Edward Morgan: Comedy Ensues When Discovering Your Husband Is Your Cousin

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Comedy.  (To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


A few unrelated genealogy happenings have aligned the past few weeks to give our family some laughs, culminating in my finding a new cousin — my husband!

We took a family road trip to Kentucky earlier this month and included stops at Daniel Boone’s grave, Fort Boonesborough, and Cumberland Gap National Park purely for their historical value. A few weeks before the trip, my husband’s cousin who does Collins research reminded me that their family is related to Daniel Boone. He is my husband’s 7x-great-uncle; therefore, the boys’ 8x-great-uncle! Our historical sightseeing quickly turned into a mini-genealogy road trip. We checked out age-appropriate books from the library about Daniel Boone’s life and had fun learning more about this distant relative — and then bringing his frontier story to life for our sons.

Daniel Boone Grave at Frankfurt Cemetery in Frankfurt, Kentucky
Collins Brothers at Fort Boonesborough, Kentucky
Hiking at Cumberland Gap National Park

After our trip, my grandfather’s half-sister emailed me about several research topics, including if I believed we were related to Daniel Boone through our Guess family. She doesn’t use Facebook and hadn’t seen our vacation photos, so she didn’t realize the great timing of her inquiry. I haven’t thoroughly researched our Guess family, but I took her clues and quickly discovered she was correct — it looks like I’m related to Daniel Boone, too!

I went to bed one evening with a husband and woke up the next morning with my 9th cousin. Our shared ancestors are Edward and Elizabeth Morgan, Daniel Boone’s maternal grandparents.

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Bertie Mae McMurry Killen: Like a Sister to My Granny

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Sister.  (To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


If anyone were like a sister to my granny, it was her cousin Bertie Mae McMurry Killen. They were double-first cousins: their fathers, George and Jim McMurry, married sisters, Lula and Mary Frances McKaskle:

According to autosomal DNA statistics published by the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG), double-first cousins share about 25 percent of their DNA.¹ That’s the same amount as one might share with a grandparent or grandchild, an aunt/uncle, a niece/nephew, or a half-sibling.² Genetically, Ethel and Bertie Mae were like half-sisters!

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Officially a Daughter

Joining the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) has been on my genealogy “bucket list” for awhile. I’ve discovered eight Patriots in my family tree, and joining DAR is a way I can honor their service, while also serving my community. The genealogist in me wanted the challenge of proving my research and having it accepted by an official organization. And one final, important push was my friend Charity. She joined DAR last year and invited me to her chapter’s anniversary luncheon. It was filled with people who shared my love of country, history, and genealogy — and that’s when I knew DAR was for me.

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John Wright McMurry: My Granny’s Brother

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This week’s prompt is Brother.  (To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


My “Unk” – John Wright McMurry, December 1981

Photograph of John Wright McMurry, December 1981, digital image, privately held by John Dewey Horne, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Louisiana. Photo taken by John or Gwen Horne during Christmas celebration at home of Ethel McMurry Horne.

I only knew one of my granny’s brothers, my great-uncle John Wright McMurry. Everyone else in my family called him “Uncle Wright,” but I affectionately shortened it to “Unk.”

Unk lived with my grandmother in her house trailer on our property. Every afternoon when my dad came home from work, he, my mom, and I walked next door and had coffee with Granny and Unk. The only distinct memory I have of Unk is burying my face in his rust-colored recliner anytime he got up to refill his coffee cup. I thought if I couldn’t see him, he couldn’t see me — and that was a fun game of hide and seek for a toddler.

Unk died when I was three years old. I don’t remember any details, just lots of food brought to Granny’s house and my wondering where Unk was. Now that I’m older, I realize how amazing it is that I have any memories — even faint ones — of him.

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Wiley Johnston: Finding Records Is Easy, Interpreting Them Can Be Challenging

This entry is part of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks series.  This two-week period covers prompts of Challenging and Easy.  (To see other posts in this series, view my 52 Ancestors in 2019 index


With the Johnston Family Reunion in my thoughts recently, I’ve spent the past two weeks researching my most distant ancestor in this family line — Wiley Johnston of Leake County, Mississippi, who is possibly my 4x-great-grandfather.

“Possibly” is a key word, as no direct evidence yet identifies Wiley as our Johnston family patriarch. Family historian Agnes McWeeny Johnston hypothesized Wiley was the father of five sons — Nathaniel, Silas, John, Harrison, and Rufus — who lived in Leake County, Mississippi, and the surrounding counties between 1825 and 1860.¹ Agnes based her hypothesis on census records and tax rolls. She believed these men were father and sons because they seemed to move together among counties in central Mississippi.

Is Agnes’s theory still valid almost 30 years later? With so many more records available today, I decided to revisit her research and look for more clues. It was easy to find records about Wiley; what’s challenging is determining if the records reference the correct Wiley Johnston and working out any clues within the data that can lead me to his origins.

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