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Byars Branch

by Philip Shaddock

Byars / Byers / Byas genealogy is very difficult to sort out. Although the major structure of the tree can be reconstructed from the DNA data, there is not enough detailed data to definitively refine the tree. And there are some major paper trail question marks that make reconciling the DNA data to genealogical records very difficult.

Martha Byars, who is an administrator of the Byers project at FTDNA and has been studying Byars genealogy since 1982 has been an invaluable resource as I looked at the various paper trails created by Byars, Byas, and Byers descendants.

The major conclusion of the study of Byars genealogy is that all the paper trails that have James Henry Byars (1713-1792) as an ancestor do not have good documentary evidence for making him the patriarch of A8033 Byars. The proof that A8033 Byars are not descendants of James Henry Byars is found in a descendant with a very strong paper trail, William Lemuel Byars. His paper trail takes him to James' son Capt. John Byars (1734-1781). William Lemuel Byars was found not to have the A8033 genetic marker. That means he is NOT descended from the A8033 NPE. For this reason I divided the tree you see above into two branches, A8033+ (positive for the SNP) and A8033- (negative for the SNP). It appears there is a strong case for making James Henry Byars the son of John Byars ca. 1675. But there is no evidence that the A8033 NPE is also the son of John Byars. The evidence is against it. That is why I have the dotted line between them.

There is no documentary evidence that Nathan Byars (1749-1846) or William Byars (1736-1794) were sons of James Henry Byars. I did not find a birth place for William Byars. And in Nathan Byars' revolutionary pension application, he says he was born in Granville County, NC. James Henry apparently never lived in North Carolina, although he certainly could have traveled there.

The Byars tree under the A8033 NPE mirrors the tree found on the Results page of the Byers FTNDA project. The A8033+ descendants are categorized as Group B in the Byers project.

Martha speculated that the Parrish - Byars NPE occurred about 1710-15. The mother of the A8033 Byars child might be a sister to James Henry Byars. There are actually no other good candidates in the time period. 

Martha has told me that the sons of this NPE child, Nathan and William, were relatively poor and married women with money. That suggests they were born into poverty, something you would expect if their mother had a child out of wedlock and that child had to make his way as a laborer and in turn had children born into relative poverty. 

There is a big gap between the ages of Nathan b. 1749 and William born 1736. Martha has suggested that impoverished children would not be involved in land transactions or did  not have goods and property to pass on in wills. So the children between those dates may have been lost to the records.

An indication that William and Nathan are closely related is that we find them living near to each other. Both Nathan and William lived in Rutherford County in North Carolina. In the 1800 we find Stripling Byars (1768-1836), son of William, living in Morgan, Rutherford, along with Nathan Byas (sic) and George and James Byas. They are living next door to each other. That is pretty strong evidence of a close familial tie. Again in 1810 in the Rutherford county census, Nathan, Stripling, two Davids, George, and Robert Byars are living in the county, although because the names are arranged alphabetically we don't know if they were living next door to each other. Martha tells me "I believe the Davids you mention in Rutherford were of the William the Immigrant line that came through York Co, SC Not us. Now Robert is another matter." Robert is the name of a son of Nathan and of William (born 1760).

We know that Nathan was married twice but we do not have a record of his children by his first marriage to Drucilla Harrelson. However in the 1790 census he had ten children, 5 girls and 5 boys. Four of the boys were named Nathan, John, Harrel, and Robert. 

The fact that it is difficult to identify his children using non-modal DNA markers suggests that the sons of Nathan I show in the tree are in fact his children. Harrel Byars (1779-1884)'s full name was Burgess Harrelson Byars, with the middle name indicating his mother's maiden name. He may have lived in Buncombe county and been born in Rutherford. Nathan's revolutionary pension application lists Rutherford and Caswell as where he lived, and his other "sons" were born in these counties.

You will notice that I use STR markers to divide the Byars into two major branches, one descending from Nathan (1749-1846) and the other descending from William (1736-1794). 

Nathan's three markers, DYS444=13, DYS542=16, DYS510=36, are shared by his children and is good DNA evidence we have his descendants correctly placed.

William Byars 1736-1794 has the different values for these markers: DYS444=12, DYS542=15, and DYS510=35. This separates William and his descendants from those of Nathan. This appears to support the thesis that Nathan and William were the only two branches emanating from the Byars NPE. 

For all Parrish descendants and most Byars descendants, the DYS444 marker has thirteen repeats, setting Byars and Parrish apart from Shattockes. The exception are the descendants of William Byars 1736-1794, who have twelve repeats for DYS444. This is a relatively slow moving marker, so I thought for a long time that made this branch of the Byars the original Shattocke NPE. But the genealogical research shows that the more likely scenario was that William's branch dropped a repeat for DYS444.

What is not certain is where the other William Byars (1760-1819) attaches to the Byars tree. He and his brother James (1761-) were born in Granville county, so we can be pretty sure he was a close relative of Nathan. He has a descendant Raleigh Hill Byars who traces his ancestor back to William Byars (1755-1819) purportedly a son of Henry James. But his DNA markers clearly put him among the A8033 Byars, so he cannot be a descendant of Henry James. Given the ages of William and his brother James, we think a likely scenario is that William born 1760 was a nephew of Nathan and William born 1736. That means Nathan and William 1736 probably had a brother missing from the records.

If it is the case that the tree is correct, it means that the A8033 NPE occurred around 1710-1715. Assuming the mother was a daughter of John Byars, I would guess she was born around 1696 and would have been 18 when she had her child. That happens to be the right time frame for three likely candidates for the male Parrish who was the father: Humphrey (ca. 1675-1743), John Parrish (ca. 1676-1751) and Henry (ca. 1677-). And if the tree is correct, it means that the Byars NPE was after the Parrish NPE by at least a generation. That seems to be about right as well as the A8033 SNP has a date of 1640. 

Other evidence that this is correct is the fact there were a lot of Parrishs in Virginia from early in its history and there was a huge population of Parrishs that spread out from Virginia to North Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Missouri, Texas and so on. There are relatively few Byars, Byas or Byers, at least in the research I have done so far.

Someone in the research suggested that John Byars, born about the same year as the candidate Parrishs, 1675, may have been from Scotland. He would not have the A8033 SNP. And he may be the only one who could have had a Byars daughter able to conceive a child in 1710-1715. I have not come across any other Byars that seems to be associated with the A8033 Byars, so that supports a Byars NPE about 1710-1715.

Since it appears that John Parrish (ca. 1680-1751) had the Y19410+ SNP and no Byar descendant is Y19410+, the only two candidates for the father of the Byars NPE are Humphrey Parrish (ca. 1670-1743) and Henry Parrish (ca. 1676-). Humphrey Parrish appears to have had a son, David Parrish (1714-1792) who died in Granville County, North Carolina, where three of the four Byars first generation sons appear to have been born. But then we do not know where Henry Parrish (ca. 1676) was born or lived. 

Given that we have documentary evidence that Nathan was born in Granville County, and he had close relatives also born there, I would say the evidence suggests that his mother lived there and perhaps his father spent time there as well. All the other Byars lineages appear in North Carolina, if we accept they are not descended from James Henry Byars. 

The fact we have a Parrish - Byars NPE means there had to be at least one A8033 Parrish in the previous generation (ca. 1675). That is because the Byars child had to have gotten his A8033 SNP mutation from his father. This also means that the Parrish males born in the same generation (after 1700) had to have gotten their A8033 SNP from the previous generation (ca. 1675).

I invite comments and observations, corrections, and additions. Please contact me directly, or if you do not have my email, contact me through this site's contact page.