Thursday, December 1, 2016

DNA Strikes Again with MORE Descendants of Robert Williams: Yolanda Adebiyi

This past September, I called my cousin, Patricia Bayonne-Johnson, and thanked her for encouraging me to create this blog.  She stressed the importance of "telling your story" because of the impact it has, not only on your family members and future generations, but other genealogists as well.  In addition, she felt it was important that I "get all these facts, knowledge and experiences out of my head and on paper."  Well, this blog has served all of those purposes, but what I did not expect was for it to find additional family members.    

On June 3, 2015, I posted a blog entitled "Another DNA Discovery: The Descendants of Robert Williams - Grandson of Julia Lee" which detailed finding my 3rd cousin, once removed, Elodie Carter, the great-granddaughter of Robert Williams, Sr. Robert was the half-brother of my paternal 2nd great-grandmother, Lizzie Taylor, on their mother's side. Their mother was Mary (Lee) Williams, the daughter of Julie Lee, a slave from Laurel Hill Plantation in West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.


Death Notice for
Gertrude Williams
Obituary for
Gertrude Williams
A woman named Yolanda Adebiyi read my post and decided to take a DNA test through 23andme

You have to ask yourself: why would my blog provoke Yolanda to take a DNA test? 

Before she died, Dorothy, Yolanda's mother, told her that she found out at a young age that her real father's name was Robert Williams. He was an older man when Dorothy was born. Unfortunately, she only met him a few times before he died and she did not know much about him other than the fact that she had older half-siblings from his previous marriage. After her mother's death, Yolanda was doubtful she would learn anymore details about the life of Robert Williams, however when she read my blog, she recognized many names I mentioned in the Williams family. Dorothy had an older half-sister named Gertrude Williams, a person mentioned in my blog, that passed away in 2000.  Dorothy had a copy of the newspaper death notice from the New Orleans Times Picayune. Yolanda, compared the names with my blog and noticed many similarities. At that moment, she believed she was related to Elodie and I.  

On August 25, 2016, Yolanda contacted Elodie via 23andme after she received her DNA results and stated the following:


"Hi Elodie. My name is Yolanda and according to 23andme we are 3rd cousins.  I read your  blog several months ago and decided to have a DNA test.  Glad I did!  Robert Wms., Sr. was my mother's father.  I've been looking for my mom's family for years.  Would love to connect with you and discover how we are related. Looking forward to hearing from you."
Elodie forwarded this message to me immediately.  I checked my email and discovered a similar message from Yolanda.  Elodie spoke to her on the phone, gave her my number and told her to call me immediately. When I received the call, I noticed Yolanda's area code was from the same location I was born and raised in Northern California.  I asked her where she lived.  It turned out she was less than 20 minutes from my father's house (her cousin)!!!! In addition she graduated from the same high school my mother did--one year prior!!!  

I was completely shocked and amazed. I logged into 23andme and she was one of the highest matches for several of my paternal relatives.  I was even more amazed when she told me the story of how she came to find out about us.  The pedigree chart (below) diagrams some of the descendants that tested with 23andme.  Please note: this chart does not represent all the descendants of Julia and Mary Lee.


The DNA Descendants of Mary Lee

I told her that I am a member of the African American Genealogical Society of Northern California (AAGSNC) and that I attend the monthly meetings.  I invited her to come so that my father and I could meet her.  She told me she attended previous meetings, but that was a few years prior.  We more than likely crossed paths before without knowing we were so closely related!  Below is a picture from AAGSNC's 20th Anniversary Celebration taken on September 17, 2016, in which I met Yolanda for the first time:


Michael Willis (L) & Yolanda Adebiyi

I very emotional meeting to say the least.😊



Yolanda's DNA Segment Comparisons to other Family Members

Friday, November 25, 2016

Talk About Twists And Turns And Crumbling Brick Walls: DNA Confirms My Penny Lineage

Ok, this is a story that's going to make many of my family members' heads spin, but I'm excited about this post because it is a fun story about the many ties that bind!

Before I get started here's a brief look at my paternal family tree for the reader's benefit of understanding this article.



In August of 2015, I wrote a blog about ending my 9 year search for my 2nd great-grandmother's maiden name, Mamie (Penny) BentonIn the months that followed, I'd spent some time researching her family tree and I came across some possibilities, but I had no direct evidence to support my theories.  Since her death certificate did not have her parents names listed, I tried studying census records looking for families with the surname PENNY living in Gramercy, Louisiana in (St. James Parish) as well as Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  

According to her death certificate, Mamie died in Gramercy at the age of 38 in 1917, but no parents were listed.  My late great aunt, Marguerite (Jackson) Vernell, told me that her mother, my great-grandmother, Artimease Benton, and her siblings, all the children of Mamie Penny and Edward Benton, were born in St. James Parish so I assumed that Mamie's family was from that parish. Unfortunately, all my search attempts turned up empty so I set my sights on studying Penny families in Baton Rouge.  In addition, I realized I failed to take into account that "Mamie" was potentially a nickname used in place of "Mary." 

That's when my fortunes changed.

Since Mamie was born around 1878 according to her death certificate, I started looking for "Mary Pennys" born within a five year time frame and I had two hits: One Mary Penny, born in 1876, living in East Baton Rouge Parish on the 1880 US Federal Census and the other was born in April of 1877 living in the same Parish in 1900.  Fortunately, both hits were the same woman in the same households:


1880 US Federal Census - East Baton Rouge Parish, 1st Ward, Enumeration District 103

Head of Household: Jack Penny; age 44; Birthplace: Missouri. 
Wife: Maria Penny; age 29; Birthplace: Alabama. 
Son: David Penny; age 8 
Daughter: Mary Penny; age 4
Daughter: Luella Penny; age 4 

- Jack states his father was born in Africa and his mother was born in Tennessee
- Maria states both parents were born in Georgia
- All their children were born in Louisiana

1900 US Federal Census - East Baton Rouge Parish, 1st Ward, Enumeration District 27

Head of Household: Jack Penny; age 59; Birthplace: Missouri. 
Wife: Marie Penny; age 46; Birthplace: Alabama
Son: David Penny; age 28 
Daughter: Mary Penny; age 23 
Daughter: Ella Penny; age 19 
Daughter: Else Penny; age 18 
Daughter: Odeal Penny; age 13 
Son: James Penny; 8 months 

Jack states both parents were born in Missouri
- Maria states both parents were born in Georgia
- All their children were born in Louisiana

I also tracked this family in 1870 and discovered "Jackson & Maria Penny," ages 36 and 22 respectively, living in St. James Parish during enumeration.  There were no kids listed. Both were also born in Missouri and Alabama, respectively.  Lastly, I obtained Maria Penny's death certificate under the name "Mariah" Penny.  It listed her as the widow of Jack Penny. It also stated that she was born in Macon County, Alabama and born to Sam and Della GREEN.  The informant was "Della Harris" who I presumed was her daughter, "Odeal," but I wasn't sure.

I had a strong hunch these were the Penny's I was looking for but without stronger circumstantial evidence I couldn't draw that conclusion so I shelved this project for a while and move on to other things.

Then, something happened that I never expected...


At the end of 2015, I had a conversation with my cousin, Carol Simmons, about taking a DNA test. I was telling her how awesome and interesting this journey has been tracing ancestry through DNA and so I suggested that she try it. Referring back to my pedigree chart at the top of this post, my great-grandfather was Emanuel Willis, Jr. Carol Simmons is the grandchild of Emanuel's older sister, Irene (Willis) Simmons. My Hope was that Carol's DNA would add to the growing list of Willis relatives that contributed DNA samples furthering my research on the Willis line.  She contacted me in the summer of 2016 to let me know that she took the test and her results were in.  I couldn't wait to login and see how she compared with the other Willis relatives, but what I found out was that she not only matched my father, his paternal uncle Edward Willis, myself and cousins who descended from Willis',  but she also matched my great aunt, Marguerite (Jackson) Vernell. The startling thing about this fact was that Marguerite is my grandfather's half-sister on their mother's side

My great-grandmother, Artimease Benton, married Emanuel Willis and from this union four children were born: 

  • Sanders Willis Sr, my grandfather
  • Brenetta Willis
  • Ruth Willis
  • Edward Willis 

Emanuel died at the age of 28. Some years later, Artimease married her 2nd husband named Will Jackson and from that union, one child was born: my Aunt Marguerite (Jackson) Vernell, therefore, Aunt Marguerite is not a Willis. How in the world could Carol Simmons, a descendant of Willis' match my Aunt Marguerite who is not the daughter of a Willis?


Carol's Matching Segments with Willis Descendants and Marguerite Vernell 

I called Carol as soon as I became aware this information and I immediately started asking her questions about other branches of her family tree. I discovered that her mother, Delores (Coates) Simmons was the daughter of a woman whose maiden name was Margareat PENNY. Marguerite Penny was the daughter of David Penny, the oldest child of "Mariah" Penny--according to oral family history as told by Margareat Penny. No one ever mention the name Jack Penny so Carol was unfamiliar with him, but her family was familiar with "Aunt Della Harris" - the same person named "Odeal" on the 1900 census!

As crazy as it sounds, this is how I confirmed my relationship to Jack and Mariah Penny--they were, in fact, my 3rd great-grandparents.

From Slave to Soldier: Jackson Penny

As I continued to research the Penny family, I discovered that Jack Penny served in the Union as a United States Colored Troop (USCT) during the Civil War.  Below is the United States Civil War Widows' Pension Index Card to pension applications filed between 1861-1934:


Jack Penny's Certificate of Promotion
The card indicates that Jack initially served in Company G, 8th Regiment of the Corp d'Afrique, the first militia of African Americans organized from the Louisiana Native Guard to truly serve as combat soldiers in the Civil War and not just as war laborers.  The 8th Regiment of the Corp d'Afrique, which fought and won major battle at Port Hudson, Louisiana, was later reorganized into the 80th Regiment of the USCT.  By the end of Jack's service, he was promoted from Private to Corporal, then from Corporal to Sergeant.

Jack Penny's Discharge Papers
I ordered the widow's pension Mariah filed in 1902 after Jack's death from the National Archives in Washington, DC and discovered a tremendous amount of genealogical information in her file.  In a firsthand account during her deposition, Mariah corroberates the information in her death certificate--that her maiden name is GREEN and that she was born in Macon County, Alabama.  She states her family were the slaves of "Russ Bridges" and that her parents "took her to Texas for safe keeping" when the war broke.  They lived six miles from Marshall, Texas where she was "hired out by a man in Jonesville named 'Lang' who was a furniture dealer."  It was during this time she met Jack Penny on the train going from Jonesville to Marshall, Texas and stated that "he fell in love with me at once, and he began writing to me afterwards, but we got engaged on the train." They were later married at the home of "Arch Penny," Jack's brother who later moves to Champaign, Illinois with his family and takes their mother, Elsie Penny, with them.

When discussing her husband's life, Mariah states that Jack told her he was born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri and that his family was "owned by a man named 'Penny' who raised wheat.  She even states that she owned a picture of him and that his brother, Archie, had the only other known picture of Jack. 

November 23, 2016. Carol sent me a copy of a 1995 Penny Family Reunion Program that details the descendants of Mariah Penny.  Nothing is mentioned about Jack and the program is centralized around the descendants of David Penny primarily, which is understandable because Jack died in 1902, his daughter, Mamie, died in 1917 and his wife, Mariah, died two years later.  The oral information gathered came primarily from David's daughter, Margareat who wasn't born until 1909.  Several of David's siblings are missing from this program and it is unclear why this information was lost to their oral history...until now.

Here is an updated pedigree of my paternal grandfather's ancestry including the Penny Lineage.  Notice the double kinship to Carol on both sides of my grandfather's family.


In 2009, just after the birth of my first child, I attended Aunt Marguerite Vernell's 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  Carol and her sisters were in town that weekend for a funeral.  My Aunt Ruth (Willis) Castle, Marguerite's older sister, reached out to them and invited them to attend the event. Below is a picture of Carol and her sisters with my son at the event...



 ...and they didn't know they were related to Marguerite Vernell at that time, nor double-kin to me.  I was able to communicate this new discovery to my Aunt Marguerite before she passed away in October of 2016.  She was not aware of it, but she had a good laugh.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Finding My Fleming Family (Actually, They Found Me)

September 25, 2016.  I receive an email notification on Ancestry.com from Patrice Ambeau-Royal, my 3rd cousin, once removed.  I did not know she existed and this was my first correspondence with her.  You might be saying to yourself, "Well, how do you really know she is your cousin?"   The quick answer: Because of two simple sentences that stopped me dead in my tracks:

"Hi, Daisy Fleming was my great grandmother. Just had some questions if you don't mine." 

I replied back with my phone number hoping she would call me ASAP.  Why?  Well,  in 2010, I had a conversation with my great-grandmother's brother, the late Earl Fleming, Sr., who told me his father, my 2x great-grandfather, George Arthur Fleming, Jr., affectionately known as "Papa" to the family, had two sisters, Lillian & Daisy Fleming and a brother named Nathaniel.

I continued to ask detailed questions that lead to the following discoveries: Papa was born August 16, 1886 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was the only child of George Fleming, Sr. and Malinda Carr. Malinda seems to disappear from the records at a young age and shortly thereafter, George marries a woman named Lucy Kellogg.  From that union, another 5 children were born. Aside from the aforementioned, there was also Hamilton Fleming and Florence Fleming.

George Fleming, Jr.
Daisy Fleming
Once Patrice and I started communicating she sent me a picture of Daisy. In return, I sent her a picture of George and we were both stunned. Patrice proceeded to tell me that she contacted my grandmother's first cousin, Norma Rae, daughter of one of Papa's son, Raymond Fleming, Sr.  I don't personally know Norma Rae, but I always knew of her.  My mother, my aunts and several extended family members know her well.   I asked her "how in the world do you know Norma Rae?"  She told me that she met Norma Rae through her sister, Ramona because Patrice went to school with Ramona's sons. I immediately texted my cousin, Raymond Fleming, Jr.  He was stunned to hear about this because Norma Rae and Ramona are his sisters and he did not know about Patrice. Patrice said her mother, Lorraine, told her Ramona and her children were their cousins, but they did not know the exact relationship.

While researching, Patrice also discovered that "Daisy" was a nickname.  Her birth name was actually Georgiana Fleming! 

The DNA evidence

October 31, 2016.  Patrice contacted me again to let me know she took Ancestry's DNA test and her results were in.  Once she uploaded her data to Gedmatch, I logged in to analyze her results against my known relatives who tested with 23andmeRaymond was listed as her closest match!!!  My mother's sister, Melvia, was also listed as well as Uncle Earl's granddaughter, Ratonya Terrell and his sister, Thelma Fleming's granddaughter, Channa Davis.  

In the Gedmatch table below, notice the 4th column labeled "Gen."  It shows that Raymond, Melvia and Ratonya share their most recent common ancestor (MCRA) with Patrice approximately 4 generations ago.  Surprisingly, Channa is 7.5 generations from the MCRA which is odd because Melvia, Channa and Ratonya were born in the same generation. My presumption is that Channa simply did not inherit as much DNA from our common ancestor, George, as the other matching relatives.


Kit Nbr
Total cM
Largest cM
Gen
Name
M738651
64.3
26.7
3.9
Raymond Fleming
M232604
48.2
27.2
4.1
Melvia W
M862900
45.7
17.5
4.1
Ratonya Terrell
M288930
7
7.0
7.5
Channa Davis
Table 1 - Patrice's DNA Matches compiled from Gedmatch

Additionally, there are several relatives, including myself, that did not inherit the same genes from Papa and Daisy, thus, we were not listed at all.  This can happen because DNA inheritance is a random process.

Examine the pedigree chart below depicting the Fleming Family Tree.  Please note that for simplicity, only relatives that submitted DNA samples (and their direct ancestors) are presented here to compare with the Gedmatch table illustrated above.

Partial Descendant Chart for George Fleming
Clearly, Gedmatch was accurate!  Patrice, Channa and Ratonya are all exactly 4 generations from George Fleming, Sr.  Raymond Fleming, Jr. is 3 generations away which explains why the comparison between he and Patrice is 3.8 generations from the MCRA.

Lastly, I showed Daisy's picture to my aunt, Nan (my mother's sister).  Nan said she recognized her face because in the 1960's, she visited Papa and saw two lovely pictures of his sisters. Until that day, she was unaware Papa had sisters because no one in the family ever talked about them.  

Saturday, July 9, 2016

I've Waited 10 Years For This Document!

Due to the State of Louisiana's policy that ordering certified copies of death certificates for deaths that occurred in Louisiana less than 51 years ago is prohibited, I've had to wait 10 years to to acquire this death record for my 3x great grandmother's sister, Delia Washington Brown, better known as "Aunt Dutsey."  Well, I finally received it in the mail yesterday!!!  I now know the name of her former husband.

What really caught my attention was the informant for the information: Mrs. Alberta Lawrence.  Alberta was the granddaughter of Delia's sister, Martha Shields England, and therefore, Delia's great niece!

Sweet!
Delia Washington Brown's Death Certificate

Friday, July 8, 2016

You Can Tell A Tree By The Fruit That It Bears


Matthew 7: 17-20 (New International Version)



"Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."

Since I was 8 years old, my father would tell me about the property his maternal grandfather, Montgomery Mckinley, bought for his family back in Baton Rouge, Louisiana during the 1940’s. Montgomery died of a heart attack in 1944 at the age of 43. After he died, my grandmother, Ruby, planted the two trees, seen in these photos, on the property. My dad said the trees are being preserved by the city.

Ruby and her mother, Essie Taylor Mckinley continued to live on this property until 1967 when Ruby and her husband moved to Oakland, CA. Essie sold the property and moved to Oakland with her daughter in 1972 after I was born. My parents always said I was the reason she came to California. The church across the street, New Gideon Baptist Church, now owns the property.

Before we came back to California, I wanted to make sure I got a picture of my children next to those trees. When they get a little older, I will tell them a story about those trees…


 

 


Sunday, October 18, 2015

NEW DISCOVERY: The Newspaper Death Notice of my Great Grandmother, Florence Hamilton Williams

Yesterday, I visited my 94 year old grandfather, Milton Williams in Oakland, California. He told me that although he was 6 years old when his mother died, he remembered certain details about the funeral.  He remembered asking family members why they were crying.  He then said "I even remember the church where her funeral occurred.  It was on 9th & Chester and it was an AME church...'Chapel...' something."  I Googled "9th and Chester AME Church" on my phone and the following URL appeared in the search results: http://www.parkschapelame.org/about-us.html.

I asked him, "Was it Parks Chapel AME Church?"

He said "THAT'S IT, YES, YES, THAT'S IT!  How did you do that?"  I explained to him how I used the internet on my phone.  He was so amazed!

I also told him that I found out his grandfather was a Mason and he his face lit up like a Christmas tree.  He asked me how I discovered that and I told him that I found his death notice on Newpapers.com.  His grandfather, Jasper Hamilton, died May 18, 1930 in Oakland, California.

From my phone, I showed him the following newspaper article:



He couldn't believe it!

He then suggested that I look for his mother's death notice in the Oakland Tribune which I never thought to pursue because I already obtained her death certificate from the Alameda County Clerk-Recorder's Office.  Florence Hamilton Williams died January 25, 1927 in Oakland, California. Previously, I did search for her name on GenealogyBank.com and Newspapers.com, but for months, I came up empty-handed.  HE WAS ADAMANT there had to be a death notice because he said his family was "very big on publishing things like that in the paper."

His passion about it motivated me to search tonight, but just when I was about to give up (since I'd been down this road before), I changed my search criteria to HIS NAME and it appeared at the top of the search results on Newspapers.com I called him immediately!



At 94 years old, my grandfather's mind never ceases to amaze me!  He remembers so much in great detail.

What's most amazing to me is now, I have a location for his father's origins!  All my grandfather knew about his father was that he "was from Texas."  He was told his parents separated shortly before her death and that his father moved backed to Texas.  When he received word his wife died, he sent letters and clothes to his son, but he died a year or two later.  He was never told anything else about his father.  With so little information, I've searched for his father the last two years with no good fortune, but now, I at least know he was from Dallas, Texas!

The search continues...

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Finding My Maternal Ancestors: A Dream Come True!

In my very first post, I mentioned that my grandmother taught me to memorize the previous seven generations of my maternal ancestors at the age of 8 years old.  I am so thankful to my grandmother, the late Leona Whitley Williams, for speaking their names into my mind and heart. Those names came to life through subsequent genealogical research. That research manifested into discovering living descendants.

This branch of my family tree was the beginning of my journey--it's where and why I started researching my family 12 years ago.  I had three initial goals:
  1. To validate the stories I was told 
  2. To find out if there were unidentified living descendants from collateral lines
  3. To find the FIRST name of this maternal tree, Binky Shields, my 5th great-grandmother in any surviving historical documents.
I've now completed the first two!

Fanny Shields Page
Oral history states my 5th great grandmother, Binky Shields, a slave of a Louisiana Planter with the surname "Shields," bore a daughter named Nellie Shields (b.1842).  Nellie bore three girls prior to the end of the Civil War, Nancy (b.1852), Martha (b.1858) and Fanny Shields (b.1860)--all fathered by the slave owner or one of his sons.  After the Civil War, Nellie married a man with the surname "Washington" and bore her last two children: Gabriel and Delia Washington, better known as "Aunt Dutsey." I descend from Fanny Shields who is my 3x great grandmother.

My grandmother said Nancy married, but she could not remember her married name.  She did remember that Martha Shields' married name was "ENGLAND" and Fanny married my 3x great grandfather, Jack PAGE II. According to my grandmother, Aunt Dutsey never married and Gabriel became a teacher and moved away never to be heard from again.

When I asked her where did they all live during this time period, she said "they all came out of New Orleans." However, years later, when I asked where her grandmother, Cora Page (Fanny's daughter) was born, thinking deeply and out loud, she said, "Was it Houma?  I'm not sure."

I'll coming back to that in a minute...

While visiting Baton Rouge, Louisiana to attend a family reunion on my father's side in 2006, my wife and I stopped by the Louisiana State Archives to do genealogical research. I told the staff who & what I was looking for and they suggested that I take a look at their 12 volume set of South Louisiana Records written by Father Donald J. Hebert.  These civil court and church records are abstracts from courthouses, as well as Catholic and Protestant churches in both Lafourche and Terrebonne Parishes.  One the volumes contained the courthouse marriage records for Nancy, Martha and Fanny Shields!  They were all married in Houma, Louisiana which is located in Terrebonne Parish! 
  1. Nancy married Henry MOORE on Jan 2, 1870 (See Document Here).  
  2. Martha married Frank ENGLAND on May 20, 1976 (See Document Here). 
  3. Fanny married Jack PAGE on August 11, 1977 (See Document Here).
Benjamin England & 
Dora Gautreaux England
With that information, I went back to the census records from 1880-1930 and looked for more information on Martha and Nancy (I already had Fanny's information). I discovered that Martha had three sons: George Monroe England, Benjamin England and Isaac Morris (adopted).  George had two children: James England and Beatrice Carbo (adopted).  Benjamin and his wife, Dora, had 4 children, Olivia, Alberta, Wilbert & Martha.

Nancy Shields Moore had 5 children living, although she stated she bore 11 total: James, Joseph, Martha, Nancy & Bertha. I had no other information on them since I did not know the married names of the girls and the sons seem to "vanish" in the records.

Alberta England Lawrence
Then, in February of 2011, on Ancestry.com, I met my 4th cousin, once removed, Renee Lawrence-Harrison, 2x great-granddaughter of Martha Shields and Frank England. I'd received one of those "green leaf" hints appearing on Martha's profile posted on my Ancestry.com tree informing me of a potential match of information. Renee and I have stayed in consistent contact over the years and shared much information and photographs. Renee explained that she descends from Benjamin England, her great-grandfather and his daughter, Alberta (Renee's grandmother). Alberta married Alexander Lawrence and had three sons, Alexander, Joseph and Frank (Renee's father).

Mildred Iles Lavizzo
During that time, Renee told me she also knew some the descendants of Martha's sister, Nancy Shields Moore, in particular, Nancy's great-grandchildren, Nancy Lavizzo and her sister, the late Millicent Lavizzo Russell.  Subsequent research revealed that their late mother, Millicent Iles Lavizzo, was the first African American Supervisor of Teachers for Chicago Public Schools and there is a school named after her.  Through multiple contacts on Facebook & Ancestry.com, I located Nancy Lavizzo in 2013 and her nephew, Corey, last year, however, Nancy and I did not speak by phone until April of 2015.

Here's how it happened:

Aurora McGraw Goode
On February 16th, 2015, I received another "green leaf" on my Ancestry.com tree, but this time, it was Nancy Shields Moore's profile. The hint led me to a tree showing Nancy, her husband, Henry Moore and several children whose names I recognized. I reached out to the owner of the tree, Barbara Goode, Nancy Shields Moore's great-granddaughter and we quickly discovered we were cousins. Barbara's descends from her grandmother, Martha Moore McGraw who had 4 children: Clarence, Evans, Jr., Robert and Aurora (Barbara's mother).

In fact, she also knew Nancy Lavizzo. Barbara introduced me to her sister and we spoke almost every day. They sent phenomenal pictures of their mother, Aurora and her aunt, Bertha Moore, daughter of Henry Moore and Nancy Shields. I recognized Bertha's name from the list of Nancy Shields Moore's children and the newspaper obituary for Aunt Dutsey that I discovered on GenealogyBank.com that mentioned her alongside her sister, Nancy Moore Lavizzo!

Nancy Shields Moore
(Child is unknown)
I forwarded the Goode Family photos to Nancy Lavizzo and she contacted me immediately!  Neither of us could contain our excitement!  She asked me how I acquired these photos of her family members and I told her how I met the Goodes online and they were more closely related to her than I was. We spoke via phone for over an hour and a half and by the end of the conversation, we were both crying!  Nancy shared wonderful information about her family and more pictures as well!  Nancy actually has two pictures of her great grandmother, Nancy Shields Moore, my 3rd great-grandmother's sister!!!  Never, in my wildest dreams, did I think I would see another picture of the Shields' sisters!
Nancy Moore Lavizzo
(Standing) & Bertha Moore

I expressed to Barbara, Renee, Corey and Nancy that I've been searching for them since 2003 and all my life I wanted to know their whereabouts. This was a dream come true!  My heart was just overwhelmed with joy and gratitude!  They all expressed longing to know their history!  This was, yet again, another powerful moment of confirmation for me--that the seeds planted by my grandmothers in me and the years of research were not in vain.  I simply have no reason to believe any of these events occurred by chance!

A Note to all of you genetic genealogy enthusiasts: You'll notice that most of these relatives are all women who share a common ancestor, Nellie Shields Washington, through generations of maternal lineages (except Renee who is related on her father's side).  Well, it stands to reason that we would all share the same maternal haplogroup. Utilizing 23andme.com I've tested, my aunt, and several cousins who all descend from Cora Page (Fanny's daughter) and we all share the same maternal haplogroup.  My hope is that my newly discovered cousins will test and validate what we already know.  That will be fun so stay tuned!

Additional photos posted below:

Bertha Moore (right),
Woman unknown (Left)
Close up of Nancy Shields Moore
Woman unknown (Right), Bertha (Middle), Aurora (Right)




This last photo is Fanny Shields Page and the late Janet Mae Goode Payne, Barbara's youngest sister. I was stunned to see such resemblance between them.

Fanny & Janet Mae Goode (Aurora's Daughter)
----------------
To my 5x Great Grandmother, Grandma Binky: I'm knocking on your door.  I know I will find you!  It's just a matter of time and I will not rest until I do.