I have the pleasure of introducing you to John D. Tew and his blog, Filiopietism Prism, described as, “. . . Filiopietism Prism is a personal blog centered principally on the New England roots of my maternal and paternal lines in Rhode Island and Massachusetts going back to the early 1600’s. I also include the maternal genealogy of my sons through my wife’s maternal lines in Canada and her paternal lines going back to Ireland in the 19th century. The ‘prism’ aspect of the blog recognizes that the blog also occasionally features observations and opinions related to genealogy topics as refracted through the prism of my particular viewpoint.”
“I was born in Providence, Rhode Island and, since my two sons were born in Virginia, I am the last in my paternal line going back to 1640 to have been born or raised in Rhode Island. I currently live in Loudoun County, Northern Virginia about 50 miles west of Washington, DC tucked up against the Blue Ridge and in the heart of what is fast becoming known as ‘Wine Country’ with at least 44 vineyards and tasting rooms.”
How John Got Started in Genealogy
“I have been collecting genealogy materials since I was barely a teenager, but my research and writing did not really get serious until I was finished with college and graduate studies – so I have had an interest in genealogy for over 45 years, but a serious involvement for almost 30 years.
My Tew ancestors are from Rhode Island going back to 1640 – and they lived in and around Newport for several generations. When I was a boy I first learned of the so-called ‘Rhode Island Pirate’ Thomas Tew (who was from Newport). The family always said we were related to this scoundrel and it caught my imagination. There was no proof of a relationship, but I started reading about Ol’ Thomas and collected bits and pieces about him that then led to an interest in knowing more about my known ancestors. There is still no proof about a connection to Thomas Tew, but he remains a motivating mystery as summarized in a guest piece I wrote that was originally posted at Nutfield Genealogy, a blog by Heather Wilkinson Rojo, who was the subject of an early ‘May I Introduce To You’ post.”
John’s Thoughts on Blogging
“My blog was born last New Year’s Eve (December 31, 2012) about ten months after the posting of the guest piece I did about the pirate, Thomas Tew . There were several reasons for deciding to enter the world of genealogy blogging, but among the top reasons were: an interest in and enjoyment of writing; a desire to create another (more public) means of sharing — and thereby preserving through wider distribution — some of the research I have done and the photos and documents I have collected; and, the encouragement I received to begin blogging after writing a guest post and after having a small article published in the NEHGS magazine, American Ancestors.”
John’s Favorite Blog Post(s)
“I would have to say that there are four posts that stand out for me; two were more serious posts about the thrill of discovery – ‘Eureka Moments’ – and the other two were ones I just decided to have some fun writing (and I hope some attempted humor came through). The fun followed by the serious are as follows: ‘The Garden Gnome Rescue League’ in my Samaritan Sunday series; ‘You Never Forget Your First Time’; ‘Eureka Moments and One Hundred Years Ago Today’; ‘Discovering Where My Father’s Name Came From.”
Spending Time with the Ancestors
“The simple answer is – ‘not enough.’ Since I am still employed and our two sons have only recently completed their post-graduate studies and fully ‘launched’ their adult lives (to include the marriage of one son and the addition to the family of a daughter-in-law), research was confined to carefully carved out leisure time until recently. Blogging has actually further cut into research time, but has allowed me to review and select for sharing and preservation results of prior research and collecting. One of the big reasons I look forward to retirement is the ability to spend some serious time dedicated to my genealogy research and writing (which I hope will eventually include a book on the Tews).”
John’s Tips for New Bloggers
“(1) DO NOT be intimidated by the large and growing number of genealogy blogs and perhaps fall into the trap of thinking you could not contribute to what is already out there. We all have unique families with their own histories and stories AND we all process that history and those stories through our own prisms of perception and understanding. Genealogy is not simply the search for verifiable names, dates, and locations. (2) Blogging is a way to share your research, stories, documents, and photographs and in the process help to insure their preservation via wider distribution. Along the way you will likely meet previously unknown relatives who will share with you and enrich your genealogy. (3) Remember that genealogy is not the mere act of looking into a rear-view mirror at events in the past. Every day we are creating experiences, documents, and images for our descendants — so give attention in your blogs to ‘paying it forward’ by leaving a record of your life and times and your particular view of events that will be history to them. (4) Just resolve to DO IT and get started blogging. You can refine and improve as you develop more skill and experience, but do not let insistence on perfection be the obstruction to inception! (5) Join GeneaBloggers immediately and use Blogging Resources, Blogging Prompts, and the Genealogy Blog Roll for motivation, inspiration and support.”
How Genealogy Has Improved John’s Life
“It has put me in touch with my personal history and the trials and tribulations of my ancestors. This is valuable because it provides a deep understanding of the fact that we all live and die and that between the alpha and the omega we have to try to do the best we can, because no matter what we pass on a part of ourselves to our descendants. It gives one pause.”
John’s Favorite Ancestors
“This is an extremely difficult question akin in some ways to asking, ‘Who is your favorite child?’ I think often the temptation would be to answer this question by naming an ancestor one knows much about and with whom one feels some special connection. My answer would have to be more related to the ancestors who most intrigue me at the moment (conscious of the fact that these choices will probably change over time). I am perhaps most intrigued at the moment by two sets of distant grandparents. My 8th great grandparents, Richard Tew and Mary (Clarke) Tew left Maidford, England and arrived in Newport, Rhode Island in 1640. So far as is known, they had no family in Rhode Island, owned no land, and had no substantial wealth to allow immediate investment in establishing a livelihood and position in Rhode Island –plus, Mary was pregnant during what was still a dangerous crossing of the Atlantic. So why did they come to America? The answer is probably one of those unknowables, but it motivates me to try to find out as much as I can about them and their times in order to approximate something like an answer. The others that currently most intrigue me are my 3rd great grandparents, Joseph Carpenter and Nancy (Bullock) Carpenter, of Rehoboth and Attleboro, Massachusetts. Joseph and Nancy had fourteen children. The breadth and depth of the experiences and activities of their many descendants is captivating and a Carpenter cousin and I hope to research and document as many of them as we can in the coming years.
[I discovered an 1842 letter written by a daughter of Joseph and Nancy among the papers of the letter author’s notable daughter. It was in the Peace Collection at Swarthmore College. The letter was the basis and motivation for my article in American Ancestors, which I was later given permission by NEHGS to post on my blog, ‘Echoes from the Dorr Rebellion: The 1842 Aplin/Carpenter Correspondence’]”
What John Loves Most About Genealogy
“’The ‘Eureka Moments!’ Those moments of discovery where you break through and solve a mystery or gain an insight about your ancestors that slides one more piece of the ‘puzzle of you’ into place.”
John’s Time Capsule Message
“It is harder to know where you want to go if you have no idea where you have been. Your genealogy is the history of where your family has been. All of us (not just the rich and famous) deserve to know our deeper history so we can make more informed choices about what we want and hope for our futures and the futures of our children and their children.”
A Note from John
“Thank you very much for the opportunity of being introduced to the GeneaBloggers community. It is both a very pleasant surprise and an honor!”
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Please take a moment to head on over to John’s blog. Leave him a comment letting him know you stopped by. Welcome John, it’s great to have you here!
© 2013, copyright Gini Webb
Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren!
Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.