by Wesley Johnston
Mary was my 4th Great Grandmother. She was the mother of Sarah Harrison, mother of Emma Butson, who was the mother of George Henry Johnston. She lived her entire life in Canada, in the early and mid 1800's. She was from the known Loyalist area of Ernestown Township of what is now Addington and Lennox County, Ontario. So I had suspected a Loyalist connection. Then in January 2013, Ancestry notified me of a 96% confidence autosomal DNA match with a known descendant of Mormon pioneer James Lake, Jr. We have done enough research to determine that my Mary was not a descendant of James Lake, Jr. But it seems likely that she was the daughter of one of James' brothers or cousins.
There were several Mary Lakes born about the same time, so that it is important to note who she is NOT. Most specifically, she is NOT the Mary Margaret Lake who married Nathan Fellows and died in 1863.
There is also an extraordinary amount of erroneous published information on the various Lake families, both in print and on web sites and on Ancestry trees. The main source of the errors was a book published about 1951. James Lake, Jr., descendant Janet Jeffery has published a well-documented history of her branch that includes some of the earlier generations and some about the brothers. It is the only source that I consider accurate, since it is documented. I mostly ignore the various web sites, since they are so dramatically in conflict not only with each other but also with the facts. Even a site that cites Janet's book still relies on faulty information that Janet has refuted with solid documentation.
Mary herself appears in only one document: the 1861 census of Ops Township in Victoria County. Since the family lived in Reach Township of Ontario County at the time of the 1851/2 census and that population census has been lost, the only record of the family in that census is her husband Robert in the agricultural census of Reach. Thus the 1861 census page is the closest there is to a single document with most of her family on one page. Only her daughters Mary Jane and amarilla are missing from that page, although daughters Harriet (Nugent) and Sarah (Butson) are married and in separate households. The fact that Sarah died within a few years after the census, while the others survived to old age, has led to no documented connection of Sarah to Mary and Robert. But if it were not for the known family connection, there would be no documentation for most of Mary and Robert's children. There is very strong circumstantial evidence tieing Sarah to the family both in Reach Township and in Ops Township. And the autosomal DNA match between one of the Lake family descendants and me finally confirms that Sarah was indeed the daughter of Mary.
by Wesley Johnston
What I know of the family is from Janet Jeffrey's book. There were several brothers, sons of James Lake and Margaret Hagerman/Hegeman, who received land in New York. Janet is descended from James Lake, Jr., Mormon pioneer, who was definitely not the father of my Mary Lake. I do not have access to Janet's book right now, since I am away from home. But I think that this much of one web site - knowwn to have other errors and thus not at all credible without careful verification - MIGHT be correct for a listing of the children of James (1760-1839 New Jersey/Canada) and Margaret (1756-1833 New York/Canada):
What is clear from this list is that only the eldest son John would be a possible candidate for being the father of my Mary in 1801 or 1802. So it seems more likely that my Mary was the daughter of one of the cousins of the above children. That is, my Mary's father was more likely the son of one of the brothers of James Sr. Here is what the same undocumented web site has for the children of John Lake (1728-1835 New Jersey/Canada) and Margrietje/Margaret Snyder (1728-1835 New Jersey/Canada):
It is even possible that my Mary was a very late child of one of these sons. But it is more likely that she was the child of a son of one of these sons (Nicholas, Thomas, Christopher, or John Jr.).
The hard fact is that I do have an autosomal DNA match, with very high confidence, with a known Lake family descendant. So there is a relationship there, but finding it and documenting it is a real challenge.