Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG
Genealogical Problem Solving, Part 2
Last column I began sharing the search for my Gant family ancestry, a search that spanned over forty years, unlike the TV commercial promising you can trace your ancestry in an evening on Ancestry.com.
Many years into my search when I discovered the 1787 marriage record for Ambrose Gant and Sarah Vaughan, daughter of Cornelius Vaughan, I felt sure they must be my ancestors due to the relatively rare names Ambrose and Cornelius. As I attempted to learn more about this Ambrose I connected with a Gant researcher in Texas who had done an extensive study of Virginia court records involving the family. He sent me the records as well as his conclusions. After studying the evidence I reached a different conclusion from his as to the family in which Ambrose belonged but had no way to prove it.
My theory is that Ambrose is the son of Joseph Gaunt who had married a daughter of Ambrose Vaughan. His marriage could explain the introduction of the name "Ambrose" into the Gant/Gaunt family. Said Joseph had other sons apparently including John, Robert, Joseph, Almon, and James.
Joseph and a brother John Gaunt are thought to be the sons of the immigrant Joseph Gant who received a patent for land in Essex County, Virginia in 1705. He and 65 others travelled from England in exchange for land rights if they agreed to settle in Virginia.
For years whenever I read a Y-DNA article I would think about having my brother tested in a last-ditch attempt to solve the problem but did nothing about it. In June 2009 I attended a conference in California where Family Tree DNA offered a discount on Y-DNA testing.
My brother had to be the one tested as Y-DNA is passed only through the male line, to a man from his father, his father's father and so on. If a man's Y-DNA matches another's, it indicates they have a common ancestor and approximately how many generations back that common ancestor existed. For a more detailed discussion of DNA testing for genealogical purposes see my article dated September 6, 2009 and archived at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~azgvgs/.
I went home and called "Butch" and asked if he'd be willing to be tested if I paid for it. The test involves a simple cheek swab and of course, he agreed. There was an existing Gant/Gaunt project at Family Tree DNA.com for us to join. We obtained the test in July and within a month had the results.
My brother's 37 Y-DNA markers matched perfectly with those of a descendant of Almon Gant, another of Joseph Gaunt's supposed sons. Both also matched another descendant who tested only 12 markers. Today these Y-DNA results are viewed by genealogists as compelling and conclusive evidence the same as a contemporary vital record linking the men would be. My Gant ancestry is now resolved to my satisfaction.
In the absence of vital records there are many ways to solve genealogical problems just one of which is Y-DNA. If however, DNA may help you solve a relationship problem, I warn you not to delay ordering a test whether for yourself or a relative. My brother Emmett Jay "Butch" Gant died suddenly of lung cancer on February 23, 2010, but the results of his DNA test live on for posterity.
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14 March 2011