Blog 2022 08 14 Tying the Right Person to the Documents

How do you know the document you are looking at belongs to your ancestor?  When there was more than one person in the area with the same name, how do know which John Doe to assign the information to?

This is where knowing more about our specific person of interest helps us determine whether it belongs to our person or someone else.  We must get past the simple facts and get to know the person as a person and their family.  I’ll start with my paternal grandfather, Joseph Henry Thomas who often filed papers as J.H. Thomas, and his wife, Viola.  I grew up knowing my grandfather and always remember him not being very tall and walking with a distinct limp.  In researching WWI Draft Cards from Appling County, Georgia where he lived, there were several, J.H. Thomas, Joseph H. Thomas, and Joseph Thomas filers.  Which one belongs to my grandfather?  Only one of the cards said not qualified for service due to being deaf in one ear and having a club foot AND being short.  Bingo!

In another case doing random research on him, I saw the name show up in a couple of city directories.  Since he was a farmer all his life, or so I thought, I decided to take a look.  I found a Joseph and Viola living in Columbus, Georgia, and at the same time, a Joseph and Viola living in Brunswick.  Since these had to be two different men I looked more closely at the one in Brunswick since that is where his oldest brother (half-brother), James M. Thomas lived and worked for the shipyards.  It turned out that it was my grandfather and his sister who were living there and so was his father, General Jackson (GJ) Thomas.  GJ was the principal resident and the rest were ‘boarding’ there.  His eldest brother was living down the street and another brother also lived on the same street.  Apparently, they all took jobs as carpenters at the shipyard for a while.  Meanwhile, GJ still had a farm in Appling County.

In another case, I was looking for what happened to one of the sons of a particular immigrant ancestor as the immigrant and younger kids were in St Louis, MO in 1860 and the eldest was still in Jefferson County, IN.  Many trees on have him serving in the Union Army and going to Kentucky, others to Iowa, some to Missouri, and others to Chicago.  I found a pension card for a widow whose husband had the same name as the person I am researching and he joined in Louisville, KY which is across the river from Jefferson County, IN.  Something in the information indicated his profession before joining was a butcher.  That was the profession of the immigrant and several sons and grandchildren.  Once I received the packet, it turned out to be the one I wanted.

While I could have ordered the wrong one, I took the chance and spent the money because of my knowledge of the family being butchers.  It is incumbent on all of us to learn as much as we can about the entire family so that we can use those clues to narrow down the information as to whether it belongs to our person or not.  I have previously written about how I was able to prove a father-son relationship through the son’s brother who had documented proof.

If we cannot prove the information either way when we find it, we must set it aside until we gather additional information.  That way, we can either add it to the profile of our ancestor or dismiss it as belonging to someone else.

Blog 2022 07 25   Finding Records in the Strangest of Places 

I am currently attending the Institute of Genealogical and Historical Research (IGHR) so this week’s blog is short.

One of the tenets of a presentation given by Claire Bettag, CG, FUGA, in a 2012 lecture at the National Genealogical Society forum dealt with assuming that records of the same type are similar in content.  That is not always the case and you might be surprised to find records that otherwise might seem out of place.

I have written about my hooligan ancestor who was medically discharged from the Army during the Civil War, reenlisted, and then deserted.  However, his second wife was not aware of this and filed a widow’s pension in 1907 wanting him declared dead.  One of the documents she had to provide was a copy of their marriage in Toronto, Canada in 1882.  When I received the inch-thick packet from the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), in it was a copy of a Canadian marriage license.  Not a normal place to look for one.  I already had two copies of it, one I got off a website and the other when I was at the Canadian Archives of Ontario in Toronto.

I knew my great grandfather, General Jackson Thomas, and his third wife, Mrs. Unity Medders Dean had split.  What I was not sure about was whether they divorced, although she is listed as a widow in his obituary of 1926, legally separate, or simply split.  One day while copying all land and deed records that I could find one with his name on them, I came across a unique one.  On 5 February 1924, they agreed to live in a state of separation and he was giving her land and livestock for her care and their daughter.  Who would think to look in a land deed for a Legal Separation Document?

I have also seen a complete copy of a will in the land and deed records of a different county.  Why?  Because the deceased owned property in that county when she died and the property had to be probated.  The judge in that county required a copy (certified transcription) from the original probate court.  That had to be provided.

I have found copies of marriage records in probate records and in land records.  I have heard of all sorts of records being found in military and railroad pension files.

So back to the original false assumptions, do not assume that records filed by type ONLY contain those types.

Blog 2022 07 17   When Census Records Don’t Exist 

We often wonder how we can track our ancestors between the census or when, for whatever reason, they do not appear in the census.  What other records might be available?

Taxes are my favorite go-to records.  Property Taxes and Poll Taxes have been around since before the Revolution.  Sometimes called Quitrents under the Colonial system, it was a tax.  While the Poll Tax took on new meaning post-Civil War, it also was a tax, typically on free men of militia age, and goes back before the US Revolution.

Wherever you are researching, you should look for tax records.

In many of the colonies, the landowners paid a Quitrent which was nothing more than a property tax based on acreage or cleared acreage.  One thing to keep in mind is to compare the date the land was granted by the King vs when the Royal Governor granted the land.  In one example, the King’s grant did not come until many years after the Governor and Royal Council granted the land.

The first federal tax levied against the population was in 1798 when America thought they might be going to war against France [i]and needed to raise $2 Million quickly.  The tax known as the Glass Tax or Window Pane Tax, taxed buildings based on square footage and heavily on windows. [ii] One example where this tax could be helpful is distinguishing men with the same name.  The information includes the person’s name, dimensions, and material of the main house and all other buildings such as kitchen, stables, and barns.

You may not know that the first Income Tax was between 1862 and 1872 for the northern states and 1865 – 1872 for the states who joined the Confederacy.  Congress needed to raise money for the war effort and instituted a tax on all income over $600 per year.  It was a progressive tax in that, all income between $600 and $10,000 was taxed at 3% and all income over $10,000 was taxed at 5%.  Then in 1864, it was raised to 5% for income over $600 and now less than $5,000 and 10% for all income over $5,000.

What we can glean from the Civil War Income Tax might continue to distinguish people with the same or similar names and can put them in a specific location.  This is because the source of the income, in detail, is listed.  Information such as, operating a distillery and paying for 3,755 barrels of Brandy made from grape, 2,901 barrels of Brandy NOT made from grape, and other types of liquor.  While another person nearby with the same name might have been a rancher with 126 head of cattle, 5 calves, 10 hogs, 75 head of sheep, etc.  If you knew the line of business your ancestor was in, you can determine exactly which tax record belongs to whom.

Property Tax records are among my favorites when they can be found.  These also asked about income but depending on what the Federal or State opted to tax, certain personal property was also taxed.  In California, they taxed items such as pianos, furs, horses, wagons, and watches.  Depending on the quantity the owner paid the tax.  In Georgia, the property tax was conducted in conjunction with the Poll Tax, so men between 18 and 60 paid the poll tax, if they owned real property (land) they had to list ALL property then owned in Georgia and which county it was in and the number of acres based on that it was used for such as pine for timber, grazing for livestock, or farming.  Here we often see where someone else is acting as an agent because the owner did not actually live there but was out of state, or was away for some reason and worth delving into.  Also, I could see where some of my family members were acting as administrators on the estate of their children who died and the probate case was still open.

Based on age, we can see where a male property owner is not yet 21 and pays on the property but not the toll, and once turning 21 we can determine the approximate age.  Same on the other end where they crossed the age limit whereby they stop paying taxes.  This is still true today in many places.  Property Tax records are public records and anyone can look up someone else’s property tax records.  If your state, county, or city has age benefits, you can tell when someone ages out of paying things like education tax or gets a reduced property tax.

If your ancestor ran certain businesses which required a special license such as an inn or tavern they were most likely required to pay a tax and obtain a license.  Additionally, if they ran a business, check with archives, historical societies, nearby universities, and libraries to see if perhaps they have copies of the company’s ledger listing customers, employees, and taxes collected.

I have probably said this before but in all records, taxes included, always check the last couple of pages to see if your missing ancestor was added as an addendum.



Blog 2022 07 10  Plan Your Genealogy Trip

I am finishing up a fairly successful research trip to the South Carolina State Archives which was in conjunction with the South Carolina Genealogical Society’s Annual Workshop.  I have some tips for your next trip.

The first thing you will want to do is have a plan of who or what line you plan to research.  If you try and do everything, you will only get frustrated and accomplish very little.  I planned for four days of research; two days for researching a single line for a client.  Plus two days to research for my own paternal line.  This gave me a clear vision of what records I would need to determine are needed.

For my client, it was to determine the parents of a couple who married in Marlboro County, South Carolina.  Then to determine whether there were Revolutionary War Patriots amongst them.  Therefore I would concentrate on Marlboro County records with records that are not currently online or are not readable online.

From there, once at the archives, I got reacquainted with their layout and their records available.  Like any archives, they have books with indexes, maps, microfiche, and microfilm, as well as their one internal computer records.  This particular couple shared the same last name before they married and may very well have been first or second cousins which was not totally uncommon.

This was accomplished by finding a will from James’ mother, Alice, where he is named.  That meant James’ father was most likely dead.  I then found a document from William naming his wife, Alice.  I then found a listing of William as serving in the South Carolina Line.  The source was an 1899 newspaper.  That reference is not a reliable source.  The archives did not have the newspaper but the University in Columbia did and I contacted them about coming on Sunday to review it.  They replied that they are closed on Sundays but they sent me a PDF of the 17-page newspaper.  On page 16 was the original article.  It was a transcript of a letter to the Council of Safety listing the various volunteer units and the officers and soldiers under their command.  The archives then knew exactly where their copy from the 1900 South Carolina Historica Society edition which also ran a transcript of those records.

The archives only had one microfilm which covered the wrong dates.  However, they also had a book that stated that the originals are in the Henry Laurens records at the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston, South Carolina.  I can then contact them for copies of the originals.  As to his wife, I was able to determine her most likely father.  All in all, not bad for the two days.

I then concentrated not on lineage since I know the lineage but to try and determine just when my known and proven ancestor moved from Georgia to Beaufort District, South Carolina, where exactly he lived, and when he sold the land to move back to Georgia since he is on the militia rolls of Liberty County in 1800.  Based on the archives’ internally available copies of the land plats I was able to determine the first date of a land survey being conducted for him.  Then, using the descriptors in the survey and the knowledge of one of the archivists, I was able to determine the approximate location.  As to when he sold the land, one of the workshop presenters who is an expert on such records told me simply, that they do exist.  Therefore I won’t be able to determine how or when he disposed of the land.

The next thing on my to-do list was to try and find records concerning my family who crossed the Savannah River periodically to transact business.  All the archives had was the same thing I already have, but once again, the records expert told me to go to the Barnwell County Courthouse for the records.  That will be my next planned trip.

In addition, I attended several sessions to continue my education in this study.

What I failed to do was to properly plan a little fun time while I am here.  I had planned to play 9-holes but the weather did not cooperate.

Blog 2022 07 04  Do you have Patriot Ancestors?

Whether you have or are interested in joining a lineage society or not, it is often quite exciting to learn that one or more of your ancestors either served in the military or supported the cause.  To join either Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), or Sons of the American Revolution you must prove your lineage to someone who meets the above definition.

Supporting the cause could be as simple as taking an Oath of Allegiance which every state had a version but not every copy still exists.  One way to prove allegiance even without the oath or proof of military service is through the state financial records where our ancestors may have sold beef or other items from a farm to support the troops.  They may have loaned money, given refuge, or supported through many other means and many of these records do exist if done at the state level.

I know that some of you, like my girlfriend, where it looks like ALL branches immigrated after the Revolution and that is great.  Their ancestor knew that things would be better in America than in their homeland.

This process will take time and cause us to use all of our skills to locate.  However, for some, it may mean only proving back to a specific descendant of the patriot.  For example, my 3rd great-grandfather was Lewis Thomas (1789 – 1860) [i] who married Elizabeth Mixon (1794 – 1863) [ii]in 1810. [iii]  We know her father was Redden Mixon because her sister, Mary Mixon, married Lewis’ brother, Banner Thomas.  Both Banner and Redden co-signed the marriage bond with Banner on the 4th of July 1808. [iv]

Redden Mixon is already an accepted descendant of Redden’s father, Jesse Mixon (circa 1744 – 1832) within the DAR list of accepted patriots. [v] If you click the link, you will see a red note saying that problems have been found with at least one previous paper.  After checking with a DAR registrar, there is a question of lineage but not concerning Redden.  So all I, or any of my Thomas cousins who descend from either the Lewis and Banner listed above, need to prove is our lineage to Redden.

Do you see how easy that is?  However, if you are dealing with a person with a common name or where there were multiple people in the same area or state with the same name, that could require a bit more work.  Additionally, some names in the DAR and SAR databases are red-lined for future applicants and may require more genealogical research to prove the lineage.

For me, I find it exciting that I have numerous ancestors who either we know, or are still trying to prove, served on the side of Liberty for all Americans.  While that freedom did not come for many people for another 80+ years, the pathway was laid out by our ancestors.  You might want to research to see if you can trace any of your lineages to Patriots.

[i] 1860 U. S. Census, Pierce County, Georgia, Mortality Schedule, p. 1, line 16, Lewis Thomas, image,, ( accessed 3 July 2022), citing NARA Publication T 655, roll 8.

[ii] Find a grave, database and images ( accessed 3 July 2022), memorial # 14914364, Elizabeth (Mixon) Thomas, birth 1795, death 1860.

[iii] Liberty County, Georgia, Marriage Bond, Lewis Thomas and Elizabeth Mixon (18 July 1808), Libery County Probate Court, Hinesville, Liberty County, Georgia, image,, ( accessed 3 July 2022).

[iv] Liberty County, Georgia, Marriage Bond, Banner Thomas and Mary Mixon (4 June 1809), Libery County Probate Court, Hinesville, Liberty County, Georgia, image,, ( accessed 3 July 2022).


Blog 2022 06 26 Searching for Proof of Parentage

Who were the parents of ______?  We have all been there and will be there again.  Here are some hints on how I go about trying to resolve that question.

On 14 May 1848, a young couple, Richard Foster and Winny Meeks were married. [i] They then appear on the 1850 U. S. Census with a 10-month-old son, Henry. [ii] And that is the last time we see anything definite on this couple.  I know they had another son, Albert Martin Foster (1855-1921) from Albert’s Death Certificate from Florida. [iii] That document lists his parents.  In 1860, 7-year-old, Albert is living with a Davis family in nearby Montgomery County, Georgia. [iv] There is no indication as to a relationship since that did not start until 1880.  I have yet to find where Henry was living but in 1870, a 20-year-old Henry is living in Emanuel County with a Thomas Gillis family. [v]  Incidentally, Albert’s son married a Gillis but was not a descendant of Thomas.

 I have not yet discovered who Richard’s parents are but I am confident I discovered who Winny’s parents were.  Here is the approach I took.  Winny reports being 19 on the above 1850 census which puts her birth at about 1831.  Since she was 19 in Emanuel County, I start with the supposition that her parents were also living in that county.  Listing ever Meeks head of household and ages, I looked for any records where the man was old enough to have fathered her.  While there were two who were quite a bit older, since there was also a female about their age living there, I again made the assumption, for now, that she was the wife and beyond childbearing age.

This narrowed it down to 4 men who were old enough.  I then looked to see if any were living in District 28 but they were all in district 55.  Next, I looked at the size of their household and the ages of their daughters and only Allen Meeks had a daughter aged 5-9, he had one. [vi] While this is not as accurate as we would like, there is but little evidence to the contrary.  Allen’s wife was Mary Summer and together they had a son, Richard A. Meeks who died in 1929 in Emanuel County, listing his parents. [vii] We can then look at the U. S. Censuses and other records pertaining to this couple and we see they are the same couple in the above 1840 census.

I wrote in my blog of 25 April about sometimes having to find the parents through documents pertaining to the siblings.  We must use whatever documentation we can find.

Sometimes we have to use timelines to try and see what fits.  I am researching a man where the 3 eldest boys always reported being born in South Carolina but later living the remainder of their life in Georgia.  The youngest son was clearly born after the parents moved from South Carolina.  The fourth child, a girl, sometimes had South Carolina and sometimes Georgia on the census.  Until I can find something clearly showing her father in Georgia, I must assume the family is still in South Carolina.  So far, the earliest record is his service in the Liberty County, Georgia militia in the summer of 1800.

[i] Emanuel County, Georgia, Marriage Book A (1817 – 1860), p. 23 (top half), Foster-Meeks, 14 May 1848, Emanuel County Probate Court, Swainsboro, Emanuel County, Georgia, image,, ( accessed 26 June 2022).

[ii] 1850 U. S. Census, Emanuel County, Georgia, population schedule, District 28, p 480 (stamped), dwelling and family 512, household of Richard Foster, image,, ( accessed 26 June 2022), citing NARA Publication M 432, roll 68.

[iii] Alber Death Cert

[iv] 1860 U. S. Census, Montgomery County, Georgia, Seward Post Office, p. 871 (inked), dwelling and family 93, hhld of David Smith, image,, ( accessed 26 June 2022), citing NARA Publication M 653, roll 131.

[v] 1870 U. S. Census, Emanuel County, Subdivision 46, p. 357 (stamped), dwelling and family 383, hhld of Thomas Gillis, image,, ( accessed 26 June 2022), citing NARA Publication M 593, roll 148.

[vi] 1840 U. S. Census, Emauel County, District 55, p. 192 (stamped), line 11, hhld of Allen Meeks, image,, ( accessed 26 June 2022), citing NARA Publication M 704, roll 41.

[vii] Emanuel County, Georgia, Georgie State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics, Standard Certificate of Death, State Registrar File No. 7749, Mil Dist. 1452, Richard A. Meeks (1852 – 1929), image, Georgia State Archives ( : accessed 26 June 2022).

Blog 2022 06 19 2022 Some Father’s Day Thoughts

Is your father still living? You are blessed. Have you ever recorded some of his stories that sheds light on who he is and about who his father was? Are you writing down stories about yourself and when you grew up for your posterity?

Unfortunately, I was not as attuned to wanting to know these things when my father died in December of 1981 and his father, about 30 days later in January 1982. I have since, written several very short stories which I do recall my grandfather telling me. But I never asked him about his parents to get some insights into just who, General Jackson Thomas (1862 – 1926) and Amanda “Maggie” Carter (1869 – 1909) were.

I have relied on what little I could learn from a daughter of GJ’s eldest son, James Miles Thomas, who had vague memories of her grandfather.

I am not talking about writing down novels, just very short stories consisting of a couple of paragraphs to a couple of pages.

You should also either write down or make a video recording talking about your life growing up and the dynamics of your own family. I remember telling my uncle recently that the only time football was on in our house was around Thanksgiving or Christmas when he and his family were at the house for the holiday because none of us cared for football. Matter of fact, I asked my kid brother how he got interested in all sports since we were raised a Chicago Cubs and baseball only family. He told it was more his kids got into them from their friends. Your children or grandchildren might be interested in knowing things like this.

I have taken to doing just this. Short stories like the above and about my 4-year-old, father, being tied to a mule with a note pinned to his shirt for his uncle Jesse whose farm was next to my grandfather’s, and the mule being told to go to Jessee’s. My grandfather was heading to town to get the doctor for his youngest son who did not survive the day.

As I have said, the more we understand our parents and ancestors, the more we understand why we were raised the way we were.

Blog 2022 06 12 What do you do with information about your ancestor that occurred after they died?

Does that sound as strange to you as it does to me?  I ask because I constantly see trees online that make no sense.  After all, the event the ‘ancestor’ participated in occurred before they were born or old enough to participate or were either too old to participate or had already died.  I even saw one tree where the person served in both the Revolutionary War and the Civil War.  We have discussed many times about being careful in making decisions based on the person’s name.

Have you considered whether the person could be the father or uncle of your ancestor who wasn’t born or too young?  Might the individual be a son or nephew of the individual and account for the record after the elder had passed away or grown old?

We are all eager to find an ancestor who participated in some great event but we must be careful that the information passes common sense.  At the same time, it may be an indication that other information is incorrect.  This is why we should always try to locate two or more pieces of evidence that support the claim.

Why am I pointing out this obvious information?  Because I am constantly finding people saying ancestor so-and-so served in the Revolutionary War and was born in 1782 or 83.  Or where the patriot is the right age but never came to Georgia where the son or daughter was born.  We must be diligent that our information makes sense.

Good genealogists weigh each piece of ‘evidence’ through very critical eyes to see if it makes sense.  Another example would be Elizabeth Lloyd who married Archibald Smith in Wilkes County, Georgia in 1810.  By 1830, she is a widow.  This widow appears in District 51 of Montgomery County, Georgia in 1830, 1840, and 1850, but not on the 1850 population schedule.  However, she is on both the Agriculture and Slave schedules in District 51 of Montgomery County.  Yet many believe she died in 1855 in Warren County, Georgia because of an intestate probate being opened on the estate of Elizabeth Smith.  Is it likely?  To move over 250 miles as she nears 60 with no known family near that Tennessee-bordering county simply does not make sense.  Even though the name is Elizabeth Smith, we simply cannot accept the estate of the Elizabeth Smith in Warren County as belonging to our person of interest.  Nor can we accept the other popular opinion that she is the 55-year-old Margaret Smith with a 14-year-old daughter, Elizabeth since they are in a district other than 51.  Since ours appears on the non-population schedules in District 51 we can be confident she is still in that district.  When did she die?  Don’t know yet.

One more case.  John Livingston died in Pulaski County, Georgia, and was buried in nearby Dodge County in 1857. [i] We know the date because he signed his will in March and when the tax collector came later that year, his wife, Caroline is listed as Executrix on his estate. [ii] That said, Delola “Jane” Livingston is born in 1861.  Jane is a Livingston because her mother was a Livingston but she was not the daughter of John.  The 1860 U. S. Census shows a 24-year-old boarder, Benjamin Veal, living in the household of 39-year-old, Caroline Livingston. [iii] While Caroline used the Livingston surname until she married James W. Parkerson, [iv] her obituary listed her as the daughter of Benjamin Veal. [v] Whether due to ignorance or wanting to give a false impression, the obituary read, “daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin Veal,” but they were never married.  Benjamin reportedly died in 1865.  Additionally, many people list John’s father as Ned Livingston based on the 1870 U. S. Census. [vi] They either do not notice or must believe the enumerator made a mistake because 80-year-old Ned is Black.  This is why we must do further research and not believe something based solely on the census.  The Livingstons did own slaves and Ned appears to be a former slave who has stayed on as a farm laborer.

[i] Find-a-grave, database and images, ( accessed 15 June 2022), memorial # 121932676, John Livingston (born 1811 and died 1857).

[ii] Pulaski County, Georgia, 1857 Tax Record, Pulaski Tax Office, Hawkinsville, Pulaski County, Georgia, image, FamilySearch, ( accessed 14 June 2022).

[iii] 1860 U. S. Census, Pulaski County, Hawkinsville Post Office, p 299 (inked), dwelling 395, family 388, hhld of Caroline Livingston, image, FamilySearch, ( accessed 14 June 2022), citing NARA publication M 653, roll 134.

[iv] Dodge County, Georgia, Marriage Book A (1871 0 1885), p. 142, license # 37, Parkerson – Livingston (14 November 1878), Dodge County Probate Court, Eastman, Dodge County, Georgia, FamilySearch, ( accessed 14 June 2022).

[v] “Stroke Causes Death of Mrs. Lola Parkerson,” Times Journal, 28 July 1943.

[vi] 1870 U. S. Census, Pulaski County, Hawkinsville Post Office, p 159 (inked), dwelling and family 1296, hhld of Caroline Livingston, image, FamilySearch, ( accessed 14 June 2022), citing NARA publication M 593, roll 170.

Blog 2022 05 22 Why don’t your DNA matches also match your sibling

I was wondering what to write when I received an interesting call from a former client who is also a distant cousin.  When he was looking for a professional genealogist in Georgia he recognized my name as a DNA match, since his mystery ancestor married the sister of my maternal 2nd great-grandfather.  I know, some of you are wondering why I did not say, grandmother?  John Steven Akers was my mother’s father’s father’s father and Mahalia Holland was his wife.  Her sister married my client’s ancestor.

Anyway, the purpose of his call concerns a common misconception.  Just because you and a distant cousin know how you are related and may match many of the same people, why do you two not match?  This is why we should try and test several of our siblings.

Several years back I used a combination of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and autosomal DNA (atDNA) to solve a brick wall.  My father’s mother’s mother was an unknown.  We knew her name and date of birth in what was then Telfair County, Georgia but is now Dodge County.  However, there was nothing that linked this Mary Martin to a specific family.

Through the use of standard genealogical research, I deduced that the most likely candidate was the granddaughter of a Keziah Davis Martin.  While there were other candidates, Keziah’s granddaughter was the most likely candidate based on the 1870 Census entry [i] and Keziah’s estate six years later. [ii]

Then, I researched other descendants of Keziah through her daughters and their daughters until I found some who are living and were willing to test.  I also had two direct female descendants of Mary Martin Livingston.  Since Mary is on my father’s side, I and my siblings were not candidates for taking the mtDNA test BUT…  We are for taking an atDNA test which my sister and younger brother have taken.  All of my other test subjects were mtDNA candidates except one whose father would have been a prime candidate if he was still alive but she was an atDNA candidate.

Just to remind you, all of you, men and women, carry ONLY your mother’s mtDNA as we do not inherit any from our fathers.

Let me show you

We are right at that five to six generations mark where atDNA falls off.  See the chart below.

The results of the mtDNA showed they all had exactly the same mtDNA which was what I expected but that does not answer the question.  Mitochondrial rarely changes for up to 52 generations which means sometime in the last 1,000 years we shared a common mother.  That is where the atDNA comes into play.

While we did not all match everyone, we all matched someone or several others.  As you can see below, the results showed that my Mary Martin was indeed the granddaughter of Keziah and by way of deduction, the daughter of Keziah’s youngest, unmarried daughter, Mary Martin who already had another son with no known father.

While my Mary’s father is still a mystery, the first half of a brick wall is solved.  This is a long way of explaining the question that my distant cousin and a former client asked.  You can see below that the one person who was a known descendant of Keziah but was not an mtDNA candidate only barely matched me and neither of my siblings or other cousins.

[i] 1870 U.S. Census, Telfair County, Georgia, population schedule, PO Temperance, p. 60 (penned), dwelling and family 385, Kessiah Mirtin (sic); ( : accessed 14 March 2021), citing FHL microfilm: 545675.

[ii] Dodge County, Georgia, Will Book 1, p. 7-8, Kiziah Martin (1876), Office of the Probate Court Clerk, Eastman, Dodge County, Georgia.

Blog 2022 05 08 2022 Genealogical Acts of Kindness

If you are a regular researcher then there are probably times you need something but are unable to travel somewhere to get something or it is just not financially feasible.  What do I mean?

You want a picture of a grave marker that is not on Find-a-grave or a court record from a local courthouse.  Maybe you need someone to look for some index books on court or church records from a county on the other side of the United States because those records are not indexed online.

Find-a-grave has an option where you can request a photo of a grave that is not already photographed or has a bad photo.  If you are a registered member (it is free), then you can log in and if you going to a cemetery or at the cemetery, you can see if anyone has made such a request and you can help them by finding the grave and taking a picture of it.  You can also drop a GPS grid pin while standing by the grave to make it easier for others to find it.  If you do make the request, please enter all the information possible so the other person knows they have the right one.  I remember seeing a request for “Infant Thomas” in a cemetery with over two dozen such graves.  If you know or have an approximation of, the dates the individual lived, put it in the request.

Do you regularly go to a local genealogical library?  If you are also a part of a local genealogical society, then ask if they get requests for someone to do a simple look-up at the library or courthouse.  The society often gets such requests but too many societies ignore them because they do not have any members willing to help people.

Such requests do not take much time and do not require you to be an expert in the field of genealogy.  Just a simple Act of Kindness to fellow researchers.  It is what we call a ‘Record Pull’ and the more we are willing to help other researchers the more they might be able to help you.

Many of you have a full-time jobs and may not have a lot of time to help others but what I am suggesting is that when you are already planning a trip to a genealogical library, cemetery, or courthouse, see if someone has a need that you can do while you are already there.  It is built in for Find-a-grave but you will need to check with the local genealogical \ historical society to see if they have any requests.

If you are a user of Facebook and other social media that has genealogy groups, join them to follow what is being asked, learned, and requested.

It is always great to be kind to someone else.