Saturday, November 24, 2018

Tangled DNA, Mystery Woman: 52 Ancestors

They are step-children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins. They are foundlings and orphans and even Orphan Train riders. They are the mysterious children who are attached to our families. You may have one that is an ancestor or your ancestor may have cared for one.

Our ancestors had difficult lives, especially before the advent of modern medicine. When they died and their children were orphaned, family and neighbors had to raise the children or find homes for them. These children may not have known anything about their parents and often no records exist to help researchers.

DNA matching is the best hope for identifying the parents of mystery children who were born within the past few generations. But even with mystery children, awareness of family intermarriages and puzzles is important.

Within the southern branch of the Allee family, there is a family cluster with two generations of orphans. Descendants of those orphans need to be aware of the various possibilities within the family.

Missouri Ann Allee was born in Alabama about 1838. The 1850 census shows her at age 11, living in Saline County, Arkansas, with Merrill Allee and wife Esther or Easter, age 70. Esther's age was closer to 64, based on later census records. Nonetheless, she could not have been Missouri's mother, though some online trees show that relationship. It was much more likely that Merrill Allee was Missouri's grandfather, uncle or great-uncle.

There is an unexpected name in the jury records of Saline County, Arkansas. A man named Nicholas Ally [sic] served as a juror in 1841, along with Merrill Alley [sic] and other men who were allied with the Allee family. There is no other known mention of Nicholas in the county. Was Nicholas an unknown son of Merrill? Was Missouri Ann the daughter of the mysterious Nicholas?

Missouri Ann Allee married James Hitt on August 4, 1853. They had two children: James Milton Hitt (born 1853-1854) and Susan Missouri Hitt (born 1855-1856). By the time of the 1860 census, Missouri had died. James and the two little children were living with the family of Abraham Allee.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, many members of the Allee family relocated to Texas. The 1870 census shows [James] Milton Hitt and [Susan] Missouri Hitt, without their father, living with Abraham Allee in Collin County, Texas. Most likely, James Hitt had died in the war or during reconstruction. Abraham Allee and his wife, Margaret Gamble, finished raising the children.

James Milton Hitt married twice and had several children.

Susan Missouri Hitt's life is a puzzle. It is possible that she married Winfield Scott Chambliss and had three children before her death. However, that possibility is likely to be proven only by DNA matches between descendants of the Chambliss family and those of James Milton Hitt.

The parents of Missouri Ann Allee will be challenging to figure out. Perhaps Merrill can be proven as an ancestor or perhaps she was a child of Joseph Allee. Y-DNA is not useful for this problem. Autosomal DNA, such as the AncestryDNA test, with cousin matching, will be the most useful to identify the origins of this mystery woman.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Of Gedcom Files, Heredis and RootsMagic

Did you jump on the any of the sales prices for genealogy software this week? With a deal like $10 for Heredis, I figured why not try it. Supposedly it has some charting capabilities that outshine my other programs.

Unfortunately, Heredis didn't like my Gedcom file and it took several hours to realize that I needed to find a workaround. I had seen a review that mentioned difficulties with importing Gedcom files to Heredis, but I was in denial that it could happen to me.

I'll admit to using an ancient program to do data entry. It's much faster than "modern" programs. But I routinely export the database to Gedcom for reporting and for use on my mobile devices. Every once in a while there's a minor import problem, but never at the frustration level that I had with Heredis. The problem with Heredis is, that when it fails, it simply creates a log file that shows the line number in the Gedcom where the problem happened and a cryptic reason.

To figure it out, you need to open the Gedcom in a text editor of some sort that will show you the line numbers. After finding the line, you have to back up a few lines to find the person with the issue and you have to figure out what the Heredis import doesn't like. Then change the data in the original program, export the Gedcom again and try the import again. Rinse and repeat.

In this case, the cause of death and the source for it are not accepted by Heredis. The occupation is not the problem. To change the death cause in the original program, I can move it to medical information.

After looping through making changes for a couple of hours, I had reached the end of my patience. Then I thought of a favorite program, RootsMagic. It has never balked at my Gedcom. So I imported the Gedcom to RootsMagic and exported it back out. RootsMagic kept the events and sources and defined them in a more standard way. Heredis than imported the data with no problem whatsoever.

So if you're struggling with Heredis, consider using an intermediate program to cleanse your data. I believe that RootsMagic is the best Gedcom handler in my tool box. I suspect there are others that can do the job, as well.

Thanks, RootsMagic!

Friday, November 16, 2018

Tangled DNA, Legends and Possibilities: 52 Ancestors

When you're trying to figure out an intermarried family, it's important to know all the possible relationships you may have within the family. Your family legends may add confusion to the search. In the family I'm writing about, common and uncommon legends abound. If your family was in the United States before the Civil War, you probably have some of the same legends: a Native American ancestor, an elusive family Bible and a family that is split between north and south.

The best strategy for the family legends is to know what they are, but ignore them during your quest for records and for DNA. Hopefully, your results will help you determine the truthfulness of the legends.

The Allee family mixes the common legends in an interesting way. This is not a politically correct statement. Please understand it's historical, so needs no negative feedback. The legend is from the children of the first wife of Nicholas Allee.

When speaking about themselves and the children of the second wife, they say, "We went north and the Indians went south." The elusive family Bible legend adds that Merrill Allee (south) was the son of John Allee (north), as proven by the Bible that one cousin knows that another cousin knows that another cousin saw years ago.

Today, I'll introduce John Allee, called Jonathan Buford Allee by some in the family. I've not seen proof of his name. John was born in Virginia to Nicholas Allee and Ann Stevens between 1760 and 1765. He has been confused with a man named John Alley, who also was born in Virginia, in Russell County in 1764. Fortunately John Allee left a will in Putnam County, Indiana, that helps define his family. John Alley also died in Indiana, in a different county, with different children and with a Revolutionary War pension file.

John Allee lived in the area of Virginia that today would be in Franklin or Floyd County. His father was a planter or farmer, so John learned to work the land. On January 1, 1787, John married Mildred Lawrence in Franklin County. Most of their children were born in that area of Virginia, prior to their move to Kentucky.

John first appears on the tax rolls of Barren County, Kentucky, in May of 1806. His tax record tells us that his household included one white male over 21 (himself) and one white male over 16. He was taxed for 450 acres in the watershed of the East Fork of the Big Barren River. Over the years, he also acquired land that was in the Skaggs Creek watershed.

John's sons began to show up as adults on the Barren County tax rolls and census by 1810. Son Merrill is the one of interest to my family and his story will be the last in this series.

John's land became part of Monroe County, Kentucky, when that county was formed in 1820. He was taxed in Monroe County from 1820 until 1827.

The area where the Allee family lived is somewhere within a few miles of the Skaggs Creek Baptist Church (36.7928349,-85.6844162), which was organized by John Allee and others in 1814. Skaggs Creek is north of the church while the East Fork of the Barren River lies to the south. Neither is a large river, so they don't show up on the following map.

In 1829, John bought 80 acres in Section 10 of Township 13 North, Range 3 West in Putnam County, Indiana. There, in Jefferson Township, he built a horse mill, for which he is remembered in the county history books.

In the 1830 census, John's age was listed as between 60 and 69. Having been at least 45 at the time of the 1810 census, he would have been at least 65 in 1830. In 1834, being at least 69 years old, he made his will. Since he is not listed in the 1840 census, we can only assume that he had died between 1834 and 1840.

The 1840 census shows that his son, Noah Allee, was the head of the household, with an age of 30-40. In addition to his wife and children, there was a woman of age 70-80, who was possibly his mother, Mildred Lawrence Allee.

In 1842, Noah presented John's will for probate. Most likely, Mildred had died and Noah needed to claim his inheritance and distribute property to any other family members who were still alive. Noah was the youngest known son, with a proposed birth year of 1809.

It's hard to determine the exact relationships from the will. However, it is probable that John Allee had children named William Allee, Merrill Allee, Joseph Allee, David Allee, Noah Allee and Mildred Allee Chapman. Ruth Ann Shields was most likely a granddaughter, as she would have been far too young to be a daughter, being a minor in 1834. Louda Lain could have been a daughter or a granddaughter, as there is not enough information to determine a relationship.

The 1865 map of Putnam County shows that several tracts were owned by men who were members of the extended Allee family. John's original 80 acres had passed out of the family.

For descendants of the southern Merrill Allee, research into Mildred Lawrence and her parents and siblings will be needed. It would be her family's DNA that could prove the relationship between the northern and southern families.

A transcript of John Allee's will, as filed in 1842, follows. It begins at page 346 in probate court order book B and is also found at page 253 in deed book I.

Be it known that on this 28th day of April in the year 1842 Noah Allee one of the Executors of the last will and testament of John Allee late of Putnam County Indiana deceased personally came before me Arthur McGaughey Clerk of the Probate Court for said county, (in vacation of said Court) and made due proof of the following last will and testament to wit:
"In the name of God amen, I John Allee of Putnam County and State of Indiana being advanced in years but sound in mind memory and senses as old age will admit, do see cause to make this my last will and testament, I commit my soul to God and my body to be buried in a plain Christian like manner I will and do ordain that all just debts and lawful demands be paid and as for worldly estate which the Lord has bless me with I dispose of it in the following manner, I bequeath to my wife Mildred Allee, my house her part of the land that I cleared and all my property her natural lifetime if she is the longest liver, I bequeath to Noah Allee the land I now live on, all of it to be his after the death of me and my wife, what I have given William Allee, And Merril Allee is to be their part of my estate, I will to Ruth Ann Shields thirty dollars if she lives to be a woman, what I have give Joseph Allee, David Allee and Mildred Chapman to be their part of my estate, the mill with all that pertains to it to be sold and all other property and the value thereof to be divided between Joseph Allee David Allee, Noah Allee, Mildred Chapman, and Rutheann Shields and Louda Lain and Jos Allee David Allee and Noah Allee to be my executors. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this 23rd day of February 1834.
John Allee seal "
(Seal in the original is a wafer with paper stuck over it)
A. McGaughey clk

Attest John C. Sherrill, Wm Conley

And on which said will is endorsed and written the following affidavit to wit: "State of Indiana Putnam County Sct. Be it remembered that on the 28th day of April 1842, before the undersigned Clerk of the Probate Court of said county personally came William Conley one of the subscribing witnesses to the within will, and being by me duly sworn pon his oath says that the within named John Allee, testator, at the time of making signing and sealing the within will was of sound mind memory and discretion, that the said testator signed the same in the presence of this deponent and one John C. Sherrill, and in the hearing of this deponent declared the same to be his last will and testament, that this deponent signed the same at the request and in presence of the said testator, as a witness thereto, and further saith not.
Wm Conley
Subscribed and sworn to before me this 28th day of April 1842
A. McGaughey  Clk
Recorded by me this 28th day of April A.D. 1842
A. McGaughey  Clerk  Probate Court P. Co.