Friday, February 10, 2023

Finding More About Frances


We've been on a genealogical journey, trying to piece together the family constellation of my fourth great-grandfather, Zachariah Taliaferro. So far, we've found mention in his will of one Richard Taliaferro, whom he named as one of his executors. Chasing that clue, we found in Richard's own will—at least, we think it's our Richard's will—the naming of his sister Frances Penn and her two children, Richard and Mary.

As it turns out, it is a good thing that Richard Taliaferro specifically documented the name of Frances' two children. Where one would think to find such a listing, there is none. If I've found the right will for the Penn family, Frances' husband mentions her by name, but doesn't provide any detail concerning their children other than mentioning them generically as "our children."

Frances' husband Wilson Penn drew up his will on the nineteenth day of May in 1811. The document was filed at Elbert County in Georgia, the state where some of our Zachariah Taliaferro's siblings had settled. We already noticed yesterday that Richard had also made that decision to migrate from Virginia to Georgia before drawing up his own will.

Wilson Penn's will was fairly brief. Despite leaving us no clue as to his children's names, he did help us by appointing executors whose names will aid our research. Along with his wife Frances, whom he named as executrix, Wilson appointed Benjamin Taliaferro, Dr. John T. Gilmer, and "Thomson" Watkins.

While Benjamin Taliaferro is most likely brother to our Zachariah as well as to Richard and Frances, the other two names provide us assurance that we have found the will for the right Penn family. While we don't yet recognize who Dr. Gilmer might be, that surname interestingly is the same as that of the outspoken biographical author we mentioned yesterday. And the note inserted with the passage quoted yesterday from the Gilmer book mentioned a neighbor by the name of Thomas Watkins, who was said to be a brother-in-law of the lifelong confirmed bachelor, Richard Taliaferro.

So far, we've identified as siblings of my fourth great-grandfather Zachariah: Richard, possibly Benjamin, Frances Penn, and the wife of Thomas Watkins. Thankfully, we can now turn to the will of their father, also named Zachariah, to see who else should belong in this family tree. We'll begin that exploration at the beginning of the coming week.

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