Sunday, November 6, 2016

Heraldry Used In Tree Climbing

Brick walls come in all shapes, sizes, and thickness.  Over the years, with a surname like JONES, you can imagine the number of obstacles that presented themselves along the way.   The purpose of this blog has been to communicate the different approaches I have used that might be helpful in your own tree climbing experiences.  The next several posts will begin a series on one method that has been the most fun, helpful, and yet most difficult.  It is the method using the topic called "Heraldry". 

There were several stages in this process that need to be told. It really begins when after some 20 years of tree climbing, I was able to connect my family tree from Kentucky, which began in 1811, back to its roots in Virginia.   "Pewmansend Creek" [in present Caroline County] was the geographic landmark that helped make the connections.   It was the use of  "Heraldry" that took this Virginia location across the great pond to Wales.  

Of course, this did not happen all at once.  From my earliest days of tree climbing [starting at age 9], an interest in all things pertaining to knights, castles, swords, shields, coat of arms, and such things had a special attraction.   However, it was not until a book by Sir Bernard Burke was found during one of my many trips to "rare book stores" that got me going in earnest.   The title page is shown:

In this text it states: "Heraldry may be defined  'the art of blazoning, assigning, and marshalling coat armour' or more particularly 'the art of arranging and explaining in proper terms all that relates or appertains to the bearing of Arms, Creast, Badges, Quarterings, and other hereditary marks of honour".

Whew, quite a mouth full.  Anyway, this text was to serve as a reference and resource for this stage of the process.  It has served me well.   Let's keep going.  The next group of posts will describe this adventure.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Have Genes - Well Traveled

It is hard to conceptualize that our ancestors live within us.  At least on the genetic level it is the fact that we carry [hopefully alive] parts of our past generations in our genes.  Now a "gene" is the functional unit of heredity which occupies a specific place (called locus) on a chromosome.  This gene is capable of reproducing itself exactly at each cell division, and directs the formation of a protein. [ an enzyme, a catalyst, or other types of helper proteins ]  A "chromosome" (normally 46 in us humans) lives in the nucleus of our cells.  It is the bearer of our genes, but also surrounds itself with specialized filaments [called chromatin], and a helper gizmo that assists during cell division called the centromere.  Concepts, terms, definitions and the like surrounding all this genetic stuff   can certainly clog the brain, and may often form their own brick walls just trying to put things together.  Anyway, to help the genealogist in their own tree climbing experience there are a few themes that might provide some insight.

First, "genetics" and "genealogy" are not the same.  In spite of what is claimed from all those who want to sell DNA products in order to provide you with answers to all your family tree questions, this is not the case.  By definition, "genetics" is the branch of science concerned with the means and consequences of transmission and generation of the components of biological inheritance.  In my Stedman's Medical Dictionary, between "behavioral genetics" and "transplantation genetics" there are 21 definitions of various branches.  By definition, "genealogy" is an account of the descent of a person, family, or group from an ancestor.  [There is now listed a "genetic genealogist" which I am sure would charge you to figure all your DNA stuff that has been analyzed.]

Secondly, if you have not already, you may discover that your DNA may help get under, around, or over that brick wall.  The problem for many genealogist is knowing which DNA type would give you the most help.  The following picture tries to present the three types of DNA being sold on the market.

The first place to start is to define the question you are trying get hold. [From a genealogist point of view.]  Does the question needing to be ask go out the paternal (fathers) branches, the maternal (mothers) branches, or the ancestors on either side of the family tree?  Making this decision will often help you decide which DNA test to order.  Y-DNA is a direct male line back through the ages...mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) is down the maternal branches including those of your father...and autosomal DNA is basically a "travel log" of your ancestors geographic origins. [called ethic groups]  We all have genes...well traveled indeed.

Thursday, July 21, 2016


Brick walls come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and thickness.  Recently, the use of DNA analysis has produced all kinds of new brick walls.  Looking to your genetic past will often help give new directions for the family search, or solve some types of questions that have come to the forefront.

My own DNA analysis took some time to get to the lab, because I was worried that it might show that all my 50 some years of genealogy would be incorrect.  At any rate, the following table shows that there are a number of different genetic pathways that involves the surname JONES.

The figure begins with the year 2011.  It then shows the percent of each haplogroup that was found in those with the surname JONES and chose to have their Y-DNA analyzed.  Seventy-five percent of those were found to be in the R1b1 haplogroup. [n=275]  This was followed by a number of different haplogroups.  Eleven percent were those of Scandinavia decent, followed in decreasing order by E, G, J, R1a, and Q.

The most recent analysis [2016, n=257] suggest that a number of folks from several haplogroups are new to the JONES surname family tree.  Haplogroups B, N, and O were not present in the 2011 group.  There has been some changes in the percent of the various haplogroups which suggest that there are many other genetic groups that have connections to the JONES surname.  There has been a 14% decrease in R1b1 with an increase in I, G, J, and R1a haplogroups. 

All this to say that the origin of your Y-chromosome may show something amazing. Likewise, not all with the surname JONES have their roots in the same genetic family tree.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

A Name Change Chronology

Several prior post have discussed the fact that the same name often gets spelled  in a variety of ways.  For the genealogist,  it is necessary to identify how these spellings can occur, and explore all alternative spellings when facing one of those brick walls.  This post shows that various spellings can also happen over time, presenting another dimension to all this brick wall climbing.  For my own tree climbing experience it was the surname "Taliaferro".

Beginning in 1651, the name was first spelled "Troliver".  It took some 60 years before the surname came to be spelled "Taliaferro".  The following table presents  how the name was spelled in the patent records of Virginia 1651 - 1711. [Taken from Cavaliers and Pioneers - Abstracts of Virginia Land Patents and Grants, by Nugent, Vol. I - III]

1651 - Troliver - CP(I) p. 224
1655 - Troliver - CP (I) p. 307
1661 - Tolliver - CP (I) p. 417
1666 - Taliafro - CP (I) p. 548
1666 - Taifer - CP (I) p. 548
1666 - Tallifro - CP (I) p. 548
1667 - Talifro - CP (II) p. 21
1667 - Talliferoe - CP (II) p. 32
1667 - Talliferoe - CP (II) p. 39
1669 - Toliferoe - CP (II) p. 70
1670 - Talliferoe - CP (II) p. 90
1671 - Talliafero - CP(II) p. 93
1671 - Taliaferro - CP (II) p. 149
1673 - Taliafer - CP (II) p. 123
1673 - Talliaferro - CP (II) p. 138
1685 - Taliaferoe - CP (II) p. 294
1691 - Taliaferoe - CP (II) p. 360
1693 - Taliaferro - CP (II) p. 380
1694 - Taliafero - CP (II) p. 397
1695 - Taliaferro - CP (II) p. 401
1705 - Taliaferro - CP (III) p. 93

Some 60 years in the records...what a deal.
1711 - Taliaferro - CP (III)  p. 124

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Two New Blogs

Brick walls come in all shapes and sizes as you climb out that family tree.  Those with a common surname like JONES will have all sorts.  Likewise, those who have a Welsh surname origin [like Jones] face another variety of brick walls once you reach a certain point in that tree climbing experience.  Two new blogs are being started with the purpose to provide a location to discuss all these themes and subject that might be of help.  One is titled: "Jones Surname Central".  The second is titled: "Welsh Surname Central".   Now I know that all tree climbers are not JONES or WELSH, but this combination offers many brick walls all their own.  The blog sites are :

       Jones Surname Central  at

       Welsh Surname Central  at

If you share a few brick walls that need some thoughts, this may be the place to add your subject/topic at the comment section of each post [yet to come].  A place to share, discovery, and discuss these brick walls.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

My Three "P's"

People, places, and purpose are items that I call my three "P's".  When all three come together at the same point [4th P...just couldn't resist...:-)] it will often provide the means to break down some of those brick walls.  For my own JONES family tree, this was 22 May 1650.  The following figure shows an example :

The surnames Williamson, Fauntleroy, Booth, Underwood, and Mosley are not what you would expect to be related to the surname JONES.  However, on 22 May 1650 a large group of folks arrived and patented land along the same river.  They also fled England together following the death of Charles I.  Evaluating this group under the "Three P's", the above was discovered.  One large family it was.  The Underwood group seem to have a lot of daughters who married a number of other surnames.  The red color shows the Underwood family, with the other colors connecting the various other surnames.  Understanding this cluster of related families proved to be a major pathway for connecting my own JONES family tree.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Three R's : Welsh Descent

By now, my suspicion is that most folks who are reading and following this blog share a common interest in the destruction of brick walls.  Having a surname JONES you can imagine the number and frequency of such adventures.  My own tree climbing has provided me many such opportunities which this blog has tried to share.   Over the years, a number of readings, references, and resources have accumulated which have been especially helpful...thus "The Three R's".  I thought it might be useful to present these items to those who share this common Welsh ancestry.  From the Bluegrass of central Kentucky to the Vale of the Dee [ North Wales], my own branches have been connected.  Welsh descent...English filter...Virginia a Bluegrass landing is roughly the chronology.  It is in this order that my collection of "Three R's" will be presented in the next series of posts.

Welsh Descent:

The following text has served me well over the many years of my JONES surname tree climbing.  It presents information organized by the Welsh counties giving a history of each and the surnames connected.  It is in two volumes.

The first printing was in London, 1872.  It was revised and enlarged in 1875, and reprinted by Genealogical Publishing Co., Baltimore, in 1991. [Where I obtained my copy.]

"Annals and Antiquities of The Counties and County Families of Wales" by Thomas Nicholas.

It has proved to be a reading....a reference...and...a resource since 1991.  A certain find to help with those brick walls of Welsh descent.