How DNA helped find the parents of William Houston Johnson 1878-1964

3:03:00 PM

Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home in Xenia Ohio

William Houston Johnson was adopted as a young boy by Rachel and Henry Clay Johnson from the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home in Xenia Ohio.

Accounts from his first wife, Lucile Sabin, and daughter Lucile Johnson have it that William and a younger brother were sent to a children's home in Xenia Ohio when they were very young. They were probably not orphans, it is believed that that one or both parents were living, but unable to care for the young boys.

Henry Clay and Rachel Johnson went to the children's home in Xenia, Ohio to adopt a child and found William. William was between eight and ten years old at that time and by accounts was a precocious child, very bright and industrious. The younger brother was not adopted by the Johnsons.

William was named William Houston Johnson by his adoptive parents.

Location and date of birth - William Houston Johnson

William Houston Johnson married Lucile Sabin. They had two children, their son, William Houston Johnson Jr, was born in 1904 and daughter Lucile Johnson was born in 1906.

I was looking for records for Lucile Johnson and was lucky to find her 1924 Passport Application at familysearch. It's a detailed document with a wonderful photograph of Lucile when she was seventeen. The daughter of William Houston Johnson, Lucile Johnson, applied for a US Passport in 1924. Lucile Johnson's US Passport Application includes the location of her father's birth. According to the passport application William Houston Johnson was born in Cadiz Ohio.

William Houston Johnson's WWI Draft Registration Card records his date of birth as 15 September 1879.

The records document that William Houston Johnson was born in Cadiz, Ohio on 15 September 1879.

DNA Matches

Ancestry has a function where you can search for DNA matches by birth location as identified in family trees. I searched for DNA matches with a connection to Cadiz Ohio and found Bonnie Thompson and bexster84.

Bonnie Thompson shares 124 cM (centimorgans) of DNA in common with William Houston Johnson's grandson, JJE3. This amount of shared DNA is enough  to be as close as a second or third cousins. Bonnie Thompson and bexster84 were also matches with JJE4 who is the son of JJE3. Bexster84 is administered by Bonnie Thompson and is very likely a close family member.

Bonnie Thompson has a detailed family tree at Ancestry and the ancestor that was from Cadiz, Ohio is Anna Mae Hatton who was born in Cadiz Ohio in 1869. Bonnie Thompson is a direct descendant of Anna Mae Hatton. Bonnie Thompson's family tree shows that Anna Mae Hatton had two younger brothers, William F Hatton and Edward G Hatton.

William Houston Johnson was born in Cadiz Ohio in 1878 and may be related to Anna Mae Hatton.

Anna Mae Hatton, daughter of Horace Hatton and Melinda Stephens

Anna Mae Hatton is recorded in the 1870 US Census. She is one year old and living with Malinda and Horace Hatton. (note, there is another Hatton family next door on the 1870 census sheet)

Anna Mae Hatton is the daughter of Malinda Stephens and Horace Hatton. Malinda Hatton died on Christmas day 1876 of dropsy and lung disease leaving Horace with young daughter Anna Mae age six. The 1876 death record is found at familysearch in the database entitled Ohio, County Death Records 1840 -  2001.

Marriage Horace Hatton and Anna Rutan

Horace Hatton married Anna Rutan nine months after the death of his first wife Malinda Stephens. Horace Hatton and Anna Rutan received their marriage license on 7 November 1877 and were married on 10 November 1877 as recorded in "Ohio, County Marriages 1798-2013".

Horace and Anna Rutan had three children. William F Hatton was born 15 September 1878, Edward Hatton was born in October of 1879, and Mary T Hatton was born 23 August 1881.

William F Hatton was born 15 September 1878 in Cadiz, Harrison County, Ohio. His parents were Horace Hatton and Anna Rutan. The birth record for William F Hatton is found at familysearch in "Ohio, County Births 1841-2003".

Hatton Family in 1880

The Hatton family is enumerated in the 1880 Census. Parents, Horace Hatton and Anna Rutan, along with William F Hatton and his infant brother Edward G Hatton and two half sisters Anna Mae Hatton (12) and Sadie Hatton (Sarah Allensworth) (age 8).

I believe Sadie Hatton enumerated living in the household with Horace Hatton and Anne Rutan, in the 1880 US Census, is actually Sarah Allensworth incorrectly recorded with the family surname Hatton. Anne Rutan had a daughter, Sarah Allensworth, born in 1872 when she was married to her first husband Lewis Allensworth. There is no record of Horace Hatton and Malinda Stephens having another daughter and Anna Rutan's daughter from her first marriage, Sarah Allensworth, would be age 8 at the time of the 1880 census which is the correct age to be the child in this census.

Horace Hatton Civil War Veteran

Horace Hatton served in the 13th Ohio Infantry during the Civil War. Horace was originally in Company I and was transferred to Company C on 1 January 1864. Horace Hatton applied for a pension as an invalid on 24 June 1880, as shown on the pension record. The record also documents that Anna was a widow by 1890. (Horace Hatton appears in some military records as Harris M Hatton) Horace Is recorded as age 18 at the time of his enlistment)

I don't have any information about Horace Hatton or Anna Rutan after 1880, except that Horace Hatton died sometime between 1880 and 1890, per the pension record.

Anna Mae Hatton

Anna Mae Hatton, Horace Hatton's daughter from his first marriage, married George Thompson 13 October 1886 in Harrison County, Ohio. Anna Mae and George Thompson were divorced and Anna Mae Hatton then married William Bucksbarg on 5 November 1911 in Stark County, Ohio when she was age forty two.

Bonnie Thompson, DNA match, is a descendant of Anna Mae Hatton and George Thompson.

William Houston Johnson is most likely the adopted name of  William F Hatton

When I was showing Mrs JJE3 (JJE3 is the grandson of William Houston Johnson) the Hatton family information detailed above, she remembered that William Houston Johnson had known his birth name and she felt confident that it was Hatton.

I believe that William F Hatton is birth name of William Houston Johnson as they are born on the same day 15 September 1878 or 1879 in Cadiz, Ohio. The name William F Hatton never appears after the 1880 US Census in the vital records. Younger brother, Edward Hatton, is found in many later records beginning around 1898 with his first marriage.

Hopefully DNA match Bonnie Thompson has more information about the half brothers of Anna Mae Hatton. The Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home Association of Ex-Pupils may have records of the children who lived there, including birth names and adopted names.

Additional DNA Information

Ancestry DNA 

There is another close DNA match with an ancestor named Hatton in their family tree at Ancestry. The match is Rde91276, he shares 71cM of DNA with JJE3, unfortunately his family tree is set to private. Ancestry DNA match, Rde91276, also shares DNA with Bonnie Thompson and Bexster84. There are two other DNA matches that also match Bonnie Thompson and Rde91276, they are usernames, huulyyte and looney75. Huulyyte shares 66 cM with JJE3 and did not provide a family tree. Looney75 did not provide a family tree and he shares 63 cM with JJE3.


I transferred the raw DNA of JJE4 from Ancestry to FamilytreeDNA. Several of the top matches look to be related in the Hatton line. Bonnie Thompson is also in this database, she is called Bonnie Richardson at FamilytreeDNA.  Bonnie Thompson's daughter, Jami Rae Thompson (perhaps bexster84) and son Macin Ensign are also found the the FamilytreeDNA database and are matches to JJE4.

There is one additional DNA match that may also be related by Hatton lineage. Jim Frisken shares 15.4 CM of DNA with JJE4, Macin Ensign, and Bonnie Thompson on chromosome 5, unfortunately he did not provide a family tree.


I have confirmed that William F Hatton was a resident at the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home. I contacted the president of the former pupils association of the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home (AXP) and he kindly sent me a copy of their ledger showing former pupils with their names, date of birth, date of admittance, and county of origin. ( I inquired about the meaning of the letters in the last column of the ledger and was informed that no one remembers what they mean )

The ledger shows that William Hatton born 15 September 1878 from Harrison County was a resident of the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home.

Of note : Neither Anna Mae Hatton or Sadie Hatton are listed in the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home ledger (which is alphabetical) and it can be concluded that they were never residents of the home.

William F Hatton

William F Hatton was admitted to the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home with two younger brothers in January of 1885. William would have been 6 1/2 years old.

Amazing really that a DNA match with a detailed family tree (Bonnie Thompson), records establishing a place and date of birth for William Houston Johnson, and the knowledge that he was adopted from a children's home in Xenia Ohio could could help uncover the birth name and family of William Houston Johnson. There can be no doubt now that William Houston Johnson was born William F Hatton on 15 September 1878 in Cadiz Ohio.

Edward & Harry Hatton

The record from the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home included the information that brothers Edward Hatton and Harry Hatton were admitted on the same date as William Hatton.

Edward Hatton

The date of birth recorded for Edward Hatton in the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home record matches the age for the Edward Hatton found in the 1880 US Census with his parents Horace and Annie Hatton.

Harry Hatton

It would seem that the name of the child born to Anna Rutan and Horace Hatton on 23 August 1881 was incorrectly recorded as Mary Hatton in the ledger entitled "Record of Births, Probate Court, Harrison County, Ohio". The ledger is found in the database, Ohio County Births 1841-2003. Harry Hatton is documented as entering the Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home with brothers William F Hatton and Edward Hatton in the above Ohio Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans Home record and he is shown as born on the exact same day as noted in the birth records for a Mary Hatton. I feel confident that the child born on 23 August 1881 to Anna Rutan and Horace Hatton was Harry Hatton because there are future records confirming a Harry Hatton born in Cadiz, Ohio in 1881 and the only known record for a Mary Hatton born in Cadiz, Ohio in 1881 is the birth record.

1870 US Census Update

Horace and Malinda Hatton were enumerated living in Cadiz Ohio in 1870 with their daughter Anna. I noted that there was another Hatton family adjacent on the US Census record. I will explain in more detail in the future, but I wanted to note that the Hatton family adjacent on the 1870 US Census record is related to Horace Hatton. Margaret Hatton is the stepmother of Horace Hatton and Alfred, Ellen, and Wilson Hatton are the half siblings of Horace Hatton. Also of note in the 1870 US Census is that the family adjacent to Margaret Hatton's household is the Ramsey family and their fourteen year old daughter, Margaret Ramsey would eventually marry her neighbor, twelve year old Alfred Hatton.

DNA Match Update

I had also contacted Bonnie Thompson and she kindly replied with detailed information. Bonnie explained how her family fit into the picture. Bonnie and two of her children (bexster84 & Rde91276) tested their DNA at Ancestry, Bonnie transferred her DNA to FamilytreeDNA and an additional two children (Macin Ensign &  Jami Rae Thompson) were tested at FamilytreeDNA.

Bonnie contacted a cousin who is also a direct descendant of Anna Hatton and George Thompson who provided additional information. The cousin is called D.D at Ancestry. Interestingly D.D is a match to JJE3 at Ancestry, but with only 6.2 cM of shared DNA. Bonnie shares 124 cM with JJE3 and D.D. shares 6.2 cM with JJE3 at Ancestry. D.D. apparently does not share enough DNA with JJE4 to show as a match on Ancestry or FamilytreeDNA.

You would expect the amount of shared DNA for JJE3 with D.D to be comparable with the amount of DNA shared with Bonnie since D.D. and Bonnie both are directly descended from Anna Mae Hatton and George Thompson and both have the same relationship to JJE3 (half second cousins once removed).

The predicted amount of DNA shared between JJE3 and a genetic 2nd cousin once removed is 106 cM. However, actual results compiled for DNA shared between 2nd cousins once removed ranges from 0-325 cM with the average at 130 cM. Remember that JJE3 and Bonnie & D.D. are half  2nd cousins once removed and would be expected to share less DNA than full 2nd cousins once removed.

Ancestry shows that D.D and JJE3 share matches with Bonnie, bexster84, Rde91276, huulyyte, looney75, vandanman68, and scottynelson1989.

Updated Family Tree 

Rutan DNA Update

When I added the Rutan family information to the JJE3 Ancestry DNA family tree, several DNA matches with the same Rutan lineage were discovered. These Rutan DNA matches further confirm that William Johnson was born Hatton Hatton, the son of Horace Hatton and Anna Rutan.

Additional DNA Information

The administrator for the DNA match D.D. also provided the information that D.D. shares 103 cM across seven segments with Bonnie with the largest segment at 45 cM on chromosome 9 followed by 21 cM on chromosome 15. This is quite interesting and unexpected because when I compared the shared DNA between JJE4 and Bonnie at FamilytreeDNA the matching segments were on chromosomes 5 and 10.

In order for there to be a chromosome comparison between D.D.'s DNA and Bonnie Thompson's DNA, I am assuming that D.D.'s DNA data was transferred to FamilytreeDNA.

JJE4 's DNA is in the both the Ancestry and FamilytreeDNA databases, but he doesn't have enough DNA to show as a match to D.D. on Ancestry or FamilytreeDNA. The 6.2 cM shown as shared between JJE3 and D.D. at Ancestry cannot be compared on chromosomes at Ancestry because Ancestry does not provide a chromosome browser. I decided to add JJE3 to the FamilytreeDNA database so I could see if I could compare the DNA of JJE3 and D.D. on the chromosome browser, looking particularly at chromosomes 9 and 15 as that is where Bonnie and D.D. share DNA.

It is known and expected that JJE3 shares more DNA with Bonnie than JJE4, as JJE3 is a generation closer to a common ancestor. The amount of shared DNA at Ancestry between Bonnie and JJE3 is 124 cM and Bonnie and JJE4 share 72 cM at Ancestry. Ancestry uses a slightly different algorithm than other DNA testing companies and always shows less shared DNA as they do not include some segments they deem to be 'identical by state', so it is expected that there will be more shared DNA reported at FamilytreeDNA.

The shared DNA reported at FamilytreeDNA between JJE3 and Bonnie is 149 cM and Bonnie and JJE4 share 97 cM which as expected is more than the numbers reported at Ancestry. So JJE3 has 52 cM more DNA in common with Bonnie than JJE4 in the FamilytreeDNA database.

Interestingly, I found 27 cM of JJE3's additional 52 cM of shared DNA with Bonnie on chromosome 15, which is one on the two chromosomes where D.D. and Bonnie share the most DNA.

JJE3 (red)  & JJE4 (blue) Shared DNA with Bonnie Thompson

Start Location
End Location
centiMorgans (cM)
# of Matching SNPs






How interesting that JJE4 did not inherit any matching DNA on chromosome 15. The comparison of shared DNA with Bonnie for JJE3 and JJE4 is fascinating. Some segments are passed down totally intact, some segments lose a bit of DNA, and as shown on chromosome 15 some DNA is lost altogether from generation to generation.


Chromosome Comparison with JJE3

Chromosome Comparison with JJE4

Unfortunately, I did not find any likely DNA match in the FamilytreeDNA database that looks to be Bonnie's second cousin D.D.

Information for additional research on William Houston Johnson

Tacoma Washington newspaper early 1900's
Tucson Daily  editor / owner

Mimi (Lucile Johnson) lived with her father William Houston Johnson in Cleveland for several months c 1924 Mimi was married to John Joseph Evans, Jr in May 1926 in Garden City after one year at Smith College. William Houston Johnson was separated from first wife Lucile Sabin but not divorced for a time, then married second wife Pita.

Rutan Family

DNA match D.D. -  Hatton Ancestry Family Tree

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