We’ve not found her immediate family — at least not that we know of, yet, BUT we’ve found a definite and STRONG, UNDENIABLE DNA connection to the family of Edward Morris and Elizabeth Hammond of Northumberland County, Virginia.
The tricky part now is figuring out how Laban ties in to that family.
Unfortunately, the records are sketchy in tracking all of their children’s lines and right now I’m not finding smoking gun of one of their children coming to the eastern NC area — most apparently went south and then west.
How did we find them?
DNA uploads on Gedmatch are marked according to the source of the match. No matter whether the kit came from FamilyTreeDNA, 23andMe, AncestryDNA or another vendor, if you download a list of matches it will tell you where they tested. That can come in handy as I’ll explain below.
I noticed on my grandmother’s 19th chromosome she matched most of our Morris cousins from various of Laban’s children. And since there were no Ledbetter-linked segments on that chromosome (at least not that I’ve found so far), I felt certain that it might hold some clues to Laban’s mother’s identity.
Gedmatch Segment Matching + DNAPainter = Wow!
I gladly pay the $10/month to be a Tier 1 member of Gedmatch. That allows me to search for matches on specific segments of chromosomes or the a whole chromosome.
And that’s exactly what I did with that chromosome 19.
Do you see the purple lines? Those represent descendants of Laban Morris from different children.
Those bright green lines? The ones that are CLEARLY overlapping the Laban Morris segments? Those are from various descendants of the Edward Morris + Elizabeth Hammond family from Northumberland County, Virginia!
And one more neat item… that one slightly darker green over to the far right is another Craven County Morris descendant from a family that we’ve been unable to connect to thus far — Calvin Morris + Sally Reel.
And it gets more interesting…
Sally Reel’s mother was Nancy Warren, daughter of Abraham Warren and his wife, Ann. What was Ann’s maiden name? I wonder if she might possibly tie in with Laban’s mother’s family. Laban does seem to interact more than once with people connected to the Warren family. Especially Jeremiah Warren’s crowd:
- 9 Dec 1814 – Laban MORRIS and Frederick POLLARD witness the will of James MITCHELL. Frederick POLLARD is also executor. James Mitchell’s wife is Mary Warren, daughter of Jeremiah Warren and his wife, Jemima Kemp.
- 8 Jan 1816 – Witnesses Deed between Jeremiah Warren and Jeremiah’s son, Lewis
50 ac. from Jeremiah to Lewis, “for natural love towards my son.” Part of grant Jul 23, 1741 to John Williams. (signed) Jeremiah Warren, (witness) Laban Morris & Caleb Otsen; wit. oath Jun. 1820 by Caleb Otsen; book 42 p. 67.
The Pollards were also connected to the Warrens indirectly by marriage. Jesse Pollard married Elizabeth Mitchell, a daughter of James Mitchell and Nancy Warren.
So what about the Hemby girls?
Well, as I started digging more into all of the various matches through the descendants of Keziah Hemby, it seemed most of them had identifiable ancestors who were shared with our Morris folks. Since the segments were so small, those are probably coming from those other shared matches.
We still have to figure out why Laban had the legal name Henby or Henly. Our guess right now is either that his mother was a Morris who was married to a Henly or Henby when Laban was born or perhaps the Morris is coming in on his mother’s mother’s line. With the amount of DNA we’re sharing with the Virginia Morrises, though, I suspect his mother’s maiden name was Morris.
We still don’t know what the circumstances were of Laban’s conception. It’s entirely possible the relationship between his mother and Rowland Ledbetter was not a consensual one. She may have been married to one of the Henby/Hendleys that moved away or disappeared in the 1790s. In fact, she may have moved away, too. Or she may have died in childbirth and he ended up with a Henly family. No matter who raised him, someone taught him to read and write. He signed his name quite nicely.
I’ve always thought there was some connection to that 1810 court case in which he was summoned twice as a witness and the fact that about six months later his name was legally changed by the General Assembly.
We’ll keep digging and I’ll report back as we find more information.
How did I do it?
I really do think this is a great technique so I’m glad to share it. I’m sure I’ll keep tweaking the method as I learn more and make more mistakes, but in the meantime, for solving this part of the mystery, here’s what I did, step-by-step:
- I ran a Segment Search on Gedmatch for chromosome 19 and then downloaded the list of matches.
- Next, I filtered out all matches that were not on Ancestry. I wanted to be left with a list of only AncestryDNA matches because they will give you matches to cousins as far out as the 8th cousin level. Sadly, FTDNA is likely an exercise in futility when you’re looking for cousins this far back. The segments are generally so small that FTDNA won’t even provide them in your match list.
- Finally, I started searching for the matches on Ancestry who showed up in the Gedmatch segment search. That was trickier than it sounds since most of them are using aliases so that you have no idea what name to even search for when you try to look for them. I finally had success when one of the matches used a real name and their last name was an uncommon one.
Sure enough, as soon as I started looking at their tree (which actually required me to trace some of their lines back further on my private DNA Matches tree on Ancestry), I soon realized they had a Morris line. It was in Texas. Since I was just trying to ascertain if this could potentially go anywhere, I allowed Ancestry’s hints to guide me in adding generation after generation.
But it went back to Virginia. That was a bummer.
I then looked at the Shared Matches with that individual and lo and behold I started seeing multiple people who matched that VERY SAME MORRIS FAMILY! I can’t tell you how exciting this was. Once I knew what I was looking for, I began searching through the other shared matches to see who lined up with that Gedmatch download list. I found a couple and plugged them in and ended up with the beautiful graphic you see above. Those are good-sized segments — good enough that I felt comfortable picking one of the daughters from that family and putting her in as Laban’s mother — even though I didn’t really think it was her, though she was about the right age. I knew ThruLines wouldn’t care if it was right or not. They would be looking for other matches to that family and her parents family.
Well, I checked back today and found that everyone who has a kit that I manage had dozens of good, lengthy matches to that family in Virginia. These are all people from out of state so I know this isn’t just a case of Craven County Cross Contamination.
If you have DNA matches who only have a few names, don’t be discouraged. If you have an Ancestry account, you can set up a “Quick and Dirty” tree to figure out who your shared ancestors might be. This video explains how.