Sunday, May 21, 2006

My Great Granfather's AKA

Who Was Christopher Columbus Smith?

When my Aunt Polly gave me The Lincoln Cane , she told me how she had sent private detectives back to the Ohio town where my great grandfather, C.C. Smith, had lived and operated his feed and seed store. After searching the records in Town hall and other local sources of information, the detectives could not find any information about where and when my grandfather was born or even where he had come from before he settled in western Ohio around the middle of the nineteenth century. For the last fifty years I have been intrigued by the “Mystery of the Old Gent”. Who was he? Where did he come from? What was his real name? (It was unlikely that he was christened with the name “Christopher Columbus Smith”)

I tried various genealogy sites on the Web and never found a trace anywhere but finally, I submitted my DNA sample to FamilyTreeDNA and received their report .The main part consists of a section devoted to:


“The results…show the ancestral origin of those you match or nearly match in the RAO.

The ancestral origin is provided by each testee and is only as accurate as the testee’s knowledge…

Exact matches show people who are the closest to you genetically. The Ancestral Origin shows where they have reported to have lived…”


(i.e., people with identical 12 Marker DENA Configurations to mine)

RUTLEDGE, Edward de Wolfe

Ellis Quitman

Michael Edward

Kenneth Jack

George W.

Ethan Taylor

John David

Ronald Gary

John Duane

Noah R.

Larry D.

SMITH (None)

Other Surnames 12


England 8

Great Britain 3

Ireland 4

Netherlands 1

Scotland 2

United Kingdom 2

In light of these preliminary findings I think it might be reasonable to assume that:

  • My great-grandfather’s real name was not “Christopher Columbus Smith”
  • His real name might easily have been Rutledge
  • His origins were probably pure “Celtic”

After the results of my DNA analysis was published on the FamilyTree DNA website,

I received an e-mail from John D. Rutledge who is one of the “Exact Matches” I have mentioned previously. Mr. Rutledge offered to exchange the Rutledge family information, his “GEDCOM” file, with information I could provide about our family

In examining the Rutledge history, I discovered one “Edward Augustus Rutledge” who was born in 1827 and has no history other than the date of his birth and the names of his parents. I have assumed that “C.C. Smith” was born sometime around 1830, which would have made him about 36 when he knew Mr. Lincoln and about fifty when my grandfather, Ned C. Smith was born (I ‘guesstimate’ that to be around 1880).

It is possible that “Edward Augustus Rutledge” might have been my great-grandfather’s

“real” or original name before he changed it.

I have ordered additional tests (25 markers) from FamilTreeDNA in the hope that these will further clarify things but I’m realistic about what to expect. It could remain a mystery forever. But it is an interesting story.

One last bit of trivia: Abe Lincoln’s first and some say “true” love was:

Anne Rutledge. She died before she and Abe could marry.

Comments, questions and complaints should be addressed to me at

1 comment:

1000myths said...

Update: Sept.8, 2008

Two years ago, I thought my great grandfather had invented the name "Christopher Columbus Smith" but now I know that it was his real name and that his father was named Harvey Smith.
Furthermore, I can trace my ancestry (thanks to "My") back to Josiah Smith who was born in in Connecticut in 1715. His father's name was "Samuel Smith and he was born in Devon (England)