Inspire Me – Family Roots

Eye of the Beholder - Inspire Me - Family Roots
My 3rd & 2nd paternal great grandfathers.
Jeremiah G. and John Henry Coryell (c1882).

Tracing your family roots can reveal much about who you are.

When you understand your origins, answers are revealed.

People tend to become more interested in their family roots as they age. This has certainly been true for me, and was recently brought to life in a very real way when I visited the place of my American origins in Lambertville, New Jersey.

Genealogy has been a topic of interest in my immediate family since I was in grade school. I have early memories of Dad talking about Coryell history, telling stories about the French Huguenots or how our ancestors helped George Washington in the American Revolution.

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Eye of the Beholder - Inspire Me - Family Roots
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Like most young people, my family roots weren’t something that intrigued me enough to spend the time reading the many volumes of work prepared by Coryell family historians (Noble Burr Coryell, Dallas Lee Coryell, or Ingham Coryell).

Word of mouth was fine for me, so I accepted as truth the family lore that has been passed down. Some of those stories are true and inspiring, while others are … not so much.

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Now in my fifties, I am very interested in learning what I can about the people who came before me. What are the strong character traits in my family history? What acts of valor or historical events were they a part of? What is the ugly truth of past dastardly deeds?

I suppose it’s the intrigue that drives me, finding a long lost family story that I never knew. I think stories like these fortify my identity, adding a layer of meaning to my life. I’m a big fan of two television series on this subject. Both programs speak to what I’m attempting to convey.

Eye of the Beholder - Inspire Me - Family Roots
Eye of the Beholder - Inspire Me - Family Roots

I find it captivating, watching stories unfold for celebrities who have no idea the kind of life a distant ancestor once lived, or who they might be related to today. Soldiers, slaves, pioneers, politicians, missionaries, immigrants, and even royalty, a treasure trove of family knowledge awaits if you know where to look. Every story can add meaning to the life you are living today, because without those who came before us, where would we be? Who would we be?

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So how do I know fact from fiction? I think the answer can be found in two things that weren’t available to researchers of the past. In the 21st century Digital Age, the Internet & DNA analysis have combined to break genealogical barriers that have shrouded the truth of our origins for generations. Modern day advances like and FamilyTree DNA have paved the way.

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We are no longer limited to the anecdotal tales passed down from Great Grandma. Our family stories are important, so I would never suggest they be dismissed. I’m simply saying that a vast online repository of documents, records, images, and DNA profiles now exist that are mere clicks away.

Due diligence and discernment are still required to draw accurate conclusions from the available data, but so much is now at your fingertips that would have otherwise taken years to find through traditional means.

The Coryell family roots in America can be traced back to Abraham Coriell (fl. 1702). Believed to be the first Coryell resident of Colonial America, Abraham had four sons. In the context of paternal ancestry, these four sons are often referred to as Lines (see lineage).

Eye of the Beholder - Inspire Me - Family Roots
Descendants of David Coryell are called, D-Liners … Emanuel are E-Liners, etc.
Image Source: “
Emanuel Coryell of Lambertville, New Jersey and his Descendants“, by Ingham Coryell (1943)

In case you are wondering about the spelling variations, this is a common problem in the historical record. Watch the video explanation below to learn more.

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It has been a long-held belief that I’m a D-Liner, descending from the David Coryell line. But traditional paper research has been inconclusive on this. For many years the paper trail stopped with Richard F. Coryell (c1794-1845). It remained unproven for a long time who Richard’s biological parents were, but DNA analysis has finally shed some light on the mystery for us.

This is where I must introduce to you my source of inspiration for this Family Roots article, Mr. Lea Coryell.

Eye of the Beholder - Inspire Me - Family Roots
Lea Coryell. Library of Congress Cataloger, retired.

My first-cousin-once-removed, Lea is the administrator of the Correll/Coryell Y-DNA Project and a retired cataloger at the Library of Congress.

He recently co-authored an article in American Ancestors Magazine with Michael Waas and Adam Brown of the Avotaynu DNA Project titled “The Surprising Origins of the Coryell Family of Colonial New Jersey” (winter, 2023).

The article is based on original research and is the first work about the Coryells to discuss Y-DNA test results.

Lea says it is unlike anything previously published about the Coryells and believes it will change our view of Coryell history.

Lea has collaborated with me on this Inspire Me – Family Roots article, contributing some excellent content on how he has utilized the power of DNA analysis to explore deeper into the Coryell lineage.

He is actively compiling his work into a comprehensive publication that provides deeper insight, evidence, and conclusions about how an unusual chain of events from over 250 years ago produced a Coryell genealogical mystery.

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Lea’s work has filled-in some significant gaps that allow us to draw stronger conclusions about Coryell lineage.

1 – Our DNA results do not match Abraham Coriell.

2 – Lea and I have matching DNA markers to the Coddington family, but we carry the Coryell surname.

3 – Coryell DNA has not been matched to the family lore of French Huguenot decent.

4 – However, Coryell DNA HAS been matched to Sephardic Jewish ancestry (originally spelled Curiel). Learn More

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An unusual chain of events, like Richard’s, is a phenomenon that permeates the landscape of genealogical research. It is not unique to Colonial America. Countless stories across time, nations, and cultures demonstrate how life events can create strange outcomes, leaving future generations to wonder, “What the heck happened?

Eye of the Beholder - Inspire Me - Family Roots
Unplanned life events can produce life-altering affects.

DNA results can provide clues, but mysteries remain where traditional records end.

I’m a fan of another television series that emphasizes this reality.

Called, Long Lost Family, the stories they profile on this program are compelling.

People who find themselves in dire situations with unplanned pregnancies and unexpected life events have hard choices to make. These decisions often result in children growing up never knowing their biological family roots.

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Armed with 21st century tools and technology, people now have the odds in their favor for tracking down a lost mother, father, brother, or sister. Without divulging personal and confidential details, I can say that I have witnessed this phenomenon up-close and personal. The emotional impact of finally finding the truth about who you really are and how you came to be is a powerful thing.

I’ve conducted my own DNA testing with, which refutes a long-standing tall-tale about Native American Cherokee ancestry. My DNA results show clearly that I’m 100% European decent (United Kingdom & Northwestern Europe … including the Vikings!)

Eye of the Beholder - Inspire Me - Family Roots
My personal DNA profile from European to the bone!

I wonder why someone would instigate stories about my supposed Cherokee heritage. Admittedly, I fancied the idea for many years. I’ve always revered Native American culture, but science has busted the myth that I share the lineage.

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Eye of the Beholder - Inspire Me - Family Roots
The Coryell Ferry played a role in the famous Crossing of the Delaware.

Besides the intriguing history I already knew about my American Patriot roots, my efforts to build a family tree on uncovered some interesting stories from both sides of the family (Paternal and Maternal).

Below are a few highlights that I found to be quite memorable.

Eye of the Beholder - Inspire Me - Family Roots

A Texas Ranger Family Roots

Hailing from Abraham Coriell’s S-Line (Samuel), James Coryell (1803-1837) is a name that appears in Texas history books.

Organized in 1823 by Stephen F. Austin, the Texas Rangers became an officially recognized law enforcement organization in 1835.

James Coryell was one of the early recruits, joining the ranks in 1836 and was stationed at Fort Miliam near the settlement of Sarahville.

An entire county in Texas bears his name, because James was killed in the line of duty in 1837 by Caddo Indians.

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Hardened Pioneers

On my mother’s side, I found a story about my 6-times Great Grandparents (Gattis line).

Thomas Hughes (1750-1784) married Martha G Baker (1752-1837) and were among the early settlers of the Ohio River Valley. They were attacked by natives and Thomas was killed, along with an infant child. Although Martha was badly wounded in the attack, she survived.

A surviving son, James Hughes (1777-1818), later served in the Illinois Militia and fought in many frontier battles with various Indian tribes of the region (Winnebago, Ottawa, Chippewa, Wyandot, and Potawatomi).

James later saw action in the War of 1812, which was a defining victory that finally brought peace to the highly-contested Illinois Territory where his father and sibling died.

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Eye of the Beholder - Inspire Me - Family Roots
A terrible war. 620,000 casualties.

Yankees Go South

In my maternal line I found that my 2-times Great Grandparents (Suttle Line), James Franklin Suttle (1844-1888) and Sarah Barbee (1845-1888) migrated to America from England.

James served in the Union Army during the Civil War but ended-up living in the Deep South after the war, Crystal Springs, Mississippi. He and Sarah both passed away in 1888 leaving 4 young children behind.

I couldn’t locate a death record, so its mere speculation that some event such as sickness or an accident caused a fatal outcome for the two of them.

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Are you inspired to learn more about your ancestry? Maybe you’ve been intrigued about family stories you’ve heard and aren’t sure where to start? May I suggest

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Start building your family tree and see where it takes you. Add your DNA test to see how many new doors are opened, and then consider expanding your connection to FamilyTree DNA. You just might find answers to questions you weren’t even asking!

1 Kings 8:57

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Steve Coryell

Steve Coryell, with contributions by Lea Coryell

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