Saturday, April 6, 2024

Meanwhile, Back on the Matriline


It's interesting how one successful find in our deep ancestry creates a desire to find more of the same. Finding Joseph Howard's wife not only in his will, but in her own will dated several years later, following  a second marriage, has been encouraging. Discovering that she made mention of a sister's married name helped cement the connection to the sisters' father, William Ridgely. But I can't forget that my goal is to once more push back through the generations on one specific line: my mother-in-law's matriline. After all, I have her descendant's mitochondrial DNA test to lead me to the ancestry of any exact matches to that specific DNA test. I just need to push back far enough in those never ending generations to make sense of how the matches actually connect.

Right now, that mother's mother's mother's line has led me to Rachel, my mother-in-law's fifth great-grandmother. I have the potential to push back three more generations—but that is only thanks to reliance on reports from century-old genealogy books I had found when I worked on this same research path a year ago. Now, I need to find documentation to confirm what those writers of the past century had claimed. Thankfully, the FamilySearch Lab's new Full Text search capabilities are helping expedite that process—but it is still a slow process.

In the midst of all that bleary-eyed reading of handwritten wills recorded in colonial Maryland, I received a reminder of why genealogy blogging has not outlived its purpose. Yes, so many people complain that blogging is now so passe, but I haven't yet yielded to pressure to join that bandwagon. And with what happened this past week, I think it might be worth it to remember one other reason for blogging about genealogical discoveries: our blogs are cousin bait!

Was it simply coincidence that this week brought me messages that someone out there was also researching this same line of my mother-in-law? And is quite willing to discuss discoveries in current research on our mutual lines? I'm delighted that someone decided to reach out and connect—after all, so many times we do send messages to fellow researchers and in return get...nothing. In this case, however, we've exchanged some notes on our recent discoveries and found out each one's work can bolster the progress of the other.

Research tools are useful—and sometimes fun to use, too!—but nothing else comes quite so close to top billing in my book as finding a distant cousin who enjoys family history as much as I do.


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