Jeffersonia Hawkins Jones

Jeffersonia Hawkins Jones was my 3rd great grandmother. She was the mother of my grandmother’s (Gerald) grandfather (Davis).

Jeffersonia Hawkins Jones was part Creek and part English. She was the most recent of my ancestors to have lived among the Alabama Creek Indians. Her story is remarkable in that she appears to have survived the massacre at Fort Mims when she was a small child.

The book A Conquering Spirit: Fort Mims and the Red Stick War of 1813-1814 by Gregory A. Waselkov says she was four years old at the attack on Fort Mims on August 30, 1813.

Fort Mims is located near Mobile, Alabama, and you can visit a historical park there today that tells the story of the battle that was part of a Creek civil war between those who wanted to live more traditionally and more apart from white society, and those who wanted to cooperate with the American government and intermingle with white people.

There were approximately 550 people inside Fort Mims. Only 36 survived. Jeffersonia was taken captive along with her mother and brothers.

I will have to do more research to find out what happened to her after that, but I do know she grew up to become the mother of my great-great grandfather, William Wiley Davis.

I also know that if she was four years old in 1813, she was born in 1809, the last year of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency, so she was likely named after him. Her grandmother’s father, brother, and cousins had all worked as interpreters for Indian Affairs agents sent into Creek territory, and one of those Indian agents was a man named Benjamin Hawkins. Hawkins worked for decades to try to broker peace between the Creeks and the English settlers. It’s thought that Jeffersonia Hawkins Jones was given her middle name as a tribute to him.

Jeffersonia’s great-grandfather was Joseph Cornell, an Englishman who came to Creek territory as a trapper and trader, ended up marrying a Creek woman from Tuckabatchee, and working as an interpreter for various agents from Indian Affairs.

I am only just beginning the process of researching Jeffersonia’s family tree, but it looks like to me at a glance that her closest full-blooded Creek ancestor is her great-grandmother, the wife of Joseph Cornell, whose name is unknown. I believe that Jeffersonia’s father and grandfather and great-grandfather were all white settlers in the area. That would have made her 1/8 Creek, but at Fort Mims, she and her family were considered to be métis or mixed race. They were considered to be mixed race, not just by the white people, but by the Creeks as well. Jeffersonia was taken captive rather than killed because she was mixed race. The Red Sticks (the Creek who wanted to keep Creek territory free of English settlers) killed children as well as adults in the massacre at Fort Mims, but they spared Jeffersonia and her brothers because they were part Creek.

As I said, I am only just beginning to learn about this branch of my family history, and I have a lot more reading I need to do, but the picture I’m getting here is that Jeffersonia came from a family that might have been more English than Creek genetically by the time of her generation, but it had been more Creek than English culturally for her mother and grandmother. Her grandmother certainly lived as a Creek and would have raised her daughter as a Creek even if they both had English fathers.

Jeffersonia would have been 21 years old in 1830 when the Indian Removal Act was passed. She would have seen her grandmother’s people uprooted and disbanded in her lifetime. She would have seen great change as more and more Creek lands were handed over to white settlers.

She married a man named Edmund Davis who had moved to Alabama from Georgia. They lived out their lives in Monroe County, Alabama. Her son William Wiley Davis moved to Perry County, Mississippi, where his descendants still live to this day. He lived in Perry County as a white man, though, not as a mixed race Creek. His mother Jeffersonia represents a turning point generation. She was the last connection to her Creek family on her family tree.

If anyone has any additional information about Jeffersonia and her family, please share. I will update when I learn more.

DNA and the Geralds of County Clare

This map shows the origins of my brother’s Y-DNA, according to Family Tree DNA. I have no idea what the one red dot in Germany is about. I’m assuming it has to do with migrations of one sort or another. I’m more interested in the cluster of red dots in Ireland because everything else about our DNA search for family origins has pointed to Ireland.

Y-DNA is the specific type of DNA that is passed down from father to son for many generations relatively unchanged. Only men can take the Y-DNA test, and it tells the history of their paternal line.

Our family history, based on my brother’s Y-DNA, appears to focus around County Clare and/or County Limerick, Ireland. That’s where the three red dots joined together on the map are located.

The earliest known ancestor in my brother’s paternal line that we can trace back to is a man named James Gerald who lived in South Carolina in the 1700s. He is said to have been born in Ireland around 1709. We don’t know anything about his parents, what year he came to America, or why he came. We only know that he married a woman named Mildred Taliaferro and had a son named Gabriel Gerald.

Family lore says that James Gerald was born a Fitzgerald, though, and changed his name when he came to America.

That’s where things get interesting in the DNA analysis on my brother (seven generations removed from the original James Gerald). We aren’t coming up with any significant matches to Fitzgeralds in Ireland. We are, however, matching a number of people named O’Loughlin, McLaughlin, or variations thereof. We also match a few other random surnames, but most of those are so distant they could come from a time before surnames.

I don’t know what this means exactly in terms of our family history, but it does open up the possibility that our James Gerald was never a Fitzgerald and that he may have changed his name from something else altogether.

Interestingly enough, when I did a search for the origins of the name O’Loughlin, I ran across a map that shows O’Loughlins living in Ireland in the 1800s (from

You can see from this map that there is a huge concentration of O’Loughlins in one particular area, and that area happens to be an almost exact match for my brother’s Y-DNA SNP matches map. The concentration of O’Loughlins shown here is mainly in County Clare, Ireland.

There are also a lot of Fitzgeralds in this area. We haven’t completely ruled out Fitzgerald as a possibility. We’ve just increased the probability that our James Gerald came from a family of O’Loughlins rather than a family of Fitzgeralds. This is an ongoing process, though, and we may discover more information down the road that changes the scenario again.

If that happens, I will probably write another blog post about it.

If you are a Gerald interested in following our process to this point, you can take a look at some of my older posts on the subject:

DNA, Gerald Family Legends, and History’s Mysteries

From R1b1a2a1a1b4 to DF21

You might also be interested in posts about relatives I came across in my research:

Infamous Cousins

Float Like a Butterfly

Also, if you are a Gerald interested in using DNA to trace ancestry, please consider using Family Tree DNA to do a Y-DNA test on a male with the Gerald surname. The more Geralds we can get to take the test, and the more distant the connections are, the more we can be certain of the results.

And if you happen to be a Gerald with a whole lot of money, maybe you could go to County Clare, Ireland, and convince a bunch of men with the surnames Fitzgerald and O’Loughlin to take DNA tests from Family Tree DNA so that we can find out exactly which family we match.

Alas, it might take a while for me to come up with that kind of money. Meanwhile, I’ll keep documenting what I find out about the family history here so that I will remember it myself and be able to share it with others.

Dearly Departed #photodaday #project365

Day 300:  Dearly Departed

300 of 365.

I called Daisy Smith Harger “Mimi.” She is the only one of my great-grandparents that I have any real memories of. I had one other great-grandmother who lived a few years longer than Mimi, and I do remember her, but I don’t have a strong image of her in my head. I didn’t see her as often as I saw Mimi. I can picture Mimi nearly as clearly today as I ever have been able to.

Today I went to visit her grave. I’ve been doing genealogical research lately, and I wondered if the cemetery might yield some clues in terms of dates of birth and death, marriages, and other information that could be used in identifying people in census records and such.

I don’t think I did discover anything that I didn’t already know, but I am glad I went. I couldn’t say with any certainty that any family member has been to visit my Mimi’s grave in the past thirty years. By the time she and my great-grandfather were buried at Stonewall, the family had been away from there for quite some time.

Here’s their gravestone.

Daisy and Will Harger

I was a little sad that it looked so old and weathered. I guess that’s just the kind of stone it is. Other stones that were even older didn’t look that weathered.

For example, here’s my great-great grandfather, Jesse Stephen Smith.

Jesse Stephen Smith

(I’m really quite confused by the 1840 on the gravestone. He never did give the same year twice for a date of birth in the census records, but he always claimed to have been born within a year or two of 1860.)

And Jesse’s wife, Lena Davis Smith.

Lena Davis Smith

Sorry, Grandma. I should have cleaned the leaves away before I took the picture. That’s just what you get for having only me to come visit you. I’m not really that concerned about the leaves getting in my way.

The reason my great-grandparents wanted to be buried in Clarke County was because they had two babies buried there.

Here’s the gravestone of John William Harger Jr. He lived to be six months old.

John William Harger Jr

There was another baby named Wilber or Wilmer or something like that. He lived to be two years old. I took a picture of his gravestone, but you can’t make out the wording on it, so I’m not going to post it today.

I have a few other pictures of the dearly departed, but I’m going to just save them to post on genealogy sites. For now, Daisy Smith Harger’s stone will have to do for my picture of the day. All of these other ancestors might be dearly departed, but she is the one who is long lamented for me.

Calling All Geralds

Okay, what I really mean is Geralds and Iveys and Joiners and Hargers and Holders and everyone else who is related to me. More specifically, I want to talk to the people who are related to me or potentially related to me who might be interested in discussing genealogy.

This is my interest of the week, and every time I have a new interest I have to create a new site. This time, I’ve created a message board —

I’m hoping that a few other people will join and post and that we can begin to share research. If that doesn’t work, I’ll probably just go join someone else’s message board that is already in existence like any normal person would do.

If you don’t mind me putting myself at the center of the world and making the thing all about my own family research, come on over and join.

The Mathematics of Ancestry

The other day I was playing around on, and I traced one of my mother’s grandparents all the way back to Charlemagne. is as addictive as any video game, and it was like I had made it to the last round of Mario and finally defeated Bowser when I made the leap from England into France from the generation that was born just after the Norman invasion and the generation that was born before. Getting to Charlemagne from there was just extra minutes tacked onto recess.

But then I started thinking about how many people probably are descendants of Charlemagne. My brother, who got all of my math genes and his as well, told me the number of great grandparents you would have by the time you went back the 30+ generations it would take to reach Charlemagne would number in the billions. I am here today to correct his math. In his defense, he did this calculation off the top of his head without even pausing in the conversation to think. I, however, have gone the extra step in looking it up on someone’s personal website.

And the answer is…

Assuming you were born in the middle of the 20th century and that there was an average of 30 years between generations, you would need to go back 40 generations to your 38th great grandparents in order to reach Charlemagne in the middle of the 8th century. At that point, you would have more than one trillion 38th great grandparents.

The population of all of Europe at that time was probably somewhere between 20 and 30 million.

Charlemagne’s progeny wouldn’t even have needed to have multiplied as prolifically as they did for nearly everyone of European descent to trace back to him.

The thing about family trees is that you can only branch them out so far before they start narrowing back down. This is one place where science and religion agree. All of us are related somehow.

Where there’s a will and a bucket of money

I have just figured out how I can prove, without the benefit of historical records, the country of origin of my 5x Great Grandfather. I am now seeking financial backing for the project. This is going to take a lot of laundry room change, cousins. I hope you are prepared.

The question is this: What was the country of original for our American paterfamilias, James Gerald? Was he Irish? Was he French? Was he perhaps from somewhere else?

We don’t know because we don’t have records. But if everyone who is related to me sends me a whole bunch of money, I can find out by following a few simple steps.

1. We take DNA samples from a good cross section of James Gerald’s American descendents.
2. We go to Ireland and take DNA samples from a good cross section of people named Gerald and Fitzgerald who can demonstrate that their families have been in Ireland for at least 10 generations.
3. We go to France and take DNA samples from a good cross section of people named Gerald, Fitzgerald, or Frenchy versions thereof. Again, they need to be able to demonstrate that their families originate in France from at least 10 generations back.
4. We run comparisons for family matches and see where we get the strongest hits.

When I say we, I do mean me with the proper financial backing, of course.

Message me if you need my address for sending the checks. 🙂

Failing that, if anyone is interested in started a Gerald DNA project on or some other site that allows for genetic genealogical research, let me know. Over time, maybe we can track down enough volunteers from varying lines of the Gerald/Fitzgerald family to answer the question from DNA.

I’ll still be glad for your checks, however. Really. Message me, and I’ll take your money off your hands.

Genealogy by DNA, Part 2

I’ve had quite a good time today studying the DNA map I got in the mail yesterday and trying to make sense of it. I’m sure I should have tried to learn more about what can be determined about ancestry through DNA before I ordered a test, but there’s nothing like having the results in hand for a good object lesson.

For example, I was aware of the fact that it would be impossible to tell the origins of a particular ancestor from several generations back through this type of DNA test, but I hadn’t stopped to think quite what the odds would really be.

We have this family question of where a James Gerald who was seven generations back from me came from. I had always been told he was from Ireland. I learned only recently that some of my relations believe he was French rather than Irish. This shook up my sense of my own identity. I had grown up thinking of myself as a descendent of Irish immigrants. It just felt funny to consider that they might not have been Irish after all.

So now I have my own DNA results, and if no one else in the family is an Irish descendent, I certainly am. Some of my strongest population matches are for Ireland.

But what about the paterfamilias? Did the family name actually come to us via Ireland, or was my Great Great Great Great Great Grandpa Gerald from another country altogether? Who knows? By the time you go back seven generations, you have 128 ggggg grandparents.

128. That’s a number I have never really stopped to think about before. I have devoted a great deal of curiosity to the origins of one ancestor, and I have no idea who the other 127 ggggg grandparents were. Some of them were without doubt Irish. Some of them were probably French. The vast majority of them were of European descent in one fashion or another. That’s what my DNA map says. In fact, it says they were all of European descent. I just don’t agree. I think that some of them were Native American, and the company that ran my DNA profile just didn’t have quite the right Native American matches in its database for mine to show up.

Which brings us to point two of what a DNA ancestry test cannot tell you. It cannot tell you about kinship with people who are not in the databases against which your own genetic traits are compared. It can tell you what it has in its system and nothing else.

Nonetheless, I noticed something today that I missed yesterday. This has me all in an uproar of curiosity.

My DNA Map Part 3

Look at that green dot up in the middle of all that snow. The green dots on the map indicate strong matches to populations in that area. The red dots indicate a weak match or no match.

That particular green dot up in the middle of all of that snow is, I do believe, in Siberia.

That seems sort of random. With all of my other strong matches, you can see a trail of migration that mostly follows the general historical migration of the Anglo-Saxons and the Celts. Certainly some Germanic people would have migrated to Siberia at some point, but there is no trail along the way.

Here’s the European portion of my map again.

Day 258:  My DNA Map

See where I have several matches in Poland, and one yellow dot to indicate a good match but not a strong match to the east of Poland. What is that? The Ukraine? Anyhow, according to Google Earth, there’s quite some distance between The Ukraine and Siberia. I have no idea why I have one lone but strong match way off out in the frozen lands.

One thing I do know from studying my own DNA map is that population matches don’t necessarily mean that you had an ancestor there.

See my Australia connections for that.

My DNA Map Part 4

I clearly did not have any ancestors in Australia, but what I do have are some distant genetic cousins there in people who are descended from common European ancestors.

Perhaps something like this explains my Siberia connection. Perhaps the ancestor responsible for my genetic kinship to certain populations in Poland and The Ukraine had roots in Siberia. Or perhaps in a bizarre random long shot, this is where my Native American heritage is showing up. Native Americans did come to this continent by way of Siberia originally, and Native American populations do still share genetic markers with indigenous people of Siberia.

Who knows? Since the information packet that came with my DNA results was pretty sketchy, and since it is my DNA after all, I feel free to just make up anything I don’t understand. I happen to like the Native American connection to a Siberian genetic kinship, but I could be wildly wrong.

All of this does make me more interested in finding out who the other 127 ggggg grandparents were. I thought I might take the easy way out on determining my ancestry by just swabbing my cheek. Now that I see a map of where my people came from, though, I feel much more motivated than I did before to try to find out who they were.

And what were they doing in Bosnia? My inquiring Irish mind wants to know.

Genealogy by DNA

Not too long ago I wrote a blog post about one of my distant relations who was somewhat infamous. This was something of a random topic for me. I just ran across the information online and was so entertained by it that I had to share.

I found out from this that I have a lot more Gerald relations than I even knew about, and I have always known it was a large family. I also found out that I have a whole lot of distant cousins researching the branches of our family tree.

Most specifically, there is a particular great-great-great-something-great grandfather of mine named James Gerald (father of Gabriel Gerald) who has become a sort of genealogical brick wall. We know who his son was, but we don’t know who his parents were. Some people think he came from Ireland. Others think he came from France. They at least think he came from people who came from either Ireland or France. It’s an enormous cousinly controversy, and we don’t have any concrete information in any direction to solve the question. Was James Gerald an Irish patriot who changed his name from Fitzgerald to Gerald somewhere along the way, or was he a French Huguenot? I don’t know.

I didn’t even know this was a question until a few weeks ago. I still don’t know the answer, but I do have something to add a little fuel to the fire.

One of my friends suggested a DNA profile for ancestry, and on an absolute whim, I sent off for a kit. I just got the results in the mail today.

I did this without doing any research on what kind of DNA test could tell us the most, and I ordered the results in map form, which probably seemed like a good idea at the time, but doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense to me today. For you science people, it looks like what I have is a DNA STR profile, which has been matched against traits in populations around the world. The map supposedly shows where my genetic markers have the strongest matches to general populations.

My DNA matches were entirely European and European immigrant. This surprised me somewhat since I am certain of Native American ancestry on my mother’s side. What I don’t know about an STR is which ancestries it can match me to in the maternal or paternal lines. I’m hoping some science people do read this and take it upon themselves to enlighten me.

That said, if we have to answer the GGGGG Grandpa question based only on my DNA profile, my best guess would have to side with Ireland. I have a strong match to Ireland in my DNA and only a good match to France. Whatever that means.

Of course this doesn’t anything about where a specific ancestor came from. I have branches and branches of ancestry in all directions, and I still don’t understand the particular kind of DNA test that was done.

Regardless, here’s the European portion of my DNA map.

Day 258:  My DNA Map

Green indicates a strong match. Yellow indicates a good match. Red indicates a weak match or no match.

For those of you who wonder what my Gerald connection is and whether my DNA counts as evidence in your own ancestral searches, my great-grandfather’s name was Albert Sidney Gerald, and he was the grandson of William Gerald, who was the son of Gabriel Gerald.

For those of you who understand what an STR DNA profile actually is and can tell me what kind of information I can learn about ancestry from it, please feel free to chime in. I would love for someone to explain the science to me. I am beyond clueless. All I know is that I’m not really all that French, but I am surprisingly much more Spanish than I ever knew.

Any guesses where that came from, cousinly people?



After pilfering around online a little, it looks to me as though the strong Spanish ancestry (when I know of no Spanish connections in my family) is actually even stronger evidence of Irish ancestry. Apparently there was an influx of Celtic people into Ireland by way of Spain at some point in history, and a large percentage of the population of Ireland tests as having strong DNA markers for Spanish ancestry —