Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project

The Acadians – settlers, pioneers in a new land allied with and intermarried into the Native population of seaboard Nova Scotia beginning in 1603. They lived in harmony, developing their farms and then, roughly 150 years or 6 generations later, in 1755, they found themselves evicted, ruthlessly and forcibly deported, losing absolutely everything. They became landless refugees, living off of the benevolence of strangers…or dying. The Acadian diaspora was born. You can view a timeline here.

Marie Rundquist, Acadian and Native descendant, genetic genealogist, researcher and founder of the original AmerIndian project visited the Acadian homeland this past summer and is graciously sharing her experience through some of her photography and narrative.

Courtesy Marie Rundquist

Marie Rundquist:

This cross, located on the beach near Grand Pre where the Acadians were herded onto ships, is a priceless icon of our Acadian ancestry and represents all of our ancestors who were forcibly removed from their lands – marched on to the awaiting boats at gunpoint – and who left their footprints on this beach. Their last footprints in the land into which their effort and blood had been poured for 150 years.  This cross is very symbolic and meaningful to all who look at it.

Courtesy Marie Rundquist

This photo was taken at Waterfront Park in the town of Wolfville which borders the Minas Basin and the historic Acadian dykelands our ancestors once farmed. The area is known for the spectacular tides that rush into the basin bordering the park, totally changing its landscape.

Courtesy Marie Rundquist

Sabots, the wooden shoes pictured above were worn by Acadian ancestors who farmed the wet, marshy dykelands and were also worn on boats.  Wolfville is within a short distance of the Grand Pre UNESCO Historic Site where my husband and I stayed while attending the 2017 Acadian Mi’kmaq Celebration of Peace and Reconciliation this past August.

If you have Acadian ancestors, these pictures probably caused you to catch your breath.  Your ancestors walked here, stood here and the blood in their veins ran thick with fear, here, as they boarded the ships that would disrupt their lives forever, destroying what they had built over a century and a half.

Focus on the Homeland

Marie has recently begun a new chapter in her life which allows her to focus more directly on the Acadian and AmerIndian homelands and communities. She has been preparing for this transition for years, and all Acadian and AmerIndian researchers will be beneficiaries.

Marie initially founded the AmerIndian out of Acadia project in 2006 to sort out the relationships between the various Acadian and Native families both in Nova Scotia, and wherever their descendants have dispersed since “Le Grand Derangement,” their forced removal in 1755. The story of the Acadians didn’t end in 1755, it began anew in different locations throughout the world, the Acadian diaspora.

Through traditional genealogy research paired with genetic genealogy, we are breathing life into those ancestors once again, honoring their memory and sacrifices, and along the way, getting to know them better and finding unexpected surprises as well.

This is an exciting time in genetic genealogy for descendants of Acadians and those with American Indian roots in eastern Canada and the northeastern portion of the US.

The Acadian homeland is located in the easternmost portion of Canada, Nova Scotia.

By Mikmaq – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1351882

Many, if not most, Acadians were admixed with the Native population in the 150 years that the French colonists lived in harmony with the Native Mi’kmaq (also referenced as Micmac) people on the Atlantic coastline of Nova Scotia. It’s impossible to study one without studying the other. Their fates, genealogies and DNA are inextricably interwoven.

Having Acadian and Native ancestors as well, and after several years of working together on other projects, I joined Marie as a co-administrator of this project in early 2017.

Today, Marie and I have several exciting announcements to make, the first of which is the renaming of the project to more accurately reflect a new, expanded, focus.

The Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project

You might have noticed that the AmerIndian project was renamed a few months ago as the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project to reflect our expanded goals. Specifically, our goal is to create a one-stop location in which to discover Acadian genetic roots. While the Acadia – Metis Mothers and Mothers of Acadian DNA projects have existed for several years to document proven matrilineal Acadian lines, nothing of the same nature existed for Y DNA for paternal surname lineages, or for those who want to connect with their Acadian roots through autosomal DNA.

After weighing various options, Marie and I, in conjunction with Family Tree DNA, decided that the best option was to expand the existing AmerIndian project to include Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA of the entire Acadian population into our existing project which already has over 1000 members.

In a word, our new project focus is FAMILY!

In Marie’s words:

Primary project goal: Through genetic genealogy research techniques combined with advanced Y DNA testing, it is our goal to add to and develop Y DNA signatures for male descendants of our legacy Acadian ancestors that may be referenced by others in verifying genealogies.

We want to assure that in our surname studies we are informed by Y DNA results primarily but take into account the mtDNA Full Mitochondrial Sequence results when considering the spouse, and Family Finder (autosomal) DNA results when researching all who may share ancestry.

Surname variants and dit names are of particular interest and factor into our development of a database of surname signatures as related to Acadian genealogies.

We encourage all who have tested and have the surname lineages listed in our project profile to join our project as their combined DNA results help us see through the genealogy brick walls and help us find answers to our genealogy questions.

We want to let new and existing members know how their results have contributed to our ability to develop and verify Acadian genealogies – and for the men in particular, the attainment of Y DNA “signatures” for surname lineages against which all may compare their own Y DNA results – and reference in genealogy research. Adoptees with matching Y DNA results for Acadian surnames (as we already have a number of these) are welcome to join and participate. Our team is expert in the areas of Y DNA testing and analysis, including the latest Big Y DNA tests only through years of practical experience with geographical and haplogroup-related DNA projects.  Both Marie and Roberta have extensive project administration experience and both are affiliate researchers with The Genographic Project.

Introducing Deadre Doucet Bourke

Marie and I realized that we needed assistance, so we are very pleased to welcome our new co-administrator, Deadre Doucet Bourke. Many Acadian researchers already know Deadre, a long-time genealogist and contributor from within the project, so adding her expertise as a project administrator is a natural progression. Deadre will be focused on communicating with people regarding their genealogy and utilizing social media.

You can read the bios of our administrators here.

Welcome Deadre!!!

The DNA Focus

The Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project is primarily focused on Y DNA and autosomal DNA. While we aren’t competing with the two mitochondrial DNA projects, we certainly welcome those with direct mitochondrial lineages to join this project as well. We encourage researchers to combine all of the DNA that makes us family to confirm our Acadian heritage and connect to our ancestors.

Acadian researchers struggle with the inability to find their Acadian ancestor’s Y DNA signatures gathered together in one place. Marie and I decided to fix that problem, hence, the redesign of the project.

The Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project welcomes everyone with Acadian heritage!

If you descend from a particular line, but aren’t male or don’t carry the surname today, you’ll be able to discover information about your ancestors from the Y DNA, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA carried by other project members. Genetic genealogy is all about collaboration and sharing and finding all types of results in one project location makes that search much easier!

Who Should Join the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project?

  • If you have an ACADIAN SURNAME in your family lines, as listed in the project profile or on the surname list later in this article, and you’ve had the Y DNA, mtDNA or Family Finder test, you are qualified to join this project.
  • If you are a MALE with an ACADIAN SURNAME, please join the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project by ordering (minimally) a Y Chromosome 37 marker test.
  • If you are either male or female and have Acadian MATRILINEAL ANCESTRY (your mother’s mother’s mother’s line) that leads to a Native and/or an Acadian grandmother through all females, please join the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project by ordering the mtFull Sequence mitochondrial DNA test.
  • If you have Acadian or Native American ancestors from the Acadian region of Canada or diaspora regions where Acadian families settled after the 1755 deportation, and would like to discover new leads for ancestry research and close, immediate and distant cousins, please join the project by ordering a Family Finder test.
  • If you have Acadian ancestry and have already taken the Y or mitochondrial DNA test at Family Tree DNA, please click here to sign in to your account and order a Family Finder test by clicking on the “Upgrade” button on the top right of your personal page.
  • If you have already tested and have Y DNA, mtDNA, or Family Finder matches with members of the Acadian Amerindian Ancestry project and are researching your ancestry, you are welcome to join this project.
  • If you have already tested your DNA at Family Tree DNA, but are not yet a project member, please click on the Project tab at the top left of your personal page to select a project to join. If the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestors project is not showing on your list, just type “Acadian” into the search box and click on the “Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry” link to join the project.
  • If you have tested your autosomal DNA at either Ancestry or 23andMe, but not at Family Tree DNA, you can download your autosomal results into the Family Tree DNA data base and use many tools for free – including the ability to join projects. You can read more about this here.

Not sure which kinds of DNA you can test for, and the difference between the different tests, please read 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy.

Questions? Just ask!

Saving Money by Joining the Acadian AmerIndian Project

Please note that DNA testing discounts are available through our project site for people who have never ordered a test from Family Tree DNA previously.

First, click here to go to the Family Tree DNA webpage. Scroll down, then, type the word Acadian into the search box, as shown below. This search process works for surnames as well.

Then, when the results are returned, select the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project and click that link, shown below, to see DNA testing prices available to project members, example shown below.

You’ll need to scroll down to see test prices. The screen shot below only shows a portion of what is available.

DNA testing prices through the project are less than ordering the same test without joining a project.

As A Project Member

Of course, the point of DNA testing and projects is to share.  Family Tree DNA has provided several tools to help genealogists do just that.  We would ask that project members complete the following four easy steps, unless for some reason, you can’t.  For example, adoptees may not have this information.  Just do the best you can.

First, please upload a tree of at least your direct line ancestors at Family Tree DNA.

Just sign in to your personal page and click on “My Family Tree” to get started.

DNA and family trees are extremely powerful tools together – the genetic and genealogy parts of genetic genealogy.

Second, please complete the name and location of your earliest known direct matrilineal ancestor (your mother’s mother’s mother’s line) and your direct patrilineal line (your father’s father’s father’s line) by clicking on the orange “Manage Personal Information” link below your profile photo on the left side of your personal page.

Then, click on the Genealogy Tab, and then click on Earliest Known Ancestors. Please note that you can click on any image to enlarge.

You’ll need to complete:

  • Both Earliest Known Ancestor fields on the left side of the page.
  • Both Ancestral Locations by clicking on the orange “update location” for the patrilineal AND matrilineal ancestor on the right side.

Be sure to click “Save” at the bottom of the page when you’re finished.

Third, under the Privacy and Sharing tab, please consider allowing your Y and mitochondrial DNA results to show on the public page of the project.

When Acadian descendants are searching for projects to join, or information about their ancestral lines, the public project display is often what they find and how they decide if participation or DNA testing is worth their time.

Here is what our public Y DNA project page displays and here is what our mtDNA project page displays.  There is also an option for administrators to display the participants surname, but we do not have this field enabled at this time.  Other projects that you may have joined probably do have this field enabled, and your selection affects all projects of which you are a member.

Under “My Profile,” you’ll see an option to “Share my Earliest Known Ancestor with other people in the projects I’ve joined.”  If you don’t have this option enabled, only a blank space will appear, which doesn’t help anyone determine if you share a common ancestor.

A second option on this page under “My DNA Results is “Make my mtDNA and Y DNA public” which allows your results to show on the public project page.  If you select “project only” then only project members will be able to see your results when logged in to their account. Your results will no show on the public project page unless you select the public option.

Remember to click “save.”

Fourth, if your mitochondrial line (mother’s mother’s mother’s line) is Acadian or Native, you’ll need to provide the project administrators with the ability to see the coding region of your mitochondrial DNA so that your mitochondrial DNA can be properly grouped within the project.  If your direct matrilineal line does NOT pertain to Acadian or Native ancestry, then you’re done.

If your matrilineal line is Native or Acadian, on the Privacy and Sharing page, under “Account Access,” please click on the “Only You” answer to “Who can view my mtDNA Coding Region mutations.”

You will then see a drop down list of the projects you have joined.  You can select any of the projects by clicking the box beside the project.  Only the administrators of the projects you’ve selected can see your coding region results, and you can change this at any time. In my personal account, I’ve selected all of the projects that my mtDNA is relevant to.

Your coding region results are NEVER displayed publicly and no one other than project administrators can see those results.  Family Tree DNA does not offer the option of displaying coding regions in any project.

Again, don’t forget to click “save,” or you haven’t.

Need Help?

Need help? Just ask. We’re here to help.

Project administrators can help you by completing some fields, like most distant ancestor, with your permission, but Privacy and Sharing fields can’t be changed or edited by administrators for everyone’s security.  However, we’d be glad to step you through the process, as would Family Tree DNA customer support.  You can call or contact customer support by scrolling down to the very bottom of your personal page.

Acadian Surnames

Courtesy Marie Rundquist

I compiled the following list of Acadian surnames along with dit names (surname nicknames) from the following Acadian website where you can view which ancestral families were recorded in various census documents including 1671, 1686, 1714 and a deportation list from 1755.

Brenda Dunn’s list was prepared for the Canadian National Parks Service for the Grand Pre National Historic site.

Variant spellings were retrieved from this site and may not be inclusive.

Surname Various Spellings Source
Abbadie, de Saint-Castin d’ Brenda Dunn
Allain Alain, Alin, Allain, Halain, Halin Brenda Dunn
Allard Alard, Allard, Allart, Halard, Hallard Acadian-Cajun.com
Amirault dit Tourangeau Amireau, Amireault, Mero, Miraud, Mirau, Miraux, Mireau, Mireault, Moreau Brenda Dunn
Angou dit Choisy Brenda Dunn
Apart Brenda Dunn
Arcement Brenda Dunn
Arnaud Arnaud, Arnault Brenda Dunn
Arosteguy Brenda Dunn
Arseneau Brenda Dunn
Aubin Aubain, Aubin, Obin Acadian-Cajun.com
Aubois Brenda Dunn
Aucoin Aucoin, Coin, Ocoin Brenda Dunn
Ayor Brenda Dunn
Babin Babain, Babin Brenda Dunn
Babineau dit Deslauriers Babinau, Babineau, Babineaux, Babino, Babinot Brenda Dunn
Barillot Brenda Dunn
Barnabe Acadian-Cajun.com
Barriault Bariau, Bariault, Barieau, Barillault, Barrillaut, Barillon, Barillot, Bario, Barrio Acadian-Cajun.com
Bastarache dit (Le) Basque Brenda Dunn
Bastien Baptien, Basquien, Bastien, Vasquais Brenda Dunn
Beaulieu Baulieu, Baulieux, Beaulieu, Beaulieux Acadian-Cajun.com
Beaumont Beaumon, Beaumont Acadian-Cajun.com
Belisle Belisle, Bellisle, de Bellisle Acadian-Cajun.com
Bellefontaine Bellefontaine, Bellefontenne Acadian-Cajun.com
Belleville Beliveau Brenda Dunn
Belliveau dit Bideau Beliveau Brenda Dunn
Belliveau dit Blondin Brenda Dunn
Belou Brenda Dunn
Benoit dit Labriere Benois, Benoist, Benoit Brenda Dunn
Bergereau Brenda Dunn
Bergeron d’Amboise Brenda Dunn
Bergeron dit Nantes Bargeron, Bergeon, Bergeron, Berjeron Brenda Dunn
Bernard Bernar, Bernard Brenda Dunn
Berrier dit Machefer Brenda Dunn
Bertaud dit Montaury Brenda Dunn
Bertrand Bartrand, Berterand, Bertran, Bertrand, Bertrant Brenda Dunn
Bezier dit Lariviere Brenda Dunn
Bezier dit Touin Brenda Dunn
Bideau Acadian-Cajun.com
Blanchard dit Gentilhomme Blanchar, Blanchard, Blanchart Brenda Dunn
Blondin Blondain, Blondin Acadian-Cajun.com
Blou Acadian-Cajun.com
Bodard Brenda Dunn
Boisseau dit Blondin Boissau, Boisseau, Boisseaux Brenda Dunn
Bonnevie dit Beaumont Brenda Dunn
Borel Brenda Dunn
Boucher dit Desroches Bouché, Boucher, Bouchez Brenda Dunn
Boudreau Boudrau, Boudraut, Boudreau, Boudro, Boudrot Acadian-Cajun.com
Boudrot Brenda Dunn
Bourg Bourc, Bourg, Bourgue, Bourk, Bourque Brenda Dunn
Bourgeois Bourgeois, Bourgois, Bourjois Brenda Dunn
Boutin Boudin, Boutain, Boutin, Bouttain, Bouttin Brenda Dunn
Brassaud Brenda Dunn
Brasseur dit Mathieu Brasseur, Brasseux Brenda Dunn
Breau Brenda Dunn
Breton Berton, Breton, Lebreton Acadian-Cajun.com
Brossard Brosard, Brossar, Brossard, Brossart, Broussard Brenda Dunn
Brun Brun, Lebrun Brenda Dunn
Bugaret Brenda Dunn
Bugeaud Brenda Dunn
Buisson Buisson, Busson, Dubuisson Brenda Dunn
Buote Brenda Dunn
Buteau Butau, Butaud, Buteau, Buteux, Buto, Butteau Brenda Dunn
Cadet Caddé, Cadet, Cadette Acadian-Cajun.com
Caissy dit Roger Brenda Dunn
Calve dit Laforge Brenda Dunn
Carre Caray, Caré, Caret, Carr, Carré, Carret Brenda Dunn
Cassy dit Roger Brenda Dunn
Celestin dit Bellemere Brenda Dunn
Cellier dit Normand Brenda Dunn
Champagne Champagne, Champaigne Acadian-Cajun.com
Chauvert Acadian-Cajun.com
Chauvet Chauvet, Chauvette, Chovet Brenda Dunn
Chenet dit Dubreuil Chenay, Chenet, Chenette, Chesnay Brenda Dunn
Chesnay dit Lagarene Brenda Dunn
Chiasson dit La Vallee Chiasson, Giasson Brenda Dunn
Chouteau dit Manseau Brenda Dunn
Clemenceau Brenda Dunn
Cloustre Brenda Dunn
Cochu Cochu, Cochus Acadian-Cajun.com
Cognac Cognac, Coignac Brenda Dunn
Comeau Brenda Dunn
Cormier dit Bossigaol Cormié, Cormier, Cornier Brenda Dunn
Cormier dit Thierry Brenda Dunn
Cornelier Brenda Dunn
Corporon Brenda Dunn
Cosse Acadian-Cajun.com
Cosset Cosset, Cossette Brenda Dunn
Coste Brenda Dunn
Cottard Brenda Dunn
Cousineau Brenda Dunn
Crepeau Crepau, Crepaux, Crepeau, Crepeaux, Crepos, Crespau, Crespeau, Crespel Brenda Dunn
Creysac dit Toulouse Brenda Dunn
Cyr Cir, Cire, Cyr, Cyre, Sir, Sire, Siree, Syr, Syre Brenda Dunn
Daigle Daigle. Daigles, Dehegue Acadian-Cajun.com
Daigre Brenda Dunn
Damboue Acadian-Cajun.com
D’Amours de Chauffours Brenda Dunn
D’Amours de Clignancour Brenda Dunn
D’Amours de Freneuse Brenda Dunn
D’Amours de Louviere Brenda Dunn
D’Amours de Plaine Brenda Dunn
Daniel Daniel, Daniele, Danielle, Deniel Brenda Dunn
Darois Brenda Dunn
David dit Pontif Davi, David, Davit, Davy Brenda Dunn
Debreuil Acadian-Cajun.com
Delatour Delatour, Latour Acadian-Cajun.com
Delisle Delile, Delille, Delisle, Delisles, Brenda Dunn
Denis Deni, Denis, Dennis, Denys Brenda Dunn
D’Entremont Acadian-Cajun.com
Denys de Fronsac Brenda Dunn
Depeux Acadian-Cajun.com
Derayer Brenda Dunn
Desaulniers Desaulnier, Desaulniers, Desaunié, Desaunier, Desauniers Acadian-Cajun.com
Deschamps dit Cloche Dechamp, Dechamps, Dechant, Deschamps Brenda Dunn
Desgoutins Brenda Dunn
Desmoulins Demoulin, Desmoulin, Desmoulins, Dumoulin Brenda Dunn
Desorcis Acadian-Cajun.com
Després Depre, Depres, Despre, Despres, Desprez Brenda Dunn
Devaux Acadian-Cajun.com
Deveau dit Dauphine Devau, Devaux, Deveau, Deveaux, Devot, Devots Brenda Dunn
Dingle Brenda Dunn
Doiron Doiron, Douairon, Doueron Brenda Dunn
Domine dit Saint-Sauveur Brenda Dunn
Donat Acadian-Cajun.com
Douaron Acadian-Cajun.com
Doucet dit Laverdure Doucet, Doucette Brenda Dunn
Doucet dit Lirlandois Brenda Dunn
Doucet dit Mayard Brenda Dunn
Druce Brenda Dunn
Dubois dit Dumont Debois, Desbois, Dubois, Duboy Brenda Dunn
Dufault Dufau, Dufault, Dufaut, Dufaux, Duffault, Duffaut, Duffaux, Dufo, Dufos, Duphaut Brenda Dunn
Dugas Duga, Dugas, Dugast, Dugat Brenda Dunn
Duguay Dugai, Dugaie, Dugay, Duguay, Dugué Brenda Dunn
Dumont Dumon, Dumond, Dumont Acadian-Cajun.com
Duon dit Lyonnais Brenda Dunn
Dupeux Acadian-Cajun.com
Duplessis Duplaissy, Duplassis, Duplassy, Duplecy, Duplesis, Duplessis, Duplessy, Placy Brenda Dunn
Dupuis Dupui, Dupuis, Dupuit, Dupuits, Dupuy, Dupuys Brenda Dunn
Egan Brenda Dunn
Emmanuel Acadian-Cajun.com
Esperance Lespérance, Lesperence Acadian-Cajun.com
Fardel Acadian-Cajun.com
Flan Brenda Dunn
Fontaine dit Beaulieu Delafontaine, Fonteine, Lafontaine, Lafonteine, Lafonteinne Brenda Dunn
Forest Fores, Forêt, Laforêt, Laforest Brenda Dunn
Foret Forest Acadian-Cajun.com
Forton Brenda Dunn
Fougere Brenda Dunn
Fournier Fournié, Lefournier Brenda Dunn
Froiquingont Brenda Dunn
Gadrau Brenda Dunn
Galerne Brenda Dunn
Galle Brenda Dunn
Garceau dit Boutin Garco, Garso, Garsot Brenda Dunn
Garceau dit Richard Brenda Dunn
Garceau dit Tranchemontagne Brenda Dunn
Gardet Gardai, Garday, Gardé Brenda Dunn
Gareau Garau, Garaud Brenda Dunn
Gaudet Gaudais, Gaudé, Gaudette, Godé, Godet, Godete, Godette Acadian-Cajun.com
Gauterot Brenda Dunn
Gauthier Gaultier, Gautier, Gotier Brenda Dunn
Gentil Brenda Dunn
Giboire Duverge dit Lamotte Brenda Dunn
Girouard Geroir, Gerroir, Giouard, Giroir, Girroir, Jirouard Brenda Dunn
Gise Brenda Dunn
Godin Boisjoli Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Beausejour Gaudain, Gauden, Gaudin, Godain, Goddin, Godin Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Bellefeuille Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Bellefontaine Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Catalogne Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Chatillon Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Lincour Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Preville Brenda Dunn
Godin dit Valcour Brenda Dunn
Godon Gandon, Gaudon, Godon Brenda Dunn
Gosselin Gaucelin, Gauscelin, Gausselin, Goscelin, Gosselain Brenda Dunn
Goudreau Gaudrau, Gaudrault, Gaudreau, Gaudreault, Gaudro, Godereau, Godrault, Godreault, Godro, Godrot, Goodrow Brenda Dunn
Gougeon Gougeon, Gougon, Goujon, Goujou Acadian-Cajun.com
Gourdeau Acadian-Cajun.com
Gousille Acadian-Cajun.com
Gousman Brenda Dunn
Gouzille Brenda Dunn
Grandmaison Degrandmaison Brenda Dunn
Granger Brenda Dunn
Gravois Brenda Dunn
Grosvalet Brenda Dunn
Guedry dit Labine Brenda Dunn
Guedry dit Labrador Brenda Dunn
Guedry dit Laverdure Brenda Dunn
Guedry Grivois Guidry, Guildry Brenda Dunn
Gueguen Brenda Dunn
Guenard Brenda Dunn
Guerin dit LaForge Guerrin Brenda Dunn
Guilbault Guibau, Guibaut, Guibeau, Guibo, Guilbau, Guilbaud, Guilbaux, Guilbeau, Guillebault, Guillbeau, Guilbaut Acadian-Cajun.com
Guilbeau Brenda Dunn
Guillot Brenda Dunn
Guy dit Tintamarre Degui, Deguy, Gui Brenda Dunn
Guyon Dion, Dionne, Gion, Guillon, Guion, Gyon, Yon Brenda Dunn
Hache dit Gallant Brenda Dunn
Hamel Amel, Amell, Emmel, Hamell, Hamelle, Hornel Brenda Dunn
Hamet Brenda Dunn
Hamon Brenda Dunn
Hébert dit Manuel Abaire, Abare, Abbot, Ebart, Éber, Ébert, Heber, Heberd, Hébere, Herber, Herbert, Hesbert, Hibbart, Hubert Brenda Dunn
Helys dit Nouvelle Brenda Dunn
Henry dit Robert Henri Brenda Dunn
Hensaule Brenda Dunn
Heon Brenda Dunn
Herpin Arpin, Guertin, Harpin, Hertin Acadian-Cajun.com
Heuse Brenda Dunn
Hugon Brenda Dunn
Jasmin Jassemin Acadian-Cajun.com
Jeanson Jeansonne Brenda Dunn
Joseph Brenda Dunn
Kimine Brenda Dunn
Labarre Delabarre, Labar, Labard Brenda Dunn
Labat, dit Le Marguis, de Labatte Brenda Dunn
LaBauve Brenda Dunn
Lachaume Delachaume Brenda Dunn
Lacroix Delacroix Brenda Dunn
Lafond Lafon, Lafont Acadian-Cajun.com
Lafont Acadian-Cajun.com
Lagasse Lagace, Lagacee, Lagassee, Lagassees, Lagasset Acadian-Cajun.com
Lalande dit Bonnappetit Delalande, Lalande Brenda Dunn
Laliberte Laliberte, Liberte Acadian-Cajun.com
Lambert Lamber, Lembert Brenda Dunn
Lambourt Brenda Dunn
Lamontagne Delamontagne, Montagne Acadian-Cajun.com
Landrom Brenda Dunn
Landry Landri, Landrie, Landril, Landrille, Lendry Brenda Dunn
Langlois Anglais, Anglois, Langlais, Langloi, Langlouois Brenda Dunn
Lanoue Brenda Dunn
Lapierre dit LaRoche Delapierre, Lapeer, Pierre Brenda Dunn
Latour Acadian-Cajun.com
Laurier Lauriere,Lorier Acadian-Cajun.com
LaVache Brenda Dunn
Lavallée Lavale, Lavalee, Vale, Valee, Valle, Vallee Acadian-Cajun.com
Lavergne Laverne Brenda Dunn
Lavigne Delavigne Brenda Dunn
Lebasque Acadian-Cajun.com
Lebert dit Jolycoeur Abare, Hébert, Labare, LeBear, Leber, Leberre, Libest Brenda Dunn
Leblanc dit Jasmin Blanc, Leblan, Lebland, Leblant Brenda Dunn
LeBorgne dit Belisle Brenda Dunn
Lebreton Berton, Beurton Acadian-Cajun.com
Leclerc dit Laverdure Clair, Claire, Clerc, Leclair, Leclaire, Lecler, Leclerq Brenda Dunn
Lecul Brenda Dunn
Lefebvre Febur, Febvre, Lefaivre, Lefebre, Lefebur, Lefeuvre, Lefevre Acadian-Cajun.com
Leger dit La Rozette Legere, Legey, St-Leger Brenda Dunn
Lejeune dit Briard Jeune, Lejeunne Brenda Dunn
LeJuge Brenda Dunn
Lemaistre Acadian-Cajun.com
LeMarquis dit Clermont Brenda Dunn
Lemire Lemir, Lemirre, Lemyre, Lemyrre, Mire Brenda Dunn
LeNeuf de Beaubassin Lenef, Leneuf Brenda Dunn
LeNeuf de Boisneuf Brenda Dunn
LeNeuf de LaValliere Brenda Dunn
L’Enfant Brenda Dunn
LePoupet de Saint-Aubin Brenda Dunn
LePrieur dit Dubois Brenda Dunn
LePrince Brenda Dunn
Leroy Leroi, Roi, Roy Brenda Dunn
L’Eschevin dit Billy Brenda Dunn
Lespérance Delesperance, Lesperence Acadian-Cajun.com
Lessoile Acadian-Cajun.com
LeVanier dit Langevin Brenda Dunn
LeVasseur dit Chamberlange Brenda Dunn
Leveille Leveiller, Leveillez, Leveillie, Leveillier Brenda Dunn
Levron dit Nantois Leveron Brenda Dunn
Loiseau Laiseau, Laizeau, Loisau, Loisseau, Loizeau, Loseau, Loyseau, Lozeau Brenda Dunn
Long Brenda Dunn
Longuepee Brenda Dunn
Loppinot Brenda Dunn
Lord dit Montagne Lore Brenda Dunn
Lort Acadian-Cajun.com
Lucas Luca Brenda Dunn
Lyonnais Acadian-Cajun.com
Maffier Brenda Dunn
Maillard Acadian-Cajun.com
Maillet Brenda Dunn
Maisonnat dit Baptiste Brenda Dunn
Malboeuf Malbeuf Brenda Dunn
Mangeant dit Saint Germain Brenda Dunn
Manseau Manceau, Mansau Acadian-Cajun.com
Marcadet Brenda Dunn
Marchand dit Poitiers Marchan, Marchant Brenda Dunn
Marres dit LaSonde Brenda Dunn
Martel Martelle Brenda Dunn
Martil Acadian-Cajun.com
Martin dit Barnabe Martain Brenda Dunn
Massé Macé, Macés, Masset, Massey Brenda Dunn
Massie Brenda Dunn
Mathieu Mathieux, Matthieux Brenda Dunn
Maucaire Brenda Dunn
Mazerolle dit Saint Louis Brenda Dunn
Melanson dit LaRamee
Melanson dit Laverdure Melanson, Melençon, Melenson, Menançon Brenda Dunn
Mercier dit Caudebec Lemercier, Mersier Brenda Dunn
Messaguay Brenda Dunn
Meunier Megné, Menié, Mesnier, Meusnier, Munier, Musnier Brenda Dunn
Michaud Michau, Michault, Michaut, Michaux, Micheau Acadian-Cajun.com
Michel dit LaRuine Bichel, Miché, Michelle, Micher Brenda Dunn
Migneau dit Aubin Mignau, Mignaud, Mignault, Mignaux, Migneaux, Mignot, Migneau Brenda Dunn
Mignier dit Lagasse Brenda Dunn
Mignot Mignau, Mignaud, Mignault, Mignaux, Migneaux, Mignot Brenda Dunn
Mirande Brenda Dunn
Mius d’Azit Miusse, Mousse Brenda Dunn
Mius de Entremont de Plemarais Miusse, Mousse Brenda Dunn
Monmellian dit Saint Germain Brenda Dunn
Mordant Brenda Dunn
Morin dit Boucher Maurain, Maurin, Morrin Brenda Dunn
Morpain Brenda Dunn
Moulaison dit Recontre Brenda Dunn
Mouton Brenda Dunn
Moyse dit Latreille Brenda Dunn
Muis de Entremont de Pobomcoup Miusse, Mousse Brenda Dunn
NaQuin dit L’Etoile Brenda Dunn
Nogues Brenda Dunn
Nuirat Brenda Dunn
Olivier Oliver, Olivie, Ollivier Brenda Dunn
Ondy Acadian-Cajun.com
Onel O’Neale Brenda Dunn
Orillon dit Champagne Aurillon, Aurion, Orion, Oriont Brenda Dunn
Oudy Brenda Dunn
Ozelet Brenda Dunn
Paris Deparis, Parisis, Parisse, Pary Acadian-Cajun.com
Parisien Leparisien, Parisiens, Parizien Acadian-Cajun.com
Part Brenda Dunn
Pellerin Pelerin, Pelrin Brenda Dunn
Pesseley Acadian-Cajun.com
Petitot dit Saint Sceine Brenda Dunn
Petitpas Brenda Dunn
Pichot Brenda Dunn
Picot Brenda Dunn
Pincer Brenda Dunn
Pinet Brenda Dunn
Pitre dit Marc Lepitre, Pistre, Piter, Pittre Brenda Dunn
Poirier Poerier, Poirie, Poiriers, Poirrier, Porier, Poyrie, Poyrier Brenda Dunn
Poitevin dit Cadieux Lapoitevin, Paudevin, Poidevin, Poitvin, Potdevin, Potevin, Potvin Brenda Dunn
Poitevin dit Parisien Lapoitevin, Paudevin, Poidevin, Poitvin, Potdevin, Potevin, Potvin Brenda Dunn
Poitier Brenda Dunn
Porlier Brenda Dunn
Pothier Pauthier, Pautier, Poitié, Poitier, Poitiers, Potier, Potiers, Pottier Acadian-Cajun.com
Poujet dit Lapierre Brenda Dunn
Poulet Acadian-Cajun.com
Poupard Poupar, Poupare, Poupart Brenda Dunn
Prejean dit LeBreton Pregeant, Pregent, Prejan Brenda Dunn
Pretieux Brenda Dunn
Pugnant dit Destouches Brenda Dunn
Racois dit Desrosiers Brenda Dunn
Raymond Raimon, Raimond, Raymont, Raymon, Remond, Remont Brenda Dunn
Renaud dit Provencal Rainaud, Raynaud, Raynalt, Regnault, Regneault, Renau, Renauld, Renault, Renaut, Renaux, Reneau, Reneault, Renaux, Renod Brenda Dunn
Richard dit Beaupri Richar, Richart Brenda Dunn
Richard dit Boutin Richar, Richart Brenda Dunn
Richard dit Lafont Richar, Richart Brenda Dunn
Richard dit Sancoucy Richar, Richart Brenda Dunn
Rimbeau Rimbaut Brenda Dunn
Rivet Rivais, Rive, Rivest, Rivette, Rivez Brenda Dunn
Robichaud dit Cades Robichau Brenda Dunn
Robichaud dit Niganne Robichau Brenda Dunn
Robichaud dit Prudent Robichau Brenda Dunn
Rodoham Brenda Dunn
Rodrigue dit DeFonds Rodrigues, Rodriguez Brenda Dunn
Rossette Roucet, Roucette, Rouset, Rousette Acadian-Cajun.com
Rousse dit Languedoc Leroux, Rousse, Roux Brenda Dunn
Roy dit Laliberte Leroi, Roi, Roy Brenda Dunn
Rullier Brenda Dunn
Saindon Brenda Dunn
Saint Etienne de La Tour, de Brenda Dunn
Saint Julien de La Chaussee, de Brenda Dunn
Saint Scene Acadian-Cajun.com
Samson Sanson Brenda Dunn
Saulnier Saunier Brenda Dunn
Sauvage dit Chrystophe Sauvages, Sauvagesse, Sauvaget, Savage Brenda Dunn
Sauvage dit Forgeron Sauvages, Sauvagesse, Sauvaget, Savage Brenda Dunn
Savary Brenda Dunn
Savoie Brenda Dunn
Semer Brenda Dunn
Sereau Serot, Serreau Brenda Dunn
Serreau de Saint-Aubin Brenda Dunn
Simon dit Boucher Cimon Acadian-Cajun.com
Simoneau Simonau,   Simonaud, Simoneaux, Simonneau, Simono, Acadian-Cajun.com
Soulard Soular, Soulard, Soulart, Soullard Brenda Dunn
Soulevent Brenda Dunn
Surette Brenda Dunn
Tandau Brenda Dunn
Teriot Teriau, Teriaut, Teriot, Terriau, Terriaux, Terriau, Terriaux, Terriot, Theriault, Theriaux, Therieau Brenda Dunn
Testard dit Parish Testar, Testard, Tetard, Tetart Brenda Dunn
Thebeau Brenda Dunn
Thibault Brenda Dunn
Thibeau Acadian-Cajun.com
Thibodeau Brenda Dunn
Tillard Brenda Dunn
Tourangeau Tourangeau, Tourangeaux Acadian-Cajun.com
Tourneur Brenda Dunn
Toussaint dit Lajeunesse Tousain, Toussain, Toussaint, Toussin, Touzin Brenda Dunn
Trahan Brenda Dunn
Triel dit LaPerriere Brenda Dunn
Turcot Brenda Dunn
Turpin dit LaGiroflee Brenda Dunn
Vallois Brenda Dunn
Veco Acadian-Cajun.com
Vescot Brenda Dunn
Viger Brenda Dunn
Vigneau dit Maurice Vignau, Vignault, Vignaux, Vigneau, Vigneaux Brenda Dunn
Villatte Vilatte Brenda Dunn
Vincent dit Clement Vincant, Vincent Brenda Dunn
Voyer Brenda Dunn
Yvon Acadian-Cajun.com

 Additional Resources

In addition to the resources utilized to compile the Acadian surnames listed above, we recommend the following resources for genealogical research:

  • View the Acadian family tree contributed and maintained by genealogist Karen Theriot Reader at this link.
  • The Acadian Rootsweb list hosted by Paul LeBlanc provides an invaluable resource for sharing information.  To subscribe to the list, please send an email to ACADIAN-request@rootsweb.com with the word ‘subscribe’ without the quotes in the subject and the body of the message.  If you are not already a member, you can browse the archives here or you can search the Acadian list archives for keywords like surnames by utilizing the search engine here.
  • Please visit the Family Heritage Research Community to read exciting articles about how real people like you discovered their roots by way of DNA testing.

Additional projects administered by Roberta Estes and Marie Rundquist that may be relevant to Acadian descendants include:

Thank You

We want to extend a big thank you to the incredible members of the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project for recruiting new members, for their individual research, and for sharing so willingly. A project is only as strong as the members!

We hope you’ll be joining us soon!

Photography Credit

The location photos used in this article were taken this summer at the Annapolis Royal Historic Site, Annapolis Royal Historic Gardens and the Grand Pre UNESCO World Heritage Site by Marie Rundquist. Thanks to Marie for being our project ambassador, for permission to use her photography here and on the Acadian AmerIndian Ancestry Project page as well.

______________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure appears at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Durham DNA – 10 Things I Learned Despite No Y DNA Matches, 52 Ancestors #167

First and foremost, I want to thank my Durham cousin for stepping up and taking both the Y DNA and Family Finder tests to represent the Thomas Durham Sr. line of Richmond County, Virginia.

My cousin descends from Thomas Durham Jr., son of Thomas Durham Sr. and wife, Dorothy. Thomas Durham Sr.’s parents are unknown, which is part of why we needed a Durham male to take the Y DNA test.

What Might a Y DNA Test Tell Us?

A Y DNA test would tell us if our Durham line matches any other male Durham who had tested. In addition, if we were be lucky enough to find a match to a Durham who knew their ancestor’s location in the UK, where we presume our Durham family originated, we would have significant clues as to where to look for early records of our line.

What Did the Y DNA Test Tell Us?

The Y DNA test told us that our Durham cousin matches exactly no one, at any level, on his Y DNA test.

What, you might be asking? Is that even possible?

Yes, it is. I write the Personalized DNA Reports for customers, and I do still see people with absolutely no matches from time to time. When I drop their DNA results into a frequency chart and look at the percentage of people with their values in their haplogroup at each location, it’s usually immediately obvious why they have no matches. They have several mutations that are quite rare and those, cumulatively, keep them from matching others. In order to be considered at match, you must match other individuals at a minimum number of markers at each panel level, meaning 23, 15, 37, 67 and 111.

Now, this isn’t all bad news. It’s actually good news – because with rare markers, it’s very unlikely that you’re going to match a group of men by chance or just because your ancestor hundreds or thousands of years ago was very successfully prolific. I see some men in haplogroup R that have hundreds and thousands of matches, especially at 12 and 25 markers, so while no match is frustrating, it’s not a disaster because one day, our Durham line WILL have a match and it will be relevant.

The Durham Project

Being a curious skeptic, I visited the Durham DNA project and checked to be sure that my cousin’s DNA really didn’t match anyone, even distantly. I wanted to be sure that my cousins’ results weren’t “just one” marker difference in terms of allowable genetic distance to be considered a match.

Please note that you can click on any graphic to enlarge.

My Durham cousin’s haplogroup is I-M223.

There are no other people in the I-M223 Durham group. Checking my cousin’s markers, they are quite distant as well, so no Durham matches, even at a distance.

Now, here’s some good news.

Looking at the project’s Patriarch’s page, we can see which lines we don’t match.

We don’t match any of these lines, including the two that are from England. Two lines down, several to go.

Autosomal DNA

About this time, I began to have this nagging thought. What if my cousin’s Durham line isn’t really the right Durham line? What if the genealogy was wrong? What if the genealogy was right, but there was an adoption someplace in the 9 generations between Thomas Durham Sr. and my cousin? Those “what-ifs” will kill you, being a genetic genealogist.

So, I decided to see if my cousin’s autosomal results matched any of those known to be descended from the Durham-Dodson line. Thomas Durham Sr.’s daughter, Mary Durham, married Thomas Dodson. This line was prolific, having many children, so surely, if my Durham cousin descends from Thomas Durham’s son, Thomas Jr., some of the Dodson/Durham descendants from Thomas Durham Sr.’s other child, Mary, will match him, hopefully on a common segment.

Perusing my Durham cousin’s Family Finder DNA matches, and searching by Dodson, I found 27 matches.

I checked the Ancestry Surnames of those matches, and yes, 5 included both Dodson and Durham.

Checking pedigree charts, I verified that indeed, these people descended from the same Dodson/Durham lineage.

Thankfully, 4 of 5 matches had pedigree charts uploaded.

I selected those 5 people and viewed their results in a chromosome browser, compared to my Durham cousin.

As you can see, there are two sets of results where more than one person matches my Durham cousin on the same segment.

On chromosome 9, the green and orange person match the Durham cousin on segments of 12.36 cM

On chromosome 21, the pink and yellow person match my Durham cousin with a segment of 8.83 cM.

Now, as we know, just because two people match someone on the same segment does NOT automatically means that they match each other. They could be matching you on different sides of your DNA – one on your mother’s side and one on your father’s side

Next, I utilized the matrix tool to see if these individuals also match each other.

This matrix shows exactly what we would expect.

The bottom person, Gwen, matches the Durham cousin on chromosome 1 and doesn’t match any of the other cousins on that segment. The matrix tells us that Gwen doesn’t match either of these other two cousins either.

The matrix tells us that both kits managed by Ted match each other. This could be one person who uploaded two kits, but the photos are different. These two kits are the chromosome 9 match.

Then, the matrix tells us that Odis and Diana match each other, and sure enough, those are our chromosome 21 matches.

While this alone does not prove triangulation, because we can’t confirm that indeed, Gwen and Odis do match each other on this segment, at least not without asking them, my experience suggests that it would be a rare occasion indeed if this was not a triangulated match – indicating a common ancestor.

Triangulated matches minimally require:

  • Three people or more who are not close relatives
  • All matching each other on a common reasonably sized segment
  • Common ancestors

We Can Do More

We aren’t done yet. Next we can look to see which of these matches might ALSO match someone else in common with our Durham cousin.

Take each match, one at a time, and do an In Common With (ICW) search with them. You can read about the various options for in common with searching in the article, Increasing “In Common With” (ICW) Functionality at Family Tree DNA.

First, I just searched in common with the Durham surname, and none of these folks matched anyone else on the Durham surname match list.

To do this, search for Durham, select a match, then click on ICW, leaving Durham in the search box.

Second, I searched by selecting the match by checking the little checkbox by their name, but removed Durham from the search box so that I could see if my Durham cousin matched this person in common with anyone else on his match list, regardless of their ancestral surname.

As you would expect, many of the people returned on the ICW match list don’t have ancestral surnames listed.

When you have a few people to compare, the chromosome browser is wonderful, but for a lot of comparisons, there’s an easier way.

If I were my Durham cousin, I’d download my full list of matches with chromosome segments and see who matches me on those Durham/Dodson segments on chromosomes 9 and 21.  I would then look to see if they have pedigree charts uploaded, or contact them asking about genealogy.

You can download all of your match results at the top of your chromosome browser by clicking “download all matches.”

This enables you to sort the resulting spreadsheet by segment number and chromosome. You can read more about that in the article, Concepts – Sorting Spreadsheets for Autosomal DNA.

Of course, that’s how genetic genealogy addicts are born. You’re never really done.

What Did We Learn?

What did we learn, even though we had no Y matches, and are understandably disappointed.

  • We learned that the Durham Y DNA is quite rare.
  • We learned that the Y haplogroup is I-M223, found in the following locations, according to the SNP map tool at Family Tree DNA.

  • We can, if we wish, order additional SNP testing or the Big Y test to learn more about the ancestral origins of this line – even though we don’t have any STR matches today. We will very likely have Big Y matches because the Big Y test reaches further back in time, generally before the advent of surnames. Generally, the further down the SNP tree, the smaller the geographic range of where the SNP is found – because it’s closer in time.
  • We eliminated 18 different Durham groups, based on the Durham DNA project, that we now know aren’t our ancestors, including several in the US and some in Europe.
  • We confirmed that this Durham line is the Durham line that also married into the Dodson line- so the Durham Y DNA has not undergone an NPE or undocumented adoption between my cousin and our common ancestor. If there was an NPE or misattributed parentage in this line, then my Durham cousin would NOT match people from Thomas Durham’s daughter’s line – unless they all shared a different common line with my Durham cousin AND on the same segments.
  • We have confirmed some Durham DNA autosomal segments – passed all the way down from Thomas Durham to his descendants today.
  • We can tell our Durham/Dodson lineage cousins that certain segments of their Dodson DNA are actually Durham DNA. How cool is that?
  • Our Durham cousin now knows that those same segments are Durham DNA and not introduced in generations since by other lines.
  • Our Durham cousin can continue to identify the DNA of his various lineages by utilizing matching, trees, the matrix and the spreadsheet.
  • We’re not dead in the water in terms of Durham Y matches. We just have to be patient and wait.

Not All is Lost

I know it’s initially very discouraging to see that someone has no Y matches, but truly, all is not lost.

Not only is all not lost, we’ve learned a great deal. Y DNA testing in conjunction with autosomal is an extremely powerful tool.

Not to mention that our Durham cousin’s Y DNA results are now out their fishing, 24X7, 365 days per year, just waiting for that Durham man from some small village in the UK to test – and match. Yep, that’s my dream and I know, I just know, it will happen one day.

Thank you again, to my Durham cousin. When men Y DNA test, they not only serve their own interests, but those of others who descend from the same ancestral surname line.

James Lee Claxton/Clarkson (c1775-1815), Died at Fort Decatur, Alabama, 52 Ancestors #166

James Lee Claxton or Clarkson was born about 1775, but our first hint of him is found in Russell County, Virginia in the court records that begin in 1799.

The surname, Claxton, has become Clarkson in several subsequent generations – but even today, in Claiborne and Hancock Counties when people refer to this family who spells their last name Clarkson, it’s pronounced like Claxton or Claxon.

I’m transcribing the names as they are spelled in the records, but I’m referring to James as Claxton. His earliest records are found spelled that way, as are most of his DNA matches.

Russell County, VA

In the Russell Co., VA Court Minute Book 3, 1799-1808:

February 25, 1800, Page 47 – James Claxton, Surveyor of the road in place of James LeMarr and that John Tate furnish a list of tithables.

June 13, 1800, Page 62 – John Tate assigned to furnished Thomas Johnson and James Claxton, surveyors of the road with a list of tithables.

August 26, 1800, Page 80 – Commonwealth vs James Claxton, dismissed.

I’d love to know what that was about.to

February 24, 1801, Page 109 – William Tate, Jr. be surveyor of the road in place of James Claxton and that Thomas Johnson furnish him a list of tithables

March 24, 1801, Page 118 – Commonwealth vs James Claxton, dismissed.

Again? Maybe this has something to do with why his position as surveyor of the road was assigned to William Tate.

February 23, 1802, Page 177 – Zachariah Fugate, Peter Counts, Richard Davis, James Claxton, to view a road from the forks of the road where it takes off Davises until it intersects the road the side of John’s cabins.

James couldn’t have been in too much trouble, since he is still given a position of responsibility.

June 22, 1802, Page 195 – Commonwealth vs Nathan Hobbs, presentment, Jury: Littleberry Robinson, Edward Monahon, Jacob Castle, Peter Starns, Thomas Stapleton, William Hall, John Williams, Robert Lawson, James Claxton, Henry Goodman, John Hall and Peter Alley, def found not guilty

The fact that James Claxton is on a jury list strongly suggests that he is a landowner, but no land records for James have ever been found in Russell County.

Tax lists exist for 1787-1800, 1802 and legislative petitions exist for 1785 and 1810. Some are only partial lists.

The first year that we find James Claxton mentioned is in 1800 in the lower district of Russell County. The upper district is missing.

This timetable is reasonable, because that’s about the time he married Sarah Cook, whose father, Joel Cook also lived in Russell County.

In 1801, we again find James in the lower district and Clayton, John and Joel Cook in the upper district.

In 1802, we find James Claxton in the Upper District of Russell County, along with Joel Clayton, George John Cook.  The tax list is in alpha order, so we don’t know the proximity to each other.

However, there were no other Claxtons by any spelling of the name. Where did James Lee Claxton come from, and why?

Don’t I wish I knew!

Not long after they are married, James Claxton and his bride, Sarah Cook, migrate south across the border of Virginia into Tennessee.

In Russell County, Sarah’s father lived near present day Honaker, Virginia. The wagon trip to Claiborne County would have taken between 6 and 11 days and covered about 110 miles. A 2 or 3 hour drive today, through the mountains, but then it would likely have meant that Sarah seldom, maybe never, saw her parents again.

James and Sarah weren’t the only people from Russell County moving south. The Riley family and likely other Cook family members as well accompanied them and are found as their neighbors in their new location on Powell River.

Claiborne County, Tennessee

Claiborne County at that time encompassed the current Claiborne and Hancock Counties. Hancock was split from Claiborne in the 1840s, so the entire time that James Lee Claxton lived there, it was Claiborne.

The northern part of the county, now Hancock County, where James lived, is quite mountainous and the mountain ranges form the border with Lee County, Virginia.

The Powell River, where James Lee Claxton settled snakes between those mountains, having cut its way through granite – undulating back and forth and back and forth. You can see those bends in the river, below.

The location below, with the red arrow, is Claxton’s Bend where James Lee Claxton lived.

We don’t know exactly when James moved to Claiborne County, but we do know that he is not found on Russell County, VA tax lists after 1800. His eldest son, Fairwick, reports that he was born in 1799 and that he was born in Virginia, so that too is a clue.

Mahala, the next oldest child born in 1803 claims that she too was born in Virginia.

We first find James in a Claiborne County record in 1805.

It would be safe to say they moved between 1803 and 1805, although birth locations gleaned from census records have been known to be wrong before.

Claiborne County, TN Court Notes

June 16, 1805 –  page146 – William Bales overseer of the road from Williamson Trent’s to the Bald Hill near Martin’s Creek intersecting the Virginia line – hands Nathan Morgan, William Morgan, Mark Morgan, Zacharish Stephens, James Claxton, William Allen, Charles Rite, George Spencer, Elijah Smith, Joseph Mourning, William Hatfield, Henry Smith, Jacob Smith, William Evans, John Allen, James Allen, John Riley and John Parrot.

Sept 1805 – page 164 – James Claxton appointed constable, took oaths and gave securities John Husk and Isaac Southern

Sept 1805 – Henry Fugate allowed the following hands to work on road on the North side of Wallen’s ridge in Charles Baker’s company:

  • Nathan Watson
  • David Watson
  • James Poe
  • James Hist or Hust
  • James Morgan
  • John Colter
  • Isac Armstrong?
  • John Jones
  • Thomas Jones
  • Elisha Jones
  • John Rash
  • Zach Stephenson
  • William Pice
  • Isaac Southern
  • Charles Baker
  • William Crosedale
  • William Parton
  • Shelton Parton
  • Drury Lawson
  • James Claxton
  • Goen Morgan
  • William Morgan
  • Obediah Martin’s hand
  • William Martin
  • Johnston Hanbleton
  • Gainford Grimes
  • William Rutherford
  • Jacob Smith
  • Elijah Smith
  • Henry Smith
  • Mark Foster
  • Aleander Richie
  • William Dohely?
  • Thomas Harrison
  • Isac Fauster

Road lists are wonderful resources, because they give you in essence a list of the neighbors who live along that road. Everyone was expected to help. Later, we’ll recognize John Riley as a close friend, swearing he had attended James’ wedding, and he’s on both of the above lists.

The Martins are the Martin’s who lived at Martin’s Branch, quite close to the Claxton’s on the Powell River.

Sept. 1806 – page 71 – John Ryla admin of estate of William Ryla decd and for that purpose entered into bond of $1500 for the lawful discharge of his duty – Isaac Southern and James Claxton securities.

Note, that’s really John Riley.

May 1808 –  page 184 – Deed from John Cage to Henley Fugate and John Riley 640 ac – witness James Claxton and William Bails

May 12, 1817 – page 342 – Sarah Claxton to administer the goods and chattels, rights and credits of James Claxton decd – bond Josiah Ramsey

Sarah Claxton be allowed $15 out of estate of James Claxton decd for her serviced rendered in the administration of estate.

August 11, 1817 – Sarah Claxton administrator of the estate of James Claxton decd returned inventory of personal estate – order of sale granted to sell personal estate of deceased.

Is that not sad? It’s bad enough that she lost her husband with a houseful of children, and now she has to lose everything else as well. Men were presumed to own everything and the widow was provided only one third of the value of the estate.

Unfortunately, there is no estate inventory in any of the surviving books.

Feb. 11, 1818 – page 41 – On motion William Graham and Mercurious Cook appointed commissioners to settle with Sarah Claxton administrator of James Claxton decd and make report to the next court.

The great irony is that this was exactly three years to the day after James’s death.

I had always wondered if Mercurious Cook was a relative of Sarah’s, but if he were, he would not have been appointed to settle with her on James’s estate.

James married in 1799, but he was dead by 1817, less than 18 years later. Early deaths always make me incredibly sad, because I know full well what that means to the widow and children.

How did James die? We’ll find out shortly.

Land

By 1810, James owned land in Claiborne County.

1810 – John Hall to James Claxton, 1810, book C-58 (looked up in later Hancock County book for description – 100 acres on the North side of Powell River, Hobbs line, granted in grant 2051 to John Hall from the state of Tn.) – this is the power of attorney to Walter Evans to sell his land entry “after it ripens into a grant” to James Claxton – dated October 29, 1810, registered April 1811

1811 – John Hall to James Claxton, 1811, D-94 for $10 – original states Dec. 4, 1811, John Hall of Sumner County and James Claxton of Claiborne, $300, 100 acres adjacent the land of Thomas Hobbs on the North side of the Powell river, bank of Powell river, up said river, land originally contained in grant 2051 granted to said Hall by the state of Tn. Oct 27 1811. Signed John Hall by Walter Evans his attorney.

By piecing deeds and surveys together over time, we know that the Claxton family all lived adjacent.

Fairwick Claxton, James’s son, was granted land in 1833 which abutted his brother Henry’s and his mother Sarah’s land.

The Claxton’s lived on the Powell River, at a place still known as Claxton’s bend.

We are quite fortunate for an 1834 deed that lists the children of James Claxton and Sarah.

1834 – Fairview Claxton to Sarah Claxton, 1834, Book O-233 for $70.00 – original reads March 27th, 1834, between Farwick Clarkson, Andrew Hurst and wife Mahala, John Plank and wife Elizabeth, Levi Parks and wife Susannah, John Collinsworth and wife Rebecca, Jacob Parks and wife Patsy, heirs at law of James Clarkson deceast of the one part and Sarah Clarkson widow of the aforesaid James Clarkson decd of the other part, all of Claiborne Co. Tn. In consideration of:

  • Farwick Clarkson, $70 (signs with a signature – but all of the rest make marks. Fairwick’s wife is not included for some reason.)
  • Andrew Hurst and wife Mahala – $70
  • John Plank and wife Elizabeth – $70 or 20 (Debra’s note marked through)
  • Levi Parks and wife Susannah – $70
  • John Collensworth and wife Rebecca – $20
  • Jacob Parks and wife Patsy “Polly” – $20

To Sarah Clarkson, widow aforesaid, 100 acres, Claiborne on the North side of Powell river where Sarah lives and land that was conveyed to James Clarkson from John Hall of Sumner Co. Tn. – beginning at Hobbs line, bank of Powell river. Witnessed by John Riley and Johiel Fugate. Registered Jan. 1, 1841

Yep, that’s James original land from 1810 and now Sarah owns it free and clear, in fee simple.

And again, we find John Riley involved with the family.

Visiting the Claxton Land

 In 2005, with the help of a local woman who was able to find the “ford” crossing the Powell River, I was able to visit the Clarkson land. Actually, this was rather happenstance, because I was actually looking for the McDowell Cemetery. What I didn’t realize at the time, is the wonderful vista it would provide of the adjacent lands on the Powell River.

It was also before the days of Google maps, and before my visit to the Clarkson/Claxton cemetery in which I was trapped in the cemetery with a cousin by a lovelorn bull. So, at the time I first visited and forded the Powell River, I didn’t know exactly where the Claxton land was, but I knew that is was nearby because of the hand-drawn surveyor’s map that so helpfully labeled Claxton’s bend.

The McDowell land is within sight of the Claxton land and because the McDowell land is high, appropriately known as “Slanting Misery,” even yet today, you can climb to the top of Misery Hill and view the surrounding lands. And trust me, having done it, not once, but twice, in the dead of summer, it’s very aptly named.

On the map above, the Claxton family cemetery, where I’m sure that Sarah is buried, along with her son Fairwick and many other family members is shown with the left red arrow.

The middle arrow is where I waded, yes, waded, across the Powell River and the right arrow is the location at the top of the hill on Slanting Misery where I climbed to survey the area.

Here’s a closeup on the Claxton Family Cemetery, now called the Cavin Cemetery, named after the current owners. It’s fenced and located in a field at the intersection of Owen Road and River Road, shown above. You can see the square fenced area.

Do you want to come along on my little River adventure?

Actually, I had to go twice, because I was unable to find the McDowell Cemetery the first time. I’ll spare you the story about the bull chasing us away the second time. It seems that every farmer in Hancock County has their own bull. In Indiana, where I grew up, farmers shared one bull – but he was always an extremely happy bull.

The first visit was much more serene, probably because I didn’t realize the level of bull-related danger, so come along.

To begin this chapter of our story, let’s look at the Powell River as seen from Cumberland Gap.

If you wonder why I love this country, one look at this picture and you don’t have to wonder anymore.

Deep breath.

The Powell River cuts a deep swath through the mountains in both Claiborne and Hancock County, Tennessee. This picture is looking east towards Hancock County from the summit and overlook at Cumberland Gap.

The Powell River is certainly not a small river, and it can vary from lazily running along to a raging torrent, depending on the water level and the rain.

It’s pretty daunting to look across this river and not to know how deep it is. However, the only other option was to attempt to drive, and I can swim a lot better than my Jeep.

And yes, for the record, I DO know how difficult it is to get yourself removed from being stuck offroad in Hancock County. Let’s not talk about that right now. I’m still embarrassed.

This is a really bad photo of me screwing up my courage and wading the river. I was half way across when I realized my partner in crime, or supposed partner in wading, was still standing on the riverbank. Her excuse was that she was going to take my picture. I really think she was waiting to see if I was going to have to swim for shore. For the record, it wasn’t deeper than about 3 feet which is why we had to look for the “ford” which is notoriously shallow. The locals told me that the alternative was a 25-mile drive – through the mountains, on two track roads. I’ll wade, thank you.

If you’re wondering what I had in the bag, it was a camera and notes about how previous searchers found the cemetery years before, with a hand drawn map. It didn’t help.

It started out with “cross the river.”

So far, so good.

Then “follow the road…”

What road? Where?

…to the well.”

What well?

“…near the barn.”

Ok, I should be able to see something as big as a barn.

What barn? Where?

You get the idea.

Standing in the middle of the river, looking towards McDowell Shoals. The local folks said there used to be a swinging rope bridge across the river above that island, until it got washed away in a flood. Now THAT made me feel a LOT better. They said it was some hellatious flood.

I don’t know which flood swept this bridge away, but the floods in the region are legendary. The rivers drain the mountains and then empty into each other.

This photo is of the 1977 flood in Sneedville, the county seat of Hancock County where the Clinch River did a great deal of damage. The Powell River empties into the Clinch. Sneedville saw about 15 feet of water and the river was about 33 feet above normal and believed to have been about 10 feet higher than in the previous all time high recorded in 1826.

Here’s a picture of the Powell River somewhat upstream, near the Cumberland Gap, during the 1977 flood. It would have been worse downstream.

So, maybe Slanting Misery wasn’t so miserable after all and provided a safe retreat in a flood.

I do wonder how the Claxton land fared in the floods. It was quite a bit lower.

A report prepared by the US Department of the Interior after the 1977 flood, from which these flood photos were extracted, reported that the 1977 flood resulted from 3 days of rain that saturated the ground, followed by another 4 days of rain a couple days later that caused most of the water to reach the streams as surface runoff. The second rain event dumped more than 15 inches of water on the area.

The 1977 flood levels were the greatest since 1826 on the Powell River. The Claxtons would have been living on their land in 1826, although James.had already died, so Sarah and her children would have had to deal with whatever happened.

In any case, the Powell river can be quite powerful, especially when upstream creeks and rivers receive rainfall. Had I known that, I might have been watchful of the weather – but ignorance is bliss.

I climbed to the top of the hill on Slanting Misery and recorded the vista for posterity.  And am I ever glad that I did, because this is the land of not only the McDowell family, but the Claxtons and (not pictured) the Herrell’s, all of whom intermarried.

The land beyond the barn (yes, THAT barn) is the Claxton land, laying across the river that you can’t see, of course, because it’s in the “dip” between the trees. And yes, you CAN see the barn from on top of the hill, but not from the river level. They probably built the barn where it wasn’t subject to the annual spring floods.

This land is as beautiful as it is remote.

There is nothing like looking at the land of your ancestors to make your heart skip a beat.

Three families that lived here, the Claxtons, the McDowells and the Harrells would intermarry to create my grandmother, Ollie Bolton.

Five generations of ancestors lived on this land as neighbors. The blood of my kinfolk waters this land and has for more than 200 years.

James Claxton’s Death

I was invited to Alabama in July of 2006 to give a DNA presentation. I wasn’t too cracked up about that – Alabama in the dog days of summer – but I decided to go anyway. DNA evangelists, in those early days, took every opportunity to spread the word.

My one and only visit to Alabama would prove to be quite interesting, in a very unexpected way, having nothing to do with the speaking engagement.

I realized after I accepted that invitation that my ancestor, James Lee Clarxton, had died at Fort Decatur, Alabama on February 11, 1815, a casualty of the War of 1812, albeit through disease and not direct warfare. Still, he died in the line of duty, a place he would never have been if he were not serving his country, far from home, in the middle of winter, with little or no food.

More than two years later, on August 11, 1817, Sarah Cook Claxton, his wife, was appointed administrator of the estate of James and the estate was settled May 11, 1818.

I wonder if that means that Sarah wasn’t informed of his death until two and a half years later. Surely not, but why the delay in probating his estate? Typically estates were probated within 30 days – generally at the next court session. But not James’s.

In 1815, Sarah would have only been married for about 15 or 16 years. She and James had 8 children, although some of their birthdates are uncertain and conflict, unless there were twins.

  • Fairwick (or Fairwix) was born 1799/1800, died Feb 11, 1874 and married Agnes Muncy sometime around 1819.
  • Mahala was born in 1801, died in March 1892 and married Andrew Hurst.
  • Elizabeth was born about 1803, died in 1847 and married John Plank.
  • Mary Polly was born about 1803, died in 1887 and married Tandy Welch
  • Susannah was born about 1808, died in 1895 in Iowa and married Levi Parks.
  • Rebecca was born in 1808, died in 1880 in Union Co., TN and married John Collingsworth.
  • Martha Patsy was born in 1811, died in 1898 and married Jacob “Tennessee” Parks.
  • James born 1810/1815 in the 1840 census with a wife and 2 daughters, but by the time Sarah die in 1863, neither he nor his daughters are mentioned as heirs
  • Henry was born 1813/1815, died August 1838 and married Martha Patsy Gillus Walker.

Sarah, James’s widow, seemed to be quite independent. She never remarried, even though she had small children. She lived 48 years as a widow, not passing away until December 21, 1863, and did things that most women didn’t do during that timeframe. For example, she obtained not one, but multiple land grants.

In 1834, Sarah purchased 100 acres from the “heirs at law” of James Clarkson i.e. their children: Fairwix, Mahala, Elizabeth, Susanna, Rebecca, and Martha. Children Mary (Polly) and Henry are not mentioned in the deed. Henry probably was still living at home but Mary (Polly) had been married to Tandy Welch for fourteen years. Perhaps she received her inheritance when she married.

James’s Pension Record

Most of what is known about James Lee Clarkson/Claxton and his family is taken from the service and pension files of the National Archives. The pension file is voluminous, containing thirty-nine pages. It’s always a good day when you receive a thick envelope from the archives!

In the 1850’s, Congress passed several acts benefiting military survivors and widows. It was during that period that Sarah Clarkson applied for both his pension and bounty land. We know about his death because Sarah applied for both.

According to the Treasury Department letter dated Dec. 30, 1853, James Claxton enlisted on November 8, 1814 and died on February 11, 1815. His widow, Sarah, had received a half-pay pension of $4 per month under the Act of April 16, 1816.

Hancock Co, State of Tennessee – On this 8th day of March 1851 personally appeared before me a JP John Riley of Hancock Co., Tn. and John Taylor of Lee Co., Va. who being duly sworn according to law declare that Sarah Clarkson is the widow of James Clarkson decd who was a private in the company commanded by Capt. John Brockman in the 4th regiment of East Tennessee militia commanded by Col. Baylis – in the War with Great Britain declared by the United States of the 18th day of June 1812. That said Sarah Clarkson was married to James Clarkson decd in Russell Co. in the St. of Va on the 10th of October 1805 by one John Tate a JP in their presence, that the name of the said Sarah Clarkson before her marriage aforesaid was Sarah Cook, that her husband the said James Clarkson died at Fort Decature on the 20th of Feb. AD 1815 and that she is still a widow, and they swear that they are disinterested witnesses.   Signed by both John Riley and John Taylor and witnessed by AM Fletcher. Sworn before William T. Overton JP

John Riley again. A disinterested witness means that they don’t stand to benefit from the statement.

A second sworn statement is given below:

On March 8th, 1851 personally appeared before me Sarah Clarkson aged 76 years a resident of Hancock Co. Tn. who being duly sworn according to law declares that she is the widow of James Clarkson decd who was a private in the company commanded by Capt. Brock (number of regiment not recollected) regiment of E. Tennessee militia commanded by Colonel (too light to read) in the war with Great Britain declared June 18th, 1812. That her said husband was drafted at Knoxville Tn. on or about the 13th of November AD 1814 for the term of 6 months and continued in actual service as she is informed and believes in said War for the term of 3 months and 7 days and died at Fort Decatur or near there on or about the 20th of February 1815 as will appear on the muster rolls of his company on account of sickness. She further states that she was married to the said James Clarkson in Russell Co. VA on October 10th 1805 by one John Tate JP and that her name before her marriage was Sarah Cook and that her said husband died at Fort Decatur as aforesaid on the 20th of February AD 1815 and that she is still a widow. She makes this declaration for the purpose of obtaining the bounty land to which she may be entitled under the act passed September 25th, 1850. Witness Fairwick Clarkson (possibly others as the bottom of page is cut off) and she makes her mark.

James Lee Claxton’s death date is given variously as February 11 and February 20, by different sources.

In another statement, Sarah gave her marriage date to James Lee Claxton as October 10, 1799 which meshes better with the births of their children. By 1805, James and Sarah were living on the Powell River in what is now Hancock County, Tennessee, raising a family. Their oldest son, Fairwick (Fairwix, Farwick, Farwix), also my ancestor, was born in 1799 or 1800.

A third document tells us a little more about the circumstances of James death.

State of Tennessee, County of Hancock, on the 29th day of August in the year of our Lord 1853, personally appeared before me a JP within and for the county and state aforesaid. Foster Jones and Tandy Welch citizens of said state and county who being duly sworn according to law declare that they were personally acquainted with James Clarkson decd (sometimes called and written Claxton) who was a private in the company commanded by Capt. Brock in the 4th regiment as well as recollected of E. Tennessee militia commanded by Col. Bales in the War with Great Britain declared June 18 1812 and that the said James Clarkson (or Claxton) sickened and died before the expiration of the time for which he engaged to serve in the said war and he belonged to the said company and regiment to which we did and that we each of us have applied under the act of Sept. 28 1850 and obtained land warrants for our service in said war. Tandy Welch and Foster Jones both make their marks, AM Fletcher a witness and Stephen Thompson a witness.

Another statement indicates that both Tandy Welch and Foster Jones witnessed the death of James Claxton.

Tandy Welch, the man who was at James’ side when he died, five years later, on June 22, 1820, married James’ daughter, Mary.

On November 29, 1853, personally appeared before me Mrs. Sarah Clarkston, a resident of Hancock County aged 79 years…widow of James Clarkson…married about 1799…drew 5 years half pay in 1816…obtained 40 acres of land bounty dated Sept. 22, 1853 number 92928.

The War of 1812 is a rather neglected war, as they go. We don’t know a lot about where these men were on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. What follows is a little information about his regiment from The Regimental Histories of Tennessee Units During the War of 1812.

The 4th Regiment, along with Colonel William Johnson’s Third Regiment and Colonel Edwin Booth’s Fifth Regiment, defended the lower section of the Mississippi Territory, particularly the vicinity of Mobile. They protected the region from possible Indian incursions and any British invasion. These regiments were under the command of Major General William Carroll. They manned the various forts that were located throughout the territory: Fort Claiborne, Fort Decatur, and Fort Montgomery, for example. Sickness was rampant in this regiment and the desertion rate was high. The regiment mustered in at Knoxville and was dismissed at Mobile.

And then this from one of the soldiers, Thomas David, at Camp Montgomery who kept a diary:

I now volunteered again and under Capt Henry Lane subsequently attached to Gen McIntosh. [Jones’ Regiment] I think it was the latter part of October 1814 that we were mustered into service at Fort Hawkins, and went soon (well supplied) to Fort Decatur, on the Tallapoosa river. We built boats to carry provisions down the river. We started overland to Fort Claiborne [Louisiana]. We got there eight days before the boats arrived with the food, and there was none at the Fort. We had bad times, some suffered extremely, some died. Before our supplies came reports came that the British had taken Fort Bowyer at Mobile point, and an attack upon the town fort was expected. What were we to do?

Sarah initially had problems collecting James’ pension and bounty land due to the difference in the spelling of his last name, Clarkson, under which she applied, vs Claxton. I fully understand that, because I have issues with James’s records today for the same reason.

Sarah did collect a widow’s benefit of half pay, $3.85 a month, for five years, although exactly when is unclear. During the 1850’s she also received a land grant of forty acres. However, she filed a deposition in March of 1854, claiming she was entitled to 80 acres. The 40 acre grant was cancelled (a copy of the cancelled certificate is in the pension file) and the 80 acre grant approved. In the for-what-it’s-worth category, the scanned version of his pension file at Fold3 is significantly incomplete.  More than half is missing, so I’m glad I ordered it from the National Archives years ago.

Sarah’s monthly pension ceased when the Civil War began. After the war, her son, Fairwick, filed an oath of loyalty in order to apply for restoration as administrator of her estate since Sarah had died. He also vouched for Sarah’s loyalty and testified about Sarah’s “heirs to wit”. Sukey Parks, wife of Lewis Parks, is said to have moved to Iowa some 20 years ago, Farwix and Polly are residents of Hancock County, Patsy and Mahala are in Claiborne County, and Rebecca is listed as living in Union County. Rebecca is reported as “disloyal”, meaning Confederate, but that “cannot be proven from personal knowledge.”

We know from James’s records that he was buried at Fort Decatur, on a hill not far from the fort. He never came home.  I wonder if Tandy Welch and Foster Jones, two of the local men in his unit, bore the responsibility of telling her about his death after they were discharged later in 1815. The war of 1812 ended just a month after James died – on March 23, 1815.

I decided that since I was going to Alabama anyway that I’d like to go and find James’ grave at Fort Decatur and pay my respects to him where he is actually buried.

That sounded much easier than it was to prove to be.

First, I had to find Fort Decatur.

Finding James

I began by trying to find the location of Fort Decatur. After many frustrated attempts, I finally discovered that the Fort was not preserved, but neither was it destroyed. It was simply abandoned and allowed to decay.

In subsequent years, the site had been purchased with a significant piece of other property by Auburn University for their Experimental Agricultural Farm. So one can get to the fort, if one can find the fort, which is another matter altogether. But then again, I thought, how difficult can a fort be to find?

I would discover that the answer to that question is not what it appeared.

I was fortunate to locate two local men who knew the area well and were raised there. Unfortunately, neither was able to accompany me during my visit. I arrived on a Sunday morning in one of the most remote places I’ve ever been. I pulled into the parking lot of a very rural church to ask directions, and the children were actually frightened of me. They literally ran inside to hide. I was both confused and felt terrible.

Then I realized I was literally right down the road from where the Tuskeegee Sylphilis Study infamously took place. Some things cast a very long shadow.

The local people didn’t even know there WAS a fort. Actually, I think they thought I was crazy. And the Experimental Agricultural Farm was completely deserted.

Fortunately, my friend had sent me an old drawing of the fort made shortly after its construction. It is located between the railroad tracks, which were not there when the fort was built, obviously, and the bend in the river.

I would wager that James is buried on that hill behind the fort. The documentation said it was near the spring.

My friend also sent me a photograph of the monument at Fort Decatur.  It was placed there in 1931 by the Alabama Anthropological Society (which ceased to exist long ago).  The inscription on the plaque reads:

FORT DECATUR

1814

Built by the 3d U. S. Inf.

You can see that it is illegible, but illegible or not, monument itself should at least be visible as it’s pretty good size, and fenced – right?

Fort Decatur was built by a contingent of NC militiamen in 1812/1813 as a fortification in the War of 1812 when our country was fighting with the English.

The Indians were backing the British because the British told them that if they won, they would return all of their lands. The Creek Indians were a particular stronghold, and these forts along the Alabama Rivers, plus some in Mississippi and Louisiana and Northern Florida provided protection for the then sparse residents and also for locations from which to fight.

Fort Decatur was relatively small, as forts go, and was only a militia stronghold, not a hospital or supply fort. Many of the soldiers from Fort Decatur traveled between Fort Montgomery and Fort Claiborne in Louisiana. Other contingents built other now defunct forts at the convergence of the Coosa and Talapaloose rivers – Fort Williams and Fort Strothers, also nearby, a large supply fort. Davis’s journal said that his regiment was dispatched, on foot, to Fort Claiborne but they beat the supply boat by almost 2 weeks and had nothing to eat. Getting troops someplace was one thing. Feeding them was quite another.

The regiments that were at Fort Decatur were devastated by famine, starvation and associated diseases. They probably also had typhoid, given the descriptions of what was going on. One soldier said that they lost 50% of their men, which according to the roster, is accurate. Most of the deaths were due to disease and starvation, not fighting the Creeks. All of this was incredibly sad, especially when I think of my ancestor’s last days.

I hate to think his death was for naught, but given that the war ended a month later, and that he wasn’t killed defending his country, but died a miserable death instead – I do feel that his life was wasted in the sense that his death was premature and pointless. I have to wonder what prompted him to join.

Most of these men didn’t even have horses, as soldiers had to supply their own, and they marched from Knoxville to Alabama, on foot, in the winter. Those who survived were discharged in May and then walked home again. In addition to James, there was a drummer and a fifer, typically boys between 12 and 15, as only 16 and over were allowed to fight. One of those young boys was possibly the brother of James’s wife, Henry Cook – so Sarah lost her husband and possibly her little brother or a nephew as well.

Very interesting indeed, and a devastating chapter in a War whose soldiers probably didn’t even understand why they were fighting. They were “drafted” or volunteered in the militia because they had no other choice. Both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War were passionate wars with a purpose, regardless of your perspective. This one was just something that had to be done.

Ironically, the Fort was built across from a very large Indian village that spanned 4 miles on the bends of the river. In 1815, the Indians came to the fort to ask for peace. Eventually, they were removed to Oklahoma along with the Cherokees. Some left and joined the Seminole in Florida.

One of the reasons I was able to find information about the fort is because the Governor of Tennessee, John Sevier, also died at the fort just a couple of weeks before James Claxton. Sevier was buried outside the fort on a hillside. The fort itself was built on the top of an Indian mound. Some years later, a contingent of men returned to Fort Decatur and exhumed Sevier, bringing him back to Tennessee and reburying him in Nashville. The location of Sevier’s body was marked at the time with a marble marker. Other graves were either entirely unmarked, or with wooden crosses. Given that half the men were dead, the other half likely sick, most of the graves were probably unmarked.

During a stop in the Tennessee archives in Nashville on my way to Alabama, I was able to unearth a great deal of information about the trip to exhume Sevier, but nothing that would definitively locate the cemetery or burial location today. Some think Sevier may not have been buried with the rest of the men, but I bet he was.

On the map below, the fort is marked, along with Sevier’s gravesite. Reports of the cemetery said it was near a spring, which is shown on the original drawing.

The roads have changed from the time that the “old Federal Road’ ran alongside the original Fort. The map below shows the current configuration.

A current topo map insert is shown below as well. Armed with all of this information, how could I fail to find the fort? The men who had grown up locally played on and in the fort as a child.

I gave this personal version of a scavenger hunt my best effort.

I found Milstead, which was located right on Highway 40. I found the University of Auburn farms, and the 4 brick houses where I’d guess the students stay. Not a soul was anyplace on the land. I went behind the big yellow building to the brick house back there too, and saw the road going on back. I followed the road, thinking either I’d find someone to ask or I’d find the fort. The road (2 track) went back and then along the railroad for maybe 1/8th mile, then crossed over the railroad track. From the maps I had found, it looked like the fort was between the railroad and the river, and that it was where the river bent to the west leaving the tracks. I have a GPS unit in my car, and I was at that location, and there is a hill, but the kudzu was so thick that I couldn’t see anything. I followed that road on for a ways and it shortly turned towards the river and there were “no trespassing” signs, which I ignored (against my better judgment) and followed the road down to the river. I thought maybe I could see the fort from that road down by the river, but I couldn’t.

I took a photo, which I now can’t find, and I left before someone started shooting at me. The area looked like it was privately owned after crossing the railroad track. In retrospect, I think I probably went too far. With kudzu covering everything, and I mean literally everything, it was impossible to tell.

I returned home very disappointed. It was a relatively miserable and disheartening trip. I seldom fail at finding something – especially a something that large.

I don’t mind tramping through the woods in 100 degree heat to find an ancestor – but not finding something as large as a fort, being miserable and having driven for more than 900 miles for the privilege was hard to bear.

My cousin, Daryl, and I were planning to return the following year, but life interfered and we have been unable to return to find the fort.

Fortunately, an unlikely source, YouTube has come to my rescue. Someone took a video “tour” of Fort Decatur, so we can all enjoy the visit.

Apparently nothing, or not much, is left of the original fort itself, just the earthworks. In part, this explains why I was unable to find a “fort.” Knowing that James died there while watching this video was a very moving moment. I couldn’t be more grateful for this man’s kindhearted posting of this video.

Above is a clip from the video within the “fort” itself, and below, the ditch that surrounded the fort.

And look, there’s that marker in the video! It does still exist.  I guess this is the closest thing to a grave marker that James Lee Claxton will ever have.

I found the location on Google maps, but try as I might, I can’t see the marker or the remains of the fort. However, the bend in the River is distinctive and we know that the fort is located right beside the river, about where the T is in Tallapoosa.

The tiny village of Milstead is in the lower left corner.  The Auburn farm is the circle driveway and the farm to the left of the circle driveway.  I believe they own the area from 40 to the river.

The fort would have been located in the forested area below, between the hill and the river, and the gravesite wouldn’t have been far. Looking at this area today, compared with the map that shows John Sevier’s grave, it certainly looks like the gravesites were near the railroad.

Utilizing the various maps and hints, I think that the fort is right about where the tip of the red arrow is located, below. The green area below the fort would be the hill, as draw on the original map and current day topo. The two blue arrows to the left would be the old road that fords the river, and the road approach on the far bank. The two blue arrows on the right side are the spring and the stream. This leave, of course, the hill in the middle between the fort, the railroad tracks,and the various blue arrows. If James was buried on the hill, near the spring, he could have been buried on the right side of the hill area, probably not far from the road cut today, which you can see between the right blue bottom arrow and the railroad tracks..

Additional research and working with the University revealed that during the time when the railroad tracks were laid that human bones were unearthed and pretty much ignored. I have to wonder if those bones were the bones of the men who died during the War of 1812. We know that several soldiers died at this location, roughly half of the men stationed here were reported as deceased during their enlistment, although only about 6 were noted on the roster as having died in January and February.

However, given that the fort location was near the Indian village and mound, the bones uncovered could also have been Native bones. None were salvaged. They were quickly “reburied” by recovering them with dirt.

I know that the chances of me going back to Alabama AND finding Fort Decatur are slim to none, but I have certainly gotten closer to the gravesite of James Clarkson than any other family member ever has. I paid my respects, such as they were.

I suspect James’ widow, Sarah, always wanted to visit his grave. She never really got to say goodbye. His youngest children never knew him.

Tandy Welch, James’s future son-in-law was with James when he died and was probably one of the men who buried James. Sarah and his children would have had to be content to know that at least James had two old friends with him, Tandy Welch and Foster Jones. James too would have taken comfort knowing that Tandy would help look after his young family. That’s probably how Tandy came to marry James’ daughter.

Sarah never remarried.

James Claxton’s Y DNA

We had two burning questions when we began DNA testing on the Claxton line.

First, were the various groups of Claxton, Clarkson, Clarkston and similar surnames one group, or many?

To some extent, we’ve answered that question.

There are several unrelated groups of men, as you can see when looking at the Claxton Y DNA project. By the way, we welcome all Claxton and Clarkson descendants, so please test at Family Tree DNA and join the project. If you are a male Claxton or Clarkson, take the Y DNA test at 37 markers or above, in addition to the Family Finder test. For everyone else descended from any of these lines, take the Family Finder test and please, join the Claxton project.

What is surprising is that some men found in or near the same geographic locations do not have matching Y DNA, meaning they don’t share a common direct paternal line.

In some cases, based on their genealogy, we know these men who don’t match are truly descended from different lines. In other cases, we may have encountered some new lines, meaning those through uncertain parentage or adoption whose surname has remained Claxton, but their Y chromosome is reflective of a different ancestor.  We consider those “new” Claxton lines, because they are clearly Claxton from here forward.

Our second question was the geographic origins of our Claxton line. Where did our ancestors live before they immigrated? Of course, the best way to tell would be for a Claxton male from that location to take the Y DNA test, and match our line, but so far, that hasn’t happened.

One of our Claxton men took the Big Y test. Thank you immensely!

The Big Y test scans virtually the entire Y chromosome for mutations called SNPs that point to deep ancestry on the paternal line. In our case, the Claxton’s terminal SNP, meaning the one furthest down the tree, is haplogroup R-FGC29371. This by itself doesn’t mean a lot, but in context, it does.

This Claxton cousin’s closest matches on the Big Y test are men with the following last names:

  • Parker
  • Joyce
  • Grigsby
  • Gray
  • Daniel

This suggests that he doesn’t necessarily match these men in a genealogical timeframe, and in fact, he doesn’t match them on the regular STR marker test panel at Family Tree DNA – but it means that those families and his are probably from the same place at some time before the advent of surnames.

Utilizing the SNP utility at Family Tree DNA, we see that there are only three locations of clusters where this SNP is found, so far, and all 3 are in the UK.

Of course, as luck would have it, one is in Ireland, one in Scotland and one near the Scotland/England border.

The Unresolved Mystery

We still haven’t identified the parents of James Lee Claxton. I’m firmly convinced that his middle name, Lee, given in 1775 when middle names were only purposefully given, is a clue. Middle names at that time in the colonies were generally only bestowed when they were family surnames. Everyone having surnames came in vogue not long thereafter, but I strongly suspect Lee is a family name.

Unfortunately, Lee is also a rather common name, but I have been on the lookout for decades now for any Lee or Lea connection. So far, that has been another blind alley wild goose chase…but hey…you never know which of these goose chases might actually net something!  One thing, none ever will if we don’t pursue those geese.

In a future article about James’ potential father’s, I’ll step through what we’ve done and who we’ve ruled out.

In the mean time, nearly 13 years after founding the Claxton/Clarkson surname project, I’m still waiting for that person to test someplace in the UK that will match our Claxton line.

While waiting for that person to test, I’d settle for a definitive line out of Virginia, perhaps!

If you are a Claxton male, please consider both Y DNA and autosomal testing (the Family Finder test) at Family Tree DNA and joining the Claxton project.

Glossary – DNA – Deoxyribonucleic Acid

What is DNA and why do I care?

Good questions. Let’s take a look at the answer in general, then why we use DNA for genealogy.

The Recipe for You

DNA, deoxyribonucleic acid, is the book of life for all organisms. In essence, it’s the recipe for you – and what makes you unique.

DNA is formed of strands that twist to form the familiar double helix pattern.

The two strands are joined together by one of 4 different nucleotides, one extending from each side to connect in the middle. The nucleotides are:

  • Cytosine – C
  • Guanine – G
  • Thymine – T
  • Adenine – A

The nucleotide names don’t really matter for genetic genealogy, but what does matter is that the sequence of these nucleotides when chained together is what encodes information on long structures called chromosomes. Each person carries 22 chromosomes, plus the 23rd chromosome pair which is gender specific.

Using DNA for Genetic Genealogy

There are four different kinds of DNA that genealogists use in different ways for obtaining ancestors’ information relevant to genetic genealogy. Thankfully, we have 4 different kinds of DNA available to us because of unique inheritance patterns for each kind of DNA – meaning we inherited different kinds of DNA from different ancestral paths. If one kind of DNA doesn’t work in a particular situation, chances are good that another type will.

Genetic genealogy makes use of 4 different types of DNA.

  • Y DNA – passed from males to male children, only (your father’s paternal line)
  • Mitochondrial DNA – passed from females to both genders of children, but only females pass it on (your mother’s matrilineal line)

Y and mitochondrial DNA inheritance paths are shown on a pedigree chart in the graphic below, with the blue boxes representing Y DNA and the red circles representing mitochondrial DNA inheritance.

In addition to Y and mitochondrial DNA, genetic genealogists also use two kinds of DNA that reflect inheritance from additional ancestral lines, in addition to the red and blue lines shown above – meaning the ancestral lines with no color.

  • Autosomal DNA – the 22 chromosomes that recombine during reproduction.
  • X Chromosome – always contributed by the mother, but only contributed by the father to female children – this is the 23rd chromosome pair which recombines with a unique inheritance pattern.  You can read more about that in the article, X Marks the Spot.

Receiving What Kind of DNA from Whom

While the Y and mitochondrial DNA have unique and very prescribed inheritance patterns as shown by the red arrows pointing to the blue Y chromosome below at far left, and the red mitochondrial circles at far right, the 22 autosomal chromosomes are contributed equally by each parent. In other words, for each chromosome, a child inherits half of each parent’s DNA. How the selection of which DNA is contributed to each child is unknown.

A child’s gender is determined by the parent’s contributions to the 23rd chromosome, not shown above. The following chart explains gender determination by the X and Y combinations of the 23rd chromosome.

Received from Mother Received from Father
Male child X Y
Female child X X

The Y chromosome is what makes males male.

No Y chromosome?  You’re a female.

However, this X chromosome inheritance pattern provides us with the ability to look at X matches for males and know immediately that they had to have come from his mother’s lineage – because males don’t inherit an X chromosome from their father.

Autosomal DNA and Genetic Genealogy

The 22 non-gender chromosomes recombine in each generation, with half of each chromosome being contributed by each parent, as shown in the illustrations above.

You can see that in the first generation, the child received one blue and one yellow, or one pink and one green, chromosome. In giving each child exactly half of their DNA, each parent contributes some amount of ancestral DNA from generations upstream, as you can see in the mother/father and son/daughter generations.

For example, each child receives, on average, 25% of each of their grandparent’s DNA – although they can receive somewhat more or less than 25%, depending on the random nature of recombination.

Therefore, genetic genealogy testing companies compare tester’s autosomal DNA with other testers and look for common segments contributed by common ancestors, resulting in autosomal matching.

When relatively large segments match between three or more relatives who are not immediate family, we can attribute that DNA to a common ancestor. Of course, the challenge, and the thrill, is to determine which common ancestor contributed that common DNA to our triangulated match group. It’s a great way to verify our research and to break down brick walls.

Let’s face it, you received ALL of your DNA from SOME combination of ancestors, and if you carry large enough pieces from any specific ancestor, we can, hopefully, identify the source of that DNA segment by looking at the genealogy of those we match on that segment.

It’s a great puzzle to unravel, and best of all, it’s the puzzle of you.

More Info

The great news is that you can utilize your Y DNA, mitochondrial DNA and autosomal DNA differently, to provide you with different kinds of information about different ancestors and genealogy lines.

If you’d like to read more about how the 4 Kinds of DNA can be used, please read the short article, 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy.

You can also enter any word or phrase into the search box in the upper right hand corner of this blog to find additional useful information about any topic.

If You Want to Test

If you’d like to learn more about the various kinds of DNA tests available, and which one or ones would be the best for you, please read the article, Which DNA Test is Best?

Right now, the Y DNA, mitochondrial and autosomal (Family Finder) tests are on sale at Family Tree DNA, through the end of August, 2017.

______________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure will now appear at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Using Spousal Surnames and DNA to Unravel Male Lines

When Y DNA matching at Family Tree DNA, it’s not uncommon for men to match other males of the same surname who share the same ancestor. In fact, that’s what we hope for, fervently!

However, if you’re stuck downstream, you may need to figure out which of several male children you descend from.

If you’re staring at a brick wall working yourselves back in time, you may need to try working forward, utilizing various types of information, including wives’ surnames.

For all intents and purposes, this is my Vannoy line, in Wilkes County, NC, so let’s use it as an example, because it embodies both the promise and the peril of this approach.

So, there you sit, disconnected from the Vannoy line. That little yellow box is just so depressing. So close, but yet so far. And yes, we’ve already exhausted the available paper trail records, years ago.

We know the lineage back through Elijah Vannoy, who was born between 1784-1786 in Wilkes County, or vicinity. We know my Vannoy cousin Y DNA matches with other men from the Vannoy line upstream of John Francis Vannoy, the known father of four sons in Wilkes County, NC and the first (and only) Vannoy to move from New Jersey to that part of North Carolina.

Therefore, we know who the candidates are to be Elijah’s father, but the connection in the yellow box is missing. Many Wilkes County records have gone missing over the years and births were not recorded in that timeframe.  The records from neighboring Ashe County where Daniel Vannoy lived burned during the Civil War, although some records did survive. In other words, the records are rather like Swiss cheese. Welcome to genealogy in the south.

Which of John Francis Vannoy’s four sons does Elijah descend from?

Let’s see what we can discover.

Contact Matches and Ask for Help

The first thing I would do is to ask for assistance from your surname matches.

Let’s say that you match a known descendant of each of these four men, meaning each of John Francis Vannoy’s sons. Ask each person if they know where the male Vannoy descendants of each son went along with any documentation they might have. If your ancestor, Elijah in this case, is not found in the same location as the sons, geography may be your friend.

In our case, we know that Francis Vannoy migrated to Knox County, Kentucky, but that was after he signed for his daughter’s marriage in Wilkes Co., NC in 1812. It was also about this time that Elijah Vannoy migrated to Claiborne County, TN, in the same direction, but not the same location. The two locations are an hour away by car today, separated by mountains and the Cumberland Gap, a nontrivial barrier.

We also know that Nathaniel Vannoy left a Bible that did not list Elijah as one of his children, but with a gap large enough to possibly encompass another child.  If you’re thinking to yourself, “Who would leave a child’s birth out of the Bible?,” I though the same thing until I encountered it myself personally in another line.  However, the Bible record does make Nathaniel a less likely father candidate, despite a persistent rumor that Nathaniel was Elijah’s father.

Our only other clues are some tax records recording the number of children in the household of various ages, but none are conclusive. None of these men had wills.

Y DNA Genetic Distance

Your Y DNA matches will show how many mutations you are from them at a particular marker level.

Please note that you can click to enlarge any graphic.

The number of mutations between two men is called the genetic distance.

The rule of thumb is that the more mutations, the further back in time the common ancestor. The problem is, the rule of thumb doesn’t always work. DNA mutates when it darned well pleases, not on any clock that we can measure with that degree of accuracy – at least not accurately enough to tell which of 4 sons a man descends from – unless that line has incurred a defining mutation between the ancestor and the current generation. We call those line marker mutations. To determine the mutation history, you need multiple men from each line to have tested.

You can read more about Y DNA matching in the article, Concepts – Y DNA Matching and Connecting with your Paternal Ancestor.

Check Autosomal DNA Tests

Next, check to see if your Y DNA matches from all Vannoy lines have also taken the autosomal Family Finder test, noted as FF, which shows matches from all ancestral lines, not just the paternal line.

You can see in the match list above that not many have taken the Family Finder test. Ask if they would be willing to upgrade. Be prepared to pay if need be – because you are, after all, the one with the “problem” to solve.

Generally, I simply offer to pay. It’s well worth it to me, and given that paper records don’t exist to answer the question – a DNA test under $100 is cheap. Right now, Family Finder tests are on sale for $69 until the end of the month.

Check for Intermarriage

While you’re waiting for autosomal DNA results, check the pedigrees for all for lines involved to see if you are otherwise related to these men or their wives.

For example, in Andrew Vannoy’s wife’s line and Elijah Vannoy’s wife’s line, we have a common ancestor. George Shepherd and Elizabeth Mary Angelique Daye are common to both lines, and John Shepherd’s wife is unknown, so we have one known problem and one unknown surname.

You can tell already that this could be messy, because we can’t really use Andrew Vannoy’s wife’s line to search for matches because Elijah’s line is likely to match through Andrew’s wife since Susannah Shepherd and Lois McNiel share a common lineage. Rats!

We’ll mark these in red to remind ourselves.

Check Advanced Matching

Family Tree DNA provides a wonderful tool that allows you to compare matches of different kinds of DNA. The Advanced Matching tab is found under “Tools and Apps” under the myFTDNA tab at the upper left.

In this case, I’m going to use the Advanced Match feature to see which of my Vannoy cousin’s Y matches at 37 markers, within the Vannoy DNA project, also match him autosomally.

This report is particularly nice, because it shows number of Y mutations, often indicating distance to a common ancestor, as well as the estimated autosomal relationship range.

You can see in this case that the first Vannoy male, “A,” is a close match both on Y DNA and autosomally, with 1 mutation difference and falling in the 2nd to 4th cousin range, as compared to the second Vannoy male, “D,” who is 3 mutations different and falls into the 4th to remote cousin range.

Not every Vannoy male may have joined the Vannoy project, so you’ll want to run this report a second time, replacing the Vannoy project search criteria with “The Entire Database.”

Unfortunately, not everyone that I need has taken the Family Finder test, so I’ll be contacting a few men, asking if I can sponsor their upgrades.

Let’s move on to our next tactic, using the wives’ surnames.

Search Utilizing the Wife’s Surname

We already know that we can’t rely on the Shepherd surname, so we’ll have to utilize the surnames of the other three wives:

  • Millicent Henderson – parents Thomas Henderson born circa 1730 Virginia, died 1806 Laurens, SC, wife Frances, surname unknown
  • Elizabeth Ray (Raye) – parents William Ray born circa 1725/1730 Herdford, England, died 1783 Wilkes Co., NC (the portion now Ashe Co.,) wife Elizabeth Gordon born circa 1783 Amherst Co., VA and died 1804 Surry Co., NC
  • Sarah Hickerson – parents Charles Hickerson born circa 1725 Stafford Co., VA, died before 1793 Wilkes Co., NC, wife Mary Lytle

Utilizing the Family Finder match search function, I’m going to search for matches that include the wives surnames, but are NOT descended from the Vannoy line.

Hickerson produced no non-Vannoy matches utilizing the matches of my first Vannoy cousin, but Henderson is another matter entirely.

Since the Henderson line would be on my cousin’s father’s side, the matches that are most relevant are the ones phased to his paternal line, those showing the blue person icon.

The surname that you have entered as the search criteria will show as blue in the Ancestral Surname list, at far right, and other matching surnames will show as black. Please note that this includes surnames from ANY person in the match’s tree if they have uploaded a Gedcom file, not just surnames of direct ancestral lines. Therefore, if the match has a tree, it’s important to click on the pedigree icon and search for the surname in question. Don’t assume.

Altogether, there are 76 Henderson matches, of which 17 are phased to his paternal line. You’ll need to review each one of at least the 17. Personally, I would painstakingly review each one of the 76. You never know where a shred of information will be found.

Please note, finding a match with a common surname DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU MATCH THIS PERSON THROUGH THAT SURNAME. Even finding a person with a common ancestor doesn’t mean that you both descend from that ancestor. You may have a second common ancestor. It means that you have more work to do, as proof, but it’s the beginning you need.

Of course, the first thing we need to do is eliminate any matches who also descend from a Vannoy, because there is no way to know if the matching DNA is through the Vannoy or Henderson lines. However, first, take note of how that person descends from the Vannoy line.

You can see your matches entire surname list by clicking on their profile picture.

The surname, Ray, is more difficult, because the search for Ray also returns names like Bray and Wray, as well as Ray.

But Wait – There’s a Happy Ending!

If you’re thinking, “this is a lot of work,” yes, it is.

Yes, you are absolutely going to do the genealogy of the wives’ lines so you can recognize if and how your matches might connect.

I enter the wives’ lines into my genealogy software and then I search for the ancestors found in my matches trees to see if they descend from that line.

One tip to make this easier is to test multiple people in the same line – regardless of whether they are males or carry the desired surname. They simply need to be descendants – that’s the beauty of autosomal DNA and why I carry kits with me wherever I go.  And yes, I’m really serious about that!

When you have multiple testers from the same line, you can utilize each test independently, searching for each surname in the Family Finder results.  Then, from the surname match list, select a sibling or other close relative with that same surname in their list, then choose the ICW feature. This allows you to see who both of those people match who also carries the Henderson surname in their surname list.

Not successful with that initial cousin’s match results – like I wasn’t with Hickerson?

Rinse and repeat, with every single person who you can find who has descended from the line in question. I started the process over again with a second cousin and a Hickerson search.

About the time you’re getting really, really tired of looking at all of those trees, extending the branches of other people’s lines, and are about to give up and go to bed because it’s 3 AM and you’re discouraged, you see something like this:

Yep, it’s good old Charles Hickerson and Mary Lytle.  I could hardly believe my eyes!!! This Hickerson match to a cousin in my Vannoy line descends from Charles Hickerson’s son, Joshua.

All of a sudden…it’s all worthwhile! Your fatigue is gone, replaced by adrenalin and you couldn’t sleep now if your life depended on it!

Using the ICW (in common with feature) to find additional known cousins who match the person with Charles Hickerson and Mary Lytle in their tree, I found a total of three Vannoy cousins with significant matches.

Using the chromosome browser to compare, I’ve confirmed that one segment is a triangulated match of 12.69 cM (blue) on chromosome 2.

You can read more about triangulation in the article, Concepts – Why Genetic Genealogy and Triangulation? as well as the article, Concepts – Match Groups and Triangulation.

Do I wish I had more than three people in my triangulation group? Yes, of course, but with a match of this size triangulated between cousins and a Hickerson descendant who is a 30 year genealogist, sporting a relatively complete tree and no other common lines, it’s a great place to begin digging deeper! This isn’t the end, but a new beginning!

After obsessively digging through the matches of every Elijah Vannoy descended cousin I can find (sleep is overrated anyway) and whose account I have access to, I have now discovered matches with four additional people who have no other common lines with the Vannoy cousins and who descend from Charles Hickerson and Mary Lytle through sons David and Joseph Hickerson. I can’t tell if they triangulate without access to accounts that I don’t have access to, so I’ve sent e-mails requesting additional information.

WooHoo Happy Day!!! There’s a really big crack in the brick wall and I’ve just witnessed the sunrise of a beautiful, amazing day.

I think Elijah’s parents are…drum roll…Daniel Vannoy and Sarah Hickerson!

Which walls do you need to fall and how can you use this technique?

______________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure will now appear at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

X Matching and Mitochondrial DNA is Not the Same Thing

Recently, I’ve noticed a lot of confusion surrounding X DNA matching and mitochondrial DNA. Some folks think they are the same thing, but they aren’t at all.

It’s easy to become confused by the different types of DNA that we can use for genealogy, so I’ll try to explain these differences two or three different ways – and hopefully one of them will be just the ticket for you.

Both Associated with Females

I suspect the confusion has to do with the fact that mitochondrial DNA and the X chromosome are both associated in some manner with female inheritance. However, that isn’t always true in the strictest sense, as women also inherit an X chromosome from their father.

Males Inherit:

  • An X chromosome from their mother
  • Mitochondrial DNA from their mother

Females Inherit:

  • An X chromosome from their mother
  • An X chromosome from their father
  • Mitochondrial DNA from their mother

The difference, as you can quickly see, is that females inherit an X chromosome from both parents, while males only inherit the X from their mothers. That’s because males inherit the Y chromosome from their father instead – which is what makes males male.

As a quick overview about inheritance works, you might want to read the article, 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy.

The good news is that both mitochondrial DNA and the X chromosome have very specific inheritance paths that can be very useful to genealogy, once you understand how they work.

Who Gets What?

Mitochondrial DNA Inheritance

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited by both genders of children from their mothers. Mitochondrial DNA is NEVER recombined with the mitochondrial DNA of the father – so it’s passed intact. That’s why both males and females can test for their direct matrilineal line through their mitochondrial DNA.

In the pedigree chart above, you can see that mtDNA (red circles) is passed directly down the matrilineal line, while Y DNA is passed directly down the patrilineal (surname) line (blue squares.)

I’ve written an in-depth article titled, Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story that might be useful to read, as well as Working with Y DNA – Your Dad’s Story.

The X Chromosome

The X Chromosome is autosomal, meaning that it recombines in every generation. If you are a female, the X recombines just like any other autosome, meaning chromosomes 1-22. You receive a copy from each parent.

The 23rd pair of chromosomes is the X and Y chromosomes which convey gender. Males receive an X from their mother and Y from their father. The Y chromosome makes males male. Females receive an X chromosome from both parents, just like the rest of chromosomes 1-22.

Inheritance Pathways

If you are a male, the inheritance path of the X chromosome is a bit different from that of a female, because you inherit your X only from your mother.

Females inherit their father’s ONLY X chromosome intact, which he inherited from his mother. Females inherit their X chromosome from their mother in the normal autosomal way. A mother has two X chromosomes, so the mother can give a child either chromosome entirely or parts of both of her X chromosomes.

Because of the different ways that males and females inherit the X chromosome, the inheritance path is different than chromosomes 1-22, portions of which you can inherit from any of your ancestors. Conversely, you can only inherit portions of your X chromosome from certain ancestors. You can read about more about this in the article, X Marks the Spot.

Female X inheritance chart. For male distribution, look at my father’s side of the tree.

My own colorized X chromosome chart is shown above, produced from my genealogy software and Charting Companion. An X match MUST COME from one of the ancestors in the pink and blue colored quadrants. It’s very unlikely that I would inherit parts of my X chromosome from all of these ancestors, but these ancestors are the only candidates from whom my X originated. In other words, genealogically, these are the only ancestors for me to investigate when I have an X DNA match with someone.

Because of this unbalanced distribution of the X chromosome, if you are a male and you match someone on the X chromosome, assuming it’s a legitimate match and not a match by chance, then you know the match MUST come from your mother’s side of the family, and only from her pink and blue colored ancestors – looking at my father’s half of the tree as an example.

If you are a female the match can come from either side, but only from a restricted number of individuals – those colored pink or blue, as shown above.

X chart with Y line included in purple, for males, and mitochondrial line in green.

My mitochondrial line, shown on the X chart would consist of only the women on the bottom row, extending to the right from me, colored in green above. My father’s Y DNA line would be the purple region, extending along the bottom at left. Of course, I don’t have a Y chromosome, because I’m female.

Of the individuals carrying the purple Y DNA, the only one with an X chromosome that a female could inherit would be the father. A female would inherit both the mtDNA of all of the green women, plus could also inherit an X chromosome (or part of an X) from them too.

For males, looking at my father’s half of the chart. He can inherit no X chromosome from any of the purple Y DNA portion, because those men gave him their Y chromosome. My father would inherit his mitochondrial DNA from his direct matrilineal line, shown in yellow, below.

X chart with mitochondrial inheritance line for mother (and child) shown in green, for father shown in yellow.  Both yellow and green lines can contribute to the X chromosome for males and females.

In my father’s case, the females in his tree that he can inherit an X chromosome from are quite limited, but people who have the opportunity to pass their X chromosome to my father are never restricted to only the people that pass his mitochondrial DNA to him. However, the X chromosome contributors always include the mitochondrial DNA contributors for both males and females.

In my father’s case, above, he inherits his X chromosome from his mother, who can only inherit her X from the people on his side of the chart shown in yellow, blue or pink. In essence, the people in yellow or to the left of the yellow with any color.

As his daughter, I can inherit from any of those ancestors as well, since he gives me his only X, who he inherited from his mother. I also inherit an X from my mother from anyone who is green, pink or blue on her side of my chart.

As you can see, my X can come from many fewer ancestors on my father’s side than on my mother’s side.

It just happens that ancestors in the mitochondrial line also are able to contribute an X chromosome and either gender can inherit parts of their X chromosome from any female upstream of their mother in the direct matrilineal line. However, only the direct matrilineal line (yellow for your father and green for your mother) contributes mitochondrial DNA. None of the other ancestors contribute mtDNA to this male or female, although females contribute their mtDNA to other individuals in the tree. For a more detailed discussion on inheritance, please read the article, “Concepts – ‘Who to Test Series”.

Special Treatment for X Matches

While the generally accepted threshold for autosomal DNA is about 7cM, for X DNA, there appears to be a much higher incidence of false matches at higher levels than the rest of the chromosomes, as documented by Philip Gammon as in his Match-Maker-Breaker tool.  This appears to have to do with SNP density.

I would encourage genetic genealogists to consider someplace between 10 and 15 cM as an acceptable threshold for an X chromosome match. This of course does not mean that smaller segment matching can’t be relevant, it’s just that X matches are less likely to be relevant at levels below 10-15 cM than the rest of the chromosomes.

Summary

As you can see, the mitochondrial DNA is passed from one line only – the direct matrilineal line – green to my mother and then me, yellow to my father. The mitochondrial DNA has absolutely NOTHING to do with the X chromosome, as they are entirely different kinds of DNA. It just so happens that the individuals who contribute mitochondrial DNA are also some of the ancestors who can contribute an X chromosome to either males or females.

The yellow and green ancestors always contribute mitochondrial DNA, but the pink and blue NEVER contribute mitochondrial DNA to the father and mother in our chart.

The X chromosome has a very distinctive inheritance path, shown in the first fan chart, that will help identify potential ancestors who may have contributed your X chromosome – which is wonderful for genealogists. If your ancestor is not colored pink or blue, in the first chart, they did not contribute anything to your X chromosome – so an X match MUST come from a pink or blue ancestor (which includes yellow and green in the later charts.)

By color, the people in the fan chart provide the following:

  • Purple – Y chromosome to father only.  Y is passed on to a male child, but not to females.
  • Yellow – Mitochondrial always to father. X always from mother to males but X can come from either yellow or pink and blue ancestors upstream.
  • Green – Mitochondrial always to the mother.  Females receive an X chromosome from their green mother and also from their father, who received his X chromosome from his yellow mother.
  • PInk and blue on father’s side – contribute to the father’s X chromosome, in addition to yellow.
  • Pink and blue on mother’s side – contribute to the mother’s X chromosome, in addition to green.

 

If you are a male and see an X match on your father’s side of the tree, you know that match is either actually coming from your mother’s side of the tree, or the match is false, meaning identical by chance.

The great news is that X matching is another tool with special attributes in the genealogist’s toolbox, along with both mitochondrial and Y DNA.

Your X chromosome test is included as part of the Family Finder test. You can order the Family Finder or the mitochondrial DNA tests here.

______________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure will now appear at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.

Enforced Bastardry in Colonial America – A DNA Monkey Wrench

Sometimes when men Y DNA test, their results are returned with matches to different surnames, meaning surnames other than their own. In fact, it’s not unusual, but hopefully, they will also match several men who carry their own surname with the idea that those matches will help the tester further their genealogy by being able to connect to ancestors further back in time.

Best case, to identify the actual ancestor.

Worst case, to find hints to lead to their own ancestor through the matching DNA of others.

The Holy Grail

The Holy Grail, for many genealogists, is to find a Y DNA surname match overseas, in a small village, where the local church still has records. That’s what we did in both the Estes and Speak Y DNA projects. The DNA matches confirmed where those lines originated and the church and other traditional genealogical records confirmed we had discovered the origin location of the actual immigrant ancestor.

You can read one of several articles about the trip back to Lancashire for the Speak line here and to Kent for the Estes line here. DNA made confirming the connection between the American/New Zealand lines and the British lines possible.

However, for some, that overseas match never arrives. I’m here to tell you, 16 years and waiting on my Moore line and we still have only a few matches, and only from the brickwall ancestor in Virginia to current – nothing before and no matches with any other Moore line.

Patience may be a virtue, but it isn’t one of mine!

In some cases, like my Moore line, the surname in question only matches people downstream from the known ancestor.

Talk about frustrating.

Surname Matching Issues and Indentured Servitude

One of the reasons surname matching issues can occur, but that we seldom think of, is the situation in colonial American where indentured servants, those who sold away from 5 to 9 years of their life in exchange for for passage to America, were forbidden to marry.  Therefore, if a female became pregnant, she was forced to have the child outside of marriage – meaning the child took her surname.

If a male indentured servant impregnated someone, he too was forbidden to marry – so the child took the mother’s surname and life went on.

Based on the court notes from Richmond County, Virginia, beginning in 1692, and from Rappahannock County, before that, this was a lot more common that one would think.

Now, fast forward 300 years – the surname and the Y DNA don’t match. Better stated, the person carrying a particular surname today doesn’t match any or many people of the same surname.

Making matters worse, according to the records in North Farnham Parish, in Virginia, beginning in 1600s when the area was Old Rappahannock County and reaching through the 1800s when it was Richmond County, “bastard” children don’t appear in the baptismal records. Having said that, the records are known to be incomplete, even for children born to married parents, but given the number of illegitimate births, it’s difficult to believe that somehow all of those records just happen coincidentally to be missing.

Richmond County is lucky to have any church records. Many locations don’t.

So, if your ancestor was one of the illegitimate children born, there is:

  • Generally no record of their name in the court record.
  • No record of their name in the baptismal records.
  • Often no record of their father’s name.
  • No record of the gender of the child born to the mother.
  • Generally, no record of what happened to them.

If you’re lucky, a court record will exist where the mother was brought before the court and prosecuted for “the sin of fornication” and with having a “bastard child.” Generally, that’s not the kind of record a genealogist is looking for. They are looking for males with their specific surname in wills and deeds, not court cases involving female indentured servants bearing children out of wedlock.

As punishment, the woman’s indenture was extended, from a year in early cases, as seen in the examples below, to 5 years in a later case in Halifax County, Virginia.

Sometimes in these cases, the pregnancy causes the woman to fall into perpetual indentured servitude, as we can see in the Thatchill case.

The father? What happened to him?

Sometimes he had to pay a fee of tobacco to the church to assure that the church would not end up paying to raise the child – because an unwed mother was generally condemned to a life of misery and poverty – unable to support her child after her indenture was over.

Furthermore, many indentured servants didn’t survive. While working a slave to death was counterproductive, because the owner wanted the slave to live long and reproduce for the economic benefit to the owner, indentured servants only served for a number of years, so masters often worked these people relentlessly and maintained them in the poorest of conditions.

Enforced Bastardry

While researching my ancestors in Richmond County, Virginia, I stumbled across the three following cases of what I’m terming “enforced bastardry.” I find it somehow ironic that the very men, court and church that condemned these women for “fornicating” had arranged and condoned the very system that forced them to remain unmarried – in essence forcing them to bear those “bastard” children.

In the following cases, the word “master” does not denote a master/slave relationship in the sense of an African or Native American slave who was a slave for life. These were white European immigrant women who were indentured for a set period of time, to be freed after their indenture was served, assuming they survived, not permanently enslaved.

Permanent slaves never officially “married” within the law, and were not prosecuted for “fornication.” In fact, their owners wanted them to reproduce because children of slaves were born into the status of the mother. If the mother was a slave, so were the children.

This was a very profitable arrangement for the slave owner, because slaves that had to be purchased were expensive and in early America, often in short supply. Very occasionally, slave children were baptized, but when so, they were listed under the master’s name, generally not the name of the child and never the name of the parent or parents.

Case 1 – Katherine Thatchill and Catherine Perry, servants to Abraham Marshall

Richmond County Court Order Book, July 2, 1701 – Katherine Thatchill servant to Abraham Marshall by and with her own consent is ordered to serve her master or his assignes the full terms of one years after her time by indenture custome or otherwise be fully expired being for the payment of her fine for committing the sin of fornication.

This day Abraham Marshall confesed judgement to the churchwarden of Farnham Parish for the use of the parish for 500 pounds good tobacco in cask which this court have ordered to be paid with costs of suit. Exo. Being the fine due from Katherine Thatchill for committing the sin of fornication.

Ordered that Katherine Thatchill do serve Abraham Marshall her present master according to act for the care and trouble of her childbirth of a bastard child.

It being evidently made appear to the court that Catharine Parry, servant to Abraham Marshall did fugitively absent herself from her said master’ service the space of 15 days and that her said master hath expended 300 pounds of tobacco for percuring her againe, the court have ordered that the said Katherine do serve her said master or his assignes the full terms of one years after her time and be fully expired being for the payment of her fine for committing the sin of fornication.

These items appeared in consecutive order on the same court order page on the same day. Given the fourth paragraph, it appears that indeed, there were two women, one Katherine Thatchill and one Catharine Perry.

Amazingly, Catharine Perry only “missed” 15 days of “work” but she paid for it with another year of her life, because her master paid her fine.

Court Order Book May 6, 1702 – Capt. John Tarpley one of the churchwardens of the parish of North Farnham certifying to this court that Thomas Tatchall being a parish charge and Abraham Marshall being willing to discharge the said parish of ye said Thomas, the court have ordered that the said Thomas Tatchall do serve the said Abraham Marshall and Thomazin his wife their heires and assignes until he shall attaine to the full age of 21 years.

Apparently, Katherine Thatchill’s child lived and is now also indentured until he is 21. The only way Katherine can be with her child it to remain on Abraham Marshall’s plantation, assuming she is still alive. In essence, Abraham Marshall has now obtained two indentured servants for the next 21 years.  By that time, where is Katherine Thatchill going to go and how will she survive?  She will probably remain a servant for her entire life, in exchange for food and shelter.  Perhaps her son will do better.

Case 2 – Elinor Hughes, servant to James Gilbert

Richmond County, Virginia Court Order Book, Nov. 4, 1702 – Appearing to this court that Elinor Hughes has by her own confession fugitively absented herself out of the service of her master, James Gilbert, the space of 23 days, the court have ordered that she serve her said master or his assignes the space of 46 days after her time by indenture custome or otherwise be fully expired.

Elinor Hughes, servant to Gilbert Jones being presented to this court for having a bastard child, the court have ordered that she serve her said master or his assignes according to act in consideration for the trouble of his house during the time of her childbirth.

This day James Gilbert confessed judgement to the church wardens of North Farnham Parish for the use of the parish for 500 pounds tobacco it being the fine of Elinor Hughes for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child to be paid with costs also.

Ordered that Elinor Hughes servant to James Gilbert by and wither own consent do serve her said master of his assignes the space of one whole yeare after her time by indenture custome or otherwise be fully expired in satisfaction for his paying her fine for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child.

It’s appears that Elinor had to “pay” double the time she missed for “troubling” her master with her pregnancy, and a year for the fine he paid.  These laws and customs never benefitted the servant, always the master.

Case 3 – Ann Kelly, Servant to Thomas Durham

The drama involving Ann Kelly didn’t begin as anything unusual. Ann Kelly’s indenture to Thomas Durham begins like normal in 1699 when she was determined to be 14 years old. The court determined Ann’s age so that the length of her indenture could be determined and so that she could be taxed appropriately. Indentures of children not only involved a certain number of years, but lasted until they attained a specific age, minimally.

In 1704, in a deposition, Ann gave her age to be 20, which would have put her birth in 1684. If she were 14 in 1699, then she would have been born in 1685, so this fits.

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

However, by 1708, nine years later, Anne was 23 and circumstances had changed.

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

Imagine how intimidating this must have been for Ann. Not only did all those men, dressed in their finery and powdered wigs “know what she had done,” they were pressuring her for the name of the child’s father. Ann, a servant with nothing of her own, not even the right to direct her own body, stood firm, even when sentenced to jail.

Having none of this, Dorothy Durham, Thomas’s wife, steps in.

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

I can’t even begin to explain how unusual this was. Not only did Dorothy appear at court, of her own volition, she clearly defied her husband to do so. Not only that, but Dorothy apparently controlled some financial aspects of the household, a very unusual situation for a woman in colonial Virginia. There seemed to be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Dorothy was capable and authorized to pay the 500 pounds of tobacco – even though Dorothy did say she was acting “on behalf of her husband.”

In every other similar case, some male community member steps forward and posts bail, or not, but no female ever steps forward like Dorothy did. I’m convinced that posting bail, in most cases, wasn’t so much to help the poor woman who had the child as it was to retain the services of the woman and not be inconvenienced. In Dorothy’s case, we’ll never know what motivated her to attend court alone, step up in place of her husband AND pay the fine for Anne Kelly. But she did!

Furthermore, in most cases, the female willingly named the child’s father. In this case, we do discover the name of the father the following March, and I wonder if Dorothy knew all along.

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

In March of 1708/09, Anne Kelly was dragged before the court a second time. This time, however, she named the father of the children – Thomas Durham Jr., the son of Dorothy and Thomas Durham Sr. While Thomas Jr. was summoned to post bond to the churchwardens so they would not incur future costs on behalf of the children, Thomas Jr. was not fined for fornication nor did he have to pay Anne Kelly’s fine for fornication and having a bastard child. Men were never fined. I guess those women managed to fornicate and get pregnant all by themselves!

This time, it wasn’t Dorothy who paid Anne Kelly’s fees, nor Thomas Durham Sr. or Jr., who should have by all rights paid her fines – but Thomas Dodson who was married to Mary Durham, Dorothy’s daughter. Anne Kelly, according to another court note, was assigned by Thomas Durham Sr. to Thomas Dodson, so was already serving at Thomas Dodson’s house, which adjoined the land of Thomas Durham Sr. In any event, after her original indenture, plus extra time for the first pregnancy, Anne was obligated to serve additional time working for Thomas Dodson because he paid her fine for the second pregnancy, caused by his brother-in-law.

Court Order Book Page 5 March 2, 1708/09 Anne Kelly servant to Thomas Dodson being this day brought before this court for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child the court have ordered Anne Kelly to serve Thomas Dodson or his assignes according to law after her time by indenture or otherwise is fully expired, in consideration of his paying her fine for committing the offence aforesaid.

Court Order Book Page 5 March 2 1708/09 Thomas Dodson confest judgement to the churchwardens of North Farnham parish for the use of the parish for 500 pounds tobacco being the fine of Anne Kelley for committing the sin of fornication and having a bastard child and it ordered that he pay the same with costs.

Anne Kelly arrived in June of 1699 at the age of 14. By 1709, she is still serving as an indentured servant, has had two illegitimate children, sired by her “master’s” son and still has at least two years left to serve on her indenture time, based on the court records. From this we know that Anne’s original indenture was at least for 9 years, because she was still a servant in July of 1708. A year later, in 1709, she is still serving, and has had 2 years added on to her time. This means that she will be serving until at least 1711 sometime, if not longer, and presuming she doesn’t get fined for fornicating again. This means that her indenture time beginning in 1699 when she was 14 is now extended to when she is minimally 26 years old, when she will be released with a suit of clothes to somehow make her way with two children.

And the greatest irony of all, Thomas Durham Jr. married the daughter of the neighbor planter in about 1710, beginning his “legitimate” family with her. So, while Anne Kelly is still paying with the days of her life for her crime of “sinning” with Thomas Durham Jr. on one farm, he has married the daughter of the neighbor and is setting up housekeeping – probably within view everyday of Anne Kelly.

No hard feelings there, I’m sure. I can’t help but wonder what happened to these women and their children.

Note that in  only one of these cases do we have any idea of the gender of the child and his name from a later record. In the rest of the cases, and normally, there are no names, and no birth dates, although we can at least surmise a year. We also don’t know if the children survived. There are no records in Richmond County in later years for any individual that appears to be the offspring of these women.

In colonial Virginia, the stigma of illegitimacy never washed away. The best way to remove it? Move. Far away. Preferably to the frontier where pioneers were far too busy clearing land and eking out a living to ask questions. Marry someone and start a life far distant from those damning court records and community knowledge.

If you think this scenario might fit your family situation, what do you do?

What To Do?

Unfortunately, these cases are very difficult, if not impossible, to crack.

Hints that enforced bastardry might be involved would include:

  • Few Y DNA matches to your surname
  • Significant close Y DNA matches to another surname
  • Y DNA matches to your surname only downstream of your brick wall ancestor, never at an earlier date and never overseas
  • Ancestor seems to appear out of no place in colonial America
  • No records. Bastard children were not recognized legally as the children of the father so there would be no inheritance.

Of course, the problem is that any of these circumstances mentioned above can be caused by other factors. Few Y DNA matches can be caused by few (or no) descendants or the fact that your line just hasn’t tested. No overseas matches can stem from the same thing, or the Y line has simply died out in the original location. If you’d like to read more, Concepts –  Undocumented Adoptions vs Untested Y Lines discussed more about this topic.

Matches to other surnames can result from a common ancestor before the advent of surnames or misattributed parentage, also known as NPEs or non-parental events, in other lines, as well as your own.

Ancestors who seem to appear out of no place can be a result of records destruction, or ancestors arriving as indentured servants or convicts, remaining poor and never owning land. A combination of these factors is particularly devastating for the genealogist, because it appears that our ancestor literally dropped out of the sky, arriving via the stork.

One approach I take is to look for common geography between my ancestor and the ancestors of other people with closely matching surnames. For example, in the case of Ann Kelly, we know that the father of her children was Thomas Durham, Jr. If the children were male, their surname would be Kelly, but their Y DNA would be Durham. Once you focus on a geography for the Y DNA line, you can turn to autosomal matching for that same surname to see if other people emerge as matches who are not directly descended from the paternal line.

Another avenue, and don’t laugh, is to google the various terms together, such as “Durham, Kelly, 1700, Virginia.” I’ve often found the old Rootsweb and GenForum lists to be wonderful sources of earlier research that has never made it into print or into trees anyplace. – and they both show up in Google searches.

However, in the Kelly/Durham case, as irony would have it, Thomas Durham Sr. had only one surviving son.   Thomas Durham Jr.’s only son, John, had three sons. Just recently, a Durham male descendant of Thomas Jr. through grandson Charnel was discovered and Y DNA testing is currently underway.

It will be very interesting to see if our Durham tester matches any Kelly males.

 

Testing

In order to utilize Y DNA, you must find a male from your desired line who is descended from the ancestor in question through all males to take a Y DNA test. Typically, this means a male who carries the same surname, assuming no name changes or adoptions.

Today, the only vendor offering Y DNA testing and matching is Family Tree DNA. Fortunately, they also offer autosomal testing with the Family Finder test, and Advanced Tools so that you can see if a Y DNA match also matches you autosomally. Their Family Finder matching tool also allows you to search by both current and ancestral surnames.

Click here to order either test. You’ll need both a Y DNA test and the Family Finder test to do the combined search for people who match on both the Y DNA and autosomal results.

You may also want to read the short article, 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy, which explains about the different kinds of DNA that can be utilized for genealogy research.

______________________________________________________________________

Standard Disclosure

This standard disclosure will now appear at the bottom of every article in compliance with the FTC Guidelines.

Hot links are provided to Family Tree DNA, where appropriate. If you wish to purchase one of their products, and you click through one of the links in an article to Family Tree DNA, or on the sidebar of this blog, I receive a small contribution if you make a purchase. Clicking through the link does not affect the price you pay. This affiliate relationship helps to keep this publication, with more than 850 articles about all aspects of genetic genealogy, free for everyone.

I do not accept sponsorship for this blog, nor do I write paid articles, nor do I accept contributions of any type from any vendor in order to review any product, etc. In fact, I pay a premium price to prevent ads from appearing on this blog.

When reviewing products, in most cases, I pay the same price and order in the same way as any other consumer. If not, I state very clearly in the article any special consideration received. In other words, you are reading my opinions as a long-time consumer and consultant in the genetic genealogy field.

I will never link to a product about which I have reservations or qualms, either about the product or about the company offering the product. I only recommend products that I use myself and bring value to the genetic genealogy community. If you wonder why there aren’t more links, that’s why and that’s my commitment to you.

Thank you for your readership, your ongoing support and for purchasing through the affiliate link if you are interested in making a purchase at Family Tree DNA.