My Ancestry

Let us now sing the praises of famous men, our ancestors in their generations. The Lord apportioned to them great glory, his majesty from the beginning. There were those who ruled in their kingdoms, and made a name for themselves by their valour; those who gave counsel because they were intelligent; those who spoke in prophetic oracles; those who led the people by their counsels and by their knowledge of the people's lore; they were wise in their words of instruction; those who composed musical tunes, or put verses in writing; rich men endowed with resources, living peacefully in their homes—all these were honoured in their generations, and were the pride of their times. Some of them have left behind a name, so that others declare their praise. But of others there is no memory; they have perished as though they had never existed; they have become as though they had never been born, they and their children after them. But these also were godly men, whose righteous deeds have not been forgotten; their wealth will remain with their descendants, and their inheritance with their children's children.[1]

Motivation

What drive me to seek out my ancestors cannot be more eloquently explained then by using a now famous quote from Alex Haley the author of Roots: In all of us there is a hunger, marrow deep, to know our heritage—to know who we are and where we came from. Without this enriching knowledge, there is a hollow yearning. No matter what our attainments in life, there is still a vacuum, an emptiness, and the most disquieting loneliness.[2] I began my research after the passing of my mother in 1996,

Scope of Research

Although I gather as much information as I could on anyone closely linked to my tree. I limit my research to my ancestors and those of my wife. Otherwise stated, I seek my children's ancestors. I enter the name of known children of all individual in my tree, but will not create a separate webpage for an individual unless they are one of my children's ancestors.

Methodology

Myth and history are close kin inasmuch as both explain how things got to be the way they are by telling some sort of story. But our common parlance reckons myth to be false while history is, or aspire to be, true.[3] The genealogist, just like the modern historian, endeavours to avoid mythological untruth but the line of demarcation between history and myth is far from clear. We should not assume that ancient stories are untrue simply because they do not conform to the customs and methods of our own time. In my research, as a rule, I chose to accept family lore and other legends as truthful up to the point where, in the balance of probability, such story becomes so questionable that there is much doubt of their credibility.

Documentation

All sources lie.

Common Ancestors

It comes as no surprise to anyone involved in genealogical research that the whole of humanity is related. We all share common ancestors who lived in the not-so-distant past. In fact, computer simulations shows that the most recent common ancestors of all humans alive today probably lived in historical time, perhaps as late as AD 55.[4] These models also seem to confirm that likely everyone in the West descent from Charlemagne. Demonstration that we are all related is best illustrated in the fact that I am 16th cousins from Her Majesty THE QUEEN.

Descent from Antiquity

To date, there is no proven well-researched, generation-by-generation descent of living persons from people living in antiquity. Unfortunately, popular American genealogical literature is rife with supposed 'ancient' pedigrees which are neither likely nor plausible, and in some cases provably bogus, passing, as they do, through long chains of supposed personages who never existed.[5] I choose to ignore those endless lists of names otherwise my ancestry would turn as fabulous as Jamie Allen's Family Tree & Ancient Genealogical Allegations. However, recent research in prosopography has established the outlines of several probable or likely ancestries that could become accepted in the future. While my website shows some of these promising ancient lineages, at this time, they should be considered precarious at best.

References

  1. Sirach 44.1-11 (NRSV).
  2. Alex Haley, What Roots Means to Me, Reader's Digest 110 (May 1977), 73-74.
  3. William McNeill, Mythistory, or Truth, Myth, History, and Historians, in Mythistory and Other Essays (Chicago: [n.pub.], 1985), 3.
  4. Douglas L.T. Rohde, Steve Olson and Joseph T. Chang, Modelling the recent common ancestry of all living humans, Nature 431 (30 September 2004), 562-566, doi:10.1038/nature02842.
  5. Marshall K. Kirk, 'Ancient' Genealogy: Fact, Speculation, & Fiction (Syllabus and bibliography, NEHGS Sesquicentennial Conference, July 1995).