Sunday, February 18, 2024

Flummoxed — But Still Moving Onward


Among my teacher friends, there is an observation about the littlest learners, those first through third graders among whom the brightest seem to race through their lessons in those earliest grades. Reading assignments? Done. Math lessons, a breeze. If you let them, the brightest of these students seem like they'd be unstoppable, even if they could charge ahead all the way to high school level work.

And then, they hit a brick wall. Regardless of their previous prowess with words or numbers, something about the fourth grade seems to flummox them. It's a whole new world of learning. The rules have changed.

The same has seemed to happen for me, as I enter a whole new world of genealogical research. There is something to be said for tromping through collections of old court records: not as many ancient relatives get quickly added to the family tree when it is such a struggle to even find documentation confirming their connection. Not to mention, the bleary-eyed struggle to comprehend faded copies of impossible-to-read handwriting is real.

Still, at some point—at least for DNA matching reasons—after confirming an ancestor's place in the family tree, we then begin that long steep descent back to the present. The goal? To confirm by paper trail the evidence provided by DNA testing that a particular match is indeed related to me through a specific familial pathway.

At that point, the distant cousins start adding their weight to that family tree. Granted, the rapid pace of the additions has slowed, now that I'm on to my sixth great-grandfather John Chew. Though I may be finding signs in court records that he did indeed live in Spotsylvania County in colonial Virginia, reversing directions and following all his progeny back through the centuries to our present time can be difficult for those lines other than his daughter Hannah, who was in my direct line. It's all a challenge—but a different type of challenge now.

I say that as I still manage to pat myself on the back for having verified numerous descendants of that line and likewise for the previous task for John Carter's line earlier this month. After all, I did locate documentation on an additional 240 relatives in the past two weeks. That means my tree is now up to 37,742 documented individuals, thanks to these latest discoveries in my mother's colonial heritage.

In addition to that, judging from the increase in DNA matches over the past month, it looks like processed results are finally showing from all those who had received DNA test kits for holiday presents. Granted, these numbers are nowhere near the increases seen in previous years, but I'd say ten new DNA matches in the last two weeks is a good number for me. A month ago, I was only gaining about one to two new DNA matches per biweekly period, if even that many.

The challenge to trace all these descendants of my colonial ancestors John and Margaret Chew may be hampered by access to legible court records, but ever so gradually, the path becomes clearer. Thankfully, in Virginia, there are several online resources to consult. We'll be looking at some of them this coming week as we continue our search for the Chew line even earlier than John's own generation.

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