Will DNA Testing provide the Answer for my Howell Brick Wall?

By Don Taylor

I have completed my initial writing about Generations 3, 4, and 5 on my Howell line research. (See my blog on Howell Research for a list of people and articles.) My next person to research in that line is the unknown father of Peter M. Howell, my wife’s third great grandfather. When you begin researching an unknown person, it is highly desirable to have a plan.  Maybe not as formal of a plan as many genealogists do, or say we should do, but it needs to be enough to get going and not duplicate previous efforts. The plan is simple.

  • Consolidate what I know.
  • Determine a pathway to potentially learn more.
  • Document and relate what I find.
  • Determine the vital information about the subject.

What I know:

What little I do know about Peter’s father was gleaned from Peter’s book, The Life and Travels of Peter Howell by Peter M. Howell[i]. From it, we know that Peter was born 15 July 1805, so there is a presumption that Peter’s father lived in Charlotte County, Virginia, in 1805. We know that the family moved to Buckingham County, Virginia in 1807. We also know that Peter’s father died when Peter was 12 years old (c. 1817). Finally, just for ballpark purposes, I conjecture that Peter’s father was likely somewhere between 20 and 45 when Peter was born. That gives the following:

Unknown father of Peter M. Howell

  • Born c. 1760-1785.
  • Resided Charlotte County, VA. 1805.
  • Resided Buckingham County, VA 1807.
  • Died Buckingham County, VA 1817-18.

Because this is my wife’s father’s father’s father’s father’s father, it is a perfect situation for Y-DNA testing one of my wife’s brothers. The first brother I asked agreed to test; he tested through Family Tree DNA – Amazing results. There were three matches with a genetic distance of 0 (Zero). The surprise was that the surname wasn’t Howell, rather it is Howle. Nothing I had ever seen before ever suggested that spelling for the surname.  Also, the haplogroup was I-M253 rather than the typical R-xxxx most Howells are.

A genetic distance of zero means there are no differences between the 37 markers tested. According to Family Tree DNA, that indicates an 83.49% likelihood that they share a common ancestor in 4 generations, a 93.29% likelihood in 6 generations, and a 97.28% likelihood in 8 generations. I have four generations (to Peter M. Howell) with assurance.

All three of the Howles indicate their most distant ancestor is William Howle, born circa 1730. One mentions William as being born in Lunenburg Co., VA and two show he was born in Charlotte County, VA. A quick check of Wikipedia indicated that Charlotte County was formed from Lunenburg County in 1764, so, all are consistent. (I love consistency.)

One of the three has a GEDCOM file on Family Tree DNA showing his 4th and 5th great grandfathers born in Charlotte County, VA. Another interesting item of his GEDCOM is that his Howle family moved from Virginia to South Carolina and then to Alabama. Peter M. Howell’s half-sister married a Holman and moved to Alabama. Peter apprenticed with him for a while in Alabama. So, there might be a connection there as well.

Crumbling Brick Wall
Crumbling Brick Wall

I also joined The Howell Surname Y-DNA project on Family Tree DNA. There are seven other people with the same Y-DNA Haplogroup (I-M253). Two of them indicate ancestors in North Carolina and two indicate ancestors in Virginia (three don’t provide a location for their earliest ancestor.)

I am excited. Family Tree DNA testing results may well provide the clues to help me find the answers to my Howell line brick wall. The DNA testing results are providing new holes in the wall for me to peek through and see if I can find the answers to the Howell research wall.

Further Actions:

Contact Match #2 and see if he has a tree that might include potential candidates for Peter M. Howells father.
Contact Match #3 and see if he has a tree that might include potential candidates for Peter M. Howells father.
Contact Haplogroup I-M253 matches with Howell surnames for further details.
Do further research regarding the descendants of William Howle, born circa 1730 because he may have had additional offspring that weren’t identified by other researchers.

List of Greats

Peter Fletcher Howell
Peter M. Howell
Unknown (father of Peter M.) Howell

Contact

If you are related to Peter M. Howell, or anyone in this Howell like I would love to hear from you.  Please use the contact form below.

ENDNOTES

[i] Howell, Peter. 1849. The life and travels of Peter Howell, written by himself in which will be seen some marvellous instances of the gracious providence of God. Newbern, N.C.: W.H. Mayhew.
———- DISCLAIMER ———-

 

 

Half-Sisters – Part 1

DNA testing results have, for me, always been something of a mixed bag. In most cases it does a fantastic job of confirming relationships that I have been pretty certain existed. For example, it confirmed that my half-sister, who was put up for adoption, is my half-sister. It also can provide for leads in other lines. For example, when a first cousin popped up on my completely unknown paternal line, it provided the clues as to who my biological father was. I am still confirming that line and I expect a definitive answer in a few weeks.

My feelings of being “Stuck in the Mud”
Front Street, Dawson City, Yukon, 1898
[Public Domain] via Wikipedia Commons
DNA test results have also led me down some dead ends. Researching the results that say “second to fourth cousin” are time-consuming when you don’t have a tree that names a common ancestor.  I’ve spent a lot of time stuck on muddy roads looking for the gold that the DNA map indicated was there.
On rare occasions, a DNA match completely changes everything. I originally had my wife test her autosomal DNA looking for clues regarding her paternal line.  I traced her paternal line to her 2nd great-grandparents but ran into several brick walls beyond that.  I didn’t find anything that got me on the right track.  I didn’t look her results for several months until I revisited them this week.
Oh, my.  Someone new showed up on the list as “Close Family” – Possibly a first cousin. I thought, “Interesting, I wonder who this is.”  The name on the matching account, “Birdsong….” wasn’t an actual name, so I was a bit confused. Ancestry DNA doesn’t let you see the actual matches but, if you click on the individual’s name then click on the little info logo, it will show you the amount of shared DNA. I clicked on it and was startled.  It said 1,702 centimorgans shared across 54 DNA segments. Wow. That is the range of an aunt or uncle, niece or nephew, grandchild, or half-sibling. I wondered which of the nieces had their DNA tested. I sent “Birdsong…”, my standard inquiring message via Ancestry Messaging saying that said that she and my wife shared DNA and I was interested in exploring the potential relationship.
I took a break from the computer; I try to take a break every hour or so, and told my wife about my exciting new find.  She, who doesn’t do genealogy, much less genetic genealogy, heard me say, “Wawh, wawh, wawh, wawh, DNA, wawh, wawh, wawh, niece, wawh wawh.” It didn’t sink in just how profound a match of over 1700 centimorgans can be.
My wife went back to her atelier and her painting and I went back to my office and my research. I noted that the individual didn’t match with my mother-in-law, so it had to be a match on my wife’s father’s side.  Then looked at Birdsong’s family tree on Ancestry. nothing made sense to me. None of the surnames matched my wife’s surnames. Of course, Birdsong’s information was private so I couldn’t get any more information, but I did see information about her mother.  I searched the internet and found an obituary.  It provided the names of this woman’s children and that included the name for “Birdsong” – Robin. I also knew her father’s name from the obituary so I searched for Robin K____ using her mother and father’s names and found her birth information; she was born in 1947 in Washington DC. Interesting. I knew that my wife’s father lived in Washington DC in the 1940s.
Robin had two siblings, both older and both passed now. I though, oh my, it doesn’t look like an aunt or a niece, could this be a half-sister?  Very interesting.
I jotted down the names, dates, and places and then chatted with my wife about my findings. She is so good about listening to me when I find something interesting and is exciting to me. I was telling her about my findings and she said, “Who?” then snatched the notes out of my hand. Apparently, I was mispronouncing the surname. She immediately recognized the names. looked at my notes, saw Robin’s name and her parents’ names and her jaw dropped.  She knew the people from when she was a child. “OMG – I know this family.”
Mind Blown

My wife was just plain gobsmacked — a half-sister, totally unknown before this. Her mind was totally blown, so blown she could be in a commercial for Jet.Com. It was fun to watch her wander around the house saying, “Wow.”

There is a saying in genetic genealogy, “you should never take a DNA test unless you are sure you want to discover the truth.”  There is wisdom in that. In this case, the truth iss there is a half-sister that my wife, her mother, and her siblings knew nothing about. Genetic genealogy can be really fun.

[Note: I anticipate Part 2 of this article to be about my finding my half-sister after searching for nearly 50 years. I am still awaiting DNA confirmation.]

———- DISCLAIMER ———-

The Dr. Benjamin L. Long House

Howell/Hobbs/Long

By Don Taylor
Having a blog provides many benefits. One of the most compelling reasons to have a blog is that it forces you to closely examine your findings and facts. Do they make sense? It operates much like a diary in that it forces you to articulate what you think you know. Your blog can really act as a primary social networking methodology. I’ve sometimes heard blogs as being “cousin bait” and I’ve certainly had distant cousins contact me because of my postings.

The Long-Haislip House c. 1979 The Historic Architecture of Hamilton, North Carolina.

I recently had someone contact me about a blog posting, not because she was related but because she and her husband purchased a house that a relative of my wife once built and owned. I shared with the individual what I knew about the relative that owned the house and they shared what they were doing with the house.

Long-Haislip House 2013
Google Maps
My wife’s great-grand uncle, Dr. B. L. Long built the house in 1885 in Hamilton, North Carolina. Known as the Long-Haislip House because it was sold to George Haislip in 1945, it was featured in the 1979 book, The Historic Architecture of Hamilton, North Carolina. Besides being his home, the building also acted as his Doctor’s office. After Dr. B. L. Long died in 1926, the house was home and office to his son, Dr. Edgar Miller Long.  
Long Haislip House, 2015
Photo courtesy: Historic Hamilton NC 

The home was sold again in the 1990s and then fell abandoned in the 2010s. Its deteriorated state is evident in a 2013 Google Maps drive-by photo. The photo shows significant paint damage, foundation issues, and general disrepair. In 2014, the house sold to some people who wanted to restore it to its original beauty. It was those new owners who contacted me and let me know that the house was being restored and cared for. It is so wonderful to see one of these ancient beauties being restored. Good on them. Their letting me know that the house is in good hands made my heart warm.

————-  Please support my sponsors  ————-
newspapers.com newspapers.com 

George Hobbs & North Carolina Laws

It is always good to find corroboration of old family stories. Such is the case with George Hobbs.

Hazel Armstrong Valentine was the great-granddaughter of George Hobbs. In article #419 of Martin County Heritage,[i] she writes of family history and she mentions several things.  First, Hazel mentions that she, “always understood that Grand-pa’s folks came from the coast, around Ocracoke.”

I believe she is correct in that assertion. According to the REVISED STATUTES OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, PASSED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT THE SESSION OF 1836—7, George Hobbs of Ocracock was a Commissioner for the port of Ocracock to examine individuals desiring to be pilots for Ocracock bar, the Swashes, and through Pamlico and Albemarle sounds. That statute clearly indicates that there were Hobbs’ in Ocracock (Ocracoke) then. I am not convinced the George Hobbs mentioned is the George Hobbs who was Hazel’s great-grandfather though. Examining pilots falls outside of George’s other known skills (as a lumber getter). Also, he would also be fairly young for such a posting, being only 32 years old at the time. It might have been George Hobbs’s father or some other relative. Anyway, the statute does confirm that there were Hobbs in Ocracoke at the time[ii].




Hazel also mentions that, “Many years ago, [she] was told that George Hobbs was a County Commissioner. [She] discredited this because the George Hobbs who fought in the Civil War died in prison or in the hospital during the war. The commissioner, if such there was, could have been J.A. Hobbs’ father.”

She is right, George Hobbs (1842-1865) did die in a prison hospital at Elmira, New York on 21 May 1865. Her suspicion that the commissioner could have been J.A. Hobbs’s father is, however, correct. The LAWS OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA PASSED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AT THE SESSION OF 1848-’49 clearly indicates the a George Hobbs was a commissioner at Williamston, NC. This George Hobbs was J.A. Hobbs’ father, so, Hazel’s suspicion was correct[iii].

HH20 – George Hobbs (1804-c.1855)

52 Ancestors – Week 93

George Hobbs was likely born between 02 Jun 1804 and 01 Jun 1805[iv], probably in Hyde County, North Carolina[v]. Once source suggests that he was born in 1801[vi]; however, I do not agree because elsewhere in the same book a birth year of 1805 is provided. Additionally, the 1850 Census suggests a birth of 1804-1805[vii].

We know nothing of George’s youth. According to Hazel, the family bible states that he married Eartha W Gaskins on 29 March 1836. However, he had several children before he married Eartha.

There is apparently a child whose name is unknown that was born between 1825 and 1830 who is likely George’s. Also, his daughter Sarah was born between 02 Jun 1835 and 01 Jun 1836. If she was born in 1835, it is unlikely that she was Eartha’s child. If Sarah was born later in 1830, then she must be the mother and was with child before the marriage. As staunchly conservative as they Hobbs family was, I think it much more likely that George’s first wife had Sarah and possibly died in childbirth. Then George remarried quickly.

A son, Edward S was born between 02 Jun 1835 and 01 Jun 1840[viii]. The 1840 Census indicates George as the head of a household consisting of six people including one slave. He was employed in “Manufacture and Trade,” which would be fitting for his later occupation of “Lumber Getter.”[ix]

George’s second son, George Hobbs was born in 1842 in Beaufort, Carteret County, North Carolina. George is known to have died during the Civil War.

James Ashley Hobbs was probably born in October 1843. Different sources indicate he was born in 1841, 1842, 1843, and 1844. The closest census to his birth, 1850, indicates he was 6 years old at that time, making 1843 the most likely birth year[x].

Elizabeth Hobbs was born about 1847. (She was 3 during the 1850 Census.)

In 1849, George Hobbs was identified as being a commissioner of the town of Williamston and had the duty to manage the public burying grounds of the town, with other commissioners.[xi]

Later in 1849, another daughter, Hester Jane Hobbs, was born on 14 Sep[xii].

1850 Census indicates an apparent spouse named “M,”[xiii] and the Martin County Heritage book confirms that name[xiv]. That raises the question, Was “M” the same person as Eartha W. Gaskins or was “M” a third wife. If the latter, which were her children and which were Eartha’s? I will need to do more research into all the children and their lives and see if I can determine a timeline for his marriages and children.

George probably died before the 1860 census was taken, as he doesn’t seem to be listed in the 1860 census and his children are scattered across the eastern seaboard.

Further Research:

Who was the first wife of George?
Was George married a third time?
When and where did George die.

ENDNOTES:

[i] Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage (PO Box 468, Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), 419 – George and Eartha Gaskins Hobbs.
[ii] REVISED STATUTES OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA, PASSED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY AT THE SESSION OF 1S36—7 (Raleigh, NC, PUBLISHED BY TURNER AND HUGHES, 1837), Archive.Org, Pages 467 & 468 – CHAPTER 88: PILOTS AND COMMISSIONERS OF NAVIGATION: Section 29. Board of commissioners appointed for Ocracock—Their duty in regard to pilots—Their compensation – Oath to be taken by them. https://archive.org/details/revisedstatuteso01nort.
[iii] LAWS OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA PASSED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AT THE SESSION OF 1848-’49 (Raleigh, NC, THOS. J. LEMAY, PRINTER—STAR OFFICE., 1849), Page 434 | CHAPTER CCXL. https://archive.org/details/lawsofstateofnor184849nor.
[iv] 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Martin, North Carolina; Roll: M432_636; Page: 403B; Image: 443, Line 13.
[v] Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage (PO Box 468, Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), 419 – George and Eartha Gaskins Hobbs.
[vi] Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage (PO Box 468, Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), Article # 495 – Hettie Elizabeth Johnson.
[vii] 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Martin, North Carolina; Roll: M432_636; Page: 403B; Image: 443, Line 13.
[viii] 1840 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, 1840; Washington, Beaufort, North Carolina; Roll: 355; Page: 268; Image: 546; Family History Library Film: 0018092 – Geo Hobbs.
[ix] Ibid.
[x] 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Martin, North Carolina; Roll: M432_636; Page: 403B; Image: 443, Line 13.
[xi] LAWS OF THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA PASSED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AT THE SESSION OF 1848-’49 (Raleigh, NC, THOS. J. LEMAY, PRINTER—STAR OFFICE., 1849), Page 434 | CHAPTER CCXL. https://archive.org/details/lawsofstateofnor184849nor.
[xii] Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage (PO Box 468, Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), Article # 495 – Hettie Elizabeth Johnson.
[xiii] 1850 United States Federal Census, Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Martin, North Carolina; Roll: M432_636; Page: 403B; Image: 443, Line 13.
[xiv] Hughes, S. J. N., & Martin County Historical Society (N.C.), Martin County Heritage (PO Box 468, Williamston, NC, Martin County Historical Society, 1980), Article # 495 – Hettie Elizabeth Johnson.

————-  Please support my sponsors  ————-

newspapers.com newspapers.com 

The Estate of James Ashley Hobbs (1843-1920)

Amanuensis Monday

Wills and probate records can provide valuable insight and speculation into family dynamics that I find fun to consider. Such is the case of James Ashley (J.A.) Hobbs (1843-1920).
J.A. Hobbs was a civic leader. He was the Clerk of Superior Court in Williamston, Martin County, North Carolina. He died on 29 November 1920; his wife preceded him in 1913. At the time of his death, he had five living children.

Only three days after his death, on December 2nd, his oldest daughter, Annie E. Armstrong, applied to be the administrator of his estate and indicated that her father died without a will[i]. Also, in that application she mentioned that the five living children, Charles L Hobbs, R.R. Hobbs, J Floyd Hobbs, Mary L. Howell, and herself would be the heirs to the estate. Although Charles would have been the oldest child, Annie applied, and was granted administration of the F. A. Hobbs estate.

Martin County (North Carolina) Courthouse
Photo credit: J. Stephen Conn via Flickr [CC by NC 2.0]
About six weeks later, on 14 Jan 1921, a will, dated 10 Sept 1918, was filed with the courthouse[ii]. This will established “friend and lawyer” A. P. Dunning as the executor of the will. In the will, Mary L. Howell was to receive the entire estate, except for $100 to go to A. P. Dunning. Subsequently, Mary L. Howell received everything and the other four children, Charles, RR, Floyd, and Annie received nothing.
Many questions regarding family dynamics come to mind. Was Annie trying to pull a fast one or did she really not know that J.A. had a will?  Three days after a person’s death seems to me pretty quick for someone to file in probate court. Why did J.A. write out all of the other children and leave Mary Lillian, his youngest daughter, (who was 33 years old) as his only heir? Were the other four estranged from their father?  I wonder if J. A. felt that his other children were doing well enough and didn’t need the support that Mary Lillian needed as the wife of a struggling minister. Many questions we may never know the answer to, but it is fun to speculate and wonder.

TRANSCRIPT – LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT – J. A. HOBBS – 10 SEP 1918

Source: Ancestry.Com – North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998; North Carolina County, District and Probate Courts., North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998, Ancestry.com, Wills, 1774-1963; Author: North Carolina. Superior Court (Martin County); Probate Place: Martin, North Carolina – Pages 578 & 579.

North Carolina}Martin County}      I, J. A. Hobbs, of the county and state aforesaid, being of sound mind and memory but considering the uncertainty of my earthly existence, to make and declare this my last Will and Testament.

First: My executor herein named shall give my body a decent burial, pay all funeral expenses, together with all my just debts, out of the first moneys which may come into his hands belonging to my estate.

Second: I give, devise and bequeath to my daughter Mary L. Howell, all the property of which I may devised and possessed, both real and personal, of whatever nature, ??? or description and wherever situate, including all money that [Page 579]
 I may have on hand at the time of my death, all notes and bonds of every kind and all other evidences of debt that may be due me at the time of my death. Also my personal affects, including my gold watch and chain, all my household and kitchen furniture, and also any and all insurance policies of mine regardless as to whom some may be payable in the face or faces thereof, including also, two lots of land situate in Beaufort County in Washington Heights, and any and all other property not above enumerated, of which I may die sized and possessed; it being my express purpose and intention to give, devise and bequeath to my daughter, Mary L. Howell, everything of the shape of property of which I may die dived and possessed to have and to hold to her absolutely and unconditionally forever in fee simple.

Third, I hereby constitute and appoint my friend and lawyer, A. P. Dunning, my executor, to execute this my last Will and Testament according to the true intend and meaning of the same and every fact thereof, hereby revoking and declaring utterly void all other Wills and Testaments by me heretofore made, and in full compensation for his services in executing this my last Will and Testament, I give and devise unto the said A. P. Dunning the sum of $100 one Hundred Dollars.

In witness whereof, I the said J. A. Hobbs, do hereunto let my and and seal this 10th day of Sept. 1918.

                                               J. A. Hobbs {Seal} 

——————— 

Signed, sealed, published and declared by the said J. A. Hobbs to be his last Will and Testament in the presence of us, who at his request and in his presence and in the presence of each other, we subscribe our names as witnesses thereto.   A. Hasill   L. C. Burnett 

Endnotes: 

[i] North Carolina County, District and Probate Courts., North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998, Ancestry.com, Administrators, Guardians Appointments and Records, Accounts, Inventories, Years Support, Executors and Widows Dowers, 1869-1963; Author: North Carolina. Superior Court (Martin County); Probate Place: Martin, North Carolina – Page 218.
[ii] North Carolina County, District and Probate Courts., North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998, Ancestry.com, Wills, 1774-1963; Author: North Carolina. Superior Court (Martin County); Probate Place: Martin, North Carolina – Pages 578, 579, & 580.
————-  Please support our sponsors  ————-
 Discover yourself at 23andMe Discover yourself at 23andMe