Martha was “lost” for the past one hundred years. Where did she come from? Where did she end up? Through DNA testing and research on ancestry.com, I discovered the answer to those questions. I’d like to share with you what I’ve learned about my third great-grandmother.
Martha Patsy Harris was born in St. Clair County, Alabama in 1837 to Washington “W.W.” Harris and Elizabeth Webb and was the oldest of twelve children. She was named after her father’s mother, Martha Patsy Morgan. As a young girl on the 1850 census, she was called Patsy. In 1860 and later years, she went by Martha.
Martha’s sister Mary “Jane” married Oliver C. Windsor on December 31, 1860 in St. Clair County, Alabama. Jane, as she was known, and Oliver had a son, William, who presumably died young. They also had a daughter, Mary, on August 17, 1864. Jane and Oliver separated soon after her birth.
Less than a year later on July 6, 1865, Oliver’s son John Henry Windsor was born in Blount County, Alabama. John’s mother was Martha, the sister of Jane.
Martha and Oliver left Alabama and ended up in Stewart County, Tennessee where they had at least six more children: William, James, Lewis, Emma, Mary Ella, and William. (Oliver had three sons all named William after his father, William Windsor. The first two sons named William died during childhood.)
Martha died around 1885 in Stewart County, Tennessee. Burial is unknown. Oliver remarried in 1887 to Nancy Durham and had more children.
As for Martha’s sister, Jane married James Word in 1871 and had five more children. In her later years, her parents, W.W. & Elizabeth, moved in with her so she could take care of them in their old age and declining health.
This is the story of Martha, but for many years Martha was two different people on many family trees:
- The family of Washington Harris & Elizabeth Webb lists Martha as “Martha Patricia Patsy Harris” born in 1837 and died in May 19, 1917 in Madison, Alabama. This credits a death record for a different Martha Harris. (Our Martha was married.)
- The family of Oliver Windsor lists Martha as Martha Harris with no parents, or lists her as “Martha Steward”. There is no record of Oliver marrying a Martha Steward. I do not know where this name came from.
Martha Patsy Harris is Martha Windsor.
While doing research on ancestry.com, I found stories created by user redheadindixie, Donna Hubbard. For those who don’t know, you can create “stories” on the site to post more information about a person. Donna had also been searching for Martha and for Oliver Windsor to see where he went after his marriage to Mary “Jane” Harris. She said a relative of Oliver and Jane’s daughter, Mary, said that Oliver married Jane’s sister. No proof was found of this marriage. But, this helped me greatly. It was a story that was passed down, but not found anywhere else online or in any family trees.
My relation to Martha Harris Windsor is through her daughter, Emma Windsor, who married Eli “Hawk” Aaron. Their daughter, Myrtle “Ruth” Aaron, married Lonnie George Dennis. Lonnie and Ruth are my grandfather’s parents.
My grandfather took a DNA test with ancestry.com. While searching for relatives, I found that many members he matched with were descended from Craven Harris and Martha Patsy Morgan – the parents of Washington W.W. Harris.
He also shared DNA with descendants of Elizabeth Webb’s father, John. That means that Martha wasn’t a cousin or aunt of Mary Jane Harris. She was her sister.
There are some things we still don’t know and probably won’t ever know. I am glad I was able to use Ancestry DNA to find out the identity of my third great-grandmother, Martha Harris Windsor.