Researching in Georgia - Taliaferro, Toliver, Lawrence, Brewer, Askew, Dorsey, Jackson, Poole, Butler, Allen, Gilbert, Crawford, Middlebrooks, Gates, Parks, Thompson, Alford, Favors, Guise, and related surnames.

24 November 2009

Lizzie - Mother of John Wesley Taliaferro

Every Saturday Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings presents Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. The topic for Saturday, November 21, 2009, was “Who Is Your MRUA”. I’m a few days late, but here goes. The mission:

1) Who is your MRUA - your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number in your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List that you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name.
2) Have you looked at your research files for this unknown person recently? Why don't you scan it again just to see if there's something you have missed?
3) What online or offline resources might you search that might help identify your MRUA?
4) Tell us about him or her, and your answers to 2) and 3) above, in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or a comment on Facebook or some other social networking site.

Lizze was the mother of my great grandfather John Wesley Taliaferro. I know this because in his biography my grandfather, John Robert Taliaferro, said his grandparents were Miles and Lizzie Taliaferro; there was no surname for Lizzie. He also indicated that Miles and Lizzie were both born in Georgia. However, this may not be accurate. My research indicates that Miles was actually born in North Carolina, so it’s possible that Lizzie was born elsewhere as well. I do know that John Wesley was born in Georgia about 1844. By the 1870 census, John Wesley was married to Martha Jane Dorsey, and living right next door was his father Miles and wife “Mary” along with three children. Mary was born about 1835 in Georgia, but of course was too young to be “Lizzie” mother of John Wesley. In an 1856 Inventory and Appraisement for the Estate of Richard Taliaferro of Fulton County, Georgia, there is listed among the slaves- “Miles and son John” - there was no Lizzie.

I believe that Lizzie was probably dead by the time of this inventory. Of course, I cannot rule out the possibility that Lizzie had been sold to another owner. The thought that John Wesley could have been separated from his mother in that way makes me sad beyond words. I am still searching for any earlier Taliaferro slave records that might name Lizzie, and give some clues to her family, but so far I have not had any luck. Since I bellieve that Lizzie died (or was sold) sometime before the 1856 inventory, I need to look for records prior to that date. Prior to 1852 Fulton County was a part of Dekalb County which suffered courthouse fires in 1842 and 1898. There may be no extant records. Unfortunately, I may never find any information about Lizzie- mother of John Wesley Taliaferro.


  1. I just had a thought about John's middle name of Wesley. From the research I have done on my husband's family I know the use of the name Wesley comes from the Methodist religion. John Wesley broke from the traditional Methodist church and started his own branch.
    The Methodists of the time (1843) were anti slavery as well as pro women's rights.
    Perhaps they attended a Methodist church. There could be some records there.

  2. Lori,

    I have read about the Methodist John Wesley, but it never occurred to me that there might be a connection with the naming of my g grandfather. Both John Wesley Taliaferro and his son John Robert were itinerant AME ministers. I will check for Methodist churches in the area. The slave owners were alsomembers of a Methodist church. When considering naming patterns, I have been focusing on the fact that every first son was named John, and wondered where that tradition started. Thanks for the tip.