Family Tree Update – Dec 2019

A long overdue family tree update.

It’s been a minute since I’ve done a family tree update.

I had to give a lot of thought on how I worked on the tree, how I did my DNA matches (since I want my tree to be a DNA tree) because Ancestry’s new ethnicity update changed some things.

Previously, your ethnicity results (while only an estimate) showed traces of where your ancestors were from. For example, originally most black people who took the DNA test had multiple areas of Africa they descended from. According to Ancestry, they had samples from those areas and we matched those areas. Fast forward to today: most black people that I see and those I share DNA results with: huge percentage of everyone being from Nigeria.

How this impacts me: I have a maternal line that descends from Long Island, Bahamas. I DNA match people still living there. The DNA matches are both people of color and Caucasian (I purposely didn’t say black). Many of the slaves from the Bahamas came in through West Africa (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Luibera, Maili, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Some also came over from United Kingdom Overseas Territory of Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

Trying to trace history, I know a great grandparent was born in South Carolina. Her parents weren’t from Nigera (or anything shown on my ethnicity test). Her parents were born in the Bahamas, so were her grandparents. It seems, at this point, Caucasian DNA was introduced into the family. The Caucasian relative…their family lived in the Bahamas for awhile before spreading to different areas of the States. Where did they come from? I traced a male to Germany and the wife from Europe. On the Afro-Bahamian side, I’m pretty sure one of the slaves were from Ghana. Ancestry says I don’t have any Afro-Bahamian connections yet I do. Ancestry has 96 regions for African Americans and I match only 6 of them. That’s impossible.

You have 128 5x great grandparents. Going back 10x great grandparents you have 4,096. Slaves were moved from different parts of Africa (because there was slavery in Africa), had babies in those different regions, then were shipped outside of Africa all over the place..having children in different locations every step of the way. Each location a child was born – there is history…a story to be told. The ethnicity results do not show this and there is no way it can if you logically think about it. Even though I have family from the Bahamas it is not going to show that because of the African DNA. It’s no longer is showing the other locations, which is a shame. My first results were more accurate.

So I have to rely on DNA matches alone because Ancestry changed their algorithm. This means every DNA match matters. I have to go through them all..,and I have to change my notes because relying on locations from the ethnicity test isn’t going to work anymore. I have people who had German descent (for example) that no longer have it yet…they descend from there.

Unfortunately, slavery has been normalized. We’ve been trained to look at a census record and simply accept what it says, even though (historically) we know things do not add up. Ancestry (and other sites) help pass this wrong message by letting people click a button, and add people to a tree inaccurately. For example, in the 1870 census record you see P. Summer as the head of household, Francis listed as an inferred wife and kids listed underneath them. While it is possible Francis and P. Summer were married (with a large age difference) it’s unlikely Francis is the mother of James because she’s 6 years older than him. Francis, James, Alice, Jane and Hannah were all born within slavery. It is against the odds that 1) they all have the same father and 2) P. Summers is their father. Who are their mother(s)? DNA is showing that people clustered together, taking the same last name, but were not related at all. For example, taking in kids because their parents were sold and transferred elsewhere.

That’s reality.

Another example of wrong information in a tree: Wash Rawl married Ella 13 years before this 1910 census. On the record it says Osby and Nettie are Wash’s children. If you enter this using Ancestry they will put Ella as their mother even though the census clearly states she never had children within their marriage as of 1910.

I’ve been yanking the tree apart and fixing things like this. What I am finding DNA wise so far: none of the family tree lines cleanly go back via surname. For example, the Bergeon line is strong until trying to get past Stephen, who is my 3rd great grandfather. Looking for his parents, grandparents, etc. going back to my 5th great grandparents, that’s 24 lines of people I’m looking for in my 3-5th DNA matches (look at the graphic). 12 grandfathers I’m looking for.

That said, here is an update on specific lines:

Bergeon: I’m pretty sure Crocia (how it is in the family bible) was white, meaning Lillian was white, meaning Alfred was not her father. I have DNA matches to prove this and if you’re related in this line, if you look at your ethnicity results…it’s there (some of you are in for a shock on how “white” you are). The whiteness is a beautiful story though because Lillian (white) fell in love with Samuel (black), they had a long history together with lots of kids. I have not found one DNA match to Lillian’s siblings yet.

Stephen’s parents is a puzzle I’m still unraveling.

Summers: I wish more people would test on this side because slavery hit this line hard. I’m trying to accurately find Rebecca’s parents. Either the Morrison or the Summers line goes back to the Bahamas and other areas. The problem is there are two Rebecca’s born around the same time that married a Summers. People are confusing them so I have to go through records manually. This line spreads far and wide so I have to meticulously check records to figure it out.

Mathis/Matthews: So far the only DNA matches I can confirm descend from Pierce so there is something funny going on. I’m still unable to figure out what Margaret’s last name is. It’s almost like none of us share DNA with her. Still working on it.

Flowers: Ignatius is the father…of Dorcas (I think). She got the money (and the freedom), not Ignatius G. and her kids were the one in the will. If Ignatius G was the son, why not give him the money to provide for his family?

White/Williams/Blackburn: Still DNA proving this. I DNA match two White lines, that swear they are not related to each other, so I’m still figuring this one out. There were a lot of free Blackburns (during slavery) and people that took the name Blackburn, so it’s looking like I have to find the real surname, that might lead back to Africa depending on how they got here and how they were freed.

Meredith: Speaking of Whites…Frank has a child with the last name White, unrelated (I hope) to the Whites above.

Sorry for the book. I’ll update more as I make progress.