Births Deaths Marriages, DNA, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

DNA Definites, no. 25: Colvert.

DNAnigma, no. 20 — SOLVED!

When my maternal second cousins’ DNA results posted last year at Ancestry.com, I immediately noticed we shared a close cousin in common.

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K.J. and G.W. are my second cousins. A.R. is a match we share.

Who was A.R.? Per Ancestry’s centimorgan (cM) totals (which run low), A.R. shared 99 cM with me, 98 cM with K.J., and 111 cm with G.W. That’s roughly the third cousin range. As K.J. and G.W. are the grandchildren of one of my maternal grandmother’s full sisters, I could be reasonably sure that A.R. was with us in the Colvert or McNeely line. (A.R. also matches E.J., great-grandson of my grandmother’s other full sister.)

In trying to contact A.R., I found his sister A.P. She was quite excited about our genetic link and expressed interest in DNA testing. I mailed her an Ancestry.com kit, and her results came in last week. As expected, A.P. matched K.J., G.M. and I in the same range as her brother does. What was our connection though?

A.P. told me that three of her four grandparents were from the Caribbean, so it was highly unlikely that I matched her in those lines. However, her fourth grandparent, her mother’s father J.W., was an enigmatic figure who had disappeared from the family. Was he the link?

J.W.’s name is a common one, and we had only a general idea of his birthplace. I examined my tree carefully, focusing on my maternal grandmother’s family. Given the information we had, nothing seemed to match up. A.P. probed her close relatives for more information and late last week learned that J.W. was born in 1933 and his mother was named Eva.  A quick search turned up J.W. and his mother (and father and siblings) in the 1940 federal census of Statesville, Iredell County, North Carolina.

My heart leaped. Statesville??? That’s where my grandmother was born! Suddenly, connecting A.P. and her grandfather J.W. to my family seemed not just possible, but likely. I searched for more records of J.W.’s mother and found her marriage license. I scanned the document quickly, then stopped short. On 14 June 1930, when Gilmer Walker applied for a marriage license for himself and Eva Petty, 18, he had named her parents as Delia Petty and … Lon Colbert!

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Colbert was a common misspelling of my grandmother’s maiden name, which in fact was COLVERT. I paused. The handwriting was ambiguous, was the first name LON or LOU? Lon W. Colvert, son of John W. Colvert and Harriet Nicholson, was my grandmother’s father. Lewis “Lou” Colvert was his uncle — brother (or half-brother or maybe even step-brother) of John W. Colvert. If Eva’s father were Lou (and Lou were a biological rather than step-brother to John Colvert), then A.P. and my most recent common ancestor (MRCA) would be my great-great-great-grandfather Walker Colvert, and she and I would be estimated half-fourth cousins. The average shared cM range for this relationship is in the single digits, and there’s a 50% that cousins at this distance show no DNA match at all. But A.P. and I share 96 cM, so Lewis Colvert is extremely unlikely to be our MRCA. 

If, instead, Eva Petty Walker’s father were Lon, A.P. and I would be half-second cousins once removed. The cM range for that relationship would be the mid to high double digits. This range not only captures our cM, it also encompasses the cM totals that A.P. shares with my sister, K.J. and G.W., who would all have the same relationship distance with A.P. If Lon is our MRCA, A.P. and my mother and late uncle Charles would be half first cousins twice removed. As the chart below shows, their 182.4 and 173.8 cM shares with A.P. are on the high end of the 1C2R range.

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Gedmatch matrix comparing autosomal cM shares among Colvert descendants — me, my mother, my sister, my maternal uncle, two second cousins, and A.P.

Thus, the evidence points to A.P.’s great-grandmother Eva Petty Walker as the daughter of my great-grandfather Lon W. Colvert. Eva was born 3 October 1911, ten months after Lon’s wife Carrie McNeely Colvert’s youngest daughter was born. Eva was his seventh known child, all but one of whom were girls.

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DNA, Maternal Kin

DNAnigma, no. 20: a Colvert-McNeely?

The tests I had two maternal second cousins (first cousins to each other) take may be bearing fruit.

My maternal grandmother, Margaret Colvert Allen, had two full sisters, Louise Colvert Renwick and Launie Mae Colvert Jones. K.J. and G.W. are Aunt Launie’s grandchildren by a son and daughter. Per Gedmatch, K.J. and I match 394.4 cMs (46.2 on the X), which is a whopping match for second cousins. G.W. and I match 151.5 (45.6 on the X), which is on the low side of the second cousin range.

Here is matrix showing the matches between K.J. and G.W. and my grandmother’s descendants, me (L.Y.H.), my mother B.A.H., my uncle C.C.A., and my sister K.H.J.

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I have ZERO identified matches to my grandmother’s African-American lines. I was startled then to get a new match last week that matched me at 40 cM (per Ancestry, which lowballs estimates), K.J. at 91 and G.W. at 137.  It didn’t take long to get a response from him that identified him as E.J., the great-grandson of my Aunt Louise. In other words, a second cousin-once removed to me, K.J. and G.W. My cM total with E.J. is lower than might be expected, but K.J.’s and G.W.’s are right in line with the estimated range. (I’m hoping he’ll upload to Gedmatch so we can get better cM estimates and wider comparisons.) So, finally, descendants of all three Colvert-McNeely sisters have done DNA testing and all match appropriately.

Several months ago, K.J., G.W. and I had a match to an unknown person who hit us all in the estimated 3rd-4th range. I have communicated with his sister, who indicated that three of their four grandparents were Caribbean-born, making her maternal grandfather the most likely connection. Unfortunately, A.P. knows very little about her grandfather. Comparing A.P.’s brother A.R. to me, K.J., G.W. and E.J. yields cM totals of 99, 98, 111 and 27.7. That’s in the half-second cousin or second cousin once removed range for me, K.J. and G.W. and half-third/third once-removed for E.J., indicating that we likely share at least one great-grandparent/great-great-grandparent.

Let’s work with that assumption. Though it’s possible that Caroline McNeely Colvert had a child other than my grandmother and her sisters, presumably older, I’m doubtful. She would not have been the first McNeely sister to bear a child out of wedlock, and there’s no reason to think she would have given up such a child. (Especially to anyone outside her large immediate family.) So, of the two, the more likely shared ancestor is Lon W. Colvert. Another possibility is Lon’s son, John Walker Colvert II. He had only one known child, a son who died in childhood in a car accident, but there could have been others and the cM numbers could work in that scenario. Right now, we just don’t have enough information, but Lon and Walker are the starting point of my working hypothesis.

[Update: 4/4/2017 — Mystery solved. As suspected, Lon W. Colvert is our most recent common ancestor.]

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Photographs

The things you overcome and master.

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Statesville Record & Landmark, 17 April 1944.

John Walker Stockton was the oldest son of Eugene and Ida May Colvert Stockton, who named him for his grandfather, John Walker Colvert. Born in February 1910, he was just over a year younger than my grandmother and just ten months older than her sister Launie Mae — his first cousins. However, though they lived blocks apart, the families were not close. My grandmother never mentioned him in her recollections and, if he or any of the Stocktons were invited to reunions, they did not come. I was stunned to learn, then, that John Stockton lived until 2000. And he was in Statesville that whole time.

In the 1930 census of Statesville, Iredell County, at 214 Garfield Street (owned and valued at $4000), the census taker found  brick mason Eugene Stockton, 57, wife Ida M., 45, and children John, Lili M., Sara, Alonzo, Winifred, and Eugene Jr. Ten years later, John was working as a hospital orderly and living at 429 Harrison Street with “Lilly” Colvert, 48, and her son George, 23. Though John was described as Lillie Mae’s cousin, he was in fact her nephew. (Ida May named her daughter Lillie Mae Stockton after her sister Lillie Mae Colvert.) Lillie, who worked as a maid, indicated that she had had two years of high school, and George, a hotel bellhop, four. John, to my surprise, had had a year of college. (Where? Johnson C. Smith — where his younger brothers Alonzo and Eugene matriculated? Nearby Livingston? Why did he leave?)

Later that year, John registered for the World War II draft. He was 30 years old; I don’t believe he ever served.

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The back of the card noted that he had brown eyes and black hair and a mole on his nose, that he had a dark brown complexion, and that he stood 5’8 1/2″, 157 lbs. (Slighter than I thought. The Colverts were not big people, but I somehow envisioned him taller.) Davis, the hospital at which he worked, is still in operation, but in a different location. The original building, now a moldering wreck, attracts urban explorers and mystery seekers who believe it haunted.

On 1 April 1945, almost exactly a year after “Hero or Heel” was anthologized, John Stockton married Nera Clemons Sharpe, daughter of Hobart and Mary James Sharpe. The couple had no children, but were married 54 years before John’s death and are buried together at Iredell Memorial Gardens.

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John Walker Stockton. (I love everything about this photograph.)

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, Photographs

MY grandmother.

Every time I see you as a little girl, I think of one time you came, and I was going Overtown and you said you were going with me. You wanted to go with me. So I carried you with me, and I saw a lady I had been working with, and she had a granddaughter named Lisa, too. And so she said, “Oh, hello, Grandmother, you have your Lisa, too!” And I said, “I have my Lisa, too.” And you said, “Don’t call her Grandmother ‘cause she is not your grandmother.” That lady just laughed about that thing. You said, “Don’t call her Grandmother. She is not your grandmother. She is my grandmother.” Yes, sir. But you were ‘sleep before I got to Orcutt Avenue.

Margaret Allen newspaper

Margaret Colvert Allen (2 August 1908-11 February 2010)

Missing my grandmother on her birthday.

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Education, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents

Football squad.

From the 1949 yearbook of Johnson C. Smith University, the Bull:

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At the end of the sixth row, my grandmother’s first cousin Army-veteran-turned-scholar Eugene Stockton Jr., son of Eugene and Ida Mae Colvert Stockton.

From the university’s 1956 yearbook, another gridiron star:

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On the top row, my mother’s first cousin, No. 20, Hayden Bently “Benny” Renwick, son of Lewis C. and Louise Colvert Renwick.

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Births Deaths Marriages, Maternal Kin, North Carolina, Other Documents, Virginia

Great-great-aunt Henrietta’s passing.

Another treasure from Ancestry.com’s new Virginia vital records. The death certificate of my great-grandfather Lon W. Colvert‘s half-sister, Henrietta Colvert: 43006_162028006071_0260-00049

  • Henrietta Rebecca Colvert! I’ve never seen a middle name for Henrietta before, and it’s nice to see that she was named for her father’s step-mother.
  • Date of birth — 4 March 1911? More like 1893.
  • I’m still not sure how Henrietta wound up in Roanoke, though I assume she ended her nursing career there.
  • The Colvert “home house” in Statesville was on Harrison Street. The nursing home in which Henrietta spent her final years was on Harrison Avenue.
  • E.S., my grandmother’s first cousin and son of Henrietta’s sister Ida Colvert Stockton, lives in suburban D.C., and he told me that he and his wife visited Henrietta in her declining years. Did my grandmother know that her aunt was living in Roanoke? Did she know when she died?
  • Is her grave marked? There’s no listing for it in Williams Memorial Park at findagrave.com.
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