I’m currently a resident of Boston after decades of living in London and the incredibly stunning Cornwall.  I’m a part-time University lecturer in Social Media, Social Media Marketing, Integrated Communications and Online Networking.  I’m also an Integrated Digital Communications Director & CEO in the entertainment and media industry.

Genealogy has joined a number of my pursuits.  Starting as something of a new hobby and a birthday present for my dad, genealogy has become something of a semi-professional sideline. Equally informative and fun, this adventure serves a bigger purpose for me.  Genealogy has proven that strangers can sometimes be connected in surprising ways.  Tracing my family tree has placed my family in a much wider context than I could have ever originally envisaged.  Surprise revelations and unexpected twists and turns connects my family to places, historical events and people neither me nor my family could have guessed.  That’s the fun of genealogy.  My motto is to abandon suppositions and nuggets of information that have been passed down the generations as fact – and approach your adventure in genealogy with an open mind…and embrace the unexpected.

If I’ve learned anything, I’ve learned why I’ve always loved bockwurst, sauerkraut with hot mustard along with Baumkuchen. And I’ve learned why moving to England felt like a homecoming.

Brian Sheffey

email: briansheffey [at] gmail [dot] com

55 responses to “About

  1. Dana Reynolds

    Hi Brian – you had asked me to get back to you about the Sheffey’s. Sorry I hadn’t seen your reply on the other site. I do have a Giles Sheffey in my tree through marriage. Will email you.

  2. embryan

    Who are the women in your banner picture?

  3. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for adding us to your blog resources! Appreciated, Elizabeth

  4. Joe Young

    Brian…I’m amazed that I found this site..

    Your uncle Dan handmade the first bicycle I ever owned.

    His house was in Rocky Mount just on the hill above the Courthouse.
    I remember my dad went to him so Dan could cut his bad toenails.

    I know my dad went to his house after the day was over because I can still vaguely remember what Dan looked like…And I definitely remember the scrap of tube metal and old bike parts I looked over as my dad talked to him
    about building a bike for me. We were a white family of very limited means.

    I would enjoy talking to you. Joe Young

  5. I complete understand that “coming home” feeling. I’m most comfortable on the east coast of the US, specifically NY. Later, I learned why, I don’t feel as comfortable in the south, but I suspect that there are other things at play there. And, I know when I go to Ireland, I’ll feel at home.

  6. Welcome to Geneabloggers!

  7. RootsGenie

    Hi Brian! Thanks for the follow back! I am enjoying reading your blog as well. The research you have is fascinating!

  8. Hi Brian I definitely think we may be related we share too many things in common including surnames. My name is Clarence McMillan I’ll email you my Gedmatch number .

  9. It has been a while since your last post. I hope all is well and we all will be hearing from you soon.

  10. NikiMarie

    I wanted to let you know that I nominated for the One Lovely Blog Award on my webpage: http://mypeopleinhistory.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/one-lovely-blog-award/. I love reading your blog 🙂

  11. Cyndi

    Hello again, Brian: In researching English vital records, I found out today that Robert Roane was not only married to Elizabeth Bartelotte, but to Patience Aynescombe (Lambert) and to Anne Ment. I have been unable to locate the mother of his first four children. Have you found any information in this regard? I am also trying to find Robert’s parents. cyngun99@yahoo.com.

  12. Tracy S. Miller

    Hello Brian. I discovered this site while doing my own research into Lewis Matthews. I’m originally from Saluda County, SC (which was part of Edgefield County before 1896), and I have Matthews sprinkled liberally throughout my family tree. The Lewis Matthews I was researching was born in 1810 and married Gracy Miller, daughter of Joshua Miller, my 5th GG father. He married her when she was about 15 and he was about 40, which I think caused Joshua some distress, because within a year of their marriage Joshua killed himself with a shotgun. Lewis apparently lived right next door, because he is listed right next to Joshua Miller in the 1850 Census.

    I am also related to the Drury Matthews you mentioned that was the owner of the slave Lewis Matthews that is your ancestor. Drury was the son of Lewis Matthews (the one born in 1750, not the one I was talking about above). The 1750 Lewis Matthews is my 4th GG father.

    Congratulations on all you have accomplished. You are a real credit to genealogy. I live in TN now, but my father and most of the rest of his family still live down in Saluda County, SC, and I try to get down there when I can. Also, good luck on the Documentary series. I look forward to seeing that.

    • Hi Tracy

      Thank you for your great comment.

      Thanks to services like AncestryDNA, Gedmatch and Family Tree DNA, I’ve been meeting more and more Mathews/Mathis/Mathes relations. Between these various services, it does indeed look like Drury Cook Matthews was my Lewis’s father. I’ve been in cntact with a number of 3rd and 4th Matthews cousin matches. The ancestor we all share in common is William Matthews (b. abt 1740). They are descendants of William’s other children. So that’s pretty exciting.

      I’m having a hard time tracking down portraits or pictures for William Matthews and his children. Indeed, I’m finding it difficult to find images for any of the Virginia and South Carolina Matthews prior to 1840. Does your family know if any exist?

      I’d also love to find out if there are any family papers in any historical document collection.

      Lol yes, there are a number of men with the name Lewis. It’s been fun making sure the documents I find for them are attributed to the correct Lewis.

      • Tracy S. Miller

        I don’t know of any images, but I’ll admit I haven’t spent nearly as much time researching my Matthews ancestors as I have my Miller & Sanford(father’s side) and Lake & Lorick (mother’s side) ancestors. I will continue researching, but in the meantime, here is the website of Greg Matthews, who has done some tremendously rigorous research on some of the Matthews who are my ancestors. It may give you some clues about the ancestors of Drury Matthews.

        One thing I learned is, in that previous email when I mentioned Lewis Mathews (the apparent father of Drury Mathews) being born in 1750, well, that was clearly mistaken now that I’ve studied Greg Matthews website. Lewis, father of Drury, was born in the early 1770’s, perhaps as late as 1773, and I’ve since updated my Ancestry.com tree to reflect this. Lewis Mathews’ father was definitely Isaac Mathews, Jr. (abt 1730-1791). I’m not entirely sure who William Mathews was, except that he is possibly a first cousin of Isaac Mathews, Jr. (again, this was mentioned in Greg Matthews’ wonderful website).

        If you are biologically descended from Drury Mathews, then we’re related, which is cool. I think Drury is my 3rd Great Grand Uncle, since his father Lewis is my 4th G-grandfather. I’ll continue researching.

      • Hi Tracy. I’ve traced the Matthews back to 17th Century England. Feel free to check out my public tree on Ancestry. And thank you for that link!

      • Tim Mathis

        I am a gg grandson of Drury Cook Mathews, I come from his son William. I had a DNA test done.

      • Hi Tim. It would be great to compare segments. Are you on Gedmatch or FTDNA?

  13. Tracy S. Miller

    Oops, fogot to give you that link I promised. Here it is: http://www.southernmatthews.com/1700s-1850s_desc_isaacsr.html

  14. Tracy S. Miller

    Oh, very nice. I just now noticed this: http://home.comcast.net/~vffla/Mathis.pdf

    I think I see the mistake I made. The Drury Mathews (1806-1869) I was assuming was your ancestor’s owner/father is a DIFFERENT DRURY MATHEWS. I see now that YOUR Drury Mathews was born earlier, and was indeed the son of William Matthews. That William Matthews may have had a son named Lewis (who would’ve been your ancestor’s uncle (and possible namesake?).

    Ahhhh…the Matthews are convoluted in Edgefield. The Millers are just as bad.

  15. Heather Goebel

    Hello Brian. I was attempting to listen to your DNA and Excel video as I really need that help it would provide. Like another viewer it seemed to stop on me about 3 minutes in. Is there a way to view the entire video somehow? Thank you for providing this. Looking forward to more of your blog too.

  16. Heather Goebel

    Oops, it does seem to start again. I guess I didn’t wait long enough. Thank you again. Heather

  17. Anne Jenkins Jordan

    Hello Brian, I received a hint from Ancestry.com indicating that my great aunt, Sallie Morton Stephens (b. 1855) is associated with your family tree, but I cannot find her there. My great-great-grandmother was Julia Roane and her daughter, Kate, was bought out of slavery by my great-grandfather, George Stephens (b. 1831 or 1821), a free black man. The Stephens family resided in Richmond, VA on or near Duval Street from the 1860s through the early 1900s. Can you shed any light on this connection, if indeed, there is one? Other Stephens family members were Julia, George St. Julien, Kate, Abraham, Humphrey, Margaret (my grandmother) and Edward.

    Thank you,

    • Hi Anne. Many thanks for the comment. Actually, this is perfect. Sallie is indeed in my overall family tree. Thank to your comment, I know a little bit more about Sallie’s mother, Kate. Kate has been a big mystery. With so many Kate Roanes born around the same time, I couldn’t find any information about her parents. Thanks to you, I now have her mother’s name…and a sliver of her history.

      Thank you for sharing!

      • Anne Jordan

        Thank you for responding to my inquiry. I have since learned that Kate Roane was born in King and Queen County and her future husband was from Hanover, VA. We (my family and I) know very little about Kate, and less about her mother, Julia. Family stories say that Julia wore a large white apron and that she always had a large ring of keys at her waist.
        What connection do Sallie, Kate and Julia have to your family? I’m very curious to know!


      • I’d love to find information about who Kate’s father was. I have a feeling this would place her into the overall Roane family tree I’ve built. It has numerous King & Queen branches.

      • Anne Jordan

        We would love to know Kate’s father, too, as well as more about Julia. I will continue to search and if I find anything I will let you know.

        I do know that my family uses names (like Edward, William, Stephen and Kate/Kathryn, Elizabeth) with each new generation, and I noted that Sallie (Kate Roane’s daughter) has the middle name Morton, a name that I’ve never heard associated with our family. I’m wondering where this name came from and its importance. Sallie was the first-born and so her middle name may have come from a relative? Her father?

        I also know that there was a Betsey Davis who was 100 years old and lived with George and Kate’s family when the 1870 census was taken. This may mean nothing, but I imagine that Betsey Davis was a slave who needed care after the Civil War, and Kate and George took her in. Or, she may have been a relative?? Perhaps some of this will be of help to you as you try to figure out who Kate’s father was. We all wish you the best of luck!


      • I’m wondering if Morton was Julia’s maiden name? There were a handful of Mortons who married into the Henrico and K&Q Roane lines. And yes, Betsey is very intriguing. Maybe Kate’s grandmother?

      • Anne Jordan

        I agree that all of your ideas may be true. I have searched for Julia Morton, Julia Davis and Julia Roane with no luck. I also tried the Cohabitation Records for Virginia, but could not find any for King and Queen County. I did check adjoining counties, plus Hanover, for either the Stephens or Morton surname, but no luck. I’ll think that they are worth another look, though. Do you know if there are Cohabitation Records for K&Q? If so, are they available online?

        I noted some Thurstons on your tree. Sallie M.’s sister and Kate Stephens’ daughter, Julia, married a William G. Thurston in 1912 and moved to Cleveland, Ohio.

  18. Thanks so much for following Shaking the Tree, and leading me to your blog. Our ancestry is so different, and I’m really enjoying reading and thinking about all the issues and challenges you face. Cheers, Su.

  19. Keith L Moore

    Good afternoon Brian my name is Keith Moore on January 06 2016 you have save a picture on http://Www.Ancestry.com of my great great grandparents Alfred Moore & Mary Moore (born Ramsey) just want it see are we related or not. If we are kin I can tell you so much rich history that I found on the family.

    • Hello Keith. Alfred is a cousin. I suspect his wife, Mary Ramsey) is also a cousin. I’m related to Alfred through a series of Josey-Smallwood-Maggett marriages. I also supsect that alfred is a direct descendant of the white Moore family, who were Quakers when they arrived in North Square. If he is indeed a direct descendant of this family, he and I would be cousins through that connection too.

      • Keith L Moore

        Good afternoon Brian.

        Sorry for the late response.
        My great great grandparents names are Alfred Moore & Mary Moore (born Ramsey). I have been following your blog lately and I’m a big fan of your work. Right now you are working on the Quakers. My great great grandfather Alfred Moore at the age of sixteen in the 1870 census it have him label as a laborer on Joseph John Parker
        (Quaker) farm in Rich Square, Northampton, North Carolina. My great great grandmother Mary Moore (born Ramsey) her mom name is M Ramsey (born Peele) and her father name is D.R. Ramsey. She has a half sister name Caldonia Bowers (Born Ramsey) who was born on Scott CO. VA in 1871. My great great grandmother was born on September 1857 in North Carolina and died circa 1930 in Washington DC.

        On Aug 21 1879 my great great grandparents got married in Rich Square, Northampton, North Carolina G.G. Parker applied for the marriage licence and Anderson Boone a Baptist preacher performed the ceremony. Even my great grandfather William Paul Moore once work for a Quaker at one point.

        Just want it to give you that run-down on my family being involved with the Quakers. I been work on my family for about 5 years. Looking forward hearing from you. Plus I would love to invite you to my family tree so you can get a better look at the family. Do you know if my great great grandfather Alfred Moore was a slave? Alfred Moore parents names are Noah Moore & Polly Moore.

        Keith L Moore

      • Hello Keith,

        My research focus has returned back to Rich Square after a long period of being focused on Edgefield, South Carolina – another Quaker bastion. It may be worth noting in your own research that the same extended Quaker families that settled in Rich Square are part of the same Quaker families who settled Rich Square. You will find more Moores, Peeles, Outlands, Stewarts, Jones and associated families there too.

        The more I research Rich Square, I’m coming to the conclusion that pretty much everyone was/is related to one another – just like Edgefield, SC. Whether they were black, white, mulatto, enslaved or free – it’s just one big family.

        I have found more than a few Moores who were free in Rich Square. I’ve also found some who were enslaved. I’m finding Moores in Census returns between 1790 and 1840. However, most of the entries don’t include an age or a race. With so many individuals bearing the same name (like 8 Robert Moores who all were born around the same time), it’s difficult to be 100% certain which individual I’m actually looking at. the best I have to go on is the number of known children at any given time, and trying to compare household size to each Census record. This is not a foolproof approach. So I’m still trying to devise a way to know for certain that I am matching the right Census or tax list for the correct individual.

        Are there any family stories passed down from your family elders about the men who might have sired the mulattos in your line? Those born either at the end of the 18th Century or the early part of the 19th Century? I ask because I have a number of DNA matches on Gedmatch, AncestryDNA and FamilyTree DNA with white Moores from Rich Square. However, because my Quaker cousins married their cousins for centuries, it’s neigh on impossible for me to know if we connect via the Moore family, or one of the other Quaker cousin lines that they and I share. I’m hoping that some of the black male Moores from Rich Square have taken the YDNA test and macth with white Moore men from the same area.

  20. Keith Moore

    Good afternoon Brian

    The only real family story that I was told from my first cousin (Willie Moore) that falls in the 19 century on the Moore- That’s about as far as anyone can go back right now. Alfred’s father Noah is believed to be descended from slaves. Their is no census records of him when blacks were required to be placed on the census in 1870. He may have been deceased though? My Cousin Evangeline Grant “my 2nd cousin once removed” (Henry Richard Moore) “My great great uncle” William Paul Moore’s (My great Grandfather) youngest brother’s granddaughter once did an interview on my Grandma Texie. Grandma told Evangeline that the Walden’s would not allow her to marry William P. Moore because he was a descendent of slaves and the Walden’s descended from a long line of free born blacks. After a year though they approved the marriage because she was considered and old maid at 21 years old. She also said that she was to ugly and no one else wanted to marry her. The only information that I have to go on is that on both William P Moore and his brother Henry Richard Moore’s marriage and death certificates list Noah and Polly as mother and father. I would probably Also – William P Moore married Texie Walden. His brothers John Albert Moore and Henry Richard Moore married Grandma Texie Nieces. (Maggie Walden and Alice Saluda Guy).
    Which Richard Moore do you want? William P Moore’s brother Henry Richard Moore or his son Richard Moore, Uncle Fred. D. Moore’s brother. Also I suggest we finish with all William P. Moore and Texie Walden kids first (10 kids and their kids, kids, kids). His brothers have a lot of kids also not to mention that Henry Richard Moore, William P Moore’s brother has 11 kids, and their kids, kids). I also heard that my Moore line may have be descendent from Native American in practically the Lumbee tribe. my cousin A.J. “Danny” Sexton be doing research on the family as well. he wonder about all the different scenarios of the Moore surname…. that Moore’s/Jacobs/Spaulding/Freeman surname is also in the Lumbee tribe in Robeson/Columbus/Scotland counties in N.C. but I not so sure about that but anything is possible. I was also told by a cousin that the Moore may be descendent from the white Moore living in Bertie County N.C. if you check out there website http://www.sallysfamilyplace.com they also would have a lot of surname related to the Quakers. if you have a personal email address I can email your family sheets of my Moore’s family that might give you a better look into my family my email is moorekeith1785@yahoo.com I also have a Facebook page to my name on there is Keith Moore.

    Keith L Moore

    • Keith L Moore

      Good afternoon Brian

      Regarding what you said Brian Sheffey regarding the Moore’s being descended from the white Moore’s in Rich Square I don’t know, it could be a possiblilty.  The name had to come from some one.  Looking at the Census records before 1870 there were a lot of slave owners in Rich Square and Halifax  with the surname Moore.  There are only a few Moore’s that were free in Northampton County and Halifax prior to the 1870 census.  David Moore, Ceasar Moore and Washington Moore around the early 1800’s were free and there were a few more can’t think of there names off the top of my head.  I was able to track most of there family members in the early census records and could not find a Noah Moore among them. None of these Moore decsendent’s claim to be relatives of the other and inter marry.  There is another Alfred Moore around the same age as our Alfred Moore in the 1870 census of Rich Square.  I beleive he was a decsendent of Washington Moore. My great Aunt Eunice Clark (Moore) husband Bo Clark mother was a Moore also, she was a descendent of David Moore. My Aunt Lucile Jenkins (Moore) husband’s mother was also a Moore. She was a descendent of Noah Moore from the Mulbery Grove Plantation in St John’s Hertford NC on the border of Rich Square.  Noah was about 3 years older than our Alfred Moore.  I once believed that our Alfred might could have been the brother of this Noah Moore but he has different parents.  I thought this because the wife of the Quaker that our Alfred Moore worked for in the 1870 census was a descended of the white slave Moore owners from Mulbery Plantation.  The White Moore’s that owned Mulbery Plantation also had a son named John Wheeler Moore.  Most of the ancestors of this plantation which is still there gather and celebrate their history black and white Moore’s.  

      This is just one of many slave owners named Moore in the area.  Look at the 1850 Slave Schedules  of Northampton NC and you can see the number of slave owners named Moore and the number of slaves they owned.  My next question is if our Noah Moore was free.  I think his name might appear in the census somewhere between 1780 and 1860.  Remember our Alfred was born in 1857 and doesn’t appear in the Census until 1870.  All free blacks prior to the 1870 census was listed on the regular census with whites for tax purposes.  The clue is Noah and Polly Moore and I just can’t find them.

      There was also a Horace G. Moore that was a witness at Alfred Moore’s wedding to Mary Ramsey.  Perhaps this was a brother or Cousin?  I cant find him either.  The only Horace G Moore I see is the son of Noah Moore fro Mulbery and he was born years after the wedding.

      Both White and Black Moore’s in the area used the names William, Alfred, Charles, John, and Wesley alot.  It is prominent name in all their ancestors.

      If you can link us to Noah and Polly “Mary” Moore through the Josey, Smallwoods, or Magettes I will accept that as long as their is proof.  The Magette have a long history of being free like the Waldens.  I Think in David Moore’s ancestry there are a lot of Josey’s and Magettes.  Maybe he was Noah Moore’s brother?

      Keith L Moore

      • Hi Keith,

        Thank you so much for this information. My apologies for the slightly tardy reply. I’ve had an unusually large number of comments and Ancestry.com questions to respond to. And thank you for your email too.

        If you look at my tree on Ancestry, you will see the links with Smallwoods, Joseys, etc – including citations and records. There are still a few ladies who lack maiden names. There are bound to be further family links there once these proper maiden names are uncovered. I’m working hard to fill in these gaps.

  21. Keith L Moore

    Good afternoon Brian

    I am having a hard time looking at your family tree on Ancestry.com

  22. Keith L Moore

    Ok that will be better thanks.😃

  23. Vera Moore


    I have a Keith L. Moore who is matching me on Gedmatch; is also a match to another cousin who connects to me via the Griggs family….her ancestor is the sister of my 4x grandmother Caroline Griggs (AKA Odom) who was born in slavery in abt. 1812-1813. Caroline’s daughter Jeanette/Jennette Griggs was born in 1835 on the Robert Griggs plantation in Putnam County, Ga. Robert Griggs died in 1854; he had a total of 58 slaves named in his estate inventory. In Jan. 1855 the slaves were divided between his only children…two daughters. Mary P. Griggs (m. John Alexander Reid) and Rebecca L. Griggs (m. David T. Singleton). Caroline and daughter Jenette were among those that went to the Reid Plantation in Putnam County. Jenette Griggs and Eben Burney were my 3rd great-grands. Three of their children were born on the Reid place between 1857-1861 including my 2x grandmother Ella Burney who married Silas Moore b. about 1851 Alabama. Silas Moore is my brick wall. He was in Putnam/Jasper Counties, Ga by 1875 and was employed by J.A. Reid between 1878-1882.

    Would this be you?

    • Thank you for the great comment. I’ve dodged tackling the Moores. I have so many colonial era black, white, abd mulatto Moore family members from PA all the way down to AL, plus TN and KY. I’ve always been curious if most are connected. I’d love to get a Moore family DNA group together to tackle this

  24. Vera Moore

    Yes, a Moore DNA group would be something wouldn’t it?!

    • Keith L Moore

      I agree a Moore DNA group would be a great idea. Hello there Vera Moore i seen your message on Ancestry.com what’s your and your cousin kit number?

  25. Pamela Christiani

    Hello Brian,
    My name is Pamela Edwards Christiani and I’ve just started my family ancestry journey via ancestry.com. This process feels like such a rabbit hole. Your name popped up while I was looking into my 4th great grandfather, Joseph Byrd Sr. Might we be related?

    • Hi Pamela. I”m related to some lines of this family a couple of generations further down. As for The Joseph you mentioned? He’s a relation through marriage only at this point. I’m in the midst of planning a trip down to VA and DC later this year to look at old property maps and records. Thankfully, these Byrds were landowners. So, if the relevant property maps/documents weren’t lost, I hope to find some answers.

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