as possible so that it benefited North Carolina. That might mean that land previously considered Virginia fell in North Carolina.

    I wonder if it is just as likely that your Job Tison and Sidnah Sheffield were originally from the southern area of Virginia as it is that they were from North Carolina? It could be that the two families were near each other, but in both states. After leaving the region, they may have been unsure which state eventually claimed the area. Their children might have been even less sure.

    1. Great point, Kathy! All those early boundaries--whether county or state--were moving markers. It is sometimes hard to keep up with the changes. However, your husband's story reminds me to look at the history of the boundaries in the potential locations I've identified so far. Thank you so much for sharing that!


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