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).
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.
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.
Several months ago 23andme was running a special for African Americans, in order to broaden their genetic base. The price was right (free) so I signed up and received my spit test kit in a timely fashion. I sent it back, curious about what my percentages of DNA from the various continents would be. After a wait of 5 or 6 weeks I was informed that my results were posted. There they are above. None of this was surprising to me. Looking at myself and my relatives I knew there was some European DNA in there. My father’s sister and I had done an Mtdna test awhile ago and both my maternal and paternal grandmother’s lines back to West Africa. The small amount of DNA from Asia, I learned from the 23andme website, could be Native American DNA or it could be from the Asian DNA found in some African’s DNA. They (23andme) cannot predict Native American DNA in African Americans yet because usually it is (they said) mixed with a small amount of European DNA and then there is that African/Asian DNA thing.
Now, as I said, none of this surprised me. And it also didn’t change the way I feel about myself or my ancestry. I know the European DNA is there but the men that “donated” it didn’t leave a story, a whisper or a name on a death certificate as a clue to who they were and where they came from. There is one exception, post slavery, that we have used reasonable clues to pinpoint – including family stories, naming patterns and geography. So, aside from the physical evidence/residue/DNA, they are invisible and likely to remain so, in spite of the “cousins” I find listed in my account.
I had not even thought about finding long lost cousins from the past. The first message I received turned out to be from an old family friend in Detroit. That was amazing and kind of funny. She and her husband were friends of my father’s family for decades and to get a message from her daughter saying we are possible 5th cousins was nice. We don’t know which side of the family we are related through, and I don’t see how we can ever trace it, but it’s nice anyway. I would like to hear from that possible 2nd cousin who hasn’t contacted me yet. That seems close enough to figure out how we’re connected. Maybe I already know them. If only it would be one of Uncle Hugh Reed’s long lost grandchildren. Or maybe my grandfather Mershell Graham’s brother’s or sister’s descendants.
My feeling is that the only way I’m going to find out where the last ancestor’s I’ve found came from, who their parents are, is to find the plantations they were on and look for the records. I don’t think I’ll find out anything shockingly new about those lines from 23andme. My husband received his kit yesterday. Can’t wait to see his percentages.
Around 1975 I asked my paternal grandmother, Pearl Reed Cleage, to send me the names of her parents and grandparents . I actually sent her a chart to fill out but instead she sent me back a piece of loose leaf paper with a list of her children and their professions and her parents and grandparents and my grandfather’s parents. I have yet to find anyone with the name of the man she listed as her father. He is not the father listed on anybodies, including her own, marriage license or birth record or death certificate. She has her grandmother listed as a Cherokee Indian but when we did the DNA test with my aunt Gladys several years ago the results came back from Family Tree HVR1 Haplogroup L3e2* which is found in West Africa.
The newspaper clipping on the left includes a photograph of my grandmother Pearl Reed from The Indianapolis Star, Friday May 8 1908. She sang at church and at many community events.
Paternal Maternal DNA line – from the youngest to the farthest back in time fore-mother we can name.
My cousins grandaughters – Lyric
My cousins daughters – Shashu, Jann, Sadya, Lillieanna, Sofia
My cousins – Jan, Anna, Maria
Aunts – Barbara Pearl, Gladys Helen, Anna Cecelia
Pearl Doris Reed 1886 (Lebanon, KY) – 1982 (Reed City, Michigan)
Anna Allen abt 1849 (Kentucky) – 1911 (Indianapolis, IN)
Clara Hoskins abt 1829 (KY) – ? (KY)
This line also includes my grandmother Pearl’s sisters and their descendents.
Aunt Josie’s daughter and her daughter Bessie and any female descendents she has.
Aunt Sarah Busby and her daughters and granddaughters and on down.
Aunt Louise Shoemaker and her daughter, granddaughter, and on down
Aunt Minnie Mullen’s daughters, granddaughters and on down