Tuesday, January 11, 2022

If No One Had Told Us


It is at times when I research ancestors like my fourth great-grandfather Job Tison that I become most aware of the fragility of family history. At some point, but for some weak link in the nexus between public history and the private nano-history of the common individual, if no one had told us the story, we would never have any way to know it. That thin line connecting generations can be so easily broken and disappear.

This is when I become so aware of how beholden I am to the other family story-tellers who heeded that calling to record what they personally knew. Whether they realized it or not, they became the nodes in this tenuous line who spoke up enough to be heard, who wrote down what they knew so it could be passed on.

Much of what I already know about Job Tison comes from such reports. If I'm lucky, some of the written material will come with scholarly footnotes and bibliographies—but I doubt it. Barring such academic road maps, I'll be left to rummaging through whatever archival material has not been burned in courthouse fires or blown up through the ravages of war, or washed out by the storming furies of nature.

In the meantime, I'm happy to trust what other researchers have passed along—a clipping shared by an Ancestry.com subscriber, or an enterprising blogger or an avid local historian. That, at least, is what I will start with, as we take this journey backward through time, beginning with the 1824 end of Job Tison's life in Glynn County, Georgia.

One such local historian compelled by the inner drive to "pass it on" was Margaret Davis Cate. Whoever she was—the website WorldCat provides her life timeline as 1888-1961—she was the writer to whom we can attribute the snippet an Ancestry member linked to the hints gleaned at that website for Job Tison.

The article shared at Ancestry continues the conversation we began yesterday about the Old Post Road in Georgia and the historic marker placed there in 1932 by the Brunswick Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. As it turns out, I was able to find a transcription of the article, which ran in The Brunswick News on July 7, 1933, shortly after the plaque was placed in a ceremony at the Old Post Road. (Though the transcription is freely available, after accessing the hosting website, glynngen.com, you need to perform your own search by pressing the Control plus F keys, then entering the surname Tison to locate it.)

The article, entitled "Old Post Road Historic Path," was indeed credited to local writer Margaret Davis Cate, and provided a history of the road and its surrounding area. From the column, we also learn that the tavern established by Job Tison and his wife, Sidnah Sheffield, was a wooden structure which, according to the author, was "perhaps the oldest wooden structure in this section" and, at least as of Ms. Cate's 1933 article, still standing.

While it was Job Tison's wife, Sidnah Sheffield, whose Patriot father West Sheffield gained more attention in the Brunswick News article—perhaps also the instigation for the DAR chapter to place the historic marker—the article did mention that Job Tison was from Pitt County, North Carolina, and that he arrived in Georgia about 1785. How the author substantiated that detail, I can't tell, but despite the lack of any scholarly attribution, I'm grateful for yet another one of those tenuous links and the desire of that one lone voice to be an instrument to "pass it on." These are the way-markers pointing us in at least a possible direction.

I realize through that Sheffield-Tison connection that there may be more to that link between Job's new home in Glynn County and his origin in North Carolina. We'll take a look at Job's in-laws tomorrow to see what we can learn. 


  1. So interesting. I am always grateful for the few people who write stories down, and for those who save old letters and photos. Most people are not so inclined, and get rid of "clutter."

    1. Lisa, I still cringe when I think of that momentary lapse when I yielded to the then-current mantra of de-cluttering everything not in current practical use. Even after decades, I hate to think of the letters and postcards I had tossed in that moment, all in the name of getting rid of clutter. At least now, there are people out there who think they can make a buck off someone else's clutter, instead of it going straight to the landfills--a slim chance of a reprieve, true, but an opportunity for a trained eye to capture the opportunity to rescue.

      Yes, those who have saved and transcribed and shared have made a difference. Don't you just love those books which share some of those rescue cases?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...