Ancestry.com, A Speculative Circle and Grandfather Mershell’s DNA

lunceford long connctions chart
A chart showing the other lines and the generations between me and my 4th great grandmother and the Long/Jacksons.
My grandfather, Mershell Graham.
My grandfather, Mershell Graham.

Ancestry.com has a new feature called “speculative circles”. They take groups of people that share DNA and who you do not have any matches in your tree.  They rate the DNA links from “emerging” (not enough people in the group yet.) to “very strong” which means that  the reality of a connection is high. My sister was recently tested and received several “speculative circles.” Most of them were “weak” links. I had also never heard of the people in the trees, nor could I see where we might match up. With one circle, however, there were strong links with 8 out of the 12 people in the circle.

My grandfather Mershell Graham’s sister Annie (Click for more information about Annie) and her children appear in the 1910 US census in Elmore county working as servants for Oscar and Emma (Jackson) Barron .  They were there in the 1920 census and until Emma died. Emma was the daughter of Absolom Jackson, a large slave holder in Autauga County (In 1866 Elmore County was formed from part of Autauga).

Who are they?
On the end it says “13/2/18 on Barrons farm.” I think some of these are Annie’s children.

I began to think that my family may have been slaves on Absolom Jackson’s plantation. My grandfather was born in 1888 in Coosada, Elmore County, Alabama.  His mother’s name was Mary Jackson.  About 15 years ago a Jackson descendant sent me a copy of the 1832 Will of James Jackson in which he divided up the slaves between two of his sons (Absolom and Crawford) and his son-in-law (Lunceford Long).  1832 was before Mary Jackson (my grandfather’s mother) or her parents were have been born. All of James Jackson’s adult children had large numbers of slaves that, of course, weren’t mentioned in that will. Due to these reasons, I was not surprised that I recognized no names.

I started a tree for James Jackson and his family on Ancestry.com. I do that for any people I think might have enslaved any branch of my family.  I use the information to look for wills and bills of sale, anything that might have my ancestors listed.

The circle. The grey lines are between various other circles but not ours.
The circle. The grey lines are between various other circles but not ours.  The orange ones share DNA with us.

All of this is leading up to the circle. We share Lunceford Long’s and his wife Nancy Daniel Jackson Long’s DNA with descendants who have a paper trail.  Lunceford (1797 to 1857) and his wife Nancy are the nearest common ancestors that all of the lines in the circle share. They are the 6th generation back from me. This means that we have DNA from both Lunceford and Nancy.  How could this happen?

At first I thought that meant that one of the sons had a child with an enslaved woman. But the sons are not the closest ancestor, Longford and Nancy are. I believe it means that Lunceford Crawford Long had a baby with an as yet unnamed enslaved woman?  And that said unnamed woman was related to Nancy Daniel Jackson so that they shared DNA.

I take all this to mean that I was right and the Jackson’s did own my ancestors.  Now to look for more wills and other records that might show names I can recognize and hopefully place in family groups.

7 thoughts on “Ancestry.com, A Speculative Circle and Grandfather Mershell’s DNA”

    1. I’ve got to organize what information I have, look online and then probably go to Elmore County, AL. I think it’s about 3 hours away, so not too far.

  1. This is the first I’ve ever heard of speculative circles. It’s interesting how you can use that information to help guide where it might be productive to focus family history research.

    1. It is interesting and pretty new. It’s the first time I could even begin to figure out the connections of unknown dna cousins. There were 11 more circles that I can’t figure out and 1 that I already knew, but proved family oral history.

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