Sunday, January 1, 2012


Throughout this history we find that our ancestors were a hard-working, determined people who had faith in God and maintained a strong family. Each generation successfully paved the way for the next through both prosperous and hard times. They participated in the westward expansion of our nation, fought for our country and also have the proud distinction of always being on the right side of history. I’ve spent enough time learning about the various generations of Bartlett’s to feel a real family connection to those who came before us. It has also given me a greater appreciation for the family that I am blessed to be a part of. I’ve driven through many of the areas our family frequented in Missouri and Kentucky previously, but that was before I knew of our family connection to those places. Now I look forward to visiting them again with this knowledge. I can’t think of a more interesting way to spend a vacation. Although my original intention was to just find our mysterious link to Josiah, with each discovery, I wanted to learn more and more until it became the 200-plus year history that I’ve now presented to you. And even though Josiah has now been shown not to have been a direct ancestor of ours, it couldn’t possibly take away any of the pride I have in being a Bartlett.

I would hope that great-grandpa Ralph would be pleased with this family history. Even though the “Josiah Myth” has now been debunked, his assumption, I’m sure was shared by many others in the family as well. And until my research, was continuously told by me for almost 30 years and as recently as a couple of years ago from the date that I am writing this. I was watching the movie “National Treasure” with my family, in which the Declaration of Independence is prominently featured. I remember telling my mother-in-law my family connection to the document. It was about 7:45 on a Friday evening…and that was the last time. I’ve have since confessed my error, although the hundreds of others I’ve told over the years will never know the truth...oh well. Another family myth that has yet to be proved to my satisfaction would be our connection to Robert Bartlett & Mary Warren which would make us a “Mayflower Family”. There is a website that provides DNA evidence of family connections for genealogists who have now found themselves without a paper trail to continue their family history.

One such project on the site is the Bartlett DNA Project. The website states:

“The project was started in October of 2002 to link Colonial Virginia BARTLETT lines and is now open to all BARTLETT's, and to BARTLEY, BARKLEY, BERKLEY and other similar variations (these SURNAME's have been researched and proven to have been used interchangeably with each other)”.

The family group in this project that is associated with our Bartlett line is listed as follows:

46144 – John BARTLETT d c1801 Green Co,KY; m Priscilla FAULKNER; > Solomon BARTLETT m Isabel; > Hugh Marshall BARTLETT m America Elizabeth PAYNE; > Braden Solomon BARTLETT [match 24/25 with Team 11; 23/25 with Team 9]

This link runs through Solomon’s son Hugh Marshall Bartlett, brother to Addison, who we descend from. So, essentially, their results should be the same as ours, with Solomon as the common link. It mentions that we match 24/25 with Team 11; 23/25 with Team 9. The teams are other distant Bartlett branches from various parts of the country. Team 11 hails from Henry Co, VA-Overton Co, TN which could potentially link John Bartlett back to his suspected origins in Virginia. The other team we are listed as matching 23/25 is Team 9. These Bartlett’s are of the “Mayflower” line. Without getting into the details of DNA matching, the 23/25 and 24/25 matches are supposed to be within the range of certainty.

I have tried to find the link from our John to the “Mayflower” group using the published Robert Bartlett pedigree going back at least 5 generations without success. Despite the DNA evidence, not having the paper trail to back up this claim leaves me unsatisfied. I’ve been in contact with Ronald Braden Bartlett, Hugh Marshall Bartlett’s great-grandson. He is the family member who participated in this project. He has also unsuccessfully tried to find the exact link to Robert Bartlett and Mary Warren. It was gratifying to find out that the family history he’s gathered over a couple of decades completely matched the history I’ve compiled. Should we be satisfied just with these DNA results? Personally, I would rather stay on the paper trail if at all possible for any future expansion of our documented family history. At least the DNA results give us a reason to keep trying to find the missing link that could eventually lead to us claiming a Mayflower ancestor. It would also answer for us the question of when our family history in America began. This would be the year 1623 if this link was to be eventually confirmed. I mention this possible family link to our history so a future Bartlett historian might also be moved to prove or disprove the connection. Hopefully, one day we can find the name of our Bartlett who “crossed the pond.” As for me, I’m satisfied with our known history at this point in time. I do hope to learn more eventually, but it certainly won’t be at the same pace I’ve maintained over the last year.

Ralph definitely was the inspiration for this project, but a good part of my urgency to document our history was to share it with my grandfather. Wayne, like his father Ralph, had an interest in our origins. Wayne had family pictures (many of which are included here) in his home. He had also shared some of the Halliburton and the Kinsella family histories with me and others in the family over the years as well. Unfortunately, I was unable to complete this before he passed. I saw Grandpa a couple of weeks before he left us. The last time we spoke, I gave him a big hug and told him I loved him. I hope he knows just how much. His passing has had a rather large impact on me personally. Having already been involved in putting this project together, I had become more aware of how precious the time is that we have together. Maybe it’s because I’ll be the first grandchild to reach the age of 40 (yikes!), maybe it’s because I’m a father now. Whatever the reason, it has caused me to reflect on the legacy I will leave. Seeing the effect Grandpa had on others, especially after he left really drove that home for me. Grandpa is a personal hero of mine and had earned a level of love and respect that few are able to maintain over a lifetime.

Learning of the challenges our ancestors faced has also put things in perspective for me. Some things now seem a lot more trivial today in comparison. We certainly shouldn’t have anything to complain about. We enjoy a good life today because of those previous generations. And what we do today will in turn have a direct effect on our children and theirs as well. Judging from past history, those values should already be ingrained in our genetics, but it should never be taken for granted. I believe in learning from history and ours is full of role models who took on challenges, raised good families and maintained their faith in God through even the toughest of times. I believe that this is why we as a family have been blessed. So how do you want your history to be written? It certainly won’t be written by me. But at some point, a curious family member may want to take the journey back and document their family history. What will they find when they get to your name? It certainly does make you think, doesn’t it? Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share this with you. And thanks for continuing to make this such a great family to be a part of.

Michael Thomas Bartlett