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.  

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