Thursday, September 28, 2023

Same Surname, Different Ancestor


As I race the calendar to complete research goals before running out of month, I've actually accomplished the task of reviewing all DNA ThruLines results for my fourth great-grandfather, Zachariah Taliaferro. Since there are still a couple more days left before we launch into a new project in October, there is one more Taliaferro task I'd like to tackle: that other Taliaferro fourth great-grandfather.

Yes, I am my own sixth cousin. Well, that would be so, if I created a descendancy chart outlining the generations from Warren Taliaferro separate from the generations descending from Zachariah Taliaferro. Warren and Zachariah were brothers, and a grandchild from each of their lines ended up intermarrying. Thus, my pedigree chart contains the same surname in multiple positions—a case of pedigree collapse.

The granddaughter from Warren's line was the ill-fated Mary Elizabeth Warren Taliaferro Rainey. Yes, I know Warren would not generally be a girl's name, but Mary received that elongated name in memory of an older brother, Warren Taliaferro Rainey, whom her parents had sadly lost in his youth. As the last child born into the family of Thomas Firth Rainey and his Taliaferro wife, young Mary became the only possibility for memorializing the now-dead namesake grandchild of the senior Warren Taliaferro.

Young Mary had many other woes. As the youngest child of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth, baby Mary's 1852 birth occurred only six years before her father's death, and eleven years before she lost her mother. She and the next-oldest orphaned child were taken in by a Taliaferro uncle and a Meriwether aunt (yes, another intermarried branch of the family), who put the two Rainey orphans to work in their shop until Mary was old enough to marry off. The match resulting in her marriage must have been a decision made in a family meeting, for Mary ended up marrying her second cousin, Thomas Taliaferro Broyles. Her woes were not over quite yet, though, for shortly after giving birth to her fourth child and only son, she died in 1877.

Perhaps because Mary was never easy for me to find—even her grave site remained a mystery—I am eager to explore the DNA matches descending from Mary's grandfather, my other Taliaferro fourth great-grandfather, Warren. In doing so in the next couple days, I hope to discover some DNA matches who might just help me find the rest of the Rainey family, since besides Mary and her next-oldest brother Thomas, I have not been able to determine what became of the rest of the family. While I may have lost them on the document trail, perhaps the DNA path will point me in a clearer direction.

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