We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies. ~Shirley Abbott

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Helix in a Haystack

Do you ever wonder how you are related to some of your DNA matches?

My dad's family lines are a maze of huge brick walls and just when I think I have conquered one brick wall another arises and still another. In my blog Figured Out the Ferguson's I discussed the possibilities of how my paternal line could be related to the Ferguson line. The Ferguson surname is one of my dads highest surname matches. Lucy Bell-Henry was my dads, great grandmother and my great great grandmother, according to her marriage license her paternal surname was Bell was she also possibly a maternal surnamed Ferguson?

Some of my dad's paternal ancestry derives from the small town of Marion, in Union Parish Louisiana with it's population being 765 in 2010, many of the families from this small town are interrelated. On AncestryDNA I have several matches who trace to  the State of Louisiana. To narrow it down further, if the historian (DNA relative) documents not only the State but, the City or Parish his/her  ancestor was born in, then I can perform a "search by birth location," similar to the one shown here:

Out of my dad's 48 Louisiana matches on AncestryDNA only 9 of them have recorded Union Parish as the place of residence for their particular Louisiana ancestors. His maternal lineage is found living in Clay, Bradley Arkansas in the 1870 census. 49 of his matches on AncestryDNA also descend from Arkansas, only 5 specify Clay, Bradley Arkansas or Warren Arkansas. The proximity of known ancestors to the ancestors of our DNA matches are good indications that a relationship existed. Also, when 3 or more people trace to the same ancestor this is also a good clue in.

Some  of the Surnames of my matches that I am following:


Second and third cousins how hard can it be? Right?

My dad and I have one 23 and me predicted SECOND, gdboyt and one 23 and me predicted third cousin sfergie.  Although, AncestryDNA contradicts that and reduces sfergie's relationship to fourth cousin,  and two fifth cousin matches M.A.C and T.A.D  who trace to the same Searcy B Andrews born 1888 in Union Parish, Lousiana who married Etta Ferguson born 1890 of the same place. My dad has one other AncestryDNA predicted third cousin who traces to Gus Ferguson whose son Marvin born 1908 married Ruth Hardaway also related to this same Ferguson lineage. All of my paternal Ferguson matches also trace back to Columbus Mitchell 1845 who married Caroline White born 1851. All of these matches except gdboyt who shares great grandparents with my dad, share great great grandparents, which would be on the level of Lucy Bells parents. Great grandmother Lucy's parents were William Bell and Annie (nee possibly Ferguson?).


Who in the world was Mack Wysinger?

We have two AncestryDNA cousins who trace to the Wysinger surname in Union Parish, Louisiana at fifth cousin. G.b traces to Mack Wysinger born 1840 who married Katie Long on 10 Nov 1881. When Mack Wysinger shows up on the 1880 census with his son Eugene Wysinger Katie isn't there. So Katie Long may not be the mother of Eugene Wysinger. Eugene was born 1869. All we know about Mack is that he worked at the sawmill, and in 1880 he had a 47 year old woman living with him in his home named Mollie Barton, a cook, and her child Naomi who was 17. Was this a common law marriage?

The Fresno Bee Republican page 25

Eugene Wysinger migrated to Fresno, California where he died. The other predicted 5th cousin moniker mswoods, Wysinger  surname cousin match on AncestryDNA traces to Mary Wysinger from Union Parish Lousiana who married Mack Cleveland. On 23 and me we have one 4th cousin IMattox who traces to W. Rubin Wysinger born in 1892, and who migrated to Texas.  Lastly, we have one 4th cousin Wysinglep who traces to Charlotte Wysingle Natchitoches, Lousiana who was a widower in the 1930 census.

Well who are these kinfolk? More on them to come and more mysteries....


  1. The answers you seek are coming. That's an interesting surname Wysinger. Don't think I've come across that one yet.

    1. Thanks Andrea. It can be frustrating when you have all these matches and no common surnames but only locations in common.