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”.

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 4.29.30 PM
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.

4237503_00444
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.

Advertisements

7 thoughts on “Genetic Genealogy and the Saponi/Catawba Guy Family

  1. Well, I must say that I “A John “Danny” Moore-Walden-Harvey-Manley-Scott-Jacobs-Guy-Sexton am intrigued by this blog. I have been on family genealogy quest for two & half decades. I read the petition of the Occanneechi People for tribal recognition first. I deducted that these people might very well be related to me and my Northampton//Halifax/Bertie Guy relatives. But, I had no one to collaborate with on this quest. So, I would pick it up and put it down and pursue other genealogical lines like the ‘Scott” & “Manley/Manlys” “Waldens”. Anyway, A “John Henry Cola/Coleman Guy is my great grandfather born around 1850 and married Elizabeth Betty Sue Walden born 1853. We,his descendants only have a death certificate witnessed and signed by his son-in-law Richard Henry Moore born abt 1892, who is my grandfather. “R. Henry Moore had eleven children with John HC Guys daughter a Alice “Saluda” Guy- Moore. My mother is one of their seven daughters…a Consuella Gayle Moore- Lennon-Brewer. I AJ “Danny Boy” Moore-Sexton is her third born son. My father is “William Daniel Harvey” My ancestry on both lines from my biological parents include (Chavis, Walden, Scott, Manly/Manley, Canada, Jacobs, Moore, Harvey, Jones, Sexton) I just left Ole Virginia specifically Williamsburg/Jamestown for a 2016 Cumbo Family & Friends Reunion. I promised myself and others that I would get the DNA Test done when I returned to Metro Atlanta where, I now reside. I was born and raised in Northampton/Hertford/Bertie Counties.

    Like

  2. Hi, Kianga – I am a descendant of Willis and Mahala Guy (#61 and 62) on the list, and one of their daughters, shown as Martha Bingham (#66). I believe that Clarke Willis Guy is descended from Edmond Guy, a brother to Buckner. Edmond’s wife was Judith Jeffers. Mahala Guy was a Gibson/Gipson.

    I grew up with my grandmother’s stories of her grandmother (Martha Guy Bingham) and family being Cherokee, so I was very surprised to realize through my own research that they were Saponi/Catawba. I think it’s understandable they may have continued to identify with the more prominent local natives as they were forced west.

    One mystery to me that I’d love to have you look at sometime is whether Daniel Guy (about 1730-1783) of Mecklenburg Co, VA is somehow a forbear of William Guy.

    I am on GEDMatch and would love to explore more there.

    Thank you so much for sharing your research and expertise!

    Like

  3. Good work, Kianga. I commend you on your informative blog “Native American Roots” and especially your 8/11/2015 posting, “Genealogy and history of Native Americans of Granville County and Northeastern North Carolina.” You have provided information about “Indian Will Matthews” of Prince George County, Virginia in the early 1700’s that I had not found anywhere else. That helped clarify a puzzle for me, and I hope you might be able to clarify another piece of it.
    My ancestor Samuel Mathis received a grant of 68 acres in Southwestern Dinwiddie County in 1755 between Beaver Pond and Turkey Egg Creeks. (The grant actually said Prince George County, but that portion had become Dinwiddie in 1752.) A few years earlier, three other Mathis/Matthews individuals had land within 5 to 10 miles of the future location of Samuel’s grant, and I have been trying to find more information about them. They were: 1) Indian Will Matthews who in 1719 had a 321-acre tract on the lower side of Great Creek surveyed for him, but the certificate was actually awarded to Thomas Jones because Matthews failed to pay the tax. 2) A Samuel Mathews’s land was referenced in a 1727 grant of 100 acres to James Cain on the north side of the Nottoway River which was adjoining Mathews’ land, that of Marmaduke Brown, and Rocky Run. 3) Lucia Mathis received a grant in 1730 of 336 acres on both sides of Reedy Creek of the Nottoway in Prince George County (later Dinwiddie). Her land was referenced in later grants to others in 1739, 1748 and 1749, but she lost her land in 1753 when it was granted to William Rains because Lucia failed to pay the tax and improve the land.
    I have not found any other mention of Lucia Mathis anywhere, and have begun to wonder if she might have been a Native American. Her land was not far from the “Saponi Indian Cabins” in Nottoway (formerly Amelia) County, or from the site of Fort Christanna in Brunswick County.
    Do you know, or can you find, anything about this Lucia Mathis?

    Like

  4. I am looking for relatives of Catherine Chavis, born 1836, found in Chapel Hill in 1850 living with mother Delila Chavis, grandmother Polly Chavis, and brother James, listed as mulatto, later as white, known to the family as native American. Married to George Washington Varner 21 Mar 1855. Named one child Sylvannus Argo Varner in 1866. I see the name Sylvannus in the above family tree as well as the name Delilah… They must be in the same tree somewhere! I’ve been wondering how Polly and Delilah managed as head of household by themselves; maybe they were widowed.

    Like

  5. Although you did not discuss it, I think the Haplogroups can represents strongest evidence if Maternal or Paternal Origins CAN support Direct Native Ancestry beyond a reasonable doubt.The autosomal thought not completely accurate percentage wise can give some idea in my opinion. Did the DNA show any Native? It would help give the research more credibility about whour these people claim to be. Why use one aspect of it and not the other? Someone can say they are whatever or write it out paper as well it need not be the truth.

    Like

    • Hi Amanda,

      Thank you for your comment. Only 1 of the 4 Guy descendants had their haplogroups tested. Although even if all 4 Guy descendants had haplogroup testing, those haplogroups would be irrelevant to proving Miles Guy and Delilah Guy were siblings. Only 1 person – CL is a direct female descendant of Delilah Guy. The other 3 people do not have a direct paternal or maternal lineage back to a Guy ancestor. This is why I provided the exact pedigree for each Guy descendant.
      Therefore autosomal DNA testing and triangulating on a shared chromosomeme segment is the genetic genealogy component to proving that Miles Guy and Delilah Guy were siblings (in addition to family oral history and primary source records).
      Autosomal testing does show “Native American” origins in all people who tested but that wasn’t the scope of this blog post – it was about proving a sibling relationship.
      Pow wow season is coming up and I encourage you to attend one of our pow wows so you can experience first hand the culture that our ancestors worked so hard to preserve and pass down to us. The Haliwa-Saponi pow wow is the weekend of April 14th and the Occaneechi-Saponi pow wow is the weekend of June 10th.

      Like

  6. Very interesting read. I am a descendant of William Guy ad John Guy of NC. I am on the DNA match as well. Would love help with the Guy family side of my tree.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s