Last week I wrote about a great-grandmother who, while not alive when I was born, remained vividly alive to her children and grandchildren throughout their lives. I have photographs and stories to augment the documents outlining her life. She is as real to me as if I had been rocked on her knee.
This week's ancestor is a cipher. Sarah or Sally (or Sallie) James is my great-great grandmother. She was born, according to information passed down in the family, on 21 March 1821 in Wythe County, Virginia to John James and his wife, Nancy Smith. She married Granville Williams on 30 January 1841 in Smyth County and bore 11 children before dying on 18 August 1864 when her youngest child was two and a half years old. I suspect she died in childbirth. Or of exhaustion.
She appears in the 1850 and the 1860 census. There is an appropriately aged female in John James' household in 1830 and 1840. That's it. I have no pictures. No stories. My great-grandfather Reese Jackson Williams was the youngest, a toddler when his mother died. He grew up well-mothered by his father's second wife, Serilda Jane Wells Pugh. That he was well-mothered is the only hint of personality or temperament I have about Sarah. She and Serilda were first cousins.
Reese's wife, my great-grandmother, was a family historian, as was his daughter, my grandmother. I have reason to trust the dates they passed down to me, but no family bible or gravestone to support their family record.
So why does Sally James hit my radar this week? Because she is one of my X chromosome ancestors.
X chromosome ancestors include Reese Jackson Williams, his mother Sally James, her parents John James and Nancy Smith, and his mother Nancy.
I have several genetic matches that I had thought matched her husband's paternal ancestors. We are, in fact, cousins through those lines. But these genetic matches turn out to match on our X chromosomes. Which, since I am descended through his son Reese, rules out Granville's lines completely. Reese only inherited one X chromosome. From his mother. Sally James. One of my cipher ancestors.
Now these genetic connections may be through completely different lines. From one of my Tennessee lines. But since we can each place ancestors in SW Virginia at the same time and since there IS a relationship through Reese's paternal lines I am starting with his mother. Sally James.
Written for Amy Johnson Crow's blogger challenge 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.
Iva Williams Sawyer, "Williams Family Record"; 1969; original held by Susan Popp Clark.
1830 U.S. census, Virginia, Wythe, , p. 336, line 24, John James; digital images, Ancestry.com (accessed 10 Jan 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M19, roll 200.
1840 U.S. census, Virginia, Smyth, , p. 396, line 26, John James; digital images, Ancestry.com (accessed 10 Jan 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M704, roll 578.
1850 U.S. census, population schedule, Virginia, Smyth, District 60, p. 215A, dwelling 792, family 799, Sarah Williams; digital images, Ancestry.com (www. Ancestry.com : accessed 10 Jan 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M432, roll 976.
1860 U.S. census, population schedule, Virginia, Smyth, , p. 1004, dwelling 930, family 933, Sarah Williams; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.Ancestry.com : accessed 10 Jan 2014); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm M653, roll 1377.