Michael McDowell Jr. (c1747 – c1840), Revolutionary War Veteran, Spy, Miller and Apparently, Rabble Rouser, 52 Ancestors #258

I’m struck by how much Michael McDowell’s life reads like a book with distinct chapters. One closes and as the wagon pulls away from the old homestead and another opens.

Michael did that at least twice in his adult life.

I first found Michael McDowell in present day Hancock County, Tennessee and worked my way backward in time, which was anything but easy.

For starters, Hancock County records burned, twice. At the time Michael lived, it was Claiborne County, whose records are incomplete. The place where he lived also bordered Lee County, Virginia and the border between Virginia and Tennessee was disputed for the entirety of Michael’s lifetime. And not to mention various census years that I need that are missing.

For decades, I’ve felt like the great genealogy gods have a perverse and somewhat perverted sense of humor. “Oh, you’ve overcome that road block, well, try this one! Hahahahah.”

In reassembling Michael’s life and that of his parents and children, I’ve had to connect many dots. Some snapped right in, like puzzle pieces nestling together like Russian tea dolls, but a few…not so much. The further back in time we go, the more scarce and difficult the pieces. It’s doesn’t help any that his father’s name was Michael McDowell too, as was his son.

Our Michael McDowell Jr. was born about 1747, possibly in Lunenburg or Albemarle County. His father’s trail goes cold in 1755 in Bedford County where Michael Jr. entered the Revolutionary War in 1777.

The name of Michael’s mother is unknown. She could have been from anyplace between Maryland and Lunenburg County, Virginia. If she was the same age as Michael’s father, she would have been born about 1720, or about 27 when MIchael Jr. was born. It’s likely that someplace, Michael Jr. has siblings.

Revolutionary War Pension Application

One of our most valuable pieces of information about Michael McDowell is his application for a Revolutionary War pension found in Claiborne County, Tennessee. Two versions exist, one somewhat more detailed than the other.

Michael McDowell, Page 31 section 28, Michael McDowell S 1690 Virginia Service:

This day personally appeared before Samuel Powell, Judge of the Circuit Court of Law and this equity in Claiborne Co., TN. Michael McDowell, age 85, in order to obtain benefit of an act of Congress, passed June 7, 1832. He made this application 1832. States he entered the service in Bedford Co., VA 1777 or 1778. He was drafted to perform 3 months tour of duty and he belonged to Company of Capt. Arthur which was attached to the regiment of Col. James Calloway. He then marched to the lead mines in the western part of Virginia and built a fort, and also under Capt. Wm. Leftridge at the same Fort. And after his term expired, returned home to his residence in Bedford Co., VA, and again volunteered under Capt. Arther, and marched against the Indians, and again after returning home joined with some neighbors and friends with the citizens of the country calling themselves spies, to protect women and children from the skelping knife of the savage. He went to see his Capt. Arther who now lives in Kentucky and he is so parallized and so polsed? so that he can not speak, so as to be understood.

John Hunt a citizen of Claiborne County, Tennessee, certify that I am well acquainted with Michael McDowell, and it is reputed and believed in the neighbourhood where he lives that he was a Revolutionary War Soldier.

Affidavit of James Gilbert, one of the clergyman of the Baptist Church, state I am well acquainted with Michael McDowell.

John Hunt, High Sheriff of said county, makes the same statement.

This affidavit gives us a lot of information about Michael, including that he and his friends called themselves spies.

His age is given, which puts his birth about 1747.

We know that in 1777, Michael was 30 years old and living in Bedford County, Virginia. He was married by that time, with his son Edward born in 1773 and his son Michael (the third) being born before 1774.

Information from “TN Pension Roll of 1835” copied by William Navey:

Michael McDowell – Claiborne Co., TN – Private VA Line, $30 annual allowance – $90 amount received, Sept. 20, 1833 pension started – age 87 in 1835

State of Tennessee, Claiborne County This day personally appeared before Samuel Powell, Judge of the Circuit Court of law and equity in the state of Tennessee the same being a Court of Record, Michael McDowell age 85 years who being first duly sworn according to law doth on his oath make the following declaration in order to obtain the benefit of an Act of Congress passed June 7, 1832. States that he entered the services of the United States under the following named officers and served as herein states that he resided in the County of Bedford in the State of Virginia and some time in the year of 1777 or in the year of 1778 he was drafted to perform a three month tour of duty in the services his county and that he belonged to company commanded by Capt. Arthur which said company was attached to the regiment commanded by Col. James Calaway then marched to the lead mines in the western part of Virginia and we then built a fort and we were there stationed until my time of service has expired and then it was that Col. Calaway called upon us to volunteer our services in the cause of our country for the time of three months which this applicant did do in good faith and he states most positively that he did serve his country under the command of Capt. William Selfridge at the same fort and after his time of service had again expired this applicant returned home to his residence in the State of Virginia in Bedford County and some time after this applicant returned home he again volunteered himself under Capt. Arthur and he then marched against the Indians who were committing many defamations on the inhabitants of Virginia and the applicant states that he served in the campaign as long as his services was required by the commanding officer, but the precise time he does not recollect and then being discharged from service he returned to his residence in the County of Bedford. And this applicant begs leave further to represent to the department that some time after he had returned home from the last above mentioned campaign that he united himself with some of his neighbors and friends together with a vow to protect the women and children from the scalping knife of the savage and often performing a great deal of hard labour in the service of our country and after the spring of the year had set in and the savages had left the frontier we again returned home the applicant states that he believes taking the whole of his service together that he served in the cause of his country for the term of nine months although it may be more or it may be less. Said applicant also states that he has no documentary evidence of his services nor does he know of any living testimony by whom he can prove his services. He a few days ago went to see his Capt. (to wit) Capt. Arthur who now lives in the State of Kentucky and that he found that the said Arthur is paralyzed and so palsied that he cannot speak so as to be understood which now fully appears no reference to a document, herewith presented and signed by one of the Justices of the Peace in said state. Hereby relinquish his every claim to a pension or annuity except the present and declares that his name is not on the pensions roll of any agency of any state whatsoever. Sworn to in open court Dec. 1832

If this was sworn in December 1832, chances are very likely that Michael had already had his birthday for the year. His year of birth subtracts to 1748 in this document.

In a publication listing Tennessee veterans of the Revolutionary War, Michael is listed as having been born in 1745. The source of this information is not given.

I obtained Michael McDowell’s Revolutionary War Pension file from the National Archives.

Michael McDowell Rev War1.jpg

The actual pension act was found in Michael’s pension papework.

Michael McDowell Rev War 2.jpg

Michael McDowell Rev War 3.jpg

I originally though that Michael signed this document himself, but after looking more closely, he didn’t.

Michael McDowell Rev War 4.jpg

The “X, his mark” is present. Of course, we don’t know from this document alone whether Michael was simply too elderly and too feeble to write, or if he never could. Other documents will tell that story.

Michael McDowell Rev War 5.jpg

Michael McDowell Rev War 6.jpg

MIchael McDowell Rev War 7.jpg

Michael McDowell Rev War 8.jpg

$90 was a lot of money in 1832 – enough to purchase a farm or at least land to clear for a farm.

Michael McDowell Rev War 9.jpg

Michael McDowell Rev War 10.jpg

From these documents, we can put together roughly the following timeline:

When What Where
1777 or 1778 3 month tour Lead mines with Arthur and Callaway
Additional 3 months at lead mines Callaway requested, served under Leftridge
Home after the second three month tour Bedford County
Some time later Volunteered again to march against Indians With Arthur
Returned home Bedford County
Some time later Spied on Indians – returned home after spring when Indians departed

Michael states that he served 90 days in total, more or less. Given the dates above, his time spying on the Indians would have had to have been in either late 1777 or late 1778. If he was drafted in 1777, most of that year would have been consumed with the 6 months contiguous duty at the lead mines.

Michael McDowell Rev War 11.png

This final document is interesting in that it lists Michael as an invalid. It’s possible, at 85 years of age, that his invalid status is simply a result of his age, meaning he can no longer farm, and had nothing to do with his service or an injury. He did not apply in 1818 at which time destitute soldiers could apply.

These documents reveal more too. Michael left Bedford County and marched to the western part of Virginia. At this time, Tennessee and Kentucky didn’t exist, so Virginia just trailed off into nothing – with no western border as shown in the Fry and Jefferson map from 1775, below.

Michael McDowell 1775 Fry map.jpg

Revolutionary War Service

In the book, Virginia militia in the Revolutionary War: McAllister’s data we find several references to lead mines as well as the officer’s surnames noted in Michael McDowell’s pension application.

This book reveals: Capt. Benjamin Arthur R. Sept. 29, 1781 from Bedford County. James Callaway Co. Lt, S, Dec. 8, 1778. We then find Lt. Col. William Leftwich, S. Feb. 28, 1780. I’m not quite sure what that means, but it does confirm that they served.

Bedford County: 1776. Capt. Wm. Leftridge against Tories and Indians at Lead Mines, 47, 157.

This suggests that there might have been an encounter.

1780 – Capt. Robt. Adams’ Company guarding Lead Mines, 153.

Greenbrier County 1780: Capt. Thomas Wright raises a Company to go against the Indians at Detroit. But it was marched to Lead Mines on Holston, and then to Logan’s Station in Kentucky.

Jarvis Fields, in his pension application tells us that he served from Bedford County as well and he was called to duty in 1779 by Col. Calloway for guard duty at New London, in Bedford County, “the British prisoners taken at the Cowpens being confined there and at Lynchburg.”

Henry Cartmill who served from Botetourt tells us this about the possible location of the lead mines:

At another time he ranged the mountains between Fincastle and Sweet Springs in search of Indians. Himself and many others assembled at the lead mines in Wythe to meet Col. Fergerson who was said to be advancing from the Carolinas with a large force of Tories. After going as far as Stone House in Botetourt, they were stopped by Col. Skillern, commanding the Botetourt militia, until more men could be collected. News reaching them that the Tories were dispersed, they returned home.

Colonel Ferguson was killed at the Battle of King’s Mountain in October 1780.

William King states that he was enlisted in Bedford County in 1778 and for two months, he guarded the lead mines in Wythe County. Other men refer to the lead mines in Wythe County, as well.

William Murphy is very detailed in his pension application:

About Aug. 1, 1776, from Bedford under Capt. William Leftridge, Lt. Calloway, Ensign Joseph Bond. Guarded Chiswold lead mines till relieved by other troops. In April, 1777, was substitute three months for Lewis Dusee (?), who was drafted from Thomas Jones’ Company in Henry. Served under Capt. Peter Herston, Lt. William Ferguson, Ensign Edward Tatum in Col. Christie’s regiment. Marched 200 miles to Long Island in the Holston to stand guard during a treaty with the Cherokees.

Volunteered in April 1780, to serve three months against the Cherokees. Went as sergeant under Capt. Jno. Clark and Lt. John Bond, Gen. John Sevier being in general command. Marched to the headwaters of the Tennessee and killed a number of Indians, with the loss of Capt. Davis and Lt. Bond killed, and Jasper Terry wounded.

In February 1782, volunteered three months under Capt. John Clark, and Lt. John Murphy, of Washington County, N. C. (now Tenn.), Col. J. Brown commanding the regiment, and marched across Nolachucky and French Broad in pursuit of the Indians who had attacked Sherrill’s Station on the frontier, losing one of their number in the attack. We overtook a band, supposed to number 60 to 100, and killed, as was said, thirteen of them. In August 1782, drafted against the Indians again and hired George Doggett as substitute, but Gen. Sevier insisted that I go. Served under him in company of Capt. Thomas Wood and Lt. Vathan Breed, all the officers being of Greene Co. (Tenn.) We destroyed several Cherokee towns, killed a number of Indians, and took some prisoners. John Watts, a half-breed gave up a white woman named Jennie Ivey, who was taken from Roane’s Creek a year before.

The reference to Chiswold’s lead mines gives is a critical clue.

Michael McDowell lead mines.jpg

This waymark exists today at the intersection of interstate 77 and Route 52, but the actual mines were about 10 miles further south in the Austinville Community on a bluff on the south bank of New River. Known variously as the mines on Cripple Creek, the Austinville mines, or the Wytheville mines, they were discovered in 1756 by Colonel John Chiswell.

The original Fort Chiswell was built during the French and Indian War where the current village of Fort Chiswell stands, but was paved over when the intersection of I77 and I81 was constructed in the 1970s.

Given that Michael McDowell said that they built a fort, it’s probable that they built a fort at the actual mines to protect the lead, an extremely valuable commodity to both the militiamen and the Tories who were attempting to capture the mines.

The website, Diggings, below, shows the mine with the green balloon and the deposits in red. The information on the site states that production at the Austinville East Lead Zinc Mines began in 1753 and concluded in 1981.

Michael McDowell Austinville.png

This would be where Michael McDowell camped and built the fort.

MIchael McDowell mine.png

Today, the two routes from Bedford County to the lead mines, both through gaps in the mountains, would be either 110 miles or 125 miles.

Michael McDowell mine map.png

A Google satellite view of the vicinity shows extensive mining efforts at Chiswell Hole.

Michael McDowell Chiswell Hole.png

If the location of the original lead mines is accurately positioned by the green locator of the Diggings map, the original mine location would be where the white roofed building, below, is located today.

Michael McDowell mine location.png

Unfortunately, none of these roads are “drivable” today utilizing Google street view. Maybe in a few years.

Indians, Spies and Scalpings

In both application versions, Michael mentions being an Indian spy, banding together to protect people and that the Indians subsequently left the frontier. What can we discover about when and where this might have occurred?

Michael says he “marched against the Indians, and again after returning home joined with some neighbors and friends with the citizens of the country calling themselves spies, to protect women and children from the skelping knife of the savage.” He also mentions that he and his fellow spy citizens returned home in the spring, meaning they tracked Indians in the cold of winter.

We know that this was after Michael marched to the lead mines, which was probably about April 1777, based on the information unearthed about the mines and other men who served there, and after Michael served with Col. Leftridge and then marched with Captain Arthur against the Indians. After all that is when he “joined with some neighbors and friends.”

In Michael was at the lead mines in April of 1777, then he went home in about October of 1777.

We know that this was probably related to the peace treaty signed with the Cherokee Indians in July 1777 ceding the Watauga lands or in July of 1781 when they ceded more land, both events taking place at the Long Island of the Holston. Another treaty during this time was the Treaty of Fort Pitt signed in November of 1778 with the Delaware. It’s difficult to know which event might have resulted in the Indians leaving the frontier as he mentioned, an event that allowed him to finally return home for the last time – although it’s most likely prior to 1781.

Two articles shed light on this time period and events that clearly impacted Michael McDowell.

The first is found in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 23, No. 2 (Apr., 1915), pp. 113-123, article by David I. Bushnell, Jr.

In the first of a series of articles titled, “The Virginia Frontier in History – 1778”, David Bushnell tells us that in 1774, Cornstalk, Chief of the Shawnee entered into a peaceful agreement with Lord Dunmore and subsequently became friendly with the English.

However, in November 1777, at Fort Randolph which was located at Point Pleasant (now West Virginia,) Cornstalk along with his son were brutally murdered. Ironically, Cornstalk had come to warn the settlers and his killing was in revenge for the murder of a settler by an Indian.

During the winter months that followed, the settlers realized what grave danger they had brought upon themselves by killing Chief Cornstalk and prepared for the now-expected attack by the Indians. In January 1778, Col. William Preston sent a letter from Montgomery County, Virginia, begging then-governor Patrick Henry of Virginia for assistance, expecting the Shawnee to descend upon the settlers at any time.

A widespread attack was expected, “upon all Frontier Inhabitants from Pittsburg to the lower Settlements of Clinch and the Kentucky.”

Col. Preston writes:

“I acknowledge, Sir, that this detestable murder was committed by backwoods men who ought to have behaved in a manner very different; and I am sorry to inform your Excellency that upwards of 100 persons in the County alone have yet refused to take the Oath of Allegiance to the State, many of whom are disarmed and the remainder soon will, who cannot claim, nor are they entitled to Protection while they continue Obstinate.”

“The inhabitants in this and the neighboring counties, especially those most exposed to danger are in the greatest consternation. Several thousand good subjects ought not to suffer for the indiscretion and obstinacy of a few. Being generally in low circumstances, they are not able to remove and support their families in the interior parts of the state, and by continuing at their homes, without the assistance of government, or the immediate interposition of Providence, they and their helpless families must fall a sacrifice to savage fury and revenge.”

“Should this (assistance) be omitted or delayed, I am fully convinced from long experience that this county or a great part of it will be depopulated before May next and the enemy, like blood-hounds, will pursue until they overtake their prey, even to the south side of the Blue Ridge, as they did not many years ago.”

Preston goes on to ask for provisions, stating that the lack of salt prevented people from laying up the quantity of pork that they would have otherwise done. He says they will be out of provisions in two months. Normally pigs butchered in the fall would last until at least the following summer when crops could be harvested.

Preston also asks for Indian corn to be purchased and says there is none in his or neighboring counties. Furthermore, “the want of lead is a most discouraging circumstance. They offer any price but they cannot purchase it.”

Guns don’t work without bullets and lack of lead for their muskets made the settlers little more than sitting ducks.

According to the response recorded in the “Journal for Council for 1778” in the Virginia State Archives, Greenbrier County also submitted a request and on February 19th, the Council agreed to the following:

  • One pound of lead for each militia man
  • To direct trusty scouts to range towards the enemy’s country
  • To advise proper stockades for receiving the helpless inhabitants, wherever the savages have in in their power to penetrate
  • To direct the County Lieutenants of Botetourt and Montgomery to consult together on the expediency of establishing a post near the mouth of Elk River for keeping up the correspondence between GreenBrier and Fort Randolph
  • To do so in the matter they judge best to reinforce the garrison at Fort Randolph with 50 men from the militia of Botetourt
  • That earnest and close pursuit of the foremost scalping parties be made in order to discourage others
  • To apprehend and deliver up the people concerned in that murder

On March 27, 1778 they recommended ordering 50 men from Rockbridge County, Virginia to Fort Randolph and 50 men each from Botetourt and Greenbrier County to “post at” Kelley and authorized 1000 pounds for “commissary.”

The order to “direct trusty scouts to range towards the enemy” stems from the following document passed by the General Assembly on May 5, 1777 as found in Henning (Vol IX, p294-295):

“The lieutenant or next commanding officer of the several counties on the western frontier, with the like permission, shall appoint any number of proper persons, not exceeding 10, in any one county to act as scouts for discovering the approach of the Indians…who on such discovery shall immediately give notice thereof to such militia officer.”

The scouts were instructed not to fire on the Indians, except in self-defense, but only to report locations to the militia officers. Their job was to find the Indians and spy upon them. Their instructions were to not lose time, to stay constantly “on foot” and after they “have fully ranged the part of the country which it was supposed would take 2 or 3 weeks,” they should report back. They were to take their own provisions, but they would be paid for them. I wonder if that ever happened.

However, now we know where the term that Michael used, “spies,” originated in this context.

Interestingly enough, on the back of a paper were listed locations, probably made by a scout, showing the locations visited. The author believes the numbers represent the number of miles:

  • From Culbersons bottom to the big Crab Orchard – 60 (Crab Orchard is in Kentucky)
  • From there to Maiden Spring – 15
  • From thence to Elk Garden – 17
  • To the Glade Hollow – 13

Underneath that is a total line and then 105.

  • To Cowins fort – 10
  • Moores fort – 5
  • BlackMores – 2
  • To Mockinson Gap – 18
  • To ye Great Eatons (?) – 8
  • To Capt Donelsons line – 8

Another total line and 174.

Fort Blackmore was located in what is now Scott County, VA, as is Moccasin Gap.

According to Familypedia.wikia, this 1774 copy of the Smith map with red circles indicates the locations of forts as shown on Daniel Smith’s original map, now in the Draper collection, item 4NN62. The red line became the Kentucky Trace.

1774 Smith map.png

This area includes part of the present Virginia counties of Tazewell, Russell and Scott from the Clinch River to the Holston.

Col. Preston apparently became more fearful and requested additional protection in May of 1778, the following being noted:

“The Board being informed of Col. Preston’s expored situation on the frontier and that is was apprehended (should be obliged to remove) most of the back inhabitants would quit their settlements, they do advise the governor to empower Col. Preston to keep a sergeant and 12 men stationed at his house as Draper’s Meadow to enable him to continue at his habitation and to encourage others to do so.”

In a second article in The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography Vol. 23, No. 4 (Oct., 1915), pp. 337-351 by David I. Bushnell, Jr. we find additional information.

A report detailed the importance of maintaining 4 forts, one of which is Fort Henry in Ohio County and one at Fort Randolph, which is on the Ohio at the mouth of the Kanawha river, the scene of the treacherous murder of Chief Cornstalk in November 1777. That act was the touchstone of the rebellion that caused the Indians to attack the settlers on the frontier. Fort Randolph was stated to be “200 miles distant from the settlements” and 150 men were requested for that location.

Michael McDowell Fort Randolph.png

Indeed, Fort Randolph is about 266 miles from Bedford County, VA.

Michael McDowell Bedford to Fort Randolph.png

Also requested for the various forts was 1500 gallons of whiskey. That’s a LOT of whiskey!

The two documents presented…enable us to picture the frontier posts as they were during the summer of 1778. Small groups of militia, at widely separated spots in the vast primeval forests. Nearby were the clearings and log cabins of the settlers. Supplies were scarce and consequently difficult to obtain and of a high price: a condition which resulted in more than one expedition being either postponed or abandoned. Scouts were ever on the alert for the approach of the warriors from beyond the Ohio; the accepted boundary between the white settlements and the Indian Country later to become the Territory Northwest of the Ohio.

That same year a census of the tribes was prepared by William Wilson at the request of the War Office as reported in the Virginia Historical Magazine:

1778 tribal census.png

1778 tribal census 2.png

The tribes were widely separated and the number of hostile warriors was given as 330, certainly a very conservative figure; but nevertheless, they were sufficiently numerous to spread terror over many hundreds of miles of the frontier.

In the endeavor to gain peace for the Virginia frontier, and the friendship of the Indians beyond the Ohio, Congress planned a treaty to be held at Fort Pitt, July 23, 1778, to be attended by commissioners of the government and representative of the different tribes. This was destined to be the first treaty between the United States and an Indian Nation, and was signed September 17th.

Michael’s Revolutionary War papers take us back to Bedford County, Virginia where he lived after being dismissed the final time from his Revolutionary War service – and presumably once the region became relatively safe again after November of 1778.

What we don’t know is which spring Michael was referring to, 1778, which is unlikely, given the above information, or perhaps the spring of 1779.

Bedford County, Virginia

Michael McDowell Bedford County

Bedford County is mountainous and rough. I visited Bedford County, years ago, and Bedford isn’t much different from surrounding counties. In essence, Bedford is part of the Appalachian range which extends for thousands of miles as an expansive sea of craggy rocks interspersed with tiny patches of green that farmers have been trying to cultivate since before the Revolutionary War. It’s also breathtakingly beautiful with incredible vistas.

Bedford County hosts a section of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a beautiful WWII era road that runs along the summits of the mountains offering stunning vistas, in particular the Peaks of Otter in Bedford County, shown below – visible for a hundred miles in any direction on a good day.

Michael McDowell Peaks of Otter.jpg

This might have been particularly relevant for Michael McDowell’s father, Michael Sr., who we know lived in Halifax County, Virginia in 1752. This means that if Michael Jr. was born in 1747, he might have been born in present day Halifax County which was Lunenburg County at that time. Interestingly, you can see the Peaks of Otter from Halifax County, below, at a location called “Top of the World.”

Perhaps Michael saw these mountains and felt irresistibly drawn towards them – an area that was then the risky, unsettled frontier.

Peaks of Otter

The photo above was taken from Halifax County, looking 50 miles distant to the Peaks. Did Michael live here, or see this on his way back and forth to the tobacco warehouses in Danville, in Pittsylvania County? As a young boy, did he dream of adventure there? One day that dream would come true.

Michael McDowell Peaks of Otter valley.png

Looking across the roof of the Peaks of Otter Lodge today, from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Many of the men who settled in Bedford County were Scots-Irish, and before that, they were Scottish families, so trying to farm fields filled with rocks was nothing new to them. Perhaps it even reminded them somewhat of home, or the homeland of their fathers and grandfathers anyway.

After finding Michael McDowell’s Revolutionary War record, of course I began digging in Bedford County for more information.

Ironically, some of the information I found in Bedford County in June of 2005 referred me back to Claiborne County, Tennessee.

At the Bedford Co. Historical Society, I found a McDowell family file and it held a contact from California from 1989 and 1990 who descends from our Michael McDowell

The researcher mentioned that in Mary Hansard’s book, Old Time Tazewell, Michael’s son Nathan S. McDowell is mentioned as being of Irish descent, which the researcher interpreted to mean that Michael was born in Ireland. As it turns out, Michael Jr. wasn’t, but his grandfather, Murtough McDowell, was.

Blackwater River

On September 24, 1783, Michael purchased 75 acres on the North side of Blackwater River in Bedford County from James Stevens. and on March 22, 1784 the purchase was confirmed in court. Witnesses to the sale were Richard Richards, Skinner Devaul(?) and Ambrose Rains.

Michael McDowell Blackwater River Bedford.jpg

It’s important to note that this does not say Michael McDowell Sr. or Jr., which it surely would have stated if there were two Michael McDowell’s living in the same county at the same time.

On the 1782 Bedford County tax list, we find only one Michael McDowell, listed with 1 free male above 21 years, no slaves, 4 horses, 11 cattle with 1 white tithable, himself.

Unfortunately, the tax list is semi-alpha, which means it’s not in household order, so we can’t look at the list to identify his neighbors. There are no other McDowell residents listed.

In 1783, we find Michael with 1 poll tax, 1 male over 21, 2 horses and 4 cows. Most people had both more horses and more cows that Michael.

By 1784, Michael is gone from the tax list but he doesn’t sell that land until 1793 as a resident of Wilkes County, NC.

It appears that the area of Bedford County where Blackwater River was located became Franklin County.

The Blackwater River runs for about 20 miles as the crow flies, west of the area called Callaway, to the left of the pin below, and the county line at far right where it opens into what is now Smith Mountain Lake, formed by the Roanoke River.

Michael McDowell Callaway.png

Given that Michael served under Colonel James Calloway, which means that Michael probably served with his local muster group, my strong suspicion is that Michael lived near James Calloway. Given that Callaway is located on Blackwater River, Michael probably lived in this region too.

Indeed, this is probably where he grew up because his father apparently applied for a land grant in 1754 on the Black Water River – although beyond the initial application we never find any additional informatoin about Michael Sr.’s 400 acres. He could well have forfeited the grant for any number of reasons.

The north and south branches of Blackwater are born near Calloway and flow eastward to the Roanoke.

Michael McDowell Blackwater River 2.png

Today, this area is a mosaic of farmland, but at that time, it was probably still forested, and men like Michael would fell trees to make room for fields.

Michael McDowell Blackwater satellite.png

Someplace, Michael’s land was probably here in this crazy-quilt mosaic of farmland and forest.

Michael McDowell Blackwater River Callaway Road

Today, Callaway Road where it crosses the Blackwater River. This would have been a ford when Michael lived here.

The Arthur family lived nearby too, with several deeds showing land near Goose Creek, in Bedford County, 4 or 5 miles east of the Roanoke River where Blackwater River empties.

This was Michael’s stomping ground growing up. It’s probably where he married his wife.

We know that Michael McDowell Sr. was on the Bedford County tax list in 1755, and given that our Michael was born in 1747 or 1748, the 1755 Michael had to have been Michael Sr., not Junior.

Or stated another way, it couldn’t have been Michael Jr. and there is a small possibility that the 1755 Michael was not Michael Jr’s father. Given that he was the only McDowell living in Bedford County by the same name, there’s a good chance that the 1755 Michael is indeed Michael Sr., the father of Michael Jr.

I checked all Bedford County deeds 1761-1771, wills 1759-1810 and court orders 1754-1761 – no Michael McDowells. He certainly kept a low profile.

There are also records in Bedford County for one Ephriam McDowell, no known relationship and these two male lines carry completely different Y DNA.

Michael McDowell bought land in Bedford County in 1783, but in 1784 he is not listed on the Bedford County tax list and a Michael McDowell is listed with 1 white poll in adjacent Botetourt County. Is this the same man? If so, was he trying out different locations? Why did he leave just after purchasing land?

If this isn’t the same Michael McDowell, what happened to that second Michael McDowell in Botetourt County? Where did he come from and where did he go? The only other McDowell in Botetourt in 1784 was George. However, there was a Michael in Botetourt, earlier, in 1774 who was found to be delinquent on his taxes.

If this was our Michael in Botetourt, he clearly didn’t stay and it was a very short chapter in a very long book. Our Michael is also not the Michael McDowell who served out of Pennsylvania in 1776-1777 in the Revolutionary War.

Where is our Michael?

Pat Bezet and Mary Kay McDowell

A few years after visiting Bedford County, I found Pat Bezet on an old Rootsweb board along with Mary Kay McDowell, the wife of Les who Kay believed to be a Michael McDowell Jr. descendant through Michael’s son, Luke. These women had done a massive amount of research on Michael and family, and I would spend the next several years following in their footsteps, trying to add additional tidbits. They were both very generous about sharing their work. However, it was interesting that even though we were all plowing the same fields, so to speak, that we all found things that had either been overlooked by the other parties or found different records altogether. Six eyes are obviously better than any two. By reviewing available records again, I’ve recently found things that all three of us missed previously.

Mary Kay McDowell systematically sifted through nearly all of the published Virginia sources available in the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

The results of our research and trips are intermingled in this article, with many thanks to both ladies.

Albemarle County, Virginia

It’s likely that Michael McDowell Jr. was born in 1747 or 1748 in Lunenburg County, Virginia or possibly in Albemarle County. Michael’s father, Michael Sr. was found in both locations.

Keep in mind that Halifax County where we positively identify Michael McDowell Sr. in 1752 was Lunenburg before that.

We find a similar name in Albemarle County, VA in the 1745 road records, dated June 27th in which Andrew Wallace was appointed surveyor of the highway from D.S. to Mitchams River and both Merlock (also transcribed as Mirlock) McDowell and Micha McDowell were ordered, along with other men to clear the road. Albemarle county as was formed from Goochland in 1744, although deed, court and will records did not begin in Albemarle until 1748. Albemarle road records are lost beginning in 1748. Research into Albemarle records from 1748-1753 produced nothing, nor did research into Goochland deed and will records from 1731-1749.

The name Merlock sounds very close to Murtough, Michael’s father’s name, raising the question of whether Michael was Merlock’s brother. It’s also worth noting that in Maryland, Murtough’s name was also spelled Murto, with the surname as Mackdowell and Mackdaniel. Names were spelled as the person hearing them understood them and spelling wasn’t standardized at the time.

If Michael was in Albemarle County, he was familiar with the Three Notch’d Road which is the road the crew where he was assigned was instructed to clear and open in 1745. Men were assigned to crews along the road where they lived.

The Virginia Department of Transportation document titled, “The Route of the Three Notch’d Road: A Preliminary Report” written in 1976 shows the “1740 House,” an old tavern near the site of the D.S. Tree, near present day Ivy Virginia. Today the building, also known as the “D. S. Tavern” is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The original 3 Notched Road was begun about 1742 and the route was marked the entire length between Richmond, VA and the Appalachian Mountains in Augusta County, VA – including running directly through Albemarle County and is currrently US 250. US 250 was rerouted in some places, but is basicaly the same road in Albemarle County.

If indeed this is our Michael’s father in the 1745 road record, this 1740 House which stood and functioned as an ordinary at the time was probably intimately familiar to him, both inside and out.

Michael McDowell Three Notched Road.png

The D. S. Tree is reported to be in the final segment of a the “Three Notched Road” between Secretary’s Ford on the Rivanna River, (near the old woolen mill adjacent to I-64 on the east side of Charlottesville) to the D. S. Tree in Michael Wood’s road, the road east from Wood’s Gap to Ivy.

MIchael McDowell 1740 tavern.png

Today, this private home is at the intersection of Dick Woods Road and 250.

Early deeds refer to Stockton’s branch of Mitchum River, and also Stockton’s ford.

Michael McDowell Woods Gap.png

An aerial view shows the mountainous area between Ivy and the top of the mountain range.

Michael McDowell Woods Gap aerial.png

According to Edgar Wood’s History of Albemarle county, Virginia, the D. S. Tree had the initials of David Stockdon, an early patentee of land nearby, carved into it. That tree no longer exists.

Here’s a section of what was called the “Three Notch’d Road” also known as the Mountain or Mountain Ridge Road, now US 250, which today intersects with the Ridge Parkway.

Below, Mountain Ridge Road, another name for the Three Notch’d Road.

Michael McDowell Mountain Ridge Road.png

Today, on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Jarman Gap.

MIchael McDowell Jarman Gap

The Appalachian Trail runs alongside Skyline Drive, which is the Blue Ridge Parkway.  I’ve hiked much of this area. You can see Wood’s Gap Road in this aerial.

Michael McDowell Appalachian Trail.png

Below, the road descending to Lickinghole Creek.

Michael-McDowell-Lickinghole-Creek.png

Here’s the view on Three Notched Road crossing Lickinghole Creek today.

Michael McDowell Lickinghole

Three notched road ascending the Blue Ridge below.

Michael McDowell Three Notch ascending Blue Ridge.png

Jarman(s) Gap Road today just before it begins ascending the mountains. Wood’s Gap is now Jarman or Jarmans Gap.

Michael McDowell Jarman Gap Road.png

Google Street View does not drive on roads with no center line. The trip from Jarman’s Gap Road alongside Lickinghole Creek, above, to Jarman Gap which is one of two gaps crossing the mountain range is maybe 5 twisty-turny miles on road 611 – complete with switchbacks.

Michael McDowell road ascending mountain.png

And of course, a 3 notched tree. The original D.S. tree stood east from Wood’s (now Jarman’s) Gap to Ivy, probably on the same property where the 1740 D.S. Tavern stood.

Michael McDowell three Notched tree.png

Ivy to Jarman Gap. Today you must use the Park Entrance, but not so then when they took the more direct route up the side of the mountain, marked with red arrows.

Michael McDowell Ivy to Jarman Gap.png

Michael Sr. worked here, opening the roads still in use today, but looking very different. The area where he was assigned was from the D.S. Tree to Mitchums River, which is Mechums River today – a distance of about 3 miles.

Michael McDowell Ivy to Mechums River

That means he would have lived someplace along this route probably on a spring branch of a creek where fresh water was available. This is likely where Michael McDowell Jr. was born.

I’m not convinced that the blue 250 portion is the original road, but Google didn’t drive down 738 which looks like it might have been the original road.

However, there is a portion where 738 and 250 join, and that was likely the original portion, as is the portion where Dick Wood’s Road and 250 intersect.

Michael McDowell Ivy to Michums River aerial

In fact, when I enlarged the photo, I could clearly see 3 Notch’d Trace, the portion that exists today, and the portion which no longer exists. You can see Mechums River at left and where it is crossed by 250. At right, with the arrows is the old section of 3 Notch’d Road.

MIchael McDowell 3 Notched Trace

Michael McDowell Sr. labored to maintain the road so that horses and wagons could ford Mechums River, below, today where 250 crosses. This could have been Stockton’s ford referenced in the various early Albemarle deeds.

Michael McDowell Ivy Road at Meachums River

At the intersection of Ivy Road and 3 Notch’d Trace, a remaining segment of the original road, we can see the Appalachian Mountains in the distance.

MIchael McDowell Ivy Road at 3 Notchd Trace.png

Those mountains would beckon to Michael Sr., whispering, “Come,” and he did, but first he took a detour.

Lunenburg County, Virginia

Lunenburg County, where we find Michael next, was formed in 1745 from Brunswick County. The 1748 tax map for Lunenburg is the first tax list available, so we don’t have any way of knowing whether or not Michael Jr., born about 1747 was born in Lunenburg or perhaps Albemarle. It’s also possible, although unlikely that the Michael in Albemarle wasn’t Michael Jr.’s father, and that he was still in Maryland before arriving in Halifax County.

Pat included the Lunenburg County 1748 tax list where Michal McDanel was shown with 1 tithe in the district taken in June by Mathew Talbot from Bleu Store to Little Roanoke. The Roanoke is now called the Staunton which forms the northern and much of the eastern border of Halifax County.

Michael McDowell Lunenburg 1746 tax map

Sunlight on the Southside by Landon Bell provides the Lunenburg tax lists, where extant. We find the McDowell family mentioned in the intro portion as being from Lunenburg Co., VA before they went to NC.

In 1749, we find Michael McDowell in William Caldwell’s district, which bordered Halifax on the north on the Staunton River. In 1752 Halifax was formed from Lunenburg, where Michael McDowell. had 1 white tithe, meaning white male over 16, and no negroes.

In 1749, the Lunenburg road orders included a Michael McDaniel, who may have actually been Michael McDowell.

In 1750 we find Michael McDowell in Nicholas Hale’s district with one tithe and neighbors that included Jacob and John Pybon.

In 1751, Michael is missing from the list and in 1752, Halifax County was formed from Lunenburg. We already know that Michael McDowell Sr. is in Halifax in 1752 where he signed a power of attorney to sell his father’s land in Maryland.

The Lunenburg Order books 1746-1755 reflect the following:

June 1753, Michael McDuel vs Jacob Pyborn – Pyborn not inhabitant of county – suit abates.

Trouble with the neighbors, it seems.

May Court 1754, John Thompson vs Michael McDuel – defendant not inhabitant of county – suit abates.

This tells us that Michael McDowell Sr. left between June of 1753 and May of 1754, and it might give us some idea of why. Trouble was brewing perhaps.

Given that Michael lived in Halifax in 1752 and is found in neighboring Lunenburg in 1753 – it appears that he might have moved often, perhaps back and forth across the county border, or maybe he lived near the Staunton River.

Michael Jr. would have been 5 or 6 years old in 1752 or 1753, so likely remembers moving frequently and probably remembered Halifax County.

Bedford County was created in 1753 from Lunenburg County, but as it turns out, Michael didn’t live initially in what would become Bedford County. He was in Halifax, at least for a short time before moving on to Bedford.

Halifax and Bedford 

Halifax County was formed from Lunenburg in 1752, and that’s where we find Michael McDowell in that same year, selling his father’s land in Maryland. Thank goodness for this link, because without it, we would never have been able to connect Murtough McDowell in Baltimore County, Maryland with Michael McDowell in Virginia.

Details are provided in the article about Michael McDowell Sr., but suffice it to say that Michael Jr. would have been about 5 years old when his father was selling his grandfather’s land. Michael Jr. probably never got to meet his grandparents. Maybe he heard stories about his grandparents’ lives back in Ireland. His father may have been born there. Michael Sr. was born around 1720 and his father was in Maryland by 1722.

An important aspect of the documentation of Michael Jr.’s life is that Michael McDowell Sr.’s signature was never recorded as being signed with an X. Michael Jr., on the other hand, never signed his name without using the X.

In 1754, we find a mysterious entry in Marion Dodson Chiarito’s book, “Entry Record Book 1737-1770” which covers land in the present counties of Halifax, Pittsylvania, henry, Franklin and Patrick, she says the following:

This book contains land entries in the western portion of the original Brunswick County, namely Halifax, Pittsylvania, Henry, Franklin and Patrick. The area concerned was south of the Roanoke-Staunton River, west of Tewahomony Creek, now Aaron’s Creek which divides Mecklenburg and Halifax cuonties, and extending to the Blue Ridge Mountains. These counties were formed from Lumemburg which was separated from Brunswick in 1746.

Marion continues:

It must be pointed out that an entry for land was but a statement of intention. Ownership of land resulted from satisfying the requirements for settlement the land and improving it. For this reason, many entries were voided.

On page 161 of Marion’s book, on page 203 of the original entry taker book residing in current day Pittsylvania County, we find an entry for a man who might be Michael McDowell:

Michael McDuell 400 on a Branch of Black Water River beginning at a white oak with 4 chops in it in the fork of said branch then up both forks and down the branch.

If this was Michael McDowell Sr., I’ve failed to find a deed of sale at any time, and he is next found in Bedford County, formed in 1754, which indeed did have a Blackwater Creek that extended from today’s man-made Smith Mountain Lake southwest to beyond Callaway, where Michael McDowell Jr. appears to have lived.

By 1755, Michael Sr. was found on the Bedford county tax list indicating that Michael Jr. lived in Bedford County from about the time he was 8 years old.

The next piece of Michael Jr.’s life is his Revolutionary War pension application where he states that he served from Bedford County in 1777 or 1778 and returned there to his home when discharged. Michael McDowell Jr. would have been 30 years old in 1777 and based on the ages of his oldest children, had been married about 5 years by then.  If still living, his father, Michael Sr., would have been at least 57 years old.

We have no idea when Michael Sr. passed away, but Michael Jr. bought land in Bedford County in 1783 with no indication that there were two Michael McDowell’s living there in either 1782 or 1783, nor were there any other McDowell taxpayers.

Was Michael alone? There aren’t any other McDowell males, but his mother could well have been living. He could have had sisters who married and lived nearby. His wife, Isabel, surely had family in Bedford County.

Those details will probably never be revealed, but if Michael had no family there, that might have been part of what encouraged him to move again – although it’s quite strange that he left just a few months after purchasing property – and without selling it.

There are missing pieces of his story.

On to Wilkes County, North Carolina

What? Another move?

Wilkes County, NC?  This man did not let any moss grow under his feet. Just saying.

So far, we have Michael McDowell Sr. in Baltimore County as a son of Murtough. Probably in Albemarle in 1745, in Lunenburg County between 1748-1750, selling land in Baltimore in 1752 from Halifax County and then on the Bedford County tax list in 1755.

MIchael McDowell Sr life.png

This is the migration journey of Michael McDowell Sr.

Michael Jr. was born someplace (probably in Virginia) in 1747 and served in the Revolutionary War in 1777 and 1778 from Bedford County. It wasn’t until 1783 that there is a record of Michael purchasing land, then leaving by the next year without selling his land. He was possibly living in Botetourt County, adjacent to Bedford – at least some Michael McDowell was found on the tax list there.

Michael McDowell Bedford Botetourt.jpg

Sometime after that, Michael Jr. moved to Wilkes County, North Carolina, although we do have a 2 or 3-year gap in Michael’s life. Where was he?

Michael McDowell Ivy to Halls Mills.png

Michael would add the area near Halls Mills on Sparta Road in Wilkes County, today, to his lifelong journey.

On February 4, 1786 there is a Wilkes County deed from John Hall Sr. to Michael McDowell for 161 acres including “the plantation where Michael McDowell now lives. Witnessed by William Abshire, James Gambill and Andrew Vannoy.”

This tells us that Michael was already living in Wilkes County.

The connection with the Vannoy family would continue for generations – into Tennessee  where their descendants 5 generations later, my grandparents, would marry.

Another 1786 reference to Michael McDowell was found in a November 24th deed between Owen and Robert Hall for “156 acres on Andrew Vannoy’s line, Mickel McDowell’s corner and the line between Hall and Mikel McDowell.”  Jacob McGrady witnessed this deed. Given that Michael was Andrew’s neighbor, that also explains why Andrew witnessed his purchase.

Michael McDowell first appears in Wilkes Co in 1786 on the tax lists (he is absent earlier) with 1 poll and 160 acres and in 1787 with 162 acres and 1 poll. Therefore, we know that 1786 is probably when Michael moved to Wilkes County.

The 1787 “census” of North Carolina shows us that Michael had in his household:

  • 1 white male age 21-60
  • 2 white males under 21 or above 60
  • 1 white female
  • no blacks

Michael Jr.’s sons, Edward, born in 1773 and Michael (the third) born before 1774 account for these two “under 21” males. Michael III and Edward first appeared in court records witnessing a deed in 1799.

James McDowell, not a confirmed child of Michael, was born about 1779 based on his age when he signed as a witness to a deed in 1801.

Michael Jr.’s son John was born in 1782 or 1783 based on a deposition as well as his gravestone, so we know for sure he was under 21 in 1787. He’s missing from this record.

This discrepancy for a long time caused me to question whether all of Michael’s sons were in fact his sons. DNA has partly answered that question, but not entirely.

Early Court Records

In 1787, in Volume 2 of the Wilkes County Court Minutes (January 25, 1785 – November. 1, 1788) Michael is mentioned on July 25th in the State vs Michael McDowell – indictment for trespass.

Trespass at that time often meant something different than the current meaning, although since the state is bringing charges and not a neighbor in a civil suit, perhaps not. In some cases, trespass means that one man charged another with farming part of his land, encroaching over the property line. In this case, since the state brought the charges, it sounds more like the trespass infraction we are more familiar with today.

Michael is found not guilty by a jury.

On the very next page in the minute book, and the very next day at court, Michael is listed on a jury.

Also on the same day; Michael McDowell versus George Lewis on appeal. A jury is sworn and this case is found for Michael, with his damanges assessed to 3 pounds, 7 pence and costs.

However, on he is again charged with trespass and the same jury is ordered to hear Michael’s case as is hearing the case of Owen Hall and John Hall Senior and wife, “case for words,” which is found for the plaintiff.

The State then moved Michael’s case to the civil docket and finds him guilty of trespass, as charged.  Apparently, Michael’s case has something to do with the Hall family dispute. Recall that the Halls were his neighbors. This also makes me wonder if Michael’s wife, Isbael, was a Hall. If so, and if she was the mother of Michael Jr., that means that the Hall family would have been in Bedford County in 1773 when Michael’s first son, Edward, was born. There are Hall families in Bedford in this timeframe, but of course, that doesn’t mean that they are the same Hall families, or connected in any way.

A year later, in July of 1788, Michael is again listed on a jury and on the tax list in both 1788 and 1789 with 160 acres and 1 poll, meaning only one male over the age of 16. Being listed as a juror indicates that he was a citizen in good standing, but that would change in 1790.

Michael’s record up until now contains multiple services as a juror, and also an involved trespass charge.

However, sometime much more serious happened in 1790.

Criminal Charges

Criminal Action Papers Wilkes County, NC – July Court session – 1790:

State vs Michael McDowell, William Abshers and Owan Hall, labourers, who on July 20, 1790 did beat, wound and ill treat Betty Wooten.

Three men – beating a woman. That’s unconscionable by any standard of measure. Once again, this involves the Hall family.

The Abshire family lived on the south side of Mulberry Creek.

In 1787, Michael would have been 40 and 43 in 1790. No hothead kid, that’s for sure. This charge is much more serious than trespass.

Ok, who was Betty Wooten?

Betty Wooten

In the 1790 census, the only Wooten in Wilkes County was one Elizabeth, probably called Betty for short, who had no adult men in her household, 1 male under 16, and 5 females. According to the July 29, 1788 administration bond, she was the widow of Lewis Wooten. If her children were all born at 2 year intervals before her husband’s death, and she was his age and married at age 20, Betty would have been about 35 in 1790 when she was beaten.

Betty Wooten lived near the Sebastians, three houses from Jacob McGrady, who lived three houses from Owen Hall, who lived beside Michael McDowell who lived two houses from Andrew Vannoy.

Owen Hall was Michael McDowell’s neighbor and in the 1790 census, he was married with 2 males over 16, 3 under 16 and 4 females. If he had children every 2 years and married at age 25, he would have been about 40 years old.

William Absher was born about 1769 and died in 1842 in Wilkes County, so he would have been 21. The 1790 census reflects that he is married with a child, living beside Frank Vannoy, Andrew Vannoy’s brother.

Honestly, what possessed those men? There is certainly far more to the story. How I would have loved to have been a mouse in that house. All of those houses. What happened in that lawsuit? This had to be perceived as very serious for the state to bring a criminal action. And what exactly does “ill treat” mean? Is it code for something else?

Michael McDowell didn’t serve on a jury for the next 3 years.

Michael Jr.’s son, Michael III

Michael McDowell Jr. had a son, Michael, who we’ll call Michael III (the third). It’s possible that Michael III was the person in trouble in 1790, but not terribly likely – he would probably have been under 20. In 1789, Michael Sr. only pays for 1 poll tax, meaning that his sons were not yet 16. That suggests that Michael III was not born before 1783 although it’s possible that Michael was born as early as 1778. Michael III doesn’t otherwise appear in the records until 1799, signing a document as a witness for his father which would suggest he’s 21 at this time, or born 1778 or earlier. Still, in 1790, Michael III would have been 12 if he were born in 1778, so he’s not likely the preson who beat Betty.

Note here that the Michael who signed the deed signed with an X, but Michael the witness, presumably Michael III, signed his name.

This is an important generational differentiation, because Michael Sr. in Virginia apparently could write, Michael Jr. could not, but Michael III could.

The 1790s in Wilkes County

In the 1790 census, we find Michael McDowell living in Wilkes County among and near people who would also move to Claiborne County, Tennessee just a few years later, specifically the Baker, Herrell and Vannoy families.

Michael McDowell 1790 census Wilkes.png

In 1790, Michael had the following members in his family:

  • Males under 16: 4 (John 1782/3, Michael c1778, Edward 1774 and possibly James c1780)
  • Males over 16: 1 – Michael himself
  • Females: 2, one of which would be his wife and the second would be daughter, Mary born c1787

This tells us that Michael had 3 additional children between 1787 and 1790, 2 sons and a daughter or the 1787 tax list was incomplete – the more likely scenario.

If Michael was born in 1747/1748, he would probably have married at about 25, so roughly 1770-1775. He would have been having children from about 1771 or 1772 to roughly 1793 or perhaps somewhat later, depending on the age of his wife of course.

Therefore, the 1790 census should show all of his children, with the exception of any child born after 1790. It’s very unlikely that any of his children had already left home.

In 1790, Michael had 5 children, assuming that one of the females was his wife.

In 1790, Michael is shown on the tax list with 156.5 acres and 1 poll. Why does he have 156.5 acres this year and from 160-162 acres previously?

In 1791, the Wilkes County tax records are not complete and he is not shown through 1794, so they may be only partial as well.

On July 31, 1792, page 35, the court notes record an order for Michael McDowell to “have leave to rebuild and continue the mill formerly the property of said McDowell.”  Now indeed, this is a curious order. Did the mill wash away? Did it burn by some chance? What happened that he needed to rebuild the mill? So tantalizing and frustrating at the same time! This is the only indication we have of Michael’s occupation other than the lawsuit of 1790 lists the three man as laborers.

Maybe the 1790 Michael was Michael’s son, but I would have expected the suit to say that if it were. The fact that no Sr. or Jr. designation exists suggests that the younger Michael was not of age, so no designation was yet needed.

This court entry also tells us of a major catastrophe in Michael’s life. Given his run-ins with the law, I have to wonder if there wasn’t some form of “neighborhood justice” going on here. Of course, that could also be my overactive imagination, but beating a woman is a pretty severe offense and would garner long-standing animosity from her family.

Mix that with a little alcohol and that’s the perfect recipe for retribution.

From a 1793 deed, we discover Michael’s wife’s name when Michael sold his land in Bedford County. Did Michael sell his property in 1793 to pay the bills while the mill was being rebuilt, to pay for the rebuilding of the mill or to help replace income he would have lost while the mill was out of order? There was no insurance in those days.

It was Pat Bezet that discovered Michael’s wife’s name, Isbell.

I found a sale of property or deed for Michael and Isbell McDowell. Isbell is listed as his wife in Wilkes Co., N.C. The property they are selling is in Franklin County, VA. The timeframe for the sale was 1793. If you look at the forming of the counties, Franklin was formed from Bedford and Henry County in 1785.

On February 16, 1793, Michael McDowell and his wife, Isbell, from Wilkes County, NC sold their 75 acres of land on Blackwater River, which was at that time located in Franklin County, VA after it had been divided from Bedford.

Michael McDowell Blackwater 1793 sale.jpg

Michael and Isbell both signed three times, all three times via a mark. Witnesses included John Abshire, Robert Hall, Jacob McGrady, Edward Abshire and another John Abshire who appears to be different from the first one, differentiated by his ability to sign his name. Jacob McGrady was the local minister.

There’s clearly a connection of some sort with the Abshire family, given that the 1790 record of the assault on Betty Wooten included Owen Hall along with William Abshear as defendants.

This deed confirms that the Michael McDowell from Bedford County is one and the same as the Michael McDowell in Wilkes County. What we don’t know is the reason this land wasn’t sold before Michael moved to Wilkes County. Obviously Michael didn’t need money from the Virginia land to purchase his land in Wilkes.

For some time, I thought that maybe the Michael McDowell in Bedford County was Michael McDowell Sr. If that was the case, then Michael Jr. would only have sold this land after Michael Sr. died. The problem is that the purchase deed in 1783 doesn’t say anything about Michael Sr. or Jr., indicating that there weren’t 2 men in the county by the same name. The 1782 and 1783 tax lists only show one Michael McDowell and we know our Michael was married and having children before this time, having served in the Revolutionary War in 1777 and 1778. He was a married adult and certainly wasn’t living with his father.

While we can’t prove definitively, I suspect that Michael Sr. died in Bedford/Franklin County, VA years before, sometime after 1755 and before 1782, and we can safely say that the land on Blackwater River always belonged to Michael Jr. If Michael Jr. had sold this land as part of an estate, he would have had to share with heirs, and he clearly sold this entire tract himself.

Unfortunately, Michael Sr. simply disappeared after 1755 in Bedford County, apprently never owning land before or after he sold his father’s Maryland land in 1752 out of Halifax County.

In November 1793 in Wilkes County, once again Michael served on a Jury, as he did in May of 1794 and 1795.

In 1793 and 1794, an attorney, Joseph McDowell is recorded in Wilkes County, but he dies in 1802 with no connection to Michael.

In 1795 and 1796, Michael McDowell in Capt. McGrady’s district is shown with 1 poll tax and 160 acres on the tax list adjacent John Abshire and near the preacher Jacob McGrady. Other neighbors include the Vannoys, members of the Shepherd family and others who would intermarry and move to Claiborne County, Tennessee at the same time as Michael McDowell.

At some point, Claiborne County, the next frontier, probably became the topic of local chatter – at the mill, at church, wherever people gathered.

In November of 1796, Michael served again as a jury member.

The 1797 tax list shows Michel with 1 poll and no acres. What happened to his land?

There is no tax list for 1798.

In 1799, Michael McDowell sold land to the preacher, Jacob McGrady. The deed is in very poor shape, but you can make out the words “Mulberry Creek” and Robert Hall’s line. I could not find the acreage listed, so we don’t know if this is all of Michael’s land, or just part.

Michael McDowell 1799 deed to McGrady (2).jpg

The deed is signed by Michael using his mark and then witnessed by a Michael McDowel who can sign, an Edward McDowel who cannot sign and a Robert Hall who cannot.

My guess would be that the reason that Michael had no property tax in 1797 and 1798 is that he had rented the land to Jacob McGrady, who eventually bought the land, but was paying the taxes on the land as part of their rent or lease agreement.

We are left with the question of how, without land, Michael made a living? In 1797, Michael would have been 50 years old.

The same year as his land sale, in 1799, Michael McDowell, in Capt. Gradie’s district (6) is shown with 200 acres and 1 poll. Where did this land come from? Michael’s original land purchase was 161 acres.

On May 3, 1799, the State versus Michael McDowell for tresspass, again. The jury found Michael not guilty, as charged, and order that George Lewis pay the costs. He also served on a jury the same day in lieu of another juror. I’m wondering if it’s because Michael is present in the courtroom and can serve when another juror didn’t show up.

The same day, Michael also files Michael McDowell vs George Lewis: Appeal. The jury is sworn and finds for Michael, his damages 3 pounds 7 pence and costs.

In August of 1799, Michael again serves as a juror.

The 1800 tax list for district 6 is missing but we do have the census that provides us with at least some information.

1800-1810

The 1800 census holds some surprises. For example, it looks like Michael has daughters we don’t know about.

Michael McDowell 1800 census Wilkes.png

1800 Wilkes County NC census, Morgan District – Michael McDowell

  • 1 male over 45 (Michael 53)
  • 2 males 0-10 (Nathan, Luke, William?)
  • 1 female over 45 (wife)
  • 1 female 10-16 (Mary)
  • 2 females 0-10 (unknown daughters)

Based on the 1800 census, Michael’s older sons have already left the nest, but where are they? Perhaps they are workers on someone else’s farm, or they are living someplace with in-laws if they have newly married.

Dec. 12, 1801 – a Wilkes County deed conveyance between Humphrey Cockerham and Abel Sparks on the east fork of Swan Creek is witnessed by a James McDowell, possibly son of Michael McDowell. Who was James McDowell? We don’t see this name again, nor is there “room” on Michael McDowell’s 1787 tax list for another male who would have been of age in 1801, but there is on the 1790 census. James could have been just passing through.

On May 8, 1802, Milley Carter, administrator of the estate of Henry Carter who on May 3, 1799 had a land entry for 40 acres, sued Michael McDowell and David Hickerson. Found for the plaintiff regarding “a piece of land supposed to be the property of Michael McDowel joining Benjamin Sebastian’s land.” Ordered by the court for the sheriff to sell the land. For some reason, Jeffery Johnson, Constable, was mentioned.

On August 4, 1804, suit was filed by Elisha Reynolds versus Allen Robinett and Michael McDowell for debt. Jury finds no payments nor setoffs and awards fir the plaintiff with damages. Of course, we don’t know if this is Michael or his son. Michael does serve on a jury the same day, so I suspect this is the elder Michael.

I get the distinct impression that we may be missing some land transactions.

In Book F-1, a November 12, 1805 deed for that same 156 acres conveyed in 1786 refers to the line of Andrew Vannoy and Michael McDowell again.

A hint about the area where Michael McDowell lived in Wilkes Comes from his neighbor’s land grant. John Herrold’s son, William Herrold/Herrell, would marry Michael’s daughter Mary in 1809.

Land grant entry number 1246 and grant number 2421 for 200 acres for John Herrold states that the land is on the Chinquepon Branch of the Hay Meadow Creek on the waters of Mulberry beginning near the head of the said branch and that it is against Michael McDowell’s line. The survey was entered November 16, 1801 and was actually recorded in Feb 1802. Chainers were John Roads and Michael McDowall.

There is a drawing of the survey but it simply looks like a square and there are no watercourses noted. The name is spelled variously Herrild, Herrald, Herrold. John paid “4 pounds” for this survey in 1804. I find it interesting that they are still using the old English money measures and not dollars.

Finding Michael’s Land

During a visit in 2004, 200 years later, now-deceased cousin George McNiel helped me located John Harrold’s land on Harrold Mountain.

Harrold mountain

Having found John’s land, of course, we’ve also in essence found Michael’s land, or at least the neighborhood, because their land abutted.

Michael McDowell Waddell Drive.png

Harrold Mountain is where Waddell Drive is located today, with the Harrold cemetery on the land originally owned by John Harrold.

harrold-mountain-across-from-zion.jpg

John Harrold’s land abutted Michael McDowell’s, and his son married Michael’s daughter.

Haymeadow Creek, mentioned in John Harrold’s grant, is to the far left, with Harrold Mountain Road crossing it. John’s land was probably larger than the area shown.

Michael McDowell Harrold land.png

The Zion Baptist Church is a very old “primitive Baptist church” where many Harrold family members are buried. It’s likely the church where Michael attended as well, and where Jacob McGrady preached. The remnants of the original log cabin church were located in the woods behind the current church, years ago, according to old-timers in the neighborhood.

Zion Baptist Church

We know beyond a doubt that Michael’s land was on a watercourse, probably Mulberry Creek. His neighbors the Sebastians, as well as John Harrold had land on Mulberry Creek. Andrew Vannoy owned land adjacent Michael, and he lived north of Mulberry Creek.

The court records tell us that Michael had a mill. On the map below, John Herrald’s land and Haymeadow Creek is to the right. Sebastian Road in in yellow. Mulberry Creek is at left with the red arrows. Note the Mulberry Primitive Baptist Church.

Michael McDowell Mulberry and Haywater.png

The Mulberry Primitive Baptist Church is shown with the red arrow, below, so this area is likely Michael McDowell’s, with John Herrald’s land to the right, probably out of view. Michael’s land was probably larger than this view.

Michael McDowell Mulberry Primitive.png

The Mulberry Church wasn’t formed until 1848, but it serves as a good landmark for Mulberry Creek.

Sparta Road runs through a valley that is pretty heavily treed on the right side, so it’s difficult to find a view of the area where Michael would have lived. This would have been the road Michael traveled to access his land, of course, not paved and likely only wide enough for a wagon.

Michael McDowell Mulberry Creek.png

Here we can see Mulberry Creek running alongside the road.

Michael McDowell mountains.png

The Mulberry Primitive Baptist Church would be hidden behind the clump of trees at left, with the mountains in the distance, in the center, probably belonging to Michael.

It would have been difficult to eek a living out of this land. No wonder Michael had a mill someplace on Mulberry Creek. Halls Mills could be the location. On the map below, we can see the locations where the various families lived. Halls Mills is on Mulberry between John Herrald’s land, Vannoy Road and McGrady where Jacob McGrady lived, so it’s a good candidate and we know Michael lived adjacent the Hall family.

Michael McDowell neighbor lands.png

Vannoy Road actually arched further to the north shown by the red arrows.

This is really rough terrain. I was warned NOT to drive Vannoy Road around the mountain between Buckwheat Road and Sparta Road, near McGrady, even in a Jeep.

Michael McDowell Vannoy Road.png

It’s a dirt 2 track with no room for 2 cars and no place to turn around. I was told by the locals that it’s in essence a game of chicken and someone gets to back up. They even avoid this road.

The 1805 tax list shows Mich. McDowell with 1 poll and 233 acres in Capt. Rouseau’s district adjacent a John Findley and beside James Patten *Store. The asterisk is unexplained on the list. Based on later information, this entry appears to be Michael McDowell III.

The same year, another Michael McDowell with 200 acres and no poll is shown in Captain Kilby’s district, listed beside Jacob McGrady and Andrew Vannoy. Edward Dancy is next door, then we find John McDowell with 1 poll and no acres. This second Michael McDowell in Capt. Kilby’s district would be the elder man, Michael Jr., now age 58 and probably with either an old age or an invalid exemption which is why he had no poll tax. There has to be some benefit to all of those aches and pains of old age.

John McDowell is Michael’s son. We know this because on November 5, 1800 in the court notes, we find that Michael McDowell Junior is appointed constable, with William Abshare and Michael McDowell Senior for his securities.

Given that we know there were two Michael McDowells in Wilkes County, an older and a younger, and given that both signed a deed in different capacities in 1799, the Michael involved in these transactions might be either man. However additional information shows us that an 1813 transaction could not have been the elder Michael McDowell Jr., because he was in Claiborne County, TN by that time. Anything involving Michael McDowell from 1810 or later in Wilkes County was not Michael McDowell Jr., because he was gone by then.

Michael McDowell III appears to have lived only in Wilkesboro, not on the mountain where he was raised.

1810 and Beyond in Wilkes County

The Wilkes Co. census in 1810 shows the younger Michael McDowell on page 848 and Jacob McGrady (the preacher who married William Herrell and Mary McDowell in 1809) on 868. In other words, Michael McDowell III does not live near where his father lived.

No older Michael McDowell is present. In 1800 Jacob McGrady is on page 55, Michael is on page 54 and John Herrell Sr. and Jr. are on page 46. They are the only Herrell’s in Wilkes Co. It is spelled Harral. William Herrell/Harrold/Herrald who married Mary McDowell is also missing.

In 1810, Michael McDowell (III) is listed in Wilkesboro itself, not the area on Harrold Mountain where Michael Jr. lived. Michael III is age “to 45” with 4 young children and owning 10 slaves. This is not Michael Jr., but his son who would have been age 30-35, estimating that he had been married 9 or 10 years to have 4 children.

Where is our Michael McDowell? There is no other census listing in the entire US for a Michael McDowell. Keep in mind that the Tennessee and Virginia 1810 census schedules were destroyed.

In the book “The Land of Wilkes” by Johnson Hayes, written in 1962, Hayes mentions in Chapter 10, page 91, under “County officers from the beginning to 1960, among others, Michael McDowell in 1810. This surely must be Michael III, because Michael Jr. has probably already departed for Claiborne County and Michael III has established himself in Wilkesboro.

March 27, 1810 Deed Book G-H – Robert Keeton to Michael McDowell, negro woman named Betty and her child named Sandy

August 27, 1811 – Between James N. Fenely and Michal McDowell…negro man named Charles, age 35. Witness John Finley. Signed James N. Fonely, page 211

These slave transactions hurt my heart. I wonder if a difference in conviction caused Michael McDowell Jr. to leave Wilkes County, apparently with the rest of his sons, daughter and son-in-law, while Michael McDowell III remained behind, purchasing slaves. Their lives clearly followed divergent paths.

Dec. 15, 1811 – Deed Book G-H, NC Grant 1817 John Herrald 200 acres Chinquepin Branch of Haymeadow Creek, the waters of Mulberry, Michael McDowell’s line

December 14, 1811 – NC Grant 2847 William Sebastian, 200 acres waters of Mulberry Creek the south side of Wheatley’s Mountain, near the head of Miny Branch…McDowel’s line

This land would have been surveyed prior to this time, so the references to McDowell’s line would have been historical in nature.

Wheatley family deeds indicate that they owned land near the Reddies River, between the river and the top of the range to the north.

Michael McDowell Wheatley Mountain.png

On this map, we see Sparta road with the red arrow, Mulberry Creek with the purple arrow, Gambill Creek with green and the Reddies River with tan. Sebastian Road is just to the south as is Harrold Mountain.

Based on the various deeds and descriptions, Wheatley Mountain appears to be this piece of heavily forested land.

Michael McDowell Wilkes neighborhood.png

This aerial map of the entire neighborhood takes into consideration everything we know from the various deeds. Vannoy Road is in yellow at left. Michael’s neighbor was Andrew Vannoy.

Vannoy Road intersects with Sparta Road near McGrady and Jacob McGrady bought Michael’s land when he sold.

The Wheatley family owned land between Roaring River and the top of the mountain.  The mustard arrows at right track the West Fork of the Roaring River, with Gambill Creek shown in Green. The Gambills were Michael’s neighbors.

Harrold Mountain, towards the bottom, owned by John Harrold, adjoined Michael’s land on the waters of Mulberry Creek. Mulberry Creek, purple, tracks Sparta Road, red, all the way through the valley.

The grey arrow points to Sebastian Road near Harrold Mountain.

In 1810, we begin to see activity by the younger Michael McDowell, the next generation.

Feb 12, 1812 – Between Michael McDowell and Joseph Baker..$400…negro boy named Seaser, age 9. Witness James Waugh and R. Carson. Signed Michael McDowell, page 377

In both 1810 and 1813 a Michael McDowell purchases more land in Wilkes, including a one-acre lot in the town of Wilkesboro in 1813 (which was established in 1799). We don’t have records of the disposition of this land, but we know it can’t be Michael McDowell Jr., because he is in Lee County, Virginia in 1810.

Moving On to the Next Frontier

Yes, Michael McDowell Jr. moved once again, this time to the next outpost in the westward migration journey – Claiborne County, Tennessee on the Virginia border with Lee County.

MIchael McDowell Ivy to Slanting Misery map.png

Michael’s no spring chicken, and he’s starting over at age 63 in a place that can only be termed inhospitable.

Another chapter closes, and a new one opens. What lies ahead?

A place aptly named Slanting Misery.

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Lineage Societies: Requirements and DNA

I’ve been hesitant to rock this boat, hoping this ship would right itself, but I’ve decided that this vessel needs to be swayed a bit with the hope of providing encouragement and perhaps positive motivation for change.

Based on my ancestors, I qualify to join multiple lineage societies, including both the DAR and the Mayflower Society.

I checked the qualifications for both, and did not apply to the DAR, but did inquire about membership to the Mayflower Association for several reasons:

  • 2020 is the 400th anniversary of Plymouth Colony, meaning there should be lots going on next year.
  • I descend from Pilgrims; William Brewster, Patience Brewster, William’s wife Mary Brewster, Stephen Hopkins and Gyles Hopkins.
  • I felt that my expertise might be beneficial to the organization, in multiple ways, especially given the upcoming opportunities to recruit new members in 2020.

The first thing I ran into was a brick wall, not an ancestral brick wall, but an organizational one.

Birth Certificates

Lineage societies require your birth certificate.

Birth certificates are the most personal document you will ever have. Birth certificates are utilized for passports and are the premier document, meaning the most highly prized, for identity theft. Once compromised, you can never obtain a different birth certificate. It’s not like a credit card that you can cancel and have reissued.

Furthermore, you don’t actually need a birth certificate if you have tested the appropriate parent – and I have.

In fact, here’s my predicted relationship to my deceased mother at Family Tree DNA.

Lineage me mother.png

My mother is deceased, so her identity can no longer be compromized. I don’t have any problem providing her birth and death certificates in addition to an obituary that states that I’m her daughter – plus the genetic evidence of course. In fact, I could join the Mayflower DNA Project, and as administrators, they could see that relationship for themselves.

Furthermore, birth certificates are sometimes wrong – very wrong.

When Birth Certificates are Wrong

Birth certificates are wrong or misleading in the following circumstances:

  • People who are adopted and don’t know it
  • People who are adopted and know who their relevant biological parent is but have no access to a birth certificate showing their biological parents
  • People whose parent is not who they believe it is

In some circumstances, the child’s birth certificate isn’t incorrect, but the lineage may be incorrect when people’s ancestors beyond their parents are not the recorded individuals. Yes, I’m referring to the dreaded NPE, non-paternal event or not parent expected. You can read more about that here.

Aside from the issues above, there’s the issue of security when storing the birth certificate and privacy associated with the parents named on the birth certificate, especially if they are living.

Security and Privacy

Let’s take the issue of privacy first. Let’s say, for example, that an applicant’s parents weren’t married. The relevant parent is the applicant’s mother, not the father, so the identity of the father (or lack thereof) is irrelevant for lineage society membership.

The father’s privacy is compromised, along with the fact that the society now knows that the applicant’s parents weren’t married at the time the applicant was born. That’s entirely irrelevant to the application, and an invasion of the privacy of all 3 people involved.

Requiring applicants to submit a birth certificate, especially when genetic forms of identification are now readily available, forces the applicant to disclose information not relevant to joining a lineage society.

Frankly, anything beyond confirming an applicant’s connection to the relevant parent is none of anyone’s business.

Second, the applicant has absolutely no idea who is going to have access to their birth certificate in the future, once submitted, where it will be stored and security precautions taken, if any.

When inquiring about birth certificates at the Mayflower Society, I was told then are kept in locked cabinets but would probably be scanned soon.

While I’m sure this was supposed to make me feel better, it struck terror into my heart.

Often, organizations are slow to adopt technology as a whole, and when they do, they often aren’t aware of and don’t utilize safety and security precautions. Organizations owe it to their membership to stay current with security requirements and maintain up-do-date security measures. So, while I was already concerned enough about who has access to the filing cabinet key, I’m terrified about savvy hackers taking blatant advantage of an ill-secured or unsecured computer.

The sad part is that today, this is really a moot point because with DNA, many times we don’t need birth certificates for proof – and the only reason to continue doing what has always been done is ignorance, inertia and resistance to change.

Adoptees

Because birth certificates without genetic evidence are considered as the only accepted proof of a relationship to the applicant’s parents, this means that many adoptees have joined believing they are a linear descendant of the ancestor in question. Legally, they are.

Each organization needs to consider whether they want to honor linear paper descent as membership criteria or whether they are looking for linear biological descent. Or perhaps both.

Today, some adoptees who discover their biological parents would be eligible if they had not been adopted – but they are not eligible for membership because they don’t have a birth certificate with the biological parent’s name as their parent.

This creates an awkward situation, at best.

People who should be able to join, can’t, because of the birth certificate issue. And some people who are not biological descendants can join with no problem.

Is this the intention?

This is not small consideration. According to the University of Oregon, 5 million living people in the US are adopted, with 2-4% of all families having adopted, and 2.5% of children under the age of 18 being adoptees.

Y DNA

The DAR requires direct linear descent from a Revolutionary War Veteran. Like with the Mayflower Society, I won’t provide my birth certificate, so I’m not eligible to join.

The DAR has for many years accepted Y DNA at 37 markers as a portion of proof. According to this document, one close relative of the application must match the Y DNA of a descendant of an already “proven” patriot exactly at 37 markers.

This protocol is flawed in multiple ways.

Let’s say we have 2 men who descend from a common patrilineal ancestor, but we’re not sure which ancestor.

Today the Y DNA of these men matches at some level. STR mutations do not occur on a schedule and the reality of when/how often mutations occur varies widely. It’s certainly possible, and even likely, that in the roughly 9 generations, using a 25-year generation, since that patriot was born, that a marker mutation occurred. That would disqualify the applicant from using DNA evidence.

Conversely, if I’m a male Estes applicant and I want to apply to the DAR based on my descent from George Estes, my Y DNA may match the descendants of George at some level whether or not I’m descended from George or George’s brother, father or uncle. Y DNA really can only disprove a direct paternal relationship, not prove it.

In other words, there’s no or little analysis involved, simply a rule that doesn’t make sense.

Lineage chart

Click to enlarge

Let’s take a look at this example.

George Estes is the patriot, born in 1761. George had 3 brothers, Josiah, Bartlett and Winston.

George’s father, Moses II, had two brothers, John and William, who also had sons.

I’ve shown only one son’s line for both John and William, and I’ve named each man’s descendants the same name as his – for clarity.

John R. Estes, descendant of George was our original tester, and therefore, every other person who applies and submits Y DNA MUST match John R. Estes exactly at 37 markers.

George’s other descendant, George, comes along, but he does not match John R. exactly, having had one mutation someplace in the line between the patriot and George the tester’s birth. Therefore, George the tester’s Y DNA cannot be used – even though he is a descendant of George the patriot.

Based on my experience, it’s more likely that they won’t match at 37 markers, after 8 or 9 generations, than they will. That’s certainly the case in the Estes surname project.

In reality, in colonial families, everyone named their sons after their father, grandfather and often, brothers – so the names in all of these generations are likely to be the same, meaning John, William, George and Moses would likely be sprinkled in each generation of every line – causing confusion when attempting to genealogically connect back to the right Estes ancestor.

We see in our example chart, that by chance, William actually does match John R. exactly at 37 markers, even though George doesn’t. Therefore, if William was trying to use DNA to prove descent from George, even though that’s inaccurate, the Y DNA evidence would be allowed. So would Winston, descendant of George’s brother.

The only three that were accurate, based on the full 37 match rule is John, who does not descend from George, Josiah who was adopted and Bartlett who does descend from the same Estes line, but has too many mutations at that level to be considered a match to John R. Estes at all.

In other words, the only real descendant of the patriot is excluded, where 2 men not descended from the patriot would be included if they thought they descended from George.

Furthermore, one can be descended from George through a daughter and still qualify for DAR membership. If I believed, due to the Estes surname and other evidence, like a mention of a grandchild by name in George’s estate, that I descended from George’s son, but I actually descend through George’s daughter who was not married and gave her child the Estes surname – I would still technically qualify to join but the non-matching Y DNA would disqualify me today.

Another issue is if the original tester had been adopted or descended from a non-Estes male, every future tester would be compared to the wrong Y DNA and while the incorrect Y DNA would continue to be the reference sample for the patriot – even after it could be proven that was inaccurate due to multiple matching tests from multiple sons of George.

Rules without thoughtful analysis simply don’t work well. We know a whole lot more today than when these rules were put in place.

Parental Autosomal DNA is Definitive

Parental autosomal DNA is definitive unless you are dealing with an identical twin.

In addition to the actual match itself, you can see that parents and children match on the entire length of every chromosome.

Lineage parent child chromosome browser.png

Here’s my Mom’s chromosome browser match with me. There is no question that we are parent and child. Furthermore, looking at DNAPainter’s shared cM project tool, we can see that there is no other relationship that has the same match level as a parent/child relationship. My match with my mother is 3384 cM.

Lineage DNAPainter.png

Could someone go to a great deal of trouble to change a siblings name to their name or change their child’s name to their parent’s name to “fake” the identities of the people involved? Yes, they could if they had proper access to all accounts.

However, I can do exactly the same thing with a paper birth certificate, even with a seal.

My DNA test matching my mother, in conjunction with my mother’s birth and death certificates, in addition to her obituary identifying me as a child is about the most definitive evidence you could ever produce – far, far, more reliable than a birth certificate which would state that my mother is my mother even if I’m adopted.

This scenario works for adoptees as well in multiple scenarios, such as full siblings who clearly share both parents. In this case, if the non-adopted sibling is a lineage society member, then based on a DNA match at the full sibling level, the adopted individual should qualify for membership too. This isn’t the only example, just the first one that came to mind.

Thoughtful analysis and understanding of DNA is required.

Distant DNA is Not Black and White

While a parent-child autosomal relationship is evident, other autosomal relationships require analysis by someone experienced with that type of evaluation.

Furthermore, Y DNA can be deceptive as well, because the extent of what Y DNA can tell you is that two men descend from a common ancestor, not which common ancestor, nor how long ago, with very few exceptions. The exception would be when the actual Revolutionary War veteran experienced a SNP mutation that his sons have, but his brothers don’t.

However, no lineage societies that I know of utilize Y DNA SNP or even autosomal DNA evidence – even at the most basic level of parent/child.

With increasingly advanced testing, analysis versus line-in-the-sand rules needs to be implemented.

If lineage societies are going to utilize DNA testing, they need to stay current with technology and utilize best practices of genetic evidence.

Lineage Society Suggestions

Lineage societies need to re-evaluate their goals with applicants’ privacy and security in mind, in addition to how they can utilize genetic and other evidence to replace the existing birth certificate requirement – both in terms of traditional applicants like myself, as well as adoptees.

I have the following suggestions to be implemented as steps in a comprehensive solution:

  • Decide as a matter of policy whether applicants are allowed to join based on their paper trail descendancy, or their biological descendancy, or both. Paper trail only, meaning no additional evidence would be considered, would allow membership by children adopted into descendant families, but not children adopted out of descendant families. If genetic descendants are accepted, this allows children adopted out of descendant families to join once the relationship is discovered. If both types of membership are embraced, that avoids the issue of how to handle people who have already joined and subsequently discover they or their ancestors are/were adopted.
  • Determine the course of action when a line discovers that their Y DNA does not match that of the ancestor in question, especially given that the person could still potentially be a linear descendant through a female who gave the child her (the patriot’s) surname.
  • Obsolete the requirement for birth certificates at all when possible. If a DNA test proving a relationship can be substituted in lieu of a birth certificate, accept that as the preferred form of evidence.
  • Obsolete the requirement to physically submit any applicant’s birth certificate. Two individuals viewing a certificate with the relevant parent’s information exposed, and the non-relevant parent obscured, should suffice when no other avenue can be utilized. This eliminates the storage and privacy issues and requirements.
  • Implement a system that records the fact that current members and applicants have submitted a paper birth certificate that includes the parent of interest, then shred the existing birth certificates for anyone living. Without proof of death, this is presumed to be anyone under 100 years of age.
  • Allow additional proofs like parents’ obituaries instead of children’s birth certificates. This can easily be verified using publicly available sources such as Newspapers.com., etc.
  • Utilize Y DNA primarily to eliminate a line, and only when the descendants don’t match at 111 markers or are a completely different base haplogroup, such as haplogroup C versus R. Evaluate Y DNA matches along with other evidence, specifically looking for a mutation trail, if appropriate.
  • Remove the out-of-date requirement for future descendants to be required to match the Y DNA of an already “paper proven” ancestor. Paper can easily be wrong.
  • Revamp the DNA policies and procedures to incorporate qualified analysis. Provide guidelines instead of rules.
  • Retain a competent genetic genealogist to analyze applications that include DNA evidence, understanding that a CG, certified genealogist, certificate has no bearing on or evidence of the competence of that individual in DNA analysis. There is no genetic genealogy certification and many people who consult in the autosomal space are not experienced in the Y and mitochondrial DNA arenas.

The Alternate Future

Many older genealogical organizations are struggling for life. For the Mayflower Society, 2020 is a banner year. I hope they take advantage of the opportunity by not hobbling themselves with out-of-date requirements that are unnecessarily risky to applicants.

Younger people won’t join otherwise. Out of date and unreasonably burdensome membership requirements will cause membership to shrink over time until the organization shrivels and dies, going the way of the dinosaurs.

I would like to join multiple lineage organizations, but that won’t happen until the organizations update their policies to utilize widely and inexpensively available technology, along with associated best practices.

If you’d like to see these suggested changes implemented, and especially if you would be willing to help, make your voices heard to lineage societies, especially if you are already a member.

These organizations play an important role in the preservation of the records and information of our ancestors. I hope they choose to adapt.

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

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Charles Campbell (c1750-c1825): Unique Y DNA Chips Away at Parental Brick Wall – 52 Ancestors #256

I’ve been struggling for years, decades actually, to identify the father of Charles Campbell of Hawkins County, Tennessee. We’re finally making progress by combining family oral history with traditional records research, Y DNA, and the process of elimination – thanks to a combination of people.

I think you’ll find the twists and turns in this journey interesting. It sure has been enlightening!

Thank Goodness for my Campbell Cousin!

Recently, my Campbell cousin agreed to take a Y DNA test.

He descends from my John Campbell through son William Newton Campbell whose line migrated to Texas. William died in 1908 in Davidson, Oklahoma.

Charles Campbell testers.png

Sadly, both earlier testers from the Charles Campbell line have passed away, so their Y DNA tests can’t be upgraded. My Campbell cousin represented by kit 905207 has been the critical link in what I think might just be a chink in the long-standing brick wall of Charles Campbell.

And if it isn’t THE chink, it’s still chipping away at that wall.

Who Were Charles Campbell’s Parents?

Charles Campbell was in Hawkins County in 1788, in what would become Tennessee in 1796. He may have been in Sullivan County as early as 1783.

The people who settled in this part of eastern Tennessee, and specifically in the neighborhood along Dodson Creek where Charles Campbell owned land and lived most of his life arrived in what is known as the Rockingham migration.

In fact, this 1784 tax list from Rockingham County, VA shows several people who were Charles Campbell’s direct neighbors in Hawkins County, including Michael Roark whose property abutted Charles’. In addition, the Grigsbee (Grigsby) family is found nearby as well as the Kite family whose property is just down the road beside the Louderbacks.

Charles Campbell 1784 Rockingham.png

However, looking on the 1782 tax list for Rockingham County doesn’t show Charles Campbell who was having children as early as 1770, so was assuredly an adult on personal property tax lists, someplace, by 1782, assuming he wasn’t in a wagon on his way to the next frontier.

Note that Lexington, Virginia, now in Rockbridge County, but then in Augusta County, is on the same migration path down the Shenandoah Valley – the only reasonable path from Rockingham County to the area on Dodson Creek just south of Rogersville, Tennessee.

Charles Campbell Rockingham to Rogersville.png

It’s 72 miles from Rockingham to Lexington. You have to go through Rockbridge County, on the main road at that time, to get to east Tennessee from Rockingham County.

We know, from deeds, that Gilbert Campbell lived on the main road, a location at the ferry where travelers would stop to rest, and talk, and discuss the new frontier where land was available for the asking.

This is most likely the path that Charles Campbell traveled in the 1780s. But where did he come from, and who were his parents? Is there any way to make that discovery?

Y DNA Matching

Our Campbell tester matches both of the earlier two descendants of Charles Campbell, as expected, but there’s another person that this group matches as well.

At 111 markers, my cousin matches a descendant of Gilbert Campbell who wrote his will in 1750 and died in 1751 in Rockbridge County, VA.

Charles Campbell match.png

Looking at the Campbell DNA Project, the Campbell men are part of the HUGE group 30, compromised of many, many Campbell descendants. However, look at who kit 81436, a descendant of Charles through son George, matches most closely.

Charles Campbell Gilbert match

Click to enlarge

Yep, Gilbert again.

The Campbell Article

All I can say is that I’m extremely grateful for the Campbell DNA Project at Family Tree DNA, because without this project, and project administrator Kevin Campbell, this brick wall wouldn’t even be threatened.

Kevin along with James A. Campbell wrote an article that was published in the Journal of the Clan Campbell Society (North America) Vol. 43, No. 2, Spring 2016.

To set the stage, two groups of Campbell families settled in Augusta County, VA in the late 1730s as land became available in the Borden tract. Both groups had as their progenitor a man named Duncan Campbell, born in Scotland. No confusion there, right?

One Duncan moved to Ulster County, Ireland and died. His descendants immigrated into Pennsylvania in 1726, then on into Augusta County about 1738, according to the article’s endnotes.

This is the group, shown along the South River where the green arrows point, that our Campbell line matches most closely.

The Tinkling Spring Church, the first formed in the area is shown as well. For many years, the minister baptized children in homes because either a church building didn’t yet exist or was too distant. He baptized Gilbert’s son, Charles, in 1741.

Charles Campbell north and south.png

The second Campbell group, shown in red, settled along the North River in present-day Rockingham County, about 15 miles north of Staunton, then Orange County where we find a description of a deed in 1745. This family’s oral history relates that their ancestor, also Duncan Campbell, never left Scotland before immigrating to the colonies.

The red line is unquestionably not our line.

Gilbert Campbell’s land was located in present day Lexington, further south yet.

In the article, Kevin describes how he determined that the Campbell families of Southwest Virginia, specifically Augusta County, are actually two separate Duncan Campbell lines of Campbell men. This doesn’t mean they are unrelated historically, but it does mean their common ancestor is many generations in the past.

Thankfully, the 2 lines have developed enough mutations over time that patterns exist in both lines that set them apart from each other.

Let me review the relevant portions of the article that are pertinent both geographically and historically, as well as genetically.

This excerpt is indeed exactly how I feel about my Charles Campbell.

“Just looking at land transactions involving Charles Campbell from 1740-1770 in Augusta County and lands just south of Augusta County was disheartening. How many Charles were there? How did they relate? One needed a genealogical chart just to map Charles Campbell.

Who was, or were, Charles Campbell of Augusta County?”

The researcher who said that was Catherine Bushman who reported that there were two Charles Campbells in Augusta County in the 1740s on to past mid-century. One Charles Campbell was found on the North River who held land with Hugh Campbell at Mount Crawford. A second Charles was found on the South Shenandoah River who had multiple, sizeable land holdings. These men lived 20 miles apart.

But neither of these men can be our Charles, because our Charles died about 1825, so he would not have been alive and owning land by 1740.

But still, we have two adult males named Charles who might be the parents or relatives of my Charles. Unfortunately, neither of them appear to live in the green group.

The DNA of the North and South Augusta Campbells

Kevin compared the DNA of several males who are proven to descend from the North and South Augusta County Campbell lines.

On all 10 differentiating markers that form the signatures of the North and South groups, our Charles Campbell men match the South Campbell group, meaning that our Charles Campbell group is more closely related to Duncan Campbell whose descendants lived along the South River – the descendants of “White David” Campbell and his brother Patrick Campbell.

“White David” and Patrick were the sons of John Campbell and Grissel “Grace” Hay, who was reportedly the son of Duncan Campbell and Mary McCoy.

To the best of our knowledge, neither of these families had a Gilbert. Who was Gilbert?

Gilbert Campbell

The descendants of Gilbert Campbell have another defining group of markers that are only found among this group.

Charles Campbell Gilbert markers.png

While all of the testers have tested at marker CDY, only three have tested at markers DYS710 and DYS510. The other two yellow men are deceased, of course, but it’s very likely they would match kit 905207 given their proven line of descent.

The only close Campbell line matches who carry these markers are our three men and the descendant of Gilbert plus an unidentified William born in 1750 in Virginia and died in Alabama. The closest is Gilbert and he’s in the right place at the right time.

So, where did Gilbert Campbell live and what do we know about him?

I reached out to Kevin Campbell again, and he provided what he could. There isn’t much known, but combining what he provided with what I found elsewhere, there is at least something.

Gilbert lived in the right place at the right time, in what is now Lexington, Virginia, located in Rockbridge County.

Gilbert Has a Son, Charles

Perhaps the single most exciting piece of evidence discovered about Gilbert Campbell, in combination with his location, is that he had a son named Charles.

In the book Tinkling Spring, Headwater of Freedom, A Study of the Church and her People 1732-1952 by Howard McKnight Wilson, published in 1954, we discover the following:

Page 73 – The location of this road is shown at strategic points on the original map of Maryland and Virginia made by Colonel Joshua Fry…and Colonel Peter Jefferson…in the year 1751. Leaving Philadelphia, the road went through the present location at Lancaster, PA turned southwest and crossed the Potomac at Williamsferry (now Williamsport, Maryland) and continues south by the present site of Winchester, VA. It kept to the east in the Shenandoah Valley, then down Mill Creek and across North River of the James at Gilbert Campbell’s Ford, and on toward Roanoke, turning southward just west of Tinker’s Creek on the outskirts of the present city of Roanoke.

Page 74 – Orange County, VA court order dated May 23, 1745, the Augusta County people were authorized to make the first improvements upon this road, where it fell within the bounds of the new county. Report of the commissioners is as follows: …Inhabitants between the mountains above Thompson’s Ford and Tinkling Spring do clear the same and the said road continue from Tinkling Spring to Beverley Manor line and that Patrick Campbell, John Buchanan and William Henderson be overseers and that all the inhabitants above Tinkling Spring and Beverley Manor line do clear the same and that the said road continue from Beverley Manor line to Gilbert Campbell’s Ford on the north branch of the James River and…that the road continue from Gilbert Campbell’s Ford to a ford a the Cherry Tree Bottom on the James River…and that a distinct order be given to every gang to clear the same and that it be cleared as it is already blazed and laid off with two notches and a cross…dated April 8, 1745.

Page 471 – Record of Baptisms by Reverend John Craig. Charles Campbell, son of Gilbert Campbell, October 15, 1741, at the house of Gilbert Campbell on the North Branch of the James River.

Woohoooo – look at that!!!

What other records exist for Gilbert and his wife?

In the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia by Lyman Chalkey, Volume 1, page 27, we discover what was surely the high drama soap-opera of the day. Everyone who could possibly attend court would have, and those who couldn’t surely waited anxiously for the sound of hoofbeats upon the road – the first person to return so they could hear what had happened.

Charles Campbell Gilbert 1747.pngCharles Campbell Gilbert 1747 2.png

Of course this begs the question of the identify of Mary Ann Campbell, and was she related to Prudence in some fashion? Unfortunately, Mary Ann is still anonymous, but we do have information on the immediate family members of Gilbert, and she’s not a daughter.

Gilbert Campbell’s Family

The family group sheet provided for Gilbert Campbell by the Clan Campbell Society provides the name of the wife and children of Gilbert. Gilbert’s wife was named Prudence and is reported with a surname spelled both Osran and Puran (Chalkey pages 19 and 22), in Augusta County Court records and elsewhere as Osmun and Ozran. Prudence died before March 16, 1768. The society lists their marriage as having occurred in Pennsylvania, but the source is not mentioned, with information as follows:

Gilbert died before February of 1750 (old date, 1751 new date.)

  • Son James born about 1734 in Ireland, married Elizabeth.
  • Daughter Elizabeth born about 1736 in Ireland, married a Woods.
  • Daughter Prudence born about 1738 in Ireland, married a Hays.
  • Daughter Sarah born about 1740 in Virginia.
  • Son George born October 21, 1740 and died on February 7, 1814, both in Augusta County. Married in 1765 to Agness McClure 1746-1797.
  • Daughter Lettis born in 1743 in Albemarle County married John Woods. (Note that if George was born in Augusta County in 1740, it’s unlikely that Lettis was born in Albemarle.)
  • Charles Campbell born in 1741.

If their date for the birth of Gilbert’s son, James, is accurate, he cannot be the father of our Charles who was born before 1750, based on the dates of the births of his sons. How the society estimated the date of James’ birth is unknown.

Land

In 1742, Gilbert purchased 389 acres of land in the Borden Tract (Forks of the James River, now in Rockbridge County,) from Benjamin Borden for 11 pounds, 13 shillings, and 4 pence. The Crossing of the North Fork of the James (now Murray) River was known as Campbell’s Ferry. Roughly a decade after building his home, Gilbert died. According to Chalkey, persons owning land adjacent to Gilbert’s were John Moore (Chalkley, v3, p263), John Allison (ibid, p. 267-8), Robert Moore (ibit, p. 272) and Joseph Walker (after Gilbert’s death) (ibid, p. 340).

This is interesting because Jane Allison married Robert Campbell, the son of John Campbell and Grissel Hay, in Rockbridge County. Robert wound up in northern Hawkins County, Tennessee and his son James was long believed to be the father of brothers George and John Campbell. I chased this James, and his children for years, and there’s not even a shred of a hint of evidence that he was the father of George and John.

However, there could have been some morsel of truth in that they could have been related.

Gilbert’s Will

The abstract of Gilbert Campbell’s will is found in Lyman Chalkley’s Chronicles of the Scotch-Irish Settlement in Virginia, Vol. 3, p.19., Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1989.

The original is found in Augusta Co. Court, Will Book No. 1, p. 294. The abstract reads as follows, along with additional information:

Page 294: 29th August, 1750. Gilbert Campbell’s will, of Forks of James River, plantationer

  • Wife, Prudence Campbell, alias Osran
  • Son, George (infant)
  • Son Charles (infant)
  • Daughter, Elizabeth Woods, alias Campbell
  • Son, James
  • Daughter, Prudence Hays
  • Daughter, Sarah Campbell
  • Daughter, Lattice Campbell

Executors, James Trimble, Thomas Stuart and Andrew Hays.

Teste: James Thompson, Robert Allison, Alex. McMullen.

Proved, 26 February, 1750 (current 1751), by Thompson and Allison, and probate granted to Andrew Hays.”

Page 308. — 27th February, 1750-51. Andrew Hays’ bond as executor of Gilbert Campbell, with sureties Charles Hays, James Walker.” (Chalkley, v. 3, p. 20).

Page 372. — 23 May 1751. Gilbert Campbell’s appraisement, by Alex. McMullan, Robert Allison, James Thompson, Andrew Hays. (Chalkley, v. 3, p. 22).

Page 373. — 23rd May 1751. Appraisment of goods left by Gilbert Campbell to his wife, Prudence Campbell, alias Puran. (Chalkley, p. 22)

Will Book No. 2. Page 243. — 17th May 1758. George Campbell’s bond (with Robert McElheny, Robt. Moore) as guardian to Lettice Campbell, orphan of Gilbert Campbell.” (Chalkley, v. 3, page 48.)

Chalkley’s Abstracts, Vol 3, p. 102: Will Book No. 4 includes the following statement: “Page 82. . . 16 March 1768. Prudence Campbell’s proven account. . . “

It’s worth noting that James is not mentioned as an infant, meaning he was born before in 1729 or earlier, so the society’s estimate of 1734 is off by several years, unless they have used age 16 as the definition of “not an infant.”

It’s interesting that no guardians were appointed for George or Charles, or those documents haven’t been preserved/discovered/reported.

While Chalkey provides the extract of Gilbert’s will, in an old Rootsweb list posting, Gilbert’s full will is provided by Tim Campbell.

1750 Page 294: 29th August, 1750. Gilbert Campbell’s will, of Forks of James River, plantationer–Wife, Prudence Osran Campbell, alias Osran; son, George Campbell (infant); son, Charles Campbell (infant); daughter, Elizabeth Campbell Woods, alias Campbell; son, James Campbell; daughter, Prudence Campbell Hays; daughter, Sarah Campbell; daughter, Lattice Campbell. Executors, James Trimble, Thomas Stuart and Andrew Hays. Teste: James Thompson, Robert Allison, Alex. McMuIlen. Proved, 26th February, 1751, by Thompson and Allison, and probate granted to Andrew Hays. Augusta County Will Book 1

A copy of this document in is Tim Campbells’ files. Gilbert Campbell left his plantation to wife Prudence until son George came of age, at which time she was to have half, then when son Charles came of age, she was to have just the house and adjacent field, i.e., the 2 boys were to receive parts of the plantation as they came of age. George was to receive the half “next to the river” and Charles was to receive the other half. Children Elizabeth, James and Prudence were to receive one crown apiece. Charles and George were to pay the other 2 siblings, Sarah and Lattice, 2 pounds each and 20 pounds was to be set aside for their well being out of the plantation.

Land Location

Rockbridge County VA Deed book A page 7, April 7, 1778 – Joseph Walker sells to William Graham 291 acres (then in Botetourt, now Rockbridge County), bounded on north by James River, corner Gilbert Campbell’s and John Moore’s.

The part of Rockbridge where Lexington is located appears to have fall into Botetourt County for about a year.

Using Borden’s land grant map located here, along with an index located here, I have been able to locate Gilbert’s land in what is now Lexington, Virginia adjacent a James Campbell who was possibly/probably Gilbert’s brother. One of James’ tracts adjoined Gilberts and another was close by.

Charles Campbell Rockbridge map.png

On the detailed plat maps, here, that can’t be reproduced, tracts 198 and 184 are adjacent, while 172 is a bit more distant on the bend of the river. By searching for the names of Gilbert’s neighbors listed in deeds, you can see that the Moore, Allison and Campbell families all lived adjacent one-another.

Charles Campbell Gilbert google map.png

Looking at Google maps, it’s easy to overlay the approximation of Gilbert’s land, along with that of James. The James who obtained the 434 acres of land in 1756 could have been Gilbert’s son by either age estimation, but he could also have been a brother, other relative, or unrelated. The James obtaining the 175 acres of land adjacent Gilbert’s land in 1768 could have been brother or son, but is likely related.

Charles Campbell Lexington.png

A Campbell researcher descended from Gilbert’s son George tells us the following:

In my visit to the Rockbridge Co Historical Society last year I learned that the town of Lexington is on Gilbert’s plantation of 389 acres. Washington and Lee Univ. sits on top of the hill where Gilbert’s home was located. Gilbert’s ferry was where the waterfall is crossing the now Maury River (renamed from North River.) Has anyone found the marriage for Gilbert and Prudence??? I found in a book at their public library that Gilbert was quite active in the Presbyterian Church. Does anyone know where in Rockbridge he is buried?

Here’s a closer view of that area.

Charles Campbell Gilbert closeup.png

A very, very interesting aspect of this land is that the trail may not go cold with the death of Gilbert. When Gilbert died in 1751, his will dictated that his land descend to his two sons, George and Charles when they came of age.

Additional Charles Campbell Information.

Charles, the son of Gilbert would have come of age in 1762.

Our Charles had sons John and George in about 1770 and 1772, but it’s not known how many other children he might have had, or his wife’s name.

Aside from the names of his sons, the location of his land and neighbors in Hawkins County, the only other firm piece of information that we have about Charles Campbell is that he died sometime before May 31, 1825 when a survey for neighbor Michael Roark mentions the heirs of Charles Campbell. A court record entry says that a deed of sale was to be recorded by Charles’ heirs, but it was never recorded in the deed book, and his heirs names are never given in any Hawkins County record. Nor did he have a will. So frustrating.

In Rockbridge County, formed in 1777 from parts of Augusta and Botetourt County, we find the following records:

  • 1764 John Campbell committed for abusing Henry Filbrick and disrupting the court. Charles Campbell committed for abusing the court.
  • 1764 Charles Campbell qualified as ensign.
  • Vol. 1 March 19, 1765 – John Moore to Charles Campbell, 230 acres in Borden’s track, corner John Houston’s land, Wit William Mann, Archibald Reaugh, Samuel Downey, Delivered to C. Campbell’s executors March 23, 1827.

Note the date in 1827 when this was actually delivered to Charles’ executors.

When I saw this note indicating that Charles Campbell had died by 1827, I became very excited. Is this the same Charles Campbell who had died in Tennessee? Did he still own land, absentee, in Rockbridge County?

John Moore’s land abutted Gilbert Campbell’s. There could be two different John Moores, but this is likely Charles the son of Gilbert.

1765 Page 46.-14th August, 1765. George Campbell, Agness Campbell, his wife, and Prudence Campbell (widow of Gilbert Campbell), his mother, to Andrew McClure, £130,194 acres in Forks of James and in the fork of Wood’s Creek and North Branch of James; corner Joseph Walker. Teste: Jno. McCampbell, Charles Campbell. Delivered: grantee, September 1770. Deed book 12

This 194 acres is probably George’s part of his father’s estate. Note that Charles signs and a John McCampbell does as well, or McCampbell is actually Campbell. Andrew and William McCampbell had grants north of James Campbell who lives on the bend of the river, west of Gilbert.

Of Gilbert’s 389 acre plantation, this leaves 195 acres remaining, plus Prudence Campbell’s house and field.

1766 – Charles Campbell (Borden’s land) appointed appraiser.

Page 137 – May 20, 1766 – Charles Campbell (Borden’s land) appointed Constable.

Page 138 – Charles Campbell – certificate for hemp.

Vol 2 Page 403 – 1767 Charles Campbell listed on Borden land, also noted as a constable.

In 1768, James Campbell also obtained a certificate for hemp. He is also appointed constable.

We know that Gilbert’s son Charles’ brother was James.

Vol 3 Page 484 – May 24, 1769 John Sproul and Margaret to Alexander Wilson, 250 acres in Borden’s tract, corner Andrew Steel and William Alexander, corner Robert Telford, Robert Lowry. Wit Charles Campbell, Thomas Alexander, Robert Wardlaw

April 27, 1769 Thomas Vance and Jenat to John Campbell. 148 acres on the North Branch of James, corner Mr. Thomas Vance, Wit James Cowan, John Alison, Charles Campbell, John Shields Jr.

Given the mention of John Alison and Charles Campbell, this appears to be near Gilbert’s land. The Allisons lived adjacent Gilbert and also directly across the river. There’s a John Campbell involved. He’s not the son of Gilbert – could be be the son of James?

Page 485 – June 15, 1769 Charles Campbell and Margret to Joseph Walker, 199 acres on Woods Creek in Fork of James River, corner Arthur McClure, Joseph Walker’s line, Robert Moore’s line, Wit James Hall, Joseph Walker, Delivered Joseph Walker June 1783

This has to be Charles, the son of Gilbert. The acreage equals exactly that of his share of Gilbert’s land and the neighbors are the same. Joseph Walker was a neighbor of Gilbert Campbell. This is also the timeframe when a Charles Campbell shows up purchasing land in East Tennessee. Did he sell out to move on? The land was sold in 1769, but never “delivered” until 1783.

Between 1768 and 1771, a chancery suite was in process involving Charles Campbell (trustee) for work to be done at the New Providence Meeting House that involved Wardlaw, Houston, Moore, Walker – all familiar names. This church was founded in 1746 on land purchased by the Kennedy family. John Brown, married to Mary Moore, the “Captive of Abbs Valley,” was the pastor for 42 years, resigning in 1794. This church was about 15 miles north of Lexington.

There is a 1773 suit where John is a son of Charles Campbell, so this Charles cannot be ours because his son John was not born until between 1772 and 1775.

Page 196 – Feb. 17, 1778 – Justice in the new Rockbridge County, Charles Campbell. This is likely Gilbert’s son.

1791 – Rockbridge County, VA Deed Book B, p. 340. 11 October 1791, 270 acres from    Robert Harvey and Martha his wife, heirs-at-law to Benjamin Borden dec’d of Botetourt County, VA to Charles Campbell between said Campbell’s plantation and John McCray’s land, Robert Wardlaw’s line. Signed: Robt. Harvey, Martha Harvey, Teste: William Buchanan, William Wardlaw, Wm. Wardlaw, Alexr. Sproul, Jas. Campbell, Delivered Anniel Rodgers per order of Saml. L. Campbell, one of the exors of sd. Chas. Campbell dec’d 26 March 1827.

This deed has a very similar date as the John Moore to Charles Campbell deed in 1765 that was delivered to Charles’ heirs in 1827. This deed goes further though and references Campbell’s plantation. It doesn’t say anything about Charles heirs being in Tennessee, and if this is our Charles, we know for sure that John and George were living in Claiborne County by then, and Charles Campbell was deceased by sometime in 1825 in Hawkins County. Of course, this land could have been owned absentee for all those years by Charles of Hawkins County.

The following deposition was found in the Rockingham County Circuit Court book, page 122:

Mary Greenlee deposes, 10th November, 1806, she and her husband settled in Borden’s Grant in 1737. Her son John was born 4th October, 1738. She, her husband, her father (Emphraim McDowell, then very aged), and her brother, John McDowell, were on their way to Beverley Manor; camped on Linvel’s Creek (the spring before her brother James had raised a crop on South River in Beverley Manor, above Turk’s, near Wood Gap); there Benj. Borden came to their camp and they conducted him to his grant which he had never seen, for which Borden proposed giving 1,000 acres. They went on to the house of John Lewis, near Staunton, who was a relative of Ephraim McDowell. Relates the Milhollin story. They were the first party of white settlers in Borden’s Grant. In two years there were more than 100 settlers. Borden resided with a Mrs. Hunter, whose daughter afterwards married one Guin, to whom he gave the land whereon they lived. Her brother John was killed about Christmas before her son Samuel (first of the name) was born (he was born April, 174xxx). Benj. Borden, Jr., came into the grant in bad plight and seemed to be not much respected by John McDowell’s wife, whom Benj. afterwards married. Jno. Hart had removed to Beverley Manor some time before deponent moved to Borden’s. Joseph Borden had lived with his brother Benj.; went to school, had the smallpox about time of Benj’s. death. When he was about 18 or 19 he left the grant, very much disliked, and dissatisfied with the treatment of his brother’s wife. Beaty was the first surveyor she knew in Borden’s grant. Borden had been in Williamsburg, and there in a frolic Gov. Gooch’s son-in-law, Needler, has given him his interest in the grant. Borden’s executor, Hardin, offered to her brother James all the unsold land for a bottle of wine to anyone who would pay the quit rents, but James refused it because he feared it would run him into jail. This was shortly after Margaret Borden married Jno. Bowyer. John Moore settled in the grant at an early day, where Charles CAMPBELL now lives. Andrew Moore settled where his grandson William now lives. These were also early settlers, viz: Wm. McCandless, Wm. Sawyers, Rob. Campbell, Saml. Wood, John Mathews, Richd. Woods, John Hays and his son Charles Hays, Saml. Walker, John McCraskey. Alexr. Miller was the first blacksmith in the settlement. One Thomas Taylor married Elizabeth Paxton. Taylor was killed by the falling of a tree shortly after the marriage. Miller removed and his land has been in possession of Telford. Deponent’s daughter Mary was born May, 1745. McMullen was also an early settler; he was a school teacher and had a daughter married. John Hays’s was the first mill in the grant. Quit rents were not exacted for 2 years at the instance of Anderson, a preacher.

Wow, talk about a goldmine of historical information!

Given that in 1806 Charles Campbell seems to be still living near where his father lived, by John Moore, this seems to preclude Gilbert from being the father of our Charles Campbell.

However, our Charles could be the son of the early James Campbell, if James was the brother of Gilbert. It’s also possible that our Charles is a grandson of Gilbert through his son, James, who was apparently of age by 1750 when Gilbert wrote his will.

Rockbridge County Tax Lists

Rockbridge County Tax lists are available in some format from 1778 to 1810, so let’s see if we can find a pattern there.

Tax List Name Additional Info Comment
1778 Charles Campbell 2 tithes
Charles Campbell (possible second entry, according to a different source)
George Campbell 2
1782 A (alpha list) Charles Campbell Esq 1 tithe, 2 slaves, Fanny, Dennis, 9 horses, 30 cattle Alexander, John, Henry, Joseph Sr and Jr. Campbell also Crockets
George Campbell 1 tithe 7 horses 12 cattle
George Campbell 1 tithe 6 horses 17 cattle
1783 George 1-0-0-6-14 Tithes, slaves>16, slaves <16, horses cattle,
George 1-0-0-7-9 Joseph, Joseph, John, Alex with note Dougal, Duncan, Henry Campbell
Charles 1-1-1-7-28 Slaves Jenny, Dinnis
1784 George 1-0-0-6-14 Joseph, Hugh, David,
George 1-0-0-6-11
Charles 1-1-1-9-29 Slaves Fanny, Dennis. Other Campbells incl Alexander, Duncan, Henry
1785 George 0-0-0-5-10 John, Joseph, (both no tithes), Joseph, Hugh, Andrew, Duncan, Alex, David, Robert Campbell
George 1-0-0-3-4
Charles 1-1-1-9-28
1786 Charles 1-1-1-11-26 Slaves Fanny and Dennis, other Campbells include Joseph, John (no tithe), Andrew, Henry, Samuel,
1787A George 0-0-0-3-6 Duncan, Henry, Samuel, Robert (no tithes), Alex no white tithes
Charles 1-2-0-11-30
1787B George 0-0-0-3-18 David, John, Joseph, Joseph, Andrew, Hugh
1788 A George 1-0-0-2 Robert, Duncan, Alex, Henry, Samuel,
Charles Campbell, Esq 2-2-0-10
1788B George 0-0-0-4 Andrew, John, Joseph, David, Hugh
1789A George 1-0-0-2 David, Duncan, Alex, Henry, Samuel
Charles 2-2-0-11
1789B George 0-0-0-3 Hugh, John Jr., Andrew, Robert
1790A George 1-0-0-2 Samuel, Henry, Henry Jr, Duncan, Alex, David,
Capt. Charles Campbell 2-2-0-10
George 1-0-0-2
1790B George 1-0-0-4 Alex, Hugh, John, John, Robert
1791A George 1-0-0-2 David, David, Duncan, Henry, Samuel, Alex
George 1-0-0-2
Capt. Charles 3-2-0-10
1791B George 1-0-0-5 John, John, John

I skipped ahead to 1800 and Charles is still on the tax list. He’s easy to recognize because he seems to be wealthier and has more livestock, not to mention slaves.

Given his presence in Rockbridge County, clearly Gilbert isn’t the father of our Charles. But the name Charles clearly runs in Gilbert’s line too.

What About James Campbell?

It’s worth noting that there is no James Campbell on these early tax lists, at all, so the James who owned land in 1756 and 1768 either died or moved on. Could this James be the father of our Charles?

Depending on his age, it’s certainly possible.

The son of Gilbert named James is probably accounted for by an 1804 deed from James Campbell who lives in Kentucky in the suit John McCleland of Rockbridge County vs James Campbell involving the Hays family.

On the muster list of the year 1742 – on Capt. McDowell’s list – Gilbert Camble and James Camble are listed together, so this James was clearly of age then, meaning he could have been the father of Charles Campbell who would have been born in 1750 or earlier.

I need to work on James, in particular land sales, to see if I can figure out what happened to him.

The James Story

The oral history of James Campbell being the father of John and George Campbell took root years ago with an earlier researcher.

Several years ago, Mary Price sent me information titled “Campbell – Dobkins Connections” which she compiled in the 1960s and 1970s before her mother’s death. Unfortunately, Mary was elderly at the time and only sent me the first few pages, although she meant to send the rest and thought she had. I’m hopeful maybe she sent the entire document to another researcher who will be kind enough to share.

Unfortunately, some of the books in Claiborne County (TN) Clerk’s office that Mary accessed were missing by the time I began researching a generation later, and I fear that much of what she found may have gone with her to the grave.

Mary descended from the same John Campbell that I do. All 3 of John’s sons, Jacob, George Washington and William Newton went to Texas.

  • Jacob Campbell was born in 1801 in Claiborne County, TN, had 5 sons and died in Collin County, Texas in 1879/1880.
  • George Washington Campbell was born in 1813 in Claiborne County, died sometime after 1880 and had at one son, John C., born in 1845. In 1860, he’s in Collin County, TX, along with Mary Price’s relatives, in 1870 in Denton County and in 1880, in Cooke County.
  • William Newton Campbell was born in 1817 in Claiborne County and died in 1908 in Davidson, Tillman County, Oklahoma. In 1870, 1880 and 1900, he lived in Denton County, Texas, He had 5 sons, all born in Tennessee and all died in or near either Tilman County, Oklahoma or Ringgold in Montague County, Texas.

Our Documented Campbell Line, According to Mary

Mary Price starts with John Campbell:

John Campbell was probably born in Shenandoah Co., Va. in the 1770s. In the 1950s a descendant of John Campbell interviewed some of his uncles in Texas who were in their eighties as to the name of John’s father. They all said his name was James Campbell as they were told by their grandparents.

That means the uncles would have been born in the 1870s and were probably second-generation Texans.

There is a James on the 1783 tax list for Shenandoah Co., Va. It is not known if he ever moved to Tennessee. Perhaps he did, to Jefferson Co., Tn., however, we have no proof. We researchers have found that there were new numerous Campbell families – all using the same first names – in almost every county searched.

We have been unable to find a will or an estate settlement for this James Campbell.

Claiborne Co., Tn. was formed in 1801 from parts of Grainger and Hawkins Co. We find our John Campbell serving on the jury in 1803. In 1802 our John purchased land in Claiborne Co., Tn. from Alexander Outlaw. Outlaw lived in Jefferson Co., Tn. and was married to a Campbell lady. This Alexander Outlaw also had dealings with our Jacob Dobkins in Jefferson Co., and also with our Dodsons in Jefferson Co., Tn.

Mary’s family was from Tom, Oklahoma, east of that area, but her grandfather, Lazarus Dobkins Dodson, according to Mary, settled in Texas in the 1880s or 1890s near the Campbell relatives. He married in Denton County in 1899 and died in Cass County in 1964.

Charles Campbell Texas.png

Given the proximity, I’d wager that the Campbell men Mary mentions were the ones in Collin County. Given the people involved, they were at least 3, if not 4 generations removed from John Campbell, and of course, they had never lived in Claiborne County. Their grandparents or great-grandparents moved to Texas.

George and John Campbell’s father appears strongly to be Charles Campbell, not a James. There is no James that fits. But Charles, who lives in the neighbor county, on Dodson Creek, down the road from the Dobkins family, sells land to his sons, John and George, who jointly dispose of that land just before arriving in Claiborne County. In Claiborne, they are both married to Dobkins sisters and live very close to Jacob Dobkins, their father-in-law. Furthermore, I match 45 Dobkins descendants who descend through other children of Jacob Dobkins.

It’s not surprising, several generations removed, that Mary’s relatives remembered the name of John’s father incorrectly, but John’s grandfather may indeed have been James.

It’s worth nothing that the name Gilbert never appears in the children of John or George.

John Campbell has children:

  • Jacob (his wife’s father’s name)
  • Elizabeth (his wife’s sister’s name)
  • Elmira
  • Jane
  • Martha
  • Rutha
  • George Washington (George is his brother’s name)
  • William Newton

George Campbell has children:

  • Dorcas (his wife’s mother’s name)
  • Peggy
  • Jenny (his wife’s sister’s name)
  • Charles (his father’s name)
  • James
  • John (his brother’s name)
  • Elizabeth (his wife’s name)

Back to Mary’s Story

The Campbell family, from which our John Campbell descended were originally from Inverary, Argylishire, connected with the famous Campbell clans of the Highlands of Scotland, and emigrated to Ireland near the close of the reign of Queen Elizabeth in about the year 1600. The Northern portion of Ireland received, in that period, large accessions of Scotch Protestants, who proved to be valuable and useful citizens. Here the Campbells continued to live for several generations until at length, the emigrant and progenitor of our Campbell Clan to America, old John Campbell arrived in 1726 in Donegal, Lancaster, Pennsylvania with 10 or 12 children.

Some of his children had already married and had children of their own. It did not take long for them to start making records. Old John Campbell’s son, Patrick who was born in about 1690 was serving as a constable by 1729.

About 1730, old John Campbell along with 3 of his sons, Patrick among them, removed from Pennsylvania to what was then a part of Orange Co., which later became Augusta Co., in the rich Shenandoah Valley of Va.

This Patrick Campbell became the ancestor of the famous General William Campbell and William brother-in-law and first cousin, Arthur Campbell. These two men were prominent men in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee during the time of our Campbell’s there.

Arthur Campbell (1743-1811) lived just over the Claiborne County, TN border in Middlesboro, KY, with his son James transacting business in Claiborne County. I chased this line for years and it’s not ours.

Our line of Campbell (John) was no doubt close kin to them, but so many John Campbells, that I cannot tie him in or document him for sure.  But I do not have any doubt that this is the clan we descend from.

The Campbell family that eventually migrated to Claiborne County Tennessee is first documented with Dugal Campbell in 1490 in Inverary, Argylershire, Scotland and is the Campbell clan. His son Duncan b 1529 had son Patrick b 1550 who had Hugh b 1580 who had Andrew b 1615 who had son Duncan b 1645 who married Mary McCoy in 1672. Duncan and Mary immigrated to America with their children and grandchildren.

Their oldest son, John was born in Drumboden, near Londonderry, Ireland and married Grissel Hay, but died on the boat to America in 1725. However, they already had children, Robert b 1718 in County Down Ireland, died Dec. 24, 1810 in Carters Valley, Hawkins Valley, Tn, Archibald, Colin, William and Catharine. Some researchers show additional children.

Robert Campbell married Letitia Crockett b 1720/30 d abt 1758 in Prince Edward Co, Va. They had James Campbell b 1745/49 died before May 31 1792 in Carters Valley, Hawkins Co, Tn., Alexander b 1747, Elizabeth b 1751, Catharine b 1753, Anna b 1755, Jane b 1757, Martha b 1757, and Robert b 1761.

James and Letitia Allison, a niece of his father’s second wife Jane Allison, had John Campbell b 1772/75 d Sep 22, 1838, Elizabeth and George b 1770. James was killed by the fall of the limb of a tree while at work stocking a plow at his home in Carter’s Valley, 19 miles from Rogersville, Tn. The widow married William Pallett, settling in Warren Co.

Mary states the informatoin about John Campbell who died in 1838, meaning our John, being the son of James Campbell and Letitia Allison as fact, but it was then and is still unproven. She had found a James Campbell and assigned John to him.

I chased the Robert Campbell family too, relentlessly, for more than a decade – researching on site, finding Robert’s land and several cemeteries but not any sons of the James who died there in Carter Valley in 1792. There’s NO evidence that he’s the father of John. Nothing in the court records for orphans at his death. Nothing at all.

Robert Campbell Carter Valley.jpg

The land in Carter Valley is beautiful, and I was sad that I couldn’t find any evidence since Mary had seemed so sure. It was a beautiful wild goose chase:)

Robert Campbell Carter Valley Cemetery.jpg

It is interesting to note though that Robert Campbell settled for some time in Rockbridge County, married an Allison, and is found on tax lists before moving on to Hawkins County. He probably knew Gilbert and may have been related.

However, there is absolutely no connection found between Robert’s son, James, or his widow and her second husband, to Claiborne County or any John or George Campbell. Believe me, I tried.

Given the name of Allison, and the affiliation of Gilbert Campbell with Allisons and Crockets in Rockbridge County, I’m not entirely convinced the Prince Edward County Campbell’s were terribly far removed from the Rockbridge County Campbells. They may have know they were related and may have been relatively closely related, aunt/uncle, first cousins, even undocumented siblings perhaps.

The name of James Campbell may still be important in our search, because Gilbert Campbell’s brother appears to be James, or at least a James is associated with Gilbert in some way, aside from being his son. A William Campbell lives close by too.

Y DNA would not be able to differentiate between brothers and autosomal DNA is too many generations removed. If we knew the names of James Campbell’s wife, meaning the James who was the probable brother of Gilbert, we might be able to use autosomal DNA to determine a connection with her family.

However, without additional actual documentary evidence, such as information about James, his wife or even a definitive surname for Prudence, we’re mired in the mud.

According to Governor David Campbell

The grandson of “White David” Campbell, to differentiate him from his cousin “Black David” due to his fair coloring, not as a racist designation, became governor of Virginia and thankfully recorded a great deal, in his own handwriting, which has been preserved today at Duke University.

Ken Norfleet, perhaps the preeminent Campbell researcher, quotes David as follows after providing an introduction:

THE ANCESTORS OF JOHN CAMPBELL

I have no documentary evidence which substantiates the existance of any of the early generations of Campbells prior to John Campbell (d. 1741), husband of Grace Hay. Hence, mention of these early Campbells should be carefully qualified. The early generations of Campbells shown in this genealogical report are those cited by Governor David Campbell in a note I found among his papers (see below).

NOTE OF GOVERNOR DAVID CAMPBELL OF VA

Governor David Campbell (1779-1859) of VA was a meticulous researcher and it is mainly due to his work that the story of John Campbell and Grace Hay (parents of White David) and their descendants has survived. Governor Campbell’s papers and other documents are part of the Campbell Papers Collection (about 8,000 documents) located at Duke University, Durham NC. A microfilm copy of the Campbell Papers is located at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville. In 1996, while reviewing this microfilm copy, I found the following note, in Governor David Campbell’s handwriting, on microfilm reel number 1 (my comments are in brackets):

“Genealogy – The Campbell Family

“The farthest back the Campbell family can be traced is to Duncan Campbell of Inverary, Scotland, the place where the old Duke of Argyle and most of the Scotch [sic] Campbells lived. It was in the latter part of Queen Elizabeth’s reign that Duncan Campbell moved from Inverary to Ireland. Not long afterwards, in the reign of James First, when he had come to the throne, forfeitures were declared at Ulster in 1612, and Duncan Campbell bought a lease of the forfeited land from one of the English officers. One of his sons, Patrick, bought out the lease and estate in remainder, whereby he acquired the [land in] fee simple. How many other sons Duncan may have had is not known.

“Patrick had a son Hugh, and he a son Andrew. The generations from Andrew to our great-grandfather John [husband of Grace Hay] are not stated. It should be to Duncan, father of John Campbell, [who] emigrated to America with his family in the year 1726 and settled in the Sweet Ara river where Lancaster now stands in Pennsylvania. He [meaning John Campbell, husband of Grace Hay] had six sons, Patrick, John, William, James, Robert and David. Three – to wit – John, William and James were never married. John died in in England having gone there with Lord Boyne and became [his] steward.”

LETTER OF GOVERNOR DAVID CAMPBELL TO LYMAN DRAPER

Governor David Campbell (1779-1859), in a letter to Lyman Draper, dated 12 Dec 1840, had this to say concerning the origin of his branch (White David’s) of the Campbell Clan in America (my comments are in brackets):

” … The Campbell family from which I am descended were originally from Inverary in the Highlands of Scotland – came to Ireland in the latter part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth & thence to America. John Campbell [husband of Grace Hay] my great grandfather and the great grandfather of Gen’l William Campbell of the Revolution came from Ireland with a family of ten or twelve children, leaving behind him only one son, and settled near Lancaster in Pennsylvania in the year 1726. His eldest son Patrick was the grandfather of Gen’l William Campbell. His youngest son David [White David] was the father of Col Arthur Campbell and my grandfather. So that Gen’l Campbell and myself were second cousins. The family remained in Pennsylvania but a few years and then removed to the frontiers of Virginia, in that part which afterwards formed the county of Augusta. Here they lived many years. John Campbell (my father) the eldest son of David and Col Arthur Campbell the second son were born, raised and educated in this county. Gen’l William Campbell was also born, raised and educated here. …” [see Draper Manuscripts, Kings Mountain Papers, 10DD6, pages 1 and 2.]

From my own research, I can place these Campbells in Beverley Manor by 1738 – in that year Patrick Campbell acquired 1546 acres of land in the Manor. John Campbell (husband of Grace Hay) died in about 1741 as his estate was appraised/inventoried in that year. In summary, based on my own research among the records of Orange and Augusta Counties VA, Governor David Campbell’s story of the origins of his family in America appear to be entirely reasonable.

E-MAIL MESSAGE OF DIARMID CAMPBELL RE ANCESTORS OF JOHN CAMPBELL

Date:01 January 1998

” …although a number of people have attempted research in Ireland absolutely no further information has appeared about the ancestry of Duncan Campbell who married Mary McCoy.

“Pilcher states quite clearly at one point in her book that her information on those earlier (likely fictitious generations going back to Inverary) were taken by her from an elderly relation who thought she remembered that information. Pilcher had not intended to publish her book and it might have been better had she not, since the misinformation has misled so many and God knows how many family histories have now been published giving her bogus material as their source. Her later material appears to be more sound, although since she often gives no sources or references (as to where material was found), it means that anyone of the descents of those whom she outlines has to re-do the research.

“I have also thought that there might be some connection between the Drumaboden and the 18th century Virginia Campbells. But none has as yet appeared. Two professional research efforts in Ireland have so far been conducted, one just completed and the other in the ’80s.These were conducted by getting a group of descendants to put up some funds each and were coordinated through the Genealogists of the Clan Campbell Society of the time. While both were helpful in clarifying where no information could be found (so making easier any future research efforts), neither produced any clarification on the ancestry of either family going back from Ireland to Scotland.

“If you want the results of the second research effort you could write to the Society Genealogist, Dr.Ruby G. Campbell PhD, 3310 Fairway Drive, Baton Rouge LA 70809 USA, and ask her to let you know what to send her for the photocopying and mailing costs. But the information is not, I seem to remember, directly concerned with Drumaboden. …

” … There are in fact three sets of Northern Irish Campbells who may or may not be connected: Drumaboden, Duncan and his cousin Dugald Campbell, and the 18th century Virginia Campbells descended from one John Campbell who came over to Pennsylvania at a fairly advanced age in the 1720s or 30s.”

What Does This Mean, Exactly?

You may be wondering right about now what all of this means, to me. You might be wondering why I just didn’t stop when I discovered that Gilbert’s son, Charles never left Rockbridge County.

Clearly, my Charles in Hawkins County can’t be Gilbert’s son – so why didn’t I just throw in the towel and call it a day?

Negative evidence isn’t all bad, even though it’s disappointing when we were hoping for something more.

Let me just say that I’m really grateful that I did the extra research NOW, not in Rockbridge County in 3 weeks, because that’s where I was headed.

To be quite clear, it’s still possible that my Campbell line descends from James, Gilbert’s probable brother or possibly Gilbert’s son, James – although that’s much less likely, given his age. I need to find deed records for the earlire James selling his land to determine what happened to him, and if he can potentially be the father of my Charles.

However, even if we don’t know the identity of Charles Campbell’s father, YET, we know one heck of a lot more now than we did before this exercise, such as:

1 – We know that we don’t match the North River Campbells, and I can disregard those lines.

2 – We know that we DO match the following South River line in some way:

  • Duncan Campbell and Mary Ramsey
  • John Campbell (the immigrant) and unknown wife
  • John Campbell (1645) and Mary McCoy
  • John Campbell (1674) and Grace/Grizel Hay, immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1726. They had 6 sons. John died in England and James in Ireland, leaving Robert and William who never married, along with Patrick and “White David.”

3 – We know that we match Gilbert’s Y DNA more closely than any other lineage,  represented by descendants of the South River group in Augusta County through John and Grace’s sons David and Patrick Campbell.

4 – We have discovered a unique Y DNA “signature” in our line that will assuredly help us unravel future matches – and may lead to another match that is even more revealing.

5 – We have identified a James Campbell to follow. Given the close geographic proximity of James to Gilbert, as well as the “rumor” of James in our line, in addition to the fact that George named a son James – the James who owned land adjacent to and near Gilbert may in fact still be a good candidate. In fact, right now, he’s our best candidate!

I’d love to discover more about that James Campbell and locate a Y DNA descendant to test.

Seeking James Campbell

Do you descend from a James Campbell found in Orange, Augusta or Rockbridge County, Virginia in the 1740s through 1770s? Did he own land on the James River sometimes after 1756 and before 1782?

We know by 1782 that James wasn’t living in Rockbridge County, because he’s absent from the tax lists.

Do you know the name of the wife of the James Campbell who was associated with Gilbert Campbell?

Do you descend from Gilbert Campbell and his wife, Prudence?

If you descend from the Augusta, Rockingham or Rockbridge County Campbells or from the Lancaster County, PA lineage, have you DNA tested?

I’d love to hear from you.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

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Superpower: Your Aunts’ and Uncles’ DNA is Your DNA Too – Maximize Those Matches!

Recently a reader, Ian, dropped me a note suggesting that perhaps not everyone understands the 2-fer value of close family members who DNA test.

That’s “two for the price of one.”

Even just one family member like an aunt or uncle, or a great-aunt or great-uncle is a goldmine.

Here’s why.

sibling matching.png

In the chart above, you, in green, obtained 50% of your DNA from each parent. Each of your parents gave you have of thier autosomal DNA.

Your parent shares approximately 50% of their DNA with their full sibling who is your aunt (or uncle,) shown in yellow.

Full siblings each receive half of their parents’ DNA, just not the same exact half. That’s why you need to test your own siblings if your parents aren’t BOTH available for testing.

You share about 25% of your DNA with any aunt or uncle, shown in yellow. Your 25% shared DNA came from your grandparents.

The Important Part

But here’s the really important part:

  • ALL of the DNA that your aunt or uncle carries is your ancestors’ DNA too – even though you only match your aunt/uncle on 25% of their DNA.
  • ALL OF THEIR DNA IS AS RELEVANT TO YOU AS YOUR OWN!
  • The other 75% of the DNA that they have, and you don’t, was inherited from your grandparents. There’s no place else for your full aunt or uncle to receive DNA.

You can utilize the DNA of a full aunt or uncle JUST LIKE YOU UTILIZE YOUR OWN MATCHES.

The 2-Fer

Here’s the 2-fer.

  1. Anyone you match in common with your aunt or uncle is identified to those grandparents or their ancestors. That’s about 25%.
  2. Anyone that your aunt or uncle matches in common with another family member that you don’t match but where you can identify the common ancestor provides you with information you can’t discover from your own DNA.

Their Matches are “Your Matches” Too – ALL OF THEM

Yes, all of them – even the people you don’t match yourself – because ALL of your aunts or uncles ancestors are your ancestors too.

Think about it this way, if you and your aunt both have 4000 matches (as an example) and you share 25% of those – you’ll be able to assign 1000 people to that parent’s side of your tree through common matches with your aunt.

However, your aunt will have another 3000 matches that you don’t share with her. All 3000 of those matches are equally as relevant to you as your own matches.

This is true even if your parent has tested, because your aunt or uncle inherited DNA from your grandparents that your parent didn’t inherit.

So instead of identifying just 1000 of your matches in common, you get the bonus of an additional 3000 of your aunt’s matches that you don’t have, so 4000 total matches of your own plus all 4000 of hers – 3000 of which are different from yours! That’s a total of 7000 unique matches for you to work with, not just your own 4000!

Your Matches 4000
Aunt’s Matches 4000
Common Matches -1000
Total Unique Matches 7000

Moving Back Another Generation

If you’re lucky enough to have a great-aunt or great-uncle, shown in peach, the same situation applies.

You’ll share about 12.5% of your DNA with them, so you’ll only share about 500 of your 4000 matches, BUT, all 4000 of their matches are in essence your matches too because your great-aunt or great-uncle carries only the DNA of your great-grandparents, giving you 7500 unique matches to work with, using our example numbers.

Every aunt or uncle (or great-aunt or great-uncle) will provide you with some matches that other family members don’t have.

Whatever analysis techniques you use for your own DNA – do exactly the same for them – and test them at or transfer their DNA file to every vendor (with their permission of course) – while you can. Here’s an article about DNA testing and transfer strategies to help you understand available options.

Genetic Gold

Their DNA is every bit as valuable as your own – and probably more so because it represents part of your grandparents and/or great-grandparents DNA that your own parents and/or grandparents didn’t inherit. Without aunts and uncles, that DNA may be lost to you forever.

If your parents or grandparents have multiple living siblings  – test all of them. If they have half-siblings, test them too, although only part of half siblings’ matches will be relevant to you, so you can’t treat them exactly the same as full sibling matches.

While you’re testing, be sure to test their Y and mitochondrial DNA lines at Family Tree DNA, the only company to offer this type of testing, if their Y and mitochondrial DNA is different than your own. If you don’t understand about the different kinds of DNA that can be tested, why you’d want to and inheritance paths, here’s a short article that explains.

You can always test yourself, but once other people have passed away, valuable, irreplaceable genetic information goes with them.

Any DNA information that you can recover from earlier generations is genetic gold.

Who do you have to test?

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Family Tree DNA Dashboard Gets a New Skin

I signed into an account at FamilyTreeDNA and a surprise was waiting for me. FamilyTreeDNA molted and the dashboard on everyone’s personal page has a new look and feel.

New dashboard

Click to enlarge

The various tests along with results are at the right, and other information including updates, projects and badges are on the left.

New dashboard 2

Click to enlarge

Additional features, tests, tools and family trees are at the bottom.

New dashboard 3

Click to enlarge

Unfortunately, the tree is now at the very bottom – out of sight which means it will be more out of mind than it already is. We need more people to participate in trees, not fewer☹

But there are lots of improvements. Let’s step through each new feature and take a look.

Tutorial

At the very top of the page, under the gear setting at far right, you’ll see several options.

New dashboard tutorial.png

The first option is “View Tutorial” and that’s where I suggest that you start. The quick tutorial shows you how to rearrange your dashboard and how to add Quick Links – two new features.

Rearranging the Furniture

New dashboard rearrange.png

By clicking on “Rearrange Dashboard” you can move the test blocks around.

New dashboard move

Click to enlarge

When you click on “Rearrange,” the boxes appear with dotted lines around them and all you have to do is click on one and pull it where you want, then click to place and release it.

When finished, click on “Exit Rearrange.” This is easy and you can’t hurt anything, so experiment.

Previous Version

Don’t like the new dashboard at all, click on “View Previous Version,” but please don’t do that yet, because I think you’re going to like what comes next.

New dashboard previous.png

Quick Links

New dashboard quick links.png

At upper left, you can add up to 5 Quick Links, one at a time. These would be the functions you access the most.

New dashboard add quick links.png

Let’s see, what do I do most? That’s easy, Family Finder matches, then linking people in my family tree, then Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA matches, then the Big Y Block Tree.

New dashboard quick links 5

Click to enlarge

Now all I have to do is click on one of these links.

Format Changes

Now, all tools are shown full size on the product tabs. Previously, Advanced Matching, the Matrix and the Data Download were located in small print beneath the feature tabs. They’ve been moved up with the rest where they are much more visible and easy to notice.

New dashboard format

Click to enlarge

The Learning Center is shown as well.

Upgrades

Another feature I like is that it’s easy to see at a glance what level of each test you’ve taken. In the upper right corner of each product where there are different levels, the tests you’ve taken are darkened. In the example above, the tester has taken all of the Y DNA tests. If he had not, the Big Y, for example, would be light gray, as illustrated below, and all he would have to do to order an upgrade is to click on the gray Big Y box.

Unfortunately, there’s nothing that says “Upgrade” and I’m concerned that clicked on the greyed out box is not intuitive.

One thing you can’t tell is whether or not you’ve taken the original Big Y, the Big Y-500 or the Big Y-700. Perhaps this change will be made soon, because people are upgrading from the Big Y and the Big Y-500 to the Big Y-700. There’s so much more to learn and the Big Y-700 results have branched many trees.

New dashboard upgrade.png

Tests you haven’t taken aren’t obvious unless you actually click on the shopping cart icon. While you can see tests that offer upgrades, such as the Y DNA, if the person hasn’t taken the Family Finder, it’s not obvious anyplace that this test is available for purchase.

I don’ t know about you, but I really WANT people to upgrade to Family Finder if they’ve taken Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA tests, or to Y DNA or mitochondrial DNA if they’ve taken the Family Finder test. I hope Family Tree DNA adds a visible upgrade button that lists available tests for each tester.

Partner Applications

If you click on Partner Applications, you’ll see Geni. Some people mistakenly think that if you connect with Geni, that somehow feeds your tree at Family Tree DNA. To be very clear, IT DOES NOT. You can connect to Geni, but you still need to either build a tree or upload a Gedcom file to Family Tree DNA.

New dashboard partner apps.png

Public Haplotrees

At the bottom of everyone’s pages, you’ll find Public Haplotrees.

New dashboard public haplotrees.png

Clicking on this link takes you to the wonderful Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA haplotrees, complete with country flags and reports.

New dashboard Y haplotree.png

I wrote about how to use the public Y tree here and the public mitochondrial tree here.

MyFamilyTree

You can access your own tree either at the top of the page, or now at the bottom.

New dashboard myTree.png

New dashboard myTree 2

Click to enlarge

I would like to see the tree icon moved to the top where everyone sees it, since trees are integral and important to all three kinds of DNA tests. Everyone needs trees.

Badges

The haplogroup designations, along with any other badges, are much more visible now, shown on the left-hand side of the page.

New dashboard badges.png

Furthermore, the badge says whether or not the testing has been sufficient to confirm the haplogroup, or if it is predicted.

Projects

Just above badges, we find myProjects. I love that the projects are now displayed in such a prominent place. I hope that people will think to join projects, or look to see what’s available now that it’s in the middle of the page and not just as a link in the top banner.

New dashboard projects.png

Clicking on the project name takes you to the public display.

You can also still access projects from the top as well.

New dashboard projects 2.png

Updates

Another aspect of the new interface that I like is myUpdates.

Found at the top left, just below Quick Links, this new communications box provides the latest information from Family Tree DNA to you.

For my account, I see the following:

New dashboard myUpdates.png

New surveys with this update are the Family Ancestry survey, the Y DNA survey and the mtDNA survey. Of course, I don’t have a Y DNA survey because as a female, I don’t have a Y chromsome.

I want to review the surveys in depth, so I’ll be writing an article very shortly – but in the mean time, you need to know that these answers ARE FINAL, meaning that once you submit them, you can never change them. Please be vigilant and accurate, because these surveys are important so that the resulting science is reliable for all customers.

Security and Privacy

On the previous version of the personal page, your personal information, genealogical questions, privacy and security were located just beneath your profile photo.

New dashboard old.png

Not so now. In fact, they are completely obscured in the down arrow under your name at far right, NOT in the gear showing beneath your name.

New dashboard gear.png

Intuitively, I looked under the gear, above, but that’s not the place. It’s another gear. The Account Settings gear that you see drop down by clicking on your name, shown below, is NOT the same gear as you’re seeing above.

New dashboard account settings.png

Yes, I know this is confusing at first, but it’s not when you realize that there are two separate gears and if one doesn’t show the option you’re looking for, just click on the other one.

Click on the “Account Settings” gear by first clicking on your name to access the following information:

  • Account Information: contact information, beneficiary, password
  • Genealogy: surnames, earliest known ancestors
  • Privacy and Sharing: profile, matching preferences, origins, family trees
  • Project Preferences: sharing and authorizations by project
  • Notification Preferences: e-mail notifications by test and for projects

I hope that things like the surnames and earliest known ancestors will be moved to a much more visible location with prompts for people to complete. It was hard enough before to encourage people to complete this information and now the option to access these tabs is entirely invisible.

The earliest known ancestor and surnames are critical to the matches maps, to the EKA (earliest known ancestor) fields in both the Y and mitochondrial DNA displays and to the surname matching for Family Finder matches. Having testers complete this information means a much more meaningful and productive experience for all testers.

These three functions, in particular, are too important to have “out of sight, out of mind.”

Project Administrators

If you are a project administrator or have written instructions for your family or groups of people about to how to manage pages, change account settings, or join projects – you need to review and update your documents.

Group Project Search

A new group project search function has been added at the bottom of the main Family Tree DNA page, if you are not signed in.

New dashboard group projects.png

You can access the page, here.

New dashboard search page.png

I’m not sure that a potential customer will understand that they are supposed to enter a surname to find a project – or the benefits of doing so. I hope this can be changed to add instructions to enter a surname or topic, and add wording to more closely reflect the search function on the main page.

However, most people will still access the surname search in the center of the main Family Tree DNA page where it does say “search surname.”

New dashboard surname search.png

I would also like to see an “ancestor search” added so that people can see if someone with their ancestors has already tested. This would encourage testing.

Summary

In summary, I like these features of the new dashboard:

  • I like the fact that the icons and features are all the same size in the space for that product – like advanced matching , the matrix and the learning center.
  • I like that the dashboard can be rearranged.
  • I like that the projects are showing clearly at left.
  • I like the new myUpdates section.
  • I like the Quick Links.
  • I like the larger, more noticeable badges that tell testers whether their haplogroup is predicted or confirmed. It might be nice to have a popup explaining how testers can confirm a predicted haplogroup and the associated benefits.
  • I like the fact that testers can see at a glance the level of their testing for each product, which also means they can quickly see if an upgrade is available.
  • I like the fact that this version is much more friendly towards handheld devices such as iPads and phones.

Improvements I recommend are:

  • Add the Account Settings back to the main page.
  • Move the trees from the bottom to the top to encourage user participation.
  • Add back the familiar blue upgrade button. People aren’t going to look in the shopping cart for a menu.
  • Add a feature at the top that shows clearly for the 3 main products, Y DNA, mitochondrial DNA and Family Finder if one of those 3 has not been ordered and is available for the tester to order.
  • Separate Big Y into Big YBig Y-500 and Big Y-700 buttons, providing Big Y and Big Y-500 testers with an upgrade avenue.
  • Add a popup at the top to encourage people to build a tree or upload a Gedcom file.
  • Add a popup at the top to encourage people to test other family members and to link testers in their tree so that they can enjoy phased matches assigned via matches to maternal and paternal family members.
  • Add a popup at the top to coach people to complete the various functions that enhance the user experience including:
    • Earliest Known Ancestor
    • Surnames
    • Matches Map information
    • Sharing
    • Joining projects

The new features are certainly welcome and a great start.

I hope these improvements are added quickly, because I fear that we lose opportunities every day when people don’t understand or don’t add information initially, then never sign in again.

We need to help testers and family members understand not only THAT they need to provide this information, or that they can upgrade their tests, but WHY that’s important and beneficial.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research

Native American & Minority Ancestors Identified Using DNAPainter Plus Ethnicity Segments

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

Reasons to be cautious about ethnicity estimates include:

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

Ethnicity states over Europe

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

Noise in this case is defined as:

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

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

On the Other Hand

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

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

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

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

beringia map

By Erika Tamm et al – Tamm E, Kivisild T, Reidla M, Metspalu M, Smith DG, et al. (2007) Beringian Standstill and Spread of Native American Founders. PLoS ONE 2(9): e829. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000829. Also available from PubMed Central., CC BY 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16975303

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

Family Inheritance

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

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

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

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

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

23andMe

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

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

Minority ethnicity ancestry composition.png

Scroll down until you see your painted chromosomes.

Minority ethnicity chromosome painting.png

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

Minority ethnicity Native.png

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

Versions May Differ

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

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

Minority ethnicity Native V4.png

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

Minority ethnicity sides.png

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

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

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

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

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

Downloading Ethnicity Segment Data

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

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

MInority ethnicity scientific details.png

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

Minority ethnicity download raw data.png

Save this spreadsheet to your computer in a known location.

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

Minority ethnicity download.png

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

DNAPainter

I wrote introductory articles about DNAPainter:

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

Go ahead – I’ll wait!

Getting Started

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

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

Minority ethnicity DNAPainter.png

Click on “Import 23andme ancestry composition.”

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

Minority ethnicity DNAPainter sides.png

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

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

MInority ethnicity DNAPainter Native painting

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minority ethnicity maternal side

Click to enlarge

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

Minority ethnicity chromosome 1.png

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

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

Minority ethnicity chromosome 2.png

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

Minority ethnicity common ancestor.png

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

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

Traditional Genealogy Research

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

Minority ethnicity Acadian map.png

The Acadians intermarried with the Mi’kmaq people.

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

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

Minority ethnicity Native mitochondrial tree

Click to enlarge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Segments, Traditional Research and DNAPainter

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Projects

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

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

Minority ethnicity project search.png

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

23andMe Maternal and Paternal Sides

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

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

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

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

Minority ethnicity minority segment.png

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

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

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

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

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

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

Minority ethnicity relative connections.png

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

Minority ethnicity relative minority segments.png

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

Minority ethnicity Native side.png

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

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

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

Minority ethnicity match side.png

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

Download All of Your Matches

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

Minority ethnicity download aggregate data.png

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

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

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

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

Paint Those Matches

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

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

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

To Paint, You Must Test

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

Transfers

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

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

Here’s a quick cheat sheet.

DNA vendor transfer cheat sheet 2019

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

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

Summary Steps

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

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

Have fun!

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James Moore (c1718-c1798), Westward to Amelia County, 52 Ancestors #249

James Moore was born between 1718 and 1721, but we don’t know where. I’ve deduced his age, because we find him noted as exempt from taxes in both 1788 and 1791 in Halifax County and continuously thereafter until he disappears from the list in 1797. The age at that time to become exempt from paying tax was age 70, so he was clearly born by 1721 and perhaps as early as 1718.

Amelia County, Virginia

Amelia County was formed from Prince George and Brunswick Counties in 1735 and in 1754, Prince Edward would be formed from Amelia County.

In the article, The Settlement of Prince Edward County by Herbert Bradshaw in volume 62, No.3, pages 448-471 of The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, we are told the following:

Two streams of settlers converged up on the territory which became Prince Edward County and met there. The first settlers came from eastern Virginia and their move into the upper part of Amelia County was the natural migration westward of a people seeking more and fresh land. They came from various sections of the eastern part of the colony, from south of the James to the Northern Neck. Some of the immigrants belonged to the movement into southern Virginia and northern North Carolina known as the Hanover Migration. The number of people who went out from Hanover and its neighboring counties during the four decades before the Revolution was almost phenomenal.

James Moore Hanover.png

The distance from Hanover County to Prince Edward County is about 80 miles – over a week by wagon.

James Moore Prince Edward.png

These settlers from eastern Virginia were largely of English stock. Jacob McGehee who came from King William (County)…was of Scotch descent. John Nash who moved from Henrico (County)…was from Wales.

The second major stream of migration consisted of Scotch-Irish settlers from Pennsylvania. These people who were Scottish in nationality had the Irish hyphenated as a result of a sojourn of approximately a century in Northern Ireland. They had been settled there by James I to repopulate a land desolated by the armies of Queen Elizabeth I. Many migrated to Pennsylvania where they settled on the frontier. Indian troubles made life precarious there, so many took again to the weary road and south to a haven in the “back parts” of Virginia.

About 1735 two Scotch-Irish settlements, both under the leadership of John Caldwell were made in southside Virginia, one on Cub Creek in Brunswick (now Charlotte) County and the other on Buffalo River in Amelia (now Prince Edward) County. The Scotch-Irish for the most part moved in companies and made their homes in a settlement and for the purposes of protection, social contact and religious worship.

Bradshaw goes on to mention by name the Scotch-Irish settlers, none of which are the surnames that are consistently associated with James Moore. Neither is the location of their settlement which was someplace in the region of Sandy Ford and Spring Creek, according to the road orders.

A third smaller group were the French Huguenots from Manakin in Goochland County. James Moore is not associated with those names either.

The 1740s in Amelia, eventually to become Prince Edward County, was defined by settlers opening land for cultivation, clearing roads, building homes and forming a community.

Moore’s Ordinary

Moore's Ordinary sign.jpg

Of course, innkeepers with licenses for ordinaries and taverns followed, with George Moore receiving permission to open an ordinary in 1748 known as “Moore’s Ordinary” in the town of present-day Meherrin, near the Meherrin River.

Today, a lonesome roadsign points the way to a sleepy, nearly deserted village that was once thriving.

Meherrin.jpg

The original Moore’s Ordinary was converted into a private home, then torn down years ago, with only a grainy picture remaining today. You’d never guess that this building, below, was the famous ordinary. Certainly, James Moore would have visited this building, as ordinaries weren’t just taverns, but community centers where all kinds of business was transacted.

Moore's Ordinary.jpg

A cemetery, mostly with unmarked graves, is all that’s left nearby now.

Moore's Ordinary Cemetery.jpg

For a long time, I believed George Moore was associated with our James Moore, but there is no direct evidence today to suggest such. There is, however, some amount of circumstantial evidence, but given the community interactions and intermarriages between the families, it’s impossible without either definitive documents or Y DNA tests to determine whether or not these men were actually related or simply associated.

For example. George Moore’s daughter married John Watkins who was the executor of the will of Joseph Rice, James Moore’s father-in-law. You can read a summary here.

If you are a Moore male, please, please take a Y DNA test and join the Moore Worldwide DNA Project at Family Tree DNA.

First Sighting of James Moore

Hanover County suffered extensive record loss during the Civil War, so early Hanover Records aren’t available, for the most part. I was not able to find any references to Moore families that would have been in the Hanover area concurrently with Joseph Rice. The Rice family is first found in New Kent County, Virginia where Joseph was born.

There is a James Moore born on November 13, 1718 in New Kent County to a father named James Moore, accoring to the St. Peter’s Parish Records. There are at least two James Moores in New Kent during this timeframe, because one dies on July 9, 1718 but another goes on to have more children. In 1729, James and Agnis Moore had son, Robert.  This couple is likely not our James Moore’s parents because the name Agnis is not found in the family and neither are other names of James and Agnis’s children, like Valentine. There is no William Moore, probable brother to James Moore, born during this time in New Kent.

Our first glimpse of James Moore in Amelia County might be in 1743, but I can’t tell if the James Moore on the tax list is our James or not.

In 1745, James Moore is working as on overseer on the plantation of the Randolph’s. The Randolph family owns an immense amount of land.

James was a young man, between 24 and 27 years old. He may have been married when he arrived in Amelia County, or he may have married after arriving there.

According to the tax list, James lived “above Sailor’s Creek” and according to the court records, was ordered along with several others to clear the road from Bush River Bridge to the Chapple.

A History of Dissent

According to the History of Prince Edward County, The Chapple was also known as Watkin’s Church, situated about eighteen miles from Prince Edward Court House (now the town of Worsham), on the Lynchburg Road. By 1760, a significant amount of religious dissent was occurring in Prince Edward County, in part because of the taxes levied to pay for the glebe land of 3 different Anglican Churches, and in part because the upper church at Sandy River had been involved in scandal, including selling liquor at and in church. Watkin’s Church was not Anglican.

Dissenters continues to increase, with some Anglican officials themselves converting. In 1779, it’s mentioned in the vestry notes that the Presbyterians, “were then riding the top of the wave in Prince Edward.”

In 1759, Joseph Rice was given permission to build a dissenting meeting house on his property, which had previously assumed to be Methodist, but there is no history of the Methodists in Prince Edward County at that time. It’s very likely that Joseph Rice was among the Presbyterian dissenters, even though his grandson, William Moore, would, by 1775 be a founding Methodist circuit riding minister.

Dissenting seems to be a family tradition.

Given that Joseph Rice is James Moore’s father-in-law, this informs us that James too was probably not Anglican and was a dissenter himself. This probably also explains why no marriage record exists for James Moore when he married Joseph Rice’s daughter. An Angican minister didn’t perform the ceremony and therefore no marriage return was filed. At this time, only Anglican ministers were authorized to perform marriages, legally.

James is mentioned on the 1745 road list along with Henry Ligon, William Ligon, Alexander Frazier, James Rutledge and Charles Cottrel.

James Moore Prince Edward creeks.png

On this map, Sailor, also spelled Saylor Creek is where the red arrows point, and Bush River is where the green arrows point. Both creeks dump into the Appomattox River to the north and are about 5 miles distant from each other, as the crow flies.

Sandy River, mentioned as an area heavy with dissenting families is the branch pointed to by the purple arrow.

Apparently, the Rice land on Sandy River reached to Little Saylor’s Creek, maybe two miles distant.

Apparently the Joseph Rice family was the hotbed of the Sandy River dissenters.

Is William Moore James Moore’s Brother?

The only hint of family that I can connect with James Moore is William Moore, also living above Sailor’s Creek in 1748 in close proximity to James Moore and adjacent the Rice family.

In 1752, William Craddock sold 148 acres of land to William Moore on a small branch of Sandy Creek adjacent the lines of both Matthew Rice and William Ligon, land patented to William Craddock on October 10, 1752.

Other transactions occur, but it’s difficult to identify those William Moores. There is a James Moore living in Amelia County who is not our James Moore, proven by Y DNA testing. That James Moore died in 1772, having son Anderson Moore who moved to Halifax County literally within a couple miles and across Mountain Road from our James Moore. That James Moore also had sons James and William Moore.

In 1754 William Moore became levy-free due to disability or age. We know he’s not a preacher nor a sheriff.

In 1762, William Ligon sells 970 acres to James Atwood of Amelia County on the south side of Sandy River bounded by William More, Matthew Rice and others.

In 1762 William is tithed with himself and also a William Jr, who is likely at that time 16-21, so born 1741-1745. Therefore William Moore Sr. is born 1720 or earlier, about the same time as James Moore.

In 1767, William Moore is taxed with 147 acres.

In 1774 William sells with wife Margaret 60 acres to Thomas Vaughan.

William disappears off of the tax lists in 1782.

In 1784 William, no wife named, sells 75 acres of land to Edmund D. Ford with John, Sarah and Sarah Moore as witnesses (yes, two separate Sarah’s). A John Moore sued Noel Waddell for debt, so this John may be connected to this William. These transactions leave 13 acres unaccounted for.

In 1810, there is a William W. Moor in Prince Edward Co. with 1 male 10-15, 1 male 16-25, female under 10, female 10-15, female 26-44 and 5 slaves. The only other Moore in the county is Molly, widow of George who died in 1798.

Even more interestingly, in 1885, a William H. Moore sells 13 acres of land on Briery Creek to Annie E. Dotson. That 13 acres makes up the full amount that William owned, although Briery Creek is a branch of Bush River, not Sandy Creek, so this could be a red herring.  If this is the same land, it also means that there may be Moores of that bloodline in Prince Edward County, or someone researching them. I could find no William Moore in the census for Prince Edward County from 1840-1880, but in 1880 there is a William L. Moore who is living with a family in Halifax County as their cousin. He was born in 1828.

In 1830 in Prince Edward County, one William Moore, age 40-50 (born 1780-1890) with 3 sons, age 5-20 and 3 daughters of the same age is living in Prince Edward County

I was unable to determine what actually happened to William Moore although I suspect given that he was born about 1720 that he probably died when he disappeared from the tax list in the 1780s.

James Moore named his oldest two sons James and William.

James Moore’s life in Amelia and Prince Edward Counties

James Moore married one of the daughters of Joseph Rice about 1745, as proven by Joseph Rice’s will in 1766. In Prince Edward County, James Moore lived on Sailor (Saylor) Creek adjacent both Joseph and Matthew Rice. Matthew Rice was the brother of Joseph Rice.

In 1746, the court records a trespass case with James Moore as plaintiff and Garrett Smith as defendant. Trespass at that time was different than today. Generally, trespass meant that two farmers were having a dispute regarding the planting of crops over the perceived property line.

The property tax list of 1746 appears to be in neighbor order with James’s “road” appearing to be George Lovall, Alex Frayser, Duglass Pickett, James More, James Rutledge and Thomas Rutledge, Charles Cottrell, John Waddill, Tho Certan and Wtopr. Certain, Richard Witt.

In 1747, although James Moore is not specifically listed, the Amelia County order book shows the following court order:

Joseph Rice, road to be cleared from the place Captain Walker’s old road crossed Sandy River by the nearest and best way to Bush River, the Parson, Thomas Turpin, John Holloway, Richard Witt, Michael Rice, John Waddell and their tithables to do the work.

William Womack, road from Great Sailor’s Creek into the road a little below Crawford’s house, with Thomas Certain, Abraham Vaughan, John Gentry, Jonthan Howell, William Brooks, Charles Spradling and their tithables and those at John Nash’s and Benjamin Runnins’ quarters to do the work.

We find the names of Womack and Spradling here and also as James Moore’s neighbors a few years later in Halifax County. Joseph Rice was James Moore’s father-in-law.

On July 25, 1748, a land sale occurred that may provide a much-needed clue about James Moore’s ancestry.

Abraham Womack of Raleigh Parish to James Moore of Raleigh Parish – July 25, 1748 – consideration 15# – 100 acres on Saylor’s Creek adjoining the lines of John Hall, William Womack and Abraham Womack, being the upper end of a larger tract patented to Abraham Womack on July 10, 1745. Witness Matthew Rice, Thomas Turpin, Thomas Nash and John Nash. Possession being obtained by James Moore on July 25, 1748. Deed ordered recorded Aug. 19, 1748 after Jane, wife of Abraham, relinquished dower.

Somehow, I match more than 30 Womack descendants who also match me and each other. Was Abraham Womack somehow related to James Moore?

In 1749, 1750 and 1751, James is noted as “above Sailor’s Creek.”

James Moore may be associated with a George and William Moore who also lived “above Sailors Creek”, although that may be happenstance. William Moore appeared “above Sailor Creek” on the tax list of 1748 and purchased land on Sandy Creek, abutting Matthew Rice in 1752. There is also a Peter Moore for only 1 year in 1748 in this same Sailor Creek area. George Moore’s land abuts the land of the Randolphs, but the Randolphs were large absentee landowners, so we have no way of knowing if this is really relevant.

In 1752, James Moore witnessed a land sale from Abraham Womack to William Womack.

Abraham Womack to William Womack June 23, 1752 for 15# – 100 acres on the upper side of Sailors Creek adjoining land of Benjamin Ruffin, James Moore and Charles Caython, being part of 400 acres patented to Abraham Womack on July 10, 1745.  Witness James (x) Moore, John (x) Haloway (also Holloway) and John Rice. Possession and deed ordered recorded June 25, 1752.

James also served on a jury and as a witness for Daniel Dejarnett who owed him for 7 days attendance at court.

In 1753, James is again taxed “above Sailor’s Creek.”

This portion of Amelia County became Prince Edward County in 1754.

In 1756, a heart-rending situation occurred as told in the History of Prince Edward County:

A dangerous situation developed in 1756 when a slave of William Womack after having been outlawed took refuge in quarters of John Stanton and defended himself with broadax and darts. He had tried to kill his master and neighbors tried to capture him alive. A group of Abraham Womack, Isham Womack, William Barry, James Moore and William Masters fought with the slave and shot him. He died of his wounds.

I can’t help but feel the terror that slave must have felt, 263 years later. I was unable to discern the meaning of “outlawed” in this context. Was this man evil, or simply desperate? We’ll never know the answer to that, or the backstory. I do know that neither James Moore nor his sons or father-in-law owned slaves.

In 1759, the location of James Moore’s property was more specific, noted on the tax list as between Ligon’s Rolling Road and Sailor’s Creek Old Road, Sailor’s Creek and Sandy River. The Ligon’s owned land on Sandy River and the Rolling Road would have been the road they rolled the tobacco hogsheads down to the Appomattox River. Threefore, the roads would run alongside the creeks and rivers north to the Appomattox.

Sandy River (red arrows) is the eastern branch of Bush River (left green arrow.) The right green arrows point to Sailor’s Creek and I’m guessing that the roads mentioned are between those rivers.

This map of Prince Edward County drawn during the Civil War shows an approximate location, including Rice’s Station.

James Moore confederate map.png

On February 4, 1760, Edith Cobbs of Amelia County sold 200 acres of land to Joseph Rice, land patented to John Ford. James Moore who signed with a mark, along with Noel Waddell and Jeay (Icay?) Rice were witnesses.

This deed states that it’s the other half of Ford’s original 400 acres and Joseph Rice had already purchased the other 200.

On February 20, 1760, James Moore of Prince Edward County sold 75 acres for 40 # to Noel Waddill on Sailors Creek, part of a tract that James purchased from Abraham Womack and bounded by Ryan, Matthew Rise (Rice), the Mill branch, signed by James Moore.  Witness Jacob Waddill, James Flowers, and Joseph Nunn.

Now if I only knew where the Mill Branch was located. Note on the map, above, Ellington’s Mill to the right of Rice’s Station.

Today, the town of Rice is Rice’s Station and the Mill Branch may be Ellington’s Mill.

James Moore Rice and mill branch.png

On March 1, 1760, Abraham Womack of St. Patrick Parish sold to James Moore 11 acres for 5# adjoining James Moore and the new line agreed on by Abraham and William Womack. Witnesses were Joseph and Icay Rice.

In September of 1760, in a court proceeding, John Nunn wanted to build a mill across Childress Creek and James Moore is one of several men making a judgement.

In April of 1761, Matthew Rice sold land to John Chapman on the Sandy River, bounded by Philip Ryon, Thomas Turpin and Matthew Rice, witnessed by James Moore who signed with an “M”.

On April 13th, the same day, Samuel Goode of Prince Edward County sold 330 acres of land to Charles Rice, on the upper side of Saylor’s Creek granted to the said Samuel by patent dated July 13, 1760 and bounded by Joseph Rice, Abraham Womack, the old line of Matthew Rice, William Barnes, Noel Waddil. Witnesses were Obadiah Claybrook, Matthew Rice, and James (M his mark) Moore.

This deed too may be very important.

James Moore named his son born about 1765 Mackness. That unusual name is associated with the Rowlett family in Prince Edward County, with one Mackness Rowlett born about 1741 being the son of John Rowlett who died in 1776 with a will. The name Mackness may well reach back in time to the marriage of one John Goode and Frances Mackarness. Samuel Goode is reported, but not verified to be their grandson.

James Moore didn’t just pick the name Mackness out of the sky. There had to be a reason for James or his wife to select Mackness. Probably the same or a similar reason that John Rowlett named his son Mackness in 1741.

In November 1761, James Moore witnessed a deed from John Maynard to William Spicer for land on the lower side of Sailor’s Creek.

A year later, on December 13, 1762, Henry Barksdale sold 25 acres to Noel Waddell on both sides of Great Sailor’s Creek bounded by a road in James Moore’s line and also mentions Joseph Nunn. Witnesses were James (M) Moore, Phil Holcombe and Grimes Holcombe.

Between this information and the tax lists, it looks like James Moore owned land on a road on the north side of Sailor’s Creek, and probably adjacent to the Creek.

In February 1764, Noel Waddell sells to Francis Anderson of Amelia County, 250 acres and 203 acres on the lower side of Great Sailor’s Creek patented July 10, 1755. John Stanton bought it from Abraham Womack “once owned” it and James (M) Moore witnessed again.

By this time, James Moore is more than 40 years old, possibly as old as 47. He owns a total of 36 acres of land. He has probably been married for 25 years or so, which makes the next item particularly significant and perhaps a turning point in his life.

Joseph Rice Dies

In 1766, James Moore’s father-in-law, Joseph Rice died, with a will that is recorded in the Prince Edward County Will book 1, page 80. Bless his heart!

In the name of God Amen I Joseph Rice of Prince Edward County being indisposed in body but of perfect mind and memory praised be to God for the same do make and constitute and ordain this and none other to be my last will and testament in manner and form following.

To my son-in-law James Moore 100 acres land whereon he now lives to be divided from the tract I live on by a line that was run by Robert Farguson to him and his heirs forever.

To my well beloved son John Rice 100 acres of land joyning the aforesaid 100 of Moores and also divided by the said Fargusons line and the tract whereon I now live to him and his heirs forever.

To my well beloved son William Rice the East part of the tract of land I now live on to be divided beginning on a line run by Robert Farguson on my Spring Branch…containing 100 acres more or less to him and his heirs forever.

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

To my well beloved son David Rice 133 acres of land whereon he now lives to him and his heirs forever

To my well beloved son Joseph Rice 133 acres of land whereon he now lives to him and his heirs forever.

To my well beloved sons John, William and Charles as they become of age 21 each a feather bed and furniture and one cow and calf to them and their heirs forever if the estate can afford it.

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

Well beloved wife Rachel remainder of personal estate during her natural life.

Sons John, William and Charles after decease of wife, 7 # current money of Virginia.

Rest of estate divided equally after decease of wife. Wife Rachel and David Rice and John Watkins executors.  December 1765.

Signed with mark (long I with 3 crossmarks) witness John Watkins, William Womack, Charles Rice – Probated June 16, 1766.

This will tells us that in addition to the 36 acres that James Moore owns, he has been living on and farming 100 acres of his father-in-law’s land. Now James owns a total of 136 acres.

His land also abuts the Farguson land, another name we’ll see in Halifax County living adjacent James Moore.

The Problem with the Will

The problem with the will is that James Moore’s wife is named Mary according to later deeds in Halifax County. However, in Joseph Rice’s will, he specifically says that James Moore is his son-in-law, and he mentions his daughter Mary separately with the Rice surname, giving the impression that Mary Rice is not married.

  • Did James Moore marry two of Joseph’s daughters? First, an unnamed daughter, and eventually, Mary Rice?
  • Did James Moore marry one of Joseph Rice’s daughters who died after 1766, and James Moore remarried to a Mary, last name unknown, before his wife’s name appears in Halifax County records a few years later?
  • Is it possible that Joseph Rice’s daughter that was married to James Moore had already died before Joseph died? If that were the case, I’d presume that the land would have been left to James Moore’s children, not James himself.

We know from various records and sources (including DNA matches) that indeed, this James Moore is the James Moore that was Joseph Rice’s son-in-law, but why did Joseph refer to his daughter as Mary Rice if she was married to James Moore who had been mentioned previously in the will?

James Moore had a son named Rice Moore, born about 1762 – so the evidence is compelling that indeed James was married to one of Joseph Rice’s daughters.

James Moore’s daughter, Lydia Moore, born about 1746 married Edward Henderson and named a son Rice Henderson, so clearly Lydia’s mother was a Rice.

In 1767, on the tax list, James Moore is listed with 136 acres of land, two tithes, one of which is James Moore Jr. This means that James Jr. is over the age of 16 and possibly over the age of 21, so was born before 1750.

In 1769, James Moore is on the tax list again, with James Moore Junior and also with Charles Henderson living with him. It’s unclear exactly who Charles was, or why he was living with James Moore.

What’s Next?

James is nearing 50 years of age, the half century mark. You’d think he’d be interested in farming his land and maybe beginning to relax a little. By this time, he had grandchildren to enjoy. Perhaps his wife wanted to help care for her mother.

However, that’s not at all what happened. By 1770, James Moore and family had packed up everything they owned into a wagon, sold their land in Prince Edward County and migrated with a community once again. This time, to what is now the Vernon Hill/Oak Level area of western Halifax County where he settled among the Spradlings, Womacks and Fargusons.

The curtain drops on Act 1 of James Moore’s life, a half-century in the making. What will Act 2 bring?

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Exciting New Y DNA Haplogroup D Discoveries!

Haplogroup D is a very old branch of Y-DNA that has remained rather mysterious. It has been uncertain where haplogroup D was born – in Africa, Asia or elsewhere – and when. It’s always fascinating when new research sheds light on the early history of humanity – discovered through people living and testing today.

In the current issue of Genetics, the article A Rare Deep-Rooting African Y-chromosomal Haplogroup and its Implications for the Expansion of Modern Humans Out of Africa by Haber et al appeared.

Their abstract:

Present-day humans outside Africa descend mainly from a single expansion out ∼50,000-70,000 years ago, but many details of this expansion remain unclear, including the history of the male-specific Y chromosome at this time. Here, we re-investigate a rare deep-rooting African Y-chromosomal lineage by sequencing the whole genomes of three Nigerian men described in 2003 as carrying haplogroup DE* Y-chromosomes, and analyzing them in the context of a calibrated worldwide Y-chromosomal phylogeny. We confirm that these three chromosomes do represent a deep-rooting DE lineage, branching close to the DE bifurcation, but place them on the D branch as an outgroup to all other known D chromosomes, and designate the new lineage D0. We consider three models for the expansion of Y lineages out of Africa ∼50,000-100,000 years ago, incorporating migration back to Africa where necessary to explain present-day Y-lineage distributions. Considering both the Y-chromosomal phylogenetic structure incorporating the D0 lineage, and published evidence for modern humans outside Africa, the most favored model involves an origin of the DE lineage within Africa with D0 and E remaining there, and migration out of the three lineages (C, D and FT) that now form the vast majority of non-African Y chromosomes. The exit took place 50,300-81,000 years ago (latest date for FT lineage expansion outside Africa – earliest date for the D/D0 lineage split inside Africa), and most likely 50,300-59,400 years ago (considering Neanderthal admixture).

Haplogroup DE was and is very rare. Because of its rarity, and that it had initially been reported in one man from Guinea-Bissau in West Africa and two Tibetans, it was unclear where DE originated, or when.

This new paper sequenced three men from Africa and five from Tibet.

D Splits

The result of the paper is that the authors confirm that the DE lineage split consists of three branches:

  • E which is “mainly African” which we’ve known for a long time
  • D0 which is exclusively African with the 3 Nigerian samples being within 2500 years of each other
  • D which is exclusively non-African

To calibrate the branch length between any two samples when calculating split times, the authors multiplied the number of derived variants (mutations) found in the first sample but absent from the record, meaning previously unknown.

In supplementary table S2, they recalculate the splits between the various haplogroups. I found the table confusing to read, so I reached out to Goran Runfeldt who heads the scientific research team at Family Tree DNA to make this simpler.

I knew from previous discussions with the team that they had split the haplogroup D line internally to reflect a new branch at the time they named D-FT75 and subsequently D-FT76, and they were waiting for verification from multiple tests before splitting the line further.

Haplogroup D root and split

On the Family Tree DNA block tree, above, you can see the D split between D-F974 which is the main haplogroup D root (navy blue) which then splits into D-M174 which is the old line referred to as Haplogroup D, and the new D0/D2/D-FT75 lineage, both in lighter blue. You can see the public tree, here.

Goran explained that Family Tree DNA has actually found multiple lineages in what the authors call D0, which ISOGG calls D2 and Family Tree DNA refers to by the defining SNP as D-FT75.

If you’re like me, looking at this information in pedigree format is easier to comprehend.

I asked Goran and Big Y haplotree guru, Michael Sager if they could create something easy to understand. You can see them working together in this photo. Thanks guys!

Goran Runfeldt and Michael Sager

The Haplogroup D Tree

Note that the following graphic is NOT TO TIME SCALE. Currently tested, unplaced and and pending samples are at the bottom.

Haplogroup D Family Tree DNA diagram

In the chart above, haplogroups in red at the top are the base haplogroups, not refined by the paper. Green is the already known upper structure of haplogroup D. Tan is the haplogroup D structure being refined by Family Tree DNA. The blue group is the Nigerian structure from the paper.

Divergence times as quoted in the paper are noted. For example, the time between the split between CT and BT, according to the paper, is approximately 101.1 thousand years ago. (kya means thousands of years ago)

How the D-FT75 Branch was Discovered

At the end of 2018, Family Tree DNA published the first SNPs from the new haplogroup D lineage to the ISOGG SNP index. During 2019, additional SNPs have been added, including the new haplogroup D lines of D-FT75 and D-FT76.

I asked Michael Sager how he made that discovery.

When a customer purchases an STR test, if Family Tree DNA cannot reliably predict a haplogroup, they will run a backbone test, at no additional charge to the customer, to test enough SNPs to at least call a base level haplogroup, such as R-M269.

In this case, Family Tree DNA ran a backbone test on a customer’s Y DNA and the result came back as something Michael had never seen before – haplogroup CT, but no subgroup. As you’ve already noticed, haplogroup CT is far up the tree and Michael needed more information.

Michael said that he knew the only possible options were:

  • CT* – where star means there is no subgroup. An individual with no CT subgroup has never been found, to date
  • A lineage that breaks CT into a further haplogroup
  • Haplogroup DE*
  • A lineage that breaks haplogroup DE into further branches
  • A lineage that breaks haplogroup D into further branches
  • A lineage that breaks haplogroup E into further branches

After the backbone results were returned, Family Tree DNA contacted the customer and asked permission to run a Big Y test. The result was the discovery and naming of D-FT75 and D-FT76 which split D, twice, into new subgroups.

Further testing has verified the haplogroup D-FT76 finding in another Saudi Arabian male. Two additional haplogroup D males have results pending – one from Syria and one from another part of the world.

We now know that indeed the new branch of D, D0/D2/D-F75 has been found outside Africa, specifically in Saudi Arabia. It’s possible that there are more than two distinct lineages. We’ll know more as pending results come back from the lab.

However, what can be added is that according to the paper, the age of haplogroup D to the Nigerian samples is 71,400 years. The Family Tree DNA calculations based on the total number of 702 SNPs at 100 years per SNP suggest that the age is 70,200, which is very close to the 71,400 age in the paper. Additionally, because of the haplogroup FT75 and FT76 split, we can estimate the age of the divergence of those two lines with 261 SNPs between them at between 26,000 and 26,500 years, using these two calculation methods.

To quote Michael Sager, it’s “pretty neat to find a 20,000+-year-old NEW branch off of a 70,000+-year-old NEW branch.” I’d certainly agree!

Family Tree DNA would also like to place the Nigerian samples precisely on the tree.

In the supplemental data, the paper provided a list of the HG19 SNPs that are positive, including the positions for both D-FT75 and D-FT76, but did not list the SNPs that were negative. In order for Family Tree DNA to assign the Nigerian samples from the paper precisely to a branch, they need the BAM file because they need to see positive, negative and no-call SNPs. Family Tree DNA would also need to convert the results from build HG19, used by the authors, to current HG38.

What About You?

If you’re a male and have taken a Y STR test, meaning the 12, 25, 37, 67 or 111 marker test and you do not have a predicted haplogroup, please contact support at Family Tree DNA.

The best thing you can do, if you haven’t Y DNA tested, is to actually take a Y DNA test at Family Tree DNA. You can start out with the STR marker test which provides you with STR marker results, matching to other males and a haplogroup prediction.

Many individuals also purchase the Big Y-700 test which provides a very granular haplogroup – the most detailed possible, matching and at least 700 STR marker results – in addition to revealing never before discovered SNPs. Without the Big Y test, D-FT75 and D-FT76 and most of the 150,000 Y SNPs would not yet be discovered. This is the only test that can make new discoveries like this.

To summarize, you can be a part of scientific discovery if you’re a male (only males have Y chromosomes) by either:

  • Testing your Y DNA by taking a 37, 67 or 111 marker test
  • Ordering or upgrading to the Big Y-700 test

You can click here to order or upgrade.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

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DNA Testing the Recently Deceased

No one really want to think about this, but it happens.

You’ve always meant to DNA test someone, and they’ve agreed, but either you didn’t order the kit, or the kit is far away from where they passed away.

What can you do?

Take heart, all is not lost. You have two options.

Swabbing the dead

Swabbing the Deceased

Some funeral homes work with companies for DNA preservation and other services, but these services do not provide you with genealogy results from any of the major vendors and are processed by the lab associated with the company whose kit the funeral home is selling.

For genealogy, you have two options.

  1. Call Family Tree DNA (713-868-1438 9-5 CST) and have them overnight you a swab kit. The funeral director can swab the inside of their cheek and generally, funeral directors do a great job. You may want to ask for extra vials to be included in the overnight package, just in case. This is your last (and only) chance.
  2. If you don’t have time or aren’t in a location where you can receive an overnight delivery, purchase an Identigene paternity test kit at any CVS or similar drugstore. That kit will cost you about $27 for the kit alone, but the kit contains sterile swabs and a sterile pouch for inserting the swabs after swabbing the inside of the cheek. DO NOT SEND THE SWABS TO IDENTIGENE. Instead, call Family Tree DNA and explain that you are sending the Identigene swabs to their lab for processing. They will provide you with instructions and you must obtain approval before sending non-standard swabs for processing.

Caveats and Alternatives

  • Cheek swabbing must occur before embalming because embalming fluid interferes with DNA processing, per Dr. Connie Bormans, lab director at GenebyGene.
  • Per my friendly mortician, if you’re desperate and embalming has occurred, another area where some have achieved swabbing success is the crease behind the ear lobe where skin cells tend to become trapped if the body has not already been cleaned in that area. At this point, you have nothing to lose by trying.
  • Please note that sometimes “overnight” is not actually overnight. I attempted to overnight something across the Memorial Day weekend and “overnight” in that case was actually Friday to Tuesday for all carriers. If you are in a pickle, be aware of delivery constraints surrounding weekends, holidays and perhaps a very remote location.

Ordering

After the kit is returned to Family Tree DNA for processing, you can order the regular suite of tests. I would suggest that you order all the tests you actually want initially, because the quantity and/or quality of the DNA sample may be questionable.

In other words, later upgrades may not be successful. I had that situation occur with my aunt’s mitochondrial DNA test results. The initial mtPlus test was successful, but her sample could not be upgraded to either the mitochondrial full sequence or Family Finder.

Three Data Bases in One Test

While you can’t obtain a spit sample from a deceased person for other autosomal tests, you can transfer the person’s autosomal DNA results to both GedMatch and MyHeritage for additional matching after processing.

Hopefully you’ll never find yourself in this difficult situation, but if you do, you have options.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

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Genographic Project Prepares to Shut Down Consumer Data Base

Today, on the National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project page, we find this announcement:

Genographic end

This is a sad day indeed.

  • Effective May 31, 2019, you can no longer purchase Genographic kits.
  • If you currently have an unsubmitted kit, you may still be able to submit it for processing. See this link for more information about your specific kit.
  • The Genographic website will be taken down December. 31, 2020. Your results will be available for viewing until then, but not after that date.
  • Data will be maintained internally by the Genographic project for scientific analysis, but will not be otherwise available to consumers. Miguel Vilar with the Genographic Project assures me that the underlying scientific research will continue.

Please Transfer Your DNA Results

The original Genographic project had two primary goals. The first being to obtain your own results, and the second being to participate in research.

If you are one of the 997,222 people in 140 countries around the world who tested, you may be able to transfer your results.

Depending on which version of the Genographic test you’ve taken, you can still preserve at least some of the benefit, for yourself and to scientific research.

Family Tree DNA Genographic transfer

Note that only Y and mitochondrial DNA results can be transferred, because that’s all that was tested. How much information can be transferred is a function of which level test you initially took, meaning the version 1 or version 2 test.

According to the Family Tree DNA Learning Center, people who transfer their results also qualify for a $39 Family Finder kit, which is the lowest price I’ve ever seen anyplace for an autosomal DNA test.

  • If you tested within the US in November 2016 or after, you tested on the Helix platform and your results cannot be transferred to Family Tree DNA.

If you have already tested your Y (males only) and mitochondrial DNA at Family Tree DNA, there is no need to transfer Genographic data. Family Tree DNA information will be more complete.

Salvage as Much as Possible

As a National Geographic Society Genographic Project Affiliate Researcher and long-time supporter, I’m utterly heartsick to see this day.

Please transfer what you can to salvage as much as possible. We already lost the Sorenson data base, Ancestry’s Y and mitochondrial DNA data base along with YSearch and MitoSearch. How much Y and mitochondrial DNA information, critical to genealogists and the history of humanity, has been lost forever?

Let’s not lose the Genographic Project information too. Please salvage as much as possible by transferring – and spread the word.

Please feel free to repost or preprint this article.

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Disclosure

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

Thank you so much.

DNA Purchases and Free Transfers

Genealogy Services

Genealogy Research