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Find Va/Md Chesapeake Bay Roots

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  • Find Va/Md Chesapeake Bay Roots

    I am the Group Administrator of the Early Chesapeake DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA. I am excited about the potential of this project to overcome brick walls and help us make the transatlantic leap.

    One of my goals for the project is to apply genetic genealogy to the search for families of early immigrants who came to the Chesapeake Bay counties as indentured servants and laborers from the 1600s to mid-1800s. Many who came to the region up to the Civil War were the young, landless, and less wealthy from the fringes of British society. They came here, often due to mercantile connections, to join extended family or friends and seek opportunities unavailable to them in the old world. Because of their particular lot in life, little is known about them. I am interested in linking us, their descendants, so that we can compare our paper trails and make the transatlantic leap to the Isles!

    On the Family Tree DNA page it is stated that, "If your goal is to verify relationships, or discover more about your recent or deep ancestral origins, the size of the database where your results will be is of fundamental importance, as you want your results to be compared to as many others as you can." This bears repeating: THE SIZE OF THE DATABASE IS IMPORTANT! Don't look for your ancestors in small surname groups only. Look in a regional group where participants may have come from regions where surname use had only recently become common. As a Lewis, I found my closests genetic cousin to be an Evans. Our ancestors came from Montogomeryshire, Wales, where even today there are many, many Lewises and Evanses. (If only we could encourage them to have their DNA tested!)

    If you have roots in Chesapeake Bay counties from Baltimore to Norfolk, have your DNA tested by FamilyTreeDNA and join our group! To help those who cannot afford it, you can contribute to our group at As the fund grows, we will offer $50 "scholarships."

    In Adapting to the New World: English Society in the Seventeenth-Century Chesapeake James Horn has said that "... the likelihood of recovering the local English origins of large numbers of settlers of particular Chesapeake counties is remote ..." Perhaps he hasn't considered the power of genetic genealogy! Let's see if we can prove him wrong! Tell your friends and encourage them to get involved in this new regional DNA project.

    All the best,
    Sara Lewis