Friday, February 2, 2024

Start With What you Know


If my research goal this month is to learn all I can about the family of my fifth great-grandmother Hannah Chew, the first step in this process is to start by reviewing what we already know about her. While I technically don't know these details personally, this will actually be an exercise meant to write down the details I have gleaned from others' assertions in published genealogy books, some of which date back almost one hundred years. From that introductory step, I'll then need to set about confirming by documentation what others have written without support. As I've noted so many times before, genealogy books are useful as trailblazers to lead us to the records. 

Fortunately for this month's research, I had already found some information shared in a book concerning Hannah's mother's family. According to that book, John McGill's The Beverley Family of Virginia, Hannah Chew was born in Spotsylvania County, Virginia, and remained there her entire life. As we already learned last month, Hannah became the second wife of Captain John Carter sometime around 1767. She bore to him one son, Robert, and five daughters.

It was likely before the time Hannah's only son Robert died—when barely three years of age—when her husband drew up his own will, which he then had to amend with a codicil following the birth of yet another daughter, Elizabeth Matilda, born in 1780. John Carter's mention in his 1778 will of making special provision for the care of "my five younger children" (rather than simply five daughters) after his eventual death likely reflected Hannah's original family composition of four daughters and a son.

Because Hannah's husband was eventually appointed as a captain in the American Revolutionary War, that would make Hannah not a "daughter" of the American Revolution but a wife of the Revolution, if there were such a designation. Her life spanned both Virginia's colonial period and that of a fledgling nation, including the continued struggle with Britain during the War of 1812. According to the Beverley genealogy, Hannah died in 1821 in her native Spotsylvania County.

Fortunately for us, Hannah appeared in the generations of the Beverley family history book because of her mother's association with that line. Next step will be to push one generation further back in time and review what author John McGill and others reported about Hannah Chew's parents. From there, we'll launch out on our own to see what else can be discovered about Hannah's Chew family history in the coming weeks.

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