Tuesday, April 1, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: A Mystery Aunt

Well, well, well. A mystery has unfolded.

I was roaming through Ancestry's shaky green leaves a few weeks ago and found a copy of this photograph on someone's tree. A photograph of my 2nd great-aunt Barbary Sawyer Proffit  I posted on the blog back in 2010. I assumed it had been taken from the blog, but when I checked, the woman who posted it had labeled it as being Liney Huffman Howlett Evans, Barbary's older half-sister. She had gotten the photo from a cousin. When I asked her about the identity she was unsure, having based the identification on her cousin's information.



As am I.

My photo is labeled on the back in my aunt's handwriting. She never knew either woman, but labeled the photograph based on interviews with her aunts. The problem is her aunts never knew Liney and only barely knew Barbary. I never have been able to figure out who the F.L. Evans is sitting next to Barbary. BUT, if the picture is Liney, then it is probably her husband James A. Evans. It would be lovely if the photograph included a studio name or location. Barbary lived in Cocke and Greene counties in Tennessee. Liney moved to Arkansas and then to Oklahoma. No studio. That the women might look enough alike to be mistaken for one another makes sense. They are sisters.

Last week I found the photo on another Ancestry tree belonging to one of Liney's descendants. This time I know the owner of the tree. He is a thorough and generous researcher who has shared his work with me about Liney and her life after leaving Tennessee. I am inclined to trust his information, even if the source of the photograph is not given. Unfortunately the email address I have for him is no longer valid and he has not responded to messages through Ancestry.

So, who is this? Another one of my Sawyer mysteries. A photograph of one of my great-grandfather Gee Sawyer's older sisters. With a man named Evans. My bet is Liney, but then again, my aunts were no slouches when it came to research either.

Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Wormhole Genealogy


Last night I had one of those out of body, out of time genealogy adventures. In the end it was more fiction than science, but what a ride! 

I began by revisiting my great-aunt Mary Kathryn's mysterious husband, Heiskell (now Hascal) McKenzie. I knew he was a devastatingly handsome man "from" Lenoir City (Loudon County, TN), that they married when my mother was a teenager (1940s) and that he died soon after from alcoholism. I have never found a marriage record for them and decided to see how Ancestry's search feature would work with the elusive Mr. McKenzie. 

Sometime later (on FamilySearch) I found him in the 1900 census living with his grandparents in Cocke County, TN. This was a revelation to me, for I had no idea he had local roots. I was even more surprised that his mother's parents were Abe and Jane Dawson, part of a large Dawson clan that contributed many in-laws to my Sawyers and Conways. 

I wandered a bit further and discovered that Jane Dawson, Hascal McKenzie's grandmother, was born Jane Precilla Ren in January, 1837 which is when Mary Kathryn's grandfather, Archie Sawyer was being hauled into court to support an illegitmate child born to Scintha Ren. This was when my brain took off and the ride become more carnival roller coaster/side show than actual research. I leapt, wondering if she was the child (probably not). I found a Priscilla Ren living with Jane in 1850 and suspected she was the errant Scintha, neglecting to notice she was in her sixties in 1836. I discovered that Jane's purported father Joel Ren was married to an Elizabeth Killion, prompting visions of Archie's sister-in-law marrying into the other woman's family and raising his spawn. 

At which point I decided I'd best go to bed.

Today, after sleep and copious amounts of caffeine I realize that I don't know if Archie and Scintha Ren's child was a boy or a girl. I don't know if the child survived. I don't know what happened to Scintha Ren. I have yet to find a record that I can confidently tie to Scintha. I even wonder now if Archie and Sallie's son Andy could have been Scintha Ren's son, for I have no marriage record for Archie and Sallie. 

What I do know is that Archie and Sallie's FAN club has grown, giving me lots more to work with. Joel Ren was born in North Carolina. Did he migrate with the Killions? Did he know the Sawyers before landing in Cocke County? Who is the Priscilla Ren I was so eager to label as the other woman in Archie's life (wouldn't that have been an accomplishment)? Is Elizabeth Killion Ren one of the tickmark daughters of David and Barbary Killion? 

I also know that falling into those wormholes is tremendous fun. I started looking for a 20th c. in-law and landed back in the 19th c. hills circling near my favorite mystery grandfather. 


Photo Credit
AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by uncleboatshoes

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My DNA MIA Ancestors

Pedigree Chart recording DNA matches and possible matches

I was playing with some new to me tools and decided to put together a pedigree chart to see if I could mark off my mother's ancestors where we have been able to make DNA connections. You can click on it to enlarge. I have some mysteries to work through and thought this might help focus my efforts. 

Of her thirty-two 3rd great-grandparents we have likely matches with nine. I am loathe to consider these iron-clad since so many seem to include multiple relationships, but I do feel the checked kin have DNA matches that reflect the paper trails. The question marks are works in progress. Much of this information comes from DNA graciously donated by mother's sister (mother and her other siblings died before DNA testing took off) with smaller bits coming from members of my generation. It seems she inherited more of her grandfather RJ Williams' and great-grandmothers' Eleanor Holt and Sallie Killion DNA than others, for we have many Williams, James, Holt, Killion/Killian and Fulbright matches. 

The lack of Conway, Mulkey and Duncan matches surprised me. Clearly my aunt didn't inherit equal portions from all her ancestors and equally clearly the matches depend on who else is testing. But I believe I will pay more attention to these lines, as well as the ever mysterious Sawyer line, when investigating the hundreds of matches that don't seem to make any sense. I begin to wonder if all my paper trails are genetically accurate. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Archie's boy, Crofford Sawyer (1847-1916)

Last week I wrote about my great-great grandfather Archie Sawyer's son Andy. This week I am focusing on Crofford, the third of the five known sons of Archie and his wife, Sallie Killion. Archie and his boys are on my radar because of my focus on DNA research this year. I am on the hunt for male Sawyers descended from Archie to beg, borrow or bribe my way to a cheek swab for a yDNA test. Bounties will be paid to those who deliver a willing, living candidate. Cake, cookies, booze. Whatever works.


Joel Crawford or Crofford Sawyer (1847-1916) also lived his life in Cocke County, Tennessee. He married Melvina (Vina) Green. Together they had 8 children, including 3 sons who survived to adulthood. He spent his life farming, and perhaps logging with his brother Andrew. Crofford was old enough to have been affected by the Civil War, especially since he was living in East Tennessee. It is hard to imagine he was not involved in some way - even if it was simply trying to stay away from the roving bands of bushwackers.
    1. William Jehu Sawyer (1873-1943) married Sarah Jane Solomon. They had a large family that included at least six sons who survived to adulthood. 
      1. Crawford L. Sawyer (1900-1972) married Agnes Miller. They are not believed to have had surviving sons.
      2. Joe Andy Sawyer (1905-1961) married Ann Ward. They are not believed to have had surviving children.
      3. Reaford P. Sawyer (1903-1969) married Pearl Reed. They lived most of their adult lives in Hamblen County, Tennessee and had a large family. 
      4. Edward Edgar Sawyer (1907-1973) married Lennie Bell Smith. They lived most of their adult lives in Hamblen County, Tennessee and had a large family. He also appears in some records as William E. or Edgar Sawyer. 
      5. Thomas U. Sawyer (1912-2000) married Edna Walker. They lived most of their adult lives in Anderson County, Tennessee and had a large family.
      6. J. B. Sawyer (1914-1996) married Mayme Kate Moyers. They lived most of their adult life in Hamblen County, Tennessee and had a large family.
    2. Joel Lawson Sawyer (1877-1950) married Maude Conway, the sister of my great-grandmother Catherine Conway Sawyer, making their children double cousins to my grandfather and his siblings. They lived most of their lives in Cocke County, Tennessee and had a large family including 4 sons who survived to adulthood.
      1. Clyde Sawyer (1913-1985) married Creola Babe Baker. They are not believed to have had surviving sons.
      2. Kenneth Sawyer (1921-1981) was married and lived much of his life in Hamblen County, Tennessee. He is not believed to have had sons surviving to adulthood.
      3. Harley Guymond Sawyer (1925-1985) was married and lived in Cocke and Hamblen Counties, Tennessee. He is not believed to have had sons surviving to adulthood.
      4. Living Sawyer. The youngest son of Lawson and Maud Conway Sawyer is believed to still be living. 
    3. Joe A. Sawyer (1882-1972) married Fannie Robinson. They lived most of their lives in Cocke County, Tennessee and had a large family including 4 sons who survived to adulthood.
      1. Gerome or Jerome Sawyer (1917-1961) married and had children. He lived most of his life in Cocke County, Tennessee.
      2. Walter L. Sawyer (1921-2007) married Ida Flores and had children. He lived most of his life in Cocke County, Tennessee.
      3. Living Sawyer. The third son of Joe and Fannie Sawyer is believed to still be living.
      4. Herbert Sawyer (1931-2000) was married and had children. He lived most of his life in Cocke County, Tennessee. 
I don't mean to give short shrift to the women of the family, or to those children who died young. They are cherished and recorded in my data. But they do not pass on the yDNA I am seeking.

I would dearly love just one or two minutes of time with any direct male descendant of Archie and Crofford. It won't hurt a bit. Just a little swab. Promise.


Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.


Photo Credit AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Phil Romans

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: Archie's boy, Andy Sawyer (1836-1926)

Last week I wrote my great-great grandfather Archie Sawyer's son James. This week I am focusing on Andrew, the eldest son of Archie and his wife, Sallie Killion. Archie and his boys are on my radar because of my focus on DNA research this year. I am on the hunt for male Sawyers descended from Archie to beg, borrow or bribe my way to a cheek swab for a yDNA test. Bounties will be paid to those who deliver a willing, living candidate. Cake, cookies, booze. Whatever works.


Archie and Sallie's eldest son, Andrew Sawyer (b. 15 Dec 1836 d. 6 Nov 1926) lived most of life in Cocke County, Tennessee. He married Sallie Etherton. Together they had 11 children, including 6 sons that survived to adulthood.
    1. George Wesley Washington Sawyer (1858-1960) had no surviving sons, but as our longest lived relative must be included. 
    2. James Sawyer (1863-1944) does not appear to have had any sons. He and his wife Clara Jones had daughters Mary, Ruth and Grace. 
    3. William A. Sawyer (1865-1904) married Nannie Cavender in 1895. They appear to have had one surviving daughter, Susan, before William died.
    4. Jacob Charles Sawyer (1867-1914) was an invalid for most of his adult life. He never married and is not believed to have had children.
    5. John Sawyer (1872-1940) and his wife Cora Quinn do not appear to have had any sons. They had daughters Tressie and Charlsie. 
    6. Joseph Henry Luther Sawyer (1883-1944). FINALLY!! Joe and his wife Eunice Holt had surviving twin sons, Clarence and Claude (b. 24 May 1921). They also had a daughter Alta, who compiled a family history that has been a cornerstone of my research with the Sawyers. 
I don't mean to give short shrift to the women of the family, or to those children who died young. They are cherished and recorded in my data. But they do not pass on the yDNA I am seeking.

While there are many family stories about Andy, especially about his Civil War experiences, documenting them has proved difficult. It is clear the war was a monumental experience in the life of his family. They lived in Sevier County then, reportedly moving further up into the mountains to avoid the violence. Andy was gone for much of the war, though where he was or which side he fought on is not clear. It seems he didn't go far, since several children were born those years. His wife and children reportedly lived with his parents.

According to family stories (and photographs) Andy worked as a teamster hauling cut trees across the mountains to mills in North Carolina when the lumber companies moved into the Smoky Mountains in the early 20th century. His occupation in census records is listed as a farmer. He appears in most records living with or next to his brothers, sisters and children as part of a tight knit clan.

I would dearly love just one or two minutes of time with any direct male descendant of Andy and Joe. It won't hurt a bit. Just a little swab. Promise.


Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.


Photo Credit AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved by Shawi