Tag Archives: Ellen

Troubled DNA of the Sam Walton, Lawrence, and James Families

David Ralph James

David Ralph James, and his son Christopher David James, know one thing for certain about their DNA. They don’t possess the Y-chromosome DNA proven to be that of their paternal James ancestors.

The problem rests with David’s great grandmother, Mary Ellen James, who was born in 1856. She also is Sam Walton’s grandmother. As most of America knows, Sam Walton founded Walmart.

Christopher David James

When Mary Ellen James left the home of her father Reverend Daniel Field James in Pulaski County, Kentucky, she took her only child with her. William Otho James was four years old when a history of Fayette County, Kentucky, reported in 1882 that his mother was unmarried and living in Missouri.

Mary Ellen James

Unknown is whether or not Mary Ellen James left her Kentucky home in disgrace. No marriage record can be found for her. Nor can any record be found to identify the father of Will Otho James. Mary Ellen made sure her son bore her own name of James.

Leaving home, Mary Ellen took Will Otho first to Joplin, Missouri. Shortly after the report in Kentucky appeared, she then moved to Johnson County, Kansas, east of Kansas City and Lee’s Summit. There Mary Ellen married Reuben Moore Lawrence. He, too, had been born in Pulaski County, two years before she was. Together, the couple then moved to Corbin, Kansas, south of Wichita, where they started a family.

William Otho James and wife Myrtle Mae Butt

After Mary Ellen bore Reuben Moore Lawrence the second of their four children, Will Otho James struck out for Indian Territory. It was 1892. He was only fourteen. He’d be twenty-one before Sam Walton’s mother, Nancy Lee Lawrence was born. It would be almost a decade before Will Otho married and started a family himself.

Otho Junior James, son of Will Otho James, and uncle of David Ralph James

Will Otho and his family lived in Kingfisher and Bartlesville, Oklahoma. When his children were grown, he settled in Norman. He was a charter member of the Assembly of God church. He operated a hotel, and the Log Cabin Restaurant, where he became a local celebrity among school kids who called him Dad.

David Ralph James is the grandson of Will Otho James. His aunts and uncles visited occasionally with the Lawrence family, and knew Sam Walton personally.

DNA profile of David Ralph and Christopher David James

Knowing his DNA is not that of his James ancestry, David and his son Chris James cannot help but wonder if their DNA isn’t that of the Lawrence family, or even that of Sam Walton’s father, Thomas Gibson Walton.

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ANCESTRY OF SAM WALTON

Samuel Moore Walton, aka Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, is a great grandson of Mary Ellen James. His pedigree is as follows:

Reuben Moore Lawrence Sr. and Rebecca Moore
. Reuben Moore Lawrence Jr. and Mary Ellen James
.. Thomas Gibson Walton and Nance Lee Lawrence
… Samuel Moore Walton

From the family photo album of David Ralph James, Sam Walton visits his ailing aunt, Eva Mae Lawrence-Stock

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IS THE FATHER OF THIS LAWRENCE MAN THE UNKNOWN PARTNER OF MARY ELLEN JAMES ?

Robert H. Lawrence, aka Robert Edward Goff

Robert H. Lawrence shares a physical resemblance with Will Otho James, as well as with Will’s sons Otho Junior and Vern Reuben James, his nephew David Ralph James, and grandson Christoper James. Like theirs, his life has its own mysteries.

Sometime between 1886 and 1890, Lawrence killed a person in a family feud. He was convicted and sent to jail. Within a year, he escaped. He changed his name to Robert Edward Goff and fled to Oklahoma Indian Territory, where many migrants from Pulaski County, Kentucky had settled. He married, settled in Sapulpa, had six children who carried the Goff surname, after which he mysteriously died.

The grandparents of Robert H. Lawrence are Reuben Moore Lawrence Sr. and Rebecca Moore, the same as the great grandparents of Sam Walton. William T. Lawrence, who may be Mary Ellen James’ mystery man, is his father.

W. T. Lawrence was eighteen years older than Mary Ellen James. He had served the Confederacy in the Civil War. Right before the war started, W. T. married Almira Griffin, a very distant cousin of the James. When Almira died around 1884, W. T. promptly remarried to Elvira Cash by whom he had two more children, Gopher and Iona. A third child is known to have been born to W. T. Lawrence, but that child has never been able to be documented. The only information about the mystery child that the descendants of W. T. Lawrence know is that the child bore the name James.

For the Goff descendants of William T. Lawrence, knowing the DNA of the Lawrence family would be as helpful to them as it would be to the family of David Ralph and Christopher James.

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John James of Alvarado & the Choctaw at Stockbridge Academy

Stockbridge Academy, photo courtesy of Chuck Hudson, a third great grandson of Judge James Hudson

Between 1884 and 1888, John James of Alvarado, Texas, returned to the Choctaw Nation in Indian Territory from his home in Wise County, Texas. He came to Stockbridge Academy, found today at Eagletown, Eagle County, Oklahoma, to fulfill his dream of being with the Choctaw, a dream he held to since his first encounter with them on his family’s migration from Illinois into Texas Territory when he was fifteen.

John’s first wife, Mary Elizabeth Rosaline “Ross” Bradley, died in 1879, leaving him with four children.

Two months later, John quickly remarried to Louisa Ellen Sutton. By 1884, Louisa had given John two more children. But soon, John would find himself at Stockbridge surrounded by many more than his own six children.

John James (1852-1927), commonly referred to among his family as John James of Alvarado

Stockbridge was founded by Cyrus Byington, who named the Choctaw school after his birthplace in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.

Byington migrated to Mississippi in 1821, where he became a missionary to the Choctaw. Finding the Choctaw had no written language, Byington set about to create a grammar, dictionary, and speller.

Byington followed the Choctaw in 1832 in their removal to Oklahoma. There, for another thirty-one years, Byington preached and taught among the Choctaw. Byington died in 1876.

Cyrus and Sophia Nye Byington, photo courtesy of Chuck Hudson
Judge James Hudson, photo courtesy of Chuck Hudson

John James was invited to Stockbridge by Judge James Hudson. John arrived sometime in 1884. At Stockbridge, John and Louisa would add two more children to their growing family. Among John’s students were the children and grandchildren of Judge James Hudson, some of whom found their way into John’s book My Experience with Indians, published in 1927 right before John died.

In 1888, John James acquired a portion of the estate of his former father-in-law Jackson Bunyan Bradley, who died the previous year. Bradley and his family came to Texas from Mississippi in 1851, accompanied by his brother-in-law Sam Myers. In Johnson County, Texas, Bradley built and operated a school at Mountainview, where John would live and teach next.

Elliston E. Dyer

Though John James left Stockbridge for Mountainview, he also retained his love of the Choctaw. When he wrote My Experience with Indians he wrote of them in particular “that my children and grandchildren may know of them.”

Six years later in 1894, after leaving Stockbridge, John James received a letter from one of his former Choctaw students, Elliston E. Dyer.

Hon. J. James, Alvarado, Texas.
“My dear old time friend:
“I have just received a copy of the Cleburne Daily Times, and in it I find your picture, and note that the paper states that you spent several years among the Choctaw Indians, as a missionary…This of course calls to my mind the days of long ago, when you were at old Stock Bridge, trying to guide to the right direction, the destinies of a bunch of more or less ignorant boys and girls…Of the Choctaw tribe, I am one, and I have often thought since then, what a pity that men like you weren’t scattered all over this country…”

On December 29, of that same year of 1894, Louisa bore John a son, the last of the couple’s thirteen children. John and Louisa James named the child Elliston Dyer James.

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