My first experience with DNA testing for genealogy was a Y-DNA test for my brother in 2008 that identified my grandfather’s family and answered questions various members of the family had been trying to answer for 50 years. I did two autosomal tests in early 2011 and soon added one for my mother. Since then I’ve tested several others including my three siblings, a paternal aunt, and a maternal aunt. The number of matches we have has grown to crazy numbers unimagined several years ago.
DNA results will play a big part in the research projects on my 2018 to-do list. On the surface, it appears there are answers to some problems just waiting for me to do the necessary analysis. But before I get into those projects, I wanted to take a look at the relationships that have been confirmed by DNA matches and the clues that may answer some questions.
This post looks at my paternal ancestors from grandparents John William McCauley and Verda Waller Hankins through my 4th great-grandparents. (See the Key to Charts at the bottom of this page.)
In 2009, I made a conclusion about my paternal grandfather’s parents based on Y-DNA and indirect evidence. The number of autosomal DNA matches supporting that conclusion is almost unbelievable. Some of the color blocks with the DNA symbol represent dozens of confirmed matches to several couples and there are likely many, many more matches that haven’t yet been identified.
18 & 19: John Bennett and Martha Gamble had nine children but I can only find four after they are last with their parents in census records. What happened to Justian, Thomas, Sarah Ann, Teresa, and John Bennett? Clues have already surfaced in DNA matches that indicate Thomas and Justian may have gone to Oklahoma with their Uncle David Bennett before 1900.
34: Who were the parents of Samuel W. Jackson? Many researchers list parents or at least a father for Samuel and they may be correct but the only evidence seems to be a common location. With over 40 matches to confirmed descendants of Samuel’s and all the unidentified shared matches with those folks, chances are good progress can be made here.
36: Who were the parents of Lewis H. Bennett? This is another case where many researchers list parents, but I’m not convinced. The alleged parents appear on approved Sons of the American Revolution applications but both parents left a will and neither mentions Lewis. They lived in North Carolina. Lewis’ 1850 census record, the only one with birthplaces in which he appears, says he was born in South Carolina. Lots of conflicting information needs to be examined. We have over 25 matches to confirmed descendants of Lewis so I’m hopeful answers are in the DNA.
Was Jones Bennett related to Lewis and, if so, how? Jones arrived in Troup County, Georgia around the same time as Lewis and both came from South Carolina. Some researchers list Jones as Lewis’ son but their estimated birth years make that seem unlikely. We have DNA matches to a few confirmed descendants of Jones so there appears to be a relationship (possibilities include brother, nephew, or cousin).
37: Who were the parents of Teresa (wife of Lewis H. Bennett)? Many researchers claim Teresa’s maiden name was Garrett, but I haven’t seen any kind of evidence for those claims. With the number of matches to Teresa’s descendants, DNA may prove useful in identifying her parents.
If there is such a thing as an easy line to research, it is my grandmother’s paternal lines, but it’s good to have DNA confirmation. Her parents had 13 grandchildren who had children but nine of them were hers so the pool of people who could genetically confirm my relationship to this set of great-grandparents is small and apparently none of them have tested. But we do have many matches to earlier couples on both sides of her family.
About ten years ago I made conclusions about the parents of my 2nd great-grandparents (#22 and #23), John R. Petty and Margaret E. Thomas. Those conclusions have been confirmed by a number of DNA matches to descendants of both John R’s and Margaret’s siblings.
#22: Who was the mother of John R. Petty? While my conclusion that John Petty was John R.’s father has been confirmed by DNA, no one has a clue to the mother of the elder John’s children. All we know is that she probably died before 1850 as she wasn’t listed with John and the children still living with him in that census. Since more than 30 descendants of John R. and his siblings have done DNA testing (and that’s only the ones I’ve identified so far), DNA should provide some clues if not an answer to this question.
#44: Who were the parents of John Petty? I’ve already seen some matches in our DNA results indicating a connection to Pettys living in a different county in Tennessee.
#46 & 47: Who are the possible three unidentified children of Jesse Thomas and Rebecca and what happened to their son Oliver P.? The 1840 census indicates Jesse and Rebecca had a son and two daughters who haven’t been identified by name. Their son Oliver hasn’t been located after he was with his parents in the 1860 census. Two of Jesse and Rebecca’s other sons have already been located thanks to DNA matches to their descendants so it’s possible others can eventually be found.
#46: Who were the parents of Jesse Thomas? There are certainly other Thomases in the areas where Jesse and Rebecca lived. Identifying Rebecca’s parents (see next item) could be helpful in finding Jesse’s parents. Since over 20 identified descendants of Jesse and Rebecca have tested, the possibility of DNA helping with this question is good.
#47: Who were the parents of Rebecca (wife of Jesse Thomas)? More than two years ago, someone emailed me to say they believed Rebecca was the daughter of Christopher Baker and Agnes Forrester. I haven’t spent much time on that theory yet but chances of that being true are pretty good. In addition to common locations, four identified descendants of Christopher and Agnes match some members of my family. That pool of Jesse and Rebecca’s descendants who have done DNA testing may give us an answer.
As you can see, I have enough work to keep me busy for a long time. And this is just my paternal side. A look at my maternal DNA is coming soon.
Key to Charts:
- Each chart starts with one of my grandparents and goes to my fourth great-grandparents. Ahnentafal numbering based on me as number 1.
- Color block with a black DNA symbol = identified matches confirm the relationship.
- Color block with a white DNA symbol = no match identified to confirm the relationship (yet) but matches confirm relationships in an earlier generation in that line.
- White block with a star = problems I think I DNA may solve.
- Empty color block = known ancestors without any DNA confirmation.
- Empty white block = unknown ancestors with no DNA clues (so far).