Thursday, February 13, 2014

#52 Ancestors #7 - Hill: The missing link and dna (advice needed).

52 Ancestors in 52 weeks. Amy Crow has posted a challenge on her blot 'No Story Too Small'.

I'm hoping some of you may be able to give me advice on researching my third great grandparents.
The parents are unknown for my 2nd great grandfather Josiah B. Hill. The problem is I'm fairly certain of his grandparents but no names for his parents. I have three dna matches that are third cousin matches leading me to believe that Josiah's grandparents are William and Elizabeth Cope Hill. His parents are a mystery that I have not been able to solve.

There are several leads through other marriages in the same area but let me begin with a timeline of my 2nd great grandfather Josiah B. Hill.

Birth:              Records vary between 1817 and 1821. His military record shows him born in 1821.
                      All records show his birth place as North Carolina.
1840:             Josiah B. Hill married Louisa H. Jennings on November 11, 1840 in Maury County, Tenn.
1841:             Their first daughter Nancy was born in Tennessee.
1844:             Their second child, Elizabeth, was born in Arkansas. Her records consistently show
                      her birth place as Arkansas. There are a lot of Hill families in Arkansas and without
                      a city birthplace for Elizabeth this lead is dead. (My three dna third cousin matches are
                      to descendants of Mark Hill who died in Johnson County, Arkansas. Mark is believed to be
                      a son of William and Elizabeth Cope Hill and possibly a brother to my Josiah.)
1846:             His father-in-law made his will on December 5, 1846 in Maury County, Tenn. The will
                      states 'to Louisa Hill wife of Josiah P. Hill of the state of Mississippi'. The will shows his
                      middle initial as 'P' but all other records show it as 'B'. It is probably an error on the part
                      of the person who wrote the will. So Josiah and Louisa moved from Arkansas to
                      Mississippi between 1844 and 1846.

1850:            By 1850 they were living in Robertson County, Texas with three new additions to the
                     family: Sarah and William (twins) and Sion. All three were born in Texas.
1860:            The family lived in Falls County, Texas and had three more children, all born in
                     Texas: Pinckney, Levi, and Josiah. 
1864:            Josiah enlisted in the Civil War. I believe he may have enlisted twice. The first time was
                     1861 and the second time was January 1864. Their last child, James, was born in 
                     August 1864 while Josiah was away at war.
                     His wife Louisa died sometime between August 1864 and before the 1870 census.
                     There is no death record or burial records for her. Some researchers show that she returned to
                     Tennessee and married another man. There is no proof of this at all. 
                     The reason their trees are shown that way is because a Louisa Hill married a Mr. Blessings and
                     after his death this Louisa was living in the household of my Louisa's sister. I believe the Louisa
                     living in that household is a cousin by marriage named Louisa Caldwell Hill Blessings.        Texas, Muster Roll Index Cards, 1838-1900 [database on-line], Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011; <>; accessed 7 February 2014

1870:          His wife Lousia is not shown on the census with the rest of the family. Josiah and his two 
                   youngest children are living in the household of  William H. and Barbary Bailey and their 
                   married daughter Louisa Bailey Bird.

Josiah B. Hill died between the 1870-1880 census. His youngest son is shown as an orphan on the 1880 census and living with the Taylor family. The Taylor family is an associated family through various marriages.


1)  As stated earlier, I have three third cousin dna matches to William and Elizabeth Cope Hill. I have my dna listed on three different websites and they all show the same. These are strong matches that I believe to be correct. I also have two fourth cousin matches to William and Elizabeth Cope Hill. I have ten plus matches, fifth to eighth cousin predictions, to Robert and Mary Webb Hill. Robert is progenitor of the Hill family and came to the Isle of Wight, Virginia about 1642. Is it possible that these third cousin predictions are actually fourth cousins instead?
Assuming the third cousin matches are correct, my Hill lineage would be like this:

2)   I also have dna matches to the female surnames listed above; Cope, Green, Smith, and Webb but I have not been able to sort them out as yet.

3)  Documents are a problem. Early census records indicate William and Elizabeth may have had eleven children but only one can be positively identified. William Hill was last located in the 1840 census living in Hickman County, Tennessee. Almost all documents for that county were burned in a courthouse fire. There are no wills or other significant documents that will be of use. Did William Hill die in Hickman County or did he just move? 

4)  William lived Overton County, Tennessee before moving to Hickman County. I thought there might be a will for him in Overton but there was not. He was executor to the will of his father-in-law Thomas Cope, Sr.

5)  William's wife, Elizabeth Cope Hill, lived with their son William Sion Hill. She is shown living with him on the 1850 census in Overton County, Tennessee. She is still with their son on the 1860 census, age 93, Fentress County, Tennessee. There is no will available for her. Her father is Thomas Cope, Sr.

Year 1860; Census Place: District 11, Fentress, Tennessee; Roll: M653_1249; Page: 62; Image 130; Family History Library Film: 805249; <>; (accessed 8 Feb 2014)

6)  Other marriages in Maury County, Tennessee about the same time my Josiah and Louisa married:

  • John M. Hill m. Susanna Rail on November 22, 1840. This is the same date my Josiah and Louisa married. Are Josiah and John cousins? According to other researchers he is not Josiah's brother.
  • Ashley Hill m. Mariah T. Jennings November 5, 1840. Mariah is my Louisa's sister. Are Josiah and Ashley cousins or maybe even brothers? The parents of Ashley are not known by me or his descendants. There is no information available about his parents. Ashley Hill was married a second time after the death of Mariah. He was a ruling elder of his church for thirty-four years as well as a Mason.
I feel that I have exhausted all I overlooking something? Are records stored somewhere that I'm not aware of? What does one do in these cases? I'm not a quitter. I sometimes take a break from a family but always return to them hoping to find something new.

Do you have any advice to give me?
Beam me up Cathy - (back to top)

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