Celebrating mothers: Lee traces 11 generations of women in family tree
By Linda Braden Albert (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Mothers and fathers together create a family tree, but finding the maternal ancestry can be difficult. As the woman takes her husband’s last name, often her maiden name — and clues to her own family — are not recorded and become obscured by the mists of time.
Joyce Lee has been fortunate in the search for the distaff side of her family tree. With the help of her husband, historian/genealogist Ralph Lee, Joyce has been able to document 11 generations, from her granddaughter, 8-year-old Ashley Alexander, to Mary Corless Parker, probably born in England, dates unknown. Catherine Parker McClaren, daughter of Mary Corless Parker, was born in 1731 in England.
Even more remarkable is that Joyce has photographs of seven generations of her female forebears, again beginning with Ashley and continuing through Joyce’s great-great-grandmother, Louvica White Anderson (1817-1907).
Joyce said she got her maternal ancestry together for Ashley.
“She had a hard time understanding about people’s different names,” Joyce said, so she created a scrapbook page entitled “Female Familial Generations” to explain it.
“Ralph had done some research,” she said. “He went running with it when I told him I had the pictures.”
In addition to vintage photos of Joyce’s mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother is one of Joyce with her daughter, Janet Lee Alexander, and granddaughter Ashley from a few years earlier. Another photo is of Joyce’s mother, Rena Heaton Irwin, reading to the two older Lee children, Jeff and Mitchell, before Janet was born.
“I thought that was so sweet of her reading to them,” Joyce said of the photo. “The boys are not looking at the book, they are looking at her.”
Ralph said, “Eleven generations of mothers only is unheard of in my experience. After doing so much genealogy, after you get back three or four generations, it will say ‘Mary Unknown,’ or ‘Sarah Unknown.’”
The Lees have documented Joyce’s female ancestry through the ninth generation.
“The seventh generation she has a picture of was born along Kyker Bottoms, in that area of Blount County. Not only did we have that, we also knew her father was a major in the Revolutionary War and a few other things,” Ralph said.
Ralph said the family groups stayed around Four Mile Creek and Nine Mile Creek, in the southern part of Blount County. “They didn’t meander too far,” he said. “I think one of them got as far as Jericho Road. But they pretty much stayed along the creeks there so it made it easy to follow them.”
Verifying Joyce’s ancestry through the ninth generation was not difficult, but generations 10 and 11 required Internet searching. Ralph said, “Sometimes that’s not very dependable, but sometimes they give you a good hint. Often the information is not all that accurate but it gives you a hint of where to go to find the verification.”
Mother’s Day lineage
Joyce Lee’s family tree includes:
1. Ashley Joy Alexander, daughter of Janet (Lee) and Roger Alexander
2. Janet Kathryn (Lee) Alexander, daughter of Joyce (Irwin) and Ralph Lee
3. Joyce (Irwin) Lee, daughter of Rena (Heaton) and Oscar Irwin
4. Rena (Heaton) Irwin (1914-1976), daughter of Catharine (McCulloch) and Sam Heaton
5. Catharine (McCulloch) Heaton (1876-1930), daughter of Elizabeth (Anderson) and James McCulloch
6. Elizabeth (Anderson) (first husband) Williamson (second husband) McCulloch (1840-1928), daughter of Louvica (White) and James Anderson
7. Louvica (White) Anderson (1817-1907), daughter of Nancy (Johnson) and John White
8. Nancy (Johnson) White (born 1795), daughter of Sarah (McClaren) and William Johnson
9. Sarah (McClaren) Johnson (1755-1835), daughter of Catherine (Parker) and Daniel (Dan) McClaren
10. Catherine (Parker) McClaren (b. 1731 England), daughter of Mary (Corless) and William Parker
11. Mary (Corless) Parker, probably born in England, dates unknown.