The Jackson Purchase region of Kentucky is comprised of the eight westernmost counties - Ballard, Calloway, Carlisle, Fulton, Graves, Hickman, Marshall and McCracken. It is bordered on the west by the Mississippi River, on the north by the Ohio River, on the east by the Tennessee River and the state of Tennessee to the south. By Kentuckians it is generally referred to simply as "the Purchase".

Andrew Jackson and Isaac Shelby purchased the land lying west of the Tennessee River from the Chickasaw tribe and opened the area for settlement around 1820. Within the next few years, my grandfather's ancestors came there from Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee - the Beadles, Clapps, Pryors and Wingos settled in Graves County with the Reeves and Halls in neighboring Ballard County.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Identifying Our Morgan DNA

The search for the origins of our ancestor Charles Morgan who died in Warrick County, Indiana in 1832 has been ongoing for many years. The internet is full of theories of supposed family lineages none of which are verifiable. After participating in an autosomal DNA project several years ago, one of my primary goals has been to identify the location of our Morgan DNA by chromosome and segment. Until recently I had found no matches that appeared to descend from our Charles Morgan but several weeks ago, I found two descendants of his son Anthony who match my DNA and that of my two first cousins from this lineage on Chromosome 4. Once these Morgan descendants were identified, an entire block of matches that had previously been complete mysteries became probable candidates as descendants from either the Morgan family or an allied maternal lineage. This listing shows matches to myself and my cousins with the segments and size of the match as well as a notation of any known ancestral lines.

In a statement given when applying for a Revolutionary War pension, Charles Morgan stated that he was born 1757 in Fauquier County, Virginia and was living in York County, South Carolina by 1775 when first called into service. One of the most common theories is that Charles Morgan who died in Warrick County, Indiana was the son of Benjamin Morgan and Phoebe Settle of Fauquier County, Virginia who migrated to Wilkes County, North Carolina around 1770 and eventually to Tennessee where they died. A thorough search of the records of Wilkes County has produced proof that Benjamin's son Charles was still living in Wilkes County, North Carolina in 1780 when he married Ann Hall on the 21st of January 1780. This Charles Morgan has been identified in countless websites and family pedigrees as the son of Benjamin's brother John Morgan and Martha Settle, however, the deed records of Wilkes prove that to be incorrect. A 1784 deed from Benjamin Morgan to William Johnson for 300 acres includes as part of the legal description of the land that Benjamin Morgan was selling the phrase "along a line between Benjamin Morgan and his son Charles" (Deed Book A-1, p. 504). Various sources had identified all of the younger Morgan individuals in Wilkes County as children of John Morgan and Martha Settle, but there is no record that John Morgan ever lived in that county. The Capt. John Morgan who served in the Revolution from Surry County, North Carolina was a completely different person and never migrated to Tennessee, dying in Stokes County, North Carolina (formed from Surry). See a previous post regarding documented information for Benjamin and John Morgan along with errors in the online family pedigrees for the Morgan family in Sumner County, Tennessee.

Another of the primary theories of Charles' lineage identifies him as a son of Anthony Morgan of Brunswick County, Virginia who was a grandson of the earliest known ancestor of this family, Anthony Morgan of Glamorgan, Wales, who died in Old Rappahannock County, Virginia in 1688. The elder Anthony Morgan's son Charles was the father of Benjamin Morgan and his son Anthony the father of Anthony Morgan of Brunswick County. Numerous sites list Anthony Morgan's son Charles' date of birth as 1764 in Brunswick County which definitely disagrees with our Charles Morgan's stated date and place of birth. I have been unable to find any primary source to document a connection to Anthony Morgan. The theory appears to have been based upon proximity in York, South Carolina and the fact that Charles named a son Anthony.

In reviewing any lineages that could be found for the individuals who are matches on this segment of Chromosome 4, besides the two who descend from Charles Morgan's son Anthony, one appears to descend from Anthony Morgan of Brunswick County, Virginia and four are from Duncan families which may be related to the family of Ann Dunkin or Duncan, wife of Anthony Morgan (II) and mother of Anthony Morgan of Brunswick, Virginia. It has been suggested that Charles Morgan, born 1680, married an Ann Duncan but no reliable sources have been located for that assumption.

I am in hopes that more matches on this segment of Chromosome 4 will be forthcoming and can eventually definitely identify Charles' family. If you're reading this post, are a descendant of this Morgan family and have participated in an autosomal DNA project, drop me a note in the comments. And if you've uploaded your raw DNA data from Ancestry, 23andMe or FtDNA to GEDMatch where we can compare matches that would be excellent.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Pryors of Bourbon County, Kentucky

Joseph Pryor, Sr., son of Samuel Pryor and Prudence Thornton, settled in Bourbon County, Kentucky by 1810 when he was recorded in the census of that year. He had previously lived for some years in Botetourt County, Virginia where he is listed each year as a taxpayer from 1783 until 1792. By 1800 he is found on the tax lists in Woodford County, Kentucky before his move to Bourbon. Woodford County was formed from Fayette County in 1788 as was Bourbon in 1786. By 1810 Joseph was recorded in the census of Bourbon County. He wrote his will there on the 30th of December, 1812 and by February Court of 1813 he was deceased when his will was presented for probate.

There is much speculation on possible family connections between the various Pryor families who settled in Kentucky and Tennessee after the American Revolution although at present nothing has been found to document a connection. Joseph Pryor used some of the same given names that are common in our Pryor family of the Jackson Purchase descending from Richard and Mourning Thomson Pryor such as William, Joseph, John and Richard but we have no documented proof to connect the families. My two first cousins and I have numerous autosomal DNA matches to descendants of Joseph in Ancestry's DNA system but it is not as reliable as Y Chromosome DNA tests. The participation of Pryor individuals who descend from our Richard Pryor who died in Logan County, Kentucky in 1797 is needed to truly confirm the relationship.

Recently in the course of searching the wonderful collections of original documents at Family Search, I found scans of several original documents by Joseph Pryor and his sons which include their signatures. Original signatures are a great benefit to genealogical researchers especially since early American colonial families favored ancestral names and used the same given names repeatedly. It's wonderful to have scans of these signatures that help identify various individuals.

This 1810 consent to the marriage of his daughter Prudence to Robert Hall was signed by an elderly Joseph Pryor just two to three years before his death in early 1813. The consent also includes the original signatures of his sons John, Richard and Edward Pryor as witnesses.

Another interesting document found at Family Search is the following bond executed by Joseph Pryor (Jr.) and his brother John in November of 1815 to the Commonwealth of Kentucky when requesting a license to allow Joseph to keep a tavern in his house in Bourbon County.

If you're a male descendant of Richard Pryor and Mourning Thomson with the Pryor surname, please consider participating in the Pryor Y-DNA Project.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Beware of Ancestry "Historical" Records

This morning I accidentally encountered a marriage record for my 4th great grandfather Thomas Wingo which gave his bride as his sister-in-law, Sarah W. Rucker.

According to Ancestry's information regarding this database, the source of the information is as follows:
Source Information
Yates Publishing. U.S. and International Marriage Records, 1560-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2004.

Original data: This unique collection of records was extracted from a variety of sources including family group sheets and electronic databases. Originally, the information was derived from an array of materials including pedigree charts, family history articles, querie.

This database contains marriage record information for approximately 1,400,000 individuals from across all 50 United States and 32 different countries around the world between 1560 and 1900. These records, which include information on over 500 years of marriages, were extracted from family group sheets, electronic databases, biographies, wills, and other sources.
In other words, this information has been primarily taken from family group sheets, biographies and such, none of which would constitute a primary or desirable source.

The truth of this family connection is that Sarah Rucker was the wife of Thomas Wingo's brother John. Although not all Amelia County, Virginia marriage records are extant, Sarah, daughter of William Rucker, is documented as the wife of John Wingo in records of both Spartanburg County, South Carolina and Amelia County, Virginia.

Deed Book C, p. 289, Spartanburg County, SC
William Rucker for the heirs of Sarah Wingo, Dec'd This indenture made this 15th day of Sept and in the year of our Lord one Thousand seven hundred and Ninety Four - Witnesseth that I William Rucker of the State of South Carolina and the county of Spartenburgh do hereby give and bequeth unto the heirs of the body of my said daughter, Sarah Wingo, Deceased, one Negro woman by the name of Milly amd all the increase of her body to wit: Sim, Ben, Nan, Charles, Becky, Lewis, Rueben, Ady, and Morris. These at present in the keeping of John Wingo Junior in the State of Virginia and County of Amelia which negros I, William Rucker, never intended to dispose of in any other Way but to my said daughter and the heirs of her body for ever. Wherefore, I the said William Rucker do hereby authorize and Impower Sherwood Fowler to demand the said Negros above mentioned and to act in the behalf of the heirs of my said daughter deceased. Signed William Rucker

Deed Book 21, p. 59, Amelia County, VA
We the subscribers this Seventeenth Day of October 1797, Received of John Wingo Sr. of Amelia County two hundred and Thirty five Pounds seventeen shillings in negroes for which Negoes we the Subscribers do hereby agree that neither us or our heirs and will or shall ever put up or lay any claim or demand against the estate of the above mentioned John Wingo Sr or any part thereof. John Wingo Jr, Sherwood Fowler (for Mary Wingo Fowler), Abner Wingo, Churchill Wingo, Jane Wingo, Fanny Wingo Scruggs (Mrs. William Scruggs), Cyrus Seay (for Nancy Wingo Seay).

The maiden name of Sarah, the wife of Thomas Wingo, is unknown but autosomal DNA supports the belief that she was probably a member of the Joel Meador family of Amelia County. It is no small wonder that there is so much incorrect information across the internet regarding Sarah, wife of Thomas Wingo, Jr., when Ancestry is disseminating the false information as a historical record.

Friday, August 15, 2014


The Pryor DNA Project is working to find clues to the origins of our Pryor families. Most Pryors of western Kentucky are descendants of Jonathan and James Pryor of Graves County. After the revolution, their father Richard Pryor of Virginia moved his family to eastern Tennessee then to Logan County, Kentucky where he died in 1797. Countless Pryor researchers have searched Virginia records to locate Richard’s origins but to date there is no proof of a relationship to any of the Pryor individuals living in Louisa or Albemarle counties where he is known to have lived before migrating westward.

If you are a male descendant of James or Jonathan Pryor with the Pryor surname, your participation in the Pryor DNA Project could greatly benefit Pryor research. A Descendant of James Pryor would be especially important since James' father is listed as Richard Pryor on his death certificate and therefore documented.

Vanessa Wood creator of the Tennessee Pryors website and blog is also the coordinator of the Pryor DNA Project. With her permission, I am sharing her most recent blog post here:

Group 104 on the FTDNA Y-DNA results are Pryors who can trace their line to Matthew Pryor of Marion Co., TN and Granville Co., NC, some to Samuel Pryor and wife Prudence in Virginia, and others to more distant Pryors in CT.

This group is working with genealogist Laurie Scott to gather together solid documentation of this line and use DNA to prove relationships. This group is committed to the process and recently began the process of upgrading their Y-DNA tests to 111 markers to improve their ability to interpret the results. Their connection to one another is the most definitive of all the Pryor families who’ve tested through

Vanessa recently asked Laurie if they need more testers and offered to let folks know here on the blog. Yes, they have “wish list” of ideal testers. These testers aren’t just needed to prove what they already know about their line, but are needed to advance what they know.

Are you a male Pryor or have a male Pryor in your family who fits these wishes?

1. Bourbon County, Kentucky: Pryor male testers that claim lineage to a grandson of Joseph Pryor who died there in 1812. This will help one tester prove they are closer Y-DNA to another tester (this is needed to clarify relationships that are somewhat vague on paper). The tester needs to establish they are “grandson” of Joseph Pryor with original documents.

2. An ancestor in the wilderness of Kentucky or Tennessee before or just after the American Revolution. There were many. The wilderness was the western counties of VA and what is now WV, into OH and the parts of NC that became TN. Or those there by the first U.S. Census in 1790. More still were there. Not all were from Virginia originally. Testers will help this group and possibly other groups of Y-DNA testers in the Pryor Project.

3. Lineage to Samuel II, son of Samuel and Prudence; through a specific son. This will help the entire group. A male Pryor will need to identify which son he descends from.

4. Luke Pryor in their lineage. There were many. They are treated as one, but this group is discovering they were different men. Can you show which Luke you descend from by using only original sources? That rules out all those genealogy articles written in the 1880′s and early 1900′s — original sources are birth records, death records, military records, deeds, wills, etc.

Contact Vanessa through the TNPryors Websire or message through the Pryor Facebook page.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Jamestown Colonist Thomas Garnett

Jamestowne, established in 1607, was the first of the English colonies in America that endured the food shortages, indian attacks and countless other hardships to become a lasting settlement. The only earlier English colony had been Sir Walter Raleigh's ill fated 1585 settlement on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. The 115 colonists left at that settlement in 1587 had vanished when an expedition returned three years later to resupply the colony.

Settlement of Jamestowne
Recently I found that Thomas Garnett, the father of Sussan Garnett, sailed from the Port of London as a passenger on the ship Swan from June through August 1610 to the Jamestowne Colony. His daughter Sussan, born in Elizabeth Cittie around 1622, was the mother of Robert Foster, born about 1651 in Gloucester County and ancestor of the majority of the Foster families of Amelia County, Virginia which include our Mary Holt Wingo. The children of Thomas Wingo and Mary Holt were some of the earliest settlers to the Jackson Purchase. Thomas Garnett, his wife Elizabeth and baby daughter Sussan, survived the attack in 1622 by the Algonquin tribe who had become disenchanted with the colonists. The indians attacked the out plantations and killed over 300 of the colonists but a late warning saved Jamestowne.

Thomas Garnett may have come from Lancashire in England. English records show that there were Garnetts settled there from at least the 12th century and the parish records for the church at Kirkby Lonsdale, Lancashire show a Thomas Garnett, son of Robert Garnett, baptised there on the 14th of December 1585.

It appears that Thomas Garnett came to the American colonies as an indentured servant to Capt. William Powell. Tyler, Narratives of Early Virginia cites a conflict between Thomas Garnett and Capt. Powell from the record of the first meeting of the elected assembly at Jamestown on August 3, 1619:
Captaine William Powell presented a pettition to the generall Assembly against one Thomas Garnett, a servant of his, not onely for extreame neglect of his business to the great loss and prejudice of the said Captaine, and for openly and impudently abusing his house, in sight both of Master and Mistress, through wantonnes with a woman servant of theirs, a widdowe, but also for falsely accusing him to the Governor both of Drunkennes and Thefte, and besides for bringing all his fellow servants to testifie on his side, wherein they justly failed him. It was thought fitt by the general assembly (the Governour himself giving sentence), that he should stand fower dayes with his eares nayled to the Pillory, viz: Wednesday, Aug. 4thm and so likewise Thursday, fryday, and Satturday next following, and every of those dayes should be publiquely whipped.
The Virginia Colony
There is nothing to prove that the accusations made by William Powell against Thomas Garnett were true. Only William Powell who was known to be a drunkard and a gambler testified. Powell was also closely associated with the governor having been known to have lost his estate Chippokes, on the James River, in a card game with him.

In a "Muster of Inhabitants" taken in 1624-25, Thomas Garnett, aged 40, was living at Elizabeth City with his wife, Elizabeth, aged 26, who came in the ship Neptune in 1618, and their young daughter, Susan aged three. Elizabeth must have died sometime in 1624 because another census apparently taken later that year lists the wife of Thomas Garnett as Joyse Gyffith, age 20, who arrived in 1624 on the ship Jacob.

Whatever the truth of the conflict with William Powell, within fifteen years Thomas Garnett was no longer an indentured servant and had become a land owner in his own right. There is patent dated 3 July 1635 recorded in the Land Office at Richmond in Grant Book 1, page 201 from Governor John West granting 200 acres of land lying along the Little Poquoson Creek in Elizabeth City County to Thomas Garnett. The land was granted to Thomas Garnett for transporting four colonists to Virginia at his own expense for which he received 50 acres each.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

JP Ancestors in the Court of Henry VIII

As unbelievable as this sounds, I have recently discovered that the documented ancestors of Sarah Loy who married John Isaac Clapp and Sarah M. Rozzell, wife of Lewis Yancey Beadles, Jr., the daughter of Thomas Rozzell and Nancy Abernathy, were in fact descended from Sir Thomas Boleyn through his daughter Mary Boleyn. Several years ago a movie The Other Boleyn Sister was made about Mary, but her sister Anne, second wife of Henry VIII and mother of Queen Elizabeth I, is the most famous of the two sisters.

Mary Boleyn
Both of these Graves County families descend from Christopher Tilghman and Ruth Blount who are documented as coming to the American colonies in 1638. Sarah Loy, the daughter of George Loy and Mary Catherine Tillman (Tilghman) descends from Christopher's son Gideon while Sarah M. Rozzell descends from his son Roger Tilghman.

The great granddaughter of Mary Boleyn and William Carey of Aldenham, and mother of Ruth Blount was Penelope Devereux. The history of this family is filled with the intrigues of the courts of both Henry VIII and his daughter Queen Elizabeth I. Mary Boleyn is recorded as having had an affair with the king before her sister Anne became his second wife and the mother of Elizabeth.

Lady Penelope Devereux, although married to Robert Rich (3rd Baron Rich), had an affair with Charles Blount, Baron Mountjoy. Lady Penelope and Charles Blount are documented as having had four children, one of whom was Ruth. Penelope's brother Robert Devereax, the Earl of Essex, a favorite of Queen Elizabeth was eventually tried and sent to the Tower of London where he was executed. After Devereux fell from favor with the Queen, Lord Rich divorced Penelope in 1605. Prior to the divorce, Lord Rich threw Penelope and her Blount children out of the house. She then began living in his house and having a very public affair with Mountjoy. After Queen Elizabeth's death when James I became King of England, he created Mountjoy the 1st Earl of Devonshire.

Once divorced, Penelope and Mountjoy requested to be married in order to legitimize the children but King James I refused. They did marry in a private ceremony performed by Mountjoy's chaplain but afterward were banished from court by King James.

The above photos of paintings depicting Penelope's parents, Walter Devereux, 1st Earl of Essex and her mother Lettice Knollys make the disparity of their lives and that of their descendants, our Jackson Purchase ancestors, extremely apparent.

It was not uncommon for young men from well to do families like Christopher Tilghman to leave England and settle in the new colonies. The English practice of primogeniture which is the right of the firstborn child to inherit the family estate was the law or custom at the time of the settlement of the American colonies. Many younger sons who were left to make their own way chose to seek their fortunes in the New World. Here they could own vast tracts of land and become affluent as they never could have in England.

I love genealogy but it has never been my aim to find titled or famous ancestors, this information came to me recently from another researcher who called to my attention the identity of the parents of Ruth Blount (sometimes called Devonshire). It is still amazing to me that these are my ancestors and not just the subjects of history books and PBS series.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My 5th Great Grandmother Sarah

Sarah was the grandmother of Jerman J. Wingo who settled the town of Wingo, in Graves County, Kentucky. She married Thomas Wingo, Jr. around 1757 and by 1765 she was a young widow with four small children. There are no clues to Sarah's surname and the identity of her family although they were surely neighbors of the Wingo family in Amelia County, Virginia living among the families between Flatt Creek and the Appomatox River.

Various family trees online, particularly on list Sarah as Sarah Rucker, but that is incorrect as Sarah Rucker was the wife of Thomas Wingo's brother John. This is substantiated by a court case following Sarah Rucker Wingo's death around 1780. In 1791 her father, William Rucker, executed a deed of gift to the heirs of his deceased daughter. The disputed slaves Milly and her children Sam, Ben, Nan, Charles, Becky, Lewis, Rueben, Edy and Moses were still in the possession of John Wingo, Sarah's husband, as late as 1797. A settlement was finally negotiated between John Wingo and his children wherein they received the slaves given by their grandfather and agreed not to make any claims or demands against the estate of John Wingo. (Amelia Co., VA; Book 9; Page 275; Probate records; 22 Nov 1821)

Sarah is also listed as Sarah Foster in many online family trees which is probably the result of some confusion because she married John Foster the son of William Foster of the Stock's Creek area in Amelia County after Thomas Wingo, Jr.'s death. In 1779, Sarah's son Obediah was listed as a tithe of John Foster and in 1782, Thomas Wingo was. This indicates that it was Sarah and John Foster who raised Thomas Wingo, Jr.'s children, not his brother John W. Wingo as some speculate. It is not impossible that Sarah was the daughter of one of the other Foster families in the area but much research has failed to identify a family with a daughter Sarah who was of the right age and available to have been the wife of Thomas Wingo and William Foster's son John.

Over the last 30 years, I have researched many of the Amelia County neighbors of the Wingo family searching for a family that might have been Sarah's. Richard Borum's 1785 Amelia County will named a daughter Sara Foster, but no records can be found that definitely identify Sarah Borum and the Foster family she married into. Colonial Amelia County is filled with countless families like Meador, Burton, Worsham and Seay which are all names I see repeatedly in autosomal DNA matches but have no documentation of any family connection. For now I'll just keep researching each of the neighboring families as I find a DNA match and maybe someday I'll find Sarah.