The Search for Dovey Continues – Reverse Genealogy & DNA to Find Living Relatives

With few results from the search for documents on the possible father of Dovey Alpine Piearcy, DNA offers some hope to try to find family for Dovey.

As you may recall, Dovey, my father’s mother’s mother, my great-grandmother, was born four years before her parents married when both James Wesley (Jim) Piearcy and Bertie Wellington were each 14 years old. Family stories say Dovey was born in 1889-90 in Texas, but no records show where either Bertie or Jim were at that time.

I administer kits for nine family members tested at FTDNA, in addition to my own tests at Ancestry.com, FTDNA and 23andMe.

First, I contacting the four people who looked like a Piearcy match from family trees on Ancestry.com. Two of the four responded, saying they weren’t related to the Piearcys. No luck there.

Next, I did reverse genealogy on Rosa Belle Piearcy, the younger daughter of Jim and Bertie Piearcy. Genealogy typically tracks back to prior generations; with reverse genealogy we search forward to find later generations.  If  living daughters/granddaughters of Rosa’s daughters would agree to DNA testing, both autosomal and mt-DNA tests would be performed. If the autosomal test indicated the women were cousins to my father and his sisters and if the mt-DNA test matched my father, then we could presume Bertie was Dovey’s mother. But only if I had other known Piearcy cousins tested to triangulate the match, proving the DNA really was from the Piearcy/Wellington marriage.

I was able to find Rosa’s Texas death certificate, thanks to Karen Stanbary the leader of Mastering Genealogical Proof study group 18.[1] The death certificate listed Rosa’s parents as J. W. Piearey and Bertie Wellington and was signed by Bertha Davis.[2]  Ancestry.com family trees listed Rosa’s children, including Bertha and named Bertha’s husband, Jess W. Davis. A search of newspaper clippings on Genealogybank.com  located Bertha’s husband’s  obit, listing  two daughters.[3] A further search of Genealogybank.com located obits for those two daughters and listed their daughters. No further names will be listed to protect the living people.

A google search of those two women gave me their addresses and one phone number. I prepared letters to the great grand daughters  of Rosa and included a picture of the Jim and Bertie Piearcy family taken about 1906 along with my phone number. I mailed the letters with great anticipation. By a month later, no envelope with a bad address was returned to me, but I had no phone calls either. A call to the available number indicated it had been disconnected.  A google search located several other phone numbers, all disconnected. 411 information calls yielded no phone numbers. The website, Spokeo had a current phone number and email for one of the husbands, but $1.98 later, both the phone number and email were no longer working. None of the involved names had Facebook or Linked-in accounts. So much for my first efforts use reverse genealogy.

From her death certificate, we know Rosa Piearcy Merritt died at the age of 55 as a widow. Ancestry.com trees show she had five children. Reverse genealogy on Bertha has led to a dead end. Another daughter, Laura, died of appendicitis at 10 years of age. A third daughter has no information on Ancestry.com, but another daughter and son had children. Next steps include identifying living descendants of those children, then if that doesn’t work, identifying living descendants of Rosa’s brothers as the search continues for Dovey’s parents.



[1] Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013).

[2] “Texas, Deaths, 1890-1976,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.3.1/TH-1951-25176-94928-31?cc=1983324&wc=MMTK-3Z9:n1365956281 : accessed 05 Jan 2014), Death certificates > 1950 > Vol 123, certificates 061001-061500, Feb-Oct, Travis-Matagorda counties, includes delay; citing State Registrar Office, Austin.

[3] “Jess W. Davis obit,” The Corpus Christi Caller-Times [TX], 15 Jan 2007, on-line archives, (http://www.genealogybank.com/gbnk/obituaries/doc/obit/116B5E6559B25A98-116B5E6559B25A98 : accessed 7 Jan 2014).

Copyright © 2014 Andrea Musgrove Perisho

About Andrea Musgrove Perisho

Genealogy research on my own ancestors is a new focus. Posts will include information about those ancestors including the social and economic issues, along with techniques for research.
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