mtDNA Testing in My Family’s Near Future?

This evening, as I was just finishing wrapping the final presents for the kids, I received an email about a distant cousin of mine.  I was contacted by a woman (we’ll call her Ms. C.) who is part of a project to identify remains of Korean War soldiers who died during the war.

Ms. C  contacted me in regards to my 2nd cousin, John Clinton Blount Jr. John Jr. was born in 1932 in Washington County, North Carolina to John Clinton Blount Sr. and wife, Alice V. McNair.  John was a member of Company L, 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. He was listed as Missing in Action while fighting the enemy in North Korea on November 27, 1950. He was presumed dead on December 31, 1953.  His mom Alice McNair is part of my extended McNair family tree, the McNairs being my maternal grandmother’s family who, coincidentally enough is also named Alice).

When I received the email, I went back to my McNair family tree to look at John Jr.’s family structure.   I was hoping to reassess it for clues for how to proceed with doing more searching for his immediate family members since all I had was his name and the names of his siblings; nothing beyond that.

But then, as I looked at his mom Alice’s  record, I saw that her mom, Mary, was  Bullock by birth and I had a note in Mary Bullock McNair’s record that I suspected her to be the sister of my great-grandmother, Gracy Bullock McNair.  This would mean that John Jr. is a double cousin of mine.   And thus, if they were sisters, maybe there would be someone in the branch of the McNair family that I do know that may be a candidate for comparison testing.

Alas, I didn’t have enough documentation though that Gracy & Mary were sisters.  My research of census records and family information led me to believe that they both were the daughters of Lawrence & Chaney Bullock.   How could I determine for sure if the two ladies were sisters?  Well, I went back to Mary’s record and realized that though she died in 1950 in North Carolina I did not have her death certificate as a source.  So, off to Ancestry’s 1909-1975 NC death certificate database I went to look for it and found it within seconds.  Sure enough, her father is listed as Lawrence Bullock.

death certificate of Mary Bullock McNair

Now armed with this, I began to get really excited as this, combined with my other information, confirms for me that Gracy & Mary were indeed sisters.   So, I went back to the family tree and figured out who in our line would be of direct maternal descent who could have their mtDNA tested for comparison with remains (though, I’m not even absolutely sure right now that there are remains or if they want to have some on file in case there are remains found).

At first,  I guess I got overzealous for I thought I would qualify, but then realize that I descend from Gracy through her son, therefore, he would not have passed on anymore of her mtDNA.  But, she did have a daughter named Mary Della McNair, who had only one daughter, Gertrude.   Here is how Gertrude and John Jr. are related (this graph shows one relationship, through John’s father, but the Gracy & Mary shown as wives to the McNair men are the sisters I’m referring to)

Cousin Gertrude and my own grandmother were extremely close friends and my mother remains in constant contact with Cousin Gertrude and family.   I am going to hope that if Ms. C. is able to use mtDNA testing, that Gertrude’s daughter may agree to do it. Gertrude also has a granddaughter through one of her deceased daughters that may also agree to it.

Now, how did Ms. C find me?  I have my McNair family tree linked from the Washington County NCGenWeb pages and she found me that way.  Even though I am now the county coordinator for that site, I had my link added about three years ago.  Lesson learned? Share your data! You never know who it can lead to you.

Hmm… more to come as events warrant, but what an interesting thing to think about this Christmas Eve.

Comments (2)

  1. Mary

    I thought you might be interested in a new Genealogy TV series. The Generations Project premieres tonight at 8pm Mtn Time on BYU Television.

    If you don’t have the channel, you can watch in online at

    The show will continue to run every Monday night at the same time. I hope you’re able to check it out.

  2. Jeff Z

    Thanks for the comment on my new blog! I came over to browse through your posts, and I really enjoyed reading what you’ve done. Very impressive! I’m definitely going to keep following your blog to see what you’re up to. I see we’re both following each other on Twitter now, so maybe I’ll see you on there as well. Take care.

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