Documenting my family's past for future generations. My family tree includes the Smith/Mansell families of Alabama and Oklahoma, the Castle/Day families of Kentucky and Oklahoma, the Wheat/Ming families of Texas and Oklahoma, and the Bell/Roberts families of Mississippi, Tennessee, and Oklahoma.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

In Memoriam

When I was growing up, Uncle Warner and Aunt Ona were the uncle and aunt I saw most often. Uncle Warner was my grandmother's brother and was 3 years younger than she was. (Amazing, when you think that my grandmother was born in March of 1897, Uncle Forrest in December of 1898, and twins Wardy and Warner in January 1900. Big Mom had four kids in less than three years.) I can say with certainty that we saw them more often than my other aunts and uncles, whom we saw often, because we saw Uncle Warner and Aunt Ona almost every day. We lived at Big Mom's old house at 3319 W. 38th St., and they lived within 5 blocks of us. We were the destination of their evening walk which culminated with an hour's conversation on the front porch before they strolled back home again. The grownups talked about everything, but my favorite stories were the ones they told about growing up in Kentucky.

Uncle Warner and Aunt Ona -- 1968
Uncle Warner discussing something very important with my brother Tim.

Uncle Warner and Aunt Ona had two children, Warner V. Castle II ("Little Warner") and Linda. Warner was 10 years older than I was, and Linda was a year younger than Warner. Because of our ages, I don't have a lot of memories of them as we were growing up. I remember that when Tim and I were in elementary school, Little Warner took us up on the hill, put us up in a tree, and then wouldn't let us down. I just remember that Linda was beautiful and was going to school at the University of Tulsa to be a teacher.

Warner lived south of Tulsa for a long time, and then he and his wife Anna moved into Uncle Warner and Aunt Ona's beautiful two-story house on 41st St. The house had been in the family for a long time, as it was originally the residence of Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, Aunt Ona's parents. By then, I had moved away, and I didn't see Little Warner except every once in a while when the family or cousins would get together. Linda moved away and lived in Missouri and California, so I didn't see her for years. Then, a few years ago she moved back home.

Two Christmases ago I got a Christmas card from her, saying that she enjoyed my blog. Well, that was a nice thing to know. Somebody was reading it, and she was interested in the family history, too! We started to get together for dinner and meet to discuss genealogy; she joined Ancestry.com and started talking about doing her DNA.

Then, one day it hit me. If we were ever going to find out the origins of Jacob "the Longhunter" Castle, somebody with the Castle surname was going to have to take a y-DNA test. A couple of male Castle cousins from my generation are still living, but the only male Castle from my dad's generation was Warner. I wondered aloud to Linda if he would be willing to take a DNA test. She asked him, and he joked that he wouldn't do it for anybody but me. But really--he was kind of excited. He started telling his family that they would have to call him Warner "the Longhunter" Castle. He ordered his y-DNA test from Family Tree DNA, and Linda and Anna ordered Family Finder tests from there as well.

Then, you know how things happen. Anna had pneumonia, and Linda had read that sometimes antibiotics mess with DNA test results. Everybody put off taking their tests, because they were all going to mail them at the same time. Then one day Linda called. This time it was Warner who was critically ill, first with pneumonia and then a stroke. He was in the hospital and on a respirator. Nobody was thinking about DNA tests.

Sometime in that next week, Linda realized that her big brother was not going to get better, and it occurred to her that he would be really disappointed if that DNA test didn't get sent off. She enlisted the aid of Carrie and Terri, Warner's daughters. (Terri caught the family history bug at a young age, when she helped take care of my grandmother.) Together, they searched Warner's house for the DNA kits.


My grandmother, Terri, and Warner--I have a feeling
Warner had just said something funny!

Here's the way Linda tells it: "We were sitting on Warner's hospital bed swabbing his cheek when the doctor walked in. He was surprised and asked us what we were doing, but when we explained, he thought it was a good thing." I told Linda that, according to the blogs of genetic genealogists that I have read, this is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. 

Warner passed away on September 20. Later, Anna was looking at her checking account statement and remembered about the DNA test. She was so distressed, thinking that Warner had been so excited about his test, that Linda felt like she had to tell her what they had done. She said that at first she thought Anna was going to be mad, but then she started laughing and said she was glad they had taken care of it. She and Linda both took their tests, and as originally planned, they mailed all of them together.

Linda's test results showed up on FTDNA within a few weeks, and it was fun to see a close cousin (1st cousin, once removed) with whom I share so much DNA--536.78 cM's. We had to wait a little longer for Warner's, as it wasn't available until December. All in all, he had 8 y-DNA matches. These eight men share a common ancestor, although not recently. Only one of them has the surname Castle. Here is the really interesting thing--four of them have the surname Harmon or Harman. Two of them list their most distant known ancestor, and in both of those cases the men are descendants of the Harman (Herrmann) family that came from Palatinate Germany and settled in Virginia. If you've read my post about Jacob "the Longhunter" Castle, you know that Jacob had a feud with his neighbor, Adam Harman--same family. You have to wonder if this was a family feud that spanned continents and generations.

Warner's haplogroup was R1a1a (R-M198), and in the Castle DNA Project he was placed in the same family group as two other men who claim descent from Jacob Castle (1749-1849, Jacob the Longhunter's son) and one who claims origins in Germany. His haplogroup is not the same as a group who claim Yelles Cassell as their ancestor, so it's possible that our Jacob was not the son of Peter Cassell or the great-grandson of Yelles, as has been hypothesized. He also is not related to the descendants of Elijah Castle, who also lived in Russell Co. VA. Does that mean there were two Castle families with different origins living in Russell Co. in the 1700s? Of course, the comparisons only have validity if the people who test really know who their ancestors are. More Castle men will have to take y-DNA tests before we can draw any conclusions.


Warner's funeral program

Have you ever sat through the biographies and eulogies of a funeral, wishing you had known the deceased better, realizing that you really had a lot in common? That's how I felt about my cousin Warner's funeral. He and Linda had grown up in the same neighborhood that my brother and I had, although 10 years apart. We had played the same way as kids, loved the same hill. Warner and I shared the same politics and the same priorities. Warner was a 28-year veteran of the Tulsa Fire Department; an animal-lover; a protective big brother, husband, and dad; a trusted friend. He was ornery, too. That's what I remember.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

DNA Circle: Timothy Soles

One of my strongest memories of Pleasant Porter Elementary School is of sitting in the cafeteria in my construction paper Pilgrim collar and cuffs, getting ready to enjoy my Thanksgiving lunch. I grew up with annual retellings of the Thanksgiving story and all the Pilgrim names: Bradford, Brewster, Standish, and Alden. I remember when we read "The Courtship of Miles Standish" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I visited the recreated Plimoth Plantation in October of  2012; gazed at Plymouth Rock; walked on a reproduction of the Mayflower, amazed that such a small vessel carried 102 passengers across the Atlantic for 66 days. As recently as this November, I introduced 300 sixth graders to the Plimoth Plantation website.

Plimoth Plantation, from my trip to Massachusetts in October 2012

Reproduction of the Mayflower, October 2012

And for all that time I didn't know that my 9th great-grandfather, George Soule, was one of those 102 passengers that arrived in America on the Mayflower

All this time the data has been there--Mayflower descendants have been widely documented--but I guess I just never believed that my North Carolina Soles family had anything to do with George Soule and his descendants in Massachusetts.

I have my Simmons DNA cousins to thank. While researching the Simmons family, Sam Casey noticed that the Soles family often intermarried with the Simmons family. In doing research on his ancestor, Moses Simmons, he came across some interesting names. One day in early December I got this email from him:

"Alexander Standish was the son of Myles Standish, Capt of the Plymouth Colony. Alexander married Sarah Alden daughter of John & Priscilla Alden. Alexander Standish and Sarah Alden had a daughter named Sarah who married Benjamin Soule. Benjamin Soule was the son of John Soule and wife Rebecca Simmons. Rebecca was the daughter of Moses Simmons. So the Simmons and Soule lines were connected way back in the Plymouth Colony days."

I forwarded the email to my brother with this message: "Are you freakin' kidding me? Myles Standish and Priscilla Alden???"

So then I began doing some research myself to connect up our North Carolina Soles family with the descendants of George Soule in Massachusetts. It was easier than I thought it would be.


The Ancestors

George Soule came to Plymouth as an indentured servant to Edward Winslow. His origins have not been conclusively proven, but Mayflower researcher, Caleb Johnson, believes that he was the George Soule, son of William, who was baptized in Tingrith, Bedfordshire, in 1594/95. This date of birth would fit within the time frame established by historians for George's birth. They estimate that as a servant he was younger than 25--the age at which most indentures ended--but at least 21, in order to be allowed to sign the Mayflower Compact. Since so little is known about him, even his signature has been scrutinized for clues. Some think the way he spelled his own name indicates that he was not English but Dutch and joined the Pilgrims in Leiden, Holland.

Another clue to his age is his marriage to a woman named Mary, which happened before 1627. We know this because there was a distribution of cattle in 1627 to the original colonists and others that had come after them up until that time. George and his wife Mary are on the distribution list.

Not much is known about Mary either. We only know who she was because there was only one unmarried Mary living in Plymouth in the time period in which they would have wed. Her name was Mary Bucket, and she arrived in Plymouth in 1623 on the ship Anne. I wish more was known about her, because she was remarkable. She does not appear to have been attached to any family traveling on the Anne, and as a single woman, she received her own acre of land in 1623. It is estimated that she and George married about 1625, as they had a son Zachariah at the time of the cattle distribution. Her origins have been debated as well; was she from the English Becket family or from the French Huguenot Bucquets?

Much of what we know about George is because of the writings of William Bradford, as is, of course, much of what we know about Plymouth Colony itself. In later years Bradford wrote about the original colonists and their descendants. He wrote that the Winslow group included:

"Mr. Edward Winslow; Elizabeth, his wife; and 2 men servants, called Georg Sowle and Elias Story; also a little girle was put to him, called Ellen, sister of Richard More. Mr. Ed. Winslow his wife dyed the first winter; and he is maried with the widow of Mr. White, and hath 2 children living by her marigable besides sundry that are dead. One of his servants dyed, as also the little girle, soone after the ships arrival. But this man Georg Sowle, is still living and hath 8 children."

In fact, George and Mary had nine: Zachariah, John (who married Rebecca Simmons), Nathaniel (who was a bit of a mess, according to court records), George (my ancestor), Susanna, Mary, Elizabeth, Patience, and Benjamin.

George was mentioned in a few documents through the years: he was granted land in Duxbury and purchased land in Dartmouth, among other places; served on grand juries; was deputy of Duxbury for several years; was nominated to a committee, along with Miles Standish and John Alden, charged with assigning land in Duxbury; volunteered for the Pequot War; and was chosen for a committee to draw up regulations about the lawful smoking of tobacco.

George wrote his will on 11 August 1677, naming as heirs his sons John, Nathaniel, and George, and daughters Elizabeth, Patience, Susanna, and Mary. Zachariah and Benjamin, as well as his wife Mary, had pre-deceased him. John was the executor of the will and received the bulk of George's estate. The will reads "my eldest son John Soule and his family hath in my extreme old age and weakness been tender and careful of me and very helpful to me."

But it's the codicil that's really interesting. Apparently, there had been a tiff between John and sister Patience. Dated 20 September 1677, the codicil reads "...I the above named Gorge Soule Doe heerby further Declare that it is my will that if my son John Soule above named or his heires or Assignes or any of them shall att any time Disturbe my Daughter Patience or her heires or Assignes or any of them in peacable Posession or Injoyment of the lands I have Given her att Namassakett allies Middleberry and Recover the same from her or her heires or Assignes or any of them That then my Gift to my son John Soule shalbe voyd; and that then my will is my Daughter Patience shall have all my lands att Duxburrey And she shalbe my sole executrix of this my last Will and Testament and Enter into my housing lands and meddowes at Duxburrow..."

Apparently, John left Patience alone, as he inherited upon the death of George about 1679.

Although it is not known exactly where he is buried, the Soule Kindred (www.soulekindred.org) placed a stone in the Miles Standish Burying Ground in Duxbury. It reads:

Nearby Rests
GEORGE SOULE
Pilgrim
A signer of
The Mayflower Compact
on Nov. the 11th 1620
who died in
JANUARY 1679/80
[Erected by Soule Kindred 1931]



The first few generations of George Soule's descendants are well documented. The General Society of Mayflower Descendants publishes what are known as the Silver books, which show evidence for the first five generations of Mayflower descendants. George Soule's descendants through 5 generations are the subject of Volume 3 of the Silver books.

Following my line through the generations of Massachusetts descendants:

George, son of the original George, married Deborah, had eight children, and died in 1704 in Dartmouth. Apparently there is no proof of Deborah's maiden name. Some trees, however, give her name as Deborah Thomas. A Deborah Thomas was witness to the original George's will, so perhaps that is why she is thought to be his daughter-in-law.

William, son of George and Deborah, married Hannah (maiden name unknown), had 11 children, and died in April 1723 in Dartmouth.

Their son Benjamin, born 14 May 1698 in Dartmouth, married Mary Holway, and had at least 5 children (Sylvanus, Benjamin, Mary, Anne, and Joseph.) The Mayflower Descendants book says, "North Carolina land records show that Benjamin and his three sons migrated there with substantial land grants. Most of these grants date from 1735 with several thousand acres involved, centered southeast of Elizabethtown and east of Whiteville, North Carolina" (now Bladen and Columbus counties.) The Mayflower book suggests that Benjamin died before 1769 in North Carolina, as he does not appear on the 1769 tax list.

Joseph Soule, son of William, was living in North Carolina by 1732. The Mayflower book hypothesizes that the Joseph that continued in the area after 1800 was his son. However, it is just as probable that the Joseph Soles that appears on the 1790 census is Joseph, son of Benjamin. On the 1790 census of Brunswick County the following heads of households with the name Soles (the name change apparently came with the move to NC) appear: Silvanus, Timothy, Nathaniel, Joseph, Mackinne, and Benjamin. 


1790 heads of households, Brunswick Co. NC

It is at this point that the Mayflower book states only that the North Carolina branch spelled their name Sole or Soles and could produce no proof of ancestry except that "their lands had always been in their family." Most researchers, on Ancestry at least, appear to support the view that Timothy Soles was the son of the Joseph Soule born in 1731, and therefore the grandson of Benjamin Soule.

On the 1790 census Timothy's family consists of himself and 2 females. By 1800 the census shows 3 females under 10. Here is where a lack of records also hampers me, because I cannot prove that my Priscilla is the daughter of Timothy. One of these could be my Priscilla who was born in 1792; however, only the names of Timothy's younger children are known from court records after his death in early 1820. His wife Milly (Amelia Edwards) appeared before the court asking for a year's provision for herself and her family, permission "to value and divide the real and personal estate of Timothy Sowls," and appointment of guardians for her minor children: Joseph, William, Nathaniel, Lemuel, and Helen. Luke R. Simmons was one of the appointed guardians. Many trees on Ancestry, however, show at least 3 older children of Timothy and Amelia: Priscilla, Elizabeth, and Timothy.

The Descendants in the Timothy Soles DNA Circle

There are 12 members of the Timothy Soles DNA Circle, including me, and I have matching segments with 3 other members.

Match #1 and I share 11.7 cM's across 1 segment. She is a descendant of Timothy Soles, son of Timothy and Amelia. To make things even more complicated, this match also has Beasley and Faulk ancestors. The Beasleys, who also came from North Carolina, are my ancestors on the Ming (maternal) side of my family. I am almost positive that I have some Faulk ancestors because of the large number of matches I have that come from a particular branch of the Faulk family. It's just that I can't figure out exactly where the Faulks come in. Could the unknown father of my great-grandmother Fannie be a Faulk? Or do they fit in somewhere else among my ancestors in the group of related families that moved from Columbus Co. NC to Pike Co. AL?

Match #2 and I share 23.5 cM's across 1 segment. I already knew her name from the Luke R. Simmons DNA Circle. Her tree shows Timothy and Amelia as her 3rd great-grandparents, claiming her 2nd great-grandparents as Luke R. and Priscilla (Soles) Simmons, and their son and her great-grandfather as John R. Simmons. As we saw in my last post, John R. was not a child of Luke R. and Priscilla (Soles) Simmons. Hopefully, communication among the Simmons cousins will help to clear this up.

Match #3 and I share 16.3 cM's across 1 segment. His ancestor is Elizabeth Souls, shown to be a daughter of Timothy and Amelia who was born in 1795 in Columbus Co. NC and who died in 1856 in Pike Co. AL. Elizabeth was married into the same branch of the Faulk family with whom I share so many matches.

I have four matches on Family Tree DNA that have Soule ancestors. My brother has seven, five of which are different from my matches. Five of the seven matches show descent from George Soule or one of his children. I have about a dozen Ancestry DNA matches that show the surname Soles in their family trees.

Lack of evidence and complicated family trees mean that I cannot conclusively prove that my Priscilla is the daughter of Timothy and Amelia Soles. For many years, however, I have seen Priscilla listed as a child of Timothy Soles in Ancestry family trees, genealogy websites, and message boards. Perhaps there is some paper evidence somewhere that I have not seen. If Priscilla doesn't belong to Timothy, she has to belong to another of the Columbus Co./Pike Co. Soles, hence she is a descendant of George Soule of the Mayflower. I just hope that someday a document or further DNA evidence will settle the question. In the meantime I'm confident in claiming George Soule as my 9th great-grandfather.