Pencil Stubs Online
Reader Recommends


Armchair Genealogy

By Melinda Cohenour

Those Horrible Brick Walls!

    Nothing is more aggravating and frustrating than to encounter a seemingly impermeable BRICK WALL in your research. It is annoying when it is encountered in a peripheral line, but when it involves your direct line ancestor, it is heartbreaking. My two primary lines of descent – paternal and maternal – involve critical brick walls. One of these has been featured in two prior columns: the William “P. R.” Joslyn parentage proof on my maternal ancestral line. On the paternal line, there are two stumbling blocks: the Carroll parentage of Earl Allen Carroll, my Great-Grandfather and the Anderson line extending back from his wife, Laura Isabel Anderson Carroll. Earl Allen Carroll was born in Greenfield, Dade County, Missouri in 1863. The birth records for that county are non-existent for that period of time. Earl Allen was born 25 April 1863. The Dade County Courthouse burned on 6 October 1863. No census records include a potential Carroll family in that area for 1860. The first Census recording Earl Allen Carroll is 1900. Aaaaargh!!! This column discusses the various brick walls your author has encountered, and the various methods being utilized in her attempt to BREAK DOWN THOSE WALLS!

Brick Wall ONE: William “P. R.” Joslyn:

    Previously in this column, the various attempts to break down the P. R. Joslyn brick wall has been recounted. In columns published December 2016 and January 2017, information garnered in this exercise appeared. which related the DNA research in this quest and which then recounted the various items of research tracking P. R. Joslyn’s travels and a bit of insight into his character. Interesting stuff – but no firm link to confirm his parents. The DNA proves this line extends to either his father or grandfather being Col. William of Deerfield, William Joslin (1701-1771) and, thus, to the Immigrant Ancestor, Thomas Josselyn and wife Rachel Marlow (or Jude, depending upon your choice of “proofs”) born 1591 Bollinghatch, Roxwell, Essex, England and died 3 November 1660 in Lancaster, Worcester County, Massachusetts, Colonial America. This prestigious line leads all the way back to Charlemagne whose antecedents are widely published back into the mists of time.

    Years ago, your author enlisted the aid of her beloved maternal uncle, Rex Edward Joslin, who agreed to supply a DNA test in the effort to identify known relatives and, hopefully, the “missing link” in the line of descent. The closest DNA match proved to be one Westcott Campbell Joslyn, Jr. born in New Jersey. This research led to the discovery of new cousins, provided proof of heroism rather than villainy (related to his giving up children for adoption after the loss of his wife) for Westcott Campbell Joslyn, Sr., and an intriguing “mirror” personage. The father of Westcott was Walter F. Joslyn whose father was Edward S. Joslyn (who often spelled his surname phonetically, given the New Jersey accent perhaps, as “Joyslin”). This Edward S. Joslin had several children: Harriett Leeds Joslin (later Forby), Julia Ann Joslin Brown, Louisa L Joslin Farrow, Walter F Joslin, Mary E. Joslin who died as a young child, Lelia (alternately Lily, Lilia) Joslin whose marriages and other vital records have thus far eluded me, and Nancy L Joslin Smith. Walter was the father of Westcott, Sr. through his marriage to Mary Campbell. Research into these children resulted in a most tantalizing mystery. Another Edward S. Joslyn – a contemporary of our line here – had a daughter named … Harriet L. Joslin. This Edward S. Joslyn was born in New York but lived most of his life in Illinois. Early records show OUR Edward S. Joslyn was born (May of 1826) in Cohansey Township (later Bridgeton), Cumberland County, New Jersey; however, our Joslin line has extensive connections to Illinois.

    Thus, your author’s latest strategy: a new tree exploring the life and times of one Edward Swain Joslyn, born 1827 in New York state, the son of Lindsey Joslin and wife, Mary “Polly” Waite Joslin. Yet to be confirmed, but memory serves that one Lindsey Joslin had extensive land ownership in Kane County, Illinois – our paternal family line home area. Also, the siblings of this Edward Swain Joslyn have names quite familiar to our tree: Isaac, Daniel, and Merritt. The mission here will be to attempt to locate parallel family members in the same location at the same point in time and, hopefully, determine whether these two Edward S Joslin fellows were, perhaps, cousins named for a common ancestor.

    Along this stream of reasoning, several years ago, a tree was formed isolating facts relating to Westcott Campbell Joslin, Sr., his father, grandfather, wives and children in an attempt to find the MRCA (most recent common ancestor) for Westcott Campbell Joslin, Jr. and my maternal uncle who shared extensive strings of DNA data. Thus far, this line stops at Edward S. Joslin (1826-Abt. 1900) the silversmith/jeweler/watchmaker.

    (As a footnote to this line: two sons of one Lt. Col. Edward Swain Joslyn were Rudolphus Waite and Frank Wilbur Joslyn. These two became lawyers (like their father) and published a series of books recounting the History of Kane County, Illinois. Pertinent factual data concerning William “P.R.” Joslyn was obtained from the first of these history accounts. No relationship between the families, however, was documented.)

Brick Wall TWO: Earl Allen Carroll:

    This brick wall has left your author banging her head against those bricks without loosening one single chunk of mortar! The loss of the documents in the courthouse fire in October of 1863 seemingly destroyed all evidence of Great-Grandfather Carroll’s mommy and daddy. Family records (scant as they were) indicate his father was one Stephen Carroll, alternately recorded as having been a native of Ireland or born in New York. The mother was listed on the death certificate for Great-Grandmother Laura Isabel Anderson Carroll as being Elizabeth Lewis, born in Tennessee. Records have been painstakingly researched for marriages or Census records reflecting a Stephen and Elizabeth Carroll in any state from New York to Missouri, with focus on Tennessee. No luck as the only possible union proved to have no connection to our family. There are records of possible Civil War deaths which might ultimately relate to our Stephen.

    DNA has, thus far, not provided firm connections with sufficiently strong centimorgan values to even provide impetus for further research. Hints provided by Ancestry’s ThruLines computerized tree search do not, thus far, seem dependable. Continued exploration may finally provide proof of this line’s origins in Ireland in accordance with family lore.

Brick Wall THREE: James Sylvester Anderson:

     This brick wall also relates to my father’s line. His grandmother, Laura Isabel Anderson Carroll was the youngest daughter of James Sylvester Anderson and Nancy Jane Gilstrap Anderson. We know from Census records that James was a wagonmaker. He disappears from all records between the end of the Civil War and the 1870 Census. Their daughter, Laura Isabel was born 8 April 1865 leading to the presumption James was still alive and in touch with Nancy nine months prior. Nancy died 9 Jun 1870 and is buried in the Burkhart Cemetery, Racine, Newton County, Missouri.

    Nancy’s Gilstrap family features prominently in your author’s research, as there have been many stories indicating DaddyJack Carroll had three lines of Native American blood: Cherokee, Apache, and Comanche. None of those stories are borne out by DNA nor by old fashioned genealogical research. However, since Nancy’s father, Jeremiah Milam Gilstrap, was married not once but twice to Cherokee women (widowed twice) and Nancy was brought up in the home with Cherokee half-siblings there was a firm basis for the belief in Native American ancestry. We know that Nancy’s mother was Jeremiah’s first wife, Rachel Copple (proven many times over through DNA matches to my own tests) whose family originally immigrated from Schwartzwald, Altotting, Bayern, Germany.

    The following information comes from a family researcher, J Black Owens, who has granted permission for its use on

    “Nicholas Copple and his son Daniel were drafted into the German Army by the King of Germany. The German King in turn sold the services of his army to the King of England. The King of England sent the German troops to the U.S. to fight for land possession on behalf of England. Nicholas and son Daniel deserted the German-English army because they didn't feel it right that England take the land away from the colonists. Nicholas then enlisted in the German Colonial Army in Maryland as a Corporal in Captain Andrew Porter’s Company, 4th Pennsylvania Artillery. After the war, Nicholas first settled in Maryland. He then received land grants from the U.S. Govt. in North Carolina. He settled there with his wife and children. Nicholas died in 1808 and is buried near the Winston Salem Cemetery in Rowan County, North Carolina. His wife, Maria, is also buried there.

    Further, we find this reference to Nicholas Copple:

    There is a book written by Oscar A. Copple titled "The Copple Family" that is on microfilm at LDS.

Following is an excerpt from this book (misspellings, typos intact):

"Nichoulas Copple and his son Daniel, had been later conscriptedf by the King of Germant (sic), Vogtei. Sold to the King of Englany (sic), sent over to fight the Colonies. They when they arrived (this I found to be English War Ships.) Deserted, and reinlisted in the Colonial Army. Nicklas (sic) near Boston and Daniel, near New York. Daniel as a Private, Nicholas (sic) as a Matteross (one who assist in loading, aiming and fireing the Cannon. Also in moving these guns.) Of the Advance Army. In Pennsylvania (Archives of the Contintal (sic) Army, lines 5th series Vol. 32 pg 809 Daniel Copple enlisted in Philadelphia, July 28, 1776- In Maryland Nichoulas (pg 1014) Enlisted as a Corpal (sic) June 1776, Pg 1031 and again pg 1071. Lost an eye in Germantown Pa. Listed as in Hospital from June to Nov 1780. Mustered out in 1781. There were 4 Battalions of Germans that were raised from Maryland and Pa. They did not like seeing the Colonist enslaved under a King. Nichoulas either went back to Germany or anyway he is seen taking a land grant. His land was along the Uharrie River in Rowan Co. N. Carolina. 1797-1785 Daniel took a pension and than (sic) he later moved to Adams Co. Ohio. Nicklas (sic) a grant of 2,000 acres near Hodges Fork Deed 16-12, 12-25 1798. Nicklas (sic) Copple 200 A on bank Uhary to Jacob Copple (Rowan Co. N.C. 85A. By Nicklas (sic) other land, Phillip Copple's land the said Nichoulas (sic) having been granted tract by N. Car. 1793, July 16th, Deed 18;491 Apr. 16, 1802 Proved 1803; Nichoulas (sic) Copple Sr. to John Copple Jr. both of Rowan Co. 200 A Fork of Yuharris Above Ann Wright's field and adjacent to Garron's other land. (Yaharren).”

    Documented in our family tree is a marriage between Jacob “Peter” Copple, Jr. (grandson of Immigrant Ancestor Nicholas) to Elizabeth “Betsy” Wright in Rowan County, North Carolina, in about the year 1800. 1800 US Federal Census record verification: Jacob Copple Jr ([Jacob Copple Junior]; Home in 1800: Salisbury, Rowan, North Carolina; Free White Persons - Males - 16 thru 25: 1; Free White Persons - Females - 16 thru 25: 1; Number of Household Members: 2.

    We know that Nancy was related to Bob Gilstrap, the gunslinger, (a half-cousin to your author) who gained infamy by his marriage to Julia Ann Johnson, Whiteturkey, Gilstrap, Lewis, Dalton, Johnson, the oft-wed widow of Emmett Dalton (another half-cousin to yours truly). Bob Gilstrap was gunned down in an ambush by the Lenape Indian, Frank Lenno 29 December 1889 as Bob entered the local Bartlesville, Indian Territory, general store to do his Christmas shopping. Bob Gilstrap was a registered Cherokee Indian, whose father Andrew Jackson Gilstrap wed Sarah Jane “Jennie” Blythe, the daughter of Nancy “Nannie” Fields of the illustrious Cherokee Fields line. Bob Gilstrap was related to Nancy Jane Gilstrap through Richard Gilstrap, father of Jeremiah Milam Gilstrap and his half-brother, Peter Gilstrap (Bob Gilstrap’s grandfather). In spite of the strong relationship with Cherokee cousins and tribal members, no direct line ancestors from our Gilstrap line appear to have been recorded as Cherokee or other Native American tribal members.

    As you can see, extensive research has been invested in the Gilstrap – Anderson lineage. In spite of all this research, no record exists to identify a date of death or location of burial of James Sylvester Anderson. It is presumed he lost his life in the final days of the Civil War in 1864 preceding the birth of his last child, great-grandmother Laura Isabel on 8 April 1865.

    Adding to this quandary is the fact we have no parental lineage identified for James Sylvester Anderson. His father was reputed to be Keene, or Kean, or Quinn or possibly even Quincy Anderson who wed a Native American woman named Nancy Shorlin. The Quincy name as a distinct possibility bears up since Nancy Jane Gilstrap Anderson named her youngest son Alphius Quincy Anderson. The name Quincy was carried through the Carroll line to Edward Quincy Carroll, my father’s cousin.

    Thus far, no Carroll male relative has been willing to offer a DNA test to help find links to identify the Carroll or Anderson parentage. The Carroll male cousins have been reluctant to contribute their DNA. My own DNA, the tests of my daughter and a grandson have, so far, offered no strong Carroll connections.

Brick Wall FOUR: Mother of John Raymond Bradshaw, Sr.:

    The strategy for this search is underway. DNA testing for my daughter and for a grandson, comparing their Shared Matches and compared against my own DNA test results to identify the matches that show up when they relate to a known family line. So far this has resulted in the identification of a number of half-siblings to my daughter and son, sired by their father with one of his later wives. We have proven that my husband was adopted by the woman who claimed to be his biological mother. His sister has also been shown to have been adopted. We have been able to identify the father through the DNA testing results but, so far, have not zeroed in on the mother.

    The state of birth is not absolutely known, nor is the state where the adoption occurred although it is believed to have been Florida. We are currently exploring the means to obtain the closed adoption documentation from that State.

Brick Wall FIVE: Father of Roxanne Marie LeTourneau Bradshaw:

    Roxanne was wed to my son, John Raymond Bradshaw, Jr. She had a son by a former relationship at the time they met. They produced one child together. That grandson has contributed DNA for help in identifying Roxanne’s biological father. It has been determined her mother and the man to whom she was married, thus granting her two daughters the LeTourneau surname, were separated for some seven years after he abandoned his wife. This search is ongoing. The DNA results that are not Shared Matches between the grandson, my daughter, and myself can be assumed to be related to the as yet unknown biological grandfather. We have a number of close cousins whose strong sharing of centimorgans indicate a shared great-grandparent but, unfortunately, many folks who offer up DNA do not include an attached, well researched family tree. This leads to many disappointments for the genealogist.

    The method adopted by Ancestry’s own DNA guru, Cece Moore, is to track the tree profiles of those closest cousin matches, building “shadow trees” from data shared by the cousins. This is a great idea but proves to be extremely difficult. In spite of the difficulty, your author has recently started a shadow tree, seeking to identify the relationship of those highest centimorgan matches. Of course, Ms. Moore has a crew of DNA scientists and professional genealogists at her disposal – as well as extensive access to Ancestry records which the average person may not share.

    This shadow tree, at present, is being used to break down Brick Walls Four and Five. Wish me luck!

    Any success in the stratagems outlined above will, most certainly, be reported upon in a future column. In the meantime, continue your own Armchair Genealogy!

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


Refer a friend to this Column

Your Name -
Your Email -
Friend's Name - 
Friends Email - 


Horizontal Navigator



To report problems with this page, email Webmaster

Copyright © 2002 AMEA Publications