Creating a Research Plan for a DNA Research Project
Do you create a plan for your DNA genealogical research? What steps can you take to focus and guide the research? I’m using the Research Like a Pro process to test my hypothesis that Benjamin Cox is the biological father of my ancestor, Rachel Cox. Because the paper trail points to Benjamin as the likely father, I’m now working with the DNA evidence to put a rubber stamp on that hypothesis.
Previously I created an objective, analyzed my sources, then researched the locality. The next step in the RLP process is to form a research plan based on those previous steps. To review my project you can read these posts.
My research project began with the research question
The objective of this research project is to prove Benjamin Cox as the father of Rachel Cox through DNA evidence and traditional genealogy research. Benjamin Cox was born about 1791 in Ohio and died between 1870 and 1880 in Bell County, Texas. Rachel Cox was born about 1828 in Indiana and died between 1870 and 1880 in Falls County, Texas. Rachel married Hickman Monroe Shults on 4 July 1848 in Navarro County, Texas.
I reviewed all of the sources I had previously found, put them into my timeline, and made a locality guide for Ross County, Ohio, where Benjamin Cox lived before migrating to Indiana. With these steps completed, it was time to create a research plan. The first step in a research plan is create a working hypothesis.
My hypothesis included information from the traditional sources as well as DNA clues. Remember this is my best guess for this family scenario based on my thorough survey of the sources from the timeline analysis.
Rachel Cox was born about 1828 in Indiana to Benjamin Cox and Casiah Barbee. She is listed in the 1830 census of Monroe County, Indiana, as a female under the age of 5. Researching the early records of Ohio (location of Benjamin and Casiah’s marriage) and Indiana would verify Benjamin’s origins and discover other potential father’s for Rachel. With her proximity to Benjamin in Texas, there is a likely family relationship.
Rachel moved with her father to Izard County, Arkansas, by 1837 when he married the widow, Elizabeth Sutton. Rachel would have been about 9 at the time of this marriage and in 1840, as a 12 year old was listed on that census as a female age 10-14. The 1840 census contains children from both previous spouses.
The Sutton/Cox family moved to Navarro County, Texas, by 1848 where Rachel married Hickman Monroe Shults on 4 July 1848. Benjamin Cox was also present in Navarro County in 1848 and served as a road commissioner with Monroe Shults.
Rachel possibly had the following siblings: Amy born 1813, Lavina born 1814 and Minerva Cox born 1821. Ancestry DNA Thrulines has possible matches for Minerva Cox and Lavina Cox. An Ancestry match who is a descendant of Lavina Cox also matched with a descendant of Amy Cox. Documenting these DNA matches and their family trees could possibly provide evidence for the Benjamin Cox as the father of Rachel Cox.
Next is the deciding which sources could be searched to discover further evidence pointing to the hypothesis. I came up with the following list of ideas.
-Cousin matches on the major DNA websites
-Family trees of the cousin matches
-1820 census for Ross County, Ohio
-Deed records (Franklin County, Ohio), 1804-1877 indexed and digitized
-County histories on FamilySearch for Ross County, Ohio
-Tax records of Ross County, Ohio, digitized on FamilySearch, 1816-1830
-Deeds for Monroe County, Indiana 1818-1887, digitized on FamilySearch, locked
-Church records – see FamilySearch Catalog for several denominations for the early 1800s, digitized on FamilySearch, locked
-Deeds of Bartholomew County, Indiana 1822-1887, indexes and deeds digitized on FamilySearch, locked
Prioritized Research Strategy
Once a list of possible sources has been completed, the next step is to prioritize. I want to start with those searches that are easily accessible and most likely to provide good information. I separated my strategy into DNA and traditional research.
-Contact a previous DNA match to get name of Amy Cox descendant. Compare DNA on 23&Me.
-Contact Thrulines matches for children of Benjamin Cox on Ancestry.
-Ask matches to upload to Gedmatch for segment matching.
-Use Genetic Affairs to cluster Cox matches to find additional Cox cousin matches.
-Use “in common with” or shared matches tools to find additional Cox cousin matches.
-Use DNA Painter to discover and triangulate specific segments for Cox matches.
-Search probate records of Bell County, TX for Benjamin Cox and mention of Rachel. Done – NIL searches for Benjamin Cox in all Bell County, Texas, probate
-Search the 1820 census for Benjamin Cox – probably in Ohio or Indiana Done – possible match in Delaware County, Indiana – Daniel Barbee also in the county, other possibles are Pickaway County, Ohio just to the north of Ross County, Ohio, place of his marriage of 1813; Shelby county to the northwest of Ross County, and Hamilton County to the west of Ross County
-Search Tax records of Ross County, Ohio, digitized on FamilySearch, 1816-1830.Searched the film – found Benjamin Cox and several others in 1810, 1813-1819 in Ross County, Ohio.
-Search land records of Ross County, Ohio
-Search Deed records (Franklin County, Ohio), 1804-1877 indexed and digitized on Family Search.
-Deed and lease records, 1798-1925; general index, 1797-1937 and index to deeds and leases of the city of Chillicothe
-Search deeds for Monroe County, Indiana 1818-1887, digitized on FamilySearch, (locked).
-Search deeds of Bartholomew County, Indiana 1822-1887, indexes and deeds digitized on FamilySearch, (locked).
With this plan in place, I was now ready to start the research and see what I could discover for this research project. My plan will keep my focused and on track. No chasing bright shiny objects allowed.
Best of luck in your genealogical research!