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Sophronia, daughter of Joshua Burrill's DNA (Updated 9/5/21)

Updated: Sep 6, 2021

For years many in my Leonard family have tried to confirm the identity of our matriarch, Sophronia Burrill. She married Russell Leonard quite young and their son Charles Russell Leonard was born in 1830. Their daughter, Jenette, was born in 1833. On May 2, 1834, Sophronia placed a notice in the Cayuga Republican newspaper, asking for information about her missing husband who reportedly had gone to buy land in Michigan Territory several months prior, in November of 1833. See the clipping here. Russell's fate and identity has yet to be proven, and is another mystery.

The family reports that Sophronia remarried to Thomas Knapp in Genoa, Cayuga County, New York, on September 11, 1837. She was living in Scipio in 1840, Genoa in 1850, Locke in 1855, Springport in 1860, Union Springs in 1865, Springport in 1875, Summerhill in 1880, and she died in Moravia in 1883. Her obituary said she was to be buried in Union Springs.

I wondered if there was a connection to or mixup with Sophronia (Campbell) Burrill, wife of Nelson Burrill, who lived in Elbridge, Onondaga County, New York, as mentioned in my previous article. The similarities are astounding. Both Sophronias were reportedly born in or about 1815 and they also both died in 1883. Sophronia (Campbell) Burrill died on April 20th and Sophronia (Burrill) Leonard Knapp died on December 3rd.

Ancestry DNA is an amazing tool for solving these mysteries! Their ThruLines feature automatically suggests connections to people by comparing shared matches in both trees. It suggested that my 5th great-grandfather (Sophronia's father) was Joshua Burrill of Pembroke, Genesee County, New York.

In some cases, ThruLines is unreliable, because it relies on data entered by others in their trees. If they have entered erroneous data, it could cause significant confusion. For example, ThruLines shows that there are 12 matches connecting my father to Joshua Burrill because 12 people on Ancestry have connected him as Sophronia's father, yet there is no evidence to prove this. It has been a rumor or theory that her father was Joshua, but no records have been found to confirm this (to my knowledge).

There are, however, a few reasons I now believe this connection is true. First, Joshua had a son named Arba F. Burrill, who named one of his daughters Sophronia Burrill (born abt. 1849). It seems likely that he named her after his sister. Furthermore, there is now DNA evidence to show the connection is there! Here's why:

My father's DNA shares three other matches with Joshua's brother and sister, Simeon and Polly.

This raises the question of why Sophronia wasn't mentioned in Joshua's will, dated May 22, 1865. He mentions only his "three oldest daughters, Patty (Martha) Redman, Brooksey King and Achsah King", giving them each $200. To his "only son, Arba F. Burrill" he left $10. Finally to his "youngest daughter, Mahaleth Shuminsk and Jacob her husband", he left the remainder of all his real estate. (Side note: It is interesting to note that both Achsah, Mahaleth, and Arba are Hebrew Biblical names). Update: See Joshua Burrill's timeline for a newly discovered clue!

Next, I decided to do a little research on Nelson Burrill, the husband of Sophronia Campbell. Low and behold, his father was Jacob Burrill, the brother of Joshua. Therefore, Nelson would have been Sophronia's first cousin!

With this revelation, it leaves me wondering if the DNA connection is through Joshua Burrill or Jacob Burrill. Regardless, both would lead back to John Burrill and Mary Eaton. There are currently 24 family trees on Ancestry with Jacob in it. Whether or not these users have had their DNA tested is unknown but so far no DNA matches are found among them - or at least none greater than 7 cM, which is the threshold at Ancestry. (On GedMatch, comparisons can be made at a lower threshold. If you are a descendant of any of these Burrills and have uploaded your DNA to GedMatch, please contact me!)

Update: (9/5/2021)

Notice also, my confirmed relationship to descendants of Joshua who have had their DNA tested on Ancestry. Three of his daughter, Martha's descendants are confirmed matches with both my father and I, as shown here:

Stay tuned for updates! If you have info on this family, please share!


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