Monday, March 2, 2015

Was Lydia Hornell Clarke part Native American: Women's History Month - Post #2

Dear Grandmother Lydia,
The second of the Women's History Month's blog prompts us to post a photograph of a female ancestor and discuss it. I have two photographs of you that I have chosen.
Lydia (Hornell) Clarke circa 1880 probably in Nobles county, Minnesota
Lydia (Hornell) Clarke circa 1860 probably near White Lake,

Lydia (Hornell)(Ford) Clarke, as my paternal 3rd great grandmother there are lots of things about your story that have intrigued me: your youth in Hornellsville, New York, then the wilds of Michigan, your first marriage, the rough prairie life of Minnesota and finally, are you the source of our family's American Indian ancestor mythology. The tin-type photograph has been damaged over the years and your image is not very visible. It is the photo above that has intrigued your descendants. Our family, like many American families, has the story that there is Native American blood in our lines. Of course, you already know the answer to what is mysterious to the rest of us. It takes your descendants a few more steps to make such a determination.

As generations continued, the high cheek bones and dark eyes like are evidenced in your first photograph are often enough to suggest Native American background. The first step in this type of investigation is to look for opportunity. In other words, did the family live near Native American populations. In this case, your father, Reverend George Hornell, Jr. was a missionary to the Mackinac Indians on Mackinac Island, Michigan during your youth.

Though neither New York state nor family records give a marriage date for your parents George and Sarah (Thacher) Hornell, it seems safe to assume that it was sometime before the birth of your oldest brother, George Thompson Hornell, in 1815. My granduncle William Laurance Cone, who knew your daughter (his grandmother) Mary Elizabeth (Clarke) Newton well, gives your birth date as 4 November 1819. This was before your family went to Mackinac Island to live among the Indians.

Today we have another tool that might reveal Native American background. DNA testing does provide evidence of Native American blood in our family. My brother, sister and I all have been tested and we each carry a very small amount of Native American DNA. The small amount would be indicative of an ancestor 5-7 generations proceeding. As my 3rd great grandmother, your parents or their parents would qualify. Another 3rd great granddaughter descendant of your grandson John Reuben Newton and a 2nd great granddaughter descendant of your granddaughter Helen Brown Newton had their DNA tested. No Native American DNA was found in their results. As my mother's mtDNA test also showed Native American markers, I have to conclude that my siblings and I have the Native America background on our maternal side and not from your high cheek bones and dark eyes.

So now I'll focus my efforts to learn more about the other parts of your life that continue to intrigue me..


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