The Descendents of Julius Saunders and Priscilla Carter Burnett: Resolving a Genealogical Mystery, Part 1

Note from WHB – Documents from the 1820s and 1830s regarding the marriage of Williamson Burnett and PRISCILLA CARTER have perplexed genealogists. The last three children, supposedly of the marriage – William/Williamson, JOSEPH and Christopher Ammon – were disinherited by Williamson, whose will asserted that JOSEPH and Christopher were not even conceived at a time when PRISCILLA lived in Williamson’s house and shared his bed.

However, the entire Bedford County establishment as well as the eldest son of Williamson Burnett (James H) testified to the federal government that PRISCILLA lived with Williamson continuously until his death and that she was entitled to the Revolutionary War Widow’s pension for which she was applying.

The Sons of the American Revolution in the 21st century is known to have rejected an application from a cousin who was a descendent of one of Priscilla’s sons who was applying through Williamson’s war record (although he was admitted when he changed his application to apply through Priscilla’s father’s war record).

I had initially prepared some arguments on my cousin’s behalf of why Williamson’s disinheritance should be disregarded, so was open to either possibility.

All of Williamson’s male children have had many male descedents, so I had assumed that taking the y-chromosome test could yield important information, including a confirmation that at least Joseph’s line was descended from Williamson. Instead, I discovered that JOSEPH’S line was descended from JULIUS SAUNDERS and that one of JULIUS’ sons was JOSEPH’s half-brother.

When I published this information on the vikingsandvirginians.com website, I was contacted by a descendent of JOSEPH BURNETT’s younger brother, Christopher Ammon Burnett. He had taken the same y-chromosome test with similar results.

Meanwhile, others were working on this mystery and a descendent of William/Williamson, my ancestor JOSEPH’s older brother, and one of Christopher Ammon, my ancestor’s younger brother discovered they had the same y-chromosome.

Having come across my evidence, we are now zeroing in on final confirmation that all three of PRISCILLA’s sons who were indentured in 1820 to JULIUS SAUNDERS have the same y-chromosome.

Now that the DNA evidence has resolved the mystery, I think it is now time to re-examine all that is known about the situation. The result could give us a better understanding of this extended Bedford County family and even sociological and psychological insights into PRISCILLA, who is the director ancestor of so many people living today.

 

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