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, February 6, 2016

DNA Circle: Jacob Castle

The Jacob Castle in whose DNA Circle I have been recently placed is not Jacob Castle, the Longhunter, but his son Jacob. Many "facts" about Jacob have shown up in family trees and even in publications, but we are going to examine the evidence to see what is fact and what has not been proven. (Note: I've been as guilty as everyone else of accepting some of these  facts without questioning them.)

"Fact" 1: Jacob Castle was born in Pennsylvania in 1749, the son of Jacob Castle and a Shawnee woman named Sowege, or Gliding Swan.

I can't find evidence for any of these facts. In the 1740's Jacob's father Jacob was living in Virginia. No birth record for the younger Jacob exists; he claimed his age as 80-90 on the 1830 Russell Co. VA census, so he could have been born as early as 1740. Unfortunately for the many descendants who love the story of Jacob's marriage to Gliding Swan, there is no credible evidence that such a person even existed. Some people have found a marriage record for a Jacob Castle to a woman named Mary Elizabeth which took place in Pennsylvania; then they have made the assumption that Mary Elizabeth is Gliding Swan, or that Sowege changed her name to Mary Elizabeth. I could not locate that marriage record at all, although others have referred to it. Jacob Castle the elder may certainly have had native wives, but I doubt that any traditional marriage ceremonies were performed, and I don't know how you would ever document the various children by these marriages. As with any legend, there could be truth behind the story, but no proof that I could find.

Many researchers cite a book called Shawnee Heritage by Don Greene and Noel Schutz as the origin of the name of Sowege and the details of the marriage. The trouble is, the authors did not give documentation for the information they published. Some Shawnee tribe members have criticized the book, and in fact, have said that Sowege is not even a Shawnee word.

"Fact" 2: Jacob Castle the younger married in 1769 to a half-Wyandot woman named Mary Shane.

There is no record of the marriage of Jacob and Mary that I can find. Most trees that list Mary Shane as the wife of Jacob Castle show evidence for her baptism in Philadelphia in 1747. The baptism of Mary lists her parents as Dennis and Catherine Shane, names that sound more Irish than native American. A marriage record for Zachariah Castle in 1867 lists his parents as Jacob and Mary Castle, so Mary was probably his mother's name; I just have no proof that she was Mary Shane or half-Wyandot.

"Fact" 3: Jacob Castle the younger lived to be 100 years old.

This one may actually be true. On the 1830 Russell Co. VA census Jacob gives his age as 80-90. On the 1840 Russell Co. census Jacob is enumerated as Male 100 & over. Ancestry members have corrected his age on the 1840 census to 92 to allow for his death at 100 in 1848 or 1849; however, I have found no evidence for his exact death date, except for Ancestry trees that have copied from each other.

Castles on 1830 Russell Co. census

"Fact" 4: This is a photograph of Jacob Castle.

NOT Jacob Castle (1749-1849)

In my opinion, genealogists need to be historians, too, or they fail to see the significance in the facts they uncover, or they believe facts or photos that can't possibly be true. Jacob Castle died in the 1840's at an advanced age, so this photograph would have to have been taken in the 1810's or 1820's. The daguerreotype was only invented in 1839 and paper photography much later. This man is not wearing clothing typical of the 1840's. Coats and neckties such as the one he is wearing were not the style until the late 1800's. 

This photograph has been copied to so many trees on Ancestry, and very few thought to question whether it was really Jacob Castle. It may be a Jacob Castle, but it's not the one that is the subject of this post. One good thing might have come from this photo, if it were real. We might have finally put to rest the other silly claim that Jacob Castle the elder was albino and passed on those traits to his son Jacob.

The Ancestors

So what else do we really know about Jacob?

My Castles come from Russell County, Virginia. The first census in which Jacob Castle appears is Russell Co. in 1820. On the 1820 census Jacob is enumerated in the column for age 45+. He was probably in his 70's. His family consisted of a male aged 26-44 and another male aged 10-15, along with two females, one aged 26-44 and another aged 45+. Just guessing, I would say that along with Jacob's wife, he had a son or daughter and spouse living with him, and that the male aged 10-15 is a grandson.

By the way, Ancestry will find "Castle" on these various censuses, even though the names are transcribed as "Capell." Why? Because in this time period the name was spelled "Cassell" and double s's were written in a style that looks like a large P. (See my post on Jesse Reed in "DNA Circles: Daniel Reed and Martha 'Patsy' Lewis.") The Russell County enumerator listed the heads of household in alphabetical, rather than residential, order. Along with Jacob on the 1820 census are several other "Capell" heads of household on the same page and on the next page.

They are: Henry, age 26-44; Zedekiah, age 26-45; Zachariah, age 16-26; and William, age 16-26, on the same page with Jacob. On the next page are Elijah, age 26-45; and Nathan, age 16-26.

1820 Russell Co. census

It's certainly possible that some or all of these men are the sons of Jacob Castle. It's hard to tell since the census doesn't show their residential relationship to each other. A further complication arises with DNA testing. The Castle DNA Project shows that descendants who claim Jacob Castle as an ancestor do not have the same y-DNA haplogroup as descendants who claim Elijah Castle as an ancestor. Either there is not a relationship between Jacob and Elijah, or one of the descendants is mistaken about his ancestor.

The 1830 census, again in alphabetical order, enumerates Jacob as aged 80-89 with a female aged 50-59. (A search for Jacob Castle sometimes does not find this census record as his name is transcribed as "Jaocb Cossell.") Also listed in Russell Co. on the 1830 census are: Henry, age 40-50; Zachariah, age 40-50; Joseph, age 40-50 (Was he the one living with Jacob on the 1820 census?); and William, age 30-40.

The 1840 census appears to be residential; at least the names are not in alphabetical order. Enumerated next to each other are John, age 20-30; Joseph, age 50-60; Jacob, age 100+; and Zachariah, age 50-60, on the next page. Elijah, age 40-50, is enumerated several names above this group, and another John, age 20-30, is listed several names later on the same page with Zachariah.

1840 Russell Co. census, showing Jacob Castle at 100 & over

In the mid-century decades the Castle family began to move. Some went to Johnson and Floyd counties in Kentucky. (Jacob's brother Bazle had been living in Floyd County since at least 1820.) Sometime after 1836 when he sold 75 acres in Virginia to his brother Zachariah, my ancestor William also moved to Kentucky. In 1850 he is enumerated on the Pulaski County census with his wife Margaret (Cox) and children William H., Margaret, George Harvey, and Patton. Also on the Pulaski County census is my 2nd great-grandfather Goldman Davidson Castle (mis-transcribed as Solomon), his wife Rachel (Sargent), and their son William, age 4, named for his grandfather. By 1860 G.D. Castle and his family were living in Morgan County, next door to their Castle relatives in Johnson County.

Descendants in the Jacob Castle DNA Circle

There are 45 members of the Jacob Castle DNA Circle. I have DNA matches with four of them. 

Two show their descent from James C. Castle, who they claim as a son of Jacob Castle. However, a document attached to their own trees says that James was a son of William Castle. With each of them I share about 20 cM's across 2 segments. A shared match with one of them is a descendant of Zedekiah Castle but does not show up in the DNA Circle. A shared match with the other has Cassell ancestors.

A third member of the circle is a descendant of Nathan Castle. We share 44 cM's across 4 segments. We may also share Patrick ancestors. The fourth member of the circle is my 3rd cousin, Lori Castle. Our great-grandfathers were brothers, sons of Goldman Davidson Castle. Lori and I share 62 cM's over 4 segments (84 with a longest block of 55 cM's on Family Tree DNA.) Our shared matches on Ancestry and FTDNA include Cox and Sargent descendants and my 1st cousin, once removed, Linda Castle. (See my post "In Memoriam.")

Other members of the circle are descendants of Zedekiah, Zachariah, Joseph, Elijah, and William; Benjamin Castle, who appears on the 1820 census in Scott Co. VA; Inman Castle, who appears on the 1830 census in Johnson Co.; and daughters Margaret (Stapleton) and Lydia (Salyers).


As always, working on this post has required me to look closely at evidence for some facts that I have taken for granted. I was able to make some corrections and deletions in my tree on Ancestry so that the chain of dates, events, and relationships is strengthened. For now I may have done all I can do with the information that is available online.

Lori, Linda, and I share 36 cM's on Chromosome 11, according to Family Tree DNA. It would be nice to know if any other members of Jacob Castle's DNA Circle share DNA with us on Chromosome  11. Come on, Ancestry, give us a Chromosome Browser!

And come on, everybody that attached that bogus picture to the Jacob Castle who died in the 1840's--delete it!


  1. Finally a voice a reason in a sea of fantasy!Hello Becky my name is Jeanie and I write two genealogy blogs, one of which is about fake Native American ancestry. I am currently researching and writing about Jacob and Sowega. I think the Don Greene books have done a lot of harm to genealogy. I was wondering if you have come across any descendants of Bazell Castle. He filed for a pension as a soldier in the American Revolution. Some claim he is a descendant of Jacob Castle. I am also trying to figure out if a Jacob Castle really fought at King's Mountain and if so which one... Any ideas?
    Does your DNA testing show any Native American DNA?
    my blog is

    1. I took a look at your blog. I'm impressed at the amount of historical research you have done. I do try to find proof for the information I share on my blog, but sometimes things slip by, especially if they have been family lore for a long time--such as Jacob Castle and "Sowege." I don't know where this story started, but it has been around for decades. I have not been able to find any proof. I do know a little about Bazel Castle. His Revolutionary War pension application, dated 1834, is the source for the information that Jacob Castle was his father and that he took part in the Battle of Kings Mountain. At the time of the application Bazle had only one living son, John. There is a John Castle living in Floyd Co. KY at the same time as Bazle, and of the age to be his son. Your comment has spurred my interest in Bazle. I'm going to try to do a blog post on him soon. No, I do not show any native American ancestry on Ancestry DNA or Family Tree DNA. However, when I use some models on Gedmatch, I get a little Asian, which could be NA, I guess.

  2. Thanks for your reply Becky and for your comments on my blog. I learned the hard way to back up what I was claiming with solid documented evidence, so I do my best to provide a source for everything I say.

    I would be interested in what you find out about Bazle. I have read his Rev. War pension file backwards and forwards and cannot find the claim about Jacob Castle being either his father or at the Battle of King's Mountain. The only place I can find this claim is in the Preston Papers, I wonder where they saw it? Anyway, let me know what you find out about him, if you don't mind. If I come across anything on him that I think you might find interesting I will forward it on to you.


    1. Thanks! Do you have an email address where I can forward information? I hate to comment on your website when it doesn't really pertain, and I wasn't sure you would see the reply on my blog. Glad you did!

    2. Any update to the Jacob Castle, Jr being at Kings Mountain Battle? I am Ida Castle (Elam)'s grandson. Ida is the little girl on the right in photograph of Wm. and Elizabeth Castle (Nickell) you have posted on this blog

    3. According to Bazle Castle's application for Revolutionary War benefits, his father Jacob (Sr., I think) was at the Battle of Kings Mountain. Jeanie Roberts, who commented above, raised the question because the transcription she read had left out two pages. If you read the original document on, Bazle says that he stayed home to run the farm while Jacob went to Kings Mountain. I have written a blog post about Bazle's application--it's called "Bazle Castle: Part 2, Indian Spy." I also wrote about my trip to King's Mountain last summer. That post is called "Revolution Road Trip: Jacob Castle and the Battle of Kings Mountain."
      Thanks so much for the identification of your grandmother in that photo. I only know who the mom and dad are. Who are the other children in the photo? (I know the names of the children, but not which ones are in the photo.)

  3. I just found your blog and have loved what I have read so far. Can you tell me who is matching you on Ancestry in the Jacob Castle DNA circle that is from Elijah Castle's family?

  4. Hi, glad you are liking the blog. There are now 103 members of the Jacob Castle DNA Circle, and I only match 7 of them. None of those 7 are descendants of Elijah. I can look for other descendants of Elijah in the circle, if that would help, but I don't match any of them. Are you a descendant of Elijah?

  5. Becky, have you found any DNA connection between Jacob Castle and Yelles Kassell of PA?

    I am a member of the Circle, here is what it says "Jacob Castle DNA Circle BETA
    200 members •71 matches" and when I look at the Circle/members it says I have 25 matches.