Using DNA To Prove A Feeling

February 22, 2015 in 52 Ancestors 2015 Edition, Allied Families, DNA, Hodges, McDowell, Penrod

My mother’s people are from the South.  Her lines are Barnards, Oglesbyes,  McDowells, Hodges, Penrods, the list goes on and on.  For a very long time, I couldn’t get anywhere researching them.  I can remember vividly once sitting here in the basement (the warmest place in the house in the winter, and where my computer lives during that season) getting so frustrated that I actually looked to the ceiling, raised my fist and yelled, “If you want me to find you all, you have to HELP me!”  Then I turned off the computer, went upstairs and made cookies.  That was about 2 years or so ago.

After that, very slowly and painstakingly, I was able to find documents and records that helped me piece together my mother’s family history.  (Just to be clear, I don’t believe my yelling at her ancestors had anything to do with finding them more easily.  Okay, maybe I believe it a little.  Don’t judge me.)  But there are a couple of lines that refuse to be found.  Like, where did Benjamin Hall and his wife, Edith “Eady” Warren come from to Kentucky to marry in 1802?  And who are John Penrod’s people?  There are Lavenders and Bowlings in those lines as well.

And then there is Lucina McDowell.  Lucina married Thomas James Hodges in 1848 in Indiana.  They had 8 children before Lucina died in 1880 and Thomas in 1890, both in Illinois.  One of those children was the grandmother of my grandmother.  But this story isn’t about Elizabeth Ann Hodges who married her daughter’s widower, this is about Lucina.  Lucina’s parents were Celia Oxley and Alexander McDowell, who were married in 1814 and divorced in 1844:

Now come the parties by their solicitors and the cause now coming and to be heard as bill answers and the testimony of sworn witnesses and the court having heard the testimony and all things concerning the cause and being fully advised therof do now here finally order as judge and decree as follows to wit:

1st: That the bonds of matrimony existing between Celia McDowell and Alexander McDowell be and the same is hereby dissolved and rendered absolutely null and void.

2nd.That, the sheriff of the county of Switzerland, Indiana and he is hereby appointed a commissioner to set apart to the said Celia, the complainant, one third part of the part of land owned by Alexander McDowell, the defendant, in Posey township in said county being the same tract which was the laters residence of said Alexander McDowell and the premises mentioned in the bill of complaint herein, having reference to the quality and quantity of the same to have use and occupy the same for her maintenance and support until which time, this cause is continued to trial matter.

Thereupon court adjourned until to-morrow morning at 8 o’clock. Signed April 17th 1844 Copy delivered to the Sheriff 29 June 1844

A divorce in 1844!  That must have been a scandal.  That Celia Oxley McDowell was the daughter of Eli Oxley is proved by this document:

Eli Oxley Deed
Fleming County, Kentucky Book L Deeds, page 83

This Indenture made this thirteenth day of June in the year eighteen hundred and twenty [1820] between James Crawford a Commissioner appointed for and on behalf of William Oxley, William Ricketts and Elizabeth his wife,Alexander McDowell and Celia his wife, Polly Oxley, Prior Oxley, Samuel Oxley, Rachel Oxley and Eli Oxley, heirs of Eli Oxley deceased of the one part and Lewis Day, Ackley Day, William Day, Saunders Day, Charles Day,Amelia Day, Edmond Pettis and Mariah his wife, Peter Olliver and Polly,his wife, Elizabeth Day and Truman Day of the other part witnesseth that whereas the said James Crawford by virtue of a decree of the Fleming Circuit Court at the present June Term thereof in a certain suit in Chancery therein depending wherein Saunders devises were complainant and Eli Oxley heirs were defendants now witnesseth thatwhereas the said James Crawford commissioner as aforesaid by virtue of said decree doth by these presents convey unto the parties of the second part the following described tract of land to wit beginning at two black oaks in the line of John Mosby’s thirty thousand acre tract and thence west one hundred and seventy four poles to three beeches corner to Daniel Ficklin land thence south one hundred and thirty three poles with Ficklins line to a beech and elm thence east one hundred and seventy four poles to three sugartrees on the line of Mosby and with the same North to the Beginning.

To have and to hold the same to them their heirs and assigns forever. And the said James Crawford commissioner as aforesaid by virtue of the power and authority vested in him by law for and in behalf of the said William Oxley etc the before described tract of land with every of the appurtenances unto them the parties of the second part their heirs and assigns against the claim of them the said William Oxley and others, heirs of Eli Oxley deceased their heirs and assigns will warrant and forever defend against the claim of themselves their heirs and assigns and also against the claim of all others claiming by through or under him.

In testimony whereof the said James Crawford commissioner as aforesaid hath to these presents set his hand and seal the date first written.
James Crawford

A wonderful woman by the name of Roberta Tuller found these documents and posted them on her genealogy site: An American Family History.  I found this site and was so excited! Another generation to add to my family tree because Roberta had information on Celia’s siblings and the name though not the maiden name, of her mother.  I am in contact with other descendants of the daughters of Elizabeth Ann Hodges Penrod and immediately emailed and let them know my discovery.  One of the email recipients was not impressed.  She wrote back and informed me that she’d seen the site and emailed Roberta and felt that Roberta did not have enough proof to document the relationship between Celia and the Eli Oxley on Roberta’s site.  Nothing I wrote could convince my cousin of my belief that we had found the parents of our Celia Oxley.

I recently received the results of a DNA test I sent to Ancestry.com.  I am genetically linked to a descendant of one of Celia’s siblings mentioned in the document above, Elizabeth Oxley Ricketts.  I’ve spent the last 24 hours filling in blanks in my family tree to prove the connection between Elizabeth and Celia and thus to Eli.  But, to be honest, I didn’t need the DNA proof.  I knew I’d found Celia’s parents.  It is nice though to have actual science to back up my feeling.

All I had to do to start finding my mother’s people was yell at them and send in a DNA sample.  🙂