I'll jump straight to the punch line for this one: it's hard to find women in records of the 1700s. That, however, is where my research goal is taking me right now, as I celebrate DNA Day by looking for all eleven of the daughters of William and Elizabeth Duvall Ridgely of Anne Arundel County in colonial Maryland.
Elizabeth Duvall, incidentally, would be the sixth great-grandmother of my mother-in-law. The reason I thought she might be the best candidate for this jumping-off point is not just because she had eleven daughters, each of whom would pass along her mitochondrial DNA. She is actually my most reasonable choice for a starting place because I've already found accounts describing whom many of those daughters married. Besides, many of the women in subsequent generations in my mother-in-law's matriline had mostly sons, or daughters who married men who moved out of the area, or—worse—daughters who died young in childbirth or for other reasons did not leave daughters when their brief life was over.
So far, I've been able to gain a toe-hold on a line of descent from one daughter of Elizabeth Duvall. Following the paper trail from that daughter to her granddaughter, I've eventually traced the family to a great-granddaughter born in Kentucky, far from her ancestral home in Maryland.
That detail didn't surprise me quite so much as the fact of her death. Far from home, there she was, listed in a record of death reports for a city far to the north in Massachusetts, once again reminding me of cautions to tread carefully with this research, yet all the while pulling me down an irresistible rabbit trail.
I need to find out if this is really the great-granddaughter in a matriline which matches my mother-in-law's line, and if so, what brought her and several family members from Kentucky to Massachusetts? Bear with me tomorrow as I explore a miniscule matrilineal mystery.