Is Ella Latimer Henry a child of John and Elizabeth Latimer?

Ella Latimer Henry
“Granny” (as known by granddaughters Evelyn and Annie Velma Henry)

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Current/Latest Developments

12 Nov 2019: With the reassuring feedback from the Genetic Affairs User Group on Facebook, I’m assuming that my theory about Ella Latimer Henry is correct. Now my attention and efforts will be toward researching the circumstances that may explain why she has not been included in all known family trees of John A. & Elizabeth (Eliza Snoddy) Latimer.

Theory or Hypothesis

The parents of Ella Latimer Henry (a 2nd great-grandmother) have been unknown to her descendants (see top part of the pedigree chart below). Based on AncestryDNA test results of her descendants that match multiple descendants of the families descended from John A. Latimer and Elizabeth Snoddy (see the bottom below-the-line part of the pedigree chart), this page presents support for the hypothesis that Ella Latimer Henry must be closely related to the John & Elizabeth Latimer family — most likely their daughter. For reasons and circumstances not currently known or explained, she has not been documented as part of this family. 

What is known about Ella Latimer Henry

    1. According to an inscription by her son Alexander Hamilton Henry in her Bible, she died on 16 Feb 1920 having lived 58 years, 3 months and 4 days. Therefore her estimated date of birth is 12 November 1861.
    2. Ella's Bible annotation by son A.H. Henry
      Ella’s Bible annotation by son A.H. Henry
    3. According to Texas marriage records, she and Burr Hamilton Henry were married on 2 June 1880 in Paris, TX (Lamar County).
    4. She and Burr are buried together in the East Shady Grove cemetery outside of Leonard, TX, about 20 miles northwest of Greenville. Her gravestone inscription reads “ELLER V.”
    5. Gravestone of Burr and Ella Henry
      Gravestone of Burr Hamilton and Ella (“Eller V”) Henry outside of Leonard, TX
    6. Regarding her name … some second cousins indicate “Eller” was a name/term of endearment used, but other than her gravestone I’ve found no other spelling like this. There are also some records that refer to “Ellen.” Whether or not she had a middle name(s) and what that name(s) might be is also not conclusively documented. The “V” could be “Victoria”; there are also some references to “Ella Nora Victoria” in online genealogies, but so far I am most comfortable with just referring to her as “Ella Latimer.”
    7. The 1920 U.S. Census was taken about two weeks prior to her death. At that time she lived in the residence with her son Alexander’s family in Celeste, TX, seven miles south of Leonard.
    8. The death certificates for 5 of her 7 children give her maiden name as Latimer; 4 of the 5 give her first name as Ella, 1 gives it as Ellen; her place of birth was indicated as unknown, Tennessee, and Texas.
    9. No obituary or report of her death has been found. Her husband Burr died in 1916. In his obituary printed in the Trenton Tribune (7 miles northwest of Leonard), Ella was referred to as a “devoted wife.” The obituary also stated, “We have never seen a woman any more attentive upon the wants of anyone than Mrs. Henry was on Mr. Henry.”

    Burr Hamilton Henry Obituary

    She has been erroneously identified as a child of Albert Hamilton Latimer and Mary Jane Gattis. Albert Hamilton Latimer was a signer of the 1836 Texas Declaration of Independence and therefore a person of historical significance. Thus there is a good deal of information available about him. He did have a daughter named Ella, who happened to have also been born in 1861 in northeast Texas (Red River County, in or near Clarksville). However, that Ella married a Wade Parks, had one daughter, and lived her entire life in Clarksville before her death in 1956.

    Ella Latimer Parks Gravestone
    Ella Latimer Parks’ grave in Clarksville, TX

    Current Known Descendants of Ella Latimer and Burr H. Henry

    • In the pedigree diagram below, above the dotted line are the descendants of Burr Henry and Ella Latimer Henry.
    • Ella and Burr had seven children, all accounted for below. Six of the seven branches of descendants are represented with known Ancestry DNA testers.
    • SES (shaded in the darker green at the top) is the focal point or reference of the known DNA matches. The strength of the DNA relations are expressed in centiMorgans shared with SES in red.
    • Known matches are shaded in light amber. Family relationship are noted in green text, e.g., 2C1R = 2nd Cousin once removed.
    • Below the dotted line is an abbreviated version of the John & Eliza Latimer pedigree view, similarly depicted with the Ancestry DNA shared matches shown in the same manner as above the dotted line with the descendants of Burr Henry and Ella Latimer. The red-numbered centiMorgans of shared DNA are again referenced to SES.

    Pedigree of Burr&Ella HenryPedigree of John & Eliza Latimer

    DNA Relationships with John & Elizabeth (Eliza) Latimer Family

    • John & Elizabeth (known as ‘Eliza’ nee Snoddy) Latimer are known to have had five children, two born in Arkansas (1854 and 1857) and three in Texas (1866, 1870, 1875). The child born in 1870 was reportedly born in the now-defunct town of Fulbright in far west Red River County, near the Lamar County line.
    • All five of their known children have descendants who have been DNA tested with their results on Ancestry.com.
    • As shown on the pedigree chart, SES (DNA match focus in dark green highlight) matches:
      • 7 Latimer/Snoddy descendants as 3rd cousins once removed, averaging 51cM, with a high of 119cM and a low of 11cM.
      • 7 Latimer/Snoddy descendants as 4th cousins, averaging 32 cM, with a high of 48cM and low of 17cM.
      • 4 Latimer/Snoddy descendants as 4th cousins once removed, averaging 23.75cM, with high of 44 and low of 11.
    • In addition to these indicated matches on this compressed diagram, there are another 13 DNA matches from other relatives of 7-21cM.
    • In addition to indicated matches with SES, each of the Burr/Ella descendants shares some, if not most, of the same matches as SES with various cM distances.
    • In addition to these indicated matches, there are six known related matches of >50cM for DNA-tested individuals who have not provided any family tree information.
    • As a test, in his Ancestry.com tree, SES linked John and Elizabeth to Ella as her parents. The resulting calculations as to Common Ancestors reflected the information in this pedigree diagram. It also then identified another 15-20 relatives who are common at the 4th and 5th great-grandparent levels.

    The following matrix reflects the DNA relationships among the descendants of Ella (corresponding to the above-the-dotted-line relationships above) to some (not all) of the DNA relationships to the John & Elizabeth (known as Eliza) Latimer family below the line on the pedigree chart above.

    DNA Relationships

    Circumstances of Ella’s Parentage and Upbringing  (speculative)

    John Latimer's CSA Record CardThere is a nine-year gap between the births of John & Eliza’s second and third children (James Robert Isom in 1857 and Julie Ann in 1866). So it’s entirely possible that Ella could have been born in the middle of that period. During these nine years:

    • Prior to the 1860 Census (recorded in July), the family moved about 150 miles from Pike County, Arkansas to Titus County, Texas.
    • According to the 1860 Titus County census, Eliza’s parents, Robert Snoddy and Delilah Tribble Snoddy, lived in the same residence, apparently with the family of an “N. Williams” (32 y.o., born in Tennessee) and his wife “FAJ” (28 y.o.).
    • John is not listed on the 1860 Census with the family. This could have been an oversight or he could’ve simply been away.
    • Both of Eliza’s parents may have died in 1860.
    • John enlisted in the Confederate army, mustering in March 1862 — 4 1/2 months after Ella was born.
    • John appears to have been discharged from the Confederate army in May 1865. About a year later, daughter Jule Ann was born.

    An entry for the family has not yet been found in the 1870 Census so we don’t know where they resided at that time.

    We do know that Ella married Burr Hamilton Henry on 2 June 1880 in Paris, TX (Lamar County).

    Speculating, it’s possible that after the death of her parents, and with her husband off to war, Eliza relied on friends or other relatives (not yet identified) with whom she probably shared a residence to help raise the new baby Ella. Once John returned from the war, perhaps the family who shared the residence had grown so fond and attached to Ella (and perhaps vice versa), that Eliza (with or without John) decided to leave Ella with that family.

    It’s also possible that Eliza and John both decided prior to his leaving that she simply couldn’t handle the baby by herself and made arrangements with another mother/family to raise Ella even before John left.

    Given the chaos of the war, it’s entirely possible that the legal and bureaucratic niceties of adoption and birth records were not kept.

    However, if Ella were “given up” to another family, why would she have kept her last name of Latimer? Unless she was more or less ‘adopted’ and raised by another Latimer family?

    Probably the most enlightening record that could be found would be an entry in the 1870 census that records an 8- or 9-year old girl with the name Ella living with a family in Titus, Lamar, Red River, or adjoining county.

    Inquiry to Genetic Affairs User Group on Facebook

    Although I’m not a regular Facebook user, on November 11th I contacted the user group that is the go-to place for understanding the analysis tools at geneticaffairs.com. I attempted to introduce the “Ella issue” and then produced an abbreviated and sanitized version of the pedigree diagram above.

    The image below is an abbreviated version of a working pedigree chart in which, based on shared DNA matches, I theorize that my 2ndGGM Ella is an unaccounted-for child of the Common Ancestor of a bunch of otherwise unrelated AncesstryDNA matches.

    Above the dotted line is a branch of our Known Family, but the identity of Ella’s parents has been unknown or mistaken.

    Below the dotted line is what I’m calling the Inferred Family, and assumes Ella is the child of John and/or Elizabeth Latimer. Note that the actual number of known shared DNA matches descending from Ella is actually about 10 on Ancestry and the known number of shared DNA matches with inferred family relatives (relative to me, SES in the green) is over 30.

    What I would greatly appreciate comments on:

    1. Am I missing something obvious that would easily refute the theory?
    2. Is there some kind of DNA analysis tool that could provide insight – I’ve already checked with DNAPainter and the shared matches cM line up within the ranges, and I’ve tried to figure out some way to manipulate the WATO tool but I can’t see how that addresses this situation.
    3. Is there any DNA way to inform the probabilities that Ella is the child of both parents, or one or the other?

    The inferred 3GGP parents lived within the same or adjoining counties where Ella was raised. The dates are all reasonable – in fact Ella was born in 1861, right if the middle of a 9-year gap between the 2nd and 3rd reported children of John and Elizabeth.

    And I realize that gumshoe genealogy work still remains. :) Thanks!

    Abbreviated Pedigree Chart

    In response I received these two pertinent replies:

    Commenter 1: I think you are making this too complicated. If you, JC, AB, LL, KM MC and LS all show up as common matches in most or several of the various match lists of KD, EJ, FJ RA CT ACA, AG, etc… AND not in any (or many) other cousin groups, then you are done.

    I replied and posted the DNA Matches in Common matrix above that indicates just what was suggested.

    Commenter 2: If you found 3rd cousins of MC and LS on the Snoddy side (descendants of Elizabeth’s siblings) that would be slam dunk.

    I posted in response:

    This isn’t doing what you suggested but tell me if it’s relevant (wish I could format this, but … and I realize this is contingent on accurate trees).

    On Ancestry, I am one of 8 known DNA relatives who descend from 2GGM Ella. When I determined the Latimer/Snoddy connection was probable, I added John & Elizabeth as Ella’s parents in my tree – no one else has. So on ThruLines (Ancestry’s projection), I show 30 common relatives descended from Elizabeth Snoddy, ranging from 11-119 cM. These are all “new relatives.”

    At the 4GGP generation (Elizabeth’s parents), I have 40 DNA relatives – 27 thru Elizabeth, 13 thru her siblings, ranging from 6 – 26 cM, mean 11.6 cM, median 12.

    At the 5GGP with four grandparents of Elizabeth, I have 58 total matches, 29 from Elizabeths’s father and another 29 from Elizabeth’s aunts and uncles. These new matches range from 6 to 29 cM, mean 10.7 and median 10. Does that constitute at least a free throw if not a “slam dunk”? ;)

    To which the second Commenter posted:

    That’s pretty conclusive that you descend from Elizabeth’s parents, which is independent of John Lattimer.

    Therefore, I feel confident that this theory is supportable enough that I recommend we reflect in our trees that Ella is indeed the child of John and Elizabeth Snoddy. With that, the next challenge is to discover how that came to be.

P.S. As further confirmation, here are the edited results of a GeneticAffairs.com AutoCluster analysis. The lines noted as “Ella Cousin-” are the shared matches above the dotted line above (i.e., shared ancestors descended directly from Burr Henry and Ella Latimer). The lines shown as “J&L Latimer-” show the descendants of John and Elizabeth Latimer. The Genetic Affairs algorithms “cluster” shared matches into different colored blocks that, in the best case, point to a Common Ancestor. In this case, the results are pretty conclusive that these matches all descend from John and Elizabeth Latimer.

Genetic Affairs AutoCluster analysis