Sellers Mystery Cluster

Have you tried to use autosomal DNA to help break down a brick wall in your 4th great grandparent generation? If so, were you successful? As I’ve been re-assigning the colored dots on my Ancestry DNA matches so I can filter my 2nd and 3rd great grandparent couples lines, I am curious about how all of my Sellers matches fit in my tree.

I have two Sellers lines floating in my tree.

  • James Sellers and his wife Mary Crawford
  • William David Sellers and his wife Sarah Crawford

Based on their marriage records, it has been assumed that the Rebekah Crawford who owned land in early Garrard County, Kentucky is the mother of Mary and Sarah Crawford.

This is to certify that Rebekah Crawford guardian for Mary
Crawford doth agree for her dautor to be married to James
Sellers as witness my hand this 19th December 1791
Rebekah Crawford
James Crawford
Wm Sellers

Kentucky, Lincoln. Marriage Records, 1781-1961. Film #192262 (DGS 007899121. Mary Crawford to James Sellers, 19 Dec 1791; Loose papers, files 1-6 1781-1809: image 145; digital images, Family Search : viewed online January 2019.

This is to certify that I Rebakah Crawford
guardian do give my consent to the intended
marriage between William Sellers and Sarah
Crawford as witness my hand and seal
this 2nd day of February 1796
Rebekah Crawford
James Crawford
James Sellers

Kentucky, Lincoln. Marriage Records, 1781-1961. Film #192262(DGS 007899121). Sarah Crawford – William Sellers, 2 Feb 1796; Loose Papers, files 1-6 1781-1809: image 485; digital images, Family Search : viewed online January 2019.

There is a marriage record for James Crawford in Lincoln County, Kentucky. The bond for this marriage was dated 2 March 1793, placing it between the marriages of the two Crawford girls to the Sellers brothers.

Know all men by these presents that we James Craford
and Nathan Douglass are held and firmly bound unto
His Excellency Isaac Shelby Esquire Governor of Kentucky in
the sum of fifty pounds current money to the payment
whereof to be made to the said Governor and his sucessors we
bind our selves our heirs etc firmly by these presents, sealed
with our seals and dated the 2th day of March 1793
The Condition of the above obligation is such that whereas
then is a marriage shortly intended to be solemnized between
the above bound James Crawford and Martha Night for
which a license has paid Now if these be no lawful cause
to obstruct the said marriage then this obligation to be void
or else to remain in full force
James Crawford
Nathan Douglass
Sealed Delivered
in presence of
Willes Green

Then in 1804, Rebecca Crawford and James Crawford of Barren County, Kentucky sell Rebekah Crawford’s land in Garrard County, Kentucky.

Garrard County Kentucky
Deed book A
page 602 (image 313)

This indenture made this 27th day of September Anno Dom
1804 between Rebecca Crawford and James Crawford of the county
of Barren and Commonwealth of Kentucky of the one part and
James Aldridge of the county of Garrard and Commonwealth
aforesaid of the other part witnesseth that the said Rebecca &
James Crawford for and in consideration of the sum of one hundred an
eighty eight pounds current money of Kentucky to them in hand paid
the receipt they do hereby acknowledge and for themselves their heirs
do freely clearly and absolutely bargain and sell unto the aforesaid
James Aldridge and unto his heirs and assigns forever
One certain tract or parcel of land containing by survey ninety nine
acres situate lying and being in the county of Garrard an on
the dividing ridge between Boons Mill Seat Creek and Sugar Creek and is
bounded as follows to wit Beginning at a sugar tree and Iron Wood
on the Hickman Road thence N 36 E 240 poles to a stone from thence
N54W 70 poles to two sugar trees from thence S 35W 230 poles to a Buck
and sugar tree on the South side of the Hickman Road from thence
with the meanders on the road to a large black walnut standing
near the same on the south side from thence S 54E 6 poles to the beginning
with its appertainances to him the said James Aldridge and unto his
heirs and assigns forever. to have and to hold the said ninety nine
acres of land with all and every of its rights members and appertain
ances unto him the said James Aldridge and unto his heirs & assigns
forever and the said Rebecca and James Crawford for them selves
and their heirs do and shall and will by these presents warrant
and defend the title of the afore said tract of land & premises
against the claims of all and every person or persons whatsoever that
shall or may here after claim the same unto the afore said James
Aldridge and unto his heirs and assigns forever. In testimony
whereof the said Rebecca Crawford and James Crawford have
here unto set their hands and affixed their seals the day and
year first above written

Rebecca (her mark) Crawford seal
James Crawford seal

Signed Sealed and
delivered in the presence of

This indenture of bargain and sale from Rebecca Crawford and
James Aldridge was acknowledge din my office
the 26 of Sept 1804 and is admitted to record
Benj Letcher CeCC

Kentucky, Garrard. Book of Deeds. Film #183242 (DGS 7899064). Crawford to Aldridge, 27 Sep 1804; Book A: page 602; digital images, Family Search : viewed online February 2019.

Based on the fact that no deed has been found placing my James Crawford ancestor in Barren County, it has been assumed by researchers of both James Crawford lines that the James Crawford mentioned in Rebecca Crawford’s deed to sell her land and in the Sellers marriage records is the James Crawford that married Martha Knight. Thus, most trees show James Crawford (wife Martha), Mary Crawford and Sarah Crawford as the children of Rebekah Crawford and her likely husband John Crawford. This leaves my James Crawford (wife Sally Duggins) with unknown parents.

However, I have quite a few DNA matches to the descendants of William and James Sellers. While working with the dots, I was curious about how these Sellers matches fit in my tree. Thus, I decided to experiment with my tree and ThruLines. I added my James Crawford to the family of Rebekah Crawford and removed the James Crawford that married Martha Knight and waited. Now that it has been about a week since making the change, I looked at the ThruLines and discovered that my SELLERS matches have been placed in a ThruLines for Rebekah (Douglas) Crawford.

When I checked the SELLERS matches, none of them have a dot assigned. Looking at their shared matches, I did see quite a few green dots, which represent my CRAWFORD line. However, when I looked more closely about those dots for the shared matches, I found that the green dots were for my CRAWFORD-FOSTER and FOSTER-OSTRANDER couples.

IF these SELLERS matches were to connect to my CRAWFORD family, I should have found a CRAWFORD-SMITH dot for the shared matches. Since the shared matches have the FOSTER-OSTRANDER dot, it is more likely that my relationship with these SELLERS families is thru an ancestor in my FOSTER or OSTRANDER lines.

Before working with these shared matches dots, I have suspected a relationship between these SELLERS families and my CRAWFORD family. Now I have disproven this suspicion. Thus, our original linking of the SELLERS families to James and Martha Crawford is more probable. I just need to find one of their descendants to use the dots on their matches to see what is found. And I need to disconnect my CRAWFORD line from John and Rebekah Crawford.

Thank you Diahan Southard for your Shared DNA Matches presentation at RootsTech 2023 which clued me in to a better way to use the Ancestry dots!

Addendum: After writing this blog post, I read Blaine Bettinger’s blog post: The Growing Phenomenon of the Unlinked Family Cluster. While I believe my SELLERS matches are such an ‘unlinked family cluster’.

  • Form a cluster — descendants of Mary Crawford Sellers and Sarah Crawford Sellers
  • No recent ancestry — I don’t have any SELLERS ancestry back thru 6 generations
  • No Close Matches — I need to reconnect my tree to Rebekah Douglas to easily find all of these matches and document them (I should have done the documentation before disconnecting)
  • Large number of matches — While I identified over 20 matches descending from these 2 Sellers couples, many of them had shared matches. These shared matches may also belong to my SELLERS cluster.
  • Same ancestral family — William and James Sellers are brothers. They are the sons of Nathaniel Sellers (1720-1795)
  • Not in my tree — well they are in my tree — but they are not connected to my ancestral line.

Now, I have more ‘homework’ to identify and investigate this DNA cluster.