Monday, November 13, 2017

DNA of Jemima Campbell Tice (daughter of Joel Campbell, 1735-1828) - A match in North Carolina

As many of you are aware, I have been on the search for the real identity of the mother of Joel’s children. See my earlier post.  One route that has intrigued me is the use of mtDNA. You should read the prior articles for the details, but the gist is this:

Pieces of mtDNA are passed on from mother to daughter virtually unchanged for several generations.  Therefore any maternal descendants of Joel’s wife will carry the same mtDNA signature as she did.  In fact, so would any maternal descendants of Joel’s wife’s sisters or of her mother’s sisters. If a descendant of one of Joel’s wife’s sisters or maternal aunts could be found, that would lead to more info about the mother of Joel’s children.

The first challenge to this route is finding a maternal descendant who would willing submit for mtDNA testing and share the results. That descendant has been found and I will call her Cousin C.  You can read about Cousin C here.

The second challenge is to find an mtDNA match.  FamilyTreeDNA provides this service. Because the testing is relatively new, not many people have been tested. So far only one person has been an exact match to Cousin C. A second person is a match with a genetic distance of 1.  Eight more are matches with a genetic distance of  2. Because we are looking for a recent common ancestor, a very close genetic distance is desired.

The third challenge is getting the maternal genealogy of the match. Unfortunately the exact match (0 genetic distance) provided no genealogy for the maternal line. That is pretty common. People tend to research their surnames so the trees tend to be lop-sided towards the paternal lines. Maiden names fade into history.

Recently, I became impatient for the ideal match: one that had close genetic distance and a well-researched maternal line.  So...I decided to do someone else’s maternal genealogy. I was surprised that it was relatively easy. I did rely on the genealogy of others, but every link in the relationship is supported by at least one primary source.

The FamilyTreeDNA person who is an exact match is presumably still alive, so I will not list the name given on FamilyTreeDNA. I will refer to that person as Cousin M.  Cousin M’s mother and her maternal ancestors are given below:

Cousin M is the daughter of...
Ida Mae Smethers 1922-2005 daughter of...
Emma A. Hill 1897-1931  daughter of...
Sarah Ida Holcombe 1877-1953  daughter of...
Martha Ann Britt 1846-1924  daughter of...
Dicey Ann Turnage 1815-1866  daughter of...
Sarah Ann Wade 1785-1849  daughter of...

The good news about Cousin M’s maternal line is that it remains in the U.S. That gives me some confidence that no mistake has been made in the genealogy of Cousin C. If the maternal line of Cousin M had immigrated to the US after 1750, it is likely that I had somehow erred in determining the genealogy of Cousin C (ie that she is not really a maternal descendant of a woman who lived in NJ in the 1750s).

The bad news is that Cousin M’s maternal line leads to North Carolina.  I was hoping I could trace the line to New Jersey where Joel’s wife had lived...and maybe that will still happen.

In conclusion, the easy genealogy work is done.  Now I need to dig deep into the Wades of North Carolina and how they got there. I am encouraged because....

1) It appears Sarah Ann Wade’s father is Obediah Wade (mother yet unknown). Sarah Ann was supposedly born in Duplin, NC in 1785 and Obediah was living there as early as 1800.

2) Wade was a common name in Newark where Joel and his wife lived....IN FACT on the 1764 Ball map that shows Joel’s home near what is now Livingston, NJ and was then known locally as Canoe Brook, shows two Wade homes, Samuel and Nathaniel.

1764 Ball Map showing Joel's home and homes of the Wade family. Dark lines are the branches of the Canoe Brook after which the area got its name.

3) A 1790 militia formed in Canoe Brook, NJ contained a Lt. Obediah Wade. Clearly this could not be the same Obediah who was in North Carolina at the time? Or could it be the birthplace of Sarah Ann is incorrect with the move from NJ to NC occurring circa 1795?

All of this is speculation at this point, but I am optimistic that this route will turn up some clues to the identity of Joel’s wife. The ideal find would be to identify Sarah Ann Wade’s maternal grandmother as a “Leonard.” That would give additional credence to the traditional identity of the mother of Joel’s children being Nancy Leonard.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Are Campbells "Immigrants?"

"We're all immigrants," declared former President Obama during a townhall in Florida in 2015. That phrase, or some variant on it, has been spoken for centuries for a variety of purposes

Barque at the Port of Leith, Scotland where Robert Campbell embarked for the British colony of New Jersey.

First let me say that this is obviously a phrase whose recent purposes are political. The phrase plucks at the emotional truth that we all have roots elsewhere if we go back far enough in time. Only a fool would be tempted to try to respond to it rationally. I am that fool.

The Oxford dictionary defines an immigrant as "a person who comes to live permanently in a foreign country."

I am fairly sure that I have never lived permanently in a foreign country, so I am not an immigrant. Therefore the above statement ("We're all immigrants") is not factually accurate (as most political slogans).

A common variant is "We are all descendants of immigrants." I like to look at this phrase in a statistical fashion. Consider how many ancestors you have from twenty generations ago (17th g-grandparents). If you do the math, each one of us has over one million 17th great-grandparents. If a "generation" is about 30 years, they lived in the 14th century. There is a good chance one or more of those million, migrated from one "location" to another. Statistically, the response to "We are all descendants of immigrants" should be "duh" or "so what."

There is one caveat to the above. "Country" is a fairly recent concept in the millions of years of human existence. A country is usually defined as a geographical area with common government. If the definition is expanded to include "kingdom" or "tribe," the concept is a bit older. Still, it is likely that early ancestors migrated as families or tribal units to "non-countries" and would have considered themselves "settlers," not "immigrants."

In British colonial America, did inhabitants consider themselves in a "foreign country?" People of British origin, who made up 90% of the population, did not! They were not immigrants, they were settlers.

Our Robert Campbell (grandfather of Joel) came to colonial America in 1685, not to a foreign country, but to a colony of the kingdom he was a subject of. Therefore, he did not come as an immigrant.

When the "country" of the United States was formed, Robert was long dead.  His grandson, Joel, was living in what would shortly be the State of New York (vs. Province of New York). He probably did not care if he was called a "Settler" or an "Immigrant" or a "Yorker" or a "Rebel," but as a third generation American, this land was his home. Interestingly, he continued to move from place to place with his extended family, mimicking the tribal migrations of centuries past.

Yes, I am a fool, but not foolish enough to try to answer the title question: "Are Campbells Immigrants." We are not a homogenous group, each of us descending from a different set of one million 17th great-grandparents. Each of us has a unique answer.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

DNA of Jemima Campbell Tice (daughter of Joel Campbell, 1735-1828) PART IV of IV

The difficulties in learning more about the mother of Joel Campbell's children were discussed in Part I of this series. Part II discussed the use of mitochondrial DNA to confirm recent common ancestors in the maternal line. Part III told the tale of locating a maternal descendant of Jemima Campbell.

This Part discusses the results of that descendant's mtDNA testing.

The DNA of Carol Anne Baker, a maternal descendant of Jemima Campbell, was obtained using the normal "cheek swab" and analyzed by Family Tree DNA using their “Full Sequence” test. [That test includes HVR1, HVR2, and Coding Regions.] Her results were then compared with others to determine common ancestors.

Mutations in certain parts of the DNA are common to many participants. Those common mutations happened thousands of years ago and the date and location of some mutations can be estimated. Of course a mutation happens with a specific person who then is a node (or branch) in the mtDNA tree. Every living person with that mutation in their maternal DNA came from that same woman long ago where it first occurred.

Jemima’s Haplogroup

Yes, each mutation denotes a "special mother."  In Jemima’s case, there was a woman who lived about 50,000 years ago in the Near East whom the geneticists have labeled "J". She is our (Jemima’s) super grandmother, and her maternal descendants are said to be in her "Haplogroup." (“Haplo” is the greek word for “single” meaning that everyone with that genetic signature is related back to a single person.)

The haplo subgroups can be further refined as more people are tested. For example, a subgroup of "J" known as "J1b" is thought to be part of a group that migrated to the Mediterranean about 6000 years ago. The woman that carried that "J1b" mutation is another one of our "grandmothers." The haplogroup for Jemima is further refined to "J1b1a1." The timing of this last mutation and its location appears to be in Great Britain in the last 1000 years, but that needs to be refined.

mtDNA Matches

Carol Baker’s mtDNA results should be identical to those of Jemima Campbell Tice. The chance of a mutation to the mtDNA over those six generations is a possibility, but small. Other maternal descendants of Jemima should share the exact same mtDNA signature. In fact, this mtDNA signature is likely unique to a “grandmother” up to 22 generations in the past. A match would identify a person with whom Carol and Jemima share a common ancestor.

Unfortunately there are not a lot of mtDNA results with which to compare.  Carol has one “match” with genetic distance of “1” meaning that all of the markers are the same except for one. FamilyTreeDNA does not calculate the probabilities of such a match having a common ancestor, but my crude estimate is that there is only a 50% chance of that person sharing a common ancestor with Carol after the year 1600. In this case, the match had no genealogical information on their maternal line prior to 1900, so there was little to be gained anyway. One path of research might be to collaborate with this person on tracing their maternal line to see if it leads back to Newark.

A second “match” had a genetic distance of “2” meaning two of the markers did not match. This decreases the possibility of a very recent common ancestor, but indicates the likelihood of a common ancestor perhaps 15-40 generations in the past. The maiden name of the person in this line that lived in the early 1700s is Elkins, which is a name with English origins.


The maternal ancestry of Jemima's mother is European and highly likely out of Great Britain. As more people with known genealogy are tested, the possibility of “exact matches” with Carol’s mtDNA increases. The data from those matches will yield more information about recent ancestors of Jemima's mother. Carol's test results will undoubtedly help other genealogists as our line of known maternal ancestors extends about ten generations which is relatively long for "known" maternal lines.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

DNA of Jemima Campbell Tice (daughter of Joel Campbell, 1735-1828) PART III of IV

The difficulties in learning more about the mother of Joel Campbell's children were discussed in Part I of this series. Part II discussed the use of mitochondrial DNA to confirm recent common ancestors in the maternal line.

Finding a maternal descendant of a person born in the 1700s is easier said than done. Most of that is due to the name changes and the paternalistic nature of record keeping in the early days.

I began my effort by offering $500 for someone to do the work for me. To quote that blog from May of 2015, "The Abigail DNA Project will award $500 to the person who can identify a living maternal descendant of the mother of Joel's children and convince that person to submit a sample for mtDNA testing."

When it became obvious there were no takers, I dived into it myself, descending the maternal tree of Jemima Campbell, hoping to find a researcher on who might know a living descendant. I hit some dead ends, but in the process I probably did a lot of genealogy that someone will find useful. I finally thought I was close and left a few messages for people managing family trees on One was a woman who manages a wonderful tree called appropriately "The Karie Sexton Family Tree." I left a note in February of 2016 inquiring about the maternal lines that descended from Emma Mourhess (see tree below). She did not see the "You have a message" icon on until October, but her reply was encouraging. Her husband had a cousin who was a maternal great-granddaughter of Emma Mourhess.

Soon Carol Anne Baker (my long lost 6th cousin) and I were talking. She is the 5th great-granddaughter of Jemima's mother with an unbroken maternal line. She submitted a sample for mtDNA testing and has agreed to share the results with her "cousins." Interestingly, Carol's maternal ancestors of the last six generations, all lived in the general area where Joel spent his last years.

Mother of Jemima Campbell (name traditionally given as Nancy Leonard)
Jemima Campbell
Rebecca Tice (daughter of Jemima Campbell)
Sally/Sarah Crowl (daughter of Rebecca Tice)
Emma Mourhess (daughter of Sally Crowl)
Frances Leona Crane (daughter of Emma Mourhess)
Frances Emma Colburn (daughter of Francis L Crane)
Carol Anne Baker (daughter of Francis E Colburn)

Part IV will discuss the results of the mtDNA test.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Nancy Campbell - Discovery of the first primary document containing this name?

I came upon the name of 'Nancy Campble' in the DayBook of Cadwallader Colden's store.  The store was located in Coldengham, New York.  The date of her visit to the store was October 1, 1768.

Many of you know I have been quite skeptical of the traditional names of Joel Campbell's wives. The main reason for my skepticism is that I have not seen any primary sources for them.  By 'primary sources' I mean original documents that were created by someone in her presence or at the time she lived.  In fact, I have not even seen any secondary documents. I consider 'secondary documents' to be records of people who might have seen a primary document or talked to a person who knew her. I would consider the legendary Benajah Campbell bible to be a secondary source, but I have never seen it.  It appears to be missing for the time being.

What we are left with are family genealogies that give a Nancy Leonard as the mother of Joel's children referencing missing secondary sources.

By 1768, Joel Campbell and his family were living close to Coldengham, New York. Joel was about thirty-three years old.

Cadwallader Colden Jr. kept a store that is believed to have been located close to his new mansion (the ruins of which still exist) in Coldengham, New York. Today, Coldengham is a hamlet in the Town of Montgomery. A DayBook of the transactions at that store in the years 1767-1768 resides in the New-York Historical Society. See recent post on the transcription of this document.

Joel Campbell, his brothers, and a sister were recorded as shopping at Colden's store in the 1767-1768 period.

Each store entry lists the person whose account would be charged and the person who picked up the items. In the entry for Nehemiah Carpenter of October 1, 1768, Nancy Campble was the recipient of the items (which were oddly not enumerated). The items were "p[e]r order" and cost 13 shillings and 6 pence.

October 1, 1768 Entry in Nehemiah Carpenter Account.  See top entry.

The majority of the Campbells who shopped at this store, are known to be related to Joel. So it is likely that this 'Nancy' is also related. Could she have been the mysterious Nancy Leonard?

Many other questions remain about this transaction.  Why was she picking up items for Mr. Carpenter who was a relatively wealthy member of the community? Could it be she was picking up cash from Carpenter's account in payment for a service? Based on other entries, I think not, as the clerks typically indicated when cash was disbursed.

Even more confusing is the last entry before this one. It was on the same day, immediately prior to Nancy's 'pick-up.' It was, however, recorded by a different clerk as the handwriting shows. The person visiting the store was the wife of Nehemiah Carpenter.  She picked up 3 pounds of cotton wool and 1/4 pounds of an illegible item.  [Feel free to add a comment below if you recognize this item.]

The entry just prior to Nancy Campble's entry. is also to Carpenter's account.

Did Nancy visit the store together with the wife of Nehemiah? It seems likely due to the proximity of their entries. Could Nancy have been in the employ of the Carpenters? Could she have been a seamstress who was to work with the 'cotton wool' purchased by Mrs. Carpenter? Caulfeild's dictionary describes the manufacture of cotton wool as follows: "The raw cotton, after having been passed through the 'willow,' 'blowing,' and 'scutching' machines, is spread out into broad, soft, fleece-like wadding, when it is wound on a roller. It is employed for lining garments, quilts, &c, being placed between the material and its lining, and then sewn and kept in position by diagonal runnings at even distances, called 'quilting.'" Perhaps Nancy was making some winter garments for the Carpenters using this material?

In summary, it appears we are related to a 'Nancy Campble' who could very well be the 'Nancy Leonard,' wife of Joel Campbell as given in traditional genealogies. This is the first time I have seen this name in a primary document, so I am quite elated.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

The McCay Family of Hanover Precinct, Ulster County, New York in the 1700s

The farm of John McCay was adjacent to the farm of Joel Campbell's father. The deed of sale of the Campbell farm in 1793 describes its property line as running "... to the land belonging to John McCay, then along his Line North eighty five Degrees West fifteen Chains and seventy five Links to the said Highway then along the same South ..."

Outline of farm based on description in 1793 deed

The ongoing transcription of the DayBook from the Colden Store reveals purchases of a Patrick McCay in 1767.

On August 18, 1767, Patrick's daughter appeared at the store and purchased a gallon of Y [York?] Rum for her father.

On the 29th of the same month, Frederick Fawker [Faulkner?] picked up one half gallon of W [West Indian?] Rum for Patrick McCay.

Again on September 6th, Frederick Fawkert [Faulkner?] picked up one half gallon of W [West Indian?] Rum for Patrick McCay.

Undoubtedly we will hear more of this family as the DayBook is further transcribed, but one interesting entry appears on March 28, 1768. On this date, William Wear appears at the store and picks up six items "for funeral of Patrick McCay."  The items included:
"5 1/2 Galn  Rum @5/
7 # Sugr [sugar]
1 Galn Wine
1/2 Gross Pipes [a gross is 12 dozen]
1 # Alspice
4 # tobaco"

I suspect the McCay family may have been part of the company brought over from Ireland in 1729 by Charles Clinton. On that ship was a John McCay who died during the tragic crossing. [p. 216 of Ruttenber's History of Orange County.] He was one of 92 who would not live to see the landing on Cape Cod. Perhaps he had a brother or son who carried on the name in the Little Britain area.

In the 1779 Tax Assessment of Hanover Precinct [NYS Archives], a Mary McKay [McCay] appears adjacent to Joel Campbell's father, Samuel. Presumably this is Patrick McCay's widow. And presumably she is living on the property shown above that lies to the south of the Campbell farm. It is described in the assessment as being 29 acres.

A "John McCay" appears later in the records of the Hardenbergh militia and may be the same John McCay who is listed as the owner of the McCay farm in the 1793 deed. Presumably he is the son of Mary and Patrick McCay.

More to come.....

Friday, February 24, 2017

DNA of Jemima Campbell Tice (daughter of Joel Campbell, 1735-1828) PART II of IV

The difficulties in learning more about the mother of Joel Campbell's children were discussed in Part I of this series. One source of information that does not suffer from incorrect  recollections or lack of documentation is the genetic material that is passed from mother to child.

Maternal DNA testing

Mothers pass genetic material to their children. Some of it, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), is passed intact. In other words, this mtDNA it is not recombined with the father's DNA. Daughters pass it further to their children, creating a genetic signature of the maternal line that continues from generation to generation. An occasional random mutation occurs, perhaps every 5 to 22 generations, marking a "branch" in the mtDNA tree.

If two persons have matching mtDNA, it is fairly certain they have a common maternal ancestor in the past 5 to 22 generations.  [FamilyTreeDNA estimates a 95% confidence of a common ancestor at 22 generations (or to about the year 1500.)]

If the test results from a known maternal descendant of Jemima's mother matched that of another person whose genealogy was known back to the village of Newark, New Jersey in the early 1700s, one could be fairly certain that Jemima's mother was related to that Newark resident as perhaps a sister, daughter, maternal niece, etc. At the least, it would give additional leads on where to focus genealogical searches.

The next article in the series will tell of the search for a living maternal descendant of Jemima's mother (Joel's wife). Such a descendant would carry the same mtDNA as mother of Joel Campbell's children.

Friday, February 17, 2017

DNA of Jemima Campbell Tice (daughter of Joel Campbell, 1735-1828) PART I of IV

If you have done much research in the 18th century and earlier, you know how hard it is to find information on maternal lines. Maiden names were seldom recorded.  Females rarely held office, or were levied taxes, or signed deeds, or joined armies.

That is certainly the case with the females closely related to Joel Campbell. Many questions about the wives of Joel remain unanswered. Their maiden names, even their given names, can be disputed. What is known is this:

No mention of the names of Joel’s wives has been found in historical documents EXCEPT for a 1793 deed that gives her name as ABIGAIL. This is a name that DOES NOT occur in any traditional genealogies.

The evidence that he had more than one wife is fairly strong.  The historian, Craft, states in his 1878 book that Joel's family at the time of settlement in the Ridgebury area in 1805 "consisted of his second wife...", and that "Joel and his wife lived to be very old people." Craft undoubtedly talked with people who knew Joel and his second wife while they were alive, but it is still not a first hand account. In Craft’s accounts, he never mentions the name of the wife.

Traditionally, the wives of Joel are listed as Nancy Leonard and Rebecca Hunter. Nancy is the one most commonly associated with being the mother of Joel's children. The source of this information is purportedly a family bible that belonged to Joel's grandson, Benajiah.

The name of Rebecca Hunter is most certainly an error of genealogists that were searching for Joel's roots in the Boston area.

Because the name of the mother of Joel's children is still debatable, I will refer to her in the remaining text as "Jemima's mother."

With this dearth of historical information, can anything more be learned from the mtDNA that Jemima’s mother passed down to her children?

Part II will review mtDNA and how it is used to research maternal lines.

Also see this related post from 2015.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Cadwallader Colden Jr DayBook of 1767-1768 - Transcription Project - HELP NEEDED!

Joel Campbell (the subject of this blog site) was living in Hanover Precinct, Ulster County in 1767. Within this precinct sat the Colden estate known as Coldengham.  Cadwallader Colden Jr. had a new stone home built for his family in 1767. It is believed that he operated a store out of a building close to that property in the same year.

Colden Home as it looked in early 20th century.

Colden (or his clerks) kept a log of sales (and purchases) at that store from August 1767 to November 1768. That "DayBook" is preserved in the New-York Historical Society.

Joel Campbell was about thirty-two years old. Cadwallader Colden was forty-five.  Joel's father, Samuel Campbell Sr., was about sixty-seven.  Joel's brothers who are mentioned in the DayBook were Daniel (35), Jonathan (28), and Reuben (24). A sister is also referred to, but her name is not given.

More details of Joel's purchases at this store are given in my book.

The Transcription Project

The DayBook contains over 450 pages and over 4000 unique store "visits." It is a trove of genealogical information. I have received permission from the New-York Historical Society to transcribe and share the contents. Clearly I can not do this by myself.  So I am asking friends of history and genealogy to participate in this project. All you need is a computer connected to the internet.

If you are interested in helping out, I will need your e-mail address to send you custom links to the batches to be transcribed. The best way to contact me to join the Joel Campbell Group on facebook (, "friend me," then send me a private message via facebook that contains your e-mail address. I hope you will become part of the effort!

Colden Home Ruins today.