Since little old ladies have been getting together and forming lineage societies, little old ladies have been creating fantastical ancestral lines for their families. In years past, no one was interested in “social history”, only “high society’s history”. If you didn’t fit in (but had enough money) your true past and that of your ancestors could be “doctored up” a bit, and poof! you were part of a family that belonged to SOMEONE.
The definition of SOMEONE varies a bit, but generally SOMEONE was a wealthy landowner who arrived in whatever colony FIRST. Maryland has such a Maddox family– a “first” Maddox family, who arrived very early on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Back in the 1960s, one of Edward and Rachel Maddox’s descendents tried to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. The right money must have been bandied around, because the ladies at the DAR library did their darndest and they squeezed my Edward right into someone else’s family tree.
THAT family, that is not OUR family has a book about them: Maddox: A Southern Maryland Family, which you can read if you like. It has lots of chapters on very important FIRST people. The DAR ladies did so fine a job squeezing our Edward into this family (in spite of some glaring problems with, say, years of birth and death to start) that they went ahead and hooked us to ANOTHER first family and pretty soon my Maddoxes were sashaying off the Arc and the Dove… yes both. Because that’s how COOL those FIRST families were. More recently, a researcher I don’t know on Ancestry.com has mooched off my research on the Maddox family and then went on to desperately cram John Maddox of Harford County into the life of Captain John Maddox of St. Mary’s County, who died at Ft. Necessity in PA. The dates here a little better, but truly, it’s a stretch.
And I’ve always thought so. I looked through that Maddox book years and years ago, before I knew anything really, and it just didn’t feel right. Once I learned more about John Maddox of Harford County, it really didn’t make sense. The Maddox families of Southern Maryland were landowners who wandered through various colonies acquiring more land and leaving wills and lots of documents behind. John Maddox of Harford County didn’t even seem to live in any of the places they lived. Yeah, maybe he was the black sheep brother, or the “younger son” of novels who didn’t get anything to speak of. But here are facts about my John: He was a cooper– a barrel maker. An important trade, but a TRADE. He seems to have lived on the property of a Harford County landowner named James McComas. He didn’t have property of his own. He sometimes sold tobacco, he sometimes sold liquor. His sons became tradesman too–only one was a landowner, and that was because he married a girl with money.
I’m fine with not fitting in with an IMPORTANT family because I believe every man’s story is important. Whether you came on the Arc or the Dove or an unnamed ship as an indentured servant– you were a brave person with vision– or at least hope– and that’s admirable.
Lately I’ve been wondering if John Maddox of Harford County is in fact, the “immigrant ancestor”. There is a Maddox Surname DNA project going on that invited male to male Maddox descendents to send in their cheek swab and figure out which Maddox ancestor they are truly related to. My line (being from Edwards’s daughter Eliza Jane) can’t participate, but luckily, the descendants of the James Maddox (who I believe is John’s son and Edward’s brother) participated. The results blew the DAR ladies out of the water, and confirmed my suspicions. First, here’s the main results table. The family of Samuel Maddox–those Southern Maryland Maddox’s–fit into Haplogroup R1b Lineage V. People grouped together in a lineage share a “recent” common ancestor. John’s son James is NOT in that group. James Maddox and his sons Daniel and Aquilla can be found in Haplogroup R1b Lineage XIII. Notice below their entry is R1b Possible Lineage XIII (possible I believe because of a slight variation and because one member of this group did not test the DNA out to as many markers as the others–I’m not a scientist–sorry if that sounds ridiculous). That group includes William Mattox born 1815 in ENGLAND lived most of his life in Scotland (remember now…John was born about 1744) and James Maddix born 1795 in Ireland.
William born 1815 in England is a very close match to James born in 1777 in Maryland (John’s probable son). The Maddox DNA project wonders if James was a brother to William’s unknown father– I think it more probably that John Maddox of Harford County could be an older brother to William’s unknown father.