Monday, February 10, 2014

Coming home to Leesburg

I hesitate to publish this story as so much of the information uncovered needs authentication. Most comes from multiple sources but sometimes we find that multiple sources come from an original single source. Just because ten people say the same thing doesn't necessarily make a thing true. All it takes is a single mistake in a relationship or an incorrect name to bring down the entire house of cards. However, it's an interesting yarn and if it's not true then I'll not be too disturbed as doing the research has been its own reward.

As I mentioned in an earlier blog entry, my wife's ancestry has been easier to trace than my own. This seems to be especially true of one line as it derives from people with title, land and money. (Unfortunately, that was several generations ago so all that "good stuff" had run out by the time she came on the scene!)

My wife's maternal grandmother's line were the Rummery family. Her 4th great grandfather Stephen (1810-1865) of the Salehurst area of Sussex, was married to Eliza Farley. From that point upwards, a wealth of family lines opened up that took me back many many generations.

The upshot to all this tracing leads me to believing that one branch of my wife's line married into the Lee family. One side of this family migrated to Massachusetts in the late 1600s with some moving to the Nashua area of New York. This same Lee family were cousins of Thomas Lee, after whom Leesburg, Virginia is named and to where we moved from Sydney, Australia. Thomas was the great grand uncle of Robert E. Lee. 

The Lee connection came through the Marvin and Brown[e] families:

William Lee (1650 - 1698)
husband of 2nd cousin 10x removed of wife
wife of William Lee
mother of Mary Marvin
mother of Mary Hyde Browne
father of Jane Burgess Mills
son of Thomas Mills
son of George Mills
daughter of George Mills
son of Mary Mills
daughter of Henry Cruttenden
daughter of Elizabeth Cruttenden
daughter of Elizabeth Sorell
son of Eliza Farley

Which makes William's children 3rd cousins 9 times removed of my wife. If memory serves me correctly, third cousins share about 0.8% of their DNA. However, being 9 times removed dilutes that considerably, so the blood link is tenuous but still not zero.

Helen also has a couple of soldiers in her line who fought in the Revolutionary War, including her 5th cousin 10x removed (I told you think links were tenuous!), Philip Fowler, who was killed at Bunker Hill:

In the case of Corporal Philip Fowler of Tewksbury besides the affidavit in the Coat Rolls Memorial volume p 112 which termed Fowler as "taken or killed in the fight at Bunker Hill," I note in the same papers the application of his widow Esther Fowler for the coat or money due her "late husband," and the statement of a selectman of Tewksbury that Philip Fowler left no estate worth administering on. Moreover I have been furnished by Rev EW Pride of Tewksbury with a copy of the contemporaneous entry of deaths in Tewksbury made by Rev Sampson Spaulding : "Philip Fowler's son dyed June 17 1775 perhaps silver Cord Broke sud'n." This allusion to a sudden death warrants us in believing that Fowler was killed in the battle and justifies us in placing his name as has been done upon the tablet Memorial volume p 133. 

As in the previous ease of Lieutenant Benjamin West City Doc 54 of 1890 I transmit to your Honor the papers herein cited in order that they may be preserved in the city archives. 

Very respectfully 
Chairman Record Comissioners 
[Documents of the City of Boston, Volume 4] 

If the family history I've discovered on holds up to scrutiny (my tree is private at the moment as there is so much that needs additional verification that I cannot in good conscience publish it), my wife's family line reaches back to her 55th great grandfather Valaravaus de Ostrogoths. How this can be truly verified is beyond me, but it does make a great conversation piece! (Of course, the seemingly obligatory relationship to Charlamagne is there too!)

The next step is a DNA sample for my wife so that we can start verifying these connections. I had my DNA sequenced a couple of years ago and it revealed possible cousins in the USA as well, but nothing as dramatic as the Lee family, but the range of ethnicities is quite interesting:

Region %
Asia East <1%
Ireland 43%
Great Britain 42%
Europe East 6%
European Jewish 2%
Italy/Greece 2%
Finland/Northwest Russia <1%
Iberian Peninsula <1%
Europe West <1%
Scandinavia <1%
West Asia <1%
Caucasus <1%