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I don’t remember exactly when I submitted my sample to 23andme, or what exorbitant price I paid for it, but I received my results in early April 2012. My mother and father received their results in, I think October of the same year. They are numbers 176,931 and 176,975.

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DNA, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

DNA Definites, no. 14: Artis.

Well, I’ll be….

Several months ago, I sent a share request to N.S. on 23andme because he listed Kinston NC as a family location. N.S. is a match to my cousin K.H. Though K.H. and I don’t have ancestors from Lenoir County, it’s close enough to Dudley that I thought it worthwhile to establish contact.

I was skimming through K.H.’s matches yesterday and stopped short at N.S. … Hmmm … Kinston? Speight? Could he …?

I sent a message, “Are you descended from Lemmon Speight?,” and he quickly responded that he is indeed, that Lemmon was his grandfather.

If you remember, I discovered Lemmon Speight a few weeks ago in the Civil War pension application file of Bailham Speight. Speight’s widow Hannah Sauls Speight, several friends and relatives, and Lemmon himself testified that Lemmon, Hannah’s first child, had been fathered by Loderick Artis, whom she had never married. Loderick Artis was the son of Daniel Artis, who was brother of my great-great-great-great-grandmother Vicey Artis Williams.

N.S. and K.H. share .46%, and 23andme estimated their relationship as 3rd-5th cousins. They are, in fact, 4th cousins.

[UPDATE: I was at the North Carolina State Archives last week when my phone rang with an unfamiliar number from area code 202. I stepped out to answer it and found myself talking to N.S.’ brother-in-law, the family historian. We talked in depth later that night, and he told me that the family had long known the identity of Lemmon Speight’s father, that several descendants migrated to Georgia and are holding a reunion here next year, that he himself is also a Greene County Speight, and did I know D.S.? “Are you kidding??? He lives two doors down from my parents! I’ve known him all my life!” They are both descended from Stephen and Fereby Speight and are somehow related to Mr. Kenny!  — LYH, 6 May 2014]

DNA, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

DNAnigma, no. 15: Barnes?

Barnes is far and away the most common surname in Wilson County. It is the “Smith” of Wilson, so common that two Barneses who meet, without further reason, will not wonder if they are kin. It would not occur to them that they might be. My cousin has a Barnes maternal line, and a Barnes paternal line, and married a Barnes. None are connected. My Wilson County roots are neither wide nor deep, so I only have one Barnes line, and it’s a little iffy. Nonetheless, 23andme has matched my and my father’s chromosomes with W.B. and estimates that they are 3rd to 5th cousins, .58% share. (W.B. doesn’t match my cousin, despite her many Barnes lines.)

W.B.’s patrilineal line is traceable to John Barnes, born about 1860, probably in Wilson County. Shortly before 1880, John married Harriet Batts, daughter of Orange and Mary Batts. I have not found a death certificate for John, but census records indicate that he died before 1920. Is he the connection? If he is, the tie is in an earlier generation, as there is no John Barnes in my files.

W.B. also has an ancestor named Nancy Barnes Horne, daughter of Gray and Bunny Barnes and wife of Simon Horne Jr. Is she the connection? Is the connection a Barnes at all?

W.B. is a 3rd to 5th cousin to my father. I know all kinds of 3rd to 5th cousins. In real life. How can I have NO CLUE what our relationship is this one? 23andme and Ancestry DNA are wonderful tools that have been invaluable in confirming connections, but their deeper impact has been to drive home just how little I know.

DNA, North Carolina, Paternal Kin

DNA Definites, no. 10: A windfall.

The end of last week brought three significant new 23andme.com matches. I’d been waiting impatiently for the results to post for all of them, and I wasn’t disappointed. In summary:

  • M.B. is my paternal first cousin. We show a 10.5% share across 31 segments. She matches, of course, my father and sister, but also our mysterious adoptee cousin S.A., and several more distant known relatives. Most exciting: she has a match that none of the rest of us has to a D.D., who’s descended from a Sampson County Balcum-Johnson marriage. That’s the first Balkcum DNA link I’ve found.
  • B.J. has been a close collaborator in my Aldridge research for several years. She’s descended from the sister of my great-great-grandfather John W. Aldridge, and 23andme correctly estimated our relationship as in the 3rd-5th range.
  • B.L. is from my hometown. I didn’t discover that we were related until I was in my 20s and had started researching my family. (My grandmother knew, of course, but wasn’t sure of the exact connection.) Her grandmother was the last of my great-great-great-grandfather Adam T. Artis’ children to pass away — in 1988, at age 101. There are some promising matches in her list that seem to be unique, too, including one to a Locus-Artis from the Nahunta area of Wayne County. 23andme predicted that we are in the 2nd-3rd cousin range, which is correct whether calculated from the Aldridge or Artis side.
DNA, Maternal Kin

DNAnigma, no. 12: Strasbourg?

I match T.N. at .36%, and 23andme estimates that we are 3rd to 6th cousins. He matches my mother at .99% (3rd-4th) and her brother at 1.86% (2nd-3rd). My sister is a .89% (3rd-5th) match for T.N.; my cousin C. is .42% (3rd-6th); another cousin C is 1.17% (2nd-4th); cousin M. is .98% (3rd-4th); and cousin J. is .48% (3rd-4th cousin).

Who is this guy?

So far, T.N. is the only person who matches all the members of my mother’s close family that have tested with 23andme. He accepted my share request, but has not responded to messages, so all I know about him appears in his profile. Which raises more questions than it answers. T.N. lists France and Norway as his countries of origin and cites Strasbourg, France; Oxford, England; and Durham, North Carolina, as places in which his family has lived. He shares the ultra-common R1b1b2a1a1 Y-DNA haplotype with my uncle and his sons, but I wouldn’t base any assumptions about our kinship on this.

So: is our link to T.N. through my mother’s mother? Her father? At this point, there’s no way to know. It’s time to follow up on my inclination to ask M., one of two living cousins on my maternal grandfather’s side, to test with 23andme.