Monday, August 25, 2008

Email to Family...

All, My great grandfather, as also for some of you, was Edmund or Edgar Harper Mitchell. His father was Shatteen C. Mitchell, 1802-1866, and grand ather was James Cocke Mitchell b abt 1772.

Edgar Harper Mitchell came to Texas in a huff, possibly because it became clear that the Mitchell plantation in Griffin, GA known as Double Cabins, would be left to his father's third wife -- the city girl that was not much older than some of Shatteen's older children. It was said Edgar mounted his horse in anger and did not stop until he reached eastern Texas.

Now Edgar's wife and my grandmother was Margaret Sarah Belew. Her great grandfather was Renny Belue/Belew. Renny settled in Union County, SC in abt 1769. Before that there is a record in Anson County, NC dated 1767 showing him as a witness to a deed transferring land from Thomas Hightower to John Cook.

The data on the Mitchell's was compiled years ago in part by my father, Mary Mitchell Clarke. Interestingly, the daughter of Shatteen's son Shatteen C. Mitchell, Jr was the baby girl that was born after her father was killed in Winchester, VA. She became the family historian on the Mitchell family and was the one that passed information to Mary Clarke for her book and to my father.

Most of my time in recent years has been focused on unraveling the mystery of Renny Belew's origins. There are several published books that quite thoroughly have compiled all known records on various branches of Belews from Rhode Island, to Virginia and the Carolina's. But except the 1766 there is no record of Renny Belew prior to his arrival in Union County,SC. It is like he materialized out of thin air.

Two years ago I thought of using DNA testing as a way to break through this seemingly brick wall. It took a while for me to get started. I shared the idea with Helen Burchamof Tishomingo, MS and whom I had just met via the internet. She encouraged me and together we began locating known living male descendants of Renny and recruiting them to participate in our Belew DNA project. At the same time we discovered the Ballew Family Association had a website where DNA results were posted of Ballew, Belew, or any other variant of that name. We also recruited individuals not know to be Renny Belew's descendants but were from prominent Belew families that we thought Renny might be tied to. The result was several people were tested. To our amazement when the results came back for Renny's descendants we found two matches with Belew's who already had tested and whose results were already posted on the Ballew DNA Project website.

Over time more matches would emerge. As Helen reached out to obtain the paper trails for these individuals, we began to benefit from the research done by these other researches. This past week we heard from two of them, Marcia M. and Jim F., who provided some important information. With this information we know firmly believe we know about Renny origins. This information links him to Judith Chastain and the widow of Giles Belew of Henrico & Goochland Counties, VA. It get's a little complicated but we believe Thomas Pruett may be the biological father. The records of Halifax County show a Thomas Pruett had a son Renny Pruett. Marcia McClure who is descended from Thomas Pruett says that Renny Pruett of Halifax County suddenly no longer appeared in Halifax records which before 1766 for whom there were abundant reference before. Anson County, NC is directly south of Halifax County which is adjacent to the NC border.
It is very possible that Renny Pruett and Renny Belew are in fact the same person. Renny just choosing to go by his mother's married name after leaving Virginia and moving to NC and then to SC.

So the DNA project has paid unexpected dividends and we believe has allowed us a plausible explanation about Renny Belew's origins.

Encouraged by this, I just today (now yesterday) recruited one of our Mitchell cousins to participate in a Mitchell DNA project. By the way, I have had my DNA tested and years ago. Another one or two Mitchell known male descendants of Edgar Harper Mitchell will confirm my own test and be sufficient to create a DNA bench mark for Shatteen and his father James Cocke Mitchell. Over time we may be able to find other descendants of Shatteen to compare with our bench mark. This could help sort out Mitchell's who are related to us from those that are not.

FYI I have attached a document which contains my DNA an explanation of some DNA concepts. Enjoy!

-- Ron Mitchell

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