Friday, May 3, 2024

Using Trailblazers to
Chase Down the Documents


When a genealogy book conveniently tells all about an ancestor's family, for some that might be the end of the story. For me, it's just the beginning. I need to chase down the documents to confirm the author of the book got those details right.

Fortunately, in the case of my mother-in-law's fourth great-grandfather William Ijams, I have one of those handy books: Harry Wright Newman's 1933 volume, Anne Arundel Gentry. Among the twenty two pioneer settlers of that colonial Maryland county mentioned in the book, William Ijams' founding immigrant ancestor claimed a spot. This month, I'll be using the Newman book as my trailblazer to check out what legal documents had to say on his assertions.

According to the Newman book, William Ijams—Newman has his surname spelled Iiams—was son of John and his wife Rebecca Jones. Conveniently, the book mentions John Iiams' date of death to have been in 1783. Armed with my new favorite genealogical search engine, the Full Text search now available from FamilySearch Labs, I located the 1782 will for John Iiams in the Anne Arundel County, Maryland, records, presented to the court there on April 21, 1783.

Unsurprisingly, John's will contained mention of a son named William. Well, let me amend that: if you can buy the idea that the will for "Jhon Jiams" was really the last testament of a man named John Ijams, we are in business. If so, our William had brothers named John, Isaac, and Thomas Plummer Iiams, as well as married sisters Elizabeth Lyons and Ann Stockett. In addition, he had a sister Mary who died before her father's death, who apparently had married a paternal cousin—likely the Thomas Iiams also mentioned—for her two children were named in the will with that same Iiams surname.

Having the family constellation outlined in that document helps as we move forward—or backward in time, as we soon will be doing. Collateral lines will come in handy as we move farther along in the extended family, for this was a family which believed in recycling favorite given names, as we will soon see. Our William was not the only one to have been given that name in his family line.

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