Sunday, October 7, 2018

Tangled DNA, Kissing Cousins: 52 Ancestors

When cousins marry, DNA matching is complicated for their descendants. However, intermarriages were common in the past and we must be aware of them as family historians and genetic genealogists.

In the Allee family, two daughters of Nancy Jane Allee Grant are known to have married a cousin. So it's important to identify her other children and their descendants to clarify cousin matches.

Nancy Jane Allee (Jane) was born about 1825 in Alabama, probably in Lawrence County. The very first question we have to ask is who her parents are and if that can that be proven by DNA matching.

Her parents are believed to be Joseph Allee and a woman named Lapruda, maiden name unknown. It appears that her father could not have been Nicholas or Isaac, brothers of Joseph. Both had children born at times that would make her inclusion in the birth order very unlikely.

From the early census records, it appears that Jane lived in the household of Merrill Allee and his wife, Esther or Easter. Esther may have been a Gamble by birth. If Jane was a daughter of Merrill and Esther and if Esther was a Gamble, the tangled DNA becomes more complex. Merrill's story will be told later in the series.

Jane spent her childhood in Alabama. Merrill moved his family to Arkansas by 1840, and we believe she went with the family. Joseph Allee's known wife appears to have died after giving birth to Emaline about 1842. Jane must have then gone to live with Joseph and help care for his five young children.

On June 30, 1844, Jane Allee married Thomas Jahue Grant, a farmer, in Lawrence County, Alabama. They had four children born in Alabama. About 1854 the Grants (and Joseph Allee) migrated to Arkansas, where three more children were born to Jane.

Template from Milestones, elements from Generations, all from ClubScrap

The Grants appear for the last time as a family unit in the 1860 census of Hot Spring County, Arkansas. They were living in Clear Creek Township at the southeast corner of the county, which adjoined Saline County, where most of the other Allee families were living. Living next door to the Grants were Anderson Allee and Milas Allee, who were sons of Isaac Allee.

Jane moved on to Denton County, Texas, with several of her children by the time of the 1870 census. She then disappears from known records.

Knowing Jane's children and their spouses is critical.
  • Joseph Grant (1850-) and Caroline Grant (1853-) are two of which I've lost track after 1860. 
The following three children did not marry known cousins:
  • Mary Grant married James Johnson in 1866 in Saline County, Arkansas. 
  • Samuel Grant married Maggie Shipp in 1879 in Denton County, Texas.
  • Laura Grant  married John Wesley Slater in 1879 in Denton County.
  • After the early deaths of Samuel and Laura, Johns Wesley Slater married Maggie Shipp in 1891. This is important to know when looking at their descendants. 
The two daughters who married cousins have very tangled DNA:
  • Martha Elizabeth Grant married Andrew Lafayette (Fate) Allee in 1866 in Saline County, Arkansas. Fate is believed to be a descendant of Merrill and Esther.
  • Nancy Jane Grant  married Merrill Abraham Gamble in 1871 in Collin County, Texas. He was the son of William Ira Gamble and Margaret Catherine Allee, who is also believed to be a descendant of Merrill and Esther.
  • It is also possible that Andrew Lafayette Allee and/or Margaret Catherine Allee Gamble are descendants of Joseph Allee, along with Nancy Jane Allee Grant.
How can this DNA be untangled? Y-DNA cannot be used for this puzzle. Female descendants of any daughter, with all females (no males) in the line back to Jane could assist in uncovering Jane's mother, using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This test is available from FamilyTreeDNA, not from Ancestry. The same method could be used to research the mother of Margaret Catherine Allee Gamble. This test could prove the mothers were different, but would not provide names.

Cousin matching can be done using the common autosomal DNA tests and should focus on descendants of Samuel, Mary and Laura. Cousin matching can also be useful for descendants of  Andrew Lafayette Allee and his second wife (Betty Allen) and for Margaret Catherine Allee and her first husband (Mr. Logan).

Next time: John Buford Allee.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Fishing for DNA

Power BI Aquarium visualization by Enlighten

Have you thoroughly fished your family DNA pool? The experts of DNA repeatedly remind us to test the oldest generation and to test everyone we can. My latest fishing trip proved that theory in a very dramatic way. Rather than bore you with numbers, let me introduce the fish in this little DNA pool.

My cousin Connie, the woman who had the miracle Civil War era letter, had done an autosomal DNA test at MyHeritage, as had I. A comparison of Connie's match to my Dad (salmon), my uncle (purple) and me (blue) turned up small, but respectable matches.

Connie had not tested her older generation. She and I discussed testing options for her elderly family members and she decided to test them at MyHeritage, also.

Connie's Dad showed a stronger match to all of my tests, as we would expect. My Dad's fish is yellow, while my uncle's is gray and mine is blue.

Taking the extra step and paying the extra cost to test more relatives paid off dramatically. Her uncle had the strongest match to every member of my family. My uncle had the strongest match (turquoise), while my Dad and I had a smaller, but identical, match. The uncle to uncle match actually provided the most information.

Connie's uncle is missing one segment on chromosome 11 that all the rest of us inherited. He provides several other matching segments, on five different chromosomes, to help us with identifying more cousin matches in our Taylor line.

Of course, for those of you who want to see the centimorgan (cM) numbers, here they are.

If you haven't fished your DNA pool yet, the holiday specials should be starting in a few weeks. It's time to go fishing!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Tangled DNA, Farming Out the Children: 52 Ancestors

What's a father to do when his wife dies, leaving him alone with young children? In 1825, he had fewer options than today. Many widowed men and women turned to their extended family for help.

Today, for family history researchers, the choices our ancestors made can lead us to wrong conclusions based on the census. Were the children in a family the children of the head of household? Were they siblings, nieces, nephews or cousins? The census records before 1880 don't give a relationship.

If you're baffled by DNA cousin matches, maybe it's time to take another hard look at those early census records. Expand your tree and see if it leads to new conclusions.

For Joseph Allee, we have to ask some hard questions. Joseph was born about 1802, in Virginia, to Nicholas Allee and his second wife, Mary Dennis. Joseph first appears in the census of 1830 as a young head of household in Lawrence County, Alabama. His age is actually marked incorrectly.

There is a legend that Joseph had a daughter, Nancy Jane Allee, born about 1825 to an unknown wife, possibly named Lapruda. However, Nancy Jane did not appear with Joseph in the 1830 or any other census. It appears she was "farmed out" to be raised by other family members. Or was she even Joseph's daughter? Were there other children of this mystery marriage?

Joseph Allee [Alley] was married on August 29, 1834, to a woman named Pricila Mallin or Pruda Mallin. Was this woman named Lapruda and not the mother of Nancy Jane? Was Joseph even married more than once? The marriage record is hard to read.

The 1850 census tells us that Joseph was a farmer and leads us to assume five children was born from this marriage before the death of the wife. The children were: Caroline, Nicholas, Elizabeth, Sarah and Emaline. Those of us who have researched this family believe that Nancy Jane returned from Arkansas to help raise these younger children after the death of their mother.

Nancy Jane's story will be in a future post, as her descendants have the biggest DNA challenge in this family branch.

Joseph joined many other family members when he moved his family to Saline County, Arkansas, by the time of the 1860 census. It was there that Caroline Allee married Newell Fowler on August 2, 1859. Elizabeth Allee married Marion McManaway on January 8, 1862. I don't know what happened to Emaline. Supposedly Sarah married another McManaway, though I have not found a marriage record.

On November 16, 1860, Nicholas J. Allee paid $80.00 for 80 acres in Saline County. He joined the Confederate Army, dying on September 26, 1862, at Graysville, Georgia. In 1872, his land claim was questioned. His sister, Caroline Fowler, appeared at the land office in Little Rock on February 14, 1872. She filed a declaration that Nicholas had lived on the land since November 16, 1860, until his death, and that she had lived there after that time.

Joseph Allee, a  68-year-old widowed farmer, appeared in the 1870 census of  Grant County, Arkansas, then was not found again in the census.

The DNA of the descendants of the Allee families of Alabama and Arkansas must be examined carefully to identify all the children of Joseph and to identify his wives. There is even the possibility that Joseph might have married the sister of one of his brothers-in-law or sisters-in-law. Y-DNA is not useful. MtDNA from the direct female lines of Nancy and her sisters might or might not show different mothers. The autosomal DNA test from Ancestry and other companies is most useful for cousin matching.

Next time: Nancy Jane Allee Grant.