Pace DNA Discovery

DNA is the hot new research tool in genealogy. Yet it is only as effective as any other tool when used in conjunction with other documentation. Sometimes it can give you information that you would have no other way of finding as with my case below.

Many years ago, I found a birth record for my great, great grandfather, Henry Peece, in the baptisms for St. Peter’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in Reinerton, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania. It lists his birth as 11 August 1851 and his parents as Christian and Elizabeth Pies. (The Pies name is spelled in various way on records including Pees, Pease, Peace and the way my ancestor spelled it – Peece.)

Henry shows up as a nine year old boy on the 1860 census in Juniata County, Pennsylvania, living with William and Elizabeth Brown. Further research revealed that his mother, Elizabeth remarried sometime before 1855 to William Brown. Since she remarried, I assumed her first husband Christian had died, even though I could not find a death record for him. Many men in the area were miners or lumberman, so a work related death at an early age would not be uncommon.

I held that belief until I was checking my matches on the DNA website that I had tested with and came across a match with a similar looking name. There was a Christian Christopher Pace b. 1829 in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. St. Peter’s Evangelical Church baptisms also had a record for Henry’s father Christian Pies b. 1829. Since my match and I shared 130 centimorgans, I wondered if Christian Christopher Pace and Christian Pies were the same person.

More research on Christian Pace made me almost certain they are the same man. I found a marriage record for Christian Pace and Harriet Hamblin in Lawrence County, Pennsylvania for 1853. That is about the same time the Christian Pies disappeared. Christian Pace’s Find A Grave record lists the same birth date as Christian Pies. I compared census, tax and land records and once Christian Pace shows up Christian Pies is no longer in the records.

In my years of genealogy research, I have found 3 cases where a man disappeared and then started a new family elsewhere. That is what I think happened here. Christian Pies went to a different county in Pennsylvania (Clearfield), changed his name slightly from Pies to Pace, married a second time and started another family. He eventually ended up in Ohio, his marriage to Harriet lasting over 57 years.

Without the DNA connection, I would never have had any reason to look for a man named Pace. Sharing information with my match, we traded photos of my great, great grandfather, Henry Peece, and her great uncle, John, son of Christian Pace. The two men look almost identical.

Henry Peece                        John Pace, son of Christian

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