Yesterday, I wrote that I had made an interesting discovery about my family. No, it's not that we were once circus performers or have a secret country that we run.
My mother had an ambivalent attitude toward genealogy. On one hand, she told me when I expressed an interest in our ancestors that they were probably low lifes who never amounted to anything and not worth finding out about and that if we had ancestors who fought in, say, the Civil War, they probably fought on the side that was winning in the area at the time. This was a possibility since most of my family is originally from east Tennessee, a part of a Confederate state that was strongly pro-Union.
On the other hand, aunts and uncles and cousins and family stories and names were important to her and I learned about them just listening to her talk.
Then this Monday I made a discovery that both credited and discredited her views on family history. I was noodling around on Ancestry. com, not wanting to get too much into it, know that genealogical studies can suck up tremendous amounts of time and energy. I was seeing how far back I could take both family trees. My father's side went back to his grandfather and that was it. But my mother's side blossomed with all the names I had heard over the years, the aunts and uncles and cousins I had met or heard mentioned. And the line kept going back, particularly the Dillards. My maternal grandmother was a Dillard and her ancestry traced back to a Martin Nalle, who was born in England around 1675 and came to Virginia as an indentured servant in 1702. His grandson was Captain Thomas Dillard who was in the Virginia militia and took part in George Rogers Clark's campaign during the Revolution. Suddenly these people seemed real and vital to me and I wanted to know more about them. Here is some of what I found that I wrote up for our daughter who teaches Virginia history in the fourth grade:
Martin Nalle (b. 1675 in England, d. 1728 in South Parnham Parish, Essex, Virginia, United States) arrived in the Colony of Virginia about 1701. He was listed as one of 62 persons transported to the colony by Chcheley (sic) Cornin Thacker, for which Thacker received 3080 acres of land. Martin was most likely an indentured servant, working off his indenture and possibly receiving a tract of "tobacco ground." Married to Mary Aldin (b. 1681 in Christ Church Parish, Middlesex, Virginia, d. March, 1738 in Essex County, Virginia) in 1722 in Old Rappahannock and Essex Counties.
Captain Thomas Dillard (b. 1732 in Essex, Virginia, United States, d. 23 Sep 1784 in Erwin, Washington, North Carolina, United States )
Listed as part of the 14th Virginia Regiment of 1777-78. Inducted as a corporal; rose to the rank of captain.
In January 1778, Pittsylvania sent several companies of militia again to the frontier. Captain Thomas Dillard and Lieutenant Charles Hutchings commanded a company that marched direct from Pittsylvania to Isaac Riddle's house, twelve miles above the Long Island on the Holstein; thence to Boonesboro, Ky., where they were stationed three months. While in Kentucky Moses Hutchings, one of the company, acted as Indian spy. In July David Irby, James Irby and Thomas Faris, other members of Captain Dillard's company, were transferred to Captain Montgomery's company and marched with Colonel George Rogers Clark's regiment into the country known as the Illinois, of which they took possession.
And there it is, history made personal.