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All I want for Christmas

Dear Santa,

The Legal Genealogist is dismayed.


Distressed, even.

And you know what happens when somebody with a law degree gets distressed, don’t you?

You have heard of the cause of action called intentional infliction of emotional distress, haven’t you?

Even negligent infliction of emotional distress can be actionable.

But Santa, I really don’t want to file suit against you.

I just want you to deliver the goods. I’m sure it was an oversight, but I know you can do better.

So how about we begin with just a few samples of DNA, okay, Santa? Not a whole lot, really. Just from some very specific target families.

One sample — just one! — from one person — just one! — from each of these lines:

• The Faures of Manakin Town, Virginia (YDNA): I’m still trying to nail this one down, Santa, and I sure could use some help here. My third great grandfather Jesse Fore was probably born in South Carolina, and served in the militia there in the War of 1812.1 But I can’t trace him back any farther.

We’ve already YDNA tested, oh, about a kazillion members of the Fore family that I descend from2 and everybody in our group matches each other. But we all run out of paper trail before we reach the immigrant ancestor — whoever he was.

Our theory is that our Fores are related to the Widow Faure and her children who were part of the Huguenot migration to the New World in the very early days of the 18th century.3 She and her children settled in Manakin Town, Virginia, and her sons and grandsons included Daniel, Jean (John) and Pierre (Peter), and later James, Joseph and Archelaus. The surname is recorded as Faure, Foure, Four, Fore and Ford.

What we need, Santa, is one man — just one! — who can document his descent in an unbroken male line (father to son to son) from one of these Manakin Town Faure males. If you can just wrap up his email address and leave it under my tree, I will happily — happily — pick up the tab for his YDNA testing.

• Philip Shew (YDNA): And you also forgot my earliest known Shew ancestor last year, Santa. C’mon… A little help here, okay?

You know we have no idea where my fifth great grandfather Phillip Shew (c1750 – 1832) was born. You know we’re not sure where he was before he showed up on the census in Guilford County, North Carolina, in 1790.4 He was in Wilkes County, North Carolina, by 1810,5 and still there in 18206 and 1830.7 His will was proved in the Wilkes County court in the October term 1832.8

From the name and other evidence of the language spoken at home, we’re pretty sure Philip was German — the last name may well have originally been Schuh — and we need a documented male descendant to YDNA test. I know I’ve got a kazillion Shew cousins out there — so, c’mon, Santa,… wrap me up just one who’s willing to test, okay?

• John Jones (YDNA): And you didn’t deliver a single solitary hint, Santa, that’d help with this one Virginia-and-North-Carolina line, and seriously you can’t let me down here. I mean, seriously… Jones? John Jones? C’mon, Santa, baby… you have to come through for me, all right?

We’re pretty sure John was born in Virginia around 1750, and he married Elizabeth Pettypool in North Carolina (Granville or Rutherford County) in 1771.9 He was kind enough to leave a will naming his daughter, my fourth great grandmother Elizabeth Buchanan, among his children.10 But we don’t know who his parents were, and with a name like John Jones — where do we even start? So how about a nice neatly documented direct male line descendant, huh? That shouldn’t be too much to ask, is it?

I’m willing to pay for it, Santa. Oh, not with good behavior. You know me better than that. But for the testing, okay? Seriously. If you could just find me one person in each of these categories, I’ll pay for the test — all the person has to do is email me.

C’mon, Santa.

I’ve been good.

Well… good enough, right?

I’d really hate to have to trot out those papers for emotional distress…


  1. Declaration of Soldier, 27 March 1871, Jesse Fore (Fifer, Capt. Gaffney’s South Carolina Militia, War of 1812), soldier’s pension application no. 4553, certificate no. 7041; Case Files of Pension and Bounty Land Applications Based on Service Between 1812 and 1855; Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Application Files, 1800-1960; Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
  2. Oh, all right, so eight or nine at any rate.
  3. See Judy G. Russell, “Wanted: Faure / Fore / Ford DNA,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 28 Jan 2012 ( : accessed 21 Dec 2015).
  4. 1790 U.S. census, Guilford County, North Carolina, p. 505 (penned), col. 1, line 17, Philip Shoe; digital image, ( : accessed 24 July 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M637, roll 7.
  5. 1810 U.S. census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, p. 865 (penned), line 10, Phillip Shew; digital image, ( : accessed 25 July 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M252, roll 43.
  6. 1820 U.S. census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, population schedule, p. 530 (stamped), Phillip Shew; digital image, ( : accessed 3 August 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M33, roll 83.
  7. 1830 U.S. census, Wilkes County, North Carolina, p. 383 (stamped), Phillip Shew; digital image, ( : accessed 14 July 2002); citing National Archive microfilm publication M19, roll 125.
  8. Wilkes County, North Carolina, Will Book 4:159; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
  9. We’re sure of that since he was kind enough to sell land Elizabeth inherited from her father, creating a document that named John, Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s father. See Granville County, NC, Deed Book W: 89, Examination of Elizabeth Jones (1813); North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
  10. Rutherford County, North Carolina, Record Book C:159, Will of John Jones, 15 September 1819; North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh.
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