Wednesday, August 4, 2010

We Are All Related

I continue to go back in time with my genealogy research. I have again renewed my membership in ( for another three months, and have been able to break through some more “ceilings,” thanks to member connections and some research on the Internet.

While I hoped for some tidbits about great-grandparents and maybe new information on older ancestors, I was definitely not prepared for all the breakthroughs I experienced. While I have always considered my family to be good citizens and workers, I certainly never thought I would find famous people in my lineage; nor did I expect to find country origins other than Denmark, France, or Ireland.

My trust in the accuracy of my findings is mild to lukewarm the further back I go, but beyond the 15th century I must admit I am starting to question things—the primary reason being that facts were passed along by word of mouth rather than recorded in a book, and we all know what happens when information is conveyed that way. I am saying this because as I picked up the breadcrumbs in my family journey back in time (and a variety of branches within), I stumbled upon the likes of Charlemagne, Macbeth, the kings of Sweden, Finland and—the greatest stretch—Turkey! I was literally walking through the dark caves of the 8th century when these gentlemen began to show up, and my first reaction was “Whoa!” Then, of course, how could I stop? As long as I found a father or mother, I pressed on. Finally, I think it was the Turk in 100 A.D. who showed no mother or father and my longest journey ended—whew! I highly suspect there are lots of mistakes in these rafter-finds, but I must say it does give me a bit of a boost to consider the possibility of royalty in my blood—not just from one twig but several other twigs in the branches of my family tree.

The other thing that interests me is the fact that all these people who comprise my tree—over two thousand souls so far, by guesstimate—come from practically everywhere in Europe. I’ve definitely got the Atlantic crossings in the early 17th century from France to Quebec; then the mid-19th century crossing from Ireland to New York (finally ending in Michigan) of my great-grandfather, as well as the mid-19th century crossing of another great-grandfather from Denmark to Pennsylvania. But I’ve since discovered other travels of other ancestors around Europe—Germany, Sweden, Finland, Scotland, and England. I honestly know I have no ancestors from the Middle East, the Greek isles, Asia, Russia, or anywhere in the southern hemisphere—but the rest is a distinct possibility.

And that brings me to my next obvious conclusion: we really are related to so many strangers in so many lands. To be among one of the approximately two million descendants of Charlemagne doesn’t impress me nearly as much as knowing I am therefore related to the other 1,999,999.

How nice it could be if today we could make a mark on this earth similar to the historically famous people we have heard of and read about. I guess my feeling is, give it your best shot. What we all have in common is that we have been given a life and it will end. What we do with it is largely up to us. I think we all would like to be favorably remembered, but the truth is that after five or six generations we will be less than a “blip,” perhaps without even a name. I don’t want to have that happen to me—I want a descendant of mine, in 2510, to “find” me and smile.