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From the Green Valley News, Sunday August 16 2009, page A10

Genealogy Today, by Betty Lou Malesky, CG

DNA Tests & Genealogy

Last month I finally decided to order DNA tests in hope of finding answers or at least clues to solve two of my most difficult ancestry problems.

After researching my family for 46 years, I still can't track either of my parent's surname lines beyond the 1800s. My surname was Gant, sometimes spelled Gaunt or Gantt in Virginia where they are found as early as 1700.

Virginia research is often difficult due to "burned counties" where records were destroyed during the Civil War. Around 1790 my Gant line migrated to northern Virginia living in Fauquier, Loudoun and Fairfax, counties mostly spared from destruction. Census records are missing, however, for all of Virginia in 1790 and 1800, and all but two counties in 1810.

Ambrose Cornelius Gant, my earliest proven Gant ancestor, was born about 1816 in Fairfax County. He was captured by General Sullivan's forces while loading Confederate wagons on 11 December 1863 and sent by train to Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio. He died there of pneumonia on 26 December 1863, and is buried in Grave No. 88 in the Camp Chase cemetery. Ambrose left a wife and five children at home in Loudoun County, but no one in the family ever knew why he disappeared until I found Confederate prisoner records at the National Archives.

Belding, my mother's surname, is rather uncommon but that has not made the search any easier. Benjamin Belding, my 3rd great grandfather, brought his family to Huron County, Ohio around 1828. He was born about 1801, in Rye, Westchester County, New York according to a Huron County history. I found a Benjamin Belding who died at Rye in 1802. His will mentions only his wife Abigail, eldest son Henry, and several unnamed minor children. My Benjamin named his eldest daughter Abigail, his eldest son Benjamin, and his second son Henry, the best evidence I have to connect him to the Rye family.

The earliest Belding, sometimes spelled Belden, was Richard Bayldon, who came from England to Connecticut in the 1640s. He had numerous descendants in Connecticut and Massachusetts through the 1700s, including many Benjamins! Rye is on the New York/Connecticut line, but I have been unable to find any clues to Benjamin of New York's ancestry. No Belding genealogy has been published and extensive research has not revealed the missing link.

FamilyTreeDNA,, had a special price on test kits, so I decided to take the plunge. My brother readily agreed to being tested, and a Gant project had already been established. My mother's last sibling is her 87 year old brother. I didn't know how he'd feel about the test, but with the encouragement of his daughter, he said, "Go for it!" I established a new Belding/Belden project and now am publicizing it to locate other candidates for testing who bear the surname Belding or Belden.

Genealogical DNA testing is done only on a male in the direct surname line, i.e., father, grandfather, great grandfather, etc. as it utilizes the Y chromosome. Except for occasional mutations, the Y is passed from father to son infinitely. While it does not prove ancestry, test results may indicate common ancestry between those tested and help to direct research.

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