Monday, March 6, 2023

Rachel and Beyond:
Where We Left off With the Tilsons


Turns out, it is a helpful habit to develop standardized research routines—those habits you always make sure to do when engaged in the endless pursuit of ancestors. In this case, I'm picking up where I left off last year, concerning my third great-grandmother, Rachel Tilson. Thankfully, I left notes on not only what I had already found, but what I need to do next.

Since there is always more work to do than month to finish it in, at the end of last November, I still hadn't located the information I was seeking on Rachel's father, Peleg Tilson. The main problem was isolating any specifics on his death. Considering Peleg was born in the 1760s, I assure you there should be some signs of his demise. As for a will, though, I have yet to find that particular sign.

The problem with Peleg Tilson was that he wasn't the only Tilson descendant to possess such a name. If you take Peleg to be an unusual name, in the Tilson world that notion would be considered mis-informed. I did manage to eke out a few details on not only one, but three such relatives by that given name, so I've been forewarned to tread cautiously on this research trail.

Mercer Vernon Tilson, author of The Tilson Genealogy, a 1911 collection of genealogical details on many of the descendants of the founding 1638 immigrant Edmund Tilson of Plymouth colony, showed our Peleg as second-born son of William and Mary (Ransom) Tilson. However, as for the date of birth, this Peleg's entry in the book showed an enigmatic "176—" in a place called Saint Clair, once part of Washington County, Virginia.

The only other information provided on Peleg, in his own entry in the Tilson Genealogy volume, was that he moved by 1803 to Tennessee, settling about three miles from the current town of Erwin. Another history book, predating The Tilson Genealogy, mentioned several names of those settling on what was then called "Greasy Cove," including Peleg and, likely, his brother William Tilson—not among the very first, but arriving "a little later." Yet, if he remained—as his marriage and ensuing birth of multiple children would imply—I find no sign of records regarding the disposition of any properties belonging to Peleg after his death.

That, pretty much, is where I left off with my quest to discover the connection between Rachel Tilson and her father Peleg, and their supposed ancestral connection to the passengers of the Mayflower. It's time to dig deeper into available records on Peleg. Fortunately, I was able to find some notes left by an avid history researcher from that region. We'll discuss the man who left those handwritten details tomorrow. 

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