Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Similar Names, but Different People: James M. Mitchell vs. James Madison Mitchell

When dancing with the ancestors it is quite possible that you are going to come across with two people with same/similar names who are actually two separate individuals. Then, if using Ancestry or some of the other tree sites, you might come across a third person created . . . by someone, at some time, merging Person A with Person B. It happens, people, trust me it happens. I detailed one experience about two men with the exact same name (Greenberry Mitchell) here. This post is similar, but instead of concerning men named Greenberry Mitchell, it is going to concern two men named James M. Mitchell who . . . ended up in the same town in Dade County, Missouri known as Greenfield.

Now, they also had birth dates within a year of each other: one in 1796 and one in 1797. 

Let the confusion begin!

James M. Mitchell (we'll call him James the First) was born July 6, 1796 in North Carolina. James Madison Mitchell (we'll call him James the Second) was born June 27, 1797 in . . . North Carolina.

Are you beginning to sense how easy it is/was to confuse these two individuals, who both ended up living in Greenfield, Missouri?

James the Second, aka James Madison Mitchell, from documented letters from his direct ancestors, is the son of James Mitchell and Mary Craig. In those letters - written in 1899 and 1902 respectively - James's wife is referred to as blank Ridley. A quick search on Ancestry and I have a marriage in Maury County, TN on December 30, 1828 between James Mitchell and Winnifred Ridley.

James the First, aka James M. Mitchell, for the time being, has unknown parents. On a side note, I have a y-dna match to one of his descendants, so he has to descend from my most distant known ancestor Captain William Mitchell.

The problem: the majority of Ancestry trees list James the First's parents as James Mitchell and Mary Craig. James Mitchell is allegedly the son of Andrew Mitchell of Limerick, Ireland. Captain William Mitchell came from Sussex, Chichester, England, as did his father and grandfather. That does not rule out the possibility that some point, in the far distant past, that my line didn't originate in Scotland, and that James Mitchell, who married Mary Craig, isn't some distant cousin. It's doubtful, but still possible.

Now, back to separating James the First from James the Second, or the what I like to call the quasi-creation known as James the Third.

Note: James the Third is a figment of genealogists imagination trying to create a parentage that does not exist.

Okay, back to the separation process . . .

James the First married Martha McGregor and they had the following children: William B., Mary/Polly, Lucinda, Maxville, Margaret, Richmond, Eli, James Andrew, Elizabeth, Alfred, and Raleigh. 

In 1850, James the First and Martha are living in Warren County, TN with the following children: James A., Elizabeth, Alfred P., and Raleigh. In 1860, they are in Dade County, MO with their son Alfred, and their granddaughter Martha P. Martin. In 1870, they are still in Dade County, MO, living with their son James, his wife Charlotte, and their children Martha, John, James W., Andrew, and Simeon/Simon. Martha dies in 1872. In 1880, James the First is living with his grandaughter Mary Mitchell-Shipley, her husband Ephraim B. Shipley and their children Lucinda, Nathan, Lillie, and Charles. This information all comes from the Federal Census Records. 

James the First dies on April 8, 1882.

In 1850, James the Second and his wife Winnifred are living in Lewis County, TN, which is the county west of Maury County. The two counties share a border. In 1970, James and Winnifred are living with their son Washington Mitchell, his wife Eleanor, and their children George, Hattie, Mary, and Lucy. James and Winnifred's daughter Rebecca is also living with them.

James the Second dies September 27, 1872 . . . more than 10 years prior to James the First.

It is clear, from Census evidence alone, that James M. Mitchell and James Madison Mitchell are two separate individuals that somehow became interconnected on Ancestry and other tree sites with people taking the parents of James the Second and placing them as the parents of James the First. This is an easy mistake to make, and one especially easy to make in the days before the Internet.

Now, just to make things more confusing is this family story regarding James M. Mitchell, or rather, the obituary written by his grandson-in-law Ephraim Beechum Shipley that told the tale of the family of James M. Mitchell moving from NC to KY and then, about 1808 to Tennessee. The obituary appeared in the local Greenfield, MO newspaper after James the First's death in 1882. 

This same story appears in letters written by people related to James Madison Mitchell in 1899 and 1902, except they specifically mention the family moved to Maury County, Tennessee.

Now, it is highly possible that these two distinctly separate Mitchell families had similar experiences: NC to KY to TN. Stranger things have happened in the Universe. It is also likely that, at some point, a member of James the Second's family, a cousin or whatnot, heard the story being told in reference to James M. Mitchell (the First, not the Second) and thought they were talking about their relative and . . . the story became part of the wrong family and has been passed down through the generations.

Since Ephraim lived with his grandfather-in-law, I'm sure (well, as sure as anybody can be about things that happened in the 1880s) he heard the story first-hand from James the First. In any event, when he wrote his grandfather-in-law's obituary he included that story. 

I know from my own experience with family stories that the original telling is embellished over and over again so that only a small kernel of truth remains in the telling of the tale. I'm not saying this happened. 

In the end, based on Census Records and letters from family members dating back to 1899, that specifically lists James the Second's parents as James Mitchell and Mary Craig, and that James the Second married a Ridley, it is clear that his parents are in fact James Mitchell and Mary Craig.

Also, with evidence from Census Records, it is clear that James the First, who married Martha McGregor, is a separate individual who is not the son of James Mitchell and Mary Craig. Y-DNA evidence also disputes that possibility unless somewhere, way back, my Mitchell line originated in Scotland and while my line ended up in England, perhaps siblings of my ancestors remained in Scotland, then settled in Ireland, eventually immigrated to the United States, and members of both lines ended up settling in the same town in Dade County, Missouri. Again, stranger things have happened in the Universe.

But, for the time being, based on evidence at hands, I am sure that James M. Mitchell, born in 1796 and died in 1882, is not the son of James Mitchell and Mary Craig. And, based on y-DNA evidence, I know he somehow descends from Captain William Mitchell who arrived in Baltimore, Maryland about 1650, since I share a very close y-DNA match with one of James & Martha (McGregor) Mitchell's descendants.

So, when dancing with the ancestors and you come across two individuals with the same name, living in the same town, do not assume they are the same person. Do not, whatever you do, take a tree on Ancestry or other site at face value. Prove the information for yourself, as I did in this case, and the case of Greenberry Mitchell 1, 2 and 3. A bit of time on your part to verify facts, might save you some frustration later on, and some plucking of leaves off your family tree.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Hogg Family

DNA has definitely made dancing with the ancestors much easier. Sometimes, the results just confirm what a person researching their family history already knew. Other times, it pulls a brick out of that pesky brick wall and . . . the walls come a tumblin' down (to quote John Cougar Mellencamp)!!!

Such was the case with a New Ancestor Discovery (NAD) on Ancestry. First off - NADs are quite deceptive and, more often than not, have no actual connection to the user (in this case, me). Of the 20 NADs that have shown up since Ancestry began the feature, I hadn't had any luck at all in connecting them to my tree . . .until last week. But, before we get there, let me point out: there are multiple female surnames in my family tree that I don't know. So, it's highly likely that many of the NADs that Ancestry is connecting to me through shared DNA are somehow related to me. I just don't have a surname so I can't verify that information.

Now, back to the shining diamond of a NAD that pulled out that pesky brick: James Hogg. So, I knew I had a Hogg or two in my tree, well, actually one: Leodicia Hogg, my 3 x Great Grandmother.

Full disclosure: there's every possibility that Leodicia, who married John Tate, is actually my 4 x Great Grandmother. But . . . that's a whole other story.

I was never able to determine the parents of Leodicia Hogg, nor had other researchers on the Tate family. Brick Wall City! So, when a NAD came up to James Hogg, the easiest thing to do was to research him. After I bit of research, I learned he was the son of Thomas Hogg and Mary McCullough. I found numerous children listed for them, but not a daughter named Leodicia. There was, however, a date span between some of the children listed, and Leodicia's birth year fell right in that date.

The next step was to research James and . . . he named a daughter Leodicia. Now, naming patterns are important in family history. Names were passed down generation to generation. In my Adcock line, every single child of my 4 x Great Grandfather Leonard Adcock named one of their children Leonard. He had 10 children. His son William (my 3 x Great Grandfather) named a child Joseph Leonard Adock. William's daughter Rebecca (my 2 x Great Grandmother) named a child John Leonard Smith. John Leonard named his daughter Osie Lee (short for Leonard) Smith. So, you see, naming patterns happen and are important.

Leodicia and her husband John Tate named a son James Tate. My best guess - no verifiable proof - is that James Tate was named after his uncle, his mother's brother James Hogg; and that Leodicia Hogg, daughter of James Hogg, was named after his sister Leodicia. Again, this is all assumption and no proof on my part.

The proof in the pudding part comes from my multiple (11 in all) DNA connections to James Hogg.

So, James is somehow related to me and, based on his age, most likely a brother of Leodicia. What to do? What to do?

Well, I input Thomas Hogg and Mary McCullough as the parents of Leodica Hogg in my tree, and I add James as her brother. Then, I wait . . .

. . . and see if Ancestry connects me to Thomas Hogg and Mary McCullough. Voila!! Multiple matches to them.

Now, having a DNA match, that far back, is not - I repeat, NOT - absolute proof of a direct connection. I do not, at this point, have a paper trail. Then again, sometimes a paper trail does not exist. What I have, is multiple DNA connections to Thomas Hogg and Mary McCullough and the belief (assumed at that, but it's all I have at this point) that they are the parents of Leodicia Hogg.

I'm going with that assumption. Now, family historians and genealogists everywhere are grabbing at their hearts and going this is the big one!!! You never assume in genealogy. I do. At this point, it's all I have to go on . . . and I'm content.

Will I stop looking for a paper trail? Hell No! I have a starting point, a stepping stone, so to speak, and sometimes, when dancing with the ancestors, that's all a person has. That first step, that first clue, might just lead me to where I need to go to have a paper trail. Then again, it might not. Genealogy, some days, is just a crap shoot!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Maternal/Paternal Connections

Sometimes, when dancing with the ancestors, you find connections between your maternal and paternal lines. Oh, not the obvious connection of your parents, but rather a far distant connection.

This isn't a simple connection that both your maternal/paternal lines all lived in the same town for generations. Multiple connections between both lines are certain to be found in those instances. No, the connections I'm talking about are when the lines were in the same place, at the same time, generations past.

In my parents case, my father's ancestors, for the most part, settled in Warren County, Tennessee, while my mother's ancestors settled in Nelson County, Kentucky. As Fate would have it, mom and dad both ended up in Louisville, Kentucky working for the same company. They met, dated for many years, married, had children and grandchildren. Our normal vacations were Kentucky to visit mom's family and then on to Tennessee to visit dad's family. And they lived happily ever after.

Before all that happened, my maternal lines lived in two places: Maryland and Massachusetts (and New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, etc.). The Maryland lines, in the late 1700s, migrated to central Kentucky (Nelson County) so they could practice their Catholic faith free from the persecution they were experiencing in Maryland. My many times Great Grandpappy William Boarman actually spent 30 days in jail for being a Catholic. He was dang proud of that jail time. Meanwhile, an ancestor from Massachusetts ended up in Indiana, then Kentucky, and well, one day my mother was born.

At the same time, my paternal lines had settled in Virginia and, as I was to later learn, Maryland as well. In fact, many of my maternal ancestors went to court against my immigrant Mitchell ancestor. Who knew? But, at some point, the Virginia ancestors moved to Warren County, Tennessee. The various lines married, produced children, and eventually my dad was born.

But, in doing the family research on both lines, I sometimes run across a familiar name. One of those times was the name McPherson. My 6 x Paternal Great Grandfather was Daniel McPherson. He married Elizabeth Nevitt. Well, when researching my maternal line, I discovered that my 6 x Maternal Grandmother Susannah, who married William Nalley, was a McPherson. Well, some more digging and I realized that both Daniel and Susannah were both from Charles County, Maryland. Then, was the discovery of Daniel's last will and testament with one of the witnesses being . . . Mrs. Susannah Nalley. 

Yes, Susannah was either a sister or cousin to Daniel. I have not been able to determine the exact relationship. But, what was obvious to me was that suddenly, beyond a casual living in the same town connection, there was actually a distant blood/dna connection between my maternal and paternal lines. Wow!

Then, this morning, came another connection when I received an email from Ancestry DNA regarding a distant cousin with the common ancestor being 7 x Great Grandfather Richard Nevitt, father of 6 x Great Grandmother Elizabeth Nevitt who married Daniel McPherson.

The interesting fact about this particular distant cousin is, prior to this recent match to Richard Nevitt, that we were already related on my maternal line. In fact, we share a number of common ancestors: 6 x Greats Thomas and Mary (Aisquith) Hagan, 7 x Greats James and Mary (Goodrick) Semmes, 7 x Great Charles Beaven and 6 x Greats Thomas James and Jane (Edelen) Boarman. All of those are my maternal lines, and now, descending down to this cousin, is one of my paternal lines. 

So, when dancing with the ancestors, it is possible that your maternal and paternal lines will intersect far beyond the common connection of your parents.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Turner Line

9 x Great Grandfather Thomas Turner was born in Essex County, England about 1624. He settled in Virginia first, where he married Judith Mattingly, by whom he had at least two known children: Thomas and Mary. At some point, he and his family ended up in St. Mary's County Maryland (more on this below). After Judith's death, in about 1660, he married secondly Emma Morris-Johnson, the widow of William Johnson, by whom she had one child: Elizabeth.

Note: William Johnson was the brother of my 9 x Great Grandmother Agatha Johnson-Langworth. She married James Langworth.

Thomas immigrated to America by 1656/7 as a free adult and resided at St Winnifred's, St. Clement's Bay in St. Mary's County, Maryland.

From information I've been able to find about him, I know the following:
  • He was educated
  • He was Catholic
  • He was an attorney (good thing he was educated - ha!)
  • He served in the Lower House, St. Mary's County in 1662.
  • He was Clerk of the Secretary's Office and of the Provincial Court between 1657-58
  • He was Clerk of the Lower House in 1658
At his death, he left property in both Maryland and England to his wife and children.

His daughter Mary Turner (my 8 x Great Grandmother) married Joseph Pile.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bridget Hewitt

As always, dancing with the ancestors is an intricate dance with many varied steps. One misstep and . . . SPLAT, you're on the floor. This is something you should always remember when doing your own dancing with your ancestors

Here's what I initially knew about 11 x Great Grammy Bridget Hewett. She married Henry Clitherow. This has been documented time over time. They had a number of children, one of whom was my 10 x Great Grandmother Anne Cletherow. 

I hadn't bothered to look past 11 x Great Grammy regarding her parents. I decided to do so today. The Ancestry trees - always suspect, please always verify through other sources what you find on Ancestry - indicated she was the daughter of William Hewett and his wife Alice Elizabeth Leveson. 

Great! I have a starting point. A bit of Googling - Google is your friend - later and here's what I found out about William and Alice (Leveson) Hewitt: they had a number of children, all who died in infancy except their daughter Anne.

Have you figured out the issue? 

Well, in case you haven't, I'll point it out: William and Alice had a single child to survive in adulthood, and her name was not Bridget. In fact, their daughter's marriage to Edward Osborne is well documented.

So, I did a bit more research and found out that William Hewett indicates he had a brother Thomas. Well, a bit more Googling and I had the last will and testament of Thomas Hewett which lists his many bequests, one of which was to Henry Clyderow (a variant of Cletherow). The next bequest, right after the one to Henry, was to Thomas's daughter "Bridget Hewett". 


So, suddenly, with a wee bit of work on my part, I was able to disprove that Bridget was the daughter of William and Alice Elizabeth (Leveson) Hewett, and prove that she was the daughter of Thomas Hewett and Julian Amcots, daughter of Sir William Amcots.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, take just a bit more time to double check your facts and do some additional research. And, whatever you do, never take Ancestry trees at face value. There is far too much information out there that's easily obtainable with a few quick searches on Google or some other search engine.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Odd Coincidences in Genealogy

When dancing with the ancestors most people come across some odd coincidences. For me, the coincidences have been many and varied.

Who knew that my paternal and maternal lines connected way back when, far before either of my parents were born? My 6 x Paternal Great Grandfather is Daniel McPherson who was born about 1701, most likely in Scotland. He died in 1740 in Charles County, Maryland. A witness to his last will and testament was Susanna (McPherson) Nally . . . my 6 x Maternal Great Grandmother. She was either his sister or cousin, I haven't been able to determine the exact connection. Still, who knew that the McPherson surname was both maternal and paternal? I certainly didn't when I began dancing with the ancestors.

Then, was the recent discovery that my 7 x Paternal Great Grandparents Charles & Ann Dodson were witnesses to my 8 x Great Grandmother Eve (maiden name unknown)-Williams-Smith's last will and testament. Eve's daughter Catherine Williams married Abraham Goad. They were my 7 x Great Grandparents.

Now, with the Smith/Dodson connection, the lines both descend down to my Grandmother Osie Lee Smith-Mitchell. 

The Smith descent is . . .

Eve (MNU) - John Williams
Catherine Williams - Abraham Goad
John Goad - Katherine Jennings
Joannah Goad - Valentine Sevier
Abraham Sevier - Mary Little
Mary Ann Sevier - John Halterman
Emaline Halterman - Hardin Smith Lane
Martha Ann Lane - John Leonard Smith
Osie Lee Smith - John Francis Mitchell
Dad - Mom

The Dodson descent is . . .

Charles Joseph Dodson Sr. - Ann (maiden name not proven, alleged Elsmore)
Thomas Dodson - Mary Durham
Joshua Dodson - Ruth Dodson (his first cousin)
Dorcas Dodson - James Ballenger
Francis Ballenger - William Adcock
Rebecca Adcock - John Smith
John Leonard Smith - Martha Ann Lane
Osie Lee Smith - John Francis Mitchell
Dad - Mom

Both descents began in Virginia. Valentine and Joannah (Goad) Sevier eventually ended up in Carter County, Tennessee. John and Mary Ann (Sevier) Halterman ended up in White County, Tennessee which was later divided up into Warren County, Tennessee where my family ended up settling. 

The Dodson line was also in Virginia, but it was Joshua Dodson who ended up in North Carolina. His daughter Dorcas and her husband James Ballenger ended up in South Carolina, which is where their daughter Francis met and married William Adcock. Sometime after 1818, the majority of the Adcock family - William's father and most of his siblings and their families - ended up in Warren County, Tennessee. This is where Rebecca met and married John Smith. As a side note, part of Warren County became DeKalb County, which is where most of the Adcock family ended up.

So, as you can see, when dancing with the ancestors you just never know when two, or more, of your surnames connect. 

Friday, April 22, 2016

Frances Ballenger (aka Ballinger)

When dancing with the ancestors there is a high probability that you will run across two people with the same name. See this post regarding Greenberry Mitchell-1 and Greenberry Mitchell-2, who most researchers combined - mistakenly - into one individual. Oy! In this instance, I'm referring to my 3 x Great Grandmother Frances Ballenger-Adcock. 

Frances is the daughter of James and Dorcas (Dodson) Ballenger/Ballinger, and sister to John, James, William, Edward, Elijah, Peggy (Margaret) and Tabitha. In her father's will, written in 1813 she is referenced as Francis Ballenger, while her sisters as referenced as Peggy Lewis and Tabitha Foster, their married names. So, in 1813 Frances was still unmarried. This is important.

In trying to research Frances Ballenger, daughter of James Ballenger and Dorcas Dodson very few people list her as the wife of William Adcock. Hmmmm . . . But, most sites list her as the husband of Isaac Bishop.

Well, a bit more research and I found that Isaac Bishop did indeed marry Frances Ballenger in 1797. Fine! Dandy! But wait . . . if she married him in 1797, why didn't her father mention her as Frances Bishop in his will? 

The obvious conclusion I'm going with at this moment is this: because she, the daughter of James and Dorcas, was not married in 1797. She was unmarried in 1813, so her father referred to her by her surname. The second obvious conclusion is that the Francis Ballenger who married Isaac Bishop was a cousin to the Francis Bishop who married William Adcock.

Yes, I know, genealogists everywhere are gasping in horror at my conclusions. 

I'd gasp too except . . . I have DNA connections to Thomas and Mary (Durham) Dodson, the grandparents of Dorcas Dodson who married James Ballenger. Yes, some genealogists are gasping even more.

The fact is: families used the same names throughout the various generations, especially back in the day. James and Edward were common names in the Ballenger family, as was Francis. In my Adcock line, all the children of Leonard Adcock named one of their children Leonard Adcock. The grandchildren did the same. A good example is this: Leonard Adcock's son, who married first unknown, named his first child Joseph Leonard Adcock. William's daughter, by his second wife Francis Ballenger, Rebecca Adcock named one of her children John Leonard Smith (this would be my great grandfather). Now all of John Leonard Smith's sons died at an early age. Realizing he would not have a male heir, my grandmother was named Osie Lee (for Leonard) Smith. I have one line where an ancestor - William Boarman - named a child by his first and second wife William. Then, there is my Duvall line where Mareen Duvall had two sons named Mareen - one by his first wife and one by his second. So, as you can see, naming patterns easily produce two individuals in a family with the same name.

The tricky part is separating out the various individuals into multiple people, as I did with Greenberry Mitchell, instead of perpetuating the myth that there was only one individual named Greenberry Mitchell . . . or Francis Ballenger. 

So, when dancing with the ancestors, just because you find it on the Internet, doesn't make it true. Yes, a Francis Ballenger did marry Isaac Bishop and have children with him. But that Francis Ballenger was not the daughter of James and Dorcas (Dodson) Ballenger.