It is always helpful to find a reliable history book which contains the names of our ancestors. In the case of researching my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandparents, that early colonial time period could use some helpful trailblazing, especially for the women in the family who would otherwise have remained nearly invisible. Now that we've scouted out the preliminary reports, though, it's time to get busy locating the actual documents.
But first, let's get a clearer picture of what we've discovered so far.
As I've been reading through books such as Harry Wright Newman's Anne Arundel Gentry and Joshua Dorsey Warfield's The Founders of Anne Arundel and Howard Counties, Maryland, I've been taking notes. From those notes, I've sketched out a possible tree from those authors' narratives. That way, we may more clearly see how all those names fit together.
From this diagram, which I gleaned from my mother-in-law's updated tree at Ancestry.com, I can now see how all the names fit together in relationship to her fourth great-grandmother, Elizabeth Howard. Since one goal with this month's research is to examine that family's matriline for use with mitochondrial DNA test results, I now can visually follow that matriline from Elizabeth, to her mother Rachel Ridgely, to her mother Elizabeth Duvall, and then to her mother Martha Ridgely and (not included in the insert above) her mother, also named Martha.
Of course, as I assemble these notes, the next step will be to research the female descendants of each woman on that matriline. Any one of the women on each mother's line of descent could be a match to my husband's mtDNA test.
I've been gleaning dates wherever possible, as well as names of descendants, but the going is far different than I'd like it to be. For one thing, in the 1600s and 1700s, women were essentially invisible other than during a very few occasions. Birth, marriage, or death, while events which we now note in so many records, were not always occasions for so much as the mention of a name—with the one exception of being the daughter or wife of a property owner. The speed of research slows markedly.
There is one other task to complete before the end of this month: compare notes with those others who have tested their mtDNA and turned out to be an exact match to my mother-in-law's line. Even there, though, we'll find hurdles to mount.