Jessica Biel – A Follow-up: DNA, Native Heritage and Lies

Jessica Biel’s episode aired on Who Do You Think You Are on Sunday, April 2nd. I wanted to write a follow-up article since I couldn’t reveal Jessica’s Native results before the show aired.

The first family story about Jessica’s Biel line being German proved to be erroneous. In total, Jessica had three family stories she wanted to follow, so the second family legend Jessica set out to research was her Native American heritage.

I was very pleased to see a DNA test involved, but I was dismayed that the impression was left with the viewing audience that the ethnicity results disproved Jessica’s Native heritage. They didn’t.

Jessica’s Ethnicity Reveal

Jessica was excited about her DNA test and opened her results during the episode to view her ethnicity percentages.

Courtesy TLC

The locations shown below and the percentages, above, show no Native ethnicity.

Courtesy TLC

Jessica was understandably disappointed to discover that her DNA did not reflect any Native heritage – conflicting with her family story. I feel for you Jessica.  Been there, done that.

Courtesy TLC

Jessica had the same reaction of many of us. “Lies, lies,” she said, in frustration.

Well Jessica, maybe not.

Let’s talk about Jessica’s DNA results.

Native or Lies?

I’ve written about the challenges with ethnicity testing repeatedly. At the end of this article, I’ll provide a reading resource list.

Right now, I want to talk about the misperception that because Jessica’s DNA ethnicity results showed no Native, that her family story about Native heritage is false. Even worse, Jessica perceived those stories to be lies. Ouch, that’s painful.

In my world view, a lie is an intentional misrepresentation of the truth. Let’s say that Jessica really didn’t have Native heritage. That doesn’t mean someone intentionally lied. People might have been confused. Maybe they made assumptions. Sometimes facts are misremembered or misquoted. I always give my ancestors the benefit of the doubt unless there is direct evidence of an intentional lie. And if then, I would like to try to understand what prompted that behavior. For example, discrimination encouraged many people of mixed ethnicity to “pass” for white as soon as possible.

That’s certainly a forgivable “lie.”

Ok, Back to DNA

Autosomal DNA testing can only reliably pick up to about the 1% level of minority DNA admixture successfully – minority meaning a small amount relative to your overall ancestry.

Everyone inherits DNA from ancestors differently, in different amounts, in each generation. Remember, you receive half of your DNA from each parent, but which half of their DNA you receive is random. That holds true for every generation between the ancestor in question and Jessica today.  Ultimately, more or less than 50% of any ancestor’s DNA can be passed in any generation.

However, if Jessica inherited the average amount of DNA from each generation, being 50% of the DNA from the ancestor that the parent had, the following chart would represent the amount of DNA Jessica carried from each ancestor in each generation.

This chart shows the amount of DNA of each ancestor, by generation, that an individual testing today can expect to inherit, if they inherit exactly 50% of that ancestor’s DNA from the previous generation. That’s not exactly how it works, as we’ll see in a minute, because sometimes you inherit more or less than 50% of a particular ancestor’s DNA.

Utilizing this chart, in the 4th generation, Jessica has 16 ancestors, all great-great-grandparents. On average, she can expect to inherit 6.25% of the DNA of each of those ancestors.

In the rightmost column, I’ve shown Jessica’s relationship to her Jewish great-great-grandparents, shown in the episode, Morris and Ottilia Biel.

Jessica has two great-great-grandparents who are both Jewish, so the amount of Jewish DNA that Jessica would be expected to carry would be 6.25% times two, or 12.50%. But that’s not how much Jewish DNA Jessica received, according to Ancestry’s ethnicity estimates. Jessica received only 8% Jewish ethnicity, 36% less than average for having two Jewish great-great-grandparents.

Courtesy TLC

Now we know that Jessica carries less Jewish DNA that we would expect based on her proven genealogy.  That’s the nature of random recombination and how autosomal DNA works.

Now let’s look at the oral history of Jessica’s Native heritage.

Native Heritage

The intro didn’t tell us much about Jessica’s Native heritage, except that it was on her mother’s mother’s side. We also know that the fully Native ancestor wasn’t her mother or grandmother, because those are the two women who were discussing which potential tribe the ancestor was affiliated with.

We can also safely say that it also wasn’t Jessica’s great-grandmother, because if her great-grandmother had been a member of any tribe, her grandmother would have known that. I’d also wager that it wasn’t Jessica’s great-great-grandmother either, because most people would know if their grandmother was a tribal member, and Jessica’s grandmother didn’t know that. Barring a young death, most people know their grandmother. Utilizing this logic, we can probably safely say that Jessica’s Native ancestor was not found in the preceding 4 generations, as shown on the chart below.

On this expanded chart, I’ve included the estimated birth year of the ancestor in that particular generation, using 25 years as the average generation length.

If we use the logic that the fully Native ancestor was not between Jessica and her great-great-grandmother, that takes us back through an ancestor born in about 1882.

The next 2 generations back in time would have been born in 1857 and 1832, respectively, and both of those generations would have been reflected as Indian on the 1850 and/or 1860 census. Apparently, they weren’t or the genealogists working on the program would have picked up on that easy tip.

If Jessica’s Native ancestor was born in the 7th generation, in about 1807, and lived to the 1850 census, they would have been recorded in that census as Native at about 43 years of age. Now, it’s certainly possible that Jessica had a Native ancestor that might have been born about 1807 and didn’t live until the 1850 census, and whose half-Native children were not enumerated as Indian.

So, let’s go with that scenario for a minute.

If that was the case, the 7th generation born in 1807 contributed approximately 0.78% DNA to Jessica, IF Jessica inherited 50% in each generation. At 0.78%, that’s below the 1% level. Small amounts of trace DNA are reported as <1%, but at some point the amount is too miniscule to pick up or may have washed out entirely.

Let’s add to that scenario. Let’s say that Jessica’s ancestor in the 7th generation was already admixed with some European. Traders were well known to marry into tribes. If Jessica’s “Native” ancestor in the 7th generation was already admixed, that means Jessica today would carry even less than 0.78%.

You can easily see why this heritage, if it exists, might not show up in Jessica’s DNA results.

No Native DNA Does NOT Equal No Native Heritage

However, the fact that Jessica’s DNA ethnicity results don’t indicate Native American DNA doesn’t necessarily mean that Jessica doesn’t have a Native ancestor.

It might mean that Jessica doesn’t have a Native ancestor. But it might also mean that Jessica’s DNA can’t reliably disclose or identify Native ancestry that far back in time – both because of the genetic distance and also because Jessica may not have inherited exactly half of her ancestor’s Native DNA. Jessica’s 8% Jewish DNA is the perfect example of the variance in how DNA is actually passed versus the 50% average per generation that we have to utilize when calculating expected estimates.

Furthermore, keep in mind that all ethnicity tools are imprecise.  It’s a new field and the reference panels, especially for Native heritage, are not as robust as other groups.

Does Jessica Have Native Heritage?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but here’s what I do know.

  • You can’t conclude that because the ethnicity portion of a DNA test doesn’t show Native ancestry that there isn’t any.
  • You can probably say that any fully Native ancestor is not with in the past 6 generations, give or take a generation or so.
  • You can probably say that any Native ancestor is probably prior to 1825 or so.
  • You can look at the census records to confirm or eliminate Native ancestors in many or most lines within the past 6 or 7 generations.
  • You can utilize geographic location to potentially eliminate some ancestors from being Native, especially if you have a potential tribal affiliation. Let’s face it, Cherokees are not found in Maine, for example.
  • You can potentially utilize Y and mitochondrial DNA to reach further back in time, beyond what autosomal DNA can tell you.
  • If autosomal DNA does indicate Native heritage, you can utilize traditional genealogy research in combination with both Y and mitochondrial DNA to prove which line or lines the Native heritage came from.

Mitochondrial and Y DNA Testing

While autosomal DNA is constrained to 5 or 6 generations reasonably, Y and mitochondrial DNA is not.

Of course, Ancestry, who sponsors the Who Do You Think You Are series, doesn’t sell Y or mitochondrial DNA tests, so they certainly aren’t going to introduce that topic.

Y and mitochondrial DNA tests reach back time without the constraint of generations, because neither Y nor mitochondrial DNA are admixed with the other parent.

The Y DNA follows the direct paternal line for males, and mitochondrial DNA follows the direct matrilineal line for both males and females.

In the Concepts – Who To Test article, I discussed all three types of testing and who one can test to discover their heritage, through haplogroups, of each family line.  Every single one of your ancestors carried and had the opportunity to pass on either Y or mitochondrial DNA to their descendants.  Males pass the Y chromosome to male children, only, and females pass mitochondrial DNA to both genders of their children, but only females pass it on.

I don’t want to repeat myself about who carries which kind of DNA, but I do want to say that in Jessica’s case, based on what is known about her family, she could probably narrow the source of the potential Native ancestor significantly.

In the above example, if Jessica is the daughter – let’s say that we think the Native ancestor was the mother of the maternal great-grandmother. She is the furthest right on the chart, above. The pink coloring indicates that the pink maternal great grandmother carries the mitochondrial DNA and passed it on to the maternal grandmother who passed it to the mother who passed it to both Jessica and her siblings.

Therefore, Jessica or her mother, either one, could take a mitochondrial DNA test to see if there is deeper Native ancestry than an autosomal test can reveal.

When Y and mitochondrial DNA is tested, a haplogroup is assigned, and Native American haplogroups fall into subgroups of Y haplogroups C and Q, and subgroups of mitochondrial haplogroups A, B, C, D, X and probably M.

With a bit of genealogy work and then DNA testing the appropriate descendants of Jessica’s ancestors, she might still be able to discern whether or not she has Native heritage. All is not lost and Jessica’s Native ancestry has NOT been disproven – even though that’s certainly the impression left with viewers.

Y and Mitochondrial DNA Tests

If you’d like to order a Y or mitochondrial DNA test, I’d recommend the Full Mitochondrial Sequence test or the 37 marker Y DNA test, to begin with. You will receive a full haplogroup designation from the mitochondrial test, plus matching and other tools, and a haplogroup estimate with the Y DNA test, plus matching and other tools.

You can click here to order the mitochondrial DNA, the Y DNA or the Family Finder test which includes ethnicity estimates from Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA is the only DNA testing company that performs the Y and mitochondrial DNA tests.

Further Reading:

If you’d like to read more about ethnicity estimates, I’d specifically recommend “DNA Ethnicity Testing – A Conundrum.

If you’d like more information on how to figure out what your ethnicity estimates should be, I’d recommend Concepts – Calculating Ethnicity Percentages.

You can also search on the word “ethnicity” in the search box in the upper right hand corner of the main page of this blog.

If you’d like to read more about Native American heritage and DNA testing, I’d  recommend the following articles. You can also search for “Native” in the search box as well.

How Much Indian Do I Have In Me?

Proving Native American Ancestry Using DNA

Finding Your American Indian Tribe Using DNA

Native American Mitochondrial Haplogroups

Concepts – “Who To Test?” Series

I often receive questions about who to test to obtain (discover) the Y or mitochondrial DNA of a particular ancestor in one’s tree. The question often arises when people are attempting to find either Y or mitochondrial DNA to confirm that an ancestor descends from or belongs to a particular population.

For example, “My great-great-grandmother was supposed to be Cherokee.  How can I tell if she was?”

The answer would be that if she was Cherokee on her mother’s direct maternal side, testing the mitochondrial DNA of specific descendants would yield the answer.

Regardless of origins, the concept and techniques apply to everyone. People of Native American, African, Jewish, European and Asian heritage carry specific haplogroups and match people who have similar roots.

You may want to read this short article, 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy to understand the difference between Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA, what testing can tell you, and how they can help your genetic genealogy.

At a very basic level:

  • Y DNA testing tests the direct paternal (typically surname) line only, for males only. The Y chromosome is only passed from fathers to sons, so it is not divided nor mixed with the mother’s DNA. Females don’t have a Y chromosome, which is why they can’t test.
  • Mitochondrial DNA testing tests the direct matrilineal line only, for everyone, males and females both. The mitochondria is passed from mothers to all of her children, but is only passed on by females. It is not mixed with the father’s DNA, so it is not divided during the inheritance process.
  • Autosomal DNA testing tests all of your DNA, providing cousin matches and ethnicity estimates – but does not provide you with specifics about any individual line. You inherit half the autosomal DNA of each of your parents, so ancestral DNA diminishes by half in each generation. Autosomal testing is a great overview of all of your DNA lineages, but can’t tell you where any particular line comes from.

Testing the appropriate descendants of each ancestor allows us to build a DNA pedigree chart in order to determine the proven, specific heritage and origins of each individual line.

Here’s what my DNA Pedigree Chart looks like through my 8 great-grandparents where I’ve successfully obtained the Y and mitochondrial DNA of their descendants. Y and mitochondrial DNA, of course, has special properties and reaches back hundreds and thousands of years in time, because the Y and mitochondrial DNA is not diluted by the DNA of the other parent during inheritance.

I’ve converted the relationships in my pedigree chart above to an Ancestor Pedigree Chart, below, because we will be working with each individual and adding lines for other family members as we determine who we can test. You can click to enlarge the image.

In the Ancestor Pedigree Chart, shown above, there are 16 different people who all carry mitochondrial DNA, representing 8 different mitochondrial lines. Mitochondrial contributors, all women, shown in pink both carry and contribute mitochondrial DNA. Mothers contribute their mitochondrial DNA to the males, shown by pink hearts, but the men don’t pass it on. The daughters pass their mitochondrial DNA to all of their children.

There are 8 people, shown in blue, who carry and contribute Y DNA, representing 4 different Y lines.

Each mitochondrial and Y line of DNA has a story to tell that can’t be told any other way. Autosomal DNA does not provide specific information about the genesis or ethnicity of any particular line, but Y and mtDNA does. If you want to know specifically where, what part of the world, or what clan that particular ancestor descended from, Y and mitochondrial DNA may tell you.

The question becomes, who can be tested that is living today to obtain that specific information about each particular ancestor.

Of course, the answer of who to test to find the ancestral Y and mitochondrial DNA varies depending on the gender of the person, and where they are located in your tree.

If the person in the tree is no longer living, the answer about who to test may hinge on their siblings, and the descendants of their siblings or maybe cousins. Or perhaps you’ll need to go back up the tree a generation or two to find appropriately descended relatives to test.

For each of the individuals in this tree, I’m going to answer the question of whom to test to obtain their Y and mitochondrial DNA – and how to find a suitable candidate. Talking them into testing, however, is all up to you:)

If you haven’t tested your Y or mitochondrial DNA, and you want to, you can order those tests at Family Tree DNA.  I suggest a minimum of 37 markers for Y DNA. You can always upgrade later to 67 or 111 markers.  Regardless of your testing level, you’ll receive haplogroup estimates, matches and other information.  For mitochondrial DNA, order the full sequence test so you’ll receive your full haplogroup designation. Several Y and mitochondrial haplogroups originated in Asia, with some lines settling in Europe, some in Asia and some in the Americas – so you need as much information as you can extract from your DNA.

Please join me for the “Concepts – Who To Test?” Series – coming soon to a this blog, so stay tuned!!!

Thomas Dodson (1681-1740), Planter on Totuskey Creek, 52 Ancestors #151

Thomas Dodson’s birth on May 15, 1681 to Charles Dodson and wife, Anne, is recorded in the North Farnham Parish register. At the time of Thomas’s birth, this part of Virginia, now Richmond County, was Old Rappahannock County.

Thomas’s birth was just 74 years after the founding of Jamestown, and Jamestown was still the colonial capital of the colony of Virginia – very early in the history of America.

The part of Virginia where Thomas was born, the Northern Neck began to be settled in about 1735.

In 1792, Old Rappahannock County was dissolved and the portion of Old Rappahannock where the Dodson family lived became Richmond County where Thomas spent his life. Fortunately, the Richmond County records are for the most part, intact.

I must say that these records, especially the court orders, have been key into not just identifying Thomas by his birth and death dates, and maybe marriage and children’s births thrown in for good measure – but by the rhythm of daily life in colonial Virginia. All males attended court which was, other than church, the only entertainment in pre-electronic America. Church every Sunday was mandatory. The regular births of children and deaths of neighbors and family members. The plantations, the tobacco, the spats recorded in those old notes. Life was much richer than those birth and death dates.

I’ve grouped items in a few cases, but mostly, I’ve used these records to walk through Thomas’s life in order, to give us a flavor today for what his life was actually like. Oh, how I wish we had something, anything, that he actually wrote that would shed light on how he thought and what he was like. But Thomas couldn’t write. The closest we can get is to create our vision of Thomas by his actions and those he was closest to.

Thomas’s Mother

Thomas’s mother’s name was Ann or Anne, but her surname is unknown, although I have seen it listed several times as Elmore. However, I have never seen any documentation behind the Elmore surname. Sometimes, surnames attached to trees are copied and pasted so many times that people just assume that they have to be accurate because they are “all over the place,” but copying a tree repeatedly has absolutely no bearing on the accuracy of the fruit of the tree. Copying it 1000 or 2000 times doesn’t make it any truer – just more plentiful.

Because I was bound and determine to end the mystery of Elmore, if it was at all possible, I embarked on a research trip and indeed, I solved the mystery. I’ll tell Ann’s story in her own article, but suffice it to say here that her surname was not Elmore. Thomas Dodson’s mother’s surname remains a mystery.

Nancy the Cow

The first record involving Thomas Dodson occurred when Thomas was 12 years old, which is a bit unusual. However, this recorded deed seems to be a preemptive strike or a reaction perhaps to criticism for the exchange of one cow for another. Yes, a cow.

1692-1694 Richmond County, VA, Deed Book 1; Antient Press: (Page 165)

I Charles Dodson do give & convey unto & with my beloved Son, Tho: Dodson, one brown Cow called by the name of Nancy marked with a crop & swallow forke on the left Eare, & a crop on the right tare, together with all her female increase being in Exchange with him my sd Son, Thomas, for One Cow given him by his Godfather, Peter Elmore, To have & to hold unto him the said Thomas his Executrs: Admstrs: or assignes together was aforesaid from me my heirs forever, And I do hereby warrant the sd Cow together with all her female increase unto him the sd Thomas his Executrs: &c. of & from the claimes of me the sd Charles, my Executrs; &c. & all & every other persons what so ever, In Witness whereof I have hereunto sett my hand & seale this 31st day of July Ano: 1693 Sealed & delivered in presence of us Wm Ward, Charles Dodson Wm. Colston Record Richmond Co. 31st die Julii 1693

I do have to wonder why they traded cows, and why the trade was recorded and not just done without fanfare. I’m sure there’s more to this story that we’ll never know. Recording deeds was not free, nor convenient, so there had to be something else.

This deed probably explains where the Elmore surname attached to Anne originated, but Godfather does not mean that Thomas’s mother was an Elmore. Godfather simply means that Peter Elmore, who it turns out, was another neighbor, stood up with Charles and Ann Dodson when baby Thomas was baptized in the North Farnham Parish church in 1681.

How Many Thomas’s Were There?

Seldom do we find records of children in court or land records, unless their parents die or the transaction is unusual, like Nancy the cow.

The early mention of Thomas caused me some concern, because I began to wonder if there was more than one Thomas. Was Thomas really a minor, or were there two Thomas Dodsons?

Two or more Thomas Dodsons in the same records at the same time might become intermixed. I assembled the early records and was greatly relieved to see that in spite of that fact that there were several Charles Dodsons, other than Thomas Dodson Sr.’s son, Thomas Jr., there were no other Thomas Dodsons during this timeframe to muddy the waters. Charles Dodson and Thomas Durham were neighbors, and I do wonder if perhaps Thomas Dodson was named for Thomas Durham. Ironically, if so, Thomas Dodson married Thomas Durham’s daughter, Mary.

Please note that you can click to enlarge any image.

On the pedigree chart above, the individuals in green are my ancestors. The ones in tan are the various Charles Dodsons. Fortunately, there was only one Thomas in the records before his son, Thomas Jr., came of age in about 1725 when he married Elizabeth Rose.

Marriage

Twenty years and three months after his birth, on August 1, 1701, Thomas Dodson married Mary Durham, daughter of Thomas and Dorothy Smoot Durham, their neighbors in what had become Richmond County, VA. Age 20 is on the young side for a male to marry at that time, but perhaps the fact that his father was willing to give him land helped secure the deal.

According to a 1723 deed, the land of Thomas Durham conveyed to Thomas Dodson was marked by the corner tree of Charles Dodson. This tells us that the Dodsons and Durhams were neighbors and Thomas Dodson literally married the girl next door.

The book, “Virginia Marriages of the Northern Neck of Virginia, 1649-1800” found on Ancestry provides us with additional information.

Thomas Received Land From His Father

When Thomas first appears in deed records as an adult, he had recently married and would have been looking to establish a homestead.

Thomas Dodson’s father wrote his will on January 11, 1702/1703 in which he leaves to Thomas “a plantation seated in a neck formerly called the Rich Neck with 150 acres of land to him and the male heires lawfully begotten of his own body forever and if the above said Thomas Dodson should dye without any male that then the land should returned to the next heire of the Dodson.“

Just a few days later, Charles deeded adjacent tracts of land to Thomas and his brother Charles. It might appear that Charles was rushing to get his affairs in order. Was Charles ill, thinking he would die soon?

P 210-212 Feb. 2, 1702 Deed of Gift. Charles Dodson of North Farnham Parish Richmond Co. for natural love and fatherly affection that I have and bear towards my son Thomas Dodson of the same county and parish, and for divers other good causes and to the male heirs of his body lawfully begotten plantation and tract of land whereon he now lives in the same county and parish 150 acres formerly known by the name or called Travers’s Quarter it being the one half of the tract of land purchased by me of the said Capt. Samuel Travers containing 300 acres and bounded by a branch that runs up between the said plantation and track of land known or called by the name Rich Neck that Charles Dodson Jr. now lives on. Grant to Charles Dodson or to any of the heires male of me that the said Charles Dodson or to the lineally descend from him the said Charles Dodson Jr to the heires male that shall be next of kin by consanguinity so that the same and every part thereof may be and remain and endure in the tenure occupation and possession of the relacons and male issue of the Dodson forever. I do by these presents debar and forever make voyd any manner of sale lease mortgage or conveyance that my said son Thomas Dodson or his heires male as aforesaid or the heires male of any or either of them shallmake of any part or parcel of the premises to any person or persons whatsoever (expect it be one of his brothers to whom it shall and maybe lawfull for him to sell and convey the same in case he shall want such issue as it aforesaid) according to the provisions and limitation herein before mentioned and reserved, but to no other use intent of purposes whatsoever. Signed. Wit William Fitzherbert and William Noris by mark Ack Feb. 3, 1703 Book 3 page 105

Court Orders Page 221 Feb. 3, 1702/3 Charles Dodson ack deed of gift of land to Thomas Dodson and ordered recorded.

Sons Born

The first child born to Thomas Dodson and Mary Durham recorded in the parish books, which are known to be incomplete, is George Dodson born in October of 1702. However, it makes more sense that son Thomas Dodson, whose birth is unrecorded, would have been born first and named after his father. If that is true, then Thomas would have been born almost immediately after their marriage, August 1, 1701, for Mary to have gotten pregnant again and had George in October of 1702. The more reasonable scenario is that Thomas was born about 1704, but that begs the question of who George Dodson, firstborn, was named after?

Given that we don’t know who either Charles nor Ann’s father was, George could have been a family name on either side.

Church Non-Attendance

During this time, the court order books are full of people being “presented” to the court for not attending church. The Anglican church was the official church of the crown in Virginia and attendance was mandatory. Non-attendance was prosecuted and fines levied. One would ask themselves why a man would not attend church, knowing the consequences. When you find groups of men, known to be associated, one wonders if their non-attendance was a religious or a political statement, or something else perhaps – but what?

Court Order Book Page 18 December 6, 1704 Charles Dodson Jr. and Thomas Dodson and Thomas Durham summoned to court for not going to church for two months together.

Court Order Book Page 34 February 7, 1704/05 Peter Elmore, Thomas Dodson, Charles Dodson Jr. and Thomas Durham summoned to court to answer presentment of grand jury against them for not going to church for 2 months together and not appearing, ordered they be fined according to law and pay same with costs.

Thomas’s Father Dies

Charles Dodson’s will was proven in court on February 6, 1705/6, two years after he wrote it.

Thomas Can’t Write

Aside from Thomas’s noncompliance with church attendance, his life appears to be very “normal” for the time and place, with Thomas occasionally being summoned, along with other men, for occasional civic duty.

Court Order Book Page 111 February 6, 1705 Petition of Christopher Petty that he might build or erect a mill on a run or water course of Totuskey and having only and on one side it was ordered by the aforesaid court that Peter Elmore and Thomas Dodson and Charles Dodson should layout and value one acre of land on the opposite side which accordingly we the subscribers have done to the best of our judgements and do value said acre to be worth 20 shillings. Signed Peter Elmore, his mark, Charles Dodson his mark and Thomas Dodson his marke,

This record tells us that Thomas Dodson cannot sign his name, and therefore, very likely cannot read. One record extractor recreated the “marks” of the people who signed, and Thomas always signed with a “T.” Thomas’s father, Charles Dodson always signed his name – so probably was literate. The Charles Dodson in this record is Thomas’s brother, Charles, who also signed with a mark.  The Dodson boys never learned to read or write.

Thomas’s Mother Remarries

We know that Thomas’s father died around January of 1705/06, because Charles’ will was probated on February 6th of that year. Generally, wills were probated between 30 and 90 days after the individual died, meaning at the next county court session.

Estates and remarriages are almost always interesting, and thankfully, produce records when conflicts arose. Thomas’s mother, Ann, remarried not long after Charles death, to John Hill, according to court records.

On July 3, 1706, the court ordered that John Hill and his wife Anne, executrix of the last will and testament of Charles Dodson dec’d meet at the house of said John Hill and ordered that John Rankin, William Smoote, John Mills and Richard White inventory and appraise all the estate of the said Charles Dodson. Court Order Book 4-171.

This would suggest one of two things. Either John Hill moved into the home of Charles Dodson and Ann when he married widow Ann Dodson, or someone else is living in the Charles Dodson home and Charles’ remaining estate had been taken with Ann to John Hill’s house. Lambeth Dodson, the son to whom Charles leaves his new plantation would only have been 16, not old enough to work the plantation alone.

Thomas is Ill

Court Order Book Page 198 Oct. 2, 1706 Thomas Dodson summoned to appeare as one of the last grand jury and not appearing was fined according to law and it now appearing to this court that Thomas Dodson was sick at the time when the grand jury made their appearance it is thereupon ordered that the fine be remitted.

Apparently, not long after his father dies, Thomas is ill as well. Charles Dodson died when he was 57 and when Thomas was 25. A sad time with a father gone too soon.

By the spring of 1707, things got interesting.

Ejected

Court Order Book Page 261 April 3 1707 Ejection firma depending in this court between James Greenehead plt and Thomas Dod deft is dismissed plt not prosecuting.

Plt is short for plaintiff and def or deft for defendant.

This record is copied exactly from a transcript, not the original. I believe this is Jeremiah Greenham and Thomas Dodson. There is a John Dodd in Richmond County, but never did I encounter a Thomas Dod.

An ejection firmae, according to “A Law Dictionary” by Henry Campbell Black, is an ejection of ejectment of farm. The name or a writ or action of trespass which lay at common law where lands or tenements were let for a term of years, and afterwards the lessor, reversioner, remainder-man or any stranger ejected or ousted the lessee of his term, terme or farm. In this case the latter might have his writ of ejection, by which he recovered at first damages for the trespass only, but it was afterwards made a remedy to recover back the term itself, or the remainder of it, with damages. It is the foundation of the modern action of ejectment. Ejectment is the action which lay for the recovery of the possession of land and for damages for the unlawful detention of its possession.

This certainly sounds like an adversarial situation. Ironically, Thomas Dodson’s mother-in-law, as a widow in 1715, would marry Jeremiah Greenham.

Thomas Dodson Sues His Step-Father

On April 3rd in 1707, Thomas Dodson was having a particularly bad day, because in addition to the ejectment, above, he files suit against his step-father as executor of his father’s estate after marrying Thomas’s mother, then apparently drops the suit.

Court Order Book Page 262 April 3 1707 Action brought by Thomas Dodson against John Hill marrying the executrix of Charles Dodson is dismissed, plt not prosecuting.

This probably means that there was some issue with Charles Dodson’s will or estate and after filing the suit (although we don’t have the filing itself) the parties came to an agreement. Charles Dodson’s estate was fairly straightforward, as he left land to sons and conveyed that land to Thomas before his death, making this suit very curious. Charles left the rest of his “moveable estate” to his wife and daughters, who did not file suit.

Trespass

On June 2, 1708, Thomas (X) Dodson and Bar’t Rich’d Dodson witnessed a complaint of damages on trespass of land involving James Toone, John Fan and John Miller.

At that time, trespass generally meant that one man was somehow infringing upon the land or resources of another, as in cut down his tree in the forest, not trespass as we think of it today. The men generally disagreed about where the property line was located, which were much less defined then than they are now.

Fornication

Not only was a family squabble occurring in the Dodson family between Thomas and his step-father and maybe his mother, but it appears that Thomas’s wife’s Durham family was having some high drama of their own as well that spilled over to Thomas Dodson. Keep in mind that the Durhams are neighbors of Thomas Dodson, in addition to being his in-laws.

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

Note that the county goale was how jail was spelled at that time.

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

So Anne Kelly won’t tell who the father is, but Dorothy, Thomas Durham’s wife, won’t let her go to jail. Hurray for Dorothy – stepping up. I’d love to have been a mouse in that house.

Anne Kelly was indentured to the Durham family when she was just 14, in June of 1699, and fresh off the boat, literally. She was brought into court to have her age adjudged to determine the length of her indenture.

Nine years later, Anne is still indentured, now with a child, and 23 years old. Generally, servants are required to serve an additional 5 years if they have a child while indentured. Plus they are fined for fornication, even though they are not permitted to marry, and if they or someone can’t pay the fine, they are jailed. She was brave to not tell, but who was she protecting? Or was Anne afraid?

Eight months later, we discover the identity of the father.

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

Thomas has to enter into a bond, but not pay a fine. A bond is only confiscated if the child becomes a financial burden to the church. So, in colonial Virginia, the woman is fined and sentenced for fornication, but the man is not. Apparently the fact that “it took 2” didn’t matter, or perhaps a certain level of morality was expected of women but not men.

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

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

I had to read this twice. It appears that while Anne Kelly is indentured to Thomas Durham Sr., she is working for Thomas Dodson going to work additional time for Thomas Dodson after her indenture to Thomas Durham is completed because Thomas Dodson paid her fine.

So, I have to ask, where the Hell is Thomas Durham Jr. in all of this????? Why isn’t he paying the fine? Why isn’t he stepping up?

As it turns out, Thomas was a minor, although that’s clearly not an excuse.

Thomas Durham Jr. was born on June 27, 1690, meaning that in 1708 he was 18 years old. Anne was 5 years older than Thomas Jr. who had been 17 (or younger) when Anne got pregnant, the first time, depending on when she actually had the child. The second time, in March 1709, when Anne had borne 2 children by Thomas, he was just shy of 19 and she was about 24 – and by then she was facing at least 10 more years of servitude to Durham (plus whatever was left of her original time) plus some servitude time to Thomas Dodson as well – probably another 5 years. This means that Anne Kelly would have served at least until she was 39 if not 44, adding in the first fine that Dorothy Durham paid.

Indeed, the crime of fornication was expensive…for the woman. The male involved, as we will see shortly, was free to live his life unencumbered.

Back to Boring Old Land

After all that fornication excitement, these land records are just outright boring!

Court Order Book Page 55 B – In obedience to an order of court dated June 2, 1709 wherein it was ordered that a jury should go upon the land in difference between James Tone by his nearest friend John Fan, plt and John Miller, def, to survey according to the most known and reputed bounds thereof the land aforesaid, we by the named jury underwritten met upon the land and find the def a trespasser and that said deft has committed damage upon the said land to the value of 5 shillings sterling. July 5, 1709 signers include Bar: Richd Dodson, Thomas (T his mark) Dodson

Court Order Book Page 14 April 2, 1712 Christopher Petty and Thomas Dodson, processioners appointed for one of the precincts of Northfarnham Parish have made returns that Robert Downeman has refused to procession the land of William Downeman Sr. and Hugh Cambell being undecided, it is ordered that the sheriff summon a jury of the most able and antient freeholders to lay out and survey the land of William Downeman and Hugh Cambell.

Processioners were men appointed to periodically review the property lines with all parties concerned within the parish. This was to reduce conflicts and gain agreement by all to the location of those lines. Antient is an obsolete spelling of ancient.

I can just see these men tromping around in the swamps.

Thomas’s Dodson’s Father-In-Law Dies

Thomas Durham, Thomas Dodson’s father-in-law, wrote his will in 1711, but did not pass away until 1715, when his will was probated in June.

Will Book page 210 – Thomas Durham, North Farnham Parish, will August 4, 1711, probated June 1 ,1715, wife Dorothy the plantation, after her death to son Thomas and Mary his wife, son John, dau Mary Dodson, grandson Thomas Dodson, ex: wife; no witnesses.

In Thomas Durham’s 1711 will, he specifically mentions his daughter, Mary Dodson and her son, Thomas Dodson, which would be the son of Thomas Dodson and Mary Durham.

Alice Dodson Born

Daughter Alice was probably born about 1712.

Thomas’s Brother and Wife Die

In addition to Thomas Dodson’s father-in-law’s death in May of 1715, Thomas’s brother was ill, apparently for several months, and died as well. Sadly, Charles’s daughter, Anne was born on July 16, 1715, 8 days after Charles wrote his will but before his will was probated in May of 1716 by his widow.  They had a newborn child, a very sick husband and a questionable wife, as she wrote her will in 1718 and died in 1719, leaving several orphans. It appears that daughter Anne died too, because nothing more is known of her and she is not mentioned in her mother’s will.

We don’t know who raised Thomas’s brother’s children, but given that there were several Dodson siblings, they along with the wife’s siblings were the most likely candidates.

Court Order Book Page 250 – Charles Dodson, Farnham Parish, will July 8, 1715, probated May 2, 1716, son Charles all land between spring branch and the branch that parts by land from the land of Thomas Dodson, son Furtunatus all land below by spring branch. Wife Anne, ex: wife; wits Bartholomew R. Dodson, George Petty

The Thomas Dodson family would have been greatly aggrieved and making regular trips to the cemetery, wherever that was.

Mary Dodson Born

Daughter Mary Dodson was born October 5, 1715, in the midst of the Durham and Dodson deaths.

This must have been a terribly emotional time.

Thomas’s Mother-In-Law Remarries

In February 1715/16, Thomas Dodson’s mother-in-law remarries to Jeremiah Greenham.

David and Greenham Dodson Born

Sons David and Greenham Dodson were both probably born between 1715 and 1720. Greenham, probably named for Jeremiah Greenham would have been born sometime after Jeremiah married Dorothy in February of 1715/16.

Thomas as Appraiser

Court Order Book Page 143 Oct. 7, 1719 Ann Ayes formerly Ann Elmore and made oath that Peter Elmore Jr. departed this life without making any will and giving security for her administration of the estate.

John Harris, Hugh Harris, Christopher Petty and Thomas Dodson or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Peter Elmore. All sworn plus Ann Ayres.

Will Book Page 135 Peter Elmore estate appraised and signed by John Harris, Thomas Dodson (T his mark) Hugh Harris Nov. 4, 1719

While all we see here are the court records, keep in mind that Peter Elmore was Thomas Dodson’s godfather and the Dodson neighbor, probably for his entire life.

Ann Elmore, Peter’s daughter had married Robert Ayres, so she is clearly not Ann Dodson, wife of Charles.

John Hill

Court Order Book Page 36 March 7, 1721/22 Frances Hill wife of John Hill relinquished right of dower in piece of land sold by her husband unto Thomas Creele and ack last Jan court.

We have no way of knowing if this John Hill is the same John Hill as Ann Dodson married in 1706, but the Dodson family involvement with this John seems to suggest so. If that is the case, then between 1706 and 1722, Ann Dodson Hill died and John remarried to Frances.

John Hill and Frances Hill, relict of Robert Reynolds, decd came into court and made oath that Robert Reynolds departed this life without making any will so farr as they know or believe and on their petition and giving security for their just and faithful administration of the decds estate, certificate granted them for obtaining probate.

John Hill, Frances Hill, Caron Brannon and James Neale came into court and ack bond for John Hill and Frances Hill admin of estate of Robert Reynolds, decd.

Thomas Dodson, Christopher Petty, Bartholomew Richard Dodson and Thomas Scurlock or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Robert Reynolds decd. All sworn plus John and Frances Hill, the admins.

Jeremiah Greenham

Court Order Book Page 38 – April 4, 1722 George Davenport, John Mills, Jeremiah Greenham and Thomas Dodson or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Thomas Welch. All sworn and also Elizabeth Welch, executrix.

Thomas Dodson and his wife’s step-father Jeremiah Greenham apparently get along well, as they are paired numerous times in various affairs.

Bridle Road

Court Order Book Page 40 April 4, 1722 Upon motion of Thomas Dodson and others ordered that Mr. Travers Downman forthwith cause a sufficient bridle road to be cleared round his plantation into the Ridge Road.

That bridle road is probably a real road today, if we just knew where the Ridge Road was, we might be able to find some candidates along Totuskey Creek.

On the map below, the Ridge Road is marked with the red pin. Downman’s land may have been towards Moratico, at the bottom of this picture, below the red pin. Today, Ridge Road, Richmond Road and History Land Highway are paved, and the rest of the roads are still dirt.

Totuskey Creek is the spider-like structure to the upper left of the red pin on the left side.

There are several small roads intertwined with Totuskey Creek.

This picture is facing Totuskey Creek at its closest point to Ridge Road. I don’t know if this was the Dodson land, but Thomas was assuredly familiar with this land.

More Estates Appraised

As men aged, they were perceived to be wiser, or just perhaps more experienced. When possible, estate appraisers consisted of the deceased person’s largest creditor, a person related to the widow to represent her interests and someone unconnected with the deceased but a county resident familiar with prices of goods. Finding someone “unconnected” in a community where everyone knew everyone well, and many families were intermarried must have been challenging. I suspect that many times the third man was really a respected member of the community. These three men would agree, with their various interests, on the value of the estate, so the process was deemed to be fair to all involved.

Court Order Book Page 202 Robert Reanolds estate inventory signed by Christopher Petty, Thomas Dodson and Thomas Skourlock April 4, 1722

Court Order Book Page 209 Inventory of Thomas Welch signed by Jeremiah Greenham, George Devenport and Thomas Dodson May 2, 1722

Court Order Book Page 124 Nov. 6, 1723 Thomas Dodson sworn on grand jury.

Abraham Born

Son Abraham Dodson was born in April 1723.

Thomas Buys Land From His Brother-in-Law

1720-1733 Richmond Co VA Deed Book 8; Antient Press: (Page 240

This indenture made the Tenth day of December Anno Dm. 1723 Between Thomas Durham of County of Richmond of one part and Thomas Dodson Senr. of County aforesaid of other part; Witnesseth that Thomas Durham in consideration of sum of Five shillings of lawfull money of England to him in hand paid by Thomas Dodson Senr., do by these presents bargaine and sell unto Thomas Dodson Senr. his heirs a parcel! of land containing One hundred acres formerly belonging to Abraham Marshall sitaute in County of Richmond and bounded; Begining at a Spanish Oak corner tree of Charles Dodson, being part of a Pattent formerly granted to Wm: Thatcher by the Maine Branch of Totoskey, and extending thence S. 12 degrees W. 122 perches to a Mulberrie tree, thence S. 54 degrees E. 98 by a red Oak, corner tree, thence E. N. E. 34 perches by a red Oak, thence No, 24 degrees E. 104 perches to a Poplar in said Maine Branch, thence down said Branch its severall courses to the first station; Together with all Timber trees and other trees with all prof itts comodites and priviledges; To have and to hold the hundred acres of land and premises unto Thomas Dodson Senr, his heirs dureing the full term of one year paying therefore the Rent of one Eare of Indian Corn on the Feast Day of the Birth of our Lord God next ensueing if lawfully demanded, to the end that by vertue of these presents and of the Statute for transferring uses into possession, Thomas Dodson Senr, may be in the actuall possession of the land and premises and thereby enabled to take a grant of the inheritance thereof to him and his heirs; In Witness whereof the parties abovesaid to these presents interchangeably have set their hands and seals the day and year first above written

Signed Thomas and Mary Durham, wit John Hill, William Walker and Jeremiah Greenham

Dec 10, 1723 between Thomas Durham to Thomas Dodson Sr of Richmond Co. 5000 pounds tobacco received by Thomas Dodson Sr certain parcel of land formerly belonging to Abraham Marshall bearing date 25th of 9ber, 1692, containing 100 acres bounded (same as lease above). Signed Thomas Durham, Mary Durham, wit John Hill, William Walker, Jeremiah Greenham

This land appears to be the same as above, but the payment amount/method is different. The extractions are taken from two different sources.

Dec. 10, 1723 Mary Dodson appeared in court and released her dower

This deed or deeds provide a lot of information. First, the deed locates the land on Totuskey Creek for Thomas Dodson, Charles Dodson and Thomas Durham Sr. Second, this tells us that Thomas Durham Jr., the man who impregnated the indentured servant, twice, did not marry the servant, but instead married Mary Smoote in about 1710, a year or so after the second child was born of Anne Kelly.

Thomas Durham’s involvement with Anne Kelly and her two children was apparently done. By 1723, Anne might have been raising those children, now teenagers and serving several more years to Thomas Dodson in payment for her “sin” and his payment of HER fine for fornication, but Thomas Durham skated free, married and is living the life of his choice while living very near to Anne Kelly, probably next door, as she suffers the permanent consequences of their “fornication.”

At a Court held for Richmond County the sixth day of May 1724, Thomas Durham came into Court and acknowledged this his Deed unto Thomas Dodson Senr. which was admitted to Record

The mouth of Totuskey Creek is shown above, where it intersects with the Rappahannock River. We know that the Dodsons lived someplace on the main branch of Totuskey Creek. Farnham, to the right down 3 (History Land Highway) is the location of the North Farnham Parish Church.

Much of the area remains low and swampy today.

The photos above and below are Totuskey Creek near its intersection with highway 3, named the History Land Highway. Minus the houses and modern reminders, this area probably didn’t look a lot different then. Swamp where it was too wet for trees, then woods and fields where they could be cleared.

We don’t know exactly where Briery Swamp was located on the Totuskey, but we do know that there was a North Branch. Other family names with deeds reflecting Briery Swamp were Mills, Goad, Headley, Lawson, Downman and Griffin.

Judging Workmanship

It appears that perhaps Thomas Dodson was selected for a peacekeeping role, perhaps reflecting a respected position within the community. At age 43, he had already outlived the average life expectancy for that time of 37 years old.

Court Order Book Page 154 May 7, 1724 In action between Robert Schofield plt and Mary Dalton deft by consent of both parties that Thomas Dodson and William Hanks appointed between now and next court and view the work done by the plt for the deft and report whether in their opinion it be done in a workmanlike manner and the suit continued.

Court Order Book Page 173 Sept 2, 1724 Thomas Dodson Sr and Jeremian Greenham sworn on jury.

Joshua Born

Son Joshua Dodson was born in May 1725.

Stafford County Land

Stafford County, Virginia Deed Book J, 1722 – 1728; {Antient Press}: pp 340-346

This indenture made 13th January and Last day January 1726 between Jeremiah Greenham of County Richmond and Parish of North farnam sawyer of one part and Thomas Dodson and Greenham Dodson, Planters of the above said county Witnesseth Jeremiah Greenham in consideration sum ten shillings of good is lawfull money of great Britain by deeds of lease release hath granted all that tract of land between the Branches of Potomack and Accakeek runs in the Parish Overwharton containing 316 acres being the Moyety of 632 acres of land granted in Joynt Tenancy to one Thomas Leechman and one William Williams and the said 316 acres was also made over by less & reless dated 9th July 1714 unto Jeremiah Greenham the aforesaid 632 acres granted to Leachman & Williams was by a deed from the Proprietors office dated 21st July 1710 and the aforementioned 316 acres is bounded … beginning at a corner marked red oak standing by the Path that leads from the head of Accakeek run to Capt. Mountjoys Mill being one of the corner trees mentioned in the said Deed .. to corner marked gum tree standing by the said Path .. to corner marked Pine standing in the line of land survey’d for James Harvey thence along Harvey’s line .. thence East to the stony lick branch to corner marked black oak standing in the said bank being marked for a Dividing tree between Leechman and Williams by Mr. George Crosby Sr.. & Mr. John Addams persons well acquainted with the said land Indifferently chosen by the said Leechman and Williams to make a division between them in manner may appear by an agreement Division in writeing duly executed dated 13th June last past ..

Presence Thos. Humston, Jere: Greenham

Rawleigh Travers

At Court held for Stafford County 8th February 1726 Jeremiah Greenham acknowledged this deed lease and release’.. admitted to record.

I wonder why Jeremiah Greenham sold this land to the Dodson brothers. Furthermore, I wonder if Dorothy was now deceased, because she did not relinquish her dower right in the land.

I could find no record of children for Jeremiah Greenham.

Stafford County was north of Richmond County, along the Potomac, but not far.

This area appears to be a Nature Preserve today, unless their land was further inland.

The head of Accokeek Creek seems to be in the area just Northwest of Ramoth in the upper left corner of the map below, and the branches of the Potomac are just below that location, so perhaps this is where Thomas’s land fell.  There is no record of what happened to this land.

Back in Richmond County

Clearly, Thomas Dodson never lived on the land in Stafford County, as he continued to function in Richmond County, often serving on the jury or appraising estates for neighbors that have passed away.

Court Order Book Page 272 March 3, 1725/26 Thomas Dodson action of debt against Adam McLeroy dismissed the plt not prosecuting.

This is the only record where Thomas sued for debt, which compared to other planters, was rather amazing.  However, he obviously wasn’t averse when necessary.

Page 308 October 5, 1726 Will of Peter Elmore decd presented by Charity Elmore his executrix who made oath and proved by Bartholomew Richard Dodson and Thomas Dodson, two of the witnesses.

Bartholomew Richard Dodson, Thomas Dodson, John Oldham and James Oldham or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Peter Elmore. All sworn plus Charity Elmore, executrix.

Elisha Born

Elisha Dodson was born in February of 1727.

Another Estate

Court Order Book Page 338 April 5, 1727 Thomas Scurlock, Thomas Dodson, William Everitt and Abraham Goad or any 3 of them to appraise estate of John Petty, decd. All sworn.

This William Everitt is probably the father of Sarah Everett who married Thomas’s son, Elisha. When Thomas’s son, George sold the land in 1756 that his father, Thomas, left to him, it abutted the land of a William Everett.

John Hill Dies

Court Order Book Page 399 April 3, 1728 Last will of John Hill decd presented by Frances Hill, executrix and oath of James Wilson and John Hightower, two witnesses.

Frances Hill, John Hightower and Lambert Dodson came into court and ack bond for Frances Hill’s administration of will of John Hill decd.

Thomas Scurlock, Thomas Dodson, John Hightower and Bartholomew Richard Dodson or any 3 of them to appraise estate of John Hill. Oaths admin to all 3 plus Frances Hill.

Is this the same John Hill that was married to Ann Dodson? Given the family association with Thomas Dodson and two of his brothers, I would guess so. He obviously remarried.

More Jury Duty

Court Order Book Page 599 Sept. 2, 1731 Thomas Dodson and Charles Dodson on jury.

Court Order Book Page 602, 603 Sept. 2, 1731 Thomas Dodson and Charles Dodson on jury to hear case for “tending of second for tobacco.”

I’m not entirely clear was “tending of second” was, but Hening’s Statutes discuss it in 1730 and it seems to be related to practices involving the pruning and care of plants to increase the quality of the tobacco as opposed to the yield. Thomas wasn’t accused of this, but obviously someone was and it wasn’t a trivial offense.

Court Order Book Page 603 September 2, 1731 Thomas Dodson and Charles Dodson on jury, twice.

Court Order Book Page 604 September 2, 1731 John Dodson is security for John and Ann Elmore.

Court Order Book Page 605, 606 September 2, 1731 Thomas Dodson and Charles Dodson on jury, twice.

Court Order Book Page 644 May 3, 1732 Thomas Dodson, Sr, Jeremiah Greenham and John Hill on grand jury.

Family Squabble

Court Order Book Page 625 March 2, 1731/32 Thomas Dodson Jr. pl vs Lambert Dodson deft 2747 pounds tobacco due by account, the def being called and not appearing on the motion of the plt judgement is granted him against the def and John Gibson his security for the aforesaid sum and costs unless def appears at next court and answers the action.

Court Order Book Page 5 Nov. 7, 1732 Thomas Dodson Jr. vs Lambert Dodson continued till next court.

Court Order Book Page 12 Nov. 7, 1732 Thomas Dodson Jr. plt vs Lambert Dodson def for 2747 pounds tobacco due by account being called and not appearing the judgement of the March court is again confirmed.

It looks like the family has another squabble between Thomas Jr. and his uncle. This is the first mention of Thomas Dodson Jr. in the record books. Ironically, it isn’t the uncle claiming his nephew owes him, but the other way around.  Furthermore, Lambert never shows up in court and the case is found for Thomas Jr.  This one is a head scratcher too.  Thomas Jr. would have been about 32 at this time, so clearly old enough to be farming or functioning as a “planter” and conducting business.

Thomas Jr. Buys Land

Deed Book 8, p.660 August 6, 1733 Abraham & Winifred Daile and Ellinor Southorn to Thomas Dodson Jr. 30 acres formerly belonging to Daniel O’Neal. Rec. August 6, 1733

Father and Son Sell Land

Deed Book Page 12 Lease and release Dec 6-7, 1733 from Thomas Dodson Sr and Mary his wife and Thomas Dodson Jr and Eliza his wife all of NFP to John’n Lyell of same in consideration of a negro woman to be delivered to said Dodson as soon as any comes to Virginia to be sold as the said Dodson Jr. wished about 130 acres in NFP and bounded by Charles Dodson by the main swamp of Totuskey. The other 30 acres of land is bounded by old Cone path formerly belonging to Daniel Oneal, a line of trees that divides the land of Mr. Spencer and the land of Thomas Dusin, corner oak formerly belonging to William Matthews, along Matthews line the land formerly belonging to John Henly. Of the 130 acres, 100 acres formerly belonged to Abraham Marshall by a deed dates 25 9ber 1692 and from thence conveyed to Thomas Durham and by the said Durham sold to Thomas Dodson Sr. The other 30 acres was formerly sold by Thomas Dusin to Thomas Southern by deed dated 21 7ber 1687. Signed Thomas Dodson Sr his mark T, Mary her mark M, Thomas Dodson Jr, Elizabeth her mark, wit Robert Reynolds and George Gibson and William Creel Rec April 1, 1734

This hurts my heart. Until now, we had no evidence that Thomas Dodson was participating in the slave trade, but now we do. Raising tobacco was a very labor intensive endeavor. There weren’t enough people to do the work, and indentured servants, if they weren’t worked to death, eventually had to be freed. Not so with Africans, although there weren’t enough slaves arriving either. Native people were being enslaved by this time as well, as evidenced by a 1711 record in Richmond County, although not having to do with the Dodson family.

Court Order Book Page 170 Mary Dodson wife of Thomas Dodson Sr and Eliza Dodson wife of Thomas Dodson Jr both of NFP appoint friend Henry Miskell of same POA to ack 130 acres land which was sold by our husbands to Mr. John’s Lyell of same by deed dated today. Signed Dec. 7 1733 both by mark. Wit Robert Reynolds (Renold) and George Gibson, William Creele Rec April 1, 1734

Court Order Book Page 170 Thomas Dodson and Thomas Dodson Jr. came into court and ack their deeds of lease and release for land unto Jonathan Lyell.

Court Order Book Page 171 April 1, 1734 Henry Miskell by virtue of power of attorney from Mary Dodson and Elizabeth Dodson the wives of Thomas Dodson and Thomas Dodson Jr to him in that behalf made relinquished the said Mary and Elizabeth’s right of dower in the land conveyed in the deeds unto Jonathan Lyell.

Women often did not want to attend court, so they would appoint a male, who was going to attend court anyway, to be their power of attorney and give their word, on their behalf, that they did indeed relinquish their dower right in the land.

There is a Lyell church at Rich Neck in Richmond County, the green area just below Rich Neck on the map below.  A crossroads named Lyells if located about 3.5 miles, as the crow flies, to the northwest of Rich Neck, at the intersection of Oldham’s Road and King’s Highway (History Land Highway.) The Lyell family was certainly located in this area.

Another Neighbor Dies

Court Order Book Page 170 April 1, 1734 John Oldum, Thomas Dodson, Richard Brown and John Flynt or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Robert Mathews. All sworn plus Sarah Mathews and James Oldum, executors.

Every time we see an estate record, we know that one of Thomas’s neighbors, and probably his friends, has died. Thomas Dodson’s daughter, Mary, married an Oldham.

Thomas Buys Brother Bartholomew Richard’s Land

Deed Book 9 Page 21 May 5-6 1734, Bartholomew Richard Dodson and wife Elizabeth of Weecomoce (Wicomico) Parish in Northumberland County to Thomas Dodson of North Farnham Parish (NFP) in Richmond County for 4500 pounds tobacco, 150 acres lying between the Oke neck and Hickory Neck Branch in Richmond county which land (is part of 500 acres that) [part in parenthesis lines out in transcription] was formerly sold by Capt. Samuel Traverse to Charles Dodson, father to the said Bartholomew Richard Dodson. Land is bounded by Daniel Everit. Signed by him, her mark, Wit Thomas Legg, H Miskell, Jeremiah Greenham, Rec May 6, 1734 and Elizabeth Dodson relinquish dower.

Based on the 1702 will of Charles Dodson, Bartholomew inherited the land at Oak Neck and William inherited the land called Hickory Neck, from their father. I wonder if Oak Neck and Hickory Neck are near Rich Neck, the land inherited by son Thomas.

Charles Dodson Sr. obviously felt very strongly about the land that he left his sons. However, he made it very difficult for them to move on, because he stipulated that they could only leave it to heirs of their body, or sell it to their brothers, assuring that it would always stay in the family. The sons attempted to honor his wishes.

Court Order Book Page 181 May 6, 1734 Bartholomew Richard Dodson and Elizabeth wife ack deed for lease and release to Thomas Dodson.

Power of Attorney

Obviously, Thomas Dodson was already in court this day.

Deed Book 9 Page 25 Jane Lawson of Christ Church Parish in Lancaster County, Power of Attorney (POA) to Thomas Dodson to ack in Richmond County court a deed dated today for 450 ac to Robert Mitchell of St. Mary White Chapel in Lancaster County. Deed made my me, John Steptoe Jr and Joanne, his wife. Signed May 4, 1734 wit Tobias Phillips, John Brown rec May 6 1734

Court Order Book Page 182 May 6, 1734 POA from Jean Lawson to Thomas Dodson proved with oath of Tobias Phillips and John Brown, witnesses.

Court Order Book Page 182 Thomas Dodson by virtue of a POA from Jane Lawson to him ack the same Jane Lawson’s deed for land and the livery of seizen thereon until Robert Mitchell and John Steptoe Jr and Johanna his wife.

Court Order Book Page 186 May 6, 1734 Jeremiah Greenham and Thomas Dodson on jury.

Court Order Book Page 393 May 3, 1736 – Henry Miskell, William Deavenport, John Hightower and Thomas Dodson or any 3 of them to appraise estate of John Ogleby decd. Sworn along with Margery Ogleby admin.

Fortunatis Dies

Court Order Book Page 600 May 1, 1738 Thomas Dodson, William Everett, George Glascock and John Hightower or any 3 of them to appraise estate of Fortunatus Dodson, decd. All sworn, plus Alice Dodson admin.

Fortunatus was Thomas Dodson’s nephew, son of his brother Charles who died more than 20 years before.

Thomas must have thought to himself that the next generation was beginning to pass on. By this time, Thomas was 57 years old and Fortunatis would have been about 38, having married Alice Goad a dozen years earlier.

Page 622 July 3, 1738 Thomas Dodson on jury.

Surveyor

Court Order Book Page 632 July 4, 1738 Thomas Dodson appointed surveyor of the highways for this ensuing year of the Coach Road from Richard Oldums to the lower end of the county and ordered he clear the same according to law. A coach road would have had to have been a substantial road in good repair to be able to handle the width of a coach and team of horses without vibrating the passengers to death.

Court Order Book Page 638 July 4 1738 Thomas Dodson on jury.

Court Order Book 1738/1739 – Page 81 – Thomas Dodson, William Everitt, James Tarpley and Richard (B?) or any 3 of them to appraise estate of James Oldham decd. All sworn plus Juney and John Oldham, execs.

Again, we don’t know exactly where the Oldham family lived, but there is a location called Oldhams, just a mile or so from Rich Neck.

If Thomas was responsible for the road from Oldham’s to the southern end of the county, that would mean from Oldham’s on Road 600 to what is now 360, intersecting with Ridge Road, also road 600, and on south. There were only two roads that traversed the county north to south. Given that we know that this road, now 600, was called the Ridge Road, perhaps the Coach Road was the other road, running closer to the Rappahannock that is today called either the King’s Road, a holdover from colonial times, or History Land Highway.  Thomas was responsible for one or the other.

Thomas Dodson’s Will

Thomas Dodson wrote his own will on February 17, 1739/40 when he was only 58 years old. The will was probated on March 2, 1740/41.

In The Name Of God Amen I Thomas Dodson of North Farnham p’ish in Richmond County Being sick and Weak of Body but in Perfect since and Memory do make and ordain this to be my Last Will and Testam.t in manner and forme –

Impri I lend to my Wife Mary Dodson my Plantation whereon I now Live and the Land thereto Blonging with all my Negroes and Moveable Estate dureing her Natural Life –

Item. I give to my Son Thomas Dodson Five Shill’s to be Paid by Ex’rrs

I give to my Son George Dodson and his heirs for Ever one hundred and fifty Acres of Land whereon he ye sd George Dodson is now Liveing

I Give to my Son Greenham Dodson and his heirs for Ever the Whole Tract of Land I bought of Lambarth Dodson –

I give to my Sone Elisha Dodson & his Heirs for Ever the Plantation whereon I now Live and Land Land therto Belonging after my Wife Mary Dodsons Decease –

I Give to my Daughter Alice Creel One Negroe Girl named Sarah –

I give to my Daughter Mary Oldam one New Suit of calica Cloaths –

I Give to my Son Greenham Dodson one Negroe man Named Harry –

I GIve to my Son Abraham Dodson one Negroe Woman named Bess and one Negroe Boy named Joe –

I Give to my Son Josha Dodson one Negroe woman Named Sue and one Negroe Boy named Dick –

I give to my son Elisha Dodson one Negroe Girl Named Nan –

I give to my son Greenham Dodson one feather Bed and furniture –

I give to my son Abraham Dodson one feather Bed and furniture –

I give to my son Joshua Dodson one feather Bed and furniture –

I give to my son Elisha Dodson one feather Bed and furniture –

I Give to Granddaughter ye Daughter of David Dodson Twenty Shill’s

All the Remaining Part of My Estate be the same more or Less I give to be Equally Divided between three of my sons: Vist Abraham Dodson Joshua Dodson & Elisha Dodson

I Likewise ordain and Appoint my Wife Mary Dodson and my son Greenham Dodson to be the true and Lawful Exr.s of the my Last will & Tesatament as Witness my hand and seal this 17th Day of February 1739

(S) Thomas (T his mark) Dodson (Seal)

Wits: H. Miskell, John (X) Hightower, Charles Dodson

Thomas’s will removes all doubt about his participation in the slave trade. He owned at least 7 slaves, and potentially more.  While at the time, owning slaves was clearly a sign of prosperity for the slave owner and “normal” in that society, today, seeing these records causes no small amount of anguish.  All I can say is that I hope he was a kind and generous man.

The death of Thomas Dodson is recorded in the North Farnham Parish Records as November 21, 1740. Typically wills are probated within 90 days, at the next court, so the probate date of March 2, 1740/1741, which is the current year of 1741, makes sense. At that time, the new year did not begin until March 25, March 2 would have been considered 1740 at that time, but is 1741 today.

Richmond County Will Book 5 p.380 – Thomas DODSON, inv; 6 Apr 1741. p.387 – Thomas DODSON, f.inv; 3 Aug 1741.

Will Book 5 has not been transcribed.  I have written for a copy of Thomas’s inventory.  I hope it’s long and detailed! I will add it here when it arrives.

Thomas left multiple tracts of land:

  • To wife Mary, “the plantation whereon I now live and the land thereto belonging” and at the death of Mary, the plantation should go to son Elisha Dodson
  • To son George Dodson, “150 acres of land whereon the said George Dodson is now living
  • To son Greenham Dodson “the whole tract of land I bought of Lambarth Dodson.”

Unfortunately, there is no record of what became of the land Thomas left to Elisha, which would have informed us of where Thomas actually lived at that time.

One of the first two tracts, according to Reverend Silas Lucas, is the Travers land. That land, called Rich Neck, was sold by the heirs of Thomas Dodson to Charles Lovelace, date no specified but apparently in Richmond County. In later years, the heirs of Lovelace sold the land back to James Boothe Dodson, son of Charles.

If today’s Rich Neck is the same Rich Neck as the references on a contemporary map, I’ve found it!!!

It’s surrounded by Marshy Swamp, which could well have been the Briery Swamp of the 1600s and early 1700s. Marsh Swamp has mill ponds and we know that Briery did as well.

There certainly is a north branch of Marshy Swamp, so I’m thinking this fits the bill quite nicely and I don’t see any other candidate waterways that fit all of the criteria, including a location named Rich Neck and Lyell Church.  I do believe these dots are connected!

The satellite view shows that indeed, there is farmland surrounded by the Creek which is a branch of Totuskey.

Unfortunately, 619 does not have Street View, so I can’t “drive down” it remotely.

Here’s Richmond Road where it crosses Marshy Swamp

Thomas’s Estate Didn’t End With the Will

After Thomas’s death, his widow, Mary Durham Dodson married Robert Galbreath on September 29, 1743 and sure enough, lawsuits followed – just 10 months later.

On July 3, 1744, in chancery court, Greenham Dodson files on behalf of himself as executor of the estate of Thomas Dodson, and others, against Robert Galbreath. (Court Record Book 11-406)

On May 7, 1745, the suit was resolved and the court decided that the petitioner, Greenham Dodson, should “take possession of the coverture, according to the intention of the testators will” and that he should use it for the benefit of Mary Galbreath during her coverture. Robert Galbreath refused to give security and was ordered to pay costs. (Court Record Book 11-458)

That doesn’t sound terribly friendly. The term coverture means the legal status of a married woman, considered to be under her husband’s protection and authority. Perhaps the Dodson children felt that Robert Galbreath was utilizing the estate of Thomas Dodson for himself, not for Mary. Mary would have been 57 years old.

I checked the Virginia Chancery Suit index site for Richmond County, and either those records never made it to the State Library, or they aren’t online yet. I would love to see the entire case file for this suit.

Where was Thomas Dodson Buried?

We don’t know where Thomas Dodson was buried, but he may be buried at the North Farnham Parish church.

You can see that there is a cemetery behind the North Farnham Parish Church, built in 1737, just a few years before Thomas died. Thomas may have helped to build this church.

DNA

The Dodson DNA is quite interesting. While I have not been able to find males close to me genealogically to test, I’m quite fortunate that several Dodson males who descend from this line have already tested. And thankfully, their Y DNA matches each other, so we know that the Dodson Y DNA lineage looks like. I’m incredible grateful for projects at Family Tree DNA, because without projects, there would be no avenue to “find” our ancestor’s DNA lineage, at least not without being able to find someone to test. Projects allow us to leverage the combined tests of others for our own genealogy. Hopefully, we’re reciprocating in kind by joining appropriate projects with our own tests.

As it turns out, there is more than one line of Dodsons, genetically speaking. To begin with, there are haplogroup I Dodsons and two haplogroup R Dodson groups, plus additional Dodsons who don’t match anyone. Charles Dodson’s line is haplogroup R, or more specifically, R-M269.

Charles County, Maryland lies directly across the Potomac River from the Northern Neck, but the Dodson family descended from John Dodson who settled there is NOT the same Dodson family. This isn’t what I would have expected.

The Dodson Y DNA project has several members. The DNA project itself can be found at this link, and a description of some of the lineages can be found at this link.

These lineages as listed on the website include two individuals who descend from Charles Dodson (1645-1705) through son Thomas (1681-1740) and his son Thomas (1707-1783), in blue and yellow, above.

Both men descended through Charles’ son Thomas have marker value of 13 at DYS439, in red above, which could be a line marker mutation. What we don’t know is when this mutation occurred in this line. In fact, it could have been anyplace from Thomas Sr. through Isaac.

Kit 17119 – Charles – Thomas – Thomas – Joseph – Caleb – Isaac – William – (plus 3 more generations)

Kit 24573 – Charles – Thomas – Thomas – Joseph – Caleb – Isaac – John – (plus 5 more generations)

Kit 8571 – Charles – Thomas – George – Lazarus – Elisha – (plus several generations)

The one additional individual, kit 8571, who descends through Thomas has only tested to 12 markers. However, we’re in luck because marker 439 is contained within that panel and carries a value of 14.

Therefore, we know that the mutation to 13 occurred someplace below Thomas Sr. and between Thomas Jr. and Isaac. Thomas Sr. did not carry this mutation, because the descendant of his son George does not have the mutation. Therefore 439=13 is NOT a line marker mutation for Thomas Sr.

What Does the Dodson DNA Look Like?

The Dodson DNA project documents that many of Charles Dodson’s descendants have tested and together, form the genetic Y DNA STR signature of the Northern Neck, Richmond County, Virginia line in America.  STRs are short tandem repeat markers, meaning those shown in the results below.

As you can see, in many cases, there is no question about the original marker value, because there are no mutations and all of the descendants match. In other cases, for other markers, there are several mutations. Mutations from the “normal” value for the group of participants is shown by colorized cells.

We can reconstruct the original STR markers of Charles Dodson’s DNA by determining the most common values.

The Dodson project was one of the early projects established, so people have tested at all different levels. The lower levels, such as 12 markers, are less useful. Additionally, few have uploaded Gedcom files, which makes determining who is descended from which of Charles’ sons somewhat difficult.

I have utilized the information listed on the Dodson public project page, shown above, to create the chart below, listing the original Charles Dodson value for each marker, plus the percentage of the time this marker is found in haplogroup R-M343, which is R1b. This will inform us of any unusual or rare marker values for the Dodson lineage – forming in essence a Dodson rare marker genetic signature that should suffice to isolate Dodson men from others. Markers that appear in less than 10% of the people who carry this haplogroup are bolded.

Allele Location Dodson Value % in R-M343 (R1b)
393 13 91
390 24 60
19 15 9
391 11 67
385a 11 87
385b 13 11
426 12 98
388 12 98
439 14 2
389-1 13 71
392 13 86
389-2 29 63
458 16 18
459a 9 95
459b 10 81
455 11 97
454 11 98
447 25 69
437 15 85
448 19 78
449 28 11
464a 15 80
464b 15 71
464c 17 48
464d 17 69
460 10 probably, or 11 19 (10) or 74 (11)
GATA H4 11 71
YCA II a 19 95
YCA II b 23 81
456 16 40
607 15 70
576 18 42
570 17 57
CDY a 36 30
CDY b 39 22
442 11 12
438 12 94
531 11 92
578 9 97
395S1a 15 93
395S1b 16 96
590 8 99
537 10 90
641 10 98
472 8 100
406S1 10 85
511 10 85
425 12 100
413a 22 15
413b 23 89
557 16 73
594 10 96
436 12 99
490 12 97
534 17 8
450 8 97
444 12 73
481 22 60
520 20 85
446 13 76
617 12 91
568 11 95
487 13 92
572 11 88
640 11 95
492 12 73
565 12 88
710 33 16
485 15 84
632 9 98
495 16 87
540 12 85
714 25 31
716 26 93
717 19 88
505 12 80
556 11 94
549 12 33
589 12 92
522 10 52
494 9 98
533 13 22
636 12 91
575 10 100
638 11 97
462 11 95
452 31 9
445 13 6
GATA A10 14 8
463 23 5
441 13 83
GGAAT 1B07 10 92
525 10 85
712 20 31
593 15 98
650 18 33
532 14 23
715 24 62
504 17 56
513 12 72
561 15 87
552 24 77
726 12 99
635 23 80
587 18 92
643 10 83
497 14 92
510 17 71
434 9 96
461 12 80
435 11 98

Summary

Thomas Dodson’s life was probably very typically colonial. Thomas wasn’t aristocracy, wasn’t a Burgess or man representing the government in Virginia, but he wasn’t poor either. He inherited land and bought more, raising tobacco and amassing enough to leave each of his sons a plantation. He was an up-and-comer. He had indentured servants as well as slaves – unfortunately, the norm for a successful planter in Virginia of that time. He was a man making his way in a new land, in rather uncharted territory. Many of his children would continue the legacy and push on to new frontiers.

Thomas wasn’t just a planter. He took an active role in the community.  At various times he was a processioner, a surveyor, a bondsman and many times, a juror and estate appraiser.  Yes, once or twice, he was on the wrong end of the stick as well.  Perhaps he sewed a few wild oats, but apparently not nearly as many as his brother-in-law, young Thomas Durham Jr.

Thomas Dodson would have heard about England, the old country, and the King or Queen, but he was born in the new colony of “Virginny” and probably couldn’t relate to a place and aristocracy he didn’t know. He was part of the first generation of people thoroughly “American.” He was born a generation after the tenuous establishment of Jamestown and almost 40 years after the 1722 Indian raid that nearly destroyed the English settlement.

Thomas died less than a half century before the American Revolution and before the French and Indian War. Thomas and his generation began the foundation of what would, some 40 years after his death, become the United States of America. Thomas became the transition between the fledgling colony clinging to the coast by establishing a thriving tobacco-based economy that would expand and evolve into the foundation for an independent country, something for which his grandchildren stood firm and would fight.

Acknowledgements

Much of the information about the early Dodson lines, including Thomas Dodson, Mary Durham and their children, comes from the wonderful two volume set written by the Reverend Silas Lucas, published originally in 1988, titled The Dodson (Dotson) Family of North Farnham Parish, Richmond County, Virginia – A History and Genealogy of Their Descendants.

I am extremely grateful to Reverend Lucas for the thousands of hours and years he spent compiling not just genealogical information, but searching through county records in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and more. His work from his first publication in 1958 to his two-volume set 30 years later in 1988 stands as a model of what can and should be done for each colonial family – especially given that they were known to move from state to state without leaving any type of “forwarding address” for genealogists seeking them a few hundred years later. Without his books, Dodson researchers would be greatly hindered, if not entirely lost, today.

Sources

  • Richmond County Virginia Marriage References and Family Relationships 1692-1800 by F. Edward Wright
  • Richmond Co., VA Miscellaneous Records, 1699-1724 TLC Genealogy
  • Deed Abstracts of Richmond County 1692-1695 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Deed Abstracts of Richmond County 1695-1701 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Deed Abstracts of Richmond County 1701-1704 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Deed Abstracts of Richmond County 1705-1708 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Abstracts of Land Records of Richmond County, VA 1692-1704 by Mary Marshall Brewer
  • Richmond Co., VA 1714-1715 Deeds by Ruth and Sam Sparicio
  • Deed Abstracts Richmond Co., VA 1715-1718 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond Co., VA 1719-1721 Deeds by Ruth and Sam Sparicio
  • Richmond Co., VA 1721-1725 Deeds by Ruth and Sam Sparicio
  • Richmond County VA Deeds and Bonds 1721 and 1734 by TLC Genealogy
  • Richmond County VA Deeds and Bonds 1734 and 1741 by TLC Genealogy
  • The Registers of North Farnham Parish 1663-1814 and Lunenburg Parish 1783-1800 Richmond County, Virginia Compiled and Published by George Harrison Sanford King 1966
  • Marriages of Richmond County, VA 1668-1853 by George Harrison Sanford King
  • Wills of Richmond Co., Va 1699-1800 by Robert K. Keadley, Jr
  • Richmond Co Will Book 4 1717-1725 by TLC
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1692-1694 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1694-1697 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1698-1699 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1699-1701 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1702-1704 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1704-1708 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1705-1706 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1707-1708 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1708-1709 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1711-1713 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book 1714-1715 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1716-1717 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1718-1719 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1722-1724 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1724-1725 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1726-1727 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1728-1729 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1729-1730 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1731-1732 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1732-1734 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1732-1739 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1735-1736 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County Order Book Abstracts 1737-1738 by Ruth and Sam Sparacio
  • Richmond County, Virginia Court Orders 1721-1752 An Every Name Index by TLC Genealogy

Note that at the Allen County Public Library multiple books were rebound together and sometimes the title did not accurately reflect the contents. I searched all of the Richmond County books available which their catalog reflects includes contiguous dates.

Concepts – The Faces of Endogamy

Recently, while checking Facebook, I saw this posting from my friend who researches in the same Native admixed group of families in North Carolina and Virginia that I do. Researchers have been trying for years to sort through these interrelated families. As I read Justin’s post, I realized, this is a great example of endogamy and often how it presents itself to genealogists.

I match a lot of people from the Indian Woods [Bertie County, NC] area via DNA, with names like Bunch, Butler, Mitchell, Bazemore, Castellow, and, of course, Collins. While it’s hard to narrow in on which family these matching segments come from, I can find ‘neighborhoods’ that fit the bill genetically. This [census entry] is from near Quitsna in 1860. You see Bunch, Collins, Castellow, Carter, and Mitchell in neighboring households.

Which begs the question, what is endogamy, do you have it and how can you tell?

Definition

Endogamy is the practice or custom or marrying within a specific group, population, geography or tribe.

Examples that come to mind are Ashkenazi Jews, Native Americans (before European and African admixture), Amish, Acadians and Mennonite communities.

Some groups marry within their own ranks due to religious practices. Jewish, Amish and Mennonite would fall under this umbrella. Some intermarry due to cultural practices, such as Acadians, although their endogamy could also partly be attributed to their staunch Catholic beliefs in a primarily non-Catholic region. Some people practice endogamy due to lack of other eligible partners such as Native Americans before contact with Europeans and Africans.  People who live on  islands or in villages whose populations were restricted geographically are prime candidates for endogamy.

In the case of Justin’s group of families who were probably admixed with Native, European and African ancestors, they intermarried because there were socially no other reasonable local options. In Virginia during that timeframe, mixed race marriages were illegal. Not only that, but you married who lived close by and who you knew – in essence the neighbors who were also your relatives.

Endogamy and Genetic Genealogy

In some cases, endogamy is good news for the genealogist. For example, if you’re working with Acadian records and know which Catholic church your ancestors attended. Assuming those church records still exist, you’re practically guaranteed that you’ll find the entire family because Acadians nearly always married within the Acadian community, and the entire Acadian community was Catholic. Catholics kept wonderful records. Even when the Acadians married a Native person, the Native spouse is almost always baptized and recorded with a non-Native name in the Catholic church records, which paved the way for a Catholic marriage.

In other cases, such as Justin’s admixed group, the Brethren who notoriously kept no church records or the Jewish people whose records were largely destroyed during the Holocaust, endogamy has the opposite effect – meaning that actual records are often beyond the reach of genealogists – but the DNA is not.

It’s in cases like this that people reach for DNA to help them find their families and connections.

What Does Endogamy Look Like?

If you know nothing about your heritage, how would you know whether you are endogamous or not? What does it look like? How do you recognize it?

The answer is…it depends. Unfortunately, there’s no endogamy button that lights up on your DNA results, but there are a range of substantial clues.  Let’s divide up the question into pieces that make sense and look at a variety of useful tools.

Full or Part?

First of all, fully and partly endogamous ancestry, and endogamy from different sources, has different signs and symptoms, so to speak.

A fully endogamous person, depending on their endogamy group, may have either strikingly more than average autosomal DNA matches, or very few.

Another factor will be geography, where you live, which serves to rule out some groups entirely. If you live in Australia, your ancestors may be European but they aren’t going to be Native American.

How many people in your endogamous group that have DNA tested is another factor that weighs very heavily in terms of what endogamy looks like, as is the age of the group. The older the group, generally the more descendants available to test although that’s not always the case. For example warfare, cultural genocide and disease wiped out many or most of the Native population in the United States, especially east of the Mississippi and particularly in the easternmost seaboard regions.

Because of the genocide perpetrated upon the Jewish people, followed by the scattering of survivors, Jewish descendants are inclined to test to find family connections. Jewish surnames may have been changed or not adopted in some cases until late, in the 1800s, and finding family after displacement was impossible in the 1940s for those who survived.

Let’s look at autosomal DNA matches for fully and partly endogamous individuals.

Jewish people, in particular Ashkenazi, generally have roughly three times as many matches as non-endogamous individuals.

Conversely, because very few Native people have tested, Native testers, especially non-admixed Native individuals, may have very few matches.

It’s ironic that my mother, the last person listed, with two endogamous lines, still has fewer matches than I do, the first person listed.  This is because my father has deep colonial roots with lots of descendants to test, and my mother has recent immigration in her family line – even though a quarter of her ancestry is endogamous.

To determine whether we are looking at endogamy, sometimes we need to look for other clues.

There are lots of ways to discover additional clues.

Surnames

Is there a trend among the surnames of your matches?

At the top of your Family Finder match page your three most common surnames are displayed.

A fully endogamous Jewish individual’s most common surnames are shown above. If you see Cohen among your most common surnames, you are probably Jewish, given that the Kohanim have special religious responsibilities within the Jewish faith.

Of course, especially with autosomal DNA, the person’s current surname may not be indicative, but there tends to be a discernable pattern with someone who is highly endogamous. When someone who is fully endogamous, such as the Jewish population, intermarries with other Jewish people, the surnames will likely still be recognizably Jewish.

Our Jewish individual’s first matching page, meaning his closest matches, includes the following surnames:

  • Cohen
  • Levi
  • Bernstein
  • Kohn
  • Goldstein

The Sioux individual only has 137 matches, but his first page of matches includes the following surnames:

  • Sunbear
  • Deer With Horns
  • Eagleman
  • Yelloweyes
  • Long Turkey
  • Fire
  • Bad Wound
  • Growing Thunder

These surnames are very suggestive of Native American ancestry in a tribe that did not adopt European surnames early in their history. In other words, not east of the Mississippi.

At Family Tree DNA, every person has the opportunity to list their family surnames and locations, so don’t just look at the tester’s surname, but at their family surnames and locations too. The Ancestral Surname column is located to the far right on the Family Finder matches page. If you can’t see all of the surnames, click on the person’s profile picture to see their entire profile and all of the surnames they have listed.

Please note that you can click to enlarge all graphics.

If you haven’t listed your family surnames, now would be a good time. You can do this by clicking on the orange “Manage Personal Information” link near your profile picture on the left of your personal page.

The orange link takes you to the account settings page. Click on the Genealogy tab, then on surnames. Be sure to click the orange “save” when you are finished.

Partial Endogamy

Let’s take a look at a case study of someone who is partially endogamous, meaning that they have endogamous lines, but aren’t fully endogamous. My mother, who is the partially endogamous individual with 1231 matches is a good example.

Mother is a conglomeration of immigrants. Her 8 great-grandparents break down as follows:

In mother’s case, a few different forces are working against each other. Let’s take a look.

The case of recent immigration from the Netherlands, in the 1850s, would serve to reduce mother’s matches because there has been little time in the US for descendants to accrue and test. Because people in the Netherlands tend to be very reluctant about DNA testing, very few have tested, also having the effect of reducing her number of matches.

Mother’s Dutch ancestors were Mennonites, an endogamous group within the Netherlands, which would further reduce her possibilities of having matches on these lines since she would be less likely to match the general population and more likely to match individuals within the endogamous group. If people from the Mennonite group tested, she would likely match many within that group. In other words, for her to find Dutch matches, people descended from the endogamous Dutch Mennonite population would need to test. At Family Tree DNA, there is a Low Mennonite Y DNA and Anabaptist autosomal DNA project both, but these groups tend to attract the Mennonites that migrated to Russia and Poland, not the group that stayed in the Netherlands. Another issue, at least in mother’s case, is that her Mennonite relatives “seem” to have been later converts, not part of the original Mennonite group – although it’s difficult to tell for sure in the records that exist.

Mother’s Kirsch and Drechsel ancestors were also recent immigrants in the 1850s, from Germany, with very few descendants in the US today. The villages from where her Kirsch ancestors immigrated, based on the church records, did tend to be rather endogamous.  However, that endogamy would only have reached back about 200 years, as far as the 30 Years’ War when that region was almost entirely, if not entirely, depopulated. So while there was recent endogamy, there (probably) wasn’t deep endogamy. Of course, it would require someone from those villages to test so mother could have matches before endogamy can relevant. DNA testing is not popular in Germany either.

Because of recent immigration, altogether one half of mother’s heritage would reduce her number of matches significantly. Recent immigrants simply have fewer descendants to test.

On the other hand, mother’s English line has been in the US for a long time, some since the Mayflower, so she could expect many matches from that line, although they are not endogamous. If you’re thinking to yourself that deep colonial ancestry can sometime mimic endogamy in terms of lots of matches, you’re right – but still not nearly to the level of a fully endogamous Jewish person.

Mother’s Acadian line has been settled in North America in Nova Scotia since the early 1600s, marrying within their own community, mixing with the Native people and then scattering in different directions after 1755 when they were forcibly removed. Acadians, however, tended to remain in their cultural groups, even after relocation. Many Acadian descendants DNA test and all Acadians descend from a limited and relatively well documented original population. That level of documentation is very unusual for endogamous groups. Acadian surnames are well known and are French. The best Acadian genealogical resource in is Karen Theriot’s comprehensive tree on Rootsweb in combination with the Mothers of Acadia DNA project at Family Tree DNA. I wish there was a similar Fathers of Acadia project.

Mother’s Brethren line is much less well documented due to a lack of church records. The Brethren community immigrated in the early 1700s from primarily Switzerland and Germany, was initially relatively small, lived in clusters in specific areas, traveled together and did not marry outside the Brethren faith. Therefore, Brethren heritage and names also tend to be rather specific, but not as recognizable as Acadian names. After all, the Brethren were German/Swiss and in mother’s case, she also has another 1/4th of her heritage that are recently immigrated Germans – so differentiating one German group from the other can be tricky. The only way to tell Brethren matches from other German matches is that the Brethren also tend to match each other.

In Common With

If you notice a group of similar appearing surnames, use the ICW (in common with) tool at Family Tree DNA to see who you match in common with those individuals. If you find that you match a whole group of people with similar surnames or geography, contact your matches and ask if they know any of the other matches and how they might be related. I always recommend beginning with your closest matches because your common ancestor is likely to be closer in time than people who match you more distantly.

In the ICW match example below, all of the matches who do show ancestral surnames include Acadian surnames and/or locations.

Acadians, of course, became Cajuns in Louisiana where one group settled after their displacement in Nova Scotia. The bolded surnames match surnames on the tester’s surname list.

The ICW tools work particular well if you know of or can identify one person who matches you within a group, or simply on one side of your family.

Don Worth’s Autosomal DNA Segment Analyzer is an excellent tool to genetically group your matches by chromosome. It’s then easy to use the chromosome browser at Family Tree DNA to see which of these people match you on the same segments. These tools work wonderfully together.

The group above is an Acadian match group. By hovering over the match names, you can see their ancestral surnames which make the Acadian connection immediately evident.

The Matrix

In addition to seeing the people you match in common with your matches by utilizing the ICW tool at Family Tree DNA, you can also utilize the Matrix tool to see if your matches also match each other. While this isn’t the same as triangulation, because it doesn’t tell you if they match each other on the same exact segment, it’s a wonderful tool, because in the absence of cooperation or communication from your matches to determine triangulation between multiple people, the Matrix is a very good secondary approach and often predicts triangulation accurately.

In the Matrix, above, the blue boxes indicates that these individuals (from your match list) also match each other.

For additional information on various autosomal tools available for your use, click here to read the article, Nine Autosomal Tools at Family Tree DNA.

MyOrigins

Everyone who takes the Family Finder test also receives their ethnicity estimates on the MyOrigins tab.

In the case of our Jewish friend, above, his MyOrigins map clearly shows his endogamous heritage. He does have some Middle Eastern region admixture, but I’ve seen Ashkenazi Jewish results that are 100% Ashkenazi Jewish.

The same situation exists with our Sioux individual, above. Heavily Native, removing any doubt about his ancestry.

However, mother’s European admixture blends her MyOrigins results into a colorful but unhelpful European map, at least in terms of determining whether she is endogamous or has endogamous lines.

European endogamous admixture, except for Jewish heritage, tends to not be remarkable enough to stand out as anything except European heritage utilizing ethnicity tools. In addition, keep in mind that DNA testing in France for genealogy is illegal, so often there is a distinct absence in that region that is a function of the lack of testing candidates. Acadians may not show up as French.

Ethnicity testing tends to be excellent at determining majority ethnicity, and determining differences between continental level ethnicity, but less helpful otherwise. In terms of endogamy, Jewish and Native American tend to be the two largest endogamous groups that are revealed by ethnicity testing – and for that purpose, ethnicity testing is wonderful.

Y and Mitochondrial DNA and Endogamy

Autosomal tools aren’t the only tools available to the genetic genealogist. In fact, if someone is 100% endogamous, or even half endogamous, chances are very good that either the Y DNA for males on the direct paternal line, or the mitochondrial DNA for males and females on the direct matrilineal line will be very informative.

On the pedigree chart above, the blue squares represent the Y DNA that the father contributes to only his sons and the red circles represent the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that mothers contribute to both genders of their children, but is only passed on by the females.

By utilizing Y and mtDNA testing, you can obtain a direct periscope view back in time many generations, because the Y and mitochondrial DNA is preserved intact, except for an occasional mutation. Unlike autosomal DNA, the DNA of the other parent is not admixed with the Y or mitochondrial DNA. Therefore, the DNA that you’re looking at is the DNA of your ancestors, generations back in time, as opposed to autosomal DNA which can only reliably reach back 5 or 6 generations in terms of ethnicity because it gets halved in every generation and mixed with the DNA of the other parent.

With autosomal DNA, we can see THAT it exists, but not who it came from.  With Y and mtDNA DNA, we know exactly who in your tree that specific DNA came from

We do depend on occasional Y and mtDNA mutations to allow our lines to accrue enough mutations to differentiate us from others who aren’t related, but those mutations accrue very slowly over hundreds to thousands of years.

Our “clans,” over time, are defined by haplogroups and both our individual matches and our haplogroup or clan designation can be very useful. Your haplogroup will indicate whether you are European, Jewish, Asian, Native American or African on the Y and/or mtDNA line.

In cases of endogamous groups where the members are known to marry only within the group, Y and mtDNA can be especially helpful in identifying potential families of origin.  This is evident in the Mothers of Acadia DNA project as well a particular brick wall I’m working on in mother’s Brethren line. Success, of course, hinges on members of that population testing their Y or mtDNA and being available for comparison.

Always test your Y (males only) and mitochondrial DNA (males and females.) You don’t know what you don’t know, and sometimes those lines may just hold the key you’re looking for. It would be a shame to neglect the test with the answer, or at least a reasonably good hint! Stories of people discovering their ethnic heritage, at least for that line, by taking a Y or mtDNA test are legendary.

Jewish Y and Mitochondrial DNA

Fortunately, for genetic genealogists, Jewish people carry specific sub-haplogroups that are readily identified as Jewish, although carrying these subgroups don’t always mean you’re Jewish. “Jewish” is a religion as well as a culture that has been in existence as an endogamous group long enough in isolation in the diaspora areas to develop specific mutations that identify group members. Furthermore, the Jewish people originated in the Near East and are therefore relatively easy, relative to Y and mtDNA, to differentiate from the people native to the regions outside of the Near East where groups of Jewish people settled.

The first place to look for hints of your heritage is your main page at Family Tree DNA. First, note your haplogroups and any badges you may have in the upper right hand corner of your results page.

In this man’s case, the Cohen badge is this man’s first clue that he matches or closely matches the known DNA signature for Jewish Cohen men.

Both Y DNA and mitochondrial DNA results have multiple tabs that hold important information.

Two tabs, Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins are especially important for participants to review.

The Haplogroup Origins tab shows a combination of academic research results identifying your haplogroup with locations, as well as some Ancestral Origins mixed in.

A Jewish Y DNA Haplogroup Origins page is shown above.

The Ancestral Origins page, below, reflects the location where your matches SAY their most distant direct matrilineal (for mtDNA) or patrilineal (for Y DNA) ancestors were found. Clearly, this information can be open to incorrect interpretation, and sometimes is. For example, people often don’t understand that “most distant maternal ancestor” means the direct line female on your mother’s mother’s mother’s side.  However, you’re not looking at any one entry. You are looking instead for trends.

The Ancestral Origins page for a Jewish man’s Y DNA is shown above.

The Haplogroup Origins page for Jewish mitochondrial DNA, below, looks much the same, with lots of Ashkenazi entries.

The mitochindrial Ancestral Origins results, below, generally become more granular and specific with the higher test levels. That’s because the more general results get weeded out a higher levels. Your closest matches at the highest level of testing are the most relevant to you, although sometimes people who tested at lower levels would be relevant, if they upgraded their tests.

Native American Y and Mitochondrial DNA

Native Americans, like Jewish people, are very fortunate in that they carry very specific sub-haplogroups for Y and mitochondrial DNA. The Native people had a very limited number of founders in the Americas when they originally arrived, between roughly 10,000 and 25,000 years ago, depending on which model you prefer to use. Descendants had no choice but to intermarry with each other for thousands of years before European and African contact brought new genes to the Native people.

Fortunately, because Y and mtDNA don’t mix with the other parents’ DNA, no matter how admixed the individual today, testers’ Y and mtDNA still shows exactly the origins of that lineage.

Native American Y DNA shows up as such on the Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins tabs, as illustrated below.

The haplogroup assigned is shown along with a designation as Native on the Haplogroup Origins and Ancestral Origins pages. The haplogroup is assigned through DNA testing, but the Native designation and location is entered by the tester. Do be aware that some people record the fact that their “mother’s side” or “father’s side” is reported to have a Native ancestor, which is not (necessarily) the same as the matrilineal or patrilineal line. Their “mother’s side” and “father’s side” can have any number of both male and female ancestors.

If the tester’s haplogroup comes back as non-Native, the erroneous Native designation shows up in their matches Ancestral Origins page as “Native,” because that is what the tester initially entered.  I wrote about this situation here, but there isn’t much that can be done about this unless the tester either realizes their error or thinks to go back and change their designation from Native American when they realize the DNA does not support the family story, at least not on this particular line line. Erroneous labeling applies to both Y and mtDNA.

Native Y DNA falls within a subset of haplogroups C and Q. However, most subgroups of C and Q are NOT Native, but are European or Asian or in one case, a subgroup of haplogroup Q is Jewish. This does NOT means that the Jewish people and the Native people are related within many thousands of years. It means they had a common ancestor in Asia thousands of years ago that gave birth to both groups. In essence, one group of the original Q moved east and eventually into the Americas, and one moved west, winding up in Europe. Today, mutations (SNPs) have accrued to each group that very successfully differentiate them from one another. In order to determine whether your branch of C or Q is Native, you must take additional SNP tests which further identify your haplogroup – meaning which branch of haplogroup C or Q that you belong to.

Native Americans Y-DNA, to date, must fall into a subset of haplogroup C-P39, a subgroup of C-M217 or Q-M3, Q-M971/Z780 or possibly Q-B143 (ancient Saqquq in Greenland), according to The study of human Y chromosome variation through ancient DNA. Each of these branches also has sub-branches except for Q-B143 which may be extinct. This isn’t to say additional haplogroups or sub-haplogroups won’t be discovered in the future. In fact, haplogroup O is a very good candidate, but enough evidence doesn’t yet exist today to definitively state that haplogroup O is also Native.

STR marker testing, meaning panels of markers from 12-111, provides all participants with a major haplogroup estimate, such as C or Q. However, to confirm the Y DNA haplogroup subgroup further down the tree, one must take additional SNP testing. I wrote an article about the differences between STR markers and SNPs, if you’d like to read it, here and why you might want to SNP test, here.

Testers can purchase individual SNPs, such as the proven Native SNPs, which will prove or disprove Native ancestry, a panel of SNPs which have been combined to be cost efficient (for most haplogroups), or the Big Y test which scans the entire Y chromosome and provides additional matching.

When financially possible, the Big Y is always recommended. The Big Y results for the Sioux man showed 61 previously unknown SNPs. The Big Y test is a test of discovery, and is how we learn about new branches of the Y haplotree. You can see the most current version of the haplogroup C and Q trees on your Family Tree DNA results page or on the ISOGG tree.

Native mitochondrial DNA can be determined by full sequence testing the mitochondrial DNA. The mtPlus test only tests a smaller subset of the mtDNA and assigns a base haplogroup such as A. To confirm Native ancestry, one needs to take the full sequence mitochondrial test to obtain their full haplogroup designation which can only be determined by testing the full mitochondrial sequence.

Native mitochondrial haplogroups fall into base haplogroups A, B, C, D, X and M, with F as a possibility. The most recent paper on Native Mitochondrial DNA Discoveries can be found here and a site containing all known Native American mitochondrial DNA haplogroups is here.

Not Native or Jewish

Unfortunately, other endogamous groups aren’t as fortunate as Jewish and Native people, because they don’t have haplogroups or subgroups associated with their endogamy group. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t a few other tools that can be useful.

Don’t forget about your Matches Maps. While your haplogroup may not be specific enough to identify your heritage, your matches may hold clues. Each individual tester is encouraged to enter the identity of their most distant ancestor in both their Y (if male) and mtDNA lines. Additionally, on the bottom of the Matches Map, testers can enter the location where that most distant ancestor is found. If you haven’t done that yet, this is a good time to do that too!

When looking at your Matches Map, clusters and distribution of your matches most distant ancestor locations are important.

This person’s matches, above, suggest that they might look at the history of Nova Scotia and French immigrants – and the history of Nova Scotia is synonymous with the Acadians but the waterway distribution can also signal French, but not Acadian. Native people are also associated with Nova Scotia and river travel. The person’s haplogroup would add to this story and focus on or eliminate some options.

This second example above, suggests the person look to the history of Norway and Sweden, although their ancestor, indicated by the white balloon, is from Germany. If the tester’s genealogy is stuck in the US, this grouping could be a significant clue relative to either recent or deeper history. Do they live in a region where Scandinavian people settled? What history connects the region where the ancestor is found with Scandinavia?

This third example, above, strongly suggests Acadian, given the matches restricted to Nova Scotia, and, as it turns out, this individual does have strong Acadian heritage. Again, their haplogroup is additionally informative and points directly to the European or Native side of the Acadian heritage for this particular line.

In Summary

Sometimes endogamy is up front and in your face, evident from the minute your DNA results are returned. Other times, endogamous lines in ethnically mixed individuals reveal themselves more subtly, like with my friend Justin. Fortunately, the different types of DNA tests and the different tools at our disposal each contain the potential for a different puzzle piece to be revealed. Many times, our DNA results need to be interpreted with some amount of historical context to reveal the story of our ancestors.

When I first discovered that my mother’s line was Acadian, my newly found cousin said to me, “If you’re related to one Acadian, you’re related to all Acadians.” He wasn’t kidding. For that very reason, endogamous genetic genealogy is tricky at best and frustrating at worst.

When possible, Y and mtDNA is the most definitive answer, because the centuries or millennia or intermarriage don’t affect Y and mtDNA. If you are Jewish or Native on the appropriate lines for testing, Y and mtDNA is very definitive. If you’re not Jewish or Native on your Y or mtDNA lines, check your matches for clues, including surnames, Haplogroup and Ancestral Origins, and your Matches Map.

Consider building a DNA pedigree chart that documents each of your ancestors’ Y and mtDNA for lines that aren’t revealed in your own test. The story of Y and mtDNA is not confused or watered down by admixture and is one of the most powerful, and overlooked, tools in the genealogist’s toolbox.

Autosomal DNA when dealing with endogamy can be quite challenging, even when working with well-documented Acadian genealogy – because you truly are related to everyone.  Trying to figure out which DNA segments go with, or descend from, which ancestors reaching back several generations is the ultimate jigsaw puzzle. Often, I work with a specific segment and see how far back I can track that segment in the ancestral line of me and my matches. On good days, we arrive at one common ancestor. On other days, we arrive at dead ends that are not a common ancestor – which means of course that we keep searching genealogically – or pick a different segment to work with.

When working with autosomal DNA of endogamous individuals (or endogamous lines of partially endogamous individuals,) I generally use a larger matching threshold than with non-endogamous, because we already know that these people will have segments that match because they descend from the same populations. In general, I ignore anything below 10cM and often below 15cM if I’m looking for a genealogical connection in the past few generations. If I’m simply mapping DNA to ancestors, then I use the smaller segments, down to either 7 or 5cM. If you want to read more about segments that are identical by chance (also known as false matches,) identical by population and identical by descent (genealogically relevant matches,) click here.

The good news about endogamy is that its evidence persists in the DNA of the population, literally almost forever, as long as that “population” exists in descendants – meaning you can find it!  In my case, my Acadian brick wall would have fallen much sooner had I know what endogamy looked like and what I was seeing actually meant.

A perfect example of persistent endogamy is that our Sioux male today, along with other nearly fully Native people, including people from South America, matches the ancient DNA of the Anzick child who died and was buried in Montana 12,500 years ago.

These people don’t just match on small segments, but at contemporary matching levels at Family Tree DNA and GedMatch, both.  One individual shows a match of 109 total cM and a single largest segment of DNA at 20.7 cM, a match that would indicate a contemporary relationship of between 3.5 and 4 generations distant – meaning 2nd to 3rd cousins. Clearly, that isn’t possible, but the DNA shared by Anzick Child and that individual today has been intact in the Native population for more than 12,500 years.

The DNA that Anzick Child carried is the same DNA that the Sioux people carry today – because there was no DNA from outside the founder population, no DNA to wash out the DNA carried by Anzick Child’s ancestors – the same exact ancestors of the Sioux and other Native or Native admixed people today.

While endogamy can sometimes be frustrating, the great news is that you will have found an entire population of relatives, a new “clan,” so to speak.  You’ll understand a lot more about your family history and you’ll have lots of new cousins!

Endogamy is both the blessing and the curse of genetic genealogy!

Henry Dagord or Dagod or Maybe Doggett (c 1660/1683 – after 1708), 52 Ancestors #150

Very little is known about Henry Dagod or Dagord except that he was the father of Margaret Dagod or Dagord born in North Farnham Parish in Richmond County, Virginia on April 30, 1708. The North Farnham Parish register record does not tell us who Henry’s wife is, and there are absolutely no other records in Richmond County that can be attributed to Henry Dagord. Not one. Nada.

In fact, we’re not even sure of his surname.

In the document, “The Registers of North Farnham Parish 1663-1814 and Lunenburg Parish 1673-1800, Richmond County, Virginia” compiled by George Harrison and Sanford King and published in 1866, they record Margaret’s surname as Dagod, not Dagord. This is the first and to my knowledge only publication of the North Farnham Parish registers, so we’re just going to have to trust their interpretation.

The publication “Married Well and Often: Marriages of the Northern Neck of Virginia, 1649-1800,” available at Ancestry shows the Dodson/Dagod marriage as well.

dagord-marriage

These folks obviously thought that Dagod was a misspelling of Doggett, and there were Doggett families in the area. They may have been right – and they may have been wrong.

However, for some reason, within the Dodson family, Margaret’s surname has always been listed as Dagord, not Dagod or Doggett, either one. The great irony is that no place in these records or the Richmond County records does Dagord, spelled as such, ever appear.

Speaking of the North Farnham Church Register, the original parish register no longer exists and apparently hasn’t for about 200 years or so. We’re working with a disintegrating (but now preserved) leatherbound alphabetized transcription housed at the Virginia State Archives that includes records from 1663 to 1814. It’s these records, already alphabetized and transcribed once that were transcribed a second time by Harrison and King in 1866.

These records can very effectively be used in conjunction with the existing marriage records from the area which exist beginning in 1668. Neither set of documents appears to be complete. Pages are missing from the North Farnham Parish register. At least three sets of page numbers have been added at different times (pen, ink and crayon) and are not in sync with each other, not to mention that it’s obvious in an alphabetized list when sections or pages are missing.

In 1663, North Farnham Parish was still Farnham Parish which was split between north and south in 1684. North was north of the Rappahannock River, now Richmond County and South was south of the river, now Essex County.

Another challenge is the spelling of the Dagord surname. It may not be Dagord, and whatever it was, it could certainly have been spelled myriad ways. I found variations that included Dagod, Doggett, Doged, Doget, Dogged, Dogett, Doggett, Daggett…you get the idea. So I looked for every somewhat similar record beginning with Da and Do. The good and bad news both is that there really weren’t many records at all.

I thought sure that perhaps researchers hadn’t researched thoroughly, so I undertook that task, perusing not just Richmond County, but also the preceeding counties from which Richmond was formed. I checked Lancaster, York, Old Rappahannock and Richmond County land, probate and court records closely.

I did not check Essex County records since Essex was located across a mile-wide river, which would not have placed Margaret Dagod in close enough proximity to George Dodson to get to know each other well enough to marry, given that the Dodsons lived on or near Totuskey Creek in Richmond County.  A ferry ride would have been the most expedient way to cross the Rappahannock River, and ferries were not free.

Old Rappahannock County, Virginia

northern-neck

Settlement in the Northern Neck of Virginia, shown above as the neck of land that today includes the counties of Westmoreland, Northumberland, Richmond and Lancaster, began about 1635 when the area was part of York County, one of the original counties formed in 1634. St. Mary’s and St. Charles Counties in Maryland are just across the Potomac River, on the north side of the neck.

In 1619, the area which is now York County was included in two of the four incorporations (or “citties”) of the proprietary Virginia Company of London which were known as Elizabeth Cittie and James Cittie.

In 1634, what became York County was formed as Charles River Shire, one of the eight original shires of Virginia.

During the English Civil War, Charles River County and the Charles River (also named for the King) were changed to York County and York River, respectively. The river, county, and town of Yorktown are believed to have been named for York, a city in Northern England.

York County land records and probate began in 1633.

In 1648, Northumberland was formed from York and then in 1652 Lancaster was formed Northumberland and York. Land records in Northumberland began in 1650 and probate in 1652.

Old Rappahannock County (not to be confused with the current Rappahannock County) was formed in 1656 from Lancaster County, VA. Land records begin in 1656 and probate in 1665. In 1692, old Rappahannock was dissolved and divided into Essex and Richmond Counties.

Old Rappahannock County was named for the Native Americans who inhabited the area, Rappahannock reportedly meaning “people of the alternating (i.e., tidal) stream.” The county’s origins lay in the first efforts by English immigrants to “seat” the land along the Rappahannock River in the 1640s. The primitive travel capabilities of the day and the county’s relatively large area contributed to the settlers’ hardship in travel to the county seat to transact business, and became the primary reason for the county’s division by an Act of the Virginia General Assembly in 1691 to form the two smaller counties of Essex and Richmond.

According to the library of Virginia, old Rappahannock wills are with the Essex County wills, although they have been transcribed and published separately.

Richmond County was formed in 1692 from Old Rappahannock, with land records beginning in 1692 and probate in 1699, although many records are lost for unknown reasons.

You would think that at least some Dagord (or similar surname) records would be found in the following locations:

dagord-old-counties

If Margaret Dagod/Dagord was born in 1708, her father would have been living in the parish at that time, and again in 1726 when she married George Dodson. It’s very likely that Margaret’s parents lived nearby the Dodson family in Richmond County that entire time. Let’s see what the records tell us.

Northumberland County

The Northern Neck counties of Virginia are blessed by a series of books, by county, written by F. Edward Wright titled “Marriage References and Family Relationships.” Each county has one of these books, and they do intertwine somewhat. The author has assembled the various records from marriages, wills, deeds and other resources to piece these families together.

In the “Family” book for Northumberland County, we find the following:

  • Benjamin Doggett son of Rev. Benjamin and Jane Gerrard Doggett, married before 1712.
  • John Doggett died by 1740, widow Mary.
  • William Doggett/Dogged married Elizabeth, surname unknown, and had children beginning in 1770. If William didn’t move from someplace else, this family was in the vicinity since the early 1700s but had almost transactions at all in county records.

Interestingly, the Reverand Bejamin Doggett was the rector at the Saint Mary’s Whitechapel Church in present day Lancaster County from 1670-1682 when he died and is buried there, marked by the red pin below, not far from Farnham, where the North Farnham Parish Church is located.

dagord-doggett-white-chapel

The Dodson family lived on Totuskey Creek, between Kennard and 614 in the upper left of the map, probably on or near the main road, “3,” about 18 miles distant from Saint Mary’s.

There was nothing in early York or Lancaster County records, so apparently Reverend Doggett immigrated after that portion of Lancaster had become Old Rappahannock. I did not check later records in those counties.

There is no record of the Reverend Benjamin Doggett having a son Henry, and his sons were too young to have sons having children by 1708.

Richmond County

The North Farnham Parish Registers hold the following records:

  • Isaac Doggett and Elizabeth Churchwell, married in 1729.
  • Ann, daughter of John and Mary Doggitt born October 1725.
  • John Doged son of Isaac Doged born in 1730.
  • Samuel Doged son of Isaac and Elizabeth Doged born June 1733.

Absolutely nothing for Henry or any other births anyplace close to Margaret’s in 1708, nor are there records in the 1600s.

Richmond County is fortunate in that a book has been published that provides an every name index for court orders from 1721-1752. No, that’s not early, but it will help nonetheless and covers the time in 1726 when Margaret Dagord married Charles Dodson.

We find the surname spelled Doged, Doggett, Doggitt and Doghead. First names include Isaac, Ann, Richard and that’s it.

The Richmond County “Family” book provides the following:

  • Isaac Doggett married in December 1729 to Elizabeth Churchwell, children John and Samuel.
  • John Doggitt married Mary, surname unknown, daughter Ann born in 1725.
  • Richard Doggitt/Doged married before October 1727 to Ann, only daughter of Thomas Ascough.

As I checked the extant records for all of the early counties plus Richmond County records, including court order books, there were very few records for any spelling of this surname, and absolutely none for Henry, with one exception.

1649

Henry Dagord, by that spelling, is mentioned in one 1649 record.

I found this tantalizing record at Ancestry, which told me that there was a record, but exactly nothing about the content.

dagord-ancestry

As it turns out, Google is my friend. I found the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography online.

dagord-virginia-magazine

The following will of Walter Walton is the sole mention of Henry Dagord.

Walter Walton. Will 30 November 1649; proved 17 August 1650. Mr. Alexander Ewes and Mr. Richard Lawson to be my executors in the behalf of my mother, Johane Walton, living in Spoford in the parish of Spoford, Yorkshire, England. They to pay all my debts demanded in this my voyage in the adventure now in Verginney bound for Maryland, and I give power to John Underhill and Benjamin Cowell of the said ship to receive what is due me. One servant that I brought over sold for twelve C tobacco. Henry Dagord for one sute and cloke three C tobacco. John Smith, a passenger, 30 lbs tobacco. Simon Asbe 27 ft tobacco. Nathaniel Foord 9 lb tobacco. Mr. Walker 374 lb tobacco. Henry Dagord 9 lb tobacco. Witnesses: Thomas May, Peter Walker, John Addams, Miles Cooke, Richard ?. Proved by Richard Lawson, with power reserved.

Unfortunately, this record doesn’t tell us WHERE Walter Walton’s will was proved, but I found the will in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury, in England.

Was Henry Dagord sailing on the same ship, the Adventure, as Walter Walton? Was Henry an indentured servant to Walter Walton?

Is the Henry Dagord in this record the same Henry Dagord who had daughter Margaret in 1708?

If Henry Dagord was age 15 in 1649, he would have been 84 in 1708 when Margaret was born. That’s not very likely.

A child or teen would not have ordered a suit and cloak, so it’s likely that the Henry Dagord in this record was an adult, making him older than 84 in 1708.

This Henry Dagord might have been the grandfather of Margaret Dagord, but it’s very unlikely that he was her father. Furthermore, based on this record, we really don’t know if the Henry Dagord referenced was even in the colonies. Walter may have been referencing a debt incurred by a man in England. We just don’t know.

One online tree shows a Henry Dagord born in 1749 in Cane, Scotland, but no source and I can find no records to suggest this. Furthermore, even if a Henry Dagord was born in Cane, Scotland, connecting the dots and proving that he was the same Henry that immigrated would be required as step one. A newborn would hot have been ordering a suit and cloak, so a Henry born in Scotland in 1749 cannot be the same man mentioned in Walter Walton’s will. Step two would be finding a way to prove Henry DaGord’s connection to Margaret some 59 years later. Unfortunately, there just aren’t any records that connect those dots. That’s why so many brick walls remain in these early colonial genealogies.

Mystery

One of the big mysteries is how a man in Virginia in this timeframe can remain almost entirely non-existent in records. I must admit, given the court order books, deeds, wills and the parish register, Richmond County and its preceding counties are quite record-rich – at least by comparison to other counties. It’s hard to believe that Henry Dagord or Henry by whatever Dag… or Dog… surname, was entirely transparent. The only circumstance I can think that would lend itself to this situation would be if he was an indentured servant. The problem with that, of course, is that indentured servants weren’t married, didn’t have children, and sold themselves into bondage for a few years to earn their passage – delaying the rest of their life until their stint in servitude was complete.

Henry clearly was married, did have children and lived in Farnham Parish from at least 1708 to 1726, assuming Henry was alive that entire time. Daughter Margaret had to live close enough to the Dodson family to court.

Henry clearly didn’t own land, never got subpoenaed to court for anything, went to church every Sunday (or he would have been subpoenaed to court) and never witnessed any document for anyone. In fact, were it not for the North Farnham Parish Church Register and Margaret’s birth and marriage, we wouldn’t even know Henry existed.

Most Virginia families that intermarried had various types of social interactions with one another.  They were neighbors, often, and witnessed deeds for each other, for example.  There is not one record of any Dagod or similar surname associated with any Dodson or closely affiliated family.

The Dodson and Dagod families may have been from different social strata.  It may be very relevant that Margaret married on her 18th birthday and her first child was born 8 months and one day after her marriage to Charles Dodson.  While the Dodson family, who did own land and appeared to be more successful than Henry Dagod would have been very unhappy about their son marrying into a poorer class, they probably would not have forbid it because of the pregnancy. Legally, if Charles was of age, the family couldn’t prevent the marriage. So perhaps this pregnancy was planned as a method for two young lovers to be allowed to marry.  Stranger things have happened! If that was the case, it certainly worked quite effectively.

The other possibility, of course, is that Henry was not entirely white – which would also explain his apparent poverty as well as his absence from court records. However, if Henry was not white, meaning not all white, it would be extremely unlikely that his daughter would be marrying a Dodson male – although the pregnancy might have been a contributing or deciding factor there too. Virginia criminalized marriage between whites and Indians in 1691, but omitted the word “Indian” in similar 1705 legislation, leaving the law to apply only to whites and blacks/mulattoes.

How I wish we could peek back into time and be a fly on the wall. Who was Henry Dagod?  Or Dagord?  Or Doggett?

The Best We Can Do

The very best we can do for Henry is to use his daughter’s birth year as an anchor point and figure his age ranges from that.

I’m going to use the assume word a lot, which I dislike doing, but it’s the only choice we have.

First, I’m going to assume Henry’s wife was about his age or maybe as much as 5 years younger than he was. This would have been typical for the time.

If Henry was newly married when Margaret was born, he would probably have been age 25, which is about the age young men married at that time.

But let’s say he was only 20, to get the fullest range. If that was the case, he would have been born absolutely no later than 1688.

If Henry’s wife was at the end of her childbearing years, age 43 or so, and Henry was the same age, he would have been born about 1665. If he was 5 years older than his wife, he would have been born about 1660.

The range we have for Henry’s birth is 1660-1688 and more likely 1660-1683.

Indentured servants were not allowed to marry. If Henry was an indentured servant in 1708 and had gotten a female pregnant, the child would not have carried his surname. This tells us that by the time Margaret was born, Henry was married to her mother.

This also suggests that Henry could have been an older parent, because if he served an indenture before marrying, he could well have not married until later than normal for unfettered males. Indentured servants after release were often poor, never owning land. There is no evidence that Henry ever owned land, which is somewhat unusual in and of itself in Virginia, the land of opportunity and available land.

We have absolutely no idea when Henry died. All we know positively is that he died sometime after Margaret was conceived, and probably after her birth, but I don’t know if the register would have said if the father was dead by the time the child was born. Many marriages don’t list any parents, but I didn’t see any that mentioned deceased parents.

DNA

Unfortunately, because of the difficulty identifying either Henry Dagod/Dagord himself, or even the surname exactly, DNA identification is quite difficult.

At Family Tree DNA, a feature exists to see if:

  • Anyone by the surname you are searching has tested and…
  • If a surname project exists.

Simply click here, then click on the projects tab in the upper left hand corner.

dagord-project-search

You will then see the above screen, where you can browse alphabetically for surname projects. I generally prefer entering the surname into the search box, at upper right. However, in this case, because I want to look for projects by several spellings, I’ll just look under the Ds for surname projects.

Unfortunately, there is no Dagord or Doggett project or anything similar. However, with so little information about Henry, it would be nearly impossible to confirm that any Dag… or Dog… surname originating from Richmond County, VA is this line.

Next step, I’ll look further to see if anyone by the surnames of Doggett or Daggett has individually tested.

I entered the surname Doggett in the Project Search box in the upper right, because I want to see if any individuals by that surname have tested. This is different than looking for surname projects. Good news, there are 14 people who have tested who currently carry the Doggett surname, although some maybe females.

dagord-surname-search

There are also 15 Daggetts who have tested.

dagord-daggett-search

This looks to be a really good opportunity to start a surname project that includes both surnames, plus Dagord, of course. Anyone interested?

Autosomal DNA

I’d love to see if I share autosomal DNA with anyone descended from any of these lines. If I do, it could indeed confirm that Margaret was really a Doggett or Daggett.

If a Doggett or Daggett surname project existed, I could join that project and search for any matches within that project. If I matched with someone in the Doggett/Daggett project, that would be significant, assuming we don’t share any other genealogy. You just never know what might break down that brick wall. Since there is no project to join, and not everyone joins projects anyway, there are other methodologies to utilize.

Autosomal DNA might, just might, provide the link I need, although the connection is several generations back in time. However, if you don’t look, you’ll never find, so here goes!

dagord-pedigree

In order to discover whether or not I share any DNA with anyone who has Doggett or Daggett lines, I searched for those surnames (and variant spellings) in my match list in Family Finder. The red arrow is the search bar where I entered Doggett.

dagord-match-list-search

Surprisingly, I did find two Doggetts, and glory be, one shows Ann Doggett who is indeed from Lancaster County, Virginia, born in 1700. My match’s tree shows that she married George Reeves.

dagord-ann-daggett

I checked the tree of my match, Jason, and we don’t seem to have any other ancestors in common, at least none that are evident – so maybe our common ancestral surname is Doggett.  But there are more things to check before we can reach that conclusion.

Master DNA Spreadsheet

Next, I checked my Master DNA Match Spreadsheet to see which segments over 5cM where Jason and I match and I also match to other people. There is one larger matching segment at just under 8cM on chromosome 16.

It’s possible that I’ve already triangulated some of the other people who match on that same segment in terms of our common ancestor.

Sure enough, there were 32 other people with whom I match on all or part of that same segment where I match Jason. You can see the example below from my Master DNA Spreadsheet where I match 5 individuals on the exact same segment, including Jason.

dagord-master-matches

Some matches turned out to be from my mother’s side, so I eliminated those. My mother tested, so that was easy to do.

Unfortunately, I have not triangulated this group, meaning worked on discovering and assigning a common ancestor, so now is a good time to work on this exercise.

The first thing I did was to see if any of the people who share any portion this segment with me are on my list of Dodson matches by typing Dodson in to the Family Finder search. They were not.

dagord-surname-list

Next, I checked every single individual that matches me in Family Finder (on the same segment where I match Jason) to view their matching surname list and view their tree, shown above. Surnames, at right, are taken only from surnames entered specifically by the tester, NOT from the direct ancestral line in their tree, so you need to check both their Ancestral Surnames and their tree. It’s a bit tedious, but can pay off big time.

dagord-jemima-dodson

Sure enough, look here. This person does not show up in a Dodson search, because the Dodson surname is not listed in the ancestral surnames list, but viewing their tree reveals….you guessed it, a Dodson.

Now, this doesn’t mean our match is necessarily attributed to Dodson DNA, which could include Doggett DNA of course. But it’s a great first step to build that case.

Of the 26 individuals, I found the following:

  • 10 had no trees and no ancestral surnames listed. Very frustrating.
  • 12 had trees and/or surnames, but I didn’t see any evident family lines.
  • One listed Derham, as opposed to Durham – but their Derham was directly from Ireland and did not immigrate into Virginia. This appears not to be related although the connection can’t be ruled out entirely.
  • Jason was the Doggett match
  • One had Jemima Dodson in their tree.
  • One had a Dobson, consistently spelled in that manner, that immigrated from London. This does not appear to be relevant.

Unfortunately, I could not find any other Dodson or Doggett/Daggett family lines in this match group.

Master Cousin Match List

As a secondary tactic, I turned to the big guns – my master cousin list. I haven’t written about this tool before.

I download the matches of each cousin whose test I’ve paid for (and who have granted permission) and combine them into one humongous spreadsheet file. This allows me to sort by matches to all of the cousins at one time. Therefore, I can see who, of my cousins, also matches Jason, as illustrated in the example below.

dagord-cousin-match-group

While this is just an example, you’ll note that all of these people match Jason on chromosome 2. Some people match Jason on the same segments. While this example shows only small segments, the premise is the same. The next step would be to see if the cousins who match Jason on the same segments also match each other on those segments too. That’s triangulation. However, if I’m not included in the triangulated match group, then it’s not triangulation for me on those segments. It would, however, shows that these families do descend from a common ancestor – especially with larger segments of 5cM or over.

Looking at who one individual (like Jason) matches consistently can be a powerful hint as to which family line they are associated with.

I looked through my master cousin list for all of the 26 people who I match on the same segment with Jason, which means I sorted by matchname and then looked to see which cousins, if any, the individual matches.

I found the following interesting information on the Master Cousin Match List spreadsheet for the 26 matches to Jason:

  • 11 people match me only and none of my cousins on the master cousin list
  • Two match different Crumley family members, which do not include a Dodson. line. However, I did spot Mercers in Richmond County, a name that married into the Crumley line although there is no evidence that it’s the same line. It’s also possible that we have a “buried” Dodson marriage in the Crumley line, as we don’t know the surnames of all the wives.
  • 4 match my Vannoy cousins which do not have a known Dodson or Doggett link. This might suggest that the link between Jason, me and our match group is NOT through Dodson or Doggett. However, the Vannoy line also includes the Crumley line, which is the same issue as discussed above.
  • 5 match cousins who descend from the Dodson line but who also descend through the Vannoy/Crumley line.  Elizabeth Vannoy is my great-grandmother.

Last Resort

As a last resort, I checked my “oldest” cousin, Buster, who is a generation closer to the ancestors than I am. In Family Finder, he too has a Doggett match, Daniel, who descends from Richard Doggett and Ann Ascough, son of Rev. Benjamin Doggett and Jane Garrard. However, Buster’s match, Daniel, also has a Smoot line, as do both Buster and I. The Smoots married into the Durham line which married into the Dodson line. Daniel’s Smoot line is not the same as my and Buster’s Smoot line, but it’s from just across the Potomac River in St. Mary’s County, Maryland in the same timeframe. Clearly, it could actually be the same Smoot line, given that both Smoot lines run into brick walls at the same time. Hey, maybe this is a clue that we weren’t actually looking for! No problem – I’ll take it!

Where Are We?

Buster’s match, Daniel, had not yet tested when I did the cousin match downloads, so I need to do those downloads again to be able to check for him. This takes quite a bit of time because there are several.

I should probably individually search the FTDNA accounts of all of my cousins descended from the Dodson line for Doggett and Daggett.

The master cousin matches to a common individual aren’t definitive proof. They point to common matches between groups of people suggesting family lines, meaning they point the way towards more meaningful research. They provide hints, albeit sometimes very compelling hints.

The matches on the same segments within a match group might be proof – if they also match each other AND have a common ancestor or ancestral line.  We’re not quite there yet.

The only definitive proof would be triangulation – hopefully with people whose lines are complete back to the common ancestor. Otherwise, there can be common DNA from other unknown lines. I have this problem in my own pedigree chart with Lazarus Dodson who married Jane, surname unknown, with Rawleigh Dodson who married Mary, surname unknown, and with Charles Dodson who married Ann, surname unknown. Right there are three opportunities for unknown families and their DNA to enter into my genetic line. It’s likely, of course, that these men married women from the neighborhood, so it’s very likely that Ann, Charles Dodson’s wife, is from the Northern Neck of Virginia, unless he married her before immigrating. It’s likely that anyone who I match from this same time period is also going to have a few brick walls, so it’s very difficult to definitively assign colonial DNA to a specific ancestor.

In cases like this, I don’t like to decide that triangulation has occurred with only 3 people. I think the further back in time, the less solid the pedigree charts, the more proof you need. Of course, the further back in time, the less likely you are to match with descendants and the smaller the matching DNA segments. So while you need more proof, proof is increasingly difficult to garner.

In terms of triangulation, we do have the Jemima Dodson line, me with a Dodson ancestor and Jason with a Doggett ancestor, all matching on the same segment, although the person with Jemima Dodson in their tree does not have a full overlap of the entire segment, making their matching portion smaller – about half the size of the match between me and Jason. Is it a legitmate match? I don’t know.

The bottom line is that we don’t know if Dagord/Doged was Doggett or Daggett or unrelated. The answer seems tantalizingly close. It feels within reach. Daggett or Doggett is not a common surname, so more than one random match seems unlikely. Yet, Buster and I both have a different Doggett match. However, I’ve seen the unlikely happen more than once. Genealogy seems to delight in leading me down the primrose path just to laugh and say, “just kidding” at the end when I’m standing in the brier patch instead, wondering how I got there. Now, I’m justifiably suspicious of anything and everything without proof.

Maybe if I download the cousin matches again the newer matches will provide the answer. Maybe if I check all my cousins for Doggett/Daggett matches. Maybe if someone else tests, the answer will be there tomorrow, or the next day, or next week. My fingers are crossed that Doggett and Daggett descendants from Richmond County that are not related to the Dodson, Durham or Smoot families will test – and that we’ll find some definitive triangulated matches. I’d love to know if Dagod is really Doggett or Daggett.

And while I’m at it, I’d think that those families would want to know if Doggett is Daggett too – or maybe Y DNA testing has already provided that answer. If so, the answer is not at Ysearch today.

If you descend from one of the Dagod, Doggett or Daggett families from close to Richmond County, or a similar surname, and have DNA tested, let me know. Let’s see if we match.

Andreas Kirsch (1772-1819) of Fussgoenheim, Bayern, Germany, 52 Ancestors #148

Andreas.

Such a beautiful name. I’ve loved it since I first saw the name as part of our family history, although that first time was in such a sad context.

When researching the Kirsch family in Ripley County, Indiana, I ran across a cemetery listing for the child, Andreas Kirsch, by himself in a long-abandoned cemetery. I wondered to myself, was this child “ours,” and why was he all alone?

The child, Andreas Kirsch, was born right after the immigrants, Philip Jacob Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lemmert arrived in the US in 1848. Andreas was recorded in the 1850 census with his parents in Ripley County, Indiana, but died in 1851 or so, still a toddler. He is buried in the “Old Lutheran Cemetery” near Milan, the location of a Lutheran Church founded by German immigrants, probably a log cabin, long gone now and remembered by none.

Lutheran lost church cemetery

The only reminder is a few old gravestones, including Andreas’ now illegible marker. Andreas is buried alone, with no other family members close by. After the church was abandoned, the family attended church elsewhere, and eventually, the parents died and were buried near Aurora near where their son, Jacob Kirsch, lived.

Andreas Kirsch stone

Andreas was the youngest son of Philip Jacob Kirsch, whose father was an earlier Andreas Kirsch…a man who never left Germany. The younger Andreas was named after his grandfather nearly 30 years after the elder Andreas died.

fussgoenheim-sign

Philip Jacob Kirsch’s father, Andreas Kirsch was born on August 10, 1772 in the village of Fussgoenheim, in Bayern, Germany to Johann Valentine Kirsch and Anna Margaretha Kirsch. We don’t have his baptismal record, but he was probably baptized as Johann Andreas Kirsch.  At that time, German men had a first “saints” name, typically Johann, followed by a middle name that was the name by which they were called. It’s not unusual to see them referred to by only their middle name and last name.  I have only seen records that refer to Andreas as Andreas, so that’s what we’ll call him.

Kirsch was Andreas’ mother’s name before she married his father, so yes, both Andreas’ parents were Kirschs. And yes, they were related on the Kirsch line, second cousins once removed, both descendants of Jerg Kirsch, a man born about 130 years before Andreas and who founded the Kirsch line in Fussgoenheim.

kirsch-lineage

Andreas married Margaretha Elisabetha Kohler or Koehler sometime before December 1798 when their (probably first) child was born, also in Fussgoenheim. If this isn’t their first child, it’s the first child that we know survived. Unfortunately, the church records don’t appear to be complete.

Equally as unfortunately, there were multiple men named Andreas Kirsch living in Fussgoenheim at the same time, so figuring out who was who was challenging, to say the least. Family records failed me. It was church records that saved me. Fortunately, Germans recorded almost everything in the church records. If you missed a birth, you’d have another opportunity to glean information about the child’s parents when they married, or died, and perhaps at other times as well.

Philip Jacob Kirsch and his wife, Katharine Barbara Lemmert weren’t the only people from the Kirsch family to immigrate to Indiana. Philip Jacob Kirsch’s sister, Anna Margaretha Kirsch married Johann Martin Koehler and the two families immigrated together and settled in Ripley County, Indiana.

Another family who immigrated with the Kirschs, on the same ship, and is found living beside them in Ripley County in the 1850 census is the Andrew (Andreas in German) Weynacht family. The Weynacht’s are also found functioning as Godparents for Kirsch baptisms in Fussgoenheim. I’m not sure how, but the Weynacht family is surely related in one or perhaps several ways. Often children were named for their Godparent, so I wonder if Andreas Weynacht was the Godfather to baby Andreas Kirsch when he was born and christened in the now-forgotten Lutheran church in Ripley County, just weeks after these families arrived from Germany. So perhaps Andreas Kirsch was named after his grandfather with his name given by his godfather as well. At that time, it was the Godparents’ responsibility to raise the child if something happened to the parents.  This would have been very important to immigrants to a land where they knew no one nor the language.  All they had was their circle of immigrants.

The marriage record from the Fussgoenheim Lutheran Church of Andreas Kirsch’s daughter, Anna Margaretha Kirsch to Johann Martin Koehler in 1821 states that Andreas Kirsch is deceased by this time.

kirsch-anna-margaretha-to-johann-martin-koehler

Translated by Elke, a German interpreter and my friend, back in the 1980s, the record says:

Johann Martin Koehler, farmer, single, 24 years 11 months born and residing in Ellerstadt son of Philipp Jacob Koehler son of Peter Koehler farmer in Ellerstadt, present and consenting and his wife who died in Ellerstadt, Maria Katharina Merck and Anna Margaretha Kirsch, single, no profession 17 years 7 months born and residing here daughter of the deceased Andreas Kirsch and his surviving wife Elisabeth Koehler, present and consenting.

Witnesses Ludwig Merck (brother of Maria Katharina, his mother), farmer in Ellerstadt 10 years 6 months old uncle of the groom, Peer Merck, farmer, from here, 43 years old, uncle of the groom (his mother’s other brother) and Johannes Koob, farmer, from here 70 years old, uncle of the bride and Mathias Koob, farmer from here, cousin of the bride.

You might be wondering if Johann Martin Koehler who married Anna Margaretha Kirsch was related to Anna Margaretha’s mother, Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler. Why, as a matter of fact, yes. Johann Martin Koehler’s father was Philip Jacob Koehler, brother of Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler, making Anna Margaretha Kirsch and Johann Martin Koehler first cousins, shown in yellow below.

Are you getting the idea that these families in Mutterstadt were all heavily intermarried?

koehler-intermarriage-2

And because I wasn’t confused enough, the son of Anna Margaretha Kirsch and Johann Martin Koehler Sr., shown above in green as Johann Martin Koehler born in 1829, married his mother’s youngest sister, his aunt, Katharina Barbara Kirsch born in 1833. One of Anna Margaretha Kirsch and Johann Martin Koehler’s other children, Philip Jacob Koehler married Anna Elisabetha Kirsch, but she wasn’t as closely related. These families married and intermarried for generations, using the same names repeatedly, causing massive confusion trying to sort through the families and who belonged to whom.

Noting the relationships mentioned in the 1821 marriage record, if Johannes Koob was Anna Margaretha’s uncle, he had to be either a sibling of one of Anna Margaretha’s parents (Andreas Kirsch or Anna Margaretha Koehler) or the husband of a sibling of one of her parents.

We know that Anna Margaretha (Andreas’ wife) was a Koehler, not a Koob, so Johannes had to be the husband of one of Anna Margaretha’s aunts through either her mother or father. However, checking the church records, we only find that Andreas’s Kirsch’s siblings married Koobs, but no aunts married to Koobs. However, the records do show a Mathias Koob married to one Anna Elisabetha Koehler. I’m confused. Could the good Reverend have been a bit confused too by all of the intermarriage? Is something recorded incorrectly? If so, which information is incorrect?

A second record confirms that Andreas Kirsch married Margaretha Koehler. Philip Jacob Kirsch’s marriage record, shown from the original church record as follows:

Kirsch Lemmert 1829 marriage

It translates as:

Today the 22nd of December 1829 were married and blessed Philipp Jacob Kirsch from Fussgoenheim, the legitimate, unmarried son of the deceased couple, Andreas Kirsch and Margaretha Koehler and Katharina Barbara Lemmerth the legitimate unmarried daughter of the deceased local citizen Jacob Lemmerth and his surviving wife Gertrude Steiger, both of protestant religion.

This tells us that by 1829, both Andreas and his wife, Margaretha had passed away.

This marriage record and translation is further confirmed by this record at FamilySearch.

kirsch-lemmert-marriage

We know from Anna Margaretha Kirsch’s 1821 marriage record that her father, Andreas had already passed away by that time. We discover his death date through a record from Ancestry.

andreas-kirsch-death

Ancestry has select deaths and burials, 1582-1958 and Andreas Kirsch’s burial date is listed as May 22, 1819 in Fussgonheim with his wife listed as Margaretha Elisabetha Kohler. That’s now three independent confirmations that Andreas Kirsch’s wife was Margaretha Elisabeth Koehler.

Generally, burials are recorded in the church record, because that’s when the minister was involved. People died a day or two before they were buried.- never longer in the days before refrigeration, at least not unless it was winter.

Why Are These Three Records So Important?

There was a great amount of confusion surrounding who Andreas Kirsch married, and for good reason.

The church records show that the Andreas born in 1772 and married to Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler died before 1821.  Andreas’ wife’s name is again confirmed by the 1829 marriage record, followed by discovering Andreas’ own 1819 death record.

However, a now deceased cousin and long-time researcher, Irene, showed the coup[le as Johannes Andreas Kirsch married to Anna Margaretha Koob.

Walter, another cousin, showed Andreas’ wife as Anna Margaretha Koob, his occupation as schmiedemeister – master smithy. Andreas is noted as Johannes II “der Junge” in Walter’s records, so there may be some generational confusion.

As it turns out, Walter wasn’t entirely wrong – but he wasn’t entirely right either. That couple did exist – but the husband wasn’t our Andreas Kirsch.

There was an Anna Margaretha Koob married to a Johannes Kirsch. Their son, Johannes Kirsch married Maria Catharina Koob. Anna Elisabetha Kirsch, daughter of Johannes Kirsch and Maria Catharina Koob married Philip Jacob Koehler (shown in the Koehler pedigree chart above,) son of Anna Margaretha Kirsch and Johann Martin Koehler, and moved with the immigrating group to Ripley County, Indiana. It’s no wonder people living more than 100 years later were confused.

Two additional cousins, Joyce from Indiana and Marliese, who still resided in Germany, also showed that Andreas was married to Anna Margaretha Koob, born in 1771 and who died in 1833, instead of to Margaretha Elizabetha Koehler. Marliese indicated that this information was from family records.

The death record of Anna Margaretha Koob shows her husband as Johannes Kirsch Senior, not Andreas Kirsch – but I didn’t have this record yet at that time.

koob-anna-margaretha-1833-death

I began to wonder if I was losing my mind and if the original record I had was wrong – or for the wrong person with all of the same name confusion. However, the marriage record for Philip Jacob Kirsch and Katharina Barbara Lemmert clearly said that Andreas Kirsch was his father and Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler was his mother.  Philip Jacob and Katharina Barbara are my ancestors, and the Lemmert family was from Mutterstadt, so not heavily intermarried with the Kirsch line – meaning that mistaking this couple for any other couple was a remote possibility.  Furthermore, the church records indicate that they and their children all immigrated, and Katherina Barbara’s obituary in Indiana gives her birth location – so it’s unquestionably the same couple. Their 1829 marriage record is very clear, but still, I was doubting.

Mistakes do sometimes happen and at that point, it was 4 researchers who I respected with the same information, against one, me, with one church record. Was the church record somehow wrong?  Elke, my friend and interpreter said no, it wasn’t wrong, and dug harder and deeper and searched for more records, eventually finding the second  marriage record from 1821 that also indicated Andreas Kirsch’s wife was Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler.

Before additional records surfaced, given these conflicts, I struggled with knowing what to believe. Now, given three different church records that show Andreas as married to Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler, it would take a lot to convince me otherwise. I am so grateful for those German church records.

Church records also tell us that Andreas Kirsch’s brothers married Koobs, but that Andreas did not.

  • Johann Adam Kirsch married Maria Katharina Koob.
  • Johann Wilheim Kirsch married Katharina Barbara Koob.

This could have been the source of the “family memory” in Germany in the early/mid 1900s that Andreas Kirsch was married to a Koob. The family history recanted that the Kirsch brothers were married to Koob twin sisters. These Koob/Kirsch marriages could also have been some portion of the source of the confusion in the 1821 marriage record as well, especially if the reverend was new to the area or didn’t know the family history.

And of course, it seems that all women were named either Maria, Katharina, Barbara or Elizabetha, sometimes with a Margaretha thrown in for good measure. Men almost always had the given name of Johann or Johannes and were generally called by their middle name, which was the same as many of their cousins of course. You could have shouted “Andreas” in the middle of the main street in Fussgoenheim, been heard to each end of town, and at least one person would probably have answered from each household.

DNA and Endogamy

To make this confusing situation even more difficult by rendering autosomal DNA useless, these families all resided in the small village of Fussgoenheim and the neighboring village of Ellerstadt, and were likely already very intermarried and had been for 200 years or so by the time our family immigrated. This is the very definition of endogamy.

Not to mention that Germans aren’t terribly enamored with DNA testing for genealogy. Most of the families in Germany feel they don’t need to DNA test because they have been there “forever.” No need to discover where you are “from” because you’re not “from” anyplace else.

The only difference between Fussgoenheim and other German villages is that the church records are complete enough in Fussgoenheim to document the amount of intermarriage. Limited numbers of families meant little choice in marriage partners. Young people had to live close enough to court, on foot – generally at church, school and at the girl’s parents home. You married your neighbors, who were also your relatives at some level. There was no other choice. Endogamy was the norm.

Y DNA

Autosomal DNA is probably too far removed generationally to be useful, not to mention the endogamy.  However, I’d love to find out for sure if a group of Kirsch/Koehler descendants would test.  Being an immigrant line, there are few descendants in the US, at least not as compared to lines descending from colonial immigrants in the 1600s.

On the other hand, Y DNA, were we able to obtain the Kirsch Y DNA, would be very useful. Y DNA provides us with a periscope to look back in time hundreds and thousands of years, since the Y chromosome is only inherited by men from their fathers. The Y chromosome is like looking backwards through time to see where your Kirsch ancestor came from, and when, meaning before Fussgoenheim. Yes, there was a “before Fussgoenheim,” believe it or not.

Andreas Kirsch didn’t have a lot of sons.  Only two are confirmed as his sons and had male children.

  • Johann Adam Kirsch was born on December 5, 1798, married Maria Katherina Koob and died in 1863 in Fussgoenheim, noted as a deceased farmer. Family documents suggest he was one of the wealthiest farmers in the valley. Johann Adam had sons Andreas born in 1817, Valentine born in 1819, Johannes born in 1822 and Carl born in 1826, all in Fussgoenheim. It’s certainly possible that some of these men lived long and prospered, having sons who have Kirsch male descendants who live today.
  • Johann Wilhelm Kirsch married Katharina Barbara Koob. This person may not be a son of Andreas. The relationship is assumed because this couple acted as the godparents of the child of Philip Jacob Kirsch. This may NOT be a valid assumption. It’s unknown if Johann Wilhelm Kirsch had male children.
  • Philip Jacob Kirsch, the immigrant to Indiana did have several sons, all of whom immigrated with their parents to Indiana. Philip Jacob Kirsch born in 1830 never married. Johann William Kirsch married Caroline Kuntz, had two sons, but neither had sons that lived to adulthood, ending that male Kirsch line. Johannes, or John, born in 1835 married Mary Blatz in Ripley County, Indiana and moved to Marion County where he died in February 1927. John had sons Frank and Andrew Kirsch. Frank died in August, 1927 and left sons Albert and John Kirsch. Philip Jacob’s son, Jacob, had son Martin who had a son Edgar who had no children. Jacob also had son Edward who had son Deveraux “Devero” who had son William Kirsch, who has living male descendants today.

I am very hopeful that eventually a Kirsch male will step forward to DNA test. DNA is the key to learning more about our Kirsch ancestors before written records. If you are a male Kirsch descending from any of these lines, I have a DNA testing scholarship for you.

Summary

Fortunately, we finally confirmed who Andreas married – Margaretha Elisabetha Koehler. Andreas, if he is watching, is probably greatly relieved that we have him married to the correct wife now…or maybe he’s just amused.

Looking back, Marliese’s family in Germany reestablished communications with the Kirsch/Koehler family in Indiana during the 1930s and shared her family genealogical information. By that time, the Kirsch/Koehler families here had no information on the historical family back in Germany.

These families maintained some level of interaction, writing letters, for the next two generations. I think that the family genealogy information from Germany, much of it from family memory, was inadvertently in error relative to Andreas Kirsch’s wife. The German family members graciously shared their information with various researchers in the US, who shared it with others. Therefore, the original “remembered” information was incorrect in exactly the same way when gathered some 50 years later from descendants. I don’t know how the US researchers would have obtained the identically incorrect information otherwise. That was before the days of online trees that could easily be copied and even before the days of the LDS church’s microfilmed records, which is where I found the records for Elke to translate in the 1980s. Of course, there are even more records available today through FamilySearch and Ancestry.

Sadly, my Kirsch cousins have all passed on now. I would love to share this with them. I’m sure they would be grateful to learn that we know unquestionably, confirmed by three individual church records, who Andreas married. That was a brick wall and sticking point for a very long time.

Andreas did not live a long life. He was born in 1772 and died in 1819, at the age of 46 years, just 3 months shy of his 47th birthday. Surely, at that age, he didn’t die of old age. Perhaps one day, we’ll obtain the actual death record from the church which may include his cause of death. Some churches were religious (pardon the pun) about recording as much information as possible, including causes of death and scriptures read at the funeral, and others recorded the bare minimum.

I’m grateful to know Andreas a little better. I like to think he was rooting for me as I searched for accurate records. I hope that someday, a record will be found to tell us a little more about his actual life – like his occupation, perhaps. Hope springs eternal!

How Jacob Kirsch Lost His Eye, 52 Ancestors #146

I already wrote about Jacob Kirsch in the article, Jacob Kirsch (1841-1917), Lynching Saloonist With a Glass Eye, but as you might have already guessed, some new and very interesting information has come to light. I not only want to document this portion of Jacob’s life – this man was anything but dull – but I want to share how I discovered this information with you. You may discover something very interesting too.

Jacob is Living in an Antique Shop

This entire chapter in Jacob’s ancestor journey started less than 10 days ago with a message from an Ancestry user, Linda. She didn’t match my DNA, but she had found something even more valuable. I know you don’t believe that I think anything is more valuable than DNA, but Linda had found a picture of my great-great-grandfather, Jacob Kirsch, taken in 1891.

jacob-kirsch-1891

Linda found this photo, plus one of Jacob’s daughter, Ida Kirsch Galbreath, in an antique shop in Brownstown, Indiana, about 70 miles west of Aurora, Indiana where Jacob lived.

ida-kirsch-galbreath

The photographs were not displayed together, but Linda took pictures of them with her phone and decided to see if she could find their family. All I can say is “bless you Linda.”

Fortunately, the names and in Ida’s case, her birth and death years were written on the front.

Linda, genealogy angel-in-human-form, went home and promptly got on Ancestry, found my tree, and sent me a message. Thankfully, I actually received the message too.

Within an hour, Linda had e-mailed me the pictures she had taken with her phone and I was frantically trying to find the phone number of the antique shop. The shop, it turns out, had changed owners, and names, and phone numbers. Linda went back, on my behalf, to find a current phone number. Talk about a genealogical act of kindness – times two.

The Missing Trapshooting Champion Article

Jacob Kirsch owned the Kirsch House in Aurora, Indiana and when I was researching for his article and that of his wife, Barbara Drechsel, I was very fortunate to meet a gal named Jenny who is associated with the Historical Society in Aurora. Jenny was immensely helpful, and we became friends, finding additional common ground in our genealogy work and quilting.

Sometime after I published Jacob’s original story, January 31, 2016, but several months ago, either Jenny or I made a discovery. I think Jenny made the discovery, but neither of us can find hide nor hair of this discovery now. To say I’m mad at myself would be a massive understatement.

One of us found an article about Jacob Kirsch being a champion trapshooter. We remarked that we were surprised, because Jacob was missing one eye. Not only did this (now missing) article say he was a champion, but his team won the tri-state championship. He was a member of the Cincinnati Gun Club.

I had no idea Jacob was a trapshooter until I saw that now-missing article. In fact, I didn’t really know what trapshooting was, and discovered that it’s competitive shooting with a shotgun at clay pigeons that are launched aerially. They used to use live birds released from “traps” which is how the name trapshooting originated.  In the late 1800s, glass balls and then clay pigeons replaced live birds, thankfully.

Jenny religiously reads the old newspapers from Aurora, Indiana, so I’m thinking she may have found that article there. It was clearly a newspaper article, and I remember seeing it.

When I saw Jacob’s photo, I immediately thought the photo had to be Jacob and his trapshooting gun, even though I’ve never seen a trapshooting gun.  I wanted to reread the article to verify what it said, but I couldn’t find that article.

I sent Jenny a note. She remembered, but she couldn’t find anything either. So both of us, the only two people who would have been remotely interested, have now come up entirely empty handed.

So either Jenny and I had coordinated dreams, or I’ve lost the article. How could that have happened given that Jenny and I e-mail and message – leaving a trail for both of us?

Re-Researching the Article

If that article could be found once, it could be found again. Or so I thought.

Jenny and I, last year, were discussing how we thought Jacob had lost his eye before the Civil War because Jacob’s obituary said he couldn’t pass the physical so he served in the Civil War as a cook and teamster instead of as a soldier.

We knew, beyond a doubt, from two people who had met him in person that he had a glass eye when he was an old man – and liked to pop it out and scare the local kids – who all came round the Kirsch House to watch him pop his eye out and run away screaming.  Jacob never disappointed them!

Can you tell which of his two eyes is the glass eye in this closeup of the 1891 picture?

jacob-1891-closeup

Even closer…

jacob-1891-very-close

I think it’s his left eye.  What do you think?

The fact that Jacob was missing an eye was one reason why I was initially surprised when that trapshooting championship article appeared, because I initially assumed that lack of two eyes would make someone a poor shot – or at least significantly challenged. And my presumption was that the military thought so too – given that he couldn’t pass his physical. Turns out I was wrong on both accounts.

Well, let me tell you what – presume and assume are one and the same. I don’t know why Jacob couldn’t pass his military physical, and now, I’m not sure that is even true – but I can tell you that it wasn’t because of his missing eye. Because Jacob’s eye wasn’t missing then.

How did I figure that out? I began with Google. I Googled a variety of terms, but finally “Jacob Kirsch Trapshooting Cincinnati” turned up a direct match…that sent me to Newspapers.com.

Newspapers.com is a subscription site. I’m not a subscriber – or I wasn’t. I am now.

There is nothing a genealogist won’t do to glean that tidbit, that sure thing, about an ancestor behind a paywall – especially at midnight when the only thing standing between them and their ancestor is a credit card number.

Found at Newspapers.com

Years ago, I was a Newspapers.com subscriber, and not once did I ever find anything useful. They kept telling me how many new newspapers they had brought online, but none of those mattered for my ancestors. I let my subscription lapse long ago.

However, Newspapers.com has imaged and indexed many new newspapers since then, including the major Cincinnati newspapers. Aurora, Indiana, where Jacob lived, is just a hop, skip and a jump from Cincinnati, 30 miles downtown to downtown, a short ride on the train – and the Kirsch House that Jacob owned was located beside the train depot. Today, Aurora is functionally a Cincinnati suburb with many commuting back and forth to work.

The first article I found indeed confirmed that I had not been dreaming that Jacob was a crack shot. In the following article published in the Cincinnati Enquirer, Jacob Kirsch, J. C. Small and H. Hill from Aurora were listed as a team in this national competition.

Cincinnati Enquirer, Cincinnati, Ohio – Monday, October 31, 1898

jacob-kirsch-1898-article

Ok, I’m redeemed and my sanity is still at least somewhat intact. I was feeling validated by now, my subscription justified, although that still isn’t the original article that told about Jacob winning a tri-state championship. Furthermore, I wondered about the outcome of this particular event.

I searched for the phrase “Cincinnati Gun Club” and the date of November, 1898.  I discovered that the surname OCR (optical character recognition) doesn’t always work.  However, I was able to find 2 or 3 articles about who won the competition.  Jacob Kirsch’s name was in the first article, but the OCR scanning hadn’t picked it up.

The first thing I discovered is that the club boasted that they had 2500 live pigeons in large cages, all of whom would be killed for this event – making it not a shooting competition, but a pointless blood sport.  The pigeons wouldn’t even be consumed, just used and discarded in a bloody mutilated pile – many probably not dead and still suffering.

This saddens me greatly.  Ironically, events like this are part of what led to the extinction of the passenger pigeon.  The last passenger pigeon, died, ironically, in the Cincinnati Zoo in 1914.  Wonderful, my ancestor directly participated in a species becoming extinct. Now there’s something to be proud of…

On Friday, Jacob Kirsch participated in Event #3 where there were 15 targets (meaning pigeons) and he placed 4th, hitting 12 of the birds.  I hope the other 3 flew far away and never returned.  Then, in Event #8, he placed third, hitting 8 of 10 pigeons.  On Saturday, he didn’t place at all.  I did notice that the purse was noted as $700 cash plus a silver trophy worth $300.  The entrance fee for each event was $1.50.

Learning that Jacob killed live birds for sport with no thought about the inhumanity of his actions certainly dampened and colored my perspective of his accomplishments. And this, even after he had been shot himself, so it’s certainly not like he didn’t know what it felt like. Yet, he continued and obviously enjoyed the carnage.

Regardless, I wanted to know about Jacob, and I’m learning – the positive and negative. It’s just not at all what I expected.

Utilize Different Search Criteria

Becoming frustrated and a bit disheartened, I changed my search criteria to “Indiana” instead of Cincinnati, Ohio and found this.

Indianapolis News – July 25, 1917, also the Fort Wayne Weekly Sentinel – July 26, 1917

jacob-kirsch-trapshooter-death

There it is – the fact that they won the tri-state championship. This article from 1917 says that championship was more than 20 years ago. We know that event wasn’t the 1898 event at the Cincinnati Gun Club, so it must have been earlier.

Expand the Net

A little later (in the night, like about 3 AM) I decided to check one more thing. Just one more search and I’ll go to bed. That should be the genealogists’ rallying battle cry!

Jacob’s daughter, my great-grandmother, Nora Kirsch moved with her husband Curtis Benjamin Lore to Rushville, Indiana and I decided to search for the name Kirsch there. I mean, you never know…right?

Aug 22, 1889 – Rushville Republican, Rushville Indiana

jacob-kirsch-trumbower-shot

Ouch!!! I never expected to find anything like this. It makes sense that Jacob would have some sort of target practice available nearby…but at the hotel, beside the train depot with the passenger platform being between the Kirsch House and the depot building?

In the photo below, the Kirsch House (today) is the red building at right with the yellow sale or lease sign in the window and the refurbished depot can be seen at left. The old Kirsch House building is up against the property line on the right side, so the only location available to shoot would have been the garden area to the rear of the Kirsch House which is actually L shaped, between the depot and the Kirsch House.

jacob-kirsch-house-and-depot-area

The driveway area between the Kirsch House and the depot, at that time, was the platform where passengers waited to board the train and where merchandise was loaded and unloaded onto horse-drawn wagons. A busy place indeed with lots of activity.

In the satellite view below, you can see that the only place with any space for shooting would be the small area of grass immediately behind the L-shaped Kirsch House.

jacob-kirsch-house-depot-aerial

Shooting in that area doesn’t seem very safe to me. And apparently it wasn’t, although not dangerous to the people I expected.

I surely wonder if J. E. Trumbower died. The Indianapolis News carried an article too, but they only said Trumbower was shooting with a target rifle and inflicted a dangerous wound.

No wonder the Kirsch House is supposed to be haunted. Between this and Jacob’s son-in-law who intentionally shot (and killed) himself in the courtyard area behind the hotel on Halloween night.

More Tidbits

A thorough examination of every single Kirsch, Kirch, Kirsh match in the Cincinnati papers revealed more interesting tidbits about Jacob’s life.  By the way, newspapers spell horribly – just FYI.

Cincinnati Daily Star – November 5, 1879

Miss Mary Cramnier of St. Louis, sister of Jacob Kirsch, of the Kirsch House and of Mrs. Koehler, of Lawrenceburg, who came to attend the funeral of Martin Koehler, will be a guest of relatives for two weeks.

Jacob’s sister, Mary, came home for the funeral of their brother-in-law. Martin Koehler was married to Katharina Barbara Kirsch, Jacob’s sister. I have already confirmed that Mary Kirsch Cramer/Kramer and Katharina Barbara Kirsch Koehler were Jacob’s sisters, but at one time, I would have willingly bled for this information.

Cincinnati Daily Star – March 24, 1880

Jacob Kirsch, of the Kirsch House is a candidate for Councilman in the First Ward.

Cincinnati Daily Star – Thursday Evening, May 6, 1880

jacob-kirsch-john-dreckler

This very short newspaper entry in which Drechsel or Drexler is misspelled as Dreckler answers a very long-standing question. John is the brother of Jacob Kirsch’s wife, Barbara. John was born in 1856 and we find him on early census records, but then he disappears. He was 23 when he died. I wonder where he is buried. And I wonder why his parents didn’t bring him back to Aurora for the funeral and burial. So many unanswered questions. Furthermore, why weren’t his parents or sisters listed in the article? Surely John’s parents and sisters attended his funeral, along with Jacob and Barbara. They would likely have ridden the train from Aurora together.

Unfortunately, John Drechsel is the only male to carry the Drechsel Y DNA, so this article confirms that I can stop looking for his line with the hopes of Y DNA testing.  This Y line is now dead to us, barring an unforeseen discovery back in Germany.

Cincinnati Daily Star – Wednesday Evening, March 24, 1880

Aurora, Indiana – Jacob Kirsch of the Kirsch House is a candidate for Councilman in the Third Ward.

I had no idea Jacob was politically involved. Not only that, but according to this next article, Jacob was a Democrat. And look, Jacob’s shooting buddy, Joe Small was a Republican. Some of this commentary about “municipal muttons” leads one to believe politics might not have changed a lot since then.

Cincinnati Enquirer – Sunday, June 5, 1881, page 12

jacob-kirsch-1881-article

Just look at this next tidbit.

March 3, 1887 – Indianapolis News

jacob-kirsch-1887-article

As luck would have it, I discovered a newspaper article in Aurora when I visited in the 1980s about this lynching, but just imagine if I had never known. Furthermore, given that Jacob held political office – this would have been even extra juicy and newsworthy.

Why, oh why, cannot the Aurora newspaper be indexed at Newspapers.com?????

Imagine what else we might find.

August 7, 1905 – Daily Republican, Rushville, Indiana

Miss Ida Kirsch who has been the guest of Mr. and Mrs. C. B. Lore returned home today to Aurora, Indiana.

Nora’s sister, Ida, whose photo was found in the antique shop with Jacob’s, went visiting. Ida would have been 29 years old and she wasn’t married. An “old maid” in the terms of the day. However, her labor and presence would have been very valuable to her mother at the Kirsch House. She was a much beloved family member and lived until 1966, age 90.  I never heard anyone say one negative thing about “Aunt Ida.”  Quite the opposite, actually.

May 10, 1907 – Daily Republican, Rushville, Indiana

Jacob Kirsch of Aurora, who has been here this week at the home of his daughter, Mrs. C. B. Lore and family, of West Second Street, returned home yesterday.

These articles generally say “Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Kirsch” if the wife is along, so I suspect Barbara stayed home to run the Kirsch House while Jacob visited, or perhaps Jacob chaperoned the Lore granddaughters on a return trip home. According to the Rushville paper, the Lore granddaughters visited their grandparents in Aurora quite often. I know my grandmother, Edith Lore, was very close to her grandparents and spent a lot of time at the Kirsch House.

The Rushville paper, which has been indexed by Newspapers.com, has a quite healthy social section that told who was visiting whom, and from where. According to the numerous listings involving the Lore family, only one makes mention of Jacob visiting. I would wager that it was difficult for him to get away from the Kirsch House for any extended period of time.

This visit occured right after his son-in-law, Curt Lore, had typhoid and was not expected to live. Perhaps Jacob visited Curt to share his wisdom about survival against all odds.

The Bombshell

Then, this bombshell, a “special dispatch,” caused me to inhale sharply and catch my breath.

Cincinnati Enquirer Friday Morning – October 28, 1892

jacob-kirsch-shot-in-face

This was just so difficult to read. It has a ring of disbelief, given that Jacob is my ancestor, and I never knew about this. An event that disfigured Jacob, nearly killed him and literally blew his eye out – and my mother never heard this story? Jacob’s granddaughter, Edith Lore, who lived at the Kirsch House while she was attending business school in Cincinnati was my mother’s mother.  My grandmother’s sister, Jacob’s granddaughter Eloise Lore lived until well after I was an adult and helped me with my genealogy – and she either never knew this story or never thought to mention it. Maybe she thought it was common knowledge and everyone already knew.  I surely didn’t.

I was dumbstruck.

This story has even more implications from subtle messages, after one recovers from the initial shock.

  • This article entirely negates the theory of Jacob losing his eye as a child and not being able to fight in the Civil War because he was blind in one eye.
  • Did you notice how they referred to Jacob? Captain. This is the one and only time I have ever seen this, but it strongly suggests military service. In fact, they refer to him that way twice.
  • Jacob’s wife filed for a widow’s Civil War Pension after Jacob died in 1917 and swore he had served. She would have had first hand knowledge as she knew him at the time. They married in 1866.
  • Perhaps this reference, in addition to the information in the Civil War pension application helps to validate Jacob’s Civil War service.
  • This article also says that Jacob had won many valuable prizes through his marksmanship. Surely he would never been able to shoot again, if he even lived, which was clearly doubtful at the time.
  • But Jacob did live, until 1917 when he died of stomach cancer.
  • In the antique shop photo, I was just sure that Jacob’s left eye was the glass eye, because it looks “funny” in the photo.
  • But guess what, the antique shop picture was taken in 1891 and Jacob lost his eye in 1892, so the antique shop photo precedes his devastating accident.  Yes, that question I asked you about whether or not you could tell which eye was glass in the 1891 photo was a trick. (Sorry.)  However, I surely thought the glass eye was his left one before I discovered that he hadn’t lost his eye until the following year  This illustrates how easily we can see something we’re looking for – even if it isn’t there.
  • Even more remarkable, Jacob not only recovered, but it was AFTER this accident that he won the tri-state championship, assuming that the “more than 20 years ago” comment in his 1917 death announcement wasn’t actually more than 25 years before.
  • Regardless of when he won the tri-state championship (yes, I’m still mad at myself about that article being missing), he was clearly able to participate in the 1898 Cincinnati Gun Club national event as part of the team representing Aurora – so he certainly was still a good shot even though he didn’t win – 6 years after this devastating accident that resulting in him losing his eye. That’s amazing!

There is only one reasonable photo of Jacob after this time, and it’s one of two photos taken the same day.

Jacob Kirsch family photo crop

One photo is a group family picture (above) which helps to date the event, and the second, a closer photo of just Jacob and wife Barbara is shown below.

Jacob Kirsch and Barbara Drechsel

One can’t really see Jacob’s face well, although you can tell that his eyes don’t look the same. I’m guessing that his left eye is the glass eye, but it’s really difficult to tell – and yes, I’m positive this was taken after the accident. No trick, I promise.

closeup-of-jacob-kirschThis photo was taken after Jacob’s youngest granddaughters were born in 1899 and 1903, probably after Jacob’s brother who lived with them died in 1905 (since he’s absent in the family photo) and before Jacob’s son-in law, Curt Lore (present in the family photo) became ill in early 1909 and died in November, so sometime between 1905 and late 1908, probably 1907 or 1908 based on the apparent age of the youngest child. More than a dozen years after Jacob’s accident.

The accident must have surely disfigured Jacob’s face badly, with a blast powerful enough to remove his eye and affect the jugular vein area – both. I’m surprised he didn’t bleed to death. Amazingly enough, his obituary never mentioned this accident, nor his trapshooting – even though his death notice in the Indianapolis and Fort Wayne papers only mentioned his fame as a trapshooter.

I marvel sometimes at the things about our ancestors lives that would be so fascinating…if we only knew them.

That Danged Article

I do not want to even admit this, but ahem….look what I found…just after I finished all this research.

The Hamilton Ohio Evening Journal – July 25, 1917

Jacob Kirsch death

Yep, that’s the original article – you know, the one I couldn’t find. It was, um, errrr, let’s just say hiding in plain sight. However, had I not been desperately searching for this doggone slippery article online again (where I never did find it), I wouldn’t have found any of this additional information about Jacob, his wife’s brother’s death, Jacob’s public service, his political party affiliation, his bloody hobby or how he lost his eye.

And it all started with Linda’s genealogical act of kindness and two photos in an antique shop.  Thank you so much, Linda!!!