Can DNA Reveal the Identity of the Parents of Marietta Williams?

Who were the parents of Marietta Williams Church? I’ve traced many branches of my family tree but the Marietta Williams branch has eluded me, left a large gap in my family tree, and prompted a lengthy search for the identity of her parents. 


Isaac Church Sr. is listed in his obituary as having moved to Michigan in 1846 and his wife is listed as Mariette Williams.

There are several men named Isaac Church in this story. Marietta Williams was married to Isaac Church Sr. who was named after his grandfather Isaac Church, a lieutenant in the Revolutionary War. Lt. Isaac Church the Revolutionary War soldier was my ancestor as validated by the genealogists at the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution.[1]

                  Isaac H. Church was one of their sons and his biographies in two Gratiot County Michigan histories are confused and incorrect. In the two biographies Isaac H. Church names his mother as Loretta and also misnames his grandfather as Thomas. [2][3] Isaac H. Church’s siblings are correctly listed in his biographies as Louisa, Juliette, Willard, Elisha, George, Harriet and Frank. 

                  On the death certificate of Isaac H. Church his birthplace is listed as Winn (sic -Wayne) County New York. The death certificate states that his mother’s name was Marietta Williams, his father’s name was Isaac Church and the informant was his brother Elisha Church.[4] The death certificate of Isaac H. Church’s sister, my 2nd great-grandmother Mary Louisa Church, states that her parents are I. Church and Marietta Williams and the birthplace of both of her parents as New York with the informant listed as C.F. Wright, my great-grandfather.[5]


                  Before couples marry they have to meet each other. In my search I located a genealogy of the Elisha Williams family of Fulton County Ohio. Isaac Church Sr.’s father Willard Church also lived in Fulton County Ohio in the 1840’s. I located a county history for Fulton County that mentioned two of Willard Church’s sons. In 1843 or 1844 Willard Church’s sons Philander Willard Church and Othello Church experienced a water well excavation explosion in Fulton County Ohio at the property of Jacob G. Wildin, surviving a blast heard seven miles away.[6] Jacob G. Wildin is listed on the 1850 census in German Ohio, eight miles from Wauseon Ohio.

                  In 1835 Elisha Williams and his wife Hannah Harrison were the first settlers of Clinton Township locating near Wauseon in Fulton County Ohio. Elisha Williams was Justice of the Peace for Clinton Township in 1838.[7] In 1843 Willard Church, who lived in Dover Township Ohio, was elected as a Fulton County Trustee.[8] Due to the public offices that they held they are very likely to have known each other. It is possible that that Willard’s son Isaac Church Sr. also lived in the area and knew the Williams family. 

                  Willard’s son Philander Willard Church never left the Dover area. In 1850 Philander lived near Ottokee in Dover Township Ohio, about six miles from Elisha Williams who lived on his original land grant just southeast of Wauseon. See map below showing approximate locations.[9] 


                  Was Marietta Williams the daughter of Elisha and Hannah Williams? Can DNA assist in solving this puzzle? recently introduced a short-lived facility with far more extensive DNA linkages. Before they took down that facility it showed several hundred DNA ancestors for the Elisha Williams family linked to my DNA. The facility was only kept up on their website for a day but it indicated to me that my research to that point in time was valid. 

                  Elisha Williams, the probable father of Marietta Williams, was born in 1794 in Huntingdon County Pennsylvania.[10] He married Hannah Harrison, who was the daughter of John Harrison and Ann Tallman, and who also was the granddaughter of Benjamin Tallman and Dinah Boone, in Fairfield County Ohio in 1816. The Williams genealogy states that Hannah Harrison’s father John Harrison was killed at Ft. Meigs Ohio in the War of 1812. 

                  The first of Elisha and Hannah Williams’ many children, Louisa, is listed in the Williams genealogy as having died in infancy in 1817.Their daughter Lucinda was born in 1819, married William Lingle, and produced son William who in turn fathered a daughter named Hattie.[11]  I am linked by 23 cm DNA to Lucinda and Hattie Lingle through one of their descendants, a 5th cousin named DM.  DM and I share 23 cm DNA, which is near the average of 25 cm estimated DNA shared by 5th cousins,  (see table below).[12]

There are also numerous DNA links to Hannah Harrison Williams’ parental Harrison and Tallman families. Comparing family trees with DNA, I have a 6th cousin DNA relative directly in common with Benjamin Tallman (born 1745) and his wife Dinah Boone (born 1749, and a first cousin of Daniel Boone). Benjamin Tallman and Dinah Boone’s daughter Patience married David Brumfield and that couple had a daughter named Dinah Brumfield whose descendant I share 12cm of DNA with, the average on the chart above for 6th cousins.

                  I have many other DNA linked Boone and Harrison relatives, including two that link directly to Hannah Harrison’s great-grandfather, (John Harrison’s grandfather), Zebulon Harrison (born 1718). It is interesting to note that both Benjamin Tallman and Zebulon Harrison were Revolutionary War soldiers. 

                  Isaac H. Church’s biographies say that his family migrated to Michigan from Wayne County New York and there is an Isaac Church in Huron/Wolcott New York in 1840. Contrasting the results above with the story of a possible Huron/Wolcott, Wayne County, New York Church family, I compared the results above with a search for New York DNA relatives of the Church family. At present I have no DNA relatives that point to a Church family in the Huron/Wolcott Wayne County New York area. 

                  I do have other DNA linked Williams family ancestors mentioned in the Williams genealogy. Elisha Williams’ mother was Mary Gaither who was born in Anne Arundel Maryland. I have at least 17 DNA relatives linked to the Anne Arundel Maryland Gaither family. Additionally, Elisha Williams’ first cousin William Williams, whose father John Williams settled in Genoa, Delaware, Ohio in the first decade of the 1800’s, has several descendants with whom I share DNA. 


                  Isaac Church Sr. named four of his sons Willard, and Elisha, two of whom survived. It was customary in many families of the early era of the country to name the first son after the father’s father, and the second son after the mother’s father. Similarly the convention was to name the first daughter after the mother’s mother and the second daughter after the father’s mother. Here, Marietta may have been named after Elisha Williams’ mother Mary Gaither. 

                  Isaac Church Sr. and Marietta Williams Church’s first daughter was named Mary Louisa possibly after the first recorded child in the Elisha William’s family, a daughter named Louisa who is recorded in the Williams genealogy as dying as an infant. The Williams family genealogy says that Louisa was born in 1817 and died at the age of one, but did she? Mariette Williams Church, mother of Mary Louisa Church, was born the same year.  Clearly the names Elisha, Mary, and Louisa are common to both the Church and Williams families.


                  A well documented DNA link to a daughter of Elisha and Hannah Williams, DNA links to Hannah Harrison’s ancestors, DNA links to Mary Gaither’s family, DNA links to the Boone Family, DNA links to the Tallman family, proximity of the Willard Church family to the Elisha Williams family in Fulton County Ohio in the 1840’s that is well documented in county histories, and naming conventions of the time, all support the conclusion that Marietta Williams Church is a forgotten member, or possibly the Louisa, of the Elisha Williams family of Clinton Township, Fulton County, Ohio.

                  Each individual item of the evidence presented above standing alone would not be enough to substantiate the conclusion that Elisha Williams and Hannah Harrison were the parents of Marietta Williams Church. The individual items would only indicate a relationship due to happenstance or mere coincidence. However when viewed in total each of the items above links together and leads to a conclusion based on the preponderance of the evidence. DNA in particular provides the linkage to ancestral families and to individuals in those families that cements the facts into the cohesive conclusion that Marietta Williams Church was a member of the Elisha Williams family of Fulton County Ohio.

Author: Bruce A. Wright, Esq., August 17, 2021 – Copyright 2021

[1] Bruce Wright, Esq., Discover Your Roots! How I found my North American and Revolutionary War Ancestors, Chapter 13.

[2] Willard D. Tucker, Gratiot County, Michigan, Historical, Biographical, Statistical, p.490, Beeman and Peters, Saginaw MI, 1913.

[3] Biographical Memoirs of Gratiot County, p. 160, J.H. Beers Chicago, 1906.

[4] Death Certificate of Isaac H. Church.

[5] Death Certificate of Mary Louisa Church.

[6] Frank H. Reighard, A Standard History of Fulton County, Ohio, An Authentic Narrative of the Past, v.1, p. 289, Lewis, Chicago & New York, 1920.

[7] Northwestern Historical Assoc., Thomas Mikesell, Editor, The County of Fulton: a History of Fulton County, Ohio, p. 61, Madison Wisconsin, 1905.

[8] Northwestern Historical Assoc., Thomas Mikesell, Editor, The County of Fulton: a History of Fulton County, Ohio, p. 245, Madison Wisconsin, 1905.

[9] Plat of 1850’s Fulton County Ohio   

[10] Elisha M Williams, A Partial Historical and Biographical Genealogy of the Descendants of John Williams, the English Emigrant to America, p. 5, McCowat-Mercer, Jackson, Tennessee, 1931.

[11] A Partial Historical and Biographical Genealogy of the Descendants of John Williams, p. 5-8.

[12] Blaine T. Bettinger,, from the webpage of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, The Shared cM Project Version 4.0 March 2020. , license

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