Tuesday, March 12, 2024

"Ceaseless Industry and Untiring Care"


While the above words may seem suited to the description of a saint, it was actually in honor of his own mother that George Rockingham Gilmer wrote those words in his 1855 book, Sketches of Some of the First Settlers of Upper Georgia. I, for one, am glad he went beyond platitudes to describe this woman further.

Elizabeth Lewis, of whom the author had remarked regarding her "ceaseless industry and untiring care," was a young bride of Thomas Meriwether Gilmer, who was himself not quite twenty one when the couple married. Within the year, the newlyweds moved from their home in Virginia to a new settlement on the Broad River in Georgia.

Fortunately for my research purposes this month, the Gilmer book provides details on Elizabeth's own family. This helps move me one step further in tracing my own matriline, for that is the part of my genealogy where Elizabeth Lewis stands. According to the author, Elizabeth was daughter of Thomas Lewis and his wife, Jane Strother. This couple both belonged to Virginia families whose surnames I had spotted while researching my Carter and Chew lines in the past two months, so I'm eager to step backwards another generation and explore what can be found there.

Though the Gilmer book included even more accolades for Elizabeth Lewis, there were at least a few details which I can use as springboards to launch into researching this next generation on my matriline. For one, the author mentioned that, as of his writing, she had turned eighty nine—and had been a widow for thirty five years. Following the mention of her many qualities, the book did go on to describe each of her children and their families, which makes for a helpful guide as I build this branch in my family tree.

As for Elizabeth Lewis, though, I'd like to learn far more than how her "pleasant relish" for the good things of life illustrated her lifestyle, or her "unfailing patience" balanced that good life with a note of the challenges of pioneer settlement. I'm curious to push further back in time and see what can be discovered about her native Virginia and the family which first claimed her as their daughter. But first, as far as documentation goes, thanks to her long life, there are records we can pull up to paint a clearer picture of her last days. 

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