2016 Genetic Genealogy Retrospective

In past years, I’ve written a “best of” article about genetic genealogy happenings throughout the year. For several years, the genetic genealogy industry was relatively new, and there were lots of new tools being announced by the testing vendors and others as well.

This year is a bit different. I’ve noticed a leveling off – there have been very few announcements of new tools by vendors, with only a few exceptions.  I think genetic genealogy is maturing and has perhaps begun a new chapter.  Let’s take a look.

Vendors

Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA leads the pack this year with their new Phased Family Matches which utilizes close relatives, up to third cousins, to assign your matches to either maternal or paternal buckets, or both if the individual is related on both sides of your tree.

Both Buckets

They are the first and remain the only vendor to offer this kind of feature.

Phased FF2

Phased Family Matching is extremely useful in terms of identifying which side of your family tree your matches are from. This tool, in addition to Family Tree DNA’s nine other autosomal tools helps identify common ancestors by showing you who is related to whom.

Family Tree DNA has also added other features such as a revamped tree with the ability to connect DNA results to family members.  DNA results connected to the tree is the foundation for the new Phased Family Matching.

The new Ancient Origins feature, released in November, was developed collaboratively with Dr. Michael Hammer at the University of Arizona Hammer Lab.

Ancient European Origins is based on the full genome sequencing work now being performed in the academic realm on ancient remains. These European results fall into three primary groups of categories based on age and culture.  Customer’s DNA is compared to the ancient remains to determine how much of the customer’s European DNA came from which group.  This exciting new feature allows us to understand more about our ancestors, long before the advent of surnames and paper or parchment records. Ancient DNA is redefining what we know, or thought we knew, about population migration.

2016-ancient-origins

You can view Dr. Hammer’s presentation given at the Family Tree DNA Conference in conjunction with the announcement of the new Ancient Origins feature here.

Family Tree DNA maintains its leadership position among the three primary vendors relative to Y DNA testing, mtDNA testing and autosomal tools.

Ancestry

In May of 2016, Ancestry changed the chip utilized by their tests, removing about 300,000 of their previous 682,000 SNPs and replacing them with medically optimized SNPs. The rather immediate effect was that due to the chip incompatibility, Ancestry V2 test files created on the new chip cannot be uploaded to Family Tree DNA, but they can be uploaded to GedMatch.  Family Tree DNA is working on a resolution to this problem.

I tested on the new Ancestry V2 chip, and while there is a difference in how much matching DNA I share with my matches as compared to the V1 chip, it’s not as pronounced as I expected. There is no need for people who tested on the earlier chip to retest.

Unfortunately, Ancestry has remained steadfast in their refusal to implement a chromosome browser, instead focusing on sales by advertising the ethnicity “self-discovery” aspect of DNA testing.

Ancestry does have the largest autosomal data base but many people tested only for ethnicity, don’t have trees or have private trees.  In my case, about half of my matches fall into that category.

Ancestry maintains its leadership position relative to DNA tree matching, known as a Shared Ancestor Hint, identifying common ancestors in the trees of people whose DNA matches.

ancestry-common-ancestors

23andMe

23andMe struggled for most of the year to meet a November 2015 deadline, which is now more than a year past, to transition its customers to the 23andMe “New Experience” which includes a new customer interface. I was finally transitioned in September 2016, and the experience has been very frustrating and extremely disappointing, and that’s putting it mildly. Some customers, specifically international customers, are still not transitioned, nor is it clear if or when they will be.

I tested on the 23andMe older V3 chip as well as their newer V4 chip. After my transition to the New Experience, I compared the results of the two tests. The new security rules incorporated into the New Experience meant that I was only able to view about 25% of my matches (400 of 1651(V3) matches or 1700 (V4) matches). 23andMe has, in essence, relegated themselves into the non-player status for genetic genealogy, except perhaps for adoptees who need to swim in every pool – but only then as a last place candidate. And those adoptees had better pray that if they have a close match, that match falls into the 25% of their matches that are useful.

In December, 23andMe began providing segment information for ethnicity segments, except the parental phasing portion does not function accurately, calling into question the overall accuracy of the 23andme ethnicity information. Ironically, up until now, while 23andMe slipped in every other area, they had been viewed at the best, meaning most accurate, in terms of ethnicity estimates.

New Kids on the Block

MyHeritage

In May of 2016, MyHeritage began encouraging people who have tested at other vendors to upload their results. I was initially very hesitant, because aside from GedMatch that has a plethora of genetic genealogy tools, I have seen no benefit to the participant to upload their DNA anyplace, other than Family Tree DNA (available for V3 23andMe and V1 Ancestry only).

Any serious genealogist is going to test at least at Family Tree DNA and Ancestry, both, and upload to GedMatch. My Heritage was “just another upload site” with no tools, not even matching initially.

However, in September, MyHeritage implemented matching, although they have had a series of what I hope are “startup issues,” with numerous invalid matches, apparently resulting from their usage of imputation.

Imputation is when a vendor infers what they think your DNA will look like in regions where other vendors test, and your vendor doesn’t. The best example would be the 300,000 or so Ancestry locations that are unique to the Ancestry V2 chip. Imputation would result in a vendor “inferring” or imputing your results for these 300,000 locations based on…well, we don’t exactly know based on what. But we do know it cannot be accurate.  It’s not your DNA.

In the midst of this, in October, 23andMe announced on their forum that they had severed a previous business relationship with MyHeritage where 23andMe allowed customers to link to MyHeritage trees in lieu of having customer trees directly on the 23andMe site.  This approach had been problematic because customers are only allowed 250 individuals in their tree for free, and anything above that requires a MyHeritage subscription.  Currently 23andMe has no tree capability.

It appears that MyHeritage refined their DNA matching routines at least somewhat, because many of the bogus matches were gone in November when they announced that their beta was complete and that they were going to sell their own autosomal DNA tests. However, matching issues have not disappeared or been entirely resolved.

While Family Tree DNA’s lab will be processing the MyHeritage autosomal tests, the results will NOT be automatically placed in the Family Tree DNA data base.

MyHeritage will be doing their own matching within their own database. There are no comparison tools, tree matching or ethnicity estimates today, but My Heritage says they will develop a chromosome browser and ethnicity estimates. However, it is NOT clear whether these will be available for free to individuals who have transferred their results into MyHeritage or if they will only be available to people who tested through MyHeritage.

2016-myheritage-matches

For the record, I have 28 matches today at MyHeritage.

2016-myheritage-second-match

I found that my second closest match at MyHeritage is also at Ancestry.

2016-myheritage-at-ancestry

At MyHeritage, they report that I match this individual on a total of 64.1 cM, across 7 segments, with the largest segment being 14.9 cM.

Ancestry reports this same match at 8.3 cM total across 1 segment, which of course means that the longest segment is also 8.3 cM.

Ancestry estimates the relationship as 5th to 8th cousin, and MyHeritage estimates it as 2nd to 4th.

While I think Ancestry’s Timber strips out too much DNA, there is clearly a HUGE difference in the reported results and the majority of this issue likely lies with the MyHeritage DNA imputation and matching routines.

I uploaded my Family Tree DNA autosomal file to MyHeritage, so MyHeritage is imputing at least 300,000 SNPs for me – almost half of the SNPs needed to match to Ancestry files.  They are probably imputing that many for my match’s file too, so that we have an equal number of SNPs for comparison.  Combined, this would mean that my match and I are comparing 382,000 actual SNPs that we both tested, and roughly 600,000 SNPs that we did not test and were imputed.  No wonder the MyHeritage numbers are so “off.”

My Heritage has a long way to go before they are a real player in this arena. However, My Heritage has potential, as they have a large subscriber base in Europe, where we desperately need additional testers – so I’m hopeful that they can attract additional genealogists that are willing to test from areas that are under-represented to date.

My Heritage got off to a bit of a rocky start by requiring users to relinquish the rights to their DNA, but then changed their terms in May, according to Judy Russell’s blog.

All vendors can change their terms at any time, in a positive or negative direction, so I would strongly encourage all individuals considering utilizing any testing company or upload service to closely read all the legal language, including Terms and Conditions and any links found in the Terms and Conditions.

Please note that MyHeritage is a subscription genealogy site, similar to Ancestry.  MyHeritage also owns Geni.com.  One site, MyHeritage, allows individual trees and the other, Geni, embraces the “one world tree” model.  For a comparison of the two, check out Judy Russell’s articles, here and here.  Geni has also embraced DNA by allowing uploads from Family Tree DNA of Y, mitochondrial and autosomal, but the benefits and possible benefits are much less clear.

If the MyHeritage story sounds like a confusing soap opera, it is.  Let’s hope that 2017 brings both clarity and improvements.

Living DNA

Living DNA is a company out of the British Isles with a new test that purports to provide you with a breakdown of your ethnicity and the locations of your ancestral lines within 21 regions in the British Isles.  Truthfully, I’m very skeptical, but open minded.

They have had my kit for several weeks now, and testing has yet to begin.  I’ll write about the results when I receive them.  So far, I don’t know of anyone who has received results.

2016-living-dna

Genos

I debated whether or not I should include Genos, because they are not a test for genealogy and are medically focused. However, I am including them because they have launched a new model for genetic testing wherein your full exome is tested, you receive the results along with information on the SNPs where mutations are found. You can then choose to be involved with research programs in the future, if you wish, or not.

That’s a vastly different model that the current approach taken by 23andMe and Ancestry where you relinquish your rights to the sale of your DNA when you sign up to test.  I like this new approach with complete transparency, allowing the customer to decide the fate of their DNA. I wrote about the Genos test and the results, here.

Third Parties

Individuals sometimes create and introduce new tools to assist genealogists with genetic genealogy and analysis.

I have covered these extensively over the years.

GedMatch, WikiTree, DNAGedcom.com and Kitty Cooper’s tools remain my favorites.

I love Kitty’s Ancestor Chromosome Mapper which maps the segments identified with your ancestors on your chromosomes. I just love seeing which ancestors’ DNA I carry on which chromosomes.  Somehow, this makes me feel closer to them.  They’re not really gone, because they still exist in me and other descendants as well.

Roberta's ancestor map2

In order to use Kitty’s tool, you’ll have to have mapped at least some of your autosomal DNA to ancestors.

The Autosomal DNA Segment Analyzer written by Don Worth and available at DNAGedcom is still one of my favorite tools for quick, visual and easy to understand segment matching results.

ADSA Crumley cluster

GedMatch has offered a triangulation tool for some time now, but recently introduced a new Triangulation Groups tool.

2016-gedmatch-triangulation-groups

I have not utilized this tool extensively but it looks very interesting. Unfortunately, there is no explanation or help function available for what this tool is displaying or how to understand and interpret the results. Hopefully, that will be added soon, as I think it would be possible to misinterpret the output without educational material.

GedMatch also introduced their “Evil Twin” tool, which made me laugh when I saw the name.  Using parental phasing, you can phase your DNA to your parent or parents at GedMatch, creating kits that only have your mother’s half of your DNA, or your father’s half.  These phased kits allow you to see your matches that come from that parent, only.  However, the “Evil Twin” feature creates a kit made up of the DNA that you DIDN’T receive from that parent – so in essence it’s your other half, your evil twin – you know, that person who got blamed for everything you “didn’t do.”  In any case, this allows you to see the matches to the other half of your parent’s DNA that do not show up as your matches.

Truthfully, the Evil Twin tool is interesting, but since you have to have that parent’s DNA to phase against in the first place, it’s just as easy to look at your parent’s matches – at least for me.

Others offer unique tools that are a bit different.

DNAadoption.com offers tools, search and research techniques, especially for adoptees and those looking to identify a parent or grandparents, but perhaps even more important, they offer genetic genealogy classes including basic and introductory.

I send all adoptees in their direction, but I encourage everyone to utilize their classes.

WikiTree has continued to develop and enhance their DNA offerings.  While WikiTree is not a testing service nor do they offer autosomal data tools like Family Tree DNA and GedMatch, they do allow individuals to discover whether anyone in their ancestral line has tested their Y, mitochondrial or autosomal DNA.

Specifically, you can identify the haplogroup of any male or female ancestor if another individual from that direct lineage has tested and provided that information for that ancestor on WikiTree.  While I am generally not a fan of the “one world tree” types of implementations, I am a fan of WikiTree because of their far-sighted DNA comparisons, the fact that they actively engage their customers, they listen and they expend a significant amount of effort making sure they “get it right,” relative to DNA. Check out WikiTree’s article,  Putting DNA Results Into Action, for how to utilize their DNA Features.

2016-wikitree-peter-roberts

Thanks particularly to Chris Whitten at WikiTree and Peter Roberts for their tireless efforts.  WikiTree is the only vendor to offer the ability to discover the Y and mtDNA haplogroups of ancestors by searching trees.

All of the people creating the tools mentioned above, to the best of my knowledge, are primarily volunteers, although GedMatch does charge a small subscription service for their high end tools, including the triangulation and evil twin tools.  DNAGedcom does as well.  Wikitree generates some revenue for the site through ads on pages of non-members. DNAAdoption charges nominally for classes but they do have need-based scholarships. Kitty has a donation link on her website and all of these folks would gladly accept donations, I’m sure.  Websites and everything that goes along with them aren’t free.  Donations are a nice way to say thank you.

What Defined 2016

I have noticed two trends in the genetic genealogy industry in 2016, and they are intertwined – ethnicity and education.

First, there is an avalanche of new testers, many of whom are not genetic genealogists.

Why would one test if they weren’t a genetic genealogist?

The answer is simple…

Ethnicity.

Or more specifically, the targeted marketing of ethnicity.  Ethnicity testing looks like an easy, quick answer to a basic human question, and it sells kits.

Ethnicity

“Kim just wanted to know who she was.”

I have to tell you, these commercials absolutely make me CRINGE.

Yes, they do bring additional testers into the community, BUT carrying significantly misset expectations. If you’re wondering about WHY I would suggest that ethnicity results really cannot tell you “who you are,” check out this article about ethnicity estimates.

And yes, that’s what they are, estimates – very interesting estimates, but estimates just the same.  Estimates that provide important and valid hints and clues, but not definitive answers.

ESTIMATES.

Nothing more.

Estimates based on proprietary vendor algorithms that tend to be fairly accurate at the continental level, and not so much within continents – in particular, not terribly accurate within Europe. Not all of this can be laid a the vendor’s feet.  For example, DNA testing is illegal in France.  Not to mention, genetic genealogy and population genetics is still a new and emerging field.  We’re on the frontier, folks.

The ethnicity results one receives from the 3 major vendors (Ancestry, Family Tree DNA and 23andMe) and the various tools at GedMatch don’t and won’t agree – because they use different reference populations, different matching routines, etc.  Not to mention people and populations move around and have moved around.

The next thing that happens, after these people receive their results, is that we find them on the Facebook groups asking questions like, “Why doesn’t my full blooded Native American grandmother show up?” and “I just got my Ancestry results back. What do I do?”  They mean that question quite literally.

I’m not making fun of these people, or light of the situation. Their level of frustration and confusion is evident. I feel sorry for them…but the genetic genealogy community and the rest of us are left with applying ointment and Band-Aids.  Truthfully, we’re out-numbered.

Because of the expectations, people who test today don’t realize that genetic testing is a TOOL, it’s not an ANSWER. It’s only part of the story. Oh, and did I mention, ethnicity is only an ESTIMATE!!!

But an estimate isn’t what these folks are expecting. They are expecting “the answer,” their own personal answer, which is very, very unfortunate, because eventually they are either unhappy or blissfully unaware.

Many become unhappy because they perceive the results to be in error without understanding anything about the technology or what information can reasonably be delivered, or they swallow “the answer” lock stock and barrel, again, without understanding anything about the technology.

Ethnicity is fun, it isn’t “bad” but the results need to be evaluated in context with other information, such as Y and mitochondrial haplogroups, genealogical records and ethnicity results from the other major testing companies.

Fortunately, we can recruit some of the ethnicity testers to become genealogists, but that requires education and encouragement. Let’s hope that those DNA ethnicity results light the fires of curiosity and that we can fan those flames!

Education

The genetic genealogy community desperately needs educational resources, in part as a result of the avalanche of new testers – approximately 1 million a year, and that estimate may be low. Thankfully, we do have several education options – but we can always use more.  Unfortunately, the learning curve is rather steep.

My blog offers just shy of 800 articles, all key word searchable, but one has to first find the blog and want to search and learn, as opposed to being handed “the answer.”

Of course, the “Help” link is always a good place to start as are these articles, DNA Testing for Genealogy 101 and Autosomal DNA Testing 101.  These two articles should be “must reads” for everyone who has DNA tested, or wants to, for that matter.  Tips and Tricks for Contact Success is another article that is immensely helpful to people just beginning to reach out.

In order to address the need for basic understanding of autosomal DNA principles, tools and how to utilize them, I began the “Concepts” series in February 2016. To date I offer the following 15 articles about genetic genealogy concepts. To be clear, DNA testing is only the genetic part of genetic genealogy, the genealogical research part being the second half of the equation.

The Concepts Series

Concepts – How Your Autosomal DNA Identifies Your Ancestors

Concepts – Identical By Descent, State, Population and Chance

Concepts – CentiMorgans, SNPs and Pickin’ Crab

Concepts – Parental Phasing

Concepts – Y DNA Matching and Connecting With Your Paternal Ancestor

Concepts – Downloading Autosomal Data From Family Tree DNA

Concepts – Managing Autosomal DNA Matches – Step 1 – Assigning Parental Sides

Concepts – Genetic Distance

Concepts – Relationship Predictions

Concepts – Match Groups and Triangulation

Concepts – Sorting Spreadsheets for Autosomal DNA

Concepts – Managing Autosomal DNA Matches – Step 2 – Updating Matching Spreadsheets, Bucketed Family Finder Matches and Pileups

Concepts – Why DNA Testing the Oldest Family Members Is Critically Important

Concepts – Undocumented Adoptions Versus Untested Y Lines

My blog isn’t the only resource of course.

Kelly Wheaton provides 19 free lessons in her Beginners Guide to Genetic Genealogy.

Other blogs I highly recommend include:

Excellent books in print that should be in every genetic genealogist’s library:

And of course, the ISOGG Wiki.

Online Conference Resources

The good news and bad news is that I’m constantly seeing a genetic genealogy seminar, webinar or symposium hosted by a group someplace that is online, and often free. When I see names I recognize as being reputable, I am delighted that there is so much available to people who want to learn.

And for the record, I think that includes everyone. Even professional genetic genealogists watch these sessions, because you just never know what wonderful tidbit you’re going to pick up.  Learning, in this fast moving field, is an everyday event.

The bad news is that I can’t keep track of everything available, so I don’t mean to slight any resource.  Please feel free to post additional resources in the comments.

You would be hard pressed to find any genealogy conference, anyplace, today that didn’t include at least a few sessions about genetic genealogy. However, genetic genealogy has come of age and has its own dedicated conferences.

Dr. Maurice Gleeson, the gentleman who coordinates Genetic Genealogy Ireland films the sessions at the conference and then makes them available, for free, on YouTube. This link provides a list of the various sessions from 2016 and past years as well. Well worth your time!  A big thank you to Maurice!!!

The 19 video series from the I4GG Conference this fall is now available for $99. This series is an excellent opportunity for genetic genealogy education.

As always, I encourage project administrators to attend the Family Tree DNA International Conference on Genetic Genealogy. The sessions are not filmed, but the slides are made available after the conference, courtesy of the presenters and Family Tree DNA. You can view the presentations from 2015 and 2016 at this link.

Jennifer Zinck attended the conference and published her excellent notes here and here, if you want to read what she had to say about the sessions she attended. Thankfully, she can type much faster and more accurately than I can! Thank you so much Jennifer.

If you’d like to read about the unique lifetime achievement awards presented at the conference this year to Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld, the founders of Family Tree DNA, click here. They were quite surprised!  This article also documents the history of genetic genealogy from the beginning – a walk down memory lane.

The 13th annual Family Tree DNA conference which will be held November 10-12, 2017 at the Hyatt Regency North Houston. Registration is always limited due to facility size, so mark your calendars now, watch for the announcement and be sure to register in time.

Summary

2016 has been an extremely busy year. I think my blog has had more views, more comments and by far, more questions, than ever before.

I’ve noticed that the membership in the ISOGG Facebook group, dedicated to genetic genealogy, has increased by about 50% in the past year, from roughly 8,000 members to just under 12,000. Other social media groups have been formed as well, some focused on specific aspects of genetic genealogy, such as specific surnames, adoption search, Native American or African American heritage and research.

The genetic aspect of genealogy has become “normal” today, with most genealogists not only accepting DNA testing, but embracing the various tools and what they can do for us in terms of understanding our ancestors, tracking them, and verifying that they are indeed who we think they are.

I may have to explain the three basic kinds of DNA testing and how they are used today, but no longer do I have to explain THAT DNA testing for genealogy exists and that it’s legitimate.

I hope that each of us can become an ambassador for genetic genealogy, encouraging others to test, with appropriate expectations, and helping to educate, enlighten and encourage. After all, the more people who test and are excited about the results, the better for everyone else.

Genetic genealogy is and can only be a collaborative team sport.

Here’s wishing you many new cousins and discoveries in 2017.

Happy New Year!!!

Family Tree DNA Final Coupons for 2016

ftdna-package

Today marks the last set of discount coupons for DNA testing savings issued by Family Tree DNA for the holidays.  What nice gifts they’ve given us!  Thank you Family Tree DNA!!!

Over the past few weeks, we’ve talked about why one might want to take the different kinds of DNA tests:

Why the Big Y

Why Test Y DNA

12 Myths of Family Finder

Mitochondrial DNA, The Forgotten Test

Before the holidays, most of us are engaged in trying to figure out what other people want and buying or making gifts for friends and family members.

But now that Christmas Day itself has passed, we can rest a bit and recover.  Now, it’s your turn!  What would you like?

Did Santa bring you money for a gift?  Maybe Santa knew you wanted to upgrade your own DNA tests or that you want to test that aunt or cousin!

If so, this is a great time, because these are the last coupons for this year.  We never know when the next sale will happen, but generally Family Tree DNA sponsors sales for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and the sale is generally specific to those kinds of tests.  So if you want to test, take advantage of the current sale, PLUS the coupons that can be used in addition to the sale prices.  I’ve never seen lower prices and this sale, valid until New Year’s Day, includes almost every product they offer.

Click here to redeem the coupons below or to sign in and view your own holiday discount coupons.  As always, feel free to post your unredeemed coupons in the comments.

Coupon # Good for What
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I hope you and yours had a lovely holiday.  Thank you to everyone who has participated in sharing the coupons this holiday season.

The Genealogist’s Stocking

genealogist-stocking

As a genealogist, what do you want to find in your stocking this year? You don’t even have to have been good! No elf-on-a-shelf is watching – I promise!

  • Do you need a tool that doesn’t yet exist?
  • Do you need to learn a skill?
  • Do you need to DNA test a particular person?
  • Do you want to break down a specific brick wall?

Here’s what I want, in no particular order:

  1. A chromosome browser from Ancestry. Yes, I know this comes in the dead horse category and Hades has not yet frozen over, but I still want a chromosome browser.
  2. Resurrection of the Y and mtDNA data bases at Ancestry and Sorenson (purchased by Ancestry.) Refer to dead horse and Hades comment above.
  3. Tree matching at Family Tree DNA. (The request has been submitted.)
  4. A tool to find Y and mtDNA descendants of an ancestor who may have tested or be candidates to test at Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA is the only major company who does Y and mtDNA testing today, so this is the only data base/vendor this request applies to.
  5. To find the line of my James Moore, c1720-c1798 who married Mary Rice and lived in Amelia and Prince Edward Counties in Virginia before moving to Halifax County. I’d really love to get him across the pond. This is *simply* a matter of waiting until the right person Y DNA tests. Simply – HA! Waiting is not my strong suit. Maybe I should ask for patience, but I’ve already been as patient as I can be for 15 years. Doesn’t that count for something? Santa???
  6. To discover the surname and family of Magdalena (c1730-c1808) who married Philip Jacob Miller. Magdalena’s descendant has an exact mitochondrial DNA match in the Brethren community to the descendant of one Amanda Troutwine (1872-1946) who married William Hofacker on Christmas Day, 1889 in Darke County, Ohio.. Now all I need to do is extend Amanda’s line back far enough in time. I’m very hopeful. I need time and a little luck on this one.

I’d be happy with any one of the half-dozen “wishes” above, but hey, this is permission to dream and dream big – so I’ve put them all on my list, just in case Genealogy Santa is feeling particularly generous this year!

Tell us about your dream gift(s) in your genealogy stocking and what you need to make those dreams come true. What might you do to help make that happen? Do you have a plan?

For example, items 1-4 are beyond my control, but I have made my wishes known, repeatedly.  I’ve researched #5 to death, so waiting for that Moore match now comes in the “genealogy prayer” category.  But item 6 is clearly within reach – so I’ll be focused on Amanda Troutwine as soon as the holiday festivities are over.  Let’s hope you’ll be reading an article about this success soon.

So, ask away.  What’s on your list?  You just never know where Santa’s helpers may be lurking!!!

23andMe’s New Ancestry Composition (Ethnicity) Chromosome Segments

I was excited to see 23andMe’s latest feature that provides customers with Ancestry Composition (ethnicity) chromosome segment information by location.  This means I can compare my triangulation groups to these segments and potentially identify which ancestor’s DNA that I inherited carry which ethnicity – right?? Another potential way to help discern whether I should ask Santa for lederhosen or a kilt?

Not so fast…

Theoretically yes, but as it turns out, after working with the results, this tool doesn’t fulfill it’s potential and has some very significant issues, or maybe this new tool just unveiled underlying issues.

Rats, I guess Santa is off the hook.

Let’s take a look and step through the process.

Ancestry Composition Chromosome Painting

To see your Ancestry Composition ethnicity chromosome painting, sign into 23andMe, then go to the Reports tab at the top of your page and click on Ancestry. Please note that you can click on any of the graphics in this article to enlarge.

23andme-eth-seg-1

Then click on Ancestry Composition, which shows you the following:

23andme-eth-seg-2

Scrolling downs shows you your chromosomes, painted with your ethnicity. This isn’t new and it’s a great visual.

You may note that 23andMe paints both “sides” of each chromosome separately, the side you received from your mother and the side you received from your father. However, there is no way to determine which is which, and they are not necessarily the same side on each chromosome.

If one or both of your parents tested at 23andMe, you can connect your parents to your results and you can then see which ethnicity you received from which parent.

Let’s work through an example.

23andme-eth-seg-3

This person, we’ll call her Jasmine, received two segments of Native ancestry, one on chromsome 1 and one on chromosome 2, both on the first (top) strands or copies. She also received one segment of African on DNA strand (copy) 1 of chromsome 7.

Caveat

Words of warning.

JUST BECAUSE THESE ETNICITIES APPEAR ON THE SAME STRANDS OF DIFFERENT CHROMOSOMES, STRAND ONE IN THIS CASE, DOES NOT MEAN THEY ARE INHERITED FROM THE SAME PARENT.  

Each chromosome recombines separately and without a parent to compare to, there is no way to know which strand is mother’s or father’s on any chromsome. And figuring out which strand is which for one chromsome does NOT mean it’s the same for other chromsomes.

In fact, Jasmine’s mother has tested, and she has NO African on chromosome 7. However, Jasmine and her mother both have Native American on chromosomes 1 and 2 in the same location, so we know absolutely that Jasmine’s strand 1 on chromosome 7 is not from the same parent as strand 1 on chromosome 1 and 2, because Jasmine’s mother doesn’t have any African DNA in that location.

If you’re a seasoned 23andMe user, and you’re saying to yourself, “That’s not right, the chromosome sides should be aligned if a parent tests.”  You’re right, at least that’s what we’ve all thought.  Keep reading.

Let’s dig a bit further.

Connecting Up

23and Me encourages everyone to connect their parents, if your parents have tested.

Jasmine’s mother has tested and is connected to Jasmine at 23andMe.

23andme-eth-seg-4

Even though the button says “Connect Mother,” which makes it appear that Jasmine’s mother isn’t connected, she is. Clicking on Jasmine’s “Connect Mother” button shows the following:

23andme-eth-seg-5

Furthermore, if the parent isn’t connected, you don’t see any parental side ethnicity breakdown – and we clearly see those results for Jasmine.  Below is an example of the same page of someone whose parents aren’t connected – and you can see the verbiage at the bottom saying that a parent must be connected to see how much ancestry composition was inherited from each parent.

23andme-eth-seg-not-connect

If a child is connected to at least one parent, 23andMe, based on that parent’s test, tells the child which sides they inherited which pieces of their ethnicity from, shown for Jasmine, below.

23andme-eth-seg-6

In this case, the mother is connected to Jasmine and the father’s ethnicity results are imputed by subtracting the results where Jasmine matches her mother. The balance of Jasmine’s DNA ethnicity results that don’t match her mother in that location are clearly from her father.

23andMe may sort the results into the correct buckets, but they do not correctly rearrange the chromosome “copies” or “sides” on the chromosome browser display based on the parents’ DNA, as seen from the African example on chromosome 7. Either that, or the ethnicity phasing is inaccurate, or both.

You can see that 23andMe tells Jasmine that all of her Native is from her mother’s side, which is correct.

23andMe tells Jasmine that part of her North African and Sub-Saharan African are from her mother, but some North African is also from her father. You can see Jasmine’s African on her chromosome 7, below.

23andme-eth-seg-7

There is no African on Jasmine’s mother’s chromosome 7, below.

23andme-eth-seg-8

So if African exists on chromosome 7, it MUST come from Jasmine’s father’s side. Therefore, side one of chromosome 7 cannot be Jasmine’s mother’s side, because that’s where Jasmine’s African resides.

This indictes that either the results are incorrect, or the “sides” showing have not been corrected or realigned by 23andMe after parental ethnicity phasing, or both.

Here’s another example. Jasmine shows Middle East and North Africa on chromosomes 12 and 13 on sides one and two, respectively.

23andme-eth-seg-9

Jasmine’s mother shows Middle East and North Africa on chromosome 14, only, with none showing on chromosome 12 or 13.

23andme-eth-seg-10

Yet, 23andMe shows Jasmine receiving Middle East and North African DNA from her mother.

23andme-eth-seg-11

Jasmine is also shown as receiving Sub-Saharan African and West African from her mother, but Jasmine’s mother has no Sub-Saharan or West African, at all.

Interestingly, when you highlight both West African and Sub-Saharan African, shown below, it highlights the same segment of Jasmine’s DNA, so apparently these are not different categories, but subsets of each other, at least in this case, and reflect the same segment.

23andme-eth-seg-12

23andme-eth-seg-13

Jasmine’s mother shows this region of chromosome 7 to be “European” with no further breakdown.

Clearly Jasmine’s sides 1 and 2 have not been consistently assigned to her mother, because Jasmine’ African shows on both sides 1 and 2 of chromosomes 12 and 13 and Jasmine’s mother has no African on either on those chromosomes – so those segments should be assigned consistently to Jasmine’s father’s side, which, based on Jasmine’s match to her mother on chromosome 1, side 1 – Jasmine’s father’s “copy” should be Jasmine’s side 2.  This tool is not functioning correctly.

Jasmine’s father is deceased, so there is no way to test him.

The information provided by 23and Me contradicts itself.

Either the ethnicity assignment itself or the parental ethnicity phasing is inaccurate, or both. Additionally, we now know that the chromosome “sides,” meaning “copies” are inaccurately displayed, even when one parent’s DNA is available and connected, and the sides could and should be portrayed accurately.

This discrepancy has to be evident to 23andMe, if they are checking for consistency in assigning child to parent segments.  You can’t assign a child’s segment to a parent who doesn’t carry any of that ethnicity in a common location.  That situation should result in a big red neon sign flashing “STOP” in quality assurance.  Inaccurate results should never be delivered to testers, especially when there are easy ways to determine that something isn’t right.

The New Feature – Ethnicity Segments

Like I said, I was initially quite excited about this new feature, at least until I did the analysis. Now, I’m not excited at all, because if the results are flawed, so is the underlying segment data.

My original intention was to download the ethnicity segment information into my master spreadsheet so that I could potentially match the ethnicity segments against ancestors when I’ve identified an ancestral segment as belonging to a particular ancestral line.

This would have been an absolutely wonderful benefit.

Let’s walk though these steps so you can find your results and do your own analysis.

When you are on the Ancestry Composition page, you will be, by default, on the Summary page.

23andme-eth-seg-14

Click on the Scientific Details tab, at the top, and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will see the following:

23andme-eth-seg-15

You will be able to select a confidence level, ranging from 50% to 90%, where 50% is speculative and 90% is the highest confidence. Hint – at the highest confidence level, many of the areas broken out in the speculative level are rolled up into general regions, like “European.”  Default is 50%.

23andme-eth-seg-16

Click on download raw data and you can then open or save a .csv file. I suggest then saving that file as an Excel file so you can do some comparisons without losing features like color.

In my case, I saved a 50% confidence file and a 90% confidence file to compare to each other.

I began my analysis with both strands of chromosome 1:

Strand 1 was easy.  (Click on graphic to enlarge.)

23andme-eth-seg-17

At the 50% confidence level, on the left, three segments are identified, but when you really look at the start and end positions, rows one and two overlap entirely. Looking back at the chromosome browser painting, this looks to be because that segment will show up in both of those categories, so this isn’t an either-or situation. Row 3 shows Scandinavian beginning at 79,380,466 and continuing through 230,560,900, which is a partial embedded segment of row 2.

At the 90% confidence level, on the right, above, this entire segment, meaning all of chromosome 1 on side 1, is simply called European.

You can see how this might get complex very quickly when trying to utilize this information in a Master DNA Spreadsheet with your matches, especially since individual segments can have 2 or 3 different labels.  However, I’d love to know where my mystery Scandinavian is coming from – assuming it’s real.

Now, let’s look at strand 2 of chromosome one. It’s a little more complex.

23andme-eth-seg-18

I’ve tried to color code identical, or partially-overlapping segments.

The red, green and apricot segments overlap or partially overlap at the 50% level, on the left, indicating that they show up in different categories.

The red segments are partially the same, with some overlapping, but are grouped differently within Europe.

The green Native/East Asian segments at the 90% level are interrupted by the blue unassigned segments in the middle of the green segments, while at the 50% confidence level, they remain contiguous.

All of the start and end segments change, even if the categories stay the same or generally the same. The grey example at the bottom is the easiest to see – the category changes to the more general “European” at the 90% level and the start segment is slightly different.

Jasmine and Her Mother

As one last example, let’s look at the segments at the 50% confidence level, which should be the least restrictive, that we were comparing when discussing Jasmine and her mother.

You can see, below, that Jasmine’s Native portion of chromosome 1 and 2 are either equal to or a subset of her mother’s Native portion, so these match accurately and are shown in green.

This tells us that Jasmine’s mother’s side of chromosomes 1 and 2 is Jasmine’s “copy 1” and given that we can identify Jasmine’s mother’s DNA, all of Jasmine’s “copy 1” should now be displayed as her mother’s DNA, but it isn’t.

23andme-eth-seg-19

On chromosomes 7 and 12, where Jasmine’s copy 1 shows African DNA, her mother has none. All African DNA segments are shown in red, above.

Furthermore, 23andMe attributes at least some portion of Jasmine’s African to Jasmine’s mother, but Jasmine’s mother’s only African DNA appears on chromosome 14, a location where Jasmine has none. There is no common African segment or segments between Jasmine and her mother, in spite of the fact that 23andMe indicates that Jasmine inherited part of her African DNA from her mother.  It’s true that Jasmine and her mother both carry African DNA, but not on any of the same segments, so Jasmine did not inherit her mother’s African DNA.  Jasmine’s African DNA had to have come from her father – and that’s evident if you compare Jasmine and her mother’s segment data.

Where Jasmine has African DNA segments, above, I’ve shown her mother’s corresponding DNA segments on both strands for comparison. I have not colored these segments. Conversely, where Jasmine’s mother has African, on chromosome 14, I have shown Jasmine’s corresponding DNA segments covering that segment.  There are no matches.

Clearly Jasmine did not inherit her African segments from her mother, or the segments have been incorrectly assigned as African or European, or multiple problems exist.

Summary

I initially thought the Ancestry Composition segments were a great addition to the genealogists toolset, but unfortunately, it has proven to be otherwise, highlighting deficiencies in more than one of the following area:

  • Potentially, the ancestry composition ethnicity breakdown itself.  Is the underlying ethnicity assignment incorrect?  In either case, that would not explain the balance of the issues we encountered.
  • The chromosome “sides” or “copy” shown after the parental phasing – in other words, the child’s chromosome copies can be assigned to a particular parent with either or both parents’ DNA. Therefore, after parental phasing, all of the same parent’s DNA should consistently be assigned to either copy 1 or copy 2 for the child on all of their chromosomes.  It isn’t.
  • The child’s ethnicity source (parent) assignment based on the parent’s or parents’ ethnicity assignment(s).  Hence, the African segment assignment issues above.
  • The ethnicity phasing itself.  The assigning of the source of Jasmine’s African DNA to her mother when they share no common African segments.  Clearly this is incorrect, calling into question the validity of the rest of the parental ethnicity phasing.

Unfortunately, we really don’t have adequate tools to determine exactly where the problem or problems lie, but problems clearly do exist. This is very disappointing.

As a result, I won’t be adding this information to my Master DNA spreadsheet, and I’m surely glad I took the time to do the analysis BEFORE I copied the segment data into my spreadsheet.  In my excitement, I almost skipped the analysis step, trusting that 23andMe had this right.

All ethnicity results need to be taken with a large grain of salt, especially at the intra-continent level, because the reference populations and technology just haven’t been perfected.  It’s very difficult to discern between countries and regions of Europe, for example.  I discussed this in the article, “Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum.”

However, it appears that adding parental phasing on top means that instead of a grain of salt, we’re looking at the entire shaker, at least at 23andMe – even at the continent level – in this case, Africa, which should be easily discernable from European. Parental phasing by its very nature should be able to help refine our results, not make them less reliable.

Is this new segment information just showing us the problems with the original ethnicity information?  I hate to even think about this or ask these difficult questions, but we must, because testers often rely on minority (to them) ethnicity admixture information to help confirm the ethnicity of distant ancestors. Are the display tools or 23andMe’s programs not working correctly, or is there a deeper problem, or both?

I think I just received a big lump of coal, or maybe a chunk of salt, in my stocking for Christmas.

Bah, humbug.

Sarah’s Quilt, 52 Ancestors #141

In 1870 in Kentucky, if a man died, the entire estate was presumed to be his, legally, with his wife having a “dower right” of 30% of the value of the estate.  By the way, this also included anything, including real estate, that the wife had inherited, from anyone, unless it was specified in the inheritance that she was to hold it separately from the husband.  So the old adage of, “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine” was true.

The only way to value that estate was to have an inventory taken, submitted to the court, then a sale of all of the property. Yes, a sale, of everything the “man” owned. Now that “everything” included plates, cups, forks, pans, skillets and kitchen utensils he had maybe never touched, except to eat, but were legally considered his. Nothing was “hers” or “theirs.” The only way for the widow to retain “her” things, aside from her clothes (literally) was to purchase those items from her husband’s estate sale.

So, let’s get this straight.  If a Jane’s mother had left Jane a plate that was a family heirloom, that plate immediately became Jane’s husband’s property, and if he died, Jane had to purchase her mother’s plate from her husband’s estate sale.  Got it.

If you think this was a barbaric practice, it was.

I can only imagine the sale day, not long after the widow had already suffered the loss of her husband, maybe just a couple weeks after hearing those clods of dirt fall against his wooden coffin. The grave, now with fresh dirt mounded over the top was within sight of the auction as neighbors arrived.  Perhaps they acknowledged their deceased neighbor as they passed by and family placed a few flowers before turning and walking towards the house.

The widow was left wondering how she was going to feed the family and get the crops in out of the field. Her, or legally, his belongings were now standing outside in the yard or perhaps in the barn for all to inspect before the sale.  The widow would have felt stripped bare-naked to the bone, exposed, with her entire life on display for all to evaluate and comment upon.  And rest assured, those comments weren’t all made in the spirit of love.

The grieving widow, hearing the auctioneer’s rhythmic incantations to bid, echoing through her mind forever like a terrible melody, watching her life indiscriminately and methodically being sold off piece by piece to family members, neighbors and strangers alike. Heirlooms were sold outside of the family, including items like the family Bible. Going…going…gone! Nothing was exempt.

Furthermore, given that the widow only had the “right” to one third, she had to be careful only to bid on what she desperately needed and could afford, no more than one third of the value of the estate. If she spent her entire one third recovering household and farm items, enough to at least attempt to farm, she would have no cash from the sale to purchase supplies or food she couldn’t grow, like sugar, or pay for labor. And who was going to give a widow woman credit? What a terrible quandry.

I hope, I really hope, that when other bidders saw the widow bidding on something, they just shut up.

William Chumley’s Estate

This past week, I was perusing the estate of my ancestor’s daughter’s husband, William Chumley, who died in 1870 in Russell County, Kentucky. There were three documents filed with the court. The first document I found was the actual estate sale. Like normal, I saw the widow’s name, Sarah Chumley, among the bidders, which always saddens me greatly.

chumley-williams-sale

Sarah Chumley bid on and purchased several inexpensive items.

  • 5 comforts – 1.00
  • Sett teas – .10
  • 7 plates – .10
  • 5 glass tumblers – .15
  • 1 clock – .25
  • 1 looking glass – .10
  • 1 small table – .25
  • 1 hoe – .15
  • 1 plow – .15
  • 1 plow – .15
  • Cavalry saddle – .15
  • 1 sythe and cradle – .50
  • 1 sucking colt – 5.00

The second document I came across was titled “Allotment to widow Chumley” with a list of items allotted to Sarah and values attached. In this case, these items were in addition to what she purchased at the sale. In other words, these items below seem to have been set aside for Sarah at the appraised value of the items. She never had to bid for them, but she had to accept whatever the appraisers estimated their values to be.

Sometimes this was fine, but other times, not so much. The appraised value could be more, or less, than what the item actually sold for. In William’s estate, an ox cart that was appraised at $12 only sold for $6.60. If the widow had wanted that cart, she would have “paid” $12 for it to keep it from being auctioned. Of course, had she waited to buy it at auction, she might not have been able to purchase it, and it might have cost more than the $12 that it appraised for.  The 5 bed comforters that appraised for $1 to $1.50 each were purchased together at auction by the widow for $1 total. So this “setting aside” practice could be a double edged sword.

chumley-widows-allotment

The estate appraisal was the third document filed for William Chumley, although that normally was filed first. All of William’s estate documents were filed at once, on October 7, 1870, and the appraisal just happened to be the third one copied into the book.  It appears right after the final portion of the widow’s allotment.

chumley-inventory

Each item that a deceased person owned was valued by, traditionally, 3 appraisers. The first appraiser being the person the deceased owed the most money to, the idea being that individual stood to benefit the most from the estate items being sold at the highest value possible so the debts of the deceased could be paid, in full, hopefully. The second appraiser was generally someone related to the wife to represent her interests. And the third appraiser was an entirely disinterested party, but with a working knowledge of prices in the area. Often you see the same people being appointed by the court over and over again in this third capacity.

Estate appraisals are wonderful documents for the genealogist, because in essence you’re peering into their house and barn from the distance of decades and sometimes centuries.

I was scanning down the inventory list, imagining what their life was like in rural Kentucky, based on what was and wasn’t present in the appraisal.

That’s when I saw it.

The Quilt

1 Quilt…..$15

chumley-quilt

A quilt.

chumley-civil-war-era-quilt

This quilt isn’t Sarah’s quilt, but it is a quilt top (unquilted) made from Civil War era scrap fabrics from the same time and may have looked similar. The pieced blocks in this quilt appear to have been made from old clothes, complete with stains – a very common way to utilize remaining fabric after clothes were too damaged to wear any longer. Everything was salvaged and reused one way or another.

The quilt in William’s estate inventory was probably a quilt that Sarah had made with her own hands, often piecing and quilting with scraps from clothes, old and new, by candlelight in the evenings.

Maybe Sarah made that quilt from the scraps of the clothes she had made for her children. Sadly, those would be the children Sarah either never had, or that never lived long enough to be recorded in a census. The children Sarah longed for and hoped for, but were never born, or were born and died and were buried in the ever-expanding family cemetery behind the house where she could watch over their graves daily. The same cemetery where she would one day bury William.

Maybe eventually Sarah took the tiny clothes she made for those children she dreamed about apart and used the fabrics in the quilt she and William used to keep warm. Maybe this quilt got them through the Civil War.

It may have been the quilt Sarah sobbed into when her father, Lazarus Dodson, died in October 1861, just a month before the Confederates camped beside, or maybe on, her family land. Two months later, the Battle of Mill Springs (Logan’s Crossroads) took place a mile or so away – the Union forces advancing across the family land – perhaps through the cemetery where her father was buried.

Did Sarah huddle, wrapped in this quilt, with her step-mother and sister as the menfolk engaged in battle? Did the women hide a gun for protection in the folds of that quilt, praying they would never have to use it and hoping they could shoot straight if they did? They could surely hear the battle, the cannons, the shots and the cries, half a mile or a mile away, across the fields, past the cemetery.  Hundreds died that day and scores more were injured. Did this quilt comfort a wounded soldier?

Were Sarah and her sister huddled together with the quilt wrapped around them for warmth in front of the fireplace when they received word that Sarah’s sister, Mary Redmon’s step-son had been killed? His stone rests just down the road at the Mill Springs National Cemetery, but his body never came home.

And what about Mary’s husband, William “Billy” Redmon, who was fighting for the Confederacy?  He came home safe, but Sarah and Mary would have worried relentlessly until he did.  Did Billy know his son had been killed until he arrived home after the war?

Did Sarah shed tears of anxiety as she worried about her half-brother, Lazarus Dodson, named after her father, who fought for the Union in the war? And what about Sarah’s half-sister, Nancy’s husband, James Bray, also fighting for the Union?

How about Sarah’s half-sister Rutha’s husband, John Y. Estes who while fighting for the Confederacy was injured, captured and held prisoner of war? Did he stop at the cabin on his way walking back to Tennessee after his captors released him north of the Ohio River, injured and with no food or supplies? Did John find his way to his father-in-law’s land, knowing he would find food and shelter, only to discover Lazarus’s grave? Did John sleep beneath this quilt perhaps, or as a former Confederate, was he not welcome in Sarah’s home?

And then there was Sarah’s half brother, John Dodson, and his wife, Barthenia, who lived nearby and simply disappeared between the 1860 and 1870 census, with some of their children in 1870 found living among relatives and neighbors. Were John and Barthenia war casualties too?

Sarah probably wrapped up in that quilt for comfort when she buried her children, if she was able to conceive, then when she buried her father, Lazarus Dodson, her sister’s step-son, her brother, his wife and some of their children and then in 1870, when Sarah buried her husband as well. Life was difficult and there were probably many more burials, sorrows and trials that we know nothing about.

The quilt, valued at $15 was worth more than the brown heifer at $11, about the same as 8 shoats (young pigs) at $16 and the man’s saddle at $14, and more than the ox cart and a saddle with bridle, valued at $12, respectively. As far as household goods, nothing was worth more. The quilt was valued at exactly the same as 10 head of sheep, and animals were the most valuable items in this estate inventory except for a grouping of 2 beds, bedding and furniture for $30.

This tells you that the quilt was not a tied comforter, but a beautifully hand crafted quilt. This quilt was clearly more than just “bedding,” given the appraised value, and since there was only one, it was likely an heirloom to Sarah – something she had poured her heart and soul into.

Maybe some of the fabrics in the quilt had even come from Sarah’s mother’s dresses. Sarah’s mother had died when Sarah was a child, sometime between Sarah’s sister Mary’s birth about 1833 and Sarah’s father’s remarriage in 1839. Was Sarah’s only memory of her mother through fabrics in the quilt?

At her husband’s estate sale, Sarah Chumley, the widow, bought “5 comforts” for $1.

chumley-comforters

But comforts aren’t quilts. For clarity, comforters are whole pieces of cloth, front and back, with some sort of cotton or wool “batting” layered in-between, and tied or “knotted” every few inches with thread or yarn to hold the layers together. Comforters were quick to make. Quilts weren’t and aren’t – taking months and sometimes years.  Not only was the quilt top hand pieced, but the top, batting and back were held together by millions of tiny stitches, every one lovingly placed by hand, about 10 stitches per linear inch of thread.

What happened to that quilt?

We don’t know.

It’s not listed on the bill of sale from the auction. It’s not listed in Sarah’s allotment. Let’s hope that someone, someplace had the good sense to simply let Sarah have her quilt and just “lost” it in the process.

Lord knows she needed it.

Ten days after Sarah’s husband died, on May 20, 1870, Sarah made her own will, at roughly 37 years of age, stating that she was “week of body but of good sound mind.” She left everything to a child she appeared to have raised, but with a different surname, and her sister’s children, her “neeces and neffu.”

On September 23rd, that same year, Sarah’s will was recorded with the court, indicating she had passed on.

Indeed, Sarah desperately needed that quilt, just for another 3 months or so, as she mourned the life she had, the family she had lost and the children that were never born, or were and died. Sarah needed comfort as she left this earthly world. When you wrap up in a quilt, those who made the quilt, or those who love you from the other side are hugging you – earthly caresses from the wings of angels to ease your way.

All things considered, I wondered if Sarah was perhaps wrapped in and buried with her quilt.

While Sarah couldn’t be spared the many griefs in her short lifetime, let’s pray that Sarah was at least spared her quilt.

Family Tree DNA Holiday Coupons and Mitochondrial DNA, The Forgotten Test

Mitochondrial DNA is probably the most under-utilized type of DNA available to genetic genealogists. Mitochondrial DNA is a special line specific to your mother, and her mother, and her mother, on up that tree of mothers. It’s not mixed with any DNA from the fathers, so it’s a pure periscope line that extends back in time indefinitely – much like the Y DNA for the paternal line.

Just as an example, as an administrator looking at the Estes surname project, I can see an order summary. For clarification, the Estes project welcomes males and females alike, along with men who are not Estes surname males, but who are Estes descendants through other lines.

So, of the first 16 project participants, 2 are female.  The columns titled HVR1, HVR2 and FGS are the available mitochondrial DNA test levels.

estes-order-summary

Only one, me, has had ANY mitochondrial DNA testing done. The rest have not.

By comparison, 14 (all the males) have ordered some level of Y DNA testing and 7 participants, almost half, have taken the autosomal Family Finder test.

By any measure, mitochondrial is way WAY behind.

Mitochondrial gets forgotten about, often, because it’s not as “in your face” as a male surname is to a male and doesn’t have the “pride factor” associated with it. In fact, you might hear men say something like, “Yea, proud to be an Estes (fill in your surname here),” but when was the last time you heard someone say, “Yea, proud to be a H2a1a!”? It loses something someplace.

Because the matrilineal line’s mitochondrial DNA doesn’t follow any surname, it doesn’t invoke that surname loyalty factor, but it is a rich source of information that is often neglected.

What can we learn from mitochondrial DNA?

Pretty much everything we can tell about Y DNA – except of course we’re not looking to see if we match a particular surname. We’re looking to see if we match someone with a common ancestor. But that’s not it, there’s a lot more.

Haplogroup and Migration Path

Your mitochondrial DNA haplogroup tells you which continent your ancestor was from, meaning Europe, Africa, Asia or Native American, or an ethnicity like Jewish, and the path they took out of Africa to arrive on that continent. You may think you know, already, but do you really? There are surprises and you’ll never know if you don’t test.

estes-migration-path

Haplogroup Origins help to extend this information and tells you where your fully extended haplogroup is found in the world. Fully extended haplogroup means your full haplogroup, H2a1a, as opposed to simply haplogroup H. You have to take the full sequence mtDNA test to obtain your fully extended haplogroup.

Matches Map

Your Ancestral Matches and your Matches Map tell you where your matches most distant ancestors lived. This is most effective for full sequence matching because those are your closest matches. In fact, I only recommend full sequence matching today. You should obtain all of the ancestral information available and the only way to do that is to test the entire mitochondrial region.

Those who follow my blog know that I’m haplogroup J1c2f, and while that doesn’t make anyone gush at parties, it does provide me with information I not only didn’t have, but there is no way other than DNA testing to discover.

My most distant known ancestor is from Germany around 1800, but look at my matches map.

estes-match-map

There is obviously a historical, or maybe not so historical, Scandinavian story. You can read about this discovery here.

Your matches are sitting there, waiting for you, but first you have to test.  After that, the genealogy to find a common ancestor may take some work, unless you simply get lucky – and some do.

If more people were to test and provide their most distant ancestor information and pedigree charts, there would be more easy matches with known ancestors!!!  Just saying…

Matches Never Stop

The great news is that your mitochondrial DNA results are fishing for you 24X7. In July 2013, I had 3 full sequence matches, shown below.

my matches J1c2f

Today, I have 16, and the more full sequence matches, the more granular and detailed the story. It’s like watching your ancestral story hatch, one match at a time. These people all share an ancestor with you, sometime, someplace. The fun is in unraveling that story.  What does it mean to you?  What information does it provide about your ancestors and their journey?

Proving Your Point

You can also use mitochondrial DNA to prove, or disprove, a specific type of historic relationship. Suppose you suspect two women are sisters. If you can find descendants of both women through all females to the current generation (which can be males) you can either prove those two women have a common matrilineal ancestor or that they don’t. In cases like this, mitochondrial DNA in conjunction with autosomal matching can be a very powerful tool.  Comparing multiple kinds of DNA, together, is available under the advanced tools.

Building A MitoTree

If you’re after quick answers, building your own mitotree isn’t for you, but if you’re willing to invest some elbow grease, you can figure out the ancestral pedigree chart of how your matches descended from your common ancestor, based on their mutations.

I presumed, based on the matches map locations, that I was fairly closely related to my match in Poland, because at that time, it was the only full sequence match outside of Scandinavia. I was wrong. That person descended in a parallel line from a common Scandinavian ancestor. So no need looking in those Polish church records hoping to discover something about my direct line ancestors because they aren’t there!

You can read about how to build a mitochondrial tree here. If you like puzzles, this is for you.

Finding Your Ancestor’s Surname

I like to obtain the haplogroups of all of my ancestors and build a DNA Pedigree chart. My ancestor, Magdalena married Philip Jacob Miller, but we don’t know her surname. We do know they were Brethren, and Brethren married within their own religion. We know where they lived, and to some extent, we know the other Brethren families in that region.

After I wrote my 52 Ancestors story about Magdalena with hopes of finding a descendant who carries her mtDNA, someone contacted me to say a woman with a tree on Ancestry fits the bill. Indeed she did, and she agreed to have her mtDNA tested.

She immediately had an exact full sequence match, in the Brethren community, and the match does NOT descend from Magdalena herself. Unfortunately, the match does NOT have her genealogy back far enough to discover the family who might, just might, be Magdalena’s family as well. However, I can research genealogy to extend her tree, and I will, come spring when the roads clear.

The only path to Magdalena’s surname, short of a family Bible appearing someplace, is DNA, because I’ve exhausted all other available records.

Can mitochondrial DNA save the day and pin point Magdalena’s family so that I can prove the relationship through records? Maybe. I’ll let you know as this story unfolds.

Don’t’ Forget Mother

Genealogy without DNA is incomplete. It’s the holiday season. Give yourself the gift of your mother’s matrilineal history. DNA testing is the gift that keeps on giving, and you can have it even if your mother has passed over and is watching from the other side. Everyone carries their mother’s mitochondrial DNA, males and females alike.

What is your Mom’s story?

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Mary, Mary (Dodson Redmon) Quite Contrary, 52 Ancestors #140

This article isn’t about my ancestor, at least not directly, but it’s about the daughter of my ancestor, Lazarus Dodson, who popped up on a census quite unexpectedly. Not only did that mean I had to go looking for her, and she wasn’t particularly easy to find, but I had to try to discern if Mary Dodson really was the daughter of Lazarus – or if she was perhaps the child of his wife, Rebecca, and was just known by the Dodson surname.

Records that should exist don’t, and I found myself calling her Mary, Mary Quite Contrary. But then, given how difficult Lazarus and his father were to track, Mary probably comes by it honestly.

In the process of discovery about Mary, yet another daughter, Sarah, was discovered. For Heaven’s sake, how many more are there?

Through those two families, more information surfaced (Ok, was excavated), and because of all of that, we may just have figured out where Lazarus is buried. Maybe. Mary still isn’t telling all of her secrets, but I’m positive that she knows! After all, she stood by the grave that October day in 1861 as the clods of dirt fell onto Lazarus’s coffin and the grey clouds of misery swept overhead, engulfing everyone in their path.

But before I begin this series of twists and turns in the ancestor labyrinth, I want to give credit where credit is due.

First and foremost, I have to say, I love my friends, family and blog subscribers, because between them, they have found things I missed, found things I never knew existed, and inspired me to dig deeper. They are also indirectly responsible for me getting nothing productive done this week. My Christmas tree isn’t up, gifts aren’t wrapped and I’ve been eating leftovers and canned soup for days. Tonight I’m splurging on pizza. That’s what happens when genealogists get wrapped up in a “mission.”

If you’re laughing, it’s because you’re a genealogist, because our families probably don’t see the humor…

My friend, Tom, sent me the deed shown below, which started everything. Fifteen hours later, I realized I was hungry, and tired, very tired. But wow, what a day “visiting” Pulaski County, Kentucky. And that was just on day one!

You might think there isn’t much here in this one deed, but this was just the launching pad I needed. Come along as we work our way through the records and discover more about Mary Dodson, presumed daughter of Lazarus Dodson, my ancestor.

The Deed

mary-dodson-1861-deed

Between Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca Dodson his wife of Pulaski County KY and Sarah Chumbly and Mary Dodson of the other part. Sum of $4000 paid to Lazarus Dodson in hand – sold to Sarah Chumley and Mary Dodson tract of land the one whereon I now reside together with all of the appertainces hereunto belonging containing 50 acres more or less lying in Pulaski County and bounded as follows to wit. Beginning on a dogwood and sycamore on White Oak Creek and on a branch thereof thence up the same to the mouth of the Grabel Branch thence up the same eastwardly to the old Patten line near said Grabeal’s field then with said line westwardly to C. Chamberlain’s grass lot thence with said Chamberlains line some 30 poles to a maple on William Rainwater’s

mary-dodson-1861-deed-2

line thence with said line southward to the main branch thence down the same with the meanderings thereof to the beginning and said Lazarus Dodson doth bind himself and heirs to forever warrant…but said lands are not to pass into their possession until after the death of said Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca his wife then they are to have free and full possession thereof. August 9, 1861. Signed by Lazarus with his mark and by Rebecca.

The note in the left margin says “Delivered to? William Redman 24 March 1865”

The clerk registered this deed on the 10th of August, 1865.

mary-dodson-1861-deed-3

The first thing I thought was how odd that the deed was signed in August 1861 and not recorded until in 1865, but then I realized what had been happening in Kentucky between 1861 and 1865 – the Civil War. No one was interested in registering a deed – if they even could register deeds. They were simply interested in surviving. They would register deeds later if they survived.

In this case, Lazarus signed the deed in August, died in October and the Confederate forces set up camp either near or on his land in November, followed a couple months later by the infamous battle of Mill Springs (Logan’s Crossroads.) This family was busy, distracted and, I’m sure, fearful. This does tell us that the house where the deed resided during the Civil War didn’t burn to the ground. I’m betting that was the home of William Redman and Mary Dodson or perhaps the home of Lazarus’s wife, Rebecca Dodson, if they weren’t all living together during this time.

I can’t help but wonder, did those pioneer women take up arms to guard the homestead from marauding soldiers from both sides?  I bet so.  They probably didn’t have a lot of time to grieve Lazarus’s passing.  But I digress…

This deed description is important for 2 reasons. First, for all the names that it provides. Neighbors are important when trying to bring deeds to current and locate properties.

Second, the description in essence creates a rough image for us of what the land looked like and who lived on which side. I’ve drawn a very rough approximation, below.

mary-dodson-rough-land

We can see that this land has to be in a location on White Oak Creek where you move north to the mouth of a branch, then east on that branch then west and south to the main White Oak branch.

Topozone shows several cemeteries on White Oak Creek, but no Graebel or Grabel branch, or Graebel anything.

Given the deed to Mary and Sarah who were clearly adults in 1861, I was beginning to suspect that perhaps the marriage year of 1839 was incorrect for Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca Freeman. Lazarus’s first wife, Elizabeth Campbell, died before 1830. But Mary and Sarah, assuming Sarah is his daughter too, were not Elizabeth’s children based on the 1838 death of Elizabeth’s father, John Campbell, and the subsequent estate which individually lists Elizabeth’s children/heirs.

Mary Dodson is found living with Lazarus and Rebecca in 1860 and she was born in the early/mid-1830s, depending on which date you use. Clearly, before 1839.

dodson-1860-pulaski-census

Is Mary Dodson the daughter of Rebecca Freeman Dodson?

My friend sent me the original marriage document between Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca Freeman, as I had previously been working with a transcription. I suspected the year might have been incorrectly transcribed, but the transcribed document turned out to be accurate alright.

mary-lazarus-and-rebecca-marriage

You can see on the last entry on the page that Lazarus and Rebecca obtained their marriage license on June 21st 1839 and Thomas Davis married them on June 29th, 1839. (You can click to enlarge any graphic.) I’ve never been so disappointed to confirm that a record was accurate before.

Now, of course, the question is who was the mother of Mary Dodson, and possibly Sarah. And are Mary and Sarah sisters?

1850

I desperately need to find Lazarus and Rebecca in the 1850 census, and I’ve tried every way to Sunday to find them, all to no avail. Either they missed the census or the name is so terribly butchered that it’s unrecognizable – and possibly someplace I’m not looking.

One surprising piece of information is that the deed index tells us that Lazarus bought his land in Pulaski County in 1857, just 4 years before deeding it to Mary and Sarah. I had supposed that Lazarus had been in Pulaski County since about 1833 and had long owned land. Obviously not.

1860

In 1860, we found Lazarus and Rebecca living with Mary Dodson, but the 1861 deed strongly suggests that “they” had another child, Sarah who had married a Chumley, and was perhaps widowed? Why else would Lazarus and Rebecca leave land to her, even under the guise of a purchase? How would a “spinster daughter” and possibly a “widow daughter” come up with $4000 to purchase the family farm from their parents?

My friend Tom sent this the next morning. I think he and I both spent that day “in Pulaski County.”

mary-sarah-dodson-and-william-chumley-marriage

Indeed, Sarah Dodson, by another spelling, Datsan, had married William Chumley in 1846 in Claiborne County, which implies that Lazarus himself was probably living in Claiborne in 1846. Huh??? Not at all what I thought, given that he left the state back in 1833 and then faced back taxes, a lawsuit and a judgement between 1835 and 1837.

Lazarus married Rebecca Freeman in Claiborne County in 1839, so maybe Lazarus came back and lived back in Claiborne for some time. The Chumley family lived near Lazarus’s land beneath Cumberland Gap and otherwise intermarried with the Freeman family, so this does make sense.

I checked the 1840 census, again, but there are only two Lazarus Dodsons in the entire country, and both are age 30-39. Lazarus was 45 in 1840, not to mention the rest of the family doesn’t match either.  So Lazarus remains missing in both 1840 and 1850.

Mary’s Marriage

We don’t find Mary Dodson in the 1870 census, but that’s because she married on July 28, 1864 to William Redman in Pulaski County.

mary-dodson-marriage

Mary Dodson gives her age as 32, so born in approximately 1832, depending on whether Mary had had her 1864 birthday yet, and her birth location is given as Claiborne County, Tennessee.

So now we know when and where Mary was born. This information probably brackets dates for Lazarus Dodson’s arrival in Pulaski County from sometime between 1846 when Sarah married in Claiborne to sometime before 1857 when he purchases land in Pulaski County.

Lazarus has to have been married a second time between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman, unless Elizabeth didn’t actually die and those children living with her parents in 1830 weren’t the Dodson children. However, neither Mary nor Sarah were mentioned in John Campbell’s 1838 estate record as having been Elizabeth’s heirs, and Lazarus Dodson is stated as Elizabeth’s heir’s father, so we know that neither Mary nor Sarah are Elizabeth’s children.

Therefore, Lazarus had remarried by 1830 or 1831, given Mary’s birth in 1831/1832, but the marriage record is not found in Claiborne County. Why did Lazarus and his second wife not raise his children by Elizabeth Campbell?

1870

In 1870, we do find Rebecca Dodson and Sarah Chumley living with one William Dodson, age 23. William would have been age 13 in 1860, born in 1847 in Tennessee, so a child at home if he were the son of Rebecca and Lazarus. Who is this William Dodson, married to Eliza? How is he tied in, and where did he go?

Also, one David W. Dodson is living with the Dunsmore family next door.  Surely this isn’t just a coincidence.  Who is he?

This isn’t an ancestor labyrinth, it’s a maze!

mary-pulaski-1870-census

This census tells us that Sarah was born in 1833 in Tennessee, the year that Lazarus, according to an 1861 deed filed in Claiborne County, sold land to David C. Cottrell in Claiborne County. It may only be coincidence, or not, that the land Lazarus sold was originally patented to one Robert Chumbley.

Another Twist in the Maze

The 1860 census for Pulaski County, Kentucky solves the riddle of the identity of William Dodson, born in 1846, along with David Dodson, born in 1856.

Both men are the son of John C. Dotson, also Dodson, and Barthenia. This John Dodson is the son of Lazarus Dodson and Elizabeth Campbell, and Barthenia is Barthenia Dobkins.

This census tells us that John Campbell Dodson was living in Kentucky by 1854 when son John was born – although we don’t know that he was living in Pulaski County that early.

mary-john-dotson-1860

Both John and Barthenia seem to have disappeared by 1870.  There are several John Dodson or Dotsons listed as Civil War soldiers.  It’s certainly possible that he perished in the war, which would explain why his son David is living with another family in 1870 as farm labor.

The fact that John moved to Pulaski County, was living with his father and clearly interacted with that family in a positive fashion tells us that Lazarus did not lose touch entirely with his children in Claiborne County.

I wonder if the fact that Lazarus had children by his first marriage is why he “sold” the land to Mary and Sarah, rather than granting a deed of gift.  A sale can’t be contested, but a deed of gift as the only valueable item of inheritance certainly could be.

The Chumley Connection

In 1850, William Chumley and wife Sarah are living in Pulaski County and are noted as having been married within the year. Sarah’s age of 19 puts her birth year in 1831. It also means that if she indeed was married in 1846, she was age 15. Unusual, but not impossible.

mary-1850-pulaski-census

They are not living among the surnames found in the deeds of Lazarus Dodson later. At first, I thought this might not be the same family, but it is.

In 1860, Sarah and William Chumley are living in Russell County, KY, on the same page with other Chumbley family members. Her age of 30 puts her birth in about 1830.

William and Sarah Chumley still have no children, but living with them is Elizabeth Kissee, age 6. This Elizabeth is probably the Elizabeth that Sarah later remembers in her will.

mary-1860-pulaski-census

Immediately following the 1870 census, we find Sarah’s will executed and probated.

It’s odd for Sarah to have died before the age of 40, and had no children. I wonder if she had some type of disease or disability.

In May of 1870, Sarah makes her will in Russell County. It is filed with the court in September 1870, so Sarah has apparently died by then, just weeks after the census. The actual 1870 census document date is August 11, 1870, but the census is supposed to be taken “as of” June of the census year. It’s possible that Sarah was dead, or quite ill, by August 11, given that she was “week in body” on May 20 when she made her will. There was no occupation listed on the census which is odd for an adult, even if the occupation is “keeping house.”

mary-sarah-chumley-will

Sarah Chumbly week in body but of good sound mind…to Elizabeth Carea (Cazea?) one bed beding and furniture also one cow and calf. Second to my 2 neaces and one neffu the now living children of my sister Mary Redman all the balance of my effects after paying my berrial expenses and debts if any. I appoint William Redman by brotherinlaw my executor with my will annexed. May 20, 1870. Signed by Sarah Chumley with her mark. Witness Linsey Walter (his mark) and John Johnson.

The will was recorded Sept 23, 1870.

Based on her will, it’s very clear that Mary Redmon is Sarah’s sister and she was obviously close to her sister and brother-in-law, both. Who is Elizabeth Carea or Cazea? I suspect she is the same Elizabeth Kissee that is living with Sarah in 1860.

It’s very unusual that Sarah never had any children, given that she was married for 24 years, from 1846 to 1870.

In another odd turn of events, it appears that Sarah’s husband, William, died on May 10, 1870, just 10 days before Sarah wrote her own will and obviously before the effective date of the census.

In the Russell County, KY probate records, William’s estate records begin on page 32, including the inventory and estate sale, and there is not one Dodson or Redmon on the list of purchasers.

At William’s estate sale, Sarah bought several things including farm tools, so she apparently wasn’t planning on dying right away.

Rebecca Dodson in 1880

mary-1880-pulaski-census

In 1880, Rebecca Dodson, Lazarus’s widow is still living and with her is granddaughter Martha Redmon, listed as such. Of course, at that time in the census, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone listed as a step-grandchild. And given that Rebecca Freeman Dodson likely raised both Mary and Sarah after their mother’s death when they were just young girls, Rebecca was the child’s “grandmother” anyway.

Given that there were no other children evident in the deed signed by Lazarus just before his death, it appears that he and Rebecca did not have children either, or at least none that lived, although if Rebecca was 39 when she married, that might have been too late in life.

Unfortunately, we don’t know when Rebecca died, although it was between 1880 and the 1900 census when she would have been right at 100 years of age.  Rebecca’s death is not recorded in the Kentucky death indexes. Nor do we know where she is buried, although it clearly has to be someplace near where she lived and is probably beside Lazarus.

It’s worth noting that Rebecca’s neighbor in 1880 is Charles Chamberlain, mentioned in the 1861 deed as a neighbor whose property lines abut Lazarus’s.

Mary Dodson Redmon’s Burial

After much gnashing of teeth, I finally discovered where Mary Dodson Redmon is buried, and as fate would have it, the Lee Cemetery is right beside a branch of White Oak Creek, the Creek mentioned in the deed that Lazarus conveyed to Mary and Sarah back in 1861.

mary-lee-cemetery-map

mary-dodson-findagrave

Mary’s daughter, Martha, married William Harrison Rainwater (1863-1909). And it just so happens that one William Rainwater owned the land bordering Lazarus’s land in 1861. Given these names, it looks very much like this family in essence stayed right where they were planted in 1857.

Lee Cemetery is located on Lee Cemetery Road, which is not noted on Google maps as such.

According to the 1900 Pulaski County census, Mary Dodson was born in July 1833 in Tennessee.

mary-1900-pulaski-census

Family members report her birthdate to be both June 15th and July 15th, with the year ranging anyplace from 1830 to 1837 in various trees, with no supporting documentation. I suspect that since Mary reported her own birth information in 1900 as July 1833, that is probably most accurate. It would make sense for children to be born approximately 2 years apart as well, so perhaps Sarah in was born in 1831 and Mary in 1833.

Mary Dodson’s husband, William Perry Redmon apparently knew he was going to die, because he made a will in 1887. People of that time and place did not make wills “just in case” but waited until they knew they were going to need a will imminently. Again, another gift from my friend, Tom.

mary-william-redmon-will

To wife Mary Redman my home and tract of land lying on the south and west side of the Columbia Road and also the 50 acres on the north east side of said road known as the Owens farm. Also a boundary on the opposite side of the rode from my house beginning at the former of the field at the Marsee line on a black oak at the corner of new ground thence with the cross fence to the James Redman’s spring then down the branch to the Columbia road to have for her lifetime and at her death I want my sons Thomas Redman and Melver Redman to have all the land described above.

To wife, bay horse and sorel mare and cattle and sheep and hogs and all my household and kitchen furniture. My wagon and all my farming tools of any description and bees also my corn and meete on hand.

I want my land divided equally between my two boys giving them equal number of acres dividing it north and south and I give Melver this end where I know live and my clock I give to my daughter Sarah Redman one bed bedding and one side saddle and one chist.

I give Martha A. Rainwater my cubbard at Mary’s death.

I give Melver my dun mule and John the black mule and I give Melver my fan mill I give my son John the land known as the Rha Becka Dodson

mary-william-redmon-will-2

Farm.

I give to Charity Redman the land upon which she now lives to hold during her life on widowhood and at her death I want her children that she has by James Redman to have said land.

I give to my grandson Volantes Dodson two dollars also my two grandchildren Jacob G. Price one collar and Amanda E. Price one dollar. I also furnish Charity Redman my gray mare to have to make her crop this season then the mare is to be returned to Mary to hold as her own and I give to my wife Mary all by debts that coming to me out of these debts my daughter Sarah is to have $65 and if not paid out of these debts out of my hole estate if necessary to pay for that amount of meny that I owe her as guardian.

On testimony whereof I hereunto set my hand this the 9th day of January 1887.

Signed William Redman by his mark and witnessed by D. M. Cooper and A. McWilliams

William’s will was submitted to the January 1887 court.

This will tells us that Lazarus Dodson’s land, phrased as the “Rha Becka Dodson Farm” went to John Redmon in 1887. This also tells us that William Redmon’s lands were on both sides of the Columbia Road. Today, the “Old Columbia Road” remains visible and marked and 80 is now the original old Columbia Road elsewhere.

I would like to see if I can determine what happened to the Rebecca Dodson Farm once John Redmon owned it, but the grantor deed index for Pulaski County for this timeframe has not been imaged online.

According to FindAGrave, the son John would be John Franklin Redmon (1866-1929) who was born and died in Pulaski County, so he may well have kept this land his entire life. In fact, it’s certainly possible that it’s still in the same family.

I have made inquiries to descendants both who posted memorials on FindAGrave which includes a granddaughter, as well as on Ancestry, but no luck yet with replies. I’m hopeful that someone, someplace knows where his land or farm was that John Franklin Redmon inherited from his parents, and that I can locate it today.

Mary Dodson Redmon died on July 2, 1903, but her death is not recorded in the Kentucky Death records, or at least it’s not indexed.

FindAGrave does not indicate if there is a headstone or not, but Mary Dodson’s birth date is given as June 15, 1827, although the 1900 census shows her birth year as 1833. I suspect 1832 in her marriage record or 1833 is accurate, especially given that Lazarus Dodson’s first wife, Elizabeth Campbell Dodson’s last child was born in 1827.

Volantus Dodson, age 9, is shown as the son of William Dodson, living just 2 houses away from Rebecca Dodson in 1880. Volantus is the son of William, age 38, who has apparently remarried to a 19 year old Mary since the 1870 census when William was newly married to Eliza.

mary-1880-william-dodson

If you’re scratching your head, so was I.

The only way Volantus being William Redmon’s grandson makes any sense at all is that William Redmon’s daughter from his first marriage was the Eliza who married William Dodson and had son Volantus before she passed away. Checking Pulaski County marriage records, this is indeed the case. Eliza Caroline Redmon married William Dodson in December of 1868.

mary-eliza-redmon-marriage

Eliza Redman, age 24 in 1870, so born in 1846, had to be William Redman’s daughter from his first marriage, because William Redman didn’t marry Mary Dodson until 1864.

Therefore, Mary Dodson’s step-daughter married her half-brother’s son, William, who was Mary’s half-nephew. No blood relation, but I had to draw this out on paper to be sure.

These families are incredibly intermarried and interconnected.

Volantus is later shown as William V. Dodson and he also marries a Mary who becomes Mary Dodson. Too many Mary Dodson’s!!!

Cemetery Triangulation

Out of other options at this point, I decided to “borrow” a genetic genealogy technique and resort to “cemetery triangulation.”

I know this sounds odd, but hear me out on this one.

We have the following information:

  • We know the names of adjacent property owners for Lazarus Dodson in 1861.
  • We know that Mary Dodson married William Redman/Redmon and where she is buried.
  • We can also find neighbors in the census in 1860, 1870 and 1880 when Lazarus and then Rebecca are still living.
  • Rebecca retained right to the land for the duration of her life, so she was likely still living on this land in 1880.
  • We can track some individuals forward and backward in time through both deed and probate records
  • We have burial records at FindAGrave.
  • We have Google maps to look at the current location both in terms of maps, satellite images and for some roads, street view.

Unfortunately, not all of the deed records are imaged online at Family Search for Pulaski County. Some indexes are, and some deed books are, but not all. So, we will use what we can, then we’ll resort to FindAGrave and Google maps.

Do I sound like a desperate genealogist? Well, I am. And I want credit for this new term too, “cemetery triangulation,” born of desperation.

First let’s look at the deeds.

The Deeds

In 1857, John McWilliams sold the land to Lazarus Dotson that was subsequently conveyed to Mary Dodson and Sarah Chumley in 1861, effective after Rebecca Freeman Dodson’s death.

Sarah Dodson Chumley died in 1870, before Rebecca Freeman Dodson, which would leave the land to her sister, Mary Dodson Redmon. Mary’s husband, William Redmon, left the Rebecca Dodson farm to his son John Franklin Redmon.

The balance of the deeds below represent my attempts to trace this land, and failing that, the land of the neighbors, forward or backward in time, hoping to find additional descriptions with landmarks are locatable today. Tracking the neighbors land, especially when you know which side the land lays on directionally from your ancestor’s land is extremely useful and has been responsible for me being able to actually locate my ancestor’s land several times. Let’s see if this works in Pulaski County.

The lines mentioned in the Lazarus Dodson deed were:

  • White Oak Creek
  • William Rainwater
  • C. Cornelius line and grass lot
  • Graebel, Grabel’s field and Graebel’s branch

We find the following information about individuals whose purchase or sale of land falls on the right side of 1861, and who either are or may be the neighbors in question. In some cases, I’ve moved a generation forward in time to attempt to determine the location of family land or when I noticed a sale between two of the families mentioned (Rainwater to Graebel for example).

Year Grantor (seller) Grantee (buyer) Book Location Imaged Online Cemetery
1857 John McWilliams et al Lazarus Dotson 17-609 No Unmarked burials
1850* Nelson McWilliams John and Benjamin McWilliams, sons of Nelson 14-158 On White Oak Creek purchased from William N. McWilliams Yes Unmarked grave, lives one house from Lazarus
1854 Nelson McWilliams John McWilliams 17-9 No
1844 Charles Chamberlain John M. Weddle 12-339 mtg No No Chamberlains
1857 C. Chamberlain A. J. James 17-561 No
1857 Charles Chamberlain Fontain T. Fox 17-672 No Foxs in White Oak, quite a bit south
1853 Charles and Elizabeth Chamberlain Solomon Weddle 18-72 40 acres, Pucket Place, White Oak, west side Weddle Spring branch, Daws corner, Daniel McDaniel line, Charles & Elizabeth Chamberlain quitclaim Yes Solomon Weddle in Chesterview, Daws are in Science Hill
1880 C. Chamberlin Charles F. Poff 30-483 No No Chamberlain or Poff
1873 Charles and Elizabeth Chamberlain Jacob Castle 25-350 No Castles in Science Hill, distant
1873 Jacob and Rhoda Grabeel Rhoda Adams 25-485 No Grabeels in Grabeel Cemetery, Rhoda in Collins Cemetery
1885 Jacob and Rhoda Grabel William H. Neece 35-69 No Grabeels in Grabeel Cemetery, William H. Meece in Lee Cemetery
1889 LB and Rosetta Rainwater William P. Grabeel 38-289 No, pg 759 of index Wm Patterson Grabeel buried Science Hill, Rainwaters in New Hope

*Earliest McWilliams Grantee Deed – He says be purchased of William N.? McWilliams, but there is no deed in the index.

The earliest McWilliams graves, which are in the 1890s, are in the Woodstock Cemetery, near Woodstock, northeast of Somerset, not near Lazarus’s land. The early McWilliams must have been buried elsewhere, probably in unmarked graves.

Cemetery Sleuthing

Now that we know who we are looking for, let’s check the cemeteries for the following information:

  • Burials of individuals listed
  • Burials of other early family members of the surnames listed, especially if the individuals listed can’t be found
  • Oldest marked burial in the cemetery, indicating which cemeteries are older versus newer
  • Patterns relative to burials from the oldest census records of neighbors
  • Family cemeteries
  • Locations

Refer to the chart above for the relevance of the individuals mentioned and the cemetery name, if known.

Lee Cemetery

Lazarus’s daughter, Mary Dodson Redmon, other Redman/Redmons and William H. Meece (died 1924) are buried in the Lee Cemetery. The earliest death date on a marker in this cemetery is 1874 for a Redmon, but there is reportedly an Ann Poor Lee who died in 1809 buried there, wife of a Revolutionary War soldier, with no marker. There are some other obviously early burials in this cemetery and several stones with no date, so it’s certainly possible that Lazarus Dodson is buried there as well. This cemetery seems to be a small community cemetery, still in use, based on the number of families and surnames buried there, especially early and when compared with the census.

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Kentucky 80 looking down Amy Lane towards the cemetery.

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The 1860 census shows several neighbors of Lazarus Dodson. Interestingly enough, William Rainwaters is shown 4 census pages away, so not terribly far, but that may indicate that he lived on another road. We don’t know the order the census taker took. However, other neighbors whose families are buried the Lee Cemetery are shown adjacent to Lazarus.

mary-1860-pulaski-neighbors

Nelson McWilliams, whose son sold Lazarus his land and who lives two houses from Lazarus in 1860, lies someplace in an unmarked grave. I suspect Nelson’s grave is in this cemetery.

Thomas Lay, Lazarus’s neighbor, unknown birth and death dates on the stone, but according to the census, born in 1836, is buried in the Lee Cemetery.

If John Campbell Dodson and wife Barthenia died in Pulaski County between 1860 and 1870, they are probably buried here too.

Andersons and Weddles are found in Lee Cemetery as well. Most of the early neighbor families are not found with markers in any cemetery, not until after the Civil War and often not until the 1890s and after 1900.

Hopeful Baptist Church Cemetery

William H. Rainwaters, born in 1831 and died in 1871, likely the William Rainwater whose land abuts Lazarus, is buried in Hopeful Baptist Church Cemetery. Some Chumbleys are buried here too. In 1870, William H. Rainwater is living among the Comptons, Gassitts, Meeces, McWilliams, Dunsmores and Andersons, the same families who are buried in the Lee Cemetery.

Maybe even more importantly, William Rainwater is living 4 houses from William Dodson where Rebecca Freeman and Sarah Chumley are living.

William’s son Lubantus B. sold land to the Graebel family. Lubantus is buried in New Hope, not far from Hopeful.

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New Hope

William Harrison Rainwater and wife Martha Ann Redmond (Redman, Redmon) Rainwater are buried in the New Hope Cemetery. So are L.B. and Rosetta Rainwater who sold land to William P. Grabeel.

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Weddle

John M. Weddle is buried in the Weddle cemetery.

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Mt. Zion

The earliest Daws are in Mount Zion Cemetery in Science Hill and they died after 1900.  Early family members are clearly buried elsewhere. Castles are at Science Hill as well.

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Chesterview

Solomon Weddle 1822-1890 is buried in the Chesterview Cemetery

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Collins

Rhoda Adams died in 1878 and is buried in Collins Cemetery.

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Rainwater

The oldest Rainwater burials are at the Rainwater Cemetery near Roberts and Wolf Creek Road.  The oldest burial in this cemetery is 1825.

mary-rainwater-cemetery

Grabeel

Grabeel Family Cemetery is a small family cemetery with 3 marked burials east of 80 just slightly, and close to Lee Cemetery.

mary-grabeel-cemetery

Jacob is likely whose land abutted Lazarus Dodson’s.

mary-grabeel-cemetery-burials

Cemetery Triangulation

Now that we know where the various players are buried, or where their family members are buried, let’s see how these cemeteries look connected together on a map. I’ve omitted the most distant cemeteries where the most distantly connected burials are found. This sort of reminds me of the 3 legged shape of the triskelion.

mary-cem-triangulation

You can see here that these cemeteries are all in an area about 2 miles north to south and about 3 miles east to west.  On the map below, you can also see all of the branches of White Oak Creek.

mary-cem-triangulation-wider-view

The cemetery with the most closely related burials, both in terms of Mary Dodson Redman being buried there, and in terms of neighbors, is the Lee Cemetery, located at the lower right end of the blue cemetery trail. The second most meaningful is probably the Graebel family cemetery, located just north of the Lee Cemetery, because Graebel is noted as a neighbor of Lazarus with abutting property lines.

mary-cem-triangulation-satellite

It’s probably also worth nothing that most of the time, people live on what were “main roads” at the time, which are generally still main roads today. Columbia Road is mentioned in William Redmon’s will, which is 80 today, and is likely the road where Lazarus lived.

mary-cem-triang-closest

The next cemetery north at the crossroads of 80 and the Cumberland Parkway today is where Solomon Weddle is buried who bought land from the Chamberlains in 1853. The Chamberlain land abutted Lazarus’s land in 1861, although obviously not the land they sold in 1853. This provides a general location of where these families lived.

mary-cem-triangulation-closest-satellite

The other cemeteries are too far north and too far west to fit well with the White Oak Creek land description.

Current Map Stream Plus Deed Description

Utilizing two different tools, let’s compare the deed description from Lazarus Dodson’s 1861 sale to the current day map of the streams. The current town of Nancy is marked below and the various branches of White Oak Creek can be seen to the left of Nancy, along with the entire area covered by the cemeteries and other geographic locations we’ve discussed above and will be discussing, below.

mary-nancy-location

Based on the cemetery geographic configuration and the number of burials, the burials would strongly suggest that Lazarus’s land was very near, or perhaps even under, the Lee Cemetery.

mary-dodson-rough-land

Looking again at the deed description, we see that Lazarus’s line moves north to the mouth of a branch of White Oak Creek owned by Graebel, then east, then west to Chamberlain, then south to the main branch.

So there has to be an intersection of a branch on the north side of Lazarus’s land.

Unfortunately, there are two distinct branches of White Oak Creek, both with intersections, shown on the map below.

mary-white-oak-intersections

Both intersecting Ys of those branches are found south of present day Nancy, which based on the cemeteries and burials, seems to be too far south.

The Lee Cemetery is located on Amy Road, red arrow below. The cemetery is located on an extension of the right branch of White Oak Creek, roughly half a mile north of Nancy.

mary-lee-arrow

However, there is no branch to the right of this branch that would allow for the Graebel branch, at least no branch that is showing today.

However, moving north up the western branch of White Oak Creek, we see that there is indeed a branch that extends to the east, crossing 80 and ending by E. Waterloo. If indeed Lazarus’s land was on south of this branch, it would his land would be bordered roughly by Warner Road on the south, White Oak Creek to the west and the unnamed branch on the north, shown with blue arrows. The area of 50 acres that Lazarus owned, if it were square, is roughly 1,500 feet by 1,500 feet, the area shown inside the blue arrows. Of course, Lazarus’s land was clearly anything but square – but at least this gives us an idea of size.

mary-lazarus-approximate-land

How does the land approximated by the blue arrows line up with cemeteries?

The Lee Cemetery is the red arrow in the lower right corner.

The Grabeel family cemetery is the red arrow in the center between Warner and Old Columbia Road east of 80.

The Chesterview (Weddle burial) cemetery is the red arrow at top left at the interchange of 80 and Cumberland Parkway.

There are three cemeteries about equally far north of the 80/Cumberland Parkway exchange, but the earliest and closest burials of neighbors are represented by the Grabeel and Lee Cemeteries.

The cemetery, census and deed triangulation shows the best fit for Lazarus’s land is someplace between the Lee Cemetery and the blue arrows. This technique has narrowed the location of Lazarus’s land to roughly a mile northwest to southeast, roughly along 80 (Old Columbia Road) and roughly half a mile from 80 to the southwest.

mary-mile-by-mile

Taking a Drive

Let’s take a drive using Google Street View and see what this area looks like. We are surely on Lazarus’s land, we just don’t know exactly where. This area would have been familiar to Lazarus and his family.

Let’s start on what is today 80, just north of Nancy, where the Old Columbia Road separates from the current road to the right. Of course, the old road is the original road, and the newer road used to be the original road too. Unfortunately, we can’t “drive down” the smaller roads, including Old Columbia Road, because the Google cars don’t travel on dirt, gravel or roads without center line markings. Sadly, that means we can’t visit the Lee Cemetery.

Below – 80 north of Nancy where the old road separates to the right.

mary-old-columbia-road

This part of Kentucky is pretty flat, flatter than the land on Tiprell Road in Claiborne County, perhaps giving us some idea of what attracted so many Claiborne County families to Pulaski County.

Below, just south of Amy Lane. The Lee Cemetery is probably behind that clump of trees.

mary-amy-lane

Below, looking left (west) off of 80 just south of Warner Road.

mary-warner-road

Below, looking west on Warner Road. This could well be Lazarus’s land.

mary-warner-road-intersection

On 80, north of Warner Road where the road crosses one of the branches of White Oak Creek at the source. This could be one of the eastern branches in Lazarus’s deed.

mary-white-oak-warner

The very northern tip of White Oak Creek where Fawbush Road crosses the source. This is probably north of Lazarus’s land based on the description.

mary-white-oak-fawbush

The Battle of Mill Springs

I cannot leave Pulaski County without at least touching on the Battle of Mill Springs, also known as the Battle of Logan’s Crossroads.

Lazarus Dodson died in October of 1861, and in a way, it was just in time. Major battles of the Civil War were fought on both of the pieces of property he owned in his lifetime.

mary-cumberland-to-lee-cem

His land just beneath the Cumberland Gap was the site of fighting and the Cottrell soldier’s encampment at Butcher Springs. In fact, a Civil War map is how we located the homestead, exactly. The house and two barns were drawn on the map. Battles raged for the Gap itself, and Lazarus’s former land was repeatedly devastated by the warfare. The Gap changed hands three times during the war. Lazarus probably never knew about any of this since he died early in the war.

As irony would have it, Lazarus’s son-in-law, John Y. Estes fought on this land, for the Confederates. It’s unclear whether Lazarus maintained any connection with his children living in Claiborne County.  His daughter’s step-son fought and died for the Union, and his own son, John Campbell Dodson is reported to have fought in the Civil War as well, but I have been unable to find documentation.

Lazarus’s land in Pulaski County, Kentucky didn’t fare much better with Confederate General Zollicoffer setting up his winter camp near Nancy in Pulaski County in November 1861, a month after Lazarus’s death. The battle of Mill Springs took place on January 19, 1862, with union forces appearing to have advanced across Lazarus’s land.

mary-civil-war-union-advance

By Hal Jespersen – http://www.posix.com/CWmaps/, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29313754

Lazarus had only been buried for 3 months and his family certainly would have been involved, whether by choice or not.

At least 671 soldiers from both sides died that day, most being buried on the battlefield in what is now the Mill Springs National Cemetery, located on the battlefield. Looking at those burials on FindAGrave, almost every local surname is represented. It’s hard not to fight when the battle is in your back yard.

Mary Dodson Redmon’s step-son’s stone is found in the Mill Springs Cemetery, having died fighting as a Union soldier. Truly families were irreconcilably torn apart by this war.

mary-battle-of-spring-mill

The town of Nancy, today, was then called Logan’s Crossroads. The Battle of Mill Springs is also called the Battle of Logan’s Crossroads. The map below is a Civil War era map showing the Union (blue) and Confederate forces (red).  It’s surprising to me how much of the area was still wooded.

mary-battle-of-spring-mill-map

Looking at a contemporary map, with the battle field located by the red balloon, you can see that Old Robert Port Road is still listed by the same name. What is today 235 is the old Mill Springs Road. What is today 80 is the old Somerset Road.

mary-battle-of-spring-mill-locatoin

The Battlefield itself is located just half a mile or so south southeast of Nancy. In this wider perspective, you can see the landmarks discussed earlier.

mary-battle-of-spring-mill-nancy

The battlefield includes the National Cemetery where the war dead are interred.

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mary-battlefield-of-spring-mill-satellite

Many names of local people are included in the National Cemetery. Almost every family is represented. William Redmon’s son, William Perry Redmon(d), from his first marriage is one of the casualties. He died March 17, 1864. His memorial marker resides in Mill Springs today, but where his body rests is unknown. Probably near where he fell in battle.

mary-w-p-redmond-stone

Another of William Redmon’s sons fought as well, but wasn’t killed in Battle.  William fought as well, for a Kentucky Confederate unit. Wars not only devastated the countryside, they devastated families. This would have been a sorrowful and terrifying time for these families.

mary-mill-springs-national-cemetery

DNA

Remember, as much as we think Mary Dodson is Lazarus Dodson’s daughter, we really don’t have confirmation. How I wish that 1861 deed from Lazarus had said, “my daughters,” but it didn’t.

It will take autosomal DNA testing of Mary’s descendants and having them match to Lazarus’s proven descendants to confirm or at least lend credence to the fact that Mary is Lazarus’s daughter. Let’s hope that someday, someone from Mary’s line tests at Family Tree DNA where we have autosomal data from several of Ruthy’s descendants to compare as well as DNA through Lazarus’s son, Lazarus.

mary-dodson-kin2

Mary Dodson’s great-grandchildren would be half third cousins to Buster and Mary, who have DNA tested, and they would be related more distantly to several other descendants who have also DNA tested. However, 90% of third cousins match, so the odds are very good that if Mary Dodson was the half-sister to Ruthy Dodson or her full brother, Lazarus Dodson, Mary descendants would match some of the descendants from Lazarus’s first marriage to Elizabeth Campbell.

In Summary

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We will likely never find Lazarus’s grave, but we know he has to be someplace in this picture, and if I had to make an educated guess, I would suggest that he is buried in the Lee Cemetery, someplace near his daughter, Mary Dodson Redman/Redmon.

mary-lee-cemetery

Photo by Terry Hail.

And speaking of Mary, someone was kind enough to send me a photo.

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Mary Dodson Redmon, above.

This is particularly interesting to me, because while I don’t have a picture of Lazarus Dodson, I do have a picture that we believe is Ruthy Dodson Estes, proven to be Lazarus’s daughter and presumably Mary Dodson’s half sister.

We are not positive that this photo, below, is Ruthy Dodson Estes, but the photo was found in Uncle Buster’s picture box, along with that of John Y. Estes, her husband, and their son, Lazarus Estes. Uncle Buster, Ruthy’s great-grandson, said that he believed this was Ruthy and that he had been told she had red hair.  Ruthy suffered from debilitating arthritis, and you can see that this woman’s hand is disfigured.

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A friend was kind enough to clean this picture up for me.

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Comparing the photos of Ruthy Dodson Estes to the photo of Mary Dodson Redmon below, do these women look like they could be half-sisters?

mary-and-ruthy

Lifetime Achievement Awards for Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld

At the 2016 Family Tree DNA 12th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy held in Houston, Texas in November, I was honored to present Lifetime Achievement Awards to both Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld from the genetic genealogy community in the form of DNA double helix quilts.

I chose quilts as awards because quilts embody the deep cross-cultural symbolism of family, of caring and of warmth. Quilts can be utilitarian, artistic, or both – hung on the wall or napped under. They descend to the next generation, just like our DNA. These unique quilts, and yes, there are two, show the easily recognizable double helix strands, but also suggest the mystery of the unknown and yet to be discovered.  Quilts seemed the perfect medium.

award-dna-quilt

I must admit, I agonized for weeks about what I was going to say, and months about the DNA quilts themselves. Ok, I had a bit of analysis paralysis having to do with the quilt design and construction, but with the deadline of the approaching conference looming months, then weeks away, I kicked into overdrive to finish the quilts.

But then, the most difficult part – what to say to and about these amazing humans. I’ve been involved in public speaking for the past 30+ years, and I’m very comfortable – except not this time. This presentation was about a subject very close to my heart – and about the men who have provided all genetic genealogists with the opportunities we have today.

Before I share what I said, I would like to thank my co-conspirators:

  • Janine Cloud
  • Katherine Borges
  • Nora Probasco
  • Linda Magellan
  • Jim Brewster

Katherine, Nora and Linda have all been to all 12 of the conferences and are fellow quilters. Linda is making labels for their quilts to affix to the back so they will never forget – although I doubt there is much possibility of that happening. Jim Brewster will sew the labels to the backs of the quilts when Linda mails the labels to Texas.

Max and Bennett are very humble men and I know they were embarrassed and amazingly enough, for those of us who are fortunate enough to know then – they were also pretty much speechless. At least for a couple minutes!

I’d like to take this opportunity to share the awards presentation with you. I’ve taken the liberty of added a few photos.

Many people don’t know Max and Bennett personally, nor do they know the history of genetic genealogy and direct to consumer DNA testing. I hope this presentation both honors Max and Bennett, and serves to educate about the humble beginnings of genetic genealogy.

I’m honored to present two Lifetime Achievement Awards today. Yes, there has been a conspiracy afoot. You have no idea how difficult it is to sneak onto a conference agenda. Thank you Janine Cloud. Additional co-conspirators are Katherine Borges, Nora Probasco and Linda Magellan, three people who have attended every conference since the beginning.

award-beginning

Left to right, Roberta Estes, Linda Magellan, Katherine Borges, Nora Probasco

Let’s talk about the beginning.

Most everyone knows the story about Bennett Greenspan’s first retirement in 1999.

Bennett tried to retire, but managed to get underfoot at home, and his wife in essence threw him out of the house. She told him she didn’t much care WHAT he did, but he had to find SOMETHING to do, SOMEPLACE ELSE.

Now, knowing that Bennett is a genealogist, I’m betting that living in Houston, he went to the Clayton Library every day and assured his wife he was busy looking for a new career. He found it alright, or maybe it found him.

Someplace, at the Clayton Library or elsewhere, Bennett was thinking about how to prove that men with a common surname were or were not descended from a common ancestral line. Were they related? Bennett knew just enough about science to know that if he could find a way to test their Y chromosomes, and they descended from a common paternal ancestor, their Y DNA should match. Sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing!

Bennett began a search to find a scientist that could and would run that one Y DNA test for him. As it turns out, could and would were two entirely different matters. Bennett found Dr. Michael Hammer at the University of Arizona who runs the Hammer Lab that specializes in human evolutionary genetics.

Dr. Hammer could, but would he?

Bennett mentions talking to Dr. Hammer on the phone several times. Dr. Hammer mentions that Bennett camped out in his office and wouldn’t leave. However persistent Bennett was or wasn’t, in person or otherwise, we should all be incredibly grateful for his tenacity, because purely in self-defense, Dr. Hammer agreed to do the test – just that one test.

However, Dr. Hammer made a fateful throwaway comment as Bennett was on the way out the door. He said, “Someone should start a business doing this. You crazy genealogists ask me about this ALL THE TIME.

Talk about what never to say to a bored entrepreneur. That “all the time” statement echoed and rolled around in Bennett’s head. “All the time…all the time.”

Now, I don’t know exactly what happened next, but Bennett and Max were already business partners in another endeavor, and I’d bet the next conversation went something like this:

“Max – I’ve got an idea….”

Followed by a brief discussion and then:

“Bennett, are you crazy? No one will ever buy that?”

Like I said, I wasn’t there – but I’m really glad Bennett was a bit crazy – because so are the rest of us genealogists – as is proven by the size and magnitude of the genetic genealogy industry today.

The fledgling business, Family Tree DNA, was founded with Dr. Hammer’s lab doing the testing.

Fast forward a few months to July 14, 2000.

Cousin Doug Mumma, who, by the way, I didn’t know was a cousin until several years later thanks to a Family Finder test, called Family Tree DNA and talked to Bennett about Y DNA testing several Mumma men and men with similar surnames to see if they descended from a common ancestor. If Bennett was crazy wanting Y DNA testing, he is accompanied by a whole lot of other genealogists. Perhaps it’s genetic.

Bennett agreed to form a project for Doug and Doug agreed to commit to purchase 20 kits. Doug’s first kit in the Mumma Surname Project was kit M-01 and by the time he was ready to purchase project kit number 21, the M was gone from the kit designation, and he purchased kit number 72.

Fast forward another few months.

I had tested my mitochondrial DNA with Oxford Ancestors and for something like $900 discovered that I was the daughter of Jasmine, one of the seven daughters of Eve. I received a one page diagram with a gold star placed on the letter J. My fascination with the science of genetic genealogy had begun.

One of my cousins mentioned that some company in Texas was doing DNA testing on men for the Y chromosome for genealogy. I was just sure this was some kind of scam, because I figured if that could be done, Oxford Ancestors would be offering that too – and they weren’t.

I found the phone number for Family Tree DNA, called and left a message.

Later that night, about 9:30, my phone rang and it was Bennett Greenspan returning my call – the President of Family Tree DNA.

Little did I know, at that time, that the office consisted of Bennett’s cell phone.

award-bennett-cell

We talked for an hour. I explained to Bennett that I had tested for mitochondrial DNA and asked about the Y DNA testing. Bennett described what Family Tree DNA was doing with testing and projects, convincing me it was not a scam after all. While I certainly understood the genetic basis of how Y DNA testing worked, I had not seen the website, or the software, and I was concerned about explaining how matching worked on the site between different men in a project.

Bennett said something fateful, which I’m sure he’s regretting right about now. He said, “Don’t worry – I’ll help you.”

With that, I committed to purchase 5 kits and he committed to create the Estes surname project, and help me if I needed assistance. I quickly found 5 willing Estes genealogists who desperately wanted to know if they descended from a common Estes progenitor. The Estes DNA project was formed.

In mid-December 2002, I purchased kit 6656.  Kits were selling at the incredible rate of about 2000 a year!

The DNA results were amazing and full of potential for every ancestral line. I quickly became an advocate of genetic genealogy, although Rootsweb wouldn’t let us discuss DNA testing on the boards and lists, like it was some sort of pariah. DNA proved and disproved genealogy, myths and oral history – which bothered some folks immensely.

By 2004, genetic genealogy was growing and so was the interest in this field. Around the beginning of 2004, kit 17,000 was sold and twelve months later, on New Year’s Eve, kit 30,244 was sold. Participation in genetic genealogy nearly doubled in 2004 and in two years, it had quadrupled.  By now, kits were selling at just under 2000 per month.

November 2004 saw the first conference sponsored by Family Tree DNA in Houston which lasted only one day. The excitement in the community was palpable. Not only were we excited about the conference itself, and learning, but by meeting each other face to face.

award-2004-banner

award-2004

Bennett Greenspan, Bruce Walsh (obscured by Bennett), Max Blankfeld and Matt Kaplan from the University of Arizona, at the first conference. Photos from 2004 courtesy ISOGG.

In April of 2005, Family Tree DNA made the announcement that they had teamed with the National Geographic Society and the Genographic Project was launched. This liaison was the turning point that legitimized DNA testing to the rest of the world. People began to see DNA testing featured in the iconic magazine with the yellow cover and no one wondered anymore if we were just plain crazy.

In November 2005, the second Family Tree DNA Genetic Genealogy conference, which became the second annual conference, was held in Washington DC at the headquarters of the National Geographic Society.

This conference was extra exciting because of the location and the implications for genetic genealogy. We had come of age. The conference was held in the “Explorers Hall.” We were recognized as explorers too in this brave new genetic world.

award-2005

My husband and I stayed at a hotel called The Helix in Washington, within walking distance to the National Geographic building. On the morning of the conference, we left the hotel for the 5-minute walk to Nat Geo. In front of us, maybe 30 feet, were Max and Bennett, briskly walking and chatting. We continued behind them, not wanting to interrupt. In those few minutes, I remember distinctly thinking that I was literally watching history being made by the two men in front of me. Little did I know exactly how true that was and what the future held.

On New Year’s Eve, 2005, I purchased kit 50,000. Of course, I had to purchase about 10 kits to manage to get kit 50,000, right at midnight. Unbeknownst to me, the Genographic Project had sold nearly 100,000 kits. Genetic genealogy had passed silently from its infancy.

Every year since then, more history has unfolded.

Few people get the opportunity to shape the future.

Few people get the opportunity to directly affect more than a few lives – in this case, millions.

Few people get the opportunity to found not just a business, but an industry that will continue to provide information and answers long after we are nothing more than genealogical memories.

Few people get to chart the course of history.

Yes, I’m talking about Max and Bennett.

No, they don’t know anything about this.

About this time, Bennett apparently suspected not only that the awards might be for he and Max, but also realized that he had been “had.” Janine Cloud, was the person with the difficult task of making sure that Bennett and Max were in the room during this time, in addition to providing a disguised space on the agenda for these awards.

This is the look on Bennett’s face when he realized and looked at Janine.

award-bennett-gotcha

Followed by this photo.  Janine is standing behind Bennett.

award-bennett-2

Max, however, didn’t suspect, because he was busy. I can just hear Bennett, “Pssst, Max…..”

award-bennett-max

So, until now, Max probably really doesn’t know exactly what I said up to this point.

Max and Bennett not only founded the genetic genealogy industry, they have maintained a leadership position within that industry while others perished. They have an entire series of firsts attributed to them, but if I took time to list them all, we would be here all day.

What I will say is that they have created this industry with the utmost integrity and with their eye to the consumer. One example stands out.

I was standing at a conference some years ago when a man asked Bennett about backbone SNP testing. Bennett asked him which haplogroup. The man answered, then Bennett told him not to spend his money on that test for that haplogroup, because he wasn’t likely to learn anything he didn’t already know.

Being a project administrator, I was surprised at Bennett’s response. I spoke with Bennett and he said he never wanted his customers to feel like they didn’t receive value for their money. That’s not something one would expect to hear from the mouth of a businessman. But that is Bennett.

Integrity has been the guiding principle and the foundation of Family Tree DNA and remains so today.

Max and Bennett have given us what is arguably the single most valuable tool for genealogists – ever – not to mention those searching for their birth family.

Francis Crick and James Watson discovered DNA in 1953, but it would be another 47 years before Bennett Greenspan and Max Blankfeld gave us the rosetta stone so that “the rest of us” can understand our DNA and how it’s relevant to our own lives – and those of our ancestors. That vision in 1999 and the fledgling startup company in 2000 was the cornerstone of the DTC, direct to consumer, DNA industry today.

I am honored to present Max and Bennett with special Lifetime Achievement Awards – that are – well – a bit different from any other lifetime achievement award. But then, they are unique so their awards should be as well.

I am asking Katherine Borges, Linda Magellan and Nora Probasco to help present these awards on behalf of the genetic genealogy community. All 3 have attended all of the conferences.

award-katherine

Katherine Borges closed the presentation with the following quote by Wilferd Peterson.

Walk with the Dreamers,
The Believers,
The Courageous,
The Planners,
The Doers,
The Successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground,
Let their Spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.

We stand on the shoulders of giants.

Thank you Max and Bennett for inviting and allowing us to walk with you on this most fabulous journey. You are the wind beneath our wings.

What you can’t see in the photos is the standing ovation for Max and Bennett. People came up to me afterwards and thanked me, saying that they wanted to say those things, but couldn’t or didn’t know how.

At this point, we told Max and Bennett that they had to close their eyes. They are indeed trusting souls.

When they opened their eyes, I’m sure they didn’t know quite what to think. They were both looking to their left at first, and I think they thought there was one quilt.

award-first-sight

I do love the looks on their faces. We wanted them to be surprised and joyful, and they clearly were.

award-both-quilts

They weren’t entirely speechless, but close.

award-max

Max said something short and gracious, then handed the microphone to Bennett and said , “Here Bennett, you say something.” The crowd laughed. Max and Bennett both handled the situation with the grace and dignity we have come to expect.

award-bennett

For those who would like to see a closeup, Katherine Borges took a nice picture.

award-closeup

I will be writing a separate article about the quilts themselves.

Family Tree DNA offers lab tours on the Monday following the conference, and I was able to take a photo of Max and Bennett in the office with the quilts.  For those who don’t know, Gene by Gene is the parent company of Family Tree DNA.

I’m sure none of us, including Max and Bennett had any idea 16 years ago where this road would lead.  It has been an amazing journey – a fantastic magic carpet ride!

award-both-gene-by-gene

I want to thank everyone who contributed in any way to these awards for Bennett and Max, including everyone who has bought tests and participated in DNA testing for genetic genealogy.  Every time I thank Max, he always says, “No, thank YOU.  We wouldn’t be here without you,” meaning the testing community.  That’s Max, and I know he means it sincerely.

Not only was this a wonderful opportunity to honor the men who founded and anchor this industry and community, but also to celebrate individuals being able to participate in discovery on the forefront of the final frontier, the one within us.  What Max and Bennett have provided is an opportunity beyond measure. I could never have dreamed a dream this big. I’m eternally grateful that they did.

Thank you, Max and Bennett, for everything you have done for genetic genealogy over the past 16 years, for founding Family Tree DNA, for projects and a wide variety of products, for embracing, including and encouraging genealogists, scientists and citizen scientists, and for providing continuing opportunities to unwrap the genetic gifts left to us by our ancestors.

I have struggled to find words big enough, strong enough and deep enough.  I hope when you look at your quilts, you will simply feel our everlasting gratitude for how profoundly you have touched and irreversibly changed the lives of so many, one by one, in essence sewing many small stitches in the quilt of humanity.

Photos courtesy Jennifer Zinck, Jim Hollern, Katherine Borges, Janine Cloud, Jim Kvochick and ISOGG.

New Family Tree DNA Holiday Coupons – And the 12 Myths of Family Finder

It’s Monday coupon day – so I’m listing this week’s coupons and also discussing the Family Finder test this week.

Family Finder, Family Tree DNA’s autosomal test is one of the most popular DNA tests, for good reason.

First, like the name implies, it finds your family members on multiple lines of your family – not just the direct Y line (paternal, for males) or the matrilineal line (for both genders.)

Second, Family Finder provides you with an ethnicity estimate which is quite reliable at the continent level for the past 5 or 6 generations.  All ethnicity tests should be taken with somewhat of a grain of salt, because we are still on the frontier of this science.  But let’s face it, this is fun!

myorigins

Furthermore, Family Tree DNA just added a new function titled Ancient Origins that reaches further back in time. Where were your ancestors from?

ancient-origins

12 Myths of Family Finder

Since it’s the holiday season, and the “12 Days of Christmas” is playing in the background, let’s do the “12 Myths of Family Finder.”

1. Since I’ve taken an autosomal test elsewhere, I don’t need to take one at Family Tree DNA too.

You might want to rethink that strategy, and here’s why. Different people test at different companies. Only a few of us nut-cases test at all companies – so you don’t know which matches you’ll be missing if you’re not in all of the data bases. You know how Murphy’s Law works, your best match will be at the last place you test.

2. I already have a tree elsewhere, so I don’t need to upload or create a family tree at Family Tree DNA too.

You definitely need a tree, and here’s why. Family Tree DNA allows you to connect yourself and your relatives on your tree, utilizing phased matches to multiple people to assign your matches to either your maternal or paternal side of the tree, or both.  You can see the blue paternal, red maternal and purple “both” icons on the screen shot below.  No other vendor has this feature, and it requires a tree.

Phased FF2

Furthermore, your matches want to view your tree because Family Tree DNA also provides an ancestral surname matching function. And believe me, if you have one of my surnames AND our DNA matches, I want to see your tree! You’ll want to see mine too! So upload a Gedcom file or create a tree and connect DNA tests to the appropriate people in your tree. You’ll be very glad you did!

You can see an example of several people who have tested and are linked to their proper location in my tree.  My mother and myself are on the left, and three people from my father’s line are shown on the right.  This is how Family Tree DNA assigns matches to maternal and paternal sides of your family

ftdna-linked-tree

3. Autosomal testing doesn’t show anything about the paternal line or the maternal line.

This is probably a misunderstanding, and here’s why. This statement is probably an artifact of the fact that Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA are a separate kind of DNA that ONLY provides information about the direct paternal and direct maternal lines. However, autosomal DNA provides autosomal information from all ancestral lines, including the direct paternal and matrilineal lines too. You can read more about the different kinds of DNA testing and what they provide here.

4. Autosomal DNA testing will find my Native, African (or other small amounts of your admixture) no matter how far back that ancestor lived.

Not true, and here’s why. Autosomal DNA is pretty good at finding admixture in amounts over about 1%. However, each generation loses 50% of the DNA in the preceding generation. You carry about 1% of your ancestors’ DNA back 5 or 6 generations ago – which is about 150 years. Beyond that, it’s the luck of the roll of the dice as to whether fate has smiled on you and you carry a large enough ancestral segment to be found. However, Y and mitochondrial DNA DO reach infinitely back into time for just the direct paternal and direct matrilineal lines, so consider those tests as well.

5. If my sibling has already tested, I don’t need to.

That’s a myth most of the time, but not always. You and your full sibling both inherited half of each of your parents’ DNA, but not the same half. In reality, you share about half of the same DNA with your full sibling, meaning the other half is different. So you and your siblings will each have some of the same autosomal DNA matches, and some different. You’ll want to test every sibling, full and half – that is unless both parents have tested (full siblings) or the common parent has tested for half-siblings.

6. If I’ve tested, I don’t need to test my parents. That’s duplication.

In this case, duplication can be a good thing. Testing your parents will automatically divide your matches effectively in half for you – so long as you connect their test to your tree. If you have only one parent, that’s fine too. Family Tree DNA assigns maternal or paternal sides for phased matches to each parent for you. By the way, if you have grandparents, great-grandparents or the siblings of those people, you’ll definitely want to test the members of the oldest generation in your family. And don’t wait – you never know when it will be too late.  And not to be morbid, but Family Tree DNA will overnight kits to funeral homes if you perhaps waited a bit too long.

7. I don’t have full siblings, I only have half-siblings, so there is no need to test them.

This is right part of the time, but not always.  Don’t you just love these “it depends” answers!

If you have a half sibling and your shared parent is living, then you’re right, you don’t need to test the half-siblings because the parent is available. If that parent isn’t available, then a half-sibling can be even MORE useful than a full sibling, since you immediately know which side anyone who matches you and that sibling come from – your shared parent’s line.

8. I tested elsewhere and uploaded into GedMatch, so I don’t need to test anyplace else.

Nope, and here’s why. Family Tree DNA began DNA testing people 16 years ago. Many people who have tested at Family Tree DNA are now deceased or their kits are being managed by another family member. Suffice it to say that not everyone uploads their results to GedMatch for various reasons, so if you want to be sure to catch all of your matches, you’ll want to test at Family Tree DNA and be in their data base too.

9. I’ll upload my results from 23andMe or Ancestry to Family Tree DNA instead of retesting. It costs less.

That’s a good idea, up to a point, and that point is the point in time that 23andMe moved to their V3 chip and Ancestry moved to their V2 chip. Both of those chips have significantly less markers than their prior chips, making them incompatible with some of the locations on the Family Tree DNA chip. Those dates are approximately November 2013 for 23andMe and roughly May of 2016 for Ancestry. If you tested before those dates, then by all means, upload for the $39 unlock fee. That’s a great value. If you tested after that, it’s a no go, at least not now. You’ll need to retest.

10. I’ll just wait until Family Tree DNA accepts uploads from 23and Me and Ancestry again.

Family Tree DNA has indicated they are working towards that goal, but with the current Family Finder test price at $59 for the full 700,000 locations, compared to the transfer price of $39, it makes more sense to take the Family Finder test for the additional locations tested, even if Family Tree DNA were to make the transfer available today. In some cases, only about half of the locations are compatible which will clearly affect matching at some level. The only time waiting to transfer would be a preferred option would be if the person who took the original test is no longer available to retest.

11. I don’t want to test, because I can’t spit that much. Or substitute “because I am afraid of needles.”

Good news for you. The Family Tree DNA test kit is a swab kit, like a Q-Tip to scrape the inside of your cheek. No spitting, blood or needles involved.

12. I would like to upgrade my family member’s kit, but I can’t because they died.

All is not lost. If you have authorization to upgrade the kit, and they previously tested at Family Tree DNA, you can easily order that upgrade today if enough DNA remains.

Family Tree DNA archives DNA for 25 years. If you have your family member’s account number and password, assuming they gave you administrative privileges for their account, you can order an upgrade for your deceased relative the same as any other account. If you don’t have permission or full access to the account (kit number and password), or they didn’t designate you as DNA beneficiary on their account, you’ll need to obtain permission from the family first. Over time, DNA does degrade, so your best bet for upgrade success is with a sample that has been at the lab for less than 5 years. If in doubt, call Family Tree DNA and they will help you.

I upgraded my mother’s account to Family Finder after she passed away, and that’s one of the best gifts she ever gave me!  It’s a wonderful legacy that gifts me over and over again every day.

This Weeks Coupons

This week’s holiday discounts coupon codes are shown below and they include a few for Family Finder which can be used on top of the $59 sale price. At these prices, I’m offering upgrades to several family members who have previously tested.

Click here to redeem these coupons, or to see how much your own discount code is this week. If you don’t want to use your discount code, feel free to post in the blog comments for others to share.

Coupon # Good for What
R20DEZF4EENR $10 Off MTDNA
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R20H38AA9QT2 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
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R20Q86FQQXU8 $30 off Y-DNA 67
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Lazarus Dodson (1795-1861), Under the Radar?, 52 Ancestors #139

Lazarus Dodson was born in 1795, probably in what is now Hawkins County, Tennessee, to Lazarus Dodson Sr. and his wife, Jane, whose name we don’t know.

The Dodson family had settled on land on what is now Dodson Creek in Hawkins County by 1787, before Tennessee was even a state. Hawkins County was formed in 1787 in what was then North Carolina from Sullivan and Greene Counties, although the boundary between North Carolina and Virginia, on Hawkins County’s north border, remained in dispute for years. Dodson Creek was on the south side of the Holston River, so safely in North Carolina.

Dodson Creek

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

Charles Campbell and his sons, John and George also lived on Dodson Creek. John Campbell, born about 1782, married Jane “Jenny” Dobkins, the daughter of Jacob Dobkins who lived just down the road near White Horn.

dodson-ford-to-white-horn

The Campbell and Dodson families lived near Dodson’s Ford, located at the mouth of Dodson Creek near the power plant today.  The Dodson homestead would have been on the high ground, approximately at the location of 621 Old Tennessee 70, while the ford itself crossed the river, just above that location.  The land between the homestead and the river was low and prone to flooding.

This beautiful scene overlooks both the Campbell and Dodson lands from a vantage point across the Holston River.  Their lands are directly behind, beneath and beside the power plant.  This is beautiful country.

Hawkins view of Campbell land

Raleigh Dodson, the father of Lazarus Dodson Sr. manned and owned the ferry crossing the Holston River at Dodson Ford.

Indian war path

The road from Old Prussia Road to where the ferry crossed no longer exists today, but if you extend the line along Dodson Creek from the intersection of Old Tennessee 70 and Old Prussia Road along the west side of Dodson’s Creek, crossing the river near Arnott’s Island, that’s the general path.

dodson-ford-location

According to local history, this was also the Great War Path, and the Indians used to camp at the mouth of Dodson’s Creek, in the area not plowed today. Locals find artifacts and firepits there.

dodson-ford-indian-encampment

It probably looks much the same today as it did then, except for the fields.

holston river at dodson ford

Bull’s Gap was the next major stop and it was about 12 miles on south, just past White Horn. Everyone traveled these main roads, and everyone, including Jacob Dobkins and his daughters would stop at Raleigh Dodson’s house (and probably tavern/store) after crossing the river.

In 1797, Lazarus Dodson Sr. moved to the White Horn branch of Bent Creek, very near Jacob Dobkins.

Claiborne County, Tennessee

Around 1800, this entire group of families moved from Hawkins County to what would become Claiborne County in 1801, including Jacob Dobkins, John and George Campbell along with their Dobkins wives and Lazarus Dodson and his wife, Jane. John Campbell would have married Jane “Jenny” Dobkins about 1795 and George’s brother, married Jane’s sister, Elizabeth Dobkins, about the same time – both daughters of Jacob Dobkins. Lazarus Dodson Sr. was a neighbor. He could have been otherwise related, by virtue of his wife, Jane, whose surname is unknown. We also don’t know the surname of Raleigh Dodson’s wife. There seems to be some connection to the Lea family, both in Virginia and in Tennessee. These early pioneer families could well have been related before moving to Dodson Creek.

Lazarus Dodson Jr. would have been about 5 years old when his parents moved to Claiborne County. Lazarus probably attended school in the same one room building that also functioned as a church on his father’s land.

gap-creek-church-cropped

That church still exists today, on the banks of Gap Creek, on land owned by Lazarus.

gap-creek

In Claiborne County, Jacob Dobkins, John Campbell and George Campbell settled not terribly far from each other, but Lazarus Dodson settled several miles away, just below the Cumberland Gap at Butcher Springs, shown on the Civil War map, below. The location of Cotterell is the farm sold to David C. Cotrell by Lazarus Dodson in 1833 and confirmed in 1861. Present day Tiprell Road was called Gap Creek Road at that time, and Back Valley Road runs southwest from Patterson’s Smith Shops which is the intersection of 25E and Back Valley Road Today

camp cottrell civil war map

In the photo below, I’m standing in the Cottrell Cemetery located on the road just above the Cottrell home. In the photo, looking southeast, you can see the church standing today in the location of Patterson’s Smith Shops.

Me in Cottrell Cemetery

Below, the same cemetery, but looking west over Lazarus’s land.

cottrell cemetery

Today, Lincoln Memorial University, in the background below, owns the cemetery as well as part of the original Dodson land.

dodson-cottrell-cemetery-lmu

Does one of the many fieldstones mark the grave of Elizabeth Campbell, the wife of Lazarus Dodson, Jr.? Did he have children that died and were buried here – children that never lived long enough to be recorded in their grandfather, John Campbell’s estate settlement papers in 1841?

dodson-cottrell-unmarked-graves

As I stood in the cemetery the sweltering June day that we set Lazarus Dodson Sr.’s DAR marker, honoring his Revolutionary War Service, I couldn’t help but wonder if this old tree had been young when Lazarus Dodson Jr. was a young boy, scampering through the fields here too.

dodson-cottrell-old-tree

On the map below, Lazarus Dodson Sr.’s land was located at 1595 Tiprell Road on the upper left, Jacob Dobkins lived on what is now Al Campbell Lane (ironically) and John Campbell’s land was at the location with the red balloon on Little Sycamore Road. George Campbell’s land was located near Jacob Dobkins’, just slightly to the west.

dodson-cumberland-map

Both Lazarus Dodson Jr. and Elizabeth Campbell, daughter of John Campbell and Jane “Jennie” Dobkins, would have grown up in Claiborne County, but how they managed to “court” at that distance is unknown. The identity of Jane, the wife of Lazarus Dodson Sr. might be a clue, but we don’t know who she was. A church affiliation might be another clue, although Lazarus helped found Gap Creek Church near his home and Jacob Dobkins and John Campbell likely attended church at Big Springs in Tazewell or a smaller congregation closer to their home, if the now defunct church on Little Ridge behind John Campbell’s house had yet been established at that time.

Regardless of how, Elizabeth Campbell and Lazarus Dodson Jr. did court, and did marry about 1818 or 1819, based on the birth date of March 1, 1820 for their oldest child.

Unfortunately, Lazarus Dodson Sr. and Lazarus Dodson Jr. are both functioning as adults in Claiborne County and they are difficult to tell apart. In 1819, Lazarus Dodson, presumably Sr., sells his land near the Cumberland Gap, but in 1826, Lazarus Dodson, presumably Jr., repurchases the same land. Families, family dynamics and politics have never been simple!

In May 1819 Lazarus Dotson and Abner Lea, both of Claiborne Co., sold to William Hogan of Lee Co., VA by $5000 bond a tract of 640 acres. This deed was witnessed by Martin Beaty, William Jones and David Dodson (Claiborne deed E-366). The deed does not say Lazarus Sr. or Jr., but there is no indication that Lazarus Jr. had purchased this land, so the presumption has to be that Lazarus Sr. sold the land he obtained in 1810. The witness David Dodson may be the one who moved to McMinn Co TN and was likely another son of Lazarus Sr.

Alabama Indian Trader

At one point in time, about 1819 or 1820, Lazarus and his wife, Elizabeth Campbell, went to Alabama. This was a somewhat confounding turn of events, until you consider the multiple pieces of evidence that indicate the involvement of the Dodson family with Indians.

The first piece of evidence is that Lazarus Dodson’s father, Lazarus Sr., is reported in a later land survey to have been encamped with the Indians in what was then Sullivan and became Hawkins County, at the mouth of Richland Creek in the winter of 1781/1782.

dodson-richland-creek

The mouth of Richland Creek was located just above an island, as seen above. You can see, on the map below, that in 1787, Richland Creek was located deep in Indian Territory, about 50 miles east of Rogersville and another 40 or so south of Arthur which is located on the south end of Tiprell Road where Lazarus Dodson eventually settled.

Elisha Wallen, the longhunter and first white man to settle in this country, built a cabin near the mouth of Richland Creek in 1775, before he pulled up stakes and moved to Cumberland Gap, near where Lazarus settled about 1800.

dodson-richland-rogersville-gap

There is no trace of the Indians or their encampment today. Lazarus wouldn’t recognize it. I bet that island at the mouth of Richland Creek is full of artifacts, some of which could have been left by Lazarus Dodson.

dodson-richland-encampment

Second, we find Lazarus’s father, Raleigh settling on the Great War Path, in Hawkins County, where the Indians traveled and camped.  Clearly, Lazarus Sr. know the Indians well.  Keep in mind that we don’t know who either Raleigh or Lazarus Sr.’s wives were.

The third piece of evidence is that Jesse Dodson, probably Lazarus’s brother, is living inside the Indian boundary just beneath the Cumberland Gap in 1797.  He was assessed for 1 white poll, but was then excused from tax when the Grainger Court released the Sheriff from the collection of taxes. At this time, the only people excused from taxes were Native people. This begs the question of whether Jesse was part Native and/or whether his wife was Native as well.

However, the failure to collect taxes may have been an issue of jurisdiction instead of heritage. Apparently these people were living beyond the treaty line on Indian land and were not within the jurisdiction of Grainger County. Claiborne County was not formed until 1801.

On the 1795 map below, you can see the Indian boundary line, just west of the Kentucky Road where it intersects with Cumberland Gap. This same Indian Boundary line is referenced in Lazarus Dodson’s deeds. 560 of the 640 acres Lazarus owned of this land was conveyed to him in 1810 by Abner Lea, thought (but unproven) to be Lazarus’s brother-in-law. The acreage amounts don’t match, but keep in mind that two Claiborne County deed books, H and L, from this timeframe are entirely missing.

1795 map claiborne co

If this Jesse Dodson living beyond the Indian Boundary Line in 1797 is the son of Lazarus Sr., then he preceded his father to Claiborne County by a couple of years and may well have settled on the land where Lazarus eventually lived, which was indeed, just inside the Indian Boundary line and was originally Cherokee land. This might well explain why Lazarus selected the land that he did, given that the rest of the people he moved with settled several miles to the southeast in a group.

Jesse Dodson and Mary Stubblefield Dodson joined the Big Spring Baptist church in Tazewell “by experience” in March 1802. They received letters of dismissal from the church in Nov. 1805, but Jesse returned his letter in May 1806, indicating he had returned. Apparently in early 1807 Jesse got into a dispute with the church over a theological question which continued through Sept. 1807 when the question was dismissed. In Aug. 1808, Jesse was “excluded” from the church for “withholding from the Church”. He is not again found in the records of Claiborne County. We know this Jesse Dodson is not the son of the Reverend Jesse Dodson whose son, Jesse Jr. was born in 1791. We otherwise don’t know who this Jesse is, other than perhaps the Jesse who was living beyond the Indian Boundary Line in 1797 who was possibly the Jesse who was subsequently licenses to trade with the Indians.  Yes, I know there are works like perhaps and possibly here, but this is the best we can do.

On June 20, 1811, Jesse Dodson was licensed to trade with Indian tribes in Madison Co., Alabama. Descendants of this man have the oral tradition that he was an Indian Trader. He was said to be the oldest son of a large family of boys. Once when the Indian trader returned from one trip and was preparing to leave on another, the father implored his older son to take along his younger brother. The trader refused, saying the boy was so inexperienced that he would be killed by Indians. The father was adamant and insisted, so the trader relented and took the boy along. He has killed by Indians before the trader’s eyes. From then on there were hard feelings between the Indian Trader and his father. This is a tradition which may have grown with the telling over the generations, but there could be some grains of truth in the tale. If would certainly be interesting to know for sure if Jesse the Indian Trader is the son of Lazarus Dodson Sr.

Jackson County, Alabama

The land that became Jackson Co., Alabama was originally part of the Mississippi Territory and was occupied by the Cherokee until they gave it up by treaty on Feb. 27, 1819. It is certainly possible that Jesse Dodson, Indian Trader of the Mississippi Territory, was a son of Lazarus Dodson, Sr., who, himself was camping with the Indians in the winter of 1781/1782. Indeed, Lazarus Sr. did appear to have a family of mostly boys and the name Raleigh is conspicuously absent from a list of descendants, perhaps indicating a death.

1819 is also the year that Lazarus Dodson Sr. sold his Claiborne County land and when several of his children apparently went to Alabama.

I don’t know if this has anything to do with why Lazarus went to Alabama, but it can’t be ignored either.

Andrew Jackson was Major General in the Tennessee Militia. He was ordered to New Orleans to fight the British in January 1813. He was ordered to disband his troops (2500) and return to Tennessee when he reached present day Natchez, Mississippi. No pay or provisions for his men and they had to forage their way back 500 miles to Tennessee. Some people stayed in Alabama. Jackson returned and defeated the Creek Indians (Red Sticks) at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend on May 27, 1814. The Indians were forced to cede 23,000,000 acres to the Federal Government. Mississippi became a State in 1817 and Alabama in 1819. Many of the militia from Tennessee returned to Tennessee, packed up their belonging, and returned with their families in two wheel carts to “Squat” on the Indian Lands in Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi. The squatters were given title to the lands by the States. Some of the “Civilized” Creeks were also allowed to “keep” their lands.

I checked land records maintained by the state and the BLM and find no Lazarus Dodson. However, there are many entries for Dodson men during and after this time.

I initially discounted the oral history that Lazarus had gone to Jackson County, Alabama, but his son, John Campbell Dodson shows that he was born in Alabama repeatedly – in the 1850 census, in the 1860 census and on his Civil War papers.

Lazarus Dodson Jr. was just slightly too young to be involved in the War of 1812, having been born in 1795, and his father Lazarus Sr., probably slightly too old, having been born about 1760. I did check Kentucky’s War of 1812 veterans, just to be sure, given that Lazarus Jr. lived there from about 1833 until his death in 1861 – and there is no listing for Lazarus Dodson by any spelling.

Return From Alabama

Elizabeth Campbell Dodson died sometime between 1827 when the last child was born and 1830 when the Dodson children are living with their Campbell grandparents.

Lazarus Dodson is once again active in Claiborne County, beginning in 1826 (according to an 1826 deed that may have been “doctored” and wasn’t registered until 1829) but consistently from mid-1827 through 1833 when Lazarus sells his land to David Cotterell and apparently moves to Pulaski County, Kentucky. By this time, Lazarus Dodson Sr. has died, so we know the Lazarus after 1826 is Lazarus Dodson Jr. who had married Elizabeth Campbell and later, Rebecca Freeman.

If Elizabeth died in Alabama, the reason for Lazarus’s return is evident. What was Lazarus to do with 4 children under the age of 7 or 8? Elizabeth may have died after returning to McMinn or Claiborne County. If so, she died before 1830 when the children were living with their grandparents.

Truthfully, I suspect that Elizabeth died after Lazarus returned to Tennessee. Otherwise, if Elizabeth had born a child in 1827 and died shortly thereafter, I suspect the child would have died too. Who would have nursed that child during the 200 mile, or minimum 10 day trip, from Alabama to Claiborne County, TN? Lazarus obviously couldn’t.

Cumberland Gap, Again

In 1826 Lazarus Dodson Sr.’s estate is being referenced in the September McMinn County court notes where Lazarus (Jr.) is one of several “gardeans of the estate” of Lazarous Dodson, deceased.

Abner Lea and Others Obligation to William Dodson: State of Tennessee McMinn County. Know all men by these presents that the Abner Lea and Oliver Dodson and Eligha (sic) Dodson and William Dodson and Jessee Dodson and Lazrus Dodson and held and firmly bound in the penal sum of two thousand dollars which payment will and freely to be maid now(?) and each of us do bind our selves our heirs executor and administrators to the abounded signed sealed and delivered this day and date above written. This is our obligation is as such that has the above abound to appoint Abner Lea and Oliver Dodson to be the gardeans [guardians] of the estate of Lazarous Dodson dc’d also we authorize the said Abner Lea and Oliver Dodson to make to William Dodson a deed of Conveyeance to the part of land granted to the said William Dodson North East Quarter of Section 11 Township 5 Range first east of the meridian. Also that we confirm the sale made on the 13 day of May 1826 we also agree to give unto the heirs of David Dodson a certain piece or parcel of land designated to David Dodson by Lazarus Dodson dec’d be it further understood that this is to be there part and all that they are entitiled to by us, where unto we have set our hand and quill this 11 day of September 1826. Abner Lea, Oliver Dodson, Eligha Dodson, Lazarous Dodson, Jesse Dodson

Witnesses: Landford and Rhodes William Dodson

In Sept. 1826, William Hogan living in McMinn Co., TN. sold to Lazarus Dodson and John Pace of Claiborne Co., for $3500, a tract of 640 acres adjoining Peter Huffakers field, a compromise line between Hogan, Aaron Davis and William Jones, excepting four acres heretofore conveyed to the said Huffaker and two acres donated by Hogan to the Baptist Church, including the meeting house and also a donation to the Trustees of the Washington School, including the schoolhouse. This deed was not certified by oath in Claiborne County court until April term of 1829 and not registered until October 20, 1829. This is registered in Claiborne County on pages 285 and 286.

dodson-1826-deed

dodson-1826-deed-2

This has to be Lazarus Jr. since Lazarus Sr. is dead and this land appears, based on earlier and later deeds, to be the original land that Lazarus Sr. owned. Did Lazarus Jr. repurchase his father’s land because of sentimental reasons, or because it was a great deal? Maybe some of both? Was this land still in the family. Was Hogan related? If so, how? So many questions!

On June 4, 1827, Lazerus Dodson made a deed of mortgage to Augustine P. Face (Pace) in McMinn County, but the land was located in Claiborne County, TN. (McMinn County Court Minutes, B/124)

At the October Claiborne County court session in 1829, the Sheriff, John Hunt, and Luke Tierman, a merchant from Baltimore, Maryland registered a judgement recovered by Daniel Rogers against Willliam Hogan. This judgment went up for auction and was specifically stated to be “the very tract of land William Hogan then lived on and the same he bought of Lazarus Dodson.” This was sold at auction with Tierman winning the land for $5 and then Sheriff Hunt conveys the 540 acres to John Tierman.

dodson-1829-tierman

dodson-1829-tierman-2

dodson-1829-tierman-3

This photo is taken on Tiprell Road looking north towards the mountain on the land that was owned by Lazarus.

dodson land tipprell road

This land is quite beautiful on up the mountain a bit.  Gap Creek runs alongside the road.

tipprell-road

Older Cottrell descendants indicate that Lazarus’s barn and perhaps a log structure (home?) was located in what is now this clump of trees, in the clearing to the right, just beneath the location of the Cottrell home on the Civil War map. The cemetery, as the crow flies, is just on the other side of the trees on the top of the hill, but you can’t get there from Tiprell Road today.

Given where the Civil War fighting occurred, this scene looks bucolic today, but it certainly wasn’t then. Lazarus didn’t live long enough to know about the fighting that would take place during the Civil War on the land he and his father once owned, but his daughter Rutha Dodson’s husband, John Y. Estes, would fight on these very grounds.

dodson-barn-land

I don’t know, but I’m guessing that somehow Lazarus Dodson is connected to William Hogan, given the multiple appearances of Hogan and Lazarus Dodson Sr. and Jr. together. Furthermore, it looks like there may have been something “funny” going on with this 1826 Dodson/Hogan land transaction that was not registered until 1829 at the same court session where Rogers judgment and Tierman’s auction winning of the land, somehow intertwined, are also registered.

How was this ever resolved, with two men, Tierman and Lazarus Dodson both appearing to own the exact same land? I’ll never know, but it does not appear to have gone to court again. Given the agrarian economy where almost everything seems to have been litigated, that in and of itself is amazing.

In 1827 Lazarus appears in the Claiborne County court minutes for the June session as the security for Andrew Chumbly in the case the State vs Andrew Chumbly. Thereafter Lazarus appears in the court minutes, serving as juror in September 1827, sued for debt by Moses Ball in March 1828 (Ball was awarded damages in Sept. 1828), ordered to a road jury in Dec 1829, serving as juror in March 1830, as constable in March 1831, after which Lazarus Dodson’s name disappears from court records until March 16, 1835 when John Hunt, sheriff and collector of public taxes lists Lazarus Dodson on his list of “persons being removed out of my county or insolvent so their poll tax cannot be collected for the year 1833 or 1834”.

Based on an 1861 deed, we know that Lazarus Dodson sold the land on present day Tiprell Road to David C. Cotterell in 1833.

1861, May 6 – Lazrous (sic) Dodson formerly of Claiborne Co, TN but now of Pulasky Co. KY to David C. Cotterell for $100 “to me the said Lazarous Dodson paid in the year 1833 having then sold to David Cotterell a tract of land on Gap Creek known as the Robert Chumbley land who had entered said land and sold and assigned said entry over to me and when the grant issued it came out in said Chumley’s name and afterwards was assigned by my request to said Cotterell”…beginning at a white oak two poles below Walker’s line, crossing Gap Creek, etc…his mark Lazarus Dodson. Wit Lewis Chumbley, Andrew Chumbley   Ack May 6, 1861 by Lazarus Dodson by appearance before James Allcorn, clerk of Court in Pulaksi Co., KY. Registered Oct 13 1870 Claiborne Co., TN

Note that the above item took place just 5 months before Lazarus died.

If Lazarus Jr. bought the land in 1826 for $3500, why did he sell it for $100 in 1833?  Or was this only a portion of what was sold?  Where is the deed for the rest?  Is that deed in the lost deed books?  The indexes remain, but they don’t show this land sale.

This survey shows Robert Chumley’s 100 acres of land.

robert-chumley-survey

The name of Lazarus Dodson is on a list of free male inhabitants, 21 and upwards, of Claiborne County in 1833.

The foregoing records suggest that Lazarus was living in Claiborne Co., in 1830, though he is not found there on census records for that year, or anyplace else for that matter. It is possible he lived in the household of another family, although at that time one could not serve on a jury if you weren’t a while male landholder over the age of 21.  If Lazarus owned his own land, and we know he did, then why wasn’t he listed on the census?

The following records indicate that Lazarus left the county again for a few years beginning in 1833, returning to marry his second wife, Rebecca Freeman, on June 29, 1839.

On to Kentucky

In 1835, we find a Hawkins County record that states that Lazarus is not a resident of the State of Tennessee.

May 7, 1835 – John A. McKinney vs David C. Cotterall, John Pace and Lazarus Dodson – the def John Pace and Lazarus Dodson are not residents of this state…ordered that they make appearance at Rogersville on the first Monday of Nov next term or complaintants bill will be taken pro confesso and a copy of order to be published in the Abington newspaper and on motion of said complainant leave is given him to take depositions of the def, Dodson subject however to all just exceptions.

Nov. 3, 1835 – they failed to appear.

Sept. 18, 1837 – ord by court that the clerk and master ascertain the amount if interest due on $87.50 being half the amount of the obligation executed by the def John Pace and Lazarus Dodson to the complainant.

Sept. 1837 – cause came for final hearing by responses made that Cottrell by an agreement made with the compl pending this suit has assumed to pay the sum of $100 which at that time was half of the obligation and he was bound to do with as the foot of the agreement with Pace and further that Dodson is liable to pay the complainant the remaining half of said obligation with interest in the amount of $118.56 with interest from this date until paid.

In 1839, Lazarus Dodson married Rebecca Freeman in Claiborne County. I wonder if he married someone else in-between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman. In that time and place, being single for several years is indeed unusual.

Lazarus Dodson and Rebecca Freeman Dodson have not been located on the 1850 census. They are not on the census of Pulaski Co., KY that year. The children of Lazarus and Elizabeth Campbell Dodson appear to have been raised after Elizabeth’s death by their Campbell grandparents. Lazarus, their father, left the area by about 1833, when the youngest child was only 6 years old, but these children were clearly raised in Claiborne County, married there and established homes.

I wonder what prompted Lazarus to move to Pulaski County, Kentucky, and if it had anything to do with the Hawkins County suit and the two years back taxes owed? Was Lazarus flying below the radar, as best one could in that time and place?

If he was living in Kentucky, how did he meet and marry Rebecca Freeman in 1839 in Claiborne County? There are far more questions about Lazarus’s life than we have answers.

John Campbell’s Death

In 1838, Lazarus Dodson’s former father-in-law died. Since Elizabeth Campbell, Lazarus’s first wife was also deceased, her portion fell to Lazarus and Elizabeth’s children.

In 1839, Lazarus is listed as receiving settlement from the estate of his father-in-law John Campbell.

In 1841 Wiley Huffaker was appointed by the court of Claiborne Co. as guardian of the minor heirs of Lazarus Dodson and of Elizabeth Dodson, decd. This was relative to the settlement of the estate of Elizabeth’s father, John Campbell, who died in 1838. The children received land, slaves and cash from their grandfather’s estate which was first rented and then sold for their benefit. The guardianship records continue until Dec. 1845 when the final settlement was made with Lasrus Dotson, the youngest heir, who would be Lazarus the third. This also confirms the birth year of Lazarus (the third) as 1827, given that he would have turned 18 in 1845.

Lazarus and Elizabeth’s children’s names were taken from the records relative to the estate of John Campbell, their grandfather, when a guardian was appointed for them relative to their inheritance. The children of Lazarus Dodson Jr. and Elizabeth Campbell were:

  • Ruthy Dodson, born March 1, 1820 who married John Y. Estes in 1841 in Claiborne County, died in 1903 and is buried in the Venable Cemetery in Little Sycamore.
  • John Campbell Dodson, born 1820-1821 in Alabama, married Barthenia Dobkins in 1839 in Claiborne County and died after 1860.
  • Nancy Ann Dodson born about 1821, married James S. Bray in 1840 in Claiborne County and died between 1852 and 1860.
  • Lazarus Dobkins Dodson was born in 1827 (between 1822-1828 according to the census,) married Elizabeth H. Carpenter in 1845 in Claiborne County and died in 1885 in New Madrid County, Missouri.

One More Child?

Mary Dodson was living with Lazarus and Rebecca in the 1860 census. Her birth predates Lazarus’s marriage to Rebecca by 8 years. Was she a child of a wife between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman? Did Lazarus have a second wife we know nothing about?

dodson-1860-pulaski-census

Mary Dodson died sometime after 1860 and is not found in the Kentucky death records.

While Mary’s birth in 1831 is before Lazarus’s marriage to Rebecca in 1839, Mary is not listed in the estate settlement for Elizabeth Campbell, so she is clearly not Elizabeth’s child. It’s possible that Mary is not Lazarus’s child at all. We have no further information about Mary, and she remains a mystery.

Lazarus’s Death

Kentucky implemented very early death records, although they are fragmented and often incomplete.

lazarus-1861-pulaski-co-ky-death

However, we are fortunate that Lazarus is listed (last row, above), and his death record provides both his birth year AND his parents’ names! Well, except for his mother’s surname, of course.  We’re not THAT lucky!

dodson-lazarus-1861-death

dodson-lazarus-1861-death-2

Lazarus Dotson or Dodson is listed as white, age 66, male, married, a farmer and died on October 5, 1861 of “breast disease.” He was born in 1795 in Virginia and both resided and died in Pulaski County, Kentucky. His parents were Lazarus Dodson and Jane, both born in Virginia.

In a female, I would presume breast disease to be breast cancer, but in a male, breast disease is a bit of a mystery.

What Needs to be Done?

We don’t know where Lazarus is buried, nor do we know where he lived. Deed work, which might identify where Lazarus lived, has not been done in Pulaski County. We also don’t know if he had a will, probate or inventory records.

I contacted the Pulaski County Historical Society, hoping I could hire a researcher to do the deed work for me, with no luck. If anyone has any Pulaski County genealogy resources, either books or feet on the ground, please let me know.

DNA

Deed and records research in Pulaski County isn’t the only missing piece of the puzzle.

To date, no male Dodson from this line has Y DNA tested. If you’re a male Dodson from this line, please get in touch with me. I have a DNA testing scholarship for you!

However, just because we don’t have the Dodson Y DNA doesn’t mean we are dead in the water entirely. Let’s see what autosomal DNA can tell us about Lazarus.

I have one cousin who descends from this line, through one of Lazarus Jr.’s children. She is my only known cousin who descends through another child of Lazarus Jr.. I have several cousins who descend from the same child that I do.

One of the challenges faced in this particular line is that Jacob Dobkin’s daughters, Jennie and Elizabeth, married Campbell brothers, John and George, respectively.

dodson-dobkins-campbell-marriages

At least’s it’s widely accepted that John Campbell and George Campbell were brothers, both sons of Charles Campbell, from a variety of relatively convincing but less than cast-in-concrete evidence. What we don’t have, and probably never will have, is exact proof that John and George were brothers.

John and George Campbell’s Y DNA matches, but that’s not proof they were brothers, only that they share a common ancestor someplace back in time. Since they married sisters, one could expect the descendants of both men (and their Dobkins wives) to share at least some DNA.

This happens to be important because we have autosomal DNA from descendants of George Campbell and Elizabeth Dobkins as well, but because brothers married sisters, we can’t use the DNA from the George Campbell line to differentiate the DNA of the John Campbell descendants.  Nor can we use the fact that these descendants match to prove that George and John were brothers, because we know they married sisters, which could be why the DNA from descendants of both lines matches.

Nothing frustrating about this, right???

The cousin, Mary, that descends from Lazarus Dodson Jr. and Elizabeth Campbell through their youngest child, Lazarus, matches me on four locations of 5 cM or greater.

dodson-mary-me

This is pretty exciting.  You can see the orange segments on the chromosome browser below.

dodson-mary-chr-browser

Given that we match on 4 segments, I was very hopeful that some of my DNA and Mary’s would triangulate with another known cousin, but it didn’t, except for my half-sister’s granddaughter, which is a relative too close for meaningful triangulation.

Triangulation, of course, is when three different cousins who descend from the same ancestor have DNA in common, meaning that all three match each other on the same segment. This indicates that the DNA segment descends from that common ancestor.

Since my DNA doesn’t triangulate, are there perhaps other pieces of Campbell and Dobkins DNA that still exist in descendants and can be proven to come from these ancestors?

The Power of Cousins

While Mary is the only cousin descended from Lazarus Dodson and Elizabeth Campbell, through another child, there are LOTS of other cousins who are descended  through the same child of Lazarus Dodson and Elizabeth Campbell that I descend from through daughter Ruthy Dodson.  Additionally, one cousin, William P. descends through George Campbell and Elizabeth Dobkins.

I manage a number of kits for cousins. I’ve downloaded their matches and sorted to see which of the various cousins might match Mary.

Lo and behold, look at this!  Jackpot!

dodson-cousin-mary-matches

Several cousins match Mary, and look, several segments in the red squares, triangulate between cousins, and Mary, as well. We know this is either Campbell, Dodson or Dobkins DNA, we just don’t know which. Even removing the Dodson DNA, hypothetically, without people who descend from either the Dobkins line, but not the Campbell line, or vice versa, there is no way to tell which is which.

Of the cousins above, William P. descends from George Campbell and Elizabeth Dobkins, while the balance all descend from Ruthy Dodson Estes. Those segments that triangulate between William P. and anyone else MUST be from the Campbell/Dobkins lineage, and not the Dodson line, because William P. does not descend from the Dodson line.

dodson-dobkins-campbell-line-2

Therefore, the triangulated match on chromosome 2 between Mary, Iona and William P. descends through the Campbell/Dobkins line and not Lazarus Dodson.  Not only that, but it’s a huge segment of 44 cM for double 4th cousins that has descended for five generations. Unfortunately, we just proved that this isn’t Lazarus’s DNA, but the rest could be.

Stacy’s match to Mary, Carol and Charlene on chromosome 12 is quite interesting. Let’s take a look.

Stacy is my half-sister’s granddaughter, so the common ancestor between Stacy and me is my father. In this case, we know unquestionably that my father carried the portion of chromosome 12 that Stacy carries, but that I did not inherit that segment.  This tells me that I inherited DNA from my father’s mother’s side on that segment.  That’s useful to know, even if it is via the back door through process of elimination.

Obviously, Carol, Mary and Charlene inherited that segment from their common ancestor(s).  Both Carol and Charlene descend from Ruthy Dodson Estes through her son, Lazarus Estes. Carol and Charlene’s lines diverge at Lazarus, but Charlene descends from my father’s brother.

dodson-cousin-mary-pedigree

While the chart above shows that Mary, Stacy, Charlene and Carol all 4 received the same segment of Elizabeth Campbell or Lazarus Dodson’s green DNA on chromosome 12, it doesn’t really show the full effect.

dodson-cousin-mary-green-pedigree

We know that all of these family members in green inherited this exact same DNA segment, and passed it along to the bottom generation. In this group, I’m the odd person out – having not received the green DNA from my father, while my sister did.

While these are not my matches that happen to triangulate, they are indeed my cousins and this triangulated DNA is that of my ancestors that I just don’t happen to carry.

Thank goodness for the power of cousins and the staying power of DNA for 7 proven generations!!!

A Mystery Man

Despite being able to piece some of Lazarus Dodson’s life together, we have gaping holes and many unanswered questions.  I just have the feeling that there is a very big piece of Lazarus’s life missing, some key event or cornerstone element – possibly surrounding the property beneath Cumberland Gap at Butcher Springs.  If we had that piece of information, perhaps the rest would fall into place and make sense.

Was his marriage license to Elizabeth Campbell lost in Claiborne County? That’s certainly possible.

When did Lazarus go to Alabama, and why? How long did he stay?

Did Elizabeth die in Alabama or back in Tennessee?  In McMinn County or Claiborne?

Why did Lazarus repurchase his father’s land in 1826, or 1829?

What was going on with that land transaction? There are certainly some oddities.

What relationship did Lazarus have with the Pace, Hogan and Lea families?

What about that lawsuit in Hawkins County he never showed for?

If he sold his land when he left, in 1833, why did he have unpaid taxes in 1835 for 1833 and 1834?

Why did Lazarus leave his children in Tennessee with their grandparents when he left for Kentucky about 1833? His oldest would have been 13 and his youngest about 6.

For that matter, why did he leave his children with their Campbell grandparents by 1830, and where was he in 1830?

Who is Mary Dodson born in 1831?  Who was her mother?

Did Lazarus have a second wife between Elizabeth Campbell and Rebecca Freeman that we know nothing about?

Did Lazarus ever pay what was owed according to the court in 1837, or is that perhaps part of the reason he went to Kentucky in the first place?

If Lazarus was living in Kentucky in 1839, how did he meet and marry Rebecca Freeman in Claiborne County, TN?

Where was Lazarus Dodson in the 1840 and 1850 census?

Why did Lazarus actually sign the deed in 1861? Was this a remnant of the “odd” land transactions surrounding that piece of ground on Tiprell Road that remained since 1826 or maybe even earlier, with his father in 1810 and 1819?

This leaves me with a feeling that there was something odd going on, and perhaps Lazarus Dodson was flying a bit beneath the radar. Perhaps Pulaksi County, Kentucky Records would be enlightening.