Hitting a wall, what's next?

+6 votes
With my dad's DNA results, we have connected at the 67-marker level to a Mathews Family in VA.  Over the course of the years, the name has been misspelled many different ways, including our spelling of Mathis.  I am currently working to connect my TN Mathis family to the VA. family.  What are the next best steps? My gggg grandfather is Nathaniel Mathis.  I cannot locate any information about him prior to an 1820 land purchase.  So far, my research has been on line and through county history books.  If I go to the state archives, where do I begin?
in Genealogy Help by Lori Ligon G2G1 (1.1k points)
retagged by Keith Hathaway

3 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer
Hi, Lori. The Mathis/Matthews surname variation is certainly within the realm of common perturbations at the time. You didn't mention what the genetic distance (GD) is to your 67-marker yDNA Mathews match. The testing company should give you that information but, alas, unless you can obtain the other tester's actual STR results you're pretty much at the mercy of the testing company's inference. Point being that some markers are known to mutate quicker than others, so one person's match of GD 2 may not be equal to another match of GD 2.

That said, if your reasonable point of confirmation is around 1800-ish, at 67 markers I'd definitely chase matches from 0 to 1 GD; 2 if you have time; 3 and 4 as maybes, but that would be stretching any ability to corroborate paper-trails with the matching researcher. FTDNA broadly states, for example, that at 67 markers a GD of 0 is predicted to have an MRCA 50% of the time within three generations, 90% of the time within five generations.

If you haven't already done so, the next step is to reach out to the Mathews match--assuming it's a relatively solid one--and open a line of communication. You need to start comparing notes and, probably, using collateral information like that land purchase and other location indicators within specific timeframes, plus identification and movements of any allied families. A wonderful thing about the endogamy that resulted from the close-community, agrarian expansion in the U.S. for a number of generations: clusters of surnames often moved together.

A personal preference tip; discard at will. :-) That first email to a DNA match is similar to a first impression when meeting someone: you have a brief period to motivate the other person to write back. Be charming as you introduce yourself; give a brief Burke's Pentad (who, what, why, when, where) about the possible connection; include a statement about your willingness to share information; and close with a call to action, a request that they write you back; if you feel comfortable doing so, include additional contact info, like a phone number, to show you're open and sincere.

I try to make it a habit to always reply to any DNA match inquiry, but I'm more likely to want to engage if that incoming email is something better than, "Looks like we may be a DNA match. Write me."

If you have another close match in additional to the one Mathews, putting your heads together on the problem collectively not only increases chances for success, but it's fun. Good luck!
by Edison Williams G2G6 Pilot (355k points)
selected by Lori Ligon
+3 votes

Could this be your GGGG grandfather?


by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)
+2 votes

Nathan Mathis

United States Census, 1850

Name Nathan Mathis
Event Type Census
Event Year 1850
Event Place Sumner county, Sumner, Tennessee, United States
Gender Male
Age 55
Race White
Birth Year (Estimated) 1795
House Number 134






Nathan Mathis   M 55  
Nancy Mathis   F 26  
Mark Mathis   M 20  
Louis Mathis   M 17  
Daniel Mathis   M 15  
James Mathis   M 14  
Benford Mathis   M 12  
Lewis Mathis   M 11  
Rhoda Mathis   F 16  
Polly Mathis   F 23  


View the original document. The original may contain more information than was indexed.

United States Census, 1850

Household ID 134
Line Number 23
Affiliate Name The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Affiliate Publication Number M432
Affiliate Film Number 897
GS Film Number 444853
Digital Folder Number 004206054
Image Number 00452

Citing this Record

"United States Census, 1850," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MC69-FHH : 9 November 2014), Nathan Mathis, Sumner county, Sumner, Tennessee, United States; citing family 134, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).

by Frank Gill G2G Astronaut (2.3m points)

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