Saturday, November 21, 2009

It's Saturday Night

which means it's time for the latest round of Randy Seaver's, Genea-Musings, Saturday Night Genealogy Fun.

The challenge for this week is as follows:
Your mission, should you decide to accept it (where's my Mission Impossible music...drat, lost it), is:

1) Who is your MRUA - your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number in your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List that you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name.

2) Have you looked at your research files for this unknown person recently? Why don't you scan it again just to see if there's something you have missed?

3) What online or offline resources might you search that might help identify your MRUA?

4) Tell us about him or her, and your answers to 2) and 3) above, in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or a comment on Facebook or some other social networking site.

My Earliest Unknown Ancester (MRUA) comes to me fairly quickly, my paternal granddad's, Harry Claudius Jones, biological father. This is position 8 on the Ahnentafel List (granddad is position 4)

I know nothing about this man that contributed to my genetic makeup. Something tells me that granddad didn't even know who he was. If granddad did have that knowledge he never passed it along.

The 1900, 1920, and 1930 censuses indicate that granddaddy Jones' father was born in North Carolina (silly 1910 enumerator put born in US). I have no clue if this is what he was told or just deductive reasoning on his part. I imagine that if my granddad knew who his father was that he would have given that name to one of his son's in much the same manner that he gave his biological mother's name to his daughter, Martha.

Granddaddy was born in Hamilton, Martin, NC in 1892. Granddad's biological mother was Martha Jones. She is also a mystery but at least I know her name.  From what I've been able to gather, my great-grandmother Martha was about 15 when she gave birth to granddad. Through my 21st century eyes, I've imagined every bad scenerio with regard to my granddad's conception. Did my great-grandfather even know about granddaddy?

As I've mentioned in earlier posts, granddaddy was reared by Mary and General Williams, who, as best as I can determine, never had any children of their own. I was always told and there does seem to be a possibility that Mary may have been granddad's maternal aunt. Now I'm not sure about that theory as both the 1900 and 1910 censuses classified granddad as a boarder or lodger. Surely if there were a biological connection it would be indicated.

So far, I've only found one document, granddad and grandmom's marriage license, that list granddaddy's biological mother's name and none that list his biological father. Therefore, I don't think a search of documents will benefit me in locating Mr. Sperm Donor.

Perhaps collateral relatives of General Williams might know what the story is but I'm not counting on that. From my one conversation with the one Williams descendant I came across via Ancestry, she truly believes that Mary and General Williams are granddaddy's parents. In the true sense, yes they were but biologically, no. Also, I've not heard back from her, since pointing out that granddad's biological mother was Martha Jones not Mary Williams.

I think the only way that I will be able to uncover granddad's paternal lineage is through DNA and luck. Since I refuse to believe that granddad was this man's only male child, earlier this year, I decided to have daddy's DNA tested to try to determine if there was a possible match and also to determine Haplogroup, etc. Unfortunately, I went through's ancestral DNA service / program. For as great as most things are with, their ancestral DNA program, as far as I'm concerned, is not up to snuff, starting with interpretation of the results. So, after doing additional research on ancestral DNA companies, and ancestral DNA in general, I decided to retest through (FTDNA), which I hope to do next month (ordered the kit today).

Praying that results show a close match to someone in their database. Then I can go from there. In the mean time, I'll continue to think of other approaches.

Of course, if anyone has any ideas, please pass them along.

Until Next Time!


  1. Mavis, interesting post, specially about the DNA. I have joined as a follower so I don't miss your updates on this journey.

  2. Thanks Carol. For reasons unknown to me, on my paternal side, I seem to be obsessed with my granddad's line. Probably because of the shame it seemed to create in my dad and aunts and uncles.

  3. Mavis,

    I like your analysis; looks like you covered all the bases. I hope the DNA results turn up something. Of course I'll be following closely to see what happens next.


  4. Hi Mavis,

    Just loving your blog! Can’t really remember how I got here (maybe searching for DNA information) but nevertheless, I’m glad I did.

    What a very insightful and informative post about your grandfather, Harry Claudius Jones and DNA. I've never posted to any blog posts before, but this time I just couldn't resist throwing in my two cents.

    Based on the background information you provided, I have to agree that Harry Claudius Jones is most likely not the biological child of Mary and General Williams. I hope you don't mind my asking, but are Martha and Mary by any chance sisters? Is it possible that he is a nephew? (Just a thought).

    I just wanted to share with you that I have also come across similar incidents on several occasions during the course of my family research where the "lodger" was in fact, biologically related to the head of household.

    One example is the 1940 census. My grandmother's brother, his wife, along with his step-daughter are also enumerated as lodgers, instead of being enumerated as "brother-in-law", "sister-in-law", and "step-niece" in terms of their relationships to the head of the household which were my grandparents. In other words, my grandmother would have never referred to her own brother and his family as "lodgers".

    As you probably know, every 10 years the U. S. Census gave out a new set of "rules and instructions" that each enumerator had to follow. Perhaps the use of the word "lodger" was applied to anybody who was not a spouse or child of the head of household. When you get a chance, take a look at the instructions for the census year that enumerated your grandfather as “lodger” and see what the instructions stated.

    I realized this is an old post, and you may not receive my response anytime time soon, but I do hope you have discovered more “proof” about your grandfather’s relationship to Mary and General Williams.

    Keep up the wonderful work!


  5. Thank you for the comments. I've been doing much research or blogging these past two years but hope to get back to it soon. Yes, we have always suspected that Mary Jones Williams was granddad's aunt but unfortunately, at least for now, I doubt that I will ever discover the answer. I've even tried tracing Mary but unfortunately where she or her mother came from. Her husband on the other hand, is totally different. One of these days, I will get back to my Jones line and hopefully have a breakthrough.


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