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“William Davis Pvt NJ Militia Rev War Mar 21 1758 Jan 6 1845”
Known as “Greenbrier Billy.”

Hello Davis descendants, researchers and interested followers,

We’ve got two new matches at the 67-marker level to consider and just got notice that we have another new match at the 37- marker level who we will look at in the next post, when we get all the details.

For now, we have two new matches to think about and they are both in the same neighborhood on the Brisley side of the Davis family tree. The “Brisley side” means that both testers descend from William1 Davis and his first wife, Elizabeth Brisley, via their first son, John2.

William had 4 more sons via second wife, Elizabeth Pavior, who are on the “Pavior side” of the family tree, but we have tested descendants of only 1 of those 4 sons, James2.

The ancestor in common for both new matches is Thomas “William”3 Davis, son of John2, who was born in 1719 in Rhode Island and migrated to Shrewsbury, New Jersey. He migrated again with his adult children and other Seventh Baptist families in 1789, only to die in White Day Creek, Monongalia County, Virginia, in 1791, having not yet reached Salem, (West) Virginia.

Two of Thomas William3’s 3 sons: William “Greenbrier Billy”4 and Rev. Nathan4, head up the separate lines of our two new matches.

About our first match- the green line on the chart

At the last post, we had just received news of a new match, at the 67-marker level. He is kit #219 (kit numbers are shortened to the first three numbers) and is a descendant of William “Greenbrier Billy”4 Davis.

This match’s grandfather was Deuron Clifford8 Davis and Deuron’s father was Sylvanis7 Davis, both coal miners from Coal township, Harrison County, WV.

Sylvanis Davis Civil War 001Sylvanis Davis, 1846 WV- 1929 Clarksburg, WV
Courtesy Sharon Sprouse Bramhall

If we follow Deuron’s line up, we find Sylvanis7 was the son of Absalom6 Davis who was, in 1850, a farmer living in Doddridge County, West Virginia. His wife, Polina S.W.5, was also a Davis, a descendant of William “Bottom Billy”3 Davis. They had 14 children and adopted a fifteenth.

absalomdavisBirthsAbsalom Davis Bible, Births, Courtesy Sharon Sprouse Bramhall

Absalom’s father was Rev. Peter5 Davis, a Seventh Day Baptist minister in New Salem, Harrison Co., WV and Rev. Peter’s father was William “Greenbrier Billy”4.

(See Ancestor Photos page for images of birth, death and marriage pages from Absalom’s and Sylvanis’ Bibles.)

Rev2PeterDavis1783-1873“Rev. Peter Davis, Died Mch. 4 1873, Aged 89 Ys, 5Ms 16Ds”

Susie Nicholson says: “Peter Davis was about six years old when his parents [Greenbrier Billy4 Davis and Elizabeth Johnston] joined in the 1789 migration with the Seventh Day Baptist group from Shrewsbury, New Jersey to Western Virginia… He outlived both wives [Sarah Davis and Sarah Fitz-Randolph] and was cared for by his daughter, Jemima, wife of Rev. Jacob Davis.” -excerpted from Davis, The Settlers of Salem, West Virginia, by Susie Davis Nicholson, 1979, pg 32.

About our second match- the aqua line on the chart

DavisStephenC.Tombstone“Stephen C. Davis,
Born Sept. 30, 1781, Died Aug 16, 1869, Aged 87 Ys 10 Mos. 16 Ds”
Son of Rev. Nathan Sr. Davis

Our second new match, also matching on the 67-marker test, is kit #320. He is a descendant of Rev. Nathan4 Davis, Greenbrier Billy4’s older brother. Our second match’s grandfather was Howard Lee9 Davis, born in Clarksburg, Harrison County, West Virginia.

HowardLeeDavis1910-1971Howard Lee Davis, abt 1918

Track this line back, all in West Virginia (“Virginia,” before 1863), and you find Howard’s father was Mingo H. 8. Mingo’s wife was Jean7, also a Davis, grand-daughter of William “Buckeye Billy”5 Davis, who was the grandson of William “Bottom Billy”3 Davis.

It’s easy to wonder where the name “Mingo” came from since it is such an unusual name, especially in 1871 when Mingo H. was born. With no stories handed down in the Davis family about its origin, a bit of research finds that there is a county in West Virginia named “Mingo” but it was formed in 1895. Mingo H. Davis was already 24 years old in 1895.


The other mention of the name Mingo is that of an unincorporated area in West Virginia called “Mingo,” or “Mingo Flats,” which was named after the historic Iroquoian Mingo people who migrated west to Ohio around 1750. Mingo Flats had apparently been the site of one of their villages. The migrants were called “Mingos,” a corruption of “mingwe,” originally meaning “chief” or “greatest,” later meaning “colonial,” referring to their Iroquoian outpost in WV.

Descendants of the settlers of Mingo Flats had stories handed down from their ancestors about the ancient Mingo village and, in 1920, wanted to honor its existence by erecting a statue.

MingoIndianStatue,Mingo,WVBeing that Mingo Flats was not very far from Clarksburg, Harrison County, might it be that those same stories, much more vibrant in 1871, were the inspiration for the name “Mingo H.?”

Going further up the line, we find Mingo’s father was Mark7. During the Civil War, Mark Davis was in the Confederate Cavalry while his brothers served in the West Virginia Militia and Union Army.  And after the war, they went back to being neighbors. Mark’s father was David D.6. On the 1850 Doddridge County, Virginia census, David D. Davis’ occupation is listed as “Toll Gate No. 10.”

David D. and Absalom, ancestors of these two lines, were 2nd cousins, born within 5 years of each other and both lived in Doddridge County, VA in 1850. They probably knew each other well.

David’s wife was Anna5 Davis, also a descendant of William “Bottom Billy”3 Davis, leading us to Stephen C.5 .

Stephen C.5 is the ancestor in common for lines #2 and #3. He was the son of Rev. Nathan4, Greenbrier Billy4’s older brother.

That’s a lot of Davis ancestry in one line!

Follow the lines on a chart

On the chart below, the new tests are lines 2 (aqua) and 5 (green), highlighted with red shadow.

Testers on this chart have been placed in sequence of oldest to youngest, left to right. At each generation, the oldest son and his descendants are listed first, on the far left of tree, and the youngest son and his descendants are listed last, on the far right of tree. This places testers descending from the same ancestor in common next to each other.

Who do you think will match?

1. We would expect new tester #320, line 2, to match closely to previous tester #275, line 3 (aqua lines) because they descend from brothers at gen 6 (Brothers are David D.6 and Nathan G.6.)

2. We would also expect new tester #278, line 5, to match closely to previous tester #219, line 6 (green lines) because they descend from brothers at gen5 (Brothers are Rev. Peter5 and George Johnston5).

Lineage chart of 2 new matches  (shadowed red)

[Chart being updated]

(Click 2x to enlarge, back button to return)

 Comparison of results
and some questions to ask

Now that we have the lines, let’s compare the DYS values, possibly answering some questions:

1. How close will the lines match?

2. Are there any markers or combination of markers that distinguish any lines from each other?

3. Do the markers display the relationships that we already know?

That is, if you didn’t know who the new matches descended from, could you predict their probable lines from their DYS results?

DYS Marker Comparison

As we gain more testers, our test comparisons get more complex, so this bit of analysis may take some patience.  (Not the usual webpage sound bites here).

A chart is the best way to compare markers but it’s hard to see patterns in a large chart with 67 markers. So, to simplify the results, the following is a smaller chart of our group’s 12 changing markers only.

  • The marker results that all testers had in common were omitted, duplicate tests were omitted, less than 67-marker tests were omitted and non-Davis tests with many mismatches were omitted.
  • The testers were sorted by line and color-coded by ancestor in common (matching colors of the lineage chart). Marker results were colored by type: anomaly results (only one or two testers show that marker result) were colored yellow, unusual results colored green, variations in marker values colored shades of blue and identical marker values colored pink.
  • The order of DYS columns was changed to line up same-value markers together. Fast-changing DYS names are in red text.

[Chart being updated]
(Click 2x to enlarge, back button to return)

  • Rev. Nathan4’s  four lines, are the first four rows. (The first two rows, colored blue and light blue, are lines 1 and 4, both previous testers.)
  • The 3rd and 4th rows, colored aqua and light aqua, are line 2 (with new tester #320) and line 3.
  • The 5th and 6th rows, colored green and light green, are Wm Greenbrier Billy4’s two lines, line 5 (with new tester #278) and line 6.
  • The other rows, purples, pinks and golds, are other previous testers‘ lines.

Move back and forth between the lineage chart of new lines and this DYS marker chart to get a feel for how the markers reflect the lines that they represent.

Analysis of Results


So what do we find?

1. How close do the new lines match?

New tester, kit #320 on line 2 (aqua), does match kit #275, on line 3, but with 2  steps off, a bit more genetic distance than expected.

In 6 generations, there were 2 mutations.

New tester, kit #278 on line 5 (green), does match kit #219, on line 6, with 1 step off, as expected.

In  6 generations, there was 1 mutation.

2.  Can the lines be distinguished by their DYS results?

  • Yes. On new line 2, (kit #320, aqua), DYS 481=22 appears to be an anomaly. No other tester shows this result. This temporarily does distinguish line 2, kit #320 (until it shows up later in another line). All other testers show DYS 481=23.
  • And no. On new line 5, (kit #278, green), shows a combination of  three values: DYS 391=11, CDY=34-34 and 576=21.
    But that same combination, 11, 34-34 and 21, shows up in an exact match from another previous tester, kit #151, on the Archie E. Davis line, (first dark purple row on the DYS comparison chart), proving that the 3 DYS combo does not distinguish line #5 (kit #278) from the other lines.

3. Do the markers predict known relationships?

No. If you didn’t know where to place kit #278, you might look for an ancestor of that previous tester, kit #151, on the Archie E. line, because #151 is an exact match to kit #278.

This exact match implies that #151 would be closer to #278 on the paper tree than #219 would be, since #219 is one step off.

But we know that, on the paper tree, kit#219’s line is closer to kit #278’s line and we see kit#151, Archie E.’s line, would be a very wrong direction to research because kit #151’s line descends from David Rogers Jr.4, an entirely different line of the tree than the William Greenbrier Billy4 line from which kit #278 actually descends. (See kits # 278, 219 and 151 on the Proven Lines, Brisley Branch chart below.)

So the exact match would give researchers a bum steer.

All Davis descendants on the Davis family tree are related, so we could phrase this odd observation as:

Fifth cousins, kit#278 (line 5) and kit #219 (line 6), who are close to each other on the paper tree, match one step off;

but sixth cousins, kit #278 (line 5) and kit #151 (Archie E.7 line), who are farther away from each other on the paper tree, match exactly.


4. As to placing kit#320 (line 2, the aqua line, on the lineage chart), if you looked at just the first two changing markers, DYS 391=11, CDY=35-35 (the “almost anomaly”),  you might look (correctly) to kit #275, on line 3 (light aqua line) because kit #275 also has the same first two markers. If so, you’d have kit #320 placed pretty close to where he belonged.

But, because kit #275’s 3rd and 4th changing markers are each one step off from kit#320, you might continue to look elsewhere.

You might have chanced to see that previous tester, kit #152, on the William6, b 1810, NY line, also matches with 391=11, CDY=35-35 ,with an additional third marker match at 576=21 (See Proven Lines, Brisley Branch, chart).

Those first 3 matching markers might have sent you off searching for ancestors on kit #152’s line. That choice would take you off in a very wrong direction because kit#152, descends from Thomas William4, along an entirely different line than kit#320’s actual line from Rev. Nathan4.

So, do the markers display the relationships we already know?

With this particular grouping of results for kit #320, the answer is: not really. The results partially point to a correct line but point more so to an incorrect line.

What’s a genetic genealogist to do?

ladybugCROPPEDObservations and conclusions

1. The 2 new lines show only 4 changing markers while there are 12 possible changing markers amongst all testers to date. With such a small pool of changing markers, we might need many more tests before we can make predictive sense of the marker values.

2. In general, an anomaly should be a good designator of a unique line. But when an anomaly starts showing up in more than 1 (or 2?) tests, it ceases to be an anomaly and becomes just another marker variation.

3. Is it a significant observation that, besides #278, we have two other kits, #141 and #204, both with unknown links to the William Davis tree, who are also exact matches to #151, the Archie E. line?

Kit #141’s oldest ancestor is Benjamin West Davis, born 1786 Chautauqua County, New York and kit #204’s oldest ancestor is William Burnett, born 1771 Sussex County, New Jersey. Kit #151, Archie E.’s line, originates in Rhode Island, then moves to Lincklaen, NY and then to Wisconsin. They don’t seem to have places of origin in common.

Might kit #151, the Archie E. line, possibly be our patriarch, William Davis’, original DNA signature and that’s why we have four exact matches to it?

4. Observations as to matching: a close relative on paper may show more genetic distance than a further relative on paper.

5. An exact or close match, by itself, does not necessarily designate the line from which an unknown tester descends.

For those who don’t know where to place themselves on the Davis family tree, these last two observations can be daunting.

As a result, it makes sense to get as much information as possible from many tests before spending inordinate time researching lines that might be leading in the wrong direction. There are a lot of ancestors, along a lot of lines, in the 10 generations leading back to William1.

Flanders_Family_Tree(Click 2x to enlarge, back button to return)

Directions for future testing?

We may have to begin to look to the 111-marker tests to see if they show any further ability to distinguish results.

We may have to compare results in more than one way: perhaps comparing fast-changing markers and slow-changing markers separately and then combining the comparisons.

Tests on more lines might tell us if discord between the results and the paper family tree is the norm or the exception. Are all the Davis genes highly active or just some lines?

And we may have to just continue mapping the Davis family tree, trying to test one descendant of each major line. We may yet find a pattern emerges if we continue to study marker changes on lines whose relationships we already know.

More cousins

Whether or not we know where we fit on the tree, each test introduces us to yet another Davis cousin, another descendant of our original immigrant ancestor. We may feel like just virtual friends, but DNA doesn’t lie. We are all connected as family, even if it is a very large family.

We currently have 25 members in the WDD Project (26 with latest match) who live all across the U.S. and we have many interested potential Davis cousins planning to test.  One day in the future, we might take on the task of figuring out just how many Davis descendants William Davis has produced altogether in this clan. Of course, we might need a statistician to help.

Thanks to all of you who have queried this website and who have been so gracious to share your family information. And thanks to the contributions of Tim Davis who finds and helps fund testers for the FTdna Davis Surname Project.

If you have any questions, additional perspectives or corrections, please add them in the comment section or email me. And if you have any other Davis family information, please let me know and I will add yours to our growing collection.

Don’t forget to check the Ancestor Photos page for more Davis historical photos related to these two lines.

Until the next post, or next cousin, whichever comes first.

Best wishes,

-Jan Davis Markle, Director
William Davis DNA Project (
jrmarkle at g mail dot com

Proven lines, Brisley Branch, April 2014
(Click 2x to enlarge, back button to return)

 Proven lines, Pavior branch, April 2014
(Click 2x to enlarge, back button to return)

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