Monday, February 19, 2024

First, Check the Road Map


When you don't know where you're going—when you haven't traveled this way before—it's important to first check the road map. The same goes for moving into new territory on our family history journey. We're heading into new research terrain as we move backwards in time from my sixth great-grandfather John Chew to his parents' generation. To prepare for the journey, let's first check what those trailblazers might have found.

Yes, I know: we've already seen that some of those genealogical trailblazers have made mistakes. And that can be disconcerting in research, just as it is in travel—ask me about the time our phone's brand new map app turned us in the opposite direction on one trip out in the middle of nowhere. It happens. We'll watch for that as we move through those century-old genealogy tomes.

For instance, I've already spotted one problem in a genealogy book from 1883, Lawrence Buckley Thomas' Pedigrees of Thomas, Chew, and Lawrance. The author, in an entry about our John Chew, identifies the father of John's wife Margaret as Robert Beverley, when we've already found that her father was Harry Beverley. But what about the rest of that entry? I've also found information in that book which can certainly be verified before accepting it.

If this book is correct, our John Chew was the second son of a man by the name of Larkin Chew and his wife, Hannah Roy. Immediately, if this is so, we can see that my fifth great-grandmother Hannah Chew, John's daughter who married John Carter, was namesake of her paternal grandmother.

Above the entry for John Chew in this book, we find the entry for his father, Larkin Chew. If that name bears out, I will be quite pleased. One would think that searching for a name like Larkin would be far less prone to name twins than would be a name like John. From Larkin's own entry in the Thomas genealogy, we learn that he, in turn, was son of a man by the name of Joseph Chew. Joseph's wife's name was apparently unknown to that author, except for her maiden name—Larkin—which explains how their son came upon such an unusual given name.

The note in this entry stated that Larkin Chew was in Virginia before 1700, and that his wife Hannah was daughter of a man from Port Royal, Virginia, by the name of John Roy. We are now pushing back even farther into the colonial period, as Port Royal was one of the earlier colonial settlements, established along the Rappahannock River in 1652.

Fortunately, the place in Virginia where Larkin Chew had settled—whenever it was before 1700 that he arrived there—was the same Spotsylvania County we have been studying for my Carter ancestors, as well. I know that only because, once having gathered this tentative information from one (admittedly faulty) published genealogy, I used Larkin Chew's name to search through abstractions of the county's court records. 

According to information from Spotsylvania County Will Book A, a will for Larkin Chew was proved on April 1, 1729. Named in the document was Larkin's wife Hannah, their sons Larkin, Thomas, and John (my ancestor), and their married daughter Nan, wife of William Johnson. So far, the information first discovered in that genealogy book is holding out for Larkin Chew. And while the book didn't seem to know the given name of Larkin's mother, the abstract of Larkin's own will seemed to hint that his mother's name was Ruth—and that she was still alive at his passing in 1729.

Whether that was indeed so—it is possible that, as we saw with John Carter's will last month, the reference could have been to someone considered a mother figure, such as a step-mother—we will need to wait until we push back yet another generation. We'll follow this trailblazer's route for one more generation to Larkin's father, supposedly Joseph Chew, tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. This all seems incredibly complicated to me. Well done for making it. I'll try it sometime. Good Week!


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