John Campbell (c1772-1838) of Little Sycamore Creek – 52 Ancestors #20

John Campbell’s early life is shrouded in the mists of time.  We can’t positively identify him until he’s an adult, living in Claiborne County, Tennessee, beginning in 1802.  By that time, he would have been roughly 30 years old, married, and probably had 2 or 3 children by his wife, Jane “Jenny” Dobkins, daughter of Jacob Dobkins and Dorcas Johnson.

The closest thing to proof we have that Jane was a Dobkins is Claiborne County lawyer and historian, P.G. Fulkerson (born in 1840) who interviewed old-timers and documented the early families.  He stated that Jacob’s daughter, Jane, married John Campbell and his other daughter Elizabeth married George Campbell. Jacob Dobkins died in 1833, and the Claiborne County courthouse burned in 1838, so if Jacob had a will or estate settlement that named his children, it’s lost to flames.

We believe that John Campbell was born in Virginia based on census information from his children in 1880.

John’s children were:

  • Jacob Campbell born about 1810, died 1879/1880, Collin Co., TX, married Temperance Rice
  • Elizabeth born about 1802, dead before 1842, married Lazarus Dodson
  • Elmira born about 1804 married John Pearson
  • Jane born about 1807, married a Freeman, then a Cloud
  • Martha born 1807/1808, died after 1850, married Elisha Jones, moved to Coles County, Illinois before 1839
  • Rutha born about 1813, died after 1870, married Preston Holt
  • George Washington Campbell born about 1813, died in 1860 in Texas, married Nancy Eastridge, then Mary unknown
  • William Newton Campbell born 1817, died 1908 Tillman Co. OK, married Sydnia Holt

I spent years, decades actually, chasing the wrong parents for John Campbell.  I’ve chased so many parents for this man that I’ve just about ruled everyone out and the ones I haven’t ruled out HAVE to be his parents by process of elimination.  If only it were that easy.  Campbells are like rabbits – they have huge families, are found everyplace and they all have the same first names.  John – how could you be any more generic?  And the man we presume is his brother is named George.  Not much better.  Why not Hezekiah and Azariah???

Several years ago a cousin sent me part of her Campbell research, 4 pages of a 23 page document.  In the portion she sent, she states that back in the 1950s, some Campbell relatives were interviewed who were quite elderly, and they reported that John’s father had been James, as told by their grandparents.  That information morphed into the James Campbell from the northern part of Hawkins County who was also descended from the Crockett line.  This did make some sense, as John’s grandson’s middle name was Crockett, although his first name was David.  The problem is that when you track that James in Hawkins County, TN and his widow and children, there is no John and absolutely no hint of a connection with the John Campbell in Claiborne County, Tennessee, nor the George he is so closely associated with.  Not only that, but James Campbell lived in Carter’s Valley, no place near Jacob Dobkins whose daughters John and George Campbell both married.

In Hawkins County, there are two very distinctive groups of Campbell men.  The group that lived about 20 miles north of Rogersville in Carter’s Valley, who believed they were actually settling in Virginia originally, and Charles Campbell who lived just south of Rogersville across the Holston River on Dodson Creek.  The North group is who James Campbell descended from the Crockett family is associated with.  Charles Campbell, living on Dodson Creek, had 2 sons, John and George, and Jacob Dobkins, whose daughters John and George married, lived just up the road at Bulls Gap, about 9 miles or so.  Charles Campbell lived at the ford of the Holston River, so I’d wager that everyone who crossed the river stopped by to visit, probably including Jacob Dobkins and his daughters.

Charles Campbell was living on Dodson’s Creek in 1788 and possibly as early as 1783.  In 1793, he deeded land jointly to John and George Campbell, from Hawkins Co., for 45#, 150 acres on the south side of the Holston River on the west fork of Dodson Creek.  Charles signed the deed and John Payne was the witness.  The description was metes and bounds except for a stake at the mountain.

On Feb. 26, 1802, book 3-54, George and John Campbell of Hawkins Co. sell to Daniel Seyster the 149 acres on the fork of Dodson Creek where “John Campbell now lives” for 225#.  Both men signed and the witnesses are William Paine, Michael Roark and Charles Campbell. It was proved in the May session of the court in 1802 by Michael Roark, which implies that the Campbell men were gone by that time.

John Campbell is no longer found in Hawkins County.  On May 1, 1802, John first appears in Claiborne County when he purchases land from Alexander Outlaw.  This deed is in the loose papers in the front of deed book A.

Alexander Outlaw of Jefferson Co. TN to John Campbell of Claiborne, copied from Book A page 32 – May 1, 1802 – for $400 in hand and paid by John Campbell, tract of land on the North fork of Sycamore Creek adjoining a survey of 640 acres of James Cooper and Nathaniel Henderson beginning on a grassy hill on the North side of said Creek…300 acres.  Alexander signs.  Witness Jacob Dobbins and James A. Perreman.  Registered July 7 1802.

In the same court session, John Campbell is assigned with other men to “view and lay out a road from Fort Butler to Mulberry Gap and report to next court.”

In 1809, John purchases slaves on the same day, from the same person who sells slaves to Jacob Dobkins.  Note that this same male slave, or another by the same name, is sold within the family in 1839 after John Campbell’s death.

March 29, 1809 – Jesse Cheek of Grainger County to John Campbell, negro boy Charles for $300, signed and witnessed by Solomon and Reuben Dobkins. (note this same day Jesse Cheek and his daughter sold slaves to Jacob Dobkins as well).

1809 – Elizabeth Cheek of Grainger does sell and deliver a negro girl named Jamima aged six years unto John Campbell of Claiborne and by virtue and effect of these presents to bind myself and my heirs to warrant and defend said negro from all persons and claims…Elizabeth signs…March 24, 1809 witness Jesse Cheek Senior and Jr.

Followed directly by…

I, Jesse Cheek, hath bargained and sold unto Jacob Dobkins 4 negroes names Aneker or Anekey, Mitilty, Jiary, Amelyer for the consideration of $130 in hand paid.  March 29, 1809 Jesse signs, registered July 30, 1809.  John Campbell and Solomon Dobkins witness.

In 1811, John Campbell purchases more land.

Jan. 21, 1811 Abner Chapman of Warren Co., Georgia to John Campbell of Claiborne $100 the land where said John Campbell now lives at the head of the north fork of Sycamore Creek (metes and bounds)…original corner of Chapman grant for 400 acres….stake in Campbell’s line…Campbell’s corner…crossing line in Chapman grant…containing 300 acres more or less.  Signed.  Wit Walter Evans and Abel Lanham.  Registered May 18, 1811

For the next many years, John Campbell along with George Campbell and often Jacob Dobkins are assigned as jurors and to work on and lay out roads.  This is normal activity for the timeframe.  Courts, which were held quarterly, were quite the social event of the season – and everyone attended.  If they weren’t a juror, they certainly wanted to watch the proceedings.  It’s said that one time there was so much imbibing that court had to be adjourned because the justices fell off the bench.

It appears in 1812 that John managed to upset someone, although there were two John Campbells, the other being the son of Arthur Campbell of Middlesboro, KY, who lived just beyond the Cumberland Gap.  This Martin Beaty did sue numerous people in the Arthur Campbell family, so maybe our John didn’t get himself sued.

March 25, 1812 – pages 18 and 19 – Martin Beaty vs John Campbell, defendant appears in court by Jacob Peck and Charles F. Keith his attys for slander, appealed for unit of error – moved to next court.  (Note – Beatty lives where Kentucky Rd. crosses Gap Creek, very near Middlesboro, KY where Arthur Campbell lived.)

In 1817, John Campbell was security for Solomon Dobkins, who was a constable.

In 1823, John Campbell buys and sells some land.

1823, June 4 – William Willoughby of Sullivan Co and John Campbell of Claiborne $600 paid in hand tract of land beginning on Brumfield Ridley’s corner chestnut then down the Valley south…stake in the side of Powell’s mountain…200 acres…being the tract where John Condry and others now live.  William Signs.  Witness Hugh Graham and R. Rose.

1823 – John Campbell to Jacob Campbell for $300 land on both sides of main road from the spring fork of Sycamore Creek to Little Mulberry Creek being one half of a two hundred acre tract of land granted by the St of NC to Matthew Willoughby of number 79 dated Feb. 13, 1791 and said half begins at a chestnut tree at the beginning of said grant running with the grant line…crossing said road…stake in the side of Powell’s mountain in the grant line…containing 100 acres to Jacob Campbell.  John Campbell signs.  Witness Walter Evans (he is the clerk).  Registered Jan 15 1824.  Proved in open court May 1823.

John Campbell dies in 1838.  There remains some confusion about exactly where John died.  He had some connection to Coles County, Illinois, possibly only because his daughter lived there and the documents in question may only be referring to her residence in Coles County.  Some indication is that John died there, but in the subsequent deeds, it suggests that he died in Claiborne County.  Regardless, we know that he was dead on or before Sept 22, 1838 when William Hicks built John’s coffin and submitted a receipt for payment for $5.

In 1840, a William Hicks was living 2 doors away from a William and George Campbell, so I’m betting that John Campbell was buried in Claiborne County. William Hicks also purchased items at the estate sale of John Campbell in 1838.  If John was buried in Claiborne County, in September, I’m thinking that no one would want to transport a body from Illinois to Claiborne County for burial, by wagon, at about 20 miles a day.  Google maps says that it’s about 445 miles so that would equate to about 3 weeks.  By that time, I’m thinking they would be burying him along the road someplace or giving him a water burial in the Ohio River.

If John died in Claiborne County, which seems very likely, he could be buried in the old Jacob Dobkins Cemetery which seems to be the family cemetery, shown below, and has many early unmarked graves, including that of Jacob Dobkins and his wife.  There was not a cemetery on John Campbell’s land, unless there was an early cemetery where Liberty Church and cemetery stand today, which is certainly possible.

Dobkins cemetery

On the 1839 tax list, John is listed thus in the Rob Camp District in the far northeast part of the county:

  • John Campbell, decd – 443 acres worth $1300, 25 school acres worth $10, 2 slaves worth $900

Will Book A – page 71 – inventory of the estate of John Campbell, decd and of sales (3 pages) William Fugate and Jacob Campbell admin.

In the cousin’s research that she sent, she indicated that Henley Fugate was the uncle of John Campbell, and was married to Elizabeth Campbell, sister of John, although that would make Henley John’s brother-in-law, not his uncle.  Henley and Elizabeth’s son, William, according to the cousin, was administrator of John’s estate, along with Jacob Campbell, John’s son, and that somehow William Fugate and Jacob Campbell cheated the heirs out of their money.  There are 4 different court entries accounting for the funds, which don’t look in any way unusual, but there is always a back story to be found, it seems, especially having to do with estate settlements.  The Fugates do seem very connected to the Campbell family, so there may well be a family relationship there. The cousin also indicated that the families had lived adjacent in Virginia but since I can’t seem to find a location in Virginia, I have been unable to confirm that tidbit of data.

John Campbell’s sale was huge, as these things go, and as compared to other estates of the time.

  • Cash on hand after paying note – $649
  • Note from Johoel and William Fugate  – $15
  • Notes from others – $385.22

Apparently John was in the business of lending money as he was owed notes from several people.

John’s estate sale was Feb. 25, 1839.  We don’t know what the weather was like that day.  In Claiborne County, it could have been anything from snowing, slick and miserable to sunny and warm.  The administrators of John’s estate likely wanted to get things sold and felt early spring was a good time because farmers were likely to purchase things they needed for the upcoming planting season.

Sadly, the widow, Jane Campbell, had to purchase her own things at the estate sale, because all property was deemed to be that of the husband.  Therefore, Jane Campbell, widow, purchased the following items for a total of $87.63 and a half cents:

  • 1 saw
  • 1 little wheel
  • 1 set spools
  • 1 cupboard furniture
  • 1 reel bed and bedding
  • 1 chaff bed and feather bed
  • 1 lot of gums (guns?)
  • Sheet of cotton
  • 1 trunk
  • 1 clock and case
  • 1 lot of hay
  • 1 bucket
  • 1 set fire irons and shovel
  • 1 tin trunk
  • 1 set chairs
  • 1 lot barrels
  • Tub and lard
  • 1 ewe and lamb
  • 1 mare
  • 1 lot of casting
  • 1 cow

She obviously purchased her spinning wheel.  I have to wonder at the lack of a listing for the family Bible.

Others at the same purchased:

  • 1 tub
  • 1 chipping ax
  • 1 lot tubs
  • 690 lbs bacon
  • 1 broad ax
  • 1 big wheel
  • 1 trunk
  • Raxor and box
  • Table
  • Ax
  • 2 pr gears
  • 1 yoke oxen
  • 2 baskets
  • Hoe
  • Curry comb and chair
  • Piece of steel
  • Ax
  • Harrow
  • 1 bull
  • 1 grindstone shovel, plows and bridle
  • Remnant of corn
  • 1 box shoemakers tools
  • Side leather
  • 2 lots tools
  • Fire irons
  • 1 coult
  • 1 cow
  • Cow
  • Horse
  • 1 lot sheep
  • 4 yearlings
  • 1 scythe blade
  • Cross cut saw
  • Candle stand
  • 1 saddle
  • 2 pitch forks
  • Double tree
  • Wheet sive
  • Wagon
  • Skillet and lid
  • Lot plunder
  • Lot corn basket and pickett book
  • Yoke of oxen
  • Lot of tools
  • Coult
  • 1 horse
  • 1 lock chain
  • Cow and calf
  • 1200# ?
  • 1 plain
  • 1 mare
  • 1 bridle
  • 2 hoes
  • Coulter and iron
  • Remnant of oats
  • Cutting knife and hammer
  • 202 lb bacon
  • 1 lot castings
  • Saddle
  • Lot of hogs
  • Set of chains
  • Big plow
  • 13 bushels and 3 peck wheat
  • Plow
  • 50 bushels corn
  • Big plow
  • Mill peck
  • Plow
  • Sack of cotton
  • Large plow and matchk
  • Hoe and stretchers
  • 1 bridle
  • Grindstone
  • 1 shovel, plows
  • 1 chair
  • Lot tools
  • 1 beef hide
  • 1 bee gum
  • Hoe and rake
  • Bridle and lot of corn
  • Big sugar
  • Bureau
  • 1 pair chains
  • 1 little when
  • 1 side leather and castings
  • 1 press
  • 1 bee gums
  • Blacksmith tools
  • Piece of iron
  • 2 leather aprons
  • Lot of castings and coffee mill
  • 1 pair steelyards
  • 1 cack bank
  • 1 scythe and cradle and houe
  • 1 cupboard
  • 100 dozen binds of oats
  • 1 mattock
  • 1 bedstead
  • 3 scythes
  • 1 cutting knife and scythe
  • Plow

The total of the estate sale was $958.58

Was John a shoemaker or a blacksmith?  Was his slave trained to one of these professions?

What else does this tell us about John’s life?  He was obviously a farmer, but everyone was.  He had several horses; 2 mares, 2 colts, 3 horses and 4 yearlings.  He had a “lot of hogs,” which of course means a group that was sold together, and he also had almost 1000 pounds of bacon.  Fall was slaughtering time, so there were quite a few hogs that had been killed and processed, probably in a smoke house.  There was one ewe and lamb and obviously Jane felt fondly towards them.  There was also a “lot of sheep.”  There were 3 cows and a bull and there were 2 yoke of oxen.  Oxen were matched and trained to work together, so they were often sold together as well.

They also had bee gums, which were gum trees that bees lived in.  So in essence, he was an early beekeeper.  This means, of course, that they also had honey, which might be connected to the item called “big sugar.”

They had 3 beds, 3 trunks, 2 cupboards, a bureau and a clock, which was a luxury. John was not a poor farmer.  In fact, few people in Claiborne County had slaves, so John having 2 was rather unusual.  Those who did have slaves had 1 or 2 and a very few people had 10 or more.  In the 1830 census, John had 2 slaves and his father-in-law, Jacob Dobkins, had 4.  Finding this heritage of slavery within the family saddens my heart, although I realize that it was socially acceptable, even desirable, at the time.  Well, desirable by everyone except the slave.  Slaves on small farms were often well treated and had good lives, and I hope that is how these people were treated.

John’s children and their spouses also attended his estate sale except for his daughter, Martha, who lived in Illinois.  It’ must have been a sad day to see your parents things being divided like so much excess and being sold away from your mother.  Jane did, of course, retain her dower right to one third of his estate, but that didn’t stop the estate sale.

In July of 1839, the court record shows each of the children of John Campbell and what they received during their lifetimes.

July 22, 1839 – Estate of John Campbell, amounts received during this lifetime:

  • Jacob Campbell $210
  • George Campbell (blank)
  • Lazarus Dodson 192.95
  • Preston and Ruth Holt 170.00
  • Jane Freeman 43.50
  • Jefferson and Elmire? (Eliza?) Pearson 124.50
  • William Campbell 214.00
  • Martha Jones 65.75 of Illinois

Page 206 – settlement estate of John Campbell by William Fugate and Jacob Campbell before Wiley Huffaker, clerk of court – paid William Hicks for coffin- Sept 22, 1838 – $5.00  Paid Jane Campbell for her dower June 25, 1839

By 1839, John’s heirs are selling his land to their sibling, along with a slave described as a boy in this document, so not the same person purchased in 1809.

July 29, 1839 – Elisha Jones and Martha Jones his wife, formerly Martha Campbell and daughter of John Campbell, now decd of Coale Co., Illinois, to William and George Campbell of Claiborne Co., for $187.50 assign all right and interest of 1/8th share in consequence of Martha being a daughter and heir of the said John Cambell in tract of land containing 345 acres adjacent the lands of William McVay and Marcurioius Cook it being the tract of land where on the John Campbell formerly lived and whereon the said John Campbell died seized and possessed of subject to the dower of the widow and all right and title after the death of the widow.  Elisha signs and Martha with an X.  Witness William Niel and Jacob Campbell.

This is the entry that caused the confusion about where John died.  We know that Martha Campbell lived in Illinois, and given the other information we do have, I believe this is mean to convey that Martha Jones is of “Coale Co., Illinois” and not John Campbell.  The words “formerly lived” is always used after death.  John was clearly still very invested in Claiborne County, judging from his significant estate.

On March 30, 1840, John Campbell’s negroes were sold.

In April 1841, the court notes reflect that John’s estate was now worth $2897.64 and two thirds cents.

In July 1841, Wiley Huffaker was the guardian to the children of Elizabeth Campbell Dodson, deceased, and Lazarus Dodson.

Feb 1843 – Settlement of the estate of John Campbell by William Fugate and Jacob Campbell admin.  Amount given to each heir of John Campbell as received by them in the lifetime of said deceased.

  • Jacob Campbell $210.00
  • George Campbell 103.65
  • Lasarous (Lazarus) Dotson 192.75
  • Preston Holt 170.16 and a half cents
  • Jane Freeman 43.50
  • Elmire Pearson 124.50
  • William Campbell 214.00
  • Martha Jones 65.75

This is a great list, as it shows that John Campbell loaned or gave his children part of their inheritance early.

Jacob Campbell, George Campbell, Jane Freeman, Jefferson Pearson, Preston Holt and Jane Campbell sell to William Campbell for $33.03 and 1/3 cents negro boy Charles which John Campbell died seized and possessed and Jefferson Pearson and Preston Holt having interest in said negro by their marriage with daughters of said John Campbell.  Signed except Jane who makes mark of a plus sign.  Witness Gray Garrett and Hugh Dobkins and registered Jan. 13, 1840.

In October 1843, a final settlement was made with the children of Elizabeth Campbell Dodson which lists her children, by name.

On Jan. 24, 1852, William Campbell sells to Daniel Jones of the same for $1300 the land where Daniel Jones now lives including the residence of John Campbell decd lying on Little Sycamore Creek including part of 2 grants, one to Alexander Outlaw and the other to Abner Chapman, beginning….southwest corner of Outlaw grant…closing line of Chapman grant…conditional corner between William Campbell and Daniel Jones…Outlaw grant.  Signed.  Registered March 10, 1852.  Witness Tennessee Cook and William Fugate.

This last deed clearly identifies which John Campbell we are talking about.  I brought these deeds forward in time, hoping to find a landmark of some sort that I could locate today. I was very lucky.  Skipping several transactions, I found this:

1903 – Jane Ann Jones et all to G.R. Sulfridge – deed of trust – all the old Daniel Jones home farm and tract deeded to Ann Jane Jones except that previously deeded to H. Friar and others, beginning at Sycamore Creek at Nancy Coles, Nancy Cooks line, across ridge to John Cunningham’s line, Buis corner, top of ridge, George Runions, Friar’s line, public road in Little Sycamore Valley, except the grave yard plot of 3/4 acre deeded to Liberty Church, 140 acres.

liberty cemetery sign

The Liberty Church!  I knew exactly where that was located.  Here’s a photo of some of the old settlers and the Old Liberty Church taken about 1902.  The church itself was founded in 1856 and the building in this photo was built in 1883, so this church did not exist when John Campbell was alive, but the fact that the cemetery was deeded to the church helped us locate John’s land.

liberty church

The Liberty church sits down on Little Sycamore road, but the cemetery sits up on a ridge beside the church and directly behind John Campbell’s house.

From this vantage point, you look down over the valley.  It’s quite beautiful!  John Campbell might be buried here.

Liberty cemetery

This photo, below, is John’s house from in the cemetery.

Campbell house from cemetery

It’s very likely that when John died, William Hicks made his casket, someone preached his funeral, and John was carried up the hill, probably in his wagon by his own team of oxen, and he was buried right here, forever standing silent sentry, looking over his land from what is called Little Ridge.

Here’s the house from the road.  My cousin, Daryl and I went to visit.  Once we discovered the landmark of Liberty Church, we couldn’t NOT visit.

Campbell house

The cemetery stands above the house on top of the ridge.

This was a prime piece of real estate, because it had a natural spring which still flows today.  The head of the spring is under the rocks and you can see that it has hollowed out a bed downstream.

Campbell spring

You can see the stream here, located in front of the house, where it’s not far to carry fresh water to the house.

Campbell spring 2

Campbell property

The current owners were very gracious allowing us to photograph the property and answering many questions.

campbell house 2

You can easily see the original house in the center.  The owners told us the center part is made of logs.

Campbell foundation

We asked about this odd part of the foundation and discovered that there is a hidden “room” under the house.  The owners told us that they had been told that it was for travelers from long ago so that they could stay someplace without disturbing the household if they arrived at night.  I wondered about the Civil War because this area was rife with marauding soldiers from both side and many families have stories about hiding from the soldiers.

Campbell step

The door into the original cabin and the original steps.  Most of the steps in this region are stones like this.  I have the stone from one of my ancestor’s cabins that is now my back step.  I’m not sure how I’d have gotten this one in my Jeep, but had it been offered, Daryl and I would have found a way, rest assured!

George and John Campbell, Brothers or Not?

One enduring mystery is the relationship of George Campbell and John Campbell.  If you believe Fulkerson, and there isn’t any reason not to, they married Dobkins sisters, but what he did not say was that they were brothers, although based on the joint deed from Charles Campbell, the timing and the enduring relationship between the Campbell men, it’s certainly a logical conclusion.  But is it accurate?

One fine day, when Daryl and I were researching on one of our many library trips, we stumbled on one right juicy lawsuit in which the divorce of one of John Campbell’s daughters is discussed.  It seems that one fall during “hog killing,” while married, she was “discovered” in a compromising position in the barn with her Campbell cousin, George’s son, who was named and identified as her cousin.  Woohooo…..our lucky day.  Until we realized that John’s daughter and George’s son would have been cousins through their mother’s as well.  If John and George were brothers then their children would have been double first cousins.  Thankfully, she apparently didn’t get pregnant from the encounter, just divorced.  I bet that was the talk of the neighborhood for a very long time.

These families didn’t live far apart.  It was closer over the mountains, and they had wagon trails and roads across the ridges that don’t exist today.

On the map below, the red arrow at left shows the approximate location of the land of George Campbell on Russell Creek.  The top arrow shows Jacob Dobkins land and the bottom arrow shows the circle drive today around the cemetery above John Campbell’s home.  These properties were about 3 miles from each other, John’s being “across the ridge” from the others.

Campbell map

I turned to DNA hoping that perhaps I could discover something more about the relationship between John and George Campbell.  Maybe, if I was lucky they would have a family mutation that linked them.  Maybe, today, they would match exactly to a family line out of Virginia.  When the descendants of both George and John were first Y DNA tested, several years ago, we certainly weren’t that lucky.

John’s descendant who tested is Jim Campbell and George’s descendant is Paul Campbell.

I would expect both Jim and Paul to match closely.  They do match, but not closely.

Both men are 5 generations from their oldest known ancestor, meaning John and George, so they would be 6 generations from a common ancestor if George and John are brothers.

At 67 markers they have 4 mutations difference.  This would be expected, at the 50th percentile, at about 8 generations, using the TIP tool at Family Tree DNA.  Of course, I’ve discussed this tool, its drawbacks and the fallacy of averages, but sometimes it’s the only tool you have and it’s certainly better than nothing.

At 37 markers Jim and Paul have 2 mutations, at 25 markers, they aren’t shown as a match, so that means 2 mutations (deduced because that is what they have at 37).  They are not showing as a match at 12 markers either, so more than 1 mutation difference in the first panel.

Moving to the Campbell DNA project, I can see the DNA results for the group that the administrator, Kevin Campbell has grouped both Jim and Paul into.  Fortunately, it is the same group, R1b-group 30.

Comparing their results with others in the group, we see that Jim (yellow 80569) has several mutations, and Paul (blue 81430) seems to match the modal value perfectly, so in essence has had no mutations since the common ancestor of this group.

Campbell group 30

Paul is the closest match to kit 23564 whose oldest ancestor is:

David J. Campbell, a son of Mark Washington Campbell and Mary Ann Campbell, was born on 26 August 1846 in Franklin County, PA.  It is speculated that he was born in Dry Run.  Also, according to speculation, his father, Mark W. Campbell, was born 15 December 1815 in the same county.  David married Marie Edna Gribble in 1870 and had six children. The family migrated to Clinton County, IA, McLean County, IL, Kearney County, NE, and Payette County, ID.

Jim’s closest match has 3 mutations, which isn’t terribly close, kit 28877 whose oldest ancestor is:

Solomon Campbell born Sept 1805, married Margaret Laurie, John N’s son James N Campbell Born Feb 2 1835.  Other children of John N are Martha, William, Margaret, Thomas L., James N., Solomon J., Jane.  It states on the 1841 Scottish census (Crofthead, Neilston, Renfrewshire) that John N and family were born in Ireland except for Jane who was born in Neilston.  Family also listed in Scotland 1851 census. Came to America in June of 1853, settled in Mason NH, John N. died 1878 Townsend Mass.

There is clearly no commonality in terms of either ancestors or location comparing the two closest matches.  Furthermore, Jim’s closest match is in Massachusetts when we know that John Campbell did arrive from Virginia, born in the 1770s, and was very likely part of the Scots/Irish migration from Pennsylvania through Virginia – simply given the historical patterns and logistics.

Let’s move to the individual markers and see what we can tell.

Campbell headingCampbell 389

I looked at the markers, and I think that DYS389(2) is having spontaneous mutations.  I say this because IF and assuming that truly, kit 81430 has not mutated, then all of the mutations in the 80569 kit happened after Charles Campbell who was born about 1750 or maybe slightly earlier.  It’s obvious from looking at oldest ancestors of the matches who have a value of 31 at DYS389(2) that  they could not all be descended from someone who lived since Charles Campbell.

Both Paul and Jim have taken the Family Finder autosomal test.  Let’s see what that says about their relationship.  I searched Jim’s account for matches having a surname of Campbell.  Sure enough, there were 5 results, but none of them were Paul.  These men should be 5th cousins if Charles Campbell is the father of both John and George.  That is a long way back and we would expect, on average for 5th cousins to carry only about 3cM of common DNA and less than 1%.  The FTDNA threshold is 7cM.

Jim’s sister has also taken the Family Finder test.  On the chance that she inherited differently, I checked to see if she perhaps matches Paul.  She does not.

We know that at Family Tree DNA matching threshold is set to approximately 7cM and that matches have to meet other criteria as well to be considered a match, like minimum SNPs and a minimum total cM as well.  Therefore, people with small amounts of matching DNA are not shown as matches at Family Tree DNA, but may share DNA that is important to find.  At GedMatch, you can set the matching thresholds yourself.

Let’s take a look at GedMatch to see if the John Campbell descendants match the George Campbell descendants.  Below, Jim and Paul’s autosomal DNA is compared for matches.

Campbell, paul vs jim

Sure enough, Jim and Paul match each other on four segments, one just above 3cM, just as predicted, and three more just over 1cM each.  Without a proven family connection, we would ignore segments of this size, but in a known family situation, these are important matching segments.

Let’s see if Jim’s sister matches Paul.

Campbell, paul vs jim sister

Yes, Jim’s sister and Jim both match Paul and in the same location on chromosome 7.

Do I match Paul?

Campbell, paul vs me

I do match Paul significantly.  On two chromosomes, the segments are 12 and 13 cm.  On chromosome 12, I match Paul on the same location at Jim’s sister.  On chromosome 13, I match on the same location as Jim matches Paul.

The GedMatch estimate is interesting in that it is 4.2 generations.  We know positively that we are a minimum of 7 generations distant, assuming that Charles is the father of both George and John.  Paul and I do not share any other ancestors.

Do I match Joy, the other George descendant?

Yes, I do, below.  Again, a minimum of 7 generations between us.

Campbell, me vs joy

Does Jim match Joy? No.

Does Joy match Jim’s sister? No.

Does Paul match Joy?  Both are descended from George.  Yes, on 10 different chromosomes.  These should be more closely matched than any John/George descendant matches, but they are further than 2.7 generations.

Campbell, paul vs joy

Do I match Jim, who is also descended from John Campbell?  Yes.

Campbell, me vs jim

Do I match Jim’s sister? Yes, on far more segments that I match Jim.

Campbell, me vs jim sister

The segments on chromosome 5 are identical between me, Jim and his sister.  Clearly, that came from John Campbell.  Our common ancestor, John Campbell is 5 generations from Jim and his sister, and 6 from me.

I created the following table of the results.  We have two descendants from George who match each other most closely.  Conversely, the descendants of John match each other more closely than the descendants of John match the descendants of George.  However, given the generational distance, the descendant of John and George do fall into the expected tolerance in the case of Paul matching Jim, John and me.

Jim (John) Jim’s sister Paul (George) Me (John) Joy (George)
Jim na siblings 1,3,7,13 5, 7, 11, 15 No
Jim’s sister siblings na 7, 10, 12, 13 2, 3, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13 No
Paul 1,3,7,13 7, 10, 12, 13 na 4, 9, 10, 12, 13 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 15, 16
Me 5, 7, 11, 15 2, 3, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13 4, 9, 10, 12, 13 na 16, 17
Joy No No 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 9, 12, 15, 16 16, 17 na

What else can we do now to further identify the parents of John and George Campbell, presuming that they are indeed brothers as the results above suggest?

At this point, there are three avenues open for study.

  1. Upgrade both Jim and Paul to 111 markers and hope for line marker mutations.
  2. Upgrade both Jim and Paul to the Big Y hoping for identical mutations, and if not, ones that will connect to another Campbell line. This option is very expensive at this time, and according to the Campbell surname administrator there are either few or no project members who have ordered the Big Y.
  3. Utilize Family Finder to search both Jim and Paul’s matches for consistent matches and hope for a clear genealogy clue as to where to begin the search for the common family of John and George.
  4. Add a dash of luck!

One thing is certain, whether John and George share a father or not, and whether that father is Charles Campbell who died before 1825 in Hawkins County, TN, or not, they do at some point not terribly distant past, share a common Campbell ancestor.  I surely wish there were any other proven children of Charles Campbell to test against.

As a matter of curiosity, I did check to see if any of the five of us Campbell descendants have matches to people with Fugate as an ancestral surname – and we all do.  However, many of these people also have Campbell ancestry and/or are from the Claiborne County region where we all have roots, so it would require more research to draw any inferences or conclusions on the Fugate question.

The Campbell lineage has been exceedingly frustrating. Why, oh why, didn’t they register that deed in 1825 in Hawkins County listing the heirs of Charles Campbell???

Family Tree DNA Releases myOrigins

my origins

On May 6th, Family Tree DNA released myOrigins as a free feature of their Family Finder autosomal DNA test.  This autosomal biogeographic feature was previously called Population Finder.  It has not just been renamed, but entirely reworked.

Currently, 22 population clusters in 7 major geographic groups are utilized to evaluate your biogeographic ethnicity or ancestry as compared to these groups, many of which are quite ancient.

my origins regions

Primary Population Clusters

  • Anatolia & Caucasus
  • Asian Northeast
  • Bering Expansion
  • East Africa Pastoralist
  • East Asian Coastal Islands
  • Eastern Afroasiatic
  • Eurasian Heartland
  • European Coastal Islands
  • European Coastal Plain
  • European Northlands
  • Indian Tectonic
  • Jewish Diaspora
  • Kalahari Basin
  • Niger-Congo Genesis
  • North African Coastlands
  • North Circumpolar
  • North Mediterranean
  • Trans-Ural Peneplain

Blended Population Clusters

  • Coastal Islands & Central Plain
  • Northlands & Coastal Plain
  • North Mediterranean & Coastal Plain
  • Trans-Euro Peneplain & Coastal Plain

Each of these groups has an explanation which can be found here.


Prior to release, Family Tree DNA sent out a notification about new matching options.  One of the new features is that you will be able to see the matching regions of the people you match – meaning your populations in common.  This powerful feature lets you see matches who are similar which can be extremely useful when searching for minority admixture, for example.  However, some participants don’t want their matches to be able to see their ethnicity, so everyone was given an ‘opt out’ option.  Fortunately, few people have opted out, less than 1%.

Be aware that only your primary matches are shown.  This means that your 4-5th cousins or more distant are not shown as ethnicity matches.

Here’s what the FTDNA notification said:

With myOrigins, you’ll be able compare your ethnicity with your Family Finder matches. If you want to share your ethnic origins with your matches, you don’t need to take any action.  You’ll automatically be able to compare your ethnicity with your matches when myOrigins becomes available.  This is the recommended option. However, we do understand that sharing your ethnicity with your matches is your choice so we’re sending you this reminder in case you want to not take part (opt-out). To opt-out, please follow the instructions below. *

  1. Click this link.
  2. If you are not logged in, do so.
  3. Select the “Do not share my ethnic breakdown with my matches. This will not let me compare my ethnicity with my matches.” radio button.
  4. Click the Save button.

You can get more details about what will be shared here.  You may also join our forums for discussion* You can change your privacy settings at any time. Thus, you may opt-out of or opt back into ethnic sharing at a later date if you change your mind.

What’s New?

Let’s take a look at the My Origins results.  You can see your results by clicking on “My Origins” on the Family Finder tab on your personal page at Family Tree DNA.

Ethnicity and Matches

Your population ethnicity is shown on the main page, as well as up to three shared regions that you share with your matches.  This means that if you share more than 3 regions with these people, the 4th one (or 5th or 6th, etc.) won’t show.  This also means that if your match has an ethnicity you don’t have, that won’t show either.

my origins ethnicity

Above, you see my main results page.  Please note that this map is what is known as a heat map.  This means that the darkest, or hottest, areas are where my highest percentages are found.

Each region has a breakdown that can be seen by clicking on the region bar.  My European region bar population cluster breakdown is shown below along with my ethnicity match to my mother.

my origins euro breakdown

And my Middle Eastern breakdown is shown below.

my origins middle east breakdown

Ethnicity Mapping

A great new feature is the mapping of the maternal and paternal ethnicity of your Family Finder matches, when known.  How does Family Tree DNA know?  The location data entered in the “Matches Map” location field.  Can’t remember if you completed these fields?  It’s easy to take a look and see.  On either the Y DNA or the mtDNA tabs, click on Matches Map and you’ll see your white balloon.  If the white balloon is in the location of your most distant ancestor in your paternal line (for Y) or your matrilineal line for mtDNA (your mother’s mother’s mother’s line on up the tree until you run out of mothers), then you’ve entered the location data and you’re good to go.  If your white balloon is on the equator, click on the tab at the bottom of the map that says “update ancestor’s location” and step through the questions.

ancestor location

If you haven’t completed this information, please do.  It makes the experience much more robust for everyone.

How Does This Tool Work?

my origins paternal matches

The buttons to the far right of the page show the mapped locations of the oldest paternal lines and the oldest matrilineal (mtDNA) lines of your matches.  Direct paternal matches would of course be surname matches, but only to their direct paternal lines. This does not take into account all of their “most distant ancestors,” just the direct paternal ones.  This is the yellow button.

The green button provides the direct maternal matches.

my origins maternal matches

Do not confuse this with your Matches Map for your own paternal (if you’re a male) or mitochondrial matches.  Just to illustrate the difference, here is my own direct maternal full sequence matches map, available on my mtDNA tab.  As you can see, they are very different and convey very different information for you.

my mito match map


By way of comparison, here are my mother’s myOrigins results.

my origins mother

Let’s say I want to see who else matches her from Germany where our most distant mitochondrial DNA ancestor is located.

I can expand the map by scrolling or using the + and – keys, and click on any of the balloons.

my origins individual match

Indeed, here is my balloon, right where it should be, and the 97% European match to my mother pops up right beside my balloon.  The matches are not broken down beyond region.

This is full screen, so just hit the back button or the link in the upper right hand corner that says “back to FTDNA” to return to your personal page.

Walk Through

Family Tree DNA has provided a walk-through of the new features.


How did Family Tree DNA come up with these new regional and population cluster matches?

As we know, all of humanity came originally from Africa, and all of humanity that settled outside of Africa came through the Middle East.  People left the Middle East in groups, it would appear, and lived as isolated populations for some time in different parts of the world.  As they did, they developed mutations that are found only in that region, or are found much more frequently in that region as opposed to elsewhere.  Patterns of mutations like this are established, and when one of us matches those patterns, it’s determined that we have ancestry, either recent or perhaps ancient, from that region of the world.

The key to this puzzle is to find enough differentiation to be able to isolate or identify one group from another.  Of course, the groups eventually interbred, at least most of them did, which makes this even more challenging.

Family Tree DNA says in their paper describing the population clusters:

MyOrigins attempts to reduce the wild complexity of your genealogy to the major historical-genetic themes which arc through the life of our species since its emergence 100,000 years ago on the plains of Africa. Each of our 22 clusters describe a vivid and critical color on the palette from which history has drawn the brushstrokes which form the complexity that is your own genome. Though we are all different and distinct, we are also drawn from the same fundamental elements.

The explanatory narratives in myOrigins attempt to shed some detailed light upon each of the threads which we have highlighted in your genetic code. Though the discrete elements are common to all humans, the weight you give to each element is unique to you. Each individual therefore receives a narrative fabric tailored to their own personal history, a story stitched together from bits of DNA.

They have also provided a white paper about their methodology that provides more information.

After reading both of these documents, I much prefer the explanations provided for each cluster in the white paper over the shorter population cluster paper.  The longer version breaks the history down into relevant pieces and describes the earliest history and migrations of the various groups.

I was pleased to see the methodology that they used and that four different reference data bases were utilized.

  • GeneByGene DNA customer database
  • Human Genome Diversity Project
  • International HapMap Project
  • Estonian Biocentre

Given this wealth of resources, I was very surprised to see how few members of some references populations were utilized.

Population N Population N
Armenian 46 Lithuanian 6
Ashkenazi 60 Masai 140
British 39 Mbuti 15
Burmese 8 Moroccan 7
Cambodian 26 Mozabite 24
Danish 13 Norwegian 17
Filipino 20 Pashtun 33
Finnish 49 Polish 35
French 17 Portuguese 25
German 17 Russian 41
Gujarati 31 Saudi 19
Iraqi 12 Scottish 43
Irish 45 Slovakian 12
Italian 30 Spanish 124
Japanese 147 Surui 21
Karitiana 23 Swedish 33
Korean 15 Ukrainian 10
Kuwaiti 14 Yoruba 136

In particular, the areas of France, Germany, Norway, Slovakia, Denmark and the Ukraine appear to be very under-represented, especially given Family Tree DNA’s very heavy European-origin customer base .  I would hope that one of the priorities would be to expand this reference data base substantially.  Furthermore, I don’t see any New World references included here which calls into question Native American ancestry.


Family Tree DNA typically provides a webinar for new products as well as general education.  The myOrigins webinar can be found in the archives at this link.  It can be viewed any time.


How did they do?  Certainly, Family Tree DNA has a great new interface with wonderful new maps and comparison features.  Let’s take a look at accuracy and see if everything makes sense.

I am fortunate to have the DNA of one of my parents, my mother.  In the chart below, I’m comparing that result and inferring my father’s results by subtracting mine from my mother’s.  This may not be entirely accurate, because this presumes I received the full amount of that ethnicity from my mother, and that is probably not accurate – but – it’s the best I can do under the circumstances.  It’s safe to say that my father has a minimum of this amount of that particular population category and may have more.

Region Me Mom Dad Inferred Minimum
European Coastal Plain 68 17 51
European Northlands 12 7 5
Trans Ural Peneplain 11 10 1
European Coastal Islands 7 34 0
Anatolia and Caucus 3 0 3
North Mediterranean 0 34 0
Circumpolar 0 1 0
Undetermined* 0 0 40

*The Undetermined category is not from Family Tree DNA, but is the percentage of my father not accounted for by inference.  This 40% is DNA that I did not inherit if it falls into a different category.

Based on these results alone, I have the following observations.

    1. I find it odd that my mother has 34% North Mediterranean and I have none. We have no known ancestry from this region.
    2. My mother does have one distant line of Turkish DNA via France. I have presumed that my Middle Eastern (now Anatolia and Caucus) was through that line, but these results suggest otherwise.
    3. My mother’s Circumpolar may be Native American. She does have proven Native lines (Micmac) through the Acadian families.
    4. These results have missed both my Native lines (through both parents) and my African admixture although both are small percentages.
    5. The European Coastal Plain is one of the groups that covers nearly all of Europe. Given that my mother is 3/4th Dutch/German, with the balance being Acadian, Native and English, one would expect her to have significantly more, especially given my high percentage.
    6. The European Coastal Island percentages are very different for me and my mother, with me carrying much less than my mother.  This is curious, because she is 3/4th German/Dutch with between 1/8th and 3/16th English while my father’s lines are heavily UK.  My father’s ancestry may well be reflected in European Coastal Plain which covers a great deal of territory.

What We Need to Remember

All of the biogeographic tools, from Family Tree DNA, 23andMe and Ancestry, are “estimates” and each of the tools from the three major vendors rend different results.  Each one is using different combinations of reference populations, so this really isn’t surprising.  Hopefully, as the various companies increase their population references and the size of their reference data bases, the results will increasingly mesh from company to company.  These results are only as good as the back end tools and the DNA that you randomly inherited from your ancestors.

Furthermore, we all carry far more similar DNA than different DNA, so it’s extremely difficult to make judgment calls based on ranges.  Europe, for example, is extremely admixed and the US is moreso.  The British Isles were a destination location for many groups over thousands of years.  Some of the DNA being picked up by these tests may indeed be very ancient and may cause us to wonder where it came from.  In future test versions, this may be more perfectly refined.

There is no way to gauge “ancient” DNA, like from the Middle East Diaspora, from more contemporary DNA, only a thousand years or so old, once it’s in very small segments.  In other words, it’s all very individual and personal and pretty much cast in warm jello.  We’ve come a long way, but we aren’t “there” yet.  However, without these tools and the vendors working to make them better, we’ll never get “there,” so keep that in mind.

While this makes great conversation today, and there is no question about accuracy in terms of majority ancestry/ethnicity, no one should make any sweeping conclusions based on this information.  This is not “cast in concrete” in the same way as Y DNA and mitochondrial haplogroups and STR markers.  Those are irrefutable – while biogeographical ethnicity remains a bit ethereal.

In summary, I would simply say that this tool can provide great hints and tips, especially the matching, which is unique, but it can’t disprove anything.  The absence of minority admixture, which is what so many people are hunting for, may be the result of the various data bases and the infancy of the science itself, and not the absence of admixture.

My recommendation would be to utilize all three biogeographic admixture products as well as the free tools in the Admixture category at GedMatch.  Look for consistency in results between the tools.  I discussed this methodology in “The Autosomal Me” series.

What Next?

I asked Dr. David Mittelman, Chief Scientific Officer, at Family Tree DNA about the reference populations.  He indicated that he agreed that some of their reference populations are small and they are actively working to increase them.  He also stated that it is important to note that Family Tree DNA prioritized accuracy over false positives so they definitely took a conservative approach.

Charles Campbell (c1750 – c1825) and the Great Warrior Path – 52 Ancestors #19

When I discovered that I was going to be visiting Scotland in the fall of 2013, I couldn’t bypass the opportunity to visit the seat of the Clan Campbell.

Campbell isn’t my maiden name, but it was the maiden name of my ancestor, Elizabeth Campbell born about 1802 who married in about 1820, probably in Claiborne County, TN, to Lazarus Dodson, born about 1795.  Elizabeth’s father was John Campbell, born 1772-1775 in Virginia and her mother was Jane “Jenny” Dobkins.  John’s brother is believed to be George Campbell, born around 1770-1771.  We are fairly certain that their father was one Charles Campbell who died before May 31, 1825 in Hawkins County, Tennessee when a survey for his neighbor mentions the heirs of Charles Campbell.

Charles Campbell was in Hawkins County by about 1788.  A Charles Campbell was mentioned in Sullivan County, the predecessor of Hawkins, as early as 1783, but we don’t know if it’s the same man.  The history of Charles Campbell’s Hawkins County land begins in 1783 when it was originally granted to Edmond Holt.

1783, Oct 25, 440 (pg 64 Tn Land Entries John Armstrong’s office) – Edmond Holt enters 300 ac on the South side of Holston river near the west end of Bays Mountain, includes a large spring near the mountain and runs about, includes Holt’s improvement at an Indian old War Ford, warrant issued June 7, 1784, grant to Mark Mitchell.

Hawkins view of Campbell land

This photo shows the area of Dodson’s creek from across the Holston River atop a high hill.  Dodson’s Creek, today, is located beside the TVA power plant.  In this photo, Dodson’s Creek would be just slightly to the right of the power plant in the distance.  You can’t see the Holston River in this photo, but it is just in front of the power plant.  This is a good representation of the rolling mountains of this region.  I stayed in this house for nearly a week while doing research in Hawkins County before realizing that the land I was looking at, daily, out the back door, off of the porch swing, was the land of both my Campbell and Dodson ancestors.  Talk about a jolting moment.

The Old War Ford is the crossing of the Holston River at the mouth of Dodson Creek where the Indians used to camp and cross, on the Great Warrior Path.

Indian war path

My cousin helped me locate the Great Warrior Path crossing and I took the  photos below during a visit to locate the Dodson and Campbell lands.

1790, May 26 – Mark Mitchell to Charles Campbell 100# Virginia money, Dodson’s Ck, Beginning at a synns on the nw side Bays mountain thence on Stokely Donelson’s, north 60 then west 218 poles to a small black and post oak on a flat Hill then south 30 west 219 to two white oaks in a flat, then s 60 east 218 poles to a stake then north 30 east 219 poles along Bays Mountain to the beginning containing 300 acres. Signed, wit John (I) Owen mark, William Wallen, George Campbell mark (kind of funny P), R. Mitchell (it appears that this transaction actually took place in 1788, but wasn’t registered until later.) south side of the Holston on the west fork of Dodson Creek.

Today, the road that originally led to the ford of the Holston River dead ends into a road and the part of the road that was the “ford” is gone.  A field exists in its place, and a historical marker, and that’s it.  Not even any memories as the ford was no longer needed when bridges were built, and by now, there have already been several generations of bridges.

old war ford

Here’s the field.  The trees grow along the river and help to control erosion from flooding today.  Walking up to the area, you can see the actual ford area, although there is nothing to give away the fact that this used to be a ford of the river.  The locals say there is bedrock here.

old war ford 2

This area is flood plain, so one would not live here.  The old cemetery where we believe Raleigh Dodson is buried is across the current road and up the hill.  The land where we think Charles Campbell lived is just up Dodson Creek from this area as well, but on somewhat higher ground.

Possible Campbell land

I believe this is or is very near the current day location of the Charles Campbell land.  Dodson Creek runs adjacent the road, and you have to cross the creek to get to the farmable land from the road.  You can see the makeshift bridge above.

Beautiful pool at the bend in Dodson Creek where it leaves the road.

Dodson Creek is beautiful and lush.

Dodson Creek 2

1793/1794 – Charles Campbell to George and John Campbell, all of Hawkins County, for 45#, 150 acres on the south side of the Holston, west fork of Dodson Ck beginning at 2 white oaks then (metes and bounds), signed, John Payne witness.

1802, Feb 26 – George Campbell and John Campbell of Hawkins County to Daniel Leyster (Leepter?, Seyster, Septer) of same, 225# tract on west fork of Dodson’s Creek being same place where said John Campbell now lives, 149 acres, then (metes and bounds) description. Both sign,  Witness, Charles Campbell, Michael Roark and William Paine.  Proven in May session 1802 by oath of Michael Roark (inferring that the sellers are gone from the area).

Is the difference between 149 and 150 acres a cemetery, a church or a school?

Dodson Creek is where Charles Campbell lived.  This is the Dodson family who John Campbell’s daughter, Elizabeth, would marry into a generation later in Claiborne County.  Dodson Creek was also just a few miles from Jacob Dobkins’ home, whose daughter’s George and John Campbell would marry.  Jacob Dobkins, George and John Campbell and their Dobkins wives would be in Claiborne County, Tennessee by 1802.

We believe Charles Campbell came from the Augusta or Rockingham County area of Virginia, but we don’t know for sure.  Unfortunately the deed where his heirs conveyed his land is recorded in the court record, but never in the deed book, so we have no idea who his heirs were.  The will of his neighbor, Michael Roark, who was born in Bucks County, PA and then lived in Rockingham Co., VA stated that he bought the land of Charles Campbell from his heirs joining the tract “I live on.”  Charles’ other neighbor was a Grigsby, and so was Michael Roark’s wife. It’s not unlikely that Charles Campbell was related to one or both of these men.  Perhaps the key to finding Charles Campbell back in Virginia is to find both Michael Roark and the Grigsby family as well.

in the 1783 Shenandoah Co., VA, tax list, we find both Charles Campbell and Jacob Dobkins in Alexander Hite’s district. Jacob Dobkins is the father of Jane “Jenny” Dobkins who would eventually marry John Campbell and her sister,  Elizabeth Dobkins who would marry George Campbell, believed to be the brother of John Campbell.

Several years ago, we DNA tested both a male Campbell descendant of both John and George and confirmed that indeed, these line match each other as well as the Campbell clan line from Scotland and that the descendants of the lines of both men also match autosomally as cousins, further confirming that John and George were most likely brothers.  This was good news, because even though we don’t know the exact names of Charles ancestors, thanks to DNA, we still know the history of those ancestors before they immigrated, probably in the early 1700 with the first waves of the Scotch-Irish.

So, for me, the opportunity to visit the clan seat, and meet the current Duke of Argyll, the 26th chief of the Clan Campbell and the 12the Duke of Argyll, Torquhil Campbell, personally, was literally the chance of a lifetime.

The Duke, Torquhil Campbell, is much different from other aristocracy.  He lives at Inveraray Castle, the clan seat, but parts of the castle are open to the public.  In addition, the castle is his actual full time residence and he actively manages the estate, including signing books about Inveraray in the gift shop in the castle.


You can’t miss him if he’s there, as he has on an apron that says “Duke.”  He’s a lot younger than I expected as well, born in 1968, but extremely gracious and welcoming.  There must be tens of thousands of Campbell descendants and many probably make their way back to Inverary like the butterflies return to Mexico every winter.

While I was visiting Inveraray, I purchased two books about the clan Campbell and a third, written by the Duke himself, about Inveraray. The Campbell clan origins are shrouded in myth and mists, as you might imagine, but let me share them with you anyway.

Campbell coat of arms

The first origin story, from a book called “Campbell, The Origins of the Clan Campbell and Their Place in History” by John Mackay, says :

“The first Campbells were a Scots family who crossed from Ireland to the land of the Picts.  The Clan Campbell originated from the name O’Duibhne, one of whose chiefs in ancient times was known as Diarmid and the name Campbell was first used in the 1050s in the reign of Malcolm Canmore after a sporran-bearer or purse-bearer to the king previously called Paul O’Duihne was dubbed with his new surname.

Historians after such obscure and legendary times, have agreed that the can name comes from the Gaelic ‘cam’ meaning crooked and ‘beul’ meaning the mouth, when it was the fashion to be surnamed from some unusual physical feature, in this case by the characteristic curved or crooked mouth of the family of what is certainly one of the oldest clan named in the Highlands.

It was the Marquis who insisted that he was descended from a Scots family in Ireland who had crossed to what was then mostly the land of Picts to establish the first Scots colony in the district of Dalriada – a comparatively small part of what we know today as Argyll at the heart of what would in time become the kingdom of Scotland.  It is marked by the fort of Dunadd, of the A816, a few miles north of Lochgilphead, set in the inlet called Loch Gilp off from Loch Fyne.”

Loch Fyne is where the current castle of Inveraray, clan seat, is located and where I visited.

The second source is a booklet called “Campbell, Your Clan Heritage,” by Alan McNie, which is condensed from a larger book, Highland Clans of Scotland by George –Eyre-Todd published in 1923.

It says:

“Behind Torrisdale in Kintyre rises a mountain named Ben an Tuire, the “Hill of the Boar.”  It takes its name from a famous event in Celtic legend.  There, according to tradition, Diarmid O’Duibhne slew the fierce boar which had ravaged the district.  Diarmid was of the time of the Ossianic heroes.

Diarmid is said to have been the ancestor of th race of O’Duibhne who owned the shores of Loch Awe, which were the original Oire Gaidheal, or Argyhll, the “Land of the Gael,”

The race is said to have ended in the reign of Alexander III in an heiress, Eva, daughter of Paul O’Duibhne, otherwise Paul of the Sporran so named because as the kings treasurer, he was supposed to carry the money-bag.  Eva married a certain Archibald of Gillespie Campbell, to whom she carried the possession of her house.  This tradition is supported by a charter of David II in 1368 which secured to Archibald Campbell of that date certain lands of Loch Awe ‘as freely as there were enjoyed by his ancestor, Duncan O’Diubhne.’

Who the original Archibald Campbell was remains a matter of dispute.  By some he is said to have been a Norman knight by the name of De Campo Bello.  The name Campo Bello, however, is not Norman but Italian.  It is out of all reason to suppose that an Italian ever made his way into the Highlands at such a time to secure a footing as a Highland Chief.”

This book then goes on to recite the “crooked mouth” story as well.

A third origin story is recorded in the book written by the current Duke, himself, “Inveraray Castle, Ancestral Home of the Dukes of Argyll.”  In this book, the Duke says:

“The Campbells, thought to be of British stock, from the Kingdom of Strathclyde, probably arrived in Argyll as part of a royal expedition in circa 1220.  They settled on Lochaweside where they were placed in charge of the king’s land in the area.

The Chief of Clan Campbell takes his Gaelic title of ‘MacCailein Mor’ from Colin Mor Campbell – ‘Colin the Great’ – who was killed in a quarrel with the MacDougalls of Lorne in 1296.

His son was Sir Neil Campbell, boon companion and brother-in-law to King Robert the Bruce, whose son, Sir Colin was rewarded in 1315 by the grant of the lands of Lochawe and Ardscotnish of which he now became Lord.

From Bruce’s time at least, their headquarters had been at the great castle of Innischonnell, on Loch Awe.   Around the mid 1400s, Sir Duncan Campbell of Lochawe, great-grandson of Sir Colon, moved his headquarters to Inveraray, controlling most of the landward communications of Argyll.”

From the Campbell DNA Project website, we find this pedigree chart of the Clan Campbell, beginning with the present Duke at the bottom.

Campbell pedigree

Let’s see if Y chromosome DNA results can tell us about the Campbell Clan history.

Originally, the DNA testing told us that the Campbell men were R1b1.  The predicted haplogroup was R1b1a2, now known as R-M269, but some of the Campbell men who have tested further are haplogroup R1b1a2a1b4, or R-L21.

Looking at my cousin’s matches map at 37 markers, below, the Campbell men cluster heavily around the Loch Lomond/Greenock region which is very close to the traditional Campbell seat of Inverary.

Campbell cluster

At 12 markers, the cluster near Greenock, slightly northwest of Glasgow, is quite pronounced.  Most of these matches are Campbell surnames.

Campbell Greenock cluster

Another item of interest is that several men in this cluster have tested for SNP L1335.  This is the SNP that Jim Wilson announced is an indicator of Pictish heritage, although it is widely thought that this was a marketing move with little solid data behind it.  Otherwise, Jim Wilson, a geneticist, would surely be publishing academically, not via press announcements from a company that has previously damaged their own credibility, several times.

Regardless, our Campbell group tested positive for this SNP.  I contacted Kevin Campbell, the Campbell DNA project administrator, who is equally as cautious about the Pictish label, but we both agree that this marker indicates ancient, “indigenous Scots,” and yes, they could be Picts.  Time will tell!

In the next few days, I’ll be writing about my visit to Inverary.  I hope you’ll join me!

Mary McDowell, the White Wife, 52 Ancestors #17

William Herrell was born in 1790 in North Carolina. In 1809, in Wilkesboro, he married Mary McDowell, born in 1785, the daughter of Michael McDowell who was born in 1747, probably in Bedford County, Virginia, and who died in 1834 in Claiborne Co, Tn. in the portion that became Hancock County later. Most of what we know about Michael is from his Revolutionary War pension application made in 1832. Michael is probably the son of an earlier Michael, who is probably the son of Murtough McDowell who died in 1752 in Baltimore, Maryland, but that is a story for another time.

The 1800 census of Wilkes Co., NC shows Michael McDowell, Jacob McGrady (the minister who married William Herrell and Mary McDowell), and both John Herrell Jr. and Sr. (spelled Harral) on adjoining pages. Based on this evidence, pending further investigation, it is presumed that Michael McDowell is Mary and John’s father and John Herrell Sr. is likely the father of William Herrell.

John McDowell states in his affidavit that he left Wilkes County about 1810 and that Mary and William were married about a year before that. We have every reason to believe that Mary McDowell and William Herrell relocated about that same time to the Mulberry Gap area of then Claiborne, and now Hancock County, Tennessee.

The early tax and census records of Wilkes Co, NC reveal that the Herrell (Harral, Herold, Herrald), McNiel, Vannoy, Sheppard, and McDowell families lived just houses apart. Those families also migrated about the same time to the area that was originally Claiborne County, Tennessee and would eventually become northern Hancock County, near the Lee County, Virginia line and lived in close proximity as neighbors there too. Today, both a Harrell cemetery and the cemetery on Michael McDowell’s land remain. The McDowell cemetery is shown below, under the tree.

McDowell cemetery

It’s unknown where Mary is buried, but probably in the Herrell Cemetery on River Road, shown below, in one of the many unmarked graves.

Herrell cemetery

The first record in the Tennessee-Virginia area we have shows Mary and William Herrell actually living in Lee County, probably just across the border, in 1812 when they purchased land.

May term 1813 – Oct. 10, 1812 John Claypool and Eliza his wife of Claiborne and William Harrold of Lee Co Va. for the sum of $200 a tract of land lying in Claiborne on the N side of Powell River including a stripe of land on the opposite side of said river included in a tract of land conveyed to William Bails by James Allen bounded as follows: Beginning on the back line in a deep hollow at two hickories and at a dogwood, thence to a white oak marked AB (with the right side of the A the same as the back of the B) thence to the south line of said tract containing 100 acres more or less it being part of a tract of 440 acres conveyed to said William Bails by James Allen as above said conveyance bearing the date Jan. 20 1809. Witnesses William Briance, Michael McDowel (his mark), William Hardy. Registered Dec. 3, 1813.

Slanting misery survery drawing

Their land was aptly named, Slanting Misery. Having climbed this land hunting for the cemetery, I can vouch for the appropriateness of the name. Below is a panoramic view of Slanting Misery.

Slanting misery panorama

William Harrell served in the War of 1812. Much of what we know about him and his family comes from his pension application papers, and those of Mary following his death in 1859. William served beginning January 14, 1814, and was discharged May 13, 1814, being in Solomon Dobkins company.

In terms of Mary’s life, she married in Wilkes County in 1809, moved to a new state and environment in 1812 and bought land with her husband. Three months later, her husband marched off to war, leaving her with at least one infant, if not 2 or 3 children by that time, and having to get the crops in the ground in the spring in spite of his absence. She could also have been pregnant at the time, given that women of that era were either pregnant or nursing for their entire married, reproductive lives.

In his deposition taken on March 5, 1855, William states that he is 65 years old and enlisted as a private in Captain Solomon Dobkins company of Tennessee Militia in the regiment commanded by Samuel Bunch in the “War with the Creek Indians,” and served 14 days. According to his military records, he served for 4 months, not 14 days. He could not have traveled to the area in Alabama where he served and back in 14 days.

On July 5, 1871, William’s widow, Mary states she is 86 years old and that she lived on Powell’s River in Hancock County. She further states that William was discharged at Fort Strother in May of 1814 and that William “helped to build Fort Williams in the fork of the Coosey and Talley-Poosey Rivers”.

She says that she was married under the name of McDowell in 1809 at Wilkesboro NC by Jacob McGrady and that William died on October 8, 1859 on Powell’s River.

John McDowell filed an affidavit in 1872 stating that he is 90 years old (so born in 1782) and was acquainted with both William Herrell and Mary McDowell before their marriage. He states that he was at their wedding. Further testimony in 1872 by the postmaster of Mulberry Gap, John Woodward, attests to the honesty of Alexander Herrell and James E. Speer as witnesses to Mary McDowell Herrell’s loyalty. Alexander is believed to be her son and James possibly her son-in-law. There are Spears buried in the McDowell cemetery.

John McDowell is mentioned in the early settlers of Lee County along with a Michael McDowell who is a Revolutionary War veteran, born in 1745 and serving from Bedford Co Va.

The known children of William and Mary McDowell Harrell are:

  • Mildred born 1816 married Hiram Edins
  • Nancy born 1820, never married
  • Mary born 1822 married William Edens
  • Malinda born 1829

All of the above daughters are unmarried and living at home in 1850 census.

  • Abel Herrell, born 1824 married Nancy ? probably about 1847, since in 1850 the census shows that they had Margaret M age 2.
  • Another possible son was Alexander Herrell born 1826 who married Lydia ? and in 1850 had Sirery E age 3 and James J age 2.
  • Daughter Margaret was born about 1812, married Anson Cook Martin who died about 1845, and in 1850 was shown with the following Martin children:
    • Evaline b 1830 married Alexander Calvin Busic
    • William b 1833 married Rachel Markham
    • John b 1833 married Hannah Eldridge
    • Selerenda b 1834 married Pleasant Smith
    • Manerva b 1838
    • Mary b 1839 married Edward Hilton Claxton
    • Malinda b 1842 married James Parks
    • Alexandria b 1844

All of the bolded individuals, if they had daughters who had daughters to the current generation, could provide the mitochondrial DNA of Mary McDowell. There is a scholarship for anyone who fits that bill. In the current generation, the candidate can be either male or female, because women give their mitochondrial DNA to both genders of children, but only females pass it on.

Margaret then married Joseph Preston Bolton about 1850 and had:

o   Mary Ann Matilda Bolton born about 1851 married Martin Mordicai Cuningham

o   Joseph B. Bolton born on September 18, 1853 and married Margaret Claxton (Clarkston, Clarkson) in 1870 in Hancock County, eventually moving to the little Sycamore Community of Claiborne County. Both Joseph and wife Margaret are buried in the Plank Cemetery. Their daughter Ollie Bolton, born in 1874, died in 1955 in Chicago Ill, married in 1893 to William George. Ollie Bolton was my grandmother.

Mary McDowell Harrell died sometime between 1872 and the 1880 census.

Unfortunately, we don’t have anything in her own voice except for her application for widow’s benefits. The application itself is actually a form.

From all outward appearances, Mary’s life seemed to be pretty routine for the time in which she lived. Unfortunately, we don’t even have a full accounting of all of her children. Many things have been pieced together.

But there was one thing that always seemed unusual to me. Mary, in fact, none of the Herrell’s were ever involved in any of the church records. This was a relatively small, tight-knit, community and there was only one, then two, churches. We have the minutes from both of them, and all of the other neighbors were members. Where was the Harrell family? Their eldest daughter Margaret Herrell joined after she married Joseph Bolton. But no place were her parents in evidence. Why? That is extremely unusual in this time and place.

Well, as it turns out, there was a skeleton in the closet. There was indeed another entire story, a drama, in fact, going on, perhaps not so quietly, behind the scenes.


It started to unravel back in 1983 – the secrecy I mean, when I received a letter from cousin Louise, who, in essence threatened my life if I ever told anyone while she was still alive. She was in her 80s then, so I think I’m safe now. However, if I turn up dead….hunt for Louise!

It seems that William Herrell had another wife, a black wife. Not only that, according to the family story, but he built the black wife a house on the other side of his property, that would be Slanting Misery, and he went back and forth between the two. As you might imagine, this was THE talk of the family, apparently, for generations, and cousin Louise remembered when she was small, which was the early 1900s, her family would still whisper about the young female slave William Herrell bought, and who would then become his defacto wife. It’s no wonder that not one Herrell set foot in church.

Ever the skeptic, I wanted to see if there were any records to support that claim. After all, there was another unrelated Harrell family living about 20 miles away in Claiborne County. Maybe they had the wrong William Herrell. It’s certainly possible. I mean, it’s not like he had an unusual name like Ebenezer.

On the 1830 census, William Herrell had no slaves.

On the 1836 tax list, William had one slave.

On the 1840 census, William had 1 female slave age 10-24, so born before 1830 and one young male slave child under the age of 10.

The 1850 census shows William with 1 mulatto male slave, age 12.

The 1860 slave census shows Mary Herrell and 5 others owning a 33 year old male mulatto slave. These 5 would have been William’s heirs.

The 1870 census shows Cannon Herrell, age 35, mulatto, living with Mary Herrell and her spinster daughter, Nancy.

1870 Herrell census

Cousin Louse did not know Cannon’s name, but other family members did. Cannon was believed to have been William’s son by Harriet, the slave. Whether she was really a slave, unable to leave, or not is questionable. Some say yes some said no. But one thing is clear – legally, Cannon was the property of William Harrell, and then his heirs of law, as evidenced by the 1860 slave census. That just hurts my heart.

Oral history tells us that Mary raised Cannon as her own child after his mother, Harriett, died. That she took him in with her children and raised them all one and the same. The same oral history tells us that Cannon cared for her in her old age.

Indeed, this seems to be confirmed by the 1870 census. He was 35 years old, clearly not a slave anymore, certainly marriageable, especially with assets, but still, he stayed and took care of Mary. In 1880, Mary was gone, Nancy was living in the house alone, and Cannon had married and was living in a house beside 2 of the white Herrell boys.

Cannon died in 1916 and his death certificate gives his mother’s name as Harriett Herrell and his father was “not given.” Cannon was born about 1838.

In 1838, William and Mary McDowell Herrell had been married for 29 years. Mary was born in 1785, age 53, too old to be having children in 1838. Her youngest child was 9 years old. Harriett, on the other hand, was born between 1816 and 1830, based on the census, and assuming she was at least age 13 when she had Cannon, she would have been born between 1816 and 1825. So in 1838, Harriett was someplace between 13 and 22, at least 30 years younger than Mary, and possibly more.

William was slightly younger than Mary, according to his deposition, born in 1790, but still, certainly old enough to have been Harriett’s father, and to know better. It’s difficult for me to believe that the relationship between William and Harriett was entirely consensual, especially given the bonds of slavery. How could she have said no, if she wanted to? Had be freed Harriet, and she stayed by choice, I would feel better about this. Hancock County was formed in 1845 and it’s records burned, so it’s possible that there are records we’ve missed. I find it unlikely that he freed Harriett, because Cannon, her son, is shown enslaved in 1860, legally, if not functionally.

The family story says William would live with one wife until she got mad and threw him out, then he’s go live with the other one until the scenario repeated itself. Maybe the women had a common bond in their dislike of the situation. I have to wonder how Harriett felt about this situation. Was her life better because she bore William’s child? Is that the best she could hope for? Sadly, she never lived to see emancipation. She died between 1840 and 1850, someplace between the ages of 15 and 34, depending on her actual birth year and when she died. In 1865, she would have been between 40 and 49, had she lived that long. Maybe she and Mary would have lived together with their children after William’s death.

I can only imagine the heartbreak that Mary must have felt, her marriage vows having been betrayed by William, and then the persistent presence of the “other woman,” Harriett, and then her child. The “other woman” was only a child herself and certainly did not have a say in much of anything, if anything at all. The other woman was also the age of Mary’s children, and Mary had to know that a slave didn’t get to vote in the matter. Worse yet, it’s likely that Harriett actually lived with William and Mary, at least initially, so this betrayal probably took place in her own home. This situation was clearly William’s responsibility and that was likely clear to everyone, which explains why none of the family attended church. Mary was also probably embarrassed, but there were very few options for her and none for Harriett.

This also wasn’t the deep south were these kinds of master/slave activities went on regularly and unnoticed by virtue of the massive number of slaves on hand and the “everyone does it” type of justification. Slaves were rare in Hancock County, very rare. There was no call for slaves as the ground was relatively nonproductive and could barely produce enough for one family. No slave labor was needed. This begs the question of why William bought a young female slave in the first place. I’d suggest maybe that it was to provide household assistance to his wife, but I’d also suggest that perhaps his wife would have chosen not to have that much help. I also have to wonder why Harriett didn’t have more children. Perhaps she died having a second or third child. Oral history says “children” not child. If they lived as a family in one house, that also explains why Mary took Cannon as her own. Cannon may never have known any mother except Mary, depending on his age when Harriett died. Regardless, Mary had to have a big heart to do that, to take Cannon, love and raise him as her own, given the circumstances. He obviously repaid her in kind. Family love sees no colors, even in the post-slave south. This also explains why my family for the next two generations lived in the “mixed race” area of Hoop Creek.

Oral history goes on to say that when William died, he left his land to all of his children, including his children by Harriett. I only found evidence of one of Harriett’s children that reached adulthood. In 1870, Cannon does have assets, but at the time William died, he would not have legally been able to leave anything to Cannon because Cannon was still enslaved. It’s certainly possible that Mary left Cannon something, but we’ll never know because those records were burned during the Civil War.

And now, the question that I know you’re all dying to ask. Was Cannon really the son of William Herrell?

A few years ago, I was contacted by descendants of Cannon Herrell. It was interesting to compare the family stories. It was evident that there was certainly a common thread in both families stories.

We undertook various DNA tests to determine just that. Was Cannon William’s son? Were we related?

Between the three of us, we spent quite a bit of time locating the right people to test, and convincing them of why we needed the test. Here’s a picture of the three of us when we started our journey of discovery.

Herrell reveal

And then, the time came. We elected to meet at the Cumberland Gap Homecoming that was sponsored by our Cumberland Gap DNA group, and we would reveal the results. Of course, we also used the opportunity to teach about how to utilize the various kinds of DNA.

On the first day, we did a teaser, a background story. We created a composite of all of the ancestor photos that we could find of both sides that would potentially be related if William was Cannon’s father.

Herrell collage

So, what do you think?

Is William Harrell the father of Cannon Harrell?

What Does “Sharing Genomes” at 23andMe Mean?

underpantsOne of the comments to my posting about 23andMe Producing a 10% Response Rate when contacting matches mentioned that the phrase “share genomes” was really an “overly dramatic, scary and inaccurate phrase.” I never really thought about that before, but that commenter is right. And fear of the unknown is likely frightening some people. Comments since then have conveyed the same concerns. Are people you “share genomes” with going to see you in your genetic underpants???

I’ve condensed another commenter’s statements below:

“I would like to know in advance how much of my info will be available to strangers. The process needs to be better explained to newbies, to reassure us about what is public and what can be kept private, while still participating in the sharing. A bridge is needed between the DNA-for-dummies introductory videos apparently made by the producers of Sesame Street, and the over-our-heads fine detail in the white paper. There’s a wide gap there.”

I agree, and so I’d like to show the basics of what “sharing genomes” means.

Big caveat and disclaimer – I don’t’ work for 23andMe nor do I have any relationship with them other than as a consumer and as a consultant who has recommended their tests in the past generally relative to health and sometimes for ancestry. I have no inside information. This is accurate, to the best of my knowledge, but 23andMe could change their website and/or internal processes at any minute and it might not be accurate anytime in the future. Furthermore, I could have missed something. If so, and if it is brought to my attention, I will update this information.

The titles for each of these sections indicate the various series of clicks you’ll need to do to access the data shown below the title.

When you choose to share your genome with someone, they will be able to see the following information about you, arranged by tab at 23and Me. Note that their tabs for Ancestry information show up in two areas:

My Results, Ancestry Overview 

Sharing genomes 1

Family and Friends, then DNA Relatives and Family Traits

sharing genomes 2

Several of these are rather frivolous.  Gene Comparison has been obsoleted/removed.  However,  there are a couple that are very important to genealogists.

My Results, Ancestry Overview, Ancestry Tools

Countries of Ancestry

Countries of ancestry shows where you match someone whose 4 grandparents were from the same location.

Sharing genomes 3

23andMe provides the following caveat about your data.

sharing genomes 4

If you elect to download the data for the person you’ve selected, it looks like this.

sharing genomes 4.1

As you can see, many people remain anonymous. This is a list of the people who match this person selected, and the segments that are listed as entirely Spanish, or UK, for example. This could be useful to you if you find the names of some of your matches, or if you would decide to include this information in your matching spreadsheet. I don’t utilize this information in my spreadsheet, because I don’t feel that grandparents living in one location is terribly useful, although at least one of my matches is utilizing this information. This does not mean that your ancestors or the DNA you inherited in this location (on half of the chromosome in question) is from this location, but it could provide a clue. I can say without a doubt that in the case of some of the Netherlands segments, those did come from my mother’s Dutch lines. Please note that these measurements are in mega-base pairs, NOT in centiMorgans, and will not match up with your spreadsheet segments exactly for that reason.

My Results, Ancestry Overview, Ancestry Tools

Family Inheritance: Advanced (FIA)

This is the primary tool utilized by genealogists.

Utilizing the FIA tool, you can see how up to three different people’s DNA compares against yours. Below, my half-sister’s granddaughter on my father’s side (blue) is compared with my first cousin (once removed) on my mother’s side (green). Of note, they both share with me on some of the same segments, specifically chromosome 5, 7, 11 and 17. That’s not unexpected, because both halves of my chromosomes are showing here, Moms and Dads.

Sharing genomes 5

To see if they actually do match each other, or if their matches are to me on Mom’s and Dad’s side, separately, we check to see if they also match each other.

They do, on one segment, suggesting that they may share a common ancestor that is likely not shared with me. How do we know this? Because their match to each other is on chromosome 19, and their matches in common to me are not on chromosome 19. This means that their matches to me on common chromosomes are simply because one is matching me on Mom’s side and one on Dad’s. Their match to each other on chromosome 19 would need to be investigated separately. As it turns out, I did notice a surname in common in both of their trees, a line that is not shared with me.

Sharing genomes 6

From the above screen, you can’t see segment start and stop numbers, but utilizing the utility, below, you can download your matches segments to each other by entering your name in the profile (exactly including capital letters) and the person you want to see in the FIA match field. This means you will see all of the matches of your matches to each other. You will NOT see matches for this person outside of those they match in common with you and only for those who are sharing their genomes. You will NOT see anyone who is not sharing genomes.

sharing genomes 7

My cousin’s downloaded match file looks like this, minus the green shading, and plus full names, which I’ve redacted.

Sharing genomes 8

This is extremely useful because it allows me to see exactly where on the segments that my matches match each other. These are shaded green. This allows me to compare exactly where they match each other, and me. If they match each other, and me, on the same segment, that indicates that we share a common ancestor at that location. So, in this case, my cousin, whose FIA record this is, matches me, William and Diana on a common segment of chromosome 4. She matches me, Sean and Sheila on 5. They don’t have to match exactly, just on some overlapping piece.

Note that this tells us that the segments that I colored green are true matches, as my cousin matches both me and these other individuals at these locations, indicating we share a common ancestor. In some cases, based on genealogy or knowing the person in question, I can tell you exactly from looking at the common matches which lines the people who match come from. This is the goal and the power of chromosome mapping.

My Results, Ancestry Overview, Ancestry Tools

Global Similarity Map

You can see the Global Similarity Map of the people you are sharing genomes with.

sharing genomes 9

My Results, Ancestry Overview, Ancestry Tools

Neanderthal Ancestry

Your matches can, gasp, see your percentage of Neanderthal ancestry.

Sharing genomes 10

Maternal Line, Paternal Line and DNA Relatives Page

People with whom you share can see your haplogroup on both the maternal and paternal line, page (under the My Results, Ancestry Overview tab,) and they can also see it on the DNA Relatives main match page (under the Family and Friends tab.) Mine is shown below, but if I were a male, it would also include the Y haplogroup. One useful feature on the Maternal and Paternal pages is that you can see your matches sorted by haplogroup which in some cases, especially with a rare haplogroup, maybe a clue as to how you are related, either matrilineally or patrilineally.

Sharing genomes 11

Family and Friends, Family Traits

You can see if you match someone by selecting between traits, such as bitter taste, circadian rhythm, endurance, etc. to see if you share any of the genes for a specific trait such as bitter tasting ability, circadian rhythm, endurance, female fertility, immune system compatibility, non-bitter tasting, pigmentation and weight/body mass index or any set of genes you enter specifically by number.

This shows me compared to my sister’s granddaughter for weight/BMI.

Sharing genomes 12

23andMe Discusses Genome Sharing

What does 23andMe have to say about genome sharing? Here are links

How does genome sharing work?

Learn more and what should I know?

Family and Friends, Manage Sharing

You can see who you are sharing with. I never share health reports, although I would consider it if someone had a good reason for asking.

Sharing genomes 14

You can manage your sharing by clicking on the green “share your genome” button in the upper right hand corner or by simply accepting a share request.

In Summary

I hope this quick spin-through of “sharing genomes” at 23andMe has been helpful. There is nothing frightening about sharing your genome at 23andMe and if you want to be able to make a sound genealogical connection, it’s necessary. You’re not sharing your entire genome, or your raw data, only selected parts where you match people with whom you are related.

The most frightening part of genetic genealogy is if you discover that you’re related to someone you wish you weren’t, or you’re not related to someone you thought you were. But if you’re playing in the genealogy field, especially the genetic genealogy field, that is a constant consideration and one we’re all aware of.

Happy Ancestor Hunting through genome sharing.

Elizabeth Bowling and the Catholic Martyr – 52 Ancestors #13

It’s just 13 generations between me and a Catholic martyr.

My ancestor, Elizabeth Bowling, was married to immigrant Thomas Speak(e), sometime before November of 1663, probably in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. In the fall of 2013, the Speak Family Association undertook a trip back to the homeland of both Speak and Bowling families, both from Lancashire, England, about 30 miles distant from each other. In preparation for the trip, I compiled information about the Bowling family from various sources. Aside from the DNA portion, little of this is my original research. I am grateful to all of the original contributors for their diligence and hard work, much of it done in the churches in England.

According to cousin Harold Speake, now deceased, Thomas Speak(e), who may have been an indentured servant, arrived from England sometime before 1662. We know that in 1662, he was arrested for debt, so he had been here long enough to acquire that debt.

We know that Maryland was organized as a haven for Catholics, persecuted in England, and the Speake family was indeed Catholic. They were in England, their family records being found in the original Catholic, now Protestant, church in Gisburn, and they were in the colonies as well. Bowling Speake, born in 1674, the son of Thomas Speake and Elizabeth Bowling was prosecuted and proudly pled guilty in June of 1752 for publicly drinking to the health of the “Pretender,” the Catholic and deposed King James. In other words, Bowling was Catholic and proudly and publicly so, regardless of the consequences.

The Bowling family was also Catholic in England as well as in Maryland. They lived near and in the village of Chorley and the area of Charnock Richard, some 30 miles from Gisburn, in Lancashire. The Bowling family members found themselves on the list of recusants, in other words, devout, religious warriors or stubborn, unrepentant Catholics, depending on your perspective.

On the map below, A is Chorley and B is Gisburn, both in Lancashire.

Chorley Gisburn map

No record of the marriage of Elizabeth Bowling and Thomas Speake has been found in the UK churches, so it’s presumed that they married after both families settled in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. They probably both lived at or near Boarman’s Manor, given that Elizabeth’s brother James is recorded as living there. There was only one Catholic church in that area at that time, and both families likely attended. We were told during our visit in 2011 that the early church services were held in people’s homes. If your religion was enough to lose your land and your life for, holding and attending services was something that would have been a very important part of everyday life. And of course, they would have sought other Catholics to marry.

In his article, “The Bowlings of Boarman’s Manor,” Jeffrey Wills, Bowling family historian, tells us that the records of early Maryland give evidence of the Bowling family starting with James Bowling (1636-1693) who arrived in the province sometime before 1658.  The Bowlings became associated with other Catholics who eventually settled on Boarman’s Manor in what is now Charles County, Maryland. James had no children from his two marriages, but his will makes clear that there were descendants from his siblings, John (died 1684), Thomas (died 1700) and Elizabeth who married Thomas Speake.

Jeffrey states that the family in Maryland was Catholic and possibly shoemakers by trade. Court records exist that establish relationships with a couple of people, neither of whom have been identified, but the most important clue to the Bowling origin comes from a 1734 deposition, where it is stated that John Bowling, brother to James, “came from Lancashire and left a brother there by the name of Roger Bowling” (Charles Co. Court Rec. R2, 528).  Now we have the names of three brothers: John, James and Roger Bowling.

The Bowlings In Lancashire

In Lancashire, practically the only family of the Bowling name is one centered in Charnock Richard in the parish of Standish.  T. C. Porteus, in his 1927 history of the parish, describes the township of Charnock Richard as “a nursery of recusants,” meaning a hotbed of Catholic nonconformity to the new Elizabethan church.  Among the recusants listed there in 1628 are a John Bowling and wife.  The township of Chorley is adjacent and there is a village of Chesham is about 15 miles southeast, shown on the Lancashire map below, both names that the Bowling family of Maryland used for their land holdings.

Charnock Richard old map

One problem with the Bowling family, and most English families of this timeframe, is that they reused every first name in every generation. That means if your father’s name was John, then one son would be named John, and one grandchild in every child’s family would be named John. If the original John had 10 living children, that means he had 1 son John and 10 grandsons John and in the next generation, using the same math, there would be 100 Johns in just the original John’s line. And every family had someone named John. If you were lucky, your ancestor was named something like Balthasar, not John. But in both the Speake and Bowling families, there were lots of Johns, James and Williams, etc.

Originally, the Bowling family that James and Elizabeth belonged to were identified as the children of Roger Bowling of Charnock Richard, a shoemaker who wrote a will 17 Sept. 1673, proved on 10 Nov. 1673.  He refers to his children: John Bowling, Thomas Bowling, James Bowling, Ann Bowling, Jenet Bowling, eldest daughter Elizabeth (wife of John Catliffe). He also mentioned a grandson Roger Bowling, son of John.

However, the information about Elizabeth Bowling being married to John Catliffe, given that “our” Elizabeth married Thomas Speake, had to be reconciled. Some have suggested that John Speake, the innkeeper, might have been Thomas Speake’s child by a first, unknown, wife, with Elizabeth perhaps marrying Thomas as a widow in 1773, having Bowling in 1774. There is no evidence to support this speculation.

The Bowlings in England are not easy to unravel.

The baptisms of about fifty Bowlings are attested from the 1550 to 1650, and Roger is a name found in several generations, so locating the specific line is not straightforward. The fact that there is no baptismal record for the children mentioned in Roger’s will of 1673 suggests that there could be many more Bowlings than attested in the Anglican church records. Of course, Catholics attempted to prevent their children from being baptized in the Anglican church – and apparently often succeeded, much to the chagrin of genealogists today.

Jeffrey suggested that Elizabeth Bowling Speak’s line was as follows:

  • Elizabeth, daughter of
  • Roger “the shoemaker” Bowling, born 1619 who married Elizabeth, son of
  • Hugh Bowling, born 1591 who married Ellen Finch, son of
  • Raffe Bollling

Shirley Bowling Platt along with Jean Purdy, in England, have put together a summary of information as well. Shirley was kind enough to send me her detailed work, for which I am exceedingly grateful, and I have extracted from it below.

Jean and Shirley found additional information that proves that our Elizabeth Bowling was not the Elizabeth Bowling who married John Catliffe, so our Elizabeth was not Roger the shoemaker’s daughter.

Jean says, “Burt saw Roger’s original will which is now too fragile to see. He thought her husband’s name was Ratcliffe. I have never found any Catliffes, but Radcliffes or Ratcliffes abound. The family originated in Radcliffe Towers, the ruins of which are about 200 yards from where I live. The chapel there was used by Catholics throughout the penal years. Steuart Bowling drew my attention to a marriage in 1672 on IGI of a John Radcliffe to Elizabeth? at Saddleworth Yorkshire. The place is misleading as it is actually on the Lancashire side of the Pennines, just above Oldham and is now part of the Greater Manchester connurbation. I have been to the church and Elizabeth Bowling of Charnock Richard married John Radcliffe (son of Alexander) at Saddleworth church in 1671. Sadly she is also buried there in 1676 and John married again in 1680.”

Therefore, we confirm that our Elizabeth is not the daughter of Roger Bowling.

Shirley and Jean attribute our Elizabeth Bowling to Hugh Bowling and Ellen Fynch/Finch, so eliminating Roger the shoemaker and attributing Elizabeth to Hugh directly and not as a grandchild. A daughter Elizabeth was born to Hugh and Ellen in Charnock Richard in June of 1635 and died in March of 1637/38. A second daughter Elizabeth was born to this couple on 25 Oct 1641, also in Charnock Richard, Lancashire. She was christened on 25 Oct 1641 in Standish. This is believed to be our Elizabeth who died before 1692 in St. Mary’s County, MD.

The rest of the children’s names proven through James Bowling’s will are found in this family as well, at least the ones we know, so this certainly seems to be the right family.

Shirley and Jean’s proposed ancestry for Elizabeth, listing oldest generation first, was as follows:

  • Robert Bowling born 1520 in Chorley married Agnes, last name unknown, who died on April 26, 1566 in Chorley
  • Hugh Bowling born 1540 and died July 17, 1598, married Constance Bibbie on 12 May 1560 in St. Wilfred’s, Standish, Lancashire. Constance was born about 1540 and was buried on 18 Dec 1601 in St. Wilfrid’s Church, Standish. This is the oldest Bowling burial record.

Perhaps she is buried here in the area where some stones have been cleared.

Wilfrid's cemetery

Or maybe here, near the church entrance, nourishing the newly planted trees.

Wilfrid's cemetery 2

Her funeral would have been preached in this stunningly beautiful church. This nave has heard many Bowling funerals over the centuries.

Wilfrid's nave

This exquisite carved cross has overseen many joyful and sorrowful events in the Bowling family – many baptisms, weddings and funerals. All of life’s events took place under the vigilance of this cross – first as Catholic and then as Anglican.

Wilfrid's cross

Most of the Bowlings, including Constance and her husband, Hugh, up until the early 1700s, were on Papists lists and/or fined for recusancy. Hugh Bowling and Constance Bibby were convicted of recusancy, which probably led to them losing their lands in 1591.

A record from Steuart Bowling (apparently translated from Latin):

Hugh Bowling of Charnock Richard, husbandman (small farmer); Constance Bowling of Charnock Richard, Roger Bowling of Charnock Richard, and Elizabeth of Charnock Richard, Cecily Bowling of Preston and John Pilkington of Coppull, husbandman, land in Coppull.” Choppull is adjacent to both Chorley and Charnock Richard.

  • Raffe Bowling born 1563 in Chorley, Lancashire. He was christened on 4 Dec 1563 in Standish, Lancashire, probably in this same baptismal font, and died in 1600.

Wilfrid baptismal

Raffe (Ralph) Bowling was in Leeds, Yorkshire as late as April 16, 1590 (christening record of his son, Rauffe)–but was in Chorley as early as 6 Aug 1591 (christening of his son Hughe). Raffe married Margaret Marston in 1588 in St. Peter’s, Leeds, Yorkshire. There is a question if Margaret Marston was the second wife of Raffe…since some of children were born before this marriage in 1588.

Jean Purdy states that there is no proof whatsoever that our Hugh’s father Ralph (Raafe) was the one marrying in Leeds. She searched all the records of people given leave to reside in Charnock Richard. This was necessary under the Poor Laws—-there was a John Bowling in the late 1600s—but no Ralph or Rafe.

  • Hugh was born in 1591 in Charnock Richard, Lancashire. He was christened on 6 Aug 1591 in Chorley, most likely in the old bapistry, shown below, now retired, in St. Laurence in Chorley.

Chorley baptismal

Hugh died on 7 Sep. 1651 in Charnock Richard and was buried on 7 Sep 1651 in Parish Church, Standish, Lancashire. Perhaps his coffin was carried in through this gate in the church wall.

Wilfrid's gate

Both Hugh and his wife Ellen’s funerals were most likely preached in this church, before their coffin was carried outside to be buried in the church yard.

Wilfrid's windows

Hugh’s grave is now unmarked someplace in the cemetery below.

Wilfrid's cemetery 3

The cemetery surrounds the church, some areas having been cleared of stones for maintenance. Some graves reused. The oldest stones, of course, would have been located closest to the church and now are, sadly, long gone.

Wilfrid's cemetery 4

The cemetery extends right up to the church walls, shown below.

Wilfrid's cemetery 5

Wilfrid's wall

Burial space was and remains an issue for all of these old churches. In some cases, extra land was annexed for the “burying ground,” but that wasn’t always possible. They had to make do with what they had and they did, using every possible inch and then reusing older graves whose families were no longer there or whose markers were not legible. Of course, there are also burials inside the church, in the floor and in crypts. Those burial locations were reserved for the wealthy or the notorious. Our family fell in neither category.

Wilfrid from street

The death bed testament of Hugh Bowling gives his residence as “Bowleings Farm.” Later land records suggest this was at Four Lane Ends—where the lane in Charnock Richard crosses the road to Preston and Lancaster.  There was another farm “Bowlings in the Fields,” which Jean believes belonged to the other branch of the family (that of Roger the Shoemaker).  It was later acquired by Henry the Blacksmith’s Great Grandson, another Hugh Bowling, in the late 1700s. Jean was unable to pinpoint where that was—but the name suggests it was out of the village.  Charnock Richard is about half way between Standish and Chorley.

Charnock Richard map

Hugh married Ellen Fynch, daughter of Roger Fynch and Isabella or Elizabeth Brears on 9 Apr 1616 in St. Laurence Church, Chorley, Lancashire, probably entering through the front door shown below.

Chorley church

The Fynch Family

Ellyn Fynch was born in Jan 1597/1598 in Charnock Richard. She died on 13 Jun 1659 in Charnock Richard and was buried on 13 Jun 1659 in Standish Parish Churchyard, Lancashire, below.

Wilfrid's cemetery 6

It is believed that Roger Fynch (born 1573) is the son of John Finch (born circa 1548-84). He is believed to be the martyr, John Finch (Fynch), yeoman farmer of Eccleston, who was arrested at Christmas 1581, tried in Lancaster on April 18, 1584 on the charge of harboring Catholic Priests and subsequently found guilty and executed.

St. Mary’s the Virgin Church in Eccleston, below, dates to the 1300s, so it is likely the home church of John Fynch. The name of Eccleston itself came from the Celtic word “eglēs” meaning a church, and the Old English word “tūn” meaning a farmstead or settlement – i.e. a settlement by a Romano-British church. It’s quite ancient, having been mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1086.

St Mary Eccleston

John Fynch’s devotion to the Catholic religion in the face of adversity is very likely representative of the devotion felt by the entire Catholic conclave in Lancashire.

John Fynch was a yeoman of Eccleston, Lancashire, from a Catholic family, but brought up an Anglican. When he was twenty years old he went to London where he spent nearly a year with some cousins at Inner Temple. While there he was struck by the contrast between Protestantism and Catholicism in practice, and determined to lead a Catholic life.

Failing to find advancement in London he returned to Lancashire where he was reconciled to the Catholic Church. He then married and settled down, his house becoming a center of missionary work, he himself harboring priests and aiding them in every way, besides acting as catechist. He drew on himself the hostility of the authorities, and at Christmas, 1581, he was entrapped into bringing a priest, George Ostliffe, to a place where both were apprehended. It was given out that Finch, having betrayed the priest and other Catholics, had taken refuge with the Earl of Derby, but in fact, he was kept in the earl’s house as a prisoner. For three years he was held prisoner in various locations and prisons, alternatively tortured and bribed to obtain information on other Catholics.

He was eventually removed to the Fleet Prison, Manchester, and afterwards to the House of Correction. When he refused to go to the Protestant church he was dragged there by the feet. Following that, he was returned to Lancashire where on April 19, 1584, he was tried with three priests, convicted and executed with Priest James Bell, on April 20, 1584 at Lancaster for secreting a Catholic priest for Christmas services and denying that the Queen was head of the Church.

St Mary John Finch Window cropped

John Fynch was Beatified in 1929 as one of the Lancashire Martyrs. Beatification in the Catholic Church is to be one of the blessed and thus worthy of public religious veneration in a particular region or religious congregation. The Catholic Church canonizes or beatifies only those whose lives have been marked by the exercise of heroic virtue, and only after this has been proved by common repute for sanctity and by conclusive arguments.

One of the church windows in St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Chorley honors John Fynch of Eccleston who is pictured with a haystack, because they say, on the church website, that he was of “farming stock.” They also mention that John Finch’s relatives still live in the Mawdesley area.  The map below shows that these locations are in relatively close proximity, 3 or 4 miles, to each other and also to Charnock Richard.

Eccleston Mawdesley map

It seems that Bowling Speake came by his proud, defiant recussancy honestly. John Fynch, his great-great-great-great-grandfather, would have been proud of him, some 171 years after John’s own act of defiance and 168 years after his barbaric death, being drawn and quartered. I’m sure that Bowling knew that his great-great grandfather was a Catholic martyr. That isn’t a story that is lost in a Catholic family. I’m sure it was both a source of great pride and great sorrow.

I have to wonder where John Finch/Fynch was buried, if the family was allowed to gather what remains of him they could find and if they were allowed to bury anything. He surely would not have been buried in the churchyard which was Anglican at that time. So where was he buried, and the priest also killed with him?

In the book, “The Antiquities of Canterbury In two Parts” by Nicolas Battely it states that John Finch, William Selling and Thomas Goldston were “buried in the Martyrdom.” This is in the History of Christ-Church in Canterbury section, page 35. Elsewhere in the book, it says “John Finch – of this prior’s acts or what he did living, I have seen no monument, but that of him dead, you may find in the Martyrdom, where he lies interred under this broken Epitaph, which is in the Appendix Numb LV.” Other places in the book refer to the Martyrdom as an actual location and in one place it is called “The Altar of the Martyrdom of St. Thomas” in the cathedral.

To say I was excited by this was an understatement. It was about 3 AM – I was hyperventilating. Was it even possible that I had stumbled upon the final resting place of our John Finch? And if so, why didn’t they tell us this when we visited St. Mary’s church in Chorley? They had other information about the family- why not this? Something seemed wrong.

I found the book online, scanned by Google, but as luck would have it, the ONE page I needed, page 62 in the final appendix, had been missed during the scanning. I had to give up and go to bed, but not before sending a message to a cousin asking him to see if he could find the elusive page 62.

I had even found a picture of the altar near where John Finch is buried in Canterbury. The next day, cousin Jerry found page 62, I typed the Latin of John Finch’s epitaph into a Latin translator, and here’s the English equivalent, more or less:

“Here lies John Fynch of Winchelsey once prior to this ecclefise who takes on 9 January eificia conftrueta closing many other goods whose soul.”

I wondered where Winchelsey was, and set about to find out. I discovered that it is no place close to Lancashire, on the Southeast coast of England, and the John Fynch from Winchelsey was a politician that lived in the 1600s. Crumb. Crumb. Crumb. Not our John at all. Our John Fynch/Finch is still MIA. I hate wild goose chases and I felt terrible about involving my cousin in this one – getting everyone’s hopes up. But I’m very glad we persevered for page 62!

Elizabeth Bowling in America

Jean Purdy feels that Elizabeth Bowling accompanied her brothers, James, Thomas and John from England to Maryland, departing for America with her brothers Thomas and John after their mother died in 1659. James Bowling was already in Maryland by that time.

What we do know is that Elizabeth Bowling Speake was subpoenaed to court on November 3, 1663 to testify. She had son John Speak, the Innkeeper, whose birth was determined from 2 depositions given by John as an adult to have occurred in 1665. This implies her marriage about 1663, and possibly somewhat earlier, to Thomas Speake. She had son Bowling in 1674 according to numerous depositions given by Bowling throughout his lifetime. It’s rather unusual that they didn’t have any more children. Perhaps they had children that did not live to adulthood.

Thomas died in August of 1681, still a relatively young man of 48, his will leaving everything to his eldest son, John. He appoints his brother-in-law, James Bowling, his executor and wills “that my Loving brother in Law James Bowling hath the Disposall of my children to be brought up in the Roman Catholick faith.” Elizabeth was apparently gone too, less than age 50, by the time her brother James made his will in 1692. James was childless and left his estate to his siblings and the children of his siblings, including John and Bowling Speake.

It must have been difficult on John and Bowling Speak to lose their father in 1681, their mother sometime in the next decade, before 1692, and their uncle in 1692 who was or probably had been raising them. John would have been about 27 in 1692 and Bowling about 18. That’s a lot of loss and a rough beginning for 2 young men.

Beginning with John Finch, the Martyr, to me, we find the following:

  • John Finch of Eccleston, the Martyr was born 1748, died April 20, 1584
  • Roger Fynch born 1573-1642, Eccleston married Isabella or Elizabeth Brears (1569-1631) in Charnock circa 1595.
  • Hugh Bowling was born in 1591 in Charnock Richard, Lancashire. He was christened on 6 Aug 1591 in Chorley. Hugh died on 7 Sep 1651 in Charnock Richard and was buried on 7 Sep 1651 in Parish Church, Standish, Lancashire. Hugh married Ellen Fynch, daughter of Roger Fynch and Isabella or Elizabeth Brears on 9 Apr 1616 in St. Laurence Church, Chorley, Lancashire.
  • Thomas Speake (c 1634-1681) married Elizabeth Bowling (1642 – before 1692)
  • Bowling Speake (1674-1755) married Mary Benson
  • Thomas Speake (1698-1755) married Jane, last name unknown
  • Charles Beckworth (or Beckwith) Speake (1741-1794) married Anne, last name unknown (1744-1789)
  • Nicholas Speak (1782-1852) married Sarah Faires (1786-1852)
  • Charles Speak (1804-1840/1850) married Ann McKee (1801/1805-1840/1850)
  • Elizabeth Speak (1832-1903) married Samuel Claxton (Clarkson) (1827-1876)
  • Margaret Claxton (1851-1920) married Joseph Bolton (1853-1920)
  • Ollie Florence Bolton (1874-1955) married and divorced William George Estes (1873-1971)
  • William Sterling Estes (my Dad) (1903-1963)

So there you go, just 13 generations between me and a Catholic martyr. Well, possibly, assuming all of that is correct.

What can we do, if anything, to solidify this connection? Can DNA help?

Can DNA Help?

How would we go about determining if there is a Finch connection in our Speak line? Actually, it’s in the Bowling line that feeds into the Speak line with the marriage of Elizabeth Bowling to Thomas Speake in Maryland in the 1660s. What this means is that if there is a Finch connection, every descendant of both the Bowling family in American through the Maryland group, and the Speaks family in America though Thomas and Elizabeth are descendants of the Finch family.

The first thing to do is to be sure that every Speak(e)(s) descendant who has taken an autosomal test is in the Speak project so that I, as the administrator, can see if they match any individuals with the ancestral or current surname of Finch.

Currently, we have 18 individuals in the Speak project who meet the criteria and have already taken the autosomal DNA test. When I began this comparison a few weeks ago, we had 12 Speak individuals, but I checked the matches of all 12 individuals and found another dozen or so autosomal matches to people with Speak lineage. I invited those people to join the Speak DNA project, even though they are not descended from the direct paternal line. In order to keep this straight, I have an autosomal grouping category in both the Y and mtDNA portions of the project since I’m actually using it for autosomal matching as well.

Next, I searched for Finch and Fynch matches for each of the project participants. It’s surprising how many I found. Among 12 participants, there were 42 Finch matches. Of those, four ancestral groups were repeated more than once. Looking at these groups, it’s possible that they could share a common ancestor between them. That is encouraging.

I checked the Finch DNA project to see if I can tell anything about the Finch groups I found with repeated autosomal matches to Speak descendants.

  • John Finch born 1625 England – his son Guy Finch b Aug 18 1655 in Berkeley Gloucestershire, England d 1688 Calvert Co., MD, married Rebecca, daughter Mary Finch married Charles Beaven.
  • Also in Calvert Co., MD, Elizabeth Finch born 1687 Woodbridge, Calvert Co., MD died in 1729 Charles Co MD married William Elder.
  • Margaret Finch b c 1590 in Stanley, Gloucestershire, England married John Flood and died in Charles City, VA (also shown as Surry Co., VA)
  • Stamford CT Finch group
  • One lone person who says “Finch- Lancashire,” but doesn’t answer the e-mails

The Calvert County, MD group could well be Catholic as well.

The Finch DNA project and site tells us that the CT group is from Yorkshire. Unfortunately, the Calvert County group seems to be unrepresented in Y DNA testing. There are also no families from Charles City, VA or Surry Co., VA.

Even more encouraging is that one individual listed their Finch ancestor as being from Lancashire. Unfortunately, I e-mailed them and they have not yet replied.

Shortly, I’ll check the list of Speak participants for Bowling matches as well to see who we match in that line that I could invite to join the project to see if the Bowlings are descended from the Finch family utilizing the same methodology.

From this point forward, we need to do the Finch genealogy work on one hand, relative to the matches, and on the other, we need to work on triangulation to see if we can attribute a DNA match to two people who share the same common ancestral line. That would confirm, along with a match to us, that we do share that common ancestor with them.

However, our common Finch ancestor is many, many generations removed. Little of John Finch’s DNA may be remnant in his descendants – but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to find it. You can’t fail if you don’t try, but you also can’t succeed!

This job will take a little bit of genealogy sleuthing, some genetic analysis, a dash of synchronicity and a huge dose of good luck.

Wish me luck!! I’ll get back with you on this one. I’m busy hunting for my magic DNA wand right now. A little bit of magic dust wouldn’t hurt either!





Haplogroup Comparisons Between Family Tree DNA and 23andMe

Recently, I’ve received a number of questions about comparing people and haplogroups between 23andMe and Family Tree DNA.  I can tell by the questions that a significant amount of confusion exists about the two, so I’d like to talk about both.  In you need a review of “What is a Haplogroup?”, click here.

Haplogroup information and comparisons between Family Tree DNA information and that at 23andMe is not apples and apples.  In essence, the haplogroups are not calculated in the same way, and the data at Family Tree DNA is much more extensive.  Understanding the differences is key to comparing and understanding results. Unfortunately, I think a lot of misinterpretation is happening due to misunderstanding of the essential elements of what each company offers, and what it means.

There are two basic kinds of tests to establish haplogroups, and a third way to estimate.

Let’s talk about mitochondrial DNA first.

Mitochondrial DNA

You have a very large jar of jellybeans.  This jar is your mitochondrial DNA.


In your jar, there are 16,569 mitochondrial DNA locations, or jellybeans, more or less.  Sometimes the jelly bean counter slips up and adds an extra jellybean when filling the jar, called an insertion, and sometimes they omit one, called a deletion.

Your jellybeans come in 4 colors/flavors, coincidentally, the same colors as the 4 DNA nucleotides that make up our double helix segments.  T for tangerine, A for apricot, C for chocolate and G for grape.

Each of the 16,569 jellybeans has its own location in the jar.  So, in the position of address 1, an apricot jellybean is always found there.  If the jellybean jar filler makes a mistake, and puts a grape jellybean there instead, that is called a mutation.  Mistakes do happen – and so do mutations.  In fact, we count on them.  Without mutations, genetic genealogy would be impossible because we would all be exactly the same.

When you purchase a mitochondrial DNA test from Family Tree DNA, you have in the past been able to purchase one of three mitochondrial testing levels.  Today, on the website, I see only the full sequence test for $199, which is a great value.

However, regardless of whether you purchase the full mitochondrial sequence test today, which tests all of your 16,569 locations, or the earlier HVR1 or HVR1+HVR2 tests, which tested a subset of about 10% of those locations called the HyperVariable Region, Family Tree DNA looks at each individual location and sees what kind of a jellybean is lodged there.  In position 1, if they find the normal apricot jellybean, they move on to position 2.  If they find any other kind of jellybean in position 1, other than apricot, which is supposed to be there, they record it as a mutation and record whether the mutation is a T,C or G.  So, Family Tree DNA reads every one of your mitochondrial DNA addresses individually.

Because they do read them individually, they can also discover insertions, where extra DNA is inserted, deletions, where some DNA dropped out of line, and an unusual conditions called a heteroplasmy which is a mutation in process where you carry some of two kinds of jellybean in that location – kind of a half and half 2 flavor jellybean.  We’ll talk about heteroplasmic mutations another time.

So, at Family Tree DNA, the results you see are actually what you carry at each of your individual 16,569 mitochondrial addresses.  Your results, an example shown below, are the mutations that were found.  “Normal” is not shown.  The letter following the location number, 16069T, for example, is the mutation found in that location.  In this case, normal is C.  In the RSRS model of showing mitochondrial DNA mutations, this location/mutation combination would be written as C16069T so that you can immediately see what is normal and then the mutated state.  You can click on the images to enlarge.

ftdna mito results

Family Tree DNA gives you the option to see your results either in the traditional CRS (Cambridge Reference Sequence) model, above, or the more current Reconstructed Sapiens Reference Sequence (RSRS) model.  I am showing the CRS version because that is the version utilized by 23andMe and I want to compare apples and apples.  You can read about the difference between the two versions here.

Defining Haplogroups

Haplogroups are defined by specific mutations at certain addresses.

For example, the following mutations, cumulatively, define haplogroup J1c2f.  Each branch is defined by its own mutation(s).

Haplogroup Required Mutations  
J C295T, T489C, A10398G!,   A12612G, G13708A, C16069T
J1 C462T, G3010A
J1c G185A, G228A,   T14798C
J1c2 A188G
J1c2f G9055A

You can see, below, that these results, shown above, do carry these mutations, which is how this individual was assigned to haplogroup J1c2f. You can read about how haplogroups are defined here.

ftdna J1c2f mutations

At 23andMe, they use chip based technology that scans only specifically programmed locations for specific values.  So, they would look at only the locations that would be haplogroup producing, and only those locations.  Better yet if there is one location that is utilized in haplogroup J1c2f that is predictive of ONLY J1c2f, they would select and use that location.

This same individual at 23andMe is classified as haplogroup J1c2, not J1c2f.  This could be a function of two things.  First, the probes might not cover that final location, 9055, and second, 23andMe may not be utilizing the same version of the mitochondrial haplotree as Family Tree DNA.

By clicking on the 23andMe option for “Ancestry Tools,” then “Haplogroup Tree Mutation Mapper,” you can see which mutations were tested with the probes to determine a haplogroup assignment.  23andMe information for this haplogroup is shown below.  This is not personal information, meaning it is not specific to you, except that you know you have mutations at these locations based on the fact that they have assigned you to the specific haplogroup defined by these mutations.  What 23andMe is showing in their chart is the ancestral value, which is the value you DON’T have.  So your jelly bean is not chocolate at location 295, it’s tangerine, apricot or grape.

Notice that 23andMe does not test for J1c2f.  In addition, 23andMe cannot pick up on insertions, deletions or heteroplasmies.  Normally, since they aren’t reading each one of your locations and providing you with that report, missing insertions and deletions doesn’t affect anything, BUT, if a deletion or insertion is haplogroup defining, they will miss this call.  Haplogroup K comes to mind.

J defining mutations

J1 defining mutations

J1c defining mutations

23andMe never looks at any locations in the jelly bean jar other than the ones to assign a haplogroup, in this case,17 locations.  Family Tree DNA reads every jelly bean in the jelly bean jar, all 16,569.  Different technology, different results.  You also receive your haplogroup at 23andMe as part of a $99 package, but of course the individual reading of your mitochondrial DNA at Family Tree DNA is more accurate.  Which is best for you depends on your personal testing goals, so long as you accurately understand the differences and therefore how to interpret results.  A haplogroup match does not mean you’re a genealogy match.  More than one person has told me that they are haplogroup J1c, for example, at Family Tree DNA and they match someone at 23andMe on the same haplogroup, so they KNOW they have a common ancestor in the past few generations.  That’s an incorrect interpretation.  Let’s take a look at why.

Matches Between the Two

23andMe provides the tester with a list of the people who match them at the haplogroup level.  Most people don’t actually find this information, because it is buried on the “My Results,” then “Maternal Line” page, then scrolling down until your haplogroup is displayed on the right hand side with a box around it.

Those who do find this are confused because they interpret this to mean they are a match, as in a genealogical match, like at Family Tree DNA, or like when you match someone at either company autosomally.  This is NOT the case.

For example, other than known family members, this individual matches two other people classified as haplogroup J1c2.  How close of a match is this really?  How long ago do they share a common ancestor?

Taking a look at Doron Behar’s paper, “A “Copernican” Reassessment of the Human Mitochondrial DNA Tree from its Root,” in the supplemental material we find that haplogroup J1c2 was born about 9762 years ago with a variance of plus or minus about 2010 years, so sometime between 7,752 and 11,772 years ago.  This means that these people are related sometime in the past, roughly, 10,000 years – maybe as little as 7000 years ago.  This is absolutely NOT the same as matching your individual 16,569 markers at Family Tree DNA.  Haplogroup matching only means you share a common ancestor many thousands of years ago.

For people who match each other on their individual mitochondrial DNA location markers, their haplotype, Family Tree DNA provides the following information in their FAQ:

    • Matching on HVR1 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last fifty-two generations. That is about 1,300 years.
    • Matching on HVR1 and HVR2 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last twenty-eight generations. That is about 700 years.
    • Matching exactly on the Mitochondrial DNA Full Sequence test brings your matches into more recent times. It means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last 5 generations. That is about 125 years.

I actually think these numbers are a bit generous, especially on the full sequence.  We all know that obtaining mitochondrial DNA matches that we can trace are more difficult than with the Y chromosome matches.  Of course, the surname changing in mitochondrial lines every generation doesn’t help one bit and often causes us to “lose” maternal lines before we “lose” paternal lines.

Autosomal and Haplogroups, Together

As long as we’re mythbusting here – I want to make one other point.  I have heard people say, more than once, that an autosomal match isn’t valid “because the haplogroups don’t match.”  Of course, this tells me immediately that someone doesn’t understand either autosomal matching, which covers all of your ancestral lines, or haplogroups, which cover ONLY either your matrilineal, meaning mitochondrial, or patrilineal, meaning Y DNA, line.  Now, if you match autosomally AND share a common haplogroup as well, at 23andMe, that might be a hint of where to look for a common ancestor.  But it’s only a hint.

At Family Tree DNA, it’s more than a hint.  You can tell for sure by selecting the “Advanced Matching” option under Y-DNA, mtDNA or Family Finder and selecting the options for both Family Finder (autosomal) and the other type of DNA you are inquiring about.  The results of this query tell you if your markers for both of these tests (or whatever tests are selected) match with any individuals on your match list.

Advanced match options

Hint – for mitochondrial DNA, I never select “full sequence” or “all mtDNA” because I don’t want to miss someone who has only tested at the HVR1 level and also matches me autosomally.  I tend to try several combinations to make sure I cover every possibility, especially given that you may match someone at the full sequence level, which allows for mutations, that you don’t match at the HVR1 level.  Same situation for Y DNA as well.  Also note that you need to answer “yes” to “Show only people I match on all selected tests.”

Y-DNA at 23andMe

Y-DNA works pretty much the same at 23andMe as mitochondrial meaning they probe certain haplogroup-defining locations.  They do utilize a different Y tree than Family Tree DNA, so the haplogroup names may be somewhat different, but will still be in the same base haplogroup.  Like mitochondrial DNA, by utilizing the haplogroup mapper, you can see which probes are utilized to determine the haplogroup.  The normal SNP name is given directly after the rs number.  The rs number is the address of the DNA on the chromosome.  Y mutations are a bit different than the display for mitochondrial DNA.  While mitochondrial DNA at 23andMe shows you only the normal value, for Y DNA, they show you both the normal, or ancestral, value and the derived, or current, value as well.  So at SNP P44, grape is normal and you have apricot if you’ve been assigned to haplogroup C3.

C3 defining mutations

As we are all aware, many new haplogroups have been defined in the past several months, and continue to be discovered via the results of the Big Y and Full Y test results which are being returned on a daily basis.  Because 23andMe does not have the ability to change their probes without burning an entirely new chip, updates will not happen often.  In fact, their new V4 chip just introduced in December actually reduced the number of probes from 967,000 to 602,000, although CeCe Moore reported that the number of mtDNA and Y probes increased.

By way of comparison, the ISOGG tree is shown below.  Very recently C3 was renamed to C2, which isn’t really the point here.  You can see just how many haplogroups really exist below C3/C2 defined by SNP M217.  And if you think this is a lot, you should see haplogroup R – it goes on for days and days!

ISOGG C3-C2 cropped

How long ago do you share a common ancestor with that other person at 23andMe who is also assigned to haplogroup C3?  Well, we don’t have a handy dandy reference chart for Y DNA like we do for mitochondrial – partly because it’s a constantly moving target, but haplogroup C3 is about 12,000 years old, plus or minus about 5,000 years, and is found on both sides of the Bering Strait.  It is found in indigenous Native American populations along with Siberians and in some frequency, throughout all of Asia and in low frequencies, into Europe.

How do you find out more about your haplogroup, or if you really do match that other person who is C3?  Test at Family Tree DNA.  23andMe is not in the business of testing individual markers.  Their business focus is autosomal DNA and it’s various applications, medical and genealogical, and that’s it.

Y-DNA at Family Tree DNA

At Family Tree DNA, you can test STR markers at 12, 25, 37, 67 and 111 marker levels.  Most people, today, begin with either 37 or 67 markers.

Of course, you receive your results in several ways at Family Tree DNA, Haplogroup Origins, Ancestral Origins, Matches Maps and Migration Maps, but what most people are most interested in are the individual matches to other people.  These STR markers are great for genealogical matching.  You can read about the difference between STR and SNP markers here.

When you take the Y test, Family Tree DNA also provides you with an estimated haplogroup.  That estimate has proven to be very accurate over the years.  They only estimate your haplogroup if you have a proven match to someone who has been SNP tested. Of course it’s not a deep haplogroup – in haplogroup R1b it will be something like R1b1a2.  So, while it’s not deep, it’s free and it’s accurate.  If they can’t predict your haplogroup using that criteria, they will test you for free.  It’s called their SNP assurance program and it has been in place for many years.  This is normally only necessary for unusual DNA, but, as a project administrator, I still see backbone tests being performed from time to time.

If you want to purchase SNP tests, in various formats, you can confirm your haplogroup and order deeper testing.

You can order individual SNP markers for about $39 each and do selective testing.  On the screen below you can see the SNPs available to purchase for haplogroup C3 a la carte.


You can order the Geno 2.0 test for $199 and obtain a large number of SNPs tested, over 12,000, for the all-inclusive price.  New SNPs discovered since the release of their chip in July of 2012 won’t be included either, but you can then order those a la carte if you wish.

Or you can go all out and order the new Big Y for $695 where all of your Y jellybeans, all 13.5 million of them in your Y DNA jar are individually looked at and evaluated.  People who choose this new test are compared against a data base of more than 36,000 known SNPs and each person receives a list of “novel variants” which means individual SNPs never before discovered and not documented in the SNP data base of 36,000.

Don’t know which path to take?  I would suggest that you talk to the haplogroup project administrator for the haplogroup you fall into.  Need to know how to determine which project to join, and how to join? Click here.  Haplogroup project administrators are generally very knowledgeable and helpful.  Many of them are spearheading research into their haplogroup of interest and their knowledge of that haplogroup exceeds that of anyone else.  Of course you can also contact Family Tree DNA and ask for assistance, you can purchase a Quick Consult from me, and you can read this article about comparing your options.