Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Forty Seven Matches and One Will


This week, I've been speed-reading through the forty seven DNA matches who, like me, descend from John Carter's daughter, Margaret Chew Carter. After looking over the one match descending from her sister Mary Beverley Carter, or the five from the other sister, Judith, working to verify forty seven was definitely a big gulp to swallow.

Unlike when I researched John and Hannah Chew Carter's other children, knowing I have DNA relatives tracing back to Margaret Chew Carter really doesn't tell me much. After all, many of those lines actually connect to mine at a closer generational level. It's just that we all share Margaret Chew Carter as our distant ancestor. I actually consider the descendants of the half-siblings, the children of John by his first wife, to be more helpful matches. After all, the only genetic material we could share in that scenario would be from my fifth great-grandfather John, himself.

Which brings me back to one point which stumped me early in this month's research project: where was John Carter's will? I needed to find some way to document his children, since his lifespan existed long before handy government records like the 1850 census were there to tell all about the family.

While I spent more time than I care to recall, going page by page through the unindexed digitized copy of the Spotsylvania County, Virginia, court records—coming up empty-handed, as you might have surmised after that long stretch of silence—thankfully, someone came to my rescue.

Actually, it was two different readers here who were kind enough to share that information with me. First was an email I received from blogger Charlie Purvis of Carolina Family Roots, who first sent me a link to a finding aid at the Library of Virginia. Though he mentioned that there seemed to be quite a few John Carters out there in Virginia—my sentiments, exactly!—this was apparently a problem which he couldn't just put down. Pretty soon, he sent me a link to John Carter's will at FamilySearch. And then, another link: the same will, this time at

The second reader contact I received was likewise a pleasant surprise. It was a set of comments from Patrick Jones of Frequent Traveler Ancestry, who has been blogging almost as long as I have. While Patrick likewise sent me the link to John Carter's will at Ancestry, he also shared an unexpected connection.

Though in the past, we've joked about the challenges involved in researching such a surname as Jones—yes, I have some Joneses in my line, as well—Patrick mentioned that years ago, he had done some research on the same John Carter as I'm studying now. Since his blog features a blending of his penchant (and work requirements) for travel with his genealogical research, he had actually acquired a copy of the Carter will straight from the Spotsylvania County courthouse in Virginia. It was while he was pondering just how to go about shrinking down the large photocopy to scan that he discovered the will on Ancestry.

And now, we find we are cousins. Very distant cousins, but kin, nonetheless. You know we'll be comparing notes.


  1. Thanks Jacqi, your blogging consistency has been an inspiration to me. I'm looking forward to collaborating on the Carter branches. My gmail is at pljones96.


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