Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sam Snow – Setting the Record Straight

I previously produced a blog entitled, 'Sergeant Sam Snow of the 8th Mississippi Infantry, A Letter from his First Sergeant, and an Unknown Mississippi Soldier's Grave' back on July 5, 2010.  The Blog referenced the possibility of Sergeant Sam Snow being interned as an unknown Confederate Soldier in the Resaca Confederate Cemetery.  Some time ago, my father and I were able to visit the Resaca Confederate Cemetery; while at the cemetery my father recalled a conversation that he had overheard as a child … that Sam Snow’s father had traveled to Georgia to recover his Son’s remains.  While in Georgia, the father recovered Sam Snow’s remains from two sisters.  While at the cemetery we read the story of Ms. Green and the story my father had heard as a child made perfect sense. 

The story of Ms. Green and the Resaca Confederate Cemetery is as follows, “After the battle, a family known as the Green family returned to their plantation and the sight that met them there was almost more than they could bear. The bodies of confederate soldiers were buried in crude makeshift graves all across the yard. Compelled by a sense of respect to those who had fallen in action, Mary J. Green and her sister began collecting the bodies to bury properly. Though poverty was rampant the Green daughters wrote friends asking for any amount money they could give. Col. John Green gave his daughters 2.5 acres (10,000 m2) of land for use as a cemetery for these soldiers. With the money collected and the land provided, the Green daughters and their mother began work on what we now call the Resaca Confederate Cemetery.” (Wikipedia)

So the search for Sergeant Sam Snow continues ….
At LT Clark's Grave

AT Resaca Confederate Cemetery
Resaca Confederate Cemetery Marker

Friday, January 20, 2012

Genealogy and Genetics

My father, brother, and I have been very successful tracing our genealogy back to 17th Century England using archival records research.  We have definitively traced our family to the North Western portion of the British Iles prior to their arrival to the Virginia colony.  I have always wanted to take the next step and determine if our family descended from one of the original Celtic tribes, such as the Picts or did my ancestors migrate from another culture to the British Isles. It has been difficult to trace our direct ancestry in Britain so the best we have been able to do is determine general relations based on family surnames and common variations.

During this past Fall I took another route and tried a DNA test through Family Tree DNA.  This test looks at the Y chromosome DNA which traces the male lineage.  DNA in the Y chromosome is passed from father to son, and Y-DNA analysis is now a growing method in genealogy research.

Generally speaking this Y-DNA analysis classifies the descendent within a Haplogroup.   A Haplogroup is defined as branches in the human genetic tree (Phylogenetic tree). They are tied to deep ancestry (think 10,000s or 10s of 1000s of years). It basically groups people based on their genetic markers to certain regions of the World.  Maps have also been developed based on archeological finds and DNA samples which trace the origins and migrations of these groups over time.

My Haplogroup turned out to be I2b1.  I was very surprised to learn that Haplogroup I2b1 is a fairly small group. It reaches its highest numbers in Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands where it can constitute as much as 10 to 12.5 percent of the population. This haplogroup most likely arrived in England with the Anglo-Saxons or Vikings. 

It is very likely that my ancestors were either from an Anglo Saxon Tribe from northern Germany that conquered the British Isles from 400-600 AD, establishing the Kingdom of Northumbria or were of Viking decent whom conquered the British Iles from 800-1066 AD. 

And now another clue has been answered; however, it has generated as many questions as answers.  We will continue to pursue the DNA approach to genealogy in order to ‘Chase the Family Ghosts’ to the farthest corners of history.  I have joined several groups through Family DNA Tree to include a group project entitled Askew Family.  Hopefully this approach will assist in unlocking answers and discovering new paths to explore.

Map depicting the Viking Invasion of the British Isles

Map depicting the Anglo-Saxon invasion of the British Isles
Map depicting the origin and migration of Haplogroup I2B

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Virginia Colonists – Isle of Wight

This past Summer I was able to travel with my father to the Isle of Wight County near Smithfield, Virginia.  We spent our time finding former locations of our ancestors and researching records at the Isle of Wight Court House.  This blog will cover the first Askew colonists, our discoveries and places we visited while ‘chasing the family ghosts’ in Virginia. 

The first Askew found is William Askew, who arrived on the ship Prosperous in May 1610.  He is also mentioned in the ‘Muster of the Inhabitants of Virginia” in 1624 which is a listing of the adventurers or stockholders of the Second Charter of the Virginia Company, London, England.  He is listed as age 30 and founded a section of land named Sherley One Hundred in Nancemond which later became Isle of Wight.  No other references to this William Askew could be found.  

Looking at the history of the area, we discovered that tobacco was introduced to the region in 1612 and became the primary cash crop in the Isle of Wight, almost all goods were purchased or priced in comparison to pounds of tobacco.  In 1619 approximately only 1000 colonists were present in Virginia by 1700 the population had greatly expanded to a population of 58,000 making it the most populous colony of the English Colonies in America. (Some Askew Family History by Earl Scott Glover).  The Askews were some of the first colonists to Virginia.  In 1635 the population of Isle of Wight was 520 and by 1658 the population had grown to 2019 colonists. 

An interesting find was discovered in the Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers, 1607-1635, A Biographical Dictionary by Martha W. McCartney.  It lists two similar entries for a John Askew (Ascue) the first states, “On August 19, 1618, the justices of Bridewell Court decided to send John Askew (Ascue), a vagrant from the Bridge Ward, to Virginia.  The second entry states, “On February 27, 1619, it was decided that John Askew (Ascue), one of the youngsters rounded up from the streets of London, would be sent to Virginia.”  Little else was found on this particular John Askew. 

Later, John Askew (different from the John Askew mentioned above), who is believed to be the direct ancestor for our branch of the family, born in England in 1638, arrived at the Virginia colony in 1653.   It is known that he settled in Isle of Wight Virginia and married Bridget Smith in 1662. A search of the records revealed the following: Francis Morrison grants 200 acres to John Askew on April, 5 1662.  John sells 200 acres of land to Nicholas Smith on January 12, 1668 and sells cattle to Nicholas Smith on January 2, 1670.  He sells a gelding to William Bodie in January 1, 1672.  In January 14, 1673 sold land to William Bodie.  John died on August 23, 1683 in Isle of Wight, VA.  It is possible that John may have been related to the William Askew mentioned above.   

John and Bridget Askew had two sons John and Nicholas Askew.  Nicholas being my direct ancestor was born 1665 at Isle of Wight, Virginia.  A search of the records revealed Nicolas to have paid 99,000 lbs of Tobacco thru October 1694 to purchase the plantation of Thomas Oglethorpe, 170 acres, Nicholas resided at the Orglethorpe plantation at the time of the deed.  He lived his entire life in Isle of Wight, married Sarah Ogelthorpe in 1694 and died in 1751. 

Nicholas and Sarah had two sons, Thomas (b.1700 – d.unk) and Aaron Askew (b.1705 – d.1771).  These two brothers were born in Isle of Wight and migrated to North Carolina, more than likely in search of more fertile soil for tobacco crops, they settled in what would later be Bertie County, North Carolina. Thomas was my direct ancestor.    

Historical Map of Isle of Wight County depicting the location of John Askew’s property
Samuel L. Askew Jr. (my father) as close to the location of John Askew’s property as possible based on the above map
At the Old Isle of Wight Courthouse in Smithfield

Current Isle of Wight Courthouse where archived records are maintained
One of the records of John Askew located at the Isle of Wight Courthouse … this record depicts an appraisal of his estate dated August 23, 1683