Tag Archives: England

Y-DNA and the Hall Family of the Colonial Carolinas

When confronted with a common surname and the patchy records of the post-colonial south, it’s all too easy to despair that a family line might never be conclusively traced. This is the scenario I’ve grappled with for years when faced with the vague details of the lives of my presumed fifth-great-grandfather, Isaac Hall, and his son, Elithan Hall. Both spent the later years of their lives in Washington County, Illinois, where Isaac died in 1852 and Elithan died in 1860.1 Their earlier years, however, were spent further south; Isaac was allegedly born in 1776 in Anson County, North Carolina,2 while Elithan was said to have been born in 1813 in Tennessee.3

As in the case of another elusive male ancestor, I knew that Y-DNA would be key in determining the origins of the Hall family. Family Tree DNA explains that as the Y chromosome “is passed almost unchanged from father to son,” it can be useful in determining the origins of a surname and can establish connections with cousins who share the same chromosome.4 I am descended from a daughter of Elithan Hall, so I turned to a direct male-line descendant of one of his sons, who, fortunately, was willing to submit his DNA sample per my request.

The Y-DNA results were more extensive than the results I’d received when pursuing the Hammond surname; clearly, a number of Halls are curious about their origins! In the Hall Families DNA Project, my cousin now has a number of matches who share the Y-DNA haplogroup E-M96 and trace their origins to the border region of colonial North Carolina and South Carolina. An e-mail exchange with several matches reinforced the idea that both DNA and the faint paper trail pointed to a connection.

Anson_County_North_Carolina

Anson County, North Carolina; Wikipedia, Public Domain. At the time of the birth of Isaac Hall in 1776, Anson County encompassed portions of several surrounding counties.

Although little is known about Isaac Hall’s early years in Anson County, North Carolina, I managed to uncover his affidavit for the Revolutionary War pension of one John Hall, who, like Isaac, also migrated from North Carolina to Illinois with a stopover in Tennessee. When called upon to provide an affidavit in 1847, Isaac, then seventy-one, recalled John’s return from the army “with his camp clothing on to wit a black ragged and greedy garment.”5 He also stated that he was present at John’s marriage, which took place around 1784.6 Both of these events occurred when Isaac was still a child, leading me to believe that the shared Hall surname between the men was no coincidence—surely they were related in some way, whether John was Isaac’s older brother, uncle, or perhaps a cousin. I was intrigued to see that a descendant of the same John Hall appeared as a match on Family Tree DNA, but at that point still wasn’t quite sure what to do with so much new information.

It was timely, then, when in February I learned that I was to be the recipient of a DNA analysis by Legacy Tree Genealogists, a prize generously provided for the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy’s 2016 Tagline Contest. (I had shared that SLIG was “the perfect way to kick off the year on a genealogical high note,” and in more ways than one, it certainly was!) It took me no time at all to decide that the Hall family DNA would be ideal for the analysis, and the project was undertaken by genetic genealogist Paul Woodbury.

From the completed report, which I could hardly wait to receive, I was introduced to the concept of STRs, or “short tandem repeats,” a type of genetic mutation. According to the report, “Occasional mutations that are introduced in the Y-DNA help to distinguish different lineages, some of which are ethnically and geographically specific.”7 It was noted that my cousin’s DNA sample might share a mutation in particular with several other Hall DNA samples, suggesting a potential recent common ancestor who might be uncovered through recommended further, higher-level testing.8 In addition, by reviewing the lines of descent of other matches, Hall family roots in the Carolinas were confirmed along with suggested distant origins in the British Isles.9

The report also included a review of key matches and further suggestions to pursue the identity of the father of Isaac Hall.10 With so many new ideas and leads to follow, I look forward to learning more about how best to interpret and apply this wealth of information to the Hall family while attending the Southern California Genealogical Society Jamboree this week!

Copyright © 2016 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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The Search for Y-DNA for Hiram H. Hammond

For years, about all I’ve known about the parents of Hiram H. Hammond has boiled down to the origins that were reported in four census records over a span of twenty-five years:

SOURCE FATHER MOTHER
1870 U.S. Federal Census1 Foreign Foreign
1880 U.S. Federal Census2 England Scotland
1885 Iowa State Census3 Native Native
1895 Iowa State Census4 Native Native

While Hiram, an Iowa farmer, was consistent in declaring that he was born circa 1813 in Ohio, he was apparently less certain about the origins of his parents. Or was he? Hiram may not have spoken for himself when the census enumerator came to the door; responses could have been given by his wife or another member of his household if he was not available. It’s also possible that some information might have been added by the enumerator after the fact, based on memory alone. Given that Hiram lived among many immigrants, his wife included, his parentage may have been presumed to be foreign as well.

In any case, this lack of consistency leaves me with questions today. Who am I looking for? Were Hiram’s father and mother born in England and Scotland, respectively? Or were they native-born with English and Scottish ancestral origins? If that’s the case, it would not be the first time that one of my ancestors took the question of nationality a little too far.

Now, however, I’m a bit closer to solving the mystery of Hiram’s parentage, thanks to a little something called Y-DNA. The Y chromosome, as explained by Family Tree DNA, “is passed almost unchanged from father to son,” so it can be useful in determining the origins of a surname and to make connections with cousins who share the same chromosome.5 In Hiram’s case, I hoped this would prove to be very useful.

Hiram is my fourth great grandfather; as I am descended from his daughter, thus immediately breaking the chain of father-to-son Y-DNA, I began tracing the descendants of his son with the hope of finding a living male relative who would be eligible to take a Y-DNA test. After reaching out to a distant Hammond-by-marriage in Iowa and an apparent game of hot potato with my letter of inquiry, I finally made contact with a Hammond-by-blood in Arkansas. Bingo! It was time to pull out the genetic guns, so to speak, and test this (wonderful! willing!) cousin’s Y-DNA.

There’s not much to be too excited about right now – as of yet, there are no matches on the 67-marker test – but there is always the chance that someone who shares Hiram’s Y-DNA will choose to test with Family Tree DNA in the future and in doing so establish a long-lost genetic connection. I’m prepared to monitor this account – and the Hammond DNA Project – for years, if that’s what it takes! A more pro-active approach, however, would be to find a living male descendant of another Hammond line that I suspect could be connected to Hiram.

“Old Log Cabin,” Jackson County, Iowa, 2010; digital image courtesy of user dadmw1, Panoramio, Google Maps. This cabin is situated approximately one mile south of the land purchased by Hiram H. Hammond in 1848.

My earliest records of Hiram H. Hammond come from his years in Jackson County, Iowa, where he acquired land in 1848. According to an 1852 Iowa census, Hiram was neighbor to an Andrew Hammond,6 and although Hiram moved away shortly thereafter,7 in 1854, Andrew remained in Jackson County with a new neighbor, Philow Hammond.8 I suspect that these Hammond men may have been sons of War of 1812 veteran Jonathan Hammond, who lived in Ohio, Hiram’s stated place of birth, during the appropriate period of time. Several of Jonathan’s other known sons include Orin Hammond, Reuben Hammond, and Lemuel Brooks Hammond, and intriguingly, a nephew also bears the somewhat distinctive name Hiram H. Hammond.9 However, more research is necessary to prove the relationships among the members of this particular Hammond family and to determine whether Hiram himself could feasibly be a relative.

If such a connection still seems plausible, or if another potential connection is found elsewhere on the paper trail, well, then it will be time to trace another line of male descendants for a willing Y-DNA test participant! 

Copyright © 2016 Melanie Frick. All Rights Reserved.

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Wedding Wednesday: The Parish Church

    "St. Peter's Church, Gamston," 2007, Gamston, Nottinghamshire, England; Wikimedia Commons, copyright Richard Croft.

“St. Peter’s Church, Gamston,” 2007, Gamston, Nottinghamshire, England; Wikimedia Commons, copyright Richard Croft.

It would have come as no surprise to the congregation of the parish church of Gamston, Nottinghamshire, England when a shoemaker’s son and a cottager’s daughter married on 14 April 1840.1 For three consecutive Sundays, the banns had been read by the church rector, and as no impediments arose in response to his announcement of the couple’s intentions,2 they were married on the Tuesday before Easter.3

John Fenton and Ann Bowskill (also spelled Bouskill), a bachelor and spinster “of full age,” had their union solemnized in the parish church of Gamston, also known as St. Peter’s Church.4 Just a few years earlier, it had been described in a local gazetteer as a historic but perhaps somewhat dilapidated structure: “The Church dedicated to St. Peter, ‘has once been antique,’ but its brasses have been all destroyed or stolen, and its sculptured ornaments are hid behind many coats of whitewash.”5 St. Peter’s Church dates to the thirteenth century, and received what was apparently a much needed restoration in 1855.6

Gamston, located near the community of Retford, was described as “a good village on the east bank of the Idle, where there is a corn mill and a candlewick manufactory.”7 John and Ann did not remain here in Ann’s hometown following their marriage, however, nor did they return to Bole, where John’s father was the village shoemaker.8 In fact, they seemed intent on pursuing opportunities of their own, as within a year of their marriage, they settled in Worksop, about ten miles northwest of Gamston.9

It would have taken the couple several hours on foot to reach Worksop from Gamston, but a pleasant view would have awaited them upon their arrival:

“On the approach from the east, the appearance of the town, lying in a valley, overtopped by the magnificent towers of the church, and baked by swelling hills finely clothed with wood, is extremely picturesque. Its situation is indeed delightful, and both nature and art have contributed to its beauty, for the houses are in general well built; the two principle streets spacious and well paved, and the inns clean and comfortable […]”10

Worksop was deemed a “clean and pleasant market town,” and if John, described as a laborer in the 1841 census, was not already trained in another profession, he may have found employment in agriculture, at a malt kiln, or at one of the many corn mills.11 It was in Worksop that the couple’s eldest children were born, before, within a decade, they immigrated to America.12

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Military Monday: A Duty to His Family

Today marks the World War I centenary, although it would be a few more years before Ole James Nelson, a young farmer from rural Yankton County, South Dakota, would make his way overseas as a mechanic with the U.S. Navy Aviation Section.

Ole enlisted on 3 May 1917 at the age of twenty-two, within a month of the United States entering the war.1 According to a county history, he served in Eastleigh, Hampshire, England.2 His journey to Eastleigh, however, may have been a roundabout one; in fact, he may not have left American soil for at least a year after his enlistment. One photograph suggests that he completed his training in Buffalo, New York;3 another photograph was sent to his family from Charleston, South Carolina, in May of 1918.4 That October, his sister wrote to him, commenting, “Wonder if you are still at Quebec.”5

SCAN0858

Ole Nelson, Charleston, South Carolina, 1918; digital image 2013, privately held by Melanie Frick, 2014.

Ole’s time in Eastleigh was likely brief. The United States Navy established a naval air station in Eastleigh in July of 1918 to assemble and repair aircraft, including Caproni Ca.5 and Airco DH.4 and DH.9 bombers.6 This, almost certainly, is how Ole made use of his time as a mechanic. The base was in operation, however, for only a matter of months, as it closed following the armistice later that year.7

As it turned out, Ole’s days in the service were numbered, although not because the “war to end all wars” was winding down. After receiving notification of his father’s unexpected death, which had taken place a matter of days before the armistice,8 Ole applied for an honorable discharge, which was granted on 29 January 1919.9 As the eldest son, Ole was to return home to manage his family’s farm and to care for his mother and younger siblings; what he did not learn until his return, however, was that one of his sisters had also passed away in his absence, having succumbed to what was said to be a combination of Spanish Influenza and shock at the death of her father.10

A return to the farm, following what must have been an exciting time in this young man’s life, was perhaps not what Ole had initially had in mind for his future, but after duty to his country, he had a duty to his family.

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