Saturday, February 12, 2011

The End of the Trail

What We Know

Several events have conspired against us in our search for Jacob Pittman's ancestry.  Below, you will find everything that I know about him, gathered together in this one place.  It isn't very much data, but hopefully it is enough to connect him to the rest of the family tree some day.

  • He lived in Mississippi by 1830.  From the federal census, we have this image.  It doesn't directly tell us much.  There were six people in his household, and he was the head. Males: 1 < 5.  1 >5 < 10. 1 > 20 < 30. Females: the same as the males, actually.  It is also noteworthy, that this census tells us who his neighbors were.  Two in particular are noteworthy.  One was John S Pittman, who by DNA is shown to be at least a cousin, potentially closer.  The other, is James Gill, who might be either his father-in-law, or brother-in-law.
  • Still in Marion County MS at 1840.  By 1840, the federal census shows his household at eleven members.  There is not much else to glean from this census.  He no longer shares a page with John S Pittman and James Gill.  John is two pages back.  James seems to be gone, and may have already moved to Louisiana at this point.  Neither of the household members over twenty years of age could read or write.  Five of the household were employed in agriculture.
  • He was in Marion County MS until at least 1845.  I have only abstracts from the Mississippi state census, but he is listed in both 1841 and 1845.  This is the last that I've seen of him on any official record.
  • His family is in Louisiana without him by 1850.  As we said in previous posts, his wife went to live with the Gill families in Louisiana sometime between 1846 and 1850.  That is where they show up on the census records.
  • His Y-Chromosome: Through DNA testing, we know that if he was indeed my ancestor, he was a descendant of Thomas Pittman.

R1b 14 12 14 12 13 29 23 11

DYS392 DYS393 DYS426 DYS437 DYS438 DYS439 DYS441 DYS442

13 12 12 15 12 12 14 17

DYS444 DYS445 DYS446 DYS447 DYS448 DYS449 DYS452 DYS454

12 12 13 21 19 30 30 11

DYS455 DYS456 DYS458 DYS459a DYS459b DYS460 DYS461 DYS462

11 15 17 9 10 11 12 11

DYS463 DYS464a DYS464b DYS464c DYS464d DYS635 GGAAT1B07 YCAIIa

24 15 15 15 17 23 10 19


23 15 12


Monday, February 7, 2011

Two Calvins

What follows represents the work of a lot of people. To get to the point where we are today took a great deal of careful work.  I haven't really done any of it.  This is just what I know through the gracious counsel of many others to whom I am eternally thankful.

The Starting Point

Hardy Hiram Pittman
The safest place to start this discussion is with my great grandfather, Hardy Hiram Pittman (1869 - 1934). We know that his father's name was Calvin from the Census record, and that his mother's name was Caroline.

Finding the parentage of Calvin Pittman from Marion County MS is tricky.  You see, through a twist of luck, there were two men named Calvin Pittman born in Marion Co, at roughly the same time.  One of them is easily traceable back to Thomas Pittman, and for a long time, I thought that he was my 2nd great grandfather.

Unfortunately, things are rarely that easy, and I have trouble beating 50/50 odds sometimes.  It seems almost certain that the Calvin Pittman who Married Caroline Rowley and had, among others, Hardy Hiram Pittman, was the son of Jacob Pittman and Nancy Gill.

The Trail of Evidence

One of the most daunting things about using US Census records is that before the 1850 census, only the head of household was named.  Everyone else in the household is just a number by the box for the appropriate age, race, and gender group.

In 1850, we find one Calvin Pittman, aged 12, born in Mississippi, living in Louisiana, with the following:
  • Nancy Pittman, 42, born in Mississippi
  • Alfred Pittman, 10, born in Mississippi
  • A Pittman, 8, born in Mississippi
  • Hardy Pittman, 6, born in Mississippi
  • Hiram Pittman, 4, born in Mississippi
 In 1860, we can also find a 23 year old Calvin Pittman living in a Gill Household with:
  • James Gill, 50
  • Nancy Gill, 45 (Not to be confused with the above Nancy, who as we shall see, was once a Gill)
  • Benjamin Gill, 23
  • Emily Gill, 18
  • Amanda Gill, 16
  • James M Gill, 15
Lastly, we know from marriage records that Jacob Pittman married Nancy Gill in 1825.

All of this loosely connected information paints a rather compelling picture that the Calvin Pittman, who married Caroline Rowley, and had a son named Hardy Hiram, was himself, the son of Jacob and Nancy.  It is quite likely that he named his first son after two of his brothers.

Jacob is not seen on record after the 1846 state census in Mississippi.  This is unfortunate, because just four years later, he would have been cataloged along with the rest of his family in the 1850 census.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Problem (Or How I Had To Start A Blog To Figure This Out)

For Christmas 2010, my wife gave me a DNA test through  She had gotten one for her father in the previous year, and I thought that it was about the coolest thing ever.  This particular test was for my Y chromosome, that's the one passed down from father to son, relatively unchanged, each generation.

In my family history, there is a man, Thomas Pittman, who is rather well documented, and participated in Bacon's Rebellion.  There are websites all over with people related to him, and their DNA.  I thought that it would be fun to see if I were really descended from him, or if somewhere along the line, I had either gotten the links wrong, or perhaps something more scandalous would come up and give me a good topic for conversations in the future.

My results came back incredibly quickly.  Apparently there wasn't a huge inrush of tests just after the Christmas season as I had feared.  (Aside:  Am I the only person that had this on my Christmas list?)  The results fascinated me.

There were 3 people with an MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) number of 1.  That meant that every marker that we each had tested on our Y chromosomes (46 of them) were exactly the same.  There were 3 more people who had an MRCA number of 3, and they had no differing markers.  They simply did not pay to have more of their chromosome tested.

One of my exact matches even had a group started with several members.  I contacted the group to request membership, and thus my strange, and confusing journey began.

The group, it turned out, was dedicated to finding the paternal link of one Everett Pittman who moved from North Carolina to Mississippi around 1840.  My Y Chromosome was an exact match for these folks, but there was no Everett in my family tree.  To this day there is no link between him and my family tree, even though he lived in roughly the same places as my ancestors.  Apparently, he was a brother of one of my g(x) grandfathers, but exactly where, we can't say.

Through this group, I met my second cousin (once removed) Betsy, who introduced me to the mystery that she had been tracking down for a number of years.

It seems that there is no definitive link between the Jacob Pittman in my family tree and the Nathan Pittman that I had associated as his father.  In fact, there was compelling evidence that Nathan was not the paternal link in my family tree.

So now here I am, with DNA clearly tied to Thomas Pittman, and no clear way to link my family tree to his.  This blog will be a place to share the various theories, links, and questions related to finding this link.