Tuesday, August 17, 2010
THE FAMILY TREE
Curiosity won! Because I love a good puzzle or a "whodunit" book, movie or TV show it had to happen eventually. I confess, I signed up for Ancestry.com. Yep, that website that I suspected to be a scam took my money, my time, and my mental thought processes for days.
And wow, it's been an interesting puzzle.
It starts out simple enough. You add your own name and the name of known ancestors to the family tree. As the limbs branch out more names are added. There are official documents, faced pictures from an unknown relatives closet, ship manifests, U.S. census results, land purchases, and cemetery records. Oh, my. It IS a little overwhelming, but the dates and places coincide with family lore and it seems plausible.
So far I've learned that my precious grandmother had a sister that died of scarlet fever at age 15. She never mentioned her. Another baby sister lived only three months. Grandpa had a famous relative named Hezekiah South Alexander who actually has a statue of himself planted somewhere in Charleston, SC. Who knew? I doubt Grandpa knew. Hezekiahs ancestors hailed from Scotland where a castle is still located. King Robert Stewart III reigned from that grassy knoll, there are pictures! That tree also includes limbs described as illiterate, divorced, and a murderer or two. There's some in every family, right?
Dad's side of the family is just as diverse. Grandpa Thompson actually crossed the ocean and was processed at Ellis Island. He had to declare his final destination in his new land. That branch ended up in the UP of Michigan. He went there because a friend from his home town in Finland thought it was the place for Finnish people to be. Grandpa's name was NOT Thompson at that time. He changed it AFTER settling in Michigan because his Finnish name was nearly impossible to pronounce. (I reveal that name to close blood relatives only!)
Click after click placed me farther and farther back in time. The farther back the branches reached the more far fetched the stories. Who kept records in the 1200's?
Did those old folks realize that one day far into the future there would be an Ancestry.com interested in all those details?
I think that at last click I'd reached 70 BC with a guy named Titus that lived in Rome. He showed up hours after King Arthur! KING ARTHUR? Are you kidding me?
Well, the moral of the story is that all interested folks WILL eventually click themselves to the same part of this planet. Sooner or later we'll all be reading about life in the garden with Great, great, great, etc. ADAM....and Great, great, great, etc. EVE.
Now that I've come to that conclusion, I think I'm done. I don't want stacks of documents, pictures, forms, ships manifests and US Census reports taking up room in my office closet. The information I've found is absolutely useless, of no value whatsoever. Who cares if my ancestor was a King, a prophet, or a pauper? No body in this household.
Evidently Ancestry.com is a recreational sport. It's a time-sucker for a hot, muggy, August day in OK.