Mystery Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to share mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in our family history research which is currently unsolved.
You know, science is a marvelous thing. You can go for years BELIEVING something is true but still be haunted by that nagging possibility that you’ve been mislead. Science can bridge that gap between BELIEVING and KNOWING.
Take the case of Russ and Patricia.
Like many Boyd researchers, they grew up hearing the family legend that their great-grandfather William Preston Boyd had changed his name to avoid punishment for some unspeakable crime. They knew that his son had burned some letters while preserving just enough to point the family to William’s true identity as a Jollett while keeping that horrible secret a secret.
|William and Hattie Boyd|
Photo Courtesy of Tim Rugenstein
While the letters made it a certainty that their great grandfather had changed his name due to some illegal activity, Russ and Patricia have made it their mission to PROVE - not merely accept - that William Boyd was actually William H. Jollett.
This past year when Patricia found my blog, she sought my help in putting together a DNA project. Russ volunteered to be the Boyd half of the equation. We needed a Jollett man to provide a possible match. The Jollett name is rare today, but I had a few contacts that I could ask. Patricia even had a benefactor willing to pay for the test.
In the meantime, Russ purchased the Ancestry DNA test because he had other interests besides the Boyd-Jollett question. He wanted to know whether he had any Native American heritage. Within a couple weeks, Russ had the answer: surprisingly, no Native American DNA, and not surprisingly, plenty of British Isles.
Before we could seal the deal with a Jollett donor out of California, Russ was contacted by a woman named Kathy. She isn’t even a Boyd or Jollett researcher. Her family’s DNA had been submitted for entirely different reasons, but there it is: Kathy’s and Russ’s family trees intersect with James and Nancy Walker JOLLETT, Kathy through their daughter Lucy Walker Jollett and Russ through their son Fielding Jollett. Fielding was William’s grandfather.
Thanks to DNA, Boyds and Jolletts have crossed that bridge from BELIEVING to KNOWING their suspicions have proved true. Only one question remains which might never get answered: What was that horrible crime that started this whole mess to begin with?
It was Mystery Monday exactly a year ago that I began a month-long series called “Man on the Run.” I love the timing of this final chapter!
The full story can be read here:
Part 1 – The Early Years
Part 2 – The Getaway
Part 3 – The Letters
Part 4 – Annie Found