[List] "Y" descendants

michael@newsummer.com michael at newsummer.com
Mon Jan 1 22:44:36 PST 2007

I spend a lot of time searching on the Net for new names to add to my list of
male descendants of John Cooley--this, of course, due to my interest in
genetic testing and my belief that it can serve as an important tool to
genealogists. But, to be perfectly frank, I'm not always observing "good
genealogy" when putting it together. I see the list more as a rough sketch, a
general map and, most specifically, an aid in locating men who may be
interested in contributing to the genetic study. Because of the loose criteria
I employ in putting the list together, there are undoubtedly errors.
If when looking it over, you find any, please let me know so that I can
correct them:


Because the list is intended to be a working tool, rather than a definitive
"statement" it  also reflects my current "theories" and I sometimes will move
whole branches around willy-nilly. For instance, now that I think that the
Reuben Cooley of Marion County KY may have been Edward Cooley's brother rather
than his son, as many Family Group Sheets out there suggest, I moved, en
masse, the whole group. Just like that! I could be wrong, of course. Likewise,
when seeing that Reuben was 81 on the 1850 census (there may be a general
consensus, btw, that he was actually 71) I felt that it was so astonishing
that he could have been a new father at that age that I considered that he was
perhaps the -grandfather- of the children listed with him. Upon hearing that
he may have had a son named William, I inserted an unnamed son and made
Stephen L and Cornelius Rueben's grandsons--simply, it would seem, throwing
the conventional lineage out the window. Well, I could be wrong.
(Incidentally, I've been waiting nearly a month for a copy of Stephen L
Cooley's death certificate which, I hope, will settle the matter.)

I guess the point is that genealogy is remarkably plastic. Despite the fact
that there was really only one true set of biological parents for an
individual, the "record" varies to a remarkable degree. In the end, the best
that the genealogist can hope for is the "testimony" by someone that a parent
was so-and-so. That's really all that a birth certificate is, that's all a
census entry and a will is: the -statement- that B is the parent of A. In
fact, that's all that the genetic record can be--testimony that -increases-
(or eliminates) the likelihood of a relationship. Genealogy, then, is really
never a collection of facts but an interpretation and an assessment of the
validity of the testimony. Therefore, there is a lot of opinion and "theory"
that goes into research.

So we've got questions. Who was Reuben Cooley? Does William Matthews Cooley
figure into the equation? Was James Cooley of Madison County KY related? Can
what is known about Reuben Ransom Cooley be interpreted to fit? (Perhaps so.
Maybe his father came from England but not in 1801. Maybe he left Virginia in
1801. Maybe his brother James is one of the missing children of Edward--he was
supposed to have 8.) The questions, I think, are as important as the answers.
But as new data emerges or interpretations of the old data evolve, the
questions will modify and we'll be a bit closer to filling out the picture.

So, feel free to post your ideas and new findings to the list! It could make a
big difference,



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