Monday, May 11, 2015

Researching the Eley Paternal Line

Genealogical Research and Y-DNA Testing
By Esther Eley Jones
11 May 2015

Esters, Irma, Dollie, Ellen and Gladys Eley  
After researching the Eleys from Veasey, Drew County, Arkansas and hitting a dead end in researching of the family line it was time for a new plan. The plan was to use genealogical research and Y-DNA test results to verify the biological father of Esters Eley, my father; research to determine where the Eleys migrated from; who our most distant ancestor is; then to research and determine our Eleys ethnicity. 

Esters Eley  was born 28 June 1908, in Eros, Jackson Parish, Louisiana to Alice Lee. Esters’ birth was what genealogists call a non-paternity event (NPE). Now you may be wondering what a non-paternity event is. Non-paternity event is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe any event, which has caused a break in the link between a hereditary surname and the Y-chromosome resulting in a son using a different surname from that of his biological father. [1]

Non-Paternal Events (NPE) usually refer to an occurrence in the past.  It may have been an adoption of a family member or friend's child, the adoption of a child from the Orphan Train, or an illegitimate birth.  Whatever the circumstances of the NPE may be, it usually creates obstacles for genealogists.[2]

Before the introduction of commercial DNA testing for genealogical purposes in the year 2000, there wasn't much hope for a genealogist to surpass the NPE. That was the situation when I was researching the Eley familial linage. Researching the Eley family and finding records to verify Robert Lawrence as my ancestor was falling in place. The plan was to research the family using census, marriage, death, cemetery, land records, tutorship papers, newspaper articles, and wills to prove Robert Lawrence Eley, was the father of Josiah “Jo” Eley the father of Jackson Lawrence Eley, my grandfather.  On the other hand, that proved more difficult than I thought!

Robert L. Eley,born in Georgia,  a saddler, and wife Martha, son Josiah, and daughter Francis A. and a boarder Harris A. Fruman were on the 1850 census for Springhill Township, Drew County, Arkansas. Robert  owned $150 in real estate.[3]  On the 1860 census for Veasey, Drew County, Arkansas Robert born in Virginia was a farmer, with a real estate value of $800. He is head of family and his children Josiah, Francis A., Sarah, M. E. (Melanie Ellen), Robert L., and five months old Lucy. Looking at the age of the last child Martha most likely died in childbirth about 1860.[4] Martha is on the 1860 Mortality Schedule for Veasey, Drew County, Arkansas. As stated on the schedule Martha died in March 1860 and was thirty-six years old at the time of her death.[5]

July 1, 1857 Robert acquired eighty acres of land; July 1, 1859 he acquired one hundred and twenty acres and an additional eighty acres. Then on April 2, 1860, Robert acquired eighty acres, and September 1, 1860 he acquired forty acres and another eighty acres in Drew County, Arkansas. [6]
Then research on this family came to a virtual dead end after Robert Lawrence disappeared from records in the Drew County and surrounding counties in Arkansas. Research on this family line was placed in a box and left there for about ten years at which time I became interested in the War Between the States, and finding ancestors who served in the War.[7] I was looking through the list of soldiers who served in Arkansas and low and behold listed were Robert Lawrence and his son Josiah Eley. Robert Lawrence mustered 11 March 1862 at Helena, Arkansas and on the list it stated missing at the Battle of Corinth on 4 October 1862.[8] Later he was declared dead in the Battle of Corinth.[9] Josiah listed as deserted on 15 March 1962 on his compiled service record.[10],[11] Mystery of their disappearance from Drew County solved.

Possibly the reason for Josiah’s deserting was to go back home and care for the children and farm. His father owned four hundred acres of land in Veasey, Drew County and the farm was in need of care.  His mother was deceased and there were five young children back in Drew County whom was in need of care, also. Josiah was the oldest of the children and he was the one left to care for them and the farm.

Josiah was born about 1844 in Mississippi so he would have been about eighteen years old when he mustered into the War.[12] Joe and Eliza Jane married 14 January 1879 in Morehouse Parish, Louisiana.[13] The 24 May 1870 Josiah Eley petitioned the Parish Court of Morehouse for tutor of the minors of Robert Lawrence and Martha Horn Eley deceased. Melanie Ellen and Robert Lawrence were the minors Josiah was seeking tutorship. He was granted tutorship of the minors 28 May 1870 in the presence of John W. Baker and Frank Vaughan witnesses and Deputy Runder.[14] Joe is on the 1870 census with his wife Marry, son William, and brother Robert Lawrence in Ward 6, Bastrop, Morehouse Parish, Louisiana.[15] Sometime after this census, Marry and son William died because they are not on any records after that time. On the 1880 census Joseph Eley, Eliza J., Pamelia A., and Robert are living in 10th Ward, Morehouse, Louisiana.[16]  Jackson Lawrence was born 4 June 1882 so he would not have been on a census until 1900 since the 1890 census was destroyed.[17] Francis, her husband and children, Joe’s oldest sister is living nearby, and Sara their next to the oldest sister is living with Francis’s family.[18]

By 1870 Francis was married and living in Ward 6, Morehouse Parish and Melanie Ellen and Sara are both living with Francis’s family. Francis had one child age 4, Jackson B. Anderson.[19] Robert Lawrence their youngest brother married 13 November 1880 Theodocia Hamby.[20]

Jackson Lawrence is 18 years old and a boarder with the Thomas Howie family on the 1900 Census for Ashley County, Arkansas.[21]  However, he is an elusive one and isn’t on another census until 1930 for Ward 3, Oak Grove, West Carroll Parish, Louisiana as Lawrence Jackson. There Jackson L. Eley is listed with his wife Alice, children Irma, Dolly O., Ellen, Robert Lawrence, and Gladys.[22] Then in 1940, Jackson L. and Alice are living alone in West Carroll Parish.[23]

After researching the Eley lineage several years and found no records linking Esters Eley to the Eley lineage it was time to look at other alternatives in researching this paternal line. It was time for a new plan. Then I recalled that my sister Ruby had made a comment to me when I began researching in 2000. Something to the affect, “You know Daddy’s real daddy is Uncle Johnny Edwards.” Oh, really, well now Ruby we aren’t going to get into that now. Ruby’s comment was taken lightly, stored away, and recalled several years later. It was in my memory, but I wasn’t taking it seriously. I dismissed it as a family story that possibly had been told, retold, and changed over the years. However, once I hit the dead end on the Eley line I was thinking of what happened that could cause this dead-end problem. Perhaps there is something to the comment about Daddy’s biological father being Uncle Johnny Edwards.

While growing up in rural West Carroll Parish our family and the Lee families stayed close to the Edwards family from Alabama or the Alabama folks as they were called. Daddy went to Alabama to visit those folks a few times, as I recalled. The Edwards family came to Louisiana many times over the years and it was always a big event when they came to visit. The family looked forward to these visits. That was when it was time for the family reunion.

So maybe there is something to that story, and it is worth researching further. First, Ruby and I made a visit to Aunt Gladys Copes to interview her and get information about the Eley family. We both were disappointed because Aunt Gladys didn’t know anything other than Granddaddy Jack had a brother whom lived in Rayville. They visited him occasionally. That proved to be wrong information. The brother turned out to be Granddaddy’s Uncle Robert Lawrence the youngest of Robert Lawrence Eley’s children. Granddaddy’s father Joe was the guardian of the younger Robert. So now it was time to turn to a new tool DNA testing. This was the beginning of using DNA testing along with genealogical research to prove our familial linage.   

It was time to use this new tool with the genealogical paper trail and find the Eley family connection. My brother agreed to take the Y-DNA test for me, so I ordered the Y-DNA 67 marker test from Family Tree DNA. When the results came back I was not concerned the Eley surnames weren’t listed, and there were close matches to three Edwards names. I didn’t know enough about DNA testing to know that Edwards was what I needed to look at until the Edwards Project Administrator, a close cousin contacted me and asked me for my pedigree chart for my Edwards surname. He said we are a close match and we share a common ancestor.  After corresponding with this newfound cousin, we determined that Esters Eley’s biological father was John Houston Edwards “Uncle Johnny Edwards.”

Over a period of four years, using Y-DNA 67 Marker Test results and genealogical research the Edwards familial lineage has been proven as the biological line of Esters Eley. Using Y-DNA testing and genealogical research the family story was laid to rest, and Daddy’s biological father verified. This proves how important it is too do the research thoroughly and to use DNA with the research to verify family lineages. One other tidbit to keep in mind is that family stories may sound like fallacies, but they usually have a bit of truth in them.

[3] Year: 1850; Census Place: Spring Hill, Drew, Arkansas; Roll: M432_26; Page: 96A; Image: 197
[4] Year: 1860; Census Place: Veasey, Drew, Arkansas; Roll: M653_41; Page: 181; Image: 181; Family History Library Film: 803041
[5] U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules, 1850-1885 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.
[6] Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records. Automated Records Project; Federal Land Patents, State Volumes. Springfield, Virginia: Bureau of Land Management, Eastern States, 2007.
7] Historical Data Systems, comp. U.S., Civil War Soldier Records and Profiles, 1861-1865 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2009.
[8] /image/223747156; January 30, 2010.
[9] The Honored 600, Company B, 23rd Arkansas Infantry Regiment, Confederate States of America.
[10] National Park Service. U. S. Civil War Soldiers, 1861-1865,
[12] Year: 1840; Census Place: Tippah, Mississippi; Roll: 219; Page: 199; Image: 403; Family History Library Film: 0014842
[13] Marriage Bond 106, State of Louisiana Parish of Morehouse 14th Jucicial district Court. Josiah Eley and Eliza Jane Green, 14 Jan 1879.
[14] Tutorship Probate 472, State of Louisiana Parish Court for the Parish of Morehouse, 28 May 1870,
[15] Year: 1870; Census Place: Ward 6, Morehouse, Louisiana; Roll: M593_517; Page: 256A; Image: 515; Family History Library Film: 552016
[16] Year: 1880; Census Place: 10th Ward, Morehouse, Louisiana; Roll: 457; Family History Film: 1254457; Page: 474A; Enumeration District: 058; Image: 0188
[17] U.S., World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005.
[18] Year: 1870; Census Place: Ward 6, Morehouse, Louisiana; Roll: M593_517; Page: 210B; Image: 424; Family History Library Film: 552016
[19] Year: 1880; Census Place: 10th Ward, Morehouse, Louisiana; Roll: 457; Family History Film: 1254457; Page: 474A; Enumeration District: 058; Image: 0188
[20] Marriage Bond 460, R. L Eley and Theodothia Hamby, State of Louisiana Parish of Morehouse, 14th Judicial District Court, 13 November 1880.
[21] Year: 1900; Census Place: Union, Ashley, Arkansas; Roll: 49; Page: 10B; Enumeration District: 0016; FHL microfilm: 1240049
[22] Year: 1930; Census Place: Police Jury Ward 3, West Carroll, Louisiana; Roll: 825; Page: 12B; Enumeration District: 0003; Image: 882.0; FHL microfilm: 2340560
[23] Year: 1940; Census Place: West Carroll, Louisiana; Roll: T627_1466; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 62-7

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