Ten years or more ago, before repeated bad brushes with poison ivy wore me out, I was a member of the Georgia Native Plant Society. Atlanta’s economy was booming, subdivisions were sprouting like nutgrass, and GNPS was dashing across the city, rescuing ferns and trillium from the bulldozer’s scrape. I showed up for the last time at a site just southwest of the city, trailing plastic bags and a shovel. The owner of the parcel stopped by, and I stopped dead when I heard her name. “Simonton?” I said. “Your family wouldn’t be from Iredell County, North Carolina, would they?” She confirmed that they were, adding that they descended from a Theophilus Simonton. I laughed and exclaimed, “Hey! We’re probably distant cousins! I think I’m descended from him, too!” Small world, we agreed, and she went on her way.
A couple of months ago, my mother got a new match on 23andme — “M. Simonton.” Simonton! I contacted her and quickly established that she is descended from Theophilus Simonton of Ireland, then Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, then Iredell County NC. M. told me that her sister lived in Georgia and, on a hunch, I did a quick search of my Family Tree Maker tree. There — the very same M. Simonton and her sister S., who was indeed the woman whose family land I’d scoured for crane’s foot geraniums and astilbe.
My line of descent from Theophilus Simonton, who died in 1757: Magdelene Simonton > Theophilus Allison > Thomas Allison > Mary Allison > Thomas Nicholson > J. Lee Nicholson > Harriet Nicholson > Lon Colvert > Margaret Colvert > my mother. M. and S.’s line of descent from Theophilus: Robert Simonton > Adam Simonton > Abner Simonton > Albert Simonton > Adam Simonton > William Simonton > their father.