Monday, May 25, 2015

The Brantley DNA test results are in and the father is...

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Thanks to my cousin Betsy’s detective work, we were recently able to take part in a DNA project that confirmed our Brantley lineage goes back to Edward Brantley, an early immigrant to America from England in 1638.

The project, initiated and managed by Ken Brantley, founder of The Brantley Association, tests and catalogs the Y-DNA of Brantley males using Family Tree DNA.

Y-DNA testing examines the DNA in the Y-chromosome. If you paid more attention than I did in science class, you remember that all males have one Y-chromosome in each cell and copies are passed down unchanged from father to son.

Using a Y-DNA test, you can confirm your direct paternal lineage from your father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and so on. By looking at the Y-DNA you can verify whether two individuals are descendants of the same distant paternal ancestor.

Because neither Betsy nor I are "a male with the Brantley surname," as required for this particular DNA test, Betsy tracked down one of our distant relatives who generously agreed to participate in the research on our behalf. Like most of those in the Brantley Y-DNA program, we were able to confirm that we descended from Edward Brantley who was born around 1615 and immigrated to Isle of Wight County around 1638 as an indentured servant for John Seward.

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Mention of Edward Brantley
in "Cavaliers and Pioneers"

The first English plantations had been established in the area just 10 years earlier and, by the time Brantley arrived, the new residents in the area had completed St. Luke’s Church, the first church of British North American construction.

They also had just changed the name of their town from Warrosquyoake Shire to Isle of Wight. Today, that area is called Southampton County, Virginia and is only about 180 miles from where I sit typing this.

Edward Brantley, the immigrant, died in Isle of Wight around 1688 after becoming a wealthy planter and father of four children. His son Phillip (abt. 1651 - abt. 1725) had a son named Edward (abt. 1672 - 1737) after his grandfather. According to the research done by Ken Brantley and the Brantley Association, 80% of Caucasians with the last name of Brantley descend from that Edward Brantley.

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Early Brantley Migration from Virginia to North Carolina

Three of Edward Brantley's sons, Lewis, Joseph and John, were among the first to make North Carolina their home when they migrated to Edgecombe County (soon after changed to Granville County) in 1745. It appears from the records that Joseph made that his home until his death, but ten years later, brothers Lewis and John continued migrating southwest to Chatham County, North Carolina.

Although the specific paternal connection is not confirmed, we do know for certain a Brantley man in Bertie County, North Carolina fathered an Edward Brantley in 1760.

By this time of the 1790 census, this Edward Brantley was still in Bertie County with a wife and five children. On May 12, 1832, he married his second wife, Clarissa Cole, and then died five years later.

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Brantley North Carolina to Tennessee Migration

Only two children were included in Brantley’s will: Augustus Brantley (1811 – 1876) and Margaret Brantley Sorrell. Augustus, my fourth great-grandfather, would leave Bertie County and travel more than 800 miles west to become one of the first settlers of Haywood County, Tennessee in the early 1830s.

By the time of the 1840 census, 28-year-old Augustus was living in Haywood County and in his home were six people. Five were “free white persons” while one was a slave who was a female between the ages of 10 – 23. Augustus was married first to Martha White (1812 - 1852) then to Zilpha King (1823 - 1893).

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Some of the heads of families in the 1840 census

Many other heads of families who show up in my genealogy were living around the Brantley family including Bemberry White, William Watridge, Edward Steele, George Thomas (minister at Zion Baptist Church), Dempsy Nowell, and John Dawson Castellaw. It was Castellaw who led many of the wagon trains from Bertie County to Haywood County around 1832. Another neighbor, Robert W. Duckworth, was the grandfather of Confederate Civil War captain Alexander Duckworth.

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l to r: Henry Day Brantley, Henry Preston Brantley,
William "Willie" Day Brantley, Virginia Brantley Lovelace

Augustus was the father of Henry Day Brantley (1845 – 1918), who was the father of Henry Preston Brantley (1872 – 1956), who was the father of William "Willie" Day Brantley (1897 – 1969), who was the father of my maternal grandmother, Virginia Brantley Lovelace (1917 – 2007) and Betsy's mother, Betty Brantley Sullivan.

Now that I've seen Y-DNA connect our Brantley line back to Edward Brantley, I next plan to personally participate in a Family Tree DNA Williams Y-DNA study to see if I can get that line back further than George Williams.

For more blog entries, visit my Blog Home Page or to check out the genealogy research about my specific family lines, including the Brantley family, go to my Haywood County Line Genealogy Website. 

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