Sale Reminder, Conference Speaking Schedule, RootsTech Signup Opens Soon – and Oh Those Yearbooks

I’d like to share a few newsy things with you.

First, a quick reminder about the summer sales at FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage that end soon.

Additionally, you can still sign up for the MyHeritage LIVE conference next week in Amsterdam and yes, I’ll be presenting at RootsTech 2020. Registration opens soon.

I’ll be presenting at two additional conferences this year, in North Carolina and Sweden, but after that, thankfully, my schedule slows down a bit.

And yearbooks, oh those pictures of big hair and old boyfriends!!!

So, this is actually more of a newsletter😊

Family Tree DNA

Labor Day FTDNA.png

Just a quick reminder that the Summer Sale at FamilyTreeDNA ends in another two days – at the end of August.

Almost everything is on sale, including the autosomal Family Finder test for $59.

However, of particular interest for Y chromosome carriers (men), the Big Y-700 is on sale for purchase or upgrade.

When the Big Y-700 was first introduced in January of 2019, there was some skepticism about how effective the new test would be, and how much added benefit testers would receive as compared to the Big Y-500. The results have been nothing short of amazing.

This test is a rerun, not an upgrade, because the chemistry and processes are truly new and improved.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say, and many, literally tens of thousands of new SNPS that divide the Y DNA tree have been discovered. While this is all good for science, which I discussed here, it’s also genealogically relevant – so it’s good for you too.

My own Estes line has branched and I’m desperately hoping for a similar branch in the Campbell line to help identify which of several Campbell men is the father of my brick wall. I’m so close after all these years I can taste it!

FamilyTreeDNA provided the following comparative information as to recent growth of the Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA public trees.

Public Haplotree Updated Statistic Previous Statistic
mtDNA Haplotree • 170,000 mtFull Sequences • 150,000 mtFull Sequences
Y-DNA Haplotree • 20,000 branches • 16,000 branches
• 150,000 variants • 118,000 variants
• 170,000 confirmed SNPs • 160,000 confirmed SNPs

That’s huge growth since early 2019 and all because of people like you and me testing at the Big Y and full sequence mitochondrial DNA levels.

If you’re wondering how to interpret your results, don’t forget about my new educational mitochondrial series and the upcoming Y DNA series as well.

Family Tree DNA Sale Pricing!

Here’s a chart with the regular and sale prices for each product so you can see just how much you’re saving.

Test Sale Price Regular Price Savings
Y37 $129 $169 $40
Y67 $199 $268 $69
Y111 $299 $359 $60
Big Y-700 $499 $649 $150
Family Finder $59 $79 $20
mtFull mitochondrial full sequence $149 $199 $50
Family Finder + Y37 $178 $248 $70
Family Finder + mtFull $198 $278 $80
Family Finder + Y67 + mtFull $387 $546 $159
Family Finder + Y111 + mtFull $487 $637 $150
Family Finder + Y37 + mtFull $317 $447 $130
Family Finder + Y67 $248 $347 $99
Family Finder + Y111 $348 $438 $90
Y37 + mtFull $268 $368 $100
Y67 + mtFull $338 $467 $129
Y111 + mtFull $438 $558 $120
Y12 to Y37 $99 $109 $10
Y12 to Y67 $169 $199 $30
Y12 to Y111 $279 $359 $80
Y25 to Y37 $49 $59 $10
Y25 to Y67 $139 $159 $20
Y25 to Y111 $239 $269 $30
Y37 to Y67 $89 $109 $20
Y37 to Y111 $178 $228 $50
Y67 to Y111 $89 $99 $10
Y12 to Big Y-700 $489 $629 $140
Y25 to Big Y-700 $489 $599 $110
Y37 to Big Y-700 $459 $569 $110
Y67 to Big Y-700 $399 $499 $100
Y111 to Big Y-700 $349 $449 $100
Big Y-500 to Big Y-700 $229 $249 $20
mtDNA (HVR1) to mtFull $139 $159 $20
mtPlus (HVR1+HVR2) to mtFull $129 $159 $30

To purchase any of the tests, or upgrade, click on any link above, or here.

MyHeritage Sale and Conference

The MyHeritage sale continues through September 3rd at the sale price of $59.

Labor Day MyHeritage.png

I’m excited, because I hope lots of new people will test at MyHeritage, or transfer there.  They have lots of European testers, and that’s just what I need to “jump the pond.”

The MyHeritage Theories of Family Relativity tool, combined with their triangulation feature, is bearing lots of fruit – connecting people to each other and to their ancestors.

Just yesterday I received an e-mail notification that I have a new Theory and the match to my newly discovered cousin will help me identify others who share that same DNA. Of course, common DNA segments are the breadcrumbs to ancestors.

To order the MyHeritage test, click here, or to transfer a file from a test at another vendor, click here.

You can also order the new MyHeritage ancestry plus health test, here. I wrote about that test, here. I have my results, and I’m pleased.

I wrote a step-by-step article with instructions for how to transfer to MyHeritage easily, here.

MyHeritage LIVE Conference

MyHeritage LIVE 2019 7 days.png

I’ll be at the MyHeritage LIVE conference beginning next week in Amsterdam and will be your imbedded reporter there. I hope to meet many of you, especially those from Europe.

Speakers are listed here. And yes, I’m on two panels, The Future of DNA Testing at 4:45 on Saturday, September 7th, and DNA Testing for Health at 3:00 on Sunday.

You can still register. The coupon code for 10% off is Roberta10. Just enter it at checkout when you sign up, here.

RootsTech 2020

RootsTech 2020 speaker.jpg

I’m presenting 2 sessions at RootsTech 2020 February 26-29 in Salt Lake City, plus at least a couple of guest “booth talks” in various vendor booths.

I’ll write more about this later, but registration opens on September 18th. Not only that, but if you want to stay at the conference hotels, or anyplace close, you’ll need to make those reservations early. I found out the hard way, trust me.

North Carolina Genealogical Society

I’ll be presenting both the keynote and other sessions November 1-2 with the North Carolina Genealogical Society in Raleigh, NC. The flyer with the schedule is here, but their website seems to be experiencing difficulty today.

If you’re interested in DNA, the Lost Colony of Roanoke, or have NC ancestors, this is a great opportunity. Please be sure to say hello if you’re at the Raleigh conference.

Archaeogenetics and Genetic Genealogy Conference in Umea, Sweden

I can hardly wait for my visit to Umea, Sweden to keynote the International Archaeogenetics and Genetic Genealogy Conference hosted by the University of Umea, November 13-14. The schedule is here, but note that only day 1 is in English, except for my session on day 2.

This conference is focused on science and promises to be absolutely amazing! I can hardly wait. I hope to see a number of friends from Scandinavia and meet those of you from that region that might be able to attend. I also hope to see the Aurora Borealis durign my visit!

You can sign up here. Let me know if you’re planning to attend.

Enjoy the Holiday and Torture Your Family with Old Pictures😊

Monday is Labor Day in the US, so enjoy the holiday.

Roberta Estes 1971.jpg

Oh, by the way, Ancestry’s new US yearbook collection is available for free through September 2nd. Are you there? Who can you find? Anything interesting you could take to that Labor Day cookout with your family?

Here’s the link. The indexing has been done using OCR scan technology of course, so if you’re not finding what you want in this collection, the MyHeritage yearbook collection is free too, here, also without a subscription, and includes universities.

Have fun!



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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Native American & Minority Ancestors Identified Using DNAPainter Plus Ethnicity Segments

Ethnicity is always a ticklish subject. On one hand we say to be leery of ethnicity estimates, but on the other hand, we all want to know who our ancestors were and where they came from. Many people hope to prove or disprove specific theories or stories about distant ancestors.

Reasons to be cautious about ethnicity estimates include:

  • Within continents, like Europe, it’s very difficult to discern ethnicity at the “country” level because of thousands of years of migration across regions where borders exist today. Ethnicity estimates within Europe can be significantly different than known and proven genealogy.
  • “Countries,” in Europe, political constructs, are the same size as many states in the US – and differentiation between those populations is almost impossible to accurately discern. Think of trying to figure out the difference between the populations of Indiana and Illinois, for example. Yet we want to be able to tell the difference between ancestors that came from France and Germany, for example.

Ethnicity states over Europe

  • All small amounts of ethnicity, even at the continental level, under 2-5%, can be noise and might be incorrect. That’s particularly true of trace amounts, 1% or less. However, that’s not always the case – which is why companies provide those small percentages. When hunting ancestors in the distant past, that small amount of ethnicity may be the only clue we have as to where they reside at detectable levels in our genome.

Noise in this case is defined as:

  • A statistical anomaly
  • A chance combination of your DNA from both parents that matches a reference population
  • Issues with the reference population itself, specifically admixture
  • Perhaps combinations of the above

You can read about the challenges with ethnicity here and here.

On the Other Hand

Having restated the appropriate caveats, on the other hand, we can utilize legitimate segments of our DNA to identify where our ancestors came from – at the continental level.

I’m actually specifically referring to Native American admixture which is the example I’ll be using, but this process applies equally as well to other minority or continental level admixture as well. Minority, in this sense means minority ethnicity to you.

Native American ethnicity shows distinctly differently from African and European. Sometimes some segments of DNA that we inherit from Native American ancestors are reported as Asian, specifically Siberian, Northern or Eastern Asian.

Remember that the Native American people arrived as a small group via Beringia, a now flooded land bridge that once connected Siberia with Alaska.

beringia map

By Erika Tamm et al – Tamm E, Kivisild T, Reidla M, Metspalu M, Smith DG, et al. (2007) Beringian Standstill and Spread of Native American Founders. PLoS ONE 2(9): e829. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000829. Also available from PubMed Central., CC BY 2.5,

After that time, the Native American/First Nations peoples were isolated from Asia, for the most part, and entirely from Europe until European exploration resulted in the beginning of sustained European settlement, and admixture beginning in the late 1400s and 1500s in the Americas.

Family Inheritance

Testing multiple family members is extremely useful when working with your own personal minority heritage. This approach assumes that you’d like to identify your matches that share that genetic heritage because they share the same minority DNA that you do. Of course, that means you two share the same ancestor at some time in the past. Their genealogy, or your combined information, may hold the clue to identifying your ancestor.

In my family, my daughter has Native American segments that she inherited from me that I inherited from my mother.

Finding the same segment identified as Native American in several successive generations eliminates the possibility that the chance combination of DNA from your father and mother is “appearing” as Native, when it isn’t.

We can use segment information to our benefit, especially if we don’t know exactly who contributed that DNA – meaning which ancestor.

We need to find a way to utilize those Native or other minority segments genealogically.


Today, the only DNA testing vendor that provides consumers with a segment identification of our ethnicity predictions is 23andMe.

If you have tested at 23andMe, sign in and click on Ancestry on the top tab, then select Ancestry Composition.

Minority ethnicity ancestry composition.png

Scroll down until you see your painted chromosomes.

Minority ethnicity chromosome painting.png

By clicking on the region at left that you want to see, the rest of the regions are greyed out and only that region is displayed on your chromosomes, at right.

Minority ethnicity Native.png

According to 23andMe, I have two Native segments, one each on chromosomes 1 and 2. They show these segments on opposite chromosomes, meaning one (the top for example) would be maternal or paternal, and the bottom one would be the opposite. But 23andMe apparently could not tell for sure because neither my mother nor father have tested there. This placement also turned out to be incorrect. The above image was my initial V3 test at 23andMe. My later V4 results were different.

Versions May Differ

Please note that your ethnicity predictions may be different based on which test you took which is dictated by when you took the test. The image above is my V3 test that was in use at 23andMe between 2010 and November 2013, and the image below is my V4 test in use between November 2013 and August 2017.

23andMe apparently does not correct original errors involving what is known as “strand swap” where the maternal and paternal segments are inverted during analysis. My V4 test results are shown below, where the strands are correctly portrayed.

Minority ethnicity Native V4.png

Note that both Native segments are now on the lower chromosome “side” of the pair and the position on the chromosome 1 segment has shifted visually.

Minority ethnicity sides.png

I have not tested at 23andMe on the current V5 GSA chip, in use since August 9, 2017, but perhaps I should. The results might be different yet, with the concept being that each version offers an improvement over earlier versions as science advances.

If your parents have tested, 23andMe makes adjustments to your ethnicity estimates accordingly.

Although my mother can’t test at 23andMe, I happen to already know that these Native segments descend from my mother based on genealogical and genetic analysis, combined. I’m going to walk you through the process.

I can utilize my genealogy to confirm or refute information shown by 23andMe. For example, if one of those segments comes from known ancestors who were living in Germany, it’s clearly not Native, and it’s noise of some type.

We’re going to utilize DNAPainter to determine which ancestors contributed your minority segments, but first you’ll need to download your ethnicity segments from 23andMe.

Downloading Ethnicity Segment Data

Downloading your ethnicity segments is NOT THE SAME as downloading your raw DNA results to transfer to another vendor. Those are two entirely different files and different procedures.

To download the locations of your ethnicity segments at 23andMe, scroll down below your painted ethnicity segments in your Ancestry Composition section to “View Scientific Details.”

MInority ethnicity scientific details.png

Click on View Scientific Details and scroll down to near the bottom and then click on “Download Raw Data.” I leave mine at the 50% confidence level.

Minority ethnicity download raw data.png

Save this spreadsheet to your computer in a known location.

In the spreadsheet, you’ll see columns that provide the name of the segment, the chromosome copy number (1 or 2) and the chromosome number with start and end locations.

Minority ethnicity download.png

You really don’t care about this information directly, but DNAPainter does and you’ll care a lot about what DNAPainter does for you.


I wrote introductory articles about DNAPainter:

If you’re not familiar with DNAPainter, you might want to read these articles first and then come back to this point in this article.

Go ahead – I’ll wait!

Getting Started

If you don’t have a DNAPainter account, you’ll need to create one for free. Some features, such as having multiple profiles are subscription based, but the functionality you’ll need for one profile is free.

I’ve named this example profile “Ethnicity Demo.” You’ll see your name where mine says “Ethnicity Demo.”

Minority ethnicity DNAPainter.png

Click on “Import 23andme ancestry composition.”

You will copy and paste all the spreadsheet rows in the entire downloaded 23andMe ethnicity spreadsheet into the DNAPainter text box and make your selection, below. The great news is that if you discover that your assumption about copy 1 being maternal or paternal is incorrect, it’s easy to delete the ethnicity segments entirely and simply repaint later. Ditto if 23andMe changes your estimate over time, like they have mine.

Minority ethnicity DNAPainter sides.png

I happen to know that “copy 2” is maternal, so I’ve made that selection.

You can then see your ethnicity chromosome segments painted, and you can expand each one to see the detail. Click on “Save Segments.”

MInority ethnicity DNAPainter Native painting

Click to enlarge

In this example, you can see my Native segments, called by various names at different confidence levels at 23andMe, on chromosome 1.

Depending on the confidence level, these segments are called some mixture of:

  • East Asian & Native American
  • North Asian & Native American
  • Native American
  • Broadly East Asian & Native American

It’s exactly the same segment, so you don’t really care what it’s called. DNAPainter paints all of the different descriptions provided by 23andMe, at all confidence levels as you can see above.

The DNAPainter colors are different from 23andMe colors and are system-selected. You can’t assign the colors for ethnicity segments.

Now, I’m moving to my own profile that I paint with my ancestral segments. To date, I have 78% of my segments painted by identifying cousins with known common ancestors.

On chromosomes 1 and 2, copy 2, which I’ve determined to be my mother’s “side,” these segments track back to specific ancestors.

Minority ethnicity maternal side

Click to enlarge

Chromosome 1 segments, above, track back to the Lore family, descended from Antoine (Anthony) Lore (Lord) who married Rachel Hill. Antoine Lore was Acadian.

Minority ethnicity chromosome 1.png

Clicking on the green segment bar shows me the ancestors I assigned when I painted the match with my Lore family member whose name is blurred, but whose birth surname was Lore.

The Chromosome 2 segment, below, tracks back to the same family through a match to Fred.

Minority ethnicity chromosome 2.png

My common ancestors with Fred are Honore Lore and Marie Lafaille who are the parents of Antoine Lore.

Minority ethnicity common ancestor.png

There are additional matches on both chromosomes who also match on portions of the Native segments.

Now that I have a pointer in the ancestral direction that these Native American segments arrived from, what can traditional genealogy and other DNA information tell me?

Traditional Genealogy Research

The Acadian people were a mixture of English, French and Native American. The Acadians settled on the island of Nova Scotia in 1609 and lived there until being driven out by the English in 1755, roughly 6 or 7 generations later.

Minority ethnicity Acadian map.png

The Acadians intermarried with the Mi’kmaq people.

It had been reported by two very qualified genealogists that Philippe Mius, born in 1660, married two Native American women from the Mi’kmaq tribe given the name Marie.

The French were fond of giving the first name of Marie to Native women when they were baptized in the Catholic faith which was required before the French men were allowed to marry the Native women. There were many Native women named Marie who married European men.

Minority ethnicity Native mitochondrial tree

Click to enlarge

This Mius lineage is ancestral to Antoine Lore (Lord) as shown on my pedigree, above.

Mitochondrial DNA has revealed that descendants from one of Philippe Mius’s wives, Marie, carry haplogroup A2f1a.

However, mitochondrial tests of other descendants of “Marie,” his first wife, carry haplogroup X2a2, also Native American.

Confusion has historically existed over which Marie is the mother of my ancestor, Francoise.

Karen Theroit Reader, another professional genealogist, shows Francoise Mius as the last child born to the first Native wife before her death sometime after 1684 and before about 1687 when Philippe remarried.

However, relative to the source of Native American segments, whether Francoise descends from the first or second wife doesn’t matter in this instance because both are Native and are proven so by their mitochondrial DNA haplogroups.

Additionally, on Antoine’s mother’s side, we find a Doucet male, although there are two genetic male Doucet lines, one of European origin, haplogroup R-L21, and one, surprisingly, of Native origin, haplogroup C-P39. Both are proven by their respective haplogroups but confusion exists genealogically over who descends from which lineage.

On Antoine’s mother’s side, there are several unidentified lineages, any one or multiples of which could also be Native. As you can see, there are large gaps in my tree.

We do know that these Native segments arrived through Antoine Lore and his parents, Honore Lore and Marie LaFaille. We don’t know exactly who upstream contributed these segments – at least not yet. Painting additional matches attributable to specific ancestral couples will eventually narrow the candidates and allow me to walk these segments back in time to their rightful contributor.

Segments, Traditional Research and DNAPainter

These three tools together, when using continent-level segments in combination with painting the DNA segments of known cousins that match specific lineages create a triangulated ethnicity segment.

When that segment just happens to be genealogically important, this combination can point the researchers in the right direction knowing which lines to search for that minority ancestor.

If your cousins who match you on this segment have also tested with 23andMe, they should also be identified as Native on this same segment. This process does not apply to intracontinental segments, meaning within Europe, because the admixture is too great and the ethnicity predictions are much less reliable.

When identifying minority admixture at the continental level, adding Y and mitochondrial DNA testing to the mix in order to positively identify each individual ancestor’s Y and mitochondrial DNA is very important in both eliminating and confirming what autosomal DNA and genealogy records alone can’t do. The base haplogroup as assigned at 23andMe is a good start, but it’s not enough alone. Plus, we only carry one line of mitochondrial DNA and only males carry Y DNA, and only their direct paternal line.

We need Y and mitochondrial DNA matching at FamilyTreeDNA to verify the specific lineage. Additionally, we very well may need the Y and mitochondrial DNA information that we don’t directly carry – but other cousins do. You can read about Y and mitochondrial DNA testing, here.

I wrote about creating a personal DNA pedigree chart including your ancestors’ Y and mitochondrial DNA here. In order to find people descended from a specific ancestor who have DNA tested, I utilize:

  • WikiTree resources and trees
  • Geni trees
  • FamilySearch trees
  • FamilyTreeDNA autosomal matches with trees
  • AncestryDNA autosomal matches and their associated trees
  • Ancestry trees in general, meaning without knowing if they are related to a DNA match
  • MyHeritage autosomal matches and their trees
  • MyHeritage trees in general

At both MyHeritage and Ancestry, you can view the trees of your matches, but you can also search for ancestors in other people’s trees to see who might descend appropriately to provide a Y or mitochondrial DNA sample. You will probably need a subscription to maximize these efforts. My Heritage offers a free trial subscription here.

If you find people appropriately descended through WikiTree, Geni or FamilySearch, you’ll need to discuss DNA testing with them. They may have already tested someplace.

If you find people who have DNA tested through your DNA matches with trees at Ancestry and MyHeritage, you’ll need to offer a Y or mitochondrial DNA test to them if they haven’t already tested at FamilyTreeDNA.

FamilyTreeDNA is the only vendor who provides the Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests at the higher resolution level, beyond base haplogroups, required for matching and for a complete haplogroup designation.

If the person has taken the Family Finder autosomal test at FamilyTreeDNA, they may have already tested their Y DNA and mtDNA, or you can offer to upgrade their test.


Checking projects at FamilyTreeDNA can be particularly useful when trying to discover if anyone from a specific lineage has already tested. There are many, special interest projects such as the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry project, the American Indian project, haplogroup projects, surname projects and more.

You can view projects alphabetically here or you can click here to scroll down to enter the surname or topic you are seeking.

Minority ethnicity project search.png

If the topic isn’t listed, check the alphabetic index under Geographical Projects.

23andMe Maternal and Paternal Sides

If possible, you’ll want to determine which “side” of your family your minority segments originate come from, unless they come from both. you’ll want to determine whether chromosome side one 1 or 2 is maternal, because the other one will be paternal.

23andMe doesn’t offer tree functionality in the same way as other vendors, so you won’t be able to identify people there descended from your ancestors without contacting each person or doing other sleuthing.

Recently, 23andMe added a link to FamilySearch that creates a list of your ancestors from their mega-shared tree for 7 generations, but there is no tree matching or search functionality. You can read about the FamilySearch connection functionality here.

So, how do you figure out which “side” is which?

Minority ethnicity minority segment.png

The chart above represents the portion of your chromosomes that contains your minority ancestry. Initially, you don’t know if the minority segment is your mother’s pink chromosome or your father’s blue chromosome. You have one chromosome from each parent with the exact same addresses or locations, so it’s impossible to tell which side is which without additional information. Either the pink or the blue segment is minority, but how can you tell?

In my case, the family oral history regarding Native American ancestry was from my father’s line, but the actual Native segments wound up being from my mother, not my father. Had I made an assumption, it would have been incorrect.

Fortunately, in our example, you have both a maternal and paternal aunt who have tested at 23andMe. You match both aunts on that exact same segment location – one from your father’s side, blue, and one from your mother’s side, pink.

You compare your match with your maternal aunt and verify that indeed, you do match her on that segment.

You’ll want to determine if 23andMe has flagged that segment as Native American for your maternal aunt too.

You can view your aunt’s Ancestry Composition by selecting your aunt from the “Your Connections” dropdown list above your own ethnicity chromosome painting.

Minority ethnicity relative connections.png

You can see on your aunt’s chromosomes that indeed, those locations on her chromosomes are Native as well.

Minority ethnicity relative minority segments.png

Now you’ve identified your minority segment as originating on your maternal side.

Minority ethnicity Native side.png

Let’s say you have another match, Match 1, on that same segment. You can easily tell which “side” Match 1 is from. Since you know that you match your maternal aunt on that minority segment, if Match 1 matches both you and your maternal aunt, then you know that’s the side the match is from – AND that person also shares that minority segment.

You can also view that person’s Ancestry Composition as well, but shared matching is more reliable,especially when dealing with small amounts of minority admixture.

Another person, Match 2, matches you on that same segment, but this time, the person matches you and your paternal aunt, so they don’t share your minority segment.

Minority ethnicity match side.png

Even if your paternal aunt had not tested, because Match 2 does not match you AND your maternal aunt, you know Match 2 doesn’t share your minority segment which you can confirm by checking their Ancestry Composition.

Download All of Your Matches

Rather than go through your matches one by one, it’s easiest to download your entire match list so you can see which people match you on those chromosome locations.

Minority ethnicity download aggregate data.png

You can click on “Download Aggregate Data” at 23andMe, at the bottom of your DNA Relatives match list to obtain all of your matches who are sharing with you. 23andMe limits your matches to 2000 or less, the actual number being your highest 2000 matches minus the people who aren’t sharing. I have 1465 matches showing and that number decreases regularly as new testers at 23andMe are focused on health and not genealogy, meaning lower matches get pushed off the list of 2000 match candidates.

You can quickly sort the spreadsheet to see who matches you on specific segments. Then, you can check each match in the system to see if that person matches you and another known relative on the minority segments or you can check their Ancestry Composition, or both.

If they share your minority segment, then you can check their tree link if they have one, included in the download, their Family Search information if included on their account, or reach out to them to see if you might share a known ancestor.

The key to making your ethnicity segment work for you is to identify ancestors and paint known matches.

Paint Those Matches

When searching for matches whose DNA you can attribute to specific ancestors, be sure to check at all 4 places that provide segment information that you can paint:

At GedMatch, you’ll find some people who have tested at the other various vendors, including Ancestry, but unfortunately not everyone uploads. Ancestry doesn’t provide segment information, so you won’t be able to paint those matches directly from Ancestry.

If your Ancestry matches transfer to GedMatch, FamilyTreeDNA or MyHeritage you can view your match and paint your common segments. At GedMatch, Ancestry kit numbers begin with an A. I use my Ancestry kit matches at GedMatch to attempt to figure out who that match is at Ancestry in order to attempt to figure out the common ancestor.

To Paint, You Must Test

Of course, in order to paint your matches that you find in various databases, you need to be in those data bases, meaning you either need to test there or transfer your DNA file.


If you’d like to test your DNA at one vendor and download the file to transfer to another vendor, or GedMatch, that’s possible with both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage who both accept uploads.

You can transfer kits from Ancestry and 23andMe to both FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage for free, although the chromosome browsers, advanced tools and ethnicity require an unlock fee (or alternatively a subscription at MyHeritage). Still, the free transfer and unlock for $19 at FamilyTreeDNA or $29 at MyHeritage is less than the cost of testing.

Here’s a quick cheat sheet.

DNA vendor transfer cheat sheet 2019

From time to time, as vendor file formats change, the ability to transfer is temporarily interrupted, but it costs nothing to try a transfer to either MyHeritage or FamilyTreeDNA, or better yet, both.

In each of these articles, I wrote about how to download your data from a specific vendor and how to upload from other vendors if they accept uploads.

Summary Steps

In order to use your minority ethnicity segments in your genealogy, you need to:

  1. Test at 23andMe
  2. Identify which parental side your minority ethnicity segments are from, if possible
  3. Download your ethnicity segments
  4. Establish a DNAPainter account
  5. Upload your ethnicity segments to DNAPainter
  6. Paint matches of people with whom you share known common ancestors utilizing segment information from 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and AncestryDNA matches who have uploaded to GedMatch
  7. If you have not tested at either MyHeritage or FamilyTreeDNA, upload your 23andMe file to either vendor for matching, along with GedMatch
  8. Focus on those minority segments to determine which ancestral line they descend through in order to identify the ancestor(s) who provided your minority admixture.

Have fun!



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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

A Visit to the Ancestral Kirsch and Koehler Homes in Fussgoenheim, Germany – 52 Ancestors #253

My Kirsch ancestors were born and lived in Fussgoenheim, Germany, along with Koehler family members. Recently, a friend, Noél who lives in the US but was traveling to Germany made me a fantastic offer – one I couldn’t believe – or turn down.

Noél offered to drive to Fussgoenheim during a trip to Germany and see if she could find the Kirsch/Koehler houses based on the photos in my blog articles.

Can you believe that? Well, neither could I, especially after discovering that the small local museum was entirely unresponsive and uncooperative. I had heard, for years, that the little museum housed genealogies and photos of the oldest local families as well as the oldest homes. Nope, they said, they know nothing – and then when I tried to make arrangements to visit, crickets.

A year earlier, when another cousin attempted to visit, they also found the door locked and the secrets firmly held. How sad.

I told Noél that I really could not impose on her vacation in that way.

Noél, an avid genealogist, however, was not to be deterred!

“Yes, the minutes are precious, but I can always make time for a fellow genealogist…plus you did help me…”

I can’t even begin to express my gratitude to Noél and her husband.

Historic Fussgoenheim

The article where I published the Kirsch/Koehler photos, taken by a cousin, Marliese, who was raised in Fussgoenheim and sent the photos in letters to a US cousin is titled Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler (1772-1823), Weak Child, Baptized in a Hurry – 52 Ancestors #228.

In early 1948, Marliese, then a teenager, wrote a letter addressed to “Koehler Family of Aurora, Indiana from Marliese in Fussgoenheim,” hoping that it would make it’s way to someone. It did.

In the letter she said:

Hunting through things, I discovered your address and pictures which my grandmother said were her American cousins, her only relatives.

More than a year ago, I decided to write but the thought that my letter might be regarded by you as a begger letter detained me from writing.

After providing additional family information, she closed:

We would be very happy to hear from you, the only relatives on my grandmother’s side.

She signed the letter, “Marliese, granddaughter, niece of Marie Kirsch.”

Hazel Koehler’s father, Henry, then age 79 answered Marliese on August 27th.

Marliese and Hazel wrote back and forth for more than 25 years, with Hazel saving everything, which eventually allowed me to corresponded with Marliese’s daughter briefly a few years ago.

I have never been so grateful for old correspondence. Their letters were immensely helpful, not only with genealogy but to gain historical perspective of both World War II and life in Fussgoenheim during earlier generations.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch home

Please note that in the original article I was uncertain about whether the house pictured above is the Kirsch or Koehler home, but rereading Marliese’s letters, including her address, combined with the address Noél found proves unquestionably that this home is the Kirsch home, not the Koehler home. I’m simply overjoyed, because this home still exists today AND I have photos.

Marliese tells Hazel:

We live in the old homestead of your ancestors, and in Germany the people that live on the farms need not suffer hunger.

Marliese’s letters portray a grim story of the war and the aftermath. I will include snippets throughout this “visit” to put the images in perspective and provide a bit of history about the family that lived in this home during that time.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch Koehler homes 2

In her November 1948 letter, Marliese says:

We still live in the old parental home and birthplace of your father and grandmother, because their house and acres were taken over by my great-grandfather, Jacob Kirsch. Even today some of the older people in the village call him Koehler Kirsch.

Marliese enclosed this identification document that included Jacob’s photo.

Jacob Kirsch b 1842 Fussgoenheim.jpg

Marliese continues:

I am 17 on Christmas Day. My father, Otto, 47, is the son of Marie Kirsch born in 1871, daughter of Jacob Kirsch whose sister Elizabeth married Philip Koehler with whom she immigrated to America. With them was also a brother John Kirsch.

Since my grandmother had no siblings and her father’s brothers and sisters went to America, they were her only relatives. I never knew my grandmother since she died 2 years before I was born.

Jacob, pictured above, is the great-grandson of my ancestors, Johann Peter Koehler and Anna Elisabeth Scherer. He also descends from my Kirsch line in Fussgoenheim, but I’ve yet to figure out exactly how. Fussgoenheim has experienced record loss, but the Kirsch, Koehler and Koob families are very intertwined and it’s likely that Jakob descends from multiple ancestors in all 3 families, as do I.

Marliese goes on to say that:

The Kirsch family lived ever since 1626 in Fussgoenheim. Statistics which I have obtained which is one of the oldest families and John Kirsch 4th was one of the richest farmers in the area.

Fussgoenheim is about 70 km from France. I went to college where I studied both English and French.

While goods, according to Hazel, were no longer rationed in the US, they were in Germany according to Marliese, and would be for a long time to come.

Fussgoenheim street

In my articles, I always try to give directions so that any future genealogist could follow my path and find what I found. In this case, finding what I thought was the Kirsch home and publishing the location, I did myself a huge, and I mean huge, favor. I just didn’t realize it at the time.

The Genealogy

I pieced together the genealogy of the both Marliese and Hazel from their correspondence and subsequent documents. When Marliese first began writing, she had to depend on the memory of her parents, and needless to say, memories had faded with time. Eventually, she did obtain some documents from the town hall as well as a Koob descendant whom she describes as an old neighbor boy Walter Schnebel, and unraveled a bit more. Walter is reportedly writing a book.

Sometimes Marliese referred to people by thier nicknames which really threw me for a loop, necessitating piecing several clues together. Not to mention that names were recycled generation after generation, of course.

I won’t be including a lot of genealogy, but for reference and documentation purposes, I’m providing their trees.

Marliese's grandmother Kirsch's line

Marliese’s grandmother’s Kirsch/Koehler line. Marie was born in the Kirsch house in Fussgoenheim. Click to enlarge.

Hazel's Koehler Kirsch line

Click to enlarge. Johann Peter Koehler was Hazel’s grandfather, born in Fussgoenheim.

Roberta Kirsch Koehler tree

Roberta’s Kirsch/Koehler line. Click to enlarge. Philip Jacob Kirsch was born in Fussgoenheim.

Noél’s Trip

I tried to schedule an appointment at the museum in Fussgoenheim, with no luck. The people I was referred to never replied, and then neither did the original contacts. Very frustrating and not very welcoming.

Noél’s trip was imminent, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best, meaning that she could find something, even without local assistance. Frankly, I wouldn’t have blamed her one bit had she thrown in the towel at that point.

I waited to hear. I tried not to worry.

A month later, late one night, an email arrived from Noél, where she says:

Let’s start with the “not good” news.

My heart sank.

The museum in Mutterstadt is only open by scheduling an appointment in advance which we found out today at the Rathaus. So that was a bust. 😠 We tried to visit the library in Fussgöenheim in the hope of finding more information on the two families. Only open on Tuesday from 3-6 and Thursday 4-7  😔

By the way, the Rathaus is the city hall – the same place I had called and written trying to schedule someone at the museum. They aren’t open without an appointment, then refuse to schedule one. Yes, I’m still salty about that.

Now on to the good news.

Holding my breath now…

Your Google Earth research was positively spot on. And we have a huge number of pictures for you. However, they are locked in my camera until we can download them so I took a number on my cell phone to hold you over until we return.

Jumping for joy!!!!

Noél is apparently aware of my (ahem) ancestor-rock-addiction.

There were no rocks for me to grab at the Kirsch home but there were a number of rock-shaped pieces of stucco (that had fallen off the house) so I grabbed one for you.

Fussgoenheim stucco.jpg

This piece is large marble size – about three quarters of an inch.

You will be happy to know that I was able to walk beside the Kirsch home to take photos. Look at what is on the second floor in that picture…wonder if it came with the house???

Enjoy the pictures and I’ll send a ton more when we return. Let me know if you have any questions. FYI the house number for the Kirsch house is #9.

Then…drum roll…the photos!

The Teaser Pictures


I am literally feasting my eyes.


Click to enlarge

If you compare the original Marliese photo, you can see the “door in the door” above that was standing open in the photo from the 1930s or 1940s.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch wall.jpg

It looks like the house that Marliese marked secondly as the Koehler home is gone today and is where there is a gate in the wall between the two homes. I wonder when that happened.

Noél tried to find someone at home, but no one answered.


However, look at this beautiful garden area at the Kirsch home today.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch antiques.jpg

And this! THIS! Be still my heart. Were these items from the original house? Did my ancestors own these? What is that area beneath the roof and above the wall? Was it originally the barn and held these items? Marliese did send a grainy photo with her father driving a tractor, so it would have been housed someplace.


Looking at the Kirsch home from down the street. I still can’t believe I actually found it on Google maps, and Noél found it too.


The neighbors, further down the street. I can’t help but wonder if more relatives lived here. Of course they did! We just don’t know who they were.

I was ecstatic to receive these teaser photos, but there was much more on the way a few weeks later!

More Pictures

One rainy day when I desperately needed something uplifting, Noél’s envelope arrived, plopped down on the doorstep in the rain by the mail carrier. Thankfully, Noél had packaged things carefully.

I found these things inside:

  • A thumb drive with pictures
  • A small box with my stucco piece that had fallen from the Kirsch house
  • A guided tour with the photos printed in order that they had been taken

She went to a lot of effort on my behalf. Shall we accompany Noél?

Welcome to Fussgoenheim

I can’t tell you how excited I am!

Fussgoenheim has existed since at least 893 when a list of goods is found in the records of the Prum Abbey. Jerg Kirsch, born about 1630, is reportedly already in Fussgoenheim in the first records and noted as “mitpichter des Sankt Jopten Altargutes,” which I’m told translates to someking akin to “land church tenant.” Another researcher indicated that he was co-tenant of the Josten estate.”

Marliese, who had access to far more records than I do, indicated that the Kirsch family was in Fussgoenheim in 1626.

There may well have been another 800 years of ancestors living right here before Jerg. The first population details were recorded in 1560 when 150-200 people were living in Fussgoenheim. Today, there are about 2,500.


Looking at this sign, I surely wonder if any of my ancestors were here in 893. The town is reportedly in the process of publishing a book by Walter Schnebel, but I’m not holding my breath.

Fussgoenheim Ruchheimer and Hauptstrasse.jpg

Noél found the Rathaus at the intersection of Ruchheimer Strasse and Hauptstrasse.


Around the corner, the library, also closed.

Fussgoenheim library.jpg

Not to be deterred, Noél and her husband went on to find the Kirsch and Koehler properties.

Fussgoenheim intersection Ruchheimer Hauptstrasse.jpg

Again, the intersection. To find the Kirsch home, Noél would turn to the right.

Fussgoenheim corner.jpg

They found the street.


The older homes have the large doors which function as car doors, driveways and gardens today. Historically, the houses in the village were all joined for protection and defense – so these doors opened into work areas for the homeowners who were farmers and craftsmen. The fields were located behind the homes in very long narrow plots.

Fussgoenheim aerial fields.png

Here’s an aerial view with the top red arrow pointing to the intersection and the lower red arrow pointing to the Kirsch home. Note the fields to the rear of all of the properties.

Marliese’s mother wrote to Hazel in 1949:

You asked why our houses are so close together. Our ground is so rich that a farmer with 32-40 acres is considered a rancher of high standing. In normal times, a farmer with 8 to 12 acres can live solely off the crops which he can raise. The fields of various sizes are situated about the village and all is bottom land (not hilly.)

Then she adds:

When the war broke out, we could not buy enough to eat. We raise mainly vegetables and cannot raise livestock so must buy our draft animals.

My father’s sister’s only son just returned from Egypt where he was an English prisoner all this time. Now he’s 28.

Fussgoenheim Hauptstrasse 2.jpg

Many of the large doors open into a courtyard today. Most seem to be a car door with a person door included.

Fussgoenheim Hauptstrasse distance.jpg

Look! Look! I can see it, on the left just beyond the pink buildings in the distance!!!

Fussgoenheim Kirsch on Hauptstrasse.jpg

Here it is!


Just look at that! The large door is almost as large as the house and is as large or larger than the portion of the building to the right of the door. I surely wonder what is inside today. The window in the right part is entirely shuttered and the ones on the second floor of the part on the left too.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch garden designer.jpg

Garten Testaltung translates into garden design. A gardener – how fun.

Fussgoenheim Koehler wall 2.jpg

To the right of the house is the garden wall where the old Koehler house used to stand. The extremely frugal Germans hardly ever tear anything down, so I wonder what happened to that building. Other buildings of the same age are being lived in and are well-maintained.


You can see that the house in front is gone, but several buildings to the rear remain.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch Koehler

It’s obvious in an aerial photograph too.


Driving on down the street and looking back. I wonder what the difference was between the houses with the roofs with and without that little triangle shaped divit in the front. Maybe built at different times, or socio-economic class perhaps. The tallest buildings had more windows in total and 3 rounded ones.

Fussgoenheim architecture.jpg

Why are the upper windows small and rounded on top?

These are the kinds of questions the museum or local historian might have been able to answer.


The sign on this house translates into “installer and heating builder master plant.” Another house with a large door that connects two buildings on the same plot of land.

Fussgoenheim door.jpg

I love those old wood doors. I wonder how old that wood is.


The Kirsch house has only one small rounded window, while some of the larger homes have 3 and an extra story.

I’ve also wondered when people who lived here obtained amenities like sewers and electricity. In one of Marliese’s letters, she said that they had electricity since 1910 in Fussgoenheim.

Interestingly, she also mentioned in that same letter that the family all has dark hair. So did our Kirsch line.

As Marliese chattered about the family, more than once she mentioned that people often didn’t talk about family members who “died young.”

Anna Maria Kirsch had a daughter, Maria Katherine (1825-1862) who was married to Carl Ritthaler who later moved to Maudach after his wife died. They had a son, Peter, born in 1860 and his name was Peter Ritthaler and now I hear that my uncle’s son-in-law came from Maudach. He said yes, his relatives came from Fussgoenheim and that his father who died 3 years ago was Peter. He said his grandmother was Koehler but she died young. He said he had a godfather in America but he doesn’t know much about it because his father talked little about it.

Taking a Walk

Noél was able to walk along the left side of the house.


Note the corner where the stucco has been repaired. That’s your anchor point for the next few photos.


The wall of the Kirsch house. In the photos from the 1930s or 1940s, another house stood up against the Kirsch home on this side.

Even after the war ended officially, times were very difficult for German citizens. It was to this home that Hazel sent gifts to Marliese and her family who were terribly embarrased about their economic situation resulting from the war.

In a letter in 1948 titled, “To Our American Family from Your German Family,” Marliese’s mother writes to Hazel:

Thanks for that rich package to our Marliese which you have sent her. Marliese has never had these things because she was only 7 when the war broke out. We know them only by name.

However words fail me to say the things I should and feel because the knowledge of knowing we are not in a position to repay you.  No words can express the happiness which you have bestowed upon our child and none of us could keep back our tears of happiness to see her as happy as she was.

It is hard to select which item has brought her most happiness. Take for instance the nylon hose which is only a dream for younger girls over here. And solemnly she tells everyone that this treasure, her nylon hose, she will only wear on very rare and special occasions.

And then the chocolates and sweets; this also is treasured very highly. To prove it, Marliese and her father are fighting a civil war, because every time she checks upon the contents, somehow it has diminished. Questioning her father, he had to admit getting into it. He too is very fond of sweets. His excuse is that he has more of a right to take a piece now and then; so he says that his relationship is much closer than hers. This brought laughter and all was forgiven.

It is true that all the food things which you have sent have made us very happy but you ought not spend money on us. We do not go hungry. Of course it is impossible for us to obtain the things that you have sent. In years past we have learned to restrict ourselves of luxuries and delicacies.

You can imagine how happy it made us to receive your first package on Christmas Day, which is as you know Marliese’s birthday. She was ready to go to church Christmas morning as the mailman came. He said “Santa Clause from America is here.”

It fills my heart with joy and from the bottom of my heart I wish to thank you for all the happiness you have bestowed upon our Marliese. Actually you don’t even know her. I want to take the opportunity to introduce you.

Marliese as a child has filled our hearts with happiness. She was and is a good girl as well as brave. In school she was a top scholar. Her vocabulary is wide, therefore we sent her to college. There again she was one of the best scholars. The sad thing, however, is that we had to curtail her studying.

Financially we became embarrassed but most of all we needed her help at home.  Physically, I am not too well. It was a hard blow to her as well as the professors, but it could not be helped and now she is a very able hand in the house as well as in the field. Her heart however, is still on studying to further broaden her. Any problem that occurs here in document or writing or just plain figuring, it is Marliese who does it. Therefore it is more helpful and interesting to her when you write to us which is a change when she can answer your letters.

The prisoners of war who returned compared American and German farming.  Everything in America is mechanized but over here we must farm day in and day out. Between March and November we spend all our time in the fields and housework is much neglected. Only on Sundays we were allowed to catchup a bit. It is definitely not a nice life to live. It is very trying and tiresome. Farming is since June 1948 due to the stabilizing of the dollar(?), one of the most essentials. We have two hired hands, plus 4 by day in the summer. This last year we have had to do with one hand only and do the rest of the work ourselves.

Perhaps some of the space in the second building, to the rear and in the lofts was for the hired hands.


The windows would have been added since that time, perhaps when the neighbor structure was removed. This tells us that these buildings or additions to the Kirsch home were originally built before the neighbor house was demolished, and probably long, long before.

Obviously, even though the houses are built against each other, they do have separate support, framing and walls because the houses on both sides of the Kirsch home have been removed and this house still stands. I wonder how many hundreds of years old it is and what records might still exist.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch left wall 2.jpg

It looks like the Kirsch home has been expanded several times. The windows on this side look to be glass bricks, but the bricks in each section are different from each other.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch left wall 3.jpg

It looks the fourth addition has a more modern square roof on top. I’m reminded of the farm houses in the US. My Dad used to say you could always tell when it was a good year because houses had room additions and new barns.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch left wall 4.jpg

Notice the pink neighbor building butts right up against the Kirsch home. In some places, the stucco has fallen off and you can see the original brickwork.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch bricks.png

The bricks below are exposed on the front portion of the building at the driveway. We know this portion of the house was there when Marliese lived here, and her ancestors before her. These bricks below don’t look like they were laid with mortar. I can’t help but wonder if descendants still own this property, but I have a vague memory of Marliese’s daughter saying no.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch old bricks.png

Ok, let’s go back out to the street.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch exit.jpg

I must say, the building between these two wasn’t very large, only wide enough for a driveway now. However, as we’ll see in a minute, that wasn’t terribly unusual.

In the vintage photos, one man was wearing an apron that looked like a butcher’s apron, which might explain the need for a separate building that didn’t need to be very wide. Craftsmen in these villages practiced their trade where they lived.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch neighbor.jpg

Between the buildings, you can see another yellow heritage home across the street. I wonder who lived there when my ancestors lived here. Given that both the Kirsch and Koehler families married heavily into the Koob family, they surely lived in very close proximity.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch sidewalk.jpg

The sidewalks are new, of course. In the vintage photos, they look so to be quite uneven cobblestones, probably constructed at different times, then patched – the goal being mud reduction.

All of the buildings have the dark brown area at the bottom front-facing – both then and now. I wonder what it is and why. This one looks to be metal. Are the spaces vent holes?

Marliese’s father, Otto, may give us a clue in a letter he penned to Hazel on Christmas Day in 1949.

All through the war we lived in constant fear and danger day and night. We had air raids due to the fact that we live right in the vicinity of the two cities of Ludwigshaven and Mannheim.  Night after night we live in our basements in order to get some sleep and again today that fear of constant fear and hardship has arisen from the east (Russia) and we are praying to god to spare us from this danger. We are very well informed what communism is because our boys had fought in Russia and have felt with soul and body the principals of communism.  Thank God I was not a soldier but a factory worker.

This tells us that there is a basement in this house, so these must be basement windows of some sort. I wonder if basements were originally included as safety for the family. Germany has a very long history of warfare and invasions.

My ancestors stood and walked here on these streets. They were born and died here. Generation after generation for at least 400 years – in tough times and those that were prosperous.

Marliese Gets Married

Marliese never got to return to college. The war interrupted so many lives and plans.

By 1951, Marliese was able to send some things to Hazel from Germany, which pleased Hazel to no end. However, for some reason, they were prohibited from sending glass items.

I was very touched in 1954 when Marliese invited her “Aunt Hazel” to her wedding, a love-struck young bride.

Aunt Hazel was greatly appreciative, but unable to attend. Today, we hop on planes with barely a second thought, but not then.

In 1959, Marliese tells Hazel that they are paying her generosity forward by sponsoring two families in the “East Zone” of Germany.

Marliese and Hazel became fast friends, even though Hazel was more than 30 years older then Marliese. They shared news of births and deaths, and at one time, some 25 years later, recapped their quarter century of being enmeshed in each other’s lives. They had met when Marliese’s family was in great need and had seen each other through immeasureable joy and grief as family members arrived on and departed from this earth.

About 1974, Hazel writes, chatting about her cat, then:

So much has happened in 25 years.

Mama, Papa, Papa’s sister Blanche, Papa’s 2 sisters Aunt Anna Metzger and Aunt Laura Littell, cousins Harry and Earl Littell, and Dan Metzger have all passed on.  Also Papa’s half sister Aunt Minnie Gerlach also his 2 half brothers John and George Koehler.  Only one half brother left Herman Peter Koehler who lives in Florida.

Over there in Germany your father and grandfather were gone and you were 17.  Now you are married with 6 children. I hope your mother is well.  I have kept all your letters and pictures.

Marliese’s father and grandfather died 5 weeks apart and the grandfather lived with them in the Kirsch home.

Eventually, in the mid/late 1970s, Marliese shared with Hazel that her daughter was in the US and through another of her children had an 8 month old grandchild.

Marliese’s mother still lived in the Kirsch home in Fussgoenheim and I believe Marliese and her family did as well. Eventually, they all moved.

In 1977, Hazel wrote to Marliese’s daughter in the US. The torch was passed to yet another generation.

Hazel, who never married, told Marliese that she went every week to visit the Riverview cemetery in Indiana where her father, as well as Anne Marie Kirsch are both buried. Hazel said Anne Marie Kirsch Koehler (1804-1888), who immigrated as a widow after Martin Koehler died and remained that way the rest of her life, was the 7th person to be buried in that cemetery. Anne Marie was baptized as Anna Margaretha – Anne Marie was her family nickname.

Marliese continued with her interest in genealogy over the years, in spite of having a large family with at least 6 children. In a letter written some time after 1975, she said:

The ancestors left Germany because it was a time of need.  A lot of hard work and little money.

I had always wondered what prompted Philip Jacob Kirsch and several family members to undertake that journey, especially knowing there was no going back or seeing anyone left behind.

Marliese also mentioned that the French destroyed some of the records at some point, so the regions genealogical records are incomplete. I’ve since discovered the same issue.

It seems that the history of Germany is steeped in both warfare and economic ebb and flow.

The Koehler Family

By comparison, the Koehlers who lived next door, were relative newcomers.

Marliese writes to Hazel on her 17th birthday, Christmas Day, in 1948 saying that soap is a luxurty and simply cannot be obtained in Germany. She says she can’t remember the last time she ate chocolate. Chocolate and cocoa weren’t available at all for most of the 10 year war, “but they are “now” but are very expensive.” Too expensive for Marliese’s family.

She says they have been very busy laboring in the fields and she had to leave college to assist.

Marliese is embarrassed about their poverty and accepting gifts when she can return nothing. War was a decade of hell, encompassing almost all of lifetime that Marliese remembers. Families turned to God and the church, because their faith was often the only thing they had to sustain them.

We are praying to God that He may save our homeland for ourselves, because He would know the approximate time of another war involving our vicinity.  We would pack up and leave.  Maybe we are forced to leave and now I wish you a very happy New Year.

And then, Marliese shifted gears and told us this tidbit.

The old Koehler homestead is not in Fussgoenheim, but is in Rheingoeheim, exactly 8 miles from Fussgoeheim. There are many people there with that name. Our great-grandmother came from there with that name. My mother remembers that her great-grandmother had relatives in America, but cannot remember particulars. I wonder if we are also related on my mother’s side.  I am trying to find the birthplace of Martin Koehler.

In July 1939, Marliese added this:

My father belongs to a singer society and one day when he was coming home from a rehearsal he told me that Martin Koehler, your grandfather, is one of the charter members. He verified it by explaining a large picture on which were all charter members and others that had joined is proudly hanging on the wall of the home of the Society. The picture is in the form of a tree and Martin Koehler is one of the roots as a charter member. And my father is one of them.

We had been told that Martin Koehler, my father’s grandfather was a music teacher and it must be the connection he had with this society and being a charter member, where the folks got that idea.

Not long ago I was told by an old woman that we are related to you on my mother’s side. My mother’s great-grandmother was Barbara Koehler and hailed from Rheingoehheim and now I have found out that Rheingoenheim and Ellerstadt are the same line and clan.

That tidbit about the Rheingoenheim and Ellerstadt families is quite interesting, because those villages aren’t exactly neighbors.

Fussgoenheim Ellerstadt Rheingoenheim

I don’t find the Koehler family in Rheingoenheim, but across the Rhine in Seckenheim in older generations. Rheingoenheim is between the locations, so that makes sense.

Fussgoenheim Ellerstadt Rheingoenheim Seckenheim

Johann Peter Koehler was born in 1723 and died in 1791, in Ellerstadt. However, at least some of his children moved to the neighbor village, Fussgoenheim. Johann Peter’s daughter, Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler was born in Ellerstadt, but she married Andreas Kirsch of Fussgoenheim.

The Koehler home belonged to Johann Martin Koehler and Anna Margaretha Kirsch. I don’t know if Marliese ever found this informatoin, but Martin was born on October 23, 1796 in Ellerstadt. In 1821 he married Anna Margaretha Kirsch, the daughter of my ancestor Andreas Kirsch and his wife Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler who lived next door in the Kirsch house.

Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler was the daughter of Johann Peter Koehler and Anna Elisabetha Scherer of Ellerstadt. Johann Peter and Elisabetha were the grandparents of Johann Martin Koehler. These 2 families began intermarrying and continued for several generations.

After Johann Martin Koehler, a musician, died in 1847 or 1848, Anna Margaretha Kirsch Koehler immigrated to Dearborn County, Indiana with her 3 sons and her brother, Philip Jacob Kirsch’s family.

Ironically, Philip Jacob Kirsch’s son, Jacob, born in Mutterstadt Germany in 1841 founded an establishement in Aurora, Indiana called “The Kirsch House.” Of course, I think fondly of this home in Fussgoenheim as “The Kirsch House” too – the original one.

The Kirsch House

So many of my ancestors lived in this this very house, looked out of these windows and touched this wood. Some, their identities, unknown today, probably roofed this structure with baked ceramic tiles centuries ago. Others passed by and married into the Kirsch family. In a small village, everyone knew every person who lived in every house. There were no strangers and few secrets.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch Koehler ancestors.png

The ancestors blocked above in red we know lived or died in Fussgoenheim. The red stars we can probably safely assume did. Johann Peter Koehler lived in Ellerstadt, the next village over, just two miles up the road, but you know he visited his daughter and several of his other children who married in Fussgoenheim.

The Koob family also figures prominently in both of these families, so I wonder if the Koobs lived in one of the neighbor houses in the pictures.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch home looking up.jpg

Looking up at the Kirsch home as we walk past. These two families were surely in and out of both houses as if they were one.

Noél was able to photograph the garden area of the Kirsch home.


Those are incredible wagon wheels, crocks and lanterns! I see a plow, I think, a yoke for oxen and so many other pieces of memorabilia. Horseshoes, baskets and harnesses. Noél’s camera took amazing, clear, photographs and I was able to zoom in for a great view.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch garden 2.jpg

Facing the home, at right is the smaller building to the right of the main large door, and indeed, that large brown door is access to the alleyway between the two structures for parking. The actual house doors open into this garden/driveway area.

I believe the wooden gnarly thing beyond the small tree in the very corner of the photo to the left is an old grapevine.


Person after my own heart – a rock on the steps.

The carved or cast stone basins are watering troughs.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch garden 7.jpg

A millwheel and a barrel, along with more wagon wheels and a broom.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch garden 5.jpg

Goodness. Baskets and bells and tables and chairs and stumps, plus a garden gnome of course.

What a beautiful way to decorate a small space.

The Koehler House

Stepping back onto the sidewalk, the building to the right, above, is the small structure to the right of the large brown door when facing the building from the street, with the one window, before the garden walls starts, below.

Fussgoenheim Koehler wall 3.jpg

The wall is where the Koehler home used to be.

Fussgoenheim Koehler tiles.jpg

I wonder if the building in back of where the Koehler home stood is original or new.


I think it looks to be newer, based on the windows.

Fussgoenheim Koehler garden.jpg

Noél was able to see over the top of the gate.

Fussgoenheim  Koehler garden 2.jpg

The right side of the structure behind where the Koehler house stood.

Fussgoenheim Koehler garden 3.jpg

Like all of the old homes in this village, it seems to be a combination of living and work space.

Fussgoenheim Koehler garden 4.jpg

This property today looks possibly to be a combination of 2 earlier properties.


I’ve wondered if historically this area flooded. The buildings seem to have some moisture-looking damage at ground level, and the fronts all seem to be “buffered” in some way for a foot or two above the sidewalk.

Marliese wrote to Hazel sometime in the spring of 1949.

Last year in a calendar from our homeland, the Pfalz, I read that many years ago families by the name of Hohenbacher from our town as well as the Pfalz immigrated to America as well as did hundreds of other families. They homesteaded in different states and so it came while reading in the calendar I found Aurora, Indiana. I found a street in Aurora named Hohenbacker. Is that so? I had to write to you and have been so happy to receive your letters.

We live 10k from the Rhine, so don’t have to fear a flood. It used to flood, but it is dammed in its banks.  When your grandmother was here, there was still the danger of high water or floods, but not now.

Aunt Hazel, in your letter to asked me my wishes. Well, this is a little bit embarrassing. I do not want anything. I cannot see that I should burden you with things that are costing money. I am happy that I can write to you and get an answer from you. We have lived through so many years of war and had to make the most of it and better times I do hope are ahead. Direct hunger, we have not, because we always have our bread and potatoes. We are managing and make the best of it with our clothing. We have learned to be satisfied and I am not reared to live in luxury. At the beginning of the War, I was only a little girl. We could not purchase anything and so all clothing for me was retailored from my mothers and grandmothers. Today it is not quite as bad. We are able to purchase the most essential things, but all goods and materials are expensive but cheap. We still do the best we can and only buy when necessary and so again I would like to say it would only hurt me to know you have to spend money on me. If I only knew that times would get better and I would be in a position to repay you, then I would say that I would be happy and pleased over most anything to say outright I need everything, but this I only whisper to you for I am so afraid that you would be sorry you had answered by letter and the greatest heartache for me would be to stop corresponding with my aunt in America.

We take so much for granted today. Eventually, Marliese was able to send a cuckoo clock to Hazel for her father, but sadly it arrived after he died a tragic death.

Hazel was so pleased to be able to send gifts to Marliese and her family that brought joy.

Ancient Homes

Fussgoenheim Kirsch goodbye.jpg

The Kirsch and Koehler homes were probably some of the oldest houses in Fussgoenheim, situated a few houses from the Rathaus where government affairs occurred, and the present-day library is located.

How do we know these buildings are ancient?

According to Fussgoenheim history, until the 1800s, only the eastern route consisting of Hauptstrasse, translated literally to “main road,” and Ruchheimer Strasse was populated.

Fussgoenheim map.png

The settlement in Fussgoenheim of many peasants, craftsmen and merchants led to a significant population increase in the first half of the 1800s from about 500 inhabitants in 1815 to about 1000 in 1840.

The 16 members of the combined Kirsch and Koehler family left for Indiana on June 14, 1847 from the port of Le Havre, according to the Mutterstadt, Germany civil register which recorded the date. The entire town of both Mutterstadt and Fussgoenheim must have turned out to say goodbye as a wagon loaded with their worldly possessions began the 450 mile overland journey to the port of LeHavre where they would board a boat to cross the Atlantic. A year and three weeks later, on July 4, 1848, they would finally arrive in the port of New Orleans, to board a paddlewheeler that would paddle its way up the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers, arriving in Aurora, Indiana a couple weeks later where they may have had family or friends waiting.

Aurora was very similar to the Rhine valley where the Kirsch family had lived for countless generations.

Growth and Expansion

It wouldn’t be until about 1950 that the population of Fussgoenheim reached 1500 according to official records, but Marliese said in 1948 that the population was about 2500.

During the growth period beginning in the early 1800s, settlement expanded in a westerly direction because the steep slope on the eastern border constituted a problem.

The Kirsch and Koehler homes reach far back into antiquity, probably predating the Hallberg Castle, built by Jakob Tillmann von Hallberg just down the street from the Kirsch home in Fussgoenheim in 1740.

Fussgoenheim Hallberg Castle.jpg

Jerg Kirsch predated Jacob Tillman in Fussgoenheim by more than 100 years.

While the Kirsch and Koehler families were craftsmen in the 1800s, we don’t know much about their lives in the 1700s. Jerg’s son, Johann Michael Kirsch, my ancestor who died in 1743 was noted as a court member or juror. This could well have been where he served!

It’s likely that many if not most of the village residents who lived along Hauptstrasse worked for the wealthy Hallberg family, including the Kirsch family who lived at 9 Hauptstrasse and eventually the Koehler family at 11 Hauptstrasse. The castle was only a 5 minute walk away.

Fussgoenheim Kirsch 9.jpg

Even the Kirsch house number is decorated with horseshoes constructed to look like a flower – a lovely wink to the past. I so wonder if these were salvaged from the barn.

Fussgoenheim Koehler 11.png

House number 11, the Koehler home, or where it was, well, let’s just say it’s not what it used to be.

Given the smallness of the village and how few homes would have existed – it’s very likely that other ancestors lived in these houses in earlier generations as well. If a village had 500 inhabitants, and each family had 10 members, that’s only 50 homes in 1815 and 100 homes by 1850. We could probably look at the church records between 1750 and 1800 and figure out who those 50 household (500 people) around 1800 would have been.

I suspect that by the time records began to be kept, everyone was already related. In the 1800s, everyone was literally related to everyone else. By that time, the Kirsch family had been there for at least 200 years, roughly 8 generations of intermarrying. Maybe the Koehler bloodline was a welcome addition, although somehow I’m thinking that a village only a couple miles away was also quite interrelated.

Saying Goodbye

Alas, it’s time to say goodbye to the Kirsch home and where the Koehler home once stood.

Fussgoenheim Koehler Kirsch goodbye.jpg

Will this house still stand in another century, given that the houses on either side have already passed into memory sometime in the past 75 years? It’s difficult to maintain a vintage home.

If they don’t, Marliese and now Noél will have preserved at least a part of this wonderful home’s legacy for future generations. I can’t say a large enough thank you to Noél for her extremely generous gift.

Fussgoenheim aerial.png

My heart is touched to be able to visit, through Noél, this beautiful home in the quaint village of Fussgoenheim, a medieval farm village sewn into a patchwork quilt of fields in the German countryside.

A place where the land is nourished with the ashes, and DNA, of generations of my ancestors.

Ancestors Stories

If you’d like to read more about this family, I’ve written the following individual stories and there are more to come:



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Genealogy Research

A Crown Jewel for Rachel Rice (c 1707 – after 1767) – 52 Ancestors #252

Rachel’s life story, unfortunately, must be told through the life of her husband, children and the historic events that surrounded her in colonial Virginia.

We know Rachel’s first name thanks to the will of her husband, Joseph Rice, wherein he mentions his wife, Rachel, twice. We have no idea who Rachel’s parents might be.

Joseph wrote his will on December 14, 1765 and in the will, after leaving land to his sons and son-in-law, along with items to daughter Mary Rice, Joseph then turns to his wife, Rachel:

  • Well beloved wife Rachel remainder of personal estate during her natural life.
  • Sons John, William and Charles after decease of wife, 7 pounds current money of Virginia.
  • Rest of estate divided equally after decease of wife. Wife Rachel and David Rice and John Watkins executors. December 14, 1765.

The will was probated on June 16, 1766, so Joseph died sometime close to June.

When Joseph died, three of his sons were underage, meaning that four children were not. If he had underage sons that were 20, 18 and 16, for example, that means that Rachel, assuming she was his only wife and the mother of those children, was approximately 43 years of age 16 years earlier, making her roughly 59 when Joseph died. This suggests Rachel was born about 1707.

The only other actual document we have involving Rachel is the 1767 tax list where she is listed with son John, which tells us that John is age 16 or over in 1767.

Update: A transcribed 1769 tax list shows Rachel taxed with 1 tithe, although who or why is not clear, adjacent Joseph Rice (1), Matthew Rice (6) with James Rice and 4 slaves, James Rice (1), William Rice and Ben Rice (2), David Rice and Joseph Rice (2), William Rice), Rachel Rice (1), John Rice (1), Matthew Rice, Jr. (1), Nathan Rice (1), Thomas Rutledge (1), John Rutledge (1), John Robbins (no number) and then Jeay Rice (1). Jeay is probably Icay. The next year for which tithes exist is 1776 and Rachel is gone.

This updated information means that Rachel was alive in 1769, so after that date but probably before 1776.

I believe Rachel eventually lived with her son Charles, assuming she lived that long, based on this item from Joseph’s will:

  • To my well beloved son Charles Rice the remainder part of my land whereon I now live after the death of my well loved wife to him and his heirs forever.


If Rachel was born about 1707, her birth might have been recorded in the parish records of either Hanover County or New Kent.

The Saint Peter’s Parish Register exists for New Kent County from 1680 to 1787 and is transcribed here.

Only one birth of a Rachel occurred in the right timeframe.

  • Rachel Jackson was married to Edward Bettes in March of 1708 and a daughter, Rachel, was born in 1709. Her mother, Rachel Jackson Bettes died in 1719.

Rachel might have been named after other Rachels as well, and some might have been named after her.

  • Rachel daughter of Edward Huchens and Rebecca was baptized in 1686.
  • Rachel daughter of Edward Johnson and Elizabeth was born in 1686.
  • Rachel Cox was born to George Cox in 1690.
  • Rachel daughter of Alice Doe was born in 1690.
  • Daniel Murfield married Rachel Coker in July of 1708.
  • Rachel Watson died in 1726.
  • Rachel Slayden and her husband Arthur had children in 1730 and 1735.
  • Rachel Watson, daughter of Alexander and Esther Watson was born in 1734.
  • James and Rachel Blackstone had a daughter in 1735.

St. Paul’s Church in Hanover County was established in 1704 and has records beginning in 1706, but apparently only the vestry records remain. No Rachel’s appear before the mid-1700s.

If Rachel Bettes isn’t the right Rachel, and I’m not suggesting that she is Rachel Bettes, then either our Rachel’s birth record doesn’t exist or she wasn’t born there.

Early Life

We know that Joseph Rice was found in Hanover County listed in a merchant’s debt book in 1743 and again in the 1744-1745 book. In 1746, Joseph purchased the land the family lived on the rest of his and Rachel’s lives on Sandy River in Amelia, soon to become Prince Edward, County, Virginia.

Since we know that three children were underage in 1766, they clearly had to have been born after arriving in Amelia/Prince Edward County – birthed in the new homestead.

Older children would have been born in Hanover County where baptism records don’t exist, so the wagon lumbering westward would have carried Joseph, Rachel and at least 4 children.

It’s likely that either there were more children and they either died or married and moved away before 1766, or, Rachel buried several babies in Hanover County. Perhaps a combination of both.

Most couples had children on the average of every 18 months to 2 years, for approximately 22 years of marriage. Someplace between 11 and 14 or 15 children would have been born, assuming no deaths at birth which would have resulted in an earlier “next” pregnancy.

Only 7 children total are mentioned in the will and Icay, although not mentioned, is very probably #8.


Religion is always a hot-button. Religious doctrine defines many of our life choices as well as our personal beliefs. For example, Joseph and Rachel did not own slaves, while most of their neighbors and even Joseph’s brother, Matthew, did own slaves. Based on Joseph’s land purchases and estate, the fact that he didn’t own slaves wasn’t based on money, so it clearly had to be based on a moral compass, likely a religious belief. Quakers, Brethren and some Methodists eschewed slave ownership.

Joseph Rice’s son-in-law, James Moore didn’t own slaves either, and James’s son William Moore had become a dissenting minister in the Methodist faith by 1775.

In 1759, Joseph Rice built a dissenting “meeting house” on his property in Prince Edward County.

Dissenters in colonial Virginia were those who did not want to worship in the Anglican church even though their actions were illegal at the time. Catholics were outlawed, but dissenters were any non-Catholic faith such as Presbyterians who arrived from Pennsylvania between 1738 and 1743, Methodists and Baptists. In Virginia, legal activities, such as marriages, were required to be performed by Anglican ministers, resulting in many marriages performed outside of the Anglican church not being registered with the clerk at the county courthouse.

Women at that time didn’t have a lot of choice in selecting a faith different from that of their husband. Rachel was a dissenter’s wife, and therefore by definition a dissenter, whether or not she would have made that decision without the influence of her husband. Either way, that choice, whosever it was, affected her life in numerous ways. For example, the work that was performed by slaves elsewhere fell to the family members – and much of it to the wife.

While wives at that time weren’t sold as chattel property like slaves were, they didn’t have many rights and fewer realistic options.

Dissenting, however, seemed to run in Rachels’ family, so perhaps she had been raised in a family with “radical” religious ideas.

Rachel’s nephew through her brother-in-law, David Rice, was a Presbyterian minister, also named David Rice, another dissenter, who settled and was beloved in Kentucky.

William Rice, perhaps Rachels’ son, built a meeting house, believed to be Baptist, in 1775, just 9 years after Joseph Rice died in Prince Edward County. Rachel may have lived long enough to witness that!

Dissenting seemed to run in the family!

Rachel’s Children

Joseph’s will provides us with the names of Joseph’s children, presumed to be Rachel’s children as well.

In order mentioned:

  • Son-in-law James Moore, who is married to Joseph’s daughter. James Moore’s wife, possibly Mary Rice, was born about 1723 based on the ages of known children.
  • John Rice, underage in 1765, so born after 1744, appears in Prince Edward County records as early as 1752, so this John is clearly not John, the son of Joseph.
  • William Rice, underage in 1765, so born after 1744, appears in the county court records in 1766 as a patroller for 20 pounds of tobacco per day as pay. These records are likely for William, the son of Joseph and Rachel. In 1775, William Rice built a dissenting meeting house on the main road.
  • Charles Rice, underage in 1765, so born after 1744, first appears in the Prince Edward records in 1761, so that Charles cannot be the son of Joseph and Rachel.
  • David Rice, born before 1744, appears near Rachel on the 1767 tax list. Joseph’s brother Matthew also has a son named David.
  • Joseph Rice, born before 1744, appears near Rachel on the 1767 tax list with 1 tithe and the 133 acres left to him by his father.
  • Daughter Mary Rice who appears to be single in 1766.
  • Icay Rice, not mentioned in the will, but in May of 1765, Joseph states in a deed where he sold land to Icay that he was his son. Ican first appeared in the county records in 1760 signing as a witness, so would probably have been born in 1739 or earlier.

Rachel Rice 1765 deed Joseph to Icay.jpgRachel Rice deed 1765 Joseph to Icay 2.jpg

Joseph’s Estate

While life on the frontier in a homestead was indeed challenging, especially when compared to life today, Joseph and Rachel were not poor by the standard of the time in which they lived.

In colonial Virginia, when a man died, the estate was appraised and his effects sold or at least valued.

One can tell a great deal about the life of the family by the estate inventory since absolutely everything was included, down to the silverware.

Let’s take a look at Joseph Rice’s estate inventory, because those items will tell us a great deal about Rachel’s life too. The wife owned nothing separate from the husband, so her possessions, except for her clothes, would be included in his estate inventory. I’ve left the spelling, which was not standardized at the time, as found in the original.

  • 31 cattle
  • mare, 5 horses
  • 12 sheep
  • 10 geese
  • 16 hoggs

In that day and time, 31 cattle and 6 horses was a substantial estate. Five of those horses would probably have been stud horses, probably “rented out” to “cover mares” for local farmers.

  • Cart, wheels, old rake

A cart would have been a two-wheeled device as opposed to a wagon with 4 wheels. Wooden wheels broke often, so the wheels were likely spares from “other carts.” You can see colonial carts here that would have been used to ferry tobacco from the fields. Carts can be pulled by people, but wagons need horses or oxen.

Primitive rakes were nothing more than a backbone of wood with wooden teeth, attached to a handle.

Rachel Rice rake.png

  • 12 bells

Rachel Rice cowbell.jpg

These must surely have been cowbells. At that time, farmland wasn’t fenced so you needed to go and find your cows in he woods.

  • 4 jugs, butter pott

Rachel Rice jug.jpg

The jug was probably stoneware. I wonder what Joseph kept in his jug. Some jugs were whiskey jugs.

The butter pott was probably included in the inventory with the jug because it too was stoneware – a cup or small bowl into which churned butter was deposited.

  • some camphire and tickler (tuhler) bottles and a funnel

I can’t find either tickler or tuhler bottle, so perhaps this word is something different.

You can see a Camphor bottle, here. Camphor was used in colonial America as a purgative and was also believed to prevent illness. In 1793, a letter sent to a doctor in Philadelphia where a yellow fever outbreak was underway instructed people to use vinegar or camphor on their handkerchief when visiting the sick, to carry it in smelling bottles and use it frequently.

Camphor was a luxury, imported from Asia, the only place in the world where it was grown. In 1764, Sauer’s Herbal Cures Book referred to its usage. The Dutch imported Camphor into the Netherlands, which in turn exported it to the colonies. It was believed that because Camphor was acrid smelling and kept moths out of clothing, it would do the same for other agents of disease.

Most uses of camphor were external, because internal uses have unexpected, or maybe expected, results. Camphor “drives worms out of children and suppresses sexual passion,” so women were warned about not taking it internally. Camphor, especially camphor brandy, served to effect clandestine abortions. Fits, as mentioned by Sauer, were epileptic seizures.

Here’s what Sauer had to say:

Rachel Rice camphor.pngRachel Rice camphor 2.pngRachel Rice camphor 3.pngRachel Rice camphor 4.png

I had to laugh. Yes, Camphor combined with Opium and brandy will assuredly “calm feverish delirium,” because you’re out cold!

So sniff it, drink it, use it as a poultice, make it into Camphor Brandy, or mix with opium and brandy and if it doesn’t kill you, it will cure you!

So, I’m guessing between the Camphor bottles, funnel and jugs, that perhaps Joseph Rice was medicating his family with this wonderful all-purpose remedy, as needed – like any responsible head of household in the 1700s would do.

  • 4 pair cards

Given the word pair, these have to be wool cards.

Rachel Rice wool cards.png

Sheep were washed in a nearby stream before they were shorn in late spring or early summer. The sheep weren’t happy and resisted, requiring multiple adults.

Rachel Rice sheep shearing.jpg

This painting is from the later 1800s, but sheep shearing didn’t change much in a century.

Wool much be thoroughly greased before it can be carded using either rape seed oil or pig grease – three pounds of grease or oil per 10 pounds of wool.

Wool cards were typically leather covered wood with wire teeth. Matted wool was place on one card and them “combed” with the other, unmatting the wool much like brushing hair. You can see how, here.

By 1830, this process had been mechanized. The fact that Joseph Rice had 4 pairs of cards tells us that Rachel and her two daughters spun wool thread to be woven into clothing and the sheep tell us where it came from.

  • 3 drawing knives

A drawing knife is a traditional woodworker’s tool used for shaping wood by removing shavings.

Rachel Rice drawing knife

By Simon A. Eugster – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Here’s a contemporary draw knife being used to construct a flatbow. According to Wikipedia, drawknives were used to remove large slices of wood for faceted work, to debark trees or to create roughly rounded or cylindrical billets. In essence, it’s used for curved shaving.

Did Joseph and his sons use these 3 for clearing his land and debarking the trees?

  • parcel carpenter tools

Rachel Rice carpenters tools.jpg

Carpenters tools consisted of mallets and hammers, wood screw vices, calipers possibly, chisels, saws, boring tools, wooden tools or metal braces and planes to smooth rough surfaces. Adzes would have been used to rough cut the wood or strip the bark from the wood before the more refined tools were used to make furniture or possibly for the interior carpentry of a home. You can read more here.

  • parcel shoemaker tools

Rachel Rice shoemakers tools.png

Shoes are a universal necessity. The fact that Joseph has shoemaker’s tools suggests that he made the shoes for his own family. The above image is from 1658 in a shoemaker’s shop, and below, from the Maine State Museum.

Rachel Rice shoemakers workshop

By Billy Hathorn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

By Billy Hathorn – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Shoemaking is typically a specialized skill, where the shoemaker makes shoes for many people and families. Every land-owner was indeed a jack-of-all-trades and the master of at least one.

Shoemakers also made boots. Shoes at that time were not constructed for left and right feet. Shoes needed to be switched back and forth so the shoe was not deformed to fit one foot at which point they were considered “ruined.”. Shoes were also passed down in families and inherited.

  • two old swords, pistol barrel

Old swords, so let’s suppose they were Joseph’s swords from when he was a young man, from about 1730 or so.

This Antique Arms gallery shows a wide variety of swords.

As I’ve discovered, there are multiple types of swords – two handed swords, one handed swords and sword styles varied in different places in the world.

Rachel Rice fencing.jpg

This plate from The Expert Swords-man’s Companion by Donald McBane (1728) shows a Scottish fencing master holding a basket-hilted broadsword, but on the table beside him are shown broadswords and smallswords. On the wall behind him, we see flintlock pistols and a target. Joseph Rice may have had all of these things.

  • 3 reaphooks, meal sifters

A reaphook is also known as a sickle.

Google shows several early primitive grain sifters. A meal sifter might have been for flour.

Rachel Rice grain sifter.png

  • old baskets, wool, flax

Baskets were heavily used, so not many remain today from the 1700s. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has a lovely basket-making article and slideshow on their website. Every family needed many baskets and white oak was preferred because it was the only tree in Virginia that would split thin and remain flexible enough to weave.

If you’ve never tried it, basketmaking is a long, tedious affair and makes your hands raw.

Wool and flax were both used to make thread to weave into cloth for clothes.

Rachel Rice flax

By D. Gordon E. Robertson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The perennial flax plant has beautiful blue flowers. Rachel probably loved the blooms, reaching across the horizon in a sea of blue.

Rachel Rice flax pods.jpg

The flax plant, shown above, became linen, eventually, after much work. The seeds from the pods were harvested, also known as flaxseed which can be eaten, then ground into a meal or turned into linseed oil.

Rachel Rice flax.png

The soft, flexible fiber used to weave clothing is extracted from the bast beneath the surface of the stem of the flax plant is called roving and looks similar to blonde hair.

Rachel Rice hackle

By Kozuch – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The hackle or heckle tool is used to thresh flax and prepare it for weaving.

Rachel Rice flax prep

By Pymouss – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

You can read more about flax production here.

  • bed (2), bedstead, furniture, bag of feathers

Rachel and Joseph had 2 beds, possibly two bedsteads and furniture, along with a bag of feathers that would have been curated from the geese to stuff the bed or beds. Some beds were stuffed with straw, so feathers were a luxury. Do you have any idea how many feathers it takes for a feather bed? 90 pounds

This article shows beds and bedsteads from a wealthier non-frontier home, but the basics are the same. The difference would have been that cabins wouldn’t have had ornate hangings.

Wikipedia tells us that:

Feathers for a featherbed could be saved from geese or ducks being prepared for cooking. In England servant-girls were often allowed to keep feathers from poultry they’d plucked and could save them to make a featherbed or pillows for their future married life. Live birds might have their soft downy breast feathers harvested three or four times a year, as described in an account from 20th century Missouri. Some poultry feathers were undesirable for mattress-making, especially chicken feathers. The best featherbeds were filled with a high proportion of down; larger feathers needed to have their quills clipped.

Lengthy preparation and good aftercare were essential. Before use, all feathers and down had to be aired outdoors in sun and breeze or stored indoors in a warm dry space; this would reduce smell and eliminate moisture. Even so, there could be what Harriet Beecher Stowe called “the strong odour of a new feather-bed and pillows”.

In other words, you could either smell the feathers or smell the stove. Apparently either or both was better than not sleeping on feathers.

  • barrell with salt

According to “Salt in Virginia,” Virginia has plenty of salt on its eastern edges – not to mention that seawater could be boiled. Apparently, Joseph purchased salt by the barrel, given that it was necessary for the preservation of “bacon,” as all pork was called at that time. One thing is for sure, Joseph couldn’t produce salt on his plantation unless he owned a salt mine.

  • 3 old chests and a box

This blanket chest from Virginia in the 1730s is probably very similar to the chests owned by Joseph and Rachel.

Rachel Rice chest.jpg

Additional photos of this beautiful primitive chest, which is for sale, can be seen here. Take a look at the closeup photos, especially of the beautiful joints. Be still my heart!

  • Corn, cotton, tand leather

Crops and leather. Leather, of course, was used to make shoes, some coats, breeches and furnishings. Nothing that died went to waste, except for humans.

Believe it or not, the history of hides and tanning in Virginia was a political minefield. Virginians couldn’t obtain enough leather from England, and the English didn’t want the Virginians exporting hides to England and ruining their markets. You can read about leather workers in Virginia here.

Tanning isn’t a pleasant process. It stinks, literally, and was relegated to the edges of a community or a specific stream branch. Hence, in Halifax County, James Moore’s land included Tan Trough Branch. Probably as far as possible from any house because no one wanted to go there when things were “odiferous.”

A hide to be tanned must be removed from the body before the heat leaves the animal. It gets worse from there. Wikipedia tells us about the history of tanning:

Formerly, tanning was considered a noxious or “odoriferous trade” and relegated to the outskirts of town, amongst the poor. Indeed, tanning by ancient methods is so foul smelling, tanneries are still isolated from those towns today where the old methods are used. Skins typically arrived at the tannery dried stiff and dirty with soil and gore. First, the ancient tanners would soak the skins in water to clean and soften them. Then they would pound and scour the skin to remove any remaining flesh and fat. Next, the tanner needed to remove the hair from the skin. This was done by either soaking the skin in urine, painting it with an alkaline lime mixture, or simply allowing the skin to putrefy for several months then dipping it in a salt solution. After the hairs were loosened, the tanners scraped them off with a knife. Once the hair was removed, the tanners would “bate” (soften) the material by pounding dung into the skin or soaking the skin in a solution of animal brains. Bating was a fermentative process which relied on enzymes produced by bacteria found in the dung. Among the kinds of dung commonly used were those of dogs or pigeons.

One piece of trivia you never wanted to know. Each animal contains exactly the right about of brains to tan its own hide.

Parent: Why, I ought to tan your hide.

Sassy child: No need, I have enough brains to do it myself.

Rachel Rice tanner.png

Here’s a tanner at work in Nuremberg in 1609. I guarantee you, no one but no one wanted this job.

  • money scales

Colonia Williamsburg tells us that the colonists didn’t have paper money. Their only money was made of precious metal and there really wasn’t any standard. Therefore, when credit and barter weren’t used, coins were weighed on a scale. Coins were often cut into 8ths, hence the saying, “pieces of 8.”

Rachel Rice money scales

By Photographie personnelle User:Poussin jean – objet personnel User:Poussin jean, CC BY-SA 3.0,

This set of scales, complete with weights, is probably fancier than Joseph and Rachels, but it functions in exactly the same manner.

  • ladle, fleshfork


A ladle is typically a large circular spoon. This one has a maker’s mark.

Both a ladle and a fleshfork would be used for cooking. A fleshfork is a long-handled typically two-pronged fork used to hold down meat while being carved. The ladle and fleshfork would probably have been part of a cooking set that hung on a fireplace.

  • parcel of old books

This one hurts me. I would love, LOVE, to know the names of those books, because they would tell us so much about their owners. Books were precious commodities and rare on the frontier. This also tells us that Joseph knew how to read, and it’s possible that Rachel did too. If Rachel had signed a deed, would have known for sure. It’s likely that these books were religious in nature, but one glaring omission in the inventory is a Bible.

  • some bottles and old punchboles

Early bottles were all hand-blown glass and reused until they were broken.

Rachel Rice bottles.jpg

I took these photos of a glassblower at the Jamestown Glass House in the authentically reproduced glass-blowing studio.

Rachel Rice glass blowing..jpg

A punch bowl is interesting in that it suggests entertaining. A ladle would also be utilized with a punch bowl.

According to this article:

In the 18th century, drinking was the most popular of all tavern recreations…The kind of drink offered by an individual tavern was a factor in its location, the availability of supplies, and the economic status and aspirations of its tavern keeper. Drinking habits did not differ significantly from colony to colony, where the majority of the inhabitants were British. Rum was the most popular distilled liquor of the time. Punch was a combination of then luxurious ingredients. The drink was made using the rinds and juice of imported lemons, limes, and even oranges, commonly mixed with rum, and white or brown sugar. Lime punch was the most popular version of the drink…punch was served warm and sold in taverns by the bowl.  Toddy–rum mixed with sugar and water–and sangre–a mixture of wine or beer sweetened with sugar and flavored with nutmeg–were also dispensed by the bowl. Wine, imported from Spain and Germany, was also served in taverns, but was not widely available outside the cities. Madeira, served during the meal, was the most expensive and popular wine. The consumption of wine, like punch, was limited to the more affluent. Many colonials drank cheaper, fermented beverages made locally. Cider (hard cider) was sold by the jug. Beer was either imported from England or locally brewed. Brandy was usually imported, but native varieties were sold, made from peaches, apples, or cherries. Homemade liquors gained popularity during the Revolution when the importation of alcohol, beer, and wine was halted.

—Early American Taverns: For the Entertainment of Friends and Strangers, Kym S. Rice for Fraunces Tavern Museum [Regnery Gateway: Chicago] 1983 (p. 85-96)

This might explain the punchbowl, the jug and the cyder.

Beyond the home, colonials consumed food and drink within another social setting–the tavern. Ordinaries dotted the colonial landscape. Ferries and courthouses were prime locations. The numerous watercourses that interrupted overland travel in North Carolina often necessitated ferriage. While waiting for ferrymen and perhaps for favorable winds, travelers needed an opportunity to rest and refresh themselves. Ordinary keepers emanated chiefly from the middling ranks of society. Indeed, the occupation of ordinary keepers may have been a springboard to prominence, for the proprietors of public houses made many acquaintances…and maintained a creditor’s hold over many of their patrons. Dinner consisted of meat (sometimes two dishes), hot or cold, salted or fresh, with or without corn or wheat bread, and with or without small beer or cider. Supper and breakfast included a hot meat and small beer. Often breakfast consisted only of tea or coffee and wheat bread, hoe cake, or toast. A variety of alcoholic liquors was served in the provincial taverns. They were rated by the gallon, quart, pint, gill, and half-gill but often were sold by the bow, nip, or dram… Rum generally came from the West Indies or New England. Cider might be the ‘common Carolina’ variety or it might be imported from England or New England. It was sometimes designated as ‘summer’ and ‘winter’ cider and rated in quality from ‘good’ and best.’ Also popular were beer, brandy and wine. Varieties of beer included those form Europe [and} from the colonies. Ordinaries offered homemade peach and apple brandy as well as the imported drink. Mixed drinks, particularly punch, greatly appealed to the colonials. Punch, consisting of five ingredients, usually contained rum with ‘loaf’ or brown sugar. Another favorite was the toddy, made of rum, brandy, or whiskey…

—“The Colonial Tavern: A Gathering Place in the Albemarle [North Carolina],” Alan D. Watson, A Taste of the Past: Early Foodways of the Albemarle Region [North Carolina], James C. Jordan III guest exhibition curator [Museum of the Albemarle: Elizabeth City NC] 1991 (p. 36-41)

Joseph never applied to have an ordinary, but this sure makes me wonder, along with his location, if he didn’t have overnight travelers as guests from time to time – especially given that people would have traveled for significant distances to attend the meetings at his dissenters meeting house.

Of course, guests would have meant more work for Rachel, and possibly a little extra income too. How I would love to step back in time and have a meal with Rachel.

  • rifle, smooth bore gun belt, shot bagg
Rachel Rice rifle

By Antique Military Rifles – originally posted to Flickr as Kentucky’s, CC BY-SA 2.0,

By Antique Military Rifles – originally posted to Flickr as Kentucky’s, CC BY-SA 2.0,

An absolutely beautiful smooth longbore flintlock antique rifle can be seen here and here’s something about the history of shot bags and powder horns. View a muzzleloader re-enactment here along with the history of the accoutrements.

  • 2 smoothing irons, 2 candlesticks

A candlestick would have been the holder for a candle. The inventory doesn’t specify the material, but some would have been silver or brass and others perhaps pewter. It’s possible, but unlikely that they were wood. A few were blown glass candleholders and some were porcelain. I find it odd that there were only 2 for the entire house.

Rachel Rice candlestick.png

A smoothing iron is for ironing clothes, specifically linen. Truthfully, I never even thought about people on the frontier and ironing. I assumed (yes, my bad) that they wouldn’t have had any clothes “fancy enough” for ironing, nor would they have wanted them given the rigors of the lives they led. I was obviously wrong.

As it turns out, I have two smoothing irons, or parts of them.

Child's Iron

Child's Iron 2

These were children’s toy irons.

My mother told me that they were placed in the fire or on the stove, then used hot. When they cooled, they were put back in the fire to reheat. It was always best if you had two irons. That way, you could be using one while the other was heating. As we see below, Rachel had either one or two spares. I don’t know if the “iron” itself included one wedge or not.

  • 2 iron wedges, parcel of old hoes and axes

You can see two types of iron wedges above.

Hoes were critically important for weeding which prevented damage to crops and increased production. Weeds sucked water and nutrients from plants. Iron implements were a scarce commodity and expensive, so anything like hoes and axes were sharpened and well cared for.

Rachel Rice hoe.png

Colonial hoes shown above, thanks to Google.

Axes came in a large variety of shapes and sizes.

Rachel Rice ax

By Original uploader was Fir0002 at en.wikipedia – Originally from en.wikipedia; description page is/was here., CC BY-SA 3.0,

You can’t chop trees down and clear land without axes.

  • parcel of pewter dishes

Rachel Rice pewter dish

I would wager that the pewter dishes used by Rachel and family were utilitarian and not decorative. Some pewter plates were beautiful, armorial and inscribed.

Rachel Rice pewter.png

Pewter was the social step above eating from wooden trenchers, but not as upper-crust as silver or porcelain. Pewter was the common man’s plate. I wish they had said how many were in a parcel. Often in estates, there aren’t enough plates for each family member to eat from one.

Pewter plates were relatively common, so lots of these are for sale today.

  • parcel of cyder casks

Casks were a type of barrel which was made by a cooper.

Rachel Rice cyder.jpg

This painting shows cider making in 1840. Those were not small barrels.

If Joseph and Rachel had cider, which fermented into hard cider, they obviously had apples, which implies an orchard. Rachel probably made apple pies and when apples were in season, apple everything including apple butter. Yum!

I can’t help but wonder if three are any old apples trees on Joseph’s land today. If so, that might be indicative of where his house was located.

  • parcel of salt

How much is a parcel?

  • 4 old saddles and horse harnesses

Leather would also have been used to make both saddles and harnesses. Colonial Williamsburg has a saddler shop with wonderful photos. Saddles came in various styles and sizes – including side-saddles for women – but those are often mentioned separately in estate inventories.

  • 3 bee hives

Everybody loves sweet things – even our ancestors.

Rachel Rice beehives.png

Some hives were boxes. I wonder if all 3 hives provided for their family, or if they sold to neighbors. I’d bet some of that honey went in the punchbowl to sweeten the rum punch.

  • whip and cross cut saw

Whips varied widely by purpose. Riding whips served more as reminders to the horse, but the cat o’nine tails was a torture device. Since Joseph and Rachel, thankfully, did not own slaves, let’s assume it was for the horses and used sparingly.


Crosscut saws cut across the wood grain and are used by 2 men to fell trees. Ironically vintage saws are rare on the market today because they are coveted for their high quality over contemporary models.

  • 6 iron potts, a grinstone, pan

You can see a collection of old iron cooking pots here. Iron pots would have hung over the fire in the fireplace.

It’s hard to say whether the grindstone was one that was used manually or one used in milling. Since it’s combined with pots and pans, I’d wager that it was a kitchen manual grindstone, similar to what the Indians used to grind their corn and grains. We used to find these in the fields at home, generally with their stone remaining in the groove.

Rachel Rice grindstone.jpg

  • loom and slay

Rachel Rice weaver.jpg

A weaver in Nurnburg in 1425. Weaving didn’t change until the industrial revolution in the 1800s.

You can read about and see examples of colonial weaving, spinning and dyeing here. I’m not a weaver and I don’t exactly understand the purpose and function of a slay, so I found a YouTube video where a weaver explains and shows this process. The slay is an integral part of the weaving process. Weaving seems to have a language of its own.

If Rachel had flax, wool and a weaving loom, you can rest assured she was dyeing the textiles too, probably in the tub and pails listed next on the inventory. It seems as if the men taking the inventory were listing things as they walked around the house.

  • washing tub, water pails

Bathing wasn’t common or popular and might have happened once a year in the late spring. Today we would turn up our noses, but then, everyone simply smelled the same way.

  • wollen wheal

A woolen wheel was used for spinning the wool into thread before weaving, of course.

Spinning wool at the Conner Prairie living history museum loom house.

  • 2 tables, parcel of chairs

It’s interesting that they have 2 tables to go with that parcel of chairs. This might imply that their house was larger than the typical cabin which was about 16 by 18 or sometimes smaller. Their tables were likely made in Prince Edward County with Joseph’s carpentry tools, not hauled overland in their wagon.

  • shears, iron skillet, pickler bottle, bridle bitt

What the heck is a pickler bottle? Google failed me.

Rachel Rice shears

By Cstaffa – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Given the wool, shears could have meant shears to shear sheep, above, or scissors. Or maybe one item was used for both activities.

Cast iron skillets would rust if left wet or neglected, but given that most kitchens only had one or two pots or kettles and maybe one skillet, it was in use every single day. Rachel had 6 pots, probably of different sizes, but only one skillet.

  • 3 beds, furniture

I wonder why these 3 beds were inventoried separately from the other 2. I’m guessing that perhaps these were located in the loft and were of a different quality. Note there are no bedsteads.

  • 3 cattle hides, knives, forks

At that time, sometimes families didn’t have enough utensils for all family members, so they shared or ate with their fingers, or both. Some families didn’t have enough chairs either, so sometimes benches were used or people sat on the floor or outside. I seldom see benches listed separately. They were considered very utilitarian, roughhewn and slapped together, while chairs were considered luxuries and furniture.

This English dinner setting from about 1750 shows the silverware of the timeframe. Spoons weren’t used, and often people ate directly off of the knives.

Dishes weren’t washed as we know it today. They were wiped off and used again.

  • parcel of wax and talon

I think this may be tallow, not talon. Women made tallow candles using cotton or linen wicks, another use for that flax. Tallow candles were smelly, given that they were made from animal fat, but they could be kept for extended periods. Wax candles were not unpleasant, but wax was less plentiful. Tallow was used by poorer people. Some people used candle molds, but wicks could also be dipped into tallow to form candles for those too poor to afford molds.

Maybe Rachel used wax candles for company and tallow for everyday when no one else was around – although there are no candle molds listed.

Beeswax would have been made into candles too. You can read about the various methods of candlemaking here.

If you want to try making tallow candles, here’s how.

  • spectacles, razor, hone

Spectacles! Either Joseph or Rachel needed these, or maybe both and they shared them. Spectacles would have been considered a luxury and probably only utilized by someone who was trying to read. If Joseph Rice built a dissenting meeting house in 1759, it’s certainly possible he was the one reading and preaching on Sundays in his meeting house. Unless of course there was a traveling preacher who would have stayed with him, probably enjoyed some punch, and then preached up a storm on Sunday!

This person has a collection of 1700s spectacles on Pinterest.

Rachel Rice spectacles.png

And another one here.

Rachel Rice spectacles 2.png

Glassblowers in the 1700s tried to blow lenses of various thicknesses based on a cursory examination. This causes me to wonder how Joseph acquired his spectacles. I don’t know if there were glassblowers in Amelia or Prince Edward County, but I’m guessing not. That means that either Joseph went back east or somehow the spectacles made their way, perhaps with peddlers, to his plantation.

A razor at that time would have been a straightrazor.

Rachel Rice razor

By Dr. K. – I (Dr. K.) created this work entirely by myself., CC BY 3.0,

I have to tell you, the thought of running one of these implements over my neck, right by my juggler vein, makes me shudder.


A hone is a stone used to sharpen the razor..

Rachel Rice shaving.png

These instructions from the 1840s provide instructions for how to shave with a straightrazor.

  • paper, some bottles, old file

If Joseph Rice had paper, someone was writing, and it was most likely him. Paper was being made in America by 1690, but that “paper” was made out of old clothes, cotton and linen, rags and scraps, pulverized into mush and formed into somewhat of a parchment. Before 1816, all paper was made by hand.

Rachel Rice paper.jpg

This example of “paper” currency wasn’t really paper as we know it today, meaning created from wood pulp.

Glass bottles were blown and were never thrown away.

Rachel Rice glass bottles.png

Early bottles like these ones from the Jamestown Glasshouse were seldom clear. Green and blue were the most common colors.

Rachel Rice glass bottles 2.png

  • pair bullet moles

This would be bullet molds, not moles, although that could be the pronunciation at the time.

Early firearms were not made to any particular standard, so neither was the ammunition. Every person had to make their own bullets using a bullet mold which looks something like a pliers that formed the musketball shape. Ironically, these early musket balls were cast from lead which was superior to iron and able to be cast using a ladle over a wood fire. Iron required much higher temperatures.

Of course, today we know that lead is a poisonous, toxic metal.

Rachel Rice bullet mold.png

Firearms were often sold with the bullet mold, customized for the bore and chamber of that particular gun.

  • 3/4 of a hoggshead crop tobacco

Dodson hogshead

From other estate inventories, I’ve noted that a hogshead of tobacco was about 1300 pounds. Others are recorded as holding 1000 pounds.

Either Joseph’s land didn’t produce much tobacco, or this is what was remaining to be sold upon his death. I notice that Joseph’s estate didn’t list any wagons which would have been required for tobacco farming. Maybe one of his sons had already purchased his wagon.

Tobacco was the primary cash crop in colonial Virginia and extremely labor intensive. I wrote about tobacco production, here.

Rachel Rice tobacco.jpg

Without slaves, the work fell entirely to family members and paid laborers, that is, if Joseph could find any.

The absence of slaves speaks volumes. Clearly Joseph and Rachel could have afforded slaves, so the fact that they never owned slaves can only be a reflection of their convictions.

It would be an interesting study in Prince Edward County to inventory who did and did not own slaves based on tax lists and see if a common thread can be determined as to religion or even perhaps migration patterns. That might help identify Rachel’s family too.

The Undiscovered Gem

We have a list of what “Joseph” owned when he died, including things like plates, silverware, pots, pans, looms and other items that would have belonged more to Rachel than Joseph.

But there’s one thing of value that Joseph and Rachel probably didn’t know that they owned. An undiscovered treasure that remained dormant for the next 200 years or so.

When I write these 52 Ancestor articles, I research the county in which the ancestor lived, their neighbors, tax lists, deeds, history and anything else I can find. In this case, the estate inventory was especially enlightening, especially in terms of Rachel since we have so few documents that tell us anything about her life.

Knowing that Joseph and Rachel had a barrel of salt along with an additional parcel of salt, I was curious as to where the closest salt mine was located, so I googled salt mines in Prince Edward County, Virginia.

I didn’t find a salt mine, but I found something else much more interesting.


Yes, amethyst.

Discovered in 2 locations in Rice, Virginia.

The village of Rice, of course, is Joseph Rice’s plantation.

Rachel Rice amethyst.png

Pretty amazing!

Rachel Rice amethyst 2.png

This specimen was listed with several photos.

Rachel Rice amethyst 3.jpg

Amethyst is a crystal, so this stone has not been cut or faceted.

Rachel Rice amethyst 4.jpg

One location, a farm, was identified, but is no longer owned by the person who owned it at the time of discovery. Yes, I’m very tempted to have a look at the deed books and track his land backwards in time.

Rachel Rice amethyst 5.png

One farm is noted as half a mile east of Rice, and the other as a mile north. Clearly a vein runs under this land.

Depending on the actual location, at least one of these discovery locations could have been on Joseph’s original land and the second on the Atwood land Joseph purchased.

In other words, this beautiful purple crystalline stone peppered the lands of and near Joseph Rice. It probably extended to the lands of James Moore and Matthew Rice too, and of course, Rachel lived there until her death. She is probably buried with amethysts in the soil surrounding her grave.

These specimens were discovered topside, meaning no digging or mining was involved. I wonder if Rachel’s kids used to bring in “pretty rocks” found on the farmland or in the streams. Maybe after plowing revealed treasure buried for eons.

A rock collector died in 2013, and as luck would have it, the large photo above shows the specimen from his collection. It was for sale, but not anymore.

I bought it.

I’ve always loved purple, and amethyst has a long and storied history. Greeks believed Amethyst prevented intoxication. Medieval European soldiers wore amethyst amulets for protection in battle with the belief that amethysts healed people and kept them cool-headed. Amethyst beads have been unearthed in Anglo-Saxon graves in England and Anglican bishops wear an episcopal ring often set with an amethyst, an allusion to the description of the Apostles as “not drunk.” Tibetans consider amethyst sacred to the Buddha. It seems that many cultures appreciate the beauty of amethyst and have woven it into their folklore.

In the Old World, amethyst was considered one of the Cardinal gems, meaning one of the 5 gemstones precious above all others. That lasted until amethyst was discovered in large quantities in Brazil in the 1800s. Between 1746 and 1766, when Joseph owned this land, Amethyst was as valuable as diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies. Indeed, amethyst, if discovered then, would have been more valuable than everything else in the estate put together, including the land.

Just think, Joseph’s sons and son-in-law, James Moore sold this land away, not realizing what they had at the time.

In the Middle Ages, Amethyst was considered royal and used to decorate English regalia including the Crown Jewels.

Rachel Rice sceptre.png

On the Royal “Head of Sovereign’s Sceptre with Cross,” shown above, used during coronations, above the pear-shaped diamond is a huge amethyst surmounted by a cross pattée encrusted with an emerald and small diamonds. To give perspective, that huge diamond is 530.2 carats, so that amethyst must be at least 100 carats if not more. That would probably be about 2 inches across. The diamond is 10 cM long, which is just slightly less than 4 inches long and 2.5 inches wide.

Rachel’s Amethyst

Rachel, you would have been rich beyond your wildest dreams with the precious Amethyst discovered on your land. It would have been like winning the colonial lottery. You could have had enough beds and plates for every family member and a fire tongs too!

Yes, I know this amethyst isn’t of the highest quality, but it’s certainly precious to me. I feel this stone has been waiting for me to find it, thanks to Rachel, since 2013 when the original collector died. My own crown jewel!

Perhaps it was always making its way to me:)

This stone is about 1x1x1.5 inches and I am ordering a special pendant so that I can wear it as a memento and tribute to Rachel Rice.

I name my stones, and Rachel is also the name of my daughter who passed away, so I have a special affinity for this gift from Rachel’s land. I’ve never before had an actual physical gift from the beyond.

Rachel, thank you. This stone is dedicated to you!

Rachel Rice amethyst 6.png

This amethyst is purple, of course, but from time to time the sun glints blue, as you can see in the photo below, reminiscent of the beautiful flax blooms on Rachel’s land.

Rachel Rice amethyst 7.png



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23andMe Connects Up with FamilySearch

23andMe has always been primarily a DNA health company. You can purchase either a DNA for ancestry only kit or a DNA kit that includes both ancestry and health information. Their focus has always been on health, with genealogists providing both revenue and the possibility of genealogists opting-in to 23andMe’s health information data gathering initiative.

23andMe was the first company to offer commercial autosomal tests that included cousin matching, so genealogists flocked to test there in the early days.

Unfortunately, 23andMe didn’t mature to include or support trees which are the hallmark of genealogy.

Beginning in 2016 with Family Tree DNA’s Phased Family Matching and followed in 2019 by Ancestry’s ThruLines and MyHeritage’s Theories of Family Relativity, all major vendors except 23andMe have both tree functionality in terms of support as well as additional tree-based advanced features to assist genealogists.

Recently, 23andMe announced a liaison with FamilySearch, although it’s not a tree but a list of ancestors reaching back 7 generations.

The Family Search Connection

The e-mail I received from 23andMe said the following:

Dear 23andMe Beta Tester,

You’re invited to test our new beta feature! If you have a FamilySearch® Family Tree, you can now upload information about your ancestors to 23andMe and display it to your DNA Relatives and connections.

With this beta feature, it’s now easier for your DNA Relatives to view your family tree information and find shared ancestors. You can also use a new filter to find DNA Relatives who have uploaded their own family tree information.

Learn more about FamilySearch and start exploring.


The 23andMe Team

23andMe does not share any of your personal information, including your genetic results, with FamilySearch.

FamilySearch International is a wholly owned nonprofit subsidiary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch is a registered 2019 trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc, and is used under license.

Yes, I am a beta tester, and you can be too.

About FamilySearch

I have used FamilySearch for years, but mostly for records.

Relative to trees, I find it quite confusing in terms of who can and cannot modify ancestor information and what happens to trees that non-church members upload as GEDCOM files.

FamilySearch is really one big shared world tree – meaning that everyone’s information is combined into one large “family.”

I’m not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I’m by no means an expert on how to use their software. Therefore, I don’t understand the inner workings of how (if) accuracy is determined,” who moderates disputes and their qualifications, and how changes are made. Furthermore, multiple questions about this topic have produced inconsistent answers.

It was my original understanding that one could never modify the main shared tree, but through this exercise, I’ve discovered that FamilySearch has made some significant changes and that is (apparently) no longer true.

This is great news, at least I think it is, unless several people wind up in a tug-of-war over a particular ancestor.

For this discussion, we are interested in the FamilySearch shared “big tree” and not in what happens with individual trees.

Ok, now that we’ve defined how FamilySearch works, at least in concept, let’s take a look at how to utilize the FamilySearch tree through 23andMe.

Enable Beta Testing

Sign into your account at 23andMe.

23andMe FamilySearch settings.png

Beside your name at the upper right hand side of your page, you’ll see a down arrow. Click on that arrow or on your name and a list of options, above, will appear.

Click on “Settings.”

Scroll down to preferences where you’ll see Beta Program.

23andMe beta.png

To join the Beta program, which is required for the FamilySearch functionality at this time, click on the magenta “Become a tester” button.

Next, you’ll need to connect your 23andMe profile to your tree, either at FamilySearch or another public tree.

Scroll back up to the “Personal Information” section, and look for the Enhanced Profile section, below.

23andMe enhanced profile.png

Click on “Edit enhanced profile.”

23andMe share a link.png

Then select “Share a link to your online family tree” and click there. You’ll see the information, below.

23andMe FamilySearch online tree.png

At this point you have two options. You can click to add the FamilySearch information which they refer to as a tree, or you can enter a link to another supported tree in the area below. As you can see, that’s what I chose to do. You can also do both.

Supported trees are:

23andme supported trees.png

I believe they’ve forgotten to mention Family Tree DNA who also provides a link to share a tree that you might have created or uploaded there.

However, for this exercise, we’re going to click on the “Add FamilySearch” link.

If you already have a FamilySearch account and have constructed a tree at FamilySearch, you’ll click on the blue box to be directed to sign in.

23andMe FamilySearch signin.png

Creating an Account and Building a Tree

If you haven’t built or uploaded a GEDCOM file to FamilySearch, you’ll be directed to build a tree which consists of adding enough people, beginning with you, until FamilySearch can discover someone already in their shared big tree. Your grandparents might be there, for example.

Once FamilySearch recognizes someone that you enter as being already in their tree, and you confirm that it’s the same person, FamilySearch simply adds your line to the existing big shared tree – whether those ancestors further back are right or wrong. That’s the ying and yang of shared trees.

I’m not a huge fan of shared trees, but FamilySearch has implemented a very nice hints system and allows you to make modifications, so even if you’re not thrilled either, don’t write this option off without an evaluation. They are working to make their tools more accommodating and less cast in stone.

Here’s what you see at FamilySearch.

23andMe FamilySearch getting started.png

Beneath this page, you’ll be stepped through creating an account.

If You Have an Account

In my case, I have an account and a tree, so I click on the large blue box that says “Add your FamilySearch tree” which takes me to the FamilySearch sign-in page.

After signing in, you’ll see something similar to the following:

23andMe FamilySearch ancestor list.png

Note that if you’ve made corrections or changes at FamilySearch, you can upload a new version of this information by clicking on the blue “upload your new tree” link above the ancestors.

Based on my tree, I’m showing 4 grandparents, 8, great-grandparents, and so forth based on the shared FamilySearch tree, which is not necessarily the same as the GEDCOM file I uploaded. Don’t assume that it is.

Clicking the down arrow displays the various people in that category.

I strongly suggest checking these lineages well before you leave the FamilySearch tree connected to your 23andMe account.

These ancestors are connected in your 23andMe account at this point. Remember, your tree is not your own – but a combination of your twig connected to and interwoven with the larger shared tree which has been built using other users’ trees and input.

Click on the down arrows to display the ancestors gathered from the FamilySearch tree on your behalf.

23andme FamilySearch ancestors.png

In my case, the first, second and third generations are pretty much fine, needing only minor tweeking, like birth locations added. The people themselves are accurate.

In the fourth generation, we have some issues that can be easily fixed, like a misspelled name and missing birth and death information.

23andMe FamilySearch checking for issues.png

By clicking on the specific ancestor, you can view that ancestor’s information, but to actually modify that information, you’ll need to sign into your account through the regular FamilySearch page, not the 23andMe interface. We’ll cover how to make FamilySearch modifications after we finish the instructions for how to connect the FamilySearch tree to your 23andMe account.

By scrolling down to the bottom, beneath your ancestors, you’ll notice two options.

23andMe FamilySearch options.png

You can either remove this list of ancestors from your tree, or go to DNA Relatives at 23andMe. If you don’t remove the list of ancestors, exactly what you saw, above, is what your matches will see too.

After you fix issues with the FamilySearch tree, you will need to reupload by reinitiating this process in your Enhanced Profile, because the link to 23andMe is not live. Changes are not automatically reflected.

If you leave the FamilySearch list at 23andMe, be aware that you can also link to another tree as well. You don’t have to pick one or the other.

My 23andMe Choice

After taking a look at the FamilySearch shared tree, I quickly decided that until I am able to devote some significant time working on the tree at FamilySearch, I’m entering the link to my Ancestry, MyHeritage or Family Tree DNA tree – all 3 of which I control entirely meaning that they are not mixed with or predicated upon anyone else’s trees.

In the FamilySearch tree, I can find and replace incorrect ancestors through the 3th great-grandparents level pretty easily, assuming they stay that way and no one “recorrects” them. There are fewer descendants, so fewer cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. The information is newer in time, and therefore more likely to be accurate.

What I can’t do very well though, is to resolve several issues at the 4th and 5th great-grandparent level in the FamilySearch tree. By resolve, I mean that I’m not going to make changes unless I’m sure of the information I’m entering.

My issues that I really don’t know how to resolve are:

  • One speculative couple with no documentation. It could be right, or wrong but I can’t readily tell without more research. I have never seen anything to suggest that the information is accurate and was surprised to see these people connected as parents – but I also can’t prove it wrong because I haven’t worked on the problem.
  • A very convoluted mess wherein one ancestral couple, Gideon Farris (Faires) and Sarah McSpadden, is shown with daughter Anne Farris marrying Charles Beckworth Speak. That’s incorrect because although we don’t know Charles’ wife’s name, he was married in Maryland and the Faires family was in Virginia at that time. However, their daughter Sarah Faires did marry Charles Speak’s son, Nicholas Speak. This tree “fix” would not be quick or easy, I’m afraid, as there’s a lot of unraveling to be done.
  • An incorrect set of parents. This I could resolve by removing the parents, but I’m hesitant to do so without additional research. At this point, it doesn’t matter, because unless I can fix the issues above, I don’t want this list showing to matches as my ancestors. That’s exactly how misinformation spreads.
  • Several speculative wives for multiple ancestors which have been circulating without documentation online for years, including some that have been disproven. Sigh.
  • My Dutch lines are a mess. I’m not sure if it’s incorrect information, or someone entirely unfamiliar with the Dutch language and records. In any case, one error leads to wrong parents in the next generation in several places – and yes – I’m sure because I’m working with Yvette Hoitink, a top-notch Dutch genealogist in the Netherlands and I have the original records.

Fixing Issues at FamilySearch

However, I would like to take advantage of the FamilySearch option as soon as I get my ancestors straightened out there, so let’s step through the process of fixing issues. You may become inspired to work on your ancestors at FamilySearch too. You’ll be helping others as well.

You might be asking why you might want to fix FamilySearch if you’re going to link to your own tree.

My personal goal is to, hopefully, leave this earth with my ancestors correctly recorded and connected – be it in my own tree or large public trees.

At FamilySearch, sign in and click on Family Tree.

FamilySearch tree.png

You’ll see your ancestors, with you as the home person after you’ve set up your account and connected yourself.

I have no idea where the photo of me came from, but I assure you that I’m replacing it! You may find photos of family members at FamilySearch that you didn’t know about.

By clicking on any person’s name, you open their profile and you can then see information items available for you to edit.

FamilySearch edit.png

For example, here’s my father, with Detail View enabled which shows sources of changes. Hmm, I wonder who Robert Lewis is. Who would be entering my father’s information?

I can click to send Robert a message, or I can click on the Edit box to make changes, or both.

I can scroll on down to view my father’s family information including spouses, children, parents and siblings. I have some work to do here, but at least I can now that FamilySearch has enabled editing.

You can do the same for each ancestor, including replacing one or both parents, or simply removing your ancestor as the child of the couple.

Be sure to read carefully while you’re getting to know the software. It’s easy to make editing mistakes and remove a mother from all the children, for example, instead of just from your ancestor.

Of course, you can always add her back, but slow and careful is always best.

Filter Results by FamilySearch Information

Back at 23andMe, you can filter your DNA Relatives matches by people who have uploaded FamilySearch results.

23andMe DNA Relatives.png

Look at the bottom of the list of filters on the left side of your matches.

23andMe FamilySearch filter.png

Checking the box shows only people with the FamilySearch connection, but you can see that none of my matches have done this, so my number is a big fat zero.

What you cannot see here is if your matches have linked to other trees or have entered their family surnames which can be quite useful too. I wish we could filter on those features.

Two More Quick Tips!

Whether or not you utilize the FamilySearch connection to 23andMe, please, PLEASE connect some tree to your 23andMe account.

Adding surnames and linking a tree benefits everyone, because 23andMe displays this information when you click on your matches.

Please add your family surnames under the Family Background section of your settings, shown below. No, this does NOT integrate with FamilySearch or any other tree – so you need to do it manually.

23andMe Family surnames.png

23andMe displays both you and your matches locations and surnames side-by-side along with tree links when you click on any match, shown below.

23andMe Family background.png

I didn’t recognize my cousin, Patricia’s surnames, nor her name because she only used an initial for a surname, but when I clicked on her Ancestry tree, I immediately recognized our common ancestors, my great-grandparents.

Identifying our common ancestors with matches makes tools like shared matches much more useful.

Shared matches with Patricia show other people who we both match, AND, at 23andMe, if we share a DNA segment in common, indicated by the “yes” below. Assuming those matches are not identical by chance, knowing that someone matches both me and Patricia suggests that we share a common ancestor. In fact, I share 98 relatives in common with Patricia.

23andMe Relatives in common shared DNA.png

The “Yes” under shared DNA means that Patricia and that person and I share some common segment of DNA, inherited from our common ancestor.

Furthermore, by utilizing the chromosome browser, we can confirm that we share the same triangulated segments of DNA with other descendants of that same couple, which further strengthens the connections, adding to the genealogical DNA evidence needed to confirm ancestors.

23andMe X matches.png

Wow, look, 4 of these people share a substantial piece of the X chromosome with me and Patricia (burgundy, on top). The X chromosome, has a unique inheritance path. This X match immediately narrows the potential ancestors.

23andMe X pedigree.png

I know that Curtis Lore didn’t receive an X chromosome from his father, because he received a Y chromosome which made him a male, so these people have to be related through Rachel Levina Hill or her ancestors. Rachel’s X chromosome descended from the pink or blue ancestors. Viewing matches’ trees (if they have them) might well indicate which of these ancestors provided Rachel’s, which is that segment of my X chromosome.

What a lucky break and how exciting to know I carry something tangible from these people!

You can’t do this without trees or family information and you can’t do it without a chromosome browser. In this case, 1+1=goldmine. So connect up one way or another and have fun!



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Genealogy Research

Mary Rice (c 1723 – c 1778/81), Are You Really Your Sister? – 52 Ancestors #251

Dearest Great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Mary,

I’d wager that you were born in Hanover County, Virginia given that Amelia County hadn’t been settled yet when you were born. In fact, there wasn’t much out there even a few years later, in 1751 when the Fry-Jefferson map was drawn. Most of the settlement was along the James and other major rivers. Amelia was the hinterlands!

Mary Rice Amelia in 1751.png

You were probably a late teen or even in your early 20s when your family lumbered along in the wagon, moving the homestead, all the family and probably several animals to what was then the frontier on the slow-flowing emerald green waters of the Sandy River in Amelia County.

You said goodbye to most everything that was familiar, but some of the neighbors and at least a few family members made that same journey to the new frontier.

That must have been some trip!

Bang – crash! Another hole in the trail, carved by the line of wagons moving westward. Another rut. Another broken wagon wheel.

What an adventure!

Your uncle, Matthew Rice, had purchased land and probably lived in Amelia County since 1741, but your father, Joseph didn’t purchase land until 1746. Maybe he wanted to see how Matthew did living past the edge of civilization. Maybe Matthew’s letters back home talked about cheap land and opportunity.

Your father was last mentioned in a merchant’s account book in 1743 and again in 1744-45. It’s possible that you and James Moore were courting or married about this time.

Of course, it’s also possible that you met young James and were smitten after you both arrived in Amelia County.

Your family could have lived with your uncle Matthew for awhile until your Dad decided which land to purchase. Or, your family could have been “sizing up” the land for farmability by living there.

In any case, in 1746, your Dad, Joseph Rice, put down roots in Amelia County and he would never move again.

I think your first son, James, named after your husband of course, was born about 1746. It could have been a little later, but not a lot later based on the fact that in 1767, your son James was listed on the poll tax list with your husband. That means young James was at least 16 years of age. Sometimes the age was “misremembered” to avoid taxes for an extra year or two, so James could have been as old as 20 or 21 that year instead of 16. If James actually was 16, then he would have been born in 1750 or 1751.

Your next two oldest children, Lydia and William Moore were born about this time as well – probably before or right near 1750.

We know you had a child as late as 1767 and may have had two more children after that.

Based on these brackets, your birth year was probably about 1723, give or take a year or two in either direction. I’d say we’d be safe saying 1720-1725.

Given that “you” signed a deed relinquishing your dower right in property sold in 1769 and 1778, but not in property sold in 1781 and later, you probably died about that time. Your youngest children wouldn’t have yet been adults.

I wonder what happened.

But more than anything, I wonder who you were.

Ironically, we know who your father was, but we don’t really know who you were.

In fact, you might just have been your sister.

You, of course, know the answer to this puzzle, but we’re quite confused.

Mary, Mary Quite Contrary

Your father, Joseph Rice died in 1766 and wrote his will on December 14, a few days before Christmas in the winter of 1765. That must have been a terrible Christmas, knowing his death was imminent.

He clearly knew his days were numbered, because at that time, men didn’t write a will until they felt it was necessary. His will was probated on June 16, 1766, about 6 months later, so he was probably in declining health for the last several months of his 66 years on this earth.

In his will, he left 100 acres to your husband, James Moore, stating that James is his son-in-law.

Thank you Joseph! All’s well.

Your Dad then left land to your brothers, all 5 of them.

Still all good.

But then your Dad says a really confounding thing.

“To my well beloved daughter Mary Rice one feather bed and furniture and one cow and calf.”

What the heck?

Your name is NOT Mary Rice. At least not in 1766. The wife of James Moore, if named Mary, would be Mary Moore, not Rice.

So, is your name something else, and your sister, Mary Rice was unmarried in 1766? That’s certainly what Joseph Rice’s will strongly suggests.

Your Dad wrote this will 6 months before he died, so it’s not like he was literally on his death bed. He wasn’t.

The 1769 Deed

On Decmeber 19, 1769, you and James sold all 136 acres of your land to David Lewis in prepartion for moving to Halifax County.

One part was the land inherited from Joseph Rice, ” and is to be in a four square between William Rice and Noel Waddil” and the second part being 36 acres purchased from Noel Waddill and Abraham Womack.

That deed was witnessed by Joseph Brown, Francis Drinhard or Frinkard, Henry (his mark) Nelson and Thomas Sadler.

There are NO records of you in Prince Edward County – not a single one. When you and James sold land, you never signed to release your dower right.

Furthermore, there is no record of you and James Moore selling the 100 acres that your father left James, nor the other 36 acres you and James owned.

You and James both signed with your marks, and you separately released your dower rights.

James Moore 1769 Deed Prince Edward page 1.png

James Moore 1769 Deed Prince Edward.png

James Moore 1769 Deed Prince Edward page 3.png

This is why have genealogists have assigned Mary Rice as the wife of James Moore? But was Mary Rice married to James Moore in 1766 when Joseph Rice died, or was James Moore, at that time married to another Rice sister?

Onward to Halifax County

By 1770, James Moore and Mary had moved to Halifax County where he proceeded to buy land. Lots of it.

In 1774, James sold land twice, and again in 1778 and Mary Moore, his wife, relinquished her dower rights. However, in 1781 when James sold land, there was no Mary, nor does she ever appear in records again.

The only wife’s name we have for James is Mary.

And of course Joseph Rice left one feather bed, furniture along with a cow and calf to daughter Mary Rice in 1766, not Mary Moore.

So, here’s the question.

We know for sure that James Moore’s wife was the daughter of Joseph Rice. There’s no doubt about that because I and some of your other descendants match descendants of your siblings and Joseph Rice states such in his will.

So, are you really Mary Rice and your father was having a senior moment when he wrote his will and didn’t refer to you by your married name? I don’t think so, because by leaving you property without your husband implies that he didn’t approve of your husband and that clearly was not the case because he left James Moore 100 acres of land.

Were you dead already by the time your father died? I don’t think that’s the case either because your father would have left the land to your children and a guardian would have been appointed for them as your heirs. That didn’t happen either.

So, you were apparently alive in December of 1765, and probably in June of 1766.

James Moore, along with your oldest son, James, was on the tax list in Prince Edward County in 1767 – so you had been married to James a minimum of 15 years by 1765.

If you aren’t Mary Rice,then you had died by December 1769 when James Moore and his wife Mary sold their land.

Your family was in Halifax County by 1770.

But the question is, were you with them?

If you are Mary, you were you still alive in 1774, 8 years later when Mary Moore signed as James Moore’s wife?

Was your father really was having a senior moment and your name really is Mary Rice Moore.

If you died, before 1769, was your death part of the reason that your heartbroken husband picked up and left Prince Edward County?

Could be, but if so, he had remarried to a woman named Mary. Marriage records exist for Prince Edward County, but marriages of dissenters might have not been registered.

If you died before 1769, you’re not buried in Halifax County, but someplace in Prince Edward County – likely in the same location as your father. In a little cemetery on his land now long forgotten.

And oh, another question too.

Why didn’t you and James name any children Joseph? Or Rachel? Or wasn’t Rachel your mother?

Or, did you have those children and they died? There are several unexplained multi-year gaps between your children that silently whisper of death.

You also didn’t name any of your children John, Charles or David after your brothers? You did name a daughter Mary and a son William, but then again, William Moore in Prince Edward County was probably your brother-in-law and if Mary wasn’t your name, then your named your daughter after your sister, Mary.

Is the Mary who was married to James Moore in 1769 your sister, Mary Rice? Did James Moore marry your sister after both your father and then you died?

Am I way out on a limb here?

Why the heck were there no marriage documents filed? Oh, yea, that’s right, you were dissenters.

OK, since we can’t tell for sure who you are, aside from being Joseph Rice’s daughter, let’s at least look at where you and your family lived in Prince Edward County after it separated from Amelia.

That much we can do!

The Lay of the Land

Did you know that a century after you left this land that just a mile down the road, in what is now the Sailor’s Creek State Park, the decisive battle of the Civil War took place? Of course, the battle, more of a massacre actually, raged all over that area, including on your land.

I know that you and James Moore didn’t own slaves, and neither did your father – so you might have been pleased that your land was involved in the battle that swung the victory for the north, resulting in freeing the slaves.

Sadly, almost 8000 men died that April 6th, 1865 when half of Lee’s Army was either killed or captured. You can read more about that here, here and here. Were you watching from the great beyond that day?

I know you thought I never would, but I found your land using DeedMapper.

Let’s start with the land you and James Moore owned before your father died.

Mary Rice Sailor Creek land.png

Look Mary, there it is, outlined in purple. It might not be positioned perfectly, but it’s close. You and James owned the upper part of the purple square which was originally Abraham Womack’s land. William Womack was your neighbor too.

Your Dad, Joseph Rice’s land is shown with the green arrow, and the village of Rice today, Rice’s Depot in the 1800s and Rice’s Station during the Civil War is located where the purple arrow points.

Right beside your Dad’s land is Samuel Goode’s land. Somehow Samuel descends from John Goode and Frances Mackerness. I think they might have been his grandparents. In any case, the Mackness first name in Virginia is tied to this family and the Rowlett family. John Rowlett born about 1705 in Henrico County is reported to have been married to Elizabeth Goode, although I have never seen any documentation for that and don’t know if it’s supposition based on the fact that John Rowlett named a son who was born in Prince Edward County, Mackness. John Rowlett’s father, William was married to Frances Worsham. Of course, those Henrico families all moved to the part of Amelia County that became Prince Edward.

Did I mention to you that our DNA strongly suggests that we are relate to the Womack family? Would you mind telling me how?

By the time these families arrived in Amelia County in the 1740s, they had been intermarrying for 4 or 5 generations. Lord help us ever straighten this out! Maybe you can assist.

Samuel Goode sold his land to Charles Rice, your brother, in 1761. Your son, Mackness Moore was born in 1765 or earlier. I know there’s a connection. There has to be. What is it?

Is this family somehow connected to your parents or your husband’s parents? How?

By the way, who were your husband’s parents?

Who was your mother?

And were you actually your sister?

I need answers, Mary!


I found your brother-in-law’s land too – or at least I think William Moore is your husband’s brother.

Mary Rice William Moore land.png

In 1752 William Craddock sold this 148 acre tract outlined in purple to William Moore who lived not far from your father (upper left) and adjacent your uncle, Matthew Rice whose land also abutted yours. Your own land is noted upper right with Womack. Everyone lived in close proximity and lent helping hands whenever necessary.

Not only that, another common bond was probably that you were all dissenters – meaning not members of the Anglican church. Your uncle David Rice’s son, the Reverend David Rice, was a Presbyterian minister known as the “Apostle of Kentucky” and your own father built a dissenting meeting house on his property in 1759.

By the time your father died in 1766 and you moved to Halifax County by 1770, your brother-in-law, William Moore, was getting up there in years. William’s son, William Jr. came of age in about 1762, according to the tax list, so William Sr. appears to be older than James Sr. In 1774, William Moore and his wife Margaret sold part of his land to Thomas Vaughan and by 1782, William disappeared from the tax lists. In 1784, he sold more land, except 13 acres. I’d say that William moved on or died about this time. You wouldn’t have heard about this in Halifax County until a letter could have arrived.

You and James must have been close to your brother-in-law William, because you named your eldest son James and your second son, William. Since William was older than James, this makes me wonder if their father’s name was also William.

The Old Neighborhood

The family names of those old patents and deeds on the map look so warmly familiar don’t they? There’s the Certain land and the Richee land too. They weren’t just names to you – you knew these people and were probably related to many.

The Spradling land is just east of the Certain land. These families moved to Halifax County when you and James Moore packed up and left. In Halifax County, James Moore bought his land from James Spradling and another James Spradling lived with you for 2 years in 1774 and 1775 before he enlisted to serve in the Revolutionary War. There’s surely a family connection someplace.

And look, the green arrows below approximate your father’s land. Of course, your Dad owned more than this. Eventually he bought the Atwood land above his original land too.

Mary Rice Joseph Rice land.png

Here’s the approximate land on Google maps today.

Mary Rice Joseph Rice aerial.png

I think, based on the Civil War map that the mill branch was just about where the red star is placed. Did you and James own a mill?

Mary Rice Sailor Creek aerial.png

Here’s the land you and James owned.

Mary Rice Sailor Creek map.png

Looks pretty boring here, but if you look at the Civil War map, you can see the mill and the millpond.

Mary Rice Civil War map.png

You can even see the subtle roads from the mill going north and south. Those roads aren’t visible today, but the Mill Branch is mentioned in the 1760 deed where you sold 75 acres to Noel Waddill on Sailor’s Creek, part of the tract that you and James purchased from Abraham Womack, bounded by Ryan, Matthew Rice, and the Mill Branch.

Sailor’s Creek old road is mentioned too in the tax descriptions. In fact, the 1759 description says that your land is between Ligon’s Rolling Road, Sailor’s Creek Old Road, Sailor’s Creek and Sandy River.

James was clearing land in 1745 with the Ligon men who owned land on the south and west of your father. In fact, your Dad’s land abutted theirs.

Mary Rice Joseph Rice 1746.png

It’s ironic that there are two cemeteries on your Dad’s land today. Of course, 100 acres of this 400 would become yours. We just don’t know which hundred other than it abutted your brother William’s land.

One cemetery is located at the Pisgah Baptist Church and another on the west side of the property, on Highway 460, in green. That cemetery looks to be new, but I wonder about the history of the Pisgah Baptist Church Cemetery. Is that your original family cemetery where your Mom and Dad are buried? It looks too perfectly square, but you never know. I wonder where the dissenting meeting house was located that your Dad built in 1759. I’d wager the cemetery is someplace close to that.

Mary Rice Pisgah cemetery.png

Now that I think of it, if you died in Prince Edward County, you’re probably buried someplace on this land as well.

Your Dad left one fourth of this land to you and James, although we don’t really know which fourth other than it was not the eastern portion that William inherited.

Your brothers, John, William and Charles owned the other 300 acres and your mother lived there, probably with Charles, judging from the way the will is constructed. On the other hand, in 1767, John is listed as living with Rachel Rice – probably because he was underage but 16 or over, so taxable.

On the Civil War map, we can see several houses on your dad’s land.

Mary Rice houses.png

I’d wager that your father’s house was at Rice’s Station, in the present-day village of Rice. That makes sense since he built a church here. A nice crossroads would have delivered travelers perhaps for a bit of a business. This was the main road at the time.

Did you and James live in one of those houses too? I’d bet that you did. We know your brother inherited the east part of the land, and your other brother’s land abutted yours. I’d almost bet that you had the north portion.

Mary Rice Rice's Station.png

The Battle of Rice’s Station took place here the same morning as the infamous Battle of Saylor’s Creek.

Mary Rice Battle Rice's Station.jpg

This map shows the battlefield area, right where your family lived – exactly 100 years earlier.


A few years ago, I visited Rice, quite by accident actually. I remember at the time thinking that this was somehow significant. Too much to be happenstance. I didn’t really realize just how significant at the time, or that I was literally on Joseph Rice’s land.

I guess he summoned me home.

Actually it wasn’t just Joseph’s, but also yours and James’ land.

Let’s drive along the old Rolling Road headed north out of Rice.

Rolling Road

This looks like it could well be the old Ligon Rolling Road referred to in the deed – in fact, the locals told me it was called the Rolling Road. I thought it was named that because of the rolling hills, but it was because these roads were used to roll tobacco hogsheads, or casks, to the docks for shipping downriver.

Mary Rice Rolling Road house.jpg

This very old building was being restored. The owners told me that it dated from before the Revolution. This is on the property that would either have been Joseph Rice’s or just north of his land.

Mary Rice Rolling Road house 2.jpg

Did you or a family member live here? You surely would have been familiar with this house and probably visited. Maybe another family member lived here, because it appears that the Rice and Moore families owned this entire region.

Mary Rice Rolling Road outbuildings.jpg

The outbuilding.

Mary Rice fields

Looking across the fields.

Mary Rice old building.jpg

This old building is or was at the Rice crossroads with Prince Edward Highway. It was pretty dilapidated years ago and appears to be gone today. It wouldn’t have existed in the 1700s, but I had to wonder about the history of this structure.

Unfortunately, Google Street View doesn’t include any of the roads in this area except for what is today Prince Edward Highway. Ironically, the road then would have been dirt and much smaller, but it too was probably the equivalent of a colonial highway – bring people into and out of Prince Edward County.

Today, Prince Edward Highway circumvents the sleepy village of Rice, which is probably the manifestation of Joseph Rice’s plantation.

Google maps shows Rice to be above the highway, but it isn’t. The center of Rice is the location of the old depot, near the Post Office today. At upper right, Saylor’s Creek Road reaches towards your old homestead. You and James would have traveled this road, now named Gully Tavern Road, many, many times to visit your parents and attend church on your father’s property. Of course, except when you were in “child bed.”

Mary Rice Rice.png

It’s about two and a half miles distant using today’s Gully Tavern Road, County Road 619.

Mary Rice Sailor Creek road.png

Today Gully Tavern Road just looks like typical farm country.

Mary Rice Gully Tavern Road.png

Here’s the old split, with Saylor’s Creek Road, now Gully Tavern, to the right. You probably knew this well, as did your horses.

Mary Rice road split.png

Did you marry at your father’s house, taking this road to your new home as a bride?

On down Sailor’s Creek Road, it looks like the old mill branch and pond would have been here, with the mill too of course, but nothing remains today. Was this where your house was located before you and James lived on your father’s land?

Mary Rice Mill pond.png

Looks like current Sunshine Lane might have been the old road, or near to it, with the mill pond below.

Mary Rice Sunshine Lane.png

We know that by the time your father died, in 1766, you and James lived on his land because in his will, he said, “To my son-in-law James Moore 100 acres land whereon he now lives to be divided from the tract I live on by a line that was run by Robert Farguson to him and his heirs forever.”

Today, the road out of Rice, leading away from your father’s land, down Saylor Creek Road looks like this, punctuated by the ever-present Dollar General store.

Mary Rice intersection.png

The road to the left leads right onto the plantation from the east, but of course, that’s gone today.

Mary Rice road Prince Edward highway.png

Driving west across your Dad’s land.

Mary Rice highway 2.png

Not widely cleared today.

Mary Rice Highway 3.png

The old road into Rice on the left. Of course, this “new road” we’re driving on didn’t exist then.

Mary Rice highway 4.png

The old train track is now a hiking trail. It’s probably thanks to the railroad going through Rice that the name was preserved.

Mary Rice highway 5.png

A typical Virginia byway. I wonder, was this more cleared when you lived here, or has this really never been entirely cleared?

Mary Rice highway aerial.png

The Exxon Station today marks the old road as well.

Mary Rice Exxon station.png

I guess you’ll have to think of this as our current livery stable for our gasoline horses.

Mary Rice highway 6.png

To the west, there’s some cleared land peeking through, but it doesn’t look like this was very great farm land. It’s hilly, swampy and wooded. Maybe that’s why you chose to leave for Halifax County after your father died. I’d bet your Mom died shortly thereafter.

This must have been a very sad time for you, especially if you also buried children named Joseph and Rachel. Somehow, I’m guessing that you did.

Mary Rice Trinity Gardens.png

Towards the western edge of your Dad’s land, today, we find the Trinity Memorial Gardens. Of course, when you lived on this land, there was a cemetery someplace too. Today, your family cemetery is lost to time.

You probably went back to the family cemetery one last time, visiting the graves of your parents and perhaps those of some of your babies as well, before leaving that final time for Halifax County. You would have been about 47 years old then.

There weren’t gravestones except for field stones, but you didn’t need stones with names. Who could ever forget where their parents are buried.

Once gone, you probably never went back. What today is a day trip in a car was a week’s journey, one way, for you, over badly rutted roads – if you can even call them that.

Nope, the ticket to Halifax County was one way.

Halifax County

By far, the largest portion of your life was spent in Prince Edward County. In fact, I wonder whatever possessed you to leave.

What happened after your father’s death?

Did your husband marry your sister, Mary Rice?

Or are you Mary Rice?

If not, what was your first name?

If you made it to Halifax County, the landscape wouldn’t have looked a lot different, with the exception that the hills seem to be steeper and you can see the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. It’s not too far until you begin to climb upward in the foothills. Some would consider these ridges the foothills.

This is your land in Halifax County, although it was probably much more wooded then, at least until James Moore and your sons cleared it.

Mary Rice Halifax Blue Ridge.jpg

As you can see, it’s very hilly. In fact, a place on the main road just northwest of your land is called “Top of the World” because you can see straight to the Peaks of Otter some 50 miles away.

Those mountains in the distance aren’t good farming area, so you wouldn’t have wanted to move that far west. Although several of your children would do just that.

They crossed those mountains to the next frontier of Tennessee. They too had a one-way ticket, but I don’t think any of them left until after you passed away. You didn’t have to wave goodbye to them as the horses strained to start the heavy wagon on it’s journey.

It seems that the Womack family once again preceded you to the ever westward-shifting frontier – this time in Halifax County. In fact, you and James bought land in Halifax County from James Spradling in 1770, but he had obtained the land patent from Isham Womack. Of course, both men were Prince Edward County neighbors.

It seems that a subset of the Amelia and Prince Edward families moved together – and kept moving together.

They probably all attended the dissenting church on Joseph Rice’s property. Maybe these are the neighbors who constructed the old Moore Meeting House where your son William would begin preaching in Halifax County before 1775.

Your son, the Reverend William Moore must have made you proud, because he became a Methodist minister, as did your son Rice Moore. Even your daughters were known as incredible exhorters in Hawkins County, Tennessee.

I wonder if the process of changing dissenting religions, probably Presbyterian in Prince Edward County to Methodist in Halifax was smooth or fraught with heartache. Could this be part of the reason why your family along with a few others moved away?

I sure wish I had answers Mary.

I am going to leave you here, in the peaceful Henderson Cemetery that almost no one knows about, located on your original land in Halifax County.

Mary Rice Halifax cemetery.jpg

Of course, the Mary Moore buried here by James Moore in an unmarked grave might not be you. Or maybe it is.

Was your grave the first one dug in this cemetery as your family gathered ’round?

Are you the Mary Moore that was married to James Moore when he lived here?

Are you Mary Rice Moore?

Or are you really Mary Rice’s sister whose name we don’t know?

Mary Rice Moore’s Daughters

Whatever your actual name, I’m calling you Mary Rice.

That’s what all of the family trees say, and it’s entirely possible that Mary Rice indeed was married to James Moore as his only wife. It’s a given that James Moore’s first wife was Joseph Rice’s daughter. Not only do we know that because of Joseph Rice’s will, but also because your descendants match Joseph Rice’s siblings’ descendants DNA too.

It’s also entirely possible that James just happened to marry a woman named Mary as his second wife after you died sometime after your father in 1766 and before December 1769.

Given that Joseph Rice could have told us the name of James Moore’s wife that was his daughter, the joke’s on us these 253 years later because all we can do now is to speculate. There’s no way to ever confirm either way, short of finding a long-lost letter or Bible. Regardless of what James Moore’s Rice wife’s first name was, she was a daughter of Joseph Rice – that’s much is for sure. So the older genealogy is intact either way.

Some people have wondered if Joseph Rice’s wife at his death, Rachel was his first or second wife, and that perhaps both of his wives named a daughter Mary. It sounds improbable, but it wouldn’t be the first time that two children had the same name from two different wives.

One way or another, for genealogy, it really doesn’t matter because James Moore’s wife’s parents were the same regardless of whether she was Mary Rice or her sister.

Mary Rice Moore’s Mitochondrial DNA

I’d love to be able to document the mitochondrial DNA line of James Moore’s wife, referred to as Mary Rice Moore.

Her mitochondrial DNA would have been passed through her daughters to the current generation, if any descendants matching that description exist.

  • Lydia Moore, wife of Edward Henderson, is almost unquestionably a Moore and was born about 1762. Edward Henderson has a lifelong relationship with the Moore family and owns land which is sold to him by James and abuts both James and William Moore’s land. Edward and Lydia named a child Rice Henderson. Daughters were named:
    • Sally (1796-1870) married William Shelton and had daughters Elizabeth Shelton (1822-1900), Frances Fuqua Shelton (1829-1901) and Jemima Ruth Shelton (1837-?)
    • Peggy (c1786-1840) married Thomas Clark
    • Oney (c1782-after 1860) married William Frederick Ferrell and had daughters Emilia Mildred Ferrell born in 1815, Margaret Ferrell born in 1820 and Susan Jane Ferrell born in 1822
    • Mary (c1804-?) marred William Clark
  • Sally (Sarah) Moore was born about 1767 and married Martin Stubblefield in October 1788 with James Rice as surety. This family migrated to Grainger Co., TN, naming their daughters:
    • Nancy Stubblefield (1794-1836) married James Lebow
    • Rebecca Stubblefield (1798-1862) married Abel Wilson
    • Mary Stubblefield (1806-1888) married Henry Countz (Counts)
    • Elizabeth Ann (1807-1885) married William Chaen (Chain) Jr.
  • Mary Moore, probably born before 1769 was married to Richard Thompson in February 1789 by the Rev. William Moore with Edward Henderson as surety. The Richard Thompson family is found in Grainger Co. with the other Moore siblings. Their daughters were named:
    • Mary Thompson
    • Frances “Fanny” Thompson

If you descend from any of these women to the current generation through all females, I have a free DNA testing scholarship for you. The current generation can be male, because females contribute their mitochondrial DNA to all of their children, but only females pass it on.

Are you a direct maternal descendant of Mary Rice Moore, or whatever her name is? If so, your DNA may hold the key to the next breakthrough! I’d love to hear from you!



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Mitochondrial DNA: Part 5 – Joining Projects

This is the fifth article in the Mitochondrial DNA series. The first four are:

One of the best things about Family Tree DNA is their projects. Just this week, one of my brick walls is falling, thanks to a project administrator’s keen eye!

There are lots of projects to choose from for just about every interest. Let’s take a look at what’s available and why you should join.

What Are Projects?

Family Tree DNA offers customers the ability to join roughly 10,000 free projects that are administered by volunteer project administrators who have a particular interest in the subject of the project.

The most well-known projects are surname projects, but of course, the challenge with mitochondrial DNA, inherited through generations of female to female genetic transmission, is that the surname changes with each generation. Surname projects generally are founded based on paternal surnames.

For example, I started and administer the Estes surname project, even though I’m not a male and have no Y chromosome. To represent my line, I tested my Estes male family members.

Some Y DNA projects welcome all people who descend from an ancestor with that surname, and others do not. I do, because within projects members can use advanced matching tools to see who they match within the project. Of course, a match within a project does NOT guarantee that you match the person BECAUSE of that specific ancestor. It’s a good clue and a place to start, however, and I encourage everyone to consider joining all projects that pertain to their genealogy.

Testers can join an unlimited number of projects and they are all free, although some may have specific criteria required to join.

Why Join a Project?

You might be wondering why one would want to join a project. There are several reasons.

  • Expertise

Project administrators generally offer some level of expertise in the subject at hand. They have to have a reason to spend the time creating and maintaining the project and corresponding with members. Relative to haplogroup projects, project administrators are literally the most knowledgeable people on earth about their haplogroups of interest.

  • Common Interests

Whether you’re trying to figure out where your haplogroup came from, your ancestor of a specific surname or you’re interested in a particular ancestral group, like Acadian ancestors, other project members clearly have the same interest. Project members know that others in the project share that interest and if the project administrators have enabled the social media feature of projects, you can post and discuss topics and make requests there.

  • Camaraderie

Who wants to exist on a genealogical island? Working together with others often reaps huge benefits. For example, in the Crumley project, a few years ago I was able to reconstruct the partial genome of the common ancestor of 57 group members who descend from James Crumley. Without collaboration, we could never make this type of genetic progress – not to mention simply sharing traditional research.

  • Access to project feed or project results

Some project administrators make the viewing the project as well as the social media feed available only to project members who are signed in. Whether you can view the project page or social media feed or not as a non-project member, the only way to actually participate is by joining the project. The more joiners, the better for everyone.

  • Map

Every project has the ability to display a map based on the entire project, as well as by project groupings. By clicking on Manage myProjects, then on DNA Results, you’ll see options for both the results and a map, if the administrator has enabled both features.

mitochondrial DNA projects.png

Maps show the distribution of the earliest known ancestors of project members if they have provided that information and agreed to project sharing.

Mitochondrial DNA hap J map.png

My first map selection in the haplogroup J project, shown above, was for “All” meaning the entire project. There’s not much of a story here except that there’s lots of haplogroup J in Europe.

Mitochondrial DNA haplogroup J1c2f map.png

My second selection was for the group the administrator created for my own complete haplogroup, J1c2f. This map distribution, found primarily in Scandinavia is suggestive of a much more granular story.

Project maps are an important under-utilized resource.

  • Advanced matching and searching within projects

Mitochodrial DNA matching on your regular match page allows you to view your matches in the entire database or to filter by projects that you have joined.

Mitochondrial DNA project matches.png

When selecting a project view, I’m only shown matches who are members of projects that I have joined, shown above.

However, there’s another, more powerful matching tool.

The Advanced Matching Tool

Mitochondrial advanced matches

Utilizing the Advanced Matching tool, I have more options and can select to filter and match from a variety of tests, match types and features.

Mitochondrial DNA advanced matches.png

For example, I can select the level of mitochondrial DNA match I want to see, pair it with a Family Finder match, see only people who match me on both tests and who are in a specific project.

These are powerful combined tools.

How do you know if anyone else with your surname or interests have tested and if a project exists?

Does A Project Exist?

Without signing into your account, click here to go to the primary Family Tree DNA home page.

Scroll down. Keep scrolling….

You will eventually see this surname search box.

Mitochondrial DNA project search.png

Type the surname of interest into the box and press enter. I’ll use Estes for this example.

You will see three types of results:

  • The number of people with that exact surname that you typed, “Estes” in this case, that have tested – both male and female. In the first red box below, you can see that 320 people who currently have the surname of Estes have tested.
  • The surname projects that include that surname spelling in the project description. Looking at the second red box, you can see that the Estes project has 370 members and the Estis Jewish Ukraine project has 62. The Estis Jewish project administrator has included the spelling Estes in the project description which is why this project is listed under Estes surname Projects.
  • Other projects, in the green box, where the administrators have listed the surname Estes because their project might be of interest to some Estes descendants. This doesn’t mean that this project pertains to your Estes family – but it does mean you might want to click on the project and read the description.

Mitochondrial DNA projects by group.png

For example, here’s the North Carolina Early 1700s project description.

Mitochondrial DNA Early North Carolina

Click to enlarge

For all projects, you can see the administrators’ names at the bottom left, below the project links. You can click on their names to contact them with questions.

You can click on this page to join. If you click “Join” and have not purchased a kit, you will be prompted to do so. If you have already purchased a kit, you will be prompted to sign in at this point so that your kit can be joined to the project.

Project results are available for viewing through the links at the left.

The Early North Carolina project includes both Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA participants.

Project Grouping

Project administrators group participants in various ways, depending on the goals of the project. In this case, mitochondrial DNA results are grouped by haplogroup.

Mitochondrial DNA project display

Click to enlarge

Note that the first 2 people didn’t enter their earliest known ancestor, but the last 3 did. Results are so much more useful with ancestor information.

HVR1, HVR2 and Full Sequence

Project administrators have a lot of leeway about the purpose and goals of the project, the criteria to join, grouping (or not) and even whether the project has a public-facing results page, like the one shown above.

However, two things project administrators have NO CONTROL OVER at all are:

  • Whether your full name displays. It does NOT! A surname only may be displayed if the administrator selects that option.
  • Whether or not the coding region results are shown. That’s not an option and never has been at Family Tree DNA. Only HVR1 and HVR2 are shown, as shown above.

If, as project members, you grant administrators coding region view access so that they can properly group your results, there is no option for administrators to show coding region results on any web page.

Joining Projects from Your Personal Page

After signing on to your personal page at Family Tree DNA, to join or manage projects, click on myProjects at the top of your personal page.

Mitochondrial DNA myProjects.png

You will then see the following option.

Mitochondrial DNA join a project.png

Click on “Join a Project.”

At this point, you will see a list of projects. People interpret this to mean that Family Tree DNA is recommending these projects, but that’s not the case. The project administrators have listed your surname as a surname that is relevant to the project they are running. That’s why the project is displayed on the project list you see initially.

Here’s the list that I see.

Mitochondrial DNA project list.png

Of these projects, 2 are of interest, Estes and Cumberland Gap Y DNA, except that I don’t carry the Y chromosome. My mitochondrial DNA is not relevant, so unless the Cumberland Gap Y DNA project accepts people who don’t descend via the Y chromosome, only the Estes project is relevant to me.

The project with the purple star is new since the last time I looked. It may be relevant to me. I’ll need to read the project description to see.


Let’s say I’m interested in joining the Lore project, my mother’s mother’s surname. I want to search for projects that include Lore. I won’t see any initially, because my surname is not Lore.

Scrolling down below the initial project names shown above, I see a search box.

Mitochondrial DNA project search by surname.png

Typing Lore in the search box and clicking on “search” displays the following projects.

Mitochondrial DNA project join link.png

Both of these projects are relevant to me. My Lore great-grandfather is indeed Acadian.

Clicking on the link displays more information about the project. Clicking on the Join button joins you to the project, or, for projects that require a join request, takes you to the join request page.

Mitochondrial DNA join button.png

If the project requires a join request, be sure to read the project goals and state why the project is a good fit for you.

For example, if the project is the Mitochondrial Haplogroup B Project, and you’re a haplogroup H, the project is not a good fit for you.

Many projects include key words that make searching more effective. For example, to find the AcadianAmerindian project, simply type Acadian into the search box. Project administrators try their best to make the projects findable for people interested in that specific topic.

To find haplogroup projects and projects that don’t include a specific surname or key word, you’ll need to browse. Fortunately, projects are logically grouped.

Browsing Projects

By scrolling down below the search box, you’ll see the various project categories with projects listed alphabetically. The number beside the letter indicates the number of projects in that category.

Mitochondrial DNA project browse

Click to enlarge

  • Surname Projects are just what they say and you’ll find those using the search feature.
  • Y and Mitochondrial Geographical Projects are projects that aren’t surnames and aren’t haplogroups. In other words, they could be a geography like the Cumberland Gap or France, or they could be a group like Native American or Tuscarora.
  • Dual Geographical Projects include both Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA from a geography, BUT, these types of projects are extremely difficult to administer because someone may join because their Y DNA is from France, for example, but their mitochondrial DNA is from Africa. What happens is that unless the administrator actively suppressed the “wrong” DNA (from the project perspective) from showing, it looks for all the world like African mitochondrial DNA is appearing in France because both the Y and mitochondrial DNA of the tester shows in the results by default. If you’re thinking to yourself that suppressing “one little thing” should be easy, it’s not necessarily, especially not with thousands of participants in some projects. Not only that, it would require each person joining a project to communicate with the administrator and tell them which line is relevant to the project, Y, mitochondrial, or neither.
  • MtDNA and Y DNA Lineage Projects are similar to surname projects, but they track descendants of a specific ancestor. For example, I could start a project for my great-great-grandmother’s descendants and encourage them to join that project so we could communicate and research together.
  • Mitochondrial and Y DNA Haplogroup Projects are focused on a single haplogroup or subgroup. Some haplogroups have only one project, like Haplogroup J. Other haplogroups have a primary project plus several subgroup projects. Haplogroup H, which is very prevalent in Europe, has several subgroups.
Mitochondrial DNA project browse list

Click to enlarge

Haplogroup administrators as scientists and citizen scientists often study specific haplogroups to learn more about their history and through that, the history of the human species and our migrations.


If you joined a project by accident, changed your mind or discovered a project is no longer relevant, it’s easy to unjoin.

Mitochondrial DNA manage myProjects.png

Click on “Manage myProjects.”

Mitochondrial DNA unjoin.png

You’ll see each project that you have joined, along with two actions. A pencil to modify your membership and a trash can. To unjoin the project, just click the trash can.

Editing and Granting Administrator Access

Click on the pencil to edit.

You control the amount and level of access that administrators have to your results.

If you grant administrators Minimum Access, they can’t even see your matches to group you properly. I don’t recommend that level.

Here’s a summary of Group Administrator Access at the various levels.

Mitochondrial DNA admin access summary.pngMitochondrial DNA admin access summary 2.png

Please read the details on the Group Administrator Access Level and Permissions page in the Learning Center.

Mitochondrial DNA future admins.png

I generally allow all future administrators the same level of access. After all, I won’t be here one day to reauthorize and I want my DNA to work for both my ancestors and descendants forever.

Make your selections and then click on “Accept Project Preferences.” The system will then provide you with a summary of your selections.

Group Profile and Coding Region Sharing

You’ll need to decide if you’re going to share the Coding Region with the administrators, and if you’re going to share your results on the public webpage.

Both of those options can be found under your Account Settings, found under the little drop down beside your name in the far right hand corner of your personal page..

FamilyTreeDNA account settings.png

Under Account Settings, click on Project Preferences.

Mitochondrial DNA account settings

Click to enlarge

Next, you’ll see a list of the projects you have joined. Scroll beneath that to the Project Sharing section.

Mitochondrial DNA sharing

Click to enlarge

You’ll want to be sure that these selections reflect your wishes. If you DON’T allow sharing, your results won’t be included on the public web page. People often view projects to see if their ancestors are represented, so results in projects act as cousin bait.

The administrators need to be able to view your coding region mutations to group you accurately.


While you’re on the Account Settings page, take a look at the other tabs and make sure they reflect your desired options.

In particular, make sure on the Genealogy page to complete your surnames and your Earliest Known Ancestors and on the Account Information Page, your Beneficiary Information.

Your relatives and descendants will thank you!!!



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James Moore (c1720-c1798), Life on the Second Fork of Birches Creek, 52 Ancestors #250

We don’t know where James Moore was born, but as a young man, we probably find James Moore in 1743 in Amelia County as an influx of settlers opened the land for cultivation. By about 1745, James had married a daughter of Joseph Rice, possibly Mary.

James’s married life was spent in the part of Amelia County that became Prince Edward County. He purchased land and in 1766, when his father-in-law died, James inherited 100 acres of the land where Joseph Rice lived and where James was already living, according to the will.

In 1767, James is noted on the tax list with the land he had purchased as well as his inherited land. In 1769, James Moore, along with James Moore Junior and Charles Henderson are listed together on the tax list. Shortly thereafter in 1769, James Moore and his wife, Mary, pulled up stakes, sold thier land and moved on to the next frontier.

By this time, James was about 50 years old, so no spring chicken. If he was going to move and keep all his children with him in the new location, it was time. To wait much longer would have meant that some of his children would marry and not accompany him to the new land. James packed everyone and everything they owned into a wagon and set off for untold adventures on a new frontier, 71 miles distant.

Halifax County, Virginia

By 1770, James Moore had moved to Halifax County, Virginia, along with a great number of other Prince Edward County families. Perhaps it was the death of his father-in-law that motivated the move. Maybe James felt he could sell his land in Prince Edward and purchase more land for the same amount of money in Halifax County. Or perhaps his wife wasn’t resistant to moving after her father died, although her (presumed) mother, Rachel was still living at that time.

Rachel is only mentioned one more time. On the 1767 tax list, she is listed with John Rice. After that, nothing, so she may have died about this time too.

It’s likely that James originally migrated from the Hanover County region to Amelia County – at least that’s where Joseph Rice and many of the families who settled in Amelia County originated.

James Moore Prince Edward to Halifax.png

The second half of his journey took him on to the area of present-day Vernon Hill in Halifax County


The first thing James Moore did in Halifax County appears to have been to purchase land.

I created this table to attempt to track his land purchases and sales.

Date From or To Cost Acres Acres Running total
1770 From James Spradling, his grant 100# 238 238
1774 To Thomas Ward 15# -25 213
1774 To Joseph Dodson 60# -100 113
1778 To John Pankey -100 13
1780 To Charles Spradling 30# -100 -87
1780 From James Henry by William Ryburn POA 350# 400 313
1781 To John Pankey 2000# -30 283
1784 From James Henry (different books and witnesses – does not appear to be a duplicate) 400 683
1786 To Leonard Baker 10# -40 643
1786 Edmond Henderson -50 593
1787 William Hanes (Haynes) 15# -30 563
1798 William Moore 65# -200 363

Unfortunately, a reconciliation of the land purchased and sold by James Moore bears no resemblance to the tax lists of the era. The best I can figure is that someone else was paying the tax on some of the land.

To say that James’ land ownership is confusing is an understatement. Generally, when someone dies, their land is sold through probate, but apparently, not James. In 1798, James sells land to William, his son, and based on the transactions we have, James still owned 363 acres at that time.

In 1797, James disappeared from the personal tax lists, but his land remains. Did James leave at this point with his sons for East Tennessee? Did he tackle yet a third frontier at age 80?

There are two James Moores listed on the Grainger tax list in 1799, but our James would have been too old to be taxed, and his sons were not listed on that tax list.

Was his “last act” to sell land to his son, the Reverend William Moore, who had become somehow disabled?

James would have been roughly 80 years old. Did he die? If so, why was there no estate probated? He clearly still owned land, or, he transferred deeds that are not recorded.

Using the tax lists and not the land purchases/sales, James still owned between 120 and 50 acres of land. I can find no records of his land ever being sold. The deed was likely passed hand to hand and never registered until much later.

One thing we do know for sure, James was not on the qualified voter list of Halifax County in 1800, so he was assuredly dead or gone.

Tobacco is King

Why would James Moore have wanted so much land? It would have had to be cleared, a backbreaking prospect and he had to pay taxes on it whether it was cleared or not.

Virginia was a tobacco producing state. Tobacco depletes the nutrients in the soil quickly and new land has to be cleared for cultivation every 4 or 5 years, allowing the “old fields” to rest for two decades before they can be reused.

Brantley Henderson, born in 1884, a descendant of James Moore’s daughter Lydia, penned Only the Happy Memories, published in 1951. In the book, Brantley talks about tobacco farming in the 1880s and 1890s when he was young.

The methodologies hadn’t changed much in the 100 years since James Moore was cultivating his land on the second fork of Birches Creek.

As Brantley says, “There was always a lot of work to do.”

The hottest work I ever did was helping burn plantbeds. In those days, it would seem that farmers purposely did things the hard way. They literally cooked the plots of ground, usually about 50 by 50 feet, where tobacco plants were to be raised. The idea was that the fire would kill the seeds of both grass and weeds, but it took them a long time to learn that this didn’t happen.

A plot of ground with southern exposure was always selected. Across its highest end logs were stacked 6 feet high and 15 feet wide. Leaves, brush and lightwood knots were put under them and set afire. Two hours later the logs were pulled to uncooked ground. For moving them, we used poles 20 feet long which had iron hooks fastened to their ends. Always, it seemed, the wind blew the smoke, heat and sparks in our direction.

After the ground had been cooked, it was spaded, fertilized and raked. Then tobacco seeds were broadcast over its surface and the whole bed covered with cheesecloth. A few weeks later, our backs and arms grew weary from picking grass and weeds from around the tender tobacco plants.

James Moore Jamestown tobacco

Cultivation of Tobacco at James town, by Signed A.W. in lower left – Page 45 of A School History of the United States, from the Discovery of America to the Year 1878 (1878); from a digital scan from the Internet Archive, Public Domain,

The hardest job anyone had to do in the cultivation of tobacco was in planting it. The rows had previously been thrown up with turning plows and raked and pressed down with hoes into hills, 3 feet apart. After a soaking rain the backbreaking work began. Pa selected the plants and carefully put them in baskets. Blue Dick carried them from the beds to the fields. Colored girls walked along dropping the plants on the hills.

Using hand planters which were nothing more than lightwood knots with one of the ends trimmed to fit the palms of hands, and the other a sharp point, the drudgery began. The depths of the holes we made depended upon the size of the plants, for they had to be buried hear their buds. The stick was again plunged into the ground about an inch from the plants and the soil pressed gently against their roots. Our backs were bent from one end of the rows to the other.

Tobacco raising in those days was a never-ending job. After Christmas the cutting and log-rolling matches were held. The logs, brush and leaves were burned. Then the saplings and other underbrush were grubbed, thrown into piles and set afire. The ground was ready for the colter, but many of the roots were so thick the plow couldn’t break them and they had to be chopped with axes. Thousands of roots were removed this way and picked up with pitchforks or by hand and stacked and burned. Next came the turning plows which unearthed as many roots as had been destroyed before.

James Moore tobacco field.jpg

The tobacco curing barns were repaired, some received new roofs and others needed chinking and redaubing. The flues were removed and painted.

James Moore tobacco barn.jpg

The stocks over which cut tobacco was thrown, or on which pulled leaves were strung to dry, had to be replenished. About 50 cords of wood with which tobacco was cured was cut, split and hauled to the barns.

James Moore inside tobacco barn

By Wjkimmerle, William J Kimmerle – Own work, CC BY 3.0,

By then it was early spring and time for burning the plantbeds.

The old land on which tobacco was to be planted was turned, dragged, furrowed, and fertilized, thrown into rows and the hills clapped. While waiting for a rain before planting, we might have had a few days rest, but Pa always found something else for us to do.

Two weeks after it was planted, the young tobacco was plowed and worked with hoes. Before one field was finished the others needed the same thing. About this time worms tried to eat it up. Some of the old ones were 4 inches long and as thick as a cigar. Those fellows could hunch their backs and spit tobacco juice as far and accurately as the farmers who sat around the stove in Gus Mitchell’s store in the wintertime. And they would bite, too. We had to sneak upon them and grab the backs of their heads to squash them.

James Moore tobacco worm

By Daniel Schwen – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Both sides of each leaf had to be examined for small worms and eggs.

James Moore tobacco plants

By © Derek Ramsey /, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Before sprays were invented it was a constant fight between men and worms, and many times the worms won the battle. By this time, we had topped the plants and the confounded suckers began shooting out. They more than doubled the work and the sun was getting hotter. It was then I always said, “Pa, I wish to goodness I could die before tobacco planting time and stay dead until it’s in the barns.”

We struggled along chopping grass and weeds from the stalks, “laying it by,” suckering and killing worms. When the bottom leaves began turning yellow, we dropped sticks between the rows on which the tobacco was to be thrown when cut, and then turned to suckering and killing worms again.

Harvesting the crops began in August. Several colored girls and I stood between the rows holding the sticks. Using hook-like knives which Pa made from old saws, the men split the stalks, ran their fingers down the slits, cut the stalks near the ground and threw them on the sticks. When enough was cut to fill a barn, we began hauling it in. With the loaded wagon standing in front of the barn’s door, something like a relay race began as the sticks were passed from man to man. Three men were up in the barn, one above the other, their legs spread wide apart between two tiers, over which the tobacco was hung. As the barn filled from the top, one by one the men came down.

Wood was piled in the fireboxes and the curing process began. For 2 or 3 days, or until the tobacco had turned yellow, the temperature was kept at about 110 degrees and then gradually stepped up. To dry the stalks and stems thoroughly, the heat was carried up to 220 degrees and this usually took one week. Then the doors were opened and brush was laid on the dirt floor, feely sprinkled with water to make the air humid, which caused the leaves to become supple that they might be handled without shattering them, while being removed to the packing house

Tobacco was traditionally packed into hogsheads which were very large barrels, about 48 inches long and about 30 inches across at the top, wider in the middle as they were rolled down the roads to the docks, and weighing about 1000 pounds each.

James Moore hogshead.jpg

We know that hogsheads were still in use about 1900, as illustrated by this postcard.

James Moore tobacco warehouse.png

Back to Brantley:

This job was repeated week after week until all of the tobacco was been taken from the fields and cured. Were we through with the stuff then? Not by a jugful.

If a heavy rain didn’t soften the tobacco, we had to haul it from the packing house to the ordering cellar put it on tiers again and sprinkle water on the red dirt floor. When it was “in order,” it was relayed to the sorting room above and stacked in piles.

One of us removed the stalks of tobacco from the sticks and laid them on the floor by the side of Pa, who sat in a chair in the middle of the room. He pulled the leaves from the stalks and sorted them according to quality. Usually there were from 6 to 8 grades. Bubba and a man tied the best leaves, and my job was to bundle the cheapest, which were called lugs.

Before the whole crop was harvested, cured and sold, it was Christmas again.

But we had fun around the tobacco barns during the curing seasons. Their roaring fires gave off comforting warmth to hands and feet when the fall nights were zippy and they lighted the road for play and, bless the Lord, it scared the hants (ghosts) away. Every boy in the community who could count on having a man walk home with him at bedtime was there for play and to eat watermelons, roasted corn and “sweet taters.” Bubba (Brantley’s brother) and I owned a white and liver-colored pointed dog. One of us would blindfold him and another boy would rub his breeches leg against the dogs nose, run down the road, climb a tree and yell. Fido was turned loose. He would pick up the boy’s trail and baying like a foxhound, follow the boy’s exact course and tree him. This type of fun sounds tame to a much older ear, but we youngsters found delight in the simple things of life in those far-off days.

And so it was. Life in the days of James Moore in Halifax County. I took the pictures of the following barns on or near James’ land when I visited, many of which may have dated to the time when James Moore lived.

Henderson Trail

What is now Henderson Trail in Halifax County was once James Moore’s land. Today, using Google Street View, we can see the historic structures on James’ land, some of which may well have been there when James lived.

James Moore Henderson Trail historic structure.png

James Moore Henderson Trail.png

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James Moore Henderson Trail barn.png

Wouldn’t it be amazing if one of these actually WAS James’ barn?

Brantley’s recollections and these photos give us perspective about James life as a tobacco farmer, while the tax lists tell us about the land he owned, the number of horses, which were critical for farming, and the number of cows.

Unlike many plantation owners, James Moore never owned slaves, so the farm work would have fallen entirely to his family members and like-minded neighbors who may have helped each other with farm chores. The challenge, of course, was that everyone’s tobacco needed the same attention at the same time, so the only “spare hands” were perhaps laborers that could be hired from elsewhere.

Halifax Tax Lists

Most early Halifax tax lists no longer exist.

James is listed first in Halifax County on the 1782 tax list with 6 total white souls and 120 acres noted in the “alterations” (meaning changes from previous) category of the tax list.

This tells us that he has 4 children remaining at home. In 1782, James Moore would have been between 61 and 64 years of age. Several of his children would or should be married already and we know if fact that some were.

James Moore shows on the tax list in 1783 through 1787 with no acreage but in 1787 it looks like a James Jr. has 70 acres (but the Jr. could be Sr.) In 1788 James does have 120 acres, and in 1788 James Sr. is noted with 170 acres (or maybe the 7 is really a 2). In 1790 James is shown with 120 and has 120 every year until 1795 where it drops to 50.

James continues to show on the tax list through 1796, all years exempt beginning in 1788, and then he disappears from the personal tax list in 1797, but his 50 acres is still listed on the land tax list through 1814, after which it too is gone. In 1812 James Moore’s 50 acres is shown on Grassy Creek, so this may not be the right land or the right guy.

In 1806, a James Moore appears again on the personal tax list through 1822. This is not the same person as he is not exempt. This James is likely the son of William, would have been born in 1785 if he were 21 in 1806. He may have been living on and farming the land of James Sr. next to his father William.

Did “our” James Sr., father of Mackness Moore and Rice Moore move to Tennessee with Mackness and Rice in about 1797 or 1798? We know that son James Moore moved to Surry County, NC probably around 1770, but assuredly before 1791.

In 1783, a James Jr. appears with 30 acres but is not shown with land again. He is shown on the personal tax list in 1791, then from 1813-1829, then gone. It is unlikely that this is all the same person with all the gaps. However, we are safe to note that there is a James Jr. in 1783, so if this is James’ son, he would have been born in 1762 or before, meaning that his father would have to have been born in 1741 or before. We previously found James Jr. on the tax list with James Sr. in Prince Edward Co., in 1767, I’d guess that James Jr. is the eldest son.

Mackness Moore is listed as Mackerness in at least one year – and is on the tax list from 1788-1795. He is taxed with 100 acres of land in 1798 and owns it though 1800 even though he disappears from the personal tax list in 1794. His land is sold by 1800.

Rice Moore appears on the tax list in 1788 and eventually moved to the North part of the County where he is last taxed in 1792 before he leaves with his brother for Tennessee. He never owned land.

There is also a Thomas Moore on Birches Creek in 1783, 1792, 1798, 1799, 1800, 1811 and 1812. We have no more info on Thomas because he did not own land. I strongly suspect that the 1798-1800 Thomas is Thomas the father of orphans, Rawley and William. The 1783 and 1792 Thomas’s are indeterminate, but they could be a son of James or someone else entirely.

Let’s look at the Halifax County records involving James Moore.

James Moore in the Halifax Records

In 1770, James Moore purchased 238 acres from James Spradling on the second fork of Birches Creek, where the “said Moore now lives.” Witnesses George Brown (?), Sam Slate and George Stubblefield.

In 1773, James Moore filed suit against John Dalton, but the case was dismissed.

On March 11, of 1774, James Moore of Halifax sold land to Thomas Ward of Halifax County for 15#, 25 acres adjoining Thomas Ward, James Henry, Esq on the North side Thomas Ward’s plantation, meanders to the second fork of Burches Creek, signed James (M) Moore and witnesses James Thompson, Joseph Ferguson and Henry McDaniel. James’s wife Mary relinquishes dower. Recorded October 20, 1774

We know assuredly by 1774 that James Moore’s wife’s name was Mary. What we don’t know is whether or not Mary in 1774 was the same Mary Rice that was mentioned in Joseph’s Rice’s 1766 will, and if so, why he called his daughter by her birth name and not her married name.

On October 20th of the same year, James Moore and Mary, his wife, sold land to Joseph Dodson for 60#, one tract of about 100 acres bounded by the low grounds of the creek in James Spradling lines, James Henry, and the Tan Trough branch. Witness William Moore, James (O.) (is this a mark or an initial?) Moore Jr., Susannah (+) Moore, signed James (M) Moore and Mary (+) Moore. Mary Moore relinquished her dower.

The Ward and Dodson deeds were registered the same day. It was a long way to the courthouse. James and crew probably made that journey on court day, which was the best public entertainment to be had.

According to Brantley Henderson, “country people would crowd the courthouse grounds on “Courthouse Day,” where horse traders would try to swap worthless plugs to unsuspecting farmers for their good old nags and $100 to boot.”

In 1774, James Moore served as a witness in the suit Hancock vs Spradling where John Hancock was an assignee of James Spradling and paid James Moore 125# in tobacco for being a witness. This was typical and ordered by the court.

In 1776, James Moore witnessed a deed that I found quite interesting

James Henry of Accomack County to James Spradling of Halifax for and in consideration of the rents and covenants to be performed grants Spradling one certain tract of land in Halifax on the 2nd fork of Burches Creek bounded by a corner of James Moor’s plantation where he now lives, a corner of the said Henry’s order of Council land which he purchased of Col. Thomas Parremore of Accomack County near the road that leads from the said Henry’s Mill on the Sandy Creek to Fontaines Old Houses. To have and hold for the term of 21 years paying annual rent of the quitrent for the 1st 7 years, 30 shillings per years for the next 7 years, and for the last 7 years, the yearly rent of 3 # and the quitrents for the whole term. Spradling agrees to build a good, square, log dwelling house, shingled with heart of pine shingles put in with nails, the house to be 20′ by 16′ with a good plank floor overhead and barn 30′ by 20′ built in the same manner, to plant and raise 200 apple trees of good grafted fruit and 500 peach trees within the 1st 7 years and to leave the plantation in good tenantable repair at the expiration of the term. If the rent is ever behind and unpaid for 6 months, and no distress to be had on the premises, it shall he lawful for Henry to enter upon the premises and this lease to cease and be void for the future. Signed William Ryburn for James Henry. Witness Samuel Slate, John (mark I with top middle and bottom cross) Spradling, Chas (+) Spradling.  Recorded November 21, 1776

The building that Spradling is supposed to build is probably very characteristic of the homes of the settlers of that era. 20 x 16. The size of my living room and an entire, large, family would have lived in that “good, square, log dwelling house” with its pine shingles put in with nails.

Even more ironic, the barn was almost twice as wide as the house.

Apple and peach trees. Entire orchards to be planted. I wonder if any are left today.

Spradling would have vacated this land in 1797 according to these terms.

Of course, the Revolutionary War was beginning about this time, and in the pension application file of one James Spradling, born in 1750, who enlisted in February 1776 for 3 years, we find that Mackness Moore gave testimony that he knew James in Virginia and that James Spradling lived with his father for two years prior to enlisting. Therefore, James Spradling would have lived in the James Moore household in 1774 and 1775. James Spradling eventually moved to Claiborne County, Tennessee, in close proximity to Mackness and Rice Moore and other members of the Moore family.

Why was James Spradling living with James Moore? Did James Moore simply need an additional farm hand, or was there more? Were they related? Is this James Spradling the son of the James Spradling that James Moore bought land from in 1770? James Moore knew the Spradlings in Prince Edward County.

In 1778, James Moore of Halifax sold to John Pankey of Halifax 100 acres on both sides of the branches of Birches Creek, mouth of the Tantroff Branch, Col. Hanries line, Barbery Branch. Signed James (M his mark) Moore, Witneses Joseph Dodson, Charles (C) Spradling, Edward (8) Henderson, William More. Recorded November 19, 1778.  Mary the wife of said James Moore voluntarily relinquished her right of dower.

Mary apparently died between 1778 and 1781, given that she does not relinquish dower in 1781 or on land sales thereafter.

In 1780, James Henry of King and Queen County sells to James Moore of Halifax for 350# about 400 acres on one fork of Birches Creek, crossing the creek and bounded by a branch inside Henry’s order line. Signed William Ryburn for James Henry. Witnesses James (+) Moore Jr., William Moore, Edward (+) Henderson. Recorded October 19, 1780

Also in 1780, James Moore with his M mark witnesses the sale of 13 acres of land from Charles Spradling to John Pankey on the north side of Birches Creek. William Moore and Edward Henderson (+) were also witnesses.

In 1781, James Moore sold to John Pankey for 2000# about 30 acres on the second fork of Birches creek. Signed James (M) More – witnesses William Parker, Charles Crenshaw, Jonathan Colquitt. Recorded September 20, 1781

James also witnessed the land sale from Stephen Pankey to William Walton for 100 acres on the second fork of Birches Creek, along with John Pankey and Jonathan Colquit.

In 1782, James had 6 white and no black souls and paid one tithe.

1783 provides us with our first road hands list.

John Pankey surveyor from Walton’s Mill path to the county line, tithes John Sloane?, James Ferguson, Hugh Ferguson, Thomas Jeffress, Lewis Halay, Benjamin Halay, Daniel Trammell, Thomas Trammell, Richard Lamkin, Richard Thompson, William Yates, Jesse Spradling, Isaac Farguson, John Farguson, Nimrod Farguson, Charles Spradling, Mack (Mackness) Moore, Rich (probably Rice) Moore, William Moore, Thomas Williamson Jr and Sr, Edward Henderson, William Pankey, Nathan Sullins, John Mullins, William Ashlock, James Moore, Bartholomew Harris, Benjamin Edwards, William Edwards, Thomas Dodson Jr. and Sr., George Dodson, Robert, Mathis, John Tolles, Martin Palmer and William Walton.

Every property owner was required by law to contribute one day per year for road upkeep. The roads at that time, according again to Brantley Henderson, were “old, winding muddy roads.” While the farmers did travel in their wagons to the tobacco warehouses, they did not journey far beyond the neighborhood, to the point that Brantley had never journeyed the 15 miles to Vernon Hills to visit the old Henderson lands, cousins or cemeteries. “Only urgent business would take one so far from home.”

Brantley wrote of the roads, “With few exceptions, the tobacco wagons were drawn by 4 horses – an even dozen were really needed. What could rightly be called a road wasn’t in existence. The word “trail” would do honor to their memory. Little effort was made to grade and drain them and there were no bridges over the swamps and creeks. In fact, few of the rivers were bridged. The larger ones were crossed by ferry.

The one day required yearly road maintenance was “confined to the worst mudholes in each area. If possible, with picks, hand shovels and plows, ditches were dug to drain off water, then the holes were filled with loose dirt. Until a dry spell came to bake the dirt, the mudhole was worse than before.”

The 1783 tax list also tells us that James Moore owned 3 horses, 8 cows and was living beside William Moore.

In 1784, James Henry of King and Queen County sold to James Moore (with William Ryburn power of attorney) 400 acres on Birches Creek, John Pankey’s line, Nathan Sullins. Witnesses John Poindexter, Howard Henderson, William Walter.

In 1786, James Moore’s son, Rice Moore married Elizabeth Madison whose father was Roger Madison.

On the 1786 tax list, James Moore has 2 horses and 8 cows.

In 1786, James Moore sells to Edward Henderson about 50 acres on the second fork of Birches Creek bounded by Old Fields Branch, lines of James Henry, William Mors, and Nathan Sullings, witnesses Mackness Moore, William More and John Poindexter – James More signs with (M) mark. Deed dated July 13, 1786 and recorded October 19, 1786

Edward Henderson married James Moore’s daughter, Lydia. This land began the Henderson family legacy in Halifax County which remains today.

In 1786, James Moore sold 40 acres on Birches Creek to Leonard Baker.

James was also appointed surveyor of the road from the Double Branch to the Pittsylvania County line.

In the suit, Wimbush and Neale versus James Moore, a judgement was rendered.

On February 23, 1787, James Moore sells to William Hanes (both of Halifax) for 15#, 30 acres on the second fork of Birches Creek, John Poindexter line, witnesses Rice Moore, Charles Spradling and John Poindexter. James Moore makes his mark as M, Rice signs, recorded July 19, 1787.

In Brantley Henderson’s book, he mentions that winters in the “old days” were quite harsh in Halifax County. Blankets of snow would fall 6 inches deep, and the families would harvest ice 15 inches thick, storing it in the back yard in an ice pit lined with pine boards. That might well have been a later invention, but the winters probably precluded filing deeds in February.

The 1787 tax list shows James Moore with 70 acres and the 1788 tax list, with 120 acres.

In 1788, James Moore petitions the court for “reasons appearing is exempt from county levies.” It kills me that they didn’t say why. If he is age 70, then he was born in 1718.

The 1788 tax list shows him as James Moore, Sr. with 2 horses and 170 acres. It’s possible that the 7 was really a 2.

In October of 1788, Sally Moore married Martin Stubblefield. James Moore is noted as the father, with James Rice as surety and John Atkinson as the minister. James Rice may be the son of Matthew, a great-uncle to Sally Moore.

In February of 1789, Mary Moore married Richard Thompson with Edward Henderson as surety. The Reverend William Moore, her brother, performed the nuptials.

A month later, On March 10th of 1789, Manness (Mackness) Moore married Sally Thompson, with Richard Mays? as surety.

In 1790 and 1791, James Moore is shown with 120 acres and in 1791, he’s exempt.

In 1791, William Haynes sells the 30 acres of land he purchased from James Moore to Reche McGreggor bounded by Spradling’s old line, James Moore, Col. Henry.

In 1792, James Moore has 1 white poll, 1 horse and 120 acres.

In 1793, James has 120 acres and is exempt.

In 1794, Edward Henderson sold to Isaac Bare (Barr) for 30 # about 50 acres in the waters of Burches Creek and bounded by the Old Field Branch to James Henry’s line, William Moore’s line. Signed Edward Henderson. Witnesses – William Moore, Lucey Moore, James Moore. Recorded July 28, 1794

This is interesting because there is no mention of James signing with a mark, but every other signature of James is shown with a mark. This James could have been his son or William Moore’s son, James.

Lucy Moore could have been either William Moore’s wife or daughter.

In 1794 through 1797, James is shown with 50 acres and exempt.

In 1795, 1796 and 1797, there are suits against James Moore, but I can’t tell if it’s our James Moore or another.

In 1795, one James Moore signed a petition to sell the glebe land of the Anglican church. I’m not sure if this is our James Moore, or the son of William Moore, but given that this signature is on the same page as Mackness Moore, Thomas Moore and the Barr gentleman, it’s certain the same family if not our James.

James Moore glebe land.png

In 1798, James Moore sells to William Moore 200 acres for 65# on the second fork of Birches Creek, Isac Barrs line, David Wilson, John Huddleston, Bare Branch, Little Branch, signed with the M mark, wit William Walton, Thomas Moore, Elizabeth Walton, Edward C. Henderson (also see following entry)

This Thomas Moore is either the son of James Moore or William Moore.

On the 1798 through 1805 tax list, James is still listed with the 50 acres, but the listing for personal tax is blank. If someone is exempt, they are still listed with the explanation, “exempt.”

James would have been age 80-83 by this time, and generally, the missing personal property tax would be interpreted to mean that James had died. However, given that his land remains on the list, combined with the fact that his sons left for Grainger about this same time, could cause one to wonder if James went to Grainger County in spite of his advanced age.

One final lawsuit in 1798 is James Moore versus Charles Dupreast for an attachment against defendant. William Thomas, garnishee, says he has nothing. Again, I don’t know if this is the correct James Moore.

By 1799, Mackness Moore is living in Grainger County, Tennessee. Rice Moore went with him, although it’s unknown if this was at the same time. Rice, a Methodist minister, was in East Tennessee by 1797.

In 1806 through 1811, the 50 acres remains on the Halifax County tax list when a James Moore once again emerges on the personal property tax list with 1 white poll and nothing else.

In 1812 and 1813, James Moore is shown with 50 acres, but it’s listed on Grassy Creek which would not be the correct James Moore.

Beginning in 1798, James life fades to gray, then black.

We simply don’t know what happened, or more precisely, when the inevitable happened.

James Moore’s Land in Halifax County

James bought and sold land in Halifax County. Using DeedMapper, we have the plots of James Spradling’s two land grants, as well as that of the land James sold to William Moore.

I wrote about those in detail in the article about Lucy Moore.

In 2008, I visited Halifax County and cousin Olen was gracious enough to take me to visit the Henderson cemeteries. Yes, there are two. The original cemetery on James Moore’s land is in the woods on the land he owned, now owned by the Henderson family. The second, younger cemetery is on Henderson land that may well have been some of James’s original land as well.

While the Moore family moved on or died out in Halifax County, for the most part, the Hendersons stayed and thrived, still owning much of that land today.

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Come along with cousin Olen and me as we take you with us to visit the now Henderson, then Moore, cemetery located down the 2-track known as Henderson Trail.

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This is stunning, breathtaking country. That’s the Blue Ridge in the distance.

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Looking around.

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Drinking it in. James walked here for the last quarter century of his life.

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This road still beckons to me all these year later.

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Definitely on James land now.

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Those branches of Birches Creek provide ponds.

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Getting close to the woods where the cemetery is located.

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In that clump of trees. I’m excited – we’re getting close now!

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It’s early spring – the underbrush is too heavy later.

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Fresh spring-green leaves just budding. Shall we find our way inside?

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Periwinkle, the perennial favorite in all cemeteries in the south.

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The dainty white flowers are so graceful and beautiful.

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The periwinkle gives the cemetery location away with the field stones marking the final resting place of ancestors and family members, nestled in the periwinkle.

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“I’m here, I’m here…,” they call.

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“Did you come to find me?”

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This stone looks like a stick, but it’s a stone stood sideways. Perhaps a name was originally scratched on the surface, but there is nothing now.

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Trees have grown around the graves in the decades since burial, because graves could not have been dug with the roots.

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This is not a small cemetery. I’m sure there are graves everyplace.

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I know beyond a doubt that James Moore is here, along with wife Mary, son William and his wife, Lucy. Edward Henderson and wife Lydia Moore would be buried here too. Probably several of thier respective children too.

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More fieldstones as we walk around.

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I wonder if this larger stone marks James’ grave, along with the yucca plants. It looks like this grave has been better maintained than some of the others. Someone loved this person.

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William Moore’s unmarried daughters are probably buried here too, as is Thomas Moore, son or grandson of James who died in 1801.

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Wait, I see a stone with a name!

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J. Henry Midkiff, a farm laborer, married Susanna Henderson, daughter of William Henderson and Piety Jones. I’m sure that Susanna rests here as well, beside her siblings, parents, grandparents John Edward Henderson and Sarah Clark, her great-grandparents Edward Henderson and Lydia Moore and her great-great-grandparents, James Moore and Mary Rice.

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S. K. Henderson is Sarah K. Henderson whose parents were Richard Clark Henderson and Carolyn Firesheetz. Richard’s parents were John Edward Henderson and Sarah Clark. John’s parents were…you guessed it…Edward Henderson and Lydia Moore.

Sarah was five generations removed from James Moore and that was in 1845. Today Sarah’s descendants are probably 10 generations or more removed.

S. K. Henderson was married to her first cousin C. N. Henderson.

James Moore cemetery 16.jpg

C. N. Henderson is Charles N. Henderson, the son of William Henderson and Piety Jones. William’s parents were John Edward Henderson and Sarah Clark.

Henderson Cemetery

Olen knew of a second Henderson Cemetery too, a little further down Oak Level Road, south of Henderson Trail.

This Henderson Cemetery has been indexed. The older cemetery, above, has not and is not included on Find-A-Grave either.

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The oldest grave here is Richard Clark Henderson who served in the Civil War. He married Nancy Satterfield as his third wife. Richard’s father was John Edward Henderson and his mother was Sarah Clark.

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This Henderson Cemetery is located across from the Oak Level Fire department, as shown on the map that Olen provided, above.

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Today, using Google maps.

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Approaching the cemetery.

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I photographed every stone I could find.

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Lots of Yucca here, although is cemetery is a field, not in the woods.

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Richard Clark Henderson was the son of John Henderson and Sarah Clark. Sarah was the daughter of William Clark and Elizabeth Younger, who was the daughter of Marcus Younger and Susanna whose last name is unknown.

This means that my DNA matches through this branch of the Henderson family could come through the Moore line or through the Younger line. Of course, with colonial Virginia in play, they could also come via other unknown lines as well.

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Olen is related to the people in this cemetery. The Younger family married into the Hendersons as well as into the Estes family. John R. Estes married Nancy Ann Moore. I’ve always wondered how these people met, because they did not live in close proximity to each other, with the Youngers on the Banister River and the Estes family in South Boston. I believe the connection was the early Methodist religion.

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Nancy Henderson

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This cemetery was fenced a dozen years ago, but not mowed.

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I took the photos above, myself, but part of James Moore’s land is for sale today, and you can see more pictures at this link.

Tradition of Methodist Ministers

James Moore and his Rice wife, whether it was Mary or one of her sisters, had several children who migrated to Grainger County, as mentioned in the Holston Methodistism reproduced in Distant Crossroads (Hawkins County, TN) in 2003.

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The County Line Meeting House was on the north side of the Holston River on the line between Hawkins and Jefferson (now Grainger) counties and was mentioned in the formation of Grainger County.

I visited and took the photo, above, where I was told that the Meeting House used to be, in front of what is now called the Coldwell Cemetery.

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There are lots of Stubblefields, Dodsons and McAnally’s buried here.

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Moore’s Chapel Road is very close by, but no one in the neighborhood knew where the actual Chapel used to be.

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It’s a beautiful, old cemetery, and several of James Moore’s descendants are likely buried here.

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Ironically, the address is Mooresburg.

However, I have since discovered that indeed, this is NOT the County Line Cemetery nor where the County Line Church was located. In fact, the County Line Cemetery is now an abandoned cemetery adjacent the Meeks Cemetery on old County Line Road.

James Moore County Line church.png

According to locals, the old Church and homesteads are now under Cherokee Lake.

One word of caution for researchers is that several Moore lines settled in Grainger County and only Y DNA has been able to sort them out.

According to the Distant Crossroads article once again:

About the year 1792 a company of emigrants from Virginia settled here and between 1792 and 1795 organized a society. Among the original members were Martin Stubblefield and wife Sallie, Richard Thomson and wife Mary, Rice Moore and wife, John Henry Brown, Edward Rice, Amos Howell, Charles McAnally, Bsil Guess and John McAnally and wife, some of whom lived in Hawkins County. These men were all able exhorters.

Mr. Moore afterwards became an able and useful local preacher. Their wives also “(s)elect ladies” as they were labored in the cause of the gospel. Prayer and class meetings were kept up regularly from house to house. Sometimes it would happen that the men were absent holding meetings in other neighborhoods. In that event Mrs. Sallie Stubblefield would lead the meeting and would often deliver an exhortation. She was able in prayer and exhortation. These families have been represented in the ministry to the present day. Vol 1 page 136.

The Western Conference met at Chillicothe, Ohio Sept. 14, 1807. Bishop Asbury presided. A ride of 360 miles after leaving Chillicothe brought Asbury to Martin Stubblefield’s Oct 12th. There, weary as he was, he preached at night and felt powerfully disposed to sing and shout as loud as the youngest. Page 81 Volume 11

Bishop Asbury in passing through East Tennessee was accustomed to visit the Stubblefield’s at County Line. Martin Stubblefield was a favorite stopping place of his. At County Line there were 3 brothers, Thomas, Joseph and Martin Stubblefield.

Martin Stubblefield at an early day removed himself to Ohio, driving the team himself. In Cincinnati the team became frightened and ran away and killed him and he was buried there.

Not mentioned in the above article is that William Moore’s daughter, Nancy Ann who married John R. Estes had also arrived by 1820. Lemuel, probable son of James also settled here before moving on to Kentucky.

James Moore’s Children

I’ve assembled James’ proven and probable children with birthdates estimated from marriages and other legal documents where a minimum required age is known:

  • James Moore, born about 1746, possibly as late as 1753, is noted as taxable with James Sr. in 1767 in Prince Edward Co. James was originally believed to have gone to East Tennessee with the other Moore men, as several James were found there, but DNA testing suggests otherwise. One James Moore whose descendant’s Y DNA matches our line is found in Stokes County, NC by 1791 and is believed to have been there earlier, having married Susanna Jones in about 1770. A James Moore Jr. witnessed a deed with a Susanna Moore in Halifax County for his father, James, in 1774. James Moore died in DeKalb County, Tennessee on March 3, 1831 and Susanna died there on July 27, 1825 according to the family Bible. They named their children Eunice, Zachariah, Thomas, Massy, Nancy and Sarah Jane.
  • Lydia, wife of Edward Henderson, is almost unquestionably a Moore. Edward Henderson has a lifelong relationship with the Moore family and owns land which is sold to him by James, abutting both James and William Moore’s land. Edward and Lydia name a child Rice Henderson. Edward Henderson was born about 1746 and died in 1833 in Halifax County. It’s likely that Lydia was about the same age. James sold land to Edward in 1787 but Edward was witnessing land transactions for James as early as 1778. Their earliest known child, James Henderson was born about 1775. Other children were named Sally, Peggy, Oney, John, Rice, Edward and Mary. Edward served twice in the Revolutionary War. I have DNA matches with people who descend from this line.
  • The Reverend William Moore born probably about 1750 married Lucy whose surname is unknown about 1772, likely in Halifax County, but there is no marriage record. William was a very early Methodist minister, ordained by 1775, eventually breaking with the Methodist church and was instrumental in forming the Christian Church which survives yet today in Halifax County. He died in Halifax County in 1826.
  • Thomas Moore, born 1761 or before is believed to be a son of James Moore. He is found on the tax list beginning in 1783 but only sporadically. A Thomas is found in 1792, 1798, 1799 and 1800. The Thomas in the 1790s is likely the Thomas who married Polly Baker in 1798 and by 1801 had left two orphan boys, Raleigh and William. The Thomas in 1783 is too old to be the son of William Moore and may be unrelated. The Thomas Moore from the 1790s may be the son of William, not the son of James Moore. Y and autosomal DNA testing has confirmed the connection.
  • The Reverend Rice Moore, born in 1762 or before, married Elizabeth Madison in 1776, moved to Greene County Tennessee by 1797, was in Hawkins the portion that became Grainger County, Tennessee before 1800 and died in 1834. Like his brother William he was a Methodist minister. He named children Elizabeth, Mary, Nancy, William and John B. Moore.
  • Mackness Moore, born 1765 or earlier, married Sarah Thompson in 1789, and died after October 1844 when he wrote his will and before May 19, 1849 in Grainger Co., TN. Rice and Mackness both left Halifax County before 1800. Mackness named children Mastin, John, Elizabeth, James, Samuel, Sarah, Sally and Richard.
  • Sally (Sarah) Moore was born about 1767 and married Martin Stubblefield in October 1788 with James Rice as surety. This family also migrated to Grainger Co., TN, naming their children Nancy, Rebecca, James, Mary, Elizabeth Ann and Robert Wesley.
  • Mary Moore, probably born before 1769 was married to Richard Thompson in February 1789 by the Rev. William Moore with Edward Henderson as surety. The Richard Thompson family is in Grainger Co. with the other Moore siblings. Their children were named Mary, William, James, John and Frances.
  • Lemuel Moore, born before 1777 is thought to be the son of James Moore. Lemuel Moore is found in 1797 in Greene County, TN beside Rice Moore. One Lemuel Moore is found on the tax list in Halifax County in 1801, but not in the following years. Lemuel Moore married Anna Stubblefield in 1804 in Grainger County and died in 1859 in Laurel County, Kentucky. I have several DNA matches with descendants of this couple.

Another Lemuel Moore is found in Halifax County in 1812 on the tax list, still there when an 1825 debt suit is filed against him, but is found in 1830 in Grainger County. I believe the elder Lemuel is the son of James Moore and the one found in Halifax County between 1812-1825 is probably the son of William Moore. Lemuel is sometimes spelled Samuel.

I found a document in the chancery files where on November 2, 1812 where George Estes, his son John R. Estes (who married Nancy Ann Moore, daughter of William Moore) and Lemuel Moore (proposed brother of Nancy Ann) all 3 signed a deposition in a lawsuit pertaining to Phoebe Combs, related to John R. Estes. This is highly suggestive that the Lemuel in 1812 is the son of William Moore, and the Lemuel who left Halifax County before 1800 is the son of James Moore.


Based on the associations of James Moore with his neighbors, and his marriage into the Joseph Rice family, I was pretty well convinced that our Moore line was English. I might have been wrong.

Now, there’s the matter of a pesky Y DNA match to a man who claims his paternal line is from Scotland. He hasn’t answered e-mails yet, but I’m still hoping.

There were Moore families involved with the Cub Creek settlement which was Scotch-Irish, but James, to the best of my knowledge, doesn’t seem to be associated with that group. However, the dissenting meeting house built in 1759 by his father-in-law clearly wasn’t Anglican. Baptists have no concentrated history in the county that early and neither do Methodists. That leaves Presbyterians.

  • Is the new Y DNA match wrong about his