First DNA Step Towards Confirming the Identity of Black Sheep Great Grand Uncle William E. Hayes

William Eugene Hayes
William Eugene Hayes, long after he quit using that identity. Courtesy of Cousin E.

This is my 20th entry in Amy Johnson Crow’s “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” family history blogging challenge for 2015. The theme this week for the challenge is Black Sheep.

My 20th ancestor (or in this case, relation) is my great grand uncle William Eugene “Gene” Hayes (1885-1952).

Black Sheep? I do not know his story well enough to actually label Great Grand Uncle Gene a black sheep, troublemaker, or ne’er-do-well. But I do know that there was something fishy going on that caused Great Grand Uncle Gene to disappear from the Hayes family, and to assume a new identity.

About Great Grand Uncle Gene

William Eugene Hayes was born 30 December 1885 in Ovid, Clinton County, Michigan. He was the oldest son and the second of five children born to my 2nd great-grandparents William James Hayes (1861-1903) and Goodwith Sophia (Shippee) Race (1867-1937), of Ontario, Canada and Allegany County, New York. His granddaughter–who we will call “Cousin E” in this post–says he went by the nickname Gene. Gene was the older brother of my great-grandfather James Bruce “Bruce” Hayes (1888-1970), on my maternal line.

William James Hayes Family
William Eugene Hayes (top, center) with his siblings and mother. Their father is already deceased. Mother Goodwith Sophia Race is seated in the middle, with my great-grandfather James Bruce Hayes next to her (far right). Hayes family photo.

Other than being a sibling of my great-grandfather, Great Grand Uncle Gene was never even on my research radar until about 7 years ago when his granddaughter (Cousin E) first made contact with me, trying to gauge what I might know about her grandfather. And even then, William Eugene did not start capturing my interest until a few years ago, when Cousin E and I started to more frequently correspond.

Cousin E was trying to prove that her grandfather was my William Eugene Hayes. Her entire life, Cousin E knew her grandfather by the name Eddie Eugene Williams. But she knew almost nothing else about him. Except that somehow–through decades of pursuing his paper trail–Cousin E and another of our Hayes/Race cousins (Cousin L) came to the conclusion that Cousin E’s grandfather Eddie Eugene Williams was the same person as my great grand uncle William Eugene Hayes. Cousin E’s mother–the now-deceased daughter of William Eugene Hayes (aka Eddie Eugene Williams)–started trying to find her father’s long lost family in 1952.

They just never found that smoking gun document that verifies this hunch. Because there probably is no such document.

His Many Identities

By corroborating Great Grand Uncle Gene’s parents’ names and his date and place of birth against other documents, I have been able to track his evolving identity as follows.

Records I Have Corroborated

(30 December 1885) William E. Hayes 1

  • Event: Birth
  • Place: Ovid, Clinton County, Michigan
  • Note: Parents listed as W.J. Hayes of Canada and Goodwith Hayes of New York.

 (06 June 1900) Eugene Hayes 2

  • Event: Residence/Enumerated
  • Place: Wayne Township, Wayne County, Michigan
  • Birth: December 1885 (age 14)
  • Occupation: Carriage body__
  • Note: Parents listed as William Hayes of Canada and Goodwith Hayes of New York (corroborates with birth record).

(21 January 1928) Eugene E. Haynes [Hayes] 3

  • Event: Married Mildred (Brown) Standish (1st marriage for him, 2nd for her)
  • Place: Cedar Rapids, Linn County, Iowa
  • Birth: Age 42 at next birthday (b. abt. 1895)
  • Occupation: Baker
  • Place of Birth: Ovid, Michigan (corroborates with birth record)
  • Note: Parents listed as William James Hayes and Goodwith Shippey (corroborates with birth record).

Records from Cousin E’s Tree

The death record and marriage info for Oagle Barksdale were gleaned from Cousin E’s tree as clues to her grandfather’s assumed identity. Those details led me to a 1940 census and possibly a second marriage to Oagle. Corroboration against his birth identity is a little more sketchy here, but it’s plausible. I am also pursuing a lead on a possible marriage that preceded his 1928 one to Mildred.

If these facts do indeed belong to Cousin E’s grandfather, it would appear that my great grand uncle William Eugene Hayes assumed a new identity (name, birth date/age, and sometimes birthplace) about the time of his 1934 marriage to Oagle.

(31 March 1934) Eddie E. Hays 4

  • Event: Marriage to Oagle Barksdale
  • Place: Nevada County, Arkansas
  • Birth: Age 45 (b. abt. 1889) [real age should be 48]
  • Note: Claims a residence in Prescott, Nevada County, Arkansas. No corroborating evidence, such as birth location or parents’ names.

(20-21 May 1940) Edward Williams 5

  • Event: Residence/Enumerated with wife Oagle
  • Place: St. Petersburg, Pinellas County, Florida
  • Birth: Age 48 (b. abt. 1892) [real age should be 54]
  • Occupation: Baker [corroborates with occupation at time of 1928 marriage]
  • Note: Both are noted as born in Arksansas, with a 1935 residence in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee.

(09 November 1942) Ed E. Williams 6

  • Event: Applied for marriage license with Oagle Aline Barksdale
  • Place: Marion County, Florida
  • Birth: Age 52 (b. abt. 1890) [real age should be 56]
  • Note: Not sure if they actually married. This would be a remarriage for them. Claims a residence in Prescott, Arkansas. Claims to have been married before, but claims spouse is deceased [despite previous marriage to same woman]. Birthplace noted as Ovid, Michigan [corroborates with birth record].

(01 May 1952) Ed Eugene Williams 7

  • Event: Death
  • Place: Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia
  • Birth: Age 60 (b. abt. 1892) [real age should be 66]
  • Note: No corroborating evidence on death index; would need to review actual record.

I have no idea what prompted William Eugene Hayes to leave his family and his birth name, and to assume these other identities. Was it criminal in nature? A falling out with his mother? An emotional breakdown? Wanderlust? I suppose any effort to answer this question would have to start by paying a research visit to the courthouse.

I doubt, however, that I will spend more time on the paper trail of William E. Hayes, or on a possible new assumed identity. I have too much work to do still on his brother and parents (my ancestors), and since this collateral relative evidently broke off ties from his family, Great Grand Uncle Gene’s post-marriage life probably will not help me much with further research on his family history.

DNA Confirmation

Why I am telling his story now, though, is that Uncle Gene was the focus of my first DNA effort to confirm or refute a hunch. Cousin E and Cousin L’s hunch that Cousin E’s grandfather Eddie Eugene Williams is the same person as my great grand uncle William Eugene Hayes.

Mom and Cousin E - AncestryDNA Hint
AncestryDNA Hint for Mom and Cousin E. Correctly predicting a 2nd cousin match, and showing my 2nd great-grandparents as their MRCAs (Most Recent Common Ancestors).

When Mom’s autosomal DNA results became available on AncestryDNA on 31 March 2015, I immediately took a quick peak through her matches for familiar names, and Cousin E showed up as the closest match, with an estimated 2nd-3rd cousin relationship and extremely high confidence level. On 25 April 2015, after transferring Mom’s AncestryDNA autosomal DNA data to GEDmatch, I was able to run a one-to-one test that showed Cousin E and Mom match on 12 segments and share 3.681% of their DNA, which calculates out to a 2nd cousin according to the ISOGG Wiki.8 Cousin E also showed up on the list of one-to-many matches for Mom’s kit when GEDmatch finished processing it on 01 May 2015.

Mom and Cousin E - GEDMatch 1 to 1
GEDmatch one-to-one comparison for Mom and Cousin E, showing 3.681% shared DNA.

I quickly emailed Cousin E to break the good news that both AncestryDNA and GEDmatch confirm she and Mom are genetically related, as 2nd cousins. Cousin E’s response back was very emotional, thanking me for being the first person to provide her with genetic evidence that her grandfather really was a Hayes/Race.


But unfortunately this only confirms that Cousin E and Mom are genetically related (they share too much DNA to be Identical by State). Not that her grandfather is indeed William Eugene Hayes, nor that he is definitely genetically related to Mom’s Hayes/Race line. Just that they are genetically related as estimated 2nd cousins. We need to test other Hayes/Race cousins (or identify Hayes or Race matches who have already tested) in hopes of a triangulation that can verify the genetic connection exists on the Hayes/Race line, instead of on one of Mom’s other lines–including her paternal line. And as far as proving that Cousin E’s grandfather is definitely my great grand uncle William Eugene Hayes…well, that will take even more testing and paper trail sleuthing. Something I just don’t have the time for when I have so many other DNA tests and lines to analyze. Besides, my autosomal DNA analysis skills aren’t honed enough yet for that sort of project.

For now, I am content to have made my Cousin E very happy just by confirming she is genetically related to Mom.


  1. “Michigan, Births, 1867-1902,” index and images, image 1271; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 June 2015), entry for William E Hayes, 30 Dec 1885; citing item 3 p 81 rn 2685, Ovid, Clinton, Michigan, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,320,703.
  2. 1900 U.S. census, Wayne County, Michigan, population schedule, Nankin, Wayne Village, enumeration district (ED) 194, p. 12A (penned), dwelling 301, family 321, William Hayes household; digital image, ( : accessed 27 November 2014); citing FHL microfilm: 1240754, roll 754.
  3. “Iowa, Marriage Records, 1923-1937,” image 676; digital images, ( : accessed 09 June 2015), entry for Eugene E. Haynes, 21 June 1900; citing Iowa Department of Public Health; State Historical Society of Iowa microfilm, record group 048.
  4.  “Arkansas, County Marriages, 1837-1957,” index and images; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 June 2015), entry for Eddie E. Hays, 24 March 1934; citing 1994410(004331491), image 45 of 929; county offices, Arkansas.
  5. 1940 U.S. census, Pinellas County, Florida, population schedule, St. Petersburg, enumeration district (ED) 52-28B, p. 7A (penned), dwelling 728 1/2, family 219, Edward Williams household; digital image, ( : accessed 9 June 2015); citing National Archives microfilm publication T627, roll 609.
  6.  “Florida Marriages, 1830-1993,” index and images; digital images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 June 2015), entry for Ed E. Williams, 9 November 1942; citing 007245907, image 1116 of 2210; county courthouses, Florida.
  7. “Georgia Deaths, 1919-98,” database, ( : accessed 9 June 2015), entry for Ed Eugene Williams, 1 May 1952; citing Georgia Health Department, Office of Vital Records, Indexes of Vital Records for Georgia: Deaths, 1919-1998.
  8. ISOGG Wiki, “Autosomal DNA Statistics” ( : accessed 25 April 2015.

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