Friday, March 15, 2024

Elizabeth's Early Years


More than Thomas and his Gilmer family line, it was his wife Elizabeth about whose early years I was most curious. Elizabeth, my fifth great-grandmother, was also significantly placed in my family tree as someone belonging on my matriline—that DNA-significant line reaching far back into the deep ancestral story of one's mother's mother's mother. Since the mitochondrial DNA test I took revealed somewhat of Elizabeth's matrilineal ancestry buried deep within mine, I wanted to trace that line on paper as far back as I could.

Though I'm thankful for the trailblazers who had published pertinent family histories on lines such as the ones we've examined this year, I was not surprised to see the cursory review provided in George Rockingham Gilmer's 1855 book, despite Elizabeth being his own mother. In Sketches of Some of the First Settlers of Upper Georgia, he devoted all the space of two paragraphs to her story.

What I've learned so far: Elizabeth married Thomas Gilmer at a rather young age, somewhere in Virginia where their respective families had lived. Oh, and before the young couple left for Georgia to raise their rather robust family, she had lived with her parents, Thomas Lewis and Jane Strother. Of her siblings—especially the oldest three brothers, whose military service was noted—the author spent a few more words of description.

In his younger years, Elizabeth's father Thomas Lewis had been plagued with poor eyesight and thus could not follow the calling of his brothers into military service. He instead resorted to the study of law, and learned the surveyor's skills. Apparently, he played a role in early Virginia political matters as well, as I am learning through the discovery of other resources, including another book published in the early 1900s specifically on this same Lewis family. Of course, the main question is whether the assertions in that Lewis genealogy can be verified through documentation, a question I ask myself with each genealogy book I find on the lines in my family's ancestry.

Next week, we'll take a closer look at that book, and learn how far back we can trace that Lewis family in colonial Virginia and beyond. After that, it will be to my matriline and Jane Strother that we will turn our attention.

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