[su_note]UPDATE (5 May 2019) – Turned out it is NOT one of the Hemby girls as I had wondered about in the article below. Thankfully, the exercise of using ThruLines to parse through Ancestry results gave me some good practice and helped me better understand the shortcomings of that system and how to improve my DNA sleuthing methods. Now that I’ve had some practice using Gedmatch + DNAPainter WITH ThruLines, we’ve finally had a legitimate breakthrough. We at least know the family to which his mother belongs, even though we don’t know who she is yet. Click here to read about it.[/su_note]


I have already written about AncestryDNA ThruLines™. I mentioned that it can potentially be an incredible tool as long as you’re being careful about the suggestions it offers for your ancestors. You need some kind of paper trail to be able to verify what it is suggesting. 

But what happens when you have an ancestor whose birth was intentionally not documented as belonging to his parents because of shame or embarrassment? If you’ve been following this site for very long, you know that Laban Morris is the quintessential “brick wall” ancestor. His father was not a Morris. We only knew from a handful of family stories that he may have been a Ledbetter. Thanks to Y-DNA, we were able to solve that mystery and verify the family stories. His father was a Ledbetter. 

But what about his mother? One might ordinarily assume his mother was a Morris, otherwise how would he have had that name? 

Well, an entry I found in a genealogy journal from a transcription of name changes in 1810 threw a monkey wrench in that assumption. It said he was petitioning for himself and his two oldest sons to have their names legally changed from Henby (actually, the transcription of the document said Henly, but the handwritten version looked like Henby) to Morris. Laban was already using the Morris name in 1805 when he married Caroline “Kitty” Williams so we can guess he was raised by a Morris family. 

But who was his mother? 

I think we may just be about to solve this mystery once and for all, and ThruLines™ is helping to make it possible. 

While my cousin Mike Morris and I had looked over and over again at the local Hemby girls as possibilities more than once over the years, we had not found any real connections between Laban and either of their families.  

This latest turn of events started with my recent DNAPainter obsession. I was searching for any possible descendants of Pitt County Hembys to compare to our family’s DNA. I know Hemby is how the name is typically spelled in Pitt County, even though it was often spelled Henby in early records. 

Screenshot from my grandmother’s DNAPainter.

We will continue to use this method to check for other possibilities for his mother and I’ll report back as there is more information to share. [UPDATE – There IS more. Click here to find out what we’ve discovered.]