Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Research Roadblock


Sometimes, even a full day of searching can yield no results. That's the research roadblock I'm facing in this current project. Pushing back a few generations on my mother-in-law's matriline seemed to be a promising prospect—as long as I was making progress. Once I hit that warning sign that one woman's parents might not have been the ones others were thinking of, I couldn't find documentation to point me in one direction or the other.

Stuck, I tried to wiggle my way out of the impasse. Since the whole goal of this month's Twelve Most Wanted goal was to push as far back in time as possible on my mother-in-law's matriline for DNA purposes, an alternate step might be to at least reverse course and conduct descendancy research on the women I had identified as likely collateral lines.

Even there, though, I'm running into roadblocks. Remember, these are women born in colonial Maryland—a time period when little is mentioned about women, other than to see them married, or, for the fortunate few, to see them properly endowed with the legacy due them from their well-to-do father.

Silence on the paper trail does not necessarily mean those women were never married. Nor does it imply they didn't descend from families bestowing legacies. This simply could mean that the documents I'm seeking did not endure the test of time, or were destroyed in subsequent upheavals of later ages.

Or perhaps the document is still out there, but misfiled due to clerical error, or even illegible handwriting or impossible spelling. Try, for instance, a surname like McElfresh, which I've already seem spelled several different—admittedly creative—ways. How to search for possibilities like that? Wildcards are nice in theory, but when the results yield options numbering upwards of a thousand, the idea of "exhaustive search" takes on a dimension I'm not willing to pursue.

I'll still poke around, looking for signs of those daughters of the most recent common ancestor on my mother-in-law's matriline, but I guarantee it won't make for scintillating reports. We'll have to change our approach slightly, to see if there is another route to lead us to our end goal. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...