Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Another DNA Discovery: The Descendants of Robert Williams - Grandson of Julia Lee

This "DNA stuff" has me hooked!

For those of us who have spent years researching our lineages and building our family trees, we know all too well the many brick walls we face in our journey. If you descend from African slaves, those brick walls are even thicker!  Genetic Genealogy is becoming increasingly popular due to the opportunities it presents to knock down some of those walls.  I am of the belief that Genetic Genealogy, when used to compliment traditional genealogical research techniques (versus using it as a primary source for research), can be a very powerful tool to break brick walls, bridge gaps in identifying ancestors and reunite families.

Elodie Schaeffer Carter
On July 7th, 2014, my paternal cousin, Shawn Taylor, introduced me to Rickey Carter and his wife, Elodie (Schaeffer) Carter, on 23andme.com, the website for a privately held personal genomics and biotechnology company that provides genetic testing and analysis of their customers' DNA.  Utilizing their "Advanced: Family Inheritance" feature which allows two individuals to see the actual location on an entire genome they share identical segments of DNA, I discovered that Elodie's genomes matched my father and several of his third cousins (see the graphic illustration at the end of this post). Those cousins included Shawn's father, James Taylor, Michael Taylor, Kirk Young, Marva Harris, and a 4th cousin, Dolores Brown and her daughter, Nija--both previously discovered on 23andme. Excluding the last two people, all of these individuals were personally known to me and each other.  The common ancestor among all these individuals would be my 2x great-grandmother, Lizzie (Williams) Taylor aka "Mama Lizzie" who's lineage I previously wrote about. Dolores and Nija connect through an ancestor two generations above Mama Lizzie: her grandmother, Julia Lee.  Based on 23andme's predicted relationships with each known cousin, I was quite confident Elodie descended from one of Mama Lizzie's siblings (i.e, the common ancestor would be Lizzie's mother, Mary Haile Lee), but I needed proof.

To explain my presumption, I take you back to 1990 when I interviewed my great-grandmother, Essie Beatrice (Taylor) Mckinley, better known as "Essie B."  She spoke of her mother, Lizzie's siblings: Johnny Stone, Rob Williams and Kate Williams.  Essie stated Lizzie was the daughter of her mother's slave owner, Col. Richard H. Haile, but her stepfather, Sheppard Williams (aka "Shep"), raised her. Her older brother, Johnny Stone, was the son of another white male who's name is unknown. Sheppard fathered Mary's last two children, Rob & Kate. Many relatives knew of Johnny & Kate, but no one recognized the name "Rob."  I mention that fact to emphasize had it not been for Essie, much of what I'm about to tell you would be nearly impossible to conclude.  Essie only mentioned Rob's name nothing more.  The only other info she provided was that "Aunte Kate's" daughters or nieces moved her to New Orleans where she subsequently died.

Larry Schaeffer
Over the course of several months, Elodie and I discussed our family trees hoping to find the common ancestor, but part of the problem was not knowing which side of her family I related.  Her mother tested with 23andme and the results showed no one in my family matched her, thus, the process of elimination, stated the obvious-- we are related to her father, Larry Schaeffer.  Elodie shared with me that her father and uncles carried their mother's surname, "Schaeffer"--not their father's which is "WILLIAMS." She was unsure of her paternal grandfather's name which she suspected to be either "Ronald" or "Robert Williams."  Despite my excitement, their was no certainty the common ancestor was on that branch of her tree.  Even if her paternal grandfather was "Robert Williams," the age would not match with "my Robert."  My Robert was born in 1873 which was too old to be Larry's father.  Also, her uncle told her that his father died in late December of 1971 or 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  As a result, I spent months examining her paternal grandmother's side (which she knew more about)--if for no other reason, to disprove a relationship on that branch.

Bobby V. Schaeffer
April 14, 2015.  Elodie and I are texting each other throughout the morning and I suddenly receive the following text from her:

"You're gonna kill me too...Look what I found..."

Attached to the message was Bobby Schaeffer's Funeral Program from 2003--her paternal uncle.  The obituary states he was the son of Robert Williams, Jrand Valerie Schaeffer.  Now that we know that her grandfather was named after his father, Robert Williams, Sr., it's certainly plausible the elder Robert's age could match my Robert Williams. It also states he is survived by several family members including, but not limited to four brothers, Larry, Tommy, Jimmy & Charley.

Obituary of Bobby V. Schaeffer
Elodie searched the U,S, Social Security Death Index and discovered a Robert Williams born July 25, 1908 and died in December of 1972.

For months, I searched GenealogyBank.com, a website that hosts historical newspapers around the country, for old copies of New Orleans' Times Picayune looking for a death notice in the obituary sections with no success.  Suddenly, I realized if Robert, Jr. died in LATE December of 1972, his death notice wouldn't be published until January of 1973.  I changed my search criteria and discovered his death notice (shown below).  It states that Robert, the son of Robert Williams, Sr. and Mary Ford, died on Dec 31, 1972 in New Orleans.  His surviving siblings were Gertrude, Eli, Henry, Charles, Sheppard and Johnny.  The first three names Elodie recognized because she remembered her uncle mentioned those names.  The last two names caught my attention because of the name associations of the aforementioned brother of Robert, Sr., Johnny Stone and Robert's father, Sheppard Williams.  Clearly, Robert, Sr. named these last two children after them.  The obituary also mentions Elodie's father, Larry and his brother--all with the surname WILLIAMS, including Bobby Schaeffer, referred to as "Robert Williams III."  Lastly, it states Robert, Jr. was a native of St, Francisville, Louisiana.  That is where my ancestors came from!!!

Newspaper Obituary for Robert Williams, Jr., Elodie (Shaeffer) Carter's grandfather.

Shortly after this milestone in my research, I discovered the union of Robert Williams, Sr. and Mary Ford produced the following 11 children: Odile, Gertrude, Charles, Viola, Sheppard, Robert, Jr., Henry, James, Johnny, Elijah & Morris. What a wonderful discovery--to find the descendants of Robert Williams, Sr., my 2x great-grandmother brother...and all I had was his name!!!

DNA research continues to amaze me!


This graph illustrates shared DNA between Elodie Carter and some of my other known relatives in a one-to-many relationship validating the existence of close common ancestor.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Where Was This Picture Taken? (UPDATE)

I told one of my co-workers about the picture my cousin sent me and he found this article about Ferries in the 1950's that may have solved the mystery.

The 8th paragraph from the bottom states: 

Another "walking beam" vessel, the SACRAMENTO, was also a 1922 rebuild, but her hull and machinery were launched in 1877 as the NEWARK. In 1954 the SACRAMENTO was retired, stripped and towed south to Redondo Beach for use as a public fishing pier for a good stretch of years. Today she sits on the bottom of the ocean, splattered into a million pieces. 

The paragraph before that one states the following:

"Attracting as much attention was the legendary sidewheeler EUREKA. Following the close of the Northwestern Pacific Railroad’s railferry terminal in Sausalito on February 28, 1941, she was transferred to the Oakland run. Her superstructure was a 1922 rebuild but her hull and machinery dated back to 1890 when launched as the UKIAH. Her demise came just-like-that. At midnight in early 1957, after picking up "Shasta Daylight" arrivals at the Mole, the EUREKA’S crank pin snapped enroute to the City. Repairs could have been minimal, but that was beside the point. The front office retired her, sentiment notwithstanding, and donated her to the Hyde Street Pier."

“Shasta Daylight arrivals” refers to the SHASTA DAYLIGHT TRAIN owned by Southern Pacific Railroad.  I previously wrote about this train because my great-grandfather, William Leon Whitley, Jr., was the Head Chef on that train for nearly 50 years.


Thursday, February 5, 2015

Where Was This Picture Taken?

My cousin emailed this photo to me today, but we can't figure out where it was taken.  The two young girls are my grandmother, Leona Edna Mae Whitley (Right) and her younger sister, Coralee Whitley, natives of Berkeley, CA. I would assume this picture was taken around 1930 even though it is dated "Oct 27 1938."  Leona and Coralee were born in 1924 & 1925 so that would make them 14 and 13 respectively, and they are clearly not that old.

Was this picture actually taken in Sacramento, or on a boat known as "The Sacramento?"  If the former, was it the Delta King, or its sister ship, the Delta Queen?  Hmmm...another research project.

My grandmother passed away in 2004 so, my first step will be to ask my Aunt Coralee who is 89 years old.  Hopefully, she will remember this photo.

The backside of this photo reads: "GENUINE KRYSTAL GLOSS - GUARANTEED FOREVER - BEAR PHOTO SERVICE -OCT. 27 1938"



I Googled "Bear Photo Service" and found the following links:

Palo Alto Historical Association - Photograph Collection

Scott's Photographica Collection

WorldCat: Bear Photo Service

Saturday, October 25, 2014

West Feliciana Parish Slaves from Plantations Owned by Richard Haile & Sarah Rucker Haile


The following is a list of slaves recorded on the succession record of Sarah Rucker Haile, wife of Richard H. Haile, dated May 13, 1859 in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.  For more information on this list click here.

Separate Property owned by Sarah Rucker Haile
Name
Approximate Age
Lige
aged 50 years
Betsey
aged 50 years
Lewis
aged 12 years
L. Bob
aged 35 years
Susan
aged 20 years
Louisa
aged 2 years
Pharis
aged 3 years
Francis
aged 28 years
Sam
aged 9 years
Judy
aged 55 years
Dave                 
aged 25 years 
Henrietta          
aged 22 years 
Old Maria      
aged 60 years   
Alfred        
aged 30 years         
John                 
aged 23 years 
Moses                
aged 18 years
Isaac            
aged 24 years  
Taylor                     
aged 13 years     


Community Property owned by Richard H. Haile & Sarah Rucker Haile
Name
Approximate Age
Clarrisa                
aged 50 years 
Jim                           
aged 18 years  
Eliza                     
aged 13 years     
Isabel          
aged 18 years    
Sylvester          
aged 4 years
Kelly                   
aged 30 years
Ellen              
aged 3 years 
Hannah                 
aged 10 years
Anna                       
aged 10 years
Austin          
aged 9 years          
Patrick          
aged 50 years            
Ann                      
aged 45 years 
Milly                            
aged 35 years
Mati?a         
aged 15 years
Kitty             
aged 50 years
Little Lize              
aged 9 years
Lucy                       
aged 8 years
Phillip                    
aged 6 years
Noah                     
aged 4 years
Jacob                     
aged 1 year
Amelia                   
aged 15 years
Marinda                 
aged 12 years
Willis                      
aged 8 years
Lily                          
aged 6 years
Doctor                    
aged 24 years
Chaney
aged 20 years
Delphine
aged 2 years
Charles
aged 45 years
Clarice
aged 45 years
Muse
aged 1 year
Dick
aged 40 years
Ned
aged 23 years
Susan
aged 17 years
Lindy
Infant
Big Nelson
aged 45 years
Lizzy
aged 35 years
Mary Ann
aged 17 years
Mira
aged 12 years
Nelson
aged 10 years
Isaac
aged 6 years
Rachael
aged 2 years
Horace
aged 40 years
Laura
aged 8 years
Horace
aged 4 years
Israel
aged 1 year
John
aged 25 years
Isaac
aged 35 years
Old Billy
aged 60 years
[Tower?]
aged 22 years
L. George
aged 31 years
Judy
aged 40 years
Olivia
aged 16 years
Robert
aged 8 years
Kate
aged 4 years
Temple
aged 1 year
Old George
aged 75 years
Wilson
aged 30 years
Nelly
aged 45 years
Julia
aged 35 years
Mary
aged 15 years
Jim
aged 12 years
Tom
aged 8 years
Corean
aged 6 years
William
aged 4 years
William
aged 4 years
Jack
aged 40 years
Patty
aged 40 years
Tempy
aged 13 years
Minty
aged 10 years
Eleven
aged 31 years
Margaret
aged 35 years
Dennis
aged 16 years
Jenny
aged 55 years
Willis
aged 35 years
Comfort
aged 45 years
Mary Pete
aged 20 years
Julia
aged 23 years 
Anthony
aged 30 years
Henry
 aged 35 year


Property now in possession of Benjamin Franklin Haile (Son)
Name
Approximate Age
Martha
aged 24 years
Amelia
aged 21 years
Catharine
aged 2 years
Paris
aged 1 year
George
aged 35 years
Caroline
aged 40 years
Louisa
aged 27 years
George
aged 22 years
Ann
aged 24 years
Maria
aged 50 years
Spencer
aged 54 years
Ersy
aged 20 years
Harriet
aged 12 years
Rachael
aged 24 years
Sam
aged 25 years
Leah
aged 2 years
Eliz
aged 22 years & Infant aged 6 months [?]
Rose
aged 17 years
[Illegible]
aged 28 years


Property previously given to Benjamin Franklin Haile (no real title made to him)
Name
Approximate Age
Edmund
aged 27 year
Henry
aged 27 years
Amy
aged 40 years
Emily
aged 20 years
Gabriel
aged 25 years
Harriet
aged 30 years
Betsy
aged 40 years
Ned
aged 13 years
Levy
aged 8 years
Mahala
aged 22 years & two children
[Illegible]
aged 22 years

Property previously given to Ann Haile Stewart (Daughter) & W.M. Stewart (no real title made to them)
Name
Approximate Age
Catharine
aged 35 years
Betsy
aged 5 years
Fanny
aged 3 years
Bell
aged 16 years
Infant

Jeff
aged 30 years
Harry
aged 35 years
Dick
aged 16 years
Jule
aged 8 years
Old Jane
aged 60 years
Ellen
aged 14 years


Property previously given to Mary Eliza Haile Harbour & PleasantJ. Harbour (no real title made to them)
Name
Approximate Age
Nelson
aged 38 years
Able
aged 30 years 
Alphonse
aged 18 years
Mary
 aged 45 years
Amelia
aged 22 years
Kitty
aged 20 years
Nancy
aged 30 years
Hannah
aged 5 years
Will
aged 4 years
Martin
aged 1 year


Property previously given to Laura Haile Wilson & Alexander Wilson (no real title made to him)
Name
Approximate Age
Sally
aged 20 years
Cornelius
aged  4 years
Mary Jane
aged 40 years
Cyrus
aged 4 years
Lizzy
aged 35 years
Demps
aged 28 years
Sara Jane
aged 7 years
Catharine
aged 5 years
Dorcas
aged 3 years
Eliza
aged 2 years
Julia
aged 40 years
Delia
aged 15 years
Arm[?]n
aged 17 years
Manuel
aged 35 years
Mariah
aged 27 years
Source: West Feliciana Parish Probate Records, Inventory Book G, pp. 384-389 (WFP Courthouse)