Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Removing A DNA Kit From Purgatory Plus Throwing Everything At A Brickwall

Owens Segment match

One of my DNA kits got stuck in that new purgatory at AncestryDNA. For non Catholics that's a place between heaven and hell. Any new DNA customers who purchased and activated a kit in a new account (after October 1, 2014) can't see any part of their matches' trees or any of their surname information unless they have a paid account. My cousin's account was stuck in this situation because I made a new account for him and activated the kit there. AncestryDNA is useless without the trees and surname information; unless, you want to contact every match on your match list and ask for their surname information. I was told if I made myself administrator of his account my status as a paying customer with an old DNA account may jog his into displaying the needed information. It didn't work. What did work was inviting him to view MY results. After I did that all of the information previously restricted was now visible. That seems to be a way of removing a kit from that useless purgatory.

A couple weeks ago an Owens distant cousin, who tested at Ancestry, agreed to compare segment information at GEDmatch. Very generous of them because so many matches at Ancestry either don't want to compare there or don't know how. This person shares a 15.5 cM segment with a 3rd cousin on the Owens side (they actually don't match anymore at Ancestry which is a whole other story). This experience demonstrates the many benefits of DNA testing because my 3rd cousin's match has done so much research on our shared line, or I should say a relative of his has. The fact that he matched, and we compared, started a collaboration leading to more discoveries. Most people at Ancestry, and elsewhere on the internet, copy information posted by other people. They don't use primary source documentation to assemble their tree. This has led to the ugly situation we see when we look at Ancestry family trees. Our Owens distant cousin has used primary sources acquired through original document research, and onsite research to assemble his tree. He's discovered information I didn't have until now. I discovered this same person, who matched my 3rd cousin at Ancestry, also matched our family on the Y DNA test at FTDNA.

My Owens research journey began with the 1900 Census, when I was looking for my grandmother Dorothy Mason Kapple's father Fred. I thought I'd find him in Chicago, Illinois where my grandmother was born. Instead I found him with his family in Mattoon, Illinois. I had never heard of that place before in my life (I live in Southern California). Once I found my Great-Grandfather Fred Mason's  parents I was  able to find a posted tree stating that my Great- Great-Grandfather Peter Mason's wife was Mary E. Owens. Some of her siblings were living with the family in 1880. Using their names I was able to trace Mary's family back to William F. Owens, who I found with his daughters on the 1870 Census. Going back even further, using the census and marriage information, I was able trace the family back to Clermont, Ohio. I gained more information about the Owens family from another tree I found posted for Mary E. Owens mother's family (the Hicks family of Clermont, Ohio). This researcher stated that William F. Owens' mother was Francis Owens of Bracken County, Kentucky, which is just across the Ohio river from Clermont, Ohio. A clue that this was probably his mother is the fact that one of his daughters was named Francis, spelled the same way. This was my introduction to the world of naming patterns.

My Great-Great-Great Grandparents William F. Owens and Nancy Hicks were married in Clermont Ohio in 1849. This meant I needed to use something besides the census to trace William's family any farther back. I did look at the censuses before 1850 (which only list heads of household) to see how many Owens' families lived in Bracken county. There were several. Francis Owens was widowed in the 1820's, and because of that was named on every census from 1830 until her death. Through the census I did confirm there was a female Francis Owens who lived in Bracken County, KY at the right time, and of the right age to be William's mother. Knowing all this I searched for a will or probate naming the deceased father and husband. I found a probate record for a James D. Owens naming Francis as his wife. He died in 1824  which was only a few years after William's birth. He didn't leave a will naming his children, and the probate records didn't name them either. I found census records previous to his death and he did have boys, in his household, in the age range of William F. Plus William's eldest son was named James. Also a William Owens was listed as son of James on one tax list when William F. was an adult still living with his likely mother Francis. According to census records for William F. he was born in Kentucky.

I couldn't find a marriage record for a James to a Francis in Bracken County, KY. Only after the Kentucky marriage records were digitized did a permission slip surface for Francis Watkins and James D. Owens in Bracken County, KY. We can infer from this slip that Francis was not yet 18 when she married James D. Owens in 1805. I received a copy of family bible pages which confirmed this fact (the bible had no additional Owens info). She was 15 at the time of her marriage. I ordered tax list microfilms for Bracken County, KY at my local LDS, FHC. Other than a few gaps in the early records they were quite complete. James D. Owens' first confirmed listing on the tax lists was in 1804, confirming that he was over 21 in that year. So in 1805 he didn't need a permission slip to marry (only males under 21 needed such a permission).

Using the Tax lists and census information I tried to establish a connection between my Owens family and the others in the same county, and surrounding counties. In 1850 some of Francis Owens' children were still living with her. I again turned to naming patterns to try to link up with local families. The children still living with her were David V. and Hannah. I found a David Owens on 1797 and 1801 tax lists for Bracken County, KY, but no Williams on early tax lists. I looked for a tree for a David Owens of Bracken County, KY and found one which stated he was from Washington County, PA.  This led me to a book called "The Ten Mile Country". This book gave an in depth biography for this Owens family. They descended from an Indian Trader named John Owens, we call John I. The author also stated several members of John Owens II (son of I) and wife Susannah's family migrated to Bracken County, Kentucky after their deaths. James' likely daughter Hannah lived into the early 1900's, and stated her father was born in Pennsylvania, according to the census.

Armed with the names of John and Susannah's children I was able to go back to the tax lists and census information and attempt to sort out the Owens families in Bracken County. The children's names listed in the Washington County, PA probate records were David, John, George, Vincent, James, and Mary. Another daughter, Sarah Gragston, was said to have shared in the estate, but I have not located that document myself? Looking at the names I wondered whether James D. Owen's son David V. was David Vincent? The V may also have represented Francis' maiden name. I later discovered that her maiden name was Watkins, so I can rule that out.

1804 Tax list
The tax information seemed to confirm what was found in "The Ten Mile Country" book. There were indeed males by the names of David, George, and James on late 18th, and early 19th century tax lists, and the 1810 census for Bracken County, KY. David being the first to show up in 1797 disappears, and reappears in 1801. In 1799 we see a James and George for the first time. By 1804 we have 2 Jameses, 2 Georges, and 2 Thomases. I had no idea how the Thomases fit in? As time passed more unrelated Owens families show up in Bracken County, KY. Most had completely different naming patterns.

With two James Owenses living in Bracken County, KY around the same time I needed to determine which one descended from John Owens and Susannah? I was able to determine they were both roughly the same age. To set them apart the county record keepers sometimes referred to one of the men as Senior and the other Junior. Using a land record, collected by a distant cousin, I was able to establish my James was referred to as Junior. Fanny was named on this deed. If the two Jameses were listed with their wives I could distinguish them, aside from the Jr. and Sr.. Later record keepers began using a the middle initial D., for my ancestor, to distinguish them apart. Another way I can tell them apart on the land records is when the creek and river names are used. James D. Owens Jr.. lived on the Ohio river, and James Owens Sr. lived on Turtle Creek.

Looking for trees for these men I quickly discovered someone had claimed James Owens Sr. married to Sally Broshears was John and Susannah's son. I could find no actual documentation for this. I could definitely see a likelihood this could be correct. The fact that James D. seems to  turn up in 1804, based on the tax lists, would suggest he is from a different family.  What led me to believe this is  James Sr. marries in Bracken County, KY in 1803. Ergo he must be the James listed with brothers David and George in 1801. Plus David and James Sr. marry a day apart in May 1803. James Sr. and Sally Broshears initially appeared to be 1st cousins. Many researchers listed her mother, Hannah, as John Owens I's daughter. Later I found out there was a power of attorney, filed by Hannah (Owens) Broshears' husband Thomas, giving a James Owens the right to sue the estate of the late John Owens II of Washington County, PA on behalf of his wife. This would suggest Hannah is a daughter of James Owens II, since only his children were entitled to anything from his estate. John and Susannah's daughter Mary, who was listed as minor in 1790, joined this 1806 suit. This changed my opinion about who the son of James and Susannah might be. He could actually be my James D.?

If Sarah (Broshears) Owens was the biological daughter of Hannah, James would be her Uncle. I needed to establish whether Sarah was Hannah's biological daughter. Sarah is a bit older than Hannah's other children so she may be from another marriage of Thomas Broshears. Unfortunately Pennsylvania didn't keep early marriage records and no record of any marriage for Hannah and Thomas exists, nor a marriage between Thomas and anyone else. It's difficult to establish Hannah's birth year but she appears to have been born in the 1760,s, based on available censuses dating to the year 1820. It appears her daughter, or stepdaughter, was born around the mid 1780's based on census data to 1830. It also appears that Hannah was married before 1790 since she wasn't listed as a minor child in 1790. Hannah's last child was born in 1807; narrowing her age range a little more. So Sarah could be her daughter, but I can find no conclusive evidence to prove this.

This all leads to the question if Sarah Broshears was a step-niece, to James Sr., would such a marriage have been legal in 1803? In some cases, at certain points in time, such marriages were illegal even if there was no blood relationship. This is called an affinal relationship.  I could find no law against such a marriage in Kentucky at this time.

Looking at records in which Thomas Broshears names his son-in-law, James Owens Sr., he states he is his son-in-law. The power of attorney, for the suit against the John Owens II estate, doesn't state this James Owens was his son-in-law. We know my James D. Owens was acquainted with the Broshears family because Thomas purchased something from James D.'s estate sale. In 1805 Thomas and Hannah enter into an indenture with James Owens Jr. which provides even more support for a relationship between them. The power of attorney Mary provides states James is a "trusty friend". My first impression when I saw this was he couldn't be her brother. I discovered that "trusty friend" could be a brother. This term just means I appoint this person as my representative.

After completing much of the research above, many years later, in 2012 I discovered a distant cousin of mine matched several descendants of John Owens I, the Indian Trader. This doesn't mean I'm guaranteed to be directly descended from him, but does confirm our family is related. Since the surname Owens is so common Y DNA testing is necessary to separate unrelated families.

Charity signs son's permission
Coming back to our recent Ancestry DNA match looking at this family's research I noticed they placed David Owens, who married the day before James Owens Sr. and Sarah Broshears, as the son of David, grandson of John I. I had him placed as son of John Owens II and Susannah.. The former makes sense because we have a David Owens, of Indiana, giving testimony in the 1840's regarding another of John Owens I's sons Capt. George Owens. In his testimony David Jr. stated that he was the son of David, and Capt. George was his half Uncle. David had migrated with his wife Polly Miranda to Indiana from Bracken County, KY.

Capt. George Owens had first settled in the Jeffersonville/Clarksville area in 1780, as a Captain of the Militia guarding the area. His brother David joins him in the Spring of 1782. I learned that Capt. George had sons named George and Thomas who were the additional men, by those names, found in marriage records, and tax lists in Bracken County, KY. This has been confirmed using marriage records and David's testimony. David stated Capt. George's wife was named Charity, in his testimony. We find a Charity Owens on a Mason, Kentucky tax list in 1792, plus mentioned in Mason County, KY marriage records. In neighboring Bracken County, KY we find her giving her son Thomas permission to marry in 1801. This provides identification for one of the Thomases found in early Bracken county, KY records. Capt. George Owens was burned at the stake in 1789 and the family relocated to the Bracken County, KY area. A Davy Owens appears on a tax list for Mason County, KY in 1790. This may be Capt. George's brother David? He may have joined Charity Owens in Bracken County, KY, but aged out of the tax lists or received some sort of exemption?

We also find James II's daughter Sarah marrying Richard Gragston in 1791 Mason County, KY. This seems to confirm her as John II and Susannah's daughter, because an Isaac Gray was the surety for the marriage bond. A David Gray was appointed guardian for her brother John in Orphans court records.

Now we have several branches of John Owens I's family in the Mason and Bracken County, KY area at the same time. Both John III and his brother David Owens, sons of John II, inherited land from their father in Pennsylvania and Virginia, so likely never migrated anywhere. The remaining children of John II and Susannah, inheriting no land, migrated to Kentucky.

Can we tell who belongs to which branch of the family, and when they arrived in the area based on tax lists? As can be seen with early tax records in Bracken County, KY men seem to slip on and off the lists from year to year. They may be exempt due to military service, age, and financial circumstances. Men who look young can claim to be under 21, and avoid taxes for several years. With regards to the Owens family we know they tended to bounce around because of military service. The tax records are helpful, but these men could appear and disappear from the lists and still be in the area. We can't draw too many conclusions based on the lists. We can be reasonably certain that men on the lists are over 21, however, because no one wants to pay taxes unless they are required to. I found a Forgey relation on a delinquent tax list. So if you can't find them on a tax list they may be on a delinquent tax list.

After James Owens Sr.'s mother-in-law, Hannah (Owens) Broshears, dies he and wife Sarah (Broshears) Owens join David and Polly (Miranda) Owens in Washington County, IN, in the mid 1820's. Does this suggest this is his brother? Or is this his cousin? The fact that James Sr. could be an Uncle or Step-Uncle of Sarah, and he is very close to David, son of David, suggests to me that James Sr. may actually also be a son of the same David?

More research will be needed to confirm my James D. Owens was the son of John II and Susannah beyond a doubt. I need to see the 1806 court case in Pennsylvania. A case no one has located yet. Court and land records need to be consulted in Pennsylvania in hopes of accurately identifying which James is the son of John II and Susannah Owens. We will continue looking at DNA results in hopes of further supporting my family's relationship to John Owens I the Indian trader.

If you don't have time to read the long story above here is a short synopsis I made using Treelines: https://www.treelines.com/story/12083-the-owens-family-always-on-the-move/

David Owens Jr. Testimony

George Owens son of Capt. George Owens still alive in 1850

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