Dear Ancestry Anne,
I’ve been having trouble committing to the set of parents I think I found for my great-grandfather James Henry Myers. I think if I got a second opinion I trust, I’d get over being hesitant to claim this family line. I need to be sure I’m climbing the right tree.
- In the 1910 Census for the Almshouse (Poor House) in St. Aubert Twp, Callaway County, Missouri is James Meyers, a 51 year-old white male who is divorced, born in Missouri of parents who were born in Missouri.
- The 1900 US Census in Holt, Missouri shows that James was born in May 1857 in Missouri to a father from MO and a mother from KY. (I absolutely know this is the correct census record–my grandmother is listed on it among other reasons).
- The family I believe he might belong to is in Callaway County, MO in the 1860 Census. His potential parents are: John and Sarah Myers.
If I accept that James Myers was born in May of 1858, then he would have been 51 in April of 1910 as shown in the attached census. I know from the divorce decree that my great-grandmother divorced him on 7 Jan 1905.
Sounds plausible, right? Why do I hesitate? I got exactly zero DNA cousin matches from this family. Neither did my uncle, one generation closer to James Myers. Either no one from this family has had their DNA tested on Ancestry, or neither I nor my uncle inherited any DNA from the direct Myers line. The other thing that bothers me is the court order that committed James Myers to the Poor House has the middle initial S instead of H, and it lists his age as 45 instead of 49 (he was committed 3 Feb 1908). My explanation is that he was probably malnourished and dehydrated and possibly slurred his speech to whoever collected his vital information in the first place.
Many thanks for all you do at Ancestry.com
You have 3 questions here and all of them are good.
- Why are there no Myers cousins showing up in your DNA?
- Does the Court Order have inaccuracies in it?
- Are James and Susan Myers the parents of James H. Myers?
Why are there no Myers cousins showing up in your DNA?
It very may well be, as you suggest, that there are no Myers cousins that have taken the AncestryDNA test yet. Also, you have about 50% of your father’s DNA, 25% of your grandfather’s DNA and about 12.5% of your great grandfather’s DNA. Not all of your great grandfather’s descendants are going to match you. You wisely chose to have your Myers uncle tested and it is highly likely that he has more of your great grandfather’s DNA and might make more matches as new cousins get tested. Anna Swayne’s article Understanding Patterns of Inheritance: Where Did My DNA Come From? (And Why It Matters) will give you more information.
Does the Court Order have inaccuracies in it?
Does the Court Order say who the informant is? Unless you know who it is and how well he knew your great grandfather, you can’t really assess if the informant even knew his middle initial or his age. And if it was your great grandfather giving the information, the information could have be written down incorrectly, or as you suggest he could have been confused at the time. The more evidence you gather about James, the better case you will be able to make whether the 1910 census and the Court Order match.
Are John and Sarah Myers the parents of James H. Myers?
Let’s start with the 1900 census record that you mentioned, since that is the one you know to be correct.
James was born in Missouri, Eliza in Germany. The oldest daughter was born in Kansas (Holt County is very close to Kansas), Amarilla was born in Oregon and the rest were born in Missouri. Oregon strikes me as odd. The census tells us they have been married for 11 years so sometime around 1888 or 1889. Maybe they were married in Missouri, maybe in Kansas.
I did find a marriage license for James H. Meyers and Louisa Cook. Given that Eliza was German she may have had a strong accent and the clerk may not have understood her name. Kuch and Cook may have been pronounce the same. The license is for Dec 1888 and in Oregon, Holt, Missouri which is close in date and location on the 1900 census.
Let’s think about where and when Amarilla and Mary Etta were born. Mary Etta was born in Dec 1890 in Kansas. Amarilla in Jun 1891 in Oregon. Either Amarilla was very premature, or one of those dates is wrong.
I also wondered at first if Amarilla might have been born in Oregon, Missouri, but I found what are likely to be her other census records and they all say she was born in Oregon. I even found an index that lists her as being born in Oregon. But, it gives her married name. Now how did they know in 1891 that she was going to marry a Counts? I suspect this is a delayed birth record which brings it into question. It may be right, but there are enough oddities that you are going to need to dig more.
The 1860 record you found may be your James, but it is a long jump from 1900 to 1860. I would take each of James’ and Eliza’s children and research them thoroughly. Maybe somewhere in their information is a clue to an aunt or uncle or cousin of James. And research Eliza’s family as well.
You were very wise to be cautious about committing to this family. While the indicators are there, additional evidence will help you solidify this link. I suggest you read our 5 Steps to a Healthy Tree for how to build a strong case on a hypothesis. Keep digging. The answer is out there.
About Anne Gillespie Mitchell
Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at Ancestry.com. She is an active blogger on Ancestry.com and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.