Friday, November 8, 2013

DNA Testing - My Closest Match Yet

My grandfather got a “close match” recently, falling between 2nd and 4th cousins on FamilyTreeDNA. Out of all eight kits that I manage, this is the first time I have seen a “close match.” I didn’t pay it much attention at first because the surnames he had listed were Davis, House, and Nix which I’ve found are common in just about every single one of my grandfather’s matches. But I kept it in my radar because his match also listed Missouri in his location list.

A couple of months went by and then I received an email from this match’s wife. She was proposing a possible connection based on some documentation she also sent to me. Her husband’s ancestor was Winnie Frances NIX Crafton. She wanted to know if it was possible that Winnie was the daughter of John NIX of Marshall County, Tennessee, and if so, did my Nix ancestor also happen to descend from the same John Nix.

The John NIX she referred to was enumerated on the 1870 Obion County, Tennessee Census Report.[1] According to the census report, John was 45 years old, placing his date of birth around 1825. Although relationships are not indicated on the 1870 census, it is implied that the next person in the list, Elizabeth Nix, is his wife. She was ten years younger, born about 1835 in TN. There were ten additional people listed in the household, including my ancestor, Dora G NIX, 6 years old, born approximately 1864 in TN. Also living in the household was a Winnie F NIX. According to the people who transcribed this census report, her name looked more like Minnie and was indexed as such. Someone made a correction to her name, though, and changed it to Winnie F NIX. Winnie F Nix was 13 years old, born about 1857 in TN.

1870 Obion Co., TN Census Report for John Nix

Here is an abstract of the above census report -

1870 Obion Co., District 3, TN census report:
21 July 1870 225/225
John Nix, 45 yo (b. abt 1825), TN
Elizabeth Nix, 35 yo (b. abt 1835), TN
Milton M Nix, 16 yo (b. abt 1854),  TN
Mary S Nix, 15 yo (b. abt 1855),  TN
Winnie F Nix, 13 yo (b. abt 1857),  TN [Indexed as Minnie] ← My match’s ancestor
John Robert Nix, 12 yo (b. abt 1858) TN
Minerva P Nix, 9 yo (b. abt 1861),  TN
Sarah I Nix, 8 yo (b. abt 1862), TN
Dora G Nix 6 yo (b. abt 1864),  TN ← My Ancestor
Tennessee F Nix 3 yo (b. abt 1867),  TN
Zilpha L Nix, 2 yo (b. abt 1868),  TN
Acy N Nix, 7 mo (b. abt 1870),  TN
NARA Film M593, Roll 1552, Page 91 (penned)

In 1860, John and Elizabeth NIX were living in Marshall County, Tennessee, which is located in the middle of the State of Tennessee. Evidently they moved “West” between 1860 and 1870 as Obion County, where they were enumerated on the 1870 census, is in the North Western part of the State. There are about 225 miles between Marshall and Obion Counties today.

According to the 1860 census [2], John NIX was 36 years old, born about 1824 in Tennessee. “Winnie” NIX was 3 years old, born about 1857 in Tennessee. My ancestor, Dora NIX, was not yet born. Monroe, Mary, John and Minerva were also living in the household along with his presumed wife, Elizabeth NIX. They were still living in the house on the 1870 Obion County, Tennessee census as well, so I’m certain these two families are one and the same.

1860 Marshall Co., TN Census Report for John Nix

Now you might be wondering how we were so sure that this was the right family for our Winnie and Dora Nix. Good. Because I did just that too. If you question your own work, that means others will question it too. And if that happens, then that just means you haven’t built a solid enough case to prove your point. And we don’t ever want that to happen, now do we? The key to conducting good research is to follow all leads. In this case, that means looking at the other family members.

My ancestor Dora Nix married to William or James Davis about 1882. To date I have not found any documentation of this marriage which probably took place in either TN or AR. The date of 1882 is estimated from the birth of their first known child, Lou Ella Davis. She was born either 1882 or 1884 in Hardy, Sharp County, Arkansas. Her date of birth is unclear because her death certificate says she was born in 1882 [3] and her headstone says she was born in 1884 [4]. But that’s a story for another day. Also, it is unclear what the name of Dora’s husband was because the death certificates of her two daughters had two different names listed - one said Bill Davis [5] and the other said James Davis [6]. I will eventually need to come back to this conflicting information and resolve it. But for now, let’s move on.

On February 12th, 1890, Dora remarried to William Carpenter in Sharp Co., Arkansas [7], with whom she had four more children, and they were enumerated together on the 1900 Sharp Co., Arkansas Census Report [8].

William Carpenter had also been previously married to a woman named Catherine Warren. Their daughter Ellenora Carpenter married Dora and Winnie Nix's brother John Robert Nix about 1880. They had six children before Ella Nora died in 1898. She was buried in the Old Baptist Cemetery in Ash Flat, Sharp Co., Arkansas along with her father William Carpenter, husband John Nix, and several children [9].

Did you catch the fact that Dora Nix's brother John married to Dora's step-daughter? Sigh. Well yeah, that's how things were done back then I guess.

Back to the DNA....

I gave you the story about Dora and John Robert who both moved from Tennessee to Arkansas, but what ever happened to their sister Winnie Frances Nix? Well we know that she got married and had children because one of her descendants came back as a DNA match to my grandfather. It just so happens that Winnie married to William Robert Crafton in 1871 [10]. They had six children together, all born in Tennessee. In fact my grandfather's match's family remained in Tennessee while my family remained in Arkansas. There is no indication that the families knew one another.

Before I learned about my grandfather's match, I had no information about his ancestor, Winnie Nix. After corresponding with his wife, however, I was able to fill in a good chunk of information about her and her family, thus expanding my tree out even further. This is the fun part about corresponding with your matches. I also learned that my grandfather and his match are third cousins once removed. This means they share the same set of 2nd great-grandparents. However, because they are "once removed," my grandfather's match has one more generation between them; therefore John and Elizabeth Nix are his 3rd great-grandparents. I have included their relationship report below:

Relationship Report between my Grandfather and his match

Family Tree DNA predicted they were 2nd to 3rd cousins, so an actual relationship of 3rd cousins, once removed falls right into line with that prediction. They share a total of 126 cM of DNA between them with the longest segment of 29.39 cM being on Chromosome 1.

I hope this blog post will help to encourage you to work with your matches and to keep digging for those common ancestors. More and more testees are being added to each of the three testing companies' databases each month. I know it is overwhelming at times, but finding a connection such as the one outlined in this post can be very rewarding!

I'd love to hear your success stories. Please feel free to leave a comment below or email me.

[1] 1870 US Federal Census, Obion County, Tennessee, population schedule, District 3, Troy and Union City, Page 91 (penned), dwelling 225, family 225, John Nix; digital image, ( : downloaded 24 September 2013); NARA Film M593, Roll 1546.
[2] 1860 US Federal Census, Marshall County, Tennessee, population schedule, District 12, Page 11 (penned), 105 (stamped), dwelling 92, family 75, John Nix; digital image, ( : downloaded 4 November 2013); NARA Film M653, Roll 1265, FHL Film 805265.
[3] Oklahoma State Department of Health, Death Certificate No. 10879, Ella Otten, 1 August 1947; Vital Records Service, Oklahoma City.
[4] Lou Ella Otten grave marker, Fairview Cemetery, Shawnee, Oklahoma, Photographed by Ginger Smith, researcher, November 2007.
[5] Death Certificate of Ella Otten, 1947.
[6] Los Angeles County, California, death certificate (22 March 1955), Oceola Clark; County of Los Angeles, Registrar-Recorder / County Clerk, Norwalk. (See her post here)
[7] Michael L Peters, grandnephew of Lou Ella Davis.
[8] 1900 US Federal Census, Sharp County, Arkansas, population schedule, Highland Township, enumeration district (ED) 119, page 44, William Carpenter; digital image, ( : accessed 08 November 2013 ); NARA Film T623, Roll 77.
[9] Old Baptist Cemetery, Ash Flat, Sharp Co., AR. Visited by author, May 2009. Also, see Find-A-Grave Memorial No. 21767505.
[10] 1910 US Federal Census, Houston County, Texas, population schedule, Justice Precinct 4, enumeration district (ED) 71, dwelling 112, family 112, William R Crafton; digital image, ( : accessed 23 October 2013); NARA Film T624, Roll 1565, FHL Film 1375578; William Crafton was listed as having been married 39 years which in 1910 would have put their date of marriage around 1871.

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