RootsTech 2014

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Looking for Thankful Tefft - Part One

Thankful Tefft Tanner is the mother of my well-known ancestor, John Tanner (b. 15 August 1778, d. 13 April 1850). She is mostly remembered by my family as a descendent of three of the passengers on the Mayflower, who arrived in North America in what would be Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1620. She married Joshua Tanner in Hopkinton, Washington, Rhode Island on 24 December 1775, just after the start of the Revolutionary War on 19 April 1775, just a few short miles away in Lexington, Massachusetts.

As with most of the traditional genealogy passed down to me from my predecessors, there is very little original documentation for any of the dates, places and even the people listed in numerous printed genealogies about the family. I have spent some considerable time researching some of the Town Records from Hopkinton, Washington, Rhode Island to document the birth and early life of John Tanner, but have not focused on documenting the line from John back to the Mayflower passengers, Richard Warren and Francis Cooke and Francis' son John Cooke who later married Sarah Warren, Richard's daughter.

It is amazing how many times this pedigree has been repeated by my own family members without anything more than a nod to documentation. Fortunately, because of the Mayflower connection, there is a huge body of resource material. The Mayflower passengers and their descendants for four and five generations have been exhaustively sourced in a variety of publications. The starting points for my research are the publications of the General Society of Mayflower Descendants particularly, the book:

Wood, Ralph V. Francis Cooke of the Mayflower: The First Five Generations. Camden, Maine: Picton Press, 1996.

If this line has been so completely documented, then why do I want to re-plough the field? The main reason is to provide the most current documentation and to put those links into FamilySearch.org's Family Tree program and to provide a current assessment of the controversies surrounding the line. Unfortunately, FamilySearch's Family Tree program is still struggling with the duplicates and data inherited from New.FamilySearch.org, so any information I enter will have to wait until the lines are untangled and able to be edited. I really have no hope in correcting all of the inaccurate information published in books and online about this family, but I do hope to provide at least one documented and reliable source. 

Examining this early Colonial genealogy is not as simple as it might seem. For example, Thankful Tefft and Joshua Tanner had a daughter they named Thankful Tefft Tanner. There is considerable confusion in the existent genealogical records between the mother's information and the daughter. Even the General Society of Mayflower Descendants includes a measure of controversy in their publications where there are disagreeing opinions about the historical record.
During this next week, I will be in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah helping the attendees of the Family History Expos Retreat with their genealogy. Perhaps, I will have time to address some of the issues surrounding Thankful Tefft Tanner and her ancestry back to the Mayflower. In any event, I hope to write about this issue during the next few weeks, documenting the sources and giving examples of research. 

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