Posted by: marthabernie | July 28, 2015

A Story About Family History…and DNA

001I think I have posted this photo before, but I am putting it up again along with a little story about family history.  The two very somber people in the photo above are my great grandparents, James Jones Marlin and Lunda Carrie Hall Marlin.  This is their wedding photo.  They were married in 1877 when “Jim” was 19 and “Lundy” was 16.  Nineteen was actually quite young for a young man to marry, but marry they did and they went on to have nine surviving children, including a set of twins.  Twins were not so unusual since James Jones was also a twin.  I don’t have the birth dates for all the children, but in birth order they were Helen, twin girls Nell and Bell, Ednah, daughter Lou, Walter Elbert Marlin (my grandfather), Orville, Lena, and the baby, Scott.

I knew I had something, somewhere that listed all the kids in birth order with some of their dates but had no idea where it was to be found.  This week, while sorting through framed photos to finish hanging (I moved about three months ago and am just now finishing up with the stuff on the walls), I came across the photo above which had been professionally re-framed back in the 90’s.  When I turned it over, I discovered the framer had created a little pocket on the back of the frame and had inserted the old backing (from a brown shopping bag) which my mother had written all over.   She had also framed the original photo herself back in the 60’s, hence the shopping bag backing on the frame!  I am sure I noticed at the time of the re-framing that the framer had made the little pocket and preserved the information, but I had completely forgotten about it.

I cannot verify that everything my mother wrote there (or elsewhere) is 100% accurate because I have found a few inaccuracies over the years; particularly when she made guesses about people in photos etc.  She also tended to round up when giving ages for some reason. But I think most of the following is accurate as she was contemporary with all these people during the early part of her marriage to my father.

James Jones Marlin born  October 11, 1858, died July 4, 1940.  He married Carrie Lunda Hall in 1877.  She was born in 1861 and died in 1957, age 96.   My grandfather, Walter Elbert Marlin (always called Elbert), was born 12-12-1888 and died May 29, 1953 from an aortic aneurysm.  He married Dulcie Ferrier in late March, 1912, and my father, Ray J. Marlin, was born November 4, 1912.  Do the math.  Dulcie lived well into her 80’s and died from complications of pneumonia.  She suffered from Alzheimers or some other type of dementia during the last several years of her life.  My father died 6-25-74 at the young age of 61 from heart disease.

The children of Jim and Lundy were (in birth order):

Helen Marlin, who married dentist Thomas Warden and moved to Sierra Madre, California.  I remember visiting them as a child.  They had two sons, James and Harry.

Nell and Bell Marlin, twin daughters.  Bell married Joe Minor and had three daughters.  Nell married a McNabb and had one son and 2 daughters.

Edna Marlin married Harry McNabb and had 3 sons and one daughter.

Lou Marlin Mitchell – no information on her but I assume she must have moved out of Missouri (and not to California) when she married because we never visited her that I recall.

Walter Elbert Marlin – my grandfather, see above.

Orville Marlin, married Mildred Rowles, no children, they eventually divorced.

Lena Marlin married a man named Manahan, divorced, later married William Kightlinger.  Two sons, James and Harry Manahan.

Scott Marlin, the youngest, married Margaret Vandiver, divorced; later married Irene (??) and adopted one daughter.

So on to three issues:  First, all my life, I was told that great grandmother Carrie Lunda Hall Marlin had been adopted.  She had a sister, but I don’t know if the sister was biological or whether she was also adopted by the Hall family.  I hope some day to come across someone researching the Halls in Webster County Missouri because perhaps they will have more information.  The other part of the story was that great grandmother Carrie Lunda Hall Marlin was half Cherokee Indian.  Where this came from, I have no idea.  But back then, many children were produced from liaisons between “white” men and “Indian” women.  Many men married Indian women, others did not.  I can only guess that some of the children in orphanages had Native American ancestry and that a lot of supposition took place.  But by the time I came along, it was “fact” that Great Grandmother Marlin was half Cherokee Indian.

Next, in researching my mother’s side of the family, I hit the brick wall connecting us to Lawrence McManus of Chatham County, NC.   Lawrence came from Fermanagh, Northern Ireland in the mid-1700’s, married and produced a very large family.  My research took me back to an “unknown” father, one generation younger than Lawrence.  The name McManus also began to go through spelling variations by 1800-1815.  Our branch became McMenus, others were spelled McMenis, McMinnis, etc.   Since there were many McManus sons of Lawrence moving into Tennessee and elsewhere, it made sense that our Joseph McManus/McMenus in TN had a connection to one of the sons of Lawrence, but I still have not been able to document it; and there were not other McManus people in the area at the time.  Son Jonathan was in TN as a teenager but would have been very young to produce four children (Eli, Joseph, and 2 sisters).  Not impossible, but not likely.  Also, he eventually went to Illinois, married Nancy Duncan and produced a family there.  Father Lawrence’s eldest son and child, Eli, born 1760, was also in TN but no marriage or family is documented there.  He then returned to Chatham County, North Carolina and eventually moved to Ohio with the family of his sister and her in-laws.  He never married as far as I know unless there was an early wife and family in North Carolina before he went to TN and Ohio.  He lived to be very old, showing up on the 1850 Ohio census at the age of 90 but not appearing again in 1860.  If he did produce the four children (eldest being Eli), why did he leave TN and why did he leave the children behind?  The two sons were Eli and Joseph, Joseph being my ancestor.

Last issue is on the Marlin side of the family.  The Marlins are documented in PA in the early 1700’s; they had come from Northern Ireland with neighbors, the Ferriers; they had also migrated from Scotland to Northern Ireland with Ferrier neighbors.  There is a possibility that they migrated from France to England/Scotland centuries earlier, but that is another story for another day.   Suffice it to say that the Ferriers and Marlins went on to fight Indians in what was to become North Carolina in the 1700’s, then went on to TN and finally Missouri. My grandfather Marlin married Dulcie Ferrier, and there were other marriages between the two families going back centuries.  Anyway, the furthest back I have been able to document the Marlins is Archibald Marlin, who fought in the Revolutionary War and was granted land in what became Sumner County, TN.  I think he also might have had a father, Archibald Marlin, but I have not been able to document that.  Anyway, Archibald settled in TN and married Martha Ferrier!  One of his sons, Thomas, went to what became Missouri and settled there in the 1820’s.  His son, Spencer, was the father of James Jones Marlin above. There is another brick wall on the Marlin side of the family since we cannot document anything back further than Archibald Marlin.  However, I have always thought that he was connected somehow to the Marlins in Lancaster County, PA because Marlin is just not a very common surname.  The Marlins and Ferriers are documented in Scotland as early as the 1500’s, and then again in Northern Ireland in the 1600’s, so when they turn up in PA in the 1700’s and then in TN after the Revolutionary War, it all makes sense.  However, there was no way to prove anything until DNA testing became available.  I know that some researchers believe that Archibald’s father was a Frenchman in what was then French Canada but I have always doubted this.

Until 2013, DNA tests for women were only available showing the father’s side of the family.  They were also fairly expensive, so I waited until a test became available for $99 that traces both mother’s and father’s sides of the family.  And what a revelation it was!  First, the Cherokee Indian story is pure bunk!  Not one trace of Native American ancestry!  Second, I am definitely connected to Lawrence McManus of Chatham County, NC.  Still don’t know if my 4th great grandfather was Eli McManus or Jonathan McManus, but my 5th great grandfather was definitely Lawrence McManus as I am DNA connected to his documented descendants.  Finally, I am also connected to those Marlins and Ferriers in Lancaster County, PA through DNA results.  So Archibald must have been a younger brother or cousin to the families that remained in PA.  A trace of what could possibly be French blood exists, but not enough to support the theory that Archibald’s father was the French Canadian.  The PA Marlins came out of Northern Ireland, and the DNA supports that.

There were other interesting things about the DNA results but nothing surprising, and I will get to that another day.  In the meantime, if you have brick walls you’d like to break down, consider  It’s easy and very enlightening.  Your DNA is broken down by country or region, and they also connect you with everyone in their data base whose results you are linked to.  Give it a try!


  1. This is fantastic; your dedication to your family history is something you should be extremely proud of, which I’m sure you are; it’s unfortunate that others are not. How can we know who we are if we don’t know where we came from? My sister is our genealogist, and she’s unearthed a gold-mine of information; most of it good. Thanks. Great piece.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s very interesting to look back that far! Cool to know your heritage 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I might just do the DNA test now. I haven’t really been procrastinating :o)…just waiting for DNA costs to come down and related technology to increase. Thanks again for the interesting read!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was $99 when I did it about 18 months ago. After I did it, a bunch of people in my office also did it and they turned up some interesting results!


  4. DNA test can be very interesting to say the least. In my case it showed some Indian heritage. The trouble is I have no real facts as to where it came from.


    • Native American also includes the Indians in Mexico who mixed with the Spaniards; a friend was told that he had some Hispanic roots and the DNA test proved it to be correct but it came up as Native American and Spanish, plus a lot of other things.


  5. Great post! What exciting discoveries. Don’t feel bad about the lack of Native American Heritage. Most people claim it, and very few people have it.


    • I don’t feel bad at all, there was no disappointment…just proves that all the “stories” that get passed on are very embellished!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow! What a twist! This year was very lucky for me too – I learned some facts that made me rewrite a huge chunk of my family history 🙂


  7. The Marlin, McWhirter and Ferrier families were together for many years. Archibald Marlin parent has been a brick wall for many years.


    • After I did my DNA test, I confirmed that I am related to the Marlins and Ferriers who stayed in Pennsylvania, so Archibald Marlin is definitely related to them. I also have a theory that there were two Archibalds, father and son.


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