Our Davis Lineage Confirmed Through DNA (Progenitors George Davis, Barnabus Davis and Foulk Davis are members of the same family tree)
Before we begin it is important to highlight our approach to developing our Davis/Middleton family tree because as I will delve into below, our research findings link three Davis lines into one genealogical lineage, which does not appear (based on my research) to have been identified yet in genealogical circles. It also identifies the missing parents of two important people Jonathan Davis Jr. (1750 Pittsylvania Co VA) and Aaron Davis (1754 Claiborne Co. TN) and their role in the overall family tree. Aaron Davis, as is currently associated appears to be linked to the wrong David Davis in most ancestry trees. I will be blogging about all of these relationships and the evidence along with their history over time at our website.
Our research methodology is grounded in fidelity and is important enough to be included in our tag line; Davis Family Pioneers: Faith, Family, Frontier, Fidelity.
So, research depth and confirmation are necessary prerequisites for inclusion of names and stories into our tree.
With that being said, let’s delve briefing into our research approach. We use three different data sets to construct our family tree: 1) oral histories recorded through family stories and “Bibles”, 2) documented evidence via standard information sets such as birth/death records, deeds, immigration documents, taxes/tithables etc., and last 3) DNA. While DNA is a contemporary way to record elements of family history, oral history is equally valid as are written records in family bibles as that was the way early colonists recorded important family history 250 years ago. Many discount oral and family stories, but we do not. This will matter later as some lineage we reach conclusions about are based on family stories that exist when documentation and DNA does not. People may not know that in early America many written records were burned due to war, Indian-attack and other disasters thus destroying paper trails in their wake. Also, as some of our family ancestors have descended from slaves and indentured servants, offspring were not recorded under the father’s name, nor have a birth record, or were baptized etc. They were listed as property not family in all the ways that were normal for non “assets” in early colonial America. Some of our family were also shanghai’d in England, thus their records in Wales or Ireland would simply have death non recorded and an appearance of “disappearance” in the written record. Once they were pirated away by ships captains who stole children and shipped them to colonial America, the only start they truly had was oral histories often recorded in their personal bibles. I have uncovered insights that conclude approximately 100,000 children/persons were kidnapped in a brief span of 1700s England, Ireland and Wales in service to the slave trade to provide colonial plantations with labor as British persons were not willing to sail into the new land early on.
With that being said it is important to understand more about DNA. DNA can help find genetic “relations” but can’t build a “tree” in such a way as to understand son, father, grandfather, great grandfather. It can however identify some of the “kin” descended from a great grandfather (or offspring of a common ancestor and their descendants but not in a hierarchical way). This is why DNA is a good support to an already well built well researched genealogical tree. DNA can therefore confirm what you speculate but may not disprove what you think you know. Here is why. When people do DNA tests, they don’t necessarily have a “match” to all their ancestors. DNA testers will have some “marker” matches to some ancestors and not others. Across siblings each child with the same genetics can have DNA matches to DIFFERENT ancestors in the same relational tree. Thus, the more DNA in a family you can get, the more thorough you can canvas all the relations in your tree. My husband leans towards his mother’s Middleton genetics and therefore there are more matches back in time for his maternal tree than paternal. However, that may not be the same with his siblings who may have more “markers” to the Davis side. His siblings have all passed to be with the Lord so we only have Mike and his descendants and his deceased siblings’ genetics to reveal this story along with our cousins we are beginning to meet through this DNA journey and learn more through their DNA matches.
With that being said, we know Mike’s DNA on both paternal (Davis) and maternal (Middleton) side. We have confirmation of two key Davis persons: Jonathan Davis (1750s) and John H Davis (1788). I will get into this in a moment but this is very significant as it matches what appears to be two different Davis lines in the written record into a common ancestor, thus one Davis line not two. This brings the Foulk Davis and Barnabis Davis lines into a common ancestor earlier in the tree (probably 1400-1500s). We have not yet found who that ancestor is via the written record but may well accomplish that further in our genealogical journey.
What is great for our family to further determine the rest of Mike’s Davis tree is his ongoing relationship to cousins 5-8 generations back who are now living who also do genealogy. We have from one cousin (about 8th generation first cousin), who has Jonathan Davis (1750) as her ancestor, access to her genealogical tree that is derived from information from 20 of her family members whose DNA has been tested. This puts 21 DNA tested people together from the Jonathan kin which provides a HUGE data set on DNA that Mike’s alone will not reveal.
With that information as contextual background, I can now get into what we have learned after looking at our cousin’s 20 data sets and our own through Mike.
The written record does not appear to reveal who Jonathan Davis Jr.’s father is. From DNA we can now see who it is and this begins to break into very amazing territory. His father is John Wyatt Davis who is descended from the BARNABAS DAVIS line.
We can also see from DNA that John H. Davis is descended from the William line who is a descendent of FOULK DAVIS line.
We can also see from paper trails that both Davis lines above share a common ancestor and also married into the GEORGE DAVIS line. While we don’t have DNA now to show DNA matches up the George Davis line, we do have marriage records. We will likely find later that George Davis is of the same lines of Foulk Davis and Barabas Davis and share a common ancestor since they all travelled together from the time they landed on colonial American shores, through the western Virginia territory then spreading out either south into the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama, or moving further west through Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, then others moving on west to Oregon and Washington.
So, we can prove that what appears to be three different Davis lineages are actually one. Below is a graphic I have built to show you what that means. There are amazing stories within each of these Davis lines that together are our entire line. We are related to Pocahontas, Mary Chilton (first woman to step foot off the Mayflower), Thomas Jefferson, Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, Lady Anne Boleyn, some of the first who led others across the Oregon Trail, the Blount family (of Blount County, the county we currently live in) and many other famous people on our Davis line. We are direct descendants of the Kings of Dalriada and King Arthur and the royal bloodline of Scotland on our mother’s side. Shakespeare wrote a play Macbeth about our family. Another was the famed playwright Thomas Middleton (1580). Middleton was an English Jacobean playwright and poet. Middleton stands with John Fletcher and Ben Jonson among the most successful and prolific of the playwrights at work during the Jacobean period. He was among the few to achieve equal success in comedy and tragedy, and a prolific writer of masques and pageants. He was the creator of the famed play “The Changeling”, which is still being made into movie and theater in our day. Our ancestors protected queens of England while they were under persecution, fought bravely and were knighted and many other amazing things. And, there are ancient fighting songs for both the Middleton and Davis clan that go back over 500 years for each family as they would march off to battle across western Europe. It is through these stories of individuals across our tree and over time that make this journey so amazing. Stories bring our ancestry to life. The fidelity of the research of Davis bloodlines and marriages themselves are the cornerstone for these legends and family to take flight whereby that which was lost in annals of history can be reborn in the minds and imagine of our children and grandchildren. Our goal with Davis Family Pioneers is that our grandkids will know from whom they’ve come. And that is why we put in literally thousands of hours of research into this project – for them.
Hopefully this graphic will help show the three lines that are in fact one family and how two key family marriages across numerous persons over time link the three families via marriage and/or blood.
The above graphic shows three Davis genealogical lines that are in fact one. The leading name in each line is the one that in genealogical circles is the easiest one to follow to learn about their “lines”. I note the birth date of the patriarch, then the name and then the pathway of migration of that family line. Then below I list some of the amazing stories and other key family members that make up that line. Where it says DNA confirmed, it means we have proven through Mike’s DNA the linkage. Through our cousin’s DNA and others, along with oral histories and the written record, we can confirm the relations to the rest. Obviously, now that we know this whole tree we will learn the histories of many more kin and share their stories over time. The list of interesting folks, where above there are less than ten bullets per line, will grow to dozens upon dozens as we learn more about our kin through research.
While the above may boring to the layman, for us researchers, cracking the code above is huge. DNA research is just beginning to build bridges that time, war, migration and broken families have erased.
So, for us, we will be covering the amazing story of this lineage for years to come. But, here is a brief sample of what the above means to our family and begins to answer the very interesting question of our Melungeon ancestry.
We have learned that our family is absolutely related to the Jeffersons (Thomas Jefferson). John Wyatt Davis is confirmed through DNA as Jonathan’s father making Jemima Jane Jefferson Collins his mother. Jemima is Mike’s 5th Great Grandmother. This is where the paper-trail of Jonathan Davis Jr. stopped. He has been, until now, the top of the tree. This is a fun find at so many levels since my husband, who goes by his middle name, has the first name Jon, spelled without the h. Indeed, it is the Jonathan naming convention over 100s of years in this family that explains for the first time, that choice of spelling. Jemima and Thomas Jefferson are brother and sister. However, it is likely that she was not a “legitimate” child of Peter Jefferson and Jane Randolph (Thomas’s Parents). They don’t list her as an official child but she grew up at Monticello and the Jefferson DNA doesn’t lie. Other DNA descendants have the collection of her DNA, along with Davis DNA and tons of Jefferson member DNA matches. So, she could very likely be a mixed race from one of Peter’s brothers or Peter and a black/melungeon slave. I had read that when slaves were born into the plantation they took on their mother’s identity, not the fathers. Thus, her slave mom could have been a Collins. Much will be blogged about this in the future because obviously in the case of Jemima Jefferson, Monticello denies her existence in their family tree. However, both written family record and DNA proves it to be so. Here is just one example of why I specified earlier in this blog that we factor in three elements of research, not DNA alone. There are numerous reasons for us to conclude she was herself black or Melungeon. First, our family has the genetic Melungeon markers of the bump on the back of the head and what are called shovel teeth. Second, in family record there are many cases of marrying Indians. Third, we are also descendants of Chief Powhatan. Once again, Princes Nekkiti, daughter of Chief Powhata, is recorded through oral history. But there is a great deal of it.
Jemima Jefferson married John Wyatt Davis. John Wyatt Davis worked for George Jefferson, Peter Jefferson’s brother running his plantation. And, with Jemima being a Jefferson, her maiden name was Collins. Collins is the primary ancestor of all melungeons in the south.
So, to the question and answer of Melungeon history, this all simply brings up more questions but at the same time reveals several very interesting potential answers. As an example, early recorded history states that the first explorers into the south said there were a people there already that said they were the “lost tribe of Israel”. Contemporary historians assume that it is the mix of slaves and whites and some Indian. However, did our contemporary historians re-write history and could these early people actually be the descendants of DeSoto’s explorers when they travelled through in the 1500s? Or could this people be even older and be the remnants of central and South American Mayan, Incas, etc. from ancient time? The Portuguese slave trade took many from all over Africa/Mediterranean regions. Could these people be survivors of ship wrecks from ancient slave ships? The ice age created ice formations down to middle of Kentucky. Below that band was habitable land and was the land of the “mound” people pre-Cherokee of pre and ancient history. As an fyi, they have found Hebrew pottery inside the archeological digs of the mounds from the mounds people. Mounds people pre-date the Cherokee significantly. What if the story of the Tower of Babel were true. I am not saying it is but we are imagining for a moment. Say there was a way to scatter races in pre-history. Say that ladder to the sky was in fact the ladder to the sky we actually see all over planet earth. What is that ladder? It’s a pyramid…..with ascension to the sky. Possible? Maybe not. But Plausible?…….maybe. In my past I used to do extensive research into the epic paradigms of human history and pre-history. Why? To determine what the next generation of technology would look like in terms of design principles. Think Fibonacci sequence and Mandelbrot sets – completely agile systems, always in a state change while stable in its chaos. Studying patterns across macro social systems and nature reveal what these complex dynamic systems look like and can be modeled and repeated in technology architecture and design. Well, in that process I studied much in pre-history and ancient folklore to understand the patterns across ancient history. I learned that the hopi (an ancient Indian race on the four corners of NM, AZ, CO,UT) had the same word for sun as the Tibetan word for moon, and visa versa. The Tibetan word for sun was the hopi word for moon. Now how could that be? These are ANCIENT civilizations. And if you took the globe and stuck a pencil through the center of it or pulled a string through both sacred spots on planet earth, you would see that these two locations are on exact latitudinal lines through the center of the earth to the other side…a complete and perfect mirror. I began to study complex systems then and ripple of “knowing” across the surface of the entire earth’s “tribal” systems that shared common threads. It was then that I wondered…….so, they all have pyramids………ladders and common but inverted language. Hmmmm, interesting. And I left it there. However, Mayan mounds, the mounds people, ancient tribes of Israel, Hebrew pottery shards in America……..makes you wonder. I have reached no conclusions but I can say there is a lot about our history that is recorded that may not be entirely correct. Did I mention however that one interesting element of Melungeon DNA is that the bump and teeth markers are found in people in turkey and the middle east in the area of Israel?………hmmmmm. One thing about research is when you start seeing patterns you begin to “bin” them. Middle eastern genetics “markers” partnered with oral history “tribe of Israel”, and language/art via pottery shards is enough to begin “binning”; not reaching conclusions but beginning to ask why?
So as I pose a speculative curiosity above, let’s get back to other theories. The Collins name is very significant as it could pre-date first “colonial” settlers with an older people from DeSoto / earlier slave trade or an even older ancient central/South American mound / pyramid builders race with all their esoteric beliefs migrating into the Deep South. Other theories are tied to the other side of our genetics being tied to Kings of Dal Riada through the Middleton side and the Knights of Templar. Some of you may know that they went into hiding in the 1000-1100s and some were murdered which is how Friday the 13th got its name. Most escaped on Portuguese ships and went into hiding like the Jesuits. The Jesuits went to South America and hid in the jungles of Argentina. Templars could have hid in the southern mountains providing yet another theory as to “the hidden race” that in contemporary times (1500-1600s) was named “melungeons.” This is a very interesting topic that we will delve into more over time.
But, it gets equally interesting because our Davis line is also part Indian through Mike’s 8th Great Grandmother, Elizabeth Hughes’ mother, Princess Nicketti Powhatan. Her name means “she who sweeps dew from the flowers”. She was an Indian princess, daughter to Chief Powhatan. Her mother and Pocahantas were sisters. Powhatan, whose proper name was Wahunsenacawh, was the paramount chief of Tsenacommacah, an alliance of Algonquian-speaking Virginia Indians in the Tidewater region of Virginia at the time English settlers landed at Jamestown in 1607. So literally, those Jamestown pictures we saw in grade school when we were making paper cut out turkeys for thanksgiving art projects (where pilgrams were with the Indians who were friendly and taught them and formed the cornerstone of what “Thanksgiving” is), that was the Powhatan. Elizabeth Hughes’ father was a famous Trapper, who married the chief’s daughter, Princess Nicketti.
We have figured out how Aaron Davis of Davis Creek (1754 Powell Valley, Claiborne Co, TN) Primitive Baptist Church fits in. Jonathan’s father (John Wyatt Davis/Jemima Jefferson) and Aaron’s grandfather Emory are brothers. So, we know that a bunch of Davis’ were massacred in 1763 at the muddy creek massacre and a lot of our Cunningham ancestors were murdered in the Kerr Creek Massacre. Chief Cornstalk was the one who had commanded attacks. Cornstalk aligned with the French against the British and attacked these settlers. The French and British were fighting in 1750s and so the French attacked the British through the colonies, provoking the Indians to kill first settlers on Virginia’s western frontier. That was all Davis family. The really interesting thing is that Cornstalk was Powhatan, and our Davis line were also descendants of Powhatan. Irony to the hilt of course. So, it should come as no surprise that many of our ancestors who survived, fought at the Battle of Point Pleasant, killing Chief Cornstalk. This in fact was the first battle of the Revolutionary War, not Lexington and Concord. It was the first time colonial militia defied British orders. Lord Dunmore, governor of the Virginia Territory had done a treaty with the Indians. He then demanded that the western edge settlers of Virginia territory pull back and give up their land back to the Indians. Our ancestors wouldn’t pull back as they’d just built their new roots on the most western edge of the Virginia frontier. The Indians complained and Lord Dunmore was irritated at these feisty colonists. In a secret set up, Lord Dunmore set up the militia so that the Indians could kill them. The colonists, for the first time, defied Lord Dunmore’s orders, and by going to battle differently, were able to kill Cornstalk. This was the first defiance of British rule. The fighters marched directly to the Battle of Lexington and Concord after the Battle of Point Pleasant. This basic Indian fact about our ancestry is one reason the Davis family did so well on the western front as traders, trappers, scouts, etc….is they were well liked by the Indians. It is because of their own Powhatan background. In fact, Isaac VanBebber, a militia member who was married to our ancestor Sarah Davis, died at the Battle of Point Pleasant. Sarah remarried another man and her youngest son from VanBebber didn’t want to move with his mom and new step dad. He instead stayed behind and was raised by Daniel Boone. He ended up marrying into Daniel Boone’s family and the rest is history. Daniel Boone, which is taught about in every children’s history book in America, has us as kin as many of his grandchildren come from the Sarah Davis line that comes down through Foulk Davis. When you can call Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett kin, you know we were deeply entrenched on the western most edges of the Virginia territory. Who knew when we moved to Tennessee a few years ago that we would learn that our ancestors were the first settlers of this state and provided the genetics for the vast Davis clan that spreads across at least four southern states.
The Davis clan all traveled together and moved together. This is why John Harding’s grave (a descendent of Aaron Davis) is next to Frank B. (Benjamin Franklin’s) grave at the same cemetery in Ione, Washington (descendent of John Wyatt Davis), nearly 250 years later on the completely opposite end of our great country. John Harding is a descendent of Emory and Mike is a descendent of John Wyatt, who were brothers.
Why do I close on this point of John Harding Davis and Frank B.? Well, that is where our entire genealogical journey started. My husband lost his brother to cancer this spring leaving him as the oldest Davis child living. We had moved to East Tennessee several years ago to be with his brother. After his brother died I asked Mike if he knew any of his history. He couldn’t even remember his grandfather’s name because he died when Mike was five. I started there.
My journey began by searching online for cemeteries in Ione Washington (a tiny town on the northeastern tip of eastern Washington and a stones’ throw away from the northern tip of Idaho.) I gave him a list of all the Davis names on grave stones. He was able to recognize Frank B.’s name. Next to Frank’s grave was the grave stone of John Harding Davis. Due to the age differences it seemed obvious that John Harding Davis was Frank B.’s dad. We find out later that it was not. But then, why would they be together in the same tiny cemetery in the same tiny town? Then, we find out later, Frank B. actually stood for Benjamin Franklin. No one in the family knew that either. Once we found out that Benjamin Franklin’s dad WASN’T John Harding, I went on the quest to learn both family trees. And now, full circle, not only do we deeply know each family tree, we know they are cousins dating back to 1730s. How cool is that. Solving riddles is fun.
This blog is intended to set the context for our genealogical tree. Future blogs will tell more about the stories of each of these lines within our family tree with evidentiary support to explain what we learn in an empirical way. Yes, there is a plethora of data to support what is shared above. I will simply not add that all here. That is what this website is for.
We hope this sheds light into the history of our family and how we’ve reached the findings we have and where we are going.