Category Archives: brick walls

Can DNA prove your hypothesis?

Can DNA prove your hypothesis?
 
I love using DNA to help my genealogy! But let’s talk about how (autosomal) DNA works when I’m trying to find/prove the parents of a brick wall ancestor.

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Applying DNA to a genealogy brick wall: getting started

10-10-10                     

Happy Birthday, Nancy Agness Ann Jameson, born 10 Oct 1810!

birthday-cake-public domain

That’s a fun date to remember—and a lot of given names for a little lass born in Kentucky so long ago. I wish I knew more about her. She appeared seemingly out of nowhere in Greene County Ohio in the summer of 1832, when she married James Hammond. By 1840, they had relocated to Holmes County Ohio, and around 1850 their growing family moved to DeKalb County Indiana. Nancy spent the rest of her life there and died a widow in 1888. My search for her parents reached a dead end pretty quickly.

Could DNA help me find her mom or dad?

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A Tale of Two James Hammonds

Y-DNA testing offers at least two benefits to genealogists that autosomal DNA does not. We all know the limitation: only men have Y-DNA and it only applies to the direct paternal line, i.e. the father’s father’s father, etc. And we know the main benefit of Y-DNA: it is passed down without recombining, which means we may match distant cousins where the common ancestor is 8 or more generations back—farther in the past than automsomal DNA can generally be relied upon. We don’t hear as much about the second benefit of Y-DNA testing, but it was key for my Hammond conundrum.

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Hezekiah Griffith – the father of Walter?

We all have them, don’t we? Brick walls. And sometimes, we may have even formed a theory about the mystery parents… but finding evidence (to support it or to disprove it) is the challenge. One of my tantalizing brick walls is my GRIFFITH family. Do we connect with published Griffith family genealogies? Many online trees say yes, but I don’t know.

The most distant Griffith ancestor I’ve confirmed with documentary evidence is WALTER GRIFFITH, who was probably born between 1775 and 1786, based on his age (26-44) in the 1820 Ohio census 1 and supposing he was at least 21 when he married in Ohio in 1807 2. Unfortunately, he died in 18273, before census enumerators began asking where you were born. In the 1880 census, his few surviving children indicated that their father was born in Virginia—but they were young when he died, and may have known only that he came to Ohio from Virginia, not where he was born 4.

Many online family trees suggest that Walter was the son of Hezekiah Griffith and Catherine Warfield, of Maryland. (*)

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