The Many Roads to an Ancestor

One of the most intriguing aspects of doing research on any ancestor is the never-ending possibilities that emerge from researching an ancestor’s descendants and how they may relate to that ancestor and one another for that matter.  Hence, the title of this post, which leads to a prime analogy of many roads leading to a specific destination. 

As a young boy I would travel with my family to visit my grandmother.  She lived in Annville, PA and there was always more than one way traveling west to east to get to her house.  There was the PA turnpike, I-80 Interstate and U.S. Route 30.  All three routes run parallel across the state (U.S. Route 30 was the best…there were so many interesting things to see).  Sometimes my Dad would take the turnpike (pretty much a boring ride until you’d get to the Kittatinny Mountain Tunnel and the Blue Mountain Tunnel) and other times he would take U.S. Route 30. The other route, I-80 was never really an option since it is in the northern part of Pennsylvania and it would be the longest way around to get to my Grandma’s house, and my Dad was never one to take the long way around.  I-80 is not exactly an exciting route either, but it can get you from point A to point B, if your destination happens to be in northern PA somewhere. 

This analogy can be applied to some of our ancestors.  Depending on how many children an ancestor had and who the children married, and how closely related they were to one another when marrying their cousins, this would cause an ever-growing map of “roads” back to an ancestor. 

I myself have a number of ancestors with descendants that kept the gene pool closed to unwanted visitors.  What I have heard and read in the past is that certain families felt that keeping marriage ties more closely related to the family would keep the inherent good traits of the family intact. 

My Miller family has propagated two separate roads back to my 6x great-grandfather, Johannes Mueller.  Also, my Flory family has two roads and my Ferree family has more than three roads back to a distant Ferree grandfather and grandmother. 

The example I am presenting in this post is my wife’s Brown family that married into the Morris family.  Here is a chart: 

As you can see, there are three distinct “roads” back to William Brown and Jane Doak.  Each “road” was created through the three children and the descendants of William and Jane.  Showing lineage and proving lineage however are most definitely two separate tasks.  Now that I’ve shown it, I will attempt to prove it.  Sometimes, it’s a pretty daunting task indeed to prove lineage, especially when there may not be a lot of records available to do so. 

In an earlier post, I did show records for the Morris line, so I will not be concentrating so much on the Morris family.  I will be concentrating my efforts on the Brown family. 

First, here are the marriage records for the three children shown in the chart of William Brown and Jane Doak. 

Archibald Gray and Sarah Brown

Courtesy of FamilySearch© 

John Morris and Jane Brown

Courtesy of Ancestry© 

Alexander Brown and Mary Polly Foster: 

Courtesy of FamilySearch© 

Here are the three of eight children as notated in the will of William Brown, dated 28th day of March, 1806, Monroe County, Virginia: 

Courtesy of FamilySearch©, West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971, Monroe, Will Book, V. 001 1799-1817 

This is the Bill of Sale for Archibald Gray, listing individuals receiving household items, including Archibald’s daughter Jenneatta who married Dr. Wm. B. Morris: 

Courtesy of Ancestry©, West Virginia Will Books, 1756-1971 Monroe Will book, v. 003 1829-1844 

Marriage record of Jeneatta Gray and William B. Morris: 

Courtesy of FamilySearch© 

I have not been able to find any records for the death of Alexander Brown (1784-1839) or any birth record for his son Alexander Brown II (1818-1900), but I did find two book articles regarding the Brown family: 

Pioneer Browns 

History of Nicholas County West Virginia 

Alexander Brown II, son of Alexander Brown and Mary Polly Foster married Rachel Nutter: 

Courtesy of Ancestry© 

1860 Census, Nicholas County, VA – Alexander and Rachel Brown and family (Isabella, daughter married Wm. Alexander Morris).  Notice they are living next door to Alexander and Mary Polly Brown: 

Courtesy of Ancestry© 

Notice the name Joshua Foster? Obviously, a relation to Mary Polly (Foster) Brown. 

Marriage record of Isabella Brown and William A. Morris: 

Courtesy of FamilySearch© 

William and Isabella Morris were the parents of Archibald Thompson Morris (1867-1928), my wife’s great-grandfather. 

Remember, you too can track down records that can prove the many roads that can take you back to one ancestor.  Sometimes you may not be able to find all the records you want to, but find what you can.  You just need to be diligent and never give up the quest for proving your ancestors. 




Google EBooks 

West Virginia Birth, Marriage & Death Records 


Featured Images: From Google Maps – roads leading into Charleston, WV from U.S. Route 60 and U.S. 119


Karen Vyborny – West Virginia Ancestry Facebook Group & West Virginia Ancestry 

Cheryl, my wife, whose love and support continues to be the driving force behind my passion for genealogy 

2 thoughts on “The Many Roads to an Ancestor

  1. Interesting analogy, Brian. I’ve been traveling the many backroads of several generations of ancestors of a 4th great-grandmother. The journey doesn’t seem to want to come to an end – or maybe I just don’t want to get to my destination: sitting down and writing the post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Cathy! You know what they say…the journey is the best part of the trip! As always our journey continues! Go ahead and sit down and write the post…lots more journeys ahead!
      Thanks again,

      Liked by 1 person

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