The first thing I do when I receive a new DNA match notification is to review the information provided by Family Tree DNA to get a time frame of the genetic distance between my kit and the matches kit. Secondly, I want to find out as much as I can about the DNA matches oldest, fully vetted, documented ancestor. I want to know where that person lived so I can investigate the area and build a timeline of events. That helps me understand how that ancestor may have decided to migrate to another territory or state, in this case, to Missouri, formerly Louisiana Territory. More importantly, it may help identify where the family is migrating from. If I can find out where the DNA matches ancestor came from, I may be able to find out where my ancestor came from too. At the very least, I can pinpoint an area to focus my research, otherwise I am just grasping at straws.
My method of operation will be no different when researching the new Morris Y-DNA match that I was notified of recently. My male Morris cousin and uncle both got the notification.
The tester matches my uncle at 67 Markers. The Genetic Distance is 4 steps at this level of testing. The Time Predictor (those three lines in the upper right corner) estimates that my uncle and the tester may have shared a common ancestor within the last 12 to 16 generations, or 300-400 years, 1623-1723.
The tester matches my cousin at 111 Markers. The Genetic Distance is a bit more defined at 9 steps at this level of testing. The Time Predictor (those three lines in the upper right corner) estimates that my cousin and the tester may have shared a common ancestor within the last 12 to 16 generations, or 300-400 years, 1623-1723.
Yes, those numbers can sound very discouraging. My ancestor, John Jacky Morris was born about 1785. That means his father was probably born about 1760 and his grandfather was probably born about 1735. The Y-DNA matches ancestor looks to be documented back to his birth in Virginia about 1777. That means his father may have been born around 1752 and his grandfather around 1727.
I use the time predictor as a starting point only. I usually start with the range of 85-95% probability. I may have to research a few more generations back or I may find the common ancestor a generation or two ahead. Be flexible but have a goal where to start, otherwise, you won’t get started at all. For me, this is a good starting point.
Next, I want to find out who this person says their ancestor is and where they lived. The match has listed (I believe) their great grandfather which is too close for me to post here. I was able to quickly trace this match back to their 4th great grandfather, William Harvey Morris born 19 Jun 1777 and died 21 Apr 1853 in Morgan County, Missouri. His Find- A-Grave profile says that he was born either in Virginia, as noted on the 1850 Census record or in Tennessee, as noted on his daughter, Mary Ann’s death certificate, and migrated to Missouri as a pioneer. He was married to Mary M. Brooks, and they had 7 children: Martha, Elizabeth, William Dudley, Mary Ann, James J, John N, and Sarah (Sallie).
It is perhaps Mary Ann Morris Estes that provides a clue to where her family migrated from. Her death certificate is clear that her parents are William and Mary Brooks Morris who were both born in Tennessee but more than that, her place of birth is listed as Bedford County, Tennessee. Her son, W. R. Estes was the informant. He notes that his mother was born 17 Jan 1827. The attending physician A. J. Gunn writes that she died on 24 Oct 1910 from shock resulting from an injury due to a fall.
Bedford County, Tennessee was formed in 1807 when the citizens of Rutherford County living south of the Duck River and the Stones River successfully petitioned the governor to split Rutherford County in two. The new county was named after American Revolutionary War officer and large landowner in the area, Thomas Bedford. Bedford County's size (in terms of area) has been steadily reduced since 1809 to form Coffee County, Moore County, Lincoln County, and Marshall County. (Wikipedia)
Another clue as to where this Morris family came from is found at the Find-A-Grave memorial for James J. Morris, son of William Harvey and Mary Brooks Morris and brother of Mary Morris Estes, that indicates James may have been from Robertson County, Tennessee.
Robertson County, Tennessee formed in 1796. The first white settlement in Robertson County was established by Thomas Kilgore, who came there in 1778 claiming land and building a station in 1779 near present-day Cross Plains. Prior to statehood this area was one of the counties in Mero District and called Tennessee County, located north of Nashville on the Kentucky border. (Tennessee Encyclopedia)
Searching Morris deed records in Bedford County did not yield many results that would indicate this Morris family lived there, or if they did live there, it was not for long, or they never owned property there.
Researching deeds in Robertson County, Tennessee yielded an overwhelming amount of data that indicates there may be a relationship back to Stokes County, North Carolina through the Brooks family. It may take me months to sort through all the deed records and estate files I have found in Robertson County. I’ll list the most valuable deed here that, while needs to be more fully vetted, may link this Morris family in Missouri back to Robertson County, Tennessee.
Remember, the 1850 Census William Morris reported his two younger children, John, and Sarah, were born in Kentucky, 1833 and 1835, respectively.
In an 1833 deed found in Robertson County, Tennessee is found William C (corrected to H) Morris from Ira Fulton stating that both lived in Simpson County, Kentucky at the time this deed was written. If this is the same William H Morris, then this deed puts him in Kentucky around the same time his two younger children were born.
This Indenture made this the fifth day of October in the year of our Lord Eighteen hundred and thirty three between Ira Fulton of the one part and William (the C has been made into an H) Morris of the other part as witnesseth both of the county of Simpson and state of Kentucky for and in consideration of the sum of two hundred dollars to me in hand paid by the said William H Morris the receipt and payment is hereby acknowledged hath given granted bargained and sold unto the said William H Morris his heirs and assigns forever a certain tract or parcel of land containing thirty two acres be the same more or less butted and bounded as follows viz beginning at a stake on Walkers state line north east corner of a ten acre survey of Nathaniel Fulton running south west ... to Campbells ... to James Straughn ... then to a stake on the state line …
So, when did William Harvey Morris and family get to Morgan County, Missouri? Well, the family were living in Simpson County, Kentucky in 1833 according to the deed record between William Morris and Ira Fulton and presumably still lived in Kentucky in 1835 as Sarah, the youngest, was born there. Sometime after 1835, William moved his family to Missouri as the 1840 Census shows William H Morris living in Haw Creek, Morgan County, Missouri. The ages of himself, his wife, and his children look to add up on this Census.
The Missouri territory came to the United States as part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase.
Morgan County, Missouri was organized in 1833 upon separation from Cooper County.
Cooper County was organized the 17th day of December 1818, comprising all that part of what Howard County had been.
Howard County was organized on Jan. 23, 1816, and was named after Benjamin Howard, the first governor of the Missouri Territory.
Mary Polly Brooks Morris is found in 1860, living with her son John. She died 14 Dec 1863 and is also buried in Mount Nebo Cemetery in Versailles, Morgan County, Missouri.
The children of William Harvey and Mary Brooks Morris are:
Martha Morris b. 1819 married William Lyles
Elizabeth b. 1822 married William Estes
William Dudley Morris b. 1824 married Matilda Heard
Mary Morris b. 1827 married John Estes
James J Morris b. 1829 married Martha Farr Rutherford
John b. 1832 married Sarah Berry
Sarah b. 1836 married James White