Project Success Stories

DNA - The New Tool for Genealogical Research

Many folks often get discouraged when they reach a "brick wall" and can't proceed further with their investigation.  That "brick wall" comes to most every one whose ancestors left few if any documents to trace.  I reached my "brick wall" with Robert PHILLIPS, born 3 January 1786 in Lancaster Co., SC, and died 31 March 1861, Flat Creek Township, Lancaster Co., SC.  He married Susanna DEASON, daughter of Edmond Riley DEASON, Sr. and Hester CATO.

It appeared I would not be able to advance my ancestral lineage in a traditional way, searching records in courthouses, corresponding or visiting with older family members (they are a treasure of info when they are contacted), and seeking the help of distant folks on the Internet.  That is how I found that Robert PHILLIPS had a half-brother, Joel Phillips.  Who was the mother of this new person I had in my data base?  Robert's father apparently had been married twice.  A family member near Kershaw helped expand that family, but I was still unable to determine who their father was, and who his wives were.  Another link was that this family may have come to South Carolina from southwest Virginia.

There are many PHILLIPS families in the region of Lancaster, Kershaw, and Chesterfield Counties, SC. Many are descendants of my Robert PHILLIPS.  Others are members of other PHILLIPS surname families who migrated into this region over time.  DNA could be the tool that would help sort the families out, as many of the folks have similar names, and are confusing when looking at small snapshots of data.
So I got my yDNA tested by Family Tree DNA.  My personal data is shown in Group #10.  As hoped, I immediately found out that I matched eight other PHILLIPS participants.  I was so interested that I went on to have a 25 yDNA marker test.  Those additional 12 yDNA markers narrowed the eight matches to five, with definitive family connections.  It established PHILLIPS surname connections with men who have family ties to Northwest NC and Southwest VA.  Sorting them out correctly, with documentation, is a real project for me, especially from afar in Hampstead, NC.  But I am definitely ahead of where I was, and I have folks helping me, as they have a similar "brick wall".  Since then I have had additional testing for 67 y-markers. That has collaborated further the matches already confirmed and re-affirms our joint ancestral lineage.
In Randolph County, NC, two matches have been determined to match my personal DNA (Group #10).  One Phillips line is Joel PHILLIPS (no dates), and his wife Phoebe. Others seem to have strong potential. So far two sons have been documented, Labourn / Laban PHILLIPS (born about 1794 and died between 1860-1866) and Edmond PHILLIPS (no dates).  Labourn's descendent was the participant, and he has traced his family into Southwest VA.  The second DNA connection is a line documented to Stephen PHILLIPS (born 1798, died 1855) who was married to Deliah ALLRED (born 1798, died 1848).  This line is a little more involved, as the participant has done lots of research to establish genetic lineage. 
Another DNA project by the Lindsey family has helped track the Phillips line from Virginia. Dennis Lindsey's daughter married Robert Phillips. His son-in-law is mentioned in his will. This Phillips family migrated from Virginia into Rockingham County and on to Chatham County, NC. It is fair to say that yDNA testing has laid groundwork to pinpoint for both families their ancestral relationship.
My maternal line has strong roots in Guilford, Randolph, and Chatham Counties through the families of Summers, Clark, Cagle, Siler, Chamness, and many more. I was surprised when DNA showed links to PHILLIPS lines in that same area.