I wanted to give my son a special, unique, personal present for his upcoming graduation from FSU. As a single mom with a son in college, I knew I was going to have to use my imagination to come up with something really cool, because my pocketbook echoes when I open it. So I decided on a family tree.
I started out with the free version of Ancestry.com. I found out that those leaves they talk about on the commercials are a quick way to follow your family lines back generations at a sitting. Most of my family lines would fade to the ages around the 1700's, while some would go all the way back to the 1600's before I lost the trail.
Then low and behold one day sitting in my favorite chair in front of my fireplace with my laptop firmly situated on my lap I came across a line that went back further. I had traced one of my family lines to a man named Edward "Mayflower" Doty. I was thrilled. An ancestor that came over on the Mayflower? I printed out some info about him and with renewed enthusiasm kept going. His parents, then his grandparents, link after link, generation after generation. I started seeing references to Knights, Lords and Ladies. I couldn't believe it. We have the blood of knights running in our veins! I kept following link after link, leaf after leaf, going back generations and found a reference to a Princess, then a Queen and a King. After that, I kept finding royal after royal all the way back to the year 10, not 100, but 10! I was amazed and so proud to be able to give this gift of such a proud heritage to not only my son but the rest of my family.
We were supposed to have a family get-together this weekend to celebrate several family birthdays so I diligently started printing out lineages and information on some of the more famous of our ancestors. Then I started noticing something odd. All of the noble and/or royal lineages were all bottlenecking to that one ancestor, Edward "Mayflower" Doty.
Warning bells started going off in my head. I dug a little deeper and found out that although there is such a person as Edward "Mayflower" Doty and I am very likely descended from him, his parentage has not been proved. In fact the following link is to an article about a man named Gustaf Ludvig Ljungberg (c1863-1942) who created false lineages for usually unsuspecting American families.
I can't tell you how disappointed I was as I called my son into my room to tell him that I had been duped. He couldn't have accepted the news with more gallantry and aplomb if he had been a king himself. I was much more devastated than he was. He had only found it an interesting bit of family history.
While for me it had colored how I thought of myself. I had spent so much of my life feeling like I was just a peasant and not worth my salt so to speak, that to think I had noble or even royal blood in my veins suddenly gave me a reason to hold my head up and think better of myself. Not pride, but at least it helped bring my self-esteem out of the gutter where it had been for most of my life.
I'm afraid to even go back and check all the documents and sources to make sure that I am in fact a descendant of Edward "Mayflower" Doty. What if that's not even true? So I will set the ancestry project aside for awhile.
I have no doubt when I do get back to it, and more slowly and carefully trace our lineage back, I will find more interesting people with colorful stories, perhaps even a knight or two. I hope so.
But for now, I need to come to terms with the fact that no matter who my ancestors were or were not, I am enough. I always have been and always will be... enough.