Photo Friday—Eliza and Matthew Swann

Eliza Roxana Adams is the daughter of Reverend Ezra Adams and Isa Proctor. She was born in Esquesing Township, Halton County, Upper Canada (now Acton, Ontario), in 1828, while Ezra was temporarily superannuated (retired) from the Wesleyan Methodist Church in Canada. Church records report Ezra was at the time “worn down by disease incurred in the swamps of the western country.” Despite this, he ran a school house in Acton during this time.

In 1847, Eliza married Reverend Matthew Swann, also of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, in Markham Township, York County, Province of Canada. They had 7 sons and 6 daughters.

Based on their marriage date and place, in Find Alpheus Adams’ Mother : Part VI, we conjecture Eliza did not accompany Reverend Thomas Hurlburt, her sister Elizabeth Almira Adams Hurlburt, and her brothers Henry Proctor Adams and William Case Adams to the Indian Mission Conference in Oklahoma and Missouri from 1844 to 1850 or 1851.

For two portraits over 100 years old, these are in amazing condition!

Eliza Roxana Adams (1828–1906) is 4th great-grandaunt of MKS in the Watne branch.

Matthew Swann (1822–1910) is husband of Eliza Roxana Adams.

[1] member cswann40 (photographs).

Andrew Porter Sr., or Jr.?

In an earlier post, Irish Ancestral Homelands of the Watne Branch, we learned where the Gallagher-Walker and Hannah-Virtue families were living in County Donegal when they left Ireland for Canada West (now Ontario) by 1851.

We have learned we must research a group of Allied Families—Gallagher, Hannah, Hindman/Hyndman, Kerr, Love, Porter, Virtue, Walker, and others—to understand any one of them.

We have found them living close together, intermarrying, serving as witnesses on birth and marriage records, and moving on as a group to new places in search of a better life for their families.

Despite the progress made in finding their homelands, the whereabouts of Andrew Porter Sr. in Ireland remains a mystery. It is time to resume our search.

Please buckle your seat belt.

Until a record is found that explicitly lists the homeland for an ancestor, we are left to try to match the details (e.g. name, parents’ names, date of birth, religion) from their confirmed records with potential records for them back in a potential homeland. It can be a complex puzzle to solve, requiring research into multiple generations of their family to accumulate enough circumstantial evidence to provide confidence we have identified the correct person. And the last puzzle piece may not exist.

Starting from Andrew Porter Sr.’s confirmed records, we are faced with a few challenges:

  • his birth is listed variously between 1815 and 1831
  • his parents’ names are unknown
  • his homeland is listed merely as Ireland

It is therefore difficult to disambiguate between multiple Andrew Porters in Ireland (and there are many).

What do we know about Andrew Porter Sr.?

From family history, we are told in Hannah 1896–1996 [1] that Andrew was born in Donegal, Ireland, in 1829, and immigrated to Canada in 1852. Further, we are told that Andrew and his wife Jane Gallagher were the only children in each family. At least two of these “facts” are incorrect—Andrew was in Canada by 1851, and Jane had at least six siblings—but who is counting!

In the records of Canada, we learn that Andrew was born between about 1815 and about 1831. The earliest record, and therefore perhaps the most accurate, the 1851/2 Census of Canada, lists his birth as about 1826. In all of these records, Andrew is listed as being born in Ireland, not specifically County Donegal.

[Note: You may remember from prior posts that the 1851/2 Census of Canada was actually begun on 12 Jan 1852.]

Andrew lived in Manvers Township, Durham County, Canada West, on 12 Jan 1852, and removed to Holland Township, Grey County, Canada West, by 1861. Andrew is actually listed as owning land in Holland Township by 29 Dec 1851. [2] We therefore presume he removed his family to Holland Township soon after the 1851/2 Census of Canada.

Get Directions

show options hide options

Holland Township lots in red, Manvers Township lots in green.

[Hover the cursor over or click on a pin to see more information.]

He later removed to Manitoulin Island, Ontario; Hannah, Cavalier County, North Dakota; and Frobisher, Saskatchewan. We have not found anything in Andrew’s records from these three places pointing to a more specific homeland, so we omit their details.

Andrew died in Frobisher, Saskatchewan, Canada, in 1907. Andrew has a son, Andrew Porter (1856–1941), so they are Sr. and Jr. respectively. We will therefore refer to him as Andrew Porter Sr. (1826–1907).

From what we have learned of the Allied Families, betting odds are that Andrew emigrated with the Gallaher-Walker and Hannah-Virtue families from Ireland to Canada West, and likely lived near them in County Donegal, Ireland.

But it is possible he was indeed an only child, perhaps even an orphan, and that he emigrated from elsewhere alone. If so, he would be the first such confirmed ancestor in our family tree.

This is what we knew about Andrew Porter Sr. until 22 Oct of this year when Porter cousin K. Werner pointed us to a DNA match with our Porter family DNA tests, that match having a family tree containing one Ann Lyons.

Who is Ann Lyons?

Ann Lyons is the wife of James Lyons (1804–1887).

On this 29 Dec 1851 map of Holland Township [2] below, and in the 1861 Census of Canada, we find a clan of Lyons owning land together there on Concessions XI-XII Lots 19-21.

Holland Township, 29 Dec 1851; Porter, Quinn, and Lyons lots. [2]

On the 1851 map, James Lyons owns Concession XII Lot 20. In the 1861 Census of Canada, James owns Concession XII Lot 19.

On the 1851 map, Andrew Porter Sr. owns land 2.5 miles south of James and Ann Lyons, on Concession II East Lot 78. In the 1861 Census of Canada, Andrew owns Concessions II-III East Lots 78.

Below is an interactive map with these same lots marked.

Get Directions

show options hide options

James Lyons resided on the upper two lots, Andrew Porter on the lower lot.

Interestingly, James and Ann Lyons appear to have arrived in Canada in either 1852 or 1853, and Andrew Porter Sr. is living in Manvers Township on 12 Jan 1852. Perhaps they were able to purchase these lots before departing Ireland.

Note the 1851 map and 1861 Census of Canada list different lot numbers for James and Andrew. Lots were routinely bought and sold, or passed down to children, easily explaining the differences.

James and Ann had at least 8 children, and presumably married in Ireland before 1832.

Their oldest son is William Lyons. On 1 Jan 1859, William Lyons marries Elizabeth Quinn. Note the Quinns on the 1851 map directly between Andrew Porter Sr. and the Lyons clan.

And on the marriage register entry for William and Elizabeth, what do we find?

James Lyons and Ann Porter, parents of William Porter. [3]

Ann Lyons’ maiden name is Porter.

According to Census of Canada records and her death record, Ann Porter Lyons was born in 1811 in Ireland, and died in 1886 in Holland Township. So she is approximately 18 years older than Andrew Porter Sr.

We have ten DNA matches with our Porter family DNA tests whose line up to a most recent common ancestor (MRCA) goes through Ann Porter Lyons. One of these is through Ann’s son William, three through Ann’s daughter Margaret, and six through Ann’s daughter Ellen. All ten matches share an appropriate amount of DNA with our tests for the MRCA to be Ann’s parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents (listed here in descending order of likelihood). Other relationships are possible.

That is what we know about Ann Porter Lyons in Canada, and from our shared Porter DNA. Therefore, Andrew Porter Sr. probably has a close Porter relative living a few farms over in Holland Township in 1861.

Hey! Wait a minute!

You’re asking yourself, “Didn’t we already look for Porters living in Manvers and Holland?”

We did.

In 1851/2, there are 37 Porters in Durham County that were born in Ireland. 34 of them are listed as Presbyterian, 2 as Wesleyan Methodist and married to Presbyterians, and Andrew Porter Sr. is listed as Church of England.

In 1851/2, there are zero Porters in Grey County that were born in Ireland.

It appears that Andrew Porter Sr. is the only male Porter born in Ireland and listed as Church of England in either Durham or Grey County in 1851/2.

In 1861, there are 59 Porters in Durham County that were born in Ireland, 10 of them listed as Church of England.

In 1861, there are 10 Porters in Grey County that were born in Ireland, 5 of them listed as Church of England.

But we have not found anything to connect these post-1851/2 arrivals to Andrew.

And Anne Porter Lyons? Church of England.

Are there more?

Ann Porter Lyons is interesting. Before we search for Ann in Ireland though, are there more Porters nearby?

We searched our Porter family DNA matches again and found we share MRCA Francis Walker and Anne Hindman with DNA match P. Walker. Her line passes through their son George Walker up to them. Three other DNA matches share this same line through George up to them.

In 1851/2, widow George Walker and two children—William, age 6, and Ann, age 2—are living in Manvers Township next door to David Kerr of the Allied Families. We have not been able to locate which lots they lived on, but based on the census pages, they appear to live within a couple miles of our William Gallagher, John Hannah, and Andrew Porter Sr.

In 1861, George is living in Holland Township with only one child, William. Presumably, daughter Ann died during the prior 9 years. George is listed in the census as a tenant on Concession III East Lot 79, next door to Andrew Porter Sr.

P. Walker’s family tree provides an interesting lead for the name of George Walker’s wife. Can we confirm it?

The 1873 marriage registration for George and Mary’s son William Walker lists his mother’s name as Mary Walker. William’s 1940 death registration lists his mother as “– Porter”.

Mary, Mary Porter!

Unfortunately, Mary Porter Walker died prior to the 1851/2 Census of Canada. So we have little to go on. We can infer a little from the births of her husband and two children.

George Walker was born in about 1801. From that, we estimate Mary’s birth as about 1804.

William Walker was born between about 1845 and about 1847. From that, we estimate Mary’s birth as about 1824.

If Mary was born in about 1804, she would possibly have other children born as early as about 1821 to 1828.

But with William being listed as the oldest child, age 6, in 1851/2, there are likely no older children, and Mary is more likely born in about 1824.

George’s family emigrated from Ireland to Canada West between Nov 1838 and 1842. So it is possible George and Mary met and were married in either Ireland or Canada West.

With these four DNA matches sharing potentially two sets of MRCA, Walker-Hindman and Porter-unknown, we can not yet definitively say the shared DNA is from the Walker-Hindman or Porter-unknown side, or both. And our Porter family DNA tests also potentially include Walker-Hindman DNA from the Hannah-Virtue branch. There are many members of the Walker family living in Holland Township in 1851/2 and 1861.

But George Walker’s family lived near Andrew Porter Sr. in Manvers Township after his wife Mary’s death, and then moved next door to Andrew in Holland Township. Why did George do that?

It would be an amazing coincidence that Mary Porter Walker is not related to Andrew Porter Sr.

So “only child” Andrew Porter Sr. probably has two close Porter family members living near him in Canada.

Back to Ireland

Before we dive in, let us briefly review what we know about where this branch of the family lived prior to emigrating.

To date, everyone has been found living around Donegal Bay, located between Banagh Barony and Tirhugh Barony.

17. Donegal, 18. Drumhome, 25. Killaghtee, 27. Killybegs Upper, 28. Killybegs Lower, 30. Killymard, 36. Inver [4]

The Gallaghers were in Derries Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal.

The Walkers were in Killymard Parish, County Donegal, and removed to Derries Townland before emigrating.

The Hannahs were in Derries Townland.

The Virtues were in Kilgole Townland, Drumhome Parish, County Donegal.

Everyone was therefore in either Drumhome Parish (18 on the map) or Killymard Parish (30 on the map).

So we have three new names—Ann and Mary Porter, and James Lyons; and three families of interest—Lyons, Porter, and Walker.

Where do we start? We know quite a bit about the Walkers in Ireland, so let us start there.

Francis Walker (1769– ) and Anne Hindman (1771– ) were married in Drumhome Parish on 6 Aug 1789.

At the time of their marriage, Francis resided in Killymard Parish. Anne resided in Derries Townland. After their marriage, they lived in Derries Townland.

For Francis and Anne, we have the baptism records for 10 children, all born in Derries Townland:

  • Catherine Walker (1793– )
  • Andrew Walker (1795– )
  • Elizabeth Walker (1797– )
  • Francis Walker (1798–1866) m. Elizabeth Hannah (1807–1888); Holland in 1851/2 and 1861
  • George Walker (1801–1882) m. Mary Porter (1824–1852); Manvers in 1851/2, Holland in 1861
  • Mary Walker (1801–1851) m. William Gallagher (1803–1881); Manvers in 1851/2 and 1861
  • Alexander Walker (1805–1881) m. Hannah Love (1802–1881); Holland in 1851/2 and 1861
  • John Walker (1807– )
  • Jane Walker (1809– )
  • Margaret Walker (1812– )

Note that we have death dates for the middle four children. What do they have in common? We know these four emigrated to Canada West, and there we find their death records.

Most of the Allied Families are represented here in this one family.

In this family, we see a marriage occurring between someone residing to the north of Donegal Bay, and someone residing to the southeast of Donegal Bay. We have found numerous other examples of this occurring between members of the Allied Families. We also appear to see a portion of a family emigrating to Canada West, and a portion staying behind.

Ok, what about Anne Porter Lyons, Mary Porter Walker, and our Andrew Porter Sr.?

On, we have identified about 100 vital records (birth, marriage, death) for Porters in the townlands of County Donegal around Donegal Bay between 1702 and 1895. Of these about 100 records, 56 are in Inver Parish, 14 are in Killybegs Upper Parish, 12 are in Drumhome Parish, and 10 are in Killaghtee Parish. This heat map allows you to explore the members of our family tree in these places.

But to date, we have been unable to associate any of them with Andrew Porter Sr. These include three baptism records for children named Andrew Porter. Without any leads to his parents or siblings, it has not been possible to confirm or even eliminate any of the three.

In the available on-line records of County Donegal, we have not been able to find a marriage registration for George Walker and Mary Porter. We have found one possible baptism record for Mary, a Mary Porter baptized 2 Feb 1807 in Tullynaught Electoral Division, which overlaps with both Donegal and Drumhome Parishes. She is the daughter of a John Porter and Margaret. This is a dead end for the moment.

Perhaps Ann Porter Lyons will provide a clue.

Before we proceed, we must stop here and acknowledge that the records of the parishes around Donegal Bay are incomplete. Baptism records are missing for known children of families. Marriage records are missing for marriages confirmed in baptism records of children. And families typically had 8–10 children, so in two generations, we are faced with about 100 first cousins from one set of grandparents, many sharing the same given name. Without a unique given name, it is difficult to confirm relationships.

Ok, with that speeding warning issued, we will spare you the hours of staring at records, and jump to one family of interest.

We have found a marriage record for an Andrew Porter and Isabella Henderson, and baptism records for seven children, the children all born in Drumadart Townland, Inver Parish, County Donegal.

Andrew was born in about 1788. He married Isabella Henderson on 15 Dec 1812 in Killaghtee Parish, County Donegal. At the time of their marriage, he resided in Killaghtee Parish, and she resided in Inver Parish, County Donegal. He died in Drumadart Townland, Inver Parish, County Donegal, on 17 Feb 1848, at the age of 60. Isabella was born in about 1789, and died in Drumadart Townland in 1854, at the age of 65.

The children of Andrew Porter (1788–1848) and Isabella Henderson (1789–1854), all born in Drumadart Townland, are:

  • Anne Porter (1813– )
  • Sarah Porter (1817– ) m. 1st Edward Allingham, m. 2nd James Freil (usually Friel)
  • Archibald Porter (1819– )
  • Catherine Porter (1822– ) m. John Strong
  • Isabella Porter (1824– )
  • Andrew Porter Jr. (1827– )
  • John Porter (1833– )

Do you see it? Ann Porter Lyons was born in about 1811. And our Andrew Porter Sr. was born in about 1826. We have our first two coincidences.

The birth dates for Andrew and Isabella Porter’s children above are all baptism dates, except for those of Andrew Jr. and John. So the first five children were born before these dates, possibly a few weeks, months, or even a few years before. Andrew Jr. and John were baptized 3 weeks and 1 week respectively after birth.

The Friel family is a potential new addition to the Allied Families. We have found two Porter-Friel marriages, and eight other Allied Family marriages witnessed by Friels.

In the 1825 Ireland Tithe Applotment Books, an Andrew Porter is listed in Drumadart Low Townland, Inver Parish, County Donegal, for a 22 acre lot with Hugh Henderson, Widow Vance, Robt Bealy, Hugh Cassidy, and Jas McJunkin. [5] There is only one Andrew Porter listed there for Inver Parish, so surely this is the tithe record for Andrew Porter (1788–1848) and Isabella Henderson (1789–1854).

In Canada West, Vance is a member of our Allied Families. Richard Hannah and future wife Catherine Montgomery lived with Samuel Vance in Manvers Township in 1851/2. Eliza Ann Vance married Robert Hannah in Victoria County, Ontario, on 1 Mar 1871. So we have another coincidence!

There is One more thing …

Our Porter family DNA matches include E. Porter, whose Porter line remained in County Donegal long after ours and immigrated to Massachusetts after 1941. Her Porter ancestor Patrick Porter (1805–1881) resided and died in Gilbertstown, Killaghtee Parish, County Donegal—the same parish where Andrew Porter resided and married Isabella Henderson.

And Patrick Porter’s son Thomas marries Mary Ann Baskin, daughter of Margaret Lyons of Ardlougher, Killybegs Lower Parish, County Donegal. Killybegs Lower Parish is the next parish over to the east of Killaghtee Parish. Two more coincidences!

That is a lot of coincidences.


Andrew Porter (1826–1907). [6]

It is likely our Andrew Porter Sr. (1826–1907) is Andrew Porter Jr. (1827– ), and his parents are Andrew Porter (1788–1848) and Isabella Henderson (1789–1854). That would make Anne Porter Lyons his sister. And Andrew would have four other siblings as well.

And we would therefore know Andrew’s birthdate and place—23 Jul 1827, in Drumadart Townland, Inver Parish, County Donegal.

We are still missing that one last piece of the puzzle—proof. Hopefully this research will help someone find a definitive source proving or disproving our theory.

Andrew Porter (1826–1907) is 3rd great-grandfather of MKS in the Watne branch.

Andrew Porter (1788–1848) and Isabella Henderson (1789–1854) are likely parents of Andrew Porter (1826–1907), and 4th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

Ann Porter (Lyons) (1811–1886) is likely sister of Andrew Porter (1826–1907) and 3rd great-grandaunt of MKS in the Watne branch.

Francis Walker (1769– ) and Anne Hindman (1771– ) are parents of George Walker (1801–1882), and 5th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

Mary Porter (Walker) (1804–1852) is wife of George Walker, and is of unknown but likely relationship to Andrew Porter (1826–1907).

[1] Hannah, 1896-1996 (Hannah, ND: Hannah History Book, 1996).
[2] Map of Holland Township (#46) (Quebec: Crown Land Department, 29 Dec 1851).
[3] Ontario, County Marriage Registers, 1858-1869, Grey County, 1858-1867, vol 13, image 13.
[4] Map of the Civil Parishes of County Donegal, username Bob Hilchey,
[5] Ireland Tithe Applotment Books, 1814–1855, Donegal, Inver, 1825, image 16.
[6] KMS Family Genealogy Digital Archive, Kathleen Lucille Watne Wetherbee collection.

Photo Friday—Carrol and Shirley Retzlaff

Carrol and Shirley Retzlaff, 1941.

Carrol Retzlaff and Shirley Watne were married on 14 Sep 1941 in Cooperstown, Griggs County, North Dakota.

Carrol is the son of Alfred O. Retzlaff and Julia Bendickson. Shirley is the daughter of Rasmus Cornelius Jonasen Vatne and Lena Amundson.

Carrol Bernard Retzlaff (1918–2013) is husband of Shirley Lucille Watne.

Shirley Lucille Watne (1921–2018) is 1st cousin 3x removed of MKS in the Watne branch.

[1] Janice Steffen, “Griggs County Museum Group”, Facebook, posting “Carrol and Shirley (Watne) Retzlaff — 1941,” 29 Nov 2020 (photograph).

Photo Friday—Herman Adams and Frank Hannah

This is another of the portraits from Hazel Porter’s photo album. The handwritten notation on verso is:

Uncle Herman Adams
Frank Hannah

Herman Adams is the son of Alpheus Adams and Ellen Jane Hannah. He was born on 9 Jul 1879, likely on Manitoulin Island, Ontario, Canada.

Frank Hannah is the son of Richard Hannah and Ann Lewis. He was born in May 1879, also likely on Manitoulin Island.

Herman and Frank are 1st cousins, the grandsons of Francis Hannah and Catherine Virtue.

Both emigrated to Hannah, Cavalier County, North Dakota, with their parents, in 1883 and 1885 [2] respectively.

The Grodaes logo and the initials ABG are for the photography studio of Andrew Grodaes. A.B. Grodaes is listed in the Polk Business Directories for 1900, 1902, and 1904, as a photographer in Hannah. [2, 3] This portrait was likely taken there around 1900.

James Herman Adams (1879–1949) is 3rd great-uncle of MKS in the Watne branch.

Francis Hannah (1879–1954) is 1st cousin 4x removed of MKS in the Watne branch.

[1] KMS Family Genealogy Digital Archive, Hannah Elva Lucille Porter Watne collection.
[2] Hannah, 1896-1996 (Hannah, ND: Hannah History Book, 1996).
[3] Frank E. Vyzralek, “A Check-List of North Dakota Photographers Listed in Polk Business Directories, 1880–1921,” 1986.

Ninety Six in the American Revolutionary War

In Finding Alpheus Adams’ Mother : Part V, we learned that Alpheus’ maternal line, the Strains, emigrated from Ireland to Pennylvania (about 1750), and then removed to Virginia (before 1762), South Carolina (before 1765), and Ohio (about 1808).

In South Carolina, the Strains lived in Ninety-Six District, and served in the American Revolutionary War alongside the Tutt, Martin, and Key families from our Knight branch.

Stockade Fort, Ninety Six, South Carolina.

We recently bumped into someone else who followed the same path. In Who Do You Think You Are?, Season 10, Episode 4 (aired 17 Dec 2018 on TLC), Matthew Morrison, actor on Broadway and the television show Glee, learns about his 6th great-grandfather James Lindley.

James Lindley (1735–1779) was born in London Grove, Chester County, Pennsylvania. The Lindleys had emigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania (about 1713), and then removed to Orange County, North Carolina (by 1759), and Ninety-Six District (early 1768) before the American Revolutionary War.

In this episode, Matthew Morrison visits the South Carolina Historical Society in Charleston, South Carolina. From there, he visits the Kettle Creek Battlefield in Wilkes County, Georgia, and the Ninety Six National Historic Site in Greenwood County, South Carolina.

Star Fort, Ninety Six, South Carolina.

William Strain, Benjamin Tutt, and Gabriel Tutt served in the Upper Ninety-Six District Regiment of the South Carolina Patriot Militia, and that regiment was at the Battle of Kettle Creek on 14 Feb 1779. We do not know if they were actually at the battle, or in Ninety Six during the events of Apr 1779 described in the episode. We do know that James Lindley was there.

Ninety Six was a small settlement on the edge of the frontier in 1779. It is likely the Strains, Tutts, Martins, and Keys knew or knew of James Lindley.

For an interesting look into life in Ninety-Six District during the American Revolutionary War, we highly recommend you watch this episode.

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

Photo Friday—Bob Hannah and Family

Bob Hannah and family, Manvers Township, Ontario, Canada, date unknown. [1]

Robert Hannah was born on 28 Jul 1846 in Manvers Township, Durham County, Canada West (now Kawartha Lakes, Ontario, Canada), the son of John Hannah and Ellen Jackson. John Hannah is the son of Richard Hannah and Catherine Walker.

We recognized this house from an 1878 drawing (see original [2] below) posted by member crpreston7. Our prior research of Tremaine’s Map of the County of Durham, Upper Canada, 1861, then confirmed the identify of this Bob Hannah from among the several Robert Hannah in the family.

Maple Grove residence of Robert Hannah, Concession 10, Lot 18, Manvers Township, Ontario, Canada. [2]

Tremaine’s Map lists Samuel Vance (1816–1873) as the owner of Concession 10, Lot 18, in 1861. Samuel is also found living on this land in the 1851, 1861, and 1871 Census of Canada:

  • In 1852 (the Census of Canada West started late), Samuel is listed as farmer (owner of the land) and widower with two daughters, Eliza Ann and Margaret Jane. Associated families also living with them are Catherine Montgomery, Richard Hannah, and Elizabeth Montgomery.
  • In 1861, Samuel is listed as farmer and widower with two daughters, Eliza Ann and Margaret Jane. Associated families also living with them are Ann Hineman [Hindman, Hyndman].
  • In 1871, Samuel is listed as farmer. Also living with him are his daughter Eliza Ann and her husband Robert Hannah.

Robert Hannah lived with his parents on Concession 10, Lots 16-17, in 1851 and 1861. That lot is about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) south-southwest of the Vance lot.

Robert Hannah and Eliza Ann Vance married on 1 Mar 1871 in Victoria County, Ontario, Canada. Samuel Vance died in 1873, and apparently left or sold the farm to Robert and Eliza Ann, as Robert is listed on the map for this lot in 1878. [2]

The 1881 Census of Canada lists Robert Hannah, farmer, with his wife Eliza Ann, three daughters (Lila, Elva, Mary), and servant Ellen Robinson at this farm.

Robert and Eliza Ann Hannah, and their daughters, reside in Lindsay Township, Victoria South District, Ontario, Canada, in 1891. They return to Manvers Township before 1901, although it is not known if they returned to this farm.

We therefore assume the woman in the photo standing next to Bob Hannah is Eliza Ann Vance, his wife. Robert and Eliza Ann appear to have had only the three daughters. We have not been able to identify the five young women in the photo on the right.

The house and farm buildings seen in the photo and drawing are still (May 2020) there.

Get Directions

show options hide options

Robert Hannah (1846–1919) is 1st cousin 5x removed of MKS in the Watne branch.

Eliza Ann Vance (1847–1926) is wife of Robert Hannah.

[1] KMS Family Genealogy Digital Archive, Hannah Elva Lucille Porter Watne collection.
[2] Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of Northumberland and Durham, Ontario (Toronto: H. Belden & Co., 1878), p. 109.

Finding Alpheus Adams’ Mother : Part VII

In Part VI, we learned several of Reverend Ezra Adams’ children removed south from Ontario to Missouri, likely residing there between 1844–1851. But how could they have bumped into the Strains?

Let’s follow the Strain children now.

In Part IV, we concluded that Samuel Strain is probably the great-grandparent of, and Thomas McCartney Strain is likely the grandparent of Alpheus. But the DNA data does not provide certainty. One of Thomas’ siblings could possibly be the grandparent.

Samuel has 4 wives, and 22 children. 13 of these children were born before 1812, and could have children and grandchildren of their own we must consider as possible parents for Alpheus. We might never identify them all, making it pointless to even try to count them—easily over 100.

This is not looking promising; unfortunately, all we can do is dig in.

Hannah Strain is the oldest daughter of Samuel Strain, born in 1783, in Abbeville, South Carolina. We are told she served delicious red-eye gravy with her grits, and green eggs and ham breakfast (trust us).

She removes to Ohio with her family, and on 3 Mar 1801, she marries James Bradley Finley. James tells us in his own words of their marriage day, “my father-in-law, being unsatisfied with his daughter’s (Hannah) choice, did not even allow her to take her clothes, ….” Apparently this rift between father and daughter never heals; Samuel leaves Hannah out of his will, written in 1840.

Between 1843–1846, they live in Muskingum County, Ohio. They then live in Franklin County, Ohio, and Preble County, Ohio, through 1851.

Reverend James Bradley Finley, Methodist Episcopal Church.

James Bradley Finley is a circuit rider in the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC).

First child, no way! Excuse us, while we run out, and buy a lottery ticket.

Rev. James Bradley Finley, lion of the forest, is one of the most prominent of all circuit riders of this era [1][2]:

  • “A sympathetic defender of Indian rights, he was harshly critical of the federal government’s removal policy that ultimately forced the Wyandot nation to relocate in Kansas in 1843.”
  • At the 1844 General Conference of the MEC, he offered the resolution (“that Bishop Andrew desist from his episcopal duties until disentangling himself from slavery”)—approved 111 yeas, 69 nays—that led to the split of the Methodist Episcopal Church a year later, into North and South, 16 years prior to the American Civil War.
  • “He was instrumental in prison reform, including a library program and the separation of youthful offenders from older prisoners.”

From 1 May to 11 June 1844 (six weeks), the MEC General Conference assembled in New York City; its approximately 180 delegates included [1]:

  • James B. Finley, Ohio Conference
  • Jerome C. Berryman, Missouri Conference
  • Newton G. Berryman, Illinois Conference
  • William Case, Western Canada, Wesleyan Missionary Society (namesake of our William Case Adams)

We met Rev. Jerome C. Berryman in Part VI. We haven’t connected him with Rev. Newton G. Berryman, but they were both children in Kentucky between 1800–1810.

In the minutes of the General Conference, we also see references to other ministers in attendance, non-delegates that traveled to the conference with delegates. Six weeks in the big city; we can imagine the lobbying was intense to tag along.

Given what we have learned about these families through the MEC General and Annual conferences, each thoroughly documented in excruciating detail, it is clear the circuit riders were a single community spanning the United States and Canada. It is inconceivable Rev. Ezra Adams and son-in-law Rev. Thomas Hurlburt of the Adams line, and Rev. James Bradley Finley of the Strain line are total strangers. They at least know of each other through church records and correspondence. The record tells us there is certainly only two degrees-of-separation between them, via two chains:

  • Adams — Rev. William Case — Rev. James Bradley Finley & Hannah Strain
  • Adams — Rev. Jerome C. Berryman — Rev. James Bradley Finley & Hannah Strain

Rev. James Bradley Finley even details his journey north from Ohio to the border between the United States and Canada at Detroit, and into Upper Canada (later Ontario) in 1823. [3] Perhaps they met as early as then.

The DNA tests and their DNA matches available today do not allow us to point to a specific member of the Strain family, but do tell us that a Strain is probably the mother of Alpheus Adams. This is certainly not a satisfying end to our story.

There is no birth certificate or even a smoking gun in this story. After a long, four-year journey, we are left to theorize.

Our story now jumps from non-fiction to fiction, but grounded in all we have learned over the past four years. Again, there is no smoking gun.

Theory A

Rev. Thomas Hurlburt, upon learning of the approval of his request for relocation to the United States, contacts Rev. John Bradley Finley in early 1844. His correspondence provides news of the Canadian church, and the health of Rev. Ezra Adams and Rev. William Case. He also:

  • requests a copy of Finley’s book History of the Wyandott Mission at Upper Sandusky, Ohio, published in 1840, in order to learn of Finley’s experiences,
  • requests travel assistance for the Adams group,
  • and seeks a face-to-face meeting on the way south to learn more of the imminent split of the MEC in the United States, as Thomas would depart assigned to the MEC, but soon find himself in the MEC, South.

The side excursion to Zanesville, Ohio, is a short diversion on their journey from Ontario, to Missouri. It is clearly on the way.

The group is comprised of Rev. Thomas Hurlburt and his wife Elizabeth Adams, Henry Proctor Adams, and William Case Adams.

A child is born in early 1845, the Strain mother may or may not have died soon after, and Alpheus is sent to Canada to live with the Adams family. During his childhood, he is raised by his aunt Maria Jane Adams, and his uncle William Case Adams, living a distance away in Toronto, is perhaps viewed as a father figure. So Alpheus lists them as his parents when he marries.

Theory B

This is Theory A with a twist.

The divide within the MEC over slavery began decades before the 1844 General Conference. Four years earlier at the prior General Conference, the matter of then Rev. Andrew, later Bishop Andrew, had been considered, but he was not expelled. The split is expected, perhaps even planned, in the resolutions brought forward regarding slavery in 1844.

The Adams group travels from Ontario to New York, to observe the General Conference, on their way to Missouri. They are there for up to six weeks before traveling on to Missouri. Members of the extended family of Rev. James Bradley Finley also accompany him to New York.

Hopefully our journey to find Alpheus’ mother will inform future research into and appreciation for Alpheus’ family. We were not able to share the larger story of the times in which they lived. The who, when, and place, with a little DNA sprinkled in, has consumed seven posts.

There are a large number of records, histories, biographies and autobiographies concerning the circuit riders of the Methodist Episcopal Church. They enlighten us about life on the frontier of two vast countries as the wilderness closes in the mid-1800’s. And remind us of their struggles with major issues of the time—the interactions between settlers and Native Americans, and slavery in the United States. We did not anticipate this aspect of our four-year journey, but have been greatly enriched by it.

We reached our destination, but failed to meet Alpheus’ mother.

And yet, we did manage to meet her Strain family, and learn they fought side-by-side with our Knight branch to found a new nation. It has been a wonderful, surprising journey.

We have added several books to our Read More … page. Hopefully, you are inspired to read about our family’s circuit riders: Rev. Ezra Adams, Rev. Thomas Hurlburt, and Rev. James Bradley Finley.

Meanwhile, we will begin to plan another journey.


We have no evidence, record or otherwise, indicating Alpheus knew Henry Proctor Adams. It is interesting though that Henry removes from Grey County, Ontario, Canada, in 1880, to Bruce, Cavalier County, North Dakota, at about the same time that Alpheus and his wife Ellen Jane Hannah, along with many of the Hannah family, remove to Hannah, Cavalier County, North Dakota. Clearly, before Alpheus’ death, the family knows of his two half-brothers, siblings of Henry Proctor Adams.

Henry removing to Cavalier County, North Dakota, in 1880, first pointed us to the family of Rev. Ezra Adams, and began this journey.

John Strain (1730–1766) is probably 7th great-grandparent of MKS in the Watne branch.

Samuel Strain (1762–1845) and Hannah Watts (1762–1798) are probably 6th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

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.

[1] “Rev. James B. Finley,”
[2] Journals of the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, Volume II, 1840, 1844 (New York: Carlton & Phillips, 1856).
[3] Rev. James B. Finley, Life Among the Indians; Or, Personal Reminiscences and Historical Incidents Illustrative of Indian Life and Character (Cincinnati: Methodist Book Concern, 1860).

Finding Alpheus Adams’ Mother : Part VI

Note: As we approach the end of our journey, note the increased use of levels of confidence in our statements—perhaps, possibly, likely, probably. [1]

We have identified Henry Proctor Adams as the probable father of Alpheus Adams, and Samuel Strain as a probable great-grandfather on Alpheus’ maternal side.

Let’s jump to 1844, maybe a year or two earlier, or later. The family of Henry’s father, Reverend Ezra Adams, lives in Ontario, Canada. The family of Samuel Strain lives in Montgomery County, Indiana—569 miles away. These families are living on the frontier of two different countries. Travel is difficult, expensive, and dangerous.

Despite learning much on this journey, we are lost. Where do we go now?

Let’s follow their children. But before we depart, let’s practice safe genealogy.

We need to beware of confirmation bias, the tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories. In this case, we don’t know what to believe.

On the other hand, we need to listen to our gut, and our long-time friend Leroy Jethro Gibbs (see Gibbs’ Rule #39). Gibbs apparently knew William of Ockham and Occam’s razor.

Ok, climb on or climb aboard—you pick—horse, boat, or train?

In a prior post, we detailed the circuits assigned Rev. Ezra Adams over his long service, a roadmap needed to follow his family.

In 1828, the Methodist Episcopal work in Canada split from the Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) in the United States, and in 1833 joined with the British Wesleyans. We only mention this because prior to 1833, Ezra traveled on occasion east from Ontario to New York for the Annual Conferences. After 1833, he attended Annual Conferences in Ontario.

In 1844, Ezra has five living children that are old enough to be Alpheus’ parent, or old enough to be traveling any distance on their own. Let’s start with the oldest.

Elizabeth Alimira Adams is the oldest daughter, born in 1816. In 1832, she married Rev. Thomas Hurlburt.

Thomas Hurlburt, missionary in the MEC in Upper Canada (now Ontario), began teaching Indians at Munceytown Mission, Middlesex County, Ontario, in 1829, before he was ordained. He was assigned there from 1829-34. He was also a linguist and philologist, assisting in the development of the spelling system for the Ojibwa language.

At the 31 Aug 1831 Annual Conference of the MEC, Ezra Adams was assigned as:

  • London District, Presiding Elder
  • Missionary to Munceytown Mission
  • Superintendent of Missions within the bounds of his District

Thomas’ brother, Rev. Asahel Hurlburt, was assigned the Thames circuit, in London District at that conference. These two brothers were missionaries reporting to Ezra after Aug 1831. So we know how Elizabeth and Thomas met. After their marriage, she would have traveled with Thomas to each new circuit.

In 1838, Thomas was assigned to the outpost of the Lake Superior Mission (later called Pic River), on the north shore of Lake Superior. Winters there were certainly brutal; we know they subsisted on a diet of largely fish, and death by starvation was common at the mission. Their work at the mission, called the Pic, is mentioned in the paper This Remote Field of Missionary Toil : Christianity at the Pic, Lake Superior to 1900.

Thomas and Elizabeth remained there until 1844, when he requested an assignment in a warmer location for the sake of Elizabeth’s health.

Thomas’ request is granted, and he is assigned to the newly organized Indian Mission Conference of the MEC in the United States. Organized in 1844, the conference covers a wide area bounded by Montana, the Rocky Mountains, Arkansas and Missouri, and Texas. Remember that in 1828, the United States and Canada churches split, so this would seem to be a unique assignment requiring the approval of the two separate churches.

We then find Thomas and Elizabeth in Oklahoma by mid-Oct 1844. How do we know?

Bishop Thomas A. Morris, General Superintendent of the District, traveled from the Missouri Annual Conference, held at the Centenary Church in St. Louis, Missouri, on 25 Sep 1844, to the first Indian Mission Conference held at Riley’s Chapel, Cherokee Nation, on 23 Oct 1844. [2]

His travel by boat, horse, and carriage is documented including the weather—it snowed in Oklahoma. Along the way, missionaries joined the travelers from their circuits. Thomas Hurlburt joins the group by 14 Oct, apparently from nearby where he is missionary to the Chippewa tribe.

At the conference, Jerome C. Berryman is appointed as first Superintendent of Missions. Thomas is (re)appointed missionary to the Pottawatomie and Chippewa tribes.

We know that Thomas and Elizabeth remain in Missouri until some time after 10 Jul 1850 when he is listed as Preacher in the St. Louis Conference, Lexington District, Kickapoo Mission. They return to Ontario, Canada, before the end of 1851.

You are thinking, why so much detail? Patience. Our journey is about pick up speed.

Henry Proctor Adams is the 2nd child of Ezra Adams, born in 1822. Family histories and his obituary tell us that he accompanied his sister to Missouri. The details aren’t crisp, but he likely traveled with them in 1844, and likely remained there until 1851 as well.

William Case Adams is the 3rd child of Ezra Adams, born in 1823. Family histories tell us that he studied at Victoria College, in Coborg, Ontario, and from there (some time after 1841), he went to Highblue, Missouri, where he commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Berryman. William removed to Toronto in 1851 to study dentistry. 1851, there is that date again.

Dr. Berryman, Rev. Jerome C. Berryman—Gibbs’ Rule #39. We haven’t found a pin on the map yet for Highblue, Missouri, but High Blue still appears in the names of businesses in the same area.

Interesting note: Dr. William Case Adams was the first dentist to use nitrous oxide gas for anesthetic purposes in Canada.

While the family story says that William traveled to Missouri to study medicine, perhaps it is more correct to say he traveled with his sister Elizabeth and brother Henry to the Indian territory of Missouri (an adventure for a young college graduate), and there he studied medicine. It is clear they are in this place at this time as a direct result of the illness of Elizabeth and the assignment of Thomas. William certainly could have studied dentistry in a more hospitable place.

Maria Jane Adams is the 4th child of Ezra Adams, born in 1826. We have been unable to determine if she traveled to Missouri also. We have a possible record for her in the 1852 Census of Canada, she marries in 1853, and dies in 1855 from consumption. Born in 1826, we can not eliminate her as a sibling of interest.

Eliza Roxana Adams is the 5th child of Ezra Adams, born in 1828. She is 16 years old in 1844, and marries in 1847 in Ontario, Canada. She therefore likely did not travel with the group to Missouri.

We have been unable to find any of the Adams listed in United States Census records or other records during their time in Missouri, except for the records of the MEC for Thomas and Elizabeth. It appears they were not enumerated in the 1850 US Census. The MEC records provide an amazing amount of detail and color to their journey.

This is a good point to stop and remember that Alpheus’ marriage record lists his parents as William and Maria Adams, and his obituary says he was taken after birth to the home of an uncle at Owen Sound, Ontario.

If William and Maria Adams are William Case Adams and Maria Jane Adams, could they have both been his biological parents? The DNA matches to the Strains make this improbable. Perhaps Alpheus grew up in the homes of one or both of them, and then listed them as his parents on his marriage record.

So where are we now?

  • It is probable that three of Ezra’s five children of interest traveled from Ontario to Missouri sometime between 1844–1851. These three are Elizabeth, Henry, and William.
  • It is likely these three traveled to Missouri together, arriving before 14 Oct 1844 with Thomas.
  • It is likely these three returned to Ontario together, arriving after 10 Jul 1850 and before the end of 1851, based on Thomas’ return.
  • These three could have traveled back and forth one or more times, but this seems unlikely as the records are clear that Thomas was stationed with the MEC in the United States from 1844–1851, and they are a long, long way from home.
  • We do not know where Maria Jane Adams was during this time. It is possible she traveled with them also. It is possible she remained in Ontario.
  • It is likely Eliza Roxana Adams remained in Ontario; we have no record of her traveling to the Unites States separately.
  • In case you are wondering, Elizabeth, Eliza—it appears Elizabeth went by the name Betsey.

This journey is feeling like a ride through Wyoming. Will it ever end?

John Strain (1730–1766) is probably 7th great-grandparent of MKS in the Watne branch.

Samuel Strain (1762–1845) and Hannah Watts (1762–1798) are probably 6th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

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.

[1] Ken Spratlin, “Facts and Events—Levels of Confidence,” Random Thoughts in Thin Air, 11 Feb 2020.
[2] Sidney Henry Babcock and John Y. Bryce, History of Methodism in Oklahoma; Story of the Indian Mission Annual Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, volume 1 (1935), p. 50-57.

Finding Alpheus Adams’ Mother : Part V

In Part V, we meet the family of John Strain, probable 2nd great-grandfather of Alpheus.

John Strain and his family emigrated from Ireland to Pennsylvania around 1750. That is 90 years before the Porters, Gallaghers, Hannahs, Virtues, and associated families (all the other families represented in the cluster diagrams) emigrated from Donegal, Ireland, to Ontario, Canada, in the 1840’s.

John had at least seven children including six sons (John Jr., David, William, Thomas, James, Samuel) and one daughter (Sarah).

Before 1762, John and his family removed from Pennsylvania. John’s son Samuel was born in 1762 in Augusta County, Virginia. We do not know if they settled there, or Samuel was born there while they journeyed south.

Before 1765, they settled in what is now Abbeville County, South Carolina. In 1765, the counties of Tryon and Mecklenburg, North Carolina, exercised some jurisdiction over this northern area of present-day South Carolina. In 1769, the area became part of Ninety-Six District, one of the seven original Judicial Districts of South Carolina.

The Strains resided in the Long Cane Settlement, which was near the Long Cane River and Little River. There they learned to love grits and say Y’all with a proper accent. It’s documented. Trust us.

The South
\ thə ‘sau’th\, noun

The place where …
1) Tea is sweet and accents are sweeter.
2) Summer starts in April.
3) Macaroni & Cheese is a vegetable.
4) Front porches are wide and words are long.
5) Pecan pie is a staple.
6) Y’all is the only proper noun.
7) Chicken is fried and biscuits come with gravy.
8) Everything is Darlin’.
9) Someone’s heart is always being blessed.

Unknown; displayed in the dining room of a member of the Spratlin family, in the South

[faint sound of author chuckling]

John passed away there in 1766, and is buried there.

The first major battle of the American Revolutionary War in the South was fought at a fort named Ninety Six in Ninety-Six District.

All six of John’s sons served in the war, but we don’t have all the details for each. Son James was killed in a battle at Thicketty Fort, South Carolina, in 1780, and son Thomas is said to have been killed in 1781.

Son William served as a lieutanant and captain in the Upper Ninety-Six District Regiment. Private James Watts served under him. Son Samuel Strain married Hannah Watts in 1782.

Ok, this is where things gets weird.

[sound of author chuckling louder]

Also serving in the Upper Ninety-Six District Regiment are Major Benjamin Tutt, who was Justice of the Peace in Ninety-Six District in 1776, and Ensign Gabriel Tutt.

In the Lower Ninety-Six District Regiment, we find more members of the Tutt family, and several members of the Martin and Key families.

Liberty flag, the standard of the South Carolina militia during the American Revolutionary War.

These families are living on the edge of South Carolina’s sparsely populated frontier, members of the families serving together for several years in two regiments of the South Carolina Patriot Militia. They must have known each other.

Tutt, Martin, Key; who are they?” you ask. You haven’t been reading our blog.

They are family.

They are members of our Knight branch. Major Benjamin Tutt is the 7th great-grandfather of MKS in the Knight branch. The Martins and Keys are in this branch as well.

Where is Ninety-Six District, South Carolina? Across the river from Georgia, where this author grew up.

At the end of the Revolutionary War, Ninety-Six District was on the western frontier of the United States. Large numbers of soldiers were awarded land grants, and headed farther west.

Son Samuel Strain and his family remained in South Carolina until the early 1800’s.

Before 1808, they removed to Highland County, Ohio. In 1833, Samuel applied for his Revolutionary War pension while residing in Ohio. He passed away on 29 Apr 1845, and is buried in Rocky Spring Cemetery in Highland County.

Samuel’s son Thomas McCartney Strain was born in Abbeville County, South Carolina. He also headed west with the family, but did not go immediately to Ohio.

We find Thomas McCartney Strain in:

  • Barren County, Kentucky, before 1810
  • North Carolina, before 1815
  • Fayette County, Ohio, before 1820
  • Highland County, Ohio, before 1823
  • Montgomery County, Indiana, about 1829
  • Boone County, Indiana, Feb 1860

The families of John Strain’s son David and daughter Sarah also removed west to Ohio and Indiana with their brother Samuel. John is also believed to have siblings who removed with him from Pennsylvania to South Carolina. And some of these families also then removed west to Ohio and Indiana at the same time as Samuel.

By 1844, we find too many Strains living in Ohio and Indiana to count.

From 1814 to 1871, Reverend Ezra Adams was a Methodist Episcopal circuit rider. In a prior post, we detailed his circuit assignments across Ontario, Canada.

In 1844, he is preacher in the Newmarket circuit, York County, Ontario, Canada West. Ezra’s son Henry Proctor Adams is living nearby, by today’s standards, in Halton County, Ontario.

It is 569 miles from Halton County, Ontario, to Montgomery County, Indiana. In 1844, it would have taken days or weeks to travel this distance. It would have involved boat travel across Lake Erie, or railway travel around Lake Erie.

We now know the Strain family, but we haven’t put the Adams and Strain families together in the same place at the same time. They are not even in the same country.

Will this mystery ever end?

Benjamin Tutt (1739–1790) and Maria Barbara Stalnaker (1743–1799) are 7th great-grandparents of MKS in the Knight branch.

John Strain (1730–1766) is probably 7th great-grandparent of MKS in the Watne branch.

Samuel Strain (1762–1845) and Hannah Watts (1762–1798) are probably 6th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

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.

Finding Alpheus Adams’ Mother : Part IV

In Part IV, we shift our focus to Alpheus’ maternal line.

In the prior post, we stated that Henry Proctor Adams is probably the father of Alpheus Adams. There is an off-chance that Henry is not his father, but then one of Henry’s brothers or sisters is Alpheus’ parent. If we need to, we will cross that bridge when we get there. For now, we’re looking for Alpheus’ mother.

So how do we find her? We have no documentary evidence for Alpheus prior to his marriage. We do have a range of possible birth years (1845–1847), but should acknowledge the possibility he was born a year or two earlier or later. We can try to find where Henry was during those years. But we still would not know Alpheus’ mother among all the people in those places.

Let’s find his mother’s family first, and then see if we can put anyone in the two families together in the same place at the same time. How do we do that?

By process of elimination. Can we find any DNA matches for Test A or Test B (first introduced in Part III) that we can not associate with our lines, which we know, except for the line above Andrew Porter. We are looking for distant cousins sharing an unknown most recent common ancestor (MRCA) that could be one of Alpheus’ maternal grandparents or great-grandparents. Much higher up the tree and this gets very hard, very fast. We’re working back to the mid-1700’s and beginning to run out of DNA to match with.

Directly below is a cluster diagram for Test A. These DNA matches share more than 30 cM of DNA with Test A, which should cover the range of relationships we are looking for without overwhelming us with more distant matches (sharing less DNA). We have been fairly successful determining the MRCA for most of these clusters. The MRCA for each cluster is labeled directly to its left or right. We did not label the tiny ones.

We have a large cluster of descendants of Alpheus Adams and his wife Ellen Jane Hannah in the upper portion of the diagram. Just below that we see a cluster for the Adams line above Henry Proctor Adams. Below that is the cluster that finally caught our attention.

Cluster diagram for Alpheus Adams granddaughter (Test A) in the Porter line.

Directly below is a clustering diagram for Test B.

There are a few more unknown clusters is this diagram, but the same potential cluster for Alpheus’ maternal line from the above diagram appears here as well.

Cluster diagram for Alpheus Adams granddaughter (Test B) in the Porter line.

You are thinking, why did this take so long? Well, we’re being kind. Test A has over 46,000 DNA matches, Test B has over 52,000. The above diagrams only show about 200 DNA matches, so you can find the cluster the very first time you look. Maybe the labels help a little also. We needed help.

We only recognized this cluster for what it is when we adopted a new clustering application called Shared Clustering. Using a process called Walking the Clusters Back, we were finally able to associate family lines with most of the clusters going back many generations. And Alpheus’ maternal cluster was left behind with no known family line.

Now that we’ve identified and labeled the cluster of interest, we add more and more of those almost 100,000 DNA matches. More DNA matches join this cluster. And with them, we find some lovely family trees, majestic redwoods, and we find a single family name in many of them—Strain.

Do we have enough DNA matches with the Strains to confirm the relationship, narrow down their trees, and find Alpheus’ mother? Let’s see what we have.

John Strain
Unknown Wife
> 3 <
Thomas Watts
Susannah Taylor
> 3 <
Johannes Swart
Elizabeth Nagel
> 1 <
Jacob Sphar
Catherine Smith
> 1 <
Samuel Strain
Hannah Watts
> 8 <
James Swart
Margaret Sphar
> 0 <
Thomas M. Strain
Phebe Swartz
> 10 <
Unknown Mother

One thing to keep in mind while reviewing the number of DNA matches is that Alpheus is probably the only child of Henry Proctor Adams and Alpheus’ mother. We are told she died when he was one year old; we will revisit this again later, but have seen no DNA evidence to the contrary.

Think of this as meaning we are having to go up the tree one additional generation to find shared DNA matches with the Strains, from 3rd cousins to 4th cousins, cutting the available shared DNA in half. Also, most families of this era had eight or so children. We are facing a significantly reduced pool of possible DNA matches in this case with only Alpheus connecting our tree and the Strain tree. The number of matches we did find, with known lineage, is compelling.

Without dragging you through all the details, and based solely on the DNA evidence, we have concluded:

  • John Strain is probably 2nd great-grandparent of Alpheus Adams on his maternal side.
  • Samuel Strain and Hannah Watts are probably his great-grandparents.
  • Thomas M. Strain and Phebe Swartz are likely his grandparents.

We think the levels of confidence assigned to each of these relationships, probably and likely, are appropriate. And yes, we are concluding this based only on the DNA matches. You are welcome to offer an alternative hypothesis, but you may want to wait for the documentary evidence before suggesting we bet on it.

So who are the Strains, where are they from, how did one of them meet Henry Proctor Adams, and which one? And why are we chuckling as we write Part V in our head?

We will discuss all of that, and wrap up this story in one or two more posts, if things go as planned.

One final note for Part IV. There are a significant number of AncestryDNA tests for descendants of Alpheus Adams, including for family that will read this. Some of them are also DNA matches with the Strains, and appear in the two diagrams above. We just don’t have direct access to their test kits to generate cluster diagrams for them. We can easily do that if they wish. Or we can help them get started using Shared Clustering. With it, we have now solved three long-standing brick walls in about one month.

John Strain (1730–1766) is probably 7th great-grandparent of MKS in the Watne branch.

Samuel Strain (1762–1845) and Hannah Watts (1762–1798) are probably 6th great-grandparents of MKS in the Watne branch.

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.