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Are We Related?

By A. Mason Redd

The spirit of Elijah is abroad in the land “turning the hearts of the children . . . to their fathers . . .” just as Moroni said he would. It is truly amazing how many people are searching for their roots. This is a brief account of my search as Group Administrator for the Redd Family History DNA Project. This project is one of 6,615 surname projects for FamilyTree DNA, a company created to make available DNA testing for genealogical purposes. Since April 2000 over 500,000 tests have been done.

At least 18 individuals with various surnames including Redd, Rudd, Reed, Sears and Wooten have joined the Redd Family History DNA project perhaps to determine their deep ancestral origins.  I have not asked project members why they joined. Perhaps I should. Fifteen of these individuals have joined spontaneously after reading about the project on the webpage and communicating with me by email or by simply following instructions for joining on the website.

So far, members have been assigned to three subgroups plus a group of four unassigned members. The first group with four members appears to be related to the Redds of Utah from Nansemond County, Virginia with William and Rachael Jordan Redd as their most distant relatives. The second group may have originated in Germany and are related to Nathanael Redd from Pennsylvania. This group may have changed their name from Roth to Redd. The third group may come from South Carolina—not much else is known. The groups are not closely related.

Needless to say all Redds are not related to each other, something I didn’t even imagine when I started searching for relatives. There are several and perhaps many Redd families; not as diverse as Smiths and Jones but not as unitary as I had supposed. John Guittard, a descendent of Nathaniel Redd from Pennsylvania, has been a great help to me in setting up, organizing and administering the project.  His example has been the inspiration to me to adopt and maintain a more ecumenical view toward all who choose to search out their roots as members of the Redd Family History DNA Project. That is my intention. Thank you, John.

Two years ago my cousin, Merne Livingston, gave me a list of Redds living in the UK, mostly England. I let a year go by before selecting 30 individuals to invite to join the Redd Family History DNA Project at my expense—three thousand dollars if they all had accepted my offer. I am certain that had something to do with my delay in writing to them. In my letter I included both my email and snail mail addresses. I waited for a reply. It was an exciting day, just a year ago, when I received an email from David Redd, living in Wales, stating:  
“Dr. Mr. Redd, [I] was interested to read of your project. I don’t know of any relationship to the American Redd families; in mid-Victorian times some at least of our family were registered with the surname Ridd. However, if a cheek swab for my DNA will help I’ll gladly use your kit as suggested in your letter. Yours sincerely, David Redd, 48 Cardigan Road.”  


Needless to say, I very quickly became invested in having David as a relative.  If I could choose my relatives David would be one. It was very exciting to get the results from the 12-marker test indicating 11 out of 12 matches. This plus the ample romantic, circumstantial evidence made it very easy to jump to the conclusion David and I are related. For example, David’s progenitors lived in and around Wachtet, Somerset County, England, a very picturesque area with moors, fens and even the tiny Culbone Church with Redd headstones in the graveyard.  Samuel Coleridge Taylor wrote his poem, Kubla Khan, or A Vision in a Dream. A Fragment, while intoxicated on opium. He may have been staying at one point on Ash Farm owned by a man named Redd. This area of England may have been where descendants of Rufus de Redde, bastard son of William the Conqueror lived. Finally this area is the setting for the romantic English novel, Lorna Doone, with John Ridd as one of the characters.

What shock and disappointment it was when I received the results of the 25-marker test and learned 6 of the 25 markers didn’t match. This means David and I are not related. David suggested I write a second letter to seven individuals on my list and to enclose self addressed, stamped envelopes, to make it easier for them to respond. This I did with his help in providing me with English postage stamps in exchange for US postage stamps. One person responded, a woman by the name of Ruth Redd. This was her handwritten reply.
“Dear Mr. Redd, Thank you for your letters; I am sorry to hear that, so far, you have not been able to find any relatives in England. I would love to help you but my surname is not hereditary. My married name was Liversedge and when I divorced I decided to change my surname. I have red hair and my favorite color is Redd so that is how I came to be known as Ruth Redd. Your journey sounds fascinating and I wish you luck in finding others in your family tree. I am really sorry I cannot help you. I wish you all the best. Kind Regards, Ruth Redd.” Pretty sweet!

Next, Thomas Redd from Seattle sent me the following email:
“Saw your group on the FamilyTree DNA site. I’m a direct male descendent of your #4 line – Thomas Redd, Sr. born in Drysdale Parish, King & Queen Co., Virginia. I’m interested in doing the DNA testing for this line, and was wondering if any other descendants of Thomas Redd, Sr. had participated? I looked at the results page for the group and didn’t see any. Please let me know if this would be useful. I see that I just register with the FamilyTree DNA people and order the $99 test. Also – I have found some information on Thomas Redd Sr. His father was John Redd, who was born in Scotland in 1642 and emigrated in 1654. (I think this may be the same John Redd you list as being born in 1654 in Jamestown). I have copies of the church birth records from John Redd in Scotland (the last name was Red then) as well as names of siblings and his parents. Thanks, Tom Redd, Seattle, Washington.”

How exciting to have a Redd (Red) paper trail back to Scotland through Virginia. I was dripping with even more conviction that we had found our Redd roots, than I was with David Redd albeit with a less romantic story. My conviction was only exceeded by my disappointment to learn that Thomas and I (my son, Alan) share only 13 out of 25 markers, fewer than with David. This means we are not related. Thomas seems to be a closer match to the South Carolina than the Nansemond subgroup. So we are back to square one again.

I told John Guittard about all of this and he wrote me an email, in which he said,
“I’m amazed that you sent 30 letters to England . . . I don’t send letters anymore because I don’t quite remember what a letter is, and because emails are so easy and quick to send . . . So I’d suggest that if you get back into that test-generation mode, try to make up a good form email and Google up some email addresses to send them to . . . Regards, John.” Not a bad idea.

No, David, we are not related, dang it. I wish we were. Thomas, it would have been so nice to be related to you and to have a paper trail back to Scotland. We would know that the descendents of John Hardison Redd are Scottish, something I had supposed for a long time. Ruth, you would be a fine relative. We should adopt you, much like you adopted our Redd surname.  

Needless to say, we still have work to do. To begin with, we need to buy more markers for Lloyd Rudd and John H. Redd to see if they are closely related to us or not. Personally, perhaps with me it is a pride thing, I would like a few more male descendants of John Hardison Redd to become testers not for just 12, but ideally for 25, 37 or even 67 markers. I happen to know already that my cousin, Lloyd Redd, my two brothers and I are all related to my son, Alan, for the obvious reason, and also because our Y-DNA has been determined for free by Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation and matches the findings of FamilyTree DNA, if I have compared them correctly. For more information regarding the Redd Family History DNA Project, please go to on the Internet.


Culbone Church
Gravestone at Culbone. Superinscribed white text highlight is to the right of original inscription.

Relatively Speaking
by Celia Baker

You can’t choose your relatives – but if you could, you might pick some of the prominent people listed below. However, if you are a descendent of Lemuel Hardison Redd, Sr. you are probably related to them anyway. Did you know that your long list of Redd cousins includes these people?

FRED ADAMS – Utah Shakespearean Festival’s beloved founder, Fred Adams, is the grandson of Caroline Redd (Adams), a daughter of Lemuel Hardison Redd and Keziah Jane Butler.  Although Fred Adams has retired from day-to-day management of the famous festival in Cedar City, he continues to work tirelessly for arts and literacy, and for the future of the Utah Shakespearean Festival.

PETER VIDMAR – Vidmar is the highest-scoring American gymnast in Olympic history, and won two Olympic gold medals and one silver in men’s gymnastics during the 1980s. He is a motivational speaker, and has anchored gymnastics coverage for CBS and ESPN. He is a grandson of Hazel Lurene Redd (Vidmar), a daughter of Lemuel Hardison Redd and Sariah Louisa Chamberlain.

GRACE  TANNER – This Utah philanthropist, who died in 1993, helped her husband, Obert, build a fortune in the jewelry and corporate award business. She served as the secretary of the Obert C. Tanner company in its early days. The Tanners were magnanimous benefactors of arts and education, and shared their love of beauty by donating lovely fountains to many public institutions. Grace Tanner is the daughter of Luella Redd (Adams), a daughter of Lemuel Hardison Redd and Keziah Jane Butler. Cedar City’s Adams Shakespearean Theatre (a replica of Shakespeare’s Old Globe Theatre in London) is named for Luella Redd Adams and her husband, Thomas D. Adams.

GRACE TANNER IRISH – Irish, the daughter of O.C. and Grace Tanner (above),
is a convert to Anglicanism, and is Bishop of the 10th Episcopal
Diocese, which is headquartered in Salt Lake City.

SCOTT MATHESON – Matheson, who died in 1990, served as a highly popular governor of Utah from 1977 to 1985 -- the last Democrat to
hold that position. Jim Matheson, currently one of Utah’s U.S. congressmen, is his son. Another son, Scott Matheson Jr., was the Democratic nominee for Utah’s governorship in 2004. Scott Matheson is the grandson of Luella Redd (Adams), a daughter of Lemuel Hardison Redd and Keziah Jane Butler. Grace Tanner (above) was his aunt.

MARION G. ROMNEY – Romney, who died in 1988, spent 47 years as a general
authority of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, including many
years as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and the First Presidency. He is the son of Teressa Artimisia Redd (Romney), a daughter of Lemuel Hardison Redd and Sariah Louisa Chamberlain. Romney had notable cousins on both sides of his family. Through his Romney line, he was a first cousin to former Michigan governor George W. Romney and his son, 2008 presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Only those Redd descendents who are also direct Romney descendents are related to Mitt Romney.

BRUCE R. MCCONKIE – McConkie was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the LDS church from 1972 until his death in 1985, having previously served in the First Council of the Seventy since 1946. McConkie authored many scholarly works about LDS doctrine. His most famous book was the gospel compendium Mormon Doctrine, which garnered both praise and controversy. He is also remembered for writing the poem on which the hymn “I Believe in Christ” is based. He is the son of Margaret Vivian Redd (McConkie), a granddaughter of Lemuel Hardison Redd and Keziah Jane Butler through Monroe Redd.

Sources: RootsWeb; Wikipedia; Redd Alert.

The Little Shoe
by Arlene Redd Brown

On one of Lemuel Hardison Redd's  trips to Salt Lake City he brought home a shoemakers kit.  It contained everything necessary to make shoes.  There was an awl to punch holes in the leather, and wooden pegs to hold the sole and the top together, a hammer and four wooden ‘lasts’ and forms for different sizes of shoes: one small, two medium, and one large.  That was as near to fitting a shoe as they could get.   

The Redd children were the only school children in town who had shoes to wear when the weather was bad.  The other children came to school with wet, cold feet and had to warm them at the little heater in the middle of the room.  They would sit bare-footed all day, scraping the hot coals out on the hearth to warm their feet.  The shoes of the Redd children were precious, and when it was wet and sloppy weather, their mother, Keziah Jane would wrap their feet in gunny sacks and tie them on before they left for school.  When they arrived at school they would take the sacks off and then put on their shoes.   

When one of the children would grow out of a pair of shoes, they were passed down to the next in size.  The shoes were the same shape on both sides, no left and no right, and to make the shoes last longer the children were told to alternate them on their feet.  If they wore one on the left foot one day, they were to wear it on the right foot the next day.  

Lura Redd told of the time when her father, William Alexander Redd, was a l boy. He tried to make a baby shoe out of little scraps of leather that his father had disgarded.  When William tried to tack the top and sole together, the tacks went into the ‘last’.  The shoe was pulled out of shape when he tried to get it off the wooden form.  Disgustedly, he threw it out in the bushes.  Lemuel's 2nd wife Louisa had been watching him, and retrieved it.

“What are you going to do with that?” he demanded.
“I’m going to keep it and give it to your wife when you get married.” she explained.
“No you’re not either!” he yelled.

For years William tried to find that shoe.  He went through the house when Aunt Louisa wasn’t there, but he never did find it.  Louisa kept her promise and gave the shoe to William's bride Verena Bryner.  Verena prized it for years and eventually gave it to my father Preston Lyman.  I hope to leave it to the New Harmony museum when that building is completed and ready for displays.

source: The Utah Redds and Their Progenitors by Lura Redd

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