Where are we now? Phillips lineage research for the Phillips Reunion

Sadly, I cannot make it to the reunion of the descendants of Samuel Webster “Pop” and Kate Montooth Phillips tomorrow (Sunday, September 13) in Littleton, IL.  In lieu of my attendance, I am dedicating this blog to the update of research I would have given.

Last year was the revelation that I had found, after 30+ years of research on my own, and at least 20 more years from researchers before me, the parents of Asahel Phillips b. 1777 VA, the first of our line in Schuyler County, Illinois.  Yes, sometimes it takes 50 years or longer to uncover the name of an ancestor, but I could not have made this discovery without DNA testing.   Rick Phillips had taken part in one of my first DNA genealogy kits.  For eight years his kit had the same two matches, and none of us knew how we were related.  Then, a year and a half ago, a random Phillips in Missouri completes a DNA kit and, voila!  Asahel’s parents names are Benjamin and Rhoda Philips, and his grandparents are Jenkin and Esther Philips of Loudoun Co, VA.  We do not know Rhoda’s or Esther’s maiden names.  That is something new researchers could focus on.  Rhoda was listed in the tax records of Harrison Co, VA (now WV), and probably died there in the early 1800s.

I am hoping DNA will help to confirm my research from the 1990s that Sarah Elizabeth Cameron Phillips, wife of Samuel and grandmother of Pop, was the daughter of Anguish Cameron of Hardin Co, KY.  She was born there in 1805, and Anguish died there in 1809.  His estate mentions two minor children, but does not say their names.  Thanks, so much ancient court clerks.  His widow, Hannah, remarried a Prater.  No first name is known for Mr. Prater–was he related to the other Praters/Prathers that ended up in Schuyler County?  What was Hannah’s maiden name?  There might be a connection to the Mikles family.  Anguish had brothers in the Shelby Co, KY area.

We have always been brickwalled at the names James Montooth (born 1810), Jane Dean Montooth (born 1813), and James Sloan (born 1821).  All three are Irish immigrants.  James and Jane were both from Killaghtee, County Donegal, Ireland.  They were in Pittsburg, PA by 1840 and in Schuyler County by 1850.  There were other Deans from Donegal living in Schuyler County, but just how they are all related is not clear.  Oh, I do hope some Dean family members start doing the autosomal DNA tests at Ancestry.com and FamilytreeDNA.  My mother’s DNA kit has several matches with Montooths, but I can’t connect them.  A recent match has Boyds from Killaghtee–some Donegal Boyds lived in Schuyler County; I bet they are related.  James Montooth had a sister Mary who married a McNeeley.  Was he related to the other Montooths in Pittsburgh?

James Sloan was born in 1821 in Belfast, Ireland.  He arrived in Gibson County, IN in 1842.  He married Elizabeth Humphreys and they were living in Schuyler County by the time of the 1850 census.  An Owen Sloan was also an Irish immigrant to Gibson County, IN.  There was a large Sloan family from NC who lived in Gibson County–were they related?  They would’ve been only distant cousins to James.  Yet, DNA matches do list some of these NC Sloans.  Still nothing has helped to unlock the secret of James’ parentage.

Elizabeth Humphreys Sloan was the daughter of George Humphreys or Humphries and Jane Woods.  A fellow researcher, Nancy Stein from Chicago, is working on the Woods lineage.  Jane’s grandfather, Joseph Woods, was a Revolutionary War veteran.  Online trees say his father was Michael Woods, but that has never been proven.  Jane’s father, John Woods was married to Mary “Polly” Dickson.  Polly’s sister, Nancy, was married to John’s brother, James.  We have no idea who the Dickson girls belong to.  Ah, but there are some Dickson DNA matches that sound promising.

Most exciting off the Humphreys line are the parents of Frances Garrard Humphrey, Elizabeth Sloan’s grandmother.  Her father was Daniel Garrard, and her uncle was James Garrard, the second governor of Kentucky.  The Garrards were wealthy and hobnobbed with important colonial families.  Daniel Garrard died in Jefferson County, KY.  His wife was named Elizabeth.  Some researchers say that her maiden name was Washington.  This could be based off the son she named William Washington Garrard.  This is something I would like to prove.  Certainly the Garrards were in the same social strata as the Washingtons–and I mean THE Washingtons!  Was George Washington a cousin to us?

DNA!  It’s the new tool in the genealogist’s box.  As mentioned earlier, Rick Phillips did a test about 9 years ago and it has helped with our research.  His test was a Y-DNA test that only shows you the direct male lineage from son to father to grandfather and then his father and his father and his father, and so on.  Any other male Phillips who matches Rick has to have a common ancestor.  Only FamilytreeDNA is offering this kind of test.  For men and women, there is the MtDNA test–the mitochondrial DNA that the mother passes on to all her children.  I have not utilized any MtDNA tests, but if someone were to try this, it would trace the mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s line all the way back.  This actually would be beneficial for us.  In my case, my mother is a direct female descendant of Mary Dickson Woods–one of our brickwall ancestors. Actually, all the children of the daughters of Kate Montooth Phillips would have this mitochondrial DNA. Anybody who matched this mitochondrial DNA would be descended from Mary or her sisters, Mary’s mother, or her mother’s mother, or so on back in time.  But it can go way back in time!

FamilytreeDNA has a test called Family Finder and AncestryDNA and 23&Me offer autosomal DNA tests.  These tests are probably the most fun–and frustrating!  This test matches you with cousins on all lines of your family tree.  Some of these cousins have to be back as far as 8th cousin and maybe more distant.  That means a little bit of your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparent still exists in your DNA.  Although you might have a little bit of this 7xgreat-grandmother, your cousin could have a little bit of the 7xgreat-grandfather.  So, it helps when several cousins all test.  So far we have Lou-Ann Billingsley Norton (Mom), Richard Heitz, and a brand new match, Amanda Graham, granddaughter of Eloise Heitz, on our AncestryDNA match list.  Distant cousins, Charles Sloan and Debra Gentile also show up in our list of matches.  Then there are a bunch of people I don’t know, but they are related somehow!  Eldon Beghtol’s DNA is preserved at FamilytreeDNA along with a kit for Lou-Ann, too.  There, we have matched three people–a woman, her father, and grandmother–who descend from Lewellyn Dodd and Mary Phillips, Pop’s aunt.  These autsomal DNA tests run about $99, but there are often sales that will drop the price.  These are great gifts, especially for the person who is hard to buy for!  (I have a test kit for Gina Billingsley Cox–so we’ll soon have one more in our group.)

There you are–mysteries and DNA–How will you help our family’s research?  (And if you are reading this and not part of the Phillips family–find your family genealogist and offer to do the DNA kits–they really do help.)

Check out these sites: http://www.familytreedna.com and ancestry.com for more information about DNA.