Ancestry’s New “Amount of Shared DNA” – What Does It Really Mean?

Yesterday, Ancestry quietly introduced a new feature of their AncestryDNA autosomal product called “Amount of Shared DNA.”

This can be seen when you view your match, beside the confidence bar, as shown below.  Fly over the little “i.”

shared dna

It’s nice to know how much DNA we share and across how many DNA segments – but what does this really mean, how is it calculated, and how do these calculations stack up against the same information from other vendors?

Why would it be any different, you ask?

Because Ancestry runs their academic phasing program, Timber, and removes segments identified as matching to many people, constituting pileup areas.  Remember when Timber was introduced and people lost more than half of their matches?  I went from 13,500 to 3,350.  Today, 50 weeks later, I have about 6,700.

Real phasing is when you utilize your parents DNA to divide your own DNA into half.  Half your matches match you and your mother, and half your matches match you and your father.  If not, then they are not IBD matches.

Timber attempts to remove segments that are too matchy – areas where Ancestry feels you have too many matches so they might be “population” based match segments instead of real genealogical segments.

This new “Amount of Shared DNA” feature gives us the opportunity to test their matching against other vendors.

Thankfully, my cousin Harold has tested at all the vendors and uploaded to GedMatch, as have I.

Therefore, we can compare our results on all platforms.

shared dna 2

Why is the Ancestry total cM so much smaller than the other vendors, at any threshold?  Timber.  Ancestry is removing many segments that other vendors are counting and using, even at higher thresholds like 10 cM.  In fact, at GedMatch, their maximum threshold is 10cM and even at that level, the total match cM was 135, 21 more than Ancestry, and the SNPs were all well over 1000.

shared dna 3

The Acid Test

I’ve believed since the introduction of Timber that it removed too many segments – segments that are valid and useful – thereby removing valid matches.

However, the acid test is a parent/child match.  Each child should match their parents on exactly 23 segments (or 22 if Ancestry is not counting the X chromosome), one complete match for each chromosome.  Once in a while you’ll have a read error that may divide a chromosome into two match segments, so an occasional 24 or 25 wouldn’t be surprising.

What are we seeing?  A quick read of forums and looking at the results I have access to shows me that parent match segments are ranging from about 85 to about 110, which, in case you are counting, is from 64 to 87 more than the 22 (or 23 counting the X) chromosomes that we have.

What this tells us is twofold:

  1. Timber is removing 64 to 87 VALID segments in parent/child matching, believing that pileups are invalid. Rule #1 of DNA – you must match your parents. If you double this number, because you have two parents, each person has in the ballpark of from 130 to about 200 areas where their DNA is “too matchy” and segments/matches are removed. This illustrates the magnitude of the Timber problem.
  2. You cannot draw or correlate any relationship inferences from either the total amount of shared DNA nor the number of segments by utilizing the typical tools utilized by genetic genealogists because Ancestry’s totals will be lower and their segments will be broken into more pieces due to the removal of segments identified by Timber as invalid matches.  Blaine Bettinger is beginning to collect information at this link on Ancestry’s shared cM data for known relatives.  This information will be made public for all to utilize, as has his earlier shared cM work.  Please contribute if you can.

Hopefully Ancestry will take this opportunity to address the Timber issue, and hopefully they will eventually provide a chromosome browser type tool.  Now all we need is the chromosome number and start/end addresses for those chopped up segments.  These tidbits and pieces of solutions are not appeasing the genetic genealogy community and this new “amount of shared DNA” feature will not “do” in place of a chromosome browser.  I know this sounds like a broken record…and it is.  While Ancestry seems to be inching in the chromosome browser direction by providing additional information….I wouldn’t hold my breath.  I don’t think it will ever happen – but I would really, REALLY like for Ancestry to prove me wrong!

Fortunately, Ancestry’s tree matches and Circles are useful and thankfully, we can download our autosomal DNA results to both Family Tree DNA and to GedMatch and utilize their chromosome browsers and other tools.  Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to download, so we do really need that chromosome browser.



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The 23andMe Transition – First Step November 11th

If you tested through 23andMe, certainly by now you know they are undergoing a rather dramatic facelift and change of how their webpage, tools and matching works.

What’s Changing?

After November 11th, many changes will occur and many matches will no longer be available to you, especially if they are anonymous or use a nickname.  Here is a complete list of what will and will not be available.

The genetic genealogy community is struggling to understand exactly what this means to us, in terms of matches and functionality – both lost and gained.  Suffice it to say that a lot of confusion remains, so be on the safe side and download both your individual match list and your COA (Countries of Ancestry) matches if you utilize those.

Countries of Ancestry Matches

I recently discovered that many people don’t know about COA, so here is some brief information so you can utilize this information before it’s too late.

The Countries of Ancestry feature was meant to allow you to see where your matches’ ancestors are from if all 4 of their grandparents were born in the same place.  The idea being that if all 4 grandparents were born in the same place, then the family lines likely run deep there – and perhaps your ancestors were born there too.  For more information, sign on to your 23andMe account, go to Countries of Ancestry, and click on the “see how this works” link.

23andme change 1

To download your individual match ancestry and segment information, go to Ancestry Tools, Countries of Ancestry, and click on the blue button below your chromosome map.

To download the information for your matches, click on the down arrow in the box with your name, and you will see your matches information which is available for download.

23andme change1

The benefit of COA information was that Anonymous individuals’ information was available to you – and it is beneficial to know that you match someone on a particular chromosome whose 4 grandparents were all born in Ireland, for example.

23andme change 2

Additional Information

When I signed on recently, this message, below was waiting for me and provides additional information.  But remember, whatever you are going to do in preparation – do it now, before November 11th.  It’s somewhat uncertain exactly what will and will not be available after that date.  It’s also uncertain what “partially available” means.  Better safe than sorry – so download anything you want now.  You may not able to do so later.

As part of the updates and transition to the new 23andMe, many features will be undergoing significant changes. While we are working to transition customers to the new site, some changes will have an immediate impact on the customer experience in the current 23andMe site, including introductions in DNA Relatives.

To provide some context for the changes to DNA Relatives introductions, it may be helpful to review what purpose introductions served in the current DNA Relatives; namely, introductions brokered communication between anonymous participants and allowed participants to remain anonymous during communication.

In the new 23andMe, anonymous participation in DNA Relatives will no longer be an option. To support this change, several things will happen in the existing DNA Relatives starting November 11, 2015:

* Customers currently using nicknames in DNA Relatives will be converted to anonymous In order to access and participate in the new DNA Relatives, customers will select how to display their profile name or initials; “nicknames” will no longer be an option. If your current settings in DNA Relatives are “Show me as [ Nickname ]” instead of “Show me as [ Profile Name ]” on November 11 this setting will revert to “Keep me anonymous.”

Your profile name may still be an alias or a name of your choosing; for more information about when a legal name is required, see

* Anonymous participants can no longer send or receive introductions The introduction system is what allowed messages to be exchanged anonymously. Copying pending introductions as messages in the new DNA Relatives would expose the names of participants who had been anonymous.

* Pending introductions will be canceled Both incoming and outgoing introductions will be deleted from your inbox.

We realize that canceling pending introductions will have a significant impact for some customers. To date, a pending introduction would keep a match on your list indefinitely so pending introductions allowed members to view and maintain matches beyond the cap of 1 thousand. There are several additional DNA Relatives updates that should help mitigate the cancellation of introductions:

First, the cap on the number of matches that will be available in DNA Relatives is being raised. We expect to be able to provide each customer with their closest 2 thousand matches, which is double the current cap.

Second, we are introducing an Open Sharing option within DNA Relatives. If 2 customers both choose to participate in Open Sharing, they will be able to view one another’s ancestry and segment information without extending and accepting a sharing invitation.

Third, anonymous participation in DNA Relatives will no longer be an option. Currently anonymous customers who wish to continue participating in the feature will need to select new settings (although until they do they will remain as an anonymous match). Participation in DNA Relatives also includes messaging tools, and any participant can send a message to any other participant.

When customers transition to the new 23andMe, the following will apply:

* Any established sharing settings will be maintained.  This will not affect any sharing connections; if you are sharing genomes with another member, that will remain in place.

* Accepted introductions will be saved.  The content of messages for introductions that have been accepted will be copied over to the updated messaging system in the new DNA Relatives.

* Currently anonymous customers who wish to continue participating in the feature will need to select new settings. Until they do they will remain anonymous.



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Thank you so much.

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Free Access to Native American Records – Limited Time

free access

Many people have an oral history of Native American heritage. is offering free access to their Native American Collection until November 15th, 2015.

Finding that your DNA carries a history of Native heritage often is just the beginning of a search.  The next question, if of course, which tribe.  That information generally comes from genealogy research.

Conversely, the lack of autosomal DNA evidence does not mean your ancestor was not Native – it may mean they were just too many generations back in time for their DNA to become evident in today’s ethnicity results – although they may still show in Y and mitochondrial DNA – depending on where they fall in your family tree.

Regardless of how your Native history or heritage is presented in your family – DNA or not – enjoy searching these free records.

Titles in this collection include:

  • Ratified Indian Treaties (1722-1869): Ratified treaties that occurred between the United States government and American Indian tribes. Also included are presidential proclamations, correspondence, and treaty negotiation expenses.
  • Indian Census Rolls (1885-1940): Census rolls submitted annually by agents or superintendents of Indian reservations as required by an 1884 Act of Congress. Only persons who maintained a formal affiliation with a tribe under Federal supervision are listed on these census rolls.
  • Dawes Packets: Applications between 1896 and 1914 from members of the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Seminole tribes to establish eligibility for an allotment of land in return for abolishing their tribal governments and recognizing Federal law.
  • Dawes Enrollment Cards (1898-1914): Enrollment cards, also referred to as “census cards,” prepared by the staff of the Commission to the Five Civilized Tribes, commonly known as the Dawes Commission. The cards record information provided by applications submitted by members of the same family group or household and include notations of the actions taken.
  • Eastern Cherokee Applications (1906-1909): Applications submitted for shares of the money that was appropriated for the Eastern Cherokee Indians by Congress on June 30, 1906.
  • Enrollment of Eastern Cherokee by Guion Miller (1908-1910): The Guion Miller Roll is perhaps the most important source for Cherokee genealogical research. There are an estimated 90,000 individual applicants from throughout North America included within this publication.
  • Cherokee Indian Agency, TN (1801-1835): The records of the agent of Indian Affairs in Tennessee, including correspondence, agency letter books, fiscal records, records of the Agent for the Department of War in Tennessee, records of the Agent for Cherokee Removal, and miscellaneous records.
  • Rinehart Photos – Native Americans (1898): Photographs of over 100 Native Americans taken by Frank A. Rinehart, a commercial photographer in Omaha, Nebraska. Rinehart was commissioned to photograph the 1898 Indian Congress, part of the Trans-Mississippi International Exposition.



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

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Genealogy Research

Get Your Ducks in a Row – Time May Be Shorter Than You Think


Helen Rutledge is my cousin.  She and I have been sniffing around the same records in the same counties for many years now.  I only wish we had met earlier so we could have shared more of the chase.

Helen is no “spring chicken” as we say on the farm.  In fact, Helen has continued to research far into her golden years – being in her 90s now.  Want to hear the great irony? Helen has no children to leave her work to – but this does not deter her.  Helen is the aunt that every one of us wants to have in our family.

Recently Helen sent me an e-mail that both saddened me and inspired me, and with her permission, I’m sharing it with you.  I have omitted some of the more personal portions.

After 13 days in the hospital I returned to long term nursing care. I brought my computer and genealogy records from Assisted Living to my new level of care. However, now instead of researching, I am organizing my research to leave for my nephew and some research archives. I have been forewarned in the most urgent way that there may not be time to think about how I will do this when the research is done. Well, we all know research is never finished.

Keep urging perseveration of research on your blog. It is as important as the research itself. Answers are no good if I am the only one who knows the answer to the puzzle…I must share it with others whether they give me credit or not. I thank you for alerting me to that truth and God for allowing me extended days to get my records in order as a gift to other researchers. Oh, the many little tidbits I have garnered, documented, and put together for those who follow in my footsteps with our family lineage.

Organization is not just entering our data into a genealogy program. It is documenting, making copies of the documents available when possible, and recording the ORDER of our research so those who are not familiar with the records, can follow the generations and become acquainted with their ancestors.

Be honest, say information is not documented, when such is the case, and challenge your readers to find documentation. Try to inspire descendants to fill in the blanks and record those who are yet unborn. While they will miss the thrill of solving the puzzle after years of frustration, they will know the joy of learning who they are.

Thank you, Helen, for your lovely, inspirational message. Sometimes we aren’t fortunate enough to receive a warning. (Note – Helen passed away in February, 2018.)

Another e-mail this week told of another cousin’s husband who died suddenly, with no warning, and he was 30 years younger than Helen.

DNA in Perpetuity

I would add one thing though, and that is to record your user names and passwords – especially relative to DNA accounts and tests and anyplace, like GedMatch, you have uploaded your results.  Your DNA can never, and I repeat, NEVER, be replaced, while genealogy research could be with enough effort.  Don’t let your DNA results become inaccessible.

At Family Tree DNA, you can designate a beneficiary.

On your personal page, under “Your Account” on the left hand side, select “Manage Personal Information.”


Then select Beneficiary Information and complete the form which includes your beneficiary’s name, e-mail and phone number.  If you should pass away, this is who Family Tree DNA will allow to access your account.  Other companies, to the best of my knowledge don’t include this information or provide this option, so you’ll need to be sure to leave your account access information available for your family members.


If you have not prepared for the inevitable, please take a few minutes to do so.   You can make the DNA arrangements now, and easily.

Remember, at Ancestry, your DNA won’t be available unless your account (subscription and login) remains active, so you’ll need to take how to handle that into consideration.

You might want to download not just your raw data files, but matches as well when possible.

Public Sites

Upload your Y and mitochondrial DNA to sites like and  Be sure to record the most distant ancestor and enough information to positively identify them, like birth and death dates, locations and spouse’s name.  This is the only way to get your info into a public data base that is accessible without having DNA tested for a match.  You can also enter Y and mito info at and attach it to the proper ancestor.  This helps others in the future learn about their ancestors.  Be sure to include your full haplogroup in the notes and a link to anything you may have published about that line.

Upload your autosomal results to and upload trees where possible.

Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, because baskets aren’t forever either.  Think about how many genealogy companies have come and gone and what happened to our Y and mitochondrial DNA with both Ancestry and Sorenson (also destroyed by Ancesty).

Genealogy Research

You can take a few minutes to put together a plan for how to preserve and present the balance of your genealogy information.  Preserving and publishing my genealogy research has been on my bucket list for some time now and is the purpose of the 52 Ancestors articles I’ve been writing for the past 18 months.  I’ll write them until every ancestor is covered….or I can no longer write the articles – and I sincerely hope I have the opportunity to finish.  Not just for my own sake, but for the benefit of everyone else who follows.  I hope future researchers make huge breakthroughs and add immensely to what I know today.  My work will at least give them a firm foundation to start from and they won’t have to replow the same ground.

One of the avenues to preserve your work online is a blog.  WordPress offers free blogs and they will be available into perpetuity, whatever that really means.  I am also printing my articles and will be donating them to archival facilities like the Allen County Public Library.  And of course, I’ll have a set of binders for each of my children.

WikiTree is another public resource for your trees, your Y and mtDNA results and additional information, although that’s not the same as offering the detail in an article.

So, however you choose to do whatever you choose to do… just do it.

And do it now.

You may not have an opportunity later.

Time may be shorter than you think.

Get your ducks in a row.



I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

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John Combs Wife (c1710-c1749) and The Eagle, 52 Ancestors #96

We don’t know her name.  In my genealogy software she is simply listed as “unknown” or “wife 1.”  But assuredly, she lived, because she had a daughter named Luremia, my ancestor, a daughter Martha and a son George.  She may have had other children too, before she died an untimely death.

Her husband, John Combs was born about 1705, so she was probably born about the same time or maybe slightly later. Let’s say she was born about 1710.  We know she had three children, at least three that survived, and they were born around 1740-1743.  Then she died.  Sometime before 1750 when her husband remarried.  She died knowing she was leaving three small children behind – and perhaps more.  Did she die in childbirth?  Did she know she was dying?  Maybe she prayed that her husband would find another wife who would love those children.  What does a dying woman pray for under those circumstances, other than a miracle?

We may not know her name, when or where she was born, or to whom, but we do know where she lived.  Amelia County, Virginia.  I was able to visit Amelia County in the fall of 2015.  I was able to find the lands of John Combs and his unknown wife as well as the land of Moses Estes whose son, Moses Estes Jr. would marry their daughter, Luremia Combs.  These families were close neighbors and their families intermarried.

Amelia County carries a chapter of the Estes family history that intersects with the Combs family.  That’s also the chapter of Luremia’s mother with the unknown name.  Moses Estes Jr. married Luremia Combs who was born about 1740, probably in Amelia County, to John Combs and his first wife.  John’s wife, Luremia’s mother, is buried someplace here, as is John himself following his death in 1762.  John’s second wife, Frances Elam, married him on September 11, 1750 knowing he had three motherless children, had 4 more children with John Combs, remarried and outlived him significantly, until sometime after 1778.  Luremia Combs and Moses Estes Jr. married about the time John died.

The Estes Land

Moses Estes Jr., Luremia’s husband, was likely born in Hanover County.  It’s unclear when the Estes family, at least Moses Sr., moved to Amelia County, but he is listed in a deed in 1749 selling land in Louisa County and noted as “of Amelia County.”

By 1769, both Moses Sr. and his brother Elisha were living in Amelia County when Moses sued his brother relative to his father’s estate, and in the very early 1770s, Moses Sr. and Moses Jr. had moved to Halifax County, Virginia.

We know that in Amelia County, Moses Estes owned land that abutted Nicholas Gillington’s land, and Gillington’s land was on Horsepen Branch of Raleigh Parish which would put Horsepen Branch on Flatt Creek, located 3 or 4 miles east of the Grub Hill Church on 636, Lodore Road.

Combs wife 1

Yes, I know chasing the neighbors’ property is the long way around to find my ancestors – but sometimes that is the only way to find your ancestor’s property, and it can be done.  Thank heavens for landmarks with names.  If you pull the deeds for all of the neighbors, at least one of them will likely have a creek name or some landmark you can find today.  You then know, based on the land description, where your ancestor’s land was located in proximity to the land and landmark you just found.

Is this a royal pain in the patoot?  Oh yea.  Does it work?  Oh yea!!!!

Combs wife 2

Today you can visit the location of Moses Estes’ land on Lodore Road.

Combs wife 3

Dykeland Road (632) crosses Horsepen Branch.  Moses’ land seems to be closer to this location.

Combs wife 4

You can’t visit the Dykeland Road location on Google street view, probably because it’s dirt.

The Combs Land

John Combs and Luremia’s mother lived in very close proximity to the Egglestetton family and the Booker family, making his land easier to find, in general terms.  Grub Hill Church seems to be the center of this entire neighborhood and probably was then too.

Combs wife grub hill

Starting our tour at Grub Hill Church, founded in 1754, so known to the Estes and Combs families, I have to wonder if this is where John Combs and Luremia’s mother are buried.  Luremia’s mother died before 1750, so she may be buried on John’s farm, but then again, this cemetery could predate the church, so one never knows.  For all I know, this cemetery could have been ON the Combs farm.

Combs wife grub hill 2

This church was rebuilt in the 1800s, but this is the old section of the cemetery.

John died in 1762, and I’d bet he is buried with Luremia’s mother, wherever she is buried.

The Egglestetton family lived on Egglestetton Road, which, combined with the fact that one of the Egglestetton homes is on the register of historic places, and well-marked, makes them easy to find.

Combs wife eggletetton

After I returned home, I also discovered a second Egglestetton historic home, Locust Grove, located at the end of route 638 off the north side of Route 681.

Robert Farguson patented 400 acres on the lower side of Flatt Creek on Sept. 28, 1732 and sold it to Thomas Pettus who sold it to William Egglesten in 1753 – the land beginning at the mouth of Cabbin Branch.

According to the book, “Old Homes and Buildings of Amelia County, Virginia, Volume II” by Gibson McConnauhey, Locust Grove was the original Egglestetton plantation, and this included the land that was sold to Egglestetton by John Combs.

On December 23, 1778, William Egglestetton purchased from Frances Hubbard and her husband, Joseph, Frances’s dower right in the land of her late husband, John Combs, which had been patented to him on September 28, 1732.  This confirmed that indeed, John’s land is very near Locust Grove, if not the land of Locus Grove itself.

In 1798, Judith Egglestetton gave to her son, Edward, the life estate in the 400 acres that her husband, William Egglestetton had purchased of John Combs (DB20, p 425).

On the map below, the Locust Grove location is noted with the grey balloon and to the right, 630 is Egglestetton Road where the other historic Egglestetton home is located.

Combs wife 5

Looking at this map, I have to wonder if Haw Branch was formerly called Cabbin Branch when Joseph Ferguson patented the land.

It looks like Ferguson’s bridge could be the one over Flatt Creek on Lodore Road.  Even today, this is a wooden bridge.

Combs wife 6

What we know is that John Combs land was someplace in this area, and that he was keeping the road from the Flatt Creek bridge to the courthouse open and in order.

Combs wife 7

John’s land was between Nibbs and Flatt Creek and it looks like Combs bridge is the bridge on Grub Hill Church Road over Flatt Creek, shown above with the grey balloon.  The Farguson land and bridge is where N. Lodore Road crosses Flatt creek, on the left.

The Booker Home

Edmund Booker was a very wealthy planter in Amelia County – THE rich and influential man in the neighborhood.  He was also the neighbor of John Combs and his wife.

Combs wife 8

The old Edmund Booker home is now a lovely restored Bed and Breakfast and wedding event center called Winterham.  I stopped and was fortunate enough to find the owner available to talk for a few minutes.  It turns out that she is a history buff and has written several of the Amelia County articles and books.  She also shared with me a map of Winterham from 1869 which shows the original lines of the Booker plantation.

Combs wife Winterham survey

Combs wife Winterham survey 2

You can see the Egglestton lines to the left in the top photo.  North is not at the top.

Riding Down Egglestetton Road

Combs wife Egglestetton road

So let’s take a ride down Egglestetton Road.

This is the land on the southwest corner of Grub Hill Church Road and Egglestetton Road.  This is what most of the area looks like.  Slightly rolling and fertile.  This was indeed good land to patent.

Combs wife 10

Part of Egglestetton Road is still forested.

Combs wife 11

We found this lovely old tractor on one of the farms along Egglestetton Road.

Combs wife 12

I do believe this is a bit of a fixer upper.

Combs wife 13

It’s just beautiful farm country here.

Combs wife 14

Flatt Creek

From here we rode north on  Grub Hill Church Road to see George Combs bridge on Flatt Creek.

Combs wife 15

Flatt Creek isn’t terribly large here, but it is large enough that a bridge would have been needed.

A second small bridge exists today on Grub Hill Church Road but south of Flatt Creek, yet north of Egglestetton Road.  This may well have been the branch that Edmund Booker referred to on George Combs land that he agreed to keep open.

At court, in January 1747, John Booker requests that the road near his house on the way to Richard Booker’s mill be stopped and the old road near John Comb’s be kept open and Booker agrees to build a bridge over the run near Comb’s house and keep it in repair.

Of course, the road has changed between now and then, so perhaps this is not the exact same location, but there aren’t many candidates.

Combs wife 16

This is a branch of Nibbs Creek on Grub Hill Church Road, north of the church but before Flatt Creek.

Combs wife 17

If that is George Combs branch, then this is George Combs land.

Combs wife 18

Luremia’s Mother’s DNA

We may not know her name, but we can still perhaps discover more about Luremia’s mother.

Luremia’s mother had two daughters, both of whom would have passed on her mitochondrial DNA to her granddaughters through both daughters.  Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mothers to all of their children, but only the females pass it on.

Therefore, both daughters, Luremia and Martha would pass their mother’s mitochondrial DNA to their daughters, who would pass it on through their daughters, to the current generations.  Mitochondrial DNA is never combined with the DNA of the father.

  • Luremia Combs married Moses Estes Jr. and had the following daughters:
  • Patience Estes born before 1780 and married Peter Holt in Halifax County, VA.  Patience died before 1837, lived in Smith County, TN, and had at least one daughter, Cointhiana (or Cintha) Holt who married Johnson Moorefield.
  • Clarissa Combs Estes born in the 1760s, married Frances Boyd in Halifax County in 1786, lived in Georgia in 1837, and had daughters May Isabel Irving Boyd, Lorany Combs Boyd, Clarice Combs Boyd and Nancy Lawson Boyd.
  • Judith Estes born before 1787, married Andrew Juniel in Halifax County in 1806 and died before 1837 in Henderson County, KY.  She had daughters Sally, Nancy, Luraney and Jane.
  • Patsy Martha Estes, married before 1799 to Robert Jackson (also spelled Hackson) and was married in 1837 to a Lax, children unknown.
  • Maga Estes married in 1792 in Halifax County to William Patrick Boyd, children unknown.  Not mentioned as a child in 1837 suit.  Either she was dead with no heirs, or perhaps she was not a child of Moses and Luremia.

Luremia’s sister, Martha Combs married James Bowlen or Bowls, but nothing more is known of this couple.

If you descend from Luremia Combs Estes or Martha Combs Bowlen (or Bowls) through all females, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you.

Wouldn’t it be ironic to not know Luremia’s mother’s name, but to know about her ancestors through her DNA.

A Hint

We do have one hint as to a possible identity of Luremia’s mother – and it comes through lawsuits that followed John Combs death.  In those lawsuits, Jamie Farguson is refered to as George Combs uncle.  George Combs is Luremia’s brother, both children of John Combs and his unknown wife.

Now we know that the surnames are different, so Jamie Farguson/Ferguson is not John Combs’, brother unless he is a half-brother.

So, either James Farguson’s wife is a Combs, or John Combs first wife, Luremia’s mother, was a Farguson, now spelled Ferguson.  That’s certainly possible, because the Farguson/Ferguson family and the Combs family arrived at about the same time in Amelia County and their land was adjacent.

Tracking down the Ferguson family, it appears that John Ferguson was the first and only Ferguson of his generation to patent land in Amelia County – although his son, Robert, wasn’t far behind.  John was the son of James Ferguson of Essex County, and James Ferguson’s daughters seem to be accounted for – with no Combs involved, so perhaps John’s wife, Elizabeth was indeed a Combs.  Or perhaps John’s son, James married a Combs.  John Combs died in 1778, with a will, and mentions his children and some of his grandchildren, but no Combs.  Of course, if Luremia’s mother was John Combs daughter, she predeceased him. It’s also possible that the John who died in 1778 was the son of the original John.

Unfortunately, we have nothing more than this one vague reference to “uncle Jamie Farguson.”

If descendants of Luremia, George and Martha Combs stumble over any unusual Ferguson DNA matches, this could be the source.  However, having said that, John Ferguson who died in 1778 has a daughter who married an Estes man, so Luremia Estes’ descendants may well match with Ferguson descendants due to the Estes DNA, if their matches descend through John Ferguson’s daughter Kesia.

Truthfully, the Ferguson family, while prolific and using the same names repeatedly, is fairly well documented.  It think it’s much more likely that Jamie Ferguson’s wife, Polly, was a Combs than that John Comb’s unknown first wife was a Ferguson.

The Guide

This Virginia trip included an incredible gift.  The Amelia County adventure was part of a 2 week trip to Virginia that encompassed several counties and side trips to ancestral lands.  I was hoping for some fall color.

Various raptors have been with us for most of the way – soaring on the thermals and keeping a watchful eye on us.

However, in Amelia County, an eagle joined us near the Booker plantation, which, according to the map at Wintherham, abutted the Egglestetton land which had originally been that of John Combs and his unidentified wife.  I was here that John Combes wife and Luremia’s mother lived and bore her children.  It is here that she died, knowing she was leaving small, helpless children behind.  It was here that those children were raised and married.  It is here that Luremia’s mother is buried.  Someplace nearby.

Combs wife eagle

The eagle landed in the tree and surveyed us.

Combs wife eagle 2

He then lifted off beautifully, his white tail glowing in the sunshine.

Then, he led the way.  Maybe he was telling me where Luremia’s mother was buried.

Combs wife eagle 3

What an absolutely amazing gift and a wonderful way to end my visit to Amelia County.  If you’re a Combs or Estes descendant, and you decide to take this drive, I hope the eagle accompanies you too.



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