Thursday, February 4, 2016

Triangulation made me do it

This is a story that began with triangulation, and so relies on the assumption that genetic matches at the same chromosome location share a common ancestor, and that looking for other matches to the same segment might help the genetic genealogist discover that ancestor.

I have a brick wall at my GGG Grandmother, wife of John Addair (born around 1780), and mother of my GG Grandfather, also John Addair, born 1814.  That is the line I would most like to figure out, and I have been working on it since way before I got into genetic genealogy in 2011.  Many trips to courthouses have not turned up clues.

Several of 1780 John's descendants have tested and match me, and there is a triangulated group between three of us - J (a 4th cousin), A (a 1/2 3rd cousin once removed), and me.  

            Chr.    Start              End                 cMs    SNPs
J to me    1    232,268,768   238,713,885   16.9   2768
A to me   1    232,419,522   238,842,845   17      1967
J to A      1     230,975,451   238,713,564  19.6    2350

J, A, and I share John Addair and his wife as ancestors, so we can guess that our shared DNA came from those ancestors.

I started looking at other genetic matches in that spot, hoping for clues, and found three descendants of Peter Muncy (born in 1782 in Lee County, Virginia, died 1856 in Clay County, Indiana) and Frances Owens Wood (born 1782 in Montgomery County, Virginia, died 1844 in Clay County, Indiana) in the same spot.   Eventually a fourth turned up.  They also match J and A.

            Chr.    Start            End               cMs    SNPs
D to me  1    232,344,068 239,154,331 18.3 2066
S to me   1    232,344,068 239,154,331 18.3 2065
M to me  1    233,142,768 238,967,960 15.8 1730
St to me   1   232,430,908 238,961,206 17.5 2788

D, S and M are descended from three different children of Peter and Frances Muncy.  St and D are 2nd cousins, and descended from the same granddaughter of Peter and Frances Muncy.

I had noticed Muncy in match surname lists before, but hadn't followed up because I do have another Muncy ancestor, an Elizabeth Muncy, born around 1775, who married Gabriel Riffe, probably in Montgomery County, VA.  Gabriel and Elizabeth had at least 50 grandchildren, so I had been attributing matches who mentioned Muncy to them. But my John Addair cousin matches, A and J, are not in this line, so Peter was very interesting.  The more I looked at all my matches - 23andme, FTDNA, Ancestry and gedmatch (yes, I am addicted) - the more Muncys turned up, many as fairly close matches. 

Sometimes you get lucky.  And sometimes you get VERY lucky, and find amazing research about the person you're tracing.  I started googling Muncys and found Roberta Estes's blog entry 

"Samuel Muncy (1761/1768-1839), Who’s Your Daddy, Your Mamma, and Your Kids?, 52 Ancestors #56."  

The Samuel Muncy Roberta researched and blogged about married Ann Workman, daughter of Joseph Workman and Phoebe McMahon, in Montgomery County in 1788.  He is either a brother or a first cousin of the Peter Muncy my matches descend from.  And, according to some researchers, this Samuel and Ann had children who lived in Lawrence County, Kentucky, which is where my John Addair and his unknown wife lived at one point. That made me alert to Workman, and I found many of them in my match lists, including descendants of Joseph and Phoebe Workman other than the Ann Workman who married Samuel Muncy, several of whom form triangulated groups also.

This just turned up around the middle of December, and I've been obsessively pouring over match lists, and censuses, and trees ever since.  Peter Muncy's dates and locations don't work out to be an ancestor - I think he would have to be a brother, uncle or cousin of my GGG Grandmother.  I can't pull it all together yet, but there are some clues.

John Addair, the GGG Grandfather with the missing wife, (born around 1780, Montgomery Co., VA died around 1832, probably Lawrence Co., KY or nearby) is one of those hard to trace ancestors - he moved a lot, and I don't think he ever owned land.  He was born in Montgomery County, Virginia, probably where his father, James Addair, Sr. settled around 1773 on the New River at the mouth of the East River (this is now Giles County, Virginia). The East River is about 8 miles down New River (west) from the mouth of Wolf Creek, which was where several Muncys settled. During that period James Addair served in Robertson's Company in Dunmore's War, and Holton Muncy, an uncle of Samuel and Peter, was in the same company.  Later, about 1785, James Addair Sr. sold that land and bought land a little further east on the New River, about where Radford is now, where he operated a ferry, and Frances and Skidmore Munsey, uncles of Peter and Samuel, signed the petition to establish the ferry in 1794.  This would not have been far from Back Creek, another place where Munseys settled.  

Son John Addair is found on some Montgomery County tax lists, but then appears in Cabell Co. VA in 1810, where his name shows up on a petition, I think next to a Samuel Muncy, although both names are very faint. 

I didn't find either of them on the 1810 census, which is incomplete.  John Addair is on the tax lists for Cabell Co. through to 1820.  He's on the 1820 census, with a wife and several children.  In 1823 he shows up across the Big Sandy River in Lawrence Co., KY, in the part that came from Floyd Co., and is there on the 1830 census (next to a William Munsey), and a few tax lists.  And then he is gone. The family story was that he was cutting wood for a steamboat on the Ohio, gashed his leg with the axe, and bled to death. 

Back across the Big Sandy River there are three Adairs on the tax list for Logan County, VA (Logan came from Cabell) in 1835 - Samuel, James and Phoebe.  Samuel and James are the two oldest sons of 1780 John Addair.  Phoebe is not his child.   John Addair's family is very well documented, with the aggravating exceptions of his mother's name and his wife's name, because his half-brother, James Addair, died around 1846 in Pulaski County, VA, with a very large estate and no will. There was a series of lawsuits to settle the estate between James's full siblings and half siblings, including extensive lists of those siblings' children.  No Phoebe. 

There was a marriage in Lawrence Co., KY between a Phoebe Adair and William Farley, February 25, 1836, which I also couldn't explain.  Once I started looking for Muncys everywhere, though, another marriage turned up across the river in Logan Co., VA, between Phoebe MUNCY and William Farley, on the same date - February 25, 1836.  The record in Lawrence County is a minister's return, and I have a copy of the actual return.  The Logan Co. record just shows up on online lists of Logan County marriages, so I really don't have a good explanation for it being in two places. But my theory now is that John Addair married a Phoebe Muncy, probably around 1806-1810, and after he died around 1832 she showed up on the tax list as a single woman in 1835, and then she married William Farley.  And the name Phoebe makes me wonder about connections to Samuel Muncy and Ann Workman, daughter of Joseph and Phoebe Workman.  John Addair and his unknown wife's eldest son was named Samuel.  And their son John, my GG Grandfather, named his second daughter Phoebe (his first daughter was named Susan, for his wife's mother).

I think the William Munsey next to John Addair in on the 1830 Lawrence Co. KY census is the one listed in "Some Branches of the Workman Family" (one of the many references Roberta Estes's blog pointed me to), who married Peggy Hensley.  John Addair's sons Samuel and James also married Hensleys in Lawrence County, and the Hensley family is listed on the same 1830 census page.  That William Munsey was later involved in at least one of the lawsuits over the James Addair estate back in Pulaski County, VA, although he stated no relationship to the family.  One of the people he obtained depositions from is a Dicey Munsey in Wayne Co., Virginia (Wayne was taken from Cabell Co.).  On the 1850 Wayne Co. VA census, Dicey is the wife of Samuel Munsey, b. about 1798.  In Roberta Estes's blog another researcher is quoted as stating Samuel Muncy and Ann Workman had a son Samuel, who married Dicey Spalding.  

The pieces don't all fit together perfectly, but there are getting to be a lot of pieces.   I have at least one other match at the same location who doesn't fit either my tree or the Muncy tree, but does have family from the same area.  

There is quite a bit of doubt about the usefulness and even the possibility of triangulation.  Possibly it's not a worthwhile or valid technique.  Possibly I am just lucky.