Sometimes you have pieces of the puzzle, but they don’t mean much until the rest of the puzzle falls in your lap. Or in this case, lands in the comments for an old blog post.
Several months ago, someone who turns out to be a cousin found a post I wrote in 2012 about my 3rd great-grandparents Jesse and Rebecca Thomas. I didn’t know much about Jesse and Rebecca then and still don’t—no parents for either of them, only a clue about Rebecca’s maiden name. Of their six identified children, I only knew what happened to their three daughters (including my 2nd great-grandmother Margaret) after they became adults. Their three sons eluded me.
Living with Rebecca in 1870 in Logan County, Kentucky were her son Daniel, her grandson John Echols (son of oldest daughter Mary), a 15-year-old boy named James Thomas, and a farmhand named Cyrus Donnelly.1 James, a likely grandson, was one of those puzzle pieces, but I didn’t have a clue which of the three sons might have been his father.
Another of those puzzle pieces lived with Jesse and Rebecca’s oldest daughter, Mary and her husband James Echols in Forsyth County, Georgia in 1870.2 The best guess for the relationship of 13-year-old Jesse Thomas was Mary’s nephew, but that was only a guess.
Then a descendant of William Thomas and Amanda Langston through their daughter Nancy found that blog post. He had narrowed down his William’s parents to either Jesse and Rebecca or another couple living in Gilmer County, Georgia where William and Amanda had married in 1854. He knew that William and Amanda both died or disappeared before 1870 and that their two daughters were living with Amanda’s mother.
He didn’t know what happened to their sons—James and Jesse. But now he does, and I know more about Jesse and Rebecca’s son William.
And that’s not all.
It turns out I’m an autosomal DNA match to this cousin’s mother and his aunt and also a descendant of another of William’s children. Lucky for me seven more of Margaret’s descendants have DNA tested (my three siblings plus four descendants of three of Margaret’s other children). There is a lot of work to do with this nice pool of 11 people who carry Jesse’s and Rebecca’s DNA. The puzzle pieces for finding those other two known sons—or even identifying parents for Jesse and Rebecca—could be in those results.
Jesse and Rebecca Thomas are my 3rd great-grandparents through their daughter Margaret Thomas, granddaughter Samantha Angeline Petty, and great-granddaughter Verda Waller Hankins (my paternal grandmother). It’s possible that Jesse and Rebecca had another son whose name is unknown at this time. If so, there are three more to go.
- 1870 U.S. census, Logan County, Kentucky, population schedule, Keysburg District; Russellville Post Office, p. 36 (penned), dwelling 206, family 206, Rebecca Thomas; digital images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 Nov 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll 483. ↩
- 1870 U.S. census, Forsyth County, Georgia, population schedule, Coal Mountain, p. 45 (penned), dwelling 605, family 542, James M. Echols; digital images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 5 Nov 2009); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M593, roll 150. ↩