Phillips -Montooth Reunion 2017

The descendants of Samuel Webster “Pop” and Catherine “Kate” Montooth Phillips have gathered together for as long as I have been alive–and longer!  The Phillips reunion was a continuation of the Montooth Reunions which were large family events in the early and mid-1920s.

This is a photo of the 1924 Montooth Reunion. A link to the Schuyler County Genealogy Trails website will give the names of most of the family members.  Pop is third man from the left.  I believe Grandma Kate is behind her father, George Montooth, the older man in the center.

Unfortunately, I cannot make it to the reunion this year, but I submit this report on our ancestry in spite of my absence.  I hope family near and far will find it informative, surprising, and inspiring.  Please share this with others.

Pedigree Chart for Samuel Webster “Pop” Phillips

Pedigree Chart for Samuel Webster Phillips

Our New Brick Wall

When a genealogist cannot find the name of an ancestors parents or a spouse, we call that a brick wall.  Genealogist slam their heads against that brick wall for years, decades–even centuries!–before some unknown fact or record surfaces to knock it down.

For over 50 years, genealogists and family historians were stymied by lack of information on the parents of Asahel Phillips, the first of our line to move to Schuyler County, Illinois.  Asahel was born in 1777 in Virginia.  We knew he married Hannah Nixon on 15 August, 1805 in Harrison County, Virginia (now West Virginia).  We also knew that Samuel Phillips married Anna “Amy” Martin on 22 September, 1800, in Harrison County.  Then both families migrated to Hardin County, Kentucky, finally moving to Schuyler County in the 1830s and 40s.  We assumed these men were brothers because Asahel named his sons Asahel and Samuel, and Samuel named his sons Samuel and Asahel.

Rick Phillips, son of Willard, and grandson of Pop and Kate, did a y-DNA test at FamilytreeDNA in 2007.  He had a couple of matches with Phillips families from Iowa, but they were also stuck–at a James in Virginia.  We could not find a common ancestor.  Then, seven years later, another Phillips man took the y-DNA test.  He was encouraged to do so by a group of Phillips researchers who thought the man was their long lost cousin.  Surprisingly, he was our long-lost cousin, and his pedigree chart took us to Loudoun County, Virginia–which really is not close to Harrison County, West Virginia–but there, sitting in a court house since 1781, was the will of one Benjamin Philips who named his children: Jenkin, Samuel, Asael, Sarah (m. Richard Martin), and Huma (m. John Rogers).  It was truly a grand moment when new technology (DNA) and old-fashioned research (finding courthouse records) came together to obliterate that brick wall.

Alas, this great find did give us the parents of Asahel and his paternal grandparents, Jenkin and Esther “Hester,” but it left us with no maiden names for Asahel’s mother, Rhoda, nor his grandmother, Esther.  Two new brick walls,  and a new quest commences.

The Daughters of the American Revolution website lists Jenkin Phillips as a patriot ancestor.  Follow the link on his name to the DAR site.  Jenkin was too old to fight, but provided a wagon, team, and driver for the colonial cause.  His descendants are eligible for DAR and SAR membership.

Nixon line–George Nixon, Revolutionary War.

Another Revolutionary War patriot on our family tree is George Nixon  who also provided material support to the colonial army.  A nice report on the Nixon family can be found online here written by Wilmer Kerns of Arlington, Virginia, in 2001. George Nixon was the father of Jonathan Nixon who married Nancy Sarah Pugh, daughter of Robert and Mary Edwards Pugh.

Fort Edwards and the French and Indian War

Mary Edwards Pugh was the daughter of Joseph Edwards of Hampshire County, Virginia.  Joseph was born about 1695 in Chester County, Pennsylvania.  He moved to the Capacon Valley of Virginia where he built a fort.  This fort became an important defense during the French and Indian War, and Colonel George Washington was the commander at the fort.  You can read more about Fort Edwards at the Fort Edwards Webpage.

Included at the website is a pedigree chart that shows our ancestors Robert Pugh and Mary Edwards.

Vinedressing–or taking the ax to a branch of our tree–on the Cameron line

Several years ago, after researching onsite in Hardin County, Kentucky at the local university library and at the Brown-Pusey Museum in Elizabethtown, I was pretty sure I had discovered the parents of Elizabeth Cambron, the wife of Samuel Phillips.

Elizabeth married Samuel Phillips on 19 November, 1829, in Hardin County.  Samuel’s father signed consent because Samuel was under age, only 19.  Elizabeth was about three years older, and of age.  There are two records that name Elizabeth as a child.  Both are indentures where she is assigned to work for other families because she is a poor orphan of the county.  These records are dated 1814 and 1818.  Anguish died in 1808 and his widow, Hannah, mentions two minor children, but no names.  I had always assumed the other child was Benedict Cambron who married Sarah Ashbaugh and moved to Hancock County, Illinois.  Then, land records in Grayson County, Kentucky, named different children of Anguish Cameron who were selling his land. Elizabeth and Benedict were not mentioned.

Our DNA matches show a connection to the Cambron family of Charles County, Maryland.  This was a Catholic family.  Researchers tell me that Anguish is not a Cambron name, and Anguish Cameron was not part of the Charles County family.  Anguish, or his father,  was possibly from Scotland.  He is named in his mother’s will, Jannat Cameron, 1802 in Bullitt County, Kentucky.  His widow married a Prater–and I was sure they were the same Praters who became Prathers in Schuyler County.  And it is still possible, but… going back to the tax lists, there are other names that look similar to Cambron/Cameron.  One James Camron or Carmon is listed.  More research is necessary to clear up the mystery, and DNA will surely play a role in correcting the family tree.

The Billingsley Line

Pop’s mother was Mary Ann Billingsley, the daughter of Joseph and Sarah Warfield Billingsley of Baltimore, Maryland.  Joseph and Sarah were the first Billingsleys in Schuyler County, arriving in 1851.  Besides be related to the Billingsleys of Schuyler County, we are distantly related to actress Barbara Billingsley (June Cleaver of “Leave It to Beaver”), her nephew Peter Billingsley (the boy in A Christmas Story), and her father, Sherman, owner of the famed Stork Club of New York.

Off the Warfield line we are distantly related to Wallis Simpson Warfield who was the American divorcee who married the King Edward VIII, who abdicated the throne to wed her.

Also off the Warfield line, we connect to Chaney-Cheney.  Many famous people are descended from Richard Cheney who arrived in Maryland in 1650s.  Among our cousins are President Barack Obama, Vice-President Dick Cheney (ironically, not through his father’s Cheney line–his mother has a Cheney ancestor, too.) Harry S. Truman, Rosalind Carter, and John Glenn to name a few.

Pedigree Chart for Catherine “Kate” Montooth Phillips

Pedigree Chart for Catharine Montooth

The Irish Lines

You will notice that Grandma Kate’s family tree is rather sparse compared to Pop’s. That’s because her ancestors were relatively recent immigrants to the United States, arriving in the 1830s and 40s. In contrast, almost all of Pop’s ancestors were established in the colonies before the Revolutionary War. We know that James Montooth and Jane Dean were both from County Donegal, Ireland. They married in Pittsburgh where their first child was born, about 1835. There were other Montooths in Pittsburgh, and they were probably relatives–but just how they were related is not known yet.
James Sloan arrived in the United States in 1842 in Gibson County, Indiana. There he married Elizabeth Humphreys, 21 August, 1846, moving soon after to Schuyler County, Illinois. There were Sloans living in Gibson County who were originally from North Carolina. DNA matches seem to be linking us to these North Carolina Sloans, but James could not have been closer than a third cousin to any of them. We do have some Sloan cousins who have tested their autosomal DNA, and this information will hopefully help us connect to Sloans in Ireland.
On these Irish lines we are slowed down by distance, but also the availability of records in Ireland! Currently I have access to the DNA matches for my mother (Lou-Ann), her sisters (Connie, Diann, and Gina), and Dick Heitz. Connie, Dick, and Diann all have 14 Montooth matches. Lou-Ann has 15, and Gina has 17. Most of these are duplicates because we match the same cousins.

Grandma Kate’s Colonial Line–Humphreys

Elizabeth Humphreys Sloan was Grandma Kate’s grandmother. Through Elizabeth we link to the Humphreys or Humphries families of Virginia. Our ancestor George Humphreys was another Revolutionary War patriot. He fought in the war with the 1st Continental Dragoons. George married Frances Garrard, and she is named in her mother’s will, probated Sept. 1816, and recorded in Bourbon County, Kentucky, Will Book E, p. 448.

At this point I cannot confirm Elizabeth Garrard’s maiden name, but several online trees state that she was a Washington. The Garrards were prominent in Virginia and Kentucky politics, and it would not be impossible that they were friends with the Washingtons. More research is still needed to verify this claim.

One more Patriot to add to our line is Joseph Woods who served in the army from Virginia. He died in 1835 in Gibson County, Indiana.

Finally, our last brick wall: Polly Dickson Woods

Polly Dickson and her sister, Nancy, both married sons of Joseph Woods, but we know nothing about the Dickson family. The marriage took place in Tennessee, probably Blount County.

One thing that might help with this mystery is MtDNA–mitochondrial DNA–which is passed down from the mother to her children, but only passed on through the female line. This mtDNA never changes, so it will look the same in all the carriers. Polly Dickson Woods’s mtDNA passed down to her daughter, Jane who married George Humphries Jr., and then to Jane’s daughter, Elizabeth who married James Sloan, then passed down through all the Sloan daughters, including Mary Jane, wife of George Montooth, and then passed down through the Montooth girls–Grandma Kate and her sisters.
Everyone gets the MtDNA of his or her mother, but only females can pass it on. This mtDNA from Polly Dickson was in the blood of all of Kate’s children, but only her daughters could pass it on–Agnes, Bertha, Bernice, Nina, and Catherine. This special DNA is still present in all the children of the daughters mentioned, but can only be passed on to the next generation by the daughters of the daughters.

So for Agnes, daughter Doris passed it on to her children, but only Kathy and Diana can pass it on to the next generation.

For Bernice, the MtDNA passed down through Imogene, put it stops with Imogene’s sons. It is carried on by her daughters, Connie, Lou-Ann, Diann, and Gina. So John Brierton, Dann and Jeremy Norton, and Dustin Cox have this MtDNA, but will not be able to pass it down to the next generation. Only Connie’s daughters Tammy and Mandy can pass it down. Tammy had only one son, Willie, so it stops with him Mandy has passed it down to two sons and two daughters, but only her daughters will carry that on.
For Bertha, all of her children have the MtDNA, but only Norma passed it down to her sons, Kraig and Kevin. (Kraig is a DNA match on AncestryDNA.) However, this MtDNA phases out because sons cannot pass it on.

Nina passed Polly Dickson Woods’ mtDNA on to Shirley, and Shirley passed it on to her children. Her daughters have passed it on to their children.
Catherine passed the mtDNA to her sons, Harold and Lyle, but since it cannot be passed on by males, it phases out.

So, mtDNA can be useful to break down brick walls because any two people with the same mtDNA have to have a common direct-line female ancestor somewhere up the family tree. MtDNA is only tested by FamilytreeDNA, if you are interested to finding out more about this special type of DNA.

If you have tested your DNA with AncestryDNA or FamilytreeDNA, please contact me and share your results to help improve our research in the future. If you are interested in doing a DNA test kit, but not sure which, contact me and I can guide you to the most useful for your personal purpose and our collective genealogy.

Happy Reunion 2017!

Vinedressing: Correcting the Parents of William Cornett, born 1781, of Howard County, Missouri

The Correcting the Parents of William Cornett, born 1781, of Howard County, Missouri
By Dann M. Norton © 3 September, 2017

According to a family Bible page that is shared with many online, William J. Cornett was

Cornett William 1781 Bible

born April 5, 1781. His wife, Nancy is named, born July 17, 1789. All of his children are listed, as well as, some grandchildren.
Children of William and Nancy Cornett (from the Bible record)
1. John M. Cornett b. April 26, 1812
2. Elizabeth Cornett b. Sept 13, 1813
3. Lyddall B. Cornett b. February 25, 1815
4. William J. Cornett b. October 23, 1817
5. Garret H. Cornett b. Mar 22, 1819
6. Sally B. Cornett b. Nov 8, 1820
7. Narsiss S. Cornett b. Dec 22, 1822
8. Nancy J. Cornett b. Dec 1, 1825
9. James M. Cornett b. Oct 3, 1828
10. John B. L. Cornett b. Aug 12, 1832

This William Cornett was listed in the 1830 Census of Howard County, Missouri. [1] (Two Williams were listed in the county that year–the other (William Curnutt married to Sarah Standley ended up in Pettis County.) William Cornett was listed in the 1840 Census of Locust Creek Township, Linn County, Missouri.[2] William Cornett’s will was written on 3 February, 1830, in Howard County, but recorded in January 1841 in Linn County. [3]His death probably occurred in December of 1840, and before 29 December when the clerk of Linn County commissioned the clerk of Howard County to locate the witnesses.
The widow, Nancy, can be found on the 1850 census of Linn County.[4]

Cornett Linn Co MO 1850
Year: 1850; Census Place: District 50, Linn, Missouri; Roll: M432_405; Page: 3B; Image: 10

Note her son, William (who is also listed in Eldorado County, California, as Wm. J. Cornett[5] ) age 32. His children, William (age 6), John (age 4) and Thomas B. (age 1) are also listed. Mosby Cornett is James M. from the Bible record. John B. L., age 17, is also listed.

There are not usually any conflicts over who the names of the children of William and Nancy. The controversy will be the maiden name of Nancy—often listed as Shearer, Shiffer, or Shaffer—and the parents of William.

The online version of Kentucky marriages lists Shearer as the maiden name of Nancy, wife of William Cornett.[6] Many others listed her as Shiffer or Shaffer. Four years ago, there were now deleted files to give Nancy a very long Shearer pedigree. There was also a website that gave her a long Shaffer pedigree. Both could not be correct, but the point is moot as neither is available today. Some online trees even suggest that she married a Reeves and had sons by this other husband. This is completely illogical as she is listed in Missouri as a Cornett, and there are no Reeves children in her household.
Philip Cornett, a descendant of William’s son, William J. Cornett, researched the Cornett records at the University of Missouri. There is a lengthy history on the connection of the Cornetts with the university. Mr. Cornett also ordered copies of the marriage records from Lincoln County. Within the records was the marriage bond for Nancy SHAVER to William Cornett, Lincoln County, Kentucky, Marriages, Box 1811. (Copies in possession of Philip Cornett, Texas.)
Cornett Shaver marriage 3
It is clearly Shaver, written on the bond and two consents—one from another Nancy Shaver and one from Peter DePauw.

Cornett Shaver marriage 1

Cornett Shaver marriage 2

(Peter DePauw is listed as a neighbor of Parks and William Cornett on the 1820 Lincoln County, Kentucky, census.)[7]

Let it be known that the sources that give her name as Shearer are in conflict with the original record, found in the bonds of Lincoln County, Kentucky, 29 June 1811. The maiden name of Nancy Cornett is Shaver.

Many online trees—with no support or evidence—will list William Cornett as the son of Nathaniel Cornett and Mildred Hensley of Clay County, Kentucky, or as a son of Nathaniel and a supposed wife, Elizabeth Boggs. (There is no evidence of a wife named Elizabeth Boggs. Records only record a wife Milly or Mildred.) Likewise, Nathaniel Cornett is often listed as the son of John and Elizabeth Bacon Mosby Cornett. This is not true. A series of records from Virginia and Kentucky will clear up both of these erroneous connections, and provide the correct connection based on verified court records.

William Cornett married in Lincoln County, Kentucky in 1811. A Parke Cornett is listed in the1810 census for Lincoln County. This Parke is the right age to be a brother. William named his son Lyddall, also spelled Literal B. A Lideral Cornett is listed in 1830 Lincoln County, and his age makes him likely to be another brother of William.

The 1816 Chancery court suit between the widow of John Cornett et al and Thomas and Susan Smith[8], names the seven children of John Cornett (who died between 1793 and 1795 [9]) and his wife, Elizabeth Bacon Mosby Cornett. Those seven children were William Cornett, Patrick Cornett, Lyddall Cornett, Elizabeth Cornett, Sarah Cornett, Rebecca Brittain (deceased), and Susan Smith.
Here we have the three brothers named—Patrick should be Parke; Lyddall is variously spelled Lydwell and Literal, and William. To confirm that, even with the name variations, these are the same men who appear in Kentucky, an 1806 Power of Attorney from William Cornett of Lincoln County, Kentucky, to Parke Cornett of Louisa County, Virginia, to sell his portion of his father’s estate in Henrico County, Virginia, provides evidence of a close relationship. The land was sold to John Mosby —their half-brother, son of Benjamin Mosby and Elizabeth Bacon[10]—and the survey of the land in the 1816 chancery case shows John Mosby with two tracts.

Based on the 1816 Chancery case, we know that John and Elizabeth Bacon Mosby Cornett have a son William. This William has brothers Parke and Lyddall. William and Parke sell land to John Mosby in Henrico, and eventually end up in Lincoln County, Kentucky. (Lyddall will migrate to Hardin County, Kentucky.) William moved to Missouri. This makes the naming of William’s sons—Lyddall B(acon) and James Mosby—more compatible with this family.  It is also evident that William was born in 1781 in Virginia, and obviously Henrico County.  His father John is listed in Processioners’ Lists and Tax Lists as early as 1782.

Ah…but what of Nathaniel Cornett, the wrong father of William? Nathaniel Cornett is named in census records in Clay County, Kentucky, along with his brothers, William, Samuel, and Roger. All four brothers, and their four sisters, are named in the 1822 chancery court case in Scott County, Virginia, Cornett v. Hensley.[11] The four brothers of Clay County, Kentucky, are correctly the sons of an older William Cornett (died 1815, Scott County, Virginia) and his wife, Lucy. This older William Cornett was from Henrico County, contemporary to John Cornett, the husband of Elizabeth Bacon Mosby. They were undoubtedly brothers. Their father being the John Cornett who patented land in 1733 in Henrico County[12], and died after 1774 when he sold land to Hobson Owen, and signed the deed as John Cornet Senr.[13]

These records correct the assumptions which have become accepted over the decades. It is hoped that current and future researchers will make these corrections to their pedigrees.


1. 1830; Census Place: Howard, Missouri; Series: M19; Roll: 73; Page: 173; Family History Library Film: 0014854. Viewed at
2. Year: 1840; Census Place: Locust Creek, Linn, Missouri; Roll: 225; Page: 241; Family History Library Film: 0014856. Viewed at
4. Linn County MO Will Book 1, p. 1-2.
5. Year: 1850; Census Place: Pilot Hill and Vicinity, El Dorado, California; Roll: M432_34; Page: 470B; Image: 446.
6. That source seems to be Kentucky, Compiled Marriages, 1802-1850 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 1997. Original data: Dodd, Jordan, Comp.. Kentucky Marriages to 1850. Electronic transcription of marriage records held by the individual counties in Kentucky.
7. 1820, Lincoln County, Kentucky, Census, p. 57-58.                                                                                                                                              8. Henrico Chancery 1816-009, Library of Virginia.
9. John Cornet signed for the marriage of daughter, Rebecca, to William Brittain in 1793; His “estate” is listed in the 1796 Processioners’ lists, Henrico County.
10. A newspaper advertisement confirms that John Mosby was the son of Elizabeth Cornett. Richmond Whig (Virginia), September 8, 1843, Vol 20, Number 73, page 3. “Sale of Valuable Real Estate”…”By virtue of the last will and testament of John Mosby, dec’d, I shall…proceed to sell…on Friday, the 13th Day of October next…the following Real and Personal Estate—viz: 1st the Manison House Tract”…”2nd. Another Tract adjoingin the above”…”3rd. Two other small tracts on the old Mountain Road…Lots No. 4 and 7, the former containing 12 acres, and the latter containing 9 ½ acres. Also all the right, title,m and interest of the said John Mosby, dec’d. (being one-third) in and to 36 acres of land, being a part of theland of which John Cornett died seized and which was allotted o his widow as her dower… W. Goddin, administrator with the will annexed of John Mosby, deceased.”
11. Scott Chancery 1822-010, Library of Virginia.
12. Mayes, Bert and Selena Mayes DuLac. Henrico County Virginia Land Patent Abstracts With Some Plat Maps, Vol II, 2007, page 156.
13. Deed from John Cornett Sen. To Hobson Owen, October, 1774 (3 October, 1774), Henrico County, Virginia, Library of Virginia Microfilm Reel 3, p 2227-28.





Dann M. Norton–Genealogy Axman/Family Tree Vinedresser?

Genealogy is a hobby for most.  Some people think genealogy is getting online and copying and pasting records and pedigrees from websites.  Genealogy is more of a science to me.  As a professional, I take into my research the geography, the politics, the laws, and the customs of the time period to make sound and reliable conclusions.  The internet has made it easier, and the internet has made it harder, to do good genealogy.  It is great that so many records are made available online.  One line of my family had been on the back burner because I could not get to Maryland to study the 18th-century wills and probate records.  Those records are available at my fingertips through  That’s great!  Twenty years ago, I made regular trips to Ft. Wayne, IN, to spend the weekend at the Allen County Public Library, the second largest genealogical library in the country, to look at census records–because they had all the US census records.  Now, census records for the US and for some other countries are available online and can be searched from the convenience of my own home.  That’s wonderful!

But the internet has created a negative to genealogical research.  Many online services will use algorithms to search and connect records for ancestors, and sometimes they are right, but sometimes they are wrong. Hobbyists are not careful to check these records.  I refrain from using these hints from sites like because I do not know if the algorithm can be trusted, and I’ve come across many that are wrong.  I would rather be sure by doing the research myself.

Even before the internet there were incorrect genealogies that were published. In the days of letter-writing, researchers would write and discuss, and argue, and come to conclusions.  In those days, you knew who created one theory, and who created the other, and you had their explanations.  There is so much in online family trees that is unsourced and unproven–and wrong!–that has been copied and pasted multiple times from one user to the next.  It is impossible to know the origin of the information, if there were any records to back it up, or if it was a complete guess that needed verified or debunked.

With DNA genealogy, it is becoming ever more imperative that we weed out the chaff of guesses from the good wheat of research.  I have not found a family yet that did not have some sort of mix up that could be fixed with available records.  DNA has linked some families in ways that we did not see in the past. A careful re-check of records shows that previous researchers had made assumptions, that later became accepted, and today are thought to be gospel truth, but are wrong. Corrections are necessary.

Genealogy does not happen in a couple hours on a laptop.  I have worked on my own family lines for over 30 years, and some questions have never been answered.  Some parents are still unknown–and we call these mysteries, brick walls.  In my 34 years of research, I have busted down brick walls, corrected mistakes in published genealogies, and confirmed or debunked family traditions.

In this blog, I am going to correct long-held assumptions that have become accepted. Novice genealogists are not aware that much of what has been passed down to them is purely one person’s best guess passed down, around, copied and repeated for years, even decades, until it seems it must be true.  I caution that if there are no records to lend any evidence to the claim, it is likely wrong.

I sometimes refer to myself as a genealogy axman–I’m going to cut off a branch of your family tree with my information!  Really, though, I am a vinedresser, carefully pruning the branches, so that your family tree will be reliable and complete.  As people correct their pedigrees with verified information, better matching will occur on our DNA studies, and brick walls will be knocked down.

Dann Norton, September 4, 2017