Finding Alpheus Adams’ Mother : Part III

In Part III, we update our research for Alpheus’ paternal line.

From Part I, remember that in May 2017, we first identified Reverend Ezra Adams as the apparent (meaning presumptive) grandfather of Alpheus based on Census of Canada records and Alpheus’ obituary. And in Apr 2018, we confirmed that Alpheus is a member of the Rev. Ezra Adams line based on several DNA matches of Adams descendants with members of our Adams line.

Not a bad start for a beginning genealogist. But based on what we now know, the DNA evidence was thin (5 DNA matches, 2 of which were quite distant), and we should have said possibly. Likely would have been a stretch.

What have we learned in the past two years?

DNA research

10% of the US population has taken a genetic genealogy DNA test (as opposed to a medical-specific test), and the number continues to grow rapidly. While several members of one family may take a test, and no members of their nextdoor neighbors have, it is increasingly likely that a 2nd or 3rd cousin of the neighbors has. It is therefore increasingly likely that DNA tests exist for descendants of most of our ancestors back several generations. This varies greatly around the world based on one’s ethnicity, but should also be true for Canada.

To prove the paternal lineage of Alpheus, we need five things (at least):

  1. We have two DNA tests for descendants of Alpheus. Let’s call them Test A and Test B.
  2. We need DNA matches between Test A or Test B with distant cousins who are descendants of Alpheus’ Adams ancestors.
  3. We need the lineage for Test A or Test B (which we have) up to the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) shared with the DNA match.
  4. We need the MRCA lineage for the DNA match.
  5. The amount of DNA shared between Test A or Test B and the DNA match must be consistent with the relationship determined by the two lineages.

If the DNA match or someone else does not have their MRCA lineage and make it available to us, then we will have to build this line of their family tree for them.

Below is a table listing the number of DNA matches we have found (as of 2 Apr 2020) meeting the five criteria listed above. For each DNA match, we were able to establish their MRCA lineage; it is at least probably known.

The MRCA for these DNA matches are Alpheus’ Adams parent up to his 2nd great-grandparent).

Freegrace Adams
Anna Kent
> 4 <
Phinehas Rice
Lament Gilbert
> 1 <
Henry Proctor I
Sarah Butterfield
> 7 <
Samuel Ames
Sarah Ball
> 5 <
Eliphalet Adams
Patience Rice
> 6 <
Henry Proctor II
Elizabeth Ames
> 12 <
Ezra Adams
Isa Proctor
> 5 <
Henry P. Adams
3 Wives
> 7 <
Alpheus Adams

There are additional DNA matches through these MRCA, but their lineage is not known.

In two years, we have increased from 5 to 47 DNA matches with documented lineage. And we have at least one for each of Alpheus’ lines up through his 2nd great-grandparents.

We can now state, with a level of confidence this time, that Rev. Ezra Adams and Isa Proctor are certainly the grandparents of Alpheus Adams.

Do these DNA matches identify Alpheus’ Adams parent? No.

The 7 DNA matches we have associated with Henry Proctor Adams are descendants of Henry and his three known wives. We have not been able to find matches through descendants of these wives’ ancestors, so it does not appear any of the three wives are Alpheus’ mother.

Alternatively, the MRCA for these 7 DNA matches could be Ezra Adams and Isa Proctor, and Alpheus’ parent is one of Ezra’s nine other children. Of the ten children, only five, including Henry, were old enough at Alpheus’ birth to be his parent. It would be a lot of work to eliminate four of the five with DNA testing. And we have no reason to doubt Alpheus’ obituary identifying two half-brothers, both children of Henry Proctor Adams.

Documentary evidence

What about the documentary evidence of his birth and early life? His obituary says that he was born in Michigan, his mother died when he was a year old, and he was taken to Ontario to the home of an uncle. We do not know the origin for this information.

We have stalked each of the five children of Rev. Ezra Adams that could be Alpheus’ parent from his birth through his marriage, and in some cases further. We have searched records far and wide in the state of Michigan, and Ontario, Canada. We have also searched the records of several other places that we will discuss in future parts of this series. Thousands and thousands of records.

It is as if Alpheus was born on the morning of his marriage, already grown, age 22, and got married that afternoon. We have found no primary (eyewitness) documentary evidence that he existed prior to his marriage. We can only hypothesize that he was intentionally omitted from Census of Canada records or he was raised by someone other than an uncle in Ontario.

Let’s state that Henry Proctor Adams is probably the father of Alpheus Adams, and move on. Maybe what we learn about Alpheus’ maternal line will increase our confidence, or point to one of the other siblings.

Ezra Adams (1788) and Isa Proctor (1797–1832) are 5th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

Henry Proctor Adams (1822–1882) is probably 4th great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.

Alpheus Adams (1845-1910) is 3rd great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.