Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Back on the Tilson Trail


When it's time to welcome in a new month, I flip over the page on my research calendar to a new challenge. That's what I outlined at the beginning of the year in my list of the Twelve Most Wanted ancestors I want to find. This month, I'll be returning to the Tilsons of southwestern Virginia and, eventually, northeastern Tennessee.

The task won't be easy. I've been stuck on this one for years, even after making that family my research target for March of 2020. Of course, back then I had great plans to spend time at Salt Lake City's enormous Family History Library. If there is an answer to be found to my research question, that would be the one place to contain any leads.

We all know what happened to those plans in 2020. In fact, mine became only one set of likely millions of plans and dreams that had to be set aside for the lockdowns following the announcement of the severity of Covid. I did try picking up the research trail last November, when I realized things weren't going to work for another research plan I had slated for that month.

Hence, the addition of the Tilson family to my goals for this month. In these thirty one days of March, I'm hoping to find enough documentation to link my Tilson line to a daughter of a daughter of...well, you get the idea. Let's just say that Priscilla Mullins of Mayflower fame was on the matriline of my sixth great-grandmother Janet Murdock, wife of Stephen Tilson. And that couple's son William was the one who launched out into the wild, moving from the Massachusetts settlement at Plympton to the southwest edges of colonial Virginia.

The problem with researching ancestors who were living out in the middle of nowhere—at least for those trying to locate documents on such ancestors—is that there may have been very little documentation going on. Not to mention the time period in which I'm trying to find this family, leading up to the close of the Seven Years' War, better known in its North American theater as the French and Indian War. At the close of that conflict, the King of England's Royal Proclamation of 1763 basically told my Tilson ancestors that they could no longer live where they had settled. Then what?

That's where my problem lies: in tracing the Tilsons of that generation back to Janet Murdock, where I can connect to the official "Silver Books" of the Mayflower Society. This month, I'll again try my hand at connecting those dots.


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