Vol. 17, No. 4, May 11, 2015


A Free, Occasional, Online Summary of Items of Interest to Descendants of all Families of Graves, Greaves, Grieves, Grave, and other spelling variations Worldwide




Copyright © 2015 by the Graves Family Association and Kenneth V. Graves.  All rights reserved.


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** General Comments

** GFA Facebook Group

** Nomenclature That Needs to be Clarified

** Confusion About Two Men Named Asa Graves

** Ancestry Launches Genealogy Video Courses

** 23andMe Making Progress With Medical DNA Testing

** Updates to the GFA Website

** Common Misconceptions in Genealogy and American Culture

** More About Using Wikipedia As An Information Source

** Roots Revealed Blog for Help With African-American Research

** Jimmy Greaves, English Football Idol, Suffers Stroke

** Graves/Greaves Family Members With Native American Ancestry

** To Submit Material to this Bulletin & Other Things






New information about our Graves and Greaves families continues to be revealed constantly, as does new information on using DNA testing and analysis to get beyond that proverbial “brick wall.”  This issue of the GF Bulletin contains some articles on subject that I found interesting.  I hope they are helpful to you.







The Graves Family Association group on Facebook continues to grow, with membership now in excess of 1,400.



Concetta Phillipps (one of our Facebook group administrators) has setup a new file for group members to record multiple Graves/Greaves lines of descent.  It can be reached by group members here or by clicking on Files at the top of the GFA Facebook page and then clicking on “Are you a Graves Double?.”  There has been some discussion about what it means to have multiple Graves/Greaves lines of descent; it may mean descent from more than one genealogy or more than one genealogy group, or it could mean descent from a Graves/Greaves ancestor without regard to whether the lines are within the same genealogy or in different genealogies.  The consensus seems to be that it is interesting to find ancestral lines, especially multiple ancestral lines, and the exact criteria for those lines really doesn’t matter.  Most of the people with multiple lines have them from cousins marrying, within the same genealogy; the only exceptions I saw were Judith Graves descended from both gen. 85 and gen. 169 (she is also descended from gen. 270), and Ron Graves listed in the next paragraph.



It amazes me sometimes how difficult it is to make information available to people who can benefit from it.  In the file section of the GFA Facebook group and also on the GFA website are spreadsheets for “GFA Facebook Group Members” sorted by name, by genealogy group, and by residence.  The most recent one of these is March 20, 2014, because few people seemed to be interested, so I stopped taking the time to update them.  In addition to including information about people with ancestry from more than one genealogy, these spreadsheets have much additional information, including place living and place born.  When I quickly skimmed through the file of Facebook group members by name, for those descended from more than one genealogy, I saw:

           Peter Grace, gen. 28 and 168

           Ron Graves, TX, gen. 13 and 270

           Sandra Hunter, CA, gen. 104 and 179

           Sharon Boyd Jung, TX, gen. 148, 220

           Katherine King, VA, gen. 169, 270

           Brenda Graves Prefling, AZ, gen. 13, 105, and 270

           David Robertson, Mexico, gen. 270 and 835

           John Earl Spencer, CA, gen. 169, 270

There are undoubtedly more, especially since many people in our Facebook group haven’t told me who they are or what their Graves/Greaves ancestry is.  With many names the same or similar, it is difficult to figure out who is who on Facebook.  In the file of group members, some help can come from where they live.  The most positive identification, however, is the last column for GFA ID No., which is included for anyone who has corresponded with me and sent me information (which causes me to create a file folder and a numbered database record).






A frequent source of confusion among descendants of our various Graves and Greaves families is the meaning of a few of the abbreviations and terms that are used.  For example, genealogy 169 is for the descendants of Capt. Thomas Graves of Virginia, and is usually abbreviated gen. 169.  This is not generation 169; it is unfortunate that genealogy and generation start with the same letters.  This has even been confused with the identification (ID) number of an individual within a genealogy.  As a reminder, the description of these three numbers is below.

           Genealogy number: This is an arbitrary number assigned to be able to easily refer and identify a genealogy (which can also be thought of as a family).  A genealogy contains multiple generations and multiple descendants of the earliest known ancestor.  A genealogy number will never change unless it is found to be part of another genealogy, in which case it is added to that genealogy.

           Generation number: This is the number within a genealogy that identifies the distance from the earliest proven ancestor.  For example, if the earliest known ancestor in the genealogy for your family is your great-grandfather, then he is generation 1, his children (your grandparent) is generation 2, his grandchildren (your parent) is generation 3, and you are generation 4.

           Identification number: Each descendant within a genealogy is assigned a sequential ID number.  As people are added to or removed from the genealogy, subsequent ID numbers will change.






Mrs. Virginia Partch is descended from Asa Graves, Jr., born 1797 in VT, who first married Aurilla Gilbert, and then married Mrs. Angeline Trumbull (her ancestor), whose maiden name was Wilson.  This Asa Graves is #702, son of Asa Graves (373) and Roxana Ottman, in genealogy 28 for Rear Admiral Thomas Graves of Charlestown, MA.  However, I recently became aware that there is some confusion between this family and one in genealogy 168 for Thomas Graves of Hartford, CT.  In genealogy 168, there is an Asa Graves (620) who married Roxana Graves (not Ottman) with the same date of birth as Asa Graves (373) in gen. 28, both listed as born 4 Nov. 1755.  It is likely that the date of birth listed is the one for #620 and that the date for #373 is unknown, but I don’t know for sure.  Can anyone help?






On April 22, Ancestry made the following announcement: “Ancestry, the world’s leading family history service, has launched Ancestry Academy, a new educational resource that offers high-quality video instruction from family history and genealogy experts. Covering a wide range of topics of interest in family history research, including Native American ancestry, online US census research, and DNA testing, this new educational content will help anyone, no matter their knowledge, better research and understand their family’s unique history.”


For more information, click here.






On Feb. 20, Matthew Herper of Forbes magazine wrote an article titled “What 23andMe’s FDA Approval Means For The Future Of Genomics.”  This is a positive step for 23andMe’s DNA testing for health and medical purposes, but it continues to be obvious that genetic genealogy is only a sideline for them to attract people to their medical testing business.  The article in Forbes stated: “Last night, the Food and Drug Administration approved a test made by 23andMe, the Mountain View, Calif.-based personal genetics company, for a gene that can cause a rare disorder called Bloom Syndrome, which causes short stature and a heightened risk of cancer.”


“This is news not because a new carrier test is important, but because the FDA seems to be using this test as a way to start to think out its plans for regulating new types of genetic tests that are emerging from the revolution in DNA sequencing.”


The FDA is not going back on its 2013 decision to stop allowing 23andMe to sell its personal genetics tests directly to consumers.  (See the article in the GF Bulletin, vol. 15, no. 13, Nov. 26, 2013, titled “23andMe Has Problems With the FDA”.)


More excitingly, the FDA has told 23andMe that it intends to re-classify carrier screening tests so that bringing a new one to market doesn’t require going through the entire review process — or any review process at all.


The reason the 23andMe approval is exciting is that it represents a baby step into this world. It doesn’t put 23andMe back into the business of selling consumers lots of genetic tests (it will take time even for the company to launch a test that does carrier screening) but it makes it easier to imagine a world where the FDA intelligently regulates genetic data."


An additional discussion of the FDA approval is in an article by the Michael H. Cohen Law Group, which provides legal strategy for health and wellness businesses.



On April 27, I received the following notice from 23andMe:

“A few months ago we let you know that we are working with MyHeritage to provide you with a new, comprehensive family tree tool.


As part of this integration with MyHeritage, we want to remind you that you will no longer be able to edit your 23andMe family tree after May 1, 2015.


Since you have not transferred your 23andMe family tree over to MyHeritage, this deadline may be important to you. While you will still be able to see your information, and it will continue to be stored on 23andMe, you will not be able to modify your family tree on our website.


We hope you will join the tens of thousands of other 23andMe customers who have already set up their family tree on MyHeritage, and move your family tree to their website at no cost to you -- it's free.* By setting up your family tree on MyHeritage, you can combine the information from your 23andMe results -- like your DNA relatives and your countries of ancestry -- with MyHeritage's historical records and matching tools to build a more complete family tree.”


* Building or importing a family tree to the MyHeritage website or mobile app is free. You can use the MyHeritage website to upload family photos to your tree, view Smart Matches™ from other peoples’ trees and find Record Matches from free historical records. Editing your online tree on MyHeritage is free up to 250 nodes (that’s up to 250 ancestors or relatives on your tree).


MyHeritage has extended an exclusive free offer to 23andMe customers to build a tree with unlimited nodes for 6 months (starting from the time you connect to MyHeritage from 23andMe to start a new family tree or authorize transfer of your 23andMe family tree data to MyHeritage). After the 6 month period, users will either need to sign up for one of the MyHeritage paid subscription plans or continue with free access and a smaller tree (<250 nodes). Paid subscriptions provide access to all historical records, confirming or rejecting matches, contacting other MyHeritage members and growing your tree beyond 250 nodes. This offer is non-transferable and subject to change without notice.







The following genealogies have been revised.  Some of the revisions may be minor and others are major.

           22, James Graves and Melvina ------ of Caswell Co., NC

           77, John Graves and Margery Harvey of Randolph Co., NC

           108, Wilson Graves and Melvina ------ of Caswell Co., NC

           294, Madison Graves and Sylvia ------ of Caswell Co., NC

           307, Isaac Washington and Elmira Russell of Caswell Co., NC (parents of Monjett Graves)

           658, Parents of John Graves and Samuel Graves of Caswell Co., NC



           The Famous/Notable Family Members page now includes Mickey Rooney, descended from genealogy 270.  He was mentioned in the GF Bulletin, vol. 16, no. 4, April 22, 2014, but never added to the website.






There are many myths that people believe to be true but are not.  Some common ones relating to genealogy are discussed below.  A listing of some myths can be found in an article on  Although these myths are common to the United States, the general principles are probably similar around the world.  Just because an idea seems to make sense and comforts us does not mean it is necessarily true.  Of course, sometimes these stories are true, but it’s best to be suspicious and investigate before believing.



This has been discussed in previous bulletins.  A typical version of the story is that three brothers came to America.  One settled in Massachusetts, one went south to the Carolinas, and one went west, never to be heard from again.  Stories like this are usually incorrect attempts by someone to explain why his or her family name is found many places.  There is also the tendency to believe that if there is some evidence that an assumption is true, and there is no knowledge of evidence proving the assumption false, then it is true.


A version of this myth is the belief by many people that all Graves family descendants in or from Virginia were descended from Capt. Thomas Graves (genealogy 169) who arrived in Jamestown in 1608.  It was not until a few years ago with the use of DNA testing that we found this wasn’t even close to being true.



An article in the issue of Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter discussed research by Kenneth A. Bravo on obituaries in the New York Times claiming that the family name was changed during the immigration process at Ellis Island.  A podcast of an interview of Kenneth Bravo by Bernice Bennett is here.  This myth has been debunked many times before, but it still persists.  Searching for something like “myth of name change at Ellis island” will give much explanation, including an article on, and another article from Smithsonian Magazine, which states:

“No names were changed at Ellis Island because no names were taken at Ellis Island.” Instead, inspectors only checked the people passing through the island against the records of the ship on which they were said to arrive. If the name was misspelled, it was done so on the ship’s manifest documents when a person bought their ticket in Europe. (Some immigration clerks on Ellis Island even helped correct these mistakes.) Regardless, these spellings didn’t typically follow people to their new lives in America.


The real culprits of migration-related name changes are likely to be the immigrants themselves, says Philip Sutton at the New York Public Library. Faced with the task of adapting to a new country and culture, many chose on their own to alter their surname. In other cases, immigrants used nicknames given to them by their new neighbors or friends when filling out applications for naturalization.”



A recent article on the Ancestry blog is called “Debunking the American Dream: Immigrants Did Better in 1900 Than in 2000.”  University research casts doubt on this myth.  Another article about this is on  It appears that in the early part of the 20th century, immigrants often worked in higher-paying jobs than natives. Although there are always many exceptions, perhaps on average this is another example of the next myth on assimilation – that families tend to stay in similar social and financial situations throughout multiple generations.



This is the idea of America as a great “melting pot” where, after a couple of generations, everyone is pretty much the same.  An article titled “Surnames and Social Mobility” in the Dec. 2014 GF Bulletin discussed the lack of social mobility in England.  Many people may not be surprised about low social mobility in England, but it is “common knowledge” that America is the “land of opportunity” where the “Horatio Alger dream” can be realized.  An article titled “More Maps of the American Nations” in the July 2014 GF Bulletin disputes this, citing an article from JayMan’s Blog, which states “assimilation largely does not occur”.



This subject and the more general subject of Native American ancestry is not as simple as most of us probably think it is.  An interesting 2012 article on discusses this, explaining that Native American ancestry cannot necessarily be determined by DNA testing, and tribal membership and ancestry as shown by DNA testing are two different things.  There is also an interesting article written by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., in which he explains “Why most black people aren’t part Indian, despite family lore.”


In spite of the facts that Native American tribes didn’t have kings and princesses, and that many stories about a family’s Native American ancestry aren’t true, some of the stories undoubtedly are true.  One source of more information is the many articles written by Roberta Estes on her DNAeXplained blog.  You can see a list of articles she has written on the subject of Native American ancestry here, or do your own search on her blog.






In the GF Bulletin for Jan. 29, 2015, there was an article about the reasons for and the risks of using Wikipedia for information.  Another blog article on that subject, titled “Why Not Wikipedia?”, was published by Mocavo’s Michael Leclerc on May 2.  He writes that although “Wikipedia has become a replacement for the encyclopedias we used growing up”, “there is no control over who says what on Wikipedia.”    There is no way to tell how accurate the information is in any given article.


His conclusion is: “There is nothing wrong with using Wikipedia as a starting point.  But it should never be used as the sole source of information.  It should be used to point you in the right direction to find credible, reliable, and authoritative information.”






I was not previously aware of a blog called “Roots Revealed”, written by Melvin J. Collier.  He has been blogging since at least 2012.  His most recent article is called “Four Generations of Enslaved Ancestors Held By One Trust.”  This is an addition to the research aids that have been mentioned in previous articles.


His tips for African-American research (most of which also apply generally to other genealogical research) include the following:

           Talk to your kinfolk.

           Gather records you and your family may already have.

           Read books about African-American research.

           Research, study, and analyze federal census records.

           Search for other important documents.

           For enslaved ancestors, find the name of the slave owner(s).






Jimmy Greaves, one of the greatest English football (soccer) players of all time, is recovering from a serious stroke.  He is mentioned in the sidebar on the main page of the GFA website, and is also included on the Notable Family Members page of the website.  The 75-year-old suffered a stroke on Sunday, May 3.  It was announced on May 7 that he was out of intensive care and able to sit up in bed.  There have been multiple stories about his illness, including one here.


Another story in the Mirror on 9 May is titled “Jimmy Greaves: 50,000 fans send get well messages for stroke victim star.”  It also contains a gallery of pictures of him.


He married Irene ‑‑‑‑‑‑ in 1958.  According to Wikipedia, they had 5 children, 4 of whom are still living.  I included a discussion of my attempts to find his Greaves ancestry in the GF Bulletin, vol. 16, no. 4, April 22, 2014.  It appears that he is descended from genealogy 159 for John Greaves (born about 1814) and Mary Wood of Middlesex, England.  Can anyone help find more information?






E. John Reinhold recently commented on the GFA Facebook page: “After years of tracking rumors through cousins that my 3 times great-grandfather, Seth Graves, son of Bela Graves, had a mother-in-law, the mother of Jane “Jennie” George Graves, who was from the tribe of Delawares at Somerset, Pennsylvania, this has been shown in several DNA results of my generation as 2 percent Native American.”


That ancestor of John’s was Elizabeth VanCampin, born 1779 in Somerset, PA, died 1805 in Austinburg, Tioga Co., PA, and married Bedford George.  Seth Graves is in genealogy 166 (John Graves of Concord, MA).  My calculations for 1 full-blooded Native American ancestor 6 generations back show that John and others of his generation should have inherited 1.56% NA ancestry, so 2% is pretty close to that.


Do any other Graves descendants have or know of Native American ancestry that has been supported by DNA testing?  In addition to the autosomal DNA testing that John is referring to, Native American ancestry can also be shown by Y-DNA testing (for an all-male ancestral lineage) and by mitochondrial DNA testing (for an all-female ancestral lineage), although fewer people have these kinds of lineages.





This bulletin is written and edited by Kenneth V. Graves,



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