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!!