Wednesday, August 20, 2014

My Smith Family: putting Y-DNA to work!

I’m very excited to report on the progress of our Smith Y-DNA results!

The DNA Journey

As you are probably aware, researching the Smith Surname has its challenges. It is, after all, the most common surname in America! [1]

Smith number one surname in America - Smith is the No. 1 Surname in America

In order to gain insight into our Smith ancestry, my grandfather took the Y-DNA test back in 2005 with Family Tree DNA. He went several years without a single match. He transferred his results to a couple of years later and got a match to two people with different surnames. I found it very surprising that he had no matches to anyone with the Smith surname since the Smith Surname Project was boasting to have well over 2000 members at the time. I began to wonder if we really were Smiths after all.

Shocked Face

Then one day he got a couple of matches through – one to an A. Smith in Perry County, Kentucky and one to an M. Smith in Utah. Mr. M. Smith, however, claimed he was a Smith from an adoption that happened a couple of generations back. (I will come back to this later).

M. Smith was a missionary at the time that I contacted him, so he was unavailable to discuss our match further. I was able to exchange information with A. Smith from Kentucky though. Unfortunately, I was not able to find a connection. And how in the world were we able to find an exact match to a man in Kentucky at the same time as finding one to a man in Utah? These two locations are no where close to each other! 

Google maps - Kentucky to Utah
Google Maps – says it would take 27 hours to drive from Kentucky to Utah

The Genealogy

According to the 1850 Johnson County, Arkansas census report, my ancestor, Richard Smith, was living with his parents, David and Sarah Smith. David Smith was born about 1789 in Tennessee. His wife Sarah Smith was born about 1790 in TN. [2]

1850 Johnson County Arkansas Census Report
 1850 Johnson Co., AR census report showing David Smith and his family

The Cherokee Citizenship Application file of their daughter Sarah Smith Grider indicated that David’s
father’s name was James Smith and that he was a Cherokee Indian. It also listed her mother’s name as Sarah Gallymore, daughter of “Jennie Gallymore, nee Lee.” [3], [4]

According to my grandfather, Richard Smith was born about 18 December 1838 in Blue Springs Cove, Jackson County, Alabama. Unfortunately, I have been able to find any source to prove this and we have been unable to identify either a David Smith or James Smith living in Jackson Co., AL during the 1830s and 40s who fits our family.[5] You can check out my research endeavors in my Alabama Smith References blog post.

Here is a summary of what we are looking for:
·         James Smith born ca 1760
·         James Smith who was in TN about 1790 with a wife and new born son David Smith
·         James Smith who was a Cherokee Indian
·         James and/or David Smith who was in Jackson Co., AL between 1830-1840

The Y-DNA Bandwagon

Fast forward to the future and now we have 3 additional matches on the Y-DNA with Family Tree DNA. Unfortunately, has decided to throw away all of their Y-DNA kits, so unless my grandfather’s two matches from (M Smith and A Smith) transfer their results to Family Tree DNA before September 5th, we are out of luck in using their results to help us determine our Smith ancestry. We managed to get M Smith’s results transferred over, but still waiting for A Smith to make the transfer. In a way, Ancestry’s decision to shut down their Y-DNA support is actually beneficial to us in that now all of our Y-DNA results will be in one place (ftDNA), making management of the results much easier for the Project Administrators.

If A Smith transfers his results from Ancestry to Family Tree DNA, we will have a total of 6 Y-DNA results to compare and use in determining our Smith ancestry. Here is the breakdown of the Smith testees and their genealogies:

#s 1 and 2 are from Alabama
#s 3 and 4 represent the Mormon population, but they disagree somewhat on their origins from Kentucky
#s 5 and 6 are from Kentucky, but they too disagree somewhat

1.      Darrel Smith (my grandfather) - descends from David Edison Smith, b. abt 1789 in TN; was probably residing in Jackson Co., AL between 1830-1840; Was in Johnson Co., AR by 1850. His father was listed as James Smith on his daughter's Cherokee Application.

2.      Descendant of Patrick Smith, b. abt 1788 AL married a female Lindsay. Possible parentage from James Smith.

3.      Descendant of Thomas Smith and Leah Agee - (unproven - many people claim this is George Thomas Smith from NC but this testee disagrees with this)
1.      Richard Smith married to Diana Braswell - I believe this line moved to Utah?
He is the brother of James Agee Smith who moved to Utah and who is the ancestor of M Smith (# 4 below)

4.      M Smith – Descendant of John W Stephens, though he was given the Smith surname through adoption a couple of generations back. Here is what he claims his ancestry to be: [6]
1. Joshua Stephens
2. Hesekiah Stephens md Margaret Love; (Margaret married also to James Agee Smith)
3. Wm G Stephens md Susan Reynolds
4. John W Stephens*

Margaret was married to both Hesekiah Stephens and James Agee Smith
with Hesekiah Stephens, she had son Wm G Stephens
with James Agee Smith, she had son Thomas Washington Smith
Therefore Wm G Stephens and Thomas Washington Smith are HALF BROTHERS (same mother)

Supposedly, Wm G Stephens died, leaving his widow Susan Reynolds.
Thomas Washington Smith then marries Susan Reynolds who had 3 children with previous husband Wm Stephens. (he was also married to Sarah Bolen)
Thomas adopts the 3 children, thus giving them the Smith surname.
So M Smith is named as a Smith, but he claims he's really a Stephens.

However, he matches my grandfather and he matches to # 3 above!
I did some research and learned that Thomas W Smith was polygamous and was living with 4 wives in 1880.
·        I think that either Thomas Smith and Susan Reynolds really were the parents of John Stephens Smith 
·        James Agee Smith and Margaret Love really were the parents of Wm G Stephens.

5.      Descendant of William Smith and Elizabeth Eunice Ritchie – KY born and bred:
1. Willam Smith - Elizabeth Eunice Ritchie
2. Richard Smith b. 1771 KY - Alicia Combs
3. William Smith
4. William Med Smith, etc.

6.       Descendant of Samuel Smith and Eunice Joliff – KY born and bred:
1.      Samuel Smith and Eunice Joliff - He refutes # 5s line 1 above and claims William was NOT the father of Richard Smith. He has good proof that Samuel Smith was the father and that Eunice JOLIFF was the mother. I agree with his documentation and conclusions and wrote about them in my “Will of Richard Joliff” blog post on my Smith and Fox blog.
2.      Richard Smith, b. 1771 KY - Etiticia Combs - # 5 above had Richard’s wife as Alicia Combs


So it looks like the Y-DNA is matching up except two of these lines are arguing with each other :-) and the other two (David and Patrick) are kind of left out in the wind. I guess they decided they didn't want to go to Utah to become Mormons or stay behind in Kentucky arguing over whether their ancestor was Samuel or William (I have yet to find a shred of proof of William being said ancestor except that Richard named his first son William).

I am very excited by these results. Even though we have not yet tied these 3 lines together, I am confident that we will find the connection somewhere. Researching the Smith surname is hard enough, but adding James to the mix makes it even more challenging. 

These results are also helping me narrow my research focus in the following ways: 
  1. Looking for a connection between the Alabama Smiths (David and Patrick) and their Kentucky roots
  2. Looking for a connection between the Alabama Smiths (David and Patrick)
  3. Looking more closely at the records in Utah to solve the Smith-Stephens conundrum
  4. Looking for more Smiths to test in these 3 geographical areas

This is just a start! 

I'm sure you are wondering if we have started incorporating autosomal DNA to our research and the answer is YES! we are. The key to using autosomal DNA is ORGANIZATION. Check back for updates on this endeavor. 



[2] 1850 US Federal Census, Johnson County, Arkansas, population schedule, Horsehead Township, Page 268 (penned), dwelling 98, family 100, David Smith; digital image, ( : downloaded 2 May 2010); NARA Film M432, Roll 27.
[3] Cherokee Citizenship Application of Sarah Smith Grider, 1896, Arkansas, National Archives. Copies mailed to me by Mike Freels, 2008.
[4] Surprisingly enough, the surname of the two men that my grandfather initially matched to on the Y-DNA in was “Lee.”
[5] Personal correspondence with Darrel Smith, 2008. He said his date and place of birth were recorded in Richard Smith’s enlistment files but I have been unable to locate them.
[6] Mark Smith, [email withheld for privacy], to Ginger R Smith, grs3275[at], Email, “Smith DNA,” 15 April 2011.

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