DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16024 to 16383

We’re still at the mid-way point.

In this article, I will be posting about another range sequence for my mum’s mtDNA. You will see a summary explanatory section about mtDNA at the bottom of this article.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16024 to 16383

Screenshot_2018-03-01-09-33-47-1.jpg

Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populations.

Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-01-57-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-02-31-1

In the images below, Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-03-28-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-03-53-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-04-21-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-04-51-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-05-21-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-05-47-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-06-31-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-06-58-1Screenshot_2018-03-04-10-07-23-1

So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers another short range of sequence ranges for my mum’s mtDNA! Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, are definitely not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

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DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16051 to 16519

In this article, I will be posting about another range sequence for my mum’s mtDNA. You will see a summary explanatory section about mtDNA at the bottom of this article.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16051 to 16519

Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populations.

In the images below, Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers another short range of sequence ranges for my mum’s mtDNA! Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, are definitely not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16024 to 16519

In this article, I will be posting about another range sequence for my mum’s mtDNA. You will see a summary explanatory section about mtDNA at the bottom of this article.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16024 to 16519

Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populations.

Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers another short range of sequence ranges for my mum’s mtDNA! Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, are definitely not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16001 to 16519

I have recently received a flurry of messages and emails after a series of articles I wrote about various Gedmatch DNA analytic tools have been re-discovered. And more than a few enquiries about the Genebase DNA testing service. So I thought I’d share the results of my various Genebase tests.

This is not a paid plug for Genebase. I will say what I always say when it comes to my results via this testing service: it won’t be the right testing service for everyone. As with anything, do your due diligence about the DNA testing service you may wish to use, Google customer complaints…and see if the test you choose, and its results, will suit your needs.

I’m starting with my mum’s mtDNA. This is the DNA that is passed from mothers to daughters. They also pass it on to their sons. Sons, however, do not pass mtDNA on to their children – only their sisters will. That is the conventional wisdom and understanding to-date.

In this article, I will be posting the last mtDNA sequences first…and the beginning sequences last. This way, once the first sequence results are posted, kit will appear on this website in chronological order.

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16001 to 16519

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populations.

For the images below, Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

That Swedish result? Yeah, 5 adults sitting around a table saying: wwwwhhhaaattt???!!?? We’re still working on that. It’s not a mistake or a glitch – as you’ll see in tomorrow’s post.

So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers the last of my mum’s mtDNA sequences. Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, we’re not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

DNA Adventures: Me and my mum’s mtDNA – Range 16090 to 16519

In this article, I will be posting about another range sequence for my mum’s mtDNA. You will see a summary explanatory section about mtDNA at the bottom of this article.

To my fellow Old Ninety-Six County, South Carolina cousins, this is the female line this DNA covers:

My mum < Pauline Matthews < Gertrude Harling < Aurelia Holloway < Amanda Peterson < Violet Williams < Moses Williams, Sr’s unknown first wife (not Mariah Stallsworth).

My mum’s mtDNA: Range 16090 to 16519

 

 

Note: Please click each image to see a larger version.

Genebase uses an analytical comparison measurement called RMI,which you will see in the numbers provided in the bar graph images below. RMI (Relative Match Index) is a measure of how closely your Y-DNA and mtDNA haplotype matches those of a defined population group as compared to all other population groups in the comparison. For example, a RMI of 100 means that you are 100 times more likely to belong to that population set as compared to the rest of the populations.

In the images below, Mutation = 0 is a perfect match / Mutation = 1 or more means a mutation has occurred in the comparison mtDNA matches.

So…there’s quite a bit to take in. And this only covers another short range of sequence ranges for my mum’s mtDNA! Feel free to ask questions! I appreciate this takes a while to wrap one’s head around. Dorothy, are definitely not in autosomal DNA territory any more!

A quick reminder about mtDNA

Just so we all know what we’re looking at, here are some illustrations of mtDNA:

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the small circular chromosome found inside mitochondria. These organelles found in cells have often been called the powerhouse of the cell. The mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed only from mother to offspring through the egg cell

As you can see, mtDNA looks very different from the 23 chromosomes that form autosomal DNA (the DNA you inherit from both parents).

For a more in-depth understanding of mtDNA, I invite you to read Roberta Estes’s excellent article Mitochondrial DNA – Your Mom’s Story over at DNAeXplained via https://www.google.com/amp/s/dna-explained.com/2017/05/09/mitochondrial-dna-your-moms-story/amp/

The Sheila Hightower Allen DNA Memorial Fund

 

On January 30, 2018 family and friends were shocked with the devastating news of the passing of Sheila Hightower Allen. Sheila was an educator and loved her family fiercely. She loved them so much so that she began to research her family and share the knowledge that she found.

Although born in Texas, Sheila learned her family hailed from an area called Edgefield, South Carolina. As she researched the area, she quickly learned that everyone who came from that area was related. To prove what she was discovering about the area, Sheila began testing family members – and even friends – via DNA through services like Ancestry.com, Family Tree DNA, and 23andme. Using her own money Sheila tested at least 40 people spending close to $4,000 dollars. 

Her efforts brought thousands of family members together.

In honor of Sheila and to keep her spirit alive her fellow researchers who are also her family want to continue her legacy by setting up the Sheila Hightower-Allen DNA Memorial Fund. This fund will test anyone with roots in the Edgefield / Old Ninety-Six area that will help further the work that Sheila started. Our goal is to test as many people as Sheila did…if not more.

The Sheila Hightower Allen DNA Memorial Fund

https://www.youcaring.com/forfamiliestobetestedtofurthergenealogicalresearch-1087919 via 87919

Newspapers.com, Boolean search strings, and finding lost post Civil War ancestral lines

I always enjoy genealogy research conference calls with my Edgefield-connected cousins Donya, Sheila, and Loretta. They are always illuminating. Nine times out of ten, we can solve whatever thorny genealogical conundrum we’re faced with at the time. During a recent call with our cousin Donya, Loretta reminded me of a research strategy I had used to employ regularly…and had simply fallen out the the habit of doing.

The research strategy Loretta reminded me of was doing very broad searches using Newspapers.com.

As I mentioned in my previous post – Using military draft cards to find your kin during the post US Civil War migration periods via https://genealogyadventures.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/using-military-draft-cards-to-find-your-kin-during-the-post-us-civil-war-migration-periods/ – my Old Ninety-Six regional kinspeople rode out of their native South Carolina in three big pulses:

  1. The first pulse came quickly upon the heels of the Civil War, with groups of ancestral kin leaving South Carolina for Ohio (Elyria, Ohio in particular), North Carolina (Winston-Salem, Asheville, and Raleigh in particular, as well as Halifax, Wake, and Buncombe Counties in general), and Arkansas. Smaller groups rode out to Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee during the same time period.
  2. The second migratory pulse occurred during the WWI era, with large groups of kin heading north to Michigan (mostly Detroit), Illinois (Cook County), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, as well as Chester County), Washington D.C., Maryland (Baltimore), Delaware, New York, and New Jersey. A second pulse into North Carolina also occurred during this period.
  3. The third great movement of family occurred during WWII and continued through the 1950’s. Their ports of call mirrored those in the second pulse, with the addition of Massachusetts, Georgia, and, to a lesser extent, California, as places for relocation.

Newspapers.com has been a key resource in picking up the threads for many of my ancestral lines which left South Carolina. Using broad boolean search strings (permission granted to nerd out on that term!) on Newspapers.com has enabled me to find these lines; and follow up on what happened to them once they left South Carolina. 

What is Boolean Search?

The SocialTalent.com website defines a Boolean Search as a way to organise your search parameters using a combination of keywords, and the 3 main Boolean operators (AND, OR and NOT), to produce more accurate and more relevant results for online searches.

The first important thing to appreciate about Boolean, is that there are only 5 elements of syntax to understand. These are:

AND  OR  NOT  ()  “”

By applying these appropriately, along with the keywords you wish to consider, you can create a huge range of search operations. There is no limit to how often you can use any of these elements in a search, so you can create very specific search strings, which will save you a lot of time in filtering the results.

Think of this as fine-tuning or refining online searches to achieve better, more accurate, or more relevant online search results. For more in-depth explanations of Boolean searches and how to use them, please visit

https://www.socialtalent.com/blog/recruitment/the-beginners-guide-to-boolean-search-operators to see how recruitment consultants use these search strings. The article has real world examples that are easily adaptable to online genealogical searches.

I began my search using a simple, broad search string:

I wanted to focus on former Edgefieldians who lived and/or died in Pennsylvania with this search. I wanted to exclude any newspaper articles that mentioned Strom Thurman. The revelation that Strom had a natural born daughter with a black family servant was big news at the time. This wasn’t what I wanted to research. Using this boolean filter excluded some 100 or so articles from my Newspaper.com search. Which still left me with just over 3,000 articles to work through in Pennsylvania. In all, I found around 30 Pennsylvania newspaper articles, mostly obituaries and marriage\engagement announcements, that were very useful.

I repeated the same for Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and the District of Columbia. These were the main places I know my kinsmen removed to during the three migration pulses I outlined above. 

I will rinse and repeat this process for the following terms:

  • Of Abbeville
  • Of Aiken
  • Of Barnwell
  • Of Greenwood
  • Of Greenville
  • Of McCormick
  • Of Newberry
  • Of Richland
  • Of Saluda

These were significant places of origin connected to my South Carolina kinspeople. It only makes sense to use the same strategy to find kinspeople from these South Carolina areas in the various states I’ve listed above.

I will warn you in advance: this is a lengthy and time consuming research strategy. It casts the widest possible net. The rewards though outweigh the effort of sifting through each and every result.

So let’s take another look at the image I used above:

Take a look at the map image in column on the left side of the image. Anything jump out at you? It’s no surprise that South Carolina appears in a dark shade of the colour red. Edgefield is an old county in South Carolina. It stands to reason that there will be thousands of articles in South Carolina newspapers. So this isn’t significant in and of itself. You’d expect this to be the case.

No, what piqued my interest was why Tennessee appeared as a dark pink. I knew Edgefieldians had removed themselves to Tennessee. However, I thought these family groups were outliers. Newspapers.com was telling me there was far more going on than a handful of families moving from South Carolina to Tennessee. Something significant was happening.

I then found an important and very straightforward indication of what was going on:

Indeed, many of the early articles that formed the search results for Tennessee, that mentioned Edgefield, were dated between 1868 and 1890. This timeframe aligns with the first post Civil War pulse of migration I mentioned earlier. There was an interesting link between Nashville and Edgefield  which requires far more in-depth research. Something was going on for this relationship between these two places to have happened. At the moment, I have no idea what that the underlying force was nor when this relationship between these two areas began.

If the relationship between Nashville and Edgefield  was established earlier, in the slavery era, this will have implications for my research. The explanation could be, and probably is, that I will have enslaved kinspeople who were taken to Tennessee from Edgefield. Some of my  missing  Nineteen Century black ancestral lines will likely to be found in Tennessee, something I hadn’t considered in any great depth. Now, I have to consider this likelihood. Settle(s) / Suttle  is one Edgefield surname I’ve seen in some of the Tennessee articles from the 1870’s time period. That is one of the significant surnames from my direct line. I’m looking forward to investigating this further.

I do have one caveat. I have exclusively referenced Newspapers.com. There are other online Newspaper repositories, such as Chronicling America https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov. I understand Newspapers.com simply because I have used it for years, and I understand how it works with a deeper understanding than I do with other similar newspaper repositories. It’s a personal preference. You might find another divital newspaper archive service better suited to how your research needs. 

I will also use African American newspaper repositories to further locate family lines that were lost due to migration via https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/newspapers/?state=ðnicity=African+American&language#tab=tab_search

This research strategy is a lengthy one. However, it can reveal pure nuggets of gold.

Using military draft cards to find your kin during the post US Civil War migration periods

My Old Ninety-Six, South Carolina family was significantly impacted by three pulses of post 1865 migrations out of the South.

The first pulse came quickly upon the heels of the Civil War, with groups of ancestral kin leaving South Carolina for Ohio (Elyria, Ohio in particular), North Carolina (Winston-Salem, Asheville, and Raleigh in particular, as well as Halifax, Wake, and Buncombe Counties in general), and Arkansas. Smaller groups rode out to Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee during the same time period.

The second migratory pulse occurred during the WWI era, with large groups of kin heading north to Michigan (mostly Detroit), Illinois (Cook County), Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, as well as Chester County), Washington D.C., Maryland (Baltimore), Delaware, New York, and New Jersey. A second pulse into North Carolina also occurred during this period.

The third great movement of family occurred during WWII and continued through the 1950’s. Their ports of call mirrored those in the second pulse, with the addition of Massachusetts, Georgia, and, to a lesser extent, California, as places for relocation.

Military draft cards were essential to unlocking the mystery of which family lines moved elsewhere in the US – and when they moved there.

One clue to the extent of these migrations within my family is the sheer number of entire family groups who seemingly fell off the face of the earth after the 1870 Federal Census, and accompanying state census records for the same time period. They had to have gone somewhere. The question was: where? I bounced a few ideas around about how to find these missing families. Then it hit me: WWI and WWII draft cards.

My reasoning was pretty straightforward. The women in the family who were caught up in these mass migrations out of the South would be nigh on impossible to find first due to name changes via marriage. This is especially true for my South Carolina ladies, who came from an enormous interconnected family that used the same dozen or so names for their daughters. Sure, I might get lucky and find the right Janie Gilchrist in Buncombe, North Carolina straight away. The reality, however, is that I would need to research at least a half dozen or so Janie Gilchrist’s born in the Old Ninety-Six region who popped up in Buncombe County. Add the complexity that some of these Janie Gilchrists will have parents who haed similar names, well, trying to separate each Janie from all the others becomes a hurculean task.

It was easier to track the males in the family for the simple reason that their names rarely changed. I began with my Mat(t)hews / Mathis / Mathes lines, and rolled this approach out to my Holloway and Peterson lines. Each of these three family lines were huge. No, seriously, these were among the largest families in Old Ninety-Six. Tackling these three lines first would answer questions about where cousins and other members from their extended families also moved to.

The image below shows how I began my search using military draft cards.

I did a very general search on the surnames Matthews Mathews Mathis Mathes (I am going to collectively refer to them as Matthews). And yes, Ancestry returned an enormous list of men. Which makes sense. This was an enormous family. Faced with a breathtaking list of men – many with the same or similar names – I concentrated first on those I either immediately recognized, or those I could relatively easily figure out in relation to my family tree. I needed to do these first in order to reduce the number of men I was faced with. I looked for a few fundamental things to attach the right record to the right man. These cards also answered a basic question: the Matthews surname variation each man chose, which was also adopted by his descendants. I have men who born a Matthews yet died a Mathis. Knowing the preferred spelling enabled me to find them in various records.

Draft cards told me:

  • They often told me what part of the Old Ninety-Six region, and adjacent counties, they came from (e.g. Edgefield, Greenwood, McCormick, Abbeville, Greenville, Newberry, Barnwell, Aiken, etc. Knowing where they were born enabled me to zero in on specific Matthews family groups;
  • Middle names or initials as unique identifiers. When you’re faced with dozens of William, Willie, Wiley, Bill, Billy, and Bill Matthews, anything that distinguishes one from the dozens of others with the same, or similar, name is crucial; and
  • If they were residing with a relative, did I already know who that relation was? A parent, sibling, cousin, or aunt or uncle, can make the correct identification of an individual a much easier process. The name of a spouse can help. This isn’t necessarily the case for Old Ninety-Six. I recall looking at eight WWII draft cards for men by the name of William Matthews (or a name variation) married to a Lula, who was born in Edgefield, SC – and all of them were living in Philadelphia.


Once I had reduced the list of Matthews men as per the above bullet items, I began to slowly, methodically, chip away at the remaining Matthews men who were left in my draft card search. This is where things became time consuming. You really have to love genealogy to go this route.

One by one, I did a research workup on all the remaining Matthews men in the draft card list. The critical pieces of information were dates of birth. Be advised that the year of birth given on draft cards can vary from 1 to 5 years from the actual year of birth. The important thing to note is that the day and month don’t change.

Armed with specific birth dates, I could usually find a Social Security Application record for these men. From there, I could usually find a death record with the name of one or both parents, if their names where known, as well as their respective places of birth. Next, I looked for obituaries, which tended to give the names of parents and siblings; including the places where that person’s surviving family members were living at the time of that person’s death.

Death certificates also offered further information via the informant, if the informant was a family member. If the informant was a sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, or in-law, you now know where that family member was living at that time.

Then, and only then, did I hit the Federal Census returns. This is genealogy retrofit style. You work from the known, add as much information as you can, then work backwards until you find the family line of the person you are researching, and carry that line back to an established line in your tree. Thankfully, in my case, that backwards journey takes between 1 to 3 generations to make that connection. Again, this is the blessing of having a large tree. And yes, there are times I hit a brick wall when I work with a research line in this way. However, sooner or later, the crucial missing puzzle piece is found. Or someone who knows that line inside and out, usually a descendant, will reach out with the missing information I need. So I don’t sweat these temporary brick walls too much.

This research approach worked around 6 out of 10 times. This is where having a large family tree (nearly 100,000 individuals) has come into its own.

I know my Old Ninety-Six family. I understand the various themes that run through my family’s history. It was rare for an ancestor or kinsperson from South Carolina to ride out on their own. No, my people moved in groups. More often than not, entire extended families just upped sticks and moved together. Draft cards began to demonstrate this. If I had one or two family members removing themselves from Greenwood, SC to Philadelphia, the chances were high other family members did too. I was able to pick up the thread for a person’s parents, siblings, cousins, etc. I could find them in Philadelphia too. More often than not, they were living in close proximity to the person I was researching.

In my next post, I’ll share how using military cards and obituaries in tandem can yield some stunning results – and smash through some brick walls.

Endogamy on the plantation

**updated 20 December 2017**

Today I am going to spend a little time discussing endogamy -the practice of generations of cousin marriages – within a specific context. Enslaved African-descended people toiled across every pre-industrialized sphere. While I have uncovered small numbers of enslaved kin who laboured in mines, aboard paddle boats, were dock workers, or manufacturing; the vast majority were enslaved within an agricultural context. That is the sphere the majority of my research has focused upon. It’s what I know. Hence the somewhat narrow scope of this article.

Before I delve into the topic of this article, I’d like to paint a quick picture of what life was like on the farm or the plantation. I do so with the aim of illustrating the practical reality of how endogamy affected commnities of enslaved people. For African Americans who have tested their DNA, this will be an important aspect of your ancestry that needs to be understood. Endogamy is a complicated factor that absolutely influences genetic cousin matches: the number of chromosome segments you will share with dna cousins, and the amount of cMs you will share.

A farm or plantation (for convenience, I am going to use the term farm for both) was, for all intents and purposes, was like a county, or a state, or a country, in microcosm. The boundaries that formed the property of an enslaved person’s (EP) enslavers acted like the border of a country. That’s not far-fetched. An EP needed a piece of paper from his or her enslaver in order to leave it, and safely return. God help the unfortunate EP who came across a slave patrol without that piece of paper, which acted like a type of passport.

Your life, and every aspect of your life, played out within the confines of the farm you were enslaved on. What you did, when you did it, and how you did it, was controlled. Typically, you did not have the freedom to come and go as you pleased. Typically, you did not have control over your own body…that belonged to someone else.

Did my enslaved ancestors and kin have a say in who they had children with? It looks like some did, and some did not. For every Venus Josey who chose for herself, I have a Louisa Hammond or Elizabeth Henley who did not. No clear picture has emerged when it comes to reproduction among my ancestors’ enslaved EPs. What I can say with certainty is this: my ancestral EPs married within the same enslaved community in which they themselves were bound.

Let’s take a look at how such a community could be comprised.

The above image comes from my own ancestry. It illustrates the enslaved population held by Daniel Williams, Jr and his wife, Luanna “Anna” Henderson, my 6x great grandparents. Daniel inherited EPs from both of his parents. Anna would have brought dowry slaves with her when she married him. She too inherited EPs from her parents. This is also a great example to work with. Anna and Daniel were first cousins – a prime example of endogamy within a family defined by a series of cousin marriages. Some of the EPs she brought with her from her mother, Elizabeth William’s, family – those who were biologically Williams, Petersons, Keelings, and Sheppards – were cousins to some of Daniel’s EPs who were biologically Williams, Sheppards, Keelings, and Petersons themselves.

My Williams family has been interesting to research. They had two types of EPs: those who were their kin, and those who were not. EPs who were kin were largely kept within the family for generations; going from parent to his or her children or grandchildren. EPs who weren’t kin were typically sold to whomever – unless the EP was a female who bore one or more mulatto children to her enslaver. Those who bore children to their enslaver were then classed as family.

Daniel’s ancestors weren’t coy or shy about marrying their cousins. Beginning in early colonial Virginia, then into North Carolina and South Carolina, Williams married Sheppards, Keelings, and Petersons over and over again. All of those names in Daniel’s paternal family box? They were cousins. Those cousins also produced enslaved mulatto children, some of whom came into Daniel’s sphere through subsequent inheritances…and had children by their enslaved Williams cousins. His mother’s enslaved Clark kin entered into this mix. As did his wife’s EPs, whether they were her kin or not.

Now, you’re an EP who has reached adulthood. The time has come for you to start a family of your own. You either have the chance to settle with a mate your enslavers approve of from within your own community….or you’re used as a breeder, mated with anyone your enslaver so pleases. For the purposes of this article, I am focussing on the former.

Using my ancestral EPs held by Daniel as an example, you would be a young adult with a high probability of settling down with a cousin from within your confined community. One way to avoid that would have been to form a union with an unrelated EP newly introduced to your community through a purchase. Or by settling down with a mistress’s dowry slave, or a child of someone who was a dowry EP. Your ability to avoid marrying another EP who was a cousin depended upon the number of non-related EPs introduced into your community via marriage or purchase.

The above image is taken from the book Slave Records of Edgefield County, South Carolina. The EPs I’ve highlighted with proven surnames link back to Daniel’s paternal family.It’s an image that perfectly illustrates endogamy within an enslaved population. You will see the Sheppard surname in the list of names in Daniel’s paternal family box.

Some of these families left the sphere of the Williams to enter the sphere of the Sheppard’s due to a Sheppard-Williams cousin marriage.

My cousin, the author Donya Williams, and I have spent years working together researching our Edgefield family. The information above, covering some of our common ancestral EPs, has been the result of years of research. Our research has shown that whether your surname was Harling, Hill, Peterson, Sheppard, or Stark – you were part of the same family that was white, black, and mulatto. You were part of the same family because your ancestors were held in bondage by the same extended enslaving family generation after generation. I’d even argue that, by 1800, none of my EPs needed to have a white father in order to pass European DNA to their children (although this was still occuring up to the dawning of the Civil War). That DNA was already within the enslaved population going all the way back into the early colonial period of Virginia.

Endogamy within the farm community meant shared ancestral European and African DNA becoming amplified. It’s the reason why Donya and I share a minimum of 6 or 7 sets of shared black and white ancestors. It’s why we share an unusual number of chromosomes, chromosomal segment lengths, and cMs.I have to laugh at this point because our white, black, and mixed cousins didn’t stop marrying each other after 1800. Heck, cousin marriages were still going strong in the 1900s!

Turning to Anna, all I know about her is within the context of being Daniel’s wife. I know nothing of her life prior to her marriage. If she is indeed a biological Henderson, then I know enough about the families the Hendersons married into to have enough of an insight into the biological inheritance of the EPs she brought with her into her marriage. Those bloodlines merged with those of Daniel’s EPs. Those surnames will begin to appear among some of the families listed in the second image above. I can’t confidently figure that out until I figure Anna and her family out. DNA has clues, as does the 1870 Census. However, to seal the deal, I would need to see probate records and deeds from her parents. In order to do that, I need to know who her parents were.

To summarize, in order to understand the genetic history of your EPs, you must understand the community of EPs your enslaved ancestors were part of. Who were the other families held by the same enslaving family…and for how long were they held in bondage together? The answer to this is one means of smashing the brick walls around your ancestral EPs.

For further insight into how endogamy affects your research, I invited the you to read my previous article on the subject: Endogamy: Or how an entire county can be related via https://genealogyadventures.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/endogamy-or-how-an-entire-county-can-be-related

Endogamy: Or how an entire county can be related

Wikipedia defines endogamy as:

…the practice of marrying within a specific social group, class or ethnic group, rejecting those from others as unsuitable for marriage or other close personal relationships…Certain groups, such as Orthodox Jews adhering to endogamy in Judaism, have practised endogamy as an inherent part of their religious beliefs and traditions.

Endogamy features heavily in my family tree. From my Quaker and Jewish ancestors, to the big enslavers who formed the American South’s elite, to my ancestors of more modest means who lived in rural areas…cousins married cousins for centuries. My Pamunkey ancestors also weren’t averse to marrying cousins to help support and maintain peace.

Continue this practice of cousin marriages for long enough, and if you remain in the same county as your ancestors, it doesn’t take long – 2 to 3 generations – for most, if not all, of a county to be related. Let’s take a look at a purely illustrative example from the Old Ninety-Six region of South Carolina. And let’s say each of the 4 topline endogamous groups depicted married cousins within the same family group for 300 to 400 years (this isn’t as much of an exaggerating as you might think!).

In this example, we have Robert and Janie. Let’s say that Robert came from the northwest quadrant of Old Ninety-Six while Janie was born in the northeast quadrant of Old Ninety-Six. These two share common Williams and Brooks ancestry, which makes them cousins. For this example, let’s make them 3rd cousins (e.g. they share common sets of great-great grandparents). Robert is a white enslaver who was deeded Janie, a mulatto, from his mother’s estate, sending her from the northeast part of Old Ninety-Six to the northwestern part, where Robert lived.

They, in turn, have children, who are now related to 4 endogamous family groups that now cover the entirety of northern Old Ninety-Six. Let’s take this one step further. Whether white, black, or mulatto, the people in the 4 endogamous groups had, on average, 10 children each. And that’s not as far fetched as it sounds. My ancestors were a prolific people, irregardlessof race, ethnicity, religion, or socio-economic status. Those 10 kids married, and had 10 children of their own, making 100 children between them in the next generation…who would go onto have 10 children each themselves…and so on and so forth down the generations. Their descendants moved about and bought land, or were enslaved, throughout Old Ninety-Six; taking their endogamous mix of DNA with them when they moved, or were taken, to a different part of the region.

More often than not, they either married cousins who also moved around in the region, or married into family groups as endogamous as their own. In no time at all, relatively speaking, you have an entire region with complex, overlapping, genetic interrelationships. In short, they are all cousins.

You end up with a region of people who are related to one another to various degrees. This quick example illustrates how my Edgefield County (carved out of Old Ninety-Six) cousin Donya and I are related to one another in 6 or 7 different known ways. And we know that we will share even more common ancestors as we continue to research our enslaved ancestors’ journies and histories which began in colonial Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina, and ended in Old Ninety-Six inSouth Carolina.

This will influence your genealogical research; especially your genetic genealogy experience. The article Concepts – The Faces of Endogamy https://dna-explained.com/2017/03/10/concepts-the-faces-of-endogamy/ provides some in-depth guidance for working with endogamous populations.

In my next post, I’ll cover how endogamy occurred within enslaved populations held in bondage by the same family through multiple generations…with implications for you to consider.