|State Of Alabama|
|John Hoss Ridgeway Sr|
My maternal grandmother was Odessa Ridgeway (1922-1985). Shown to the right was her father - John Hoss Ridgeway Sr whom was born in Eutaw, Alabama. If you notice - my maternal grandmother's last name was Ridgeway. Believe it or not, the actual spelling of Ridgeway should be "Ridgway" from what I was told. Well it's been confirmed that indeed the spelling of the word Ridgeway is without the "e" as we will see. When I began my journey into the past of the Ridgeway origins - my journey lead me back to the southern state of Alabama.
|Greene County, Alabama|
|1880 Census Of Isham Ridgeway Sr|
After doing some extensive digging via concrete paper trails - it turns out that my earliest Ridgeway ancestors were Isham Ridgeway Sr and Martha Childs (Childs or Chiles) of Greene County, Alabama. Shown toward your right is the 1880 census and listing of my first known Ridgeway ancestors. There are two things to notice. First, notice that Isham Ridgway Sr has his last name spelled as "Ridgway" without the letter "e". Second, notice that Isham Ridgeway Sr's ethnicity is specified as "mulatto". Those two observations were actually a starting point on about a two year journey of paper trails, DNA data, patience and hunting which finally produced much success.
Let's now take a look at that success!!!
Enter Rezin Ridgway (1789-1866)
- One of the parents, usually the father, was of European descent. Also the last name of father is usually carried over to the child as well.
- One of the parents, usually the mother, was of African or non-European descent.
- One of the parents, usually the father, may have been involved in the ownership of slaves and various transactions within the slave industry.
In researching the Greene County area of Alabama, there was one individual that sparked my attention and was the only historic slave owner in the Greene County area with the last name of Ridgway - Rezin Ridgway (1789-1866). Born in 1789 within Berkeley County of Virginia, Rezin Ridgway appears to have been very active within Greene County, Alabama. There are all types of records online for Rezin Ridgway - including army, ownership of land, voting documents, census data, and not surprisingly, slave ownership records.
Rezin Ridgway appears in the 1810 and 1820 census as owning slaves in Clark County, Kentucky. It was in Clark County, Kentucky that Rezin produced five sons and one daughter.
- Bradley Halley Ridgway (1811-1866)
- Sephalon Ridgway (1813-1894)
- Richard Ridgway (1814-1870)
- James Ridgway (1819-1870)
- John H Ridgway (1821-1864)
- Mary Ridgway (1826 - ?)
DNA Evidence: Autosomal & Y-DNA Tests
|(Close relatives of Marianne Ridgeway)|
|(New DNA match of Marianne Ridgeway)|
When the new match of Ms Van Horn came in, I have to admit that I got excited!!!! The initial thought that came into my head was that Rezin Ridgway was indeed an ancestor to my Ridgeway line. However, not so fast Sally!!!! (A joke hahaha). It's entirely possible that Marianne and Donna share an entirely different ancestor other than Rezin Ridgway. This can and does happen in DNA Genealogy. We simply need some more evidence. And sure enough more evidence came in!!!!
|(DNA match between Randy Ridgway and Marianne Ridgeway)|
Not surprisingly, Mr Randy Ridgway is a descendant of Rezin Ridgway as well. Indeed when Mr Randy Ridgway autosomal DNA results came in, it raised my eyebrow.
As a bonus piece of evidence, my grand aunt Marianne Ridgeway also matched to the mother of Ms Donna Van Horn - Ms Elizabeth Moore as shown below.
|(An autosomal DNA match between Marianne Ridgeway and Elizabeth Moore)|
Not only do Ms Donna Van Horn and Mr Randy Ridgway match Marianne Ridgeway, but both match the other Ridgeway members of my family as well. See the photos below from Gedmatch.
Here is a match between Donna Van Horn and my grand uncle - John W. Ridgeway Jr shown below
|(An autosomal DNA match between John Ridgeway Jr and Donna Van Horn)|
Here is match between Donna Van Horn and my grand aunt - Legertha Ridgeway shown below
|(An autosomal DNA match between Legertha Ridgeway and Donna Van Horn)|
|(An autosomal DNA match between Leroy Ridgeway and Donna Van Horn)|
With this new autosomal DNA evidence in hand, it's a fairly strong case to make that Rezin Ridgway is indeed an ancestor to me and my Ridgeway relatives. However the DNA evidence that sealed the deal was the Y-DNA evidence which we will look at next.
DNA EVIDENCE PART 2: Y-DNA
Father (Y-DNA) -> Son (Y-DNA) -> Great-GrandSon (Y-DNA) -> 2nd Great-GrandSon (Y-DNA) -> etc.
In my family - I have performed a Y-DNA test from Family Tree DNA on two of my Ridgeway relatives:
- Leroy Ridgeway - 1st cousin of Marianne Ridgeway
- John W Ridgeway Jr - Full sibling of Marianne Ridgeway
- (Both Leroy and John Jr are first cousins to each other)
- Isom Ridgeway Sr -> Isom Jr -> John Hoss Ridgeway Sr -> John Jr -> Y-DNA
- Isom Ridgeway Sr -> Isom Jr -> RJ Ridgeway -> Leroy Ridgeway -> Y-DNA
|(Y-DNA Test Results Of Leroy And John Ridgeway Jr)|
How can we determine if the Y-DNA of Rezin Ridgway will or will not match the Y-DNA's of either Leroy or John W Ridgeway Jr? The answer is that we would need a known male descendant of Rezin Ridgway whom is descended from Rezin Ridgway via an unbroken chain of males.
DNA EVIDENCE PART 3: Y-DNA Results
I met Mr Walter Randy Ridgway within the month of March 2016. Since then it has been a pleasure. Before meeting Mr Walter Ridgway, there was no known Y-DNA data on file from a male descendant of Rezin Ridgway. Here is the paternal line of descent from Rezin Ridgway to Mr Randy Ridgway.
- Rezin Ridgway -> James F Ridgway -> William W Ridgway -> Walter R Ridgway Sr -> Walter R Ridgway Jr -> Randy Ridgway -> Y-DNA
|Y-DNA Results - Steve Handy (Me)|
|(Y-DNA Comparison Of Leroy, John, and Randy Ridgway)|
Now it should be mentioned that a family of brothers with the same father will all have the same Y-DNA. This begs the question: Could it be that one of Rezin's brothers, (Yes Rezin had brothers), produced the line of Ridgways I am descended from? Or another fair question to ask is this -> Did Rezin Ridgway or one of his sons actually father Isham Ridgeway Sr around 1840?
Questions like these must considered which brings us to the final part of this post.
Checking ALL The Evidence
But let's check and make sure that Rezin Ridgway is indeed the ancestor, (which he clearly is), when considering all the evidence. Although the evidence at this point is fairly definitive, there are some questions on the table which need addressing. Let take a look at some these questions.
Could A Brother Of Rezin Ridgway Be The Ancestor?
To answer this question we have to look at secondary forms of evidence. Rezin Ridgway had three brothers born in Virginia:
- John Ridgway (1777-1830)
- Zachariah Jackson Ridgway (1784-1871)
- Ninian Ridgway (1786-1869)
|(Isom Ridgeway Sr And Family In Boligee, Alabama circa 1900)|
A third indirect piece of evidence comes from some more autosomal DNA data. If you remember, Rezin Ridgway produced five sons in Clark County, KY. The woman whom Rezin Ridgway had these sons with was Mary Halley (1790-1842). If a son of Rezin Ridgway and Mary Halley fathered Isom Ridgeway Sr, then it stands to reason that a descendant should contain DNA segments from Mary Halley as well!!! Indeed this appears to be the case.
It turns out that some of my Ridgeway relatives, including myself, have DNA matches to people who are known descendants of James Halley (1707-1792) and Elizabeth Simpson (1717-1785). Both James and Elizabeth Halley were the grandparents of Mary Halley.
Here is a DNA match of mine from AncestryDNA. The match is a descendant of James Halley (1707-1792) and Elizabeth Simpson (1717-1785). See and click both photos below. The match's name is D.L.
Which Son Of Rezin Ridgway Fathered Isom Ridgeway Sr?
Another son of Rezin Ridgway to consider was Richard Simpson Ridgway (1814-1870). From information given by Mr Randy Ridgway, Richard Ridgway never married and wasn't known to have any legitimate children. In addition, Richard Ridgway was the overseer on the Bradley H. Ridgway plantation. Being the overseer puts Richard Ridgway in a position of more direct contact with slave women as I was told.
Well that's it!!!!! After two years of constant dedication to research, a brick wall has been knocked down and an extension of the Ridgeway family has occurred!!!!! I look forward to meeting my new Ridgeway (Oh excuse me - its spelled "Ridgway") cousins!!!!