Thursday, August 28, 2014

DNA Testing

When dancing with the ancestors, there are many research options - going to the State Archives, or even local county libraries, Internet (Ancestry, FamilySearch), DNA testing, etc. In my little dance, I've done all of the above, including the etc. There are benefits to each, but I'm going to focus on DNA testing right now.

Through DNA testing I have . . .
  • Confirmed Family Lines
  • Traced Back to my Earliest Mitchell Ancestor in America
Now, you're probably thinking only two things? Yes, only two things, at least for this post.

First is confirming family names. As any genealogy researcher knows, surnames of female ancestors are often hard to find, if not impossible to find. One way to - sometimes - discover a surname is to look at the names of the sons/daughters. For example, my five times Great Grandparents Nathan and Mary (Dearborn) Sweatt named their son, my 4 x Great Grandfather, Dearborn Swett, thus passing down the mother's maiden name to the next generation. My father's middle name was Smith which was my grandmother's maiden name. My Uncle Robert (my mother's brother) middle name is Boone, which was their mother's maiden name. So, in that way, the surname is not lost.

But, more often than not, the further back you go, the female surnames weren't recorded and, if you can't find a sibling of an ancestor with a first or middle name that you think might be a mother's surname . . . you're pretty much screwed.

With DNA testing, on more than one occasion, I've confirmed a family line. I'm not going to give all the varying examples in my personal research. Just one.

I didn't know much about my Great Grandfather Charles A. Mitchell other than his name, who he married, and the names of their children. When I found his death certificate, for his parents there were only the surnames Mitchell and Forrest. 

Great! Fine! Dandy!

I mean, how in the heck can I trace back with only a surname? Well, as chance would have it, or perhaps a gentle nudge from my ghostly Great-Great Grandparents, I stumbled across a reference to the Forrest family in a book about Warren County, TN - this is where many of my paternal line settled. It listed the children of Reverend Richard Albert and Sarah (Matlock) Forrest, one daughter who was Martha Forrest who, according to the book, married a William Mitchell! Woo Hoo!!! Okay, wasn't for sure, at least not then, that this was my line, but I was pretty sure, 98% sure, but . . . 

. . . didn't have the proof, until . . .

. . . I received a DNA match to a 3rd Cousin 1 x Removed, with a shared common ancestry to Richard Albert and Sarah (Matlock) Forrest. This cousin's descent was through Martha's sister Rachel Caroline Forrest. So at this point I knew, by DNA, that Martha Forrest and William Mitchell were in fact the parents of my Great Grandfather Charles A. Mitchell. This was the Ancestry DNA test, btw. 

I later, through contact with 3rd cousins on my Mitchell line (their Great Grandmothers were sisters to my Great Grandfather), census records, and an obituary notice, I was able to have a distinct paper trail proving that Martha Forrest and William Mitchell were my 2 x Great Grandparents. Still, the DNA helped on that line, and quite a few other lines as well.

I also took the yDNA test through ftDNA and was able to trace back my Mitchell line to Captain William C. Mitchell who arrived in MD in 1649. Woo hoo! DNA doesn't lie.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, don't discount DNA testing. It can confirm what you pretty much know on your own, but haven't been able to prove by paper. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014


When dancing with the ancestors, never let the skeptics get you down . . . or stop you on your dance into the past.

Genealogy is not a straight line back into the past, it is a circuitous route that leads you here, there, and everywhere; hither and yon; over hill and under mountains! It is not black and white with an easily traceable paper trail. 

Then, when you find what you know is proof, there will be others - i.e., skeptics - who will say: where's the paper trail, where's your definitive proof, and I don't believe you!

I've come across this many times while dancing with the ancestors and I haven't let it get me down. I've persevered and kept on digging.

Case in point: my Mitchell line.

As any follower of this blog knows, the Mitchell line has been one of the most difficult lines to trace. First - dad always told me his great grandfather was an only child. Not true, not true at all. Second - on my great grandfather's death certificate it only listed his parents surnames. Great! Fine! Dandy! And, the list of hurdles I had to hurdle continued on and on. I finally determined my 2 x Great Grandparents were William Mitchell and Martha Forrest. First, there was a mention in The Heritage of Warren County of Martha Forrest, daughter of Richard Albert Forrest, marrying William Mitchell. Then, there was the DNA connection to a descendant of Richard Albert Forrest. Then, there was connecting with my cuz Debbie from Texas, who had a picture of my great grandfather Charles A. Mitchell, who happened to be a brother to her great-grandmother Martha Matilda Mitchell-Bunch. Then, there was this notice in the book Warren County, Tennessee: Genealogical Notes from the McMinnville Newspapers, 1880 -1914:

Dock Mitchell uncle of Charles A. Mitchell of here is visiting for the first time in 43 years/lives in Eagle Springs, Texas

This opened up whole new avenues of research, and I soon learned that Dock Mitchell was the son of Allen Mitchell and Sarah Wilson (Allen's second, or maybe third, wife).

I found a memorial for Dock Mitchell, and his father Allen Mitchell on FindAGrave and messaged the sponsor of the memorial about my connection to Allen Mitchell. She then contacted some Mitchell researchers who - you guessed it - were skeptical about my relationship to Allen (who I knew with 99% certainty was my 3 x Great Grandfather) since all I had was the article.

First - there was only one Dock Mitchell from Eagle Springs, TX and he was the son of Allen Mitchell. Second - I had Census Records showing Dock Mitchell in Warren County, TN in 1850, and his father was Allen Mitchell. Third - I had Census Records for Dock Mitchell, again, his father was Allen Mitchell, living in Dade County, MO in 1860. So, the time-frame of him having been gone from McMinnville, Warren County, TN for 43 years in 1897 was also pretty much proven. Still, this wasn't enough information for the skeptics, and I understand that 100%! 

I also know that a straight-line approach to genealogy will not get you very far. Sometimes, the only paper trail you might have is a notice - marriage, birth, death, obituary, visit to a town for the first time in 43 years - in the newspaper. To discard that notice as minimal, as not proof enough, is to potentially discard an ancestor.

I refused to discard that notice. I refused to stop believing - until I could prove otherwise - that Allen Mitchell was my 3 x Great Grandfather.

Today, I received the ultimate proof that should - hopefully - convince the skeptics that the small article in a McMinnville newspaper in 1897 should have been believed in the first place!

What proof is that, dear readers?


Yes, you read those three bolded letters correctly: D-N-A!

I have a DNA match to a direct descendant of Allen Mitchell, through his son Nicholas Mitchell, who was half-brother to my 2 x Great Grandfather William C. Mitchell!

No, I'm not gloating in this post. Okay, maybe a bit! 

But . . .

. . . always remember, and never forget, when dancing with the ancestors, do not ever, ever, ever let the skeptics get you down. Do not let the skeptics out there stop you from digging and digging and digging to prove your relationship to an ancestor. Do not let them scoff at a newspaper article that helps you trace back one generation further, because . . .

. . . in this instance, that newspaper notice proved just as accurate as the DNA results that confirmed Allen Mitchell was my 3 x Great Grandfather!!


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

My Grandparents' House

This is a picture of my grandparents' (Mamaw and Papaw Sweat) house, taken, most likely, during the 1937 flood. In that flood, the water actually rose up to the second floor of the house.

The house no longer exists. It was torn down not too many years after my grandfather died because . . . it kept flooding.

The house wasn't a huge house: kitchen, dining room, living room, one bedroom downstairs and two bedrooms upstairs. There was the Boys room and the Girls room. There were 10 children in all - five boys and five girls. So, two beds per room and . . . you get the picture. 

Until 1954 . . . there wasn't a bathroom in the house. There was never a clothes dryer, though there was a washing machine. Mamaw would wash the clothes in the washing machine and then hang them out to dry on the clothes line. My mother would do the same when we came to visit, and my siblings and I would help hang up the clothes and take them down once they were dry.

There was no dish washer either. After supper - dinner was the lunch time meal, supper was the evening meal - we would make an assembly line in the kitchen and . . .

. . . Mom would wash the dishes, one of my sisters would rinse, one would dry, and my brother and I would put the dried dishes up.

In the dining room was a large table - Mamaw and Papaw had 10 children after all, and a total of 36 grandchildren - and two rocking chairs: one for Papaw and one for Mamaw. There was a small table as well on which sat the radio Papaw would listen to the baseball games on, and a glass dish which always had candy.

My Aunt Juanita tells the story of how she and Aunt Lucille would listen to the radio when it was free. Lucille liked country music and Juanita what most people might call pop music now, though . . . you're talking about late 40s and early 50s most likely. The family was Catholic so they went to Catholic school and had uniforms. One day after school, Juanita and Lucille were fighting over which station to listen to and . . .

. . . the fight got a bit physical and Lucille grabbed Juanita by the shirt and yanked and . . .

. . . all the buttons came flying off. Mamaw was not a happy camper at all.

We would all gather in the dining room area, sitting at the big table, playing cards, reading, coloring, mom crocheting, Papaw listening to some baseball game, and Mamaw - when she rested for a minute - saying the rosary.

The house was heated by an oil stove located in the dining room area. It was the warmest room in the house. There wasn't such a thing as central heat/air. Let me tell you, it was cold in the spring in Lebanon Junction, KY. At night, we'd pile under the quilts and an electric blanket and pray we didn't have to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. The floors were icy cold. In the morning, we'd hurriedly dress and rush downstairs to stand in front of the oil stove.

When the entire family - aunts, uncles, cousins, and whatnot - would gather there wasn't enough room in the house for everyone, so we'd spill outside on to the front, back, and side porches. 

The priority when eating was: children first, then the men, and the women got whatever was leftover. Not fair by any means, but that's how it was done back in the day!

I remember sitting on the front porch - Papaw in one rocker, Mamaw in the other, mom and dad in lawn chairs, and the rest of us sitting on the porch or the steps - and helping Mamaw shuck corn or snap beans. 

Mamaw was a devout Catholic. There was a crucifix in every room, one over each bed, and a holy water receptacle at the bottom of the stairs.

The stairs went up to a small landing, turned, and up another few stairs to the top floor. There was a bedroom to the right and to the left. The banister was a good sized wooden banister, great for sliding down and going . . . 

. . . whhhhhhheeeeeeeeee!!!!!

There was a large tree in the backyard with a big stone slab, cracked if I remember correctly, that we used to sit on.

There was a narrow back porch and then a big slab of concrete which the oil tank sat on. We used to dare each other to jump from the back porch to the oil tank slab. There was a good space between the two, and a fair drop off.

Fort Knox was a fair distance from my grandparents' house, but . . . on rainy days, there would be target practice at Fort Knox and . . .

. . . the whole house would shake each time the big guns were fired. 

Then, there was the train. 

The train tracks weren't far from the house at all and, when the trains went by, there was a heck of a lot of noise, which . . .

. . . my father, a signal engineer for the railroad, could sleep through every single time, while my brother and I would wake up. Geesh!

Now, where the house once stood, where laughter and sorrow occurred, where the children of Mary Willie (Boone) and William Oscar Sweat grew up, and where their grandchildren came to visit, is an empty lot. But to me, the lot is not empty. I can still see the house and remember all the good times I had there. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mary Kittamaquund

First - when dancing with the ancestors, never, ever, ever say you're related to an Indian Princess. There is no such thing as an Indian Princess. There is, however, the daughter of the Chief, which is exactly the title Mary Kittamaquund deserves. She was the daughter of Chitomachen Kittamaquund, the Tayac (translated as Emperor by the settlers of Maryland, but really only Chief) of the Piscataway Indian Tribes that were inherent to Maryland at one time.

Mary Kittamaquund is my 8 x Great Grandmother following this descent . . .

Mary Kittamaquund - m - Giles Brent

Mary Brent - m (1) - John Fitzherbet and m (2) Charles Beaven

Elizabeth Beaven - m - John Boone

Charles Boone - m - Mary Boarman

Walter Boone - m (1) Peggy Edelen and m (2) Elizabeth Hagan-Mattingly

My descent is through his second marriage which continues with Walter and Elizabeth's son . . .

William Henry Boone - m - Rosena Hagan

Miles Nicholas Boone - m - Rosa Jane Duvall

Victor Ivo Boone - m - Mary Willie Watson

Mary Willie Boone - m - William Oscar Sweat

Mom - m - Dad


Now, there's a ton of information out there about Mary Kittamaquund, most of which is fairly accurate, but not totally accurate, especially in regards to her daughter Mary Brent. 

The known for sure: She was converted to Catholicism and assumed the name Mary; she was the ward of Margaret Brent, sister-in-law to Leonard Calvert; at about age 11 she married Margaret's brother Giles who was at least 30 years her senior; she and Giles had at least three children, but possibly six children; and she either a) died in 1654, was put aside by Giles (he married Francis Whitegrave-Harrison in 1655), or left Giles and rejoined her people.

Now, her daughter Mary Brent is where the confusion usually sets in because most sites I found mention that Mary married a Fitzherbert, but never had children . . . so how in the heck could she be my 7 x Great Grandmother, the wife of Charles Beaven.

Well, come to find out Mary Brent either a) divorced John Fitzherbert or was b) put aside by him. This is documented in a letter from Chalres Calvert to his father Cecilius Calvert in 1672 that states: Major Fitzherbert's brother who maryed the Indian Brent, has civilly parted with her, and (as I suppose) will never care to bed with her more; soe that your Lordship needs not to feare any ill consequence from that match - Proceedings of the Council of Maryland: 1671 - 1682 (Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1896). 

The marriage between Charles Beaven and Mary Brent-Fitzherbert took place sometime between 1672 and 1674. 

So, when dancing with the ancestors, don't believe the first thing you read and stop researching the line because it doesn't match up with other information. Keep searching.

For more information about Mary Kittamaquund and the proof of descent, check out this well documented blog post:


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Not Alone

Perhaps, while dancing with the ancestors, I've done a similar post, so, if I have, I'm doing it again.

There's something invigorating about finding out that . . .

. . . you're not alone, i.e., not the last of the Mitchell line.

For the longest time, as you'll know from reading other posts, the theory was that Great Grandpa Charlie Mitchell was an only child. He had one son, who had one son, who had two sons, one of which married and had one son. The other child, well, I currently have two dogs and a cat. No human children in my future.

So, for the longest time, nephew Matt had quite a bit of pressure on him as the last Mitchell. Okay, he still has pressure as the last Mitchell in the direct line of descent from . . .

Allen Mitchell to . . .

William C. Mitchell to . . .

Charles Alexander Mitchell to . . .

John Francis Mitchell to . . .

Vernon Smith Mitchell to . . . 

Bob Mitchell to . . . 

Matt Mitchell to . . .

But the descent from Allen Mitchell includes many sons who had many or a few sons who had . . .

. . . and so on, and so on, and so on, so that . . .

. . . the Mitchell line descended from Allen, descended from his father, and his father, and his father, back to the first Mitchell, continues.

We're scattered here, there, and everywhere . . .

Delaware, Tennessee, Texas, Missouri, California, and other places as well.

We don't know each other, and many of my cousins don't have a clue that I exist. Maybe one day they will, or maybe they won't. There might be some male Mitchell out there, no sons, thinking I'm the last of the Mitchell line.

Well, he isn't, and - hopefully - he won't be, because Allen and his sons were quite prolific, well, until you get to my Grandfather John, aka Pop, who only had two children: a daughter and a son, and left many a descendant out there to continue the Mitchell line down through the generations to the end of time.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, there is hope you are not alone, and not the last of your line. Perhaps beneath that tree root you just stumbled across, you'll find a brother or sister of an ancestor you didn't know existed, and discover a whole slew of cousins you never knew you had. I know I did!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

When Branches Intertwine

When dancing with the ancestors cousin relationships might well drive you to drink. My cousin's son is not my 2nd Cousin. Rather, he's my First Cousin 1 x Removed. 

Joseph Bryan Reid is my 5th Cousin 2 x Removed. He was my Grandmother Mary Willie Boone-Sweat's 5th Cousin. Confused yet?

Well, so am I! Ha!

Not only is Joseph Bryan Reid my 5th Cousin 2 x Removed on one line, he's that way on another line. This happens when branches intertwine on the family tree. No, it's not first cousins marrying first cousins. So far, I haven't found any of that in all my research, but I have found where cousins have married. 

With Joseph Bryan Reid there are two branches/descents in his tree that combine with my tree: Thomas and Mary (Aisquith) Hagan and McKelvie and Ann (Williams) Hammett. Thomas and Mary are my 7 x Great Grandparents and McKelvie and Ann are my 6 x Great Grandparents . . . on two separate branches that merge together with the marriage of their descendants Victor Ivo Boone and Mary Willie Watson (my great grandparents).

Okay, really there's three, but it gets really complicated, so, I'm going to stick with the simple version for now.

It went something like this . . .

Thomas and Mary (Aisquith) went forth, were fruitful and multiplied. Boy, did they multiply. I have descent from three of their multitude of children, but, for this post . . . I'm going to simplify to one child, but then branch out a bit since that's where my tree connects with Joseph Bryan Reid's tree.

Thomas Hagan - Mary Aisquith

Thomas Hagan - Sarah Mudd

    James Hagan - Monica Johnson

Tabitha Hagan - Enoch Hagan                          Clement Phillip Hagan - Mary Ann Miles

Rosena Hagan - William Henry Boone    Thomas Sidney Hagan - Mary Amanda Edelen

Miles Boone - Rosa Jane Duvall                             Angelah Hagan - David Alexander Reid 

Victor Ivo Boone - Mary Willie Watson              John Bryan Reid - Mary Estelle Greenwell 

Mary Willie Boone                                          Joseph Bryan Reid

So, now you see where the trees were once one, but then split off into two. Tabitha Hagan and Clement Phillip Hagan were brother and sister.

In another interesting note on this cousin relationship, is the descent from Thomas Hagan and Mary Aisquith that leads to William Henry Boone. It goes something like this . . .

Thomas Hagan - Mary Aisquith

Thomas Hagan - Sarah Mudd

Benjamin Hagan - Monica Blandford

Elizabeth Hagan - Walter Boone

William Henry Boone - Rosena Hagan

But, as you know if you've been paying attention so far, there's another connection between Joseph Bryan Reid and me, since the other Grandparents we have in common are McKelvie Hammett and Ann Williams. That little descent goes something like this . . .

McKelvie Hammett & Ann Williams

Elizabeth Hammett - William Proctor Ballard              Susannah Hammett - James Cissell 

John Ballard - Elizabeth Nalley                          Elizabeth Cissell - James Madison Ballard

Charlotte Ballard - James Johnson                  Mary Helena Ballard - William Greenwell

Annie Johnson - Richard Hilary Watson      Thomas Greenwell - Mary Rose Mattingly

Mary Willie Watson - Victor Ivo Boone          Mary Estelle Greenwell - John Bryan Reid

Mary Willie Boone                                       Joseph Bryan Reid

Nope, not done yet, because, there's a second connection on this tree through William Proctor Ballard and his sons John Ballard and James Madison Ballard, both of who played a role in the respective descents of Mary Willie Boone and Joseph Bryan Reid. And, since I'm noting the cousin relationships, Charlotte Ballard and May Helena Ballard were first cousins, which means that Annie Johnson and Thomas Greenwell were . . . First Cousins 1 x Removed! Woo hoo!

To say that the children and grandchildren of both Mary Willie and Joseph Bryan are cousins, is quite the simplification, since we're/they're actual cousins on more than one level! Whew!

So, when dancing with the ancestors and trying to keep track of the cousin relationship, well, good luck with that lovely task.

Friday, January 24, 2014

City Directories

When dancing with the ancestors, don't discount those city directories you'll come across. They're a valuable research tool and will give you a glimpse into the lives of your ancestors.

Things I've discovered looking through the directories . . .
  • My great grandparents John Leonard and Martha (Lane) Smith lived at 1814 Hamburg Street in Nashville according to the 1810 Census Record. By 1815, they were living at 1814 Delta Avenue according to the City Directory. Come to find out, Hamburg Street became part of Delta Avenue between 1910 and 1915
  • My Grand Aunt Olive Mae Smith (my grandmother's sister), prior to going to nursing school, worked at a laundry as a pressman, folder, and pressmfdr (I guess pressman/folder shortened)
  • My Great Grandparents Charles A. and Martha (Tate) Mitchell rented a place prior to buying their house on 1705 Grand Avenue in Nashville.
  • My Grand Uncle Charlie Hoffman (he married my grandmother's sister Willie Octavia) worked for Argo and Hoffman. 
  • Great Grandpa Charlie Mitchell was a watchman at Weinberger's in Nashville in 1924; however, in 1922 he was a bag maker. 
  • My Grand Aunt Clara (another of my grandmother's sisters) worked as a nurse for Dr. O. A. Oliver in Nashville in 1924. At other times she was an assistant and a dental technician
The City Directories will also tell you if your ancestor was a boarder, renter, or owner.

So, when dancing with the ancestors, make time to go through those City Directories, whether online or at your local State Archives.