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No news is not always good news.

Sometimes it’s bad news or frustrating news… or both.

As in the case of the continuing search to nail down the question of Margaret’s mother — the woman who is The Legal Genealogist‘s fourth great grandmother.

A brief recap of the issue: Margaret (Battles) Shew is my 3rd great grandmother. My line comes down from Margaret’s daughter Martha Louise, to Martha Louise’s daughter Eula, to Eula’s daughter Opal, to Opal’s daughter Hazel, who was my mother.

Margaret’s father, William Battles, was married twice, and it’s entirely possible that either wife could be Margaret’s mother. We have a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) match to a documented descendant of wife #2, Ann Jacobs; we now need to rule out the possibility that wife #2 shared a common female ancestor — and thus mtDNA — with wife #1, Kiziah Wright.1 Since we don’t know if Kiziah had any descendants, we need to find someone else who would share that same mtDNA signature — we need to find a documented female line descendant of Kiziah’s mother, whom we now know was Lucy (Jones) Wright Williford.2

no news

So I set up a new tool: a bare-bones family tree on Ancestry for Lucy (Jones) Wright’s family, to help organize research, and to get all the help I can get since time for my own research is always at a premium.3 And I followed some of those shaky leaf hints to daughters of Kiziah’s sister Nancy, who married William’s brother Samuel.4 One of which led to someone who’s probably not Nancy’s child at all.5

So… what’s been going on since then?

A whole lot of no news is not good news.

• An awful lot of female line descendants who never married at all.

• An awful lot of female line descendants who married but left no children at all.

• An awful lot of female line descendants who married and had children — all boys, who can’t pass this particular kind of DNA on to the next generation.

• An awful lot of female line descendants who married and had children, including daughters — and whose married names were things like Brown or Jones and who lived in cities like Chicago where finding a particular Brown or Jones is an awful lot like finding a needle in a haystack.

• And a couple of truly excellent candidates for this particular type of DNA test who have been identified and contacted and who have declined to test because the only company doing mtDNA tests for genealogy — Family Tree DNA — is also the only genealogical testing company that allows law enforcement access to its testing database.

No, I’m not giving up. I’m German on my father’s side, Scots-Irish on my mother’s side. That’s pretty much the definition of stubborn.

But I’m sure beginning to think this isn’t an issue that’s going to be resolved by the end of this year.

Unless, of course, you’re a documented female line descendant of Lucy (Jones) Wright and would just love to have a DNA test paid for by a frustrated researcher…?

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “Finding Margaret’s mother: part 6,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 16 Nov 2019).


  1. See generally Judy G. Russell, “Keeping that DNA resolution,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 28 Apr 2019 ( : accessed 16 Nov 2019).
  2. Ibid., “Finding Margaret’s mother, part 2,” posted 18 May 2019.
  3. Ibid., “Finding Margaret’s mother, part 3,” posted 25 May 2019.
  4. Ibid., “Finding Margaret’s mother, part 4,” posted 29 June 2019.
  5. Ibid., “Finding Margaret’s mother, part 5,” posted
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