Kitty and the Double Life

Honestly, the more I research my third great-grandmother, Catherine James Bellamy James, the more I don’t think she’s my third great-grandmother. You can read why I think that at the beginning of this series of posts.

There are just some details in her records that don’t make any sense. Like, how was she running two households and two families 50 miles apart in the 1820s?

Here’s what I mean. Take a look at these two census records from 1830.

I know that the census records above contain the right men because they were in the exact same place with the same neighbors in other censuses: Elliot in 1820 and Josiah in the 1840 and 1850 censuses.

The top census record is from Scioto County, Ohio. It says Jacob James is in his 20s, is living with a woman the same age, and has 2 boys under the age of 5, one of whom I assume is Josiah.

The bottom census record is from Gallia County, Ohio, from the same year. It says Elliot Bellamy is in his 30s, is living with a woman in her 20s, and has 4 children under the age of 15.

Some back story: The children of Elliot and Catherine Bellamy were William, Nancy, Joshua and Bartlett. They were all born between 1817 and 1826-ish. My ancestor, Josiah James, is consistently described as being born in 1828 in Kentucky. All of the data of the children in these records checks out.

To give an idea of the geography between these two places, here’s a map of very southeastern Ohio. Kentucky is at the bottom across the river. West Virginia is the far bottom right across the river.

Accounting for all the little turns in the highlighted road and the fact that it takes an hour and a half to drive 58 miles, I’m guessing the land in between these cities is pretty hilly terrain. Granted, in 1830, folks would likely be traveling by boat, so the trip from Gallipolis to Portsmouth would be faster than going back upriver.

Some research of the James/Bellamy family suggests that Catherine was mother to both of these families at the same time, a sort of reverse polygamist situation. I just don’t think it can be true. First off, that’s a ways in 1830 for Catherine to be traveling to raise both families. And it would be very expensive for the wife of two farmers with 6 children to feed. Women did not have the kind of power back then to be able to move freely between households and keep their secret excursions under wraps.

Another reason I don’t think Catherine is the woman in both of these censuses is because I know that Elliot passed away in 1832 or 1833. I found his will on Ancestry on which his son William is executor.

So, in order for Josiah to have been born in Kentucky in 1828 to Catherine, not only would she have been married to another man and raising at least four other children, she would have been on an excursion in Kentucky while pregnant for some reason.

Divorce was uncommon in this place at this time for social and religious reasons. Evidence exists that the James children and the Bellamy children were close when they grew older. Josiah James and Bartlett Bellamy had a double wedding in May 1848. Josiah brought his father and Catherine out to Muscatine County, Iowa, to join William and Bartlett Bellamy in 1854. These facts suggest to me that there was no scandal between them.

So I don’t think Catherine was living with Jacob James in 1830. I do think Jacob had a wife before Catherine. To complicate things, though, I match genetically to descendants of all four of the Bellamy children.

If Catherine wasn’t Josiah’s mother, how could I be genetically linked to her Bellamy children?

Well, I’ve been researching that question.

What if Josiah’s mother was Catherine’s sister?

Like, after Elliot Bellamy and Josiah’s mother passed away, Jacob married his wife’s sister. It wasn’t an uncommon practice. It would explain the genetic ties. It would explain why the James siblings were tight with the Bellamys: they were brother-cousins. And it would make the descendants of Catherine Bellamy my 4th cousins instead of my half 3rd cousins once removed. For you DNA buffs out there, the shared centimorgans between those two relationships is virtually the same.

What do you think?

Sources are located in the links throughout the post. I found all of the censuses mentioned, as well as Elliot and Catherine’s wedding record, on Ancestry. The fact that she married Jacob James as her second husband can be found in censuses and in Joshua Bellamy’s biography on page 518 here.

All About Connections, Following the Kelleys to Iowa, Part 3

Part 1 Of this series of posts was about a woman named Mary Hibbard Stewart and the possibility of her being my 3rd great-grandmother. TL;DR: Mary lived near my 2nd great-grandfather John Kelley in two different states from 1850–1880.

Part 2 established that Mary was the right age, had not yet married John Stewart when John Kelley was born in 1825, and John Kelley, his wife’s father, and Mary were close neighbors in Henry County, Iowa, from 1856 to 1870 or so.

So now I want to look for any more ties I can make between Mary Hibbard Stewart and John Kelley.

I’m awaiting John Kelley’s death certificate. Usually, the names of the deceased’s parents are listed on these records. I could get really lucky and discover Mary’s name listed on it. Chances are, though, that other researchers of this family have already ordered his death certificate before me. So, probably, his parents’ names were left blank.

I’ve checked several newspaper archive sites and haven’t located Mary’s obituary. Obituaries often list the names of children and grandchildren. [Update: Mary’s obituary has been located.]

I also checked in the newspapers of York County, Nebraska, where the Stewarts lived before they moved to Washington State, with no luck. I’d like to look through the newspapers of Henry County to see if they mention a connection between the Kelleys and the Stewarts. Newspapers back then reported every little picnic and out-of-town guest, so there’s a chance I’ll find a link.

That leaves me with my dad’s and my DNA tests. I didn’t find any direct ancestors to Mary Hibbard in our matches. [update: we now have a direct match to a descendant of Mary’s!] But I did find this:

You’re looking at’s latest feature. It’s called Thrulines, and it’s a compilation of family trees based from people with whom my dad and I share DNA. At the top is Mary’s father, Ozias, and the next row down are several of her siblings. The far left guy shows that my dad and I share DNA with the 11 descendants of Mary’s brother Henry who have taken DNA tests. The rest of the tree shows descendants of 4 other siblings of Mary’s with whom we share DNA. So all signs point to us being related to this Hibbard family in some way.

John’s mother isn’t necessarily Mary, though. He could have decided to move with his aunt and her family since she had just lost her husband. But it’s not far-fetched to think she’s his mother. I was also thinking John Kelley’s father could be one of Ozias’s sons and his mother could have been a Kelley. I don’t think it was common for a child born to unmarried or divorcing parents to be given the mother’s last name back then, but it’s possible.

And that’s why I’m going to Mount Pleasant, Iowa, in a week!

Read Part 4. Sources aren’t necessary for this post, but here is a link to my Sources page.

Starting Over: The Two John Kelleys, Part 11

Start at the beginning or just go back to Part 10.

Okay, then. We have one DNA match to the Enoch family. I want to look again at the 1850 census in Champaign County, Ohio, where a John Kelley is listed with them.

John Enoch household 1850 census

My first question is: Are Champaign John and the Enochs related? Or, put another way, is Elizabeth Enoch a Kelley?

Enoch and Kelley marriage record.png

Transcript: Marriage Licence Given to John Enoch & Betsy Kelly – 26 July 1822 groom of lawfull age

State of Ohio Logan County Thereby certify that on the 25 day of July I joined together in the holy State of matrimony J[ohn] Enoch & Elizabeth Kelly of lawfull age. [illegible] have this 26 July 1822 Wm Hopkins J.P. [Justice of the Peace] file 10 August 1822 & register 10 Sept 1822

Elizabeth and her husband would have been 19 in 1822 (since they were 47 in 1850). Logan County is next door to Champaign County. There weren’t many people in this part of Ohio at the time, so I think it’s pretty safe to assume I have the right people.

My next question is: What is the relationship between Elizabeth and Champaign John?

In the census, Elizabeth is 47 and Champaign John is 24. That’s a pretty dramatic age difference. I don’t think I can be sure they are siblings, although it’s possible their poor mother was still having children 23 years after having Elizabeth. They could be cousins. Elizabeth is even old enough to be John’s mother. Maybe John was born out of wedlock and that’s why he has her last name?

How closely related am I to harryenoch, the descendant of Elizabeth Kelley and John Enoch I found in my DNA matches?

Screen Shot 2018-08-23 at 1.33.38 PM

We only share 22.3 centimorgans (cM) of DNA. That’s not much. Using a tool that tells me all of our potential relationships based on the centimorgans we share, he could be anything from a half first cousin three times removed (Half 1C3R on the tool) to an 8th cousin (8C).

(Sidenote: Are you wondering what “removed” means? True cousins belong to the same generation. If they are not of the same generation, then they are removed. Think of your first cousin. Now think of her/his daughter. See her pigtails? She is your first cousin once removed because she is not of your and your first cousin’s generation. That daughter and your child are second cousins.)

Looking at the tool whose link I shared above, I notice the relationship that has an average of 22 cM shared is 4th to 5th cousins. Plotting out harryenoch’s and my lineage, we would be 4th cousins once removed if Champaign John and Elizabeth Enoch are siblings, 5th cousins once removed if they were first cousins. That checks out.

If Elizabeth were John’s mother, harryenoch and I would be third cousins once removed. 3C1R share an average of 48 cM, so while it’s possible, it’s not as probable.

Whew! Okay. So where do I go from here?

I want to get to know Elizabeth Enoch a little better. So my plan is to:

  • verify her birthdate
  • find a death date
  • find a death record
  • find an obituary
  • dig up the censuses in between
  • Google her and John Enoch

That should point me in a direction, I think.

Sources for this post can be found here.

The Whitest Guy You Know

I’d liken my skin tone to the color of recently bleached teeth, if you can call that a color. I have the kind of skin that… incandesces. My bare chest blinds passing motorists and birds. People tell me “If you don’t like it, just tan.” Nope, doesn’t work like that for me.  My sunburns turn an angry red for a few days, then flake off revealing fresh baby skin that is even whiter still. So I didn’t really expect any surprises when I spat into the vial and sent my DNA sample off to be tested.
I’d be lying though if I didn’t admit that there were always little “What If” bubbles flouncing around in my brain.
What if I was of Jewish, Asian, or African descent? Awesome. I’ll be able to get on a plane and visit my new family and there will be tears and good food and a lot of PowerPoint presentations on how exactly I’m related to them.
What if the stories about being Native American are true? So cool. I’ll be able to visit my tribe, and I will ask them to call me Standing Sun or Walks With Sunscreen and they will gently explain to me that Native Americans used words from their own language to name their children, not English words, and then remind me of my perfectly good name.
What if one of my relatives was hiding an adoption or one of the maternity nurses accidentally switched a baby? Then I can’t wait to cast actors in the unavoidable motion picture deal that follows. Emma Stone is a good crier so she will play the troubled nurse. Beau Bridges and Celia Weston will play my parents. Neil Patrick Harris will play me, obviously.
What was my point? Oh, yeah. I got the results back:

Ethnicity Map
The Ethnicity Map results of my DNA test.

99% White. And the other 1% is from an area of the world from which all white people have genetic ties. So my lineage isn’t as diverse as I’d hoped. There are still some surprises in there.

That 2% Iberian Peninsula is intriguing: somewhere in my family’s past was a Spaniard or a Portuguesiard. (Yeah, that’s the Portuguese equivalent of Spaniard.) My lineage being primarily from western Europe (France, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands) and not from the British Isles is surprising too. Although, I suppose it was the people of Western Europe that originally populated the islands.
Ancestry also offers this screen:

DNA Home Page’s DNA Home page

The “Ethnicity Estimate” is the link to the Ethnicity Map above.

The upper right shows that I now have 104 matches to people on Ancestry. That feature is frustrating to me because most of them haven’t shared their family trees, so our connection isn’t obvious. I took the test to verify my research. For instance, I have a 2x great-grandmother Fanny Romine, whose maiden name—I’m fairly certain— was Grace, but I have no proof. I was hoping to connect to her descendents to prove my theory. To find a connection, I’ll either have to research Grace descendents on my own or contact all 104 cousins and play some Fanny Grace Go Fish.

The bottom of the screen shows a Thomas Hurd and a Dorcas Morris box. My DNA test has proven that I am descended from them. When I click one of the boxes, I see other Ancestry members that share their DNA.

I have so much work to do with this data and as time goes on and the technology improves, I’ll be able to learn so much more about my relatives’ stories.

Taking the Test

Yesterday, my status on the Ancestry DNA test site switched from “Awaiting Sample Delivery” to “Processing….”  The change was exciting but I still have some residual fear about it.

The DNA test is a genealogical tool that details your ethnicity and connects you to other people on whose genes you share. It can even tell you how closely related you are to others who have taken the test (first cousin vs. sixth, for instance). I’m hoping to confirm some of my research on my great-grandmothers. Ideal case scenario: the test matches me to some living cousins who can verify my great-grandmothers’ maiden names.

I do not consider myself a paranoid person. I’m sensible in most matters that don’t involve Jack Johnson or those gigantic grocery carts shaped like trains that always block off the wine department in the Jewel/Osco, so it’s very against my nature to be suspicious of what laboratories might do with my Continue reading Taking the Test