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A Theory on the Origins of the Rogers Family

Version 1.0.1

Prepared by Richard Lee Rogers

March 3, 2019; minor revisions, March 5, 2019


My working hypothesis is that our family is of Scottish or Scot-Irish descent. Rogers is commonly regarded as an Anglo-Norman name, and many Rogers trace themselves to Roger I of Sicily, a Norman, and/or the English martyr John Rogers.[1] Our line appears to descend from an alternate pathway originating with the intermarriage of Normans and Scots around the 10th century.


Our Mystery Man

The first known use of the Rogers surname among our ancestors belongs to Joseph Rogers, the great grandfather of Vern Elijah Rogers. Joseph marries Emeline Elizabeth Ruggles (her second marriage) in Washington County, Missouri, on June 26, 1838.[2] The certificate of marriage is the only primary historical document discovered to date that we can definitely associate with Joseph. He is also mentioned in a local history, Bellevue—Beautiful View, which appears to include information about Rogers descendants obtained from uncited sources who are either family or friends. According to this history, Joseph and Emeline had four children: Letitia, Marcia Ann, Elijah Starr (“Starr”) and Elvira Jane (“Jane”), but Letitia and Marcia Ann died young.[3]


Joseph appears in no census records by name. Until 1850, household membership is identified only by the name of the head of the household, but from the census we have counts of household members distributed by sex and age. In 1840, when the family is still intact, no record has been found for Joseph, and a count of family members suggests that the family is not living with Emeline’s parents at the time. (Her adult brother’s family appears to have lived with the parents.)


The date of Joseph’s death is uncertain. Joseph must have died just before the 1850 U.S. Census, which lists family members but does not list him. I place his death in 1849-50 based on the birth of daughter Jane around 1850. In a 1913 affidavit, Jane claims that she is Starr’s “full sister” and that there is a 10- to 12-year difference between the two siblings.[4] The local history Bellevue—Beautiful View also regards Jane as the child of Joseph and Emeline.[5] However, I just learned about a story circulating that claims that Jane was born illegitimately to Emeline after Joseph’s death and that the incident brought great shame on the family.[6] This story is consistent with a probate record in Washington County that places the death of a Joseph Rogers around 1844.[7] There is no other indication of this liaison besides this story and we do not know if the Joseph dying in 1844 is our Joseph (there were several Rogers families in the area), but it is also possible that the family may have tried to shield the truth to avoid embarrassment.


Hints of Scottish Descent

Joseph was born in Virginia, but we do not know the exact date. When the U.S. Census Bureau started to take interest in migration patterns, it began asking in 1880 the location of birth for one’s parents. In both 1880 and 1900, Virginia is named the birthplace for Starr Rogers’s father.[8]


In spite of the lack of other information about Joseph and his ancestry, I have suspected for some time that Joseph was of Scottish descent. In what I call the Great Mistake of 1910, the U.S. Census identifies Scotland as the birthplace of Starr’s father.[9] Census records contain lots of mistakes, but there is a big difference between saying one is from Virginia and one is from Scotland. How can we account for such a large discrepancy? Starr, living in Kansas on the farm of his son James Elijah Rogers, is about 70 years old and less than a year from death when the census taker visits the family in May 1910. At this advanced age, it is quite possible that someone else answers the census taker’s questions on behalf of the family. If the respondent did not know all the details of Starr's life, the person may have stated that Starr’s father is born in Scotland based on stories of family history that heard at home. In other words, the wrong answer of Scotland might actually be a clue to the family’s origins.


Another coincidence pointing to Scotland is residence of the Rogers family in Caledonia in Washington County, Missouri. Here Joseph meets Emeline. Caledonia is the Roman name for Scotland, and many of Caledonia’s earliest settlers were of Scottish descent.[10] If Joseph Rogers were Scottish, it would not be surprising to find him in Caledonia. The Ruggles family, coming from Connecticut, was an exception to the migration pattern.


The DNA Evidence

I have recently taken the Y-111 DNA test from The Y-111 test analyzes the male line beyond what can be ascertained in the cheapo $99 DNA test advertised on TV. The test indicates our haploid group is R1b, which appears in western Europe about 25,000 years ago and is the most frequent genetic group found in the region today. It is predicted that with further testing the haploid designation would be further specified as the R-M269 branch of R1b. In the company’s data base, my nearest genetic cousins are a group of McCrorys who today live in Ireland. Nearest is a relative term here—the DNA suggests that we need to go back at least 7 to 12 generations to reach a 50% probability of a common ancestor, and we need to go several more generations to reach a 95% probability.


Nonetheless, this information is useful. Some of the history of the Rogers-McCrory relationship is known. The names Rogers and McCrory can be derived from the Gaelic name of the Mac Ruaidhrí clann of Scotland. The Mac Ruaidhrí, the descendants of intermarriage between Normans and Scots in the 10th century, were a prominent family in the western Highlands and Hebrides during the 13th and early 14th centuries. They became mercenary fighters, and with the decline of their power in Scotland in the mid-14th century, some family members started to move to Ulster (Northern Ireland), where they allied with Irish families.[11] Our family either has a common ancestor with the McCrorys or could even have descended directly from them because Rogers is used by McCrorys wanting to anglicize their name. In other words, our Rogers ancestors probably came from Scotland or Scotland by way of northern Ireland. 


It will be a while before we know more. I joined the Rogers/Rodgers DNA Project, a group of nearly 900 Rogers males who are sharing their DNA results in order to sort out the different family lines in the Rogers universe, and my test places me in a residual category of Rogers unaffiliated with other known Rogers groups. Our nearest known genetic cousins are McCrory, not the Rogers. Further testing might reveal more information about our relationship with the Mac Ruaidhrí, but what we really need are Rogers males who can help us fill in the gap between Joseph Rogers and our common ancestor with the McCrorys. More testing will not find those people—they have to join the project. There’s no more testing in my immediate future until more genetic cousins surface.


One more DNA point: So far neither of the two DNA tests that I have taken indicate Native American ancestry. My DNA is so thoroughly European that I put the white into white bread. Nonetheless, given the way that DNA tests work, it is possible that intermarriage could mask Native American heritage. If we do have Native American blood, I think the most likely candidates might be one of the Pults wives in the early to mid-19th century, but these ancestors are too far away to be identified in the cheapo test and also will not be picked up in the Y-111 test for males. Don’t lose sleep trying to figure this one out.



We now have a theory of family origins:

  • Our family descended from the Clann Mac Ruaidhrí of Scotland.

  • Our nearest known genetic cousins are the McCrorys of Ireland. The McCrory link raises the possibility that our ancestors may have moved at some point from Scotland to Ireland, but there is not enough information to make a determination.

  • No evidence has yet been found to confirm stories of Native American ancestry.


Theory means just that. Genealogical DNA testing is not as precise as the TV ads claim—we get probabilities of matches and ranges of generations, not definitive statements of a match. There is a need for more facts to fill in a gap between Joseph Rogers and an unknown ancestor that we share with the McCrorys, preferably from a family that can affirm Scottish or Scot-Irish ancestry based on their own records and stories.


Obviously, you might be curious about how our family fits into some well-known ethnic traditions. The Mac Ruaidhrí are usually not regarded as one of the modern-day Scottish clans. If you like kilts, there’s a registered tartan, but because of the waning influence and migration to Ireland of our ancestors, our family did not form along the lines of the best known Scottish clans. There’s not going to be a Mac Ruaidhrí tent at your local neighborhood Highland games, and the person registering the tartan either suffered from an ethnic identity crisis or is trying to con people for money. If our family passed through Ireland, they probably became Presbyterians and took the Orange side of things, so no St. Patty’s Day for you!


Our Rogers descent is not limited to the Mac Ruaidhrí line. As it turns out, the American Crumps are also of Rogers descent. In 1664, Elizabeth Rogers married William Keene. Their granddaughter, Hannah Bushrod, married Adam Crump, the first Crump ancestor in America in a line that leads to our matriarch Celia Frances Crump. Elizabeth’s family appears to be English. I may have more to say about this group of Rogers in the future.



[1] For example, Rogers, James Swift, James Rogers of New London, Ct. and His Descendants (Boston: The compiler, 1902); Underwood, John Cox, Lineage of the Rogers family, England: Embracing John Rogers the Martyr, Emigrant Descendants to America and Issue (New York: Press of W.E. Rudge, 1911).


[2] Missouri Marriages, 1750-1920 (


[3] Bellevue Valley Historical Society, Bellevue—Beautiful View: The History of Bellevue Valley, and Surrounding Area (Self-published, 1983), pp. 258-259.


[4] Deposition A, 25 February 1913, NATF 86: Military Service File: Elijah S. Rogers, Company M, 3rd Regiment, Missouri State Militia Cavalry (Washington, DC: National Archives).


[5] Bellevue Valley Historical Society, Bellevue—Beautiful View: The History of Bellevue Valley, and Surrounding Area (Self-published, 1983), pp. 258-259.


[6] The story originates with Mrs. Lawrence (Helen) Helton, Prineville, OR ( Helton, a granddaughter of Jane, claims her parents had no knowledge of the story and implies that she received it from the descendants of the brother of Emeline Rogers. I am somewhat skeptical of this story since it did not come from Jane and we have Jane’s statement that implies something different.


[7] 05 November 1844, County Court, Washington County, Missouri, Missouri, Wills and Probate Records, 1766-1988 (


[8] Census Place: Bellevue, Washington, Missouri; Roll: 740; Family History Film: 1254740; Page: 54A; Enumeration District: 171, [1880 United States Census] Tenth Census of the United States, 1880 (Washington, DC: National Archives); Census Place: Date, Texas, Missouri; Roll: 905; Page: 15A; Enumeration District: 0136; FHL microfilm: 1240905, [1900 U.S. Census] Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900 (Washington, DC: National Archives). Census records for 1890 were destroyed in a fire.


[9] Census Place: Chetopa, Neosho, Kansas; Roll: T624_451; Page: 11B; Enumeration District: 0200; FHL microfilm: 1374464, [1910 U.S. Census] Thirteenth Census of the United States, 1910 (Washington, DC: National Archives).


[10] Flanders, Robert, “The Kith and Kin of Caledonia,” OzarksWatch, 5, 4(Spring 1992).


[11] O’Laughlin, Michael C., The Book of Irish Families, Great and Small (3rd Ed.) (Kansas City, MO: Irish Genealogical Foundation, 1997) , Vol I, p. 129; “The Warrior Galloglass Surnames of Ireland,” A Letter from Ireland ( A short but interesting history of the Scottish years can be found in the Wikipedia entry for Clann Ruaidhrí.

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