DNA and our Stevens line

Just wanted to catch you up on what I’ve been up to lately with DNA.

I figured it was about time to find the parents of my 2x great grandmother, Constantia (Stephens) Conner. She was born in St Charles, Missouri in 1828, married Jacob Conner in Hancock County, Illinois in 1847, and died in Siskiyou County, California in 1899. Her parents have always been a mystery and her obituary doesn’t tell us much, other than that her mother died when Constantia was only three years old. At age eight, her father moved them to Hancock County, Illinois and left her to be raised by another couple. Perhaps her father may have moved away, died or remarried. So far we only know that Constantia was left in the care of William and Susan Spencer of Warsaw, Hancock County, Illinois.

I decided to dig into Mom’s match list on Ancestry, following our Conner cousins. I had to go down the list a ways because of course all of us who descend from Jacob and Constantia Conner are listed as fairly close relatives. We also have several cousins who connect a generation further back, descending from Jacob Conner’s siblings, so I had to ignore those as well, in order to isolate the non-Conner relatives on this branch of the family tree. There were BUNCHES of people who match our Conners but they do not have Conner lines in their trees.

First I noticed a large network developing around the surname Ellsworth. There were tons of them. Turns out they were LDS. Many had large families with descendants who have now had their DNA tested. Perhaps this large number of matches springs as well from the Mormon interest in genealogy. One ancestor of these Ellsworth cousins was Israel Ellsworth whose wife was Prudence Stevens. When she died, he married her sister, Lydia Stevens. As I fleshed out each of these trees and entered them into my Family Tree Maker, these Ellsworth/Stevens lines led back to Benjamin Stevens (1733-1803) and Hopestill Shaw (1735-1810) of Rutland County, Vermont.

Benjamin served in the Revolutionary War, so the DAR website had several lines of descent from him. Cousins by the dozens descend from this couple, and I fleshed out lines of descent from several of their children.

One thing assures me I’m on the right track: Constantia (Stephens) Conner’s enumeration in the 1880 census, the first census that lists birthplaces for the parents of each person, shows her father was born in Vermont.

Now I just need to find out which one of the Stevens/Stephens descendants was born in Vermont (probably around 1800) and ended up in Missouri, where Constantia was born. After he moved with her to Hancock County, Illinois (big Mormon area and perhaps his interest was in following that group as other lines of his family were doing), he either died or remarried and I haven’t found him. For years I was considering another Stephens in the area, but he was born in Germany and I have yet to find a DNA match with a descendant of this Stephens.

Interestingly, Mom has DNA matches who also descend from Benjamin Stevens’ brother, Roger Stevens, a Loyalist during the Revolutionary War, who moved to Ontario, Canada with his family. However, there are fewer matches through Roger, so I’m leaning toward Benjamin as my Stevens ancestor. More work to do!!

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