All I want for Christmas: DNA

My DNA Christmas wish list

Dear Santa,

I’ve been good.

Really good.

I mean, seriously, really good.

Okay, so I didn’t get caught.

FamilyBut you’re still going to at least consider my Christmas wish list, right? Especially if I don’t ask for too much?

Because there are seriously just a few things I would love to have this year. Starting with DNA. Not too very much. Just from specific target families.

Here’s what I’d really like you to deliver, Santa. One person — just one person — from each of these lines:

• The Faures of Manakin Town, Virginia (YDNA): My third great grandfather Jesse Fore may well be a descendant of the Widow Faure and her children who were part of the Huguenot migration to the New World in the very early days of the 18th century.1 We have lots of YDNA samples linking a group together… but haven’t yet located a documented direct line male descendant of the Manakin Town Faures to test against.

Truly, Santa, I would happily — happily — pick up the tab for YDNA testing for any candidate who fits the bill here: a direct line male descendant of the Manakin Town Faure family, surnamed Faure, Fore, Ford or some variant.

• Matthew Johnson (YDNA, autosomal): Jesse Fore’s daughter Mary “Polly” Fore married Matthew Johnson in Union County, Georgia, in 1839. From the tax and census records, we have reason to believe that Matthew was born in Virginia around 1813, he was a shoemaker by trade, he fathered eight known children — and he died somewhere in 1863 or 1864 in Pulaski County, Kentucky.2 And that’s it. That’s all we know. Not even a hint as to his parents — and with the name of Johnson and not even a county in Virginia to focus on, well, we don’t have much to go on.

Since I descend from a daughter, my folks’ YDNA won’t help here. So, Santa, a documented direct line male descendant of Matthew’s would be awfully nice to find under my tree. Matthew’s sons included Napoleon Bonaparte, James and William Johnson and they all settled in Parker County, Texas, by 1870. A grandson was Texas Ranger Captain Frank Johnson. And since an older descendant might be close enough to match, I’ll not only pick up the tab on a YDNA test — but an autosomal test as well.

• Philip Shew (YDNA): My fifth great grandfather Phillip Shew (c1750 – 1832) is another bit of mystery. We don’t know where he was born and only really pick up his trail once he settled in Guilford County North Carolina in the 1770s. He was recorded on the Guilford County census in 17903 and 18004 and the Wilkes County, North Carolina, census in 1810,5 18206 and 1830.7 His will was proved in the Wilkes County court in the October term 1832.8

From the name and other evidence of the language spoken at home, we’re pretty sure Philip was German — the last name may well have originally been Schuh — and we’d love to have a documented male descendant to YDNA test. I know I’ve got a kazillion Shew cousins out there — so, Santa, please… just one who’s willing to test?

• Daniel Shew (autosomal): Fast forwarding two generations from Phillip, my third great grandfather Daniel Shew settled in Cherokee County, Alabama, where he was a landowner in the 1850s but died likely before 1860, leaving his wife and three children, two sons — William Washington and Gilford — and one daughter, my 2nd great grandmother Martha Louise.9

Since it really helps in working with autosomal results to be able to identify which parts of your DNA come from which ancestors, I’d really love it, Santa, if some of the oldest descendants of William or Gilford would be under my tree this Christmas, to be tested against Martha Louise’s descendants.

• Ann Jacobs (mtDNA): And while we’re talking about Cherokee County, I still have that issue with Daniel’s wife Margaret Battles and her parentage. See, the guy I have pegged as Margaret’s father — William Battles — was married twice, once to Kiziah Wright in Georgia and a second time to Ann Jacobs in Alabama. (We won’t mention the fact that Kiziah sued William for divorce on account of his running off with Ann, or the fact that within six months of William’s and Ann’s marriage after Kiziah’s death, they were on the 1830 census with — count ‘em — five children.)10

Now Margaret — born, we think, in the interim between William running off with Ann and their marriage — may well be Ann’s daughter. But to prove it, Santa, I need a direct female line descendant of just one of Ann’s known daughters (Samantha, Julia and Charlsey) to be under my tree. A daughter of a daughter of a daughter, Santa.

• The Cottrells of Madison County KY (YDNA): Last but not least, Santa, my Cottrells. Now, Santa, you know that I’m not sure there ever were any Cottrells in Madison County, Kentucky. But you know my second-great-grandfather-nemesis George Washington Cottrell said he was born there in 1821.11 So if there really was such a family in that county at that time, and there’s a living breathing male with the Cottrell name in the direct male line from that family, I’d happily pay for a YDNA test (and probably an autosomal test too).

I’m willing to pay for it, Santa. Oh, not with good behavior. You know me better than that. But for the testing, okay? Seriously. If you could just find me one person in each of these categories, I’ll pay for the test — all the person has to do is comment below or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

C’mon, Santa.

I’ve been good.

Well… good enough, right?


  1. See Judy G. Russell, “Wanted: Faure / Fore / Ford DNA,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 28 Jan 2012 ( : accessed 21 Dec 2013).
  2. See ibid., “Archives and ancestors,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 15 Sep 2012.
  3. 1790 U.S. census, Guilford County, North Carolina, p. 505 (penned), col. 1, line 17, Philip Shoe; digital image, ( : accessed 24 July 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M637, roll 7.
  4. 1800 U.S. census, Guilford County, North Carolina, p. 643 (stamped), line 4, Philip Shoe; digital image, ( : accessed 25 July 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M32, roll 31.
  5. 1810 U.S. census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, p. 865 (penned), line 10, Phillip Shew; digital image, ( : accessed 25 July 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M252, roll 43.
  6. 1820 U.S. census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, population schedule, p. 530 (stamped), Phillip Shew; digital image, ( : accessed 3 August 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M33, roll 83.
  7. 1830 U.S. census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, p. 383 (stamped), Phillip Shew; digital image, ( : accessed 14 July 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M19, roll 125.
  8. Wilkes County, North Carolina, Will Book 4:159; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
  9. See ibid., “Holding history,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 6 Oct 2012.
  10. See ibid., “Looking for an Alabama relative,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 1 July 2012.
  11. See ibid., “Wanted: Faure / Fore / Ford DNA,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 28 Jan 2012.
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6 Responses to All I want for Christmas: DNA

  1. Hope Santa brings you at least a couple of items on your wish list…..Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. And a heartfelt thank you for your wonderfully informative blog!

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Thanks so much for the kind words — and the good wishes! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and yours!

  2. Celia Lewis says:

    I’m busily waving my magic wand, sprinkling magical cooperation dust all the way from up here in BC to you and those cousins further down the continent and east… Surely it will arrive soon – the prevailing winds do go in that direction! Cross your fingers just in case more is needed than my dust. (although there’s plenty of that)
    Cheers for the holidays Judy, all best wishes in 2014! I learn so much through your posts – it’s my #1 genealogy blog to recommend to others.
    - Celia

  3. Briana Felch says:

    It might not help with your mtDNA on Ann Jacobs, but I descend from your William Battles’ father, Noel William Battles and his wife Elizabeth Hopper through their son Samuel Battles who m/ Nancy Wright, presumably the sister of that Keziah Wright.

    And I have DNA tested at Ancestry and 23andme & uploaded to Gedmatch.

    If we were a match to each other, it could be Battles vs. Wright, but if we could parse it out to determine it was Wright vs. Battles, would that not then confirm (for example) that your Margaret descends from Keziah Wright vs. Ann Jacobs?

    It wouldn’t be as good or as precise I guess as finding a descendant of your Ann’s daughter, and my brain hurts just from thinking about it, but if Santa didn’t bring that item on your list, maybe it could help to a degree.

    I don’t see you in my list of Ancestry matches (looking for something similar to Judy G. Russell), but am still scanning using the Chrome browser. Look me up under Briana5555 on Ancestry or Geneaholic on 23andme.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Noel and Elizabeth are my fifth great grandparents, Brianna, so that’s a pretty distant relationship, but worth looking at with various options at GedMatch (I don’t see you on my match list at Ancestry or 23andMe either). I’d appreciate it if you’d send me ( your Gedmatch kit number. I’ll reply with mine. And are you a direct female descendant of Nancy Wright? If so, may I ask what your mtDNA haplogroup is?

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