Tuesday, March 24, 2009

DNA Results - are we really SMITHS?

I uploaded my grandfather's DNA results to the Ancestry.com database last weekend. I had to create a new log in account in ancestry.com. This log in is a free account and does not have access to my family tree or to the paid subscription databases. I tried to invite this new log in to edit my tree under the original log in, however, I cannot get my new log in to recognize my tree that is saved under the original log in. Looks like I need to email the Ancestry.com folks again.

I got a few hundred matches again, like I did for my Godwin DNA test, with multiple surnames. There were even a few Smith matches in there too! My top match was to 3 Lee family men. They were 100% matches with a MRCA of 2. Translation: There is a 50% probability that we share a common ancestor in the last 2 generations! That probably goes up to 95% within only 13 generations. One of these LEE family DNA participants emailed me. So I emailed him back explaining my predicament....

On Mar 24, 2009 I wrote the following:
Actually I DO have a "Lee" family connection! See below under the 6th generation.

(1) Darrel Smith
(2) Claude Smith
(3) Claude Smith SR
(4) Preston Smith
(5) Richard Smith md. Martha Dunlap
(6) David Smith md. Sarah Gallymore

Here is where the confusion comes in. We have a Cherokee application affadavit that says "David Smith married a young Cherokee woman named Sarah Gallymore who was the daughter of Jinnie Gallymore, nee Lee, and her husband - the said James Smith." (I believe they were claiming Cherokee Indian from James Smith - not necessarily Sarah Gallymore).

This paragraph confused me because at first we assumed James Smith was the father of David Smith and that Jinnie Lee Gallymore was the mother of Sarah Gallymore. However, the statement that James Smith was Jinnie Lee Gallymore's husband contradicted that assumption.

Either way, it seems that there was much more of a paternal Lee influence on our family than we had originally thought. I asked my Lee DNA match participant to check if he had any documented Smiths in his tree. I'm kind of afraid of his answer. It seems to me that the error is possibly on our side and that we might not have been SMITHS afterall!

I can only imagine the impact this news might have on my family. We are not a big family, nor were we really very close knit. In fact, I only correspond with only 2 or 3 other "cousins" who are doing genealogy research. And why does it have to be a Lee family? That's just as common as Smith. Why couldn't the mistake have been made with a less common surname? And how did this happen anyways? Lee was supposed to have been Jennie Gallymore's maiden name. Did she marry another Lee cousin? Or was she married to a Lee before marrying a Gallymore? If this is true, was she married 3 times? First to Lee, then Gallymore, then to a Smith? So many questions. I can't even begin to imagine all the possibilities!

If anyone has any suggestions, please comment below.


  1. Usually when you see the last name followed by "nee" and then another last name, this means the first last name is what she is using now and the "nee" means that the other last name is the last name she used before she was married. So, in our case, Jennie Lee married a Gallymore. She could have married a Lee before the Gallymore or Lee could be her maiden name. Hard to tell without more research. The deposition we have does seem to indicate that she later married James Smith. I believe he was married before Jennie, if indeed they were married at all. In any event, Sarah/Sally Gallymore or Gilmore is really a Gallymore. And David Editon Smith is really a Smith. So no worries there. Ofcourse we can "flirt" with the idea that James Smith was not really a Smith at all. He may have had a Cherokee name and just chose the name "James Smith". I've considered this as a possibility. Because there is no doubt that at one time they lived among the Cherokee Nation and lived as Cherokees. So much research.

  2. I still will ride on the assumption that James Smith was a mixed-blood, mostly Cherokee man. I also believe that Jinnie Lee was a Cherokee woman. So, we have Cherokee blood from both of those lines. The deposition says that David Smith married a "Cherokee woman". So Sarah Gallymore was a Cherokee woman. However, the relationship between James Smith and Jinnie (Lee) Gallymore befuddles me still.