Saturday, August 16, 2014

Looking to DNA to Solve Mystery

Descendants of Bill & Sarah Partee Reed

One of the great things about having a blog or having some family tree information online is the potential for long lost relatives, you never knew existed, to find you. Often, collaboration with “new kin” can lead to the discovery of more ancestors and more family history. Last week, I received an e-mail from someone of Atlanta, Georgia. For privacy purposes, I'll call her "Miss Tee." Of course, the very first thing I noticed is that her last name is my mother’s paternal grandmother’s maiden name – PARTEE. I couldn’t click the e-mail fast enough to read her message!

My mother’s paternal grandmother was Sarah Partee Reed of Tate County (Senatobia), Mississippi. She was born into slavery around 1852 on Squire B. Partee’s plantation near Como, Mississippi in neighboring Panola County to Polly Partee (born c. 1830). Although Sarah died in 1923, long before my mother was born, Mom always referred to her as “Momma Sarah,” as if she had known her well. In Miss Tee’s message, she shared how she was searching for more information on her Partee Family. Her paternal grandfather, Lucious Partee, was the son of a man named Dock Partee of DeSoto County, Mississippi. Per the 1900 Census, Dock lived in the small village of Eudora, west of Hernando, Mississippi.

Well, my eyes bucked when I saw the name “Dock Partee.” You see, I had found him in the census records over 10 years ago. Since that time, I have always wondered if he was connected to Momma Sarah; perhaps he may have been her brother because she named her third oldest son DOCK – my mother’s paternal uncle, Dock Reed, Sr. As many researchers have experienced, same names among families often indicate kinship. Naming children after aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, etc. was our ancestors’ ingenious way of preserving history. Born around 1850, Dock Partee was in Tate County in 1880 and had relocated up to DeSoto County by 1900. Other than the name Dock, I had no other clues or documentation to connect him to Momma Sarah.

Doctor Rogers “Dock” Reed, Sr. (1878-1958) and his wife, Mary Frances Reed

Well, after several e-mail exchanges with Miss Tee and her second cousin, who had done research on their family, more clues surfaced. Are they compelling? Miss Tee and her family had also speculated for years that Dock Partee may have been a son of Polly Partee. These four main clues surfaced:

1. As mentioned earlier, Momma Sarah named one of her sons Dock.

2. Miss Tee's cousin had heard oral history that Dock's mother (name unknown to them) was the “cook in the big house” on Squire B. Partee’s plantation. Grandma Polly Partee was said to be the cook (or one of the cooks) for the white Partees. My late Cousin Isaac Deberry Sr. (1914-2009) had stated to me some years ago, “Momma (Sarah’s daughter Martha Reed Deberry) told me that Polly was the cook on the ole Partee place during slavery times and after. She was such a good cook that she made the food you didn’t like taste delicious.”

 3. There were two people named Lucious in my Partee Family. Miss Tee's grandfather's name was Lucious Partee (son of Dock).

 4. Momma Sarah was said to have Native American ancestry. My and mom's DNA results proved it. For further explanation, see DNA Found Native Americans Resting in Family Tree. Miss Tee and her family had also heard that Dock Partee had Native American ancestry.

Even more interesting, I discovered that my cousin, Dr. Leroy Frazier (great-great-grandson of Sarah Partee Reed), is a longtime friend of a great-granddaughter of Dock Partee. Their friendship has spanned over 50 years, and they could be blood cousins. Miss Tee is planning to have several members of her family to take the DNA test to learn more. We are looking to DNA to solve this mystery for us. We hope my Mom and I will be a close DNA match to prove that Dock Partee was also a child of Grandma Polly. If Dock and Sarah were siblings, Mom and Miss Tee’s father are 2nd cousins. Stay tuned for an update!


  1. I look forward to the results.

  2. Great work Mel! Can't wait to see the results!

  3. I can't wait to see the results too!

  4. Very interesting! It will be great to see the outcome. I'm a Boyd, an Oliver and a Daniel from Eudora on my dad's maternal lines. Howdy neighbor!


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