On July 7th, 2015 several Mashburn researchers contacted me and asked me about Melinda Mashburn Siebold. They had received a very bizarre email from her with an attachment of a book she has just published entitled: The Race That Went Astray: The Revelation of the Sons of God.
I have tried not to address Melinda Mashburn Siebold by name on this website but the publication of her book and her insistence that it be sent to everyone in the MASHBURN family makes a response necessary.
I corresponded with Melinda Siebold for a number of years until it became it became too painful. She is, in my opinion, the worst thing that has ever happened to MASHBURN genealogy. She is a prime example of “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” The damage she has done will probably never be undone as her faulty and sloppy research is now a part of hundreds of family trees on the Internet.
Melinda’s research and analytical skills are very limited. She often jumps generations and thousands of years and finds connection that are, at best, nebulous. I did not keep her emails she sent to me but in them she made conclusions similar to this:
SO-AND-SO is related to THIS-AND-THAT of 15th century France because in 1943 the SO-AND-SOs lived on a road named THIS-AND-THAT in Mobile, Alabama and it is well known that the French settled Mobile, Alabama.
Another problem I have with Melinda is that she makes no distinction between academic and popular sources. At one point, I had to tell her that the Da Vinci Code was fiction. To her, anything she sees and hears on the TV show In Search Of … is evidence to be cited. Any day now I suspect that we will hear the MASHBURN family is related to aliens.
In her latest mass emailing, she states that Southern Baptist are Gnosis. Personally, I am a Unitarian-Progressive Christian so I am fairly open about religious beliefs but this statement is so luscious that I cannot even waste the time to deal with it. Similar delusional assertions go on and on and on.
In regard to MASHBURN genealogy, there are two false assertions that Melinda has spread that has done great damage to serious MASHBURN genealogy: (1) Material in the Bill Murphy Collection, and (2) The Marriage of Edward Mashborne.
Material in the Bill Murphy Collection
I spoke with Bill Murphy over the phone several years before he died. He specifically told me that all his Mashburn information regarding the early history of the family that he was confident about had been published by Edna Simpson in her book, The Mashburn Family of North Carolina and Georgia. In fact, Bill is listed as a source in Edna’s book. (There is another story concerning Bill’s research and Mrs. Stetson, but since it is not germane to the issue of Melinda Siebold, I will present it at another time.)
When Bill died, his life companion left Bill’s research materials to East Carolina University’s Joyner Library. Let me point out that research notes are not the same as published research. For example, I have lots of material that I am not sure about but I keep it in case I find something that ties up the loose ends. I am sure Bill had much of that in his notes. I would hate to think that everything in my notes will be consider as fact if I die and it is donated to a library.
At any rate, in the William Murphy Collection at the Joyner Library there is a portrait of a man who is identified as Edward Mashborne. He is rather well dressed in an expensive robe. Melinda believes this is Edward Mashborne because Edward was a Justice of the Peace and that was a more exalted position during the early 1700’s than it is now.
I pointed out to Melinda that being a JP then was like being a County Commissioner today – one might be concern with daily administration of the local government but few would call a County Commissioner an exalted position. Certainly a man in the frontier (which Onslow County was in 1715) would not wear judicial robes and have his portrait painted.
There is also a picture of a wooden fireplace screen with a picture of London. Melinda feels this was a fireplace screen Edward brought with him from England. The picture shows St. Paul’s with a completed dome. However, the dome at St. Paul’s was not completed until after Edward Mashborne had moved to America.
This is also another picture which Melinda thinks is of the children of Edward Mashburn. To me, the clothing of the children suggest a generation or two later.
Melinda told me this material would not be in a university library if it was not accurate.
Years later Greg Mashburn noticed that the hands of the Edward Mashborne portrait were the same hands in another painting (artists of the time period frequently painted stock bodies and customized the head). By searching the UK galleries on the artist name I was able to find the Mashborne portrait – it is actually a portrait by George Vertue of John Radcliffe, a famous doctor with no known connection to the Mashburn family.
The Marriage of Edward Mashborne
I had the first Mashburn genealogy on the Internet – in fact, before the Internet because the Mashburn Genealogy Archives started out on a BBS (Bulletin Board Service) and then on AOL before moving to the Internet. The early family tree programs were primitive – lineage trees were limited to five generations and to move pass those generations one had to toggle to another screen – it was very easy to get lost. I think that a researcher (later copied by Melinda or maybe it was Melinda herself) toggled onto a wrong screen and assumed my Marry Farrar (an ancestor of Catherine Twiggs Mashburn through Willis and Watkins) was the wife of Edward Mashburn instead of Henry Watkins.
Melinda, however, insisted that Mary Farrar was Edward Mashborne’s wife. Furthermore, Mary Farrar was a native America because if Edward Mashborne was an Indian missionary then he had to be married to an Indian (this is how her logic works).
When I asked Melinda what her evidence was for this, she replied that she felt it in her “heart,” that is, she could hear the Indian spirit reaching out to her. At this point, Melinda and I parted ways.
After I wrote PART ONE, someone sent me Melinda’s book and I have just finished reading it. Although it is exciting to know I am a direct descendent of Jesus (LOL), her book actually has very little to do with MASHBURN genealogy.
She never really explains how MASHBURNS are related to the rest of the book but I will list the Mashburn passages with my critical comments below.
“I could trace the line to the 1650’s in England to an Edward Mashborne who married Sarah Sindery.”
Yes, this can be documented.
“My family descended from their son Edward junior, who had at least two siblings, Matthias and Mary.”
The names of the siblings cannot be documented. She is assuming.
“When Edward junior was seven, his mother passed away, and after a few years, his father married an Elizabeth Nash. Not long after, when Edward junior was only twelve, Edward senior passed away.”
Yes, this is correct.
“Edward junior, Matthias and Mary continued living with their stepmother Elizabeth in London. I’m unsure what line of work Edward senior had been in, but tax lists show they had household help.”
There are tax records. However, these records do not list the names of the children. The only way we know that Edward Jr is related to this Elizabeth is that he, in a letter to a missionary socity, states that he is the son of Mrs. Lloyd who operates the Coffeehouse on Lombard Street.
“After a few years, Elizabeth Mashborne married Edward Loyd, owner of Loyd’s Coffee House in London. It was common at that time for business people to gather in coffee houses and pubs to conduct business. Loyd’s was a hub of maritime trade. One endeavor there was the pooling of risk to insure ships voyages. This business later became the well-known Lloyd’s of London insurance business.”
All of this is true except the coffeehouse did not become the insurance company – the insurance company was a separate entity from its conception. Edward Lloyd was never a part of the insurance company. They just used his place to conduct business the same way as businessmen of today use Starbucks.
“In 1698, Edward junior sailed to North America and established a home in a place called Sarum in Chowan, Nansemond Territory Virginia.”
Chowan, Nansemond Territory Virginia is a name Melinda made up. Such a designation was never used.
Mashbourne probably first lived in Nansemond County, VA. Many men in Nausemond Co. had farms twenty miles south to take advantage of an earlier planting time and traveled back and forth between their farms. Whether Mashborne was one of these back-and-forth farmers is unknown but since he was the guide to Rev. Giles Rainsford, he was familiar with the path between Virginia and Carolina.
“Sarum was located about twenty miles south-east of Jamestown, and was situated between the Chowan and Nansemond Indian villages. Edward established a school for children of Native Americans and European settlers.”
There is no proof that Mashborne ever actually taught Indian children. He probably did but the number would have been very small – one or two sons or nephews of the leading men of the local tribes.
“Circa 1728, Edward and his family moved to Onslow County in the southern part of North Carolina. He owned a large plantation there and continued his duties as a school master.”
Mashborne may have moved to Onslow County in 1728. But to me, it is not likely that a 52 year old man would move to a complete wilderness area. It seems more likely that the Onslow Edward was a son. The question is open and cannot be considered a fact since it is possible Edward of Onslow was a son of Edward of Chowan. It stands to reason that a son of a schoolmaster would built a school house in his new location. More evidence is needed.
“He later became Onslow County Clerk.”
An Edward Mashborne was an Assistant Court Clerk in Bertie County, NC. An Edward Mashborne was a Justice of the Peace for Onslow County, NC. It is not proven that these two are the same man. Edna Simpson thought so but she did not know that Edward the school master was born in 1676. I think (and this is speculation on my part) that the Onslow Edward was a son of the Sarum schoolmaster.
“Edward’s son Matthew was born circa 1703. He remained in Onslow for a short time, before moving back to the Chowan-Nansemond area.”
I believe Edward the schoolmaster had a son Matthew. I do not know if he ever spent time in Onslow.
“I believe the reason he returned was because of a girl named Sarah. I have believed for a long time that Sarah was Indian. It’s Matthew and Sarah’s line alone, that has a tradition of Indian heritage within the Mashburn family. I believe the name Sarah was given by Matthew to his Indian wife in honor of his grandmother, Sarah Sindery.”
Here is an example of Melinda going off on a tangent without any evidence. Personal mystical feelings is NOT genealogy. She would make a great Romance writer.
It may be true that Sarah was an Indian but without evidence one has to consider this whole statement as hogwash – Sarah is a very common name during at period, Matthew never knew Sarah Sindery, and Edward Mashburn made it clear in his letter to the SPG that he considered Elizabeth Nash to be his mother.
Also, DNA testing is not revealing an native Indian ancestry for Mashburns from this time period. To be fair, maternal DNA of an Indian ancestor can disappear over generations. Also, some experts are now claiming the Cherokee DNA is different than most other native American DNA. However, any Indian wife to Matthew probably would not have been Cherokee but some other tribe (most obvious is Chowan)..
“Another pattern I noticed was that my maternal and paternal lines had been moving around together for the last four hundred and fifty years! They were living in the small village of Brackley in Northampton England in the 1500’s . . .”
As this website has made very clear – at this time there is NO proven connection that our Mashburns of London are connected with the Mashbornes from Brackley. Although I think they are, treating it as an established fact is contrary to good genealogy.
As to the rest of Melinda’s book, it has more to do with religion than genealogy and I have no interest in addressing it – other than to say if you like the Da Vinci Code, National Treasure, and other fiction in the same genre, you might enjoy it. I think it is mere foolishness, poor scholarship and convoluted thinking, but I respect everyone’s right to their own faith.