Friday, February 11, 2022

Job's Daughters


After seeing what little could be found on an ancestor from governmental documents of the early 1800s, the idea was to garner resources from non-governmental written material of the era—archived collections of journals or diaries, say, or other manuscript collections mentioning the Tison family of my fourth great-grandfather. Or at least newspapers. Surely some chatty columnist of a subsequent century would interview the aging grandchildren of Job and Sidnah Tison and press for stories of the "good ol' days" in Glynn County, Georgia. 

So much for plans. After wrapping up a survey, nearly empty-handed, of any newspaper mentions of their parents' legacy by the sons of Job Tison, I assumed there would be even less material to examine through the effort of searching for Job's daughters. How wrong I was.

My strategy was to avoid conducting a search from oldest to youngest. My reasoning? We already knew the oldest daughter, Naomi, predeceased her father. Though she was not named specifically, her place in the Tison family had been inferred by Job's 1824 will. With women being nearly invisible during that era, any hopes of finding Naomi's name in even an obituary was unlikely.

The next daughter, Sidney, was my third great-grandmother. Just seventeen at the point of her father's death, seven years afterward, Sidney married George McClellan, a son of her father's associate—and witness to his will, Charles McClellan—and was whisked away to a new home in territorial Florida. Since I've already researched her extensively, I passed on researching any mention of her name again, as I doubted I'd find anything new regarding her remembrances of her parents back in Georgia.

Sidney's younger sister Melinda was married barely a month after Job's passing—his minister friend Charles McClellan conducting the ceremony—to John Charles Richard. Less than ten years later, Melinda and her family had followed her brother's lead and moved to Alachua County in Florida. Even though her name can be found on sales of land in Alachua and nearby counties, I tend to doubt her name would surface in a search of Florida newspapers during those early years of statehood.

Likewise for the next sister, Susan Caroline, who was barely a teenager when her father passed. Hers was a mournful story, from what few mentions I can find in vital records. Widowed with a young son by the time she was nineteen, she remarried in only a couple years. By 1864, she, herself was gone.

It didn't really take as much thought as what appeared to go into those brief paragraphs above to choose my course of research action; I instinctually knew there would be more likelihood that the youngest sister's name would be found in public mentions than her older sisters. Thus, the hunt was on to discover any published mentions of Job's daughter Theresa Elizabeth Tison.

And what a cache I found—some of it even true, I'll wager.

At three years of age, Theresa lost her father, so Job would likely be even less than a fleeting memory. Sometimes, though, it is the ones who most keenly feel the lack of family connection who seem most drawn to learn more. Whatever the case, there were ample online resources for tracing Theresa's family story.

Apparently, a man ten years her senior had, in earlier times, been associated with Job Tison in the mercantile business. The man's name was Sylvester Mumford. Born in New York, this northerner had somehow found himself drawn to the southern coastal reaches of Georgia, where he opened up shop near Job's wayside inn—and, as reports had it, fared quite successfully.

Theresa and Sylvester Mumford's 1841 marriage produced two daughters, whom they named Oceana and Goertner. The family lived quite comfortably in a home built for them which was considered a jewel of the area. Pictures of the residence can still be found online, despite the fact that the home, by then long abandoned, had been badly damaged by fire in 2005.

Along with the photos can be found stories of the family who once had lived there. It was there that I gleaned a few references to Theresa's father Job Tison. More than that, though, was the continuation of the family's saga with their beautiful, nearly legendary daughter Goertner who, as the widow of Jay Curtis Parkhurst, lived to be nearly one hundred years of age.

Of course, along with the family stories and remembrances of the property came some reports of a more legendary sort—including conjecture about the Mumford fortune in relation to the missing "Confederate gold." Whether the stories about Goertner's father Sylvester Mumford were true, of course I cannot tell, but one thing is sure: at her passing, she bequeathed a significant sum for the educational support of Georgia's orphans, especially young women. Her legacy can be found even today on the website of one Georgia college, detailing the origin of the student residence known as Parkhurst Hall. And when the childless widow Goertner Mumford Parkhurst's will was presented in court in Washington, D. C., four southern states' newspapers reported on her legacy: besides recipients Georgia and South Carolina (location of one beneficiary orphanage), the story was carried in North Carolina and Alabama.

While the details of Job Tison's prominent granddaughter do not provide as much information as we'd hoped to see on the man himself, at least his shadow can be discerned in these remembrances of those subsequent generations. With that, we'll bid adieu to the tantalizing possibilities of the Mumford legacy, and the research goal of tracing Job Tison's origin for this year. But before we close the books on this family story, tomorrow we need to formulate a plausible research plan for when we pick up the quest in the future.  


  1. Now those are some interesting stories! I wonder where that money did come from!

    1. I doubt we'll ever learn the truth of the matter, Miss Merry, but all those conjectures do make for some fascinating reading.


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