In January of 2009, I was contacted by a fellow Godwin researcher I met at the NC State Archives. She wanted to know how to get involved in the Godwin Family DNA testing; she had found a male Godwin descendant who was willing to participate.
I was very excited and sent her off all of the testing details and told everyone that another piece to the puzzle was about to be solved. Her family actually contained a very important piece to the puzzle: she was descended from Nathan Godwin of Sampson County, North Carolina who died in 1821. Her Nathan Godwin is often mistaken for my own Nathan Godwin, born about 1774, who left Sampson County and moved to Randolph County, North Carolina about 1800.
Many researchers believe that her Nathan Godwin was the son of Jonathan and Rachel (Bullard) Godwin – however, I disagree. I have already started posting information about Jonathan Godwin – his estate file here and a deed between him and Abigail Lee here – in an effort to illustrate a strong relationship between Jonathan Godwin and my own Nathan Godwin.
DNA analysis would help us to determine which of the two Nathan Godwins was the real son of Jonathan and Rachel Godwin. First we would need to find a proven descendant of Jonathan and Rachel who has a paper trail, to compare our DNA to. Then we would need two additional samples – one from my colleague’s line and one from my own line. My family’s DNA has already been submitted and has matched up with 8 other NC Godwin lines. How exactly they are related is yet to be determined. I got my colleague to agree to submit her family’s DNA.
But then I remembered something: Although my colleagues’ ancestor was a male with the surname of “Godwin,” he was actually the son of Nathan Godwin’s daughter, Tressie Godwin. Tressie Godwin was cited in court for a total of 4 children she had out of wedlock, one of which was my colleague’s ancestor. So in a nutshell, we are not really sure who her ancestor’s father was. One of the men listed in Tressie Godwin’s court documents was a Godwin and one was a Draughton.
When finding family members to participate in DNA studies you must make sure that they are a true descendant of that surname. In this case, meaning their father must have been a Godwin. It is not enough that my colleague’s ancestor, Handy was a Godwin. He had been given his mother’s surname. We don’t know who his father was. Of course, if my colleague were interested in finding out who Handy’s father was, she could go ahead and get the DNA submitted and compare it against possible surnames (perhaps against the two other men mentioned in the court cases).
So now I need to locate another heir of the older Nathan Godwin’s line to compare my family’s DNA against in order to prove or disprove relation to him and/or to Jonathan and Rachel Bullard Godwin. In addition, we need to find a descendant of Jonathan Godwin and Rachel Bullard to compare to in order to determine if Nathan was a son of Jonathan and Rachel Bullard Godwin.