Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Research Problem

Purported picture of William Preston Williams
from the Gallia CountyGenealogical Society
 web site.  No one can tell me the source of the photo,
so it will not be included in my application.

William Preston Williams is my 2X great grandfather. He enlisted in the 3rd West Virginia Cavalry during the Civil War. It is through him that I joined the Civil War Families of Gallia County and will be joining the Society of Civil War Families of Ohio next spring.

It is through his father, John Williams, that I believe I qualify for First Families of Ohio. John Williams came to Gallia County circa 1806-1810. Here is the problem:

I need to prove that William Preston Williams (1839-1910) is the son of John Williams (1796-1880). The only source that I have that links William Preston and John Williams is the 1882 History of Gallia County by H.H. Hardesty.

The biographical sketch of William's brother, Elijah Williams, states:
"His father, John Williams, was born February 20, 1796, and was one of the first settlers of this township (Guyan), enduring may privations... Louisa T. (Sartin) Williams, the mother of Elijah, was born April 20, 1803, and died November 19, 1876. Mr. Williams had three brothers in the late war. John S. Williams enlisted for three years, and, after serving two years, he died of measles; William P. and James H. Williams both served three years, and the latter died in the hospital at Washington after the war had closed."  History of Gallia County, H.H. Hardesty, 1882.

The Ohio Genealogical Society does not consider the biographical sketches in the 19th century histories as evidence, and for good reason. The sketches were paid for by the subject of the sketch and usually represents a sanitized view of what they could remember of their family history.

  • His death record does list his parents, with a wrong last name for his mother. Death records are not considered a primary source for a birth record. The person giving the information, most often an adult child, would NOT have first person knowledge of the individual's birth. This record needs to be combined with other records to prove the relationship.
  • His marriage record does not list his parents
  • There are no government issued birth records in Ohio prior to 1867.
  • 1850-1860 census records do not list relationship between members of a household
  • By 1870 & 1880 William P. Williams is in his own household.
  • No will or estate record has been found for John Williams or William Williams in the county records
  • Even his Civil War Pension records do not list his parents.
William P. Williams death certificate #31993.   Notice his mother's name is given as "Lucy Pillman".
The information is given by Ann Johnson, William's sister.
SOURCE: Ohio Department of Health, Division of Vital Statistics

Excerpt from the 1870 Census for Guyan Township, Gallia County, Ohio, showing William P. Williams living right next door to John & Lucy Williams. Note that it does not mention relationships between people in the same household.
SOURCE: Ancestry Library Edition

Marriage record of Willam P. Williams and Rebecca Tagg, dated 12 March 1869. No parents are listed.
SOURCE: Gallia County Marriage Records, Court of Common Pleas

Excerpt from 1850 Census for Guyan Township, Gallia County, Ohio, showing William Williams listed with John &
Lucinda Williams. Note that it does not list their relationship.
SOURCE: Ancestry Library Edition

There were five John Williams in Gallia County at the time of William's birth. And to complicate matters further, he is not the only William Preston Williams to live in Gallia County, Ohio during this period. In the 1830's the area had an influx of Welsh settlers that included a number of WILLIAMS families. Luckily, the other William Preston Williams is too young to have been my ancestor. Oh, and the family tree on Ancestry has the WRONG William Preston Williams in the 1900 census.
My last place to search: Land Records.

Several months ago, I had ordered the indexes to the land records of Gallia County from the website. They had come in and I was slowly going through them. My father's family had settled in Gallia county from 1810 through 1870's. As long as I have the index, I wanted to check for all of his family lines. And with names like Williams, Johnson and Barry, there are a LOT of records to go through. Luckily, I had finished the Williams surname and so when I went to Gallia County for the Lineage Banquet/Research Trip, I had the volume and page numbers of the records I wanted to copy.


Note the second line where the arrow is. It lists William P. Williams and his wife Rebecca Tagg. The fourth line
states "the heirs at law of John Williams. The date of the document is 5 December 1881. John Williams died
26 February 1880. He didn't leave a will and no estate record has been found.
Deed Records of Gallia County, Vol 50, pages 141-142.

So there it is! Proof positive that William P. Williams, husband of Rebecca, is "an heir at law" of John Williams. 

Once I get all the paperwork filled out, I will be sending in my application for First Families of Ohio!!


BTW, if you want read an interesting article on the latest information on Neanderthals and how advanced they were, check out the February 2015 copy of Scientific American. I am interested in Neanderthals ever since I learned I have 1.8% Neanderthal DNA!!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Lineage Society Banquet and Research Trip

Gallipolis City Park, on the Ohio River
About 3 times the size of Medina's park on the Square.
Beautiful and relaxing!
You may remember my excitement when my application was accepted ford the Civil War Families of Gallia County several months ago. I talked about it in these posts:
The Lineage Society Banquet was on October 10th in Gallipolis. About 50 members and their families gathered to enjoy the great food and attend the induction ceremony. But the best part was meeting the genealogical society leaders and the other inductees. I was seated with a great group of people that willingly shared the stories of their ancestors. If it wasn't for the 4 hour drive, I would attend every year!

Other attending Civil War Inductees
Receiving my certificate and lapel pin. 

The Certificate and Lapel Pin.

But since it IS a four hour drive, I combined the banquet with a research trip. Here is what I did:

Prior to leaving:
  • Made a list of information I wanted to find.
  • Made a list of where to find that information
  • Checked the hours of operation for the institutions I needed to visit.
  • Checked the weather
  • Printed Ancestor charts & Family Group Sheets for families in the area
Day One:
  • Visited the first cemetery on my list - Maddy Cemetery - Success! I found my grandfather's tombstone. As I was only 4 years old when he died, I had never been before. I wasn't even sure he had a tombstone.
  • Visited the second cemetery on my list - Good Hope - Success! I found my paternal grandmother's tombstone and also most of her family. The WILLIAMS family had donated the land for the church and cemetery.
  • Found a possible link to my missing half brother.
  • Got lost trying to locate 3rd cemetery on my list - Steward Chapel. And when you get lost in the hills of southern Ohio, you really get lost!!
  • After dinner, I visited the library and checked the resources on my list - partial success. The sources were there, but didn't always have the information I wanted. Did find a clue to a possible father for my 3X great grandfather, John WILLIAMS.
Kudzu has taken over this meadow and is encroaching on the gravel road.
Along with wild turkeys, this what I did find when I got lost looking for
Stewart Chapel Cemetery.

Day Two:
  • Visited the courthouse for marriage, estate and land records:
    Gallia County Court Hose
    • 1 marriage record not found - Success! (That is a good thing when you are trying to prove that your grandfather didn't marry a second woman and commit bigamy!)1 marriage record found - Success!
    • Estate records in index. Courthouse staff recommended the Genealogical Society.
    • Land records - found & copied - Success!!
  • Visited the Genealogical Society, which is right around the corner from the courthouse.
    • Copied several estate records
    • Determined they didn't have any pertinent family histories.
    • Bought a book needed for my personal library.
    • Learned how to pronounce Gallipolis! galla - POlice! 
    • Neglected to check lineage files for useful information.
  • LUNCH! at a nearby sports bar
  • Returned to the courthouse for additional estate record. It wasn't the one I needed. But I helped another researcher use the estate indexes!
Dr. Samuel L. Bossard Memorial Library

  • Returned to the library for a possible obituary. Not found!
  • Went to health department for 1 death record and 2 birth records
    • Photographed the death record and 1 birth record. Second birth record not found.
  • Returned to the hotel to evaluate results. I found:
    • I now have the proof I need for First Families of Gallia County and Ohio in the land records! (More on that next week!)
    • Found married names of a number of daughters in the estate records.
    • Search for missing half brother goes on. The lead didn't pan out.
    • Found a truly sad family story. My grandmother's brother was suicidal and was committed to the Athen's State Hospital for about a year. His uncle was already a patient there. A young man of about 20, he was depressed because of being diabetic and a troubling love life. He died less than 10 years later from his diabetes.

Grandmother Stella Belle Barry Rose Johnson
Day three:
  • Returned to the second cemetery, Good Hope, and brought flowers to my grandmother's grave.
  • Found the third cemetery - Stewart Chapel - at the end of a steep, windy, dirt/gravel/mud lane! Success! Brought flowers to my 3X great grandparents gaves, Othey & Emily Swain. She is the ancestress who was supposed to be 3/4 Cherokee.
  • Stopped by the church hall where the banquet was being held to see if the ladies needed any help setting up. They had finished and left.
  • Returned to the hotel to type up some notes and get ready for the banquet.

Grandpa Johnson's tombstone. Nellie was
never his wife. That is the marriage
record I didn't find!

Day four:
  • Returned to Maddy Cemetery and brought flowers to my grandfather's grave.
  • Returned home.
Day five - ???
  • Organize and input all the new data!  Still working on that!!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

DNA Testing, continued

Sequoyah, who created a written language for the
Cherokee people. He is definitely  NOT in my

Last week we took a look at what DNA testing in my family failed to turn up. Namely, it did not show any of the Native American DNA that family lore tells we have. I haven't given up on the family lore yet. As more people get tested and they refine their methodology, something still could show up.

What was equally fascinating was some surprises in our DNA. My test came back 5% Scandinavian. This was surprising because going back 200+ years, we have no known Scandinavian ancestors. So what could it be??


Promotional photo from the popular TV show Vikings, which I have to
admit, I have never watched.

We all know how the Vikings raided the British Isles and most of northern Europe. Surely, that accounts for the Scandinavian DNA!

Impact of the Viking Raids


According to this article in a 18 March 2015 edition of The Guardian the Vikings did not leave a genetic impact on the populations they raided. Interesting, right?

It gets more interesting. 

My older brother's DNA test revealed 19% Scandinavian ancestry.

And my younger sister's DNA shows a whopping 39% Scandinavian!! That is over a third of her DNA!!


The truth is, I don't know what is going on here....yet.

But here are some possibilities:
  1. Scandinavian families are hiding in our ancestry, just under westernized or Americanized names.
  2. Our KINIKIN ancestors are actually Dutch, not German. The Dutch are considered Scandanavian. (Our great grandmother's maiden name was KINIKIN. We have traced them back to Delaware in the 1700's.)
  3. The tests could be inaccurate.
Judy Russell, of The Legal Genealogist Blog, again had something to say about that last point in this post

And just because I know that someone out there is thinking it -- YES, we are full siblings! The DNA tests do confirm that. We share the exact amount of DNA that is expected of full siblings!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

DNA Testing Results

At the end of summer, my family took advantage of the reduced pricing on DNA testing from Family Tree DNA to get some more individuals tested. As Judy Russell of the Legal Genealogist Blog says "Test. Test as broadly and as deeply in your family as you can afford to test."

Both of my daughters now have been tested and two of my seven siblings also have been tested.

And it has been fascinating to see what the tests have revealed as well as what they haven't revealed.

I first became interested in DNA testing to help with a particular brick wall I have. Family lore tells us that my Great Great Grandmother, Emeline (ARTIS) SWAIN was three-quarters Cherokee. When I first starting researching my family history I interviewed relatives who knew Emily before she died and they all swore she was 3/4 Cherokee. And everyone pointed to my siblings with straight dark hair, brown eyes and darker complexions as evidence.

But no matter how much I searched, I couldn't find any written records that would corroborate  the story.

Emily Artis, on right, with her husband
 Otha Swain. Circa 1890's.

Emily's parents were Stephen ARTIS and Mary WALKER. The couple married in Montgomery County Maryland in 1829 and Stephen was in a militia unit for Washington DC in the War of 1812.  They have not been located in the 1830 census. Sometime around 1830-1835 they moved to Ohio, where Emily was born. Stephen reputedly died in 1837, but of course no death record exists for him. Mary is found in the 1840 and 1850 census with minor children. Searching in probate, land records and the DAWES Rolls for Cherokee connections have failed to turn anything up.

So, DNA testing to the rescue, right?? Maybe, maybe not. If Emeline was 3/4 Cherokee, as her Great, great granddaughter, I would be 3/64 Cherokee or slightly less than 5% Cherokee. That IS enough to show up on most DNA tests.


If everyone got exactly half of their DNA equally distributed from each of their parents. But DNA is much more interesting and tricky than that. You do get half of your DNA from each of your parents, but what half you get is pretty much up to nature.

And I apparently didn't get any of the Cherokee DNA from Emeline. My DNA results came back 100% European. Which wasn't too surprising, as I am fair complected and have blue eyes, like my mother's side of the family. But what about my brown eyed, brown haired siblings??

My first sibling to be tested was my oldest brother. He has the dark hair and dark eyes associated with our "Cherokee" ancestry. But his DNA results came back 100% European also. Puzzling...

One positive outcome was that we found out from his Y-DNA testing that our paternal JOHNSON's came from northwestern Ireland! We had no idea the Johnson line was Irish! Needless to say, we have not yet traced them back to the Emerald Isle. (Our farthest back Johnson was born in Kentucky in 1792.

My other sibling tested was a younger sister. She has hazel eyes and dark auburn hair. She seems to be a thorough mix of our parents - dark eyed, dark haired Dad and fair haired and green eyed Mother. Surely, with such a clear mixture of our parents, that Cherokee DNA would show up!?!


She came back 100% European too!

So that is where we stand right now. No DNA evidence of Cherokee or Native American ancestry.

Does that mean the family lore is wrong?  Not necessarily. Remember that it is pure chance which of your ancestral DNA you inherit. We could get all of my siblings tested and none of them show up with Native American ancestry and it still wouldn't mean the family story is wrong.


Not all DNA testing companies test the same chromosomes when they run their tests. And not all DNA testing companies use the same reference DNA to compare your DNA to. What do I mean by reference DNA?

That is their core DNA samples from around the world that they use to compare their users DNA. Because of the expense involved, they tend to focus their DNA samples on the presumed demographic of the people they think will buy their tests. So it is heavily weighted towards western European DNA. And not so much less numerous peoples.

Also, the test results are estimates based on what a formula each company has. And it can only compare DNA results with people living today. They are NOT comparing our DNA to people who lived a hundred or two hundred years ago. You know... our ancestors.

Judy Russell of the Legal Genealogist blog explains in much better in her September 2013 post here:
DNA Disappointment.

Next week I will talk about what the DNA tests did reveal...