Need help finding MacKay ancestor to Isaac Odell b.1807

0 votes
I have Y-DNA evidence that Isaac Odell b.1807, Washington County, TN (Odell-406), is a Y-DNA descendant of Robert MacKay (MacKay-3389). Since Isaac has a different last name, he or his father was probably adopted.

There were many MacKays and Odells living in close proximity, in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia during the period of 1750 to 1800. There were several marriages that took place between these two families.

I believe that a MacKay fathered a child then he died, and his widow married an Odell and the child was given the adoptive surname of Odell.

But I have no information of who Isaac's parents were. One of the problem is that each family of Odells seem to have one son named Isaac. There are dozens of Isaac Odells.

My paper trail for my Y=DNA ancestors ends with Isaac Odell - I know for sure he is my 2nd Great Grandfather.

I have had my DNA tested and all of my Y-DNA close matches have the last name of MacKay, or McCoy.

If anybody has a clue what my links to the MacKays are I would appreciate it.
WikiTree profile: Isaac Odell
in Genealogy Help by Thomas Odell G2G1 (1.6k points)

1 Answer

+1 vote
Hi Thomas!  Welcome to WikiTree!  Thank you for your question and for linking the profile to your question!

I hope you don't mind if i suggest a few things - maybe you have already tried them, but i thought i'd mention them just in case.

First of all, I really feel for you regarding the dozens of Isaac Odells!  I don't think there is any shortcut for trying to follow the careers of each to make sure you can rule them out as yours!

Would i be right in suspecting that you are descended from  most or all the families in that part of the Shenandoah Valley in that time period?  If not, you might be able to narrow down who the MacKay father was by matches to his mother's line.  But if everyone is related to everyone else, it might be harder.  Have you read Roberta Estes' accounts of sorting out a similar sort of line in her family - but not with an adoption thrown into the mix!

Maybe someone else will have a smarter and quicker answer, but my suggestion is to just keep following the trail of the available information, and let it grow into a picture, without particularly setting out to prove anything.  The funny thing is that you can never predict where the info might be -- in a will, in a land transfer, in a marriage registration document -- or something else altogether!

I'm interested when you say that your Isaac is a Y-DNA descendant of Robert MacKay.  Is there anything to preclude your Isaac being a descendant of anyone else in that Y-DNA line--a brother or uncle of Robert, for instance?

Do you have reports on Y-DNA samples from other men who bear the Odell name from the area but not in your paper trail line? In other words, do you know for sure that there is distinctly different Odell Y-DNA that Isaac would have had if he was biologically an Odell?  it would be interesting to know how far back this adoption might have happened.  You might have to be a very painstaking sleuth to get this figured out.  

Best of luck on it!


by Shirlea Smith G2G6 Pilot (213k points)
if you don't have a concrete answer by a month from now, PM me and i will help sort out the Isaac Odells.  Sorry i don't have time till then
Thank you for your interest. I do have some strong suspects for Isaac's adoptive parents. Benjamin Odell (Odell-2477) was married to Mary McKay (McKay-5769). They are the right age and they were both from the Shenandoah Valley and then moved into Eastern Tennessee at the right time.

My idea is that Mary adopted her brother's son - perhaps this unknown brother lost his wife and couldn't care for a baby.  She has at least one brother who has disappeared off the genealogy map.

I have no evidence to support this scenario, but it fits. Isaac would have McKay Y-DNA but would have the Odell surname.

There are almost no records available. Unfortunately, there was a fire at the Washington County Tennessee Courthouse in 1839 that destroyed most of the county records.

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