Friday, March 1, 2024

Taking a Ride on the Matriline


It isn't often that my family history explorations follow a straight path, but for this month's focus, that is the route we will take. Don't think this will be an easy ride, though. The route we'll take runs straight back through history on my matriline, that one descending line on the pedigree chart that leads from mother to maternal grandmother, to her mother, ever changing surnames as we make the flying leap from generation to generation.

Our springboard will be the mother of my orphaned second great-grandmother with the impossibly long name: Mary Elizabeth Warren Taliaferro Rainey. Her brief life had to do double duty on the family history namesake post, carrying the name not only of her own mother, but that of an older brother whose untimely death the family never wanted to remain forgotten.

Mary Elizabeth Warren Taliaferro Rainey suffered a similar fate, herself, dying after the birth of her fourth child and only son. Fast forward several generations and I found this woman shrouded in mystery, almost forgotten by her daughter, my great-grandmother, who, at barely three years of age, was raised by a step-mother. Any oral tradition of passing along the family stories was interrupted at these two points: the loss of the younger Mary Elizabeth and that of her mother.

For this month's focus on my Twelve Most Wanted this year, I want to retrace that matriline. Especially now that, thanks to mitochondrial DNA testing and a match who has accurate tree-building skills, I have been able to identify that earlier ancestor—Mary Elizabeth Taliaferro, wife of Thomas Firth Rainey—I  have the springboard to launch into deeper exploration of that elder Mary's roots. And it's about time.

We'll have plenty to keep us busy this month, as her matriline moves us back from pre-Civil War Georgia to again visit roots in Virginia. As we continue down that line, this time we'll take a closer look at what can be found on family names such as Gilmer, Lewis, and Strother, pushing back as far in time as we can with documentation searches. If we are exceedingly fortunate, we may even land as far back as the beginning of the eighteenth century in colonial Virginia.

Before we get lost in such research daydreams, though, we need to start with what we know. Come this Monday, we'll meet at the station to begin this ride along the matriline toward our first stop: an introductory meeting with my third great-grandmother, Mary Elizabeth Taliaferro.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...