Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Hankerson Boys/Nancy Young Mysteries Part I

Do any of you remember The Hardy Boys/ Nancy Drew Mysteries? It was about the adventures of a group of young teenage detectives. It was first a popular book series. Back in the late 70s, ABC produced a TV show for several seasons. It was one of my favorite shows. Yes, I am old but so are the mysteries I need to solve! Here is the introduction of the TV program for you nostalgia fans.

My 2x great-grandmother Nancy Young (1830-1870) had been a mystery to me. I wrote about her in my blog almost a year ago entitled Who Was Nancy Young? All I had on her were one census and two vague death records that had her name on it. I couldn't figure out who were her parents. The paper trail had run cold.

Thanks to the recent upgrades on the AncestryDNA website, I was able to confirm who was her father. Before I reveal his name, I wanted to share the steps it took to identify him. Hopefully it will be of some use to others who are having trouble kicking down that brick wall.

I first checked my member matches list and noticed that two of my 3rd cousins and four of my 4th-6th cousins all were in the same shared matches subgroup.

Unfortunately, four of them did not have accurate public member trees. In fact, only one 3rd cousin had a detailed tree with documented sources. She shared DNA with me at 99cM across 7 segments (extremely high) so I contacted her to confirm the relationship. I also asked her if she ever contacted the 5 other shared matches. She indeed confirmed that at least 3 of them were known blood relatives and we had a mutual Facebook friend that was part of the family. I contacted one 4th cousin and helped build his tree. We now had 4 out of 6 members that all shared the same information. The other two never responded to my inquiry. These two have 6 and 89 people in their trees. I can't help them if they don't want to communicate. They are not using the website to its fullest potential.

I checked the relationship between myself and my 3rd cousins. This means we may share the same great-great-great grandparents.

In my case, I share only one 3x great-grandparent with my DNA cousins. I am pleased to confirm that Simon Hankerson (1790-1879) was indeed the father of Nancy Young.  This was great news because there was a lot of information about him online complied by his descendants. My new cousin and Facebook friend Charles Hankerson created a website dedicated to the Hankerson family history.

From this website I learned the following:

  • Simon, also known as old Simon or Simmon, (1760-1840) was an enslaved person mentioned in the July 5, 1788 will of Robert Hankinson on a plantation in Crackers Neck, Winton County (Barnwell District), South Carolina. Robert Hankinson sold bushels of corn and herded cattle along with hogs. Twenty-four enslaved men and women were split between Robert's wife and their children when he died. Simmon, Sarah, Butler, Stepney, Diana and Hannah along with their future descendants became the property of Robert's son Richard Hankinson. This Simon was my 4x great-grandfather. I have yet to determine who was my 4x great-grandmother.
  • Simon Hankerson, also known as young Simon or Simon Hankerson Sr., (1790-1879) was a former enslaved person mentioned in the wills of Richard Hankinson and his wife Ann Williams-Hankinson. Simon's first wife, my 3x great-grandmother, is unknown. In 1838, Simon married a free person of color, Mary Floyd (1815-1899), in order to gain his freedom. Once free, he took the surname Hankerson. 

Imagine my surprise to find Simon and his family in the 1840 Barnwell, SC census (circled in red). Six houses down was the household of Henry Floyd (1804-), Mary Floyd-Hankerson's brother (circled in blue). Henry, Mary and their brother Allen were the children of Elizabeth Floyd (a free mulatto) and Jacob, a slave of Raine Alexander also from Barnwell. Henry married Tener Patsey Hankerson (1815-). Tener was the daughter of Abram (1789-) and Polly Hankerson (1800-). Simon and Abram were very likely brothers, but it is too early to confirm that yet.

Simon and Mary Hankerson had 10 children together. These children were Simon Hankerson Jr. (1840-), Henry Hankerson (1843-), Martha Hankerson-Boyd (1844-), Laura Hankerson-Davis (1850-), Mary Ann Hankerson-Griffin (1851-1887), John Hankerson (1852-1915), Calvin Hankerson (1853-), Albert Hankinson (1856-), Harriett Hankerson-Walker (1859-) and Louisiana Hankerson-Tutt (1860-). My DNA cousins online descend from several of these children. In the 1860 Four Mile Township, Barnwell, SC census, the Hankersons (circled in red) lived six homes away from my 2x great-grandparents Robert Young (1810-1883) and Nancy Hankerson-Young (circled in blue).

Simon lived the life of a farmer with his own land. He lived long enough to see the rest of his family freed after the Civil War. I found out that Simon had a will created on June 7, 1869 but it isn't available online. I will have to go find it in person. In fact, I NEED to go back to South Carolina and lock myself away in the records room. Simon died sometime in 1879 and was buried in Four Mile Township. Mary was also buried there. Where exactly is another mystery. This part of Barnwell was later changed to Jackson, Aiken County.

I always had a feeling the Young and Hankerson families were related but at the time I couldn't prove it with paperwork. As soon as my DNA test confirmed the relationship, I set out to find Nancy before 1840. Even with the help of the family website, I still need to do additional digging to uncover the mysteries of Nancy's lineage. The Hankerson family is very large and quite complex. I will split this blog into 3 posts so that it will be easier to follow along. In that time, I hope to uncover the identities of my 3x and 4x great-grandmothers.

Tune in next time to The Hankerson Boys/Nancy Young Mysteries and to all you DNA detectives out there - never give up searching for the truth!


  1. So cool..and I just spoke with Charles this evening! My family is from Aiken/Barnwell as well! All I do is build tree for my matches because so many of them do not have one!

    1. then you know my pain! lol
      It seems like a lot of us give up so easily and are afraid to ask for help.

  2. I'm inspired by your story. I need to dive more into how to utilize DNA into my research. Thank you for sharing.

    1. it really does help cross those brick walls especially when you cannot find the correct paper trail.

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  4. Great detective work Wayne. Congratulations on making this discovery.

  5. You are too funny, Wayne. Love that last image. Congratulations on breaking down another brick wall!

  6. Also, I love the Hardy Boys reference. My brother used to watch that series and so therefore I too would watch it on occasion.