I’m so glad to ‘meet’ you through DNA testing! I have lots of family history gems to share and explore with you. Perhaps we can help each other. I have copies of wills and obituaries and photos and maps I can send you–and family lore too!
Since March is the month we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I thought I’d offer several Irish examples. (But there’s a Colonial American example at the end too.)
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.
Happy Birthday, Nancy Agness Ann Jameson, born 10 Oct 1810!
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?
One year ago was a milestone accomplishment in my genetic genealogy: I published an article in the Sept 2016 issue of the Indiana Genealogist, which is the quarterly publication of the Indiana Genealogical Society.1 It’s titled “Identifying James Dorsey’s Father: a Case Study Incorporating DNA Evidence.”2
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.
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. (*)
Who were the parents of Benjamin Gorsuch, who died in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1851?
I’m still looking for documentary evidence to identify them. But maybe DNA evidence will uncover some new leads too!