Friday, April 30, 2010

When Genealogy is Mind-Blowing

What a wonderful week for genealogical research on my husband's family!

Part 1 - Civil War pension file excitement

Exciting, but not necessarily "mind-blowing", was the receipt of the full Civil War pension file of Samuel Hawksley . 

While it did not give me the information I had hoped for (the parents of John Goodwin Hawksley), it did verify the marriage date of John Goodwin Hawksley and Lucy Thomas Lilley, the birth dates of their children (in a few instances, we only had approximations), the death of Lucy T. Hawksley, and the marriage of their first daughter.

Nobody seemed to know who Isabel Hawksley, the eldest daughter and child of John and Lucy, had married.  The file told me that her husband's name was Charles Staples Boothby of Saco, Maine.  They went to Newton, Massachusetts, which was good news for me, as I found the records of births and marriage on their children, as well as Isabel (Hawksley) Boothby's death, via NEHGS.

Meanwhile, I learned much more about John Goodwin Hawksley himself. 

He is my husband's 3rd great-grandfather.  In September of 1861, a tree fell on his leg, breaking the leg below the knee and making him lame (he had to use a cane for the rest of his life), and unable to work the family lands. They were too poor to get a doctor to set the leg, so it healed, but not well.

He relied on his unmarried teenaged son, Samuel, to do the work. Then Samuel enlisted with the Army in 1864, hoping to be able to send money to his family. But he was lost (missing in action) during battle at Hatcher's Run, Virginia.

When the family had not heard from him for 12 years, they filed for the pension in 1877 as dependent parents. Lucy died in 1880, so John then requested the pension be transferred to him.

My husbands great-great grandpa, William Roger Hawksley, was "legally bound" to support his father from 1880 to March 1881, and the affidavits say that John and Lucy Hawksley survived thanks to their childrens' generosity, and Samuel's work on their home and lands, before he went to war at the age of 17.

So it was interesting stuff.  While it did not give me anything further on Hawksley ancestors, it told more of the story of John Goodwin Hawksley's and his family's lives.

Part 2 - Y-DNA Results

My husband's DNA results began rolling in this week.  This was certainly exciting, but would be far more thrilling if we had other Hawksley men with whom to compare the results.

Hopefully others will join the surname project!  But it is the first step in the process.

Part 3 - mtDNA Results = SHOCK

I thought for certain my husband's mtDNA results would place him in a European Haplogroup, probably H like me (I am H1).

The most distant matrilineal ancestor for whom we have information is his 4th great-grandmother, Marie Reine Bousquet, born about 1799.  She married Francois Boucher on 16 November 1819 at La Presentation, St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada.

I figured that since my husband's maternal ancestors are almost as French as they come, one of the European haplogroup was the most likely.

First, let me preface this discovery by saying that my husband is currently in Connecticut for his sister's wedding.  There is a Native American ceremony component to the wedding, because my sister-in-law's fiance is Sioux. 

My father-in-law is a fundamentalist Christian and feels that he cannot participate in that portion of the ceremony, so since my husband is married to me (a Neo-Pagan), my father-in-law asked him to participate.

My husband called me today (Friday afternoon for me, very early Friday morning for folks on the East Coast), and as we were chatting, I was checking my email.  He put my brother-in-law on the phone, and as I listened to his plans for the summer, I saw the message from Family Tree DNA regarding the mtDNA results.

I looked. 

I freaked out.

My brother-in-law asked if I was alright; I told him that I had amazing genealogy news for my husband.

He put my husband back on the telephone, so I could share this news.

So, shock of shocks, the mind-blowing genealogy news of the week - perhaps of a lifetime for my husband!!! - is that he is:

Haplogroup A

Our reaction was almost on par with our April 8, 2002 reaction to the news that I was pregnant ("Oh my gosh!  We're going to have a baby before Christmas!").

Except this time it was, "OMG!  You're Native American!!!"

Of course, we followed this up with the inevitable jokes - my husband said, "See?  I'm as American as they get" to which I responded:

"Yeah, on your mother's side, you helped create America.  On your father's side, you wanted to make America an extension of Britain, so you got kicked out of the U.S. for being Loyalists.  No wonder you hate yourself!"

"I've always been conflicted," he laughed.


We are truly shocked.

Now we just have to figure out which tribe!  In a way, this is the genealogical jackpot.  With my mtDNA, I know very well that my ancestors are European, because my great-great grandmother emigrated from Italy to the U.S. with her husband and their firstborn.  I can only extend my family tree by visiting Italy.

But with my husband, I actually would have a time frame to connect Marie Reine Bousquet to whichever grandmother was Native American.  That doesn't necessarily mean it will be easy - it just means that I'm not looking back more than about 200 years...


I did some more research and found the Native ancestor!  It is Mathilde Pidicwammiskwe, daughter of Chief Madokawando of the Abenaki tribe, which is a part of the Algonquin nation.

I'm getting an education about Native Americans this weekend, and I'm sure what I learn is just the tip of the iceberg.  :)

Copyright (c) 2010 Wendy L. Hawksley


  1. Wow! Isn't genealogy amazing? There's always some
    new thing to make you do a Genealogy Happy Dance!


  2. This is exciting for you all. My husband is a direct ancestor of Pocahontas! And it doesn't seem to be a myth, but quite traceable. You just never know!

  3. Wow, a whole new world of genealogy is now open to you! It should be an interesting experience, and I hope you keep us all posted.

  4. Wow. Thanks for sharing!

    Congratulations on Top 100 Recognition!

    Bill ;-)
    Author of "Back to the Homeplace"
    and "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"