The Mystery of the Bound Boy*

Started by Private User on Tuesday, May 17, 2011


  • Private User
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  • Private User
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  • <private> Wilcox (McCoy)
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Private User
5/17/2011 at 11:29 PM

Let's start a new game!

My ancestor @JamesDickersonAllen told his children that he came to America as a very young boy, and was indentured to Erazames Kent Allen and @MargaretDickerson , who adopted him. He didn't remember his surname nor his parents' names; all he knew is that his father was a Londoner and his mother was from the Edinburgh area of Scotland.

Sources throughout his life list his birth year as slightly different, so it's possible he was never really sure of that, either. What we do know is that the Allens had been living in Lower Alloways Creek, New Jersey, for some time prior to James' arrival/adoption, and that's where James grew up, so his port of entry was probably New Jersey.

He only had one brother, a couple of years younger. My grandmother was the first to observe how unusual it was to have such a small family in those days, and to wonder if possibly the brother, @DavidAllen, was also adopted.

We've tracked Erazames' line back many generations, but I always feel like it's a bit fraudulent, as it isn't really "our" ancestry. I would dearly love to figure out some way of determining James Dickerson Allen's true parentage. Any ideas?

Let the game begin!

*A bound boy, for those who might not know, is similar to an indentured servant. When a child could not pay for passage to America, it was common for the ship's captain to auction their services for a specific period of time, often 7 years.

Private User
5/17/2011 at 11:31 PM
Private User
5/18/2011 at 4:25 PM


5/18/2011 at 6:45 PM


Since no one else has replied, I'll make a suggestion although I'll admit its a bit tenuous at best. Your situation sounds like it might merit having a DNA test.

Since you don't know who James Dickerson Allen really was - about the only thing you could do is have some known male descendent take a DNA test - and then search for matching living relatives.

I know that offers such a service, and I'm sure there are others out there as well. (I'm not offering them for the sake of free advertising, just giving them as a tangible example that I'm familiar with)...

Finding modern cousins who have a common ancestor that pre-dates your known ancestor - would give you some start on trying to find your actual genetic relatives...

Hope this suggestion helps...

Private User
5/18/2011 at 10:21 PM

Wow, terrific suggestion, Donald, thank you. I didn't know you could search DNA results for someone unknown-to-you-but-related.

For some reason, I thought you had to march both people into the doctor's office to be tested - and therefore, I haven't been able to really understand the value of DNA testing (beyond the obvious of determining paternity, anyhow). I have to admit I thought it was sort of a fad!

Now I can see how that might provide a way to figure this out. Thank you so much for a good suggestion, and for teaching me something new!


Private User
6/1/2011 at 8:05 PM

James Dickerson Allen is my direct ancestor. I would love to find out more information about him as well.

<private> Wilcox (McCoy)
6/1/2011 at 10:17 PM

Is it possible that maybe James father could not have kids and adopted?Looking at the family line Erazames father had many children and james had many child but not erazames?hmm.just a question i thought about when i was researching the line

Private User
6/1/2011 at 10:40 PM

Hey, Jennifer, if you'll collaborate with me, I'd love to be able to see how we're related! I have a bunch of family oral history about James Dickerson that I'm in the process of writing up, I'll make sure you get it. Do you guys have any stories or photos?

Tawny, that's so insightful - that's exactly what my grandmother thought! She said it was really rare for a family to have only two kids and wondered if they couldn't have any of their own and that's why they adopted James Dickerson and David. I think you're probably on to something! ;)

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