Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Getting Un-Stuck


Getting stuck in the big middle of a family history mystery can be no fun. When the momentum drags to a halt, the first—and only—thing on my mind is how to get unstuck. While I'm not sure I'll soon see that shift in perspective, here is where I've ground to an abrupt stop.

I had been merrily chugging along on my mother-in-law's matriline, that generation-to-generation line of mothers only. From her third great-grandmother Sarah Ijams, I had slipped from central Ohio back to Maryland, home of Sarah's mother Elizabeth Howard. Then, thanks to mentions in family wills, it was an easy move to her mother, Rachel Ridgely, and then up another generation to her father William Ridgely, the one who died in 1755, mentioning in his will his wife Elizabeth.

Elizabeth, as I had discovered in last year's exploration of old genealogy books, was said to have been born into the Duvall family of colonial Maryland. According to those books, that Elizabeth was daughter of Lewis Duvall and his wife Martha, another Ridgely. 

When I followed that line from those old genealogy books and then tried to verify them with documentation, finding Lewis Duvall's will became my genealogical crash pad. Lewis Duvall had a wife named Martha, alright, but none of his four daughters was named Elizabeth. Where did Elizabeth come from?

The first reasonable guess would be that there was more than one Lewis Duvall in Anne Arundel County,  Maryland. There, we run into the other assertion found in some books: that when Elizabeth Duvall married William Ridgely, she was marrying her cousin. Where did that notion come from? Another genealogy book? I still can't find any details on that.

To complicate, there was indeed another Lewis Duvall in the area. He had a wife by another name, of course, and it would be worth our while to check out who this man was, and whether there was any mention of his descendants in his own will. In particular, did he happen to have a daughter named Elizabeth?

No matter who Elizabeth, wife of William Ridgely, turns out to be, that will provide the next stepping stone in our leap to the distant past through the cousin matches linked to my husband's mitochondrial DNA test results. Warning, though: this will not be easy.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...