You could consider this simply a post that combined Cluster Analysis with traditional genealogy. Or, this post might be considered a rant on the error of Ancestry trees. Or, you might consider it a confirmation on how genealogy research is needed regardless of DNA matches, ThruLines or any other hints that might be available on Ancestry or other genealogy websites.
Previous research indicated that James Michael JONES (b 1855) was not a Jones by birth, but was born in the workhouse to his mother Eliza NEALE (nee PAYNE) and named Michael NEALE at the time of his birth. His mother, a widow, eventually married Michael Nutting JONES, a widower. The combined families of JONES and NEALE is shown below:
The plan was to use DNA matching tools on Ancestry to see if we could locate any DNA matches that might be related to the unknown father. In this way we may be able to determine who is the father of Michael NEALE, or James Michael JONES as he called himself later in life. For the rest of this blog post I will call him James Michael JONES.
Access was provided to DNA of a great-great grandchild of James Michael JONES. I will call them JJ. Access was also provided to an Ancestry Tree where JJ was connected. I accepted the JONES trees as reasonable to start the search for matches. All other branches on the tree had all been taken back the appropriate number of generations and, as they were needed for elimination purposes only, no further work is deemed necessary at this time.
I listed all DNA matches for JJ in a spreadsheet with less than 196 cM match and more than a 30 cM match. This resulted in 332 matches. For those not familiar with DNA, cM is short for centimorgan and is a unit of genetic measurement used to describe how much DNA and the length of specific segments you share with another person.
I excluded the 207 matches that were coded as maternal according to Ancestry’s algorithms.
From the remaining matches, I performed a cluster analysis by reviewing shared matches for known 3x great-grandparents of JJ and eliminating those with a known “common ancestor” plotted by Ancestry. This relies on other Ancestry trees to be reasonably accurate and Ancestry’s algorithms to be reasonably robust. While there may (and will) be errors, it is a quick way to perform a number of eliminations and narrow the field down to the most likely candidates (quick being a relative term). This process resulted in an additional 115 that could also be excluded from further analysis, leaving us with 10 matches that potentially were from the appropriate line.
Identifying the Common Ancestor
I found three matches that share DNA with each other and each shared DNA with JJ. Matching up the family trees, based on ages and number of generations provided on their trees, it would appear that these three matches would be half-third cousins once removed (1/2 3C1R) of JJ. In looking at the amount of cM shared by JJ and each of them (35 cM, 36 cM and 37 cM), this relationship falls within the range of acceptable relatives for the matching cM.
All three matches had the last name JONES in their trees within a short number of generations. All those JONES had ties to King County in Washington State. However, all trees needed to be built out further to identify the common ancestor.
Identifying the parents of Robert Alexander JONES was fairly straightforward as his death record in King County listed his parents as Joseph B. JONES and Mary CAMPBELL and his birth date of July 28, 1899.
The 1910 census find Robert with his father Joseph B and his mother Mary living in Kirkland, King County, Washington, USA.
|First name(s)||Last name||Relationship||Gender||Birth year|
The next connection for Joseph was through Joseph M. JONES. The only information in that tree was that the death was in King County with no year. Looking at the marriage return for Joseph M. Jones in 1903 in Kirkland, we can find his parents listed as Joseph B. JONES and Mary CAMPBELL. It also indicated that he was 20 years old and born in Polk Country, Minnesota.
The 1900 census for Joseph Jones shows the following family information, which includes Joseph born in Minnesota.
|First name(s)||Last name||Relationship||Gender||Birth year||Birth place|
|John J||Jones||Son||Male||1876||Canada Eng|
|Mary J||Jones||Daughter||Female||1879||Canada Eng|
We also find Joseph on the 1885 Minnesota census in Polk County as a two-year-old with his parents Joseph and Mary and his brothers William and John and sister Mary.
Joseph’s death record also confirms his parents and further specify that he was born in Crookston in Minnesota. That his father was born in England and his mother in Canada.
Now the first two are connected to Joseph JONES and Mary CAMPBELL. The link from the last match of the JONES surname was through George WILLIAMS born 1920 in Kirkland. His birth record indicates his parents are John WILLIAMS and Nettie JONES.
We can find George with John and Nettie on the 1930 and 1940 censuses. This census indicates that John was born in Tennessee and Nettie was born in Minnesota. This gave us the possibility that Nettie was one of the family members of Joseph and Mary that was born in Minnesota. However, looking back at the 1900 census, there is no one named Nettie among the children. The child with the most appropriate birth date is named Maria. So, the question was – are Maria and Nettie the same person? The 1920 census shows that John WILLIAMS and his family were living next door to Mary JONES (nee CAMPBELL), now a widow, and her family. This indicates that they knew each other, but not necessarily if they were related.
On Robert Alexander JONES’s draft card, he indicates that the contact of a person who will always know his address is Mrs. Nettie WILLIAMS. This again indicates a close relationship. It should be noted that the name for Robert Alexander on the 1900 census was also listed incorrectly as Benjaman.
The 1910 census for Joseph JONES had indicated that his son Henry was with them at the time. The 1910 census for John WILLIAMS also indicated a Henry JONES with the same birth information as a brother-in-law. It is possible for the same Henry to show up twice on that census as the JONES census taker completed their census on 28 April and the WILLIAMS census taker completed their census on 21 April. Now it looks very likely that Nettie and Maria are the same person.
Henry died in 1914 and his father signed his death certificate.
The marriage certificate for Nettie JONES and John WILLIAMS in 1903 did not record her parents. However, it required her father’s signature as she was underage. The signature of Joseph JONES on the marriage permission appears to be the same as that of Henry’s father.
All of these documents together, plus the lack of any Maria JONES found in Kirkland after the 1900 census indicate that Nettie and Maria are the same person and that her parents are also Joseph JONES and Mary CAMPBELL.
So, all three of the clustered matches identify Joseph JONES as the appropriate relative for JJ’s DNA. However, the two matches that had trees going back that far indicated that their Joseph JONES was born in Sedgley, Staffordshire, England. Whereas JJ’s tree goes back to Foleshill and Coventry Warwickshire, England. These two places are 36 miles (57 kilometres) apart. Not far in today’s world, but quite far in the 1850s.
Now we have two questions:
- Could Joseph JONES in Kirkland be the Joseph JONES from Foleshill?
- Could Joseph JONES in Kirkland be the Joseph JONES from Sedgley?
By the way, if you look at the family tree above you should note that if the Joseph JONES is related through Foleshill, this would mean that Michael Nutting JONES is the father of Michael PAYNE. The next question is could that be possible?
Joseph from Foleshill/Coventry
We know that Michael JONES and Eliza PAYNE married after the birth and death of their son George JONES. Michael JONES was listed as the father of George, Michael Payne’s younger brother, and Michael was the informant at the birth with Eliza informing on the death.
From 1850 to 1875 the father could not be listed on the birth certificate of an illegitimate child unless he was present at the recording of the birth. On the birth certificate of Michael NEAL, Eliza was the informant, so, even if Michael JONES was the father, he would not show up on the certificate unless he was present.
As David NEAL died in 1849 and Maria HANDS died in 1850 it is certainly possible that by 1855 Michael and Eliza were together but not married. They were both silk ribbon weavers so may have met through work. Silk weaving was originally done at home and was of very high quality. Steam factories for silk weaving came about in Coventry around the 1850s. It is just as likely, however, that they would have met at the market or at church. The 1850 Gazetteer and Directory of Warwickshire indicates that in 1841 there were 1,696 houses in Foleshill where James Michael JONES was born. In a small community such as this they could have met each other quite easily. I imagine as single parents with large families they were both living in the poorer part of the parish.
So, we have established that it is possible, if the connection is made, for James Michael JONES to be the son of Michael Nutting JONES.
The 1900 census indicated that Joseph and Mary had been married for 28 years, giving their marriage an 1872 date. As Mary and the first three children were born in Canada, that would be the most likely spot for the marriage. Searching the records, we find Joseph JONES and Mary CAMPBELL’s marriage record in Parry Sound Ontario on 10 June 1872. Parry Sound is where James Michael JONES was living with his mother Eliza in 1871. The parents are listed as Michael and Mary. Our Joseph’s parents are Michael JONES and Maria HANDS. Mary and Maria are often used interchangeably. The witness on the marriage document was Thomas Neil, whom we know is a half-brother to James Michael JONES. The wedding was Wesleyan Methodist, which we also know is the religion of the JONESes in Ontario.
Joseph moved to the US in 1882 according to that census, which is right around the same time that James Michael and his brother Henry moved there. Joseph moved to Polk County, Minnesota, which is where James Michael and his wife Elizabeth, as well as Henry moved.  Joseph moved to Washington State, as did Henry. This indicates that there may be some sort of relationship among the families.
All of this together indicates that there is very likely a family connection and this means that Joseph definitely could be the son of Michael Nutting JONES.
However, now we have to prove that he is not the Joseph from Sedgley.
There are at least 27 trees on Ancestry that connect Joseph JONES that lived in Kirkland, King County, Washington to a Joseph JONES born in Sedgley, Staffordshire, England in 1847. A review of the connection was undertaken and the results indicate that all these trees are incorrect. Many of the trees are full of records that relate to Joseph Jones, so it was required to follow these records to determine if that Joseph JONES could be correct.
The record of Joseph JONES on the 1851 census indicates a mother Mary who is a widow. Using the civil records for all Joseph JONES born in Sedgley in 1847, we find there were three Josephs born in the Dudley District – Sedgley is a metropolitan borough of Dudley. The information found indicated that none of these had a father named Michael and a mother Mary. In fact, the third Joseph in the chart below was named Joseph Ashford, so it is unlikely that he would be Joseph B. JONES in Kirkland.
|Date of Birth||Father||Mother|
On the 1861 census in Sedgley, Joseph’s mother Mary is married to George SNAPE and the stepson Joseph is living with them. However, these are the same people as on the 1851 census and we now know cannot be our Joseph.
Interestingly, a number of trees include the 1871 census for Joseph JONES and Mary Ann, his wife living in Lye, Worcestershire, England. That Joseph was born in Lye and is married in England. We know that the Joseph that lived in Kirkland was married in Canada. Other documents that make no sense being connected to the trees include children born in England, when we know the children of our Joseph and Mary were born in Canada and the US.
I found a Joseph JONES, born in Sedgley, on the 1911 census, living in Sedgley with his wife Mary. As our Joseph was living in Kirkland in 1910, we know that at least one of the Joseph JONES born in Sedgley cannot be our Joseph.
In fact, civil records indicate that there are two Joseph JONES born in Sedgley in 1847 who died in Sedgley in the 1920s, so that likely eliminates two of them, though I did not view it as necessary to download the death certificates due to all of our other information already eliminating the Sedgley connection.
Overall, the evidence indicates that the Joseph JONES born in Sedgley was NOT the Joseph JONES living in Kirkland by 1900.
This would not have been possible if we had simply accepted other trees or accepted Ancestry’s ThruLines (as those come directly from other trees).
 Deaths (CR) USA. Redmond, King County, Washington. 28 July 1872. JONES, Robert Alexander. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Census Records. USA. Kirkland, King, Washington, 28 April 1910. JONES, Joseph (head). SD 1, ED 39. http://www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Marriages (CR) USA. Kirkland, King, Washington. 04 March 1903. JONES, Joseph M. and Nannie COMAFORD. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Census Records. USA. Kirkland, King, Washington. 08 June 1900. JONES, Joseph (head). SD 1, ED 59. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Census Records. USA. Louisville, Polk, Minnesota. 02 May 1885. JONES, Joseph [head]. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Deaths (CR) USA. Seattle, King, Washington. 11 December 1933. JONES, Joseph M. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Births (CR) USA. Kirkland, King, Washington. 28 May 1920. WILLIAMS, George. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Census Records. USA. Kirkland, King, Washington. 09 April 1930. WILLIAMS, John (head). SD 3, ED 17-397. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Census Records. USA. Kirkland, King, Washington. 11 April 1940. WILLIAMS, John (head). SD 8, ED 17-107. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Census Records. USA. Kirkland, King, Washington. 05 January 1920. WILLIAMS, John (head). SD 1, ED 43. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Department of Defence. USA. 1941. JONES, Robert Alex. Draft Card. Order Number T10130. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Census Records. USA. Kirkland, King, Washington, 21 April 1910. WILLIAMS, John (head). SD 1, ED 39. http://www.findmypast.co.uk : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Deaths (CR) USA. Kirkland, King, Washington. 19 February 1914. JONES, Henry. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Marriages (CR) USA. Kirkland, King, Washington. 03 July 1906. WILLIAMS, J.A. and JONES, Nettie. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Marriages (PR) England, Coventry, Warwickshire. 25 August 1857. JONES, Michael and NEALE, Elisa. Warwickshire, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1u754-1910. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 02 September 2023.
 Births (CR) England. Swansea Terrace, Coventry, Warwickshire. 04 April 1857. JONES, George. 06D p 229. #453.
 Deaths (CR) England. Swansea Terrace, Coventry, Warwickshire. 13 June 1857. JONES, George. 06D p 372. #386.
 Searby, Peter (1972) Weavers and freemen in Coventry, 1820-1861 : social and political traditionalism in an early Victorian town. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
 White, Francis & Co. (1850). History, gazetteer, and directory, of Warwickshire, comprising a general survey of the county, with a variety of historical, statistical, topographical, commercial, and agricultural information; shewing the situation, extent, and population of all the boroughs, towns, parishes, chapelries, townships, villages, hamlets, and extra-parochial liberties; their agricultural and mineral productions, the lords of the manors and owners of the soil; their public institutions, charities, magistrates, and public officers, and the seats of the nobility and gentry. Sheffield: John Blurton, Royal Steam Press Offices. https://specialcollections.le.ac.uk/digital/collection/p16445coll4/id/176442 : 07 September 2023.
 Marriages (CR) Canada. Parry Sound, Ontario. 10 June 1872. JONES, Joseph and CAMPBELL, Mary. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Census records, Canada. Parry Sound, Ontario. 02 April 1871. JONES, Eliza [head]. D 86 SD A1. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 31 August 2023.
 Census records, USA. Lowell, Polk, Minnesota. 19 June 1895. JONES, James [head]. p6. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 23 August 2023.
 Census records, USA. Lowell, Polk, Minnesota. 13 June 1900. JONES, James M. (head). SD 134, ED 199. S 6. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 23 August 2023.
 Census records, USA. Buenna, King, Washington. 15 April 1910. JONES, Henry (head). ED 8, SD 1. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 31 August 2023.
 Census records. England. Sedgley, Staffordshire. 06 June 1851. JONES, Mary (head). HO 177/2031. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Census records. England. Sedgley, Staffordshire. 07 April 1861. SNAPE, George (head). RG 9/2052. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Census records. England. Lye, Worcestershire. 02 April 1871. JONES, Joseph. RG 10/3024. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.
 Census records. England. Sedgley, Staffordshire. 02 April 1911. JONES, Joseph. https://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 07 September 2023.