About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.

Your Mitochondrial DNA Journey – Free New Video at Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA released a cool new video for everyone who has taken the full sequence mitochondrial DNA test.

I signed in today and discovered this nice little gift.

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I clicked, and the first thing you do is to answer a few questions to generate your video.

After selecting a drawing of an avatar, you’ll move on to a couple of questions. Note that you cannot change your answers, so if you eventually want to share on social media, be sure the names and location is something you’ll be comfortable with.

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After you click submit, your video takes a few minutes to generate.

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You’ll receive an e-mail when the video is ready.

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Now, just click on the very same link on your account.

mtDNA journey link

My video was 4 minutes+ in length and began by showing me how mitochondrial DNA is inherited.

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Next, the video explains the concept of our ancestor, Mitochondrial Eve.

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I must say, the speech is synthetic, and I chuckled every time I heard it say mitochondrial.

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The video does a good job of describing the concept of a haplogroup, then proceeds to explain your base haplogroup – J in my case.

mtDNA journey haplogroup source.png

Next, your specific haplogroup, J1c2f for me, and where it’s found in the world.

mtDNA journey haplogroup specific.png

Hapogroup frequency is shown as well as the range, on a map.

mtDNA journey haplogroup range.png

One cool stop on your journey is your relationship to a notable figure, even if it’s distant.

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King Richard III, whose skeleton was found under a parking lot, also descends from haplogroup J. Who knew!!!

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The video provides some quick examples of how to understand your matches and explains mutations. My Swedish matches were really unexpected, given that my ancestor was found in Germany. There’s a story there waiting to be told!

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Next, the video encourages people to sign in to view their matches when they receive match notification e-mails. Each match holds the promise of a new discovery.

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Last, you have an option to share your video with family and friends on social media.

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Here I am on Facebook.

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Pretty cool.

The Great Thing About Mitochondrial DNA

The great thing about mitochondrial DNA is that results apply to several people in your family. You, your siblings, your mother and your mother’s siblings all share your maternal grandmother’s mitochondrial DNA – so the information is something that pertains to lots of people – not just you. Unlike autosomal tests, one of you can take a mitochondrial DNA test to represent everyone, so it’s a great value.

  • If you have taken the full sequence mitochondrial DNA test, just click here to sign in and generate your video.
  • If you’ve taken the HVR1 or HVR2 lower resolution test, you can upgrade to the full sequence by clicking on the upgrade button in your account and you’ll receive your video automatically when your full sequence results are ready.
  • If you haven’t yet tested your mitochondrial DNA, it’s the story of your matrilineal line – and it’s a great time to order your mitochondrial DNA test. Mine held surprises I’d never have guessed. Just recently I matched someone from the neighboring village to where my oldest known ancestor in that line lived in Germany in the 1600s. Her genealogy may help identify my ancestors too.

Click here to order.



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

Keynoting THE Genealogy Show 2020 – Birmingham, England

The secret is out!

I’m one of four keynote speakers at THE Genealogy Show in Birmingham, England which takes place on Friday, June 26th and Saturday, June 27th, 2020.

The Genealogy Show Roberta Estes keynote 2020.png

2019 was the first year for this show, and it was wildly successful. I’m honored to be asked to keynote in 2020, and I have surprises up my sleeve!

I hope that you’ll be able to attend. Check out their website here and watch THE Genealogy Show’s Facebook page for announcements and great genealogy postings.

So far, two of four keynotes have been announced, the other being Maureen Taylor.

Genealogical Tourism

If you’re from the UK, then this is your stomping ground, but if you’re not from the UK, then this show might just be a great opportunity to combine a great conference with some genealogical tourism.

  • When I was in England before, I didn’t realize that I was descended King Edward (1239-1307) who is buried in Westminster Abbey. Of course, given that I know that much, more of my ancestors are buried there too.

I’m going to Westminster and that’s all there is to it. I’m not sure how one gets from London to Birmingham without driving (cause I’m not driving on the “wrong” side of the road,) but you can bet your britches I’ll be figuring it out. England has trains!

  • Another must-see for me is Scrooby Manor, the home of William Brewster, Pilgrim, from whom I also descend.

The Genealogy Show planning map

Anyone else descended from King Edward I or William Brewster?

Are you planning to be in Birmingham next June?

Rumor has it that there are quilt shops too!

You could have one whale of a good time!

What other genealogical adventures might you plan around THE Genealogy Show? Do you have ancestors from England, Scotland or Wales?



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

July 20, 1969; The Eagle has Landed – 52 Ancestors #247

Apollo Eagle patch.png

“It was the third of June another sleepy dusty delta day
I was out choppin’ cotton and my brother was bailing hay”

Bobby Gentry’s song speaks to the mundane. The routine, the heat and bored-out-of-my-mindness of late summer.

It wasn’t the third of June but the 20th of July.

We couldn’t wait to get out of school a few weeks earlier but by now, we were missing our friends. Missing school too but would never admit it.

We were only half-way through the summer and the second half promised to be just as hot and miserable as the first.

I was 13 the summer of 1969.

Days had an interminable, forever, drifty dreamy quality.

Summer would never end and school would never begin. I was both terrified and excited, as I would be starting high school a few days after Labor Day. That felt like a long time in the future on this particular hot July day.

Each day was a carbon copy of the day last, filled with softball, fans that didn’t move nearly enough air, library books, chasing frogs into the creek and on good days, a trip to the swimming pool and an ice cream cone after the work was done.

Mom had lots of rules that had to be obeyed, designed specifically to interfere with my fun. Of that, I was sure.

Yes, another sleepy, dusty, sweaty July day.

That time of the summer, sweating never stopped.

Air conditioning didn’t exist. Windows were propped open for the entire summer.

Our old black and white television worked when it took a mind to – which wasn’t often.

It had rabbit ears appended to the top and on the best days we got 3 channels. Most days, one or none. Some sets didn’t even have rabbit ears.

Apollo 1969 TV.jpg

Television shows were rationed to 2 or 3 a week because TV was just about our only luxury and we needed to make that old thing last as long as possible. Tubes burned out regularly. Repairmen cost money. We watched Lassie, Walt Disney and Bonanza. Sometimes we splurged and watched Tom Jones too, but Tom Jones only made the hot summer hotter.

My Friend Jim

I had been babysitting for several years.

The young couple that lived across the street had two children and soon, her brother came to live with them.

I don’t remember much about the couple or their children, but I remember that brother well. His name was Jim and he was infinitely, infinitely more interesting than the kids, my library books, any chore I’d been left to do and pretty much anything else on any boring summer day.

My favorite pastime that summer was convincing Jim that I had a twin sister.

You see, I had 2 pairs of glasses, and I would wear one white-rimmed pearlescent pair with one outfit, then change to another outfit and wear the black-rimmed pair. In one pair of glasses I wore my hair in a ponytail and in the other, down.

Yes, I was very, very bored and I have no idea just why I thought that was so much fun. Perhaps because Jim confided in both sisters about the other one.

Jim was an older man – all of 16. A lanky redhead with a job and a car. He also had a girlfriend, Cindy who did not like me AT ALL!

Wonder of wonders.

Jim wanted to take me to the drive in root-beer stand – well one of me anyway. We climbed in his turquoise Mercury Cougar with bucket seats and cruised the neighborhood with all 4 windows down.

Apollo 1969 Cougar interior.jpg

The root-beer stand served beverages in frozen mugs. Just roll your window up about 3 inches and they affixed the tray to the window. They also served frozen custard and fried tenderloins. Those were the days, I’m telling you!

This Cougar, which is for sale, looks just like Jim’s! Be still my heart. The car, not Jim.

Apollo 1969 Cougar.jpg

I’ve always been a car buff. I can’t help myself. It started young. As soon as I began drooling it seemed I was drooling over cars, and well, I’ve never stopped.

I liked Jim, as a friend. If you’re a guy, those words are the kiss of death.

Cindy really didn’t have anything to worry about.

I loved hanging out with Jim and his guy buddies. I helped him change the spark plugs and oil. That was one honking big engine.

Apollo 1969 Cougar engine

I enjoyed waxing his car after I washed it with the hose. Yes, sometimes I wore a bathing suit, especially when I mowed the yard. No, not a bikini, mother would NEVER allow that – a modest one-piece with shorts. IT WAS HOT!

Jim often came over to help. He helped me with the yardwork and I washed his car. We both thought we got a great deal.

Sometimes, we cruised the circle drive around the local Seashore swimming pool. There was an open-air dance hall with a jukebox and someone was always there. In the summertime, the pool was the hangout place and there was always drama, every single day.

Apollo Seashore swimming pool.jpg

Flirtations occurred beside the pool, in the dance hall and we all kept an eye out for who was cruising and riding shotgun with whom.

Toward the end of July, the boredom became flat out intolerable. When jobs around the house begin to seem interesting, it’s time to go back to school. I did love to visit the library, and Jim seemed to enjoy taking me just about anyplace I wanted to go.

Even back then, I was already a geek at heart, reading voraciously. Jim just shook his head, but he gladly shuttled me to feed my book addiction.

By that time, Cindy really REALLY didn’t like me.

Jim had an older buddy named Dave who was kind of well, slow. Other people made fun of Dave, how he acted and walked, with a bit of an awkward strut, but we just accepted him. The difference being that eventually Jim and I grew up and Dave never did.

We were protective of Dave and made sure to include him in our activities. It must have been difficult for Dave to age, but never to be able to drive and to watch his friends outgrow him his entire life. I don’t know what ever happened to Dave.

The Stars and the Moon

Sometimes I wanted to talk about things Jim really didn’t want to talk about. No, I don’t mean anything like THAT – I mean space.

Not the space like gapping a spark plug, but interstellar space, science and astronomy.

In 5th grade, my teacher made the mistake of asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I opined that I didn’t know, so she pushed me a bit. I pronounced that I was going to be an astronomer. The shocked look on her face said it all, but I was innocently oblivious and missed the significance entirely. She wasn’t expecting that answer and tried to gently dissuade me, encouraging me to make another selection, but I was having none of that.

I had always been fascinated with the moon and stars and space since I first saw the planets. Other kids wished on the stars. I was filled with wonder, yearned for knowledge and to go there. I couldn’t get enough – drinking up every smidgen of information like a sponge.

I joined the math club. I ran the library out of science books, reading them over and over. I was the original geek.

I loved to look up at the moon. While other kids were thinking about cheese, I was thinking about what might really be there and how the cosmos worked.

Oh, of course, I would have loved to just be all star-struck and dreamy, but my kind of dreamy was different from anyone else.

Not even Jim or my best friend Curtis understood that. No one where I lived in small-town Indiana would ever understand that.

To me, the moon was a destination, a place of fascination. I longed for the moon to give up her secrets. I strained to see. We didn’t have a telescope.

Soon, very soon, history would be made and I wanted more than anything else to be a part of it.

The Space Age

I was a child of the space age. I don’t ever remember the space program not existing. My early school days were punctuated by rocket launches and news of men orbiting the earth, narrated by Walter Cronkite on the evening news. Walter Cronkite was the voice of America in those days – the “Most Trusted Man in America.”

Often, we didn’t watch the news, but we surely listened on the radio.

Mother seemed to regard me with an air of amusement, like she was just waiting for me to outgrow this phase and get back to Barbie dolls.

That was never going to happen, not unless they introduced Space Barbie – and I don’t mean Space Ken.

July 20, 1969

It might have been hot and dusty, but it wasn’t the third of June, it was the 20th of July.

Apollo 11 was orbiting the moon. THE MOON!

I had chores to do. My deal with Mom was that I worked and did chores in the morning, but I got to go swimming in the afternoon, so long as I got my chores done, left the pool by 5 and was home by 5:15. She watched me like a hawk.

Mom wasn’t at all sure about our neighbor, Jim. After all, he was “older” and might be a bad influence. According to Mom, all boys were bad influences.

Mom came home for lunch, but then went back to work. I asked Mom if she was going to watch the moon landing, and she said that she couldn’t.

I wanted desperately to watch, but our TV wasn’t working. I was supposed to go to the pool in the afternoon, but Jim suggested that he, Dave and I go to the park, on the way to the pool, and listen to the first man walk on the moon. After the landing, he would drop me off at the pool. Seemed like a great idea to me!

Mom probably wouldn’t have approved, but she was at work.

We didn’t know exactly what time the landing would occur, or actually, if it would occur at all. There were so many things that might go wrong.

Would the Eagle lander separate from the Apollo 11 capsule?

Would the Eagle burn up on descent in the moon’s atmosphere?

Would the Eagle crash land, being  a sure and certain death sentence?

Would there be an explosion when they landed?

Would we watch the astronauts die?

Would they sink in the dust on the moon?

Was the dust actually dust, or was it tiny meteor shards that would destroy their space suits, meaning they would perish?

Would the Eagle be able to lift off from the moon?

Would the Eagle be able to dock with Apollo 11 so that the astronauts could come home?

No one had ever been there or done this before. We had no answers. Only questions. Many, many questions.

What were the odds that everything would work exactly right?

The small park was deserted, probably because it was beastly hot, so Jim pulled the car under the trees the near the swings.

Apollo park.jpg

We opened the doors so we could hear the radio and swung on the wooden swings.

As it became evident that the landing was actually going to happen, we all three went back to the car, getting inside, but leaving the doors wide open, hoping for any breeze. Dave was in the back seat, but all three of us were leaned as far forward as possible, as if that would help us hear.

Our sweaty legs stuck to the seats, but we didn’t care.

The astronaut’s voices were gravely and distant.

Then nothing.


Not a peep.

There should be.

It had been too long.

Something was wrong.

We looked up at the sky through the windshield, just in case we could see.

Of course, we couldn’t and felt ridiculous.

More silence.

No. One. Even. Breathed.

Minutes that seemed like eternities passed.

Finally, at 4:17, we heard what our ears had been straining desperately for, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.”

Oh. My. God.

There were only three of us, but we cheered and shouted and hugged each other. So did the crew at Mission Control in Houston.

Apollo mission control.jpg

We were both ecstatic and relieved.

The astronauts were supposed to sleep at this point, but who could sleep.

They began to prepare for their descent onto the moon and into the pages of history.

One Small Step

We knew that the walk on the moon wouldn’t happen for some time, and we were hungry. The pool closed at 5 so we decided to head for the drive-in and get a tenderloin and mug of frosty root-beer to celebrate.

A couple hours later, back at the house, we coaxed the old TV to life and heard Buzz Aldrin radio to Earth, “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way.”

We had all been and would continue to be in a rather constant state of prayer. Gus Grissom who burned to death in January 1967 on the launch pad in Apollo 1 was a Hoosier. The Air Force base near where I lived was named in his honor. We were keenly, painfully aware. That horrific memory was still very fresh.

There was so very much to be thankful for on July 20th. The safety of the astronauts, the successful landing and the fact that this kind of “win” meant that no one suffered a painful loss. It was a win for humanity, not just the US.

600 million people worldwide watched Neil Armstrong descend onto the surface of the moon at just a few minutes before 11.

As Armstrong stepped down onto the surface of the moon and declared, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” I was crying. So was mother. I have no idea what the others were doing.

The pictures transmitted from the moon were grainy and unclear, ghostly surreal images, but we knew just the same what was happening because Mission Control was narrating. It’s amazing that we saw anything at all “live.” You can see what we saw, here.

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The iconic footprint that would inspire a generation, including one young girl in Indiana and another Jim in Ohio.

We watched Buzz Aldrin plant the American flag.

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Half of the televisions in America were turned on and tuned in to CBS News. In fact, you can watch the full 3 hours here.

We clung to every image, every word and every minute. Two hours flew by. Mother had fallen asleep on the couch, but I was wide awake. Dave had already gone home.


After the astronauts entered the Eagle again and lifted off, we clicked off the TV. Jim needed to cross the street to his house, so I walked outside in the yard with him.

Neither of us were ready to sleep, having just witnessed history being made.

We sat down in the grass in the yard, trying to unwind from hours of adrenaline, and looked up at the moon shining brightly.

Jim said that it would never be the same, and I sensed melancholy in his voice.

I too realized that it would never be the same, except my heart was full of giddy anticipation.

I knew that we had crossed a frontier and that I wanted to be a part of the space program more than I had ever wanted anything. I desperately wanted to explore the unknown.

It never, not once, occurred to me that because I had only seen and heard men at mission control that females might not be able to become astronauts or scientists. It’s a good thing that I didn’t understand about discrimination at the time, because I would have been discouraged.

But I wasn’t.

I wasn’t thinking that the moon wouldn’t be as romantic anymore, now that men had walked there. I was dreaming of a bright and exciting future.

I became even more focused on science and technology. Given my propensity for motion sickness, I wasn’t destined to be an astronaut, but I was destined to work in technology and research fields, both critical and peripheral to the space program.

I refused to accept no for an answer when told that “girls” couldn’t enroll in advanced placement classes. I stood my ground when informed that they “weren’t going to waste a perfectly good science seat on a girl.”

Eventually, I would earn graduate degrees in computer science, not astronomy. My contributions would be through data analysis. I would have been one of those engineers at mission control, not in the space capsule, and that would have been just fine with me – but life sent me on a different path.

The computer science field was booming and I managed to land in the right place at the right time to be on the frontier of multiple technology discoveries and programs. After college, I worked for a think-tank, figuring out how to do what “couldn’t be done.” I loved every minute.

By the time we lost Challenger in 1986, I had been gone from Indiana for years and was working for a Silicon Valley company. I always listened to the space launches and I was driving that morning.

I heard the Challenger explode and had to pull over. I was trembling like a leaf and was physically ill.

Indeed, they had prepared for their journey and “slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God.”

The Challenger disaster followed by losing the Columbia and her crew slowed the space program considerably. By that time, humans had already been absent from the moon for a decade.

With less focus on space, the computer science field propelled me in other directions, but I never lost my fascination with and keen interest in the space program.

Another Jim, Another Frontier

A couple years later, I would meet Jim, the man who is now my husband. He grew up in Ohio and he too was watching and listening on that fateful day in 1969. The moon landing inspired him and changed the trajectory of his life too. His chosen field, after that day, was electronics and computer science.

Our life together hasn’t always been geeky-bliss, but you might say that we somewhat resemble two kids visiting Disneyland during our visits to Cape Kennedy and the Johnson Space Center.

Apollo Jim Flight Director.jpg

In fact, here’s Jim sitting in Apollo 11 Flight Director Gene Kranz’s seat in Houston where Gene said those unforgettable words that NASA literally lives by, “Failure is not an option.” Those have been guiding lights in my life.

In the past couple of years, Dr. Jim, who wasn’t going to go to college before that fateful day, has contributed in a very unique way to the space program. Unfortunately, I can’t expand and brag on him, but I’d love to. Let’s just say that this has been his geeky dream come true and part of his work too has slipped the bonds of earth.

As for me, I found my way to research genetics though the unusual combination of computer science and genealogy. I’ve spent the last 20 years focused on the frontier within, the ultimate space race. This is where I’m supposed to be and what I’m supposed to do with my life, exploring our personal universe gifted by our ancestors.

I found my destiny, my calling, just as the Apollo 11 astronauts found theirs. I wish I could thank them for their life-altering example and incredible inspiration. They sewed the seed in space and watered it with moon-dust.

I’m so grateful that the younger me had no idea of what “couldn’t be done,” just like the astronauts weren’t deterred by what had never been done. They set whatever fear they had aside and persevered.

Today, July 20, 2019, Jim and I along with the millions of others are celebrating that paradigm-shifting epic event of half a century ago. We’re watching space documentaries, making commemorative quilts, listening to 1969 music and having a 1969 buffet. How could we have more fun?!!

Apollo 11 and the moon landing literally inspired and motivated an entire generation, challenging us in perpetuity to literally go where no human had, or has, gone before.

Apollo Failure is not an Option.jpg



I receive a small contribution when you click on the link to one of the 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

MyHeritage Updates Theories of Family Relativity

If you have taken a MyHeritage DNA test or transferred there, quick, check your results because you may have new Theories of Family Relativity! I do.

MyHeritage theory update.png

MyHeritage introduced Theory of Family Relativity for their DNA customers in February this year at RootsTech. I wrote about the introduction and how to use and evaluate Theories here.

Theories of Family Relativity, sometimes abbreviated as TOFR, first looks at your DNA matches, then their trees, and provides you with theories as to how you share a common ancestor.

These are called theories for a reason. They utilize your tree and other people’s as well. Sometimes multiple trees have to be used to connect the dots if you or your matches tree isn’t extended far enough back in time.

My normal cautions about trees apply here. One of the great things about theories, though, is that if there are different “paths” suggested by trees, TOFR shows those multiple paths and allows you to evaluate for yourself.

Evaluation is crucial – which is why they are called theories.

Multiple DataBases Contribute to Increased Theories

MyHeritage utilizes trees and other information from multiple databases and then ranks their probability of being accurate. Databases include:

  1. MyHeritage records
  2. 45 million trees at MyHeritage
  3. FamilySearch trees
  4. Geni trees

In their blog article, MyHeritage provides additional details such as:

  • The total number of Theories has increased from 6 to 14 million
  • More than 46% of their users have at least one Theory (no tree, no Theory)
  • A new notification system is being rolled out, so you’ll receive an e-mail when you receive new Theories
  • For now, the TOFR database will be updated periodically, but eventually it will be automated so that TOFRs will be reported as they occur

My Theories

In February, I had 51 Theories. This week, MyHeritage refreshed TOFR again and now I have 26 more for a total of 77.

Of these new 26, 24 are accurate. One connects me to the wrong son of my ancestor, and one is inaccurate – but I know why both are wrong.

The second inaccurate theory is because most trees include the wrong mother for my ancestor Phoebe Crumley. Her mother was Lydia Brown, not Elizabeth Johnson. I performed extensive research, including mitochondrial DNA testing, and proved that Phoebe’s mother was Lydia, not Elizabeth. However, wrong trees are plentiful and have been propagating like weeds for years now in many databases with no documentation.

This is why evaluation is critical.

I particularly like that theories aren’t just provided blindly, expecting you to just have faith, but each “link” is evaluated and given a confidence ranking.

Using Theories

He’s an example of how to use theories. You can find them by clicking on the purple View Theories banner or under DNA matches by utilizing the Tree Details filter.

MyHeritage example theory.png

If you have a new Theory, it will be labeled as such so you don’t waste time looking at Theories you’ve already processed. I write a note for every match I’ve reviewed in the notes box in the upper right hand corner.

MyHeritage new theory.png

Theories are important, but don’t overlook the information in the green box. If the theory turns out to be not exactly correct – the additional information may still be the link you need.

View the theory by clicking on either the View Theory link or the Review DNA Match button. Your theory is the first thing you’ll see below the match itself.

MyHeritage view full theory.png

The theory is presented with the detail available when you click on View full theory.

In this example, my first cousin tested and entered at least a partial tree. TOFR created 5 different “paths” based on combinations of trees as to how we are related.

MyHeritage review match.png

I’m displaying Path 3 where the link has a 93% confidence ranking. To view that comparison, click on the green intersection button and additional information between the two trees used to create the theory will display. In this case, it’s me with no additional information, but Path 1, below, shows the link between two trees at our common grandfather level.

MyHeritage green intersection.png

Now if I click on the green intersection button, I see a lot more information, based on the information in both trees, shown side by side comparatively. The more information in the trees, the more information MyHeritage has to use when constructing these Theories.

MyHeritage match detail.png

I love this tool!

Even my Theories that aren’t completely correct provide me with hints and other people’s information to evaluate. I can almost always figure the rest out by myself.

Better yet, given that I paint my matches with known ancestors at DNAPainter, I now have 26 more matches to paint, AND, if I look at my shared matches with these people, I’m sure I’ll have even more. I may never surface for air!

Many people are very likely to discover new ancestors, especially people who are newer to genealogy!

Beware though, and verify, because these connections are hints and theories, not gospel.

How Do You Get Theories?

Maybe you don’t have Theories and want some. How can you encourage the system to generate Theories?

MyHeritage DNA person card.png

  • If your DNA is not attached to your person card, connect it by clicking on the DNA tab at the top of any page, then on Manage DNA Kits.

MyHeritage manage DNA kits.png

  • Under Manage DNA Kits, you’ll see 3 dots to the right side. Click there to assign a DNA kit to a person.

MyHeritage assign DNA kit.png

  • You must have a tree, even if it’s a small tree. The more robust your tree, the more Theories you are likely to have because MyHeritage can make those connections. For example, if your tree has only you plus your parents, other trees much have you or your parents in their trees too in order for MyHeritage to be able to connect the dots. Enter as many ancestors as you can into your tree. You can build your tree at MyHeritage or you can upload a GEDCOM file.
  • When MyHeritage offers Smart Matches between a person in your tree and a person in another user’s tree, confirm the Smart Match if it’s accurate. Smart Matching is one of the tools that MyHeritage can utilize to confirm that two people in different trees are actually the same person. You can do three things with Smart Matches.
  1. Confirm the match without doing anything else which does not import any information from the other person’s tree.
  2. Confirm, at which time you will be given the option to import field by field, if you so choose.
  3. Under the Confirm box, click the dropdown and select “Save to Tree” which imports everything from the other person’s tree for that match into your tree. I do NOT recommend this option, certainly not without reviewing what they have in their tree and their sources.
  • Prepare and Wait – After testing or uploading your DNA, work with your matches and Smart Matches to extend your tree so that you’ll be in a prime position to receive Theories of Family Relativity as soon as it’s run again. Soon, it will be automated and running continuously.

Getting Started

If you want to play, you have to test or transfer. Here’s how:

Have fun!!!



I receive a small contribution when you click on the link to one of the 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

Concepts: What are NPEs and MPEs?

Child with helix

Sooner or later in genetic genealogy, you’re going to run across the acronym, NPE or MPE.

Years ago, the phrase NPE was coined to generally mean when the expected parent or parents weren’t.

  • NPE means nonpaternal event, also sometimes nonparental event.
  • Some folks didn’t like that term and began to use MPE, misattributed paternal event or misattributed parentage.

Of course, today, this situation could arise as a result of an adoption, a donor situation, either male or female, or the more often thought-of situation where the father isn’t who he’s presumed/believed to be based on the circumstances at hand.

Historically, adoptions weren’t a legal situation. If the parents died on the wagon train, someone took the kids to raise. Ditto a woman raising her sister’s children.

At that time, everyone knew the situation and it wasn’t a secret. A couple (or more) generations later, no one knows and the presumed parent(s) aren’t, especially if the child used the surname of the people who raised him or her. That’s a very common step-father situation, especially before official birth certificates.

Regardless of the situation, the “adoption” was undocumented for future generations. Hence, the term “undocumented adoption.” I’ve used “undocumented adoption” for a long time because I felt there was less judgement inherent in that description. Other people simply say “of unknown parentage.”

Discoveries are Common

Of course today with various types of DNA testing, these types of situations are slowly, or not so slowly, being discovered.

When they reveal themselves, you may have to saw a branch off of your tree. That’s ugly if you’re a genealogist, but at least it’s not someone you know personally.

However, if the people involved are closer in time, the discovery may be a shock or traumatic. I experienced this with my half-brother, Dave, who turned out not to be my biological brother.  I found him and then heartbreakingly lost him. I loved him regardless and wrote about our journey here, here and here.

These situations used to be remarkable, but with so many people DNA testing, these revelations are becoming daily events.

No Judgement

While the first thought that might occur is that someone was cheating, that may not be the case at all. Lots of circumstances may come into play. I wrote about several here.

I would encourage everyone to suspend judgement, not assume and to give our ancestors and family members the benefit of the doubt. We don’t and can’t know what happened to them.

Moccasins and glass houses😊

Besides that – if it wasn’t for your ancestors, you wouldn’t be you!



I receive a small contribution when you click on the link to one of the 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

Super DNA Sales – Amazon Prime Day – July 15 and 16 Only

Amazon Prime is a subscription service that includes free delivery and often that means one-day delivery, at least within the US.

On two days per year, known as Amazon Prime Day, subscribers get access to even better deals on Amazon items. Even if you’re not a prime member, you still receive the great prices, just not the free shipping.

Super prices coupled with free delivery make DNA kits even better values.

Check out the prices for the vendors products we know and love – you may come away with an amazing deal.

DNA Tests

Family Tree DNA – ethnicity, DNA matching and includes free return postage within the US – $49 (discount is applied in the checkout to receive this price)
MyHeritage – ethnicity, DNA matching, and Theories of Family Relativity – $59

AncestryDNA – ethnicity, DNA matching and ThruLines – $49

23andMe Ancestry only – ethnicity, chromosome painting and DNA matching – $99 (apparently no sale price price)

23andMe Ancestry plus Health – above plus health information – $199. There is no sale price from 23andMe on Amazon but a reseller is offering this product for less. In the past, Ancestry in particular has had problems with kits sold through resellers being invalid when the purchaser wanted to activate the kit, with the code already having been used, so when I purchase on Amazon, I only purchase from the actual DNA vendor. You can do as you see fit:)

Free Gift From Me!

If you’re uncertain about what to do after you receive your DNA test results, you’re in luck, because in a few days ago I published DNA Results- First Glances at Ethnicity and Matching. In the next week or so, I’ll be publishing a First Steps article that will get you started with matching, using your results and why they are important.

Just open your new test results and follow along.

Like always, you can share with your family, friends and on social media – and it’s free.

DNA Books

If you want to educate yourself with a book, below you’ll find  my favorite DNA books in no specific order. Note that two of these are brand new.

Advanced Genetic Genealogy: Techniques and Case Studies by Debbie Parker Wayne (this is a brand new book published in March 2019)

Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine Bettinger (published October 2016)

Genetic Genealogy in Practice by Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne (published January 2016)

DNA Guide for Adoptees by Brianne Kirkpatrick and Shannon Combs-Bennett (just released in May 2019)

Who We Are and How We Got Here: Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past by David Reich (March 2018)


Yes, these are affiliate links. You save a bundle and I make a few cents for the effort of gathering this information in one place for you and publishing the article. Doesn’t cost you a penny – you don’t pay anything extra.

Thanks so much for helping to keep this blog free for everyone and keeping the lights on!


Lucy Moore (c 1754-1832), Minister’s Wife – 52 Ancestors #246

As a woman, I often wonder what will define my life when I’m gone. For our ancestors, it was often a woman’s husband and sometimes, her children. That’s pretty much it.

Of course, today, living on the “right side” of women’s lib which ushered in many opportunities for women, I am much more in control of my own life. I can make my own choices about important and not-so-important matters, without anyone’s agreement or blessing required. Key word is required.

I selected a career, purchased and sold property without my husband’s or father’s “permission” and gasp, I vote. My ancestors would probably be both ecstatic and horrified, depending on who they were and when and where they lived😊

Social media provides me with the opportunity to share choices and record my daily life as I type into the ether.

For better or worse, someday my descendants may be mining Facebook to see what great-grandma was doing on July 4th, a hundred years in the past. They’re going to be awfully bored, but it’s the mundane day to day things that cumulatively weave together the threads of our life. Isn’t that really what we long to know about our ancestors?

I want to know that my great-great-grandmother picked green beans and snapped them sitting under the shade of an old oak tree in a heat wave that was “hotter than Hades, like never before” with her 3 sisters while their small children playing in the creek nearby under their watchful eyes.

There might not have been cameras, but I can paint a powerful mental picture.

My descendants, if I have any, will probably have a good laugh at the fashions, automobiles and old-fashioned technology of the time in which I live. I already cringe looking at the styles of the 60s and 70s.


See,  you’re laughing already!

At some point far into the future, styles won’t just be old-fashioned, they will have no comprehension of life today. Our life will be entirely unfamiliar.

Picking 3 or 4 events at random from my life, I ask myself if those few items, with no additional information would truly be representative of who I am? Probably not, yet that’s what we find, if we’re lucky, about our ancestors.

The further back in time we search, generally the less we can discover about any ancestor, and women are more difficult than men – beginning with the fact that they change their surnames when they marry. Add to that the fact that they couldn’t vote so aren’t on voter lists, rarely lived outside the home of their father, husband or finally, their children and seldom if ever made purchases like land. Often they weren’t mentioned by name in wills.

Lucy Moore broke the rules. Not all of the rules of the colonial society in which she lived, but a great many. Probably out of necessity – but nonetheless – thankfully, it created records.

I like Lucy, a lot. She was spunky and I can’t help but wonder if that is indeed her legacy to me.

In the Beginning

Nothing about finding Lucy was easy – not even her name. It wasn’t recorded in any family records and was only revealed in deeds. Were it not for that, she would have slipped forever beneath the waves of anonymity.

I suspect, but don’t know, that Lucy is short for Lucinda.

I have calculated Lucy’s approximate birth year by using the birth dates of her children in combination with the tax lists.

I discovered her death date or at least the year quite by accident, after missing it the first time around. Thank goodness for these 52 Ancestors articles which force me to reread everything about each ancestor.

In 1782, William Moore and Lucy had 6 “white souls” in their household in Halifax County, VA, which tells us that they had 4 living children. We don’t know the actual birth dates of any of her children, but information provided in later census and other documents gives us a range or approximation.

If they were married a year before the first child was born, and a child was born every 2 years, their marriage occurred in approximately 1773.

Looking backwards, we know that Jane Moore who married in 1823 was born in 1797. Her sister, Rebecca married in 1825, so she was likely born before 1805. She could have been born about 1799. If that’s the case, then Lucy would have been having children from about 1774 to 1799, a span of 25 years. If Lucy’s first child was born about age 20, then the final child was born at 45.

Of course, children could have been born closer than every 2 years, and some children probably died.

We know that 4 were living in 1782 and 5 were living in 1785.

Therefore, if Lucy was age 45 in 1799, she was born approximately 1754. The census tells us that she was born between 1750-1760, so 1754 works. It’s possible that Lucy was a little older, but not much older because we know, based on the census, that Jane was born in 1797.

Where Was Lucy Born?

We don’t know where Lucy was born, but I can pretty well tell you where she wasn’t born.

Lucy lived her married life in what is today the Vernon Hill community, at the intersection of Oak Level Road and Mountain Road (Highway 360) in Halifax County, VA. Today, at this intersection, we look south and west over the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church and cemetery which was once the land owned by William and Lucy Moore.

Lucy Moore Vernon Hill.png

Halifax County was formed in 1752 from Lunenburg County, and the area around Vernon Hills hadn’t yet been settled. Land grants for that area began to be obtained a decade later and it wasn’t until between 1765-1770 that that area was actually cleared and people began taking up residence there.

The families that inhabited this community didn’t move out from Banister Town, as the town of Halifax was called then, or South Boston but migrated from counties like Amelia and Prince Edward which were further north and east where the desirable available land was all taken.

Lucy Moore Prince Edward to Halifax.png

An hour and a half drive today took 10 days in a wagon with no shocks, bumping and jarring all the way in 1765.

Halifax County was the new frontier, a land of opportunity, and the generation to which Lucy’s parents belonged hitched up the wagon, applied for a land patent, and moved. They built log cabins, some of which still stand today more than 250 years later. They cleared the land, backbreaking work, in order to sew small patches of tobacco.

tobacco plants

Tobacco drained the land of nutrients in just a 3 or 4 years, creating “old fields” that had to lie fallow for roughly 20 years, so the need to keep clearing land was incessant.

Tobacco was a high-maintenance crop. On top of depleting the soil, it also required massive amounts of labor and sold for pennies.

Where Lucy lived, everyone worked in the fields and everyone was poor. The larger plantations owned by wealthy settlers who also owned slaves were located along the Dan River, close to South Boston. Vernon Hill was 15+ miles away, a day’s ride and there was no reason to go there. Roads were mud pits and South Boston or Banister Town existed in another far-away world. It’s entirely possible that Lucy never once made the trip to town.

Lucy would have moved to the Vernon Hill or Oak Level area with her parents probably sometime between 1765 and 1772/1774 when she married William Moore. Most of the families who bought land in that region were neighbors from Prince Edward County, so there’s a good possibility that she might have known William before arriving in Halifax County.

Many of the people were also dissenting families. The Rice family is recorded in 1759 in Price Edward as building a meeting house for a dissenting religion. Mary Rice married James Moore, the parents of William Moore, Lucy’s eventual husband. William himself was a dissenting Methodist minister, at least in the beginning.

Dissenting was a binding cause among like-minded families.


If Lucy began having children about 1774, give or take a year or so, she likely married between 1772 and 1774, age 18-20.

William Moore had been living in Halifax County since about 1770, so it’s likely that Lucy’s family was a Halifax County family as well.

There was no marriage return filed with the clerk, perhaps because as “dissenters,” they were not an Anglican church-attending family or possibly because some of the records were destroyed during the Revolutionary War. It’s also feasible that during the War, people just didn’t bother to file those marriage returns because it was a long ride to the courthouse, the filing wasn’t free and who knew what the outcome of the war might be.

Now, we’re left to try to fill in the pieces of information that our ancestors knew quite well.

Road Hands

At that time, all property-owning men were required to donate one day per year for road maintenance. Keep in mind that at the time bridges didn’t exist and wagons regularly got mired axle deep in ruts and mud.

The first road hand list in the 1782 court records includes the Moore men and shows us who the neighbors are:

John Pankey surveyor from Walton’s Mill path to 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 Moore, William Moore, Thomas Williamson Jr. and Sr., Edward Henderson, William Pankey, Nathan Sullins, John Mullins, Wiliam Ashlock, James Moore, Bartholowmew Harris, Benjamin Edwards, William Edwards, Thomas Dodson Jr. and Sr., George Dodson, Robert, Mathis, John Tolles, Martin Palmer, William Walton.

The county line would have been Pittsylvania County which was roughly 5 miles west on Mountain Road

Was Lucy’s family among these road hands?

The Candidates

The most likely candidates for William Moore’s wife were the neighbors, of course. Those are the young ladies that William would have seen most often – at church, perhaps at school if there was one, in the neighborhood and at entertainment events like corn shuckings. Of course, that’s assuming they grew corn in Halifax county. I know they grew literally tons of tobacco and tobacco picking was not a mixed-gender social event.

Of course, the fly in this ointment might be that William began preaching before 1775, which means that he might have met Lucy in a different church someplace on his circuit outside of this immediate community.

However, if Lucy was from one of the local families, the following families, in alphabetical order, were involved with the Moore family by living adjacent or witnessing documents during that time-frame.

Dodson – The Dodson family was in Halifax County before 1774 when James Moore sold Thomas Dodson land bounded by James Spradling and James Henry. I have proven Dodson ancestors, so I could DNA match through those folks. If Lucy was a Dodson, this could be nearly unsolvable using DNA, especially so far back in time.

However, if I have overlapping DNA matches between known Dodson segments and segments that descend from the Moore line, that could be a clue using DNAPainter.

Ferguson – The Ferguson/Farguson family also hails from Prince Edward and Amelia County and witnessed deeds in Halifax County for the Moores for years beginning with Joseph Ferguson in 1773 when James Moore sold land to Thomas Ward.

I do DNA match several descendants of the Ferguson line although not all through Halifax County. I suspect that my Combs family was intermarried with the Fergusons in Amelia County. If Lucy was a Ferguson/Farguson, this too could be complex.

Henderson – The Henderson family is intermarried with the Moores. James Moore’s daughter, Lydia, is all but certain to be the wife of Edward Henderson who was from Prince Edward County and owned land adjacent to James Moore. In 1786, James Moore sells land to Edward Henderson bounded by the “old fields,” James Henry, William Moore, Nathan Sullings and was witnessed by Mackness and William Moore along with John Poindexter.

I do DNA match members of the Henderson family, but some of Edward Henderson’s children intermarried with descendants of Marcus Younger through the Clark family. How I match the Henderson line descendants would be critical information, meaning through those Henderson children who married Clarks or other Hendersons.

Henry – In 1776, James Henry is listed in a deed as “of Accomack County” when he sold land to James Spradling which bounds James Moore’s plantation. The Henry family shares lines with the Moore family in 1774 and family members, including women, witness deeds over the years, including 1778. In 1780, James Henry is listed “of King and Queen County” when he sells additional land to James Moore via his power-of-attorney William Ryburn. Henry family members may not have lived in Halifax County.

DNA matches do not suggest a connection with a Halifax County Henry family.

McDaniel – Henry McDaniel witnessed a deed in 1773 for James Moore’s sale to Thomas Ward along with James Thompson and Joseph Ferguson.

I do DNA match with descendants of Henry McDaniel.

Pankey – James Moore sells land to John Pankey in 1778 intersecting with Colonel Henry’s line, witnessed by Joseph Dodson, Charles Spradling, Edward Henderson and William Moore. In 1780 Moore sold Pankey additional land and in 1781 when the deed was witnessed by William Parker, Jonathan Colquitt and Charles Crenshaw. In 1784, James Henry of King and Queen County sold more land to James Moore against Pankey’s line and Nathan Sullins. Witnesses were John Poindexter, Howard Henderson and William Walter. The Pankeys were involved with the Moore clan for years, including a suit for slander in the 1800s.

Pankey is an unusual surname and I do have DNA matches from the Halifax line.

Slate – The Slate family has some type of relationship with the Moore family. They were in the area by 1770 when Samuel Slate witnessed the original deed for James Moore when he purchased his initial land from James Spradling and then again in 1774. William Slate counter-signed a debt document for William Moore in 1824, and two of William’s daughters married Slate men.

Given the Slate marriages, I expected to DNA match Slate descendants, but surprisingly, I don’t, at least not yet. Either these daughters had few children, their descendants haven’t tested or we don’t share DNA segments.

Spradling – The James Spradling family shared a property line with the James Moore family, witnessed deeds and a Spradling son lived with James Moore for 2 years before enlisting for the Revolutionary War. James Moore bought his original land from James Spradling in 1770 but Spradling patented the land in 1765. However, this patent was the exact same patent filed by Isham Womack in 1762, so a change of hands happened between 1762 and 1765. Spradling witnessed deeds in 1774 and conveyed land to James Moore again in 1778 and 1785.

There is one DNA match that descends from a Rachel Spradling born in 1730 and died in Halifax County. I would expect more if Lucy was a Spradling.

However, I have numerous matches to descendants of the Womack family that I can’t explain.

Stubblefield – The Stubblefield family also came from Prince Edward County. George Stubblefield witnessed the original James Moore land purchase in 1770. Sally, James Moore’s daughter married Martin Stubblefield in about 1787. This family may have been related before coming to Halifax County.

A Lemuel Moore which may have been James Moore’s son or grandson married Ann Stubblefield in Grainger Co., TN in 1804. The Stubblefield and Moore families migrated from Halifax to Grainger together.

I DNA match lots of people from this line, which I would expect with the multiple marriages into the Moore line and migration together on into Tennessee. However, if I don’t match through known Stubblefield marriages into the Moore family, the Stubblefield DNA matches may mean something more.

Thompson – The Thompson family was in the area by 1773 when James Thompson witnessed a deed for James Moore. In 1798, James Moore’s son, Mackness, married Sarah Thompson and his daughter Mary Moore married Richard Thompson, both in 1789.

I do DNA match some people with Thompson ancestors from Halifax County, but this is expected due to the known Moore-Thompson marriages. Ancestry trees suggest that James Thompson was married to an Elizabeth Rice, although her ancestry needs work and could be a different Rice line, not related to Mary Rice, James Moore’s wife.

Walton – Walton’s Mill path had to be someplace close because Walton deeds tell us that William and Spencer Walton owned land on the Second Fork of Birches Creek, the same waterway where the Moores lived. The Walton family was also from Prince Edward County and various members witnessed deeds for the Moore family for years including 1781. In 1781 Stephen Pankey sold land to William Walton which was bounded by Spencer Walton and the Henry line.

I have no DNA matches to the Walton line out of Halifax County.

Ward – James Moore sold land to Thomas Ward in 1774 which was noted as adjacent to Thomas Ward and James Henry. I do have one DNA match to a James Ward descendant from this time-frame in Halifax County, plus a few later Ward matches as well.

The Surname/DNA Exercise

I’m not sure how useful this exercise was or wasn’t. What I do know is that I could probably narrow or eliminate some of these surnames as possibilities if the tester descends from other known Moore family members or other ancestors such as Dodsons or Youngers.

My DNA matches to these people, of course, could be from an entirely different line. Unless the person has tested at a vendor where we can see segments, I have no way to determine how I match the individual. Vendors reporting both segments and trees are Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage and third party site, GedMatch.

This intermarrying grapevine effect, of course, represents the problem of endogamy or less pronounced, what happens with a common migration path over a century or so. We just have no idea who married whom in the past, not to mention the ever-lurking NPE (non-parental event.).

We still don’t know who Lucy’s parents were, but we do know something about her life.

A Preacher’s Wife

Lucy was a preacher’s wife from very early in their marriage, if not for their entire marriage. I’m guessing that one of the reasons she married William was because of his religious zeal. He may have had a very charismatic personality as well.

Without TV or any outside influences like radio, the preacher was just about the only organized drama that existed in rural Virginia. Fire and brimstone was both exciting and impressive! People traveled for miles to watch preaching and to see their neighbors and catch up on the gossip of course.

Who got “saved” and went to the confessor’s bench? Who got baptized? Who wasn’t at church? Who was sick? Who was drunk on Saturday night? Tsk, tsk, tsk.

According to an article about William Moore, in 1805 he had been preaching “more than 30 years,” which means that if Lucy and William were married between 1772 and 1775, he preached nearly their entire marriage which spanned more than half a century, until his death in 1826.

Being married 50 years today is remarkable. Being married 50 years then was flat out incredible!

I wonder if William met Lucy at a church function.

We can surmise from William’s profession, aside from farming, because of the added burden that being a circuit-riding minister placed on Lucy that she was every bit as devoted to their religion of choice as was he. She too was a dissenter, so it’s a small leap of faith to surmise that her family was as well. Many dissenting families from Prince Edward County moved to Halifax and it’s unlikely that her father would have approved the marriage if their family hadn’t been of like minds.

When William was absent, which was probably quite often, especially in the early years, the farm work, the animals and the children all fell to Lucy. Not to mention that she had to be prepared to handle any emergency by herself.

This would make it even more important for her to have family members present in the community.

Lucy even managed through the Revolutionary War, part of which was fought in Halifax County. Without communications like we have today, she would never have known when the Red Coats might be arriving, or what they would do if they did.

Lucy also lived through the War of 1812. At least one of her sons, Azariah and a son-in-law, John R. Estes, both served in the War of 1812.

Lucy didn’t just marry William, she married the church. William was even absent on Christmas. The 1784 Methodist Christmas Conference was held in Baltimore, Maryland and William is recorded as having been in attendance. The ministers arrived and worked for 6 weeks in advance. That 300 mile trip would have taken roughly a month in each directly. Lucy was probably pregnant at the time. We know that between 1782 and 1785, William and Lucy had at least one child that lived. She would have had 5 children under the age of 10.

Lucy had to be incredibly self-sufficient to survive.

I wonder how many of her children were born while William was away.

Halifax County Records

I don’t know if the story is true or a tall tale, but when I was in Halifax County at the courthouse, I was told that the only reason the records were spared during the Revolutionary War when the British marched through was because the clerk or other official draped his Masonic apron over the record books.

This unmistakable message to other Masons would have spoken volumes that nothing else could have done. If this is indeed a true story, that apron is responsible for preserving the records of my ancestors.

Without deed and court records, we would never have known anything about Lucy.

Lucy in the Records

We first discover Lucy in the records in 1786 when she witnessed the sale of land from James Moore to Leonard Baker. William Moore and wife Lucy were witnesses, as was Mackness Moore, William’s brother. Lucy and James both sign with an X in this document, but neither are recorded as signing with an X in others. Go figure.

Maybe they could write, but it wasn’t something they did often, so was difficult. William, of course, being a minister, would have had occasion to write often.

In 1794, Lucy witnessed the sale of land from Edward Henderson to Isaac Barr. The deed says the land shared lines with William Moore and James Henry. William and James Moore were also witnesses. Edward Henderson’s wife, Lydia, is William Moore’s sister, so Lucy’s sister-in-law. There is no mention of signing with marks in this document.

In 1801, William Moore and wife, Lucy, sell 100 acres for 85 pounds to Arthur Slaton, which may actually be Slate, “except where the meeting house stands.” The meeting house is directly across the road from the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church today. Property lines were shared with Isaac Barry and “across the mountain.” Ritchie McGregor, John Farguson and Pheby Walton serve as witnesses.

Obviously, these deeds were signed in the neighborhood, probably by whoever was in the kitchen (or the church, or tavern) at the time, and transported later to the clerk’s office to be recorded. Of course, that’s assuming they were recorded at all.

Generations of deeds were sometimes passed from hand to hand.


Records in Halifax County do exist, but they are often incomplete. Tax lists are partial in many cases and they don’t exist at all for some years

The 1790, 1800 and 1810 census are all three missing, a devastating blow.

Significant gaps in marriage licenses recorded, especially around the Revolutionary War, suggest that records are missing.

Chain of property ownership is frustratingly incomplete. It’s clear that not all deeds were registered.

Property transferred by either commissioner or estate administrator or executor whose last name is not the same as the owner is almost impossible to track.

And worse yet, for me anyway, there were multiple Lucy Moores living in the same place at the same time. Lucy is not a common name, unlike William or James. How could I be this unlucky?

Multiple Lucys

I discovered two Lucy Moores and thought I had them sorted out, but as I was writing Lucy’s story, I discovered a third Lucy which meant I had to reevaluate everything.

The second Lucy Moore was added in 1817 when Lucy Akin married James Moore, son of William and Lucy Moore.

These two Lucy’s shouldn’t be terribly difficult to tell apart.

Lucy, wife of William Moore would have been in her mid-60s by this time. Lucy Akin would have been a young woman.

However, the lives of these two Lucy’s were bound together by tragedy. Then a third Lucy was discovered in the resulting court records.

Lucy Moore’s most interesting years, in a very unexpected way, were just beginning.

Lucy’s most defining moments came in the 1820s when she was in her late 60s and 70s.

All I can say is that Lucy Moore was not a well-behaved woman, at least not by the standards of the time in which she lived! I must have inherited that from her!

Bravo Lucy!

Join me for the next article to find out what Lucy did!



I receive a small contribution when you click on the link to one of the 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

Colorize Old Photos

I know this isn’t about DNA, but it is about ancestors and old photos. What’s not to love!

My friend sent me a link where you can upload an old photo and it’s colorized, for free. (Thanks Chris!)

I’m having so much fun, I just have to share with you.


The photo below is my Mom from during WWII. I think she looks a lot more real in the colorized version, at right.

Mom colorized.png

The technology works best with high resolution, in-focus photos. That doesn’t mean it won’t work with others and it’s free to try.

It works great with groups of people too. Here’s my Dad with my sister’s kids.

Dad colorized.png

Have fun!



I receive a small contribution when you click on the link to one of the 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

DNA Results – First Glances at Ethnicity and Matching!

People who have worked with genetic genealogy for a long time often forget what it’s like to be a new person taking a DNA test.

Recently, someone asked me what a tester actually sees after they take a DNA test and their results are ready. Good question, especially for someone trying to decide what might work for them.

I’m going to make this answer very simple. For each of the 4 major vendors, I’m going to show what a customer sees when they first sign in and view their results. Not everything or every tool, just their main page along with the initial matching and ethnicity pages.

Please feel free to share this article with people who are new and might be interested. It’s easy to follow along.

I do want to stress that this is just the beginning, not the end game and that every vendor has much more to offer if you take advantage of their tools.

Best of all, it’s so much FUN to learn about your heritage and your ancestry, plus meeting cousins and family members you may not have known that you had.

I’ve been gifted with photos of my grandparents and great-grandparents that I had no idea existed before meeting new family members.

I hope that all the new testers will become excited and that their results are just a tiny first step!

The Vendors

I’m going to take a look at:

Each vendor offers DNA matching to others in their database, plus ethnicity estimates. Yes, ethnicity is only an estimate.

Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA was the first and still the only genetic genealogy testing company to offer a full range of DNA testing products, launching in the year 2000. Today they stand out as the “science company,” offering both Y and mitochondrial DNA testing in addition to their Family Finder test which is comparable with the tests offered by Ancestry, 23andMe and MyHeritage.

Your personal page at Family Tree DNA shows the following tools for the Family Finder test.

Glances Family Tree DNA home

The two options we’ll look at today are your Matches and myOrigins, which is your ethnicity estimate.

Click on Matches to view whose DNA matches you. In my case, on the page below, you can see that I have a total of 4610 matches, of which 986 have been assigned to my paternal side, 842 to my maternal side, and 4 to both sides. In my case, the 4 assigned to both sides are my children and grandchildren, which makes perfect sense,

Glances Family Tree DNA matches

You can click to enlarge this graphic.

The green box above the matches indicates additional tools which provide information such as who I match in common with another person. I can see, for example, who I match in common with a first cousin which is very helpful in determining which ancestor those matches are related through.

The red box and circle show information provided to me about each match.

Family Tree DNA is able to divide my matches into “Maternal,” “Paternal” and “Both” buckets because they encourage me to link DNA matches on my tree. This means that I connect my mother to her location on my tree so that Family Tree DNA knows that people that match Mother and me both are related on my mother’s side of the tree.

Your matches don’t have to be your parents for linking to work. The more people you link, the more matches Family Tree DNA can put into buckets for you, especially if your parents aren’t available to test. Plus, your aunts and uncles inherited parts of your grandparent’s DNA that your parents didn’t, so they are super important!

Figuring out which side your matches come from, and which ancestor is first step in genetic genealogy!

You can see, above, that my mother is “assigned” on my maternal side and my son matches me on both.

“Bucketing” is a great, innovative feature. But there’s more.

The tan rounded rectangle includes ancestral surnames, with the ones that you and your match have in common shown in bold.

Based on the amount of DNA that I share with a match, and other scientific calculations, a relationship range is calculated, with the linked relationship reflecting where I’ve put that person on my tree.

If your match has uploaded or created a tree, you can view their tree (if they share) by clicking on the little blue pedigree icon, above, circled in tan between the two arrows.

Glances Family Tree DNA tree

Here’s my tree with my family members who have DNA tested attached in the proper places in my tree. Of course, there are a lot more connected people that I’m not showing in this view.

Advanced features include tools like a matching matrix and a chromosome browser where you can view the segments that actually match.

Family Tree DNA Ethnicity

To view your ethnicity estimate, click on myOrigins and you’ll see the following, along with people you match in the various regions if they have given permission for that information to be shared with their matches:

Glances Family Tree DNA myOrigins


MyHeritage has penetrated the European market quite well, so if your ancestors are from the US or Europe, MyHeritage is a wonderful resource. They offer both DNA testing and records via subscription, combining genetic matches and genealogical records into a powerful tool.

Glances MyHeritage home

At MyHeritage, when you sign in, the DNA tab is at the top.

Clicking on DNA Matches shows you the following match list:

Glances MyHeritage matches

To review all of the information provided for each match, meaning who they match in common with you, their ancestral surnames, their tree and matching details, you’ll click on “Review DNA Match.”

MyHeritage provides a special tool called Theories of Family Relativity which connects you with others and your common ancestors. In essence, MyHeritage uses DNA, trees and records to weave together at least some of your family lines, quite accurately.

Here’s a simple example where MyHeritage has figured out that one of the testers is my niece and has drawn our connection for us.

Theory match 2

Theories of Family Relativity is a recently released world-class tool, easy to use but can solve very complex problems. I wrote about it here.

Advanced DNA tools include a chromosome browser and triangulation, a feature which shows you when three people match on a common segment, indicating genetically that you all 3 share a common ancestor from whom you inherited that common piece of DNA.

MyHeritage Ethnicity

To view your ethnicity estimate at MyHeritage, simply click on Ethnicity Estimate on the menu.

Glances MyHeritage ethnicity.png


23andMe is better known for their health offering, although they were the first commercial company to offer autosomal commercial testing. However, they don’t support trees, which for genealogists are essential. Furthermore, they limit the number of your matches to your 2000 closest matches, but if some of those people don’t choose to be included in matching, they are subtracted from your 2000 total allowed. Due to this, I have only 1501 matches, far fewer matches at 23andMe than at any of the other vendors.

Glances 23andMe home

At 23andMe when you sign on, under the Ancestry tab you’ll see DNA Relatives which are your matches and Ancestry Composition which is your ethnicity estimate.

Glances 23andMe matches

While you don’t see all of the information on this primary DNA page that you do with the other vendors, with the unfortunate exception of trees, it’s there, just not on the initial display.

23andMe also provides some advanced tools such as a chromosome browser and triangulation.

23andMe Ethnicity

What 23andMe does exceptionally well is ethnicity estimates.

To view your ethnicity at 23andMe, click on Ancestry Composition.

Glances 23andMe ethnicity

23andMe refines your ethnicity estimates if your parents have tested and shows you a composite of your ethnicity with your matches. However, I consider their ethnicity painting of your chromosomes to be their best feature.

Glances 23andMe chromosome painting

You can see, in my case, the two Native American segments on chromosomes 1 and 2, subsequently proven to be accurate via documentation along with Y and mitochondrial DNA tests at Family Tree DNA. The two chromosomes shown don’t equate necessarily to maternal and paternal.

I can download this information into a spreadsheet, meaning that I can then compare matches at other companies to these ethnicity segments on my mother’s side. If my matches share these segments, they too descend from our common Native American ancestor. How cool is that!!!


Ancestry’s claim to fame is that they have the largest DNA database for autosomal results. Because of that, you’ll have more matches at Ancestry, but if you’re a genealogist or someone seeking an unknown family member, the match you NEED might just be found in one of the other databases, so don’t assume you can simply test at one company and find everything you need.

You don’t know what you don’t know.

Glances Ancestry home

At Ancestry, when you sign on, you’ll see the DNA tab. Click on DNA Story.

Glances Ancestry DNA tab

Scrolling past some advertising, you’ll see DNA Story, which is your Ethnicity Estimate and DNA Matches.

ThruLines, at right, is a tool similar to MyHeritage’s Theories of Family Relativity, but not nearly as accurate. However, Thrulines are better than they were when first released in February. I wrote about ThruLines here.

Glances Ancestry matches

Clicking on DNA Matches shows me information about my matches, in red, their trees or lack thereof in green, and information I can enter including ways to group my matches, in tan.

One of Ancestry’s best features is the green leaf, at the bottom in the green box, accompanied by the smiley face (that I added.) That means that this match’s tree indicates that we have a common ancestor. However, the smiley face is immediately followed by the sad face when I noticed the little lock, which means their tree is private and they aren’t sharing it with me.

If DNA testers forget and don’t connect their tree to their DNA results, you’ll see “unlinked tree.”

Like other vendors, Ancestry offers other tools as well, including the ability to define your own colored tags. You can see that I’ve tagged the matches at far right in the gold box with the little colored dots. I was able to define those dots and they have meanings such as common ancestor identified, messaged, etc.

Ancestry Ethnicity

To view your ethnicity estimate, click on “View Your DNA Story.”

Glances Ancestry ethnicity

You’ll see your ethnicity estimate and communities of matches that Ancestry has defined. By clicking on the community, you can see the ancestors in your tree that plot on the map into that community, along with a timeline. Seeing a community doesn’t necessarily mean your ancestor lived there, but that you match a group of people who are from that community.

Sharing Information

You might be thinking to yourself that it would be a lot easier if you could just test at one vendor and share the results in the other databases. Sometimes you can.

There is a central open repository at GedMatch, but clearly not everyone uploads there, so you still need to be in the various vendors’ data bases. GedMatch doesn’t offer testing, but offers additional tools, flexibility and open access not provided by the testing vendors.

Of these four vendors, Family Tree DNA and MyHeritage accept transferred files from other vendors, while Ancestry and 23andMe do not.


If you’re interested in transferring, meaning downloading your results from one vendor and uploading to another, I wrote a series of how-to transfer articles here:

Enjoy your new matches and have fun!



I receive a small contribution when you click on the link to one of the 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

The Reverend William Moore (c 1750-1826), Twice Dissenting Minister – 52 Ancestors #245

William and James are both common names, as is Moore. Saying this family has been difficult to research is an understatement. I’ve made multiple trips back to Halifax County, Virginia over a period of 3 decades – each one unearthing new tidbits, but also adding more questions than answers.

Slowly, a painting of the life of William Moore has unfolded, in quite an unexpected way. But first, I had to figure out which William Moore was mine.

Multiple William Moores

There were at least five, count ‘em, five, William Moores in Halifax County, Virginia in the late 1700s, and at least two James Moores. Of course, every William and James had children named William and James, and Thomas too. Oh yea, there were Thomas Moores in Halifax connected to the Williams and James. By 1800, we had another 3 “disconnected” Williams, probably sons of the other Moore men.

I was pulling my hair out.

The only way to even begin to straighten this out is deeds that include neighbors, waterways, court records and tax lists. Plus, a couple Williams had the decency to die with a will – but not mine of course.

Worse yet, the descendants of an “unrelated” James Moore, also from Amelia County, today live on the land that my James and William Moore lived on in the late 1700s and early 1800s. I say “unrelated” because the Y DNA tells us that they don’t share a paternal Moore ancestor, but I’m not entirely convinced they are in fact “unrelated.” More about that in James Moore’s article, yet to come.

I’m able to somewhat separate my particular William Moore from the other Williams because my William, after moving to Halifax County with his father, James, never moved again. He always lived in the same location, the Second Fork of Birches Creek, on land that is now the Vernon Hill community at the intersection of Oak Level Road and Highway 360, also known as Mountain Road.

Before I introduce you to my William, let me tell you who he is not.

The Wrong Williams

These men are NOT my William Moore. I compiled an embarrassingly large “every name” spreadsheet of every Moore person I could find in colonial Virginia with the assistance of Joyce Browning’s excellent extractions before she retired from active genealogy. This means that if there is a land sale with a buyer, seller and 4 witnesses, there are 6 entries in my spreadsheet for this transaction, which is also indexed by location and waterway.

Needless to say, the Moore family was not isolated, and the Combs, Rice and Estes families took the same migration path from eastern Virginia to Halifax County, more or less, so their records are contained in this same 25,000+ row spreadsheet. By the middle to late 1700s, these early colonial families had been intermingling and intermarrying as they pushed the westward frontier for 5 or 6 generations.

Yes, it was a miserable exercise BUT, BUT and this is very important, without that effort, I would never have been able to sort these families. In some cases, I still can’t entirely.

These 4 William Moores who are also found in Halifax County in the 1700s and the early 1800s are NOT my William.

  1. William (1) Moore born between 1712-1715 and died in Halifax County in 1786. He was living there as early as 1767 according to the vestry processioning notes. He lived on (Little) Cherrystone Creek and had a wife named Prudence who predeceased him. He is somehow connected to Robert Wooding. His children were Lucy Anna Moore who married John Echols and lived in Lunenburg County, Elizabeth Moore who married a Rowlett, William Jr. who lived in Pittsylvania County and probably married Sarah Hill. William lists grandchildren in his will, was wealthy and had an extensive probate.
  2. William (2) Moore born between 1770-1780 lived on Catawba and Childrey Creeks on land purchased by his father, Thomas who lived in Cumberland Co., VA in 1804. In 1829, William and his son William G. along with sons Wesley and Barnett were acquitted of assault. William (2) was declared a “lunatic” in 1833 and died in 1834 with a will. He had wife Mary, children; Harriett who married Thomas E. Moore, a hatter, who MAY have been the son of my William Moore or possibly a son of Daniel Moore, but there is no proof. (I’d love a Y DNA test from this line.) Harriett and Thomas sold their interest in William (2) Moore’s estate in 1834 from Charlotte County, next door to Halifax. William (2) also had son Barnett B. Moore born 1794 who married Lydia Booker and died in Greenbrier, WV, William G. Moore who married Virginia Taylor, Thomas P. Moore who married Susan Daniel, John W. Moore who was alive in 1834, Mary Moore who married a Taylor, Elizabeth Moore who married Donald Murphy and Jenetty Moore who married Griffin Toombs. There is no known Y DNA test from this Moore line, but I suspect there may be a relationship with my William Moore family. In addition to the possible marriage, Isaac Medley was William (2) Moore’s estate administrator and was involved with my William as well, both as a neighbor and the man who foreclosed his property. On the other hand, Isaac Medley was a wealthy land speculator and seemed to be involved with everyone.
  3. William (3) Moore married Rhoda Archer Powell in August 1802. His estate was probated in by 1804 in Halifax County. If they had a child, it was a female. This William may be the William associated with the Hugh Moore group.
  4. William (4) Moore alive in 1775 who accepted a slave in payment of his wife’s share of her father, James Hill’s estate. I believe they lived on or near Wynne and Terrible Creeks in Halifax County.

While these aren’t my William Moore, it’s certainly possible that some of these men are related to my William Moore and if the Y DNA were be tested of Moore males who descend from these lines, we would be able to prove or disprove it – breaking down brick walls for all parties. There’s also an early Daniel and Thomas Moore who may be related. I have a DNA testing scholarship for any Moore male who descends from these lines. If any of these are your lines, leave a comment on this article, please!

My Guy – The Reverend William Moore

The Reverend William Moore was one of the earliest Methodist Ministers in the US, even before the Revolutionary War, and in particular, Virginia. He was such an interesting man and quite well traveled for a humble Virginia colonial farmer. Of course, most of his travels were on the back of a horse plodding through all kinds of weather on his way to meeting houses carrying his Bible in his saddlebag. He began as a circuit-riding preacher.

William Moore was born about 1750 in Amelia County, Virginia near Saylor Creek, the part that would become Prince Edward County in 1754. His parents, James Moore and Mary Rice lived beside her parents Joseph Rice and his wife Rachel, so William grew up beside his grandparents, at least until they pulled up stakes, packed the wagon and set off for greener pastures about 75 miles away.

Back then, 75 miles was a far distance. William may never have seen his grandparents again.

By 1770, the Moore family had moved to Halifax County, Virginia where on January 7th we find a deed from James Spradling and his wife, Mary, to James Moore for “238 acres on the branches of the second fork of Burches Creek whereon the said Moore now lives being a part of a patent to said Spradling dated Sept. 16, 1765.” This deed was witnessed by George Stubblefield. The Moores had a generations-long relationship with the Stubblefield family and may have already been related.

Halifax County Tax Lists

Before the 1790 census, thank goodness we have Halifax County tax lists, at least partial rolls for some years.

William Moore first appears on the head of household list in 1782 with a total of 6 “white souls.” Given that 2 are he and his wife, that leaves 4 children born over approximately 8 years, plus one year before the birth of the first child and 1 year for maybe 1 death puts the marriage of William and Lucy at about 1772. Subtracting 21 years from that puts William’s birth at about 1750 or 51, or earlier. We know William died in 1826, which would have made him about 77. Lucy lived for several more years.

In 1783, a personal property tax list was taken that tells us that William had one horse and 2 cows and in 1784, he is taxed with 100 acres “from last year.” By 1784, he is up to 7 cattle and in 1785, he has 7 household members, so another child has been born. William continues to be taxed on 100 acres of land, even though he hasn’t purchased any yet, according to the deed books. As a “renter,” he is likely responsible for the taxes on the land he cultivates.

In 1788, he has 2 horses but in 1789 and 1790, only 1. Unfortunately, the 1790 census for Halifax County is missing as is 1800 and 1810.

By 1792, William has 2 horses until 1795 when he has one again but in 1796, back to 2. I suspect he is breeding a horse and selling the colt, but that’s just a guess.

In 1794, William begins being taxed on 170 acres.

In 1797, William is listed as exempt from taxes. There are very few reasons for this to occur:

  • Advanced age (70 at that time in Halifax County)
  • Disability (authorized by the court)
  • A minister
  • A sheriff or official

Granted, William was a minister, but not an Anglican minister. Never before had he been listed as exempt from taxes. His father, James, had been exempt every year since 1791, likely due to advanced age. I think James was born by 1721, so the fact that he was exempt in 1791 would seem to corroborate that.

William is not exempt in 1798, but is again in 1799.

If William was exempt because of age, he would have been consistently exempt from 1797 on, but he wasn’t. Something happened to William in 1796 or 1797, which is also the same time that he stopped submitting marriage documents to the Halifax County Clerk to be recorded.

In 1798, William is listed with 170 acres +100 acres from R. Dayelle. Is this really Ransom Day?

In 1799, William has a total of 300 acres listed as follows:

  • 100 from James Moore
  • 100 from same
  • 100 from Ransom Day

In 1799 and 1800, William is back to one horse but has 2 again in 1801. The 1801 tax list says nothing about being exempt.

In 1802, William is taxed on 200 acres of land and that correlates with the sale of the 100 acres that he bought previously from Ransom Day. He has 3 horses that year and he is exempt again. He has 3 horses in 1803 and 1804, but 2 in 1805.

William continues to be exempt until 1806 and 1809 when he is not listed as exempt and has 4 horses. He is once again listed as exempt in 1810. After that, the tax lists are different and only provide the number of acres which continues to be 200 acres on the Second Fork of Birches Creek for William.

In 1812, William begins to be listed as William Sr., indicating that another, younger William has emerged, likely his son.

I can’t tell all of the William Moores in the county apart, so we don’t know when or if William’s son William joined the tax list. Both William and his brother Azariah married and settled in Pittsylvania County.

Azariah shows up on the tax rolls in 1804, meaning he would have been born in 1783 or before. He was a veteran in the war of 1812. His death was recorded in Pittsylvania County, but unfortunately his mother’s name is not provided.

1816 is the last year that we have tax lists for this time period. William is missing entirely from the 1820 census. The only possible William Moore that could be him is not living among the neighbors where I would expect to find him and has a slave. Given what I know about William, I’d be very hard-pressed to believe that William is mine. I think he was either missed or is at the bottom of a census page that managed to get cut off. Looking at the schedule, that’s exactly where I would expect to find him, based on his known neighbors.


The Rice and Moore families were early dissenting families in Prince Edward County, meaning they did not belong to the Anglican Church. Initially, these dissenting churches were illegal, but eventually, after the Revolutionary War, each county was grudgingly allowed to have 2 or 3 “dissenting ministers” who had to be ordained and to register with the county who would then license them to perform marriages and other ministerial functions.

The requirement for ordination served to severely limit the number of requests, as ordination implied some sort of formal training and interacting with the upper echelon of the church, not just being inspired, jumping on a tree stump and preaching to your neighbors.

Joseph Rice, William Moore’s grandfather, is recorded in 1759 as having built a meeting house for a dissenting religion in Prince Edward County, so we know that William Moore was raised in a “dissenting” household. This is very probably why William’s marriage to Lucy was never recorded in the records of Halifax (or Prince Edward) County, as their marriage was likely not performed by a minister from the Anglican Church. In 1770-1775 when they would have married, the provision for dissenting ministers to be licensed had not yet been incorporated into law, so their marriage was technically nonexistent.

Another possibility is that marriage records are missing in Halifax County for the Revolutionary War years. They could have been married and the return filed, only to be subsequently lost.

Unfortunately, because that record doesn’t exist today, we don’t know Lucy’s last name.

The Early Methodist Church

William Moore is particularly interesting because of his, at that time, revolutionary religious ideas, and his passionate renderings of them.

The Methodist church had its roots in England. Francis Asbury volunteered his service to America in 1771, and in 1776, when the Revolutionary War broke out, he was the only Methodist minister to remain in America. The rest, along with many Anglican ministers as well, returned to the safety of England. While the Methodists often received the sacraments from Anglicans, now that option no longer existed.

Seeing the problem of the lack of ministers, Asbury set about finding American men to recruit as circuit riders. He had a problem however, in that ministers at that time had to return to England to be ordained, something colonial men were not interested in doing, nor was it practical, especially not in wartime. Asbury continued his work as best he could with the resources he had.

The Methodist Church in the colonies was a fledgling organization. The 1784 Christmas Conference, held a few years after the American Revolution, in Baltimore, Maryland, was a historic founding conference of the newly independent Methodists within the United States 

By November 1784, it had become evident that the American Methodists were to be granted some level of freedom from the English Anglican Church Methodist societies, and Thomas Coke was to ordain Francis Asbury as the first American Bishop at the Christmas Conference.

Eighty-three itinerant ministers were eligible to attend that conference, and of those, 60 were present, including William Moore. This record is preserved in a painting of the historic event. Unfortunately, William is too far to the rear to be seen clearly, but he is individually identified.

One possible fly in the ointment is that a different William Moore who lived in Baltimore was known to be associated with Francis Asbury, but the William Moore from Halifax County was close to another minister at that conference by the name of James O’Kelly. My ancestor, William Moore, is known to be the man who founded a church in Halifax County with O’Kelly.

We will never know for sure if the William Moore in the painting is mine from Halifax County or the William from Baltimore. For now, I’m going to assume it was my William because of his association with O’Kelly and his level of commitment to the Methodist faith.

The 1784 Christmas Conference

The famous “1784 Christmas Conference” in Baltimore, Maryland, convened on Christmas Eve, where Francis Asbury was ordained by Thomas Coke by the authority of John Wesley. This signaled the beginning of the organized Methodist Church in America, separate from England. At this conference, itinerant preachers gathered from the frontiers where they were circuit riders. Over a six-week period they prepared for the meeting and they were all present for the historic ordination of Asbury on Christmas Day along with 12 additional ministers who were ordained, setting the precedent that ministers were ordained in America at the Conference.

William Moore 1784 Christmas Conference Asbury Ordination.jpg

This wood carving of a painting shows the ordination of Asbury by Coke, with the legend prepared, below.

William Moore Christmas Conference key.jpg

William Moore Christmas Conference.png

This is the best rendition we have of William Moore if this is our William.

William’s son, Azariah, was described by his widow in her War of 1812 pension application as having had black hair, blue eyes and a red complexion.

William is described in “The Lives of Christian Ministers” as follows:

REV. WILLIAM MOORE became an itinerant preacher among the Methodists in 1778 and continued three years having located in 1791. He was at the Conference in 1779, as also was O’Kelly, and was one of the preachers that approved the appointing of a presbytery and the giving of the ordinance to the people. This Conference was regular in its appointment and had plenary powers. It appointed a presbytery to ordain its preachers and authorized the administration of the ordinances. The answer to the question, “What mode shall we adopt for the administration of baptism?” was “Either sprinkling or plunging, as the parents or adult may choose.” Whether dissatisfied with the circuit assigned him, after Mr. Asbury came to the Conference, we know not. He was admitted however while Asbury was under the protection of his friend Mr. White’s roof in the state of Delaware. After Mr. O’Kelly’s withdrawal, he united with him in his labors, and attended the General Meetings. He attended the Conference or General Meeting at Shiloh in Halifax county, Virginia, in 1805, and served on the presbytery of ordination. Up to this time he had been a minister more than thirty years.

The interesting thing about the above passage is that the 1805 date and the 30 years comment combined indicate that William became a minister before 1775.  Also interesting is that William became a minister before the Revolutionary War, while Asbury was taking shelter from the War and not traveling to preach.

This begs the question of when William was ordained. Did he travel back to England, or was he ordained in the US?

To understand this issue of circuit assignments, it helps to understand how the Methodist religion worked at that time since there were very few ministers. The following graphic is from “Life of Rev. James O’Kelly – Christian Church in the South  – Restoration Movement.”

William Moore Methodist initerant system.png

In essence, this ruckus was caused because ministers who did not like where they were assigned had no avenue to appeal. Keep in mind that most of these ministers were also farmers. Many were not paid at all, so being absent from one’s farm for long stretches could have devastating financial and family implications.

Not only did William witness history being made at the 1784 Conference, he was part and parcel. While William Moore didn’t leave us a journal, we’re fortunate that O’Kelly, who was friends with Thomas Jefferson, wrote, Asbury wrote and the church that O’Kelly and William Moore founded recorded their history!

Let’s take a look at what they tell us.

Later Conferences

William likely attended state conferences as well in order to participate in the functioning of the church and commune with the other ministers.

In 1786, the Virginia Conference met at Laine’s Chapel in Sussex county. In 1787, the Conference in Virginia was held at the Rough Creek church in Charlotte county across the Staunton River from Halifax. In 1781 and 1789 the Conference met in Petersburg.

By 1791 William was no longer attending the Methodist Conference, having “located”, meaning he was no longer itinerant, according to the Methodist Church archives, and was assigned to a church.

This is probably the period when the Moore Meeting House in Halifax County, Virginia, where William lived, was established, even though William Moore didn’t own that land.

The Methodist Church couldn’t explain why William didn’t have an obituary on file, but I solved that mystery.

Dissenting Again – A New Methodist Church

At the Baltimore Conference held November 11, 1793, the Rev. James O’Kelly and his immediate cohorts, which likely included our William Moore, withdrew from the Conference after a disagreement with Bishop Asbury (possibly over slavery, which Kelly and Moore vehemently opposed) to establish the “Republican Methodist Church.”

In 1801, the name was changed to “The Christian Church” and in 1803 they founded what is today the Pleasant Grove United Church of Christ in Halifax County, just down the road three and a half miles from where William lived.

William Moore Pleasant Grove map.png

William’s Ordination

In 1805, William Moore with James O’Kelly together attended the Conference or General Meeting for their new religion at Shiloh in Halifax County. William Moore served upon the presbytery of ordination at that event and was recorded as having been a minister more than 30 years, which dates his preaching career to before 1775.

We don’t know exactly when William Moore was ordained, but if he did not go to England, then I wonder if his ordination was “made official” at the 1784 Christmas Conference because the next general Methodist conference was not held until 1791 or 1792 and then every 4 years afterward.

William is recorded as having filed a marriage return with the county clerk in 1786 and produced his ordination papers in court in 1789. We know that he was present at the 1784 Christmas Conference where 12 ministers were ordained. If he was ordained earlier, it’s unclear how that could have happened unless he traveled to England for his ordination or was unofficially ordained by the other ministers. If that had happened, then how would he have had ordination papers?

What I wouldn’t give for a copy of those ordination papers submitted to the court or William’s probably threadbare copy of “The Sunday Services of the Methodists in the United States of America,” written by Wesley, typically presented to ministers at the time of their ordination.

The following quote about William Moore from “The Lives of Christian Ministers” hints that he may have been ordained during the Revolutionary War and before the Christmas Conference in 1784. When the War broke out, Asbury stopped circuit riding and took refuge in Delaware in the home of Mr. White and did not return to circuit riding until immediately following the Christmas Conference in 1784.

“Whether dissatisfied with the circuit assigned him, after Mr. Asbury came to the Conference, we know not. He was admitted however while Asbury was under the protection of his friend Mr. White’s roof in the state of Delaware.”

So if not Asbury, then who “admitted” William Moore?

According to Asbury’s transcribed notes, on page 381, in a footnote, he states that in 1778, at Broken Back Church in Leesburg, VA, the following questions were asked:

Ques.: What are our reasons for taking up the administration of the ordinances among us? Ans.: Because our Episcopal Establishment is now dissolved, and, therefore, in almost all our circuits the members are without the ordinances.” Eighteen preachers approved. They were Isham Tatum, Charles Hopkins, Nelson Reed, Reuben Ellis, Philip Gatch, Thomas Morris, James Morris, James Foster, John Major, Andrew Yeargin, Henry Willis, Francis Poythress, John Sigman, Leroy Cole, Carter Cole, James O’Kelly, William Monroe (or Moore, Lednum, op. cit., 280), Samuel Roe. Other questions were: “What form of ordination shall be observed to authorize any preacher to administer? Ans. By that of a presbytery. Ques. Who are the presbytery? Ans. Philip Gatch, Reuben Ellis, James Foster and in case of necessity, Leroy Cole. What power is vested in the presbytery by this choice? First to administer the ordinances themselves; second, to authorize any other preacher or preachers, approved by them, by the form of laying on of hands.

Asbury disproved, but it happened nonetheless.

Was this “approval” William’s ordination? This 1778 date correlates with the information provided in the “Lives of Christian Ministers.” William could have been preaching prior to 1778 before being ordained.

According to the History of Methodism in the US discussing the American Revolution:

Up until this time, with the exception of Strawbridge, none of the missionaries or American preachers was ordained. Consequently, the Methodist people received the sacraments at the hands of ministers from established Anglican churches. Most of the Anglican priests were Loyalists who fled to England, New York or Canada during the war. In the absence of Anglican ordination, a group of native preachers ordained themselves. This caused a split between the Asbury faction and the southern preachers. Asbury mediated the crisis by convincing the southern preachers to wait for Wesley’s response to the sacramental crisis. That response came in 1784.

Was William one of the self-ordained ministers? What the 1784 answer to officially ordain William Moore at the Christmas Conference?

It’s known that William Moore and James O’Kelly were fast friends. In 1786, O’Kelly was assigned to preside over the circuit that included Halifax County.

William Moore produced his ordination papers in court in Halifax County, VA in 1789 and was licensed as one of the 3 “dissenting ministers” allowed to each county after the Revolutionary War. In order to qualify, each minister had to produce their ordination papers and then they were licensed to perform marriages, baptisms and other ministerial functions.

Most importantly, they could register the marriages they performed. We know that William was marrying people in Halifax before this date, at least as early as 1786 when he married Bolling Hamlett and Polly Combes and registered the marriage with the clerk of court, so his ordination was clearly prior to 1786, one way or another.

The Moore Meeting House and Neighborhood

William moved to Halifax County with his father, likely farming part of his father’s land for several years. William and Lucy were married by about 1772, so the marriage likely occurred in Halifax County sometime after William moved there about 1770.

The Revolutionary War and William’s circuit riding likely interrupted plans for land ownership, but in 1797, Ransom Day sold William Moore 100 acres on Polecat and Birches Creeks for 75 pounds, with the “meeting house excluded.” It’s worth noting that Thomas Moore witnessed this purchase, given that Thomas is believed to be one of William’s children, perhaps his eldest. If Thomas Moore was not William’s son, Thomas was probably William’s youngest brother.

William and Lucy owned this tract of land until 1801 when they sold it to Arthur Slaton, again, excepting “where the meeting house stands.” They couldn’t sell what they didn’t own.

Two of William’s daughters married Slayte/Slate men.

In deeds later in the 1800s, the meeting house is referred to as the “Moore Meeting House” even though William never officially owned it.

In 1798, James Moore sold 200 acres for 65 pounds on the Second Fork of Birches Creek to William. Thomas Moore witnessed that transaction too. The Ferguson family, neighbors with whom an alliance from Amelia County is suspected, along with Henderson family members served as witnesses.

William Moore meeting house property.png

William Moore’s 1797 land purchase from Ransom Day, “meeting house excepted,” today includes the land where the Vernon Hill post office is located, a contemporary brick house and probably the white house to the east as well.

William Moore meeting house location.png

William’s property included the land where the Mount Vernon Baptist Church is currently located, directly across the road from the brick house which is the parsonage.

William Moore Mount Vernon Baptist Church.png

On the map below, the red arrow points to the Mount Vernon Baptist Church which did not exist when William Moore owned this land.

William Moore Mount Vernon aerial.png

Where star #1 is placed is the original location of the Moore Meeting House, and star #2 marks the location of an old abandoned cemetery, probably permanently lost to time by now.

The person who took me to the old cemetery probably 15 years ago told me that when he was a child, they played in the cemetery, but recently backhoes and bulldozers had all but obliterated what was left. There were at one time “old stones” but none were either there or readable when I visited. True to form, Yucca plants and Periwinkle revealed that this location had once been a burial ground, even though when I visited piles of logging debris were pretty much all that was left.

I doubt this is where William and Lucy are buried, given that this land was sold in 1801. Assuredly, William preached funerals in this forgotten cemetery though as his neighbors were laid to rest.

William Moore Mt. Vernon cemetery.jpg

The cemetery across the road beside the Mt. Vernon Church did not exist in 1909 when the land was split between the heirs of Mrs. I. C. Saterfield who inherited the land from her father, an Anderson. The cemetery was founded in 1936, so William clearly isn’t buried here either. He’s probably buried on the land owned by his father, James, located just to the south.

William Moore Henderson cemetery.png

At one time, pretty much all of this land was owned by James Moore, William Moore or Edward Henderson. Today, the land south of the intersection of Mountain Road (360) and 683 (Oak Level), on the west side of the road is owned by the Henderson family. The old cemetery, probably shared between Edward Henderson and his father-in-law, James Moore is located approximately where star #3 is placed.

We’re fortunate that after William’s death in 1826, Lucy contested William’s 1822 transaction which resulted in him losing their land and sued for her share of the property. She won and the court ordered a survey which was included in the chancery papers.

William Moore Lucy survey.jpg

The acreage doesn’t exactly add up to 200, so clearly either the entire tract does not equal 174 acres, or 25 acres were split earlier and never recorded.

William’s land is probably where the Mount Vernon Baptist Church stands today, given that in 1851, Lucy’s land is referenced as being directly across the road from the Vernon Meeting House. The Vernon Meeting House was originally the Moore Meeting House, located on the north side of the road, probably renamed when the original building was torn down and a “new” one constructed in its place.

Across the street from today’s church where the parsonage stands is where the original Moore meeting house was located, surrounded by William’s 100 acres that he bought from Ransom Day, “excepting the meeting house,” as shown in the photo below on the north side of Mountain Road.

William Moore parsonage.jpg

Researching this land further, the deeds explicitly mention the headwaters of Polecat Creek which originates on this piece of land. The deed also mentioned the waters of Birches Creek which is on the south side of the road, so William’s 100 acres spanned the road.

Furthermore, the minister at the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church explained the church’s history, indicating that the “original” church was on the north side of the road in the 1800s, which is confirmed by various deeds.

William Moore Polecat Creek source.jpg

The headwaters of Polecat Creek are behind the dog house, which sits where the old Moore Meeting House used to be. I can see the church-goers wandering to the stream after the sermon to drink from the gourd dipper shared by all.

William Moore buildings.jpg

Apparently, the “Moore Meeting House,” as it would come to be called, was the predecessor to the “original” Mt. Vernon Baptist Church that was built on the north side of the road and torn down after the church on the south side of the road was built in the early 1900s.

Looking to the east of the original meeting house location today, we see an old house which probably dates to the 1800s, but not from the early 1800s. Those would have been log cabins.

William Moore white house

This home with its old barn is beautiful and likely stands on the 100 acres that William once owned.

William Moore white house close.jpg

In 1801, William Moore and his wife Lucy sold this land “except where the meeting house stands.” In deeds as late as 1854 references are made to both the “lines of Lucy Moore” which apparently intersected with this land across the road and where the “old Moore Meeting House” stood.

William Moore barn.jpg

Buildings in Halifax County aren’t replaced because they are old. They are simply re-appropriated for something else. I surely wish the old Moore Meeting house still existed. It was probably a small log cabin that was built sometime before 1790 was torn down in the 1800s.

William Moore Halifax.jpg

I love these old buildings. Many of the original cabins were turned into barns and are still in use.

William Moore field.jpg

Driving south on 683, Oak Level Road, William’s land is stunningly beautiful. The land here is gently rolling and occasionally, rocky.

William Moore back of property.png

The back side of the Moore land is 663, also known as Carlbrook Road. Although the road is paved, it probably resembles the region when William first settled here and began to clear the trees to farm.

William Moore fields.jpg

William’s fields. James Moore bought land that had just been patented, so no fields would have existed then. James and William cleared the land for farming. Back-breaking work.

William Moore Henderson field.jpg

Houses are visible, scattered widely, in the distance. Many structures date from the 1800s and some even earlier. I believe this is the old Henderson property, above.

William Moore old structure.jpg

Historic structures peek at you from fields and woods, whispers from the past.

William Moore hill.jpg

A misty morning on Oak Level Road, I wonder if William would recognize his land today?

Just down Mountain Road, slightly west of High Point Road, we find a place the locals call Top of the World. Looking north, you can see for 50 miles to the Peaks of Otter in the distance.

William Moore top of the world.png

All can say is that it’s a good thing that the one lot for sale along Mountain Road didn’t have a very good view, or I might be a Virginia resident today, following in the footsteps of William Moore. I was truly tempted.

William Moore rolling hills.jpg

Driving down the road, you can see timeless visages of yesteryear. Not much has changed except there are more fields and fewer trees.

William Moore Birches Creek

What stories these old barns and houses could tell, if they could just speak.

William Moore old barn

Foundations were made of gathered stones, as were early gravestones.

William Moore old house

Who lived here? Did William know them? Are they family?

William Moore spring

Pioneers looked to settle on land with a fresh spring, assuring clean water that had not been contaminated by human or animal waste.


Soon the spring formed a little creek, like this one on the old Moore land

William Moore log cabin

There’s every possibility that this log building stood when William lived. Given his role as a minister for half a century, comforting families in times of grief, he was probably in every home in this part of Halifax County at one time or another.

Road Hands

Road hand lists are invaluable sources of information. Episodically, the court would order certain “hands” to labor on the various roads, which of course were dirt and full of ruts at that time. Those lists tell us who the neighbors were. In 1801, we find this court entry:

Jacob Farguson surveyor from Martin’s Fork to County Line, hands James Farrell Jr. and Sr., Josiah Young, Exekiel Foulke, Frederick Ferrell, James Watson, Sherwood Watson, Edward Henderson, John Henderson, Hudson Butler, Arter Slayton, Hudson Farguson, William Moore, Robert Walton, Isac Wilson, William Womack, William Farguson, David Wilson, Richard McGrigor, Bartlett Chaves (listed twice).

Of these surnames, we know that the Fergusons lived in Amelia County when the Moore family did, Edward Henderson is believed to be William’s brother-in-law, Arthur Slayton bought land from William Moore and two of William’s daughters married Slayte men.

The most interesting aspect of this list is that somehow my DNA is connected to the Womack family through the Moore line. Not just once but matching roughly 30 descendants. This means there’s smoke and probably fire if I could just unravel the web.

We don’t know the surname of William Moore’s wife, Lucy, or the identity of 3 of William’s grandparents. Lots of opportunity for a Womack connection. The Womack family is also found in Amelia and Prince Edward Counties interacting with both the Moore family and the Rice’s.

There’s a story there yet to be told!

The Split!

Religion is nothing if not contentious.

The Rev. William Moore was apparently very close to the Rev. James O’Kelly.  Both were probably at the Christmas Conference in 1784 where O’Kelly was ordained.

William was destined to split with the Methodist Church, and probably did so when his friend James O’Kelly left the church. William then participated in founding both a new religious sect and a new church.

On August 4, 1794, O’Kelly and his ministerial secessionists from the Methodist church met in Surry County, VA to organize and form their own church.

From the Pleasant Grove Church, a few miles east of the Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, I was provided with the following information:

At the end of the 18th century, and the Christian Church in America was only 6 years old. At this time Reverend James O’Kelly who had broken from the Methodist Church because of a dispute with Francis Asbury came into Halifax County, Va. preaching the Word. Finding a number of people attracted to his preaching and being interested in the new Church movement called “Just Plain Christian,” the Rev. O’Kelly proposed that a Christian Church be organized, and Pleasant Grove Church, just off Mountain Road, was organized by the Rev. O’Kelly in 1803.

William Moore Pleasant Grove Church.jpg

In a flyer for their 197th anniversary, Sunday June 4, 2000, they indicate that their church was established in 1803 and that the first two ministers were Rev. James O’Kelly followed by Rev. William Moore. The first building was constructed of logs and stood just south of the present building. Unfortunately, their older church minutes no longer exist, having departed with one of the previous ministers.

William Moore Pleasant Grove today.png

The original building stood where the circular driveway is today, with the steps remaining in the center of the circle. In the photos above, they are to the right of the tree and resemble a pile of rocks. When I first visited, I was told that they left the steps so that the ladies could use them to mount horses or climb into wagons or buggies.


Information about James O’ Kelly written by J.F. Burnett, Minister in the Christian Church, helps us understand the issues that motivated both O’Kelly and by inference, William Moore, to split with the Methodist Church.

The question as to whether or not preachers should be allowed to administer the communion, baptize candidates, marry people, and bury the dead, always found Mr. O’Kelly on one side, and the rule of the Church on the other. Bishop Asbury’s insistence that the laymen were to “pay, pray and obey” was always objectionable to Mr. O’Kelly and the divergence increased and the chasm widened, and the point of cleavage became more prominent, so that by the time the General Conference met in 1792 a crisis  was inevitable. By this time too, Mr. O’Kelly had reached a high place in the favor of the church. He had presided over some of the largest and most important districts within the territory then occupied by the Methodist Church, and only two men out-ranked him in authority. He had, in all probability, accumulated means sufficient to put him above the necessity of salary and most certainly he had reached a well established leadership among his brethren. But it was not these that gave him prestige in the conference. It was his devotion to the right, his indomitable will, and his Christian courage. He would have been impressive had he been clothed in rags, and walking bearfoot. The craven had no place in his makeup, either as a man or a preacher.

On December 1, 1789 James O’Kelly sat in the body of the conference where the bishops proposed that a council of presiding elders be convened and strongly opposed some of the measures. Notwithstanding, Bishop Asbury, who was in favor of them, deemed it wise to call a second, but only 10 elders attended and a third was never held. O’Kelly labored heartily in favor of a general conference and to him the Methodist church owes “that essential and valuable constitutent of its polity.” He wrote letters to Thomas Coke, Wesley’s ambassador securing his cooperation, and in consequence bringing these two fathers of American Methodism to the verge of antagonism. Seeing that a crisis had been reached, which he could not prudently ignore, Asbury sacrificed his personal wishes and consented to the holding of a general conference. It was called for November 1, 1792 and O’Kelly introduced a resolution to modify the bishop’s power of appointment to the extent of allowing any preacher who should feel dissatisfied with the place assigned to him an appeal to the conference. This was rejected by a large majority and O’Kelly sent in his resignation and withdrew. Several of O’Kelly’s adherents also left the conference and he subsequently organized a “Republican Methodist Church,” afterward called the “Christian Church.” In 1829 it included several thousands in its membership, mostly in North Carolina and Virginia. O’Kelly focused his efforts primarily in Virginia where he oversaw the best circuits.

At one point, Thomas Coke reported that he had prevailed upon O’Kelly and “his 36 ministers” to remain within the church, but that was not to be. The split occurred and O’Kelly held conferences in his new group of churches.

William Moore was clearly one of O’Kelly’s band of 36 merry ministers.

The General Meeting for 1805 was held at Shiloh church on the line of Pittsylvania and Halifax counties. The presbytery appointed to ordain Rev. Thomas E. Jeter was composed of the following Elders: James O’Kelly, Clement Nance, Joseph Hackett, William Moore, and Coleman Pendleton.

The General Meeting of the Conference was held at Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1807 and 1808.

The General Meeting in 1809 was held June 4th at Shiloh, in Virginia, where O’Kelly preached at Apple’s chapel and administered the Lord’s Supper. Five other ministers were present. It’s likely that William Moore attended and based on the meeting locations, we can gain insight into what William was doing at that time. He traveled far more than most men of his generation.

In 1810, the General Meeting of the Conference was held at Pine Stake church in Orange County, Virginia. It was there that a division occurred due to a difference of opinion in respect to “the mode and subjects of water baptism, which led to the organization of the North Carolina and Virginia Conference.”

Mr. O’Kelly was a strong effusionist. In his book entitled “The Prospect before Us by Way of Address to the Christian Church,” he says, “But to illustrate the figures still further. The ark may be a figure of Christ’s Church; the family that entered into the ark and were saved so as by water, may answer as a figure of household baptism under the gospel dispensation.”

Translated, this meant that O’Kelly strongly preferred sprinkling as opposed to baptismal immersion, and he felt that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost were three separate literal beings, not one tri-partite Holy Being.

If O’Kelly held those beliefs, it’s likely that William Moore did too, given that they co-founded a new church in Halifax County in 1803.

1811’s Virginia Conference was held in Caroline County. As it pertained to religion, it’s a safe bet that William Moore and O’Kelly were probably at the same conferences as long as both attended.

O’Kelly died in October 1826, the same year as William Moore. It’s a safe bet that those two men reunited on the other side!

O’Kelly published pamphlets and books throughout his life, including a hymnal. Reading O’Kelly’s writings would probably enlighten William Moore’s descendants about his beliefs as well.


Another influencing factor in the split from the Methodist Church may have been O’Kelly’s strict opposition to slavery. He was known as a “heroic opposer of slavery and enforced the anti-slavery law of the church.”

Francis Asbury stated in his “Journal,” volume 1, page 384, “Brother O’Kelly let fly at them (about slavery) and they were made mad enough.” In 1789, O’Kelly published his Essay on Negro-Slavery after having manumitted his only slave in 1785.

William Moore did not own slaves, nor did his father nor most of his children. Ironically, his refusal to participate in that wicked institution may have contributed to his financial issues that resulted in losing his property.

I get the sense that William Moore was a very strong, very determined man.

William’s Trail

In 1782 and 1799, one William Moore signed petitions protesting the glebe land provided to the ministers of the Anglican church. I don’t know if my William was the one who signed, but it would make perfect sense that a man who received no benefits from the Anglican church wouldn’t want his tax money to provide a farm for their minister. William certainly didn’t get a farm paid for by the government. In fact, the petition William signed was to sell the glebe land.

It seems that perhaps William Moore’s strength wasn’t paperwork. A loose paper filed in the Clerk’s office in Halifax County shows that William “saved” the records of 5 different couples between August of 1790 and March of 1791, writing a single note to record all 5. The good news is that this is clearly his own handwriting.

William Moore list of marriages 1790-1791.jpg

William married dozens of people between 1786 and 1797 when the records abruptly stop, which of course suggests that these couples were also dissenters or members of dissenting families. That makes sense, because at least 3 families have connections in some way to the family of John R. Estes who William’s daughter, Ann Moore, known as Nancy, married in 1811.

The marriage records found at the courthouse may have stopped because when William withdrew from the Methodist religion, he also lost his official “blessing” as a dissenting minister. That didn’t stop him from preaching, and I doubt it stopped him from marrying people either. It certainly didn’t stop anyone from being buried or baptized!

As a minister and respected member of the community, William was peripherally involved in many lawsuits and transactions, typically as a witness. I’m sure as a minister, his testimony was fairly unimpeachable. Probably the most interesting of these cases were the ones for hog-stealing and slander where Edward Henderson (probably his brother-in-law) alleged that someone was “drunk and out of humor.”

William didn’t avoid lawsuits entirely though. In 1795, Uzza Pankey sued William Moore for slander and in 1796, William sued Benjamin Huddleston, Usse Pankey and Stephen Pankey. We don’t know the outcomes, but the Pankeys were neighbors and William had performed the marriage of one family member. William Moore and the Pankeys shared a property line, so life must have been interesting during this time.

I’d love to know what the slander suit was about. Looking at William’s 1819 deposition, he didn’t mince words.

No matter the century, there’s always neighborhood drama.

In 1796, the overseers of the poor bound John Chambers, the son of Sarah Chambers to “William Moore, preacher.”

In 1797, William Moore was a witness for Isaac Medley against Bolling Hamlett, whose wedding William had performed. Isaac Medley is an important figure in William’s life, so stay tuned.

In 1813, William Moore, along with Azariah are found with “effects insufficient to pay taxes,” but this William mentioned could be William’s son, William.

In 1812, 1813 and 1814, Azariah and William are deputy sheriffs, but I suspect this record pertains to the younger William Moore.

In 1814, William is sued for debt, twice. Early Virginia was very litigious.

In 1815, William Moore is taxed for his 200 acres on the Second Fork of Birches Creek, so we know how much land he owns.

Drunk or Insane

The most humorous document was an 1819 chancery suit regarding a wedding over which William presided in 1817 where he opined that the groom was either drunk or insane, but let’s look at William’s own words.

Deposition of William Moore in the suit between Isabel Dodson and John Dodson…Reverend William Moore saith that:

“on the 4th day of July 1817 I was sent for to marry a cupple in Milton (NC). There were a number of people collected together about the tavern. I took a seat in the Pizza and asked who was to be married. Some person replied “you’ll see directly” and in a very quick time John F. Dodson led Isabel Baines to the Pizza (probably piazza). I asked him for his license, he said he had them, and some person replied “you have them not” but that Thomas Turner who has them who had gone up to Jack’s Woods Tavern for dinner. I then told Dodson that he might lead back his bride until I got the license and he said so. I saw Thomas Denaho and he delivered me a lawful license. I then walked into the room the noon? and told him I was ready to wait on him, he led up his bride and I married the pair. I then took a seat in the pizza, there was a decanter of spirits setting on the shelf, he asked me if I would take a drink of grog and I told him no, he then took a drink and pulled out a red morocco pocketbook and gave me a dollar. In the time that I was performing the ceremony he said something it set the poeple a laughtin (sic) but I did not hear what it was that he said. I concur him to be in a state of intoxication at the time of the marriage or in a state of insanity. I have been acquainted with him for several years and I always considered him a person of weak intellects.”

Sworn October 19, 1819 William Moore (signed.)

William Moore 1819 signature.jpg

William certainly didn’t pull any punches. I’d wager the entire Dodson family, some of whom also lived on the Second Fork of Birches Creek, were permanently aggravated with William.


In 1820, there were 2 debt cases, one by and one against William Moore, but we can’t tell based on the little information we have which William Moore was involved.

In 1824, William Moore signed a debt document.

William Moore 1824 signature.jpg

By this time, William’s signature was quite shaky. He would have been on the north side of 70, probably 75.

William Moore 1824 signature close.jpg

This signature really makes me wonder. My presumption was that it was shaky because William was elderly, but the signature on an 1825 document looks quite different.

Another debt was incurred by William in 1825 as well and he conveyed to William Minor a deed of trust for 50 acres of his land.

In 1827, “James Young of Halifax County to Isaac Medley of Halifax whereas William Moore by a certain indenture bearing date March 26, 1822 did convey to James Young a tract of 200 acres bounded by the lines of Joseph Dunman, estate of Jacob Farguson, Jane Wilson, James Moore and Edward Henderson Sr. as described in said deed. James Young did expose to sale on November 25, 1825 and sold for $200 to Isaac Medley.”

On March 4th, 1827, William’s land was conveyed by trustee to Isaac Medley.

The conveyance does not say that William is deceased, but we know that by November 1826 William had expired because Lucy’s suit states that “sometime in the current year her husband William Moore disposed of some land to Isaac Medley for debt but that Lucy never conveyed her right of dower. William subsequently died.” The court ordered Lucy’s dower portion surveyed and she received 50 acres that included the mansion house.

Mansion house at that time meant main dwelling. I’ve seen descriptions of mansion houses that were 10X14 or 12X16, so not a mansion as we think of them today.

The Tobacco Lawsuit

A suit filed in Halifax County chancery court in 1825 reached back to 1812. In this suit which is clearly our William, based on both the other witnesses and the fact that he is referred to as the Reverend William Moore, he files suit regarding 1360 pounds of tobacco which was valued at $5 per hundred pounds which would be $68, a lot of money at that time.

The original company went out of business and was purchased by William Baily. William Moore alleges that he was never credited with the amount he was owed which was supposed to have been credited to his account.

In this suit, William appeared before the clerk on October 20, 1825. On March 12, 1825, William Henderson stated that he went to Manchester, VA with Reverend William Moore where the tobacco was inspected at Johnson’s warehouse and the amount of $5 per hundred was offered.

On February 25, 1825, William Moore notified William Bailey of the time and location that William Moore Junior and William Henderson were to be deposed at the homes of Nathaniel Wilson in Dansville, VA and at the house of William Minor, respectively.

William signed this notice, shown below.

William Moore 1825 signature.jpg

I wonder if someone wrote and signed this notification for William. It surely is not the signature of the same person who signed in 1824 with palsied writing.

We have additional signatures of William Moore when he signed for his daughters to marry.

Kids and Marriage

The known children of Rev. William and Lucy Moore:

  • Thomas Moore was born between 1771 and 1777, taken from the 1792 personal tax data. This is probably the Thomas who married Polly Baker in 1798 given that his granddaughter’s middle name is Baker. Thomas died in 1801 leaving orphans Rawley and William who were bound by the overseers of the poor to Anderson Moore who had also come from Prince Edward County and bought land from Nimrod Ferguson near James and William Moore. However, the Y DNA of one of Anderson’s Moore descendants doesn’t match the William Moore line DNA. In the 1840 census, Raleigh Moore is living beside Edward Henderson.

William Moore Raleigh cemetery.jpg

Raleigh is buried in a cemetery in a very overgrown clump of trees (above) on his land (below) at Vernon Hill where he also maintained a tavern.

William Moore Raleigh cemetery overgrown

  • Elizabeth Moore born between 1770-1780. She apparently winds up with her mother’s land and doesn’t marry.
  • Azariah Moore was born in 1783 or before and served in the War of 1812, dying in 1866. He married Letitia Johnson in 1818 in Pittsylvania County, having four daughters and two sons. Letitia’s father left her money but stipulated that Azariah couldn’t touch it, nor could it be used to pay his debts of which there seemed to be many. According to the census, one son apparently died young, but James F. Moore who was born in about 1822 survived. In 1880 we find Letitia S. Moore age 79 living with her son James F. Moore, age 58. It appears that James never married, or he married after his mother’s death sometime after 1880.
  • William Moore, born 1775-1785, moved to Pittsylvania County before 1815 and had business dealings with his brother, Azariah. William probably married Sarah (or Sally) and had at least 2 sons and 3 daughters. By 1850 William had died, but his wife Sarah was shown as age 64 (which could be in error) along with Nancy Jenkins age 36 (born about 1814), Sarah Jenkins age 11 (born about 1839) and a son William Moore born about 1820, age 30.
  • Ann Moore, known as Nancy, born about 1785 married John R. Estes on November 25, 1811 and moved to Claiborne Co., TN about 1820 where she died between 1860-1870.

John R Estes Ann Moore marriage

  • James Moore born about 1785 married Lucy Akin in 1817, lived beside Edward Henderson in the 1820 census and was dead before 1830 with no known children. In 1827 James lost his land by debt to Isaac Medley, the same man who purchased William Moore’s land the same year. By 1831, Lucy Akin Moore, James Moore’s widow, had married James Ives.
  • Kitty Moore born about 1788 married Francis Slate in 1805 and lives in Surry Co., NC in 1850.

William Moore 1805 signature Kitty Moore to Francis Slate.jpg

  • Jane Moore born about 1803 married James Blackstock in 1823.

William Moore 1823 signature Jane Moore to James Blackstock.jpg

  • Rebecca Moore born about 1805 married William G. Slayte (Slate) in 1825.

William Moore 1825 signature Rebecca Moore to William Slayte.jpg

Note that William Slayte is the same person (or at least the same name) that signed the debt document with William Moore in 1824.

Possible additional children of William Moore:

  • Lemuel born before 1791, perhaps as early as 1770-1780, appears in 1812 on the Halifax County tax list. In 1830 we find a Lemuel in Grainger Co. TN beside Mastin Moore, known to be a grandson of William’s brother. Sometimes Lemuel is written as Samuel. Furthermore, a Lemuel Moore married Anna Stubblefield in 1804 in Grainger County and died in 1859 in Laurel County, Kentucky. In 1797, Lemuel Moore is found in Greene County, TN beside Rice Moore, William Moore’s brother. I have DNA matches through 3 of Lemuel’s children at what would be (1) 4C1R, (2) 5C and (4) 5C1R if the Lemuel in Laurel County, KY is indeed William’s son. If that Lemuel is more distantly related, the relationships would be more distant. The connection could also be through the Stubblefield line, which may be connected through either William’s wife, Lucy, or William Moore’s parents.
  • Isaac born in 1793 or before, assigned as a road hand in 1814 with James Moore and Samuel (Lemuel?).
  • Israel born in 1791 or earlier, appears 1 time on the tax list in 1812 the same day as William.
  • Mary Moore born in 1775, found in 1850 census living with William B. Moore (the orphan of Thomas Moore and brother to Raleigh Moore).


By 1820 William was encountering financial difficulties. He would have been in his 70s by this time and probably less likely to preach. His income while not completely dependent on preaching was probably affected somewhat.

William took a loan using his land as collateral in 1822. He was unable to repay the loan, and his land was deeded to Isaac Medley by trustee in 1827 after he died. Those documents do give us a list of his meager holdings though, one wagon and gear, 4 horses, 3 cattle, 12 hogs, 3 feather beds, furniture, 2 bedsteads, all household and kitchen furniture and plantation tools, which he includes in with the land to secure the debt of $560.58. That would have left his wife, Lucy, with absolutely nothing – not even a pan to cook in, let alone anything else. This is the act of a truly desperate man.

However, Lucy never released her dower when he obtained the fateful loan in 1822.

After William’s death, Lucy sued Isaac Medley, the person who purchased William’s land (or debt) for $200 to obtain her 1/3 share of the dower rights and won. Actually, Isaac agreed to allow her the widow’s dower share. We’ll never know of course whether he did that because it was the right thing to do, or because he knew unquestionably that he would lose the suit if it went to trial.

I do know that hard feelings between the Moore and Medley families continued into the 2000s, but no one seems to remember why. As one Moore descendant in Halifax County says, “maybe that explains why the Moores have always disliked the Medleys,” except his language was stronger.

In addition to the actual documents of the lawsuit, we also have a survey showing William’s initial holdings and the portions with the “mansion house” apportioned to Lucy.  She held this land free and clear, not as a life estate and it began right across the road from the old Moore Meeting House.

Given that Lucy didn’t sign, I wonder if Lucy even knew that William had used their property as collateral for the 1822 loan.

While this may have, in part, been due to the lingering 1812 tobacco issue, it surely wasn’t entirely due to that. William owed far more than $68 plus interest would have covered. I can’t help but wonder how he came to owe so much money.

The 1824 debt to William Bailey for $100 as a result of a lawsuit would have complicated William’s financial situation further.

The 1824 document is the only signature of William’s that is shaky. Was he simply that upset? He certainly could have been if they just finished in the courtroom and another $100 issue was added to his already insurmountable debt. Was he an old man who saw the writing on the wall and knew that he was sinking?

My heart aches for William. No one wants to be vulnerable and watch everything you’ve worked for your entire life slip beyond your grasp.

No one wants to leave their elderly spouse of 50+ years unable to receive the basics of food and shelter without having to depend on their children.

William’s other signatures really don’t match each other either, although we don’t know why. It’s possible that his only authentic signature in the last few years of his life was the 1824 debt paper because everyone involved knew how legally critical that signature was.

He could have signed with an X and had the signature witnessed, but William was probably too proud to submit to that indignity on top of the debt indignity he was already suffering.


William Moore had several sons, but his Y DNA signature isn’t found through his sons, but from his brother’s descendants, plus a matching genetic signature from a descendant of Thomas who was probably William’s son.

William’s brother, Mackness Moore (c1766-1829) married Sarah Thompson and moved to Grainger County, Tennessee along with the Thompsons and Stubblefields. Mackness had son Richard, who had son Mastin Moore, shown below.

William Moore Mastin Moore

Mastin, William’s great-nephew, seated, is the closest we’ll ever get to seeing a Moore male. He probably resembled William, at least somewhat.

Viewing the Moore Worldwide Y DNA project at Family Tree DNA, we see that the descendants of James Moore are assigned as Group 19.

William Moore Y DNA.png

In addition to the 3 men who descend from James Moore and the one from Thomas Moore, we see another individual whose ancestor was John L. Moore, born in 1866 in Tennessee and married Lillie Whitaker.

John L. Moore’s death certificate shows that he died on September 14, 1932 in Nashville. He was a farmer and his father is given as Jim Moore.

The 1870 census shows John L. Moore, age 4, with brother Samuel, age 2, sister Amanda J. age 15 and brother William C., age 18, with James Moore, 39, and wife Mary, age 25, living in Putnam County, TN. It’s clear that William and Amanda aren’t Mary’s children, but John and Samuel look to be.

In 1880, James and Mary are living in Morgan County, with James working for the railroad. They now have additional children, Frances, 9, Mary, 7, Lydia 4, and James 1. John’s mother has been attributed as Mary Scott, but the delayed birth certificate for the James Moore whose mother was Mary Scott was born on October 2, 1882 in Sparta, White County, unless the James Moore who was in the 1880 census died.

James Moore, the father was born in 1831 in Tennessee. The name James looks quite familiar, of course. We know that Moore men migrated to Grainger County, but we have no idea if James descends from the Grainger group or whether, if we could simply pierce the brick wall of the identity of James’s parents, we might be able to push William Moore’s brick wall right over too.

After waiting 15 years, in 2018 a new Moore match appeared. The match isn’t exact, but a genetic distance of 3 at 67 markers. That man hails from Scotland, although I don’t know where in Scotland and he has yet to answer.

At least we have a Moore match that reaches back in time before James Moore, which answers unspoken questions about his paternal line.

Questions, so many Questions…

As I review William’s life, I’m left with so many questions.

  • How did William and apparently his brothers and father avoid the Revolutionary War? If William was born in 1750, he would have been the perfect age to have served between 1775-1780. The Methodists were not pietists. One William Moore swore an oath of allegiance in Pittsylvania County in 1777. This could have been our William, given how close he lived to the county line, but we don’t know.
  • Why did William become exempt from taxes in 1797, and was sporadically exempt for 7 of the 12 years we have records for between 1797-1810?
  • Why did William stop returning marriage documents in 1797? Was it related to a disability or the fact that he withdrew from the Methodist Conference? If so, that should have been in 1793, unless William didn’t withdraw when O’Kelly did. However, we know that by 1794, William was involved in the formation of the new religion, and that predates the 1797 discontinuance by 3 years.

My guess is a disability of some sort given the exact correlation with the first tax exemption year. However, we know that William was still attending the annual conference in 1805 and marrying people in 1817, according to his deposition, so the source of his disability might have resulted from an accident of some sort as opposed to dementia, strokes or related diseases.

  • Why did William allows the overseers of the poor to bind Thomas’s young children to Anderson Moore after Thomas’s death instead of taking them to raise? Was whatever happened to William in 1797 a factor?
  • When William left the Methodist Church, did his new denomination have their own ordination practices? If so, did O’Kelly ordain him again? Was he both twice dissenting and twice ordained?
  • How was William, or was he related to the Womacks, Stubblefields and Fergusons? DNA matches suggest strongly that either he was descended from the Womack family. Records of all three of those families are intermixed in Prince Edward and Amelia Counties and earlier.
  • The name Azariah is very unusual, yet we find Azariah Baily in 1780 as a witness to a deed with Charles Spradling and Edward Henderson, neighbors of both James and William Moore. Azariah Moore was born between 1780 and 1790. Was Azariah Baily related to William Moore or his wife? DNA shows no apparent matches to the Baily family of Halifax County.
  • The name Lemuel isn’t common either. We find a Lemuel Ferguson witnessing a deed with William Moore on Sandy Creek in 1793 when Nimrod Ferguson (Farguson) sells land to Hudson Farguson, his son. Nimrod Farguson appears as early as 1771 on a road list with James Moore. There are several DNA matches to descendants of both Nimrod and Isaac Ferguson, born in the early 1700s, but these matches could be a result of other lines. The name Isaac is possibly found in William Moore’s family but Nimrod doesn’t appear in the children of either James or William.
  • I know this is impossible to answer, but I’d surely like to know where William is buried. I’m guessing with his father in the Henderson Cemetery located on private land.

The Reverend William Moore, apparently a tenacious man who dissented not once, but twice, still stubbornly guards his secrets some 200 years later.



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