Monday, September 30, 2013

Mystery Monday: Mystery No More

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 Echols Boyd
William and Hattie Boyd
Photo Courtesy of Tim Rugenstein
Russ and Patricia are distant cousins who made their connection online but have never met in person.  In sharing their research, they discovered they both had heard those stories about their ancestor and those burned letters.  They knew the letters had been sent to various people and agencies in Page, Rockingham, and Shenandoah Counties of Virginia under the pretext of informing William Jollett that he was coming into an inheritance.  In actuality, William and Hattie Boyd were trying to determine if William Jollett was still a wanted man. 

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. 

Ta Da!

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





© 2014, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

21 comments:

  1. Woo hoo! Definitely time for a Genealogy Happy Dance! Congrats Wendy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate a dance partner, Jana. Thanks!

      Delete
  2. Oh, that is interesting! Sometimes, family myths turn out to be just that, but not in this case. :-) Well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Merci! I was always satisfied that I "knew" the truth based on the parts of the letters that were not destroyed. But it really is gratifying to be able to say conclusively, this is the truth.

      Delete
  3. What an exciting adventure that was, and it's extremely amazing that you find time outside of everyday life to get these answers! It's got to consume lots of your time (I know from so many of my own searches) and yet I know, when there's a will and a drive to get to the bottom or uncover something, it feeds us the energy we need! I have faith that you soon discover the dark secret someday!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I didn't do much to get to the truth. But yes, solving one mystery spurs you on to the next one.

      Delete
  4. Incredible!!! I love these genealogy adventures. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  5. So cool. I hope that the guy I spoke with YEARS ago is able to learn this information. Do you remember who I am talking about? I cannot think of his name. Isn't that awful?

    Go girl! I am so HAPPY for the Boyds/Jollett families.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you mean Tim Rugenstein, the one that gave us that picture?

      Delete
  6. WoW! I am just amazed a all the connections made!

    ReplyDelete
  7. What a great mystery to be solved!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Wendy, it's so good to learn that not only did you find the answer to your mystery, but that you can demonstrate a DNA success story! Sometimes, those DNA results seem to me to produce more mysteries than they clear up!

    And big cheers for teamwork! Love how researchers join together to target some real results. What a great story! And terrific timing, too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Jacqi! It was nice to get some confirmation.

      Delete
  9. Thought I had replied previously but must not have worked?

    I really enjoyed reading this Wendy and am very glad that you managed to solve one mystery and hope you can find out about the crime one day. Please keep us informed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be amazing if we could find out about the crime.

      Delete
  10. Wendy,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/10/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-october-4.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jana, Thanks for the mention!

      Delete
  11. That was really interesting. I love hearing successful DNA stories. Still waiting on mine, but hopeful.

    ReplyDelete