Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Aunt Jemima


Yes, I have an Aunt Jemima. Well, technically she was my third great-grand aunt, a sister to my third great-grandfather, Ozey Robert Broyles. The reason I've been paying particular attention to Aunt Jemima this past week is that she was the ancestor of at least six of my DNA matches, according to's ThruLines tool. And yet, maddeningly, I can't find documentation to confirm some of those DNA matches'  lines of descent.

Have you ever run into a problem like that? I've seen other ThruLines results asserting that the way I connect to a DNA match is through a particular line of descent, when in actuality, I discover an entirely different—and thoroughly documented—line of descent connecting my match with our most recent common ancestor.

As I run through this unfinished business of connecting all my Broyles family DNA matches, I've even discovered some ThruLines proposals which lead to distant cousins who are related to me in more than one way. In a case I worked on yesterday—amidst the four earthquake tremors which hit our home in rapid succession—I discovered a DNA match who descended in two different ways from my Broyles ancestors. And there was the catch: I actually have two different Aunt Jemimas in my Broyles ancestry.

The Aunt Jemima I had been working with was listed in ThruLines as the daughter of Aaron Broyles, my fourth great-grandfather. As it turns out, Aaron also had a sister named Jemima—possibly the very person after whom he named his daughter. The elder Jemima, Aaron's sister, was daughter of Adam Broyles—who, as you may have suspected, was also Aaron's father.

This elder Jemima married a man with the rather unremarkable name of Joseph Brown. While surnames like Brown can be the source of great consternation for unassuming family historians, this Joseph saved me some research grief by becoming the patriarch from whom at least two future Georgia governors descended.

The younger Jemima, niece to the elder woman by the same name, granted me the relative ease of research when she chose as her husband a man with a rather unusual name: Grief Horton. It is with six of her Horton descendants that I am currently struggling. What ThruLines asserts is not what I can find through supporting records. Granted, it will take quite a bit more patience and concentration to locate the type of documents which will reveal her female descendants' married names, but I am willing to tough it out and look beyond the usual sources for online records.

In the meantime, the slow slogging reminded me that sometimes, what online services assert is the right relationship may not always be so. Or there might be verifiable alternates. Or maybe both versions will turn out to be correct, as in the case of the doubly-related DNA match I've discovered.

While there may not be many Aunt Jemimas out there nowadays, there were at one point. Even for two hundred year old ancestors, we still need to keep our Aunt Jemimas straight. 

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