Quick Tip – Add Most Distant Ancestor and Location

This Quick Tip will help you get the most out of your Y and mitochondrial DNA results at Family Tree DNA in 9 easy steps.  It’s not difficult, so let’s take a look at how this will help you and walk through the steps together.

Finding Your Common Ancestor

As genealogists, our goal is to find our common ancestor with our matches and this is done through matching our DNA and looking at the relevant branches of our and our matches’ trees.

At Family Tree DNA, one of the things each of us can do to help our matches identify our most distant direct matrilineal (mtDNA) and Y DNA matches is to complete the Earliest Known Ancestor fields in our Personal Information.

If you’re wondering how this benefits YOU, just look at the information you see about your matches. How much information you see is entirely dependent on your match completing their Most Distant Ancestor and that ancestor’s location information.

Note that you can click on any of the graphics to enlarge.

In the above example, the matches (names obscured for privacy) happen to be my mitochondrial DNA full sequence matches. Regardless of which matches you’re looking at, all Y and mtDNA matches show the Earliest Known Ancestor – which is absolutely critical information for you to discern whether you can identify a common ancestor, and whether or not the location of that ancestor is someplace near the location of your own earliest known ancestor.

The second screen where Earliest Known Ancestor information appears is the Matches Map, below, which shows you the location of the Earliest Known Ancestor of each of your matches.

My Matches Map for full sequence mitochondrial results is shown above, with my ancestor shown with the white pin. Ancestors and their locations are critically important for determining the relevance of matches.

The more everyone shares, the better for everyone who matches!

Who is My Earliest Known Ancestor?

It’s easy to get confused, because this field isn’t asking for your oldest known ancestor in that entire line, but your DIRECT LINE ancestor, specifically:

  • For mitochondrial DNA – your earliest known ancestor is your direct MATERNAL (matrilineal) ancestor – so, you, your mother, her mother, her mother, etc., until you run out of mothers. If your oldest ancestor in that line is the husband of one of the mothers, that doesn’t count – because you only inherit your mitochondrial DNA from the direct matrilineal females. The person listed in this field MUST BE A FEMALE. If you see one of your matches listing a male, you know they are confused.

To clarify, in the above pedigree chart, you inherit your mitochondrial DNA from the red circle ancestors – so the oldest ancestor in that line is whose name is listed as the Earliest Known Ancestor.

  • For your paternal line, Y DNA for males, your Earliest Known Ancestor would be your surname ancestor on the direct paternal line – shown by blue squares, above.

How Do I Add or Update Ancestors?

Step 1 – On your dashboard, beneath your picture, click on the orange “Manage Personal Information” link.

Step 2 – You will then see the Account Setting toolbar below.

Click on the “Genealogy” tab.

Step 3 – Click on the “Earliest Known Ancestors” link, beneath the Genealogy tab.

Step 4 – Update your Earliest Known Ancestors information, then click on the orange “Save” button on the bottom to save your information.

Step 5 – To add or update the Ancestral Location, click on “Update Location” for the Direct Paternal or Direct Maternal side, shown above.. You will see the following map which displays the locations for your ancestors if you have entered that information.

For females, since you don’t have a Y chromosome, your paternal location, won’t show. Everyone’s mitochondrial DNA location will be displayed on the map.

Step 6 – Below the map, click on “Edit Location.”

A grey box will be displayed with your current information showing. To add information or change a location, click on “Update Maternal Location” or “Update Paternal Location.” The Maternal and Paternal steps are the same, so we’ll use the maternal line as an example.

Step 7 – Enter your direct matrilineal ancestor’s name, birth year and location. This is the information that will show in your match link to others. Be sure it’s your earliest known ancestor in your mother’s direct line; your mother, her mother, her mother, etc.

Then click on “next.”

Step 8 – The system will search for the location you entered, showing in the search location, below, or finding the closest location. The system automatically completes the longitude and latitude, so ignore those fields.

Click on Search. You will be given the option to change the verbiage of the location. This may be useful when the name of the town, region or country has changed from when your ancestor lived there versus the name today.

Step 9 – Your final information will be shown, so click on “Save and Exit.”

Done

Congratulations, you’re finished!  If you want to update your information, just follow the same process.

Now might be a good time to check your information to be sure it’s as detailed and complete as possible. After all, we all want information about our matches, so we need to give them our own!

You can click here to sign in.

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Thomas Durham (before 1649-1715), A Governor’s Son?, 52 Ancestors #161

Thomas Durham’s land ultimately fell into Richmond county, on the peninsula of land known as the Northern Neck of Virginia.

We know nothing about Thomas Durham’s early life, except it’s unlikely that he was born on the Northern Neck of Virginia. In 1652, in Northumberland County, part of which ultimately became Richmond County, all men had to sign an oath of loyalty, and there is no Durham name among the signers.

The Northern Neck area was still inhabited by Indians at that time, and the region was not easily settled, although people were pushing into the area and carving out farmsteads – much to the chagrin of the Indians whose land they were settling upon.

According to “A Tricentennial Portrait” by Robert Harper for the Richmond County, Tricentennial Commission:

In September 1661, the area that would become Richmond County had its own version of warfare when Indians killed 3 men in retaliation for the killing of an Indian man in the spring. The situation escalated and for the next 5 years, raids ensued.

In an unrelated, but threatening incident, the Dutch fleet appeared in the Rappahannock River in 1666. They engaged, and most of the men on the ship were killed. Then, on November 8th, 1666, the worst hurricane to hit Virginia in the 17th century arrived, destroying more than 10,000 buildings and hurling hail the size of eggs.

In case you don’t know, hail the size of marbles descends at about 20 miles an hour, but hail the size of baseballs descends at the rate of over 100 miles an hour. A 100 mile an hour baseball sized piece of hail kills people as well as livestock and wildlife.

A fort was erected at the head of Cat Point Creek to protect settlers within a 20 mile radius, which tells us there were few settlers. Fortunately, a treaty was reached with the Dutch before the fort came into use.

In 1675, war with Indians continues, with 2 settlers being killed in Richmond County by Indians from Maryland. A retaliatory force of 30 men crossed the Potomac River into Maryland and killed Indian King and 10 warriors.

On January 21, 1675/1676, a group of northern Indians went to war with the English and killed 36 people in Rappahannock County. Starting near Port Royal, the Indian warriors fanned out in a circle and destroyed everything English. Turning down the river valley, their objective was to kill 10 men for every Indian who had been killed.

Small groups of planters met for protection and begged Governor Berkeley to send them a commissioned leader. Berkley wrote that no leader could be sent until the next Assembly meeting and ordered the residents to build a new fort at the head of the Rappahannock River (Cat Tail Creek.)

Berkley’s idea was that the Indians would attack the fort in number and not harass the isolated farmers. In February of 1676/1677, the Governor sent an order that no more than 10 men could meet as a group due to fear of a general uprising against him. This act was the fuel that the Indians needed and a number of attacks were carried out on the small groups of settlers.

Richmond County wasn’t very safe and was likely not a location one would choose to settle with a family. A decade later, things had calmed, the remnants of the Indians were gone, and births of many English families were being recorded in the Farnham Parish Church register.

Thomas Durham’s Life

I’ve rebuilt Thomas’s life, as best I can, by extracting the records from the early Virginia counties, beginning with the formation of York County in 1633 and for the next hundred years in Northumberland, Lancaster, Old Rappahannock and Richmond as they were formed from the original York County. Richmond and Essex were both formed in 1692 when old Rappahannock was dissolved and divided into half, with Richmond County being on the north of the Rappahannock River and Essex on the South.

We don’t know where Thomas Durham came from, but we do know that the first record that includes Thomas is found in the Farnham Parish church register with the birth of his daughter, Mary, to Thomas and Dorothy Durham on June 5, 1686.

Additional births attributed to Thomas and Dorothy were for son, Thomas on June 17, 1690 and son John on November 23, 1698.

These records suggest that Thomas was already married to Dorothy who has been reported to be related to the Smoots by sometime in 1685, if not earlier. Dorothy’s history will be reviewed in a separate article.

Farnham Parish was split into two when Old Rappahannock County was split into Richmond and Essex County, with Richmond County becoming North Farnham Parish and Essex County becoming South Farnham Parish.

The North Farnham Parish register transcription, which includes the original Farnham Parish records, does still exist, but is fragmentary and known to be incomplete.

Who is Elizabeth Grady?

In a will written by Elizabeth Grady on March 10, 1693/94 and probated on Nov 4, 1702, Mary Smoot daughter of William Smoot is left all of Elizabeth Grady’s land. The executor of the estate is William Smoot, and the witnesses are Thomas Durham, Richard Draper and John Rankin.

Court Order Book Page 184 July 1, 1702 – Will of Elizabeth Grady proved by oaths of John Rankin and Thomas Durham.

This question of Elizabeth’s identity has further reaching implications than it appears, because the people involved are intertwined.

Thomas Durham’s son, Thomas Durham, marries this same Mary Smoot about 1710. Furthermore, based on a 1700 transaction, Dorothy, wife of Thomas Durham is related to William Smoot in some fashion.

Lastly, Thomas Durham and William Smoot appear to be neighbors and lifelong friends.

To answer the question more directly, I have no idea who Elizabeth Grady is, nor why she would be leaving land to Mary Smoot – but tracking Elizabeth Grady and figuring out who she is and how she was connected might well lead to unraveling other mysteries involving the Smooth and Durham families.

The 1700 Deed

August 2, 1700 – Deed of gift. William Smoot Sr. of N. Farnham Parish Richmond Co. for consideration received and for the great love that I have and beare unto Dorothy Durham wife of Thomas Durham of same county and her children do give unto her and her children a 62 acre parcel of land bounded by Thomas Durham, branch of Morattico Creek, land of the same William Smoot Sr., land of Rowland Lawson, line of Mr. Grimes and line of Clare. If in case the said Dorothy Durham die that then the land shall come to Thomas Durham eldest son of the said Dorothy and in case that he die without issue that then the land shall come to John Durham second son of the said Dorothy and in case that he die without issue that the land shall come to Mary Durham eldest dau of the said Dorothy Durham and in case she shall happen to die without issue that then the land shall come to the fourth, fifth, sixth and c children of the same Dorothy, but in case of want of issue that the land shall descend to Ann Fox wife of William Fox of Lancaster Co., gent. Wit John Simmons, Thomas Mackey, ack Aug 7, 1700 Book 3 page 57

Aug 2, 1700 – Power of attorney Jane Smoot wife of William Smoot Sr. having appointed Edward Jones my attorney to ack the above gift to Dorothy Durham and her children. Wit Thomas Mackey, Edmond Overton. Book 3 page 58

Court Order Book Page 56, August 7, 1700 – Ordered that the deed for land ack in this court by William Smoot Sr unto Dorothy Durham, wife of Thomas Durham, be recorded.

This deed is quite interesting and somewhat perplexing.  Just to keep the players straight, William Smoot is the father of Mary Smoot, to whom Mary Grady left her land.  Clearly there is a very close connection between William Smoot and Dorothy Durham.

First, this deed names Dorothy’s living children that are documented in the North Farnham Parish registers. The deed was written in August 1700 and John Durham was born on November 23, 1698.

This deed tells us that of Dorothy’s children, Mary is the eldest living daughter rand John and Thomas are the eldest living sons. Given John’s birth date, they have to be the only living sons. What we don’t know is whether or not the children referenced as 4th, 5th and 6th are living or are speculative in case they exist in the future.

It’s certainly unlikely that between 1686 and 1700 and Dorothy only had 3 children. Six or 7, assuming they all lived until weaned, would be more normal. If the children 4-6 noted in the will, were living, they were assuredly females.

Second, this deed tells us who the neighbors are, that Thomas Durham and William Smoot’s lands abut, and that they live on a branch of Morattico Creek.

Third, who are Ann and William Fox? William Fox’s wife appears to be Anne Chinn, daughter of John Chinn and Alice who is suspected of being a Gilbert and who is Dorothy Durham’s sister.

The following will from Lancaster County by Alice Stretchley indicates that Dorothy Durham is her sister and that Tomassin Marshall is as well.

Abstracts of Lancaster County, Virginia Wills 1653-1800 by Ida J. Lee:

Stretchley, Alice, wife of Jno. Stretchley of St. Mary’s White Chappell. 29 Aug. 1701. Rec. 8 Oct. 1701. Daus: Anne Fox the portion bequeathed her by Jno. Chinn, her father, and by Jno. Stretchley, her father-in-law; Catherine Heale. Sisters: Dorothy Durham and Tomassin Marshall. Son-in-law: Capt. Wm. Fox. Son: Rawleigh Chinn “all money in the hands of Mr. Jno. Pemberton, Mercht. of Liverpool.” Cousin: Mary Dodson. Error: Son, Rawleigh Chinn Wits: Jas. Taylor, Lewis Pugh, David Smith. W.B. 8, p. 106.

Alice Stretchley appears to be Ann Fox’s mother who would have been married first to John Chinn and then to John Stretchley. So Ann Fox would have been Dorothy Durham’s niece.

Fourth, why did William Smoot leave this land to Dorothy separately from her husband, meaning that Thomas Durham could not dispose of this land. This is outside the norms and customs of the day.

How was William Smoot related to both Dorothy and Ann Fox, daughter of Alice Quinn Stretchy?

Thomas Durham’s Great Age

Court Order Book Page 475, Sept 7, 1699 – Ordered that Thomas Durham for the future be exempted from payment of leveys by reason of his great age.

I checked the tithable language in the state of Virginia, and it clearly specifies who shall be taxed, and how, and allows for exemptions for people who were disabled and unable to support themselves, and for people who were aged. The state apparently allowed each county court to determine who was exempted. In other locations, I’ve seen men as young as 45, 55 and as old as 70 being exempted due to age, so I’m guessing that the age at exemption was more a combination of age plus ability to work than age alone.

I would think it would be very unlikely that Thomas Durham was less than 50 years old  with his age referred to as “great” so this would put his birth likely in 1649 or before.

Men in colonial American typically married about the age of 25, which would have been in about 1674 if he were born in 1649. However, we don’t find Mary’s birth until 1686. Was Thomas not married until 1685 or so, or did he have a first wife we don’t know about, or was Dorothy significantly younger than Thomas, or was Thomas younger than age 50 when he was exempted from paying taxes?

It’s also possible that Thomas Durham was an indentured servant and he was not able to marry until his indenture was complete.

Court and Deeds

The ebb and flow of life in colonial Virginia was marked by court sessions that were attended by nearly all men. Deeds were filed, orders made and drinking all around with camaraderie. Thomas Durham witnessed deeds and was found participating in the normal life of colonial planters.

Multiple records indicate a very close relationship with William Smoot(e.)

Court Order Book Page 218 Dec. 3, 1702 – Nonsuite is granted to Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife for the nonappearance of William Smoote Jr. which is ordered to be paid with costs of suit.

Deed Book March 3, 1704/5 – John Ingo and Martha (Matthew) his wife of Richmond Co. for 36 lb sterling sold to George Glascock of same a 100 acre plantation near the head of Moratico Creek that did formerly belong to John Ingo Sr. father of the same John Ingo and lately purchased of Capt. William Fanteleroy and Catherine his wife bounded by the house of John (blurred), the house of Thomas Durham, house of Edward Ryley, decd and the land of his brother James Ingo. Wit Wells Smoot, John Simmons Ack March 7, 1704. Book 3 page 174

Deed Book Page 352-354 December 1704 – Between John Ingoe and Matthew (sic) his wife and George Glascock…plantation situate near head of Moratico Creek in Richmond County which did formerly belong to John Ingo Sr. father of ye said John Ingo and lately by him sealed with a plantacion together with a considerable quantity of land said John Ingo Sr. purchased of Capt., William Fauntleroy with as much of the said land as lyes within the said John Ingoes bounds beginning ta a marker hickory standing within the house of John Simsted and the said John Ingoes and running along ye line to a swamp issuing out of Miratico Creek hard by the house of Thomas Durham then up said swamp meeting with the line, then NW by the house of Edward Ryley decd then land of his brother James Ingo 100 acres more or less. Signed, John Ingo and Martha Ingo (mark) witness William Smoot and John Simson (mark)

This deed confirmed again that the Durham land was along Moratico Creek.

Court Order Book Page 18 December 6, 1704 – Charles Dodson Jr and Thomas Dodson and Thomas Durham summoned to court for not going to church for two months together.

Court Order BookPage 34 February 7, 1704/05 – Peter Elmore, Thomas Dodson, Charles Dodson Jr. and Thomas Durham summoned to court to answer presentment of grand jury against them for not going to church for 2 months together and not appearing, ordered they be fined according to law and pay same with costs.

The Dodsons, Durhams and Elmores were neighbors and apparently influenced one another, or at least there was comfort among neighbors and safe haven for resistance.  Church attendance was mandatory in colonial Virginia.

Court Order Book Page 68 September 5, 1705 – Power of attorney made by John Ingo to James Ingo proved by oaths of William (?) and Dorothy Durham and ordered to be recorded.

The ? is probably William Smoot from other evidence. If so, once again, Dorothy Durham is found with William Smoot.

James Gilbert and the Depositions

Richmond County Misc. Record Book (1699-1724)

Page 26b Deposition Ann Kelly, aged 20 years or thereabouts, says that on last New Year’s Day, Thomas Durham, your deponent’s master, sent her to James Gilbert’s to desire him to come down to pipe it, and as your deponent and said James Gilbert were coming back, by John Mills his plantation, James Gilbert asked your deponent whether this old woman was at your deponent’s master’s house and your deponent answered, yes, she was, and said James Gilbert held up his 2 hand and said, God’s Curse Light upon that family naming John Mills and all his family and said that if it were not for John Mills and his wife, he and his wife would never have lived at variance as they did, and your deponent told said James Gilbert that it was his own fault, living so, and asked him why he had not fought away his chest and confound that will which he made, and the said James Gilbert said that John Mills and his family had robbed his chest so that they would not agree upon any means that he should fetch it away, and that they were ashamed of it, and the said James Gilbert said that there was a will made but swore by God that he knew not what was in it no more than I did, and your deponent asked said James Gilbert whether he was no sent for to sign his will, but said Gilbert answered, swearing by his God, that he did not sign it, and told your deponent that he had not the sense to make a will, and that John Mills was a rogue for making a false will and that made him and his wife live to discontentedly and further your deponent says that she saw said Gilbert last Feb. count 15 head of cattle for 40. Signed Nov. 2, 1704 by mark

Page 27 Dorothy Durham aged about 41 years says that sometime before James Gilbert’s death, being in company of said Gilbert and William Smoote, amongst other discourse, she heard said Gilbert say to said Smoote that he did not know that there was any Resurrection or not, and that had made a will to John Mills, but that it signified nothing, and that your deponent did, several times, hear the said Gilbert say that John Mills was a rogue and that he nor any of his should ever be the better for what he had. Signed Nov. 2, 1704 – Dorothy (P her mark) Dureham

The two depositions above were given in 1704.  In 1707, Mary Gilbert, as a widow, was deeding and to Thomas Durham and Dorothy.

26 Apr 1707 Richmond County, Virginia Deed Book 4, 1705-1708 page 109a-110a – This Indenture made the six and twentieth day of April anno Domini 1707 and in sixth year of the Reign of our Sovereign Lady Anne by the Grace of God of England, Scotland, France and Ireland Queene, Defender of the faith Between Mary Gilbert of the parish of North Farnham in the county of Richmond and Dominion of Virginia, Widdow of the one part, and Thomas Durham of North Farnham in the county of Richmond and Dominion aforesaid, Planter and Dorothy his wife of the other party. Witnesseth that the said Mary Gilbert for good and valuable consideration in hand payed the receipt whereof the said Mary doth hereby acknowledge and of every part and parcel thereof doth requitt consrate and discharge the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and theire heires by these presents do give grant, bargaine sole alienate entaile and confirme unto the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife theire heirs and assignes a certain plantation tract or parcele of land scituate lying and being in the parish of North Ffarnham in the county of Richmond and Dominion of Virginia upon a Branch of Ffarnham in the county of Richmond and Dominion of Virginia upon a Branch of Ffarnham Creeke called and knowne by the name of the Buory (Briery) Swamp, containing by estimation fifty acres, now in the tenure and occupation of Walter WRIGHT and bounded as followeth: …corner along land of William Smoot… the said Mary Gilbert for her self, her heires, Exors. and Admns. doth covenant promise, grant and assign to the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and their heires and assignes In manner and form as followeth, That is to say, that the said Mary Gilbert att the time of the ensealing and delivery hereof hath true title, full power and lawful authority to grant and convey the said bargained land and premisses as aforesaid and allso from time to times and att all times hereafter …… doth hereby grant unto the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and their heires and assignes with all the rights members and appurtanances thereunto belonging or appurtaining without…..and do Execute and acknowledge any other or further deed or deeds which shall be advised, devised or required by the said Thomas Durham, Dorothy his wife or theire Counsel learned in the law or theire heires or assignes for the better and more sure settlement of all and singular of the premisses hereto granted and every part and parcle of the said land unto the said Thomas Durham and Dorothy his wife and theire heires and assignes forever, In Witness whereof the said Mary Gilbert have hereunto put her hand and seal the day and month and year above written. Signed, sealde and Delivered in the presence of: William Smoot, Mil. Walters Mary M. Gilbert (signed with mark) (seal) Recorded 15 May 1707, Teste: J. Sherlock (Supplement to the History of the Dodson-Dotson Family of Southwest Virginia. Compiled and edited by the Rev. Silas Emmett Lucas, Jr. N.p: the author, 1966., pp. 106-107)

P 110a – William Smoote planter, Farnham Parish, consideration to Thomas Durham of same, planter, quit claim a certain plantation and tract or land situate in upon a branch of Farnham Creek called the Bryery Swamp and bounded (same description as deed between Mary Gilbert and Thomas Durham above) April 20, 1707 signed. Wit Anne Kelly and Mil. Waters

(Note Anne Kelly is Thomas Durham’s indentured servant.)

Court Order Book Page 299 Sept 3, 1707 – Mary Gilbert ack deed to Thomas Durham, ordered recorded.

Court Order Book Page 299 Sept 3, 1707 – William Smoot ack release of right and title of parcel of land sold by Mary Gilbert to Thomas Durham and ordered to be recorded.

I’ve grouped the information about James Gilbert together, because it becomes very important in the story of Dorothy, Thomas Durham’s wife.

The Lay of the Land

We have references to land off of a Branch of Farnham Creek and also Moratico Creek. You can see both of these on the 1859 Bucholtz Map, just below Toreskey and Corbin’s Creeks. Briery Swamp that I believe became Marshy Swamp appeared to be on Totuskey Creek, based on previous Dodson Deeds, and is shown such on this map, but these deeds refer to Briery Swamp off of Farnham Creek, so who knows exactly.

This contemporary map shows Totuskey Creek, Farnham Creek and Morattico Creek. Thomas Dodson lived as far north as Rich Neck and we have Thomas Durham mentioned as far south as Morattico Creek.  Both men owned multiple pieces of land that likely did not abut each other.

On the map above, Rich Neck is at the top, then Totuskey Creek, then Farnham Creek near Sharps, and the lowest arrow is Morattico Creek. As you can see, these creeks have many small feeders across about half of the width of the peninsula.

Today this area is dotted by cleared areas for farming, woodlands and small villages.

The Scandal of Ann Kelly

Ann Kelly’s indenture to Thomas Durham begins like normal in 1699 when she was determined to be 14 years old. The court determined her age so that the length of her indenture could be determined.  In 1704, she gave her age to be 20, which would have put her birth in 1684.  If she were 14 in 1699, then she would have been born in 1685.

Court Order Book Page 406, June 7, 1699 – Ann Kelly servant to Thomas Durham being presented to this court to have inspection into her age is adjudged 14 years old and ordered to serve her master or his assigns according to act.

However, by 1708, things had heated up quite a bit.

Court Order Book Page 372, July 7, 1708 – Anne Kelly, servant to Thomas Durham, being brought before the court by her master for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child and said Anne refusing to confess who was the father of the child, the court have ordered she be committed to the county goale there to remaine until such time as she shall confess who is the true father of her child and it is also ordered that she serve her master or his assignes after her time by indenture custome or otherwise shall be fully expired according to law in compensation for the trouble of his house during the time of her childbirth.

Court Order Book Page 372, July 7, 1708 – This day Dorothy Durham for an the behalf of her husband Thomas Durham confessed judgement to the church wardens of Northfarnham parish to the use of the parish for 500 pounds tobacco the same being the fine of Anne Kelly for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child which is ordered to be paid with costs.

Court Order Book Page 4, March 2, 1708/9 – Anne Kelly came into court and made oath that Thomas Durham Jr. is the true father of 2 bastard children borne of her body in the time of her service with his father, Thomas Durham the elder. Upon motion of the Queen’s attorney ordered that Thomas Durham Jr be summoned to next court to enter into bond with security for the indemnification of the parish and what charge may acrew to the parish for or by reason of the children aforesaid.

Questions and More Questions

I have so many questions.

Thomas Durham Jr. was born in 1690, so he was 17 when he impregnated Anne Kelly who was then 22 or 23, assuming the child was born in 1708. Given the timing of the second child’s birth, it’s certainly possible that the first child was born even earlier, as in 1706 which means Anne would have gotten pregnant as early as 1705 when Thomas was 15.  Why was she protecting Thomas, even to her own detriment?  Did she believe she would one day marry him?  Or was she fearful?  And if she was fearful, of whom?  And why?

Why did Dorothy step in “on behalf of her husband,” an extremely unusual move for a woman in colonial Virginia?  Why didn’t Thomas Durham step in for himself, or sign a power of attorney?  Instead, Dorothy rode all the way to the court house and appeared personally, instead of Thomas.  This suggests a very strong woman defying her husband’s wishes.  Why?  Did she secretly know that Ann’s child was her grandchild?  Or was it exactly the opposite?  She had no idea and was appalled to make that discovery, which might explain why Thomas Dodson posted Ann’s bond for the second child.

To their credit, between Dorothy Durham and Thomas Dodson, they did not allow Ann to go to jail for something she was only half responsible for, while the non-servant male child of the plantation owner went scot free.  Thomas Dodson was, of course, Mary Durham’s husband and the fact that he posted Anne Kelly’s bond made her indentured to Thomas Dodson after her original indenture ended, according to court order.  Mary Durham Dodson, Thomas’s wife, was the daughter of Thomas and Dorothy Durham.

Oh, what a web we weave!

Then, to add insult to injury, Thomas Durham Jr. married Mary Smoot (who had inherited Mary Grady’s land) about 1710.  Ann Kelly was still serving her additional indentures for having two “bastard children” when Thomas married, given that the additional time to serve was typically 5 years, per child.  She still had years to go.  If Ann had any thought that she would one day marry Thomas Durham Jr., they were assuredly dashed by this point.  Ann is left with two small children, serving additional time as a servant, and Thomas Durham Jr. marries the neighbor girl who inherited land.  After Thomas Durham Jr. and Mary Smoot were married, he legally controlled her land.

This isn’t the first or last time Thomas Durham Jr.’s character would be called into question.

Constable

Court Order Book Page 92, May 6, 1713 – Ordered Thomas Durham officiate as constable for this ensuing year in the roome and stead of Bartholomew Richard Dodson between Moratico and Farnham Creeks and that he repaire to some Justice to be sworn accordingly.

There is no Jr. mentioned, so this looks to be Thomas Durham Sr.  This further confirms the area where Thomas Durham was actually living.

Thomas Durham’s Will

In 1711, Thomas Durham wrote his will, but he didn’t pass away until in 1715.

Thomas Durham’s will was dated August 4, 1711 and proved in court June 1, 1715.

In the name of God Amen, I, Thomas Durham of Northfarnham in the County of Richmond being sick in Body but of sound and perfect Memory. Praise be given unto God therefore calling to Mind His Mortallity of my body and that it is appointed for all Men once to Die, Do make and Ordain this my Last Will & Testament, That is to say– Principally & first of all I Recommend my soul unto the hands of God that gave it and my Body to the Earth to be Buried in Christian and Decent manner at the Discretion of my Executors hereafter named; nothing Doubting but at the generall Resurrection I shall receive the same again by the mighty Power of God; And as touching such Worldly Estate wherewith it hath Pleased God to Bless me in this Life—–

Item. I give and Bequeath unto my Dear & Loving wife Dorothy Durham the use of my Plantations, together with all my Lands & Tenements with all and Every of their Appurtenances–Proffits and Commoditys __________ Belonging or appertaining for & During the _____________ of her natural Life and after her Decease if my Son Thomas Durham and Mary his wife do by some sufficient Instrument in writing under their hands and seals and affording to due forme of Law Release and acquitt all and singular their Right, Title and Interest in and unto Fifty acres of Land being the same Tract & Plantation which we had conveyed us by Mary Gilbert unto my son John Durham and his heirs or pay him the said: John Durham Eight Thousand Pounds of Tobacco in Lieu of His said Land and also pay unto my Daughter Mary Dodson Fifteen hundred pounds of Tobacco that then and upon this consideration——-aforesaid: I do give and bequeath unto my said son Thomas Durham and his heirs Lawfully Begotten and for want of such issue unto my son John Durham and his heirs Lawfully Begotton and in _______ of such issue unto my GrandSon Thomas Dodson and his heirs, But if my said son Thomas Durham doth refuse and will not release the said fifty acres of Land nor pay the Tobacco aforesaid: I do will and Bequeath the said Plantation whereon I now dwell with all my Lands unto my son John Durham and his heirs—

Item. I give and Bequeath unto my Son John Durham Fifty acres of Land more or less being the Plantation with all the Tract and Parcell of Land that was Conveyed us by Mary Gilbert, to have and to hold the said Tract and Parcell of Land with the appurtainances unto my said son John Durham and his heirs Lawfully begotten and for want of such issue unto my GrandSon Thomas Dodson and his heirs—

Item. I give and bequeath unto my Son John Durham one Feather Bed and Furniture, one Cow and calf, one Mare and Iron Pott, Two ____ Dishes and half a dozen Plates

Item I give and bequeath unto my Daughter Mary Dodson Five Thousand Pounds of Tobacco; Fifteen hundred Pounds of the same to be paid by my son Thomas Durham within Nine months after the Decise of my wife and Five hundred the Rest of the said Tobacco to be paid by my Son John Durham at the Decease of my Wife—-

Item. I give and Bequeath all the Residue of my Estate, Goods, Cattle and Chattells unto my wife Dorothy Durham for & During her widowhood, but if she doth Marry that _____ off my Personall Estate, Except what is herein given to John Durham shall be Equally Divided between my wife and my three Children, and I do make and Ordain my Dear & well beloved Wife Sole Executrix of this my Last Will & Testament—Rattifying and Confirming this & none other to be my Last Will & Testament. In Witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand & seal this Fourth Day of August in the year of our Lord, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Eleven. Signed, Sealed & Published and Declared in the presence of us– Joan O Searles her mark, Arthur Kay his mark, Miles Walters Thomas Durham his mark (seal)

Att. at a Court held for Richmond County ye first Day of June 1715 This Will was approved in open Court by the oaths of Arthur Key & Joan Searles ______ of the Witness or tthereto be on admitted to Recored…Tests M: Beckewith C.C.O.”

Thomas Durham’s will entry in the will book looks like the clerk reproduced Thomas’s own mark.

Does this mean that Thomas Durham could never write, or that he was simply too ill or old to sign his will? He didn’t pass away for another 4 years, so he certainly was not on his deathbed when he wrote his will in 1711, although he might have thought he was. He does say that he is “sick in body” but he apparently recovered enough to be appointed constable in 1713. Although there is no Jr. or Sr. mentioned, so the 1713 constable entry could have been for his son.

And speaking of his son, Thomas Jr., Thomas Sr. left an inheritance only to the children “lawfully begotten” with his sons, excluding his grandchildren by Anne Kelly, if either of those children were still living.  In that era, illegitimate children could not inherit from their father unless there was specific verbiage to the contrary.

Thomas Durham, according to his will, apparently has two parcels of land – although the will is confusing and he only mentions the 50 acre parcel obtained from Mary Gilbert specifically. The second, referenced rather obliquely, must surely be the 62 acres that he is living on conveyed to Dorothy from William Smoot in 1700. The fact that Thomas Durham does not include this second piece specifically in his will is likely because William Smoot conveyed the land directly to Dorothy, omitting Thomas.

As it turns out, which of his two sons obtained the land becomes irrelevant, because John died without issue in 1722.

P 212 – Thomas Durham inventory July 6, 1715

Dorothy Remarries

We don’t know exactly when Thomas Durham died, but by the time his will was probated, which is typically within 90 days of death, Dorothy was remarried. This seems soon by today’s standards but wasn’t at all uncommon in colonial Virginia.

The fact that Dorothy had remarried meant that she would only receive a child’s share of Thomas’s estate, one fourth, except for the land which he had already bequeathed to his children.

Court Order Book Page 283, June 1, 1715 – Last will and testament of Thomas Durham decd presented into court by Dorothy Greenham, his executrix who made oath and proved by the oaths of Arthur Key and John Searles, two of the witnesses.

Jeremiah Greenham, Dorothy Greenham, John Doyle and Richard Fowler came into court and ack bond for the said Dorothy Greenham admin for the estate of Thomas Durham, decd.

Thomas Griffin, Thomas Glascock, William Downham and George Davenport or any 3 of them to appraise the estate of Thomas Durham, decd. Oath of appraisers to be sworn and also of Dorothy Greenham, the executrix, for her true discovery thereof.

Thomas Durham’s Estate Inventory

Court Order Book Page 62-63 – Jeremiah Greenham and Dorothy, his wife, John Boyle and Richard Fowler of Richmond Co. held and bound for 200 pounds currant money of Virginia condition that Dorothy Greenham executrix of last will of Thomas Durham decd to make a true and perfect inventory of estate of said decd. Signed Jeremiah Greenham, Dorothy Greenham her mark as a D, John Doyle and Richard Fowler

Court Order Book Page 292 July 6, 1715 – Appraisement for estate of Thomas Durham decd returned and recorded.

Thomas’s inventory was taken on June 27, as follows:

  • One feather bed, bolster, 2 pillows and cafos? (cases?), 3 blankets and one rug, one par of cotton cheets, curtains, valances and bedstead – 6.0.0

Rugs at that time meant bed rugs, which were wool and decorative and functioned as both a layer of warmth and decoration on top of colonial beds.

  • One large table and form – 1.0.0

A form was a type of bench.

  • One small “ – 0.05.0
  • Six wooden chairs and one flagg – 0.10.0
  • One Bible and two old books – 0.05.0

I sure would like to know the names of the books.  It would tell us a lot about Thomas.

  • One butter pott, ditto plate and pann – 0.02.06
  • One brass candlestick and one iron pann – 0.01.0

Just one candlestick?

  • One bedstead – 0.05.0
  • One pair small styl’ds (probably stillyards) – 0.02.06
  • One looking glass – 0.01.03
  • One Huckaback table cloth and one dozen of napkins – 1.11.06

Huckaback was a type of course absorbent cotton or linen fabric typically used for making towels.

  • One small old table cloth, 4 old cotton napkins and 2 linen towels, one sheet of the same cloth and one cotton sheet – 0.12.0

Above Stairs

  • One feather bed, bolster, curtains, valances, 1 rugg ? pair of blankets – 02.10.0
  • One old couch bod an old blanket and a cadord? – 0.10.00
  • One rug, two pillows and one bolster case – 0.15.00
  • Three chests – 0.10.00

In the Kitchin

  • One flock bed and bolster, two blankets, one rug and bedstead – 01.0.0
  • One old “, one blanket, one cadoro – 0.05.0
  • One spinning sheel and hoop of cards – 0.10.00
  • A parcel of old tubs – 0.05.00
  • A parcel of iron work – 0.04.02

Kitchin

  • One large iron pott and hooks, qt 9 gal 4 ? p’s – 01.12.00
  • Five small “with four pair of hooks qt 1345 at “ – 02.04.02
  • Two pair of old pott racks – 0.02.00
  • A pair of tongs, one spit – 0.08.0
  • Two smoothing irons – 0.02.0
  • One old musket and one old frying pann – 0.05.06

If the musket was in the kitchen, it probably wasn’t for self-defense.

  • One pofflo? – 0.05.00
  • Two bags 1’b:6’l a and one old sadle 2’b:6’l, one old chest 1’b:6’l – 0.05.06
  • Five hodgos? 8’b, two pailed, two piggins, one old tubb 5’l – 0.13.0
  • A parcel of white salt a’l 2 bushels 2’l, one cart sadle and harness 1’d:6’l – 0.03.06
  • 35 of good pewter at 10’l pr p’d – 29 of old ditto at 6’l ? pd – 02.04.01
  • Three dozen of pewter spoons at 6’b, 16 of wools at 9’l ? pd, one old sauce pann 2’d – 0.18.02
  • Two cows and calves at 2 each, three yearlings at 15’l each, one bull at 3’l 10’s – 06.15.0
  • Five cows at ? 15’s each, one steer 6 years old in 2’l 10’s, two heifers at ? each – 13.05.00
  • Eight sheep at 6 each, one large mare at 3’l – 5.08.0
  • A servant boy two years and 7 months to serve – 08.0.0

Signed:

Thomas Griffin, Thomas Glascock, George Davenport on June 27, 1715

Apparently Anne Kelly long ago completed her indenture, or at least she is not listed as a servant in 1713.  She would have been about 33 by this time.

I love this inventory because it tells us where various items were located in the house. For example, we know that there is an upstairs, and it’s large enough for a bed that included curtains and valances, so no shoddy place to sleep.

The main living quarters, downstairs, included a bed with all the trappings, a second bedstead, but perhaps without a mattress, 2 tables complete with tablecloths and napkins, chairs, butter molds, a looking glass, but only 1 candlestick.

There’s another bed in the kitchen, maybe for the servant boy. It’s flock instead of a feather bed. Flock is a type of filling made of scraps and wool. The spinning wheel is in the kitchen too.

I’m guessing this house had two rooms downstairs, one room “above the stairs,” and the kitchen which may or may not have been attached. There doesn’t seem to be any furniture for more rooms.

There was no mention of tobacco or any farm implements associated with anything except livestock, although tobacco was mentioned in Thomas’s will, so he clearly farmed tobacco in 1711.

Furthermore, there was no cart or wagon. There is only one horse and an old saddle. There are no pistols, which “gentlemen” would have had, and the old musket is in the kitchen. There is no women’s saddle either.

Thomas Durham does not appear to be a wealthy man, yet he does have pewter and tablecloths.

He does not own any slaves which was very common for plantation owners in that time and place.

What I wouldn’t give for that Bible and the information it contained.  We wouldn’t have to wonder who his parents were, or question his wife’s maiden name.  We might even know who his grandparents were, and where they were from in England.  I wonder what ever happened to that Bible.

Guardian

This looks like some tension might have existed between John, the youngest son, Thomas Jr., the eldest son and Dorothy along with her new husband, Jeremiah Greenham.  Daughter Mary was already married to Thomas Dodson.

Page 351, October 5, 1715 – This day John Durham by his petition prayed that his brother Thomas Durham might be admitted his guardian which was granted and said Thomas Durham gives security. Whereupon the said Thomas Durham together with John Harris and Thomas Elmore acknowledge their bond for the said Thomas Durham’s true performance of his guardianship.

Judgement granted to Thomas Durham as guardian for his brother John Durham against Jeremiah Greenham and Dorothy his wife, executrix of the last will of (page 352) Thomas Durham, decd for 1 feather bed and furniture, 1 cow and calf, 1 mare, 1 iron pott, 2 pewter dishes and half a dozen of plates being legacies left him the said John Durham buy the said Thomas Durham, his late father, decd, in his last will and testament, which is ordered to be paid.

Here, we find the source of the issue.  John who was only 17, wanted his share of the estate, even though he would have still been living at home.  This probably means that John went to live with Thomas…and took with him the bed, furniture, cow, calf, mare pewter and other items.  Thomas obviously did not release the 50 acres to John.

Dorothy probably argued that John, as yet underage, was yet living at home so not yet entitled to any of the estate until he came of age.  Clearly, this was not settled and went through the court process, probably causing very hard feelings between Dorothy and both of her sons.

Thomas Durham sells Land

In 1723, Thomas Durham Jr. sells land which could have been his father’s to Thomas Dodson, his sister’s husband.

Deed Book Page 240 Dec 4-10, 1723 – From Thomas Durham of Richmond County to Thomas Dodson Sr of same 5000 pounds tobacco parcel of 100 acres formerly belonging to Abraham Marshall bearing date of Nov 25th 1692 situate in Richmond Co and bounded by Charles Dodson, being part of the pat formerly granted to William Thatcher by the main branch of Toteskey. Signed Thomas and Mary Durham. Wit John Hill, William Walker, Jeremiah Greenham. Rec May 6, 1724 and Mary Durham appeared in court relinquished dower.

Abraham Marshall is Dorothy Durham Greenham’s sister’s husband.

In 1733, the 100 acres is sold to the Lyell family

Deed Book Page 12, Lease and release, Dec 6-7, 1733 – From Thomas Dodson Sr. and Mary his wife and Thomas Dodson Jr. and Eliza his wife all of NFP to John’n Lyell of same in consideration of a negro woman to be delivered to said Dodson as soon as any comes to Virginia to be sold as the said Dodson Jr. wished about 130 acres in NFP and bounded by Charles Dodson by the main swamp of Totuskey. The other 30 acres of land is bounded by old Cone path formerly belonging to Daniel Oneal, a line of trees that divides the land of Mr. Spencer and the land of Thomas Dusin, corner oak formerly belonging to William Matthews, along Matthews line the land formerly belonging to John Jenly. Of the 130 acres, 100 acres formerly belonged to Abraham Marshall by a deed dates 25 9ber 1692 and from thence conveyed to Thomas Durham and by the said Durham sold to Thomas Dodson Sr. The other 30 acres was formerly sold by Thomas Dusin to Thomas Southern by deed dated 21 7ber 1687. Signed Thomas Dodson Sr. his mark T, Mary her mark M, Thomas Dodson Jr., Elizabeth her mark, wit Robert Reynolds and George Gibson and William Creel Rec April 1, 1734

Deed Book Page 25, May 4 1734 _ From Jane Lawson, John Steptoe Jr. and Joanna his wife of Christchurch parish in Lancaster Co. to Robert Mitchell of St. Mary’s Whiteside in Lancaster 18,000 pounds tobacco and 50# and divers other causes 450 acres in North Farnham Parish bounded on west by a branch of Moratico that divides this land from the land of John Mills, Thomas Durham on the north side, Abraham Goad on the NE, William King and Mr. Anthony Sydnor on the east side, Isaac White on the south. Land part of a patent granted to Thomas Madison dated 1770 (sic) by him sold to Capt. John Purvis and by Purvis to John Ockley and by Ockley given by will to said Jean Lawson. Signed by all.

Drunk at Church

Court Order Book Page 11, Nov. 7, 1721 – Ordered sheriff to summon Thomas Durham of North Farnham Parish to answer presentment of the grand jury against him for coming to his parish church drunk on the 29th day of October last past.

Apparently, Thomas Durham’s son, Thomas Jr., now age 31, was a bit rowdy or couldn’t hold his liquor, or both. Apparently now he’s attending church, but not sober.  He obviously did not like to attend church.  Perhaps his earlier escapades weren’t quite forgiven nor forgotten by parishioners.

We’ll leave Thomas’s life and times on this rather humorous note. Well, it’s humorous if you weren’t there and are looking back from a perspective of nearly 200 years. Perhaps Thomas felt that showing up drunk was better than not showing up at all, a fineable offense, as we already know.  Or perhaps Thomas had a drinking problem.  Drinking alcoholic beverages during that time was a daily affair, especially if the water was suspect in terms of cleanliness – but drunk on Sunday morning to the point that he was actually fined?

The Durham family seems determined to leave us with questions!

The Persistent Rumor about Governor Henry Thomas Durham

If you sign on to Ancestry or any other site and look at trees, you’ll find the persistent rumor that Thomas Durham is the son of Governor Henry Thomas Durham who had a son, Thomas, born about 1634.

Unfortunately, there is not one shred of evidence to connect the two. Several trees also have the Governor passing away in 1694 in North Farnham Parish in Richmond County. I can assuredly tell you that there are absolutely NO records to corroborate this information.

The one piece of evidence I did find was posted in 1999 on GenForum by Gene, as follows:

Sorry, guys, LDS records notwithstanding, Thomas DURHAM 1661/1715 of Richmond Co.VA married to Dorothy ??? is NOT the son of Gov. Henry DURHAM of Bermuda. I bought that story too, but couldn’t prove it was the same Thomas.

Finally, I wrote Bermuda Archives, and received an abstract of a lawsuit filed in Bermuda in 1734 that definitely proved that the Thomas who was born to Gov. Hunt lived and died in Bermuda where he had a son “Richard Durham of Sandys tribe marriner Eldest son and heir of Thomas Durham Late of the same Gent: dec’d, who was the son of Henry Durham, Esq.”  The suit was in regard to property in Bermuda lately in the possession of Judith DURHAM, Henry’s wife.  I would love to know also who the parents of our Thomas of Virginia were, but they weren’t Henry and Judith Hunt Durham of Bermuda. I will say there is an outside chance there could be a collateral relationship, since the father of Henry Durham of Bermuda also named Thomas had other sons, who also may have had a son named Thomas, and of course there was trading, etc. between Bermuda and Virginia during that time, of which scant records were kept. Gene in Gotha.

What Gene didn’t mention is that Thomas is a very common first name.

In case you’re having trouble with all the characters, I charted the relationships of Henry Durham, the Governor.

I think we can put the rumor of Thomas Durham of Richmond County being the son of Henry Durham, the Governor of Bermuda, to bed. Furthermore, a Governor’s son would not show up penniless and not own land until 8 years after he was beyond “a great age,” according to court records.

DNA

I was unable to find any evidence in the Durham DNA project that any male Durham descendants of Thomas Durham had done the Y DNA testing. I was quite hopeful, because, needless to say, a match to a Durham from England would give us someplace to look for the origins of our Thomas.

The Y chromosome is passed from father to son, with no admixture from the mother, so Thomas’s two sons, would have passed their Durham Y chromosome to their sons and so forth to the current generation of Durham men descended from Thomas.

It appears that Thomas Durham’s son, John, died unmarried on September 23, 1722.

Son Thomas Durham, Jr., aside from the illegitimate children he had with Anne Kelly, whose genders are unknown, according to the North Farnham Parish records had several children, as follows, with Mary Smoot:

  • Durham, John son of Thomas and Mary Durham, Dec. 14, 1724/5 (sic)
  • Durham, Mary daughter of Thomas and Mary Durham, May 14, 1728
  • Durham, Susanna daughter of Thomas and Mary Durham, May 14, 1728
  • Durham, Margaret and Dominick Newgent, Dec. 2, 1729 (identity of Margaret who is marrying is entirely unknown)
  • Durham, Wilmoth daughter of Thomas and Mary Durham, May 21, 1730
  • Durham, Kathrine daughter of Thomas and Mary Durham, March 18, 1731
  • Durham, Millicent daughter of Thomas and Mary Durham, Aug. 4, 1734
  • Durham, Willmoth Oct. 2, 1734 (death)
  • Durham, Thomas Dec. 3, 1734 (death)

Poor Mary – a new child born in August, a daughter dead two months later and her husband two months following that.

These births and deaths leave us with Thomas Durham Jr. having only one known son, John, born in 1724. John is reported to have married Sarah Hightower and had three sons, Joshua Durham (1748-1816), Charnel Hightower Durham (1753-1836) and Daniel Durham (1777-1868). The births of both Joshua and Charnel are recorded in the North Farnham Parish records, but Daniel is not. I’m hopeful that a male Durham descends from one of these lines and has tested or is willing to Y DNA test at Family Tree DNA. If that’s you, please let me know.  I have a testing scholarship for you!!!

Summary

I have this nagging feeling that we are missing the first half of Thomas Durham Sr.’s adult life.

The first mention of the Durham surname is in 1686 with the birth of Thomas and Dorothy’s child, Mary. She may have been their first child born and she is the first recorded, but the records are known to be incomplete.

In 1699, we find Thomas exempted from taxes due to his great age, but his wife, Dorothy, in 1704 says she’s about 41 years of age, which would put her birth year at about 1663.

If Thomas was of “great age” in 1699, he would have been at least 50, if not 60 or older. In 1699, Dorothy would have been 37.

Furthermore, Thomas Durham owns no land at all until in 1700 when William Smoot deeds 62 acres to Dorothy, omitting him in the deed, and then in 1707, Mary Gilbert adds another 50 acres.

We know, based on Thomas’s will in 1711 he still owns two pieces of land, one of which is the 50 acre tract.

However, there are some rather unusual things about Thomas. He never, not once, sits on a jury. In Virginia, at that time, I believe you had to be a white landowner to do so. That would likely mean he was not eligible until 1707. Either he or his son were appointed constable in 1713, which means they were respected and trusted within the community.

In 1723, Thomas Durham Jr. sells 100 acres of land that belonged to his mother’s sister’s husband. However, there is no record of either Thomas Jr. or Thomas Sr. purchasing that land. Where Thomas Jr. obtained it is a mystery. If the 1692 notation in the deed refers to when Abraham Marshall sold the land to Thomas, it would have had to be Thomas Sr. because Thomas Jr. was still a child, born in 1690.

In other words, there seems to have been some transactions that were handled by family that were never recorded at the courthouse.

While we know quite a bit about the life of Thomas Durham from 1686 on, we know absolutely nothing about his life before that time. Was he perhaps an indentured servant, fulfilling his obligation before he could marry?

He certainly did not come to the Northern Neck with any money, because he did not purchase land until 21 years after his presence is the area is first known. He never owned slaves which was very common for plantation owners, although he did have at least two indentured servants – one of which gave him two grandchildren.

Thomas Durham Sr. remains, in very large part, a mystery.

DNA in Northampton – Synchronicity and Sculptures

A cousin I discovered through DNA testing, Lisa, decided to embark an on adventure in England, but little did she know what an adventure it would be.

Her first day on the ground was unexpectedly spent in the hospital and her second day was spent having surgery.

However, she’s now on the mend but can’t return home until she recovers – so she is relegated to sightseeing – although that’s not exactly what she intended to be doing. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons!

I knew in my heart she would be roaming around England with DNA kits in her purse, hoping to find male Franklins, given that she is one of the administrators of the Franklin Y DNA Project.  Project administrators almost ALWAYS have a DNA kit someplace handy, especially when traveling.

Then. she proved me right by posting this photo of an establishment she found in Northampton on her Facebook page.

When she asked about the whereabouts of the proprietor, she was informed that “he’s not alive just now,” followed by something about cricket.  Apparently John Franklin was one of the local founding fathers…which…knowing the unbounded tenacity of genetic genealogists, assuredly sent Lisa on a mission to find a local phone book.

I imagine an ensuing conversation might go something like this:

“Hello – are you descended from John Franklin?”

“You are?  Will you DNA test?”

“What do you mean ‘who am I?’ I might be his 5 times great-grand-niece, which is why I need you to DNA test.”

Click.

I know every genetic genealogist is laughing at this hypothetical conversation, knowing they would do the same, maybe a little more tactfully than my madeup example.  You know, a few more pleasantries first and hopefully no “click” at the end.  At the same time, we’re all quite envious of Lisa’s lucky find!  See what unexpected surgery will net you. Talk about synchronicity.

Lisa was kind enough to post a couple very interesting DNA-related photos taken in Northampton where she discovered John Franklin, which she has given me permission to share. Given this sculpture, the Franklin descendants in Northampton should have at least a passing familiarity with DNA already.

I love this piece of very public art. Utter beauty.  This speaks to me of elegance and grace and of the human spirit that soars.  We are at once united and completely unique.

Thanks for sharing, Lisa.  Oh, and good luck with John Franklin!!!

How to Share Without Plagiarizing

Blogging and online articles have become popular as a result of the easy reach of the internet and social media. Most bloggers have an intended audience that follows them closely, as well as follows other social media resources on the same topics.

In other words, bloggers and their audiences share common interests and therefore common Facebook groups, etc.  Therefore, bloggers see what others post – and sometimes, they recognize their own work being posted, but not attributed to them.

It’s easy to become excited and want to share with others – and that is a wonderful attribute. Sharing is a good thing and collaboration makes the genetic genealogy world go around.

However, there’s a wrong way and a right way to share. Most people are very interested in following the rules, if they know what they are.

Our Friendly Lawyer

Let me preface this by saying that I’m not at attorney, so I’m not up to the moment on laws regarding copyright and plagiarism – but I know who is. If you want to read more from the legal perspective, I might suggest checking out any of Judy Russell’s links on the topic. Judy is, after all, The Legal Genealogist.

To quote Judy:

“One of The Legal Genealogist‘s pet peeves is when someone takes something another genealogist has done, strips off the identifying information and reposts it as if it was the second person’s work.

That, by definition, is plagiarism, and it’s a great big ethical no-no in genealogy.

Most of the time, people who do this are doing it without malicious intent. They don’t realize that they’re actually stealing someone else’s work and depriving the other person of credit for the work; most of the time they think they’re just sharing.”

To be very clear, I want my work to be shared, but I also want credit. Notice that when I quoted Judy, above, I not only said it was a quote from Judy Russell, but I also provided links to Judy’s work both in general and the article from which I quoted.

If you look at the bottom of Judy’s articles, you can also see perfectly executed examples of citing sources.

My Articles

Now, back to my work. I’m not dead and copyright clearly hasn’t expired. That expiration line in the sand is sometime around 1923 today, as Judy says here, and the copyright expiration for my work is a long way off. I won’t care by then, and neither will you. In fact, anything I write today about genetic genealogy will probably be viewed after the year 2110, about the time my copyrights would expire, with the looks of incredulity children give dinosaur skeletons in museums.

Copyright aside, taking someone else’s work and posting it, even if it’s edited or recombined slightly, without attribution, is plagiarism, pure and simple, intended or otherwise. Legal or not aside as well, it’s just plain wrong.

Ways to Share in a Good Way

  • Many people ask if it’s alright to post a link to one of by blogs someplace. In my book, it’s ALWAYS alright to post a link which directs people to the article. You don’t need to ask. I figure anyone who is going to post my link to someplace I would disapprove of (racism, sexism, discrimination, porn, etc.) isn’t going to ask anyway.
  • Sharing and forwarding links to my articles or postings on Facebook, Twitter and social media platforms are always just fine. It’s like spreading the word for the genetic genealogy gospel.  Please DO!
  • Republishing, under certain circumstances, is also alright. Some bloggers or rebloggers will use the first paragraph or so as a “leadin” to generate interest then have a link “for further reading” which links to the blog where the content was generated – meaning mine. I’m fine with that too.

Ask First

  • Sometimes I’m asked to allow a group to reprint an article in a journal or newsletter, or to use something from one of my articles or presentations for a conference or other event. I’m generally very generous with my materials, but I DO want to be asked before that type of sharing is done and I want the work to be properly credited to me.

NO NOs

  • Republishing by publishing or posting the entire text of an article, most of the article or even significant parts of an article, even WITH attribution, but WITHOUT permission is not OK with me. No one has ever done that with my work in an actual publication (that I know of,) but people feel freer on the internet.
  • Posting or republishing any part of an article (or graphic) in ANY way WITHOUT attribution is not OK. Changing or recombining the verbiage slightly and republishing is not acceptable either. If the author can recognize their work or material, it’s plagiarism and copyright infringement.

Attribution

Attribution should always include the link to the original article and preferably that link along with the author’s name.  In fact, here’s a perfect example of attribution done correctly on Facebook!

The quote Shannon used was from within the article, clearly is a quote, attributed correctly to me, and the title is a hotlink to the article itself.  Perfectly executed Shannon – thank you!

This is exactly what bloggers DO want.

My Rules

The above “rules” are Roberta’s rules. Other writers may feel differently about some things. If in doubt of any kind, just ask.

People who write and are not writing for an employer or do not sell items such as books are generally performing a public service. If you think writing is “free,” it most certainly is not “free” for the author. Not only is their time valuable, they clearly have to pay to keep the lights on, so to speak.  Please, be respectful of authors and do not kill the goose who laid the golden egg.

Citing Sources

If Judy is the queen of all things legal, Elizabeth Shown Mills is the queen of citing sources. If you want to cite the source perfectly, every single time, refer to Elizabeth’s blog for further instruction.

Personally, I don’t so much care HOW attribution is done, but I surely care a lot THAT it’s done.

Please Share

And yes, no need to ask, please DO share this article!! 😊

Concepts – Why Genetic Genealogy and Triangulation?

One of the questions often asked is why triangulation in genetic genealogy is so important.

Before I answer that, let’s take a look at why genealogists use autosomal DNA for genetic genealogy in the first place.

Why Genetic Genealogy?

Aside from ethnicity testing, genetic genealogists utilize autosomal DNA testing to further their genealogical research or confirm the research they have already performed. Genetic genealogy cannot stand alone on DNA evidence, but must include traditional genealogical research. DNA is simply another tool in the genealogist’s tool box – albeit a critical one.

There are three established primary vendors in this field, Family Tree DNA, Ancestry and 23andMe, plus a few newcomers. All three vendors offer autosomal DNA tests utilized by genetic genealogists in various ways. If you want to learn more about the differences between these vendors’ offerings, please read the article, “Which DNA Test is Best?”

In order to achieve genealogical goals, there are four criteria that need to be met. All are required to achieve triangulation which is the only way to confirm a genealogical ancestral match to a specific ancestor.

  • DNA Matching – The tester’s DNA matches that of other testers at the company where they tested, or at GedMatch. All three vendors provide matching information, along with GedMatch, a third-party tool utilized by genetic genealogists.

Family Tree DNA assigns matches to either maternal, paternal or both sides of the tester’s tree based on connecting the DNA of relatives, up through third cousins, who have tested to their appropriate location in the tester’s tree.

In the example above, you can see the individuals linked to my tree include my mother with her Family Finder test, plus her two first cousins, Donald and Cheryl Ferverda who have also tested.

  • Ancestor Matching – The testers identify a common ancestor or ancestral line based on their previous work, aka, genealogy and family trees.  In the example above, the common ancestors are the parents of the brothers, John and Roscoe Ferverda.  Identifying a common ancestor is an easy task with known close relatives, but becomes more challenging the more distant the common ancestor.

Of the vendors, 23andMe does not have a Gedcom upload or ability for testers to display trees and for the vendor to utilize to match surnames, although they can link to external trees. Ancestry provides “tree matching,” shown above, and Ancestry and Family Tree DNA, shown below, both provide surname matching.

  • Segment Matching – Utilizing chromosome browsers or downloaded match lists including segment information to identify actual DNA segments that match other testers.

Family Tree DNA’s chromosome browser is shown above.

Each individual tester will have two groups of matches on the same segment, one group from their mother’s side of the tree and one from their father’s side of the tree. Each tester carries DNA inherited from both parents on two different “sides” of each chromosome. You can read more about that in the article, One Chromosome, Two Sides, No Zipper – ICW and the Matrix.

Of the three vendors, Ancestry does not provide segment matching, a chromosome browser, nor any segment information, so testers cannot perform this step at Ancestry.

23andMe does provide this information, but each tester must individually “opt in” to data sharing, and many do not. If testers do not globally “opt in” they must authorize sharing individually for every match, so testers will not be able to see the chromosome segment information for many 23andMe matches. In my case, only about 60% are sharing.

Family Tree DNA provides a chromosome browser, the file download capability with segment information, and everyone authorizes sharing of information when they initially test – so there is no opt-in confusion.

Ancestry and 23andMe raw DNA data files can be transferred to both Family Tree DNA and GedMatch where chromosome browsers and other tools are available. For more information about transferring files, please read Autosomal DNA Transfers – Which Companies Accept Which Tests?

Triangulation – The process used to combine all three of the above steps in order to assign specific segments of the tester’s DNA to specific ancestors, by virtue of:

  • The tester’s DNA matching the DNA of other testers on a specific segment.
  • Identifying that the individuals who match the tester on that segment also match each other. This is part of the methodology employed to group the testers matches into two groups, the maternal and paternal groupings.
  • Identifying which ancestor contributed that segment to all of the people who match the tester and each other on that same segment.

In order for a group of matches to triangulate, they must match each other on the same segment of DNA and they must all share a common ancestor.

Triangulation is part DNA, meaning the inheritance, part technology, meaning the ability to show that all testers in a match group all match each other and on the same segment, and part genealogy, meaning the ability to identify the common ancestor of the group of individuals.

The following chart shows a portion of my match download file on chromosome 5 from Family Tree DNA.

As you can see, these matches all cover significant portions of the same segment on chromosome 5.

Without further investigation, we know that I match all of these people, but we don’t know what that information is telling us about my genealogy. We don’t know who matches each other, and we can’t tell which people are from my mother’s and father’s sides. We also don’t know who the common ancestor is or common ancestors are.

However, looking at the trees of the individuals involved, or contacting them for further information, and/or recognizing known cousins from a specific line all combine to contribute to the identification of our common ancestors.

Below is the same spreadsheet, now greatly enriched after my genealogy work is applied to the DNA matches in two additional columns.

I’ve colored my triangulated groups pink for my mother’s side and blue for my father’s side.

In this case, I also have access to my cousins’ DNA match results, so I can view their matches as well, looking for common matches on my match list.

One of the reasons genealogists always suggest testing older family members and as many cousins as possible is because triangulation becomes much easier with known cousins from particular lines to point the way to the common ancestor. In this case, one cousin, Joe, is from my mother’s side and one, Lou, is from my father’s side.

By looking at my matches’ genealogy, I’ve now been able to assign this particular segment on chromosome 5, on my mother’s side to ancestors Johann Michael Miller and his wife Susanna Berchtol. The same segment, on my father’s side is inherited from Charles Dodson and his wife, Ann, last name unknown.

In order to achieve triangulation, the common ancestor must be determined for the match group. Once triangulation is achieved, descent from the common ancestor is confirmed.

Unless you are dealing with very close known relatives, like the Ferverda first cousins, there is no other way to prove a genetic connection to a specific ancestor.

At Family Tree DNA, I can utilize the chromosome browser and the ICW and matrix tools to determine which of this group matches each other. At 23andMe, I can utilize their shared DNA matching tool. This information can then be recorded in my DNA spreadsheet, as illustrated above.

Triangulation cannot be achieved at Ancestry or utilizing their tools. Ancestry’s DNA Circles provide extended match groups, indicating who matches whom for a particular ancestor shown in a tester’s tree, but do not indicate that the matches are on the same segment. Circles do not guarantee that Circle members are matching on DNA from that ancestor, only that they do match and show a common ancestor in their tree.  The third triangulation step of segment matching is missing.  Ancestry does not provide segment information in any format, so Ancestry customers who want to triangulate can either retest elsewhere or download their data files to either Family Tree DNA or GedMatch for free.

Summary

Before the advent of genetic genealogy, genealogists had to take it on faith that the paper trail was accurate, and that there was no misattributed parentage – either through formal or informal adoption or hanky-panky.  That’s not the case anymore.

Today, DNA through triangulation can prove ancestry for groups of people to a common ancestor by identifying segments that have descended from that ancestor and are found in multiple descendants today.

Of course, the next step is to break down those remaining brick walls. For example, what is the birth name of Ann, wife of Charles Dodson, whose surname is unknown? Logically, the DNA descended from a couple, meaning Charles and Ann, contains DNA from both individuals. We don’t know if that segment on chromosome 5 is from Ann, Charles, or parts from both, BUT, if we begin to see a further breakdown to another, unknown family line among the Charles and Ann segments, that might be a clue.

One day, in the future, we’ll be able to identify our unknown family lines through DNA matches and other people’s triangulation. That indeed, is the Holy Grail.

Additional Resources

If you’d like to read more specific information about autosomal DNA matching and triangulation, be sure to read the links in the article, above. The following articles may be of interest as well:

DeMystifying Autosomal DNA Matching

Autosomal DNA Testing 101 – What Now?

Autosomal DNA Matching Confidence Spectrum

Concepts – Segment Size, Legitimate and False Matches

How Your Autosomal DNA Identifies Your Ancestors

Concepts – Identical by Descent, State, Population and Chance

Nine Autosomal Tools at Family Tree DNA

If you think you might come up short, because you have only one known cousin who has tested, well, think again.

Just One Cousin

Here’s wishing you lots of triangulated matches!!!

Mothers, Weddings and a Lobster, 52 Ancestors #160

To celebrate this Mother’s Day, I decided to create a composite of weddings of the women in my matrilineal line. I feel a special affinity for this line, because not only does it include my mother who I miss dearly, and my grandmother, who I knew as a child, but these women passed their mitochondrial DNA to me.

Weddings, in families, mark the boundaries of generations and often, at least historically, the passage into adulthood. These happy events are celebrated by family gatherings that create lasting memories. Today’s wedding culture has become an industry, but weddings weren’t always that way. Often, they were relatively quiet events, more practical than celebratory and limited to family. However, before the advent of cameras, we have no visual records, so the memories died with the attendees.

Sooo….I can hear you thinking, as you recollect some certain relative….maybe no visual records isn’t such a bad thing!

No worries because, today, that certainly isn’t the case.  Come along for a 5-generation jaunt through the bridal gallery of (some not so) well-behaved women. Let’s face it, there is always more to the story than meets the eye!

Nora Kirsch marries Curtis Benjamin Lore

My photographically preserved family bridal history begins with separate photos of Nora Kirsch and Curtis Benjamin Lore taken in Aurora Indiana when they married on January 18, 1888. Oral history tells us that Nora made her own wedding dress and descended the stairs into the parlor at her parents home, the Kirsch House, to marry Curtis.

Of course, the big secret is that Curtis was already married to someone else and let’s just say that this marriage was arranged by shotgun.  Given the choice of an angry estranged wife in Pennsylvania or sure and certain death at the hands of an angry father in Indiana, Curtis chose to get married and was divorced by the Pennsylvania wife a few months later.

Nora always modified her wedding date by a year so her children wouldn’t figure out about the shotgun circumstances.  No one counted on genealogists to dig up the family secrets.  You’re welcome, Nora!

These photos were clearly taken in a studio and there are no photos of the actual wedding. That’s REALLY unfortunate, because if there had been, Nora’s grandmother, Katharina Barbara Lemmert Kirsch, five generations back for me, would have been in attendance and we would have a picture of her – which we don’t today. She passed away the following year.

Edith Lore marries John Whitney Ferverda

Twenty years later, less one day, Nora and Curtis’s daughter, Edith Barbara Lore married John Whitney Ferverda in the minister’s home on Friday evening, January 17, 1908, in Rushville, Indiana. This wedding was obviously very low key, probably because the bride’s father had been ill with both typhoid followed by tuberculosis, so there was no money for any kind of a wedding. Nora was supporting the family by sewing clothing and making alterations.

The groom’s family was Brethren, lived in northern Indiana, and was probably not pleased with his marriage outside the faith. The easiest thing to do? Marry quietly, most likely with her parents in attendance. The local newspaper carried the announcement the following day.

Nov. 18, 1908 – Miss. Edith Barbara Lore and Mr. John Whitney Ferveda were quietly married at the Presbyterian church parsonage in North Harrison Street last night by Rev. J. L. Cowling.

This photo of Edith was taken about that time.

This photo of John and Edith together was probably taken about 1920.  It’s one of very few of them together – maybe 3 total.

You can rest assured that Edith and John were both in attendance at the wedding of their son, Harold Lore Ferverda in either 1934 or 1939, but there were no photos of that wedding either.

Barbara Jean Ferverda marries Dan Bucher

Their daughter, my mother, Barbara Ferverda, married Daniel Bucher in 1943 when he was on leave from the Army, in the midst of WWII. And no, there are no photos of that wedding, but we can get close. I think these photos may actually have been taken on the leave when they got married and may have even been the day they married.  They too were married either by a Justice of the Peace or in a minister’s home.

I think they eloped, although that was never discussed nor any reasons why.  They married in Joliet, Illinois, no place near home and in the neighboring state. Another family secret floated to the surface.  You’re welcome, Mom!  Wink!!!

From things said later, I get the distinct impression that although they went together as “steadies” throughout high school, that this wedding was not planned much in advance. A lot of wartime marriages were rather spontaneous and happened prior to the man being shipped overseas.

Another Pictureless Wedding

Mother’s niece, Lore’s daughter, Nancy, married in 1958, and I desperately WISH there were photos of that wedding because both of my grandparents and my mother were in attendance. Why oh why oh why could there not have been photos????

John Bucher marries Karen Heckaman

The next family wedding was my brother, John Bucher and his wife Karen Heckaman when they married on September 2, 1962. I was crushed because I desperately wanted to be flower girl and wasn’t invited to attend.  Well, John, here’s to you.

I think this was the first and only suit my brother ever owned.

John’s wedding photo, above, includes the parents of the bride, at left, Karen and John, my mother in plaid, John’s father, Daniel Bucher and his wife, Betty.  I think Mom and Dan were trying, as gracefully as possible, to ignore each other.

Both of my grandparents had passed away within the past couple years, barely missing a wedding I know they would very much have wanted to attend.

My Turn

Several years later, I was married at home. You may notice that you can’t see mother’s left arm, hidden under mine. She had received third degree burns the day before on the toaster oven, but didn’t tell me until I arrived that day to get ready for the wedding. Her arm was bandaged at the hospital and she was taking pain medication. I had to help her dress. Poor Mom. Let’s just say she already wasn’t happy and this didn’t help the situation at all!

The best man, at far right, brother of the groom, wasn’t happy either, for a whole different set of reasons. Wedding drama extraordinaire!!! The memories of THAT day and the surrounding events would take a book and would have to be written as a novel because no one would believe it otherwise.

WWII interfered in my mother’s first marriage and sadly, Vietnam would interfere with mine.

Mom Remarries

Next, the generational tables were turned and it was mother who was getting married to my much-beloved step-father, Dean Long.

Karen and I are standing by Mom and Dean at the reception serving table in the basement of the church. No professional photography of course, but at least we had our own personal cameras and thankfully, a few of those photos still exist.

That day was eventful and memorable beyond anyone’s expectations.  That dark blue dress I’m wearing is a maternity dress and I spent the morning and early afternoon at the hospital with false labor pains.  In fact, the pains began at the hair dresser while Mom an I were getting our hair done, so she drove me to the hospital.  No stress here!

As soon as the doctor told me he thought the pains were “probably” false labor, I got up off the gurney and told the staff I had to leave because my mother, who had driven me to the hospital and was in the waiting room, very nervously pacing back and forth, was getting married in a couple hours.  There were several questioning and incredulous looks as I departed, but I was on my way out the door nonetheless.

I figured by that point that if the pains were real and not false, I had enough time to get through the wedding before I needed to get back to the hospital.

This picture makes me laugh, because it is reminiscent of “trimming the family.” No, I have NO idea what was trimmed out of this photo of Karen and me. There may have been water damage later when a tornado damaged the roof. I also don’t know who took this photo, but Mom was notorious for taking bad pictures – heads cut off, crooked – but at least she took them.  And with all the various stressors that day, she can certainly be forgiven.

The Little Country Church

Let’s fast forward more than a decade to my second marriage which took place in a beautiful old-fashioned little church.

This time, we did have professional photography, a first in my family, BUT, the photographer’s camera malfunctioned and only photos taken before the ceremony survived.

This is my absolutely favorite photo of my step-father and one of my all-time favorite photos ever. He and I were devoted to each other and I could not have loved a father-of-blood more. His daughter, who was my age, died as an infant, on Christmas no less.

One day, this man of very few words walked past me sitting in his chair at the kitchen table on a hot summer day on the farm, thunked me gently on the head with his knuckle, a gesture of affection, and told me that when he married my mother, he got his daughter back. He just kept walking, like nothing had happened. The tears streamed down my face, because I felt so fatherless after my father died when I was 7 until Dean came into my life several years later. I was so very touched to know he felt the same way about me.

Of the pictures that survived the camera malfunction, we have only a few taken before the actual ceremony, but these alone were worth the price.

My daughter, as the flower girl, scattered petals in the aisle in advance of the bride. However, during the rehearsal, she scattered only a few petals, for practice, and then picked them up. During the actual wedding, she scattered all the petals in her basket, then scurried out in the aisleway to pick them up. My maid of honor quickly retrieved my daughter, who began to cry because she couldn’t pick up the flower petals and that was a VERY IMPORTANT part of her job! Ah, the memories of that sweet, sweet child.

Unfortunately, a decade later, the groom would have a massive stroke and another decade later, I would again remarry. Life seldom unfolds as planned.

The Winery Wedding

This wedding was outdoors at a lovely European-style winery on an island. My step-father was watching from the other side, but I know he was there.  My children, now grown, stood up with me. My son and his wife, at left, with my brand-new granddaughter were able to attend. Mom, John and Karen were there, to the right of me in the photo, along with my daughter.

Now, John and Mom are both gone, so I’m very grateful for these family photos. Had my husband and I simply married at the courthouse, as we had discussed, there would have been no wedding celebration, and hence, no photos! That was our one and only 4 generation picture!

I love this photo too, of Mom walking me down the aisle. I’m not sure who was holding up whom!!! I was so happy that day to have my family gathered which hadn’t happened in many years and would never happen again.

My wonderful granddaughter, making her official debut at the wedding in a dress made by my daughter, matching hers.

Mom and I had a fantastic time together at the reception, held in a cooking school.  The chef was also a comedian, but no one but my husband and I knew that in advance.  Mom and I shared lots of laughs. I’m so glad, because she would be gone soon.

My matron of honor for the earlier church wedding made me this stunning quilt with signature squares from the attendees at the winery wedding.

A few years later, it would be my turn as the mother of the bride.

The Fifth Generation Bride

My beautiful (and smart and wonderful and charming, and did I mention smart) daughter married a few years ago on the hottest day of the summer. I cherish this photo and all the memories of that day we spent together. Our family-of-blood, which was limited to just the two of us, and family-of-heart gathered that day, and I don’t know what we would have done without them.

When family-of-blood is gone, family-of-heart becomes your family. The photo below, taken at the “preparatory party” just before my daughter’s wedding is of me, with my matron of honor who retrieved my daughter from petal gathering at the church wedding and made the quilt for my wedding at the winery two decades later. She and her husband, who had helped dress me as a bride, prepared lunch for the group before my daughter’s wedding. Some friends are forever.  Thirty-five years and counting.

As photography has become ever more present in our lives, we now record not just the momentous events, but the fun parts that makes them more than just milestones.

Sometimes it’s the little things – like dressing the bride.

You know that saying about “it takes a village,” well, I’m telling you, it did. Without my quilt family and other close friends, we would have been lost that day. But more than help, this was a bonding experience for everyone involved.

What am I doing, you ask? I’m sewing my daughter into her dress.  That’s a needle and thread in my hand.  Never underestimate the power of a quilter!!! We will make anything work, one way or another.

In our family, each bride on her wedding day receives a handkerchief made or embellished by my great-grandmother, Nora Kirsch Lore. Nora and her mother, Barbara Drechsel were lacemakers and created beautiful lace handkerchiefs and collars.

In the photo above, as my daughter is dressing, I’ve opened the handkerchief that she will carry down the aisle with her flowers. Yes, Nora, and Edith and Mom were all with us that day, one way or another.

In fact, Mom left a special wedding gift for my daughter before she departed to join my step-Dad on the other side – her cherished Hummell Christmas ornaments. Just looking at this picture makes me cry.  It made my daughter cry too.  She’s smiling but you can see the tears in her eyes.

My wedding handkerchief, made by Nora or Barbara, given to me by mother, is framed for posterity.

Finally, the bride is assembled, with a little help from our friends.  Yes, pieces-parts were gathered from near and far, and some assembly and reassembly was required.  Instructions, however, were not included!  Dressing the bride at home was a warm-hearted, very dear and memorable experience.

Here’s the “village” that it took, minus a few people that were somehow missing from the photo.  It was a bit hectic that day.

The village included my quilt-sisters, below. The six of us had been though just about every curve-ball life could throw at us – together. Oh, and one quilt sister, at far right, is also a cousin, something we didn’t discover until after we met.

We had to eat, at some point, so lunch was buffet and the bride was not allowed to eat anything that might stain her dress. Somehow she managed to both eat AND stay clean.  Family gatherings that include breaking bread nourish the body as well as the soul.

The “before the wedding” photography occurred outside, in my yard.

It took all of us to get that done, plus the photographer, another long-time friend aka family-of-heart who had videoed my outside wedding, including the bee who buzzed me as the vows were being exchanged. Tiny detail – I’m terrified of bees, especially tangled in my hair.  No, I did not run backwards down the aisle.  Being late to my own wedding had been bad enough.  However, that video is pretty comical because you can’t tell that it’s a bee I’m swatting at.  I somewhat resemble Ninja bride – and then there’s the laughing.  My poor mother was mortified, again.

My friend’s photography turned out exceptionally well, as you can see – and my daughter had no bee visitors, thankfully.

While these photos look beautiful and elegant, there was an incredible amount of fussing to make them perfect. Five women sweating and fussing with a bridal gown is quite a sight. I’ve omitted those photos. I still have to face the quilt sisters.😊

All I can say is God bless my quilt sisters. We’ve been such an integral part of each other’s lives for so many years, decades, now. We’ve watched our children be born, grow up and marry, and in many cases, participated in the events in a very much hands-on fashion. We spend Christmas Eve together, some holidays and birthdays and even a 50th anniversary.  We are truly family.  My daughter grew up with several “aunts.” There are even stories about that too.  Obvious to us, but not to others – we had people wondering how my daughter’s aunts could originally be from so many different states!

Next, it was time to get the bride into the van to go to the wedding. We all had a good laugh. I’m also omitting those photos, on pain of death if I include them. I also have to face my daughter.😊

First, a quick stop on the front porch for a picture with the groom.

No custom in this family of the groom not seeing the bride ahead of time on the wedding day. The poor groom was actually ill, and not just nerves, but he did a fine job of getting through the day with few people knowing how poorly he felt.  They had to find a doctor during the honeymoon.  Yes, he took a lot of ribbing for that!

Carrying on the step-father tradition, my husband escorted my daughter down the aisle. I’m not sure who was more nervous. Can you tell that he dotes on her? The picture below reminds me of the photo at my wedding with me and my step-father.

Reception Memories

After the actual wedding ceremony is finished, the fun begins. These are the aspects that the wedding date in a genealogy software program can never convey. Traditional wedding photography doesn’t catch this either, but for family bonding and stories, the reception is often the best part. The “big event” is over and everyone lets their hair down.

For example, when the groom’s grandmother, in purple above, in front of the groom, led the family in the chicken dance. You go grandma!!! Thank goodness for these photos and great times, because she is now departed too.

The person who made the cakes clearly had a sense of humor!

And speaking of humor, there was the lobster…

It’s called payback, karma perhaps – something unique from the “rents” as my daughter used to call her parents. Yes, indeed, a lobster showed up uninvited at the wedding, all decked out. That’s me and my husband waving at my daughter, one of those “special moments” reflective of the past that one can only fear resurfacing.  Never mess with the “rents.”  They love you, but they will get you just the same!

Rumor has it that the lobster greeted them that evening at their honeymoon location too. But of course, that’s just a rumor and I know absolutely NOTHING about it. Funny though that no one has seen hide nor claw of the lobster since.

If you want to know the story of the lobster, let’s just say that you’ll have to ask my daughter, or maybe wait until the next wedding or family gathering when someone, I’m sure, will be more than happy to spill the beans.  After all, that’s what family gatherings are for, right?

Isn’t making family history fun!!!

Thank goodness for cameras, weddings, mothers and families, of blood and of heart – with a lobster thrown in for good measure!!!

Happy Mother’s Day!

Family Tree DNA Mother’s Day Sale 2017

This Mother’s Day, you can give Mom something that will benefit her and you too. The Family Finder autosomal DNA test at Family Tree DNA is on sale for $69 beginning today, May 10 through Sunday, May 14th, at midnight Houston time.

So, if it’s Sunday late afternoon and you can’t find that skillet you wanted to buy for her, don’t worry, there’s still time to redeem yourself by purchasing a DNA test.  Just get a card and tell her the kit is on the way.  A printout of the purchase confirmation in the card works too.

Why would you want to give your mother a DNA test, especially if you’ve already tested?

  • First, your matches from your mother’s side will match both you AND your mother, so her matches will easily identify your maternal line relatives.
  • Second, when you connect your mother’s DNA to your tree at Family Tree DNA, you’ll receive maternally identified Family Matches. In other words, Family Tree DNA is doing the heavy lifting in terms of family matching for you!
  • Third, your mother carries more of your ancestors’ DNA than you do, so she’ll have more matches from her side of the family for you to work with.
  • Fourth, her DNA is cut in half in your generation, so her ethnicity will reflect more of her ancestry than yours will, because you only carry half of the DNA she does.
  • Fifth, your mother and you can enjoy sharing your genealogy journey together.  I really miss sharing now that my Mom is gone.

If neither you nor your mother have tested, you can buy a Family Finder test for both of you while they are on sale.  If you’re lucky enough to be celebrating Mother’s Day with your grandmother as well, by ALL means, test her too!

DNA testing is a very unique gift and you’ll be so glad that you did.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  As a genealogist, I am grateful every single day for my mother’s Family Finder test results.

Click here to order!!!