Signature of Edward B. Walker Genealogy of Edward B. Walker
1756-1838, Duplin County, North Carolina - Sullivan, Claiborne, Hancock Counties, Tennessee


Finding Edward's Parents and DNA Testing

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 only 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 Tennessee.

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 Research

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 ancestor, too.

The tested descendants of Edward all fall into what the Walker 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 son Samuel.

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.

All original material © 2007-9 by Phillip A. Walker or by cited authors. Submissions are welcome. Reuse allowed under limited conditions. Page last modified Sunday, 09-Sep-2018 13:19:36 MDT .