Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Email to Jim...

Here is the email that helps explain some recent break-throughs on finding Renny Belew's origins through combining DNA results and use of traditional genealogical information. The DNA matches pointed us to other genealogical researchers who had relevant information that we would have never found otherwise.

Joe and Sam are cousins who are believed to be both direct male-descendants of Peter Belew, son of Giles Belew and Judith Chastain. Judith is daughter of Pierre Chastain, the co-founder of the first French Huguenot settlement in Virginia established in 1700 along the James River, near present day Richmond. Pierre was both governor and physician.


To: Joe B.
Subj: Re: From Ron Mitchell abt BELEW Family History

Thanks for getting back to me. I sent the same email to Sam, who quickly took me up on the offer to test. So I ordered a DNA kit for him last Monday. He should have received it by now or if not in the next day or two. So you are off the hook. I believe it is sufficient that only one of you need to test.

We (speaking of myself and Helen B. with whom I work closely) have had what we believe to be a significant break through in the last 10 days. This is in part because of the DNA project we initiated about 2 years ago. The essence is that we have had correspondence with two researchers on non-Belew lines that show DNA matches with Renny's direct male descendants. The two lines are Pruett and Farmer. Both have researchers that in recent days have pointed us to Thomas Pruett of Halifax County as the key.

Marcia McClure on the Pruett line identified Thomas Pruett as possibily the common ancestor for the DNA matches. Thomas had a son named Renney reportedly born about 1729. Thomas was married to Mary Chastain, daughter of Estienne Chastain. A "Thomas Pruett" also stood up in court in Amelia County for Judith Chastain, dau of Pierre Chastain, on the charge of having a bastard child. So the Pruett's and Chastains seemed to have a close relationship.

Here are some details of the case.
20 April 1739 - Church Wardens of Raleigh Parish vs. Judith for having bastard child. Amelia Co. VA OB 1, p70. (Thomas Prewitt security for this one). The date 1739 seems a little late vice b. abt 1729 for Renny. One or the other of these years maybe incorrect. Both years are fascinating, however 1729 is one year after Giles Belew reportedly died. 1739 is one year after, according Belew family tradition, Renny Belew was born. In any event, it is fascinating that Judith Chastain and Thomas Prewitt are linked in this way. Who knows how long they were associated with each other.

Seems that Thomas Pruett and his family moved to Halifax County, VA where they show up frequently on the records there starting about 1759. In a set of land transfers, Thomas deeds on the same day in 1759 150 acres to each of three sons, Renney Pruett, Abraham Pruett, and his son John Farmer. Hence, the DNA connection with the Farmer line is also explained.

Marcia claims that Renney Pruett seemed to have disappeared from Halifax County, about 1776, never to be located again. Interesting, our 20 first record of Renney Belue appears in 1767 in Anson County, NC. Anson County, which is due south of Halifax County. Halifax borders NC on its northern border while Anson county borders SC border on its southern border. Renny subsequently moved to the area that is now Union, SC.

Could it be that Renny Prewitt/Pruett and Renny Belue/Belew are in fact the same person? That currently is our working hypothesis. Or could it be Thomas Pruett fathered a child with Judith Chastain Belew, who retained his mother's married name and whose first named was Renny? All very interesting. In any event, the DNA results and matches we have so far are pointing us to Halifax County and adjoining counties in the 1766-1766 period and to the Pruett family as a link to my ancestor Renny Belew's origins. We also believe the Chastain family could be somehow involved.

So I am most anxious to see if Sam's DNA test sheds any more light on this mystery. Won't know until Sam tests and his results are analyzed. Once Sam mails his sample to the Houston headquarters of FamilyTree DNA Co FTNA will sends the sample off to the Arizona lab for analysis. It is anticipated that 6 to 8 weeks will lapse before the results are returned to Sam. I will be notified that the results are in at the same time. Helen's and my experience is that the eight weeks of waiting will seem like an eternity.

I hope my meandering response gives you some idea of the excitement I am currently feeling and great anticipation I and Helen have. Our sense is that we are coming very close to bringing the whole issue of Renny's origins to a close. Have a most wonderful week,

Truly yours,
Ron Mitchell

-----Original Message-----
From: Joe B.
Subject: RE: From Ron Mitchell abt BELEW Family History

Ron, I got your phone messages and just saw this, after returning from a two week trip. This sounds very interesting. I am going through 1,000 emails this morning and will get back to you shortly.


-----Original Message-----
To: Joe B.
Subject: From Ron Mitchell abt BELEW Family History


As background I spoke to you last March about our two Belew lines. As I recall you trace your Belew line back to Solomon Belew, who may be descended from Peter Belew, the only know legitimate son of Giles Belew and Judith Chastain. My line goes back to Renny Belew who settled in Fairforest, Union Co. SC/

We have had a very exciting break through this week.

We believe believe we have strong evidence now that my ancestor Renny Belew’s is connected to Giles and Judith but his biological father being Thomas Pruett, who lived subsequently in Halifax Co, VA. He in fact had a son Renney Pruett, who we believe may have moved south to North Carolina and then to South Carolina where he was known as Renny Belew. This is based on connecting some dots through a DNA surname project.

I am asking you to participate in a Belew DNA surname project at no cost to you.

I want to purchase a DNA testing kit for you this week. I have received some financial support that I have been waiting for that puts the cost to me of the DNA kit into my comfort zone. This is in the form of a deeply discounted price now being offered by the FamilyTree DNA (FTDNA) company and that is valid through the end of August. What I would need from you as your consent to purchase the kit which I would have sent to you. Follow the20directions on the kit and return the kit to the FTDNA company. That is all.

If you have any question please contact me by email or telephone. My telephone number is [removed]. I need to hear from you before I order the kit. The FTDNA offer ends Aug 31st. So I need to hear from you before then.

I would really like to know where Peter and Solomon Belew fit in this whole picture.

I am attaching a file that has three parts. The first part gives you my Mitchell DNA results so you can see what the results look like. Also the second file is the URL to the Ballew DNA Project website. If you click on the area labeled Web Format Printer Friendly version of the matched and no-matched groups, this brings up an enlarged table of DNA results for all the participants in the project. I would hope you would consent to have your results posted in this table. I am curious into what group your results would fall. To me it is worth the money for the kit to know that.

-- Ron

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