A Little Bit of Horse Sense Goes a Long Way
I have recently been going through the book that Edith Keys Segraves put together and published in 1980. It is called “Cook-Keys Family: Two Centuries in England and America.” In it she lists the ancestors of Henry Keys and Martha Cook, my great great grandparents. I’m sure you know all about them because I have mentioned them before and recently posted a photo of their three daughters – Daisy, Mabel and Ruth. (See Dec. 13, 2015 post by clicking on thumbnail.) Those three daughters are the root of the discovery I recently was able to confirm.
In the book Cousin Edith not only lists the ancestors, but also spent a good bit of time and energy in finding and naming as many descendants as she could find. At that time it would have meant a lot of telephone calls (with real phones connected to the wall!) and letters (remember those? You would sit down and write on paper with a pen!) And she didn’t stop with just the descendants of Henry and Martha, she went back two generations further – namely to William Horsnell who was born in 1770. I posted a photo of Uncle Will Horsnell (son of William) a while back. (See Feb. 24, 2016 post by clicking on thumbnail.) He’s the uncle that moved from Iowa to Louisiana and Martha Cook Keys followed him there. He’s the first person buried at China cemetery.
But before Martha moved to Louisiana, some of her Horsnell and Cook relatives followed Unce Will and his brothers to Iowa in the 1850s. Cousin Edith tracked most of this information and listed their descendants at the end of her book. And me being the devoted (or deranged – you can choose your adjective!) genealogist that I am, I have been entering all of these people into my own family tree. Then I take it a bit further and try to bring it up to date. Using birth and death notices on Ancestry is the first thing I do. Then I look up obituaries online or on FindAGrave.com. Some of them will list all of the family members, which is really helpful. Once I get to people born in the 50s, I take to Facebook and see who I can find.
There is a lot of information that people share on Facebook. Has anyone noticed that? It can be helpful with my research. I even copy photos of relatives and add them to my tree. It’s interesting to see how some family lines kind of die out, while others spread like wildfire. In my quest, I came across some Hunters with a Horsnell mother. From time to time I’ll send a note to someone if it looks like they are interested in genealogy, but most of the time I find as much as I can then move on. That’s what I did with the Hunters.
But then on a genetic genealogy site a few days later, someone with the same last name as one of the Hunter sisters posted a note about being on a DNA site GEDmatch.com, which is where I do a lot of my research. So I went to the site and searched the name in Mama and aunt Loris’s match list. The guy’s name didn’t show up in their list, but a Cheryl Benham did come up. And the name sounded familiar from the Hunter sisters. So I looked her up, and sure enough Cheryl Hunter married a Benham. Could it be our Horsnell cousin Cheryl? She had matching DNA to aunt Loris and a smaller amount with Mama.
So I sent her a note, and she replied quickly. Yes, her mother was a Hornsell. Even though she matched mom and Loris, I still wanted to get more verification. She was a member of 23andMe where many Keys relatives have tested, so I invited her to share with me. She quickly agreed and yesterday I compared her with the other Keys cousins and “Eureka!” she matched Kay Bryan and Myra Miller (who are 2nd cousins to each other and 4th cousins with Cheryl) on the exact same spot.
Definitely some Horsnell DNA that has been passed down through the generations. (In case you were wondering about the title, this is what I was refering to. Mama always said that she had “Hathaway horse sense.” Come to find out, she inherited it!)
So that book by Edith Keys Segraves is a treasure. I wish I could thank her. I’m sure she would be excited to see the verification of the research with the matching DNA. Maybe even more excited than all of you are! But to see DNA from each of the Keys sisters – Daisy being represented by mom and Loris, Mabel being represented by Myra Miller, and Ruth being represented by Kay Bryan – that was passed down from even further back and being able to identify it is remarkable. Thanks again, Cousin Edith.