It would be quite fortunate for us, as we cast about for the confirmed identity of this daughter of Adam Broyles alternately called Milla or Demilia, if we could find a matrilineal descendant who would be willing to take a mitochondrial DNA test. Thus, we'd have, in reverse, the line of that as-yet-unknown umpteenth great-granddaughter, through her mother, then maternal grandmother, all the way back through each successive mother's line to Demilia herself. Even better, we'd be able to peek beyond that point to hopefully find the true identity of her mother, as well.
That, however, is unlikely to happen, just looking at the children listed for Demilia and her husband Adam—whichever surname belonged to his true identity. As we noticed yesterday in the recently-published Broyles Family book written by Cathi Clore Frost, of Demilia's ten children listed in that genealogy, four were listed as "presumed child." Of the remaining six children who didn't have such a tag—hopefully, no presumptions there—only one of them was a daughter: their youngest child, Mary.
Whether this child Mary—who eventually married relative John Broyles in Greene County, Tennessee—had any daughters remains to be seen. That generation was beyond the scope of the Broyles Family book, and I have yet to explore that specific line. You know that I will eventually get there.
We can, however, move from the possibility of using mtDNA to using autosomal DNA, although the relationships revealed border on the tenuous. After all, the Most Recent Common Ancestor shared between my Broyles DNA matches and myself would be my fifth great-grandparents, Adam Broyles and his wife Mary, Demilia's parents. But let's take a look.
Using Ancestry.com's ThruLines as our shortcut, we can look at the listings for either Adam Broyles or his wife. At this point, my account shows seventy five Broyles matches which claim Adam as their ancestor. For his wife Mary, though, the number jacks up to one hundred matches. Worse, though author Arthur Leslie Keith in his unpublished manuscript on the Broyles generations explained his theory why Adam Broyles' wife was not a Wilhoit (as has been proposed in some genealogies), the ThruLines readout lists Adam's wife by that exact name: Mary Wilhoit.
Let's take a look at some other issues with using DNA on this distant ancestral couple. For this fifth great-grandfather, while Adam Broyles might show up on my genealogical tree, the likelihood that he'd show up on my genetic tree is much slimmer. Any matches to me, on an even generational relationship (i.e. not "removed"), could be no closer than sixth cousin. That, in autosomal DNA terms, is quite a stretch.
Still, I had to take a look. For my DNA matches linked to Demilia's line, I had three matches claiming her father Adam as MRCA. Two of those matches had only one slim segment in common with me, and the third match claimed two segments. If we add in the ThruLines listings based on Mary, Adam's wife, there was a fourth DNA match with one segment shared. But here's the kicker: the highest centiMorgan count of these matches was sixteen, for the person sharing two segments with me. All the others were lower than that count. Very slim possibilities here.
One interesting detail about these matches, though: every one of them came through the line of Demilia's son Ezekiel. Her first-born child—thankfully not marked as "presumed child" in the Frost book—Ezekiel was born in 1776, with his baptism documented at the Hebron Lutheran Church as "Heseckiel" Bender. Ezekiel, his surname later listed as Painter, served during the War of 1812, afterwards moving to Georgia, where he married Susan Hagood (or variants of Susannah) in 1825, and eventually died in Alabama in 1839.
Could DNA matches as distant as these four of mine be coincidental? Very possibly. However, before writing off those matches, I'd like to see what can be done about researching this line of descent. If documentation confirms the paper tree, the DNA could certainly augment that conclusion. This is definitely one line to trace further before I gain enough confidence to accept.
There are, however, other DNA matches to look at, too. Of the seven children born to my fifth great-grandfather, Adam Broyles, I have DNA matches listed at Ancestry's ThruLines for Moses, Anne, Jemima, and Joshua, in addition to the descendants of my fourth great-grandfather Aaron Broyles. We've got a lot more to confirm through documentation this month.
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