Friday, January 6, 2023

Adventures in DNA: Chapter 12: The Faulkners


First and foremost, I begin this post by stating that my blogging was never meant to be a resource for anyone for anything. I'm not Wikipedia here. I'm just a curious person on lifelong trek to discover my roots. 

I believe the pursuit of ones beginnings really picked up as a hobby for some, and a career for others, after the TV mini-series "Roots", came on TV.  The miniseries came out in 1977, when I was in school, and was based on the book by author Alex Haley, titled, "Roots: The Saga of An American Family".  While there had been societies established, but not to a populous degree, in many cities and counties, for the collection of and research of, American families of European decent, and the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution organizations, Mayflower Descendants,etc.,  had been around for a long time, unitl Mr. Haley's book came out, modern African Americans had never really thought about searching their own roots. With 'Roots', it became a possibility, and it also brought out the longtime 'hush-hush' truth that most African Americans are a hybrid admixture of genetics not only from Africa, but from Europe and the Americas, as well. The show was a grain of yeast that spurred the rise in interest in genealogy among all Americans.

On my part, my interest began back on that front porch swing at my grandparents house, where my mother and I lived between marriages. Hers, not mine. My Grandfather Davis had a vibrant pride and an amazing knowlege of his family history. It was an interest shared with his first cousin, Hal Davis, who I remembered coming over with large and ancient framed portraits of Davis ancestors and even the wooden leg of their Grandfather, Horton Hampton Davis aka "Haut" or "Hawk". A lot of the information my Grandfather passed on to me, in the way family stories and histories had been passed on for generations in all cultures, had come from word of mouth through his own Grandmother, Francis Julina Aldridge Davis. She passed away four years before my mother, the youngest of 'Pawpaw"s' four children, was born. So she lived well into my Grandfather's lifetime. My own Great Grandfather, William Hampton Davis, also lived well into my own lifetime, into my teens, so I remember him vividly. 

His wife, Penny Wayne Turner Davis, however, did not. I was 4 or 5 when she passed away, and my memories of her are shadowy and vague. I do remeber a particular Christmas, however, probably the last one before her death, when we, the children, were ushered into her crisply dusted parlor, with its lace curtains, shiny cherry tables and glass menagerie cabinets with rosy cheeked ceramic figures within. She was seated, and we walked by her and recieved a small gift of a white childs' New Testament Bible. I recall her as frail, and silver-haired, and attractive round, alabaster face with pink cheels and a kind smile and glistening blue eyes behind severe-rimmed glasses. She was small in stature, but not not thin, very much in opposition to my other Great Grandmother who was tall, strong  and big-boned.

It's Penny's family tree that has had me waffled, and that I've been mostly working on for the last few years. Turners, Mortons, Calloways, Websters, Faulkners and now expanded to Preslars, Exums, Threadgills beyond. Over the years, I had discovered that the last Turner up the branch as fas as I'd been able to reach, had inherited his name from his mother, and I have made it as far as his grandfather, my 5th Great Grandfather, James Turner. Through those musings I was fortunate enough to make contact with distant cousins who not only introduced me to photos of these long-lost ancetors, and a treasured Family Bible that revealed James's wife's name as Susannah Axom, but also volunteered for a DNA that become fruitful in the following years to discover that Mary's baby daddy had been one Thomas Threadgill.

For now I've been on the heels of Penny's mother's people, The Faulkners.  There are no paper trails that I've uncovered that suggest or lead to any parents for John, my brickwalls, who was born between 1807 and 1812. He shows up in the 1840 census, has a few debts listed in land records about the same time, and that's about it. He was married twice and left a large family, and never seemed to make any waves or very much money. There was another, older John in early records, but a number of decades between when that one disappears and mine shows up. In all probability, he was born in the same county he lived during the years we know that he did., Anson County, NC. 

There's been one tool remaining for me to help possibly get beyond John in my research of the Faulkners. That's DNA. 

For months now, I've been swimming through my DNA matches looking for those who have Falkner, Faulkner and even Fortner, in their family tree. The name has taken on all of those incantations over the course of time and for the exact same individuals as well. While recuperating from a recent illness, I've taken the time to return to cataloging my Falkner matches. 

Not every match that has a Falkner in their line is going to connect to me through that family. First,, in particular, now divides matches by Parent One and Parent Two, and offers the most common names in those matches. I can very easily determine that Parent One is my father and Parent Two is my mother.  

Oftentimes, the Falkner ancestry is connected to a person I am related to on my Dad's side, but I look for those on my mother's side.  Not that I don't check those out too. 

Then there are the matches where ancestry has determined a common ancestor between us. In many occasions, I've found those common ancestors were my Faulkners and the match was descended from one of their many children.

Other times there's a match with a private tree, or one who only has three people in their tree. Even if their tree is small, say just a few generations back, I can figure out how we are related, if they are third or fourth cousins, just by examining shared matches, an option that shows who you are both related to, and can tell by those matches what the common family name is. 

Further back, it's not so easy, but that's where I'm trying to go. 

Gedmatch has a number of cool tools to help determine relationships, but the two things that frustrate me with some of these other sites is that one, very few people list ancestors there, so you have no idea how you are related, and if you email them to try to figure it out, they very rarely reply. has this feature that's very helpful, if you know how to use it, and also how not to use it.

Several people have determined, how I don't know, that a Jonathan Faulkner and his wife, Matilda, were the parents of my John. So Thru-lines suggests them as possible ancestors. I connected to them to see what would happen and lo and behold, there are matches.

Now, of course there will be matches that descend from John, but there are matches who descend from Jonathan's other children. Another thing about Thru-lines is that if you change something in your tree, it can throw off all of the algorithms. For instance, I added an "L" as a middle initial of my John, after discovering it listed in the records of his youngest daughter. That threw off all of the matches that don't have an initial for him, but they still show up under his wife, Susan. In the above clip from my own personal Thru-lines, it shows Jonathan as my 4th Great-Grandfather, with my John L. Faulkner on the right, and it also shows that I have matches descending from Jonathan's daughters Sally and Elizabeth. As you can see from the arrow above Saly's name and the one to the far right of John's name, there are more children of Jonathan, older than Sally and younger than John, whose descendants share DNA with me. And that's the kicker, I actually am related to these folks in some manner. Although I don't believe Jonathan was the father of my John, do I believe he was related in some way. These Faulkners who lived in Anson County in the early part of the 19th Century, I believe were John's family in some manner, and therefore my own.

The above clip from the same section of Thru-lines, shows that I have matches who descend from Jonathan's youngest son, Alexander. Alexander was factually the son of Jonathan. Let's look at him breifly for a minute.

Jonathan Faulkner (Falkner, Fortner) was born in North Carolina and first shows up in the 1800 census of Anson County, North Carolina, very close to his brother, Nathan.

On October 11, 1811, he recieved 100 acres on Little Richland Creek in Humphreys County, Tennesee. This tract was originally issued to a William Skinner for military service, (Tennessee Deed Book A p 196-196). It is also thought that Jonathan served in the War of 1812 as 'Jonathan Fortner'. He would continue to accumulate land in Humphreys County, granted a 24 acre tract from Samuel D. Jackson on Little Richland Creek in 1815 (Land Grant 7629). In 1824 he purchased 191 acres on Little Richland Creek from John Thompson for $400 (Humphreys County, Tenn Deed Book C, P 410-411). In 1827, he bought another 51 on the same creek from William Mills for $200 (Book D p 241-243). His estate continued to grow. 

1888 Map of Humphreys County, showing location of Richland Creek and Little Richland Creek, from My Genealogy

In 1828, the next year, Jonathan added another 96 and a half acres from a W. B. Morrow for $140 (Book G p 101-102). He recieved a second grant in 1835 for 142 acres, all on Little Richland Creek, (Land Grant 13075).

1840 was the year Jonathan, now about 60 years old, began going in the other direction and downsizing his now considerable land holdings. On January 10, 1840, he sold 51 acres to Samuel Hemby for $200 (Book H p 385-386). The next year, again in January, he sold the two tracts that he had bought of John Thompson and William B. Morrow to Abel Jackson for $1,400. (Book F p 600-601). He sold a final tract to Able Jackson on July 31, 1843 (Book G p 497-499) and this is when he made his move to Marshall County, Mississippi. Coincidentally, Marshall County, Mississippi is where my John Faulkner's wife, Susan's mother Nancy Webster ended up, after traveling with her sister, Mary, who had married Elias Preslar, Jr., the brother of Susan's father, Erasmus Preslar.

From TNGenweb

Alexander Fauklner was born on January 14, 1814, in Humphrey's County, Tennesee. About 1835, he married Elizabeth "Betsy" Plant, daughter of William Plant and Nancy Collier Plant. She was born in Dickson, Tennessee, and her parents supposedly originated in South Carolina and ended up after multiple migrations, in Arkansas. I've looked all in the orgins and family connections of Betsy Plant Falkner to see if there may have been some genetics that would have caused a connection to my own family tree to her descendants. I didn't find one, but neither did I find a great deal of info on her. As I match descendants of multiple of their children, I would be led to think this couple would be the connection and not a lower generation. I find no connection in my line to the Plants or the Colliers, or to the places they lived.

Alexander shows up as a head of his own household in the county in which he was born, Humphrey, in 1840, which is located in the western part of middle Tennessee. Dickson, the county where his wife was born, borders Humphrey to the east. This is about the time his father, Jonathan, was making the move to Marshall County, Mississippi.

Name:Alexander Falkner
Home in 1840 (City, County, State):District 1, Humphreys, Tennessee
Free White Persons - Males - Under 5:1
Free White Persons - Males - 20 thru 29:1
Free White Persons - Females - Under 5:1
Free White Persons - Females - 20 thru 29:1
Slaves - Males - 10 thru 23:1
Slaves - Females - 10 thru 23:1
Persons Employed in Agriculture:2
Free White Persons - Under 20:2
Free White Persons - 20 thru 49:2
Total Free White Persons:4
Total Slaves:2
Total All Persons - Free White, Free Colored, Slaves:6

Alexander would leave Tennessee and removed to Graves County, Kentucky, where he and his family are found in 1850.

Name:A Falkner
Birth Year:abt 1815
Home in 1850:District 1, Graves, Kentucky, USA
Real Estate:1000
Line Number:37
Dwelling Number:481
Family Number:481
Inferred Spouse:Elizabeth Falkner
Inferred Child:Jefferson FalknerHester FalknerW J FalknerNarcissa FalknerAlexander FalknerElizabeth Falkner
Household Members (Name)Age
A Falkner35
Elizabeth Falkner36
Jefferson Falkner13
Hester Falkner11
W J Falkner9
Narcissa Falkner6
Alexander Falkner4
Elizabeth Falkner2
A Guinn24

Alexander and Betsy had 6 children by this time, Jefferson, Hester, William, Narcissa, Alexander Jr., and Elizabeth. The "A Guinn", laborer was a son of Alexander's sister, Sarah, whose descendants I also have matches to.  My connected matches descend from their son, Jefferson and daughter, Narcissa. In fact, I have several matches to Jeffersons's descendants, but most of them have only made it up their tree to Alexander, and some have not made it past Jefferson, so they don't show up as a descendant of Jonathans, therefore, they don't show up in Thru-lines as a dna match to me.

Alexander would pass away around 1869, supposedly in Wingo, Graves County, Kentucky. It's unknown why he had relocated to Graves County, which is located in the far west foot of the state. Possibly something to do with the railroad. He and Betsy added three more children to their family in the years following 1850, Alfred, Harrison and Rosalee, and Betsy ended up surviving nearly into the 20th century. It's obvious this family was part of my family, but still a puzzle piece I don't know how fits in. 

Jonathan Falker left a will, dated August 25, 1859, which I will explore more in depth, but will feature part of it here. To the above mentioned Alexander, he made the following bequest:

6th I give and devise to my son Alexander Falkner the following named Negro slaves & their increase from this date, to wit, Bob,  Caroline & Child (Harrison) Patsy Jane Willis Lizi & Isom and also all the money he has received from me for which I hold his notes & debt except the last ­­­note dated May 25th 1839 for ($500) five hundred dollars which cash note & interest he is to pay.

And Jonathan also had a son he called "John". But not my John. Below are the mentions of his son John in his Will.

3rd I give & devise to my son John Falkner all the money of mine he has taken & used & all that I have heretofor given him or is due me from him & also the following slaves, to wit, Red Jim and Polly & her increase, from this date during his natural life, and at his death it is my decree that Red Jim descends to the said John Falkner’s son Lucius & that Polly & her increase to his daughter Narcissa.

But then, on April 27th, 1860, Jonathan had changed his mind and added a Codicil to his original will. Concerning John, he made the following changes;

In item 10, I change in this my daughter Mary Mills having been provided for as stated above, neither she nor her children are to have any part of the proceeds of the sale of my property by my Executor – And the portions that is therein directed to be divided between my son John’s two children Narcissa and Lucius.  I will and desire that the that the same shall be divided between my said son John’s five children Viz. Tazwell, Guy, Moscow, Narcissa and Lucius in equal parts among them or to the survivors of such as are dead leaving no issue.

On Halloween, October 31, 1862, he had again changed his mind and wanted to make changes to his will, primarily due to the decease of his son, Alfred, in October of 1861

In Art 1st I make this change – The Boy Daniel therein deeded to my daughter Sally Guim I now will and devise to my grandson Tazwell Falkner son of my son John Falkner – Art 8 I alter thus – the Boy Jack willed equally to the children of William Falkner my son, I now will & devise to my grandson Guy L Falkner son of John Falkner

So John, son of Jonathan had five children named Tazwell, Guy, Moscow, Narcissa and Lucius. 

My John Falkner did not have children named Tazwell, Guy, Moscow, Narcissa and Lucius, and these folks did not live in Anson County, NC, either.

Name:Alfred Falkner
Birth Year:abt 1826
Birth Place:Tennessee
Home in 1860:Marshall, Mississippi
Post Office:Tallaloosa
Dwelling Number:144
Family Number:152
Real Estate Value:4000
Personal Estate Value:23500
Inferred Spouse:Amanda Falkner
Household Members (Name)Age
Alfred Falkner34
Amanda Falkner29
Tazewell Falkner22

In 1860, the year before Alfred's death, I found Tazewell working as the manager of the plantation of his young uncle, Alfred and Alfred's wife, Amanda Turnage Falkner.

Name:L G Falkner
Birth Year:abt 1840
Birth Place:Mississippi
Home in 1860:Township 2 Range 4, Marshall, Mississippi
Post Office:Byhalia
Family Number:301
Household Members (Name)Age
F E Gwynn32
Sarah E Gwynn24
L G Falkner20
Moscow Falkner17
R C Falkner
Lucius A Falkner12

The rest of the children, Leander Guy,  20, Moscow, 17, Rosanna Narcissa (seen as 'R. C.', with 'C' actually being an 'N') and Lucius A., were all living with a household of their cousins, the Gwynns, or Guinns., in Marshall County, Mississippi. So clearly, his son John was not G. G Grandfather John.

Thrul-lines continues up to 5 Generations and matches up to 8, so my in my personal Thru-lines, it suggests 5th Great Grandparents, or the parents of Jonathan, William and Kesiah Kirkland Falkner.

While I don't know how accurate that is, the surprising thing is, I have matches to descendants of this William, or supposed siblings of Jonathan.

In the 1800 census of Anson County, NC , Jonathan Faulkner is seen third from the bottom of the above clip. Nathan Faulkner is two up from him. But second from top, on the same page is Job Falkner. Job Falkner also migrated away from Anson County, NC in the early half of the 1800's and settled in Randolph County, Alabama. I've also discovered several of his descendants in my DNA matches, most of them sharing between 8 and 18 cms with me over only one or two segments. Distant, but this name keeps coming up and I've not found any links back to any other branches of my family tree.

There was one odd occurance that came up during my Faulker/Falkner/Fortner search, matches with the descendants of a Stephen Morton who settled in Tennesee from North Carolina. I had stopped the research of my ancestor, Rev. Samuel Parsons Morton, after coming to a standstill. I discovered his siblings and know that he had assumed care of his younger siblings after the death of his father as a young man, so I know that the James whom everyone attaches him to was not his father, yet he had a close relationship to James, and a few other Mortons near him, whom I believe were probably James's sons, and that James may have been his Uncle. There's no proof of the actual relationship, only that there was a definate connection. They lived near each other near the present town of Badin and then had relocated and founded a church together near Norwood. 

There was one last successful stepforward that I have made in the cataloging of all of my genetic matches. I discovered a daughter to Asa Falkner (1753-1806), that I had previously not known about and who had not been included in the family trees of the descendants of  Asa Jr. (1802-1837). There were, in all, three generations of Asa's.  Actually, more, as there were Asa's in Georgia, Asa's in Mississippi,  and Alabama, all with Anson County, NC origins. But the three I speak of was Asa 1753-1806, Asa 1802-1837 and Asa 1836 -1896. 

As I catalogue, I look for patterns and repeating themes, or families and connections, I noticed that beyond the matches to decendants of  other children of my John and Susan, which would be obvious, the next most common line that keeps popping up are descendants of Asa II and his wife, Susan Fortune Myers Falkner. They are also closer matches than those whose Falkner lines moved away in the early 1800's, as far as cms and segments go. 

It would seem to reason that John would be somehow related to this family, and he obviously was, but not as immediately as one would guess at first jump. 

Asa Two and Three were actually A W L Faulkners One and Two, or, Asa William Luther Faulkner. Senior and Junior. A. W.  L. Senior and his haughty wife, Susan, who some folks keep mixing up with my Susan Webster Falkner, a situation that has caused Mrs. Susan Myers Falkner to turn over in her grave, I'm sure, kept a very beautifully well-preserved Family Bible, and my Falkners are not in there anywhere. 

So where is the connection?

My newest find is that Asa the first, and his wife Sarah Redfern, had a daughter named Sarah Suzanne Falkner who married Billy Webb, and the Webb descendants know their family tree, and quite a number of them share dna with me. I also noticed on the above listed children, that Asa the first (Anson County, NC -wise), also had a son named Job, and it's quite possible, no, it's quite probable, that many of these with the repeated names in various generations have been mixed up in living descendants family trees.

I'm more than a little buzzed over the number of Falkner matches I am finding who descend from Sarah S. Falkner Webb. At this far back in the genetic pool, finding a few is more than promising, as the further back you go, the less dna you've inherited from each ancestor, until you reach the point where there will be some of your ancestors that you no longer carry any dna from. That's why you might match one 5th cousin, and not their sibling. Each one carries different blocks of Dna from their parents. One might have the same segments as you, the other not. So this is encouraging.

Name:Asa Falkner
Home in 1790 (City, County, State):Anson, North Carolina
Free White Persons - Males - 16 and over:1
Free White Persons - Males - Under 16:3
Free White Persons - Females:3
Number of Household Members:7

The 1790 census shows Asa One with possibly 3 sons, instead of 2. Could my John have been the son of a third son that died as a young man and whose widow perhaps remarried, so he was not raised in a Faulkner home? Or?

My journey continues, and I intend to look closer at Jonathan 'who's not my Grandpa.', because although he's not, he's a relative. 

No comments:

Post a Comment