52 Ancestors,
in 52 Weeks
Week 5:
Branching Out
Family Finds Charter Oak

The Search Continues

I am branching out the search for my unknown 4th great-grandparents and am attempting to use DNA. As a result, my family tree is also branching out! Identifying common ancestors between myself and my DNA matches requires adding MANY people to my tree. One concern I have with this is causing anyone else to take my testing of relationships as proof for their own trees. So, I have started a private tree for DNA research purposes and am adding to my public tree, Osborn on Ancestry.com, as I find sourced proof of relationships. I am currently focusing on finding the parents of my 3rd great-grandfather George Koontz, ca. 1810-185x, who lived his adult life in Knox County, TN. [1]

George Koontz, ca. 1810-185x

I have previously written about George Koontz for a 2020 prompt. Nearly Forgotten. [2] George is a brick wall for me, I do not know who his parents were. Identifying George’s parents will probably allow me to follow his line back to an immigrant. Here is what I do know, from solid sources, about George Koontz.


Perhaps the best sourced record I have for George Koontz is his marriage record to my 3rd great-grandmother, Sarah Sally Ezell. The couple received a license to marry on 25 February 1837 in Knox County, TN. [3] The marriage was performed the next day by Michael Smith, J.P. For Knox County. [4] Both records spell George’s surname as ‘Koons’.

Koontz Descent Chart


I have discovered a Knox County tax roll entry for a man named George Koonts. I cannot be certain this is my 3rd great-grandfather, but it is likely since the year is close to the marriage records. In 1836, George is listed as a poll tax but owns no land. [5] Also, there is an 1830 US census record for a George Coons in Knox County. [6] Again, I cannot be certain this is my ancestor, but the date and place is suggestive. The record indicates there is one male 20-30 and one female 20-30. If this is my ancestor, then who is the woman? A marriage previous to Sally Ezell? Or a sister?


I do not have many records for George Koontz. I have more for his wife, children and in-laws. For example, I find Sally Ezell’s father, Solomon (1797-?) in the 1840 census in Knox County with a large household of children and young adults. [7] The ages align in such a way that I have presumed them to be Sally’s parents, Sally and her two sons, plus Sally’s two brother’s and their (future) wives. In the 1860 US census, there is a record for Sally and her 5 children, all living in Anderson County, and all using the surname Koontz. [8] Sally’s youngest son, Henry, is 9 according to the 1860 census. And, Sally marries a man named Cooper in 1862. [9] Therefore, I presume George Koontz died sometime between 1851 and 1861.

James E Koontz & Nelly

My Great-great-grandfather, James Koontz


In the blog post Nearly Forgotten [2] I wrote that I have many matches among descendants of my 2nd great-grandfather, James Koontz, and his siblings. Unfortunately, none of these matches have been able to discover George Koontz’s parents. One approach I took was to find men named Koontz, born about 1780, and living in, or around, southeastern Tennessee. I filled out family trees for these men, as best I could from the few records for the period and place. To no avail. Then, last September, I read a blog post by Jim Bartlett for his blog Segment-ology. [10] Jim suggests using the AncestryDNA product called ThruLines. He describes letting the product do the work of finding the missing ancestor. So, I did and it came up with a man named Michael Koontz, and his wife Mary, who lived in Davidson County, North Carolina between 1777 and 1834. [11, 12] This couple had a son named George (1806-1889), but this George is fairly well documented as marrying a woman named Leonard in 1830 and living in North Carolina. Not MY George…

Koontz DNA Matches

ThruLines returned 2 matches with Michael and Mary Koontz in their trees. But, unexpectedly, these two matches have in common with me one of my half-first cousins, and several of my 4th cousins, who do not share the Koontz lineage with me. No doubt, they simply connect elsewhere, but these two are strong matches at 40+cM’s. There are another 13 matches in ThruLines for the parents of Michael Koontz, Jacob and Dorothea Koontz, my possible 5th great-grandparents from York County, PA. These 13 do not match any of my known Koontz third cousins, but AncestryDNA only shows shared matches above 20cM’s, for both parties, so this is to be expected at the fifth and sixth cousin level. I also used the AncestryDNA search feature to find matches who include Koontz AND Davidson County or Koontz AND York County. The results were MANY more matches, it will take a good deal of time to sort through them all and determine if Michael and Mary and/or Jacob and Dorothea are my missing Koontz 4th or 5th great-grandparents. Branching out, indeed!


The ThruLines data is inclusive, but it seems like a good lead. Although the online trees indicate Michael Koontz’s (1777-1834) son named George is not MY George, I know enough about trees on Ancestry to know a mistake can be repeated by many. It’s possible another George Koontz, with similar vitals, was living in Davidson County in the early 19th century and has mistakenly been attributed to the family I share so MANY descendants with. Also, I am hoping AncestryDNA will expand their definition of “shared matches” to include 5th cousins. It would also be great if they included more chromosome data to aid in triangulation. Other sites have these capabilities, but they do not have as many participants with populated family trees. Sigh…


  1. Profile of George Koontz, ‘Osborn‘ tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/12585375147/facts
  2. Blog post, Family Finds: Nearly Forgotten; https://barblafara.com/nearly-forgotten/
  3. Entry for George Koons, Marriage record; Tennessee State Library and Archives; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002; Accessed online: Ancestry.com; County: Knox; 1837-1840 Marriage Bonds; page 200 of 1639
  4. Entry for George Koons, Marriage record; Tennessee State Library and Archives; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002; Accessed online: Ancestry.com; County: Knox; 1793-1956 Marriages; page 107-853
  5. Entry for George Koonts, Tax record for 1836; Early Tax Lists of Tennessee. Microfilm, 12 rolls. The Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, Tennessee, page 276; Accessed online, Ancestry.com; County: Knox; Year: 1836, Page: 55 of 82.
  6. Entry for George Coons, US Federal Census record; Year: 1830; Census Place: Knox, Tennessee; Series: M19; Roll: 178; Page: 377; Family History Library Film: 0024536; Accessed online, Ancestry.com; Township: Not Stated; page: 112 of 151; Line: 2
  7. Entry for Solomon Ezell, US Federal Census record; Year: 1840; Census Place: Knox, Tennessee; Roll: 527; Page: 26; Family History Library Film: 0024547; Accessed online, Ancestry.com; Township: Not Stated; page: 57 of 159; Line: 12
  8. Entry for Sarah Koontz, US Federal Census record; Year: 1860; Census Place: Anderson, Tennessee; Roll: M653_1239; Page: 69; Family History Library Film: 805239 ; Accessed online, Ancestry.com; Township: Not Stated; page: 138 of 165; Line: 5
  9. Entry for Sary Coonse, Marriage record; Tennessee State Library and Archives; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002; Accessed online: Ancestry.com; County: Anderson; 1838 Sep-1858 Sep: Marriages 3; page 107-650
  10. Blog post, Segment-ology; : Do You Have a Suspicious Branch in Your Tree?; https://segmentology.org/2021/09/28/961/
  11. Profile of Michael Koontz, ‘Osborn‘ tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/27581745864/facts
  12. Profile of Mary Hage, ‘Osborn‘ tree, Ancestry.com; https://www.ancestry.com/family-tree/person/tree/13493206/person/27581745901/facts


  1. Tonya Ferguson

    Time is what we all need. I hope you find out if Michael and Mary and Jacob and Dorothea are your missing branches.

    • Barb LaFara

      Thanks for the encouragement. I am looking through all the surname and place matches now. I am keeping a separate ‘private’ tree so I do not pollute the family tree ecosystem.

      • Donnie

        I’m pretty sure I have long lost Koontz family in or around or used to live in or around McMinn county Tennessee. Only names I have come across is Elbert Koontz and a David Koontz. I’m pretty sure that Elbert Koontz is mine and my brothers biological grandfather


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