FHB Watson Predecessors

From Family History Book

Family History Book: Watson Predecessors

This chapter is highly speculative, since we have few records to go by. Most of the information has been interpolated from DNA evidence, particularly based on matches to J Brooks Watson. While DNA does provide a rational basis for the opinions expressed here, please be aware that the more distant such links are, the less reliable and more error-prone they can be. Naturally, the more matches we find that trace back to a Watson ancestor of the right time and place to be related to us, the more information we can glean, and the more certain we can be that we are finding the truth. At the time of this writing, we know of matches to descendants of two potential siblings of Charles M Watson, our earliest documented Watson ancestor.

Ancestors of Charles M Watson

We simply do not know which of many early American Watson families Charles M Watson descends from, but circumstantial evidence indicates at least his parents lived in Georgia, and before that probably in North Carolina. Some published family trees say his father's name was John Aaron Watson, but so far I have not been able to verify that.

Deep Ancestry Based on Y-DNA

J Brooks Watson has had a Y-DNA test. His haplogroup is I1-M253, which is described in an article from the Journal of Genetic Genealogy:

Haplogroup I is generally thought to have spread to its modern areas from the Balkan refuge. The haplogroup has many subgroups. The most frequent of these in North Europe is I1a; ... Haplogroup I (most of which consists of Haplogroup I1a-M253 in North Europe) is common over almost all of North Europe: frequencies of 30-50% are found almost everywhere in North Europe...

Obviously, "North Europe" covers a lot of territory, so it doesn't tell us much we didn't already know, but it does confirm our "paper" genealogy in general. The "parent" haplogroup I is now thought to be about 27,000 years old:

According to a study published in 2010, I-M253 originated between 3,170 and 5,000 years ago, in Chalcolithic Europe. A new study in 2015 estimated the origin as between 3,470 and 5,070 years ago or between 3,180 and 3,760 years ago, using two different techniques. ...

I-M253 is found at its highest density in Northern Europe and other countries that experienced extensive migration from Northern Europe, either in the Migration Period, the Viking Age, or modern times. It is found in all places invaded by the Norse.

-- from Wikipedia

Probable Uncles of Charles M Watson

As mentioned earlier, J Brooks Watson has DNA matches to descendants of two different Watson men who lived in the southeastern US in the early 1800s, so could have been brothers of our ancestor, Charles M Watson's father.

Abijah Watson

The first DNA breakthrough on our Watson line came a few years ago, when J Brooks Watson matched John Edward Watson, Jr.'s DNA at FamilyTreeDNA. I was able to contact John Edward's daughter, Tina, through that website, and since then we have compared family trees as far as they are known. Both of them dead-end with men who appear to be of the same generation, or at least within one generation of each other. In our case, we do not know the name of our ancestor, although we know his wife's name (Lucinda Monk Holman). Tina's research goes back to her great-great-great grandfather, Abijah B Watson, who variously told census takers he was born in North or South Carolina or Alabama. The mentions of South Carolina are more numerous, but other information indicates that our Watson family was from North Carolina. Maybe it would be reasonable to simply say "Carolina" rather than north or south? Abijah lived in Alabama in his later years, which probably explains that otherwise illogical reference. At the time of his estimated birth in 1817, Alabama was still Indian territory so it is unlikely he was actually born there.

Thomas Watson of Coweta County, Georgia

Ancestry.com persists in trying to say that Charles M Watson's father was Thomas Watson of Coweta County, Georgia. While this may be true, there is no direct evidence to back up that assertion, and Ancestry makes lots of mistakes so I have not linked him into our tree. At least one of the proven descendants of this Thomas Watson has an Ancestry tree that does not include Charles M Watson.
That said, it is still the case that our Smith and possibly Holman families have ties to Coweta County, where this Thomas was a postmaster. So the question remains open. However, also see the page for John Aaron Watson, who is a more likely candidate to be our ancestor.

Other ICW DNA Matches

J Brooks Watson matches John Edward Watson, Jr. (descendant of Abijah Watson) on Chromosome 18 between 5351189 and 63295833. Using a tool called GenomeMate Pro, I've been able to identify a list of seventy-seven other people who match both of them on that segment (ICW, or In Common With, matches). Going through each entry to try and find genealogical information and then see if we can find MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestors) will take considerable time and effort, but it is encouraging to know these are available and in such abundance. So there is hope that one day we may be able to discover more about our distant Watson ancestors.

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