A yDNA Terry-Terrill Connection
by Conrad W. Terrill, DOR-Terrill, May 2011
Note: Click here to read Part 2 of this story (July 2011)
Darryl Lee Terry, a descendant of a John W. Terry born about 1838 in South Carolina, has recently shown up as a very close yDNA match to the FTDNA Terrell Surname Project's R1b Lineage II (comprised mostly of descendants of Roger Terrill of Milford, Connecticut Colony, in the 1600's). This Terry-Terrill connection is intriguing. Is Darryl another paternal line descendant of Roger, one whose name has somehow mutated from Terrill to Terry? Is the connection much further back, in England, when surnames were much more fluid? Or is there some more mundane explanation, a "non-paternal event", possibly an adoption? DOR-Terrill has attacked the problem, hoping to trace Darryl's paternal line back to Roger, or to England, but so far we have managed only to trace it back one generation further (we think), to a William E. Terry born about 1817-1818 in South Carolina, who married a Rebecca A. ___.
Disregarding the markers DYS CDYa and CDYb (which have proven problematic) Darryl's (39435's) yDNA test results differ from Roger Terrill's by three mutations in the first 37 markers, whereas those of two others in R1b Lineage II differ by two, four differ by one, and six differ not at all, in a total of thirteen. This could indicate that the common ancestor lived in England long ago, but it's not a good idea to draw such a conclusion from this type of data. It might be that the three mutations in Darryl's line have simply occurred by chance in a short period (two have occurred in my own line since 1800). It would be interesting to find other paternal line descendants of John W. Terry and of William E. Terry who have been yDNA-tested, to see if it could be determined where the mutations occurred, and this will probably happen in time (but we're pushing it a little—more below).
The earliest record Darryl had found of John W. Terry was an 1880 U.S. Census record. John W. and wife Mary V. were living in Catheys Creek, Transylvania County, North Carolina, with six children. From the age and birth state information given for the children it appears that this family had been living in Georgia from at least 1863 to about 1875-1878, when they moved to North Carolina. Darryl also found an unsourced record in the Latter-day Saints International Genealogical Index indicating that John W. Terry married Mary Valinta Raines in Georgia in 1859. We have since found the family in the 1870 census, mis-indexed as "Perry" on Ancestry.com, in Bartow County, Georgia, with a Post Office address of Cartersville. All four children, ages 3 to 8, were born in Georgia. We have not been able to find John and Mary Terry in the 1860 census, but we did find a Terry family in the same county (then called Cass County) in 1850, with a John Terry of the right age (12), albeit his birth state was given as North Carolina, as was that of all the children in the family. We believe that this William E. and Rebecca Terry family can be found in the 1860 and 1870 censuses in Marshall County, Alabama. Oldest son John was not with them, and the names of the other two children born before 1850 are different in 1860, but the ages are about right. The ages and birthplaces of William E. and Rebecca are perfectly consistent from 1850 to 1860, and again in 1870, so we think this has to be the same family.
In the 1860 census the birthplaces of the children born before 1850 were no longer given as North Carolina. The 17-year-old was born in South Carolina and the 11-year-old was born in Georgia. So now it seems much more likely that son John, who was 22 years old in 1860, was actually born in South Carolina, and not in North Carolina as given in the 1850 census. It appears that the William E. and Rebecca Terry family moved from South Carolina to Georgia some time between 1842 and 1849, and from Georgia to Alabama between 1854 and 1857. And apparently John, 19 years old in 1857, stayed behind in Georgia, married there, and raised a family there for over fifteen years before moving to North Carolina.
We hope to confirm that Darryl's ancestor John W. Terry was the John Terry son of William E. & Rebecca in Cass County, Georgia, in 1850, by a yDNA match with a descendant of one of the other three sons of William E. & Rebecca. We've managed to contact a descendant of the youngest son, James Ellison Terry, who has pointed us to three grandsons of James who are still living. And we hope that one of these, or a male Terry relative, will be willing to participate in this project. Should the yDNA test results match Darryl's it will prove the connection and at the same time give us the YDNA characteristics of William E., born about 1818. This of course leaves quite a few generations (perhaps four) yet to be traced to connect back to Roger Terrill of Milford, if there is such a connection. Going back even one more generation may be hard to do. It's proving very difficult to determine William E. Terry's parentage. We may have to wait for some other Terry yDNA match to Roger to come along, one who knows his ancestry further back, in order to make any more progress. DOR-Terrill is working with Darryl, and will work with any others who are interested, to try to find the connection. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help in any way and would like to know more.
Click here to continue on to part 2