52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – DNA

According to one of my relatives, Edgar Lane, my great-grandfather, liked to gamble. He disappeared at an early age. Because of a gambling debt he could not pay, they believe someone murdered him and dumped his body in the Mississippi River.

Edgar first appeared in the 1880 census living in Crockett County, Tennessee, with his grandparents G. W. Maugham [George Washington Vaughn] and Mary (Palmore) Vaughn. His parents, John and Marietta, and his little brother Isaac also lived with the Vaughn family. Edgar was one year old, and his brother Isaac was four months old. But, as I looked closer at the record, Marietta’s name had a line drawn through it. As it turned out, Marietta had died. She was listed in the 1880 mortality schedule dying of consumption on June 1st in Dyer County, Tennessee. ¹

1880 Census Record for Crockett County Showing Marietta’s Name Crossed Out

One of the few records that exist for Edgar is the marriage record between him and Minnie Perry. He married Minnie on 19 May 1894 in Crockett County, Tennessee. ² Edgar was only fifteen years old. Minnie was four years older. Their son, William Everett, was born the following year. William’s social security registration listed Edgar and Minnie as his parents, which confirmed their relationship. The only other record mentioning Edgar was a 1906 probate record for his grandfather, George, that read as follows, due on settlement is to be equally divided between Minton Vaughn and Lane Minor heir of Edgar Lane deceased. ³  It appears that Edgar died or disappeared between 1895 and 1906. Isaac was not listed as an heir in the probate records of George Vaughn, indicating that he may have been dead as well.

Probate record for George W. Vaughn showing Lane minor heir of Edgar Lane deceased.

When I began searching for Edgar, I had only been conducting genealogy for a few years and was very unsure of myself. I believed I had found the correct Edgar Lane in the records, but I was not sure. Thanks to the magic of the Internet and Google, I found a woman listed as a volunteer for the tngenweb.org website for Crockett County who was willing to answer queries about the Vaughn name. I emailed her, and fortunately, she responded. Her name was Jean. The more we communicated via email, the more both of us felt that we were related. She shared all of the information she had on the Vaughn family and also the information about the Palmore and Turner families. (George’s mother was a Turner.)  A year later, I had my DNA tested on FamilyTreeDNA. Sure enough, we share DNA. According to our paper trail, Jean is my second cousin, twice removed. I had the good fortune to meet her in Crockett County, Tennessee, where she took me to the land where the Vaughn’s lived and the cemetery where the Vaughn’s are buried.

The only record that connects Edgar Lane to John Lane is the 1880 census.  On an odd chance, while surfing Ancestry.com, I came across William Everett’s name in a private family tree. I had never seen William’s name in the tree of a stranger, only in the trees of family members. I contacted the person and asked if they would be willing to share information with me. They responded that William was not their ancestor but an ancestor of their brother-in-law, Mike. They promised to contact him to see if he was willing to email me. The genealogy angel was looking out for me. Hallelujah! Mike contacted me. This call led to many emails and eventually a trip to Dyer County, Tennessee. He brought his wife and her sister and brother-in-law; imagine strangers having so much fun. That is what the love of genealogy can do for you. We spent three days searching the records of Dyer and Crockett Counties. We found a great deal of information, some scandalous, on John. He owned several pieces of land and was married several times. John died in 1899.  His probate records listed all of his children. Mike descends from one of those children. Unfortunately, Edgar was not listed as one of John’s heirs, most likely because Edgar had already died.

The lack of additional records linking John and Edgar worried me. And this is where DNA came into play. Earlier, Mike had his DNA tested through Ancestry and was willing to send his DNA to FamilyTreeDNA. The results came in. Mike and I are related. According to the percentage of DNA and our limited paper trail, we are half-second cousins once removed. And just recently, the descendants of John Lane’s two sisters have shown up as DNA matches to Mike and me.

I have a lot to learn about DNA. I’m sure if I knew more, I could get in touch with more cousins. However, I can’t complain. I have made friends with two cousins who have been so generous with their information. Our DNA match has confirmed several sets of new great-grandparents: John and Marietta (Vaughn) Lane, my great-great-grandparents, George Washington and Mary L. E. (Palmore) Vaughn, my great-great-great-grandparents, and James and Nancy (Vaughn) Turner, my great-great-great-great-grandparents. And, the icing on the cake is the picture of John Lane that Mike shared with me.

My great-great-grandfather, John Lane

This week’s topic for Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks is DNA. Another challenging topic.


¹According to enumerator instructions, people who died between June 1st through May 31st in the year prior to the federal census were to be included in the mortality schedule. (https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/United_States_Census_Mortality_Schedules). The 1880 mortality scheduled showed that Marietta died on June 1st. Since Isaac was four months old, she could not have died on June 1, 1879, but rather died on June 1, 1880 as the mortality schedule showed.

² Crockett, Tennessee, Marriage records, Dec 1886-Aug 1897: Marriages 7-9: 150, Lane-Perry, 1894; digital images, Ancestry.com, Operations, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 19 Apr 2021). 

³Crockett, Tennessee, Tennessee, Probate Court Books, 1795-1927, Settlement and Administrators Book, 3: 235, George W. Vaughn; FHL microfilm 179819001, Image 415 of 524, item Probate record for George Vaughn, 4 Jun 1906. 

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