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
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
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!