Category: DNA Research

A 5th Cousin Match

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By , November 22, 2015 8:02 am

Cousin found! I don’t usually pursue DNA matches beyond 4th cousins because, more often than not, after a few back and forths the search for our common ancestor ends in futility. However, this time I made an exception when a predicted 5th cousin contacted me on 23andme and so glad I did. We found our connection in record time, like 20 minutes, because we each had done the work. Our MRCA are my 4th and his 5th great grandparents Reese Kelso Watkins and Sarah Barber, ancestors of my paternal GF Robert Norris. I am descended from their daughter Nancy who married William Norris; he is descended from their daughter Sarah. The Watkins came from Wales to PA ca. 1700; the Barbers were Scotch-Irish who settled in Craigs Creek, Augusta County, VA. My branch of this family ended up in Wilcox County, AL by way of Craigs Creek then Johnston County, NC then Oglethorpe County, GA. His went to Vermilion Parish, LA.

Like me, my new cousin is African American. Both of us have found white Watkins and Barber cousins but what’s remarkable is that we found our common ancestry through the brick wall imposed by slavery. His 2xGGM was an enslaved woman of Native American ancestry. He still carries her A2 genetic marker. My GF born into slavery in 1861 was the offspring of a mulatto slave and a white Norris. He is the first African American cousin I’ve confirmed who is not a close relative to me. The chances of us finding each other were less than 2%!

I can track my GF’s white ancestors back to their European homelands and their arrival in this country before the Revolution. Hopefully one day soon I’ll be able to do the same for my enslaved ancestors beyond the generic African designation.

Source: Reposted from Facebook on November 22, 2017,

A Family Finder Match

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By , June 23, 2014 7:49 pm

After being stalled in the search for my GF’s parents for so long, the floodgates have been opened! On Sunday, I sent out queries to five of my father’s 2nd-4th cousin matches on Family Finder. Everyone answered quickly with as much information as they could provide but I was unable to make any immediate connections except to one person who turned out to be a great grandson of Missouri Shields Priest, the lady in the photo I compared with my GF’s. I’m overwhelmed! It was just a few days ago that I was able to establish the paper trail and now I have the DNA evidence proving my GF’s Shields ancestry. This also helped answer another vexing question, i.e., whether one of Josiah Norris’ sons, or Josiah himself, fathered my GF. Since Josiah’s wife, Mary Ann Norris, was the Shields descendant, I am now pretty certain that one of her three oldest sons, James, John or William Norris, was Robert’s father. That means that Missouri Shields and Robert Norris were first cousins, 2x removed and shared about 3% of their autosomal DNA. That is, unless, my GF had DOUBLE Shields ancestry through his mother. So, big question, where do I go from here to look next for Robert’s Norris’ enslaved mother?

Shields Family Connection

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By , June 22, 2014 10:57 am

Forgive my babbling this morning but after a long night of researching I feel I’m so close to finding my paternal GGM. I’ve been looking for her for as long as I’ve been doing genealogy and I keep coming back to a single document shared with me about 15 years ago: an 1848 deed of sale between a William B. Shields and Mary Ann Norris gifting “a Negro girl Julia about twelve years old, and her increase if there shall be any to have and to hold the said Girl Julia and her increase unto her the said Mary Ann and her heirs as aforesaid forever.” I didn’t know it at the time but one of Mary Ann Norris’ sons (or her husband) fathered my GF (since “confirmed” by DNA tests). Last night and into the wee hours this morning, I discovered that Mary Ann’s mother’s maiden name was Shields and like William B. Shields, she was from NC. More research revealed that Nancy Shields had a brother named William Bryant Shields, the same age as William B. Shields. Between Ancestry and Family Search and posts on the AFRIGENEAS SURNAME FORUM between me and a William B. Shields’ descendant dating back to 2004/5, I found a Shields family tree that seemed to link Nancy Shields and William Shields.and there were photos of one of William’s mulatto children (his is a fascinating story that I’ll have to tell another day). To the point: the slave girl Julia would have been 24 or 25 years old when my GF was born in 1861. And, if she was a mulatto like William Shields’ own children, it would explain my GF’s appearance. It’s even possible that Julia was one of Shields’ own children! I’ve always believed that my GF’s mother died in childbirth or when he was very young as she was never mentioned and I haven’t been able to find her in any records so I don’t know how I can prove this but finding the apparent family relationship (there are still some discrepancies in the family trees so haven’t “proved” this yet) between Mary Ann Norris and William B. Shields gives me hope that I am on the right track once again. After I saw her photo, couldn’t help but think that Missouri Shields (William’s daughter) and my GF Robert Norris are related. What do you think?

Robert Norris - Missouri Shields

Source: Originally posted on June 19, 2014 on the AfriGeneas African American Genealogy Community on Facebook,

Josiah Norris query on GenForum dated May 2001

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By , April 11, 2014 9:51 am

Here’s a query I posted on GenForum back in 2001. I had forgotten about it and it contains some good information on the sons of Josiah Norris that I haven’t been able to find anything further about. I also need to go back and find all these old postings to update my email address so that folks can find me.

Hi Catherine,

I’m also researching this family, especially during the time they resided in Wilcox County, AL. Here’s a query I sent out some months ago:

I’m still searching for information on J.E. Norris and descendants. I’m grateful to Teresa Evans who provided data some time ago but I have yet to determine where this family went after 1860. Someone else must be researching this line.

This is what I know to date:

Josiah E. Norris, b. abt. 1799 in probably Oglethorpe Co., GA, married Mary A. Sewell on 6 Oct 1837 in Perry Co., AL.

Josiah E. Norris purchased land in Sect 3, T16N R6E, bordering Perry, Dallas, Wilcox and Marengo Counties ca 1833-1837.

Joseph E. Norris is mentioned in a Perry County deed dated Feb 1848 between William B. Shields and Joseph’s wife Mary Ann Norris.

J.E. Norris and family were enumerated in the 1850 Dallas County Census:

J.E. Norris, 52 M
M.A. Norris, 34 F
John A. Norris, 13 M
Wm Y. Norris, 10 M
J.B. Norris, 8 M
M.A. Norris, 5 F
S.D. Norris, 4 M
E.J. Norris, 2 F
Nancy Sewell, 70 F

J.E. Norris and sons were enumerated in several households in the 1860 Wilcox County Census (Western Division, Prairie Bluff P.O.):

#61 J.B. Norris 18 M
(enumerated in household of)
#61 J.A. Ervin 25 M
#61 Elizabeth Ervin 28 F
#69 John A. Norris 21 M
(enumerated with)
#69 G.W. Smalls 21 M
#69 Thomas Wilkinson 18 M
#69 J.C. Mixon 26 M

#70 J.E. Norris 61 M
#70 Mary A. Norris 40 F
#70 Mary A. Norris 15 F
#70 Samuel Norris 12 M
#70 Jane E. Norris 10 F
#70 Franklin Norris 9 M
#70 Nancy Sewell 82 F

Where did this family go after 1860? Is anyone else researching this line? J.E. may have been a brother or other relative of William H. or Rigdon Norris who acquired contiguous property in the same period.

I received the following response from Harold Norris:

In a book written by Harry A. Davis in 1930 entitled “The Norris Family of Maryland and Virginia” the following information is given on your J.E. Norris:

631. Joseph E. (7) Norris

(631.) Joseph E. (7) Norris (William 6, Joseph 5, Edward 4, John 3, Edward 2, Thomas 1) was born in Franklin County, Georgia in 1798.

He migrated to Alabama about 1832 and married there, prior to 1837, Martha A. Sewell, daughter of widow Nancy Sewell. Nancy Sewell was born in North Carolina in 1780. Her daughter, Margaret was born in North Carolina in 1816.

Joseph was a mechanic and resided in Dallas County, Alabama. This family moved to Texas after the civil war and no further record.

i. John A. b. 1837 Served as Pvt., Co. K., 17th Ala. Inf., C.S.A.
ii. William Young b. 1840 Served as Pvt. and Corporal, Co. E., 3rd Ala. Inf., C.S.A. Enlisted Apr 23, 1861 and discharged for disability Aug 19, 1862.
iii. James B. b. 1842 Served as Pvt., Co. E., 10th Ala. Inf., C.S.A.
iv. Mary A. b. 1845 Said to have married a Mr. Armstrong and resided in Hays County, Texas after 1870.
v. Samuel D. b. 1846
vi. Ella Jane b. 1848

Maybe you can get some more out of this. Mr. Davis listed all his siblings and his ancestry back another 6 generations. If you would like this information, I would be glad to send it to you.

I hope this helps, Catherine. Can you help me fill in some gaps in Alabama?

B.J. Norris Smothers

My Sister’s DNA Admixture Test

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By , November 26, 2011 7:45 pm

My sister recently tested with 23andMe and shared her ethnicity results:

49%   European

46%   Sub-Sahara African

5%     Asian (Chinese)

I was thrilled that she tested with them during a free promotion (but that really was aimed at collecting medical data on African Americans). Mom, Uncle Bobby and my sister all exhibited a strong Asian phenotype. Since Mom and Uncle Bobby have passed on, there was no one left to prove or disprove the hypothesis except her. My own results showed only a 2% Asian admixture.

My African Ancestry Test Results

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By , June 26, 2005 1:13 pm

My matrilineal DNA results:

98.8% match with the Masa and Mafa in present-day Cameroon. My mother was Jamaican-Cuban. Her mother was from the town of Banes in Oriente Province, Cuba. While I know her gramdmother’s name I don’t know where she was from.

Have been doing a lot of reading on the Mafa, in particular, who are mountain people. One study reported in the Sep-Oct 2004 issue of the Annals of Human Biology revealed linguistic and genetic affinities of the Mafa and others with East Africa:

… Chadic-speaking groups of northern Cameroon share more similarities with the populations of the Upper and Middle Nile Valley and East Africa than with populations from Central Africa.


Have to keep in mind, however, that these mtDNA results only show about 1% of my total ancestry. Still, it’s very exciting stuff.

Source: Reposted on 11/9/2011 from the AfriGeneas African American DNA Research Forum

Dad’s African Ancestry Test Results

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By , June 9, 2005 2:23 am

Dad’s came in today:

100% with the Mende and Temne peoples in Sierra Leone, the Kru people in Liberia, and the Fulani people in Guinea-Bissau.

During a visit to West Africa a couple of years ago, a first cousin was told that she looked Fulani. Very interesting!

100% with people living in Germany and England. Not a surprise.

Still waiting for mine.

Source: Reposted on 11/9/2011 from the AfriGeneas African American DNA Research Forum

My Biogeographical Admixture Test Results

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By , May 25, 2005 3:54 am

Received the results of my admixture test from AncestrybyDNA last week:

Sub-Saharan African: 51%
European: 42%
Native-American: 5%
East Asian: 2%

Very interesting. But, just as with Dad’s previously reported results (SSA 42%, Eur 47%, EA 9%, NA 0%), my results raise more questions. I had expected to see a larger EA percentage reflecting my mother’s ancestry. Mom was of Jamaican-Cuban extraction and both she and her brother exhibited some Asian characteristics (which is pretty common in the Caribbean) as does one of my sisters. They were/is often mistaken for Chinese, Thai, Filipino, Hawaiian, etc. Even I have been called a Filipina once too many times and a friend once wrote me from Bangkok, “…all your people are here.” So, there’s something there but if my DNA results are to be relied upon, apparently their appearance wasn’t due to an EA genotype at all. Hmmmm. Strange.

Another mystery surrounds Dad’s missing NA heritage which is family lore but still undocumented. His DNA shows no NA ancestry at all . . . unless, of course, his EA results (where did that come from?) are really NA. This is possible because I understand from Toot and others that it is somewhat difficult to distinguish between the two.

But then NA shows up in my results. Either this is from Dad, confirming what we’ve long-suspected, or it is Amerind from Mom’s side, which might explain her (and her brother’s and daughter’s) Asian phenotype mentioned earlier since NA and EA are so close, genotypically speaking.

Still waiting for my matriclan test results and for Dad’s patriclan and matriclan tests from African Ancestry. I’m pretty sure that his Y will show no African ancestry (or just a trace) but I can’t wait to see where his mother’s line originated. Ditto mine since my maternal grandmother was from an area of Cuba where there a great deal of admixture between the native Indians, Europeans and African slaves. Er, that would’ve made her a typical Caribbean Hispanic, wouldn’t it?

Source: Reposted on 11/9/2011 from the AfriGeneas African American DNA Research Forum

Cousin Sam’s African Ancestry Test Results

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By , April 23, 2005 6:41 pm

Dad’s nephew, Samuel Coleman, sent me his African Ancestry results:

– On father’s side matched 100% with the Bubi people of present-day Equatorial Guinea.

– On mother’s side (my father’s 1/2 sister, same father) matched 99.4% with the Tikar people of present-day Cameroon.

Cousin was so excited. He called to request that Dad take the test so that he could have info on his maternal GF’s line. Was so excited to find out that I was one step ahead of him. Neither of us knew that the other was embarking on the same quest. He is going to do the admixture test to compare to Dad’s.

Interestingly, since our GF was at least mulatto, maybe even quadroon or octoroon, the Patriclan test (through African Ancestry) may show no african ancestry. In that case, the company will test GF’s results against other Euro databases for free.

Trying to get enough folks interested to do a family DNA project and so we can try to get a group discount. So far have two full first cousins (on Dad’s side) on board.

Source: Reposted on 11/9/2011 from the AfriGeneas African American DNA Research Forum

Dad’s Biogeographical Admixture Test Results

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By , April 23, 2005 6:27 pm

Received my father’s biogeographical admixture test results from DNA Print Genomics (

– European 47%
– Sub-Saharan African 44%
– East Asian 9%
– Native American 0%

The percentage of Euro admixture wasn’t too surprising. Even though Dad is brown-skinned and his mother may have had about 1/8 Euro ancestry, his father was at least mulatto . . . may even have been quadroon or octoroon.

The East Asian ancestry was interesting but if I read correctly it is considered a trace that shows up in many populations so isn’t too significant.

The shocker, however, was that Dad had NO Native American ancestry. One of my family stories is that Dad’s grandfather was of NA descent. The story specifically refers to the Creek (folks said Cree but it was more likely Creek since they’re from south-central Alabama). The confidence interval was 4-8% so I understand that he still could have up to 12% NA ancestry but that possibility is less than 2x as likely as his having 0%. I also undrstand that since every child inherits different combinations of genes from their parents, that any one of the other 7 of Dad’s full siblings may have exhibited NA ancestry. But since Dad is the last of his family, we will never know definitively.

Sent Dad’s african ancestry swabs off four days ago (and my own admixture test). Can’t wait. Brave New World!!!!

Source: Reposted on 11/9/2011 from the AfriGeneas African American DNA Research Forum

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