Common theories of Edward's parentage have
been disproved; unfortunately, at the moment, there
are no good leads either to his parents or to any siblings.
DNA evidence does give some intriguing hints but does
not, as yet, provide any answers.
Almost nothing is known of Edward's early life; his
statement in his pension was that he was born in
1756 somewhere in North Carolina; he did not even indicate
where in North Carolina he was born. A number of people
seem to assume that he was born in Duplin County, where
he lived during the Revolution, but as he was 21 years
old at the time, he easily could have moved, perhaps
several times, before ending up in Duplin County.
The year he gave is consistent with what limited other
information is available, such as the broad parameters
of the 1830 Census and his stated age in both his own
and Andrew McClary's pension; statements for both pensions
were made on the same day. No other evidence confirms
his birth in North Carolina, however; all but one of
his children are believed to have died before the 1880
Census, the first Census to ask about where parents
were born. The one daughter still living, Margaret (Walker)
Sulfridge, was living on Lone Mountain, and the enumerator
wrote "Tennessee" for the birth places of
both of her parents; in fact, that particular enumerator
does not seem to have actually asked the question as
far too many people in his district are listed with
Deed searches in Duplin County have, as yet, turned
up nothing to indicate that Edward owned land there
or was included in the distribution of someone else's
estate. Several surrounding counties have not been searched
in detail and may yield clues.
DNA testing cannot reveal names; instead, it can determine
people who share a common ancestor on a direct male
line sometime within the past 600 or so years, roughly
to around the time that surnames
became common in England. It cannot name the ancestor,
though, and can only provide some statistical probabilities
about how long ago that common ancestor lived.
The hope of anyone getting a test is that his DNA will
match a known family line which is documented to an
earlier time than his own. For instance, if Edward's
DNA matched a line documented to a man born in 1700,
we still could not be sure that the man was Edward's
ancestor, but we would know that he was related in some
fashion and would have a new avenue to search.
Such an early match has not yet turned up on Edward's
line, although DNA does suggest close connections to
other lines, particularly Samuel Walker of the Edgefield
District of South Carolina (link at left), but none
of the matched family lines have been traced back to
a point where any known ancestor could have been Edward's
The tested descendants of Edward all fall into what
Surname DNA Project calls group 10. Statistical
probabilities hold that every member of group 10 shares
a common direct male ancestor, although we do not know
which ancestor all of the members share. Three of the
test kits (Murray Walker's, 29940, Scott Barton Walker's,
50830, and mine, which is kit 32719) are from proven
descendants of Edward B., with my descent being through
his son Edward Jr. and the other two kits through his
The markers that are tested can change over the generations,
and there is variation among the three kits from this
family. The documentation proving all three as descendants
is quite strong, however. Because of the variations,
we must also consider what the "archetype"
values are; in other words, if Edward B. himself could
have been tested, what would his exact values be?
The three tests provide enough evidence to make a good
guess, although more tests, especially of descendants
of other sons of Edward, would be helpful. Some of the
markers tested are known to change rapidly, and much
of the variation is within those fast-changing markers.
In all cases where marker values for all three of Edward's
descendants are available, when one varies, the other
two not only match each other but match the other members
of group 10. On the markers where only two sets of results
are available, one of the two kits matches the rest
of group 10 whenever values vary.
In short, Edward's archetype probably consists of the
first 37 values shown for test kits 725, 9112, and 73976.
So Edward's archetype is an exact match for Samuel Walker
of Edgefield as well as Richard Walker of South Carolina,
and, given the timeframe and the statistics, he was
probably closely related to them, perhaps even a brother
or first cousin although DNA cannot tell us for sure.
How DNA Has Helped
Even though DNA has not provided solid leads as to
Edward's parents, testing to date has proven quite helpful.
Emerging research seems to indicate that kits 9112 and
38212 are probably from descendants of his long-lost
son William. Documentary proof has still not been achieved,
but circumstantial evidence is growing that connects
them to this family.
And even without the clues about William, DNA testing
has been extremely helpful in another way eliminating
other families as being completely unrelated. For instance,
although documentary evidence had already proven that
John Walker of Hawkins County was not Edward's father,
only DNA evidence could prove that he and Edward were
not related in any fashion.
People not in group 10 are not related to this Walker
branch through a direct male line, biologically at least,
but some care must be taken in interpreting results.
The ancestries provided on the Web site for test participants
are submitted by the participants themselves and may
not always be correct. In cases where only one descendant
of a particular person has been tested, a match cannot
be considered conclusive. In other cases, such as John
Walker of Hawkins County, enough descendants have been
tested to draw a firm conclusion.