Here, gathered in our beloved South Dakota, are a few members of our Williamson / Mattson Clan. Charles and Luella are to be blamed (be kind, they didn't know what they were doing). We're generally a happy bunch and somewhat intelligent (notwithstanding our tenuous grasp on reality). I'm also proud to say that most of us still have our teeth.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Major Discovery in the Williamson Family Genealogy. The Story of Great, Great, Great Grandma Selina Williamson. A Mystery Solved.

From the Fortress of Solitude
Pleasant Grove

Hello All,
One of the family's great mysteries on the Williamson line is what happened to our great, great, great grandparents Mathew and Selina?  This has pestered me for five years. Today I'm pleased to announce my latest findings which answer the question. What of dear Grandmother Selina?

Shall we begin with the Relationship Chart?

Discovering Mathew Williamson's parents was my major genealogical victory a few years back.  Discovering what happened to Mathew and Selina bothered me like a lingering toothache.  I knew from family folklore that Mathew died young.  According to my research, 24 years old (or thereabouts) to be exact.  That puts great grandmother Selina at the ripe young age of around twenty at his death.  She was a widow with a young child, our great great grandfather George Williamson - the one who settled in Rapid City around the turn of the twentieth century. 

I spent the last few years trying to find Selina in history.  What became of her and George?  Did she remarry? If so, to whom?  

Last week the mystery was solved with a review of the 1850 census. The illustration below makes it clear.   


There it is, Selena (Selina) living in Floyd, Virginia (right where she should be).  Look at the members of the household.  First, there is a correction. The last name is not Levis, it is Lewis. The census taker made an error as you'll see in later censuses.  

Living in the home is our Great Great Grandfather George Mathew Williamson putting his birth in 1835. All of that is correct.  Selina was found.  She had remarried a William Lewis of Floyd, Virginia.  Selina was the mother of four new children, half brothers and sisters to George.  Virginia Lewis was born in 1845.  I would venture to guess then that Selina remarried sometime between 1835 and 1844.   

My Theory Takes Shape. 
  • Matthew and Selina married between the 1831 and 1833.
  • Selina was 20 or 21 years old when their first child, George Mathew Williamson was born.
  • The family moved to Floyd County.
  • Our Great Great Great Grandfather Matthew died at a young age leaving Selina a widow with a young son. His death would be before the 1840 Census was taken or her would have been listed as a head of household.
  • Selena married William Lewis around 1845. Together they had four children.
Let's look at the 1840 Census

This is a page taken from the 1840 US Census. There she is! The Census records a certain Salina (her name was spelled several different ways on many different census records) living in the Charlotte, Virginia area. Charlotte is near Lynchburg. Also notice her middle name starts with "D". Our Great Grandmother's name was Selena Dandridge Jeffries.

This is the same Census record in text. Selena was the head of household in this Census. Notice her household consisted of 2 people, Selena and a young son listed at 5 or younger (George Matthew was born in 1834/35).

What did the Widow Williamson and her young son George do after the death of Matthew? We are looking at a gap of five or six years in the record before she remarries.

A mother and son, taken in the early 1840's. 

The Theory is modified:
  • Mathew Williamson died before 1840. His widow and young son moved to the Charlotte area. Why would they do that? To be close to family is my guess. Do I have evidence? Yes I do....

  • This is the actual page from the 1840 Census. Look at the other names. Notice the following: John Williamson, Cutberth Williamson, and Daniel Williamson also lived in the same community.
  • I believe William Lewis and Selina met each other in Charlotte and moved back to Floyd County where Mathew and Selena owned land. They farmed the land and raised a family. It was William and Selina that attended the wedding of George Matthew to Margaret Willis.

Let's Look at the 1860 Census

Here we see that William and Selina had five children.  George Mathew was 25 years old and gone from the home.  He had married four years earlier at the age of 21 to Margaret Ann Willis. The couple was living in Payson, Illinois.  

The 1870 census shows William gone.  I will assume Selina was a widow twice.  The children all grown except for Martha Agnes.  

The hunt is on.  My next goal is to track down all of Selina and Williams' children to learn what became of them.  We have half cousins out there waiting to be discovered.