23andMe: A DNA, Surname & Geographic Location Match!

Continuing my blog series on our 23andMe results, I had to share an exciting lead I have now that my mother’s results have been processed!

One of my mother’s matches is a lady who we’ll call Ms. W.  Ms. W  has DNA similarity with my mother at 2 segments:  a) On Chromosome 3 with a segment that is 23cM and includes 4965 SNPs and b) Chromosome 6 with a segment that is 6.5 cM and includes 1244 SNPs.  From comparing our family trees we learned that we both have Lennon ancestors from the Bladen/Columbus County region in NC.  23andMe predicts my mother and Ms. W to be 4th cousins.

shared DNA segments

Ms. W has a 3rd great-grandmother named Caroline Lennon who was born a slave around 1855.  Caroline married Creed McNeill and had at least 5 kids.  Caroline most likely died by 1910 as in that census year Creed has remarried.  My mother’s paternal grandmother was named Lucinda Lennon, daughter of John & Etta Lennon.  Lucinda was born in Bladen County and her parents lived in both Bladen & Columbus counties.  Both John & Etta were Lennons so if Caroline is part of my family, then she could be related through either John or Etta.  The DNA they share is of African origin.

The goal now is to find out if we can place Caroline with a family since the only thing Ms. W. knows about her at this point is that her maiden name was Lennon.   As I consider it, the following are things that can be done as next steps:

  • Can we locate any marriage information for Caroline & Creed?  According to their 1900 census record they married around 1870.  I’ve located a book of marriage records for Bladen County that includes both white and black marriages during that time period. Need to find someone who can do a lookup.  Perhaps parents will be listed? As a black couple, it’s not likely there was ever a newspaper notice published.
  • Look for burial records? If Caroline died before 1910 as I suspect she may not have a death certificate. But, maybe she is buried somewhere in the area and has a tombstone.  Need to look for cemetery listings, focused on cemeteries where her other family members may be buried.
  • Look at those living near her in 1880 and 1900 to see if any names look familiar.  Often people lived near family so maybe she did also.
  • I need to look more closely for any white Lennon’s that owned an approximately 5 year old female black slave in the 1860 slave census schedules to see if I can identify a potential slaveowner.  Such a determination may offer clues in searching the records of the white Lennon family for Caroline spottings.
  • Caroline had at least 5 kids, but Ms. W. has only traced the descendants of one of them which is her own direct line. Time to start tracing the families of the other 4! Who knows what we may learn and find by contacting individuals in those other branches? Would be great if we did locate a few people of the other branches and they agreed to be DNA tested.
  • My mother has a 1st cousin who has a 23andMe kit on the way.  If this cousin also matches Ms. W then we will know for sure that the match comes from my mother’s paternal side of the family as we highly suspect.
  • My mother has 4th cousin once removed that we could ask if she is interested in the DNA testing.  The 4th cousin once removed is related to my mother via Lucinda’s paternal family.  If that cousin also matched my mom and Ms. W. then we would at least be able to narrow it down to Lucinda’s paternal branch.
This is going to be a process for sure!  I am sure I am missing some potential research avenues — do you have any recommendations/suggestions to offer?

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “23andMe: A DNA, Surname & Geographic Location Match!

  1. Do you have an ancestry.com account? It has been helpful to me when I construct a tree on there for a potentially related family. It allows me to find documents faster because there is an automatic search happening while I also search. Familysearch.org has also been very helpful. I use the death records to search for descendants. I fill in the parents names and leave the rest blank.

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