Monday, November 12, 2018

Motivation Monday

Incorporating DNA Testing with Traditional Research

As I have stated in previous articles my paternal Lee family has been elusive and left fragments of a paper trail. I envy those lucky family historians who have stories passed down by their ancestors through the generations; or have family photos of their ancestors; I would even take a family Bible with dates and places noted in it, and anecdotes that were written by an ancestor and passed down. That would be a wonderful keepsake to have but that is only a dream since no such family treasure exits from my ancestors.  There is a valuable tool that is available in my lifetime that my ancestors didn’t have and that is DNA testing. DNA testing in cooperation with traditional genealogy is being used to prove or disprove a genealogical hypothesis. DNA testing is used to connect with biological related families and verify those family lines.

You may have your own personal reasons for using DNA testing with genealogical research. I have been using DNA test results with my genealogical research since the first DNA test, the YDNA test, was introduced as a tool for genealogists. The main reason that I began using DNA testing was to prove or disprove a family story. Later as autosomal DNA was available, I jumped on board for the autosomal DNA test and also tested family members, cousins, and half cousins. There was a difficult paternal puzzle and I had gone as a far as I could in researching my paternal line. Therefore, it was time to utilize the tool of DNA testing to try and solve this puzzle.  My brother YDNA tested to prove or disprove our biological grandfather, my father’s father. There was also long-standing puzzle on my paternal Lee line, my grandmother’s line so it was time to autosomal test family members and paternal cousins and find a male Lee volunteer to YDNA test. If I could find new cousins on the Lee paternal line, then I could possibly solve the long-standing puzzle. The task at hand is researching the direct line and the collaterals back to my third great grandparents Jordan Lee and wife Lydia. My plan is to identify the parents of Jordan Lee.

Jordan Lee’s parents haven’t been identified but I am using DNA in cooperation with my research to confirm family lines and connect with biological living cousins. DNA testing is not a replacement for traditional genealogical research but is used with your research to prove and disprove your assumptions about your ancestors. DNA is also used to estimate your deep ancestry from many generations’ past. Records are being digitized and added online at a rapid pace, so it is a matter of time and the parents of Jordan Lee will be identified using the two tools, and they will have their place in my family tree.

Another important reason that I use DNA testing in cooperation with my traditional genealogical research is to utilize the best practices of research using all available tools and to make sure that my research is as accurate as possible for each of my ancestors.
If you have been considering DNA testing, then develop a plan and determine your goals for the best results. Having a plan will keep you focused and goal oriented. When I first used DNA testing, I began with one family line – the Eley surname. That kept me focused on that one family line. I have researched the Eley family back to 1860 Drew County Arkansas and could not find Robert Lawrence Eley on records after that year. YDNA testing helped me in solving this difficult problem.

DNA testing is growing at a rapid pace and tools are being developed to use with the test results. Who knows what the future holds for genetic genealogists. But in the mean time it is a tool that I will continue to use and encourage others to use incorporation with their research.
Library of Congress
Highsmith, Carol M, photographer. Rural countryside in Louisiana. Louisiana United States, None. [Between 1980 and 2006] Photograph.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Saturday Sibling

Jordan Lee, Junior

Jordan Lee, Junior is a recently found second great grand uncle. I found a marriage bond for the marriage between Jordan Lee, Junior and Caroline Goodwin. Several online family trees had Caroline Goodwin as the second wife of Jordan Lee Senior, but there was no evidence to prove that Jordan had a second wife. The marriage bond was posted and Jordan Lee Junior and John H. Strange posted the two-hundred-dollar bond. John H. Strange is the son-in-law of Jordan and Lydia. Margaret their youngest known daughter married John H. Strange.  After analyzing the three records for Jordan Lee Junior, the 1850 Beat 15, Randolph County, Alabama Census, and linking John H. Strange to the Lee family I concluded that Jordan Junior was the son of Jordan and Lydia Lee.

The newly discovered marriage records were recently added online. The Lee family has been researched for fifteen years and I haven’t seen those records online previously. DNA is also a great tool in verifying family connections. I have DNA tested several family members and cousins and manage their accounts. One of my paternal Lee second cousin whose DNA account I manage has a DNA Circle with a descendant of Jordan Lee Junior in it with a robust family tree. That was a great find!

Jordan Lee, Junior died about 1864 in Tennessee. Was he killed in the War Between the States? He would have been the age to serve in the military. Sot the search continues. The image is for his widow Caroline Lee and Jordan is listed on the certificate. Caroline and Jordan's daughter Lucy's husband was the informant for the death information. 

Jordan and Lydia (Hodge) Lee probably have other children that I have not discovered in my research. There is a large gap between the births of Burrell and Jordan Junior, and Margaret and Zachariah. Therefore, the research is ongoing for the Jordan Lee family.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Monday's Memories

The Eley Family from Drew County, Arkansas

Robert Lawrence Eley was born 15 March 1857 in Lacy, Drew County, Arkansas. Robert Lawrence married Theodocia Hamby 13 Nov 1880 in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana. Robert Lawrence died 29 Aug 1929 in Rayville, Richland Parish, Louisiana. Robert Lawrence Eley was youngest son of Robert Lawrence Eley, Sr. He was the brother of  Joseph "Joe" Eley oldest child of Robert Lawrence Eley, Sr. Robert Lawrence Eley, Jr. is interred in the Horn Cemetery in Rayville, Richland Parish, Louisiana. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Tuesday’s Tip

Online Family Trees as Proof

Family history research has been a fascinating and rewarding journey and a fun filled hobby that has kept me involved since I retired several years ago. Since I began researching family over fifteen years ago there have been new records, tools and research methods made available for researchers. Research methods that have been tested and tried by others are valuable for anyone who is researching family. Family history is about sharing, connections and collaboration. Where would family history research be if we didn’t share with others making those important family connections? However, as it is with any project there are those who take the short cut in researching family. It is easy to grab information from others family trees and claim it as our own. We must be cautious in using information from online family trees.

There is nothing, in genealogical research, more frustrating than to search for an ancestor and then the search result comes up and the source is an online family tree. Then to top that off there are numerous family trees with the same information in their tree with no sources to back up the information. I have found while looking through my DNA match list the same method is used in those family trees when there is a tree available. Recently I had a match on my Burnett line and was excited to see that match. When I looked at the family tree it was exactly like all the other family trees online. A very frustrating discovery. Also, the DNA circles with the same information that others have in their family trees. It is a cycle that continues to be repeated. It would be a very exciting to discovery to find a match that would have one record that will link Jordan Lee to his parents, and have the probate record or any record as proof of the parentage.

There are family trees that have parents too young to have children, and children attached to parents where there is no proof of the parentage. There are family trees with people married to the incorrect spouse, and they use a marriage record of a child to prove the marriage of their parents. Also, there are some parents who have sixteen children and some with the same names. Will this trend of errors, inconsistencies or copying of trees ever end? Probably not! It is much easier to copy the information and claim it as your own than to take the time to research your ancestors and prove they are your ancestors.

One important thing that a good family historian will do is be sure that the ancestor researched is their ancestor and there is proof of it. You do that by research and proof of accuracy.

Research your ancestor and find all available records for the period in which you are researching. Make sure the information is accurate. An online family tree isn’t a record; however, those trees may be used as a guide in finding records to prove your ancestry.

When I began researching over fifteen years ago I had very little information on my Lee family. I didn’t know my grandmother’s name, other than she was Granny Eley. My sister who is ten years older than me knew she was Alice Lee married to a Jack Eley. She knew that Granny was born in Alabama. She also knew Granny’s mother’s name and where she was married. With that information I began my journey into genealogical research.

I visited Daddy’s only living sibling, Gladys, to gather information from her, only to find out she didn’t know anything other than Granddaddy Eley had a brother who lived in Rayville in Richland Parish. Which proved to be inaccurate information. The brother was Granddaddy Eley’s uncle, his father’s brother. Aunt Gladys also told me that families didn’t talk and share information. That was a disappointing visit and I wasn’t sure that my aunt was being honest with me and she didn’t want to give out information. About a year later I made another visit to see if I could get her to talk any more about our family, but that visit didn’t produce any more information. She died a few months later so all that history is gone forever. My quest continued in the search to learn about the Lee family.

I turned to online family trees and looked through the family trees that had records such as census, marriage, death, cemetery, land records, and any other records that would help prove this to be my family line. Those online family trees helped in locating records in proving the family link. This was a project that took time and energy. I carefully examined the records making sure this was my ancestor’s record. Those were the days before the mass collection of online data bases. This was during the era of courthouse trips, walking cemeteries, and going to repositories where your ancestor lived. However, the rules for using reliable and accurate information in your research are the same regardless of the period in which you are researching.

Family history research has been a journey where I have not been satisfied until I know I have exhausted all searches for information on my family lines. I have used all available resources to research family, connected with new cousins and reconnected with long ago cousins. Connecting with new cousins and reconnecting with cousins have helped in getting their family’s stories, photos, and records. They have provided valuable information for their families.

My desire is that my family tree is as accurate as any family historian can be when using the standards of research in proving their ancestry.

Pleas Rodden, a farmer plowing with his mule team in 
West Carroll Parish, Louisiana early 1900s.
Ronnie Ainsworth shared it in

Sunday, December 24, 2017

This Genealogist's Christmas Wish

My Christmas Wish
Written by Esther Eley Jones
12 Dec 2013

Dear Santa,

Genealogists have unusual wishes,
As you will see.
But this is my Christmas list,
With this year’s new gist.
I am searching for my Lee ancestor,
And have not found him still.
He moved from place to place and didn’t leave a trail,
So, Santa I think this ancestor must have been very frail,
Because he left no will,
If only he had left a will,
And had not been such a pill.
He seemed to evade the census takers,
And was not a mover and shaker,
Although he was a farmer,
He didn’t own any land,
So, Santa, please help me out here
By finding this elusive man.
Others are searching for him,
So, I ask you Santa, to find him if you can.
Santa, I know you can find him,
Because you travel throughout this land.
All I want for Christmas is the father of Jordan Lee,
I have searched and searched and searched and he is hard see.
And he has been alluding me,
For, for too long.
So, come on Santa bring this man home.
If only I could have him, I would feel very strong.
Another desire of life
Is to find him and his wife.
But, I will need their birthdates
Also, where they were born.
Because if I don’t get that wish, I may become forlorn.
Santa, my heart is yearning
For all this family history learning.
Too know my 4th great grandparents,
Will fill my heart with joy,
So please Santa,
Fulfill a genealogist’s dream,
By completing my Lee team.
Then I will be content for Christmas
And can begin another quest.
For that is no gest.

Merry Christmas to all
And Happy Ancestor Hunting!

Harvesting Oats in Oak Grove in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana
Photo from Ronnie Ainsworth from the group, You Knew You Grew Up in West Carroll Parish, Louisiana

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Remembering the Moment

Silent Thoughts

No farewell words were spoken,

I only knew my heart was broken,

As there was no time to hold her hand,

No time to comfort her as she was rolled away,

Although I knew she was in GOD’s hands,

And only HE knew HIS plans.

Our prayers and comfort for her continued,

And I knew that HE would hear,

My soft-spoken words for this one so dear.

Our hearts are heavy now,

And our tears will flow,

Saying goodbye to my beloved one,

Is more difficult than anyone will know…

In Memory of Mary Ann McKinnie Eley, My Sister-in-law
By Esther Eley Jones
December 11, 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday's Hints

Connecting with Our Ancestors Who Left a Little Paper Trail

A family without a paper trail is difficult to research, to prove, and to make sure we have the correct ancestor in our family tree. The Lee family from South Carolina has proven to be a family who left a minuscule of a paper trail as they journeyed from South Carolina to Alabama. One might say,” be thankful for the censuses and land record that the family left;” however, proving them to be my ancestors have been a monumental task.

Some of my ancestors, such as the paternal Meadows line, left a paper trail and are easily researched. But as most family historians know not every ancestor leaves a large trail of records leading to them. Some ancestors may only have census entries and land records. An ancestor may be one who was listed on a census one year, missing on the next census, or may have disappeared altogether. There may be a land record for a given year then after that the ancestor is nowhere to found. Such is the case with my second great grandfather Benjamin Lee.

On rare occasions our ancestors may have lived in counties where the courthouse burned, and the records burned with the courthouse. Perhaps your ancestors were mysterious people and lived to themselves and didn’t interact in a community; or just wanted to be left alone. Whatever the reasons, for our ancestors being difficult to locate, researching them is a possibility. There are a few hints that may help in finding our ancestors. I have found that DNA testing, connecting with cousins, looking at naming patterns, and researching collateral kin help in identifying our ancestors and proving they are the correct ancestor.

DNA testing is a tool that is used to prove family lines, and a way to connect with living cousins. Using DNA testing with genealogical paper trail I have proven surname lines. I have also found there are some family secrets that are uncovered using the DNA test results. So, be aware of that when DNA testing. For whatever reason, families did not discuss openly or publicly family events or problems as they are in the twenty-first century. Keep in mind there may be a NPE or misattributed birth in your family. I found out from the YDNA test results that the person who I thought was his father wasn’t his father. This is also true when I found a marriage record for my father’s sister. To my surprise, the prospective groom had been married before marrying my aunt. That was a well-kept secret that was uncovered by getting a copy of their marriage record, so their marriage date could be verified. The great thing when you connect with living cousins they may have pictures, family stories, or documents to share with you. DNA testing may put those family stories to rest that have been shared from generation to generation.

Primogeniture applied only to real property, not to personal property. Throughout the colonial period, all of the land of an intestate person in the southern colonies passed directly to an heir in a specific line of succession completely outside any probate process. That is, the title passed “automatically”, requiring no action on the part of any person or court. Likewise, if a will failed to devise a piece of land, the line of succession determined who inherited. And any real property acquired after a will was written was subject, not to the will’s provisions, but to the law of succession. The southern colonies followed English common law in this regard until after the Revolution, when each state introduced its own succession statutes.

In the early colonies, the law of primogeniture (the state of being the firstborn child), was in effect. Primogeniture refers to land inheritance, all the land of an intestate person in the southern colonies passed directly to an heir in a specific line of succession. The law was the system of inheritance or succession by the firstborn, specifically the eldest son. It was an exclusive right of the eldest son to inherit the father's estate. To us living in this era, that hardly seems a fair way of distributing the inheritance. Thankfully, the laws have changed since colonial days. One of the ways for the family to ensure that the eldest son inherited, in the event the father died without a will (not making a will before a death is intestate), the eldest son was often given the same name as his father. The second son was often given the first name of one of his uncles, generally the father's oldest brother. Later, families devised their own system to ensure that their offspring inherited. This was done by giving all children the same middle name, denoting the fact that all with that name could inherit, and not just the oldest son.

In some cultures, children were named for grandparents and parents. Being familiar with these patterns will allow you to make genealogical inferences, identify potential new avenues of research and reveal all sorts of clues about the lives of your ancestors. Just be careful when researching more recent ancestors when using this method. An example of this traditional pattern used was the first son would be named after the father’s father. The second son would be named after the mother’s father. The third son would be named after the father. If the couple had a daughter the first daughter was named after the mother’s mother, the second daughter was named after the father’s mother, and the third daughter named after the mother. These are a few of the patterns the Scots used in naming their children. Also, remember our ancestors might have given their child the mother or grandmother’s maiden name. This pattern of naming a child has been found in my Lee paternal line. These patterns should only be used as a guide when the paper trail is scarce or no paper trail. In some families there will not be a pattern to the names chosen for your ancestors. There were plenty of families who named their child for a friend or a public figure such as Robert E. Lee. The mother might have named the child for her father as the case of Lidia (Hodge) Lee. A more recent great uncle was named for Robert E. Lee. He doesn’t have a middle name, just the initial E.

One pattern that I have found in my paternal lines is that many families were very large. Collateral kin may be an important part in finding your elusive ancestor. Identify the collateral kin, look at the names of your ancestors’ siblings. You can often make connections by studying the collateral kin, and family connections help in proving an ancestor.

There are some key principles to remember when researching collateral lines. One is that names may change, particularly with women, but the relationships will remain, no matter how often the name changes. The strongest ties appear between mother and daughter. This bond between mother and daughter last even after the daughter marries. What this means for the family historian is that you may find the daughter is married with a different surname. Researching that surname may yield more information than the direct line you are researching. The wife's ties to her family are generally stronger than those to her husband's, unless there are ties to the husband's occupation. The Lee paternal line ancestors were farmers and their sons were farmers, as were their in-laws. Lidia Hodge Lee’s bond to her Hodge family was strong. She was named in her father’s will as was her deceased husband Jordan. Her mother received a Revolutionary War pension after Benjamin Hodge died, and Lidia is mentioned in that pension application as an heir. And her first son Benjamin was named after Lidia’s father. This pattern for names is one that I am using to link Jordan Lee to his parents.
Shreveport Municipal Auditorium