Things to watch out for with DNA testing

I was very excited to learn that a fellow Godwin researcher might have found a relative to submit DNA to test against other conflicting or proposed lines.  She is descended from a family that often gets mixed up with my own family, or at least the family I am trying to prove relation to.
 
Our two Nathan Godwins were born in the mid to late 1700s and resided in Sampson Co., NC prior to the turn of the century.  My colleague’s Nathan Godwin is reported to be the son of Jonathan and Rachel (Bullard) Godwin, also of Sampson Co., NC.  He wrote a will in 1821 and died in Sampson Co., NC in 1823. He was the older Nathan. I believe, however that it is actually MY Nathan Godwin who was the son of Rachel and Jonathan and I have a deed to back it up. My Nathan Godwin removed to Randolph Co., NC about 1800, following the death of Jonathan in 1791 and the sale of his lands by his widow Rachel, and Nathan and Dred Godwin in 1795.

DNA analysis would help us to determine which of the two Nathan Godwins was the real son of Jonathan and Rachel Godwin. First we would need to find a definite descendant of Jonathan and Rachel who has a paper trail, to compare our DNA to.  Then we would need two additional samples – one from my colleague’s line and one from my own line. My family’s DNA has already been submitted and has matched up with 6 other NC Godwin lines. How exactly they are related is yet to be determined. I got my colleague to agree to submit her family’s DNA.

However, then I remembered something:  Her ancestor was reported to be descended from the older Nathan Godwin who left a will in 1821. In the will, he mentioned her ancestor’s name – Handy Godwin – a grandson, son of Nathan’s daughter, Tressie Godwin. I found court documents against this Tressie Godwin for 4 children she had out of wedlock.  In 3 of the 4 cases, the fathers were named, however, the children were not named. One of those men named did happen to be a Godwin, but we are not sure if he sired my colleague’s ancestor or not.

When finding family members to participate in DNA studies you must make sure that they are a true descendant of that surname. In this case, meaning their father must have been a Godwin. It is not enough that my colleague’s ancestor, Handy was a Godwin. He had been given his mother’s surname.  We don’t know who his father was. Of course, if my colleague were interested in finding out who Handy’s father was, she could go ahead and get the DNA submitted and compare it against possible surnames (perhaps against the two other men mentioned in the court cases).

So now I need to locate another heir of the older Nathan Godwin’s line to compare my family’s DNA against in order to prove or disprove relation to him and/or to Jonathan and Rachel Bullard Godwin.

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