Sunday, December 31, 2017

Peter Whittinghill (1752-1844) - Ancestor of Mysterious Origin

Shenandoah Valley

When I read family traditions regarding an ancestor, I'm reminded of an Antiques Roadshow episode years ago when a woman produced a large decorative teapot and proclaimed, "This came over with my ancestors on the Mayflower in 1620." The host intoned, "Madam, the teapot didn't arrive in Britain until the early 1700s." Then turning it over to read the mark, he added, "And yours was made in England in the 1880s." You should have seen her face fall. 

The descendants of Peter Whittinghill (c.1752-1844) (our 5th great-grandfather) had numerous family traditions about his origins.

From the 1987 revision of Michael L. Cook's The Whittinghill Family in America:  "(1) One family legend is that he was kidnapped and impressed as a seaman on a ship sailing to America in 1770, at the age of eighteen, and upon landing in Virginia (or Pennsylvania), he escaped. [H]e either assumed a fictitious name in order to escape his abductors, or . . . was illiterate . . . and with an accent, the name sounded like Whittinghill . . . (2) . . . Peter was a stowaway on a ship sailing to this country, and the captain discovered him en route, grew fond of him, and sponsored his entry into the state of Pennsylvania where he took the name Whittinghill for safety. . . But the family favorite was (3) . . . Peter Whittinighill was a Hessian soldier, transported to this country by the British . . . he changed his allegiance and joined the colonists in their bid for freedom in the American Revolution." The author, however, found no similar name in German records of Hessian mercenary troops.

The first white settlements in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, lying west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, were not a result of the Virginia Tidewater Europeans spreading plantation life west, but founded by Pennsylvania German and Scots-Irish Borderers, who had originally immigrated to Pennsylvania Colony. They moved south down the Great Wagon Road from western Pennsylvania into the Valley of Virginia, trickling in during the 1730s, then at an accelerating speed into the 1750s and until the American Revolution.  
Augusta County, Virginia (originally covering more territory than now, much of it in present-day West Virginia)

And here I should tell you that Peter Whittinghill married
Catherine Gabbart (Gerbert Gabbad Gabhardt Gabhart) (1750-1830) (our 5th great-grandmother) about 1778 in the part of Augusta County, Virginia, that later became West Virginia, and that he was closely associated, perhaps even before the marriage, with our 6th great-grandparents, Mathias and Christina Gabbart, who operated a grinding mill. Peter may have apprenticed with the Gabbarts, for he, too, became a miller. 
Mathias Gabbart was born in 1720 in Schwaigern, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, to Johann Fredrich (1699-1750) and Susanna Gabbart (1692-1736), our 7th great-grandparents. He immigrated at age eleven with his parents and siblings in 1731, landing in Philadelphia, and later moving to Lancaster, Pennsylvania. 
Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
Even though Mathias moved down to Virginia in the 1750s, I suppose we can say we're descended from a Pennsylvania Dutch family since his parents must have died in Lancaster County. Mathias had four sons and nine daughters with Christina Bumgardner (Kremer). He died on July 3, 1798 in Augusta County at age 70. Christina also was born in Schwaigern, Baden-Württemberg, Germany (1725) and arrived in Philadelphia perhaps on the same ship in 1731. She had three children from a first marriage and 13 children with Mathias. She also died in 1798, which makes me think influenza, yellow fever or another pestilence took them. We know Mathias was in Augusta County by 1769 when he purchased 150 acres in Beverly Manor from the son of the first settler, Robert Young (an immigrant from County Antrim, (Northern) Ireland). As I mentioned earlier, at this time most of the settlers in Augusta County were Scots-Irish and German Protestants from the Palatinate along the Rhine River. You will recall that our other line of German ancestry, the Utterbacks (Otterbach), had earlier settled in Germanna,Virginia. Read about it HERE

Well, back to Peter Whittinghill, who was most likely German-speaking and most likely migrated south out of Pennsylvania with the Gabbarts, apprenticed to Mathias as a miller. He married Mathias' oldest daughter Catherine Gabbart about 1778. 
Mill built in early 19th century in Rockbridge County, Virginia

Peter Whittinghill's first known land purchase was in Rockbridge County (formerly part of Augusta). As a grantee, he was "Peter Whittingham." When he sold the property a few years later, he was "Peter Whittinghill." 

Rockbridge County, Virginia

This we know is true. Peter served in the American Revolutionary War on behalf of the colonies in the Virginia Riflemen, 2nd Division, Virginia Militia, but not necessarily well. In Augusta County, on October 22, 1778, he was charged (spelled on the paperwork as Peter Wittenhill) for being absent without leave from Captain John Young's Company, and not appearing at a private muster on September 4, 1778 (along with a number of other militiamen), and summoned to appear at the next meeting of the military court held under Colonel Sampson Mathews. Read about Mathews HERE. Peter had recently married - a reasonable excuse for not showing up, I'm sure. But he additionally failed to muster six more times through 1782. The militia was so desperate for men, he probably was only fined for his repetitive breaches of proper military conduct. Because he was present and accounted for during the entire year of 1781, he likely participated in the Battle of Richmond early in the year against Benedict Arnold and the Siege of Yorktown in October. He might have witnessed Cornwallis' surrender. He never applied for a pension, and the militia roster appears lost; so these AWOLs are our only proof that he fought for his new country.
Surrender of Cornwallis by John Trumbull

Peter Whittinghill first appeared on the Augusta County tax list in 1779. During the following two decades he and his father-in-law Mathias would purchase land, build a mill, operate it for a few years and then sell it - at a profit, I expect.  They stayed in business together until about 1796. By 1797 or 1798 when their last daughter Jane was born, Peter and Catherine were already "bound away for Kentuk." Mathias and Christina died in Augusta County in 1798.
Mercer County, Kentucky
The 1810 census shows Peter, Catherine and their children in Mercer County, apparently with some of Catherine's siblings and possibly neighbors. Peter built and operated a mill. It may have been on the Kentucky River, which flows from south to north through the county on its way to the Ohio River.
Kentucky River Watershed

By 1816 they were in Ohio County, Kentucky, where daughter Elizabeth (Whittenhill on the marriage certificate) (1794-1859) and William Erwin (1790-1855) married and became our 4th great-grandparents. Perhaps Peter built a mill on the Green River.
Green River, Ohio County, Kentucky
Sometime before the 1820 census, Peter got an itchy foot and they  loaded barges with their household goods, livestock and grinding stones (or maybe sold the mill and left them) and poled down the Green River to the Ohio, then up it a short way to Spencer County, Indiana, because Indiana, admitted to the Union in 1816, was the place to be.
Green River Watershed

Some of their children went with them but, now adults, they established their own homes there. Peter and Catherine were living alone in the 1820 census. In the1830 census they were in Grass Township, Spencer County.

Spencer County, Indiana
Catherine died in 1830 and on 1 June 1831, Peter moved a few miles north, purchased nearly 80 acres of land and built a corn-cracking mill at Gentryville, Spencer County, a year after Abraham Lincoln, who grew up just outside Gentryville, left for Illinois. Did he ever see the gawky young man rambling along the road? Lincoln returned to give a speech in 1844, the year Peter died in neighboring Warrick County.

Peter does appear in the History of Warrick, Spencer and Perry Counties, published in the 1885; he was noted for having operated a grist mill in Spencer County. "The corn-cracker was turned by a sweep, each man hitching on his horse or oxen to grind his own grain and afterward turning the bolt by hand." Peter's son,William Whittinghill (1795-1850) is mentioned for having "caught a large black wolf across the line in Warrick County, and brought it over to Gentryville, where it was disabled and made to fight the dogs. It could lick any of them singly. Whittinghill tanned deer, wolf, bear and other skins at his tannery." 

Peter was buried at the Samuel Gentry Burial ground, NW of Folsomville, in Owen Township. This cemetery is on land now largely strip-mined by the coal industry; a remnant of the cemetery  lies on a knoll, part of it fallen into a pit. Only a few eroded sandstone markers remain. 

Pleasant Whittinghill (1826-1907), a grandson, served in the Mexican War.  

Benjamin F. Whittinghill, another grandson (1838-1910 ) served in the Union army, Company I of the 53rd Regiment, Indiana Volunteers, and saw much action with Grant. He was ordered with 31 others to charge across a field during the Battle of Kenesaw Mountain outside of Atlanta in 1864. Fourteen were killed or wounded and Benjamin, with two others, was captured.  His two companions died in the Confederate prison and when he was released, he was so emaciated from ill-treatment and starvation, he could hardly walk.

A granddaughter of Peter, remembering him in her 80s, recalled that he was very old and still had an accent from "the old country." What country that was, we'll never really know.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Our Earliest Indiana Ancestors - The Erwins and Whitinghills: Part 1

America in 1820

Our earliest ancestors to settle in Indiana were the Erwins and the Whitinghills in 1818. 

But first, we'll revisit our 2nd great-grandmother, Nancy Jane (Dougan) Rainey (1847- c.1876), our 2nd great-grandfather Everett Rainey's wife, who died in a kitchen fire with their daughter Sarah (b. 1867). Because Everett remarried in March 1877 to Polly Ann Early, I thought Nancy and Sarah died only a few months earlier and Everett had to find a wife to care for our great-grandfather James Samuel (1868-1954) and his sister Cordelia (1872-1918) while Everett farmed. I looked in vain for a report of their deaths in The Jerome Observer, a weekly newspaper published in a nearby county, which had a gruesome column titled "Haps and Mishaps" that detailed tragic deaths. I searched only the cooler months of 1875 and 1876 because Pat Raney recalls hearing that little Sarah was making hot chocolate for her father and brother when her dress caught fire. But he farmed next to where his mother lived, so she most likely cared for the children until he remarried. You can refresh your memory on the awful event HERE.

Nancy Jane Dougan's and her brother Peter's mother was Mary Ann "Polly" Erwin (1817-1850), first wife of their father Samuel B. Dougan (1820-1870). You'll recall that the Dougans immigrated from County Donegal in the early 1700s to Pennsylvania, then down to North Carolina Colony in time to fight in the American Revolution. After the war some Dougans migrated into Tennessee and northern Alabama before heading up to Dyer County in western Tennessee (to settle on a Dougan Revolutionary War veteran's land grant), and finally up into southern Indiana by about 1830. 
Dyer County, Tennessee
Samuel B. Dougan (1820-1870), our 3rd great-grandfather, and Charles Carl Dougan (1816-1896) were apparently brothers (as a descendant of Charles Carl recently informed me through She also says it's her family's tradition that they were orphans, taken along on the Dougan migration to Tennessee and Indiana. I was uncertain on the identities of their fathers or, as it turned out, father. Whatever their Dougan lineage, after moving up to Indiana with the Dougan clan, they each married an Erwin. 
Warrick County, Indiana

In 1842 in Warrick County, Mary Ann "Polly" Erwin (1817-1850), our 3rd great-grandmother, married Samuel, and her niece, Sarah Elizabeth Erwin (1843-1917), later became Charles Carl's 2nd wife. But that's not all.  In those days Polly was a nickname for Mary and earlier another Mary "Polly" Erwin (1812-1886), our Polly's aunt, married a Dougan uncle or cousin named Samuel A. (allegedly for "Alabama") Dougan (1810-1862). These pairings caused me no end of frustration as I tried again and again to marry the correct Erwin women to the correct Dougan men in my tree. And wouldn't you know that in the 1850 censuses, both Samuel B. and brother Charles Carl had daughters named Nancy. Eventually I noticed that Charles Carl's daughter was Nancy E. Dougan and Samuel B. Dougan's daughter was Nancy J. Dougan. And that's when I realized Samuel B. Dougan was our 3rd great-grandfather. After Polly's death in 1850, Samuel remarried and had numerous children. 
Our 3rd great-uncle Peter Dougan

 By 1860 when he was 15, Polly's son Peter Dougan (1845-1922) was farmed out to John Erwin, his uncle. He married Sarah Jane Bass in 1863, and then enlisted with Company I Indiana 42nd Infantry Regiment on March 8, 1864, was promoted to Full Corporal and Mustered out on May 17, 1865.

Sherman T. Dougan, son of Samuel B. Dougan from his 2nd marriage. I wonder if he looked like his dad. He resembles his half-brother Peter.
Turning now to the Erwins. Polly Erwin's parents were William Erwin (1790-1855) and Elizabeth Whitinghill (1794-1859), our 4th great-grandparents. 

William Erwin was born in 1790 in Virginia. Based on the 1810 census, he may have been living in Henry County, Kentucky, with his parents, Joseph Erwin (5th great-grandfather) and an unknown mother. 
Henry County, Kentucky

He married Elizabeth Whittinghill in Ohio County, Kentucky, on 10 Dec 1816. 
Ohio County, Kentucky

They had Polly, their oldest, in Kentucky before moving to Warrick County, Indiana, in 1818, our earliest ancestors to settle in Indiana, where they had four more children. William Erwin died in 1855 at age 65. It's through his son John Erwin that we learn a bit about the family. 

 A History of Warrick, Spencer and Perry Counties, Indiana was published in 1885 by Goodspeed Bros. Co. It published the histories of many American counties, sending out salesmen to approach prominent county officials, businessmen and farmers, obtain family biographies and solicit subcriptions for each county history. It was in a way a vanity scam, just as present-day Who's Who in America books are, but those old books became a boon to researchers. William Erwin's son and Polly's younger brother John (1820-1892) was approached. Perhaps he was shown his family's name in the Lane Township history already printed.
Among the first substantial settlers in this township the Gentry family occupies an important place. Among the first was William Gentry, who came in 1821, and Matthew Gentry in 1822, both from North Carolina. They located on land not far from the village of Folsomville, and were for years prominent in county affairs. The first purchase of land in the township was in 1820, when William Erwin became the owner of eighty acres in Section 33. . . .

John must have been shown not only his father's name, but that of his maternal uncle David Whitinghill, son of his grandfather Peter Whitinghill.
Lane Township is the one last organized of any in the county [out] of Owen Township. It was named in honor of Gen. Joseph Lane, one of America's illustrious men, who was at one time a resident . . . . Prominent among its early settlers was William Scales ... Stephen Hanby, David Whitinghill . . . 

Then the salesman would have asked for John Erwin's family history to be added to the book . . . and how many subscriptions would he like for himself and as gifts for family members. This is what appeared about our 4th great-uncle:

John Erwin, farmer and stock-raiser, was born in Owen Township, in this county and State, May 24, 1820, and is the second of six children born to the marriage of William Erwin and Elizabeth Whitinghill, who were natives respectively of Virginia and Pennsylvania. William Erwin came to Warrick County, Ind., at the early year of 1818, and the county never knew a more loyal citizen. He died in 1855. John Erwin received his education from the old-fashioned log-schoolhouse of that day, and until twenty years old assisted his parents on the home farm. September 17, 1839, Mary J. Carnahan became his wife, and by him the mother of five children named Minerva, Sarah E., Nancy E., John F., and Mary. He was married to his second wife, who was formerly Alice Bethell, April 15, 1859. Mr. Erwin began life's battle a poor boy, and by industry and good management has secured a comfortable home and valuable property. Although a Democrat of the stanchest kind, he is by no means an office seeker. Notwithstanding he has served over eight years as Trustee of Lane Township, and over two years as County Commissioner, in each office serving his constituents with fidelity and credit.
Pretty heady stuff.
 In my next blog I'll tell you about Elizabeth Whitinghill Erwin's  father Peter Whitinghill (1752-1844) (our 5th great-grandfather), and the mystery regarding his origins.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

What Did Our Ancestors Die Of?

Frank and Mary Raney, June 1960: their 50th wedding anniversary

 Death certificates were instituted early in the 20th century, filled out by the attending physician. I'm sharing my curiosity on the cause-of-deaths of our direct ancestors and their siblings. Are any causes hereditary? You be the judge.

 Death certificates are not available online within a certain number of years since death, depending on the state, so I can't see our grandfather Frank Whitman Raney's cause of death. I was living back east when he died in October 1969, but recall Mom saying that it was liver failure. He began itching all over, put himself in the hospital and never came out. If anyone remembers a different cause of his death at age 82, please mention it in the comments section.
Mary Raney on her brother Gusta Smith's and sister Laura Smith's farm in Addie, Washington

We know that Grandma Mary Raney was 97 when she died in May 1979 . Her lungs filled with fluid as I recall. She was a tough woman and we should all hope to live so long. 

Grandma's brother Gusta Smith died in 1965 at 89. He'd had dementia for a number of years.

Grandma's sister Laura Smith died in 1955 at age 67 of a stroke. It was an instant death.
James Samuel Raney, Laura Esther Raney and Nancy Ann Dyson Raney.

Our great-grandfather, James Samuel Raney, died in 1954 at Deaconess Hospital in Spokane a few days after surgery (not certain for what) of "hemorrhage and irreversible shock" with an underlying "diabetic coma." He was 86. 

His wife, our great-grandmother, Nancy Ann Dyson Raney, died in 1938 in Indiana at age 71 of "hemipligia in left side" after a duration of 8 days. Hemipligia is a total or partial paralysis of one side of the body resulting from disease of or injury to the motor centers of the brain. I assume she had a stroke.

Their daughter and Grandpa's sister, Laura Esther Raney Straw, died in 1954 at age 51 of a "ruptured aneurysm in the circle of Willis" [a complete ring of arteries at the base of the brain that is formed by the cerebral and communicating arteries and is a site of aneurysms]. She lived 10 minutes after onset.
[Scroll over] Other than Whitman Hill Dyson far left and James and Nancy Ann Dyson Raney holding Laura Esther, I have no idea which are Dyson siblings and which spouses. 1902

Here are a few of our great-grandmother, Nancy Ann Dyson's Indiana siblings. Magaret Ellen Dyson Butler (1861-1944): 10 years of "pulmonary tuberculosis," but it was the "influenza followed by 10 days of bronchial pneumonia" that did her in  Lou Ann Dyson Leach (1866-1943): 17 years of arthritis; 10 days of "bowel impaction" that caused [indecipherable word], so her death remains a mystery. Sarah Dyson Bass (1865-1940): "Sarcoma of liver" [cancer]. Duration: long. Our great-grandmother's half-brothers are next. Willard Dyson (1879-1936): "Coronary thrombosis"; Leonard Dyson (1900-1977): "Heart disease" for 5 years followed by "acute pulmonary edema" for 12 hours; John Whitman Dyson (1897-1971); "Acute pancreatitis; renal cyst right kidney;" Joseph Alva Dyson (1891-1970): 10 years of "generalized arteriosclerosis," followed by 2 days of "cerebral thrombosis" [stroke]. Their father, our great-great grandfather, Whitman Hill Dyson, having married three times, died in 1914 at age about 80, but we don't know the cause of death, most likely because he died at home.
Gusta, Laura, Louisa Petitjohn Smith and Eugene Smith
Our grandmother Mary Smith's father, Eugene Smith, died at age 79 in 1928 in Spokane, but I don't know what he died of and can't retrieve online the actual death certificate. He was always sickly and suffered from migraines. Her mother, Louisa Pettijohn Smith (1849-1931) died at her home in what is now the Spokane Valley from cancer. She suffered a lingering death with only the occasional spoonful of laudanum to fleetingly suppress the pain. The unlicensed French immigrant doctor said it was cancer of the spleen (Mom snorted in derision when she told me this bit), but my guess is that it was some other internal cancer. If it had been breast cancer, I think there would have been some sign of it. Another death certificate I'm unable to retrieve online. 


Regarding our great-grandmother Louisa Pettijohn Smith's siblings: Charles Francis Pettijohn (1844-1921): The newspaper obituary states he died of nephritis [kidney disease] at age 77 in Kansas.  As for her other brothers, Jean Claude Petitjean (1847-1928) (who kept the original spelling of their surname) died at age 81 in Ohio; Jules Pettijohn (1856-1951) died at age 95 at his home in Kansas in 1951.

Indiana makes death certificates available online, so here are some collateral relatives who died in the 20th century. Elizabeth Rainey Heath (1850-1924), sister to our great-great grandfather Everett Rainey, died of "cardiovascular nephritic" syndrome [kidney disease].  Another sister, Serena Rainey Mason (1847-1923) died of "influenza" with am underlying cause of "infirmity of old age." She was 76. 

Their sister, Cordelia Ann Rainey Barrett (1842-after 1920), died at the poor farm at age 78 or older, so no telling the cause. Everett's brother, Absolom Rainey (1833-1907) died of "cerebro meningitis" with an underlying cause of "chronic nephritis." As for our great-great grandfather Everett Rainey (1844-1899), the measles and other viruses and infections he contracted during the Civil War affected him for the rest of his life; he grew so weak he was unable to farm and died an invalid at age 56, exact cause unknown. Everett's first wife, our great-great grandmother Nancy Jane Dougan Rainey, died in a house fire in the 1870s.  Her brother Peter Dougan (1845-1922) died of "mitral [valve] regurgitation"[blood leaking back into the heart] with an underlying cause of "chronic parenchymatous nephritis."

Peter Dougan

It appears there was a lot of kidney disease in the family at end of life.  A number of ancestors and their siblings died in youth and middle age before death certificates were issued . Was there cancer down the family lines that claimed some of them? We'll never know.  You may have found this blog dismal, but I feel that knowledge makes us wiser . . . for what it's worth.


Thursday, November 2, 2017

DNA and Our Granmother Mary Raney's Jewish Roots

Jewish Quarter, Girona, Spain

 DNA - it can give you a jolt. I think I've discovered our Grandmother Mary Raney's ethnic origins - a couple of bloodlines, anyway.  And may I say that her ancestors were living cultured lives while our grandfather's British ancestors were leading a rather barbaric existence. 
Jewish Quarter, Ribadavia, Spain
 I have the DNA results of Pat Raney, male child of Paul Whitman Raney, and of Jack Raney, male child of Dennis Patrick Raney. Paul and Dennis were sons of Frank Whitman Raney and Mary Emma (Smith) Raney, who was descended from French families from the Franche Comté in eastern France.
If you are Pat Raney's siblings, your descent is 45% Western Europe; 35% Great Britain; 8% Scandinavia; 3% Iberian Peninsula (Spain/Portugal); 2% European Jewish; 2% Ireland, Scotland, Wales (which I interpret as early Celtic); 1% Europe South; less than 1% Middle East.  Paul's wife Grace Bernhardt was of Austrian descent.

If you are Jack Raney's siblings, your descent is 50% Great Britain; 35% Scandinavian (specifically Eastern Norway); 3% Western Europe; 2% Finland/Northwest Russia; 2% European Jewish; 1% Ireland, Scotland, Wales (Early Celtic); 4% Europe South; 2% Caucasus, less than 1% Iberian Peninsula. Dennis's wife Junice Moe was of Norwegian/Finnish-Russian and British descent.

A couple of years ago I took the National Geographic DNA test, which is more general and, because I'm female, gave only my maternal results - for Geneva Raney, sister of Paul and Dennis. It indicated 69% Great Britain and Ireland, 20% southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy, or Greece), 5% Scandinavia, and 4% Asia Minor (modern Turkey, Israel, etc).

I've read that ethnic strains of DNA can be different in siblings, stronger in one, weaker in the other.  No doubt it's even more evident in cousins trying to parse out the ethnicity of their ancestors.

It's difficult to isolate 25% of DNA origin in Pat and Jack for our grandmother, Mary Raney. We know her parents were descended from farmers in the Franche Comté. Here is my speculation:

Someone in Mary Raney's ancestry was a Spanish converso - a Jew who was forcibly converted to Catholicsm, perhaps in the late 14th century (or voluntarily converted for the convenience of not being expelled from Spain in 1492). Recall that our grandmother had black hair, as did her daughter Mary Agnes, and her mother Louisa had flashing black eyes (as my mother recalled). That wasn't from French blood - that was from Spanish blood.  I base this conjecture on Pat Raney's 3% Iberian, 2% European Jewish, 1% southern Europe; less than 1% Middle East. That equals less than 7%. Where is Mary Raney's other 17%? Probably some of the 45% western Europe belongs to Mary. When I first saw Pat's DNA I emailed him and suggested the Jewish blood came from his mother's side. I changed my mind when I saw Jack's DNA.

Jack Raney's DNA for Mary is less than 1% Iberian Peninsula, 2% European Jewish, 4% southern Europe, 3% western Europe. That is less than 10%. Where is Mary's other 15%? Recall that I wrote that even brothers will show different percentages of ethnic strains in their DNA, so I think we're seeing this in the cousins' DNA.

My DNA, ascending through Dennis and Paul's sister Geneva Raney, for Mary is 20% southern Europe and 4% Asia Minor. That's 24%, but because it's Mary's daughter Geneva, who inherited half of her mother's DNA  - where's the rest of Mary's DNA - 26%? It's rather confusing. 

Our grandmother's Jewish ancestors left Israel during the Diaspora. Divided into two groups, the Ashkenazi entered northern and eastern Europe and the Sephardic emigrated into the Middle East, north Africa and up into Iberia. I believe her ancestors entered southern Spain and may have already been there when the Moors conquered Spain in the 8th century. A wave of Muslim fanaticism in the 11th century pushed most of the Jews up into northern Spain. Forced conversions of Jews to Catholicism began in 1391 with mob violence. We don't know when our grandmother's ancestors converted to Catholicism, but most likely it was between 1391 and 1492, when Jews were forced either to convert, leave Spain, or be executed. A history of the Jews in Spain is HERE  - it's long, so skim until something catches your attention.
I am inclined to think that Grandma's ancestors did not leave Spain in 1492, but remained as conversos, intermarrying with the Spanish.  So how did their descendants come into the Franche Comté of eastern France?  Here is my theory. The Franche Comté was ruled by Spain as part of the Holy Roman Empire until shortly after the devastating Thirty Years War (1618-1648). France took advantage of Spain's weakness and conquered the Franche Comté during the Franco-Spanish War in 1674 HERE.  It was ceded to France in the Treaty of Nejmegen in 1678. 
Holy Roman Empire in 1600. Note eastern France

A short history of the Franche Comté is HERE.  I believe a group of Spanish soldiers, and perhaps their families, settled there. Why go all the way back to Spain, which was not in good economic shape. If they remained in the army, they might be sent to the New World's Spanish colonies. Better to settle down and become farmers. The Thirty Years War had killed off so many through famine and strife - an estimated 8,000,000 across Europe - it's possible farmland was readily available. 

I also think Eugene (Schmitt) Smith's forebears on his mother's side (Meuniers and the Voisenets) all born in the Franche Comté, and the Petitjeans were related. Although Jean Baptiste Petitjean was born in Disertine and married Justine Piquet, who was born in Dijon, they moved to the Franche Comté. I think Jean Baptiste was actually returning to where his people had come from. The Schmitts left for America in 1830, the Petitjeans in 1853, joining the Schmitts in Shelby County, Ohio. On a family descended from the Smiths, but not from the Petitjeans has that trace of Spanish and Jewish DNA, as does a family descended from the Petitjeans, but not from the Smiths. If you aren't following my logic, it doesn't matter.  We're still the sum of our DNA parts.

 I hope you'll find as haunting as I did this Sephardic Spanish lullaby from the Middle Ages.  HERE

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Raney DNA Mystery

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
There was a common ancestor, William Rainey (born c. 1668 in County Antrim, Ireland - died 1722 in Prince George County, Virginia). And he left a will naming his children.
Prince George County, Virginia
I have worked diligently to connect James Rainey to William, but am unable to sort out two or maybe three generations between them. Once William and his brother and their families reached American soil, their families proliferated like a warren of rabbits. Sons . . . lots of sons, who begat lots of sons. Some descendants moved after the American Revolutionary War to North Carolina, some to South Carolina, some to Georgia. And some remained in Virginia. Who was James's father?  His grandfather? His great-grandfather?  He didn't just pop up in Pulaski County in 1832 without any family and marry Millie. But all the Raineys on the Pulaski County censuses appear connected with Aaron Raney's family. I've mentioned before that during the American Civil War Union troops burned numerous county courthouses in Virginia and other southern states, destroying documents that would have been so helpful to genealogists. Many southerners consider "burned counties" a great atrocity of the war, forever eliminating one's path toward proving George Washington and Thomas Jefferson distant cousins.

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 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 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 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
Other common ancestor names are gradually coming in - Dyson, Utterback, Dougan, and lots of our grandmother Mary Smith's French-American relatives' descendants.  So, it's reassuring that there is some scientific basis to this new-fangled method of tracing family.

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.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Graham Scottish Border Clan in the Raney Tree

The Brackenhill Pele Tower was built in 1584 by the infamous border reiver Ritchie Graham on the site of an earlier tower perhaps dating back to the 13th Century. Now a B&B
 While reading the book I've quoted in past blogs, Albion's Seed, by David Hackett Fishcher, I determined that most of our ancestors came to Virginia and Maryland from southwest England in the 17th century and were of the group called Cavaliers, who were Church of England (Anglican), which may have included the Raineys, although they appear to have immigrated from Northern Ireland in the 17th century. We don't have ancestors from the Puritan group that settled in New England (that we learned about in school). We don't appear to have ancestors from the early Quaker group that settled in Delaware, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  I was beginning to think we didn't have anyone from the fourth immigrant group, the Borderers, who sailed across the Atlantic in the first half of the 18th century from Northern Ireland and the Border region of England and Scotland, and were mostly Presbyterian.  As I continued to research, though, there they were -  the Grahams and the Kerrs, traced up through wives' families. So now, I want to give you some Border history about the Grahams, a Riding Clan of the Scots Borders.

On both sides of what now is the western end of the Scottish - English border is territory that in the 14th century was called the Debatable Lands. Both kingdoms claimed it. Constant warfare raged between the English and Scottish crowns along the entire contested border, sometimes large armies battling, but mostly cross-border raiding by lords of castles. They burned towns and crops, stole cattle  (sheep, too, but were awfully slow) and killed anyone in their way. The Graham clan had moved into this contested area between the end of the 13th to the middle of the 14th century, where they became "a lawless people, that will be Scottish when they will, and English at their pleasure."

We have two Graham women in our line - 1) Mary Graham (b. Lancaster County, Penn. 1737- d. 1809 Randolph County, N.C.), our 6th great-grandmother, whose father Michael Graham allegedly came from Northern Ireland to Pennsylvania. She married Edward Sharp, future Revolutionary War colonel, about 1761. The Sharp family emigrated from Pennsylvania about 1763 with the Dougans, Grahams, Kerrs, and other Presbyterians to North Carolina Colony. It was the Sharp daughter, Hannah (our 5th great-grandmother), who married the future Colonel James Dougan, whom I wrote about HERE . 2) Isabel or Isabella Graham (b. 1744 in Monmouth, N.J. - d. 1833, Knox County, Tenn.) was our 5th great-grandmother, the mother of John Roberts, father of Millie Roberts, who married James Rainey in Pulaski County, Kentucky,, in 1832. James' story is HERE. Isabel's father was Nathanial Graham, who apparently immigrated from across the sea before her birth.

Brackenhill Pele Tower before restoration as a B&B
Back to the Border region. We are descended from Border Reivers, clan-loyal marauders, existing by intrigue and force of arms, often turning on one another. You can read about their violent history HERE.  More specifically, we are descended from the Graham clan (and the Kerr clan -Mary Kerr married Thomas Hill Dougan in North Carolina in 1745, and her brother married a Graham). By 1604, James I and IV of England and Scotland was ruling both kingdoms. He was fed  up with the reivers, especially the Grahams, who owned five pele towers (in red on the map below) in the Debatable Lands and lived on both sides of the Border.