Friday, 23 February 2018

Male Line Ancestry of John Streator Gleason, Mormon Pioneer

Aim: To verify that John Streator Gleason, born 1819, was a descendant of Thomas Gleason, born 1609 in Suffolk, England, and to correct erroneous information often found in family histories online. This requires showing that John’s father Ezekiel was the grandson of Joseph Gleason of Oxford, Massachusetts, a known descendant of Thomas. The discussion begins with Joseph.

            Joseph Gleason (Thomas,3  Thomas,2  Thomas,1  ThomasA) of Oxford, Massachusetts, was born 1722 in Framingham, Massachusetts, and is designated #61 in the Gleason genealogy by John Barber White.[1] He and wife Lydia Tarbox had only two sons on record, both born in Oxford: Joseph [Jr.], born 22 Aug 1744, who married Mercy Streeter; and Abner, born 6 Dec 1745, who married Abigail Rich. These facts are verified in the vital records of Massachusetts.[2]

However, another son was born to Joseph and Lydia whose birth record has not survived. This child was Ezekiel Gleason, born about 1750. (The birth year is approximated from his age on a death notice to be presented later.) Evidence that Joseph had a son Ezekiel is found in the document Non-Resident School Tax Rates of Auburn, Massachusetts, 1797 (Figure 1), where the three brothers are listed with one-third equal shares as heirs of Joseph.[3] Oxford originally included territory that later became part of the town of Auburn. No record of the death of their father Joseph has been found, but clearly he had died by 1797.

Ezekiel Gleason, son of Joseph, married Esther Streeter on 5 October 1773 in Oxford. She was born 21 April 1754 in Oxford, daughter of John and Elizabeth (Gleason) Streeter and was the sister of Mercy Streeter, wife of Ezekiel’s brother Joseph. (The Streeter sisters were first cousins once removed of their husbands.) Four children of Ezekiel and Esther are listed on the vital records of Auburn: Ruth and Elizabeth, twins, born 2 March 1774; Ezekiel [Jr.], born 8 November 1776; and Lydia, born 13 November 1779.[4]

Sometime later, Ezekiel’s family moved west to the frontier county of Berkshire, Massachusetts, where they appear on the census of Becket in 1790 with three additional children—a total of three boys and four girls. (Census records at that time only enumerated children by gender.) Listed adjacent to Ezekiel on the 1790 census of Becket are his father and brother: Joseph Gleason and Joseph Gleason Jr. Ten years later, the 1800 census of Becket indicates that three male children were still living with Ezekiel’s family. The family of his brother Joseph Gleason is found listed adjacent to Ezekiel, and there is no record of his deceased father.[5]

In 1810 Ezekiel and unnamed wife are shown on the census of Tyringham, Berkshire County, and no children remain with them. Tyringham is adjacent to Becket, so this change may not indicate a move from one town to another since town boundaries were quite fluid at the time. In 1820 and 1830 the old couple are still in Tyringham; a daughter and her children live with them in 1830. [6]

Joseph, brother of Ezekiel, died in Tyringham, Berkshire County, on 18 September 1811, six days after the death of his wife Mercy Gleason on 12 September 1811 and three days after his son, also named Joseph.[7] These three deaths within a week suggest that the family died from a common illness. Erroneously, there are those who claim that this Joseph, who died intestate in 1811, was Ezekiel’s father; but his father had died by 1797 as shown by the Non-Resident School Tax Rates of Auburn. Furthermore, probate records of Berkshire County in 1812 show that the modest estate of the deceased was divided among his seven living children: Nathaniel, John, Joel, Mercy Kilborn, Anna Heath, Sally, and a married daughter whose name is not clear on the record.[8]

Figure 1. Auburn Non-Resident School Tax Rates, 1797

A death notice in The Pittsfield Sun, published in Pittsfield, Berkshire County, recorded the death of Ezekiel Gleason on 23 Aug 1837 in Tyringham, age 88. He was buried in the Tyringham Cemetery.[9] Ezekiel’s will was written in 1830 and probated in 1837. His third wife, Hannah, and all of his seven children are mentioned in the will: Ezekiel [Jr.], Elijah, Stephen “deceased,” Elizabeth, Ruth, Lydia Kilbourn, and Hannah Kilbourn. His daughter Lydia Kilbourn was executrix; William Cheney and Thomas Stedman were appointed to assist her. Lydia and Elijah were to receive the bulk of the estate upon the death of wife Hannah. Ezekiel [Jr.] was granted ten dollars, as were Elizabeth, Ruth, and the heirs of Stephen. Hannah Kilbourn received eighty dollars.[10]

Additional information about this family has been found. Hannah (Gleason) Kilbourn, daughter of Ezekiel and Mary A. Gleason, died in Tyringham 10 November 1854 at age sixty-nine.[11] Thus Ezekiel had a second wife named Mary. Lydia (Gleason) Kilbourn appears on the 1855 census of Tyringham, age 76, residing with the family of William and Elizabeth Cheney—perhaps her daughter. Lydia’s death, recorded on 7 November 1856, gave her age as seventy-eight.[12]

It has now been shown that Ezekiel Gleason, born about 1750, was the son of Joseph Gleason of Oxford, Massachusetts. It has also been shown that he removed to Berkshire County and died there in 1837 and that he had a son named Ezekiel, born 1776 in Auburn, Massachusetts. Ezekiel, the son, last appeared on the census records of Berkshire County in 1800 when he would have been twenty-four years of age. His whereabouts after 1800 are unknown, but he was still living in 1830 when his father wrote his will. It remains to be shown that this Ezekiel Gleason Jr. was the father of John Streator Gleason.

            The death certificate of John Streator Gleason says he was born 13 January 1819 in Livingston County, New York, to Ezekiel Gleason, born New York, and Polly Howard, born New York. John’s death is given as 21 December 1904 in Pleasant Grove, Utah. (Figure 2) The informant on the death record is Thomas H. Gleason.[13] Of course a death record is a reliable source for specifics of the death; but the information about a parent of the deceased could be, and often is, only hearsay. Thus these records must be used with caution. Furthermore, the information about John’s parents is written in a different hand from that on the rest of the document. If John’s father was actually born in New York State, then his father was not Ezekiel Gleason Jr., born Auburn, Massachusetts. Possibly, this place of birth was a guess on the part of the informant. Since no birth record for John has been found, it will be assumed for now that the names of his parents and John’s birthplace are correct. What facts about his father, the Ezekiel Gleason of Livingston County, New York, can be found?

An Ezekiel Gleason is found on the 1810 census of Brutus Township, Cayuga County, New York. A map of New York Counties from 1800 shows that Cayuga County bordered the large Ontario County lying to the west. The census states that in the household of this Ezekiel are the following: one male of age under 10, one male 26-44, one female under 10, and one female 26-44; thus the couple has one boy and one girl under ten years of age.[14]

The building of the Erie Canal began in 1808 and was completed in 1825, and the path of the canal went directly through the heart of Brutus Township. Perhaps the upheaval of the construction caused Ezekiel to relocate elsewhere. In 1820 an Ezekiel Gleason is found on the census of Livonia Township, Ontario County, New York, which lies about 65 miles west of Brutus. One year later Livingston County was created from that part of Ontario County that included Livonia. The census shows the following members of the family: four males under 10 years of age, one male 16-25, one male 26-44, one female under 10, one female 10-15, and one female 26-44. Thus there are five boys and two girls.[15] If this is the same family as the family in Brutus, then the couple produced five children (four males and one female) in ten years—certainly not unheard of for that period.

Figure 2. Death Certificate of John Streator Gleason

In 1830 Ezekiel Gleason appears on the census of Groveland, then a part of Sparta Township in Livingston County.[16]. This seemingly new location of the family within the county since 1820 does not necessarily imply that the family moved. As the population grew, counties and towns of New York were evolving rapidly, and townships that were originally quite large were divided up into smaller towns and villages. Rural residents may not have been aware of the latest boundary.

Ezekiel Gleason may have continued to move westward, for that name is listed on the census of 1840 in Brandt, Erie County, New York, age between 60 and 70. If this is the same Ezekiel, then his wife has died and is no longer with the family, but the household includes several adult males and females of marriageable age.[17]

One more census record for Ezekiel Gleason has been found: the 1860 census record of Monroe, Green County, Wisconsin. Significantly, this record states that Ezekiel is 83 years of age and born in Massachusetts. He is living with the family of Oliver Perry Gleason, a mason, age 37, born in the state of New York.[18] The 27 August 1854 marriage record of this Oliver P. Gleason in Monroe, Green County, Wisconsin, lists his parents as Ezekiel and Polly Gleason.[19] Recalling that John Streator Gleason was born in 1819 to Ezekiel and Polly of Livingston County, New York, it is apparent that Oliver Perry Gleason is the brother of John Streator Gleason; and the Ezekiel Gleason living with him in Monroe, Wisconsin, in 1860 at age 83 is John Streator Gleason’s father who formerly resided in Livingston County, New York.


            Conclusion: Since it has been shown that the father of John Streator Gleason was the Ezekiel Gleason of Livingston County, New York, it only remains to show that this Ezekiel is the same person as Ezekiel Gleason Jr., who was born in Auburn, Massachusetts, in 1776 and whose father died in Tyringham in 1837. At this point, only circumstantial evidence can be cited for proof:

1) The middle name of John Streator Gleason could be an alternate form of Streeter, the birth name of Esther Streeter, mother of Ezekiel Gleason Jr.

2) Ezekiel Gleason Jr. is not found in Massachusetts after the census of 1800 when he is still unmarried. Ezekiel, father of John Streator Gleason, is first recorded in the state of New York in 1810 as a married man, with children less than ten years of age. The chronology fits.

3) The 1860 census of Green County, Wisconsin, states that Ezekiel Gleason, age 83—father of Oliver Perry and John Streator—was born in Massachusetts. This closely agrees with the birth of Ezekiel Gleason Jr., who was born in Auburn, Massachusetts on 8 November 1776.

Based on these observations, this researcher has no reservation in accepting the conclusion that John Streator Gleason is the son of Ezekiel Gleason Jr., born 1776 in Auburn, Massachusetts, and is a descendant of Thomas Gleason born Suffolk, England, with male lineage written thus:

John Streator Gleason7 (Ezekiel,6  Ezekiel,5  Joseph,4  Thomas,3  Thomas,2  Thomas,1  ThomasA)

This study provides an excellent illustration of how DNA testing can be a complement to genealogy. No matter how thorough and well intended the paper trail search may be, there is always the possibility that some critical piece of information was overlooked, that an assumption was made based on circumstance, or that the identity of a father is not as believed. A Y-chromosome DNA test of living male line descendants of John Streator Gleason could support—or refute—the conclusion drawn here.


            Note on Polly Howard: Only two statements in reference to the identity of the wife of Ezekiel Gleason Jr. have been found in period records by this researcher: 1) a statement that her name was Polly Howard on the Utah death certificate of John Streator Gleason and 2) a statement that her name was Polly Gleason on the marriage record of Oliver Perry Gleason. While a number of family tree postings on the Internet give a birth date for Polly, with her father’s name as John Howard, no primary source for that information is provided.

Polly is a name often used as an alternate for Mary. An exhaustive search of women named Polly or Mary Howard in the birth records of New York and Massachusetts between 1770 and 1790 has not yielded any obvious candidates. Nevertheless, one record of interest should be mentioned. There is a baptismal record of a Polly Howard of Worthington, Hampshire County Massachusetts. Worthington is a ten-mile horseback ride through the hills from Becket, Berkshire County, where Ezekiel Gleason Jr. lived in his youth. (A 1775 hand-drawn map of the area sketches the trails linking these neighboring towns.) Polly’s date of birth is not given, but she was baptized on the same day as the baptism of two of her sisters—27 September 1780. Her father’s name is John Howard.[20] However, Howard families were numerous in New England during this era and included many males named John. No doubt a number of those had daughters named Polly. An investigation into the identity of Polly is continuing.

John Streator Gleason

Judith Gleason Claassen
Feb 2018


[1] White, Genealogy of the Descendants of Thomas Gleason of Watertown, Massachusetts (Bowie, Maryland: Heritage Books, 1992), 51. The designation “ThomasA” has been added to the lineage list to designate the father of Thomas of Watertown who died in Cockfield, Suffolk, in 1610. His identity was unknown when White wrote his book in 1909. The updated origin of Thomas appears in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, Volume 168 (January 2014).  

[2] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850, online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016.   

[3] “Auburn Tax Rates, 1786-1800,” Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, online database: Operations, Inc., 2011.

[4] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850, online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016.

[5] U.S. Census: 1790, Becket, Berkshire, Massachusetts; Series: M637; Roll: 4; Page: 117; Image: 138; Family History Library Film: 056814; U.S. Census: 1800, Becket, Berkshire, Massachusetts; Series: M32; Roll: 13; Page: 267; Image: 267; Family History Library Film: 205611.

[6] U.S. Census: 1810, Tyringham, Berkshire, Massachusetts; Roll: 17; Page: 200; Image: 00176.  
     U.S. Census: 1820, Tyringham, Page: 39; NARA Roll: M33_48; Image: 33.  
     U.S. Census: 1830, Tyringham, Series: M19; Roll: 62; Page: 417. (The transcription for 1830 at does not agree with the original record.)

[7] “Births, Marriages and Deaths,” Massachusetts Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988, online database: Operations, Inc., 2011.

[8] Berkshire County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1761-1900, online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2017. (From records supplied by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Archives.)

[9] The Pittsfield Sun, Pittsfield, Massachusetts: 16 November 1837, p 3; Find A Grave Memorial #97881873,

[10] Probate Records, Massachusetts Probate Court (Berkshire County), Vol. 42-43, 1836-1839; Massachusetts Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2015.

[11] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1841-1910. (From original records held by the Massachusetts Archives. Online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2004.)

[12] Massachusetts: 1855 State Census (online database: /DB533/i/14363/245/260981843; Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1841-1910

[13] Utah, Death and Military Death Certificates, 1904-1961 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

[14] U.S. Census: 1810, Brutus, Cayuga, New York; Roll: 31; Page: 1127; Image: 00021; FHL Film: 0181385.

[15] U.S. Census: 1820, Livonia, Ontario, New York; Page: 64; NARA Roll: M33_62; Image: 43 Online Database: Operations, Inc., 2010.

[16] U.S. Census: 1830, Groveland, Livingston, New York; M19; Roll 93; Page: 43; FHL Film 0017153.

[17] U.S. Census: 1840, Brandt, Erie, New York; Roll: 280; Page: 162; FHL Film: 0017186.

[18] U.S. Census: 1860, Monroe, Green, Wisconsin; Roll: M653_1411; Page: 312; Family History Library Film: 805411.

[19] “Wisconsin County Marriages, 1836-1911,” online database: 3 June 2016; FHL microfilm 1,266,666.

[20] Massachusetts: Vital Records, 1621-1850, online database:, New England Historic Genealogical Society, 2001-2016.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Tracing Lineage II back to the 1650s

I am delighted to introduce Rick Neeley as author of this guest post. Rick recently tested his cousin and established that his "Gleason" line belongs to Lineage II - the North Tipperary Gleeson's. He specifically belongs to Branch F and tests positive for all the SNP markers associated with that branch (BY14189, BY14193, BY14194, BY14195, BY14197 ... via the Z255 SNP Pack).

However, there are several interesting aspects of Rick's story that are worth mentioning:
  • Rick's "Gleeson" ancestors spelt their name a slightly different way, namely CLESSON. This demonstrates how surnames can change over time into quite different forms from the original spelling. It may be that all the Clesson's in the US are related as a result of Rick's colonial ancestor. We need more Gleeson's in the project to assess this.
  • Rick has traced his CLESSON line all the way back to the 1650s, making it the longest pedigree in Lineage II. This pedigree contains 10 generations, about double the size of the average pedigree in Lineage II. This just goes to show that there are extensive pedigrees out there and the DNA project will really benefit from finding more.
  • Rick's Gleeson ancestors mingled with the ancestors of those in Lineage I (the English Gleason's) thus providing a direct link between the two major groups within the project. This simply illustrates what we already know: it is a small world and we are all connected to each other, sometimes in the most amazing ways.

Here is Rick's cousin's direct male line pedigree ...
1. Matthew Clesson b. c1651 Ireland d. 1716 Deerfield MA, married Mary Phelps 1670 & Susannah Hodge 1701
2. Capt. Joseph Clesson b. 1674 Northampton MA, d. 1753 Lake George NY
3. Lt Matthew Clesson b. 1713 Deerfield MA, d. 1756 Deerfield MA
4. Joseph Clesson Sr b. 1756 Deerfield MA, d.1816 Deerfield MA
5. Joseph Clesson Jr b. 1791 Deerfield MA, d. aft.1850 Peoria IL
6. Jarvis S. Clesson b. 1820 Shelbourne MA, d. 1876 Shelbyville IL
7. George Frederick Clesson b. 1863 Beecher City IL, d. 1934 Oklahoma City OK
8. Willard Ray Clesson b. 1893 Matthewson OK
9. Cecil Elbert Clesson b. Pibroch, Alberta Canada, d. 1965 Olympia WA
10. GEC 687631

And below is Rick's fascinating account of his ancestry. Please feel free to leave any comments at the end of the blog post, particularly if you have any insights into how Rick's earliest ancestor might have left Ireland. Enjoy!
Maurice Gleeson
Jan 2018

Matthew Clesson (Gleeson), Irish Colonial Pioneer of Northampton, Massachusetts

INFORMATION GATHERED FROM: "Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England;” History of Northampton, Massachusetts;" Irish Pedigrees, Volume 1;" "The Journal of the American Irish Historical Society, Volume 17; "The History of Deerfield, Massachusetts;" Family and Landscape: Deerfield Homelots from 1671;“ “Soldiers in King Philip’s War 1675-1677,” “The Stebbins Genealogy,” 1904; and “Joseph Stebbins: A Pioneer at the Outbreak of the Revolution," 1916.

Our family knew nothing about the origin of Matthew Clesson, born about 1651, other than he was an Irish immigrant. I recently received results from Y-DNA testing of my first cousin that I belong to Lineage II, Branch F of the North Tipperary Gleeson family tree through my mother whose maiden name was Clesson. The closest match within this group is Philip Gleeson who traces his Gleeson ancestors back to North Tipperary, Ireland. My mother had spent several years researching her Clesson ancestry. We had no idea that the family name was originally Gleeson. I don’t know if the change in spelling was intentional or by accident, but every written record we have found here in the USA for my earliest Clesson ancestor, Matthew Clesson, has been fairly consistently Clesson with minor differences. What follows is somewhat unique since there were relatively few Irish immigrants in early colonial America at this time. This is my lineage to Matthew Clesson, with some of the Clesson story that I know to date. There are lots of Josephs and some Matthews to keep track of in this story. The names in bold lettering are my direct ancestor grandfathers after Matthew Clesson.

Matthew Clesson (my seventh great-grandfather) born about 1651, was an Irish immigrant who probably first came to Northampton, Massachusetts, as a servant to one of the early planters. Nearly all the first emigrants in Northampton from Ireland were children or young persons who came over for the express purpose of being servants. [1]

The earliest record I have found in Northampton for Matthew Clesson is in 1664 when he was employed for the year as a “cow keeper or calf keeper” on the commons to “keepe the have pay in wheate 3s 3d pr bush.” It was custom for cow keepers to be children and youths as they were required by law to busy themselves in some useful occupation. Sometime before 1665, Matthew was granted three acres of land as the other Irishmen “haue it granted theme not a horn lote.” In the years ahead, no other servant in Northampton accumulated as much land as Matthew. 

Matthew’s dwelling house was burned down during an Indian raid in the King Phillip’s War in 1675. He was one of twelve persons to whom land was granted inside the fortifications in compensation for his losses. He was quite prosperous and accumulated considerable property, owning at one time fifty-nine acres of land lying in twelve different parcels, all of which with the exception of six acres he purchased.

There are several questions that remain unanswered about Matthew Clesson. Who were his parents? How did he get to Northampton, Massachusetts? Was he an orphan? What family or master did he serve? If he was an indentured servant, he had a better financial footing than any other in Northampton. As early as 1667, a few years after being a “cow keeper,” Matthew bought the home lot with a house and barn that was later burned in 1675. 

Matthew also married well. There is a list of prominent Northampton property owners in the town records. On this list is Deacon Nathaniel Phelps, Sr., who arrived as a child with his Puritan family and father, William Phelps, in 1630, on the Mary and John establishing with other Puritan families the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Nathaniel Phelps was one of the first settlers in Northampton and was elected their first Constable in 1656. [2] He was a founding member of their church, and owned a considerable amount of land as one of the original town members receiving land grants. Both Matthew Clesson and Nathaniel Phelps are on a list of Northampton townspeople as contributors to Harvard College for the year 1676. Matthew married Nathaniel Phelps’ daughter Mary in 1670, and in 1702, Matthew Clesson was given a home lot of four acres the same year that his father in-law Nathaniel died. It’s possible that Matthew was a servant for Nathaniel Phelps' family. This area had frequent Indian raids and records may not have been kept or may have been destroyed. If records exist which mention Matthew’s origin, they might be in court minute books, deed records, or an official document that might have recorded his name and previous residence or origin. They are probably archived and would require an onsite search page-by-page.

Matthew Clesson seems to have been something of a man even though the town classed him with the “other Irishmen.” He was twice married and had a family of nine children with his first wife, Mary, several of whom became prominent citizens of Northampton, Deerfield, and other towns in the Connecticut River Valley. Matthew appears as a signer on a petition to the General Court by various inhabitants of Northampton on 4 November 1668: “Respecting the laying of Custome of Trybute vpon Corne or other provissions that are brought into the severall Portes within this Collony.” He signed an Oath of Allegiance on 8 February 1678. Matthew would have been at least 24 years of age to take the oath. He became a Freeman in 1690. 

In the “History of Northampton” book written by Trumbull there is an account of a Matthew Clesson who was an active participant in the military operations and conflicts between his fellow neighbors and the Indians in late April 1709, during Queen Anne’s French and Indian War. I expect Matthew would have been in his mid-fifties at this time, and his son, Matthew, born in 1681 (my seventh great- uncle) would have been about twenty-eight years old. I don’t know which Matthew Clesson the story refers to. If it was his son, Matthew, a couple months later on 27 June 1709, he died of his wounds during the fight in which his brother Joseph was captured. There will be more on this later. The story goes that Matthew was in a scouting expedition of fifteen men led by Captain Wright. They followed the Connecticut River to the White River and over the mountains to the French River. They made canoes and sailed down to Lake Champlain where they killed and scalped a party of Indians on the lake. On their return up the French River, they discovered another party of Indians with a captive from New England. They fired upon the party, killing several Indians. The captive swam for the shore and was seized and burned on the spot by the Indians. Four members of the Captain Wright expedition were killed, and one was wounded. After returning on 28 May 1709, those engaged in the expedition petitioned the court and were awarded twelve pounds to Captain Wright and six pounds to each man as a bounty for their eight Indian scalps. 

The Gleeson Lineage II pedigree is well represented at this time in early colonial Massachusetts by Matthew Clesson and his heirs. But the Gleason Lineage I pedigree is also represented. Thomas Gleason (Gleson), the son of Thomas and Anne (Armesby) Gleson, was born 3 September 1609, in Cockfield, Suffolk, England, and died Cambridge, Massachusetts, about 1687. He married Susanna Page on 31 July 1634, in Cockfield. Susanna was baptized 4 December 1614, in Ingham, Suffolk and probably died in Boston, Massachusetts, 24 January 1691. Thomas and Susanna had several sons which included William, Phillip, and Isaac, that were born in Watertown and Cambridge, Massachusetts and fought or died in the King Philip’s war. His son, Isaac, was in the Connecticut River Valley living in Enfield, Connecticut, and fought at the Battle of Turner’s Falls 19 May 1676, about ten miles northeast of the Deerfield, Massachusetts, settlement. One can wonder if Isaac Gleason knew any of the Clessons. A possible connection is through Matthew’s youngest son, Samuel, who married Abigail Bushrod, whose father, Peter Bushrod, was also in the battle. Both Samuel Clesson and Isaac ‘s son, Isaac Gleason, were listed as descendants of soldiers in the “Falls Fight” and thereby claimants of land granted to the soldiers by an act of the Court in August 1741.

Matthew Clesson, born about 1651, made out a will in 1713 and is believed to have died 17 November 1716, in Deerfield, Massachusetts. He married 22 December 1670, Northampton, Massachusetts, Mary, daughter of Deacon Nathaniel Phelps and Elizabeth Copley. Mary died 15 April 1687, in Northampton, Massachusetts; some years later, Matthew married his second wife, Susanna Hodge/Hedge, on 21 November 1701. 

Matthew and Mary had nine children: 
  1. Mary, b. 13 Aug. 1672; d. 11 Dec. 1672 
  2. Thankful, b. 19 Sept. 1673; d. about 1761; m. (1) 1690 Joseph Mason, (2) 28 October 1695, Samuel Davis 
  3. JOSEPH, (my sixth great-grandfather) b. 23 April 1675; d. 4 June 1753; m. about 1704, Hannah Arms 
  4. Elizabeth, b. August 1677; d. 16 July 1709; m. 30 November 1698, John Hannum, Jr. 
  5. Mary, b. 20 November 1679; d. after 1750; m. 6 April 1701, Benjamin Bartlett
  6. William, b. 3 Jan. 1680; d. before 1709 
  7. Matthew, b. 31 December 1681; mortally wounded at Deerfield, Massachusetts, by Indians, 23 June 1709, and d. 27 June; he was engaged to be married to Sarah Mattoon, who she shared his estate with his brothers and sisters by direction of the Probate Judge. 
  8. John, b. 1 April 1685; d. before 1709 
  9. Samuel, b. April 1687; d. 8 September 1767; m. 24 May 1716, Abigail Bushrod, daughter of Peter Bushrod and Elizabeth Hannum 

The Clessons came of sturdy stock and the sons of the Irish servant Matthew are mentioned very frequently in accounts of the border warfare with the French and Indians. 

Matthew’s son Joseph (my sixth great-grandfather), was a soldier in King William's War (1689-1697). At the age of fifteen, he was one of the American parties engaged in the "Pomeroy Pursuit" from the Deerfield garrison in 1688. He was a resident of Deerfield from 1705 to 1709 and of Northampton from 1712 to 1724. In official accounts of the Queen Anne’s War (1704-1718) and of the Indian massacres on the border, Joseph Clesson, while on a scouting patrol on 23 June 1709, was captured by a party of French and Indians commanded by de Rouville. He was taken to Canada but either escaped or was released. He was an active participant in "Father Rasle's War" 1721 to 1725. Father Rasle was a Jesuit Priest and missionary to the Abernaki Indians. The English believed that Rasle was the mastermind who planned many Indian raids on their homes and settlement. Joseph is mentioned as a captain of the military forces at Deerfield in 1713. In 1730, he bought a home lot and house in Deerfield, Massachusetts. A rebuilt house on that lot is owned by Historic Deerfield and houses their Silver collection and is known today as the Clesson House. 

Joseph’s younger brother, Matthew, (my seventh great-uncle) was also a known Indian fighter during Queen Anne’s War and took a prominent part in the battle in which his older brother was captured while on a scouting patrol 23 June 1709, which I discussed earlier. However, on 24 June 1709, the day after that battle, Matthew received a mortal wound while fighting a party of French and Indians in defence of the settlement. He died four days later. Matthew’s son, also named Matthew, was listed as a member of the settlement's military force and was a captain at this time. 

During the French and Indian War, Capt. Joseph Clesson commanded a company of Massachusetts soldiers and died from the rigors of military service on 4 June 1753; he was buried in the camp burial ground near Fort William Henry in New York. He was married to Hannah Arms and had 10 children by her. 

Capt. Joseph’s son, Matthew Clesson (my fifth great-grandfather), born in 1713, was also prominent in military affairs of the settlement. He was in the frontier service under Captain Kellogg at the age of nineteen. By 1747, Matthew was a lieutenant. On 4 August 1747, he led a scouting party from Fort Dummer towards Lake Champlain and Canada. He was sent there by Governor Shirley to watch the movement of the French and Indians who were reported to be forming an army for a raid. He again led another scouting party in 1755 to Lake George. Worn out by the hardships of this expedition, he died on 4 or 24 October 1756. It is been recorded that his motto was "Kill them all! Nits will become lice".

Two of Lt. Matthew Clesson’s sons, Joseph, Sr., born 1756, (my fourth great-grandfather) and Matthew, born 1748, were patriots in the Revolutionary War. Joseph, Sr. fought at the Siege of Boston in 1776. The Deerfield Clesson House was left to Lt. Matthew Clesson, who left it to his three sons, of which Joseph, Sr. was the last one to have it. By 1798, the house had deteriorated greatly. In 1814, the house was torn down, and what was intended to be a rear part of a new house was built on the lot about 1814. Between 1830 and 1837, it was moved to its current location on the lot. His son, Joseph, Jr., born 1791, (my third great-grandfather) inherited the new house when his father died in 1816. He sold it to Eliphalet Dickinson in 1818, and from there it passed out of the family. 

The house in the picture above was lived in by the Clessons for only two or three years, but appears to have been built by them, or under their direction. 

There are close ties with other Revolutionary War Patriots to the Clesson family. Joseph Clesson, Jr. (my third great-grandfather) married into the Stebbins family, a prominent English family in Deerfield, Massachusetts. He married Mehitable Stebbins, 10 November 1814, in Deerfield, MA. Mehitable’s father Joseph Stebbins, Jr. and Joseph Clesson, Jr.’s father, the patriot Joseph Sr. knew each other in Deerfield and fought the battles during the Siege of Boston. Little did they know that their son and daughter would marry several years later in 1814 in Deerfield, making Mehitable a third great-grandmother and her father, Joseph Stebbins, Jr., a fourth great-grandfather of mine. 

Joseph Stebbins, Jr. served the entire Revolutionary War with a rebel and military career beginning in 1773, as a leader of the “Sons of Liberty” in Deerfield, and the first to respond as the lieutenant of the Minuteman Company that answered the Lexington Alarm on 20 April 1775, when a rider galloping through town called “to arms...Gage has fired on the people! Minute men to the rescue! Now is the time! Cambridge is the place!” 

In Cambridge, Joseph Stebbins was promoted to captain in the Continental Army by General Ward and placed under the command of Colonel Prescott. His officer’s commission was later signed by John Hancock and hangs in Deerfield Memorial Hall. His commission was issued in the same room and by the same body of men which had commissioned George Washington Commander-in-Chief eleven days earlier on 19 June 1775. Captain Stebbins was at the Battle of Bunker Hill 17 June 1775. He was one of the company commanders tasked the night before the battle to build the Redoubt and was “in the thick of the fight” defending the Redoubt the following day. He was later at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777, fighting at Stillwater and Bemis Heights and witnessed General Burgoyne’s surrender to General Horatio Gates. He was promoted to Lt. Colonel in 1781, and Colonel of the Militia in May 1788 to assist Governor John Hancock in Shays’s Rebellion. All three of his officer commissions were signed by John Hancock. 

Richard Alan Neeley
January 2018

Some comments from Maurice:

[1] Matthew Clesson would have been a child around the time of Oliver Cromwell's conquest of Ireland. I wonder if he was one of the many children and youths rounded up and sent to the New World as (un)indentured servants. If so, there may be Court Records which show what age he was assigned by the Court upon his arrival. This "age assignment" was necessary because many children did not know how old they were and the Court would decide. The age assigned determined how many more years of indentured labour the child / youth had to serve before being set free from his indentureship. [Reference: Without Indentures, Richard Hayes Phillips, 2013]

[2] Nathaniel's father William was from Crewkerne, Somerset and was born about 1593. You can read about him here. Coincidentally, there were a family of Phelps in North Tipperary in the mid-1600s which has been discussed in a previous post ... The Phelps Connection. They originated from Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire in 1620s.

Friday, 17 November 2017

FTDNA Holiday Sale until Dec 31 2017

FamilyTreeDNA have launched their Annual Holiday Sale. This runs from the last day of the Annual FTDNA Conference (Nov 12th 2017) until the end of the year. So now is the time to buy FTDNA tests and take advantage of some of their lowest prices ever. They also make perfect Birthday, Thanksgiving & Christmas gifts for friends and family.

2017 Holiday Sale Discounts

There are discounts on many of their products including upgrades on mtDNA and Y-DNA. The discounts represent approximately a 10-30% reduction from the usual price.

There is a special offer regarding the Big Y test. The usual price is $575 but there is a $100 discount in the sale. Further discounts are possible with the vouchers described below. But everyone who buys a Big Y test will automatically get a FREE upgrade to the Y-DNA-111 test. So if you have only tested your Y-DNA to the 37 marker level, buying the Big Y will get you a free upgrade to 111 markers (which would normally cost you $188).

Even if you haven't done a Y-DNA-37 test yet, you can order it at the Sale Price, and use a voucher for a further discount, and then once it has registered on the system, you can order the Big Y test and get the $100 Sale Price discount, and any additional voucher discount, and a free upgrade to 111 markers. This is a very good deal indeed!
So if you were very lucky, you could get the Y-DNA-37 for $109 (using a $20 voucher) plus the Big Y for $375 (using a $100 voucher) and the free upgrade to 111 markers. This wold normally cost $169 + $575 + $188 = $942 but you would be getting it for $484. This is only 51% of the price you would normally pay.

As mentioned above, you can use Holiday Reward vouchers to lower the sale prices even further. These will be issued every Monday until the end of the Sale but each voucher only lasts for 7 days so you have to use them quickly. In effect, this may reduce the cost of the Family Finder atDNA test to $49 and Y-DNA-37 to $109.

A $20 voucher for the Y-DNA-67 test

To access your voucher, simply log on to your FTDNA account and click on the Holiday Reward icon on your home page. If you make a purchase during the Sale, you frequently get a Bonus Reward as well. This gives further discounts on other tests.

And if you want to use the voucher for yourself, simply click on the Enjoy Rewards button and the product will be added to your Cart and the discount applied. Alternatively you can give the voucher to friends or family by clicking on the Share Rewards button. Each voucher can only be used once, and must be used before the weekly deadline.

A lot of people donate any vouchers they are not using so check the ISOGG Facebook group and Genetic Genealogy Ireland Facebook group for any unused vouchers that you might be able to take advantage of. Be warned, they go fast so you might have to try several before you find one that works.

Enjoy the Sale!

Maurice Gleeson
Nov 2017

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Version 3 of the Mutation History Tree for Lineage II

Below is the updated version of the Mutation History Tree for Gleeson Lineage II (the North Tipperary Gleeson's). Previous versions were published in December 2015 (version 1) and December 2016 (version 2). A pdf version of the tree can be downloaded from Dropbox via this link ... L2 MHT v3a

To see where you sit in the tree, find your G-number from the table at the bottom of this post (taken from our WFN Results page).

So what does it tell us?
  • The Gleeson Lineage II family tree currently has 11 major branches. And there are likely to be a lot more.
  • It looks like the Gleeson surname has been around for quite some time. The first branch to branch off was Branch F (far right). This is a pretty ancient branch and dates (very roughly) from about 1050 AD, not to far away from the presumed date of origin of the Gleeson surname.
  • There are probably some branches that have simply died out over the passage of time ... and what we are seeing here is simply a modern day snapshot of the remains of the "clan" that once was. In times past, some of the branches might have been much more prominent, and others much less prominent.
  • Age estimates of the branching points are very crude because the dating methodology has severe limitations. It is hoped that these can be improved with time.
  • Some branches are associated with a particular area or townland in North Tipperary (e.g. Branch C1 - Garryard; Branch E - Curraghneddy). It is hoped that as more people join the project and supply their MDKA information (particularly birth location) that more and more branches will be associated with specific locations. This in turn will help members with their individual genealogical research.

The Tree
The Pedigrees (and Key)
The (previously) Unique SNP markers
Click to enlarge ... or download the high-quality pdf version

The tree consists of several parts:
  • the tree itself, illustrating the branching pattern based on SNP & STR marker data
  • the pedigrees associated with each member in the tree (plus details of their MDKA / EKA)
  • a key to the tree, and numbered footnotes
  • the unique SNPs identified for those members who undertook the Big Y test

The tree has expanded considerably since the last version. The results of the tenth Big Y test are now included (from our Clan Gathering Chairman, Michael G. Gleeson). These came back from the lab in late December 2016 and underwent additional analysis by Alex Williamson for inclusion in the Gleeson portion of his Big Tree. These results confirmed the existence of Branch F (which had previously been merely predicted to exist on the basis of STR marker data). They also split up the "A5629 SNP Block" which up to that point consisted of 4 SNP markers. Thereafter it was split into an upstream branch characterised by the SNP A5631, and a downstream SNP block characterised by the 3 SNPs A5627, A5629, & A5630.

These results made A5631 the apparent over-arching Gleeson-specific SNP for Lineage II (i.e. only Gleeson's have been discovered to share this particular SNP marker). Thus, A5631 could be the DNA marker that defines membership of the larger Gleeson "Clan".

Lineage II Gleeson's on the Big Tree illustrating the old "A5629 SNP Block"
(from Nov 2016)
The current version of the Lineage II Gleeson portion of the Big Tree
showing how the previous A5629 SNP Block is now split in two (Aug 2017)

In addition to the 10th set of Big Y results, fifteen people expressed an interest in doing the new Z255 SNP Pack and the results of 13 of these people have now come back from the lab. This revised SNP Pack contains almost 50 SNP markers that are either shared only by Lineage II members or are unique to Lineage II members, and represents over 95% of all shared and unique Lineage II-specific SNPs (see this previous blog post). So the Pack is very specific for Lineage II. These SNP markers were identified via the 10 Big Y tests previously undertaken by our project members and were incorporated into the revised SNP Pack by the team at FTDNA.

A review of some preliminary results of these SNP Pack tests was discussed in a previous blog post. The updated results are included in a table at the bottom of this post.

The data from these 13 sets of new results have been added to the tree and as a result, the branching pattern has expanded considerably. The previous version of the tree consisted of 6 branches (known or predicted) but the new version contains 11 branches:
  • Branch A has been split in two (A1 & A2) and two new members added (see red G-numbers: G95 & G113).
  • Branch B has remained intact and has gained a new member (G107).
  • Branch E was previously thought to be more closely related to Branch B but the new SNP Pack results indicate that it is in fact more closely related to Branch C. Thus Branch E's attachment to the tree has been changed.
  • Branch C has been split into two (C1 & C2) - the latter has gained a new member (G89) thanks to the new SNP Pack results.
  • Branch D has split into two also (D1 & D2). This is not a big surprise as the anticipated common ancestor of the original 2 members of this branch was some 14 generations ago. This branch has also gained a new member (G106) due to the SNP Pack results.
  • Branch F has also remained intact and has gained a new member (G104), again due to the new SNP Pack results. This is an unusual branch and appears to be the oldest branch in the project so far. Its connection to the rest of the group is some 30-32 generations ago, approximately 1050 AD, taking it very far back in time, almost to the predicted origin of the Gleeson surname.
  • Branch G is a new branch within the tree. It consists of just two people and they are not particularly closely related to each other. Both tested with the new Z255 SNP Pack and only tested positive for the more upstream Lineage II SNP markers (A5631 & the A5627/29/30 SNP Block). This too is a relatively old branch and its connection to the rest of the tree is some 25 generations ago (about 1200 AD). 
  • Branch H is also a new branch and may be a similar age to Branch G (i.e. about 25 generations ago). However, the members of this branch have tested positive for marker BY5706 (which is one step further downstream than Branch G). None of the 4 members in this branch are particularly closely related, so I would expect this branch to split up into further sub-branches in due course.

Version 1 of this Mutation History Tree contained 16 of the project members of Lineage II, version 2 placed 20 of the 31 members (65%) on the tree, and version 3 is the most comprehensive to date and contains 32 of the 36 members currently in Lineage II (89%).  The remaining 4 members cannot be placed with reasonable accuracy and will require further testing to enable placement.

Altogether, of the 36 members in Lineage II, 23 (64%) have downstream SNP data available - 10 via the Big Y test, and 13 via the new Z255 SNP Pack. The SNP Pack proved to be a great success and an 89% placement rate is quite impressive. The placement rate increased from 65% to 89% as a result of the SNP Pack testing.

Interestingly, some members were sufficiently closely related to other members of the group that SNP testing was not necessary. In some cases a definite relationship was already known, and in other cases the STR-based Genetic Distance was sufficiently close that placement was possible ... with reasonable confidence. The caveat here is that there may be a degree of Convergence obscuring the true relationship between certain members. And as a result, some people who have not undergone SNP-testing may need to be moved onto a different branch in the future. 

There were several questions that I had hoped the revised Z255 SNP Pack testing would answer:
  1. Are 10 Big Y tests enough to identify all/most of the downstream SNPs associated with Lineage II?
  2. How many future members are likely to be placed on the tree by just using the revised Z255 SNP Pack?
  3. Will there be a need for future Big Y testing within the group? or has the testing undertaken by group members so far helped reduce the cost for future members?

Now that the results of the SNP Pack testing are in, we can look at these questions one by one and see to what extent we have an answer for each.

The 10 Big Y tests certainly did identify a lot of the downstream branches of the tree, but not all of them. If we take "downstream" to mean (crudely) less than 18 generations ago (i.e. less than 600 years), then between the Big Y testing and the Z255 SNP Pack testing, six (6) downstream branches were identified (Branches A1, B, E, C1, C2, F). The remaining 5 branches did not have a "sufficiently downstream" SNP identified (Branches A2, D1, D2, G, H).

Also, the exercise identified new branches that were not predicted from the original Big Y testing. It is therefore likely that additional new branches will continue to be identified over time as more people join the project and undertake SNP testing.

So, although the SNP Pack testing did provide a lot of additional useful information, and has improved the structure of the Mutation History Tree, its coverage of "downstream SNPs" (using the arbitrary threshold of approximately 18 generations) is only about 50%. This fact alone indicates that there will be a need for Big Y testing in the future, but perhaps much more selectively (thus saving money for project members).

Now that the structure of the tree is quite developed, and as it continues to "mature", it will become easier and easier to place future members on a particular branch of the tree and in many instances will obviate the need for SNP testing. At this stage it is difficult to know how often this will happen.

For future members who are not easy to place, the options will be a 67 or 111 STR upgrade, the Z255 SNP Pack, or the Big Y test. In most instances, the SNP Pack might be the test of choice if the new member appears to be a possible match to one of the "downstream branches". But if it is not possible to place the new member anywhere on the existing tree, then the Big Y test might be preferred.

Accurately dating when each branch arose remains a problem and there are several reasons for this:
  1. In order for the dating to be accurate, the branching structure must be accurate. And for some people there is insufficient data to place them confidently on the tree. In such cases, it may be necessary to upgrade to 67 or 111 STR markers, or do the Z255 SNP Pack, or do the Big Y test.
  2. There is an inherent problem with any dating methodology used. Statistically, it may produce very accurate results. But from a genealogical perspective, the results are very inexact. Even at the 111 STR marker level, one can often expect to find a range of +/- 300 years on either side of the midpoint estimate. The same is true for dating using SNPs. 
  3. Dating using STRs appears to work best for people who are relatively closely related (say within the last 500 years) and dating using SNP markers may be more "exact" for people who are related 500-1000 years ago. Only further research will help clarify this.
  4. FTDNA's TiP tool uses proprietary information and its methodology is not public knowledge. As a result there is no way of checking the science behind it. It may be that it's estimations are incorrect. Last year (2016) the algorithm's were adjusted and new TMRCA estimates were generated for the same results. But there is no way of knowing if this was an improvement or not. I suspect that the TiP tool may underestimate the age of more distant (upstream) branching points because it does not accurately take into account the extent of parallel and back mutations. 
  5. Dave Vance's SAPP programme uses Ken Nordtvedt's Interclade Ageing methodology. I don't know much about this method but it may be a better way of using STR data to estimate TMRCA. And as the SAPP Programme is automated, it takes a lot of the hard work out of the calculations. Potentially.
  6. Ultimately, dating the branching points will involve a mixture of the above techniques and the best that can be achieved may simply be a "best guess".

So the take home message is that all time points in the tree should only be taken as a very rough guide.

As the tree grows and expands, more and more people will be able to use it to help their own genealogical research. Already we are making connections and breaking down Brick Walls for members in Branches B and C1. 

More will follow in time.

Maurice Gleeson
Aug 2017

The members of Gleeson Lineage II (from the WFN Results page)
... find your G-number above and then locate yourself on the tree

Below is the revised spreadsheet of the results of the recent Z255 SNP Pack testing. The previous blog post only included 12 sets of results - the 13th set of results effectively split Branch D into two separate branches.

click to enlarge ...
or download a high-quality pdf version
via this Dropbox link here


Note that some SNP markers have more than one name (e.g. A5631 is also called Y17108). This confusing situation arises because different institutions give the same SNP different names. The best place to see which SNPs have alternative names is to go to the Gleeson portion of the tree on YFULL. Just search for A5631 (use Cmd+F on a Mac or Ctrl+F on a PC). Note that the YFULL tree does not have as many datapoints as the Big Tree or FTDNA's haplotree.