Israel Morey: A French Canadian Brickwall

Israel Morey is my 3rd Great Grandfather. According to census records he was born somewhere in Canada, and his death certificate tells us he was born the 30th of September, 1835. He crossed the U.S./Canadian border  around the age of 15 and settled in New York State around 1850. Unfortunately he was not counted in the 1850 census in the United States, nor the 1851 census for Canada (at least not that I can find). In the 1860 census he is living in Huron, Wayne County, New York and is already married with 3 children. Including my great great grandfather John Augustine Moray. According to draft records, he was still in Huron during the Civil War, in which he did not fight as he was ineligible for the draft due to “Alienage or Non-Residence”. By 1868, according to the birth of his daughter Henrietta (Netty), the family had moved to Ohio. And, indeed, in the 1870 census they are listed in Brady, Williams County, Ohio. Again in 1880 they are living in Williams County, Ohio, but by 1900 the family is living Fremont, Isabella County, Michigan. Israel died in Fremont in 1915, and is buried in nearby Union Cemetery.

Israel and Family

When I first started my family tree almost 20 years ago I asked my grandparents for information about the family (as any good genealogist would do). My grandfather told me that the family story was that his great grandfather (that would be Israel, but Grandpa didn’t remember his name), had come from Canada and settled in Isabella County. Grandpa also said that his great grandfather was French Canadian and that his original last name was “M-O-R-E with an accent-Y”. After immigrating to American his family changed the name, one branch to M-O-R-A-Y (obviously my branch) and one to M-O-R-E without the accent-Y. As so often happens with family history, the family stories might not all be correct. The part about the two branches changing the spelling was indeed true though, and it seems Israel switched from “ey” to “ay” around the time the family moved to Michigan. Although John, my great great grandfather, took the changed “ay” spelling, some of his brothers did indeed keep the “ey” spelling and passed it along to their children. But as I dug further and became more experienced I found no records with the last name spelled with an accent. I also got in touch with The Morey Forum, a group of genealogists from all over the world studying every possible Morey branch they could find. Although they didn’t know where Israel came from either, there was a theory he was related to a group of Moreys that married into a somewhat prominent United Empire Loyalist family in Ontario. This was my best lead so far. Most Canadian Moreys were related to this family, and a few other would be cousins or uncles were named “Israel Morey”.  If it didn’t fit into the French Canadian family lore then so what? I couldn’t find any French Canadian Moreys and the circumstantial evidence was pointing me elsewhere. Israel being a long lost son of John Morey and Harriet Breakenridge of Ontario was my best bet…

Israel’s land on the 1899 Plat Map

Fast forward to 2013. DNA testing for genealogy has been around for a while now, but I finally felt like the price is finally in my range. My first foray into genetic genealogy was’s new autosomal test, but more importantly, as I learned a little more about DNA testing for genealogy my father and I took tests at, including getting my dad’s Y-DNA (paternal line) tested.  I was hoping the Y-DNA would match with someone who had John Morey of Ontario as an ancestor…or at least a known ancestor of John Morey. The results we received…lets just say I wasn’t prepared for. Not only was the DNA not a match for anyone related to John Morey of Ontario, but there was nobody named Morey that came up as a match at all. Now normally in genetic genealogy this would indicate what we call a “Non-Paternity Event” (basically either there was an adoption, or somebody was foolin’ around somewhere), but didn’t think that was the case. Instead of “Morey” matches…I had “Morin” matches. The names are too similar (especially when one reads the soft “in” ending with a French accent) for me to believe it was anything other than a respelling of the same name. All of the matches that I’ve been in contact with have a Pierre Morin dit Boucher (b. ca 1635 in France, d. 1690 in Quebec) as their last known ancestor, which likely means he is my direct paternal ancestor as well.

I still haven’t been able to figure out who Israel’s parents were or where he was born, but I’ll keep searching. And you never know, maybe a Morin will show up as a close cousin and will crack this case wide open.

Mary Israel and Mable Moray

Interesting side note: my Y Haplogroup is J-M267, a large portion of which are people of Arabic or Jewish descent. “Morin” likely derives from the French for a dark or swarthy complexion (like a Moor). And one administrator of the J1 project at FamilyTreeDNA believe the subclade I belong to is a Jewish cluster about 1,200 years old with ties to France. Which leads me to my next blog post…Am I Jewish? (heads up, the short answer is “no”).


Jacob Dunn: A Case Study in Parentage

Even though I’m a few weeks behind I have decided to participate in the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge issued by genealogist Amy Johnson Crow. Basically I just chose an ancestor a week, and write about them. I chose to participate in the challenge for a few reasons. The first is just to start honing my family history writing. The second, it’s about time I shared some of this information with my family in a way that isn’t the same old boring black and white charts and census records (although there will be some of those I’m sure). It could even lead to some “cousin bait” or that crucial “aha” moment as I look through the records with fresh eyes.

My first ancestor is Jacob Dunn. Jacob is my 4th Great Grandfather through my father’s mother, Wilma Dunn. According to the Dunn family bible, Jacob was born on the 6th of May, 1800.  Unfortunately the bible does not list who his parents were. He married Rhoda McMillin on the 4th of July, 1823. Together, Jacob and Rhoda had at least eight children, two of whom were veterans of the Civil War, including my 3rd Great Grandfather, Thomas Erwin Dunn. Jacob died the 18th of February, 1850, and is buried in the North Plains Cemetery in Ionia County, Michigan.

dunn, jacob - gravestone
Jacob Dunn’s Tombstone from

That was the set up. Here comes the fun part (at least I think it’s fun). Who are the parents of Jacob Dunn?

The evidence:

What we know for sure:

  1. Death Certificate of John W. (son) says he was born in Bradford County, Pennsylvania in 1824.
  2. Obituary of Thomas (son) says he was born in Bradford County in 1839
  3. Jacob Dunn shows up in the 1840 census in Albany, Bradford County, Pennsylvania.
  4. Jacob Dunn shows up in the 1850 Death Census in North Plains, Ionia County, Michigan. His birthplace is listed as New York.

Circumstantial Evidence:

  1. A Jacob Dunn is listed in the 1830 census in Harford, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania with one male 20-30 years old. Susquehanna County neighbors Bradford County, where Jacob shows up in 1840. A few houses down is “Jacob P. Dunn” with a male 50-60 years old.
  2. A Jacob Dunn was baptized in 1802 in Ballston, Saratoga County, New York. His father is listed as Jacob Dunn.
  3. In 1810, 3 more Dunn children were baptized in Ballston. They are transcribed as Mary Dunn, Bareley Dunn, and Peter Van Tyle Dunn. Their father is not listed, but their mother is shown as Rebecca Dunn.
  4. The 1810 census lists a Rebecca Dunn as the head of household living in Ballston, Saratoga County, New York.
  5. A Peter V. Dunn shows up in the 1840 census in Harford, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. Tracking him through subsequent censuses and then tombstone in Harford places his birth in New York in 1808.
  6. A Bartley Dunn show up in the 1850 census in North Plains, Ionia County, Michigan. Remember, this is where Jacob’s family is living in 1850.
  7. Jacob P. Dunn shows up in Harford in both the 1820 and 1830 censuses. In 1820 he is listed as having males the right age to be Peter, Bartley, and Jacob.
  8. In 1800 a Jacob Dunn can be found in Middleburgh, Schoharie County, New York. He is living next to an Isaac Van Tyle.
  9. Tracking Isaac Van Tyle through the census records we see that he stays in Middleburgh, and is listed in the 1850 mortality schedule. He was born in 1767. Online family trees show Isaac had a son named Jacob D. Van Tuyl.
Dunn, Jacob P. - 1830 Census
Jacob P. Dunn and Jacob Dunn living near one another in the 1830 census in Harford, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania

I propose that, at the very least, the Jacob Dunn listed in the 1800 census next to Isaac Van Tyle is the same that is the father of Jacob baptized in Ballston. Also that Rebecca Dunn listed in the 1810 census, and as the mother of the 3 other Dunn children baptized in Ballston is the mother of the younger Jacob, and wife of the elder Jacob Dunn.

The question is…is that Jacob Dunn, the same as the Jacob P. Dunn who shows up in Harford in 1820, and in turn, he the father of Jacob Dunn who died in Ionia County Michigan. Let’s look at the facts:

A Jacob Dunn and Bartley (Bareley) Dunn both born in New York, show up nearby each other in North Plains, Ionia County, Michigan in 1850. They are of the right age to be the children baptized in Ballston, Saratoga County, New York. A Jacob Dunn and Peter V. Dunn both show up in Harford, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania. Both are of the right age to be the children baptized in Ballston. A Jacob P. Dunn of the right age to be their father also shows up in Harford, even living a few houses away from the younger Jacob.

The first missing link is that of the younger Jacob Dunn. Is the same Jacob who died in Ionia County, Michigan in 1850 the same Jacob who was living in Harford in 1830? There is no concrete evidence to make this assumption. However…based on his children’s death records showing their birth in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, I’m fairly certain the Jacob Dunn listed in the 1840 census in Bradford is the same as Jacob who died in Michigan. Now…circumstantially…I could not find another Jacob Dunn in 1840 living in either Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, or in Ionia County, Michigan. Neither could I find a Jacob Dunn in BradfordCounty, Pennsylvania in 1830. This doesn’t mean that the 1830 Jacob in Susquehanna, and the 1840 Jacob in Bradford are the same Jacob, but it does mean we can’t rule it out. (Also keep in mind that they are neighboring counties).

The second missing link is that of the elder Jacob P. Dunn. Is the Jacob P. Dunn living In Harford, Susquehanna, Pennsylvania the same as the Jacob who is in Schoharie County, New York in 1800 and also the father of Jacob baptized in Ballston in 1802? Based on Jacob and Peter V. Dunn showing up in Harford, I am postulating that it is. But why wasn’t he around in 1810, either for the census or his children’s baptism?

My theoretical family tree based on this evidence and assumptions is thus:

Jacob Dunn (b. 1800, m. Rhoda McMillin 1823, d. 1850)

Mary Dunn (b. 1802, d. 1842)

Bartley Dunn (b. abt 1805, d. 1850)

Peter Van Tyle Dunn (b. 1808, d. 1888)

All the children of:

Jacob P. Dunn (b. abt 1775, d bef 1830)


Rebecca Van Tyle (b. abt 1780, d. aft 1810)

brother of

Isaac Van Tyle (b abt 1767, d. 1849)

So…are Jacob P. Dunn and Rebecca Van Tyle the parents of Jacob Dunn? I think so. What do you think?