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.

6 comments:

  1. Congratulations!! I am thrilled when anyone makes a connection and more thrilled knowing it was you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Michael,
    Do you have any additional information on Col. Richard H. Haile? By word of mouth through family, he would have been my great great great great grandfather....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jose,

      Look in the archives of my blog. I have two articles dedicated to Haile and his slaves.

      Delete
    2. Hello Jose,

      Look in the archives of my blog. I have two articles dedicated to Haile and his slaves.

      Delete