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Saturday, November 03, 2007

Slave Owners, Indian Scalpers, Thomas More & Me!

Other people's genealogy is generally a bore -- unless of course it's Barack Obama and he's related to Dick Cheney. Eighth cousins, I understand. At the time I read that if you come from an old New England family most likely you will be related somewhere along the line to all other Old New England families.

The past two weeks I have been indulging in Internet genealogical research for my own family. Because I have ancesters from old New England families and also old Southern families there is a lot of information available. The challenge for me is going to be finding Irish, German and Swiss families most of whom came in the later half of the 19th century.

Like Barack Obama, I too have some 'interesting' famous ancesters, as well as some 'interesting' politically incorrect 'black sheep'. Very black sheep, possibly ... In a way I'm quite pleased about this as political correctness is as much a bore as genealogy is! On the other hand, since it involved owning slaves, as well as an Indian scalper champion, I am at the same time quite appalled. Probably the most prominent person I am directly descended from was Thomas More, who was a traitor to some and is a saint in the Roman Catholic Church (the patron saint of politicans and statesman, in fact! His day is 22 June). He was certainly a very questionable character both in his own day and in ours ... Oh, yeah -- it takes eight 'greats' before I come to him, and it's worth pointing out that I have 255 other grandfathers with eight 'greats' before their names!

As I progress through one name and another, all the time the numbers increasing beyond my own comprehension, I am overwhelmed by a sense of 'oneness' and 'timelessness'. Direct Descendents particularly intrigue me, because each one of them is so essential to my own creation, just as I will become essential to my own future descendents. Then when you consider the chances of your own conception just from the right time and place of your parents and the race of sperm rushing to be the first to find that 'egg' -- and so existence has found yet another level of chance. And this is the same for each one of us -- we are eternally embraced by each other through the ages, locked in a genetic universe ever changing and ever challenging.

UPDATE: Today I received a very kind comment about my writing, which is attached to this entry. It caused me to reread what I had written and as a result must correct a complete mis-statement. Thomas is not my 8th great-grandfather, but my 13th! Thus I have not 255 other eight-great grandfathers, but 4,192!!!