Making new family connections through family research means adding on relationships. Some of these relationships are more casual, and may just involve exchanging pleasantries and a bit of information, perhaps even a few pictures. Some ripen into long-term research collaboration and even friendship. And of those, a select few may shake us into reevaluating our research and rethinking our approaches.
For a while I had been the only person I knew of who was actively researching my great-great-great grandfather from my mother’s paternal line, Samuel Moore (d. 1828) of Greenville, South Carolina. There were other Moore family researchers who were interested, but online resources seemed to be exhausted, and none of us had the time to do the onsite or repository research that was necessary to advance our knowledge of Samuel Moore.
I had plans to do so eventually, but real life kept intruding, and it seemed that it would be years before I could take my dream research trip to Greenville.
That all changed a month or so ago.
The connection came not through my blog nor through a genealogy discussion board nor through Ancestry with its various ways to connect with other researchers.
It was just a modest little “connection” note through Footnote.
Someone else was descended from Samuel Moore. Wha….? I had encountered other researchers who knew that they were descended from one of Samuel Moore’s descendants, but not anyone who knew that they were descended from Samuel Moore himself, who I believed to be known only to me and the circle of researchers with whom I am in contact.
Perhaps it was a mistake. There were at least three other Samuel Moores present in Greenville at various times in the early part of the nineteenth century. It would be easy to confuse them. There had been a couple of other researchers previously who had mistaken one of these guys for my Samuel Moore.
The researcher’s name was Paula. I wrote a reply saying I would be happy to figure out how her line fit in if she would tell me about her Moore line.
Paula wrote back. She knew exactly how her line fit in. She is descended from Samuel’s son Manson Moore. The name brought a shock of recognition, but it was not a name I had yet entered as a son of Samuel Moore. Most of my knowledge of Samuel Moore was based on his will, which mentioned my great-great grandfather Spencer and his sisters Elizabeth and Susannah … and some other guy. I knew that Spencer had a brother named Bud Mathis Moore – that was how I found Samuel in the first place – and at first I thought it might be referring to him. But the name looked a little more like Manson or Maryon. However, the probate materials mentioned a B. M. Moore, so I just shrugged my shoulders and assumed the clerk had made a hash of the name Mathis.
Ah, the probate materials. They had another copy of the will – I checked, and the name Manson was much clearer on that copy. Meanwhile, Paula had written back with some additional information – she had a land document of Manson Moore’s from Georgia witnessed by a B. M. Moore (Bud Mathis lived in Georgia for several years) and a military document wherein Freeman Manson Moore listed Greenville as his home town. Whoa – three data points – triangulation.
I had to rearrange my thinking on the Samuel Moore family. Another brother. Remembering the “extra males and females” (= enough to be more than the two sons and two daughters I knew to be Samuel’s children) on the 1800 through 1820 censuses, I realized that Samuel had probably already settled land and goods on his older children (Bud and probably others) and in the will was most likely taking care of only his younger children. The John Moore who administered Samuel’s estate was possibly a son, as was the Andrew Moore shown living near Freeman Manson Moore on early Henry County, Georgia censuses.
But even more interesting than the reversal of my view of Samuel Moore’s family was what transpired in the course of a few e-mail exchanges between Paula and me.
By about the third or fourth exchange, we were planning a research trip to Greenville. The sooner, the better. Due to various commitments on both sides, we settled on early fall. So, unless something happens to drain our finances or make a stronger claim on our time, it’s a go. And we’re each taking a family member or two. Power in numbers! This Big Adventure will take a lot of planning, but we’re stoked!
This was probably the kick in the pants I needed to send me off to Greenville.