I Hate To Break It To You

Recently, a number of different people have been 'excited' to see how far their lineage will take them. Some claim their records go all the way back to Adam. Others say Jesus and in Jesus, the son of Mary and Joseph. Others say Charlemagne.

I hate to break it to you, but I just don't buy it. And, does it really matter if you're related to someone famous? Don't those ordinary folks who crossed the ocean from Germany to Ontario, Canada and cried when they saw the state of their new home matter just as much as Richard the Lionheart? To me, because I know what family history truly is, Phebe Zumstein matters more to me than any king of England.

As I share in my book, 21st Century Family Historian, your lineage to these famous people is more than likely false.

Ouch! How can I say that?

Well, here's an excerpt from my book:
As migrations across Europe and to the new world occurred, many people held on to their recorded heritage. Other families lost their lineage records as they migrated. Often, individuals seeking to re-establish their heritage would hire professionals and if they were lucky, the professional would compile an accurate lineage. In the past, several of these compilations were fabricated out of whole cloth. Far too often, these heritage books would link a person to Charlemagne or other historical hero when there was no such documented evidence.

As more and more lineage works were discovered to be fraudulent, genealogical proof became important. Thus, when genealogy was taught, the need to find documents verifying facts was stressed.
George Joseph Geiszler of Columbus Ohio
I'm related to a railroad pattern maker from
Columbus, Ohio. He may not be famous, but
he means a lot to me.

I really hate to break it to folks that they're work isn't done all the way back to Adam and Eve. I hate to tell them that their trees probably include references to Norse Gods, thus it's probably also fabricated. No one wants to hear that.

When I hear such things, I gently remind folks that the pattern maker from Columbus, Ohio who appeared to have overcome alcoholism matters more to me than how far back my line can go. I also suggest that their grandparents, great-grandparents, and 2x great grandparents should matter more than the famous folks from the 15th century. Family history is about our stories.

If you are truly related to royalty, great. Make sure you record the stories of your closest royal blood relatives that no one knows so the direct descendants can know the person behind the title. If you are like the vast majority of the world, you're perfectly normal but that doesn't mean your story isn't important.

Go ahead and have fun seeing how far back your line goes. Have a laugh and brag a bit, but don't be disappointed if it turns out to be false.

Comments

  1. I admit to responding with the eyeball-roll whenever I read that someone has discovered yet another Scottish king in their family lineage. Big whoop ~

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  2. Great post, Devon-- yes, be skeptical about famous people in your lineage. I have a couple of lines going back to the Plantagenets that are legit, and while that's really neat, I too am more interested in my recent ancestors. In fact, I'm at present focusing on third greats and more recent... too much genealogical ADD going on otherwise.

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    1. Karen,

      I'm sure there are famous ancestors on my tree, they're just not closely related. But I'd so love to meet my closest relatives than a famous person any day. Why? Because famous folks, like average folks, put the pants on the same way as I do... one leg at a time.

      I love the genea ADD comment! I have the same problem. However, I like to think that I'm not necessarily a name collector as a trail leaver. I get lost in the branches and enjoy leaving the research connections for others to find. So far, very few folks have contacted me about these branches. So, maybe I'm the ancestor whisper or it's just plan genea ADD

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  3. I've had friends from my hometown in NW Kansas send me emails to let me know that a cousin found evidence that their family came over on the Mayflower. Most people in that area of Kansas are the 3rd generation of immigrants from Sweden, Germany or Czech heritage. When I ask where they found the documentation for this connection, it is usually "the internet". I've mentioned the process I had to go through to join DAR. That family stories had to be documented and connections proven. This usually earns me a blank look and a follow up remark that this cousin is really good at finding stuff on the internet. Silly me, writing to those courthouses and making trips to genealogy libraries, when it was all right there "on the internet"!!!

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    1. There is a lot to proving someone's legacy. Kudos for doing that work! The blank stares is an all too familiar sight. Whenever you get your next blank stare, know that this Texan is right there nodding with you.

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  4. Devon - I now live in Texas, in Eagle Springs! I just purchased your latest book from Amazon. Got it a few days ago and looking forward to reading it. I saw your post on the ES FB page about genealogy. Do you belong to any of the genealogy clubs in Humble or Atascocita? We moved back to Texas this summer and my genealogy research hasn't been touched but hope to get back to research. Glad to find your Blog also!

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    1. Wow! Small world. I have officially joined The Humble Area Genealogical Society, it meets once a month on Mondays. There is the Atascosita/Kingwood Genealogical Society that meets once a month on Sundays very close to here. Both groups are great. They're in party mode but after the first of the year, they'll have some great presentations at their meetings.

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