Thursday, July 27, 2017

Confirming an Orphan's Ancestry: Another Option

The significance of finding an exact match to my mitochondrial DNA test result means so much more than the test itself, considering that matriline includes someone known to me only as an orphan. I had my guesses, as we've seen, but this type of confirmation bolsters any proof argument I could devise. As long as I have a firmly constructed argument, complete with thorough documentation for each step in the generational line from my second great grandmother Mary Rainey Broyles back to the woman who is most recent common ancestor for both my line and that of my exact match, I've got it made.

But there could be problems with that assumption, still. Perhaps Mary Rainey Broyles actually connected with that other match at a different point. Remember, I don't have solid proof that she was daughter of Thomas Firth Rainey and Mary Elizabeth Taliaferro. I just have indications. The relationship could have taken a different generational pathway that I haven't yet discovered.

Another route that could bolster my argument might be to use other DNA matches in conjunction with what I've already laid out. And it just so happens that I have a Rainey match from a different DNA test: the autosomal test, which reveals relatives as distant as fifth and sometimes even sixth cousin, reliably.

In my case, the match came in at an estimated level of relationship as third to fifth cousin. Working with the administrator of that match at Family Tree DNA, we realized the connection was with my orphaned second great grandmother's brother Thomas—the very man who was listed with her in the 1870 census in Georgia.

Of course, we couldn't tell he was her brother, based simply on the 1870 census; that enumeration didn't provide any listing of relationships within a household. All we could tell from that record was that Mary "Reiney" and Thomas "Reiney" were both in the household of Charles Taliaferro.

It took going back to the 1860 census to find both Thomas and his baby sister Mary listed in the household of widow Mary Rainey.

After that point? The young Mary married Thomas Taliaferro Broyles and moved to his home in Tennessee, where she died before her record could even appear in the subsequent census. Her brother, eight years her senior, was married and living in Alabama—and then gone to Texas by the time of the 1880 census.

It turns out to be this Thomas whose descendant matches my autosomal test at Family Tree DNA.

While I've hoped for additional DNA indicators—like another female descendant willing to take the mtDNA test—an indicator such as this autosomal relationship is an encouraging additional vote of confidence for my theory that Mary Rainey was daughter of Thomas and Mary Elizabeth Taliaferro Rainey, and thus part of the matriline which leads to Margaret Watts, mother of Jane Strother Lewis of colonial Virginia.

Insert above from the 1870 U.S. Census for Muscogee County in the state of Georgia courtesy


  1. I read your blog every morning with my coffee! It is like a serial mystery novel. You really inspire me.

    1. Thank you so much, Miss Merry! I appreciate your stopping by--and saying hi, from time to time, as well!

  2. colonial that would be a fun place to visit! :)

    1. Apparently, I have quite a few roots back there--even in Williamsburg. I suppose I ought to make it a priority to get back there at some point.


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