Genealogy has been a passion of mine for years, and I’ve worked on it heavy-duty for the last 2-3 years. Now I’m proving my lineage for the Mayflower Society. That sounds really easy on paper. This person was born from these parents on such-and-such a date, married this person whose parents are so-and-so and died on such-and-such a date and whose parents are still so-and-so.
It’s one thing to know that, but another thing to prove that. And now that school is over, I’ve been working on this with a vengeance.
For the Mayflower Society, everything has to be proven and double proven (did I just make up that expression?). So here’s my story…..
Everyone in my family has lied. Almost everyone. Virtually no one was born or married where they said they were. And I mean on DOCUMENTS they lied. It is not exaggerating to say that there are 4 Town Clerks in a string of towns along the Hudson River who recognize me and know me by name.
I’m fortunate to live near where a bunch of my ancestors lived. Even though they didn’t say they lived there.
So as not to blow up my family business too much, I’m going to refer to the 4
annoying important towns by numbers.
- My grandmother said she was born in Town #1. All documents I have for her say she was born in Town #1. So I went there, armed with request forms and check but WRONG. They never heard of her
- Then I went up the Hudson to Town #2. I remember my father’s frustration when he needed my mother’s birth certificate for something (it is now missing) and she wasn’t born where she always said she was, but in Town #2 instead. I had Town #2’s form completed and their money. No mom. On a whim, I asked them to look for my grandmother and voilà! There was my grandmother.
- I proceeded up to Town #3 where I knew that it was 100% guaranteed that my great-grandparents had died there. WRONG. Oh and I checked for my mother, too. No mom.
- And on yet another day, I continued up to Town #4 because perhaps everyone ever related to me was born, married or died there, because the names of the towns are all similar and maybe I’ll hit pay dirt. AND I DID!. My 2nd great-grandparents had both died there, even though all of their documents said New York City. I was so excited.
Until I went outside and my car had been hit.
I won’t go on and on, but eventually I found almost everything I needed for 3 generations, when only 2 people actually were “supposed” to live there.
Which brings us to names. If you ever think that someone in your future will be doing genealogy, name your kids bizarre names.
My family has basically 2 names, going back to 1500. It’s crazy. And I did it too. Augusta and Stephen.
One of my middle names is Augusta. My aunt’s name is Augusta. My grandmother’s name is Augusta. As is her mother’s. And her mother’s. And the men are Augustus. Or Stephen. As is my son. And uncle, and great-grandfathers. And on and on with those two names. For over 500 years.
Does my family have no imagination?