Genealogy, My Family Tree, Paternal Side

Is John Andrew Akers Really My 4th-Great-Grandfather?

In the past year, John Andrew Akers has popped up on Thrulines as a potential father for one of my favorite brick walls, Suzanna Akers. I have even had John Andrew Akers written down on a piece of paper and looked into him a few times myself but never felt I had enough information to officially list him as my 4th-great-grandfather (I really try to be quite thorough when working on my tree and not just plop people down).

Anyhow, I’ve opted to take the time to do some in-depth research to try to come to some sort of conclusion about whether John Andrew Akers is truly the father of my 3rd-great-grandmother, Suzanna Akers.

What is Thrulines?

For those of you who are not familiar with AncestryDNA, I will enlighten you on what Thrulines is. Thrulines is a DNA tool that uses both your DNA matches and the family trees of your matches to create a view of who your ancestors may be.

A key point of Thrulines is that it is only as accurate as your matches trees.

See how important that statement above is? I bolded it because it’s the piece of the puzzle that many don’t realize. If your distant relative has just plopped information down that they have taken randomly from hints or other peoples trees, their family tree may not be accurate, which would then lead to a false identity on Thrulines.

This is why I am going to do an examination of John Andrew Akers, so I can discover if he is in fact Susanna’s dad. For some reason I don’t recall finding a census for him that would have a female of the correct age for him and that is why I wasn’t willing to think he was my guy. Or maybe he did and other trees that I saw had females listed for the age leaving no room for Susanna. But maybe they were wrong. At the time I did not take the time to do a research plan on him. Today is a different day and I’m up for the challenge.

One last thing about Thrulines. I presently have 28 DNA matches on Thrulines claiming John Andrew Akers is my 4th-great-grandfather. We shall see.

The Research Plan

In an effort to keep myself on track, I’ve created a research plan. Here is what I have down. It’s very rough and may evolve as I go along and that’s okay. It’s 8:30am on a Wednesday and so my mind may not be as technical sounding as I should (especially when I have to head into work here in about 10 minutes). But here is my start. I created a table in Word (I took a screenshot so my nicely bolded header is not so bold). I literally have no information on John Andrew Akers so I’m starting from scratch. This could be very difficult because I know these are dealing with census records from before 1850 so I will not find a lot of good information like you do post-1850. But you have to start somewhere.

I began seeking using Thrulines to come up with a birth and death date and created a family tree on Ancestry that I made private so I didn’t have to worry about anyone taking to heart what I may or may not find. I really am not wanting to offend anyone in my search because I am having difficulty believing people who suddenly think this man is their relative. I should note one key piece of evidence with Suzanna: with as little documentation that I have on her, one fact is consistent on all the censuses I have for her – she always has a birth date of 1826. Andrew Blair’s age is all over the place, but Suzanna is consistently 1826. Here is my list of events in my Legacy Family Tree Software for Suzanna and she is listed being 24, 34, 44, and 54 for each census I have for her (1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880).

Probate Records

Like most everyone else when doing my family history, I opted to go backwards in time. On Ancestry there was an inventory listed as a hint that would correspond with John Akers death date of 4 January 1866. Finding this inventory leads me to believe that John Akers died intestate, so this should be easier than I thought, as I should just find the probate record because all heirs should be listed in the record if he died without a will.

And I found just that, his daughter, Lucretia, petitioned the court and all his children are listed, along with his widow.

Found on FamilySearch under Pennsylvania Probate Records, 1683-1994, for Fulton County

As you can tell in the snippet of the record above, no Suzanna is not listed. And I have census records from 1870 and 1880 to prove she was still alive when John Akers passed away in January 1866. In case you are unable to read what I have shown, the name of John Akers children are: Lucretia, Ann, Matilda, Joshua B., John Thomas, and Erastus J (with John and Erastus being deceased when their father died).

The DNA Matches

It’s interesting, once I began writing this blog post (which I thought was going to take me longer than it did) I thought I was going to have this in-depth research plan all documented, never realizing the intestate probate record was the key to everything (thank you Susan Monson for your fabulous Family Tree Webinar “No Will, No Problem” which really brought the entire intestate process to light for me). Anyhow, after working on this for a day or so John Andrew Akers was no longer coming up named on my Thrulines, but as an “Unknown” person was. I didn’t know if this had anything to do with the private Akers tree I created for this project if it would have thrown confusion to my algorithm (I doubt that would do THAT much), I stand corrected, I deleted the tree a few hours ago and he is back on my Thrulines. At least I now know without a doubt that John Andrew Akers is NOT my 4th-great-grandfather.

As for the DNA match, as I looked more closely, most of the matches I had for John Andrew Akers were the same matches that I have for Andrew Blair and Suzanna Akers, all but 1, and he is also a match with my Morgart-Ritchey line so he could actually be related to these Akers where I am not.

The Finished Research Plan

As a genealogist who always wants to do things correctly I can honestly say I’m so glad I took the few minutes (because it really only took a couple of minutes) to type up this research plan in Word using tables. It really helped me stay focused on the objectives I was seeking. And a few times when I began to make things more difficult for myself in my head (as I am often my own worse enemy) this research plan really helped me stay calm and carry on (to steal a quote from a very popular meme).

I have many more Akers to go through to try and figure out who Suzanna’s parents are. One day I’ll find them.

And can I say I love intestate probate records?

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