Monday, August 1, 2011

First blog - How my search for native ancestors begun

Years and years ago, when I was twenty years old, my grandmother told me that her grandmother was an Indian.  I just took what she told me and tucked it in the back of my mind.  My grand-parents have passed and no one else in my family knows much about this native ancestry.

About four years ago, I became interested in finding out about my native ancestors.  I started to build trees on  I took an autosomal DNA test.  I moved to eastern Connecticut and began to go to town halls here and in Rhode Island, in order to trace out the steps in the lives of my father's ancestors.

The native ancestry is on my father's side of the family - the Hawkins, Taylor, Drake, Lawton, Andrews and Bates families and others, that lived here in southern New England.  All of my father's ancestors are either immigrants who came to America by the mid-1600s, or they are the people who were here before.

My autosomal DNA test - which covers your entire genetic profile - showed that 25% of my genetic make-up originates from the Americas.  Yet aside from what what my grandmother told me about her grandmother being an Indian, there are no identifiable Native Americans in my recent ancestry.  The 25% AmerIndian genes came from many people who were part Indian.  It seems as though people who were part Indian married other people who were part Indian, such as my paternal grand-parents.

I am a descendant of the old Anglo-American families of southern New England, with names such as Hawkins (my paternal grandfather) and Drake (my paternal grandmother).  Yet each grand-parent had a hefty amount of Native American genes and ancestry.

In my search for Native ancestors, I also discovered French Huguenot ancestors, Scottish ancestors, ancestors from Wales and the Isle of Wight, and even a 1600s immigrant ancestor who came from Germany.  All was not English!  Only a few had been Puritans.  

It has not been an easy search.  The majority of the Native ancestry seems to consist of women - of grandmothers - who married white men.  I'm using the descriptor "white" according to convention.  It is not a good convention.  "White" is a racialized term.  I'm not even sure back then in the 1600s and 1700s that it was the same kind of race issue as Americans think of "race" today.

I have been to many town halls.  It has been particularly depressing to not be able to find vital records.  There are so many holes in my ancestry trees, that seem impossible to close.  Because the records are just not there.

The reason I am starting this blog is to get this genealogical information and history out there, so people can relate to it, and provide me their input.  There may be people from these families who also wish to explore this Native ancestry.  They may know important information that fill in some of the gaps in the trees I have created.  Here are the lines of descent I am researching:

On my grandfather's side:

Hawkins - originates with William Hawkins and Margaret Harwood who settled in the Providence Plantation with Roger Williams during the 1630s, including the lineage of his son John Hawkins married to Sarah - William Hawkins married to Mary - Jeriah/Josiah Hawkins married to Amey Olney - Charles Hawkins married to Sarah Olney - Jabez Hawkins married to Sarah Briggs - Charles Hawkins married to Naomi Brown - Smith Brown Hawkins married to Susannah Young Taylor - Ethan Ballou Hawkins married to Anna Tufts (my great-grandparents).

In this lineage the gaps exist with Sarah the wife of John, Mary the wife of William, and Sarah Briggs the wife of Jabez.

Brown/Tefft - the gap here exists with the wife of Elder Rufus Tefft, the grandfather of Naomi Brown who married Charles Hawkins.  The only information I have on Elder Tefft's wife is her name was Sarah.

Taylors - originates most likely with a Scottish prisoner-of-war who had been sent to America during the 1650s to work in the Saugus Iron Works.  The first identifiable Taylors lived in Scituate, Rhode Island.  There is a legend written in the history on Scituate about "Swamp Taylors" who were poor whites and Indians and lived on an island in Pine Swamp.  There are many gaps in this lineage with women from unknown families, including Sarah Smith the wife of Knight Taylor (1743-1814) and Phebe the wife of Abner Taylor his son.  Phebe and Abner are the parents of Susannah Young Taylor who married Smith Brown Hawkins.  I have a photograph of Sarueh Hawkins, the daughter of Susannah and Smith, that clearly shows a person of Native American descent.

Tufts/Whitaker/Randall - my great-grandmother Anna Tufts is also said in my family to be part Native American.  The most recent gap in her ancestry exists with the mother of her grandmother Rhoby Randall Whitaker (1799-1850).  Rhoby's father was Henry Randall, Jr. of Johnston and Cranston, RI.  Rhoby is his daughter by his second wife, Mary.  Mary's family is unknown.

On my grandmother's side -

Drake/Bancroft - my grandmother's father was Artemas Bancroft Drake and his mother was Eliza Bancroft.  Most of the native ancestry seems to have existed on the Bancroft line of descent.  So far I have been able to identify the grandmother of Eliza Bancroft - who was Sarah Stowe and married to Enoch Bancroft - as a Mohawk Indian.  There is another maternal line of descent that has been traced on ancestry trees to Rebecca the daughter of Tarramuggus, the son of Sowheag or Sequeen who had been the sachem of the Mattabesic or Connecticut River Valley Indians.

Andrews/Lawton/Bates - this is my grandmother's maternal line.  She had told me her grandmother - Claramon Bates - was an Indian.  Claramon married Thomas Cary Lawton in 1848.  I have researched these lines of descent the most.

Bates - Claramon was born in Webster, Massachusetts in 1832 and her parents were Elhanan Winchester Bates and Mary Polly Douglass.  I have a theory that her father, Elhanan, had been adopted by the Bates family of Thompson, CT/Webster/Dudley.  It is the only way I can make sense of his life - which was much different from his Bates brothers.  The ancestry on Mary Polly Douglass has proved, so far, impossible to trace.  Elhanan and Polly married in 1822 in Mendon, Massachusetts, when intermarriage between whites and Indians was still illegal in the state of Massachusetts and much against the social customs of the time period.  Claramon's family by 1850 came to live in Packerville in Windham County, Connecticut.

Lawtons/Andrews - the paternal line of Thomas Cary Lawton seems to be almost solidly European.  Thomas's mother was Mariah Andrews, the daughter of Benjamin Andrews and Mary R. Kenyon.  A gap exists with the mother of Benjamin whose name was Mary.  The Andrews lived in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.

I am throwing these names out there in Cyberspace.  I hope that fellow descendants will pick up on the blog and help close the gaps.  As my blogging proceeds, I will do blogs on each individual family line.


  1. Lorraine--

    Thank you for starting this blog. I look forward to continue to share information about our common Bates heritage.

    David Dean

  2. Thank you for this. We have a common ancestor that I found out about through your Public Tree. We share Freelove Brown Healy in common. Freelove is the mother of my great-great-grandfather. Her son, William H. Potter was believed to have been of Pequot descent. I am not sure if that lineage came from his mother or his father, though I am inclined to think that it was from his father as the family lore states.

  3. Hi Lorraine, I am a Rhode Islander looking for the ancestry of William Hawkins (1609-1699) . Do you know who his parents were?