She would have been an adult at that time, with children of her own.
“Maybe Mattie was a friend of Melvinia’s kids,” said Smolenyak, who discovered Michelle Obama’s connection to Georgia in 2009.
A Google alert drew Smolenyak’s attention back to Georgia, and to Markle’s connection.
She marveled at finding “both of these women in the same little town, living so closely together. ... Both families would have recently come out from under slavery; this was barely post emancipation.”
Examining the handwriting on the census documents, she said, it’s evident that the same census worker recorded both names, which shows their proximity.
Melvinia Shields grew up on a farm just outside the village of Rex, near Jonesboro, and also in Clayton County.
Mattie was married twice, and had a daughter, Claudie Richie (or Ritchie or Richey), with her first husband.
Claudie married J.M. Ragland (J.M. were initials for “Jerry Miah” said Smolenyak), and their son Steve was Doria Ragland’s grandfather.
Claudie and J.M. moved to Chattanooga, where he worked as a tailor.
So the same Georgia town produced a First Lady and a Royal. Perhaps after Meghan and Harry are married they will stop by Georgia for tea.