Ahnentafel 18P – John ALLEN Family

What a hoot! This is a story of discovery including the confluence of many facets of genetic genealogy. It’s a small piece of my genealogy, but it illustrates how many different tools work together. Here is a list of teasers….

1. A genealogy note from the 1980s

2. A Triangulated Group [12D24]

3. A DNA Match in TG [12D24] looking for her bio-father

4. Another DNA Match in TG [12D24], also searching for our Common Ancestor

5. An ALLEN Ancestor with a “sketchy” Tree.

6. My Ancestry focused on VA/WV, and nothing west of there

Without further ado – here’s the story.

The focus is on TG [12D24]. I have 88 different Matches in this TG, including a half 1C; a 2C; a 2C1R and a 3C1R. These four cousins are all on the same line from my father, to his father, to his mother, to her parents – OR: P,P,M,CA – OR: 2, 4, 9, 18 (using Ahnentafel numbers). A18 represents my Ancestral couple: John NEWLON b 1798 Loudoun Co, VA; d 1872 Harrison Co, WV and Marie ALLEN b 1805 Monongalia Co, VA; d 1882 Harrison Co, WV. Despite a lot of research among the other 84 Matches in TG [12D24], I’ve not been able to find a more distant Common Ancestor.  FYI: John NEWLON’s parents were Thomas NEWLON 1767-1813 and Susan CUMMINGS c1772-c1805. I have found many Common Ancestors on these NEWLON and CUMMINGS lines. Maria ALLEN’s parents were Joseph ALLEN c1775-1848 and Elizabeth [maiden name not proved].  I have not found very many Matches with Common Ancestors on this ALLEN line – clearly ALLEN is a high potential for [12D24].

One of the Matches in [12D24] has been looking for her bio-father for several years. She recently found a good candidate and built a Tree for him. I found a Common Ancestor on her new paternal line – we are 4C1R on my SHIELDS/FINLEY line. Well… Per the paper trail, we are 4C1R on that line, but SHIELDS/FINLEY are on my maternal side, so I could not have gotten the [12D24] (paternal) segment from them. Dead end!

This points out the value of combining the genealogy and DNA – had it not been for the TG [12D24] segment on my paternal side, I might have been content to just accept the SHIELDS/FINLEY Common Ancestor couple, and not continued the search with much earnest. Worse – I could have gone down that rabbit hole, and searched the other 83 grouped Matches for those same lines…

Enter another Match in TG [12D24]… She and I had corresponded years before and tried to discover our Common Ancestor. She contacted me again, and also knowing our adoptee Match had now updated her Tree with new information, noted that she had an ALLEN in her Tree. I quickly checked – her Ancestors were: Garrett G MYERS 1850-1906 married to Lucinda ALLEN b 1856 IA (no parents).

Well, an ALLEN in IA was pretty far from my WV ALLENs… However, it was a potential surname link, so I researched some more. Lucinda’s parents appeared to be Joshua ALLEN b 1816 VA and Eleanor LANE b 1821 OH. OK, Joshua was born in Virginia – maybe this was the link. However, as I researched Joshua, all the Trees had him as son of Joshua, son of Joshua, son of (Joshua) Barnes ALLEN (and Eve SWIGER). I am well aware of Barnes ALLEN and Eve SWIGER as the parents of several children who intermarried with descendants of my BARTLETT line in WV – but they were not my Ancestors. And in calling up my old research notes on the Barnes ALLEN family, I did not show a son Joshua b 1816. This whole connection looked like: “well, all the first names look the same, and were in Virginia, and I don’t see anything else that might fit, so let’s just say that’s it.” My guess is that many of you have seen this kind of “genealogy research” before. And you’ve also seen virtually everyone else copy that same information.

You can call it a hunch, or confirmation bias, or whatever you want, but the fact that I had a TG [12D24] stuck at the 3C level, and probably going back on the ALLEN line, kept tugging at me. [NB: I wasn’t completely blind to the possibility that the link might be on ALLEN’s wife’s side.] I believe in DNA “magnetism” – the DNA tends to draw the puzzle pieces together, but I needed some more information.

So, I dredged up my old ALLEN research file – research that I had done in the 1980s. During the 1930s Depression, a Harrison Co, WV newspaper asked readers to submit Family Group Sheets. Many thousands responded. I remember going to an office in Clarksburg, WV filled with floor to ceiling bookcases with 5-inch binders filled with the Family Group Sheets (today over 30 microfilm rolls). I transcribed as many as I could over a 2-day period. Among my notes from that trip were the John ALLEN family. It was very sketchy – descendants reported some of his children and noted that several had moved away – including a note about son, Joshua ALLEN who “went west to Iowa, never to be heard from again”.  Could this really be the Joshua ALLEN b 1816 VA, father of Lucinda ALLEN b 1856 IA m Garrett MYERS – great grandparents of my DNA Match who found her bio-father? If so, we would be 4C – a very reasonable relationship. And on my father’s side!

I quickly went to my list of DNA Matches at Ancestry and searched for ALLEN in Iowa. BINGO! I could trace at least 4 of them back to Joshua ALLEN b c1816 VA who had at least 8 children born in IA. None of my Matches knew the parents of Joshua ALLEN.

This looks very promising to me. Next steps:

1. Find some DNA Matches who descend from John ALLEN’s other children “who went west”.

2. Message Matches at other companies who are in TG [12D24], and ask if they had any ALLEN ancestors. I did this with two TGs from my HIGGINBOTHAM line and got several dozen positive responses. Many Matches at the other companies don’t have Trees, but I’ve found they are more likely to respond to such a pointed question.

3. Find some of my Matches who have Barnes ALLEN and Eve SWIGER ancestors, and ask them to search their own Matches for ALLEN + Iowa (I’m betting they won’t find Joshua ALLEN b 1816…)


You won’t have exactly this same confluence of facts. The point is to think about the possibilities with the information you do have and test it out. Make a reasonable assumption (a hypothesis) and try it out. Think about the way to reinforce it, and to refute it.

[23-38P] Segment-ology: Ahnentafel 38P – John ALLEN Family by Jim Bartlett 20220126

13 thoughts on “Ahnentafel 18P – John ALLEN Family

  1. Jim, you said the Family Group sheets collected by a Harrison Co. newspaper represented 30 rolls of microfilm. Are you implying the Family Group sheets were microfilmed and are available for inspection somewhere?


  2. Jim, you said the Family Group sheets gathered by a Harrison Co. newspaper represented 30 rolls of microfilm. Are you implying that the Family Group sheets were microfilmed and reside somewhere for inspection?


  3. I am in a quandary about where to draw the boundaries of triangulation groups. In Cr01 are two TG’s that both start at 0 and end at 18. Each TG has five unique matches, and the total number of matches in the two groups is therefore 5+5=10. Everyone in TG1 matches each other and me. Everyone in TG2 matches each other and me. The two TG’s are linked, i.e., some members of TG1 match members of TG2, and vice versa. Roughly speaking, there is 30-40% overlap between the two TG’s. I believe that TG1 and TG2 are both on the paternal side. If I am correct, then do TG1 and TG2 comprise one big TG that starts at 0 and ends at 18? Do TG1 and TG2 point to more distant ancestors?


      • Thank you, Jim. I’m working through my DNA matches a second time to reassess TG’s and sides. It may be a mechanical process, but there are nuances that keep things interesting. I appreciate your blog very much.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Andy, You are definitely on the right track. Yes, it’s mechanical; and definitely there is some judgment involved. I’ve actually “adjusted” a very few of my TGs as I added Match segments from other companies, and got a better insight on the TG. I have a few dozen TGs that I haven’t gotten past the parent. Like you, I’m reviewing them all, and gradually finding more concurrence as I did into the smaller Tree… Jim


  4. My Postlethwait surname ancestors intersect with Higginbotham’s via Albert Glendower Higginbotham 1903-1982 and Garnet Ruth Postlethwait 1909-1996. My Guthrie ones via Oscar Errington Higginbotham 1895-1956 and Edith Ellen Guthrie 1899-1984. This makes for interesting challenges to map shared segments for Higginbotham kin. Probably some other intersections given proximities in WV! Have enjoyed reading your posts. Do we share DNA?


      • Thanks for checking GEDMatch. Also found Richard M. Postlethwait 1853-1934 married Sarah Abigail Higginbotham 1860-1948; Presley M. Postlethwait 1861-1942 married Sophia Catherine Higginbotham 1867-1972; and, Richard J. Postlethwait married Malinda F. Higginbotham 1855-1901. These are all WV folks, mostly Wetzel county area. I have some Higginbotham DNA matches, but have not yet worked everything out. All the very best to you, my friend. Joe

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I have two collateral connections to the Allen surname. A paternal great aunt married an Allen. This family of Allens lived in Columbia County, NY and are more likely to be connected to Ethan Allen of the Green Mountain Boys than your Virginia families.

    The other connection is a 1st cousin twice removed (first cousin of the aforesaid great aunt) who married a Lilburn Allen of Sebree, Webster Co., KY who may be related to your Allen family.


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