It’s a Small World: The Magic of DNA + Genealogy (+ A Little Family Legend)

The last year or two I’ve tried to move forward in my genealogy by using my family history research combined with my DNA results. This week I’ve been working on my BEAR-BAKER line. My 4th great-grandparents are Jesse and Mary (BEAR) BAKER. Their son and my 3rd great grandfather, Jehue BAKER, is the last in the line of whom I’m certain. I know for sure he belongs to me. I start getting shaky at Jesse and Mary and can’t get beyond those two at all. After connecting my DNA with my family history research, I believe I can attach us to the right BEAR family. It’s a bit more difficult to find the exact ancestor that belongs to us.


The first genetic connection I found to the BEAR family was a woman named Joyce. Excluding my family-of-origin connections. Joyce was one of my top 10 matches and estimated to be my 2nd-4th cousin. Unfortunately she had no family tree posted on the DNA site. I went to and tried finding her there as a member. I did find her but her tree was nearly non-existent. There was one couple listed on the tree- Hill SCHELL and Inez Marie HOOD SCHELL. Fortunately, Hill was from McDonald County, Missouri and Inez was from Jasper County, Missouri, so I knew I was at least in the right location and that Hill SCHELL probably connected to my family somehow- Inez was less of a possibility for that time period. I had never heard or come across the SCHELL name so I was a little stumped. I began a new tree with Hill as the beginning member so I could work back from there. Then I got on the DNA site and looked up my matches that were researching that particular surname. I also sent an email to Joyce. Within a couple of weeks Joyce’s husband replied to my email that his wife had passed away recently. She was adopted and knew nothing of her birth family. She had done her DNA in the hopes of finding her birth family but wasn’t successful. He also didn’t know anything about her biological family and there were no other living relatives to whom he could refer me. Eventually, I did discover that Hill connected to the BEAR family but I was unable to make any connections beyond that. I am, however, certain that Hill is our cousin.

The BEAR/BARE Family

As of this date, I still haven’t found out the exact connection. I know it’s the right family in general though. (There may even be a connection to our LITTRELL family here!) Hill SCHELL was the grandson of Philip and Eliza Jane (BEAR) SCHELL. Hill is a family name passed down through the generations of BEAR men. Hill died in Springdale, Washington County, Arkansas in 1992. I was living so close to him! If only I’d known he was there. His paternal grandmother, Eliza Jane BEAR SCHELL, went by Jane.


She was born 10 May 1846/1847 in War Eagle Township, Madison County, Arkansas. Her parents were Hugh and Margaret Jane (McCUISTION/McCHRISTIAN) BARE/BEAR. Eliza (who went by Jane) married Philip SCHELL in 1867 in McDonald County, Missouri. She passed away 4 July 1912 in Mountain Township, McDonald County, Missouri. She passed away from LaGrippe. LaGrippe caused a horrific and hours-long death process by which the sufferer slowly suffocated to death- excruciating for both the sufferer and the family members unable to help their loved one. Philip and Eliza Jane had 11 known children. Eliza’s sister, Nancy, married James LITTRELL. I have not determined yet if he belongs to our LITTRELL family.


Our Hugh F. BARE/BEAR was born about 1817 in Ohio. There are two men named Hugh BARE/BEAR who lived at the same time. They also married about the same time and their children share some of the same names. Their Ancestry trees have been so jumbled together it’s hard to figure out what the truth is about the family. Our Hugh BARE/BEAR was born in Ohio. Our Hugh’s middle name was likely Franklin but there are no records that say what it really was. The guess of ‘Franklin’ was based on the fact he had a grandson named Hugh Franklin.

Family legend says that the BARE/BEAR family was Cherokee. There are no records that exist for Hugh prior to 1839. This fact actually supports that the family could have been Cherokee. As I was told by a Cherokee researcher once, the Cherokee didn’t keep written records until they were forced to by the federal government. The fact that the children were orphaned before most of them were of age means that the children were split up and sent to various family members and/or neighbors to be raised. Despite being separated, many lines of the family have the same family legend- that the family is Cherokee.

Hugh married Margaret Jane McCUISTION/McCHRISTIAN about 1838. She went by “Jane”. Hugh passed away about 1854 in Madison County, Arkansas. Jane passed away a few years later in 1859 also in Madison County, Arkansas. Their oldest child (Nancy) was born in 1839. Nancy married the year after her father died so she was already out of the home when her mother died. Daughter Sarah was born in 1840. In the 1860 census (the year after she was orphaned), Sarah and her little brother Hugh (b. 1849) were living with the James FRAZIER/FRAYSER family at Shells Mills, McDonald County, Missouri and Sarah was listed as their “hired hand”. I’m not sure where Hill (b. 1843) was in 1860 but by 1862 he was enlisting with the Confederacy in Carroll County, Arkansas. I also don’t know where Thomas (b. 1844) went. Researchers of Eliza Jane (b. 1846/1847) believe she stayed in Madison County, Arkansas and was a live-in domestic servant to the Isaac Anderson family. I have also been unable to locate Ellen (b. 1851) in the 1860 census.

More DNA

Genetically, I’ve been able to connect my DNA to descendants of Philip and Eliza Jane (BEAR) SCHELL, descendants of James and Nancy A. (BEAR) LITTRELL, and descendants of James and Sarah (BEAR) CLANTON. My DNA connects to many SCOTT and BEAR/BARE/BAIR families but I haven’t been able to prove any solid connection to Ellen (BEAR) SCOTT or the BEAR/BARE brothers. The problem is, our Mary (BEAR) BAKER would have been a contemporary of Hugh F. BARE/BEAR- the father of all these people. She would likely have been Hugh’s sister or cousin. To date, no researcher has been able to prove who Hugh’s parents or other family members were. At this point, I’ve gathered a good number of the descendants and I’ll begin sorting them into family groups and seeing which line we are most closely connected to by DNA. Until then, I’ll be happy that we made some progress on the line.

One more quick story that I thought was fun. As I was researching the descendants of one of my BEAR family DNA matches, discovered that one of his descendants – a distant cousin of ours – lived in EXACTLY the same house that Bart and I lived in in Springdale, Arkansas when we first got married!

Our old house in Springdale, Arkansas. We had no idea a relative lived there before us!

It sure is a small world! Maybe one day I’ll figure out how we fit into this family.

Until then,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives blog

3 thoughts on “It’s a Small World: The Magic of DNA + Genealogy (+ A Little Family Legend)

  1. Don’t you just love the serendipity that happens in genealogy? My first connection to an ancestor’s German location came from a homeowner who was curious about previous owners of the house after discovering an old foundation. She found an old query that I had posted year’s before and we ended up sharing information about our unrelated families for years. Ahhhhh….. This might be a great future story for #52 Ancestors. By the way, I enjoyed reading about your Bear/Bare family.

    • Donna, I read your story about Felice Pedroni. What an amazing story! I loved it! I never would have thought to write from that point of view but it really made your story pop! And that document- what a treasure to find his story in his own words. Looking forward to more of your stories! (I tried to comment on your post but it wouldn’t let me!)

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