Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Missing Livingston Child

Once again DNA answered an age old question lost throughout the decades.

Let's start with the records first.

The June 1900 census for Cope, Union Township, Orangeburg County, South Carolina had my 3x great-grandmother, Idella Livingston b. 1830 in the household of her grandson Samuel Livingston b. 1870. At this time Sam was married for 5 years to his wife Frances Brown-Livingston b. 1877. They had three children Verna (Vernell) b. 1896, Annie b. 1897 and little 3 month old Jasper b. 1900. I mentioned how Sam's eldest daughters married into the Wilkinson family in an earlier blog post. As you can see in the picture below circled in red, Sam and Frances had 3 children who were all alive in 1900. Unfortunately, all 3 of Idella's children were dead.

During this time period it was rare to find someone with so few children. Idella must have been heartbroken to bury her husband and all of her children. At this time, I still don't know how any of the children died. Official death records are scarce for the time period between 1880 and 1900. I can only assume the worst: by accident, incident or disease. Within those two decades I was able to uncover the names of my 3x great-grandparents and two of their children. So here is the question:


No records of my family were found in 1870. I can only guess that the census taker skipped their part of town. YOU HAD ONE JOB TO DO!!!! 

In April 1880 Willow Township, Orangeburg, SC my 3x great-grandfather, Boston Livingston b. 1810, died by accident in a gravel pit.

In June 1880 Liberty Township, Orangeburg, SC my 2x great-grandfather Jace Livingston b. 1856 lived with his wife Dorcas Hawkins-Livingston b. 1854 and the first six of their nine children. It is when I researched the children where it all started to make sense. 

Their children were:
  • Grant Livingston b. 1870 was named after his uncle Grant Livingston b. 1859.  I made an earlier blog entry about when this Grant and his brother Sam attended Claflin University. Grant later married Janie.
  • Samuel Livingston b. 1872 would be the one who had his grandmother Idella live with him in 1900. 
  • Harriet Livingston b. 1874. 
  • Adaline Livingston b. 1876 was the twin sister of Emeline. Adaline was named after her aunt Adaline Jones-Hawkins, wife of Dorcas' brother Jacob Hawkins. Adaline married into the Curry family.
  • Emeline Livingston b. 1876 was the twin sister of Adaline. 
  • Doctor Livingston b. 1879 was named after his father's cousin, Doctor Jennings b. 1855. Jennings was Idella's maiden name. 
  • William A. Livingston Sr. b. 1890 was my great-grandfather. He married Maud Easterling b. 1893 and had 5 children including my grandfather William A. Livingston Jr. b. 1916. My actual grandfather was never married to my grandmother. They had two kids together including my mother.
  • Idella Livingston II b. 1893 was named after her grandmother. She married into the Williams family.
  • George Livingston b. 1895 was my step-grandfather. He actually married my grandmother Izora Gibson b. 1914. They had two kids together. I told that whole story in an earlier blog.
There might have been more children born in the 1800s but I haven't identified all of them yet. Jace probably died between 1895 and 1900 since George was the last child born. I do not know where he was buried. Dorcas died in 1913 and was buried at Mt. Zion cemetery in Cope, SC. 

The reason I never found Jace's brother Grant Livingston in any earlier censuses was that he was employed as a longshoreman which kept him out at sea for an extended period of time. He did manage to return and live in Charleston, SC before he died in mid-1900. His sudden death might have been at sea. He was married to Lula Aiken b. 1880 for 4 years and had 3 kids. Only two children Willie b. 1897 and Viola b. 1899 survived past childbirth.

Several weeks ago I was checking my updates in AncestryDNA and came across a gentleman who was a 4th to 6th cousin. I reviewed his tree and discovered something new. His great-grandparents were January Hart b. 1850 and Louvenia Livingston b. 1852. 

January Hart was the son of Abraham and Annie Hart. January and Louvenia were married around 1872 in Orangeburg, SC. The couple had at least 6 children together. Louvenia died between 1895 and 1900. The 1900 Elizabeth, Orangeburg, SC census listed January Hart as widowed. He died there of dropsy (pulmonary edema) on May 1, 1915. 

Their children were:
  • Peter Hart b. 1872 was married to Charlotte Dickson b. 1862 with children Sam Hart b. 1896, Pearlie Hart b. 1897, Lou J. Hart b. 1898, Arebel Hart b. 1898 and Lilly Hart in 1900.
  • Ella Hart b. 1877. 
  • Pinkie Hart b. 1883.
  • Gilbert Hart b. 1886. 
  • Ollie Hart b. 1889.  She married David Johnson b. 1886 in 1907. My DNA cousin descends from them. She died on July 30, 1959 in Winston-Salem, NC. Her death certificate listed her parents as January Hart and Louvania Livingston.
  • Dennis Hart b. July 4, 1890. He married Roxie Northey b. 1906 and they relocated to Jacksonville, Florida. He died in 1985. His birth certificate below named his parents as January Hart and Louvania Livingston.

Of course I had to verify if this was the correct Louvenia Livingston. There were two other Louvenia's that would fit the time frame. In 1880 Orangeburg, March and Mary Livingston had a 1 year old Lavinia Livingston. This couldn't be the right person if her first child was born in 1872. The only other Luvenia Livingston b. 1846 from Orangeburg was white. 

So therefore Luvenia Livingston-Hart and Jace Livingston were brother and sister. She was the first born, Jace was the middle child and Grant was the baby. All of Boston and Idella's children were back together again. DNA solves yet another mystery. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

You Are The Great-Great-Grandfather! A Mystery Solved Through DNA Testing

I had a Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. moment last weekend. That means I made a discovery using both DNA and a paper trail. My missing branch has grown leaves and sprouted!

A few months ago I blogged about the Easterling mystery within my family. To recap: I didn't have a death certificate for my mulatto great-grandmother Maude Livingston. I couldn't identify her parents' names. All I knew that her mother's maiden name was Busby. My aunt told me that Maude's mother went to work for a white family, was seduced by an older man and had 5 mixed children in Orangeburg, SC. That was partly true.

I found out she actually had 6 children by three different men.

James Easterling (1877-1951) was listed as negro in the Orangeburg census records. His death certificate listed parents as William Easterling and Eliza Busby. This William Easterling b. 1840 was African-American. James married his half-sister Rosa Lee (last name Trembull on the death certificate was actually Tremble). James died of pneumonia on November 24, 1951.

Rosa Lee Easterling (1885-1975) was listed as mulatto in the Orangeburg census records. Rosa raised her young siblings by herself in 1900. In 1910 the family lived in the household of their uncle Webster Busby. Rosa had a son named Robert Tremble in Georgia around 1911. She must have been married to her son's father but it didn't last. She later married her half-brother James. Unfortunately her death certificate will not be made public for another 11 years.

Augustus Easterling (1888-1963) was listed as mulatto in the Orangeburg census records. Augustus was married to Jessie May b. 1894 and had a son William Roy Easterling on January 16, 1912 in Orangeburg, SC. Augustus was drafted into World War I. After the war he relocated his family to 2355 N. Orkney Street in Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaAugustus died of a gastro-intestinal hemorrhage on February 7, 1963 in Philadelphia. He was buried at Merion Memorial Cemetery in Montgomery County, PA. His death certificate named parents as William Easterling and Eliza Busby

Maude Easterling (1890-1942) was listed as mulatto in the Orangeburg census records. Maude married William Livingston Sr. (1890-1982) and had six children together which included my grandfather William Livingston Jr (1916-1993). It was rumored that she became mentally ill and was committed to the asylum in Columbia. She died on January 21, 1942 and was buried at Mt. Zion Baptist Church. No death certificate was found.

Vivian Easterling (1890-?) was listed as mulatto in the Orangeburg census records. Unfortunately nothing else was ever recorded about him. 

Ollie Easterling (1892-1931) was listed as negro in the Orangeburg census records. She married
Lawyer Johnson b. 1888 in 1911 District 46, Union, Orangeburg. Their children were Marion Johnson b. 1913, Vernon Johnson b. 1914, Lawyer Johnson Jr. b. 1916, Nancy Johnson b. 1920, Lucille Johnson b. 1921, Ollie M. Johnson b. 1923, Rosalie Johnson b. 1925, Walter Johnson b. 1927 and Lillian Johnson b. 1929. Her death certificate listed parents as David Franklin and Eliza (misspelled Leiza) Busby. David was African-American.

William Easterling (1897-?) was listed as mulatto in the Orangeburg census records. He may have moved to NC and been incarcerated there. There were multiple William Easterlings so it was hard to track his whereabouts.

The Busby, Easterling, Johnson and Livingston families lived near each other throughout the first few decades of the 1900s. I was lucky enough to identify Eliza Busby b. 1880 as my great-great grandmother. She probably died before 1900 of TB or in childbirth. The 1900 census had her last 5 children named Busby. In 1910, the children were named Easterling and lived with their uncle Webster Busby and his wife. Eliza's brother Webster's death certificate named his parents as William Busby and Margaret Lewis. They were my 3x great-grandparents. I will blog about the Busby family at a later date. (I have a great story on that side of the family!) But who was my great-great grandfather?

This is where the paper trail ended and I relied on DNA for an answer. Over the years, I have taken several DNA tests and uploaded my results to,, and A few weeks ago I was reviewing some new matches in AncestryDNA and found a 4th to 6th cousin match with the surname Easterling. I reviewed her profile and discovered that she was white. I am not mentioning her name out of respect for privacy. Her Easterlings were indeed from Orangeburg and were white, unlike mine which were mulatto. Her ancestor, Mary Ann Easterling-Tyler, had a brother named Jonathan Charles Easterling Jr. Jonathan and his wife Jane Martha Hall had a son named William Augustus Easterling (1842-1915). 

I found him in the 1880 Orangeburg, SC census listed as W.A. Easterlin, a single 39 year old white farmer, who lived a few houses down from William Busby and his family (including a single 20 year old Eliza). Both William and Eliza are circled in red in the census record below. This was indeed the man I was looking for since Eliza named two of her sons Augustus and William, it made perfect sense. 

The DNA test proved several things:
Poor Eliza, the stigma of having children out of wedlock by multiple men including a white man during the turn of the century must have been too much to bear. She might of died of a broken heart. Her daughter Maude was committed to a mental institution and died there. Perhaps the same thing happened to Eliza? I may never find out the truth. No state mental health records or death certificates were found for either of them.

Did I find anything else about William Augustus Easterling? He was born on July 15, 1841 in Orangeburg. His family was wealthy and owned a large amount of land in the area. He eventually became a cadet in the military academy and fought on the side of the Confederacy, Hampton Legion Infantry in the Civil War. William never married. He owned and farmed his own land after the war. Whatever transpired between him and Eliza was forever lost in those fields of Orangeburg. He died of Pulmonary Tuberculosis on March 20, 1915 in Richland, Columbia and was buried in his hometown. 

On a positive note, the Easterling branch, that used to be a thorn at my side, has now grown by leaps and bounds! My 5x great-grandfather, Reverend Henry Easterling III, was a Captain in the American Revolution. I felt like I was on an episode of Finding Your Roots and Dr. Gates told me to "turn the page." I can now trace my lineage back over 500 years to England. The Easterlings have their own genealogical society and have a family coat of arms as well. 

Origin of the Easterling Name

"The Easterlings, present an intriguing origin, dating back to 1066, when they arrived in England with William the Conqueror, wealthy bankers, coiners and lenders of money, to achieve distinction by becoming England's foremost mint masters, taking their name in compliment to the quality of their product. In the time of King Richard I, money coined in the east part of Germany began to be of especial request in England for the purity thereof, and was called Easterling money, as all the inhabitants thereof were called Easterling. Shortly after, some of that Country, skillful in mint matters, were sent far off into the realm, to bring the coin to perfection, which from that time was called of them 'Sterling' for Easterling."

Found in "History of South Carolina, Biographical Volume," Wallace, The American Historical Society, Inc.; New York, 1934.

Now I have new surnames to research which include: Hall, McMichael, Howell, Kincaid, Bennett, Chears, Widdington and Vines to name a few. More work for me (the kind I enjoy doing)