I haven’t posted much recently due to having gone down the DNA rabbit hole!
The “higher math” of DNA comparison and triangulation still eludes me. Maybe that will be a good project for retirement. But, I am pretty good at conventional research, and am able to use DNA cousins to either support or disprove my family tree. Over the last few weeks, I’ve done a little of both.
By using a combination of Ancestry trees and other online sources, I’ve been able to identify many of my DNA cousins, even when their identities or trees are “private.” (Note that I am not out to stalk people, I just want to know where they fit in on my tree!) I have primarily been working on my paternal line, putting them into groups by common ancestors, and have made the following discoveries.
I found more matches on Martha Bembry Fleming‘s line, verifying that she was in fact Thomas Bembry’s “missing” daughter.
I’ve identified many descendants of Thomas N Bembry and Sarah Ann Simpson, as well as of John T. Bembry and Matilda Williams. Unsurprisingly, a good percentage of Hamilton and Suwannee counties in Florida are related to my dad. There is one group of closer cousins (including a couple of apparent adoptees) who appear to be descended from Hiram and Palma, but I have not been able to figure out how. This is likely from an “off the books” relationship of some kind.
I’ve found that all my cousins descending from Hiram Bembry and Palma Lashley show up as one generation closer that they should be. In other words, third cousins appear to be second cousins, and so on. This is presumably because Hiram and Palma were third cousins to each other on the Williams line, therefore, those cousins share more DNA with me and my dad than they otherwise would. (There are no doubt other intermarriages in the tree, but that is the most recent and relevant instance.)
I’ve traced at least 10 people all the way back to Miles Bembry and Nancy Ann Bryan, fully verifying that line of descent back to late 18th century eastern North Carolina. Which is good to know, considering how much time I have spent researching Miles!
While I already knew that I had numerous African-American cousins, I finally made my first confirmed DNA connection to an African-American Bembry descendant. Her line is not from Georgia, as I had expected, but from Chowan County, North Carolina. I had long been aware of a clan of African-American Bembrys in that area, and had assumed there was some connection, but had not been able to establish that in the genealogical sense. The paper trail, at least, appears to be quite accurate. This connection ties the white and black Bembrys together prior to the white Bembrys’ departure for Georgia and Florida. The distant cousin actually could be related through either a white or black common ancestor. This is also where it would sure come in handy to know more about DNA! For now, I am bookmarking this discovery to come back to later.
Finally, I made one major change to my tree on the Lashley line. As I researched Lashley matches, I discovered that not one of them descended from Emanuel Bradford Lashley, who I had included for years as my 3rd great grandfather. Instead, they fell into four distinct groups, descended from four different Lashley men: two Williams, an Elijah, and a Richmond Lashley.
I went back over my Lashley research with a very fine-tooth comb and found that I had confused my 2nd great grandfather, Edmund Lashley, with another Edmund Lashley who was born at about the same time. My Edmund Lashley, found working as a fisherman in Wakulla County, Florida in 1870, was the son of a William Lashley born 1814 in North Carolina. This is confirmed both by the closely re-examined paper trail and by a group of cousin matches definitely descending from this William Lashley.
However, my Edmund was likely a cousin to the other Edmund, son of Emanuel Bradford Lashley. A whole clan of Lashleys appears to descend from Edmund Lashley I, a Revolutionary war soldier from Wake County, North Carolina. I have many matches descending from his son, Elijah J Lashley, who also had a son named William! (There are 29 men named William Lashley in my paternal family tree–so far!) However, this does not appear to be the same William as Edmund’s father. All these lines may also be connected through Edmund I’s father, Lewis Lashley. This is another puzzle I have bookmarked to come back to later. Much later, on a very, very rainy day.
At this point I have identified and grouped nearly all the closer cousins on my dad’s paternal line, and many of the 4th to 6th cousins. I have not yet knocked down my brick walls, but I have done a lot of the groundwork that may one day be helpful in doing so. Now it’s time to move over to my maternal line and see what I discover there!