Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Two more myths busted

Yesterday I talked about a photo myth concerning Silas Simmons and his wife Janet.  There is another myth concerning this couple.  This one is in two parts.

If you do a search on Ancestry.com for Silas and Janet you will see several trees that have Silas married to Squerloque “Jenny” a supposed Indian.  So where did this information come from? 

The information originally came from me.  I have my grandfather’s Bible.  In this Bible it says:



To me the (Squerloque Miss) signifies a place not the girl’s name.  There are several errors in the Bible entries so any information is suspect anyway.  There is no Squerloque, Mississippi but it is possible it is a misspelled name.

HOWEVER, before I actually had the Bible in my possession I was told that the Bible said Silas married an Indian girl named Squerloque.  This was back in the 1990s.  I very stupidly added this information to my file.  I sent my file in to the Family History Library to become part of their Pedigree Resource File.  I also posted it on Rootsweb.  I made a serious rookie mistake.  I believed something without ever seeing it myself.  Because of what I did, MANY people copied what I had put online. Once I realized my mistake I corrected it and I sent emails to every person that I could giving them the correct information.  To this day there are people that have Squerloque “Jenny” in their file and I feel really bad about that.

So what do we know about Silas’ wife from the records?  There is only one known record that mentions her and that is the 1850 census.

Silas Simmons, age 56, farmer, born in SC
Janet Simmons, age 55, born in SC
Mary Simmons, age 27, born in MS
James Simmons, age 22, farmer, born in MS
John Simmons, age 19, farmer, born in MS
Liza Simmons, age 15, born in MS
Benjamin Simmons, age 13, born in MS
Elizabeth Simmons, age 9, born in MS
Thomas Simmons, age 7, born in MS

Her name was Janet and she was born about 1795 in South Carolina.  That’s it.  Where did the name Jenny come from?  No one can tell me.  Family members got together and put up a memorial maker for Silas and “Jenny.”  You can see the memorial HERE.  Not one person that attended that memorial service can tell me where they got the name Jenny. 

Myth 1 busted.  There was never a person named Squerloque “Jenny” Simmons.

Myth 2 is a bit more complicated.  Was Janet Native American?  I too fell into this trap for several reasons.  My grandfather’s Bible is just one.  You can see that he made two entries that Silas’ wife was an Indian and he specifically said Choctaw.  Notice that he also has another great-grandmother listed as a Choctaw.  This would have been Isaac Yates’ wife.  The only thing we know about Isaac Yates’ wife is that her name was Diannah/Anna and she was born about 1815.  Again, not much. 

In my own defense this wasn’t the only evidence I had.  In 1951 three of Silas’ descendants wrote letters  to get their cut from the 1830 Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek.  You can read about what was contained in those letters and why the letters were compelling HERE.  They never proved their claim.  I have never been able to prove any of this but I did believe that there was at least some truth to the story.  DNA testing blew this story completely apart.

I had my uncle do an autosomal DNA test with FTDNA.  Assuming my grandfather’s Bible was correct and Janet was a Choctaw Indian and Diannah was also a Choctaw Indian, what percentage of Native American should my uncle have?  It is time to do some math.

My uncle would have gotten 6.25% of his DNA from both Janet and Diannah for a total of 12.5%.  That is a significant amount, significant enough that even with all of the variables in DNA testing you should see Native American DNA on his autosomal DNA test.  Here are my uncle’s results.



I had already done my autosomal DNA and it showed no Native American ancestry but I thought maybe it was there and it just wasn’t enough to show up on the test.  That is why I tested my uncle because he is one generation closer giving him double what I have.  The double of zero is zero.


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis


  1. There is a place in Noxubee County, Mississippi named "SHUQUALAK" pronounced something like "Sugarlock." Maybe this will give you another place to research. According to James E. Brieger in HOMETOWN MISSISSIPPI, it is an Indian word meaning Hog Wallow.

    As to errors repeated in family trees -- some folks give one of my ancestors a second wife; problem is so-called wife #2 was born after the ancestor died! This woman was never married and as with many old-maid aunts, was the keeper of the family records. I feel that someone wrote her name down as the source of some information, but didn't indicate that it was a source.

    1. I know of Shuqualak and it is on my list of possibilities. Considering my grandfather got the information from who knows where it is possible there is that big of a mistake on the spelling and the sound of the word.

  2. Actually, the "Jenny" part is pretty easy.... It is a common nickname for "Janet" in Scotland, and therefore among the Scots-Irish. Probably in England, too, but I don't know about that.
    So she may have been named Janet, and been known as Jenny all her life.

    1. Very true but you can't assume that she was called Jenny just because that was a common nickname.

    2. Very true. But your post seemed to imply that there was a question about whether these were the same person. Perhaps I misread it.

    3. Janet and Jenny are the same person. However, I can find no documentation at all that shows that Janet was ever actually called Jenny.

  3. I stumbled upon her on my family tree as a 5th great grandmother and I am Native. DNA from ancestry.