Sunday, February 13, 2022

Revisiting Those "Notes to Self"


The pursuit of family history, despite now being so heavily digitized, can still leave an enormous paper trail in its wake. Let's just say my second-most active pursuit is cleaning up the scraps of paper upon which I jot down reminders of research revelations as they occur to me.

When those notes have passed their prime, it's into the trash they go. Except...I can't help re-reading what I'm about to rid myself of—and then decide the note really needs just a little bit more work.

Take the scratch paper upon which I had noted several details about an upcoming meeting—a to-do list which, now two years later, is well-qualified to have become a "done" list. It would easily have landed in the recycle bin, except what should catch my eye as it wafted its way downward but a different note added in the margin. In a different color ink, it was a clear spot of paper upon which to hurriedly jot—before I forgot, no doubt—yet one more thing that I absolutely could not neglect to follow up on.

The terse note said only 

Drucilla—died March 3, 1866
Mary A. McLeran's sister

This was the family line descended from the Florida pioneer, ferryman Ruben Charles, father of that Mary-of-the-Red-Scarf legend who, at least as far as I could tell, did not die the tragic death in her youth romanticized in local lore. Here was a note reminding me that I had found mention of her—married, no less—in some of the court proceedings surrounding her husband's sudden death.

Mary's husband, as I recalled once I returned to look this up, was a northern Florida man by the name of William T. McLeran. And William's parents were a North Carolina couple of the early 1800s by the name of Nevin and Rebecca.

Oh. And Rebecca's maiden name was Tison.

That fact had never been lost on me. Let's just say I sort of forgot that little detail this year until I ran across that bit of torn paper now flitting from my fingertips into the trash can. Now, after having spent a month searching high and low for any signs of another Tison's origins in North Carolina—and watching some of his progeny leap the border to settle in territorial Florida—can anyone walk away from this other research temptation and not wonder whether there is yet another, though unseen, connection to ferret out from all this early American era's scant personal records?

Let's just say I'm not exactly walking away from it. I'll just reconstitute that shredded note and fold it in with the file containing my to-list for the next time we ponder those mystery Tisons from North Carolina. The books must remain closed on that case for now. We've got another task to tackle for our February research challenge. 


  1. Oh my. And I know the scraps of paper problem. I cannot tell you the time I spend looking (and re-looking and re-looking) at the scraps my mom saved.

    1. Oh, no! Multiplied generations of paper hoarders. While I'm jealous that you have your mom's research to give you a start, sometimes those "notes to self" can be quite enigmatic.


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