Frankly, I am consumed with a desire to learn all I can about Vick family history. However, I was not always so interested in my roots. I grew up in an Air Force family. My father took us to places as far east as England and as far west as Japan (and many places in between). Unlike my father who grew up in the same county his father grew up in (and his father before him, and his father before him, and his father before him), I really did not have a sense of being from any particular place. Home was where the Air Force sent us. When I graduated from college I was commissioned a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force, and I served in the Air Force for over 26 years. For my wife and children, home was also where the Air Force sent us.
In 1991 my family and I were visiting my father’s grave in Greenville, KY. My father’s brother, Robert Edward Vick, Sr., who lives in Greenville, organized a small family reunion of sorts for our visit. My daughter, Kathy, was 13 and my son, James, was nine. They had never been around so many Vicks and did not really know their extended Vick family. My father had died before they were born, so they never knew him. During this visit, out of the blue, my daughter asked her great uncle Bob Ed where the Vicks came from. Uncle Bob Ed told my daughter the name of his Vick ancestors that were buried in Muhlenberg County. After we returned home, Uncle Bob Ed mailed my daughter a pedigree chart detailing her Vick line for eight generations including dates and places. The chart listed all of the Vicks in our line back through Stephen Vick (born 11 Nov 1786 and died 3 Jun 1847), the first of our line to come to Muhlenberg County. The chart also showed that Jacob and Mary were Stephen’s parents. My uncle Bob Ed had taken us to the Williams Family cemetery where he had relocated Stephen and all of our family buried in the Vick Family cemetery. Due to strip mining near the Vick Family cemetery, Uncle Bob Ed filed a civil suit in 1957 (Muhlenberg County, KY, Circuit Court Action; File No. 863; 1 Nov 1957) to relocate those buried there. On Stephen’s monument, it said he was the son of Jacob and Mary and was “of” Dobbs County, NC.
When my daughter studied the pedigree chart, she wondered why it stopped with Jacob. She wanted to know who Jacob was and who his father was. At the time, we lived in Tidewater Virginia. We spent many days together visiting libraries and the local Family History Center researching all we could find about Jacob and Mary Vick. Eventually, we found a Jacob and Mary that we thought must be our Jacob and Mary.
In the course of our research, we learned that John D. Beatty was writing a book about the descendants of Joseph Vick of Isle of Wight County, Virginia (John would publish the book, Joseph Vick of Lower Parish, Isle of Wight County, Virginia and His Descendants, along with Di Ann Vick in 2004). So, we decided to write him and see if he knew anything about our branch of the Vick family. John replied right back and told us he did not believe the Jacob and Mary we had found were the ones we were looking for. He also shared his research with us on what he believed was our correct line (although he could not prove his conclusion since the relevant records had been destroyed in courthouse fires).
Kathy and I had found a Jacob and Mary who John believed were too old and in the wrong place in North Carolina to be the Jacob and Mary of Dobbs County, NC. This Jacob’s line was Jacob4, Jacob3, Richard2, Joseph1. There was no evidence that they had children.
John suggested the more likely Jacob was of the line Jacob4, ?Isaac3, William2, Joseph1. No matter where we looked or how hard we searched, we could not find any proof as to who our Jacob was. We also developed a deep sense of respect for the thoroughness of John’s research. John also pointed me to Joseph and Billie Jurlina who provided a wealth of information on the Vick family.
So, we hit a brick wall with Jacob in 1991 and nothing changed until 2005. By 2005, my daughter had long lost her zeal for Vick research, but I had not. My daughter had gotten me more than interested in family history. In 2005, I heard a program about a project the National Geographic Society, IBM, and the Waitt Family Foundation had funded to trace the migration of man around the world using DNA. This effort was called the Genographic Project. The program said that by purchasing a kit and donating a sample of my DNA, I could discover my deep ancestry and trace my genetic lineage. I was not sure what all of that meant, but it seemed like a worthy project.
When my DNA test was finished and the results were in, I was a little in awe that geneticists could find out so much from my DNA (a small snippet of my Y chromosome to be exact). I was also very surprised to learn that my Y-DNA could also be used in our Vick genealogical research. There was a link at the bottom of my Genographic page that said, “Click on the link below to learn how Family Tree DNA, our testing partner, can help you apply your results from the Genographic Project to research your family genealogy.” Little did I know that I was about to enter a whole new world of possibilities useful in resolving the question of which Jacob4 was my ancestor.
When I clicked the link, I found that I was the first male Vick that had Y-DNA results in the Family Tree DNA database (or at least the first that was willing to share his results). I had wondered if I would match a Vick, or if I would match another surname. I had no idea whether my Y-DNA signature would be common or rare. As it turns out, the patrilineal descendants of Joseph share a rare Y-DNA signature. As it also turned out, I did not match anyone in the Family Tree DNA database that was willing to share his Y-DNA signature. So, I was in for a wait to see when someone would turn up as a match. Five months later, Lannes Melvin Ray Vick showed up as a match. Ray had also tested through the Genographic Project, and he too was eager to learn about his Vick family history. Ray started contacting as many Vicks as he could find to try to get them to join our project. He set up a website, and we were off and running with a goal to reconstruct the Vick family tree.
I will not drag you through all of the details, but the answer to which Jacob I am descended from became clear as more and more Vick men tested. We are very lucky that John and Di Ann wrote such a great reference book for our family. Only by combining the research of John and Di Ann along with the Y-DNA results was I able to see that John was right in his conclusion that my Jacob was the one from the William2 line.
Now I would like to find who Joseph1’s father was and where they lived. In fact, I would like to find the origin of the Vick surname and the origin of as many Vick clans as possible. That will be a subject for another blog.