Growing my roots:

Interlocked and Interwoven by common ancestry & DNA

Restoring My Moore Line: The Power in Using DNA for Genetic Genealogy

After a long hiatus, I am back (sort of).

If you have followed my blog in the past, I am sure you have read my ravings about how DNA testing can really enhance your genealogy research. You also have read my frustration with people who take these tests and focus on the most unhelpful part: the ethnicity estimates. These same people will see an unknown close relation and never wonder how they connect but bitch and moan about not having ethnicty results reflecting a particular group without understanding history, migration, and scientific affinity. Well, folks, you are selling yourselves short and wasting a 100 bucks if you never look back at your DNA matches and reach out to that unknown third cousin (and sometimes closer). Mapping a scientifically accurate genetic tree and speaking to relatives with information can tell you a lot more about who you came from than seeing a label on a screen.

Recently, DNA has restored a whole branch of my family that I have been searching for about fifteen years. Before ever taking a genetic genealogy test, I used oral history and whatever paper documentation that I could find. I did not grow up knowing extended family, and trying to get accurate information from them when I did make contact was very hard. They treated the information as if it was classified. For the longest time, I had my paternal great grandparents listed as Berry Louie (1884–1964) and Nora (1888-unknown). No matter how hard I tried, I could not figure out Nora’s maiden name. Let it be known, I was also doing genealogy on a fixed budget. (Genealogy can eventually be an expensive endeavor!) So, any money devoted to it had to be planned. Over the years, I would work on another line but always go back to Nora. Getting information on Berry was not much better. I remember thinking how easy my research would be if Allen, Berry’s brother, was my great grandfather because finding information on him seemed much easier. In 2013, I sent for my grandfather’s (John Louie; b. 1912–1968) original social security application. On these documents parents’ names are usually listed. I had sent for it before, but state agencies only release certain information such as parents’ names after a certain amount of time for living-persons’ privacy reasons. So, I did get the application but with black marker blotting out the parents’ names.

A year later, when the “wait” time was over, I re-sent for the document. When I received the application, it read father: Allen Louie Sr. (1879-1975) and mother: Mamie Louie (née Moore; 1886-unknown), it just listed their names and not the parenthetical.  This made me very excited, because there was a lot of information for Allen online: obituaries, census records, draft papers, etc. Once again, I was facing the same problem I had with Mamie that I had with Nora. Other than knowing that Mamie’s last name was Moore that was revealed off of Allen’s obituary, there was not much that I could find on her. Around the same time, my brother and I received a very close match on 23andMe. This young man had family from my father’s hometown of Lexington, MS. in Holmes county. He gave a few names and they were unrecognizable to me. The names I knew were unrecognizable to him. I tried encouragng him and letting him know that DNA is more solid evidence than surnames, but he was not having it. So, again, this line went cold.

In hindsight, I now see that I did not give Mamie the scrutiny that she deserved since finding out that it was she and not Nora who was my second great grandmother. I spent so much time trying to figure out Nora’s parentage (which I still do not know and is still important) and then having so much information streaming in on Allen, I was sort of confused about my bearings on the line. This was also during the time that my mom was extremely sick and I was nearing finishing up graduate school.  Things were in a state of flux.

Until four months ago, I really did not think too much about the line. Then, my brother and I received an “Extremely High Match” on AncestryDNA. I, honestly, was not excited. I have written high DNA matches before to receive no response, or, even worse, a disbelief in the scientific test that they had paid for. I really did not think this time would be any different. This match had a tree filled with folks from Lexington, MS. I wrote her, and a day later she had written back. She was very excited to hear from me. We exchanged information. She had not heard of my Louies or Collinses (my go to when discussing my Lexington branch). About three days later she wrote me and said she had looked at my tree and found the connection. Mamie Moore was the daughter of her great grandparents Anderson Moore (1862-1939) and Malinda Baker (1864-1943), making them my 2nd great grandparents. I looked at my tree and my saved census records and right next door to Anderson and Malinda are my great grandparents Allen and Mamie Louie. If I would have given Mamie the proper attention she deserved, I would have seen that Mamie was living right next door to a Moore and in a neighborhood filled with Moores. (Keep in mind, I am no beginner at this. So this was really a silly oversight.)

I called my paternal aunt whom I had not spoken to in 10 years or so. I needed information and wanted to explain that I am not doing anything nefarious with the family information and that it does not need to be guarded like it was in Fort Knox. She was surprisingly very chatty. She knew of Anderson and Malinda and their connection before I even began mentioning what I had found through the DNA connection or mentioning their names at all. I just said “I have been really thinking about Mamie’s parents, and.” Well, that was all I needed to say before she brought up Anderson’s farm and how he owned land.

Using certain tools available to those of us who use genetic genealogy in our research, I was able to reach out to other common matches sharing the exact same segment as me and my cousin to let them know how we are related. That is so much more rewarding than a label on a page.

(L to R) Anderson Moore (1862-1939); Malinda Baker Moore (1865-1943);(bottom) their gravesite.

DNA Kit Giveaway

Because I really think that DNA testing can open up a lot of doors that need to be opened about our past, I will once again offer to pay for (as I can afford) DNA tests for people who stumble upon my blog. There is a caveat this time.

I am looking for people who can prove that they truly think they descend from the following couples.

Whylie Wilson (abt 1833) and Abie/Ibby Tilgman (abt 1843) lived in the Mississippi counties of Claiborne and Jefferson

Effie Wilson (1872-1925) and Howard Pearl (abt 1862) lived in the Mississippi counties of Claiborne, Jefferson, and Bolivar.

Webb Roberson/Robinson (abt 1863) and Mariah Quarles (1868) lived in the Mississippi counties of Scott and Bolivar. Webb may have also had another wife by the name of Frances (abt 1870) Bolivar, MS

Willie Roberson/Robinson (abt 1900) Missisissippi counties of Scott and Bolivar, and Fannie Mae Pearl/Shorter/Washington (1906-1988) Mississippi counties of Claiborne, Leflore, and Bolivar

Ben Moorehead/Mohead (abt 1893) and Inez Lott (abt 1898) of the Mississippi counties of Carroll, Leflore, and Holmes

Gary/Gray Lott Sr. (abt 1838) and Francis Holman or Francis Turner (abt 1860) of Carroll county, MS

Esther  (abt 1839) and Sam Holman (abt 1812) of Carroll County, MS

Simon Theophilus Turner (1809-1891) and Martha Ann Eddins (1814-1892) of Denmark, TN, and Carroll County, MS

Mamie Moore (1886-) and Allen Louie Sr. (1879-1975) of Lexington, Holmes county, MS

Anderson Moore (1862-1939) and Malinda Baker (1864-1943) of Lexington, Holmes county, MS

John Louie (abt 1834) and Sarah/Sallie Collins/Collum (abt 1840) of Lexington, Holmes county, MS

You must email me at with a detailed message of whom you think you descend from and why. I am only able to offer a kit as I have the spare funds to do so.


June 18, 2017 Posted by | 23andme, ancestrydna, Baker, Collins, Dad, DNA results, Eddins, Holman, Lexington, Holmes County, Mississippi, Lott, Louie, Moore, Moorehead, Pearl, Quarles, Roberson, Turner, Wilson | 2 Comments

Genealogy musings

I find it hard to write or talk about my parents. The funny thing is that I did not really know my father. My half siblings, no relation to him, knew him better.  After his death in 2001 I came to know him better, although I had not seen him since 1980. And my mom…well, she was a difficult person to show love to because she was a difficult person to show love. Even through all the anger, there has always been an overwhelming feeling of love for her.

James “Jerry” Vernon Louie was born December 24, 1947 in Lexington, Mississippi to Edna Mohead/Moorehead and John Louie. He was a Vietnam veteran. From my half siblings, on both sides, he liked to make people laugh. He also wrestled with his own depression. The latter played a part in his alcoholism. Still, I heard he was gentle and reflective.

Irene “Punch” Virginia Roberson was born March 8, 1931 in Greenville, Mississippi, although she was raised in Shelby. Her parents were Fannie Mae Pearl and Willie Roberson. She was superstitious, ambitious, and strong. She liked to laugh and spoke her mind. And she fiercely protected her children.

I honestly am not sure how important genealogy would have been to them. I get the feeling that my dad would find recent ancestors more interesting than those beyong three generations, and my mom would be more interested in romanticizing certain parts. I sense they would be more interested in the “now” and not the “then.” I respect that and understand where that comes from.

Our past, this includes our ancestors’ pasts, shapes what comes from our DNA tomorrow. No, I do not believe that we have no control over our destiny, but I do believe we are influenced by what came before us whether we realize it or not. I do not only do genealogy for my ancestors. I also do it for myself, my current relatives, and my descendants.

We came from someone, not something. We are going somewhere.

I am still trying to place the puzzle together. My main genealogy goals of 2014 are as follows.

1. Where does our Louie line lead/ Where was the first Louie who stepped into the New World from?

2. Who were Ben Moorehead’s (Mohead/Morehead) parents?

3. Who was Webb Roberson’s (Robinson) father?

4. Was great grandpa John Louie’s wife (my great grandma) Lenora Howard or Elnora Davis?

5. How do I fit into the Turner/Ivey/Sledge clan?

6. Do I belong in the Yancey/Bartlett/Thornton/Graves clan?

December 30, 2013 Posted by | Dad, Mom, Reconnecting, The journey | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

An image is worth…

I have genealogy photo envy. I admit it. It is not a begrudging envy of those with photos of their ancestors. It is a longing envy; a longing to have photos of my own ancestors. Hell, I don’t have any of my mom and only two of my dad.  My mom, as probably discussed in an earlier post, thought if someone captured your image they could do magical, often bad, things to you. Therefore, she hated taking pictures. Even me and my maternal siblings don’t really have pictures of ourselves as babies and children either. This may stem from her Mississippi Delta upbringing where I have read was the birthplace of hoodoo, a form a voodoo. I can’t speak much of hoodoo or voodoo, because I do not know the particulars and only found out recently that the difference between the two was not just in spelling. And my dad…I did not grow up knowing him, so that is why I have no pictures of him.

I would love to add a picture with every post. A picture would go well with when I write about my grandmother Fannie Mae Pearl-Shorter or when I write about my great grandfather’s Ben Moorehead’s (Mohead/Morehead) corner store in Leflore county, Mississippi, from the 1930s–which was something special for a black person in that era. I also wish I could place a name to the face of my great great grandfather Whylie Wilson, who I speculate gained his freedom when he was 16, which was 26 years before emancipation. More than anything, I wish I had more photos of my mom and my dad, Irene “Punch” Virginia Roberson and James “Jerry” Vernon Louie.

December 8, 2013 Posted by | Dad, Mom | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank you

I was planning on a longer and different post and that is still to come, but I wanted to salute my dad, James Vernon Louie (1947-2001) a veteran who served in the Vietnam War. Thanks to him for sacrificing so much for us. He deserves more than I can give this night but rest assured I am working on a post that is worthy of him.
James Vernon Louie1


November 12, 2013 Posted by | Dad | Leave a comment