There was a woman at home whom we called Cousin Inez. She had been born down in Dudley a few years after my grandmother, and we thought that connection was what motivated her insistence that we were kin. When I began my genealogical sleuthing, I discovered that Cousin Inez had been born an Armwood — another link, though not a blood one. The second wife of my great-great-great-great-grandfather James Henderson had been Louisa Armwood. I am not descended from her, but many of my cousins are. So, cousin-ish, but not actually kin.
Then, a couple of months ago, Ancestry.com pegged me as a 4th-6th cousin to a woman I’ll call A.G. This surprised me on two counts. (1) I’d recently “met” A.G. on a cousin’s family page on Facebook. A.G. and my cousin D. are related via the Simmonses, a free family of color centered in southern Wayne County. I’m not a Simmons – that I know of – but D. and I are 3rd cousins and some change via Lewis Henderson. (2) A.G. is an Armwood! Her ancestor William Armwood, son of Major and Eliza Armwood and born about 1835, married Martha “Matta” Simmons, daughter of William and Penny Winn Simmons, in Sampson County. This is William:
- A 4th to 6th cousin relationship suggests a common ancestor in the early 1800s. (Ancestry estimates very conservatively, so we may be closer.)
- The relationship is almost certainly on my father’s side.
- All of A.G.’s mother’s lines, back to the mid-1800s, were in the Wayne/Duplin/Sampson County area.
- I have focused on her Armwood and Simmons lines because they are most familiar and intersect mine indirectly, but I may be making unwarranted assumptions.
- A.G.’s Simmons line includes Wynn/Winn and Medlin lines. And I don’t know the maiden name of Major Armwood’s wife.
- My Hendersons did not arrive in the area until the 1850s. I’ll eliminate them.
- For the time being, I’ll eliminate my Euro-descended lines.
- My Hagans line was probably from Nash County. I’ll eliminate them, too.
- A.G. has a Yelverton line from northern Wayne County. Perhaps an Artis or Seaberry connection?
- My Aldridge and Balkcum lines began with white women who bore children by black or mixed-race men circa 1820-1830 in Duplin and Sampson County. Is one of these unknown fathers the link to A.G.?