Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another Surprising Genealogical Find

The last post dealt with the Berry clan finding a cousin who is quite famous. This came as a surprise to almost all of us, although, many had it in the back of their minds simply because he is a Berry. The same question has been asked on our mother's side for the Mitchell family.

The Mitchells of this line were early settlers of Georgia. They had come from Orange County in North Carolina in the late 1820s with the aspirations of getting land that had just opened up in the Cherokee and Creek Territories. The Government had taken the land from the Native Americans and made it available through land lotteries. The Mitchells got some of this land and settled in and around Fayette and Henry counties. It seemed the Berrys who migrated from the same area in North Carolina and at the same time received land there, also. It was not frowned upon at that time for cousins to marry one another, especially if the cousins had different family names.

Fayette and Henry counties are due south of what now is the Atlanta Metropolitan area. Our parents and their parents grew up in these counties and after their marriage began their family there, too. There were many stories from the Mitchell side that a famous person was a distant cousin of theirs, but no one could prove it so it largely went as wishful thinking. During my early research on the Berry side, I found an ancestor, a great-great grandmother who was a Mitchell. It seemed odd that both sides of our family had the same Mitchell name, but at that time I dismissed it as coincidence. That was until this past January when I decided to see if there was some sort of ancestral link there.

I began with the information I had gathered through several years of research and information my cousin Fred had provided me. Through I was able to prove the Mitchell lineage back 6 generations. In doing this, I was able to match a Mitchell grandfather to both of our parents. It turned out they were fourth cousins and did not ever know it. This, again, was not uncommon.

During this process of building the Mitchell family tree, I came upon an unexpected correlation within the family lines. Our parents shared the same great-great-great grandfather, John Hinchey Mitchell. Their great-great-grandfathers, Jonathan and Thomas were brothers. While researching John Hinchey Mitchell, I became aware of his siblings, one in particular named William Mitchell. While William is a common name, it rang a bell in the back of my mind so I began to build a tree for his descendants. Bingo. I found it. William's son Isaac, had a grandson by the name of Eugene.

Most of the Mitchell clan in Georgia were farmers. We knew of no one who had risen much beyond that. Some had begun their own businesses, but none became big captains of industry or extremely wealthy. One Mitchell did, however, make herself quite infamous by writing a book. It was Eugene Mitchell's daughter. Her name was Margaret Mitchell and the book was called "Gone With the Wind".

Let us hope our next find and/or surprise will remain those who have become prominent. But I suspect there are some scallywags in the group, too.

No comments: