Sunday, November 11, 2018

Visualizing DNA tested Descendants of an Ancestor Couple

If you are actively working to identify what relationship you share with your DNA matches, you have likely heard of the What Are The Odds tool, commonly referred to as WATO.   It is part of and you can learn more about all of the tools by visiting the website. While I use the tool mainly when I'm helping adoptees, lately I've been using it to get a visual of the assortment of people who have tested from specific ancestor couples.

One of my larger AncestryDNA Circles is that of Jabel Putman my 3rd Great Grandfather.  There are 106 members but I want to know if these testers represent someone from all of his children or just ones thru several branches. He is believed to have had 12 children.  Using the WATO tool I chart each line from Jabel to the tester.  I also look at the shared matches within the circle members to see if I can identify others who are descendants of Jabel who weren't included due to not having him in their tree.  I have added some that I've found at other sites as well.  Below is a closer look at two of the children of Jabel.  I didn't show the right side of the chart as it contains the names of living and testers but it gives you some idea of how it looks.

The chart is a work in progress.  I will be adding more testers as I identify them.
Of Jabel's 12 known children, it looks like all but 2 have descendants that have tested. There is a representation of the following among the Jabel Putman descendants,

3 of Susan's children
4 of Elizabeth's children
2 of William's children
2 of Simpson's children
3 of Hiram's children
5 of Sarah/Sally's children
2 of Parry's children
3 of Janette's children
4 of Noah's children
3 of Fanny's children

Please note that there are varying amounts of testers from each of those children's children who have tested.  Below is a zoomed out shot of the chart(just a small portion of it) which continues out to the testers on the right for each line.  This can be used to see the coverage or to identify testing opportunities.

Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Monday, November 05, 2018

Just a small portion of a family's paper trail

I have been planning for what seems like forever to go thru papers that were salvaged from Granny Cooke's Scrapbooks. To tell you what all the scrapbooks have been thru would take up more time than I wish to spend on this post.  Let's just say it's a miracle any of the contents survived.  I've had manila folders full of the contents in a file box for a number of years.  This weekend I processed a good bit of them.  I took each of the papers and put them in sheet protectors.  After arranging the pages in chronological order in a 3 ring binder, I began the process of cataloging each page.  I've finished with this notebook for now but I think it's safe to say there will be more added once I am able to get to some of the other files. 

The papers cover the time period from 1943 to 1976.  The following is a list of some of the types of papers that were included.

  • Report Cards
  • Certificate of Life Insurance(National Service Life Insurance)
  • Employment History Draft of my Uncle
  • Certificate of Promotion(School)
  • Letter Home while in Army(my Dad)
  • Television Repair Receipt
  • Receipt for purchase of Portable Record Player
  • Bill of Sale detailing financing for 1960 Rambler
  • Bank Note(Third National Bank)
  • Blue Cross Blue Shield Itemized Insurance Statement for Hospital Stay
  • Correspondence from Veterans Administration
  • An Employment Application filled out by my Dad 
  • Proof of Auto Insurance from Allstate(1967-1968)
  • Letter acknowledging  transfer of Church Membership from Old Hickory 1st Baptist Church
  • Letter from Dupont about Pensioners' Day
  • Loan Papers from First American National Bank
These papers all had dates on them and most even had addresses.  This captures what was going on with the family at that given point in time.  

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Women's Apparel--Fox on 5th Avenue--Nashville TN--1948

June Cooke Brannon

Among the things that my paternal Grandmother had in her Scrapbooking box were two store credit/layaway payment cards.  The cardholder is her daughter--my Aunt June.  The store sold women's apparel and was located in Nashville.    The time of the purchases and layaway(early 1948) coincides with Aunt June's wedding to John Arnette Brannon.  Their wedding announcement describes the outfit she wore as a navy blue suit with matching accessories and also mentions that she wore red roses on her jacket lapel.  June was working for Southern Telephone Company during this time.

Fox on 5th Ave LayAway Payment card

Newspaper Ad fof Fox On 5th Ave Womens Apparel

Monday, October 29, 2018

US Federal Census Research: Reflecting and Preparing

What was the most recent Federal Census available to the public when you began researching? For me, it was the 1910 census. A few months after the 1920 Federal Census was released I spent a great deal of time on the 5th floor of the Wallace State Community College Library(Hanceville, AL) in their Family History Collection viewing my ancestors on microfilm and giving my arm a workout advancing and rewinding the film. It won't be too long until we will be able to access the 1950 Federal Census from home. It will be released to the public on April 1, 2022.  I feel old...and grateful.

In what area will you be looking for your ancestors(or yourself if you were alive)?  If you don't know, you need to ask someone who does know.  You might try consulting a City Directory.  That's what I did.  I thought I knew where my Dad and his parents would be but upon consulting the directory, I found out that I did not.  

Preparing to find Dad's Family in 1950
Dad passed on 7 years ago so I'm not able to ask him where he was living.  Consulting a Nashville Directory I found a 1950 entry of Thos E Cook(Pearl)  which I believe is my Grandparents(Mr. & Mrs Thomas D Cooke).  My Uncle Morris is also listed at the same address and my grandfather's place of employment and job title are what they should be which reinforces that I have the correct entry.  The 1950 directory gives 1301 Gallatin Road as the address where my Grandparents lived however the address listed in the 1951 Directory is 1311 East Greenwood Ave.  Between about 1954 and mid-1960s, my grandparents rented homes and moved frequently.  Sometimes Tom and Pearl had separate households.  I do have listings of the addresses I obtained from my grandmother's correspondence as well as a wide variety of receipts and other papers which she and Tom saved.  I would have expected them to still be living at 911 Dodson Ave in Old Hickory because I had been told that my Grandmother insisted that they stay there until my Dad returned from the service.  He didn't enlist until 1952 and had been working at Dupont prior to his enlistment.  He returned to work there when he came back home from Korea.  Apparently, my Grandparents begin moving around abt 6 years prior to what I'd always been told.

Preparing to find Mom's Family in 1950
Mom is still living so I asked her if she remembered where her family was in 1950.  She is "pretty sure" she and her family were living at C.P. Moore's place in Bone Cave in 1950.  She was 10 at the time so this may or may not be where they were.   Bone Cave is in Van Buren Co TN and even if I have to read the entire county it won't take near as much time to find her as it would if I had to do the same for Davidson Co TN for Dad.  There is also a slight possibility that they were in Lincoln Co TN as her family was sharecroppers and frequent movers.

This should be fun.  We've got a little under 4 years to figure it out.  Here's hoping that indexing for it will happen as soon as possible once it is released.  

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Share your Ancestry trees via unique invite links

Allowing people to view your Ancestry tree is now easier than ever.  This will be a huge help not only for DNA testers but for sharing in general. I will be using this for most of my tree shares.  It is almost impossible to send a tree share invite to those who use their name instead of a username and who aren't able to see the tree because of a lack of a subscription.  This will take care of that.

1. While viewing the tree you wish to share, select Tree Settings.  Under Tree Settings select Sharing.
Under the Sharing section, Select Invite People.

2.  Notice there are now 3 ways to share the tree.  Select Shareable Link.

3.  You can choose the roles:  Guest, Contributor or Editor.  Also, the option to allow them to see living persons is available by share link.

4.  Once you have selected the Create Link a unique URL will appear which you can share.  Please note the blurb above the URL for more info on how the link will work.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

A little webinar inspiration...

Earlier this month, I attended Gena Philibert-Ortega's  webinar--“Researching Your Female Ancestor by the Company She Kept.” The webinars are one of the perks of being a member of the Virtual Genealogical Association(VGA).    So today I'm making a list of "communities" to research for my not just my female ancestors but my male ancestors as well.  I hope to be adding to this list so this blog post will(I hope) have many updates.

  • The Cotton Mill in Madison Co AL 1920-1930(Luna & Acuff)
  • Dupont workers during 1923-1952(Papaw Cooke)
  • Old Hickory village 1923-1952(Cooke/Jakes)
  • Pencil Mill in Chapel Hill TN 1920
  • Early schools in Bedford Co. TN
  • Christian & Church of Christ Church Warren, White, Van Buren Co TN(Acuff & McElroys)
  • Cumberland Presbyterian(King) 
  • Baptist Church In Early TN(Y DNA Cook lines)
  • Horse Farms in Bell Buckle TN 1890-1912(Jakes & Frizzells)
  • Distillers in early Middle Tennessee area(Ogilvies/Allisons)
  • Jackson Co AL prior to 1838(Pittman & Hatfields)
  • 200 block of North Charlotte St Dickson TN (1969-1975)

Monday, October 15, 2018

Looking for Locations? Check Pension files.

I really enjoy pension research. It's great for finding out where our ancestors and their families were living. Knowing that information can help us find even more documents and clues in areas in which we might not otherwise have known to look. One of my autosomal DNA matches has a William Eakin who is living in the same county where my paternal lines lived. This may or may not be the connection to my own family. I read thru the application (and later the transcription which I found within a Family Tree file at Ancestry) because I wanted to know where this family had been before coming to Tennessee.

Bedford Co TN ---7th May 1833 William Eakin states under oath that he was born 8th Oct 1765 in York District South Carolina and that he was a citizen and resident in that same district and state when he entered the Service(from earlier testimony--16 November 1780) and continued to be a Citizen of said District until the year 1810 when he removed to the State of Illinois and in 1812 he removed to Bedford County Tennessee where he has lived ever since. His widow filed for a pension in TX where they moved before his death. Her pension application includes additional dates and persons who knew them. (info from transcription at )

"United States Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications, 1800-1900," database, FamilySearch ( : 9 March 2018), William Eakin, pension number W. 3530, service S.C.; from "Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files," database and images, ( : n.d); citing NARA microfilm publication M804 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1974); FHL microfilm 970,883.

Images at Ancestry:  
Search on William Eakin pension date 1833  Elizabeth(wife)

This William Eakin and/or his family was in
  • York District, South Carolina
  • Illinois
  • Bedford County, Tennessee, USA
  • Shelby County, Texas, USA
  • Any number of places between these locations may contain a paper trail link
This is just a small portion of the information included in this pension file. Who knows what is waiting to be found for your families. Sometimes, we tend to think that just because our ancestors didn't have the transportation modes we have today, they just didn't travel that much. Read through a few Pension application files.  I assure you, that is NOT the case. Many of my Tennessee lines(some direct and others cousin lines) went to Texas from Tennessee. Some returned to Tennessee while others stayed in Texas or moved on to California. This was all before the automobile was on the scene.  

Check the FamilySearch's Wiki page for more information about Pensions.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Y-111 test Results are in for my Cook line

Results posted for my family's Y-111 marker DNA test several weeks back and I'm just now getting around to blogging about it.  When we tested at 37 markers we were close to descendants of Shem Cooke(1722-1796 Amelia Co VA) but our Y results were also close to a group of Patterson men.  By "close", I mean ranging from a genetic distance of 0 to 2.  So I upgraded to a 67 marker test and began studying all of the matches and where they had settled.   Just out of curiosity I also looked at the matches at 25 markers and could see that it had even more who were from the line of Shem Cooke.   At 67 markers we were still a genetic distance of 0 with one of the men from the Patterson group and were at a genetic distance of 1 -3 with the Shem Cooke descendants.  With the upgrade to 111 markers, we are now at a genetic distance of 2 with the Patterson tester we matched at GD=0 in the 67 marker level.  Also at GD=2 is the Shem Cooke descendant who also has a small match with my brother's autosomal test.  This descendant of Shem is from a line that moved to Carroll Co GA during the early 1800s.  So, for now, I'm still studying records in the earliest place our Cook line is known to have been as well as studying the lines that came out of Lunenburg Virginia on to Granville Co North Carolina and later to parts of Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee.

I've put all of the close matches from each level who are from the Patterson or Cook(e) lines into a spreadsheet.

Even though I don't have all the answers yet that will make the direct connection between my 2nd Great Grandfather and his Cook linage I do have way more information on the lines and a better idea of where to look.  Also if you descend from any of the Cook(e)s who were in Bedford, Rutherford or Williamson Co TN thru the direct male line consider doing YDNA at the 37 marker level AND an autosomal DNA test.  If your Cook lines were from that area and you aren't thru a direct male line you can still take an autosomal test which might find a connection for you thru this or other lines.

I'd love to hear more discussion about what others are doing with their YDNA test results as far as analysis and findings.  I need to brainstorm/blog what to do next.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Using DNApainter to visualize match "coverage" & collect more clues

I've been using  DNApainter(a WONDERFUL DNA analysis tool by Jonny Perl) for a while now.  I'm not sure the exact date, but it couldn't have been more than a few minutes after I read about it in the Genetic Genealogy Tips & Techniques Facebook Group.  You can learn more about both of those by clicking on the linked text.  DNApainter is free but has additional tools available for subscribers.  Today I subscribed and I've been playing around with it.  I wanted to see what kind of coverage I had from my matches at GEDmatch.  I had used my kit and my Mom's kit to phase my DNA matches.  My Dad passed before we began DNA testing.  While the Paternal Phased kit is not a true comparison against his it will show all the matches I have which aren't Mom's which are presumably paternal. 

  • At DNApainter,  I created A New/ Blank Profile --I named mine Marie GEDmatch
  • At GEDmatch, I ran Tier 1 Matching Segment reports for each phased kit and saved each as csv files. You should set the minimum cMs high enough to reduce by chance matches.  I set mine at 12 cM for this.  I can delete matches if necessary later.
  • At DNApainter, I opened the New / Blank Profile and used DNApainter's premium feature to Import Paternal phased (P1) & Maternal Phased(M1) match list.
  • As I imported each phased group, I chose a color, name, and identified it as paternal  or maternal matches.
It was abt at 74% coverage(I wish I had taken a screenshot then but I didn't) and I wanted to import the data from the painting I had done on my main profile.  I exported the segment information from that main profile and imported it into the Marie GEDmatch that I could identify more matching segments.  

Below is a screenshot showing only the GEDmatch Import as Active(using the key)

Once the main profile is imported here is how mine looked. Now to look at each chromosome and collect the clues.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Follow that man--David T. W. Cook

For those that haven't been following my search to find the identity of Joseph S. Cook who died in Williamson Co TN here is the short version of that.  There are two Joseph Cooks in the 1820 census and I want to know which one of them is the Joseph Cook who married Tamar Northern in 1803 Granville Co NC.  I believe he is the one who is in Simpson Co KY and is listed with Northern families near.  The other Joseph Cook is enumerated in Wilson Co TN near others who have Granville Co NC ties and who will in a few years end up in Williamson & Bedford County Tennessee area.  Our Cook Y DNA points to descendants of Shem Cooke(he died in 1796 in Granville Co NC and was from Amelia Co VA).  I also want to determine if either one of them is the Joseph S. Cook from Williamson Co TN.   To add to the confusion, the probate papers of 2 other Joseph Cooks(one of which IS Joseph S Cook) have been combined and labeled as the Joseph S. Cook in Williamson County TN records and as such, that is how it appears within the Ancestry database.  Joseph S. Cook died without a will and Wm C Cook(my 2nd Great Grandfather) was appointed admin of Joseph S. Cook's estate and reported an inventory and sale of the estate.  The other Joseph Cook in that file folder left a will and the majority of the papers in that folder are for his estate detailing the division of his property among his children.  He died a few years after Joseph S. Cook and lived in Davidson Co and I believe he was a resident of Dist 2 Williamson Co TN.

So I had looked at the entry for the marriage of Joseph Cooke & Tamar Northern in Granville Co NC but never really looked at the marriage bond.  It was hard to find as it is incorrectly indexed as James Nothern instead of Tamar Northern.  I think part of that comes from an indexer who isn't familiar with the document that is being indexed and what to expect on it.  The first name on the bond is that of  James Turner who was Governor of North Carolina at that time.  The bondsman who signs with Joseph Cook is David T W Cook.


Mississippi Free Trader(Natchez, MS) Jun 18, 1840 pg 3 Marriage to Miss Sarah Godley(Wilkinson)

Mississippi Free Trader(Natchez, MS) Nov 16, 1819 pg. 5 --an advertisement that he had placed in order to sell land. (appears to have run Nov 9-mid Dec)

  • 10 Lots in the town of Woodville(including those I live on)
  • 640 acres of land on the river Comite, Popular Springs improved 
  • 350 acres of land well improved near the Mississippi 
  • 4500 acres in West TN on Duck, Big Harper, and Elk Rivers.

Weekly Raleigh Register(Raleigh, NC) Dec 28, 1821, Pg. 4
A petition for divorce filed by Lydia Cook in Currituck Co. NC against David T W Cook.
(published for 3 months beginning Nov 8, 1821)


Mississippi, Compiled Marriages, 1776-1935 marriage Elizabeth Collingsworth 13 Jan 1812(Wilkinson)
Mississippi, Compiled Marriages, 1800-1825 marriage Matilda Nelson 26 Oct 1815(Wilkinson)
Mississippi, Compiled Marriages, 1776-1935 marriage Matilda Nelson 2 Nov 1815(Wilkinson)
Louisiana, Compiled Marriages, 1718-1925 marriage Caroline M Nelson 14 Jan 1817(West Feliciana)

1813 Mississippi, State and Territorial Census Collection, 1792-1866 Wilkinson Co. MS
1820 Mississippi, State and Territorial Census Collection, 1792-1866 Wilkinson Co. MS
1820 United States Federal Census in Wilkinson Co. MS
1830 United States Federal Census in Tipton Co. TN
1840 United States Federal Census in Wilkinson Co. MS

U.S. Army, Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914 1798 May 17-1815 ----- "C"
6535 Cook David T W Capt Miss. Militia  Col Neilson

The Remarks column from that entry is shown in the image below


I found the entry for his wife Matilda Caroline Nelson Cook

This was a wonderful find as there are biographies for her, her siblings, and her father, John Nelson.  The bio entry has sources and while focusing on the Nelsons and their lives, has a bit about David Taylor Woodward Cook.  The story of where the Nelsons were from, why they came to Louisiana, Mississippi and for a time parts of Tennessee including, Williamson County, Tennessee is in the bios on the Nelsons memorial pages.  They are a great read separate and apart from this mystery.  Do yourself a favor and read them.


A dictionary of all officers, who have been commissioned, or have been appointed and served, in the army of the United States, since the inauguration of their first president in 1789, to the first January, 1853,--with every commission of each;--including the distinguished officers of the volunteers and militia of the states, and of the navy and marine corps, who have served with the land forces --Gardner, Charles K. (Charles Kitchell), 1787-1869. pg. 125

David T. W. Cook to Austin, July __, 1822.  Came to Texas to see you "in behalf of myself and many others."  Wants land.

The Austin papers / edited by Eugene C. Barker. 1919 v.2 pt.1. Austin, Moses, 1761-1821. pg 355
The above-mentioned letter dated July 1822 is as noted asking for land and was delivered by Austin's brother.  David T W Cook says he will be "on the  River Brassos 3 weeks" and asks him to direct any communication to Mr. Andrew Robertson.

American State Papers: Documents, legislative and executive, of the Congress of the United States ... / selected and edited under the authority of Congress.  pg 63  and pg. 774  Listed among the settlers with claims west of the Pearl River.  

I found David T W Cook among a long list of names for Land Holders in Louisiana.  Louisiana Meridian 020N - 002E Lot/Tract 1 Section 20 Union Co.

Do I have the answers or the connection? Not yet. I have a lot more questions and a great number of resources to check.  Would I love to find one of his direct male descendants?  You bet.  My brother has taken the YDNA test and I'd love to compare.  We are currently waiting on our upgrade from Y-67 to Y-111.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Finis E Plumlee--Van Buren Co. TN

I found a book available at HathiTrust Digital Library  It's written by Thomas L. Wilson and titled Sufferings endured for a free government; or,  A history of the cruelties and atrocities of the rebellionComplete with a table of contents, it tells the stories of many folks who lost their lives during the time period of the Civil War.

Since the text is fully searchable I was able to find an incident from a county in which many of my maternal ancestors lived.  Though there is a difference in the spelling of his name,  I believe that the story "Murder of Phileneas Plumley" is detailing the events of the death of Finis E Plumlee of Van Buren Co TN.  Finis was married to Lucinda Sparkman.  I have numerous connections to the Sparkman family thru marriages of my cousins.

The page detailing the murder says
"He left a wife and seven little children(who all witnessed his murder) to mourn the loss of a good husband and father."
I was found the census entries for 1850, 1860, and 1870 for the family.  Finis is not listed in the household for the 1870 entry and his burial information including a picture of his headstone can be found at   It should be noted that the book says this happened in the early part of 1863 while Finis' gravestone gives February 5th of 1864 as his date of death.  (image of Plumlee household from 1870 Census shown below)

I did find another incident which was claimed to have taken place in Clinton County Tennessee.  While there is a Clinton, TN, there is no Clinton County TN.  I believe the author meant Kentucky instead of Tennessee as I was able to find a record of the person he mentioned living in that county in Kentucky.

This brings to mind Robert Scott Davis' Georgia Black Book, Vol. #1: Morbid, Macabre and Disgusting Records of Genealogical ValueDavis' work and research is far more in-depth than Wilsons but I'll take research clues wherever I can get them

Wilson, Thomas L.(of Tennessee), Sufferings Endured for a Free Government; Or, A History of the Cruelties And Atrocities of the Rebellion ... Philadelphia: King & Baird, 1865. (Online at

Tennessee, Van Buren County. 1850 U.S.Federal census, population schedule. Database with Images. Ancestry Tennessee .> Van Buren > Dist 3  > Pg 374, line 18( image 4 of 8).

Tennessee, Van Buren County. 1860 U.S.Federal census, population schedule. Database with Images. Ancestry Tennessee .> Van Buren > Not Stated > Pg 3,  Line 1(image 6 of 60).

Tennessee, Van Buren County. 1870 U.S.Federal census, population schedule. Database with Images. Ancestry Tennessee .> Van Buren > Not Stated > Pg 2,  Line 15(image 2 of 7).

Find A Grave, database, and images ( accessed 04 September 2018), memorial page for Finis Ewing Plumlee (5 Jun 1820–5 Feb 1864), Find A Grave Memorial no. 19885633, citing Sparkman Cemetery, Van Buren County, Tennessee, USA; Maintained by Ash Far (contributor 46913275).