Genetic Genealogy and the Saponi/Catawba Guy Family

In this blog post, I will use a combination of genetic genealogy, paper based genealogy, and family oral history to confirm a genealogical relationship within the Saponi/Catawba Guy family of Granville County. By utilizing different techniques, I present a strong case for identifying Miles Guy and Delila Guy of Granville County as siblings. I especially hope the genetic genealogy section of this blog post will help readers better understand how to use cousin matches to confirm genealogical relationships.


Background

The Guy family is a core family of the Native American community in Granville County. I have not written a blog post discussing their early tribal origins yet because I’m still in the process of verifying research. However, there is a key primary source that is vital to documenting the origins of the Guy family that I will briefly discuss here. In 1872, a white man named Joseph McDowell of Fairmount, GA who had married a Guy woman, collected the names of 84 descendants of Buckner Guy who desired to be recognized as Catawba Indians by the United States and sought financial relief. In the early 1800s, Buckner Guy (b. 1789) relocated his family from Orange County out to the far western part of the state in Macon County.

Senate Document #144 Guy Family
This is the list of Buckner Guy and his descendants (84 individuals) who desired to be recognized as Catawba Indians in 1872. You will see at the bottom of the list, a text which states that they claim descent from William Guy the Revolutionary War soldier (it should read Granville Co, NC not Granville Co, GA). There is conflicting information about exactly who Buckner Guy’s father was. In 1805, Buckner Guy was a tithable in Christopher Guy’s household in Mecklenburg Co, VA. Christopher Guy was a brother of William Guy, thus it may be that Buckner Guy was William’s nephew. (Thank you to Haila Harvey Adams for a copy of the document)

There was no action from the 1872 list that Joseph McDowell submitted. As a result, he submitted the list and letter again in 1897 when the United States Senate was holding a session about the Catawba Indians. Unfortunately not much came from this action, but it does show an early direct attempt by the Guy family to not only be recognized as Native Americans, but specifically as Catawba. In my research, I identify the Guy family as “Saponi/Catawba”, that is I believe they were Saponi who took refuge with their closely related cousins, the Catawba.

The Guys were “free people of color”, so there is good documentation on them. However the paper record doesn’t always clarify exactly how all the “free colored” Guys are related to one another. In particular, I’ve had questions about Miles Guy (b. 1827) of Granville County and the identity of his siblings and parents. I had long suspected that a Delila Guy (b. 1819) of Granville County was his sister but still needed records to verify my suspicions.


The Paper Trail

In order to learn more about Miles Guy’s family, I located the earliest primary source record on him. On 5 May 1842, Miles Guy (b. 1827)  was apprenticed out to William Chavis in Granville County. Miles’ age was given 14 years as of 15 Nov 1841, which would indicate that Miles Guy was born on 15 Nov 1827. It is not common to be able to establish a precise birthdate for ancestors from this time period, so this is excellent documentation to have. Miles Guy was to be taught the trade of carpentry and to remain with William Chavis until 21 years of age. The document unfortunately does not name Miles Guy’s parents. He is referred to as an “orphan”, but this term can be a bit misleading as it doesn’t necessarily mean both of his parents were deceased. The Granville County Court Minutes may have recorded the names of Miles Guy’s parents but those records are not digitized online.

Miles Guy
Miles Guy (b. 1827) of Fishing Creek township, Granville County, NC. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Miles Guy
Miles Guy (b. 1827) was “bound out” on 5 May 1842 to William Chavis (1801-1854) in Granville County. Source: North Carolina, Wills and Probate Records, 1665-1998; Granville Apprentice Bonds and Records, 1810-1865; page 1435.

So who was William Chavis? William Chavis (1801-1854) was the son of Jesse Chavis (1766-1840) who I previously blogged about here. On 16 Oct 1834, William Chavis married Delila Guy (b. 1819) and she was the mother of his children. This means that eight years after getting married to Delila Guy, William Chavis formally takes in “orphan” Miles Guy as an apprentice. This is certainly not a coincidence. This is why I believe Miles Guy was Delila Guy’s younger brother, and that she and her husband took him in when he became “orphaned”.

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Delila Guy married William Chavis on 15 Oct 1834 in Granville Co. Source: Ancestry.com. North Carolina, Marriage Records, 1741-2011 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.
William Chavis and Delila Guy had the following children together:

  1. Harriet Chavis (b. 1837)
  2. Nelly Chavis (b. 1840)
  3. William Chavis (b. 1841)
  4. Julia Chavis (b. 1845)
  5. Edna Chavis (b. 1847)
  6. Silvanus Chavis (b. 1850) *died in childhood*
  7. Patrick Chavis (b. 1852)

The documentation that identifies William Chavis and Delila Guy’s children is quite solid because William died relatively young in 1854 and so there are probate records concerning his estate and named heirs.

Miles Guy was married a few times and had several children. Before marrying, Miles Guy had a child out of wedlock named Emily Curtis (1853-1925) with a woman named Nancy Curtis (b. 1835). Emily Curtis’ death record identifies her father as Miles Guy.

Emily Curtis Pettiford death
Emily Curtis’ death certificate names her father as “Miles Guy”. Source: North Carolina State Board of Health, Bureau of Vital Statistics. North Carolina Death Certificates. Microfilm S.123. Rolls 19-242, 280, 313-682, 1040-1297. North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, North Carolina.

He then married Henrietta Dunstan on 19 Oct 1854 in Granville County. It must have been a short marriage that likely ended with Henrietta’s death because in the 1860 census, Miles Guy is shown with no wife or children.

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The 1860 census for Granville County. Miles Guy who was recently widowed is listed living in a household alone. Two household below are Delila Guy’s orphaned children – Julia Chavis, Edna Chavis, and Patrick Chavis. Delila Guy died shortly before 1860 and so her youngest children who were still minors went to live with relatives. The “Polly Guy” listed as the head of household, is actually Polly Jones and the wife of Minnis Guy (b. 1803). I suspect that Minnis Guy was a close relative to Delila Guy and Miles Guy. Source: Year: 1860; Census Place: Tabs Creek, Granville, North Carolina; Roll: M653_898; Page: 440; Image: 444; Family History Library Film: 803898

On 13 Sep 1865, Miles Guy then married Susan Taborn (1846-1879). Together Miles Guy and Susan Taborn had the following children:

  1. Mary Etta Guy (b. 1866)
  2. Robert Guy (b. 1869)
  3. Jana Guy (b. 1872) *died in childhood*
  4. Cora Guy (b. 1873)
  5. Delia Guy (b. 1877)
Mary Etta Guy b 1866
Mary Etta Guy (1866 – 1965) a resident of Fishing Creek, Granville County. She was the eldest daughter of Miles Guy and Susan Taborn. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Robert Guy
Robert Guy (b. 1869) was the son of Miles Guy and Susan Taborn. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Cora Guy
Cora Guy (b. 1873) was the daughter of Miles Guy and Susan Taborn. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53
Mary Etta, Cora, Delia Guy
Sisters L to R: Mary Etta Guy, Cora Guy, and Delia Guy. Daughters of Miles Guy and Susan Taborn of Granville County. Source: Anita Bonds

Miles Guy’s wife Susan Taborn was deceased by 1879 because on 2 Sep 1879 he married for a third time to Sarah Burnett. Miles Guy last appears in the 1900 census for Granville County and he registered to vote in 1902, so he died sometime after that date.

Miles Guy pistol
A very important Guy family heirloom. This is the pistol that belonged to Miles Guy (b. 1827) which he claimed was used during the Civil War. Source: Ancestry, Username: carolaallen53

So we have good documentation on Miles Guy and Delila Guy which show their families living close to one another in the Fishing Creek community in Granville County. And we have documentation that shows that Miles Guy was brought up in Delila Guy’s household. But is there anything else we can do to verify their relationship?

When I recently showed the picture below to a great-grandson of Miles Guy, he immediately recognized the elderly woman seated in the middle and exclaimed “that’s aunt Julia!”. This great-grandson of Miles Guy identified Julia Chavis, daughter of Delila Guy, as his “aunt”. The term “aunt” when used in our communities does not necessarily mean a literal “aunt” or “great aunt”, but is also used to describe a close relationship with an elder female relative. Also because Miles Guy was raised in Delila Guy’s home, he likely viewed her children as his “siblings”.

Bibby family 1898
Julia Chavis (1845-1939) is the elder woman seated in the middle. She was the daughter of Delila Guy (b. 1819) and William Chavis (1801-1854). Julia is pictured here with her husband William Solomon Bibby, children, and grandchildren at the family farm in Franklinton, NC in 1898. My great-grandfather Edward Brodie Howell’s first wife Mary Bibby is standing on the right.

With fairly good paper trail documentation firsthand testimony from a living person, what would DNA testing reveal about the relationship betweenn Miles Guy and Delila Guy?


Genetic Genealogy

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you most likely at some point have encountered advertisements for DNA tests that will predict your ethnic composition. The three leading companies that offer DNA tests to consumers are 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and FamilyTree DNA. The ethnicity estimates offered with these tests are interesting and perhaps revealing but if you’re looking to take a DNA test to confirm Native American heritage for example, it’s not so straight forward. I’m not going to take the space here to discuss the many complications and limitations of DNA testing to confirm Native American identity but I suggest following the research of scholar Dr. Kim Tallbear.

However where I see the biggest strengths in these DNA tests, is the cousin matching feature. The DNA company that you test with, will pair you with other individuals who have also tested and share a segment of DNA with you. A free genetic genealogy website called Gedmatch, allows users from the three companies mentioned above to upload their DNA data and utilize the website’s more sophisticated tools. And because anyone from the three companies can upload to Gedmatch, it significantly opens the pool of potential cousin matches. In other words, Gedmatch is a genetic genealogist’s best friend.

Guy Family
Guy Family Tree which shows the genealogical pedigree of the four individuals who tested.

Within the past year, four direct lineal descendants of the Guy family from Granville County have done DNA tests. All four have also uploaded their results to Gedmatch which has allowed me to take a closer look at their DNA. And to top it all off, all four individuals have very well researched and documented family trees.

To preserve anonymity, I am using initials to discuss these 4 Guy descendants.

RT = His great-grandfather was Miles Guy (b. 1827)

SH = Her great-great grandfather was Miles Guy (b.1827)

WD = Her great-great-great grandfather was Miles Guy (b. 1827)

CL = Her great-great-great grandmother was Delila Guy (b. 1819). Also note that CL is my  (Kianga’s) second cousin.

RT, SH, WD, and CL are all cousin matches with one another on Gedmatch. This is not surprising because all four individuals have deep roots within Granville’s Native American community and so they have several lineages in common in addition to the Guys. The heavy endogamy within our community creates a major challenge with genetic genealogy because it’s not immediately clear when looking at cousin matches, which shared common ancestor is reflected in that chromosome match. What also complicates matters is that your DNA will not always match all of your known cousins. With each generation that passes, there is a greater chance for the recombination process to diminish that shared DNA. So the further back in time that common ancestor is, the greater the chance that you will not match cousins from that ancestor. So this is where the “triangulation” process helps us identify the common ancestor of all four individuals.

What I found when comparing the Gedmatch kits of RT, SH, WD, and CL is that all match one another on overlapping segments on Chromosome 5. In other words, all four people share a common ancestor whose DNA they have inherited on their Chromosome 5. Below are “One to One” comparisons between the four Gedmatch kits. Please note that I have blocked out their Gedmatch kit numbers and user names and have replaced them with initials:

CL to WD
CL and WD share a segment on Chromosome 5
CL to SH.jpg
CL and SH share a segment on Chromosome 5
CL to RT
CL and RT share a segment on Chromosome 5 and another segment on Chromosome 18. The second match on Chromosome 18 may reflect another one of CL and RT’s distant common ancestors.

 

WD to RT
WD and RT share a segment on Chromosome 5. They also share other segments because they have a closer biological relationship as well as other shared common ancestors.
WD to SH.jpg
WD and SH share a segment on Chromosome 5. They also share other segments because they have a closer biological relationship as well as other shared common ancestors.
SH to RT
SH and RT share two long segments on Chromosome 5. They also share many, many other segments (I ommitted all the shared segments to save space) because SH is the niece of RT.

Though there are other chromosome segments that some of the individuals share, the only overlapping segment that all four individuals shared was on Chromosome 5. If you look at the start and end point numbers, that is the measurement of where on the chromosome that matching segment occurs. Not all four individuals match on the exact start and end points and that is due to recombination and inheritance (we do not inherit exact replica copies of our ancestors’ DNA). But I think it is clear that all four individuals inherited overlapping large segments that indicate a shared common ancestor.

Another important feature on Gedmatch is the “Most Recent Common Ancestor” (MRCA) number. This is exactly what it sounds like – Gedmatch predicts how many generations back that most recent common ancestor was. But a very strong word of caution: the number is an estimation and the extreme endogamy of our community amplifies cousin matches so that they sometimes appear closer than what they really are. With that said, the MRCA’s predicated on the Chromosome 5 matches are consistent with Miles Guy and Delila Guy being siblings.

SH is the niece of RT, so there is no question as to their biological relationship. They share lots of DNA in common and their MRCA is predicated at 1.5. This means they share common ancestors between 1 and 2 generations ago. This is spot on because for RT, his parents (1 generation ago) are the MRCA and for SH her grandparents (2 generations ago) are the MRCA. You also see that SH and RT share a very long segment on Chromosome 5, starting and ending at approximately 29,000,000 to 83,000,000.

SH and WD are third cousins, once removed. That is, SH‘s great-great grandparents are the same as WD‘s great-great-great grandparents (Miles Guy and Susan Taborn). This puts their MRCA between 4 and 5 generations ago. However when you look at Gedmatch’s predicated MRCA, it states 3.4. This is likely a result of endogamy and sharing multiple sets of common ancestors.

CL who is a direct lineal descendant of Delila Guy is predicated to share a MRCA to SH, RT, and WD, in the 5 range (5.9, 5.4, and 5.1 respectively). 5 generations from CL goes back to her great-great-great grandmother Delila Guy. And because these MRCA numbers are above 5, it suggests that CL is sharing a MRCA one more generation back from Delila Guy.

In other words, the parents of Miles Guy and Delila Guy are the shared common ancestors for all four individuals. This of course means Miles Guy and Delilah Guy were siblings. I did even consider the possibility that Delila Guy was Miles Guy’s mother, but she is only roughly 8 years older than him, making her way too young to be his mother.

So in summary, the overlapping segments shared by all four individuals on Chromosome 5 appear to come from the parents of Miles Guy and Delila Guy.


Moving Forward

So we have a paper trail showing that Miles Guy was raised in Delila Guy’s home. We have family oral history from a living person who knows the two families are related. And finally we have DNA tests which are consistent with descendants of both Miles Guy and Delila Guy sharing common ancestors within the correct Guy family genealogy timeframe. It feels satisfying to have three different categories of evidence to align so perfectly because often times this is not the case.

However, the big remaining question is who are the parents of Miles Guy and Delila Guy?

There was an earlier Miles Guy (b. 1797) recorded in the Granville records. This Miles Guy married a Betsy Bonner on 22 May 1817 in Granville Co. Betsy Bonner was likely a white woman and the sister of Neverson Bonner who provided the bond for the marriage. By 1820, this Miles Guy moved to Caswell Co where he is recorded as the head of a household of three “free colored” males. That is the last time I find Miles Guy in the records. Sharing a name with Miles Guy (b. 1827) certainly indicates a close relationship but it does not necessarily mean they were father and son. They may have an uncle/nephew relationship because parents often named their children after their siblings. So it’s possible that Miles Guy (b.1827) and Delila Guy’s (b. 1819) parent may be a sibling of this older Miles Guy (b. 1797).

It is noteworthy to mention that this elder Miles Guy in the 1820 census is listed next to Vines Guy. The census was recorded alphabetically so this does not mean that the two men lived next to one another. But the two men lived in Caswell Co at the same time, which may indicate that they were brothers. Vines Guy (1785-1836) settled in Orange Co and some of his descendants are enrolled members of the Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation in Orange/Alamance Cos. Vines Guy is believed to be a son of William Guy (1763-1837), the Revolutionary Soldier who lived in Granville County and filed a military pension. However I’m still looking for proof to verify this relationship, so I do not consider it fully confirmed.

Calvin Guy
Calvin Guy (1863-1930) was the son of Thomas Guy and Harriet Adeline Burnett. Thomas Guy was the son of Vines Guy (1785-1836) and Elizabeth Jeffries. Vines Guy is believed to be a son of William Guy (1763-1837).
Thomas Guy Martha Martin
Thomas Guy (1868-1962) is pictured with his wife Martha Martin (1871-1947) and son Julius Andrew Guy (1914-1954). Thomas Guy was the son of Mary Jane Guy and Bynum Jeffries. Mary Jane Guy was the daughter of Fanny Guy, father unknown. Fanny Guy was the daughter of Vines Guy (1783-1836) and Elizabeth Jeffries. Vines Guy is believed to be a son of William Guy (1763-1837)

My suspicion is that most if not all of the Guys who appear in the Granville Co records are direct lineal descendants of William Guy (1763-1837), the Revolutionary War soldier. He is the earliest known Guy to move to Granville Co in 1803 and remained in Granville until his death in 1837. William was originally from across the state line in Mecklenburg Co, VA and had at least two brothers – Christopher Guy (b. 1766) and John Guy (b. 1758) who were also Revolutionary War soldiers (but died before filing pensions). Though neither Christopher or John moved to North Carolina, many of their descendants did which is why there is much confusion with identifying the correct lineal descendants of each brother.

I’m hoping that by using a combination of different sources including the paper trail and DNA, we can begin to correctly map out the Guy family tree. If there is anyone reading this who descends from William, John, or Christopher Guy and has done DNA testing or plans to do so, please get in touch with me.

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“Native American Roots” Republished by the Granville County Genealogical Society

Hello readers – exciting news!

My blog entry on the “Grandfather Clause” Voting Registrations was republished in the Granville County Genealogical Society’s quarterly journal. The name of the journal is called “Granville Connections” and the issue is Volume 22, Number 2, June 2016.

Granville County Geanealogical Society
Front page of the quarterly journal “Granville Connections” which is published by the Granville County Genealogical Society. My blog post on the “Grandfather Clause” Voting Registrations is included in this issue. © Granville County Genealogical Society 1746, Inc

 

Membership in the society includes digital and/or hard copies of the quarterly journal. If you are not a member, do not worry, the entirety of my blog entry that was included in the journal can be read here.

You can learn more about the Granville County Genealogical Society as well as sign up for membership on their website here. The society has published several books including cemetery surveys which are also available for purchase on their website.

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Homepage of the Granville County Genealogical Society’s website http://www.gcgs.org

 

A brief summary on the history of the organization:

The Granville County Genealogical Society 1746, Inc. is a non-profit organization, which was organized in August 1994 from a group that places emphasis on Genealogical material concerning persons or activities in the area of Granville County. The Society was expected to have a slow start, but with enthusiasm and hard work of members, the society is at a point far ahead of what was expected. The society has over 245 members from every state in the U.S.
The Cemetery Committee is presently involved in surveying, cataloging and collecting cemetery data from church cemeteries, city cemeteries, family owned cemeteries, etc. for future publications. Plans are to publish several books with the data that has been collected to date.

Source: http://www.gcgs.org/aboutus.htm

I’m delighted that my research will be read by a broader audience and I thank you all for the support. Please continue to keep sharing these blog posts, so that the history of our ancestors will live on forever.