It is from my third great-grandmother Rachel Tilson that I have a potential connection with the line of a Mayflower passenger. That, of course, is what propels my research quest this month. My goal is to be able to sufficiently document a connection beginning with my maternal grandfather's Davis family, then moving through my Tilson ancestors until the matrilineal connection with Priscilla Mullins, wife of John Alden. However, everybody who has done family history research knows that we don't begin with such starry-eyed litanies; for our genealogical research, we begin with ourselves, then only move beyond that point step by step and document by document. Today, I'll begin recounting the pathway from my current, obviously personally known, family to the Tilson nexus.
My maternal grandfather, born in 1897, was a Davis. He was born in the tiny town of Erwin, Tennessee, in the northeast corner of the state nestled amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains and flush with the North Carolina state border. He was the youngest, and only surviving son, of the six children of "Will" and "Cassie" Boothe Davis.
His father Will—officially William David Davis—was, in turn, son of Thomas, who was son of James Davis. It was with this James Davis that the family line was established in the area around Erwin, Tennessee—although at that earlier time, the settlement was part of Washington County in that same state. I know the family was in the area at least as early as 1822, for that is when, according to an index of marriage licenses in Washington County, James made Rachel Tilson his bride.
While Rachel was obviously in Tennessee for her 1822 wedding, that is not where she began life. On Monday, we'll review what is already known about her early years before she—and, presumably, the rest of her family—arrived in Tennessee. From that point, we'll explore what can be found on that particular Tilson line in Virginia for the next few generations.
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