Our cousin Pat Raney told me that some years ago he and Uncle Paul attended a Raney/Rainey family gathering in, I believe, Kentucky, at which a man approached them with a genealogy chart showing our 3rd great-grandfather James Rainey (1814- before 1870) as a member of the Raney clan of Pulaski County, Kentucky, making him a brother to Aaron, son of James, grandson of Aaron Raney out of North Carolina, who had immigrated from Ulster. Since our 3rd great-grandfather James had married Millie Roberts in Pulaski County in 1832 and farmed acreage on Buck Creek until they removed to southern Indiana after 1850, our Raney men had no reason to doubt this claim. Distant cousins well met!
|Pulaski County, Kentucky|
But then a funny thing happened. Pat Raney eventually took a DNA test because all the Raineys and Raneys who received the Rainey Times newsletter (most of which is now online) wanted to sort out their relationships. And whaddya know - it showed that our family isn't related to the Aaron Raney family at all, even though they lived in Pulaski County during the same period. Our family had its roots in 17th and 18th century southside Virginia (a regional term I'd never heard while living in northern Virginia).
|County Antrim, Ulster, in red|
|Prince George County, Virginia|
In 1850 the U.S. census asked for the first time, "Where were you born?" James answered the census taker's question with "Kentucky." Maybe he'd never wondered where he was born and it was the best answer he came up with. Perhaps he mulled it over in the ensuring ten years, because in 1860, he answered, "Virginia." He wasn't alive for the 1870 census. And his children were no help. In the early 20th century, in their dotage, when asked by the census taker where their father was born, they named most southern states, Indiana, and even Missouri.
Last month I ordered the Ancestry.com DNA test kit and sent it to Cousin Pat. He spit in the vial and mailed it off. I felt I would learn more with a male Raney's DNA than with my DNA. The results have come into my Ancestry.com account. And it seems to have worked, at least to establish that, yes, we are descended from those early Raineys of Virginia - William's son Roger (b.1700 in Prince George County - d. 1747 in what became Surrey County) is indicated as a common ancestor with two other Ancestry.com clients who did the DNA test, but ascending up two separate lines to Roger, who had seven sons, and not up the line I'd cobbled together, which I'm unsure of. At least it shows we possess that common DNA I was hoping for.
|Surrey County, Virginia|
But back to James Rainey. I've begun to wonder if his father died early and his mother remarried and it was his stepfather who carried them to Kentucky. Maybe James really was born on the Kentucky/Virginia frontier. He was illiterate, so he didn't grow up in settled southside Virginia where he would have been able to get some education. His oldest son's name was Absalom, but the only Absolom Rainey I could find had died a couple of years before the baby was born, in Monroe County, Georgia (his probate apparently handled by a relative named William, but no other family discovered). And our Absalom wasn't born until three years after James and Millie married, so they might have lost children, whose names would have given hints of forebears' first names. [I've since discovered that Millie's brother was named Absalom, so obviously the baby was named for him.]
So, I will continue to dig because there are some stories I want to tell. In the meantime, Jay and I plan to spend most of October in the medieval town of York in Yorkshire and then drive up to Northumberland on the English-Scottish Border. Our Graham and Kerr ancestors came from that Border area.