Archive for August, 2021

In this post I return one final time to the case of the elusive father of my maternal great grandfather’s [James Marion (Miley) Moates’] father.

Every fan of police procedural dramas knows what all dogged detectives need to establish in order to make a case. He (or she) must uncover the (1) means, (2) motive, and (3) opportunity and (4) any circumstantial evidence that links a person of interest to a case and uncover any other circumstantial evidence of guilt, such as DNA markers shared by descendants of James Marion and other MIley progeny, as well as evidence a sense of culpability by the suspect. We shall apply the same criteria to the elements to make the case that William Goodman Miley (1802) is the most likely “suspect” for the elusive “Miley” father of James Marion (Miley) Moates.

James Marion (Miley) Moates (1843), “Aunt Navy” Genera Belle Moates [later Mrs. Will Hunt (1876)], Ruth Ann Dew Moates (1846) shown ca. 1900, in Brannon Stand, Dale County, Alabama.

1. The Means

While it may seem trivial (and embarrassing) to inquire as to the means of procreation, not all the characters on the scene in about 1840 are equally capable or likely to sire a child. Clearly the individual must be a post-pubescent fertile male. Moreover, the potential father must be a male descendant of Robert Miley (1762) and Mary Goodman (1761) present in the region as indicated by shared DNA between James Marion Moates’ descendants and other Miley-Goodman descendants. This genetic fact limits the pool to three prime suspects: Samuel Miley (1790), Robert G. Miley (1820) and William Goodman Miley (1802), with the possible addendum of their sons. Daniel Miley (1822), William’s son by his first wife cannot be ruled out based on DNA evidence.  However, there is no record that he ever resided with his father in the area, but more about that later. Nor should William’s younger half-brother Andrew Barnwell Miley (1818) escape our examination since he resided in the adjacent county for a time in the 1850s.

Probable Date of Conception 7 Feb 1843

James Marion Moates was born on 3 Nov 1843. Assuming that he was conceived approximately 38 weeks prior (the mean time between conception and birth), the most likely time for the fateful liaison between Rachel Moates and her partner was 7 Feb 1843 +/- 10 days.

Consider the prime suspects and their sons: Samuel had two children: William Jackson Miley (1832) and James Montgomery Miley (1836). At the time of James Marion’s conception Samuel’s sons were thus eleven and seven respectively, both prepubescent. Likewise, Robert (Z) Miley’s eldest son Forrest Miley (1835) was only eight at time in question and can also be ruled out.

Turning to the Miley brothers we notice that Samuel (1790) was fifty-three at the time of James Marion’s conception and, as noted earlier, the father of only two children. He would be dead within seven years at age sixty.  His wife Mary was a relatively young forty-four and probably still capable of child bearing. They had not conceived a child in eight years prior to James Marion’s birth. Consequently, it is unlikely that Samuel fathered James Marion, his child producing years nearly a decade behind him.

In contrast, Samuel’s younger brother Robert was more fertile. He sired (at age 23) his third child (William H. Miley) in 1843 out of a total of nine progeny that ultimately were born to his wife and him. Indeed, he had the means to produce an illegitimate heir, as did his elder brother William Goodman Miley.

2. The Motive

Turning to the element of motive we are presented with the question: “Can we reasonably speculate as to the motive of the conception of James?” The liaison was probably consensual since there is no record of an outcry or legal repercussions of assault at the time, as one would have expected because Noah Moates, her father, was a Justice of the Peace and an officer of the court.  What is more, Rachel later—at least for a time—went by the surname “Miley.” Furthermore, she did not marry until after the suspected father was dead, perhaps out of sense of propriety or religious sensibility.  On the other hand, one may argue that the union may not have been consensual, with Rachel instead choosing to avoid the fruitless task of pursuing criminal charges, since pregnancy was believed in that day never to result from rape.

Nevertheless, since all of the male persons of interest were married at the time of James’ birth, we can safely conclude that James was the result of an illicit amorous liaison. Technically, the affair was not adultery since Rachel was unmarried.  Adultery was a crime only against the husband of the unfaithful spouse, since women apparently had no expectation of faithfulness from their husbands.  The motive was clearly not procreation but lust, at least on the father’s part. Scandalous nevertheless, even if not technically criminal.

But notably William was a remarkably prolific pater familias. He, with his wife number one, Catharine Shubert (1797), had two children before her death in about 1833 at the age of 34 when he married the twenty-year-old Emmaline Owens (or Oentz) who was also known as “Emily” and “Emeline,” proceeded to produce thirteen more offspring in the next twenty-five years. In fact, at the time of James Marion’s conception, Emimaline was three to four months pregnant with their sixth child, Malias Loven Miley. Clearly, William had the capability of impregnating James’ mother Rachel Moates.

3. The Opportunity

The third element of our case—opportunity—both general and particular is crucial. As we suggested above, we can alibi Daniel Miley (1822) since he was busy courting his future bride whom he married in 1844, in Loundes County, Georgia 200 miles away (not to be confused with Loundes County, Alabama). There is no record that he ever set foot in Montgomery or Pike County where Rachel Moates resided in the 1840s, since he departed home before 1840, probably before his father married his step-mother in 1833. In contrast, the Miley brothers Samuel, Robert, and William all owned property within about ten miles of the Moates Sandy Creek farm just off what is now Highway 231, the “Troy Highway.” (See the map below. The various landmarks are interpreted in the caption below the figure.))

Area map showing the location of all the participants in the drama and a few local landmarks in northern Pike and Southeastern Montgomery County, Alabama ca, 1840. Samuel, Robert, and William all resided or worked farms near the Moates enclave. The lavender “pins” indicate the location of the various holdings of the Miley brothers. The Rushton family were co-founders with William and “Emily” MIley of Pisgah Primitive Baptist Chhurch. inn 1842.

William also had a place near Elba in present-day Coffee County (Dale County in 1840). In fact, he continued to maintain a residence there, fifty miles away throughout his sojourn in the region. He and “Emily” lived there with neighbors William Luker, Adam Hardy, and William A. Owens (with wife Freelove Snellgrove) in 1840. But in late August 1842 the Mileys with the Rushtons helped found the Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church up north near their Pike County-Montgomery County farm.  Meanwhile, records of the Bethany Primitive Baptist Church in Elba in Dale (Coffee) County record that “Brother William Myley” had united with the congregation by “restoration” and Emeline by baptism on May 4, 1841. Delving further into the documents we find an undated membership list where their names are stricken. Then much later they are added again. This observation is a clue as to what transpired subsequent to James Marion’s birth.

A Theory of the “Crime” and a Sense of Guilt

“It is not good for man to be alone”

Brother Miley must have noticed Sister Moates, daughter of his neighbor Judge Noah Moates, across the room at Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church during one of the monthly church meetings. Later in the 1850s, in northwest Florida we find that Noah was an active elder in the Baptist church of his community. William surely heard Miss Moates’ sweet voice among the congregation that lifted the multi-part harmony of the a cappella Sacred Harp fasola hymns that were a customary part of the service. The lantern light in the rustic log meeting house playing on her young fair face set it aglow. She may have reminded him of how each of his young brides (Catharine and Emmaline) formerly looked, years before, when he had first married them.

It was near the beginning of February and the weather was cold. His bed was cold, as well, since Emmaline, sometimes called “Emily,” approaching thirty years of age, had begun her confinement with their sixth child together. Emily may have chosen to stay at their house near Elba where she had given birth to her other children and where she could count on the help of her neighbors and friend Freelove Snellgrove Owens, who was possibly a kinswoman by marriage.  William would then be alone at the farm on the Montgomery-Pike County line.  Perhaps, Planter Miley offered Miss Moates a buggy ride back to her home north of his place. Since his house was on the way maybe they stopped off to warm beside his fire. Alone in the house passion may have overtaken them. We can only be sure that they enjoyed one or more trysts.

Soon Rachel may have experienced a recurring case of nausea. By March or April, Rachel’s worse fears were realized. She was pregnant. Inevitably shame and ostracism would follow the news if it got out that she were “in the family way” and “that kind of woman.” Surely Rachel let William G. know of her condition. There is no record that he took any notice however, busy as he was with the birth of his son Malias Loven Miley in about July of 1843. There may be a hint that Emmaline knew of her husband’s perfidy in their son’s name. Malias is a rare masculine form that may mean “sea of bitterness.” Loven originates in the Germanic “Loben Den Herr” as in “Praise the Lord.” By November 1843 when James Marion (named for his uncles James W. Moates and Francis Marion Moates) was born, the Mileys had rejoined the Primitive Baptist congregation in Coffee County where they would be isolated from the scandalous rumors in Pike County.

Rachel, however, could not escape. She could only retreat into the safety of the Moates compound on Little Sandy Creek, surrounded by her father’s extended family that included her dear brothers James W. and Francis Marion Moates. By 1846 the scandal apparently was too much for the William Goodman Miley clan, who decamped for Hillsborough County, Florida, setting near the location of present day Tampa—and making a fresh start. Likewise, the Noah Moates family moved to Eucheeanna {You-CHEE-anna), Walton County, Florida, sometime before the end of 1849. The move began sadly because of the death of William C. Moates, Rachel’s elder brother, in February 1850 as recorded in the Mortality Schedule for that year. [The Mortality Schedule is a part of the decennial census that recorded the names of the deceased who died in an area in the preceding year.] In the 1850 census Rachel had the means to live in a separate household from her father under the name “Miley.” Thus, she avoided the opprobrium of the community by posing as a widowed or an abandoned spouse, a subterfuge that persisted in the Moates family for many generations. The fact that she had independent means suggests that she was “bought off,” but since Alabama did not record such arrangements or require bonds we can only surmise it to be so.

If the nature of William G. Miley’s relationship with Rachel Moates were known in the congregation of the Pisgah Primitive Baptist Church, he could have surely been subjected to church discipline. I have not been able to find any contemporaneous records from the congregation. But interestingly, William Miley re-joined the Bethany Primitive Baptist Church in the late 1840s by “restoration,” the mode of joining a congregation that was then afforded those who had been excommunicated or had been expelled from a congregation.

Thus, these circumstances imply that William Goodman may have had reason to flee the region. Notably, Robert Z. and Samuel remained in the area. Robert even purchased additional property in 1843.

In the map below note the William Miley held two properties and appears to have returned to the southern “outparcel” where “Emily” Miley remained while William was wooing Miss Moates in Pike County.

A larger scale map of the region of Alabama where the Moates-Miley drama played out. Note the two widely separated parcels owned by William G. Miley.

The DNA Evidence

I submitted a sample of sputum for DNA analysis to two analytical services: 23andMe and Ancestry.com. Then I sought the heritage of the individuals who shared significant segments of DNA with me. In the case of 23andMe it was challenging to discover how I and my DNA cousins were related. Nevertheless, I found a large group of cousins with whom I shared DNA on the 12th chromosome and who had in common their descent from Robert Miley and Elizabeth Goodman, parents of the Miley brothers. In particular, among this group I discovered I shared the most DNA with direct descendants of William Goodman Miley. What is more, I have found no descendant of Robert Z. Miley or Samuel Miley, William G.’s brothers.

Turning to the results from Ancestry.com, I utilized the Thru-lines™ application to identify individuals whose genomes share DNA with mine and who have built a family tree that overlaps mine. Once again I discovered scores of Miley kin descended from William Goodman Miley and several of his brothers and sisters. But also as before, no cousins who are descended from Robert G or Samuel Miley appear among any of my DNA Matches. It is unlikely that I would not find a DNA cousin among their descendants if either were my 2x great grandfather. On the other hand, it is very likely (about 50%) that they did not inherit the specific DNA segments that I share with the descendants of Robert Miley and Elizabeth Goodman.

The Verdict

Of all the suspects only William Goodman Miley had the means, motive, opportunity, and shared DNA to have sired James Marion Moates. Moreover, he displayed evidence of guilt by fleeing the community within less than three years of the birth of James Marion Miley Moates. None of the other potential fathers exhibited any shame. In addition, his membership in his local church suggested some unidentified moral failing. There is no evidence that William G. Miley ever acknowledged his illegitimate son.

Interestingly, years after James Marion’s birth (in 1846) Emmaline gave birth in Hillsborough County, Florida to her seventh legitimate child, Martin Marion Miley. Martin’s middle name may have been her subtle rebuke or reminder of William’s infidelity. Or Martin could have been named in honor of the South Carolina Revolutionary Hero Francis Marion.

Whether William Goodman Miley ever privately acknowledged his paternity of James M. Moates or not, (and there is no record that he did) it is a fact. It is also a fact that James was disowned by his father. Consequently, James must have dealt with feelings of rejection all of his life. Ultimately, Rachel’s son assumed the name of his beloved grandfather Noah Moates. Thus, the scrap of paper where a young man’s hand practices his penmanship takes on a profound significance. Written in neat, careful lines, several times are the words: “Tell me thy name and tell me now. James Marion Moates.

Addendum: The Quest

The journey to finding my mysterious 2x Great Grandfather Miley

,Over the last year I have pursued an investigation that has successfully culminated in identifying my great grandfather’s father. For those who wish to retrace this exciting inquiry, with its twists and turns below are listed the links to the various blog posts.

Date: August 20, 2020

Date: October 14, 2020

Date: January 3, 2021

Date: August 29, 2021

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