Thursday, September 29, 2016

DNA and Genealogy: These Findings Can’t Be Coincidental


The image above is from the will of William Edwards Sr. (1780-1855), dated November 14, 1855, Panola County, Mississippi. He had moved to Mississippi from Henry County, Tennessee, around 1837. He left his wife, Margaret Edwards, five of his 33 slaves: LUCY, HARRIET, PETER, PRINCE, and JEFFERY (Source). Prince Edwards (born c. 1830) is my mother’s paternal great grandfather. On the estate inventory, Lucy was given a value of $0. A preponderance of evidence strongly indicates that she was the mother of Harriet, Peter, Prince, and Jeffery, who were named in the will, as well as additional children who were not named in the will but were valued on the estate inventory. Based on oral history accounts and genealogical evidence, the father of her children was Luke Edwards Sr., who was born around 1790. According to my cousin, Dr. Jeffrey Ogbar, Luke was born in West Africa and purchased by the Edwards from a slave ship that anchored in Virginia. Additionally, family elders had written down that his true African name was Ogba(r) Ogumba. Luke Sr. was valued at $150 on the estate inventory. With these facts in mind, recent DNA and genealogical discoveries appear to shine a spotlight on Grandma Lucy. And these observations and findings can’t be coincidental. Follow the trail of DNA and genealogical clues.

OBSERVATION 1 (Genealogy): The Trail Goes Back to Georgia

Comparing the reported birthplaces in the censuses, I observed that several of Grandma Lucy’s children (or someone) reported Georgia as their mother’s birthplace. In particular, Luke Edwards Jr., who was probably the oldest, or one of the oldest children, consistently reported Georgia as his mother’s birthplace, per the 1880 and 1900 Panola County censuses. This is from the 1880 census from

Note: His father’s birthplace was reported in 1880 as “unknown.”

THEORY 1: Census data strongly indicates that Grandma Lucy Edwards was born in Georgia, around 1797. Her approximate birth year was based on a combination of the slave inventory of William Edwards’ estate, taken on Dec. 15, 1855, where she was the only one who appraised at $0, and the 1850 slave schedule, which indicates that the oldest enslaved female who was owned by William Edwards in 1850 was 53 years old.

OBSERVATION 2 (Genealogy): More Leads to Georgia

Although the 1850 Panola County, Mississippi census reported that both William & Margaret Edwards were born in North Carolina, the state of Georgia was reported by their son, Dr. William Edwards Jr., (or someone) as his father’s birthplace, per the 1880 Attala County, Mississippi census. Shortly after the Civil War, he had moved to Kosciusko, Mississippi. To add, in the 1850 census, William & Margaret’s oldest son, Robert Edwards, was reported as being 40 years old and was born in Tennessee. Both William & Margaret were born in 1780. This is from the 1880 census from 

THEORY 2: There had to be a reason why Dr. William Edwards Jr. (or someone) reported Georgia as his father’s birthplace. This indicates a likely presence in the state of Georgia at some point. These findings suggest that William Edwards and/or his parents probably migrated from North Carolina to Georgia after 1780, and then William and Margaret were in Henry County, Tennessee by 1810, the approximate birth year of their oldest child, Robert Edwards. Perhaps, William Edwards purchased or inherited Grandma Lucy while he was in Georgia. (Unfortunately, no information has been found so far about William and Margaret’s parents, as well as their marriage record.)

OBSERVATION 3 (DNA): A Revealing DNA Match Named Tracy

Using the “People Who Match Both Kits” option in, I observed that Tracy’s father shares a recognizable amount of DNA, ranging from 9 cM to 43 cM, with descendants of Grandma Lucy Edwards, including my mother, her brother and sister (great grandchildren of Prince Edwards), and four of their Edwards cousins (1 great grandson and 3 great great grandchildren of Peter Edwards). Utilizing GEDmatch’s chromosome browser, I observed that the DNA sharing is across multiple chromosome segments with several of them. I also observed that everyone matches on chromosome 19 on overlapping segments. See below. That means that everyone descends from a common ancestor. Interestingly, Tracy shared that her father and his family roots are from Floyd County (Rome), Georgia.

THEORY 3: This DNA match to Tracy is the first DNA evidence indicating a definitive connection to the state of Georgia, and it also suggests that Grandma Lucy had truly come from Georgia. Based on the amount of DNA sharing with Tracy’s father, perhaps one of his ancestors was Grandma Lucy’s sibling? I needed more evidence.

OBSERVATION 4 (Genealogy): Tracy’s Paternal Family Tree Provides Clues

The key to finding ancestral commonalities is by comparing family trees. Fortunately, Tracy provided me with names of her father’s parents and grandparents. I was able to take his family tree back several more generations. Most of his enslaved ancestors were transported to Georgia after 1840 from North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. His only ancestors who were in Georgia around 1800 and earlier, during the time frame when Grandma Lucy was born, were his Ware ancestors. His third great grandparents were Jordan & Lucinda Ware, both born c. 1815 in GA, according to the 1870 Floyd County census. 

Since there were white Wares in Floyd County too, I also researched and observed that the slave-owner might have been Edward Ware (1787-1861), who owned over 70 enslaved people in 1860. His burial and a brief biography were found in Find-A-Grave. Edward Ware was born in Amherst County, Virginia and had moved to now Madison County, Georgia, near Danielsville, with his parents and siblings sometime around 1790. After marrying Sarah Penn, the daughter of Wilson Penn, in 1821, they settled in Floyd County. The Penn Family had also migrated from Amherst County, Virginia.

THEORY 4: Based on these findings, I wondered if Grandma Lucy may have been connected to the Wares of Georgia. I needed more evidence.

OBSERVATION 5 (DNA and Genealogy): Another Revealing DNA Match Named Latricia

With the previous theory in mind, I searched among my mother’s DNA matches in AncestryDNA, to see if anymore DNA matches had a Ware in their family tree. I found one, named Latricia, and her Wares were from Tallapoosa County, Alabama. Her mother only shares 9.4 cM with my mother. Her public family tree shows that her mother's great great grandfather was named Clark Ware, who was born around 1820. Georgia was consistently reported as his birthplace in the 1870, 1880, and 1900 censuses. I also observed that there were numerous other black and white Wares in Tallapoosa County, as well as in adjacent Chambers County. Many of them were born in Georgia. Interestingly, another Jordan Ware, who was born around 1830 in Georgia, was also in the area. This can’t be coincidental. Even more revealing, I clicked on “Shared Matches” and observed that Latricia's mother also shares DNA with three Edwards cousins. That can’t be coincidental, too! Fortunately, I soon realized that Latricia had also uploaded to GEDmatch. She shares DNA with my mother and three Edwards cousins (two great great grandchildren of Peter and one great great grandson of Grandpa Prince) in the same area on their chromosome 17. See below.

I researched further and learned that the slave-owning Ware family in that area was headed by Philip Ware (1786-1853). He and his family had moved to Alabama from Georgia around 1840. Yes, Madison County, Georgia! Per the 1850 Tallapoosa County slave schedule, he and his son, Jonathan Ware, owned over 60 slaves. Born in Amherst County, Virginia, Philip was a first cousin to Edward Ware of Floyd County, Georgia. He had died in 1853, while visiting his sister in Madison County, Georgia, according to Find-A-Grave.

THEORY 5: Latricia is likely related via Grandma Lucy, and the roads seem to be leading back to the Wares of Madison County, Georgia. Perhaps, this is where Grandma Lucy was born? Still, I needed and desired more evidence.

OBSERVATION 6 (DNA): A Third Revealing DNA Match, Mr. Payne

In AncestryDNA, I observed that my mother shares DNA with another Ware descendant, Mr. Payne, whose great grandmother, Lavada Ware, and her father, Richard Ware, were from Tallapoosa County, Alabama. He shares 16.7 cM over 2 segments with my mother. I clicked on “Shared Matches” and observed that Mr. Payne also matches 5 Edwards cousins! A famous quote states, “Once is chance, twice is coincidence, and a third time is a pattern.” There’s a pattern!

OBSERVATION 7 (DNA): A Fourth Revealing DNA Match Named Steven

GEDmatch’s Tier 1 tool, called “Triangulation,” identifies and confirms triangulation groups from your DNA matches. Tier 1 utility tools are only available to people who donate at least $10. People in these triangulation groups all share a common ancestor, since they share DNA in the same area on one or more of their chromosomes. With this cool tool, GEDmatch placed a DNA match named Steven and his mother in a group that contained them, my mother, and three Edwards cousins (1 great great grandson of Prince and 2 great great grandsons of Peter). Utilizing GEDmatch’s chromosome browser, I observed that Steven matches everyone, as well as my mother’s first cousin twice removed, on chromosome 17. Not only that, as shown below, he matches Latricia in the same area (see observation 5).

Since Steven’s GEDmatch number begins with an “A”, which means that he took the AncestryDNA test, I looked for him among my mother’s DNA matches. I found him, and fortunately, he had a public family tree. Since the connection is on his mother’s side, I investigated his mother’s ancestors. His maternal grandfather was from St. Mary’s County, Maryland. However, my eyes bucked when I observed that his maternal grandmother and her family were from Nelson and Amherst County, Virginia! My eyes also got even larger when I observed that one of his great great grandmothers was named Gabriella PENN.

In Observation 4 above, I explained that the wife of Edward Ware, who owned a plantation in Floyd County, Georgia, had married Wilson Penn’s daughter, Sarah Penn, before they moved from Madison County to Floyd County in 1822. Like the Ware Family, Wilson Penn was also originally from Amherst County, Virginia. He died in 1811, in a portion of Elbert County, Georgia that became Madison County later that year. Fortunately, I found Wilson Penn’s will and estate record on In his will, he instructed his wife and his executors to sell his land and estate for the benefit of his wife and their children. An inventory of his estate, taken on Jan. 9, 1812, contained the names and “value” of 13 enslaved people. One of them was named LUCY! She was “valued” at $400. Also, one of the executors of his estate was Edward Ware.

Source: Georgia, Wills and Probate Records, 1742-1992 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

THEORY 6: I don’t know if this was Grandma Lucy Edwards, but these findings open the gateway to further research of Georgia records for confirmations. She may be my Lucy, or she may be her mother, or she may be another family member, but the fact that there was a “Lucy” among Wilson Penn’s slaves, considering the aforementioned DNA and genealogical findings, renders this to be more than coincidental, in my opinion. 

Conclusion: These DNA and genealogical findings added more to the developing narrative of my Edwards family history. This was made possible because multiple members of the Edwards family have taken a DNA test and adhered to my recommendation of uploading their raw data files to GEDmatch. Additionally, all of the aforementioned DNA matches had a public family tree. As a result, we now know a little bit more about Grandma Lucy’s likely origins in northern Georgia. We now know with much certainty that our ancestral origins likely go back to the Amherst County, Virginia area, and by a forced migration, one or both of Grandma Lucy’s parents were likely taken to Madison County, Georgia, shortly before 1800. Somehow, William Edwards gained possession of her, either by a purchase or maybe as an inheritance, and she was transported to Henry County, Tennessee before 1817. Then by 1837, when she was around 40 years old, William Edwards moved her, Grandpa Luke Sr., and their children to Panola County, Mississippi, near Como. To add, quite possibly one of Grandma Lucy’s ancestors was an African from the Malagasy people of Madagascar. See Trekking the Edwards DNA Trail Back to Madagascar. Yes, I love this DNA stuff!